Well, things have been...interesting in Chicago so far. I am actually liking the city much more than I thought I would :) I mean, I like Chicago itself, I just had a big problem with leaving California. But its actually pretty cool here! There is LOTS to do and even though the weather is hot, humid, and there are lots of bugs, I still like it. There is a really nice sense of "family bonding" and "community bonding" that is unique. There are about a bajillion parks, public pools, and community centers in every little suburb.
One thing that is driving me nuts, though, is the ROADS. Whoever did the infrastructure for this state did NOT plan ahead. None of the major freeways, oh excuse me TOLLWAYS (Don't even get me started on tollways!) are close to anywhere! Like, you have to drive 10 minutes just to get onto the expressways. It is ridiculous. And nothing is close at all. The nearest grocery store is forever far away and so is everything else. Tom teases me and says that things in California are spread out, but I disagree. Everything you need for every day living can be found in Camarillo. Here, all the suburbs blend together so they just go on and on and on, but nothing is close. And there are forests in between so you have no idea where you are or have anything for points of reference. It's super obnoxious. I can't find my way around here AT ALL. It's a little ridiculous.
It is pretty here, though. There are LOTS of forests reserves, so that means HUGE trees everywhere. The grass is SOOOO green, too! It's quite beautiful. Tom says, "Just wait till the fall...." So I'm excited to see some beautiful foliage in all these forests!
We have been doing lots of fun things since we got here. We have been going to Six Flags, Great America with our season passes (they were super cheap on sale! YAY!) and Ella sort of likes it. There isn't much for her to do, but we take her on a couple rides, then we'll go on a ride and do the "baby switch" so we can all ride.
Ella doesn't quite get that it isn't Disneyland, but that's okay. She LOVES the Merry-Go-Round best of all, of course. It's pretty cute. We'll ride that two or three times each trip.
We watched the characters do a "dance off" that she thought was hilarious! She liked all the music and thought they were "silly".
Ella likes to cuddle up with "Wiggle Tommy" and wanted to ride in the stroller with him. We tried it out...she kind of squishes him, but its still really cute :)
We also just got back from a couple days in Nauvoo, Illinois. Now, the drive to Nauvoo was WAY TOO LONG and Ella was NOT entertained with her DVD player, nor her coloring books, nor her treats. So, the five hour drive was pretty tortuous. Both directions. Ugh.
Nauvoo itself was super cool, though. I really, really liked it. It is really the first place I have been, outside of Salt Lake, that has some church history. We went on a carriage ride, a wagon ride, a bunch of tours, and through a bunch of the little houses they have. We saw how they made candles, horse shoes, wagon wheels, barrels, yarn, bread, etc. I definitely would NOT have cut it as a pioneer! Ha! I pretty much have nothing to offer....I could sing while other people worked! Ha! :)
The babies were pretty good during the whole trip. Ella is starting to get a little attitude, which has been VERY trying to me and makes me lose my temper...so I am trying to calmly and collectively discipline my child without threatening her or giving spankings. This child knows how to rile me up, though! My goodness...
Here is Ella outside the Nauvoo temple with the states of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. She is in her pajamas because Tom and I decided to take her for a walk that night and she was already in her jammies. Yeah, it was pretty fun to walk through the little town.
Here is the Nauvoo temple at night. It is really beautiful. I wish we had've brought some church clothes so we could have gone inside! Next time...and no children! Haha! :)
In Chicago, we also went and saw Yo Yo Ma at Ravinia. Ravinia is kind of like the Hollywood Bowl...sort of. There is a huge park outside of this open air stadium thingie that everyone brings picnics to. It is really fun. I LOVE IT. You can sit in the seat seats, or just bring a blanket, which is what we did. So the performance we saw was Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. It ended up being pretty modern, world music. I thought it was SUPER interesting, but it was pretty weird :) There were some new instruments I had never even HEARD of before, let alone seen or heard. It was very cool!
Some people go all out at Ravinia and bring little tables, complete with candles, flowers, wine, etc. It's really fun :) We got rained out halfway through, though. I guess the weather is kind of unpredictable here because it started out just fine...but at intermission, it started POURING and lightening...so we left. We had Tommy with us and I didn't want him to get all wet. Plus, Tom, Sam, and Joseph didn't think it was QUITE as entertaining as I did...which is understandable :)
Anyway, things have been interesting here to say the least. We have been staying with Tom's uncle John and his family. It has been a little crowded, but not too bad. Everyone is just trying to do their best to get along. We met up with Toms mom and her friend, Craig, in Nauvoo, so now there are two more of us staying at John's house. That means that there are five of us (Us four and Tom's mom) in one room. It is kind of crowded...but okay. We have been doing fun things this week to try and show Craig around Chicago. We did Six Flags again, and yesterday went into the City for a Hop on Hop Off Tour. It was fun, but EXHAUSTING. Ella was being a HUGE pill and quite the little terror by the end of the day, so I was at my wits end by the time we got in the car to go home.
So when we got home, I got her ready for bed and started the whole "bedtime process". It took me almost TWO HOURS to get her to STAY in her bed and finally go to sleep! This girl and bedtime...ugh...I dread the moment she gets in her pajamas and dream of the moment she falls asleep. *sigh*
Anyway, that has been our week and a half so far. We have four days till we move into the house. We will be living with Tom's mom, his brothers, and his aunt for a while. So once we move into the house, we will see how things go. I just hope we aren't stepping on each others toes with so many people in the house. I have high hopes, though, because the neighborhood is BEAUTIFUL and there is a super cute park a few houses down. That way Ella, Tommy, and I can get out of the house, play at the park, she can ride her bike, I can read a book in the shade, etc.
Speaking of shade, it is HOT AND HUMID here! I know I already said that, but it is REALLY hot and humid! It is like St. Maarten hot and humid. And there are a lot of bugs here. I'm not sure what I was expecting...maybe more like California? Haha! There are LOTS of mosquittos and just....bugs. Ew. Not so much into that. There usually is a nice little breeze, but not today. Sheesh....sweating....
Anyway, I will leave for now! Hopefully I will have more pictures. I can't find the cord to connect the camera to the computer, so all the pictures I have are from my iPhone! More updates soon...