Friday, June 28, 2013

The night Zoe ran away with the circus

Thursday evening at 5:15pm, I hop on the train. It's early and I've been working long hours, but I'm not going to miss Zoe's 6:30 circus show. The sun is shining under partly cloudy skies as I leave the office. By the time the El emerges above ground, around 5:40, Josh texts me to ask if I have an umbrella with me.

No, I type back, why? He replies something about noisy thunder and, indeed, I see a few sprinkles outside the train.

Then, about one or two stops from home (it's 5:50 now), the sky opens up with the biggest, most intense rainstorm I've ever experienced. It was positively hurricane like. The ramp leading from the Oak Park blue line station to Oak Park Avenue is covered and has walls about 2/3 of the way up each side. And yet, the rain was so wild, so horizontal, even those carrying umbrellas were soaked clear through in a matter of seconds.

Josh picked me up,  but I was so thoroughly drenched I had to strip off all my clothes--undies included--the minute we got home.

As soon as I'd changed and Zoe put on her "outer space-inspired" costume, it was time to head out for her 4-week Circus Performance Camp showcase. The rain stopped as we stepped outside and a beautiful double rainbow followed our route to Beye School.
double rainbow

And that is when my phone camera stopped cooperating with me. A combination of low battery, quick act changes and user error kept me from recording any video of Zoe's amazing circus acts. She performed a combination of tumbling, dance and prop manipulation in the opening combination, twisted herself into a pretzel while hanging in the silks and got to be the star of the acrobatics routine. At one point, she and another small girl latched onto each other--head to legs--and did a series of double cartwheels and attached front walkovers. She has video of them doing something like 40 in a row on her camera, so we'll post that at some point.

This is the sole evidence of Zoe's participation.20130627_191000_3666
It was a fantastic show and Zoe loved the camp so much she's said she'd like to be enrolled every summer she's eligible. "When I'm 9 and 10 and 11 and 12 and 13!"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Peek at the renderings of our new house

As promised, I'm sharing the 3-D renderings for our new home. Our builder will be submitting the plans to the village this week, but we've warned they've very slow to approve. Anything less than 6 weeks is considered "lucky."

Exterior view (houses on each side not pictured)

First floor, front of the house
First floor, rear of the house

Living room
The living room will have built-in shelves along the west wall, which you'll walk through/under to get to the dining room. This rendering isn't 100% accurate as I've moved the coat closet next to the stairs to the foyer. It makes the foyer a little more cramped, but opens up a lovely space just beyond the steps where we can (eventually) place an upright piano.

This view of the dining room is from the "hallway" near the kitchen versus the living room.

Family/breakfast nook

There is a family room off of the kitchen where we can watch TV from a couch and eat casual meals. Pictured is the L-shaped breakfast nook bench built into the northeast corner. If you look at the birds-eye view of the first floor, you can see the mudroom off the family room.

Second floor
Here's a fly-over view of the second floor. In the front of the house is the master bedroom, with two large walk-in closets and a master bath with double sinks. There's a second floor laundry room (!) and two linen closets, one in the hall and one in the master bath

All three of the other bedrooms are larger than my kids' current bedrooms and they also have decent sized closets. The hallway bath has two separate vanities, which initially struck me as quite unusual, but which I think my girls will love having as they grow into adolescence.

Another view of second floor
I don't have any renderings of the basement, but it will be partially furnished, with an additional full bath.

As for the exterior, the house will be sided or shingled with Hardie Board, a maintanence-free composite that looks remarkably like real wood. I haven't decided on a color yet.

Next week I start picking the finishes for my kitchen and baths. Starting from scratch might seem little overwhelming, but I joined Houzz and started some ideabooks so I could capture inspiring interiors to reference throughout the design process. Turns out I really like white cabinetry, dark countertops and industrial pendant lighting.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Zoe and Hank, then and now

Hank and Zoe, then.
At the end of a perfect Father's Day (presents, pool and movie date), as Josh relaxed with the fellow dads at a packed Scoville Park concert, I watched Zoe and Hank run around together.

And I realized they've been running around together for half their lives. Right then and there I decided to replicate a wonderful photo I took of them in the same exact place 3 years ago, when they were younger than Ada is now.

As I snapped it, they suggested I take their photo again when they're 11. And when they're 14, 17 and 20.

Hank and Zoe, now

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We're moving!

I posted back in March about our adventures in house hunting. We weren't having much luck finding a bigger (but not too much bigger) house with a master bathroom, four bedrooms, an open kitchen/family room and a finished basement. In Oak Park. In our school district.

So we're building one! Sort of.

Baronger Group, the same guys who own Oak Park Bath and Kitchen, buy and renovate houses in Oak Park. Typically, those houses are mid-to-high end gut rehabs designed on spec and flipped onto the MLS. But they've also shopped their projects to local realtors. Get in early, and you can customize the house to your specifications. It turns out Baronger Group was about to buy a rundown bungalow in the neighborhood we wanted to be in. It's on a quiet street. A 2 1/2 block walk to the elementary school. A 3 block walk to the train. 

I called every one of the references Baronger Group sent me, toured a completed house and drove around Oak Park spying on other houses they've rehabbed before I felt confident enough to sign on the dotted line (and make a down payment).

It doesn't look like much now, but it should be my dream house come November!
Untitled Untitled
Wanting to see it "before," we toured the bungalow with Baronger Group owner Mitch Goldstein this morning. Zoe and Ada were horrified. The greasy wallpaper, the filthy pea green sculptured carpet, the dark and frankly scary basement...they wanted to get out of there! It's hard to imagine that this place will be a two story house with every contemporary creature comfort: air conditioning, modern appliances, gleaming hardwood floors...and a enough bathrooms for everyone in the family to go at the same time!

Last Friday we met with an architect to finalize the floor plans. I'll share those and the 3-D renderings I've been promised soon.

In the meantime, we've been readying our 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath American Four Square for the market. Given that we can't move until our new house is complete, we probably won't list it until August or September. But in case you know of anyone who'd love to move to a fantastic location in Oak Park (walking distance to the Blue Line, Sen Sushi and more), here's a sneak peek at our listing photos.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Saturday at the Art Institute with Ada

UntitledThanks to my company's corporate sponsorship of the Art Institute, I was able to go for free on Saturday. My plan had been to bring the whole family, but Zoe was recovering from a sleepover the night before and was super grumpy.

Ada was thrilled to have me all to herself, and I marveled at her stamina as she walked from our house to the train, the train to the Art Institute, up and down the halls of the museum, through Millennium Park and Daley Plaza and back home. I earned my 15k step badge on my Fitbit, and my legs are twice as long as hers!

When we arrived at the Art Institute, Ada marched up to the information desk and asked the way to Mary Cassatt, one of her favorite painters. We looked through all the American Art galleries and then headed to the Modern Wing, where there were a bunch of family activities, including self-portraiture.

After the Art Institute, we checked out the crowds at Millennium Park's fountain and Cloud Gate--or, as Ada calls it "The Big Bean."

We heard a dozen different languages as people snapped pictures and marveled over our beautiful city. We even got to see a Quincenera party pose for portraits with the Bean in the background.