Sleepy Chicago

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Today I woke myself up early so I could spend one of my last full days in Chicago completely devoted to writing. So I sauntered to the nearest Starbucks, because sadly it’s the quaintest coffee shop I could find in the area, and then I realized–I’ve never been outside so early in Chicago before.

And I wish I had sooner because the city sounds pretty in the morning. The cars are fewer, more patient. The rumble of big engines isn’t yet warm or confrontational. There’s still some hustle, but definitely less bustle.

I remind myself that though I’ve been sleeping in quite late this summer, I’m a morning girl. I like the composure, the potential of the morning. Chicago wakes up one eye at a time and I think that’s beautiful.

I will miss it here.

Our Festive Fourth

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I haven’t been terribly homesick since I got to Chicago, but today I found myself a little achey–not just from all the walking.

I missed Utah. I missed my Sugar House neighborhood parade. And I missed all the Republican Patriots! No one really sported the old Red White and Blue. I missed the local marching bands and the musics and the glow sticks and the kids with streamers on their bikes. I could not track down a single piece of salt water taffy.

The Redesign

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“Don’t put too much pressure on this next post,” Jeremy wisely counseled last night after correctly reading my body language. Sometimes it is downright irksome that he can read my thoughts before they are corporeal or even conceived. To him, I’m not just an open book—I’m an open book with big print, Braille underneath, and pictures on the side.

Observations: A Brief Foray into Parenthood

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When I told my dad that Jeremy and I got called to the Nursery, my dad issued a trademark Tom chortle, a little too “knowing” for my liking.

“That will either really whet your appetite for kids, or—more likely—be really effective birth control,” he said wisely.
For those of you who aren’t LDS, allow me to explain. At our church, each member is given a “calling” to serve in a specific capacity. So you might be asked to play music on Sunday, or you might be asked to teach a gospel related class, or you might be asked to be bishop of the ward, or you might be asked to serve in the nursery.
Jeremy and I have taught Gospel Doctrine to people 30-40-50 years our senior before. We were confident. But going into the nursery today among the 1-2 year olds barely learning to toddle, I whispered to Jeremy, “Are you nervous?”
“Yes,” he admitted.
“Me too.”
I actually really like kids, but when they are not related to me, sometimes I need to look through the germ layer to find the kids underneath. Fortunately these kiddos were very clean; I am convinced that Chicagoans are a super breed of human who where perfect clothes, have perfect teeth, have perfect lives, and who somehow don’t annoy me with their perfection. Especially when their perfect spawn is bacteria-free.
I found that the kids made bonds with their nursery worker of choice with varying degrees of covalence. Though Brendan* (Name changed for the parents’ privacy, and also because I don’t remember) upon his mother’s departure threatened to break glass with his screaming, Jeremy skillfully distracted him by scooting a toy car over his toes. Brendan stopped crying for the rest of the two hours—unless Jeremy shifted in his chair, or stood up too quickly, or betrayed any indication of leaving Brandon. Kid had attachment issues. Of course, in my “Sierra Assessing my Spouse’s Ability to Work With Kids” mode, I was beaming.
I was paired with Myra,* a beautiful 1-year-old. It was her first day in nursery and she seemed to be processing things very cerebrally. She spoke never, but let me hold her the whole two hours. She just looked around with intensity, glared occasionally, and gently abstained from any sort of participation by pulling her arm protectively across her chest whenever I offered a toy, cracker, book, play-doh, etc. However, Myra did find one thing that she really liked, and as if scared I would take it from her, she secretly slipped it into her mouth.
Eager to prove that I was a good nursery leader, I wanted to return the students clean and happy. Myra had other ideas. Two minutes before parent retrieval, after successfully keeping Myra clean for two hours, she slipped her secret orange fruit snack from her mouth and kneaded it between her fingers, strung it in her hair, and smeared it across her face. We didn’t even have fruit snacks at snack time. 
So today I have learned the age-old parenting technique—If your kid is being quiet, she is hiding something. In her mouth.
Also: Kids are Sticky. Even Chicago kids. 
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I will not implode today…

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My parents placed bets on how long it would take me to implode out here–jobless and routineless– in Chicago. Annoyingly enough, they understand that I am happiest when I am stressing myself out by scheduling every minute of my day. I only expect my fellow red-types to understand, but “down time” (unless penciled in) is damaging to my core. It feels like time wasted, time fettered, precious time squandered and irretrievable. After two weeks of scheduled (glorious, much needed) vacation, I must admit, I am ready to get back to the routine.
My real problem here is that there is no routine, and that I am extrinsically motivated, but trying to pretend that I am intrinsically motivated. I love listing out my goals, all noble and impressive, and I certainly pretend to myself that I can accomplish all 437 of them in a month. But unless there is a tangible reward at the end of the yellow-brick road to self-perfection, I realize now that I usually don’t follow through.

Things that Actually Motivate Me:

Pay Checks

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Words of Affirmation
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Awards, Accolades, Resume Builders

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Comments on my Blog

Good Tasting Food as a result of my efforts in the kitchen.

Improved relationships with friends and family

Pretty Things that Serve a Purpose

I realize that what I like about these things is that they are immediate, or at least, foreseeable. I think this all ties back to my severe lack of patience. I can’t patiently wait for accolades; I need them to come like clockwork. I feel so shallow about this! The joy in the journey is lost somehow.

Jeremy is the exact opposite of me, and it’s frustrating and admirable. The kid can spend hours, days, years LEARNING a new and important skill just because. His self worth has nothing to do with his GPA or his paycheck. I love that about him, but I am realizing that I am not this way. I wish I were this way.

So while the summer is young, I realize that I am at a crossroad. I can either perpetuate my extrinsic needs by imposing deadlines, checkpoints, and rewards for my summer goals OR I can attempt to reinvent—find joy in the journey rather than the accomplishment. Oh boy, that sounds so hard.

… Maybe I should get a trophy if I reach that point. 

PS: Stay tuned, I think this blog is about to see some exciting changes. 

We Out-Funned Ourselves

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So, I get it, finally! I’ve been baffled by the “Travelog photo dump blogs.” Blogs are about writing, Not about dumping photos! That’s what Facebook is for, I thought. Yet by the end of the day, you are so proud of your travels and so exhausted that you don’t have the mental stamina to write something clever about them, and tagging sounds too tiring. So we photo dump. And I am going to assume that this is for posterity and close family members because… I don’t typically like anyone else’s photo dump blogs. Furthermore, I have never liked the word Dump, so I am going to call this a “Enlightening Photo Essay.” Much more enticing than Travelog Photo Dump, right?

So here we are:

An Enlightening Photo Essay: Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago–we got in on a free day and bee-lined for the Impressionism. I plan on spending the first and second Wednesday’s of every month… Right about here. Tempted to join me, Emma Penrod?

Don’t expect much as far as captions go. All the Clever has run dry. This was one of our first days in the city, and of course, we went to the Art Institute of Chicago. I took pictures with my favorite paintings. Add to the spectacle and magnificence of it all, you know. This is Gustave Caillebotte Paris Street, Rainy Day. 
Notice that I carefully selected my most “Art Muesemy” shirt possible. Don’t I just look like a curator?
Renoir On The Terrace
Searching for our soul a la Cameron Frye. Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon in the Isle of La Grande Jatte. 
Claude Monet, Bridge over a Pond of Water Lillies
Claude Monet, The Artist’s House at Argenteuil
Renoir said painting flowers was a mental vacation, or something like that. Thought it sounded litt
Without people cluttering it up.
van Gogh, The Bedroom.
The Museum of Science and Industry. I believe this was Jeremy’s favorite, because he really liked all the Science. I liked all the buttons you could push. 

Jeremy creates a cyclone.
I think we were playing with bouncy balls here or something. But, you will not see many pictures of me this day… Underlight is not my favorite angle. I don’t want my posterity to see me so underlit. Plus, bangs WOULD NOT BEHAVE.
Ah, yes, the bouncy balls. Something about Wind Resistance or something… Science….
Lighting! I guess you can make lightning now a days but it has to be incredibly loud.
Some may call me short, but I am almost as tall as the scaled down model of the tallest building in the world… The Willis Tower. Didn’t know the tallest building was called the Willis Tower? Us neither. They stupidly renamed the Sears Tower the Willis Tower. We object. 
Jeremy has another dream in life. To build a train track as cool as this. 
Then we went to the Shedd Aquarium. I about died. It was magnificent, and we took a thousand and a half photos. I siphoned… sort of. 

This is the view from Museum Campus, where the aquarium is. 
After feeling self-conscious about the Sierra photo disaster of the Science and Industry Museum, I felt desperate to get a good picture up. 
Oh good, more jellies.  
I was most excited about the otter, and he was so cute! But I couldn’t get great pics. So here is your otter pic. 
Don’t know too many aquariums with DOLPHINS!
I love it when they swim upside down. 
We couldn’t tell if he was posing for the Paparazzi (us) or “flipping” us off… get it… ’cause he has flippers…
There was a Sea World style Animal show and it was insanely delightful, even though one of the Beluga Whales wouldn’t behave (For shame, Nunevic!), but I still think these are some of the most incredible animals. 
By far the most interesting fish. It’s little fins moved like moth wings! It was about the two inches and we loved it. 
Here’s another picture to show favoritism. 
Though we actually liked this frog quite a bit too. 
One night we used one of our wedding gift certificates to get some cheesecake. This skirt, sadly, just won’t work in the windy city. Almost had some Marilyn Monroe moments. 
The Cloud Gate at Millenium Park: A Super Cool Statue that encourages vanity and self-obsession at every angle. 
The Bean, or The Cloud Gate has probably been one of my favorite things so far. It is a big, mirror landmark in the middle of Millenium Park, and it reflects the whole city. Incredibly cool. 
We then took a series of silly fun pictures in front of the Bean, because that is what you do there.  
A very nice Iranian woman took this picture for us. She was there with her husband and adorable child. And though I didn’t know her well, I could tell we would have been friends.
She took this one too.
Guess what: Hair doesn’t stay super curled in Chicago. 
Getting tired of the captions. 

The Garfield Conservatory: We went here today, and give it a 5/10. There were some nice parts but over all, it was over-hyped. We’ve been garden spoiled by Butchart, so we are totally Garden Snobs. Still, the Fern Room was nice. 
This is the Koi pond. Koi give me the creeps. It’s the way they touch each other. And the way they expect so much from you with their big, nasty, wide open mouths. I don’t like them. Makes for a nice picture though. 
The Fern Room. There was a nice water fall. 
Here it is.  
The astute viewer will notice that I am wearing the same outfit two days in a row. I do not have a defense for this. That is what I did. 
Here are some Chicago Skyline Pictures. The architecture here is the best I’ve seen, next to Paris. It is so interesting and unique and beautiful and asymmetrical and I love it. 

Many of those pictures were taken from this place: The Navy Pier. I want to ride that Ferris Wheel, and Jeremy promised we could. 
“And so ends our photo journey… For Now,” she finished lamely. 

I Don’t Hate This City.

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So… carting around four ridiculously over-packed suitcases, a backpack laden with more reading material than a small library, and a purse that could fit Bambi in it across the Orange Line of the Chicago trains was awful…Or it would have been if it wasn’t so gosh darn exciting. 

But I think that was the low of this Chicago experience so far. Everything else has been wonderful–from attending church in an old Elementary school that looks like P.S. 118 from “Hey Arnold,” to a Starbucks and Chipotle on every other corner, to all the secondhand smoke (I secretly like the smell…), I have to say Chicago rocks. I am feeling very optimistic about my summer and just hope that Jeremy falls for this city as quickly as I have.

The best part about this city though–unequivocally the people. This is not Brusque Manhattan or Too Laid Back L.A. People have a healthy sense of “rush” here, but they can also spare a moment to help a brother out. My favorite instance of Chicago Niceness:

Our first night out on the city, Jeremy and I decided to hit up a Thai Restaurant on Rush Street, because, you know, we basically take Thai with our oxygen. We left with leftover souvenirs, which Jeremy carried in his right hand, holding my hand with his left. 

As we walked home, we crossed a jovial-looking old black man in a suit (there are black people here!), and as he passed he addressed Jeremy and said, “Son! Son! Where did you get that thing hanging off you there?” Jeremy and I exchanged confused looks and looked. 

“This?” Jeremy asked, holding up the bag of Thai food. 

“No,” persisted the man, twinkling. “That other thing. Where can I get one?” 

We hunted for a string hanging off Jeremy’s coat, but we were thoroughly confused. Finally, I noticed the old man, amused by our confusion nod slightly at me. 

“Oh!” I said. I couldn’t help it. I squealed. “You mean me?!” I twinkled back.

 He nodded and said, “You make a lovely couple, I gotta get me one of those.” said the old man to Jeremy, moving on with a grin. 

Friends, it was just delightful to start this journey out with an unsolicited compliment from a stranger, and I promise there was nothing creepy about our new, never-to-be-seen-again friend. But it got me feeling the glow of this windy city. I think we will be just fine here. 
This is our little apartment. We’re used to “little” with our apartments, so we actually like it a lot.  

This is the beautiful view from our apartment. Which car is your favorite? 

Our generously-sized closet. When you only pack 1/6 of your wardrobe, you’d be surprised how much mess you don’t make.
This is us at the airport. For all you Instagrammers, you may have already seen these pictures. Mostly, I just need to know what you think of my “Chicago Hair,” because sometimes I worry that Ombre is too wild for me.  

I’m just mostly thrilled by the prospect of a $9 sundae. No really, these were magnificent. 

If you can see the chocolate in this picture, you win! Actually, if you can taste the chocolate in this picture, you win. Which means, I win. 

I’m a chocolate fan like the rest of them, but my hot chocolate was so rich (Literally steamed milk with four squares of Ghiradelli’s chocolate mixed in), I had to throw in the towel. Luckily my sweet-toothed sweetheart was up for the task. 

Mandatory Skyline Picture.

Because none of the other pictures really proved I am in Chicago. 
PS: I am feeling uncomfortable about having 69 followers. Will someone please be my 70th?