Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Nephew!

Born February 28, 2008
6 lbs, 15 oz, 20 inches

He belongs to my brother, Ashley and his wife Rebecca.

His big sister, Kaylor, likes him, too!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Still Snowing

Just in case anyone was wondering, it's snowing again. I have never seen so much snow in my whole life. Although it is still peaceful and pretty, this is the first time it's snowed that I didn't get that little happy skip in my heart.

I really don't mind the's just that I've been running, A LOT, and the treadmill is getting a bit boring. I want to run outside! I want to hit the Prairie Path. I want to run sprints on the track. I want to run for miles and miles and not see a building standing tall....(no wait! That's the Dixie Chicks! Sorry, I got carried away!) I want to get on Johnny's bike and ride for an hour. (Yes, Johnny's. Mine was swiped years ago and never replaced!)

Could I do all of these things in the snow? Well, yes. In fact, I see people out running in this snow all of the time. Blame it on my Dallas legs or lack of warm running clothes, but I just couldn't go out in it. If I keep up the running craze, by next winter I'll be ready to run in the cold. But for now, it's just me and my treadmill. And I need a change of scenery.

I have to say, though, that this snow was beautiful. It's the really wet, heavy kind that sticks to all the trees. They are stunning when covered with white. But today, I found myself searching for a hint of green......

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bitterly Cold

Ever since Johnny mentioned a possible move to Chicago and we began doing research on the weather, I have wondered what extreme cold would feel like. Just the idea of single digit temps with negative wind chills made me shiver.

The first time this season that Chicago experienced these really cold temperatures was the week of January 21, the very week that our family spent in Orlando, Florida. I was thrilled with our "luck" but I remained very curious about how COLD the COLD felt. Oh, I'm sure that I've been in weather that cold, having grown up in the coldest town in Texas (Dalhart--for the curious), and also having visited Kansas City and Colorado in the winter, but never during all of those times was I focused on the actual temperature. Until now.

This all brings me to the present: the 3rd week of February, 2008. All week it's been single digits when I get up in the morning and it seems to warm up only by a few degrees. This hasn't affected me a great deal although the heater seems to have a hard time keeping the house the nice toasty 70 degrees that I like. It's been slipping down to 67 at times, and though that seems a bit chilly, compared to 4, I'll take the 67 without complaint. And it seems when I DO go outside it's to my to car that is parked in the garage, and if I have to set foot outside of my car I am quite bundled up and just make a dash for the building. (Unlike Johnny who has to walk a mile each way from the train station to work.)

So today I decided to step outside without my coat to see what it felt like. Two seconds later, back in the house, I was able to reflect on my experiment and came to the conclusion: IGNORANCE was BLISS! Yah. Probably could've gone the rest of my life without experiencing what the weatherman described today as bitterly cold. Comments like that make me long for the days described as abundantly sunny.

I can now understand what all the warnings were about from my new Northern friends: "just you wait...." "you'll get tired of the snow..." "wait until February!" "you think this is cold? this is not cold...." etc, etc. All points well taken. Even Halle is beginning to feel it. As we got out of the car today at the library she said, "Is it going to be winter for our whole lives?"(And she did not ask with sarcasm--she was serious. This winter has felt like an eternity to her.)

Now I tell you.....I did not write this blog to whine and complain. I am merely stating the facts according to me. I spent plenty of time telling of the ABUNDANTLY SUNNY days of our Wheaton summer, and it's only fair to share the woes of winter. And I admit gets cold here.

But here's the deal. Am I ready to chuck this whole thing because of a few months of cold (ok, bitterly cold)? Considering the fact that I believe God moved us here for a purpose, that would be pretty short-sided. And life is what you make of it. I could choose to groan and complain about some cold air, but instead I choose to focus on all the greatness of the life provided for me!

And I HAVE enjoyed the seasons so far: the mild summer, the chill of fall, the changing leaves, the first "cold snap", the beautiful snow, and the cold winter. But now, after months of being indoors, I AM OFFICIALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SPRING!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Too Much Snow, Not Enough Salt

Just to give you a little glimpse of the winter we've been enduring, here are some stats from last winter vs. this winter:

2006-2007 season
Winter events: 14
Plowing: 5
Snowfall: 41 inches
Tons of salt applied: 13,600

2007-2008 season, so far
Winter events: 20
Plowing: 9
Snowfall: 48 inches
Tons of salt applied: 17,500

Did you catch that nearly FIFTY inches of snow have fallen since December 1, 2007? Not only has this lead to many shoveling jobs for the Harris', but it looks like the city is running low on salt. And it's only mid-February. This record snowfall could continue for another month.

Here's a glimpse of the story:
Salt shortages are impeding road crews throughout Illinois as they battle this winter's deluge of snow and ice. An order placed back in January still hasn't come in for Naperville, prompting the Public Works Department to conserve the 1,000 tons of salt remaining in its salt domes.

For the past several storms, cul-de-sacs have not been salted unless absolutely necessary. The city also is waiting to salt residential side streets until after they are plowed and is reducing the amount of salt used on collector streets.
(This explains all the snow in MY cul-de-sac.)

"We anticipated we would have in an average winter, and this has by far exceeded that," said Dave Van Vooren, director of Public Works.

Crews will have to compensate for less salt by spending more time plowing snow. Arterial roadways, bridges, sharp curves and steep inclines will still be given typical amounts of salt, according to a city memorandum.

Salt backupVan Vooren said he isn't sure when Naperville's next load of salt will arrive, but the city says a shipment is scheduled for Monday or Tuesday - depending on the weather. Icy rivers have made it difficult for suppliers to transport salt-laden barges, he said.

"What we're hearing is that the suppliers have been unable to get salt delivered to their depot for distribution, and the rivers are too ice-logged for them to get barges through," Van Vooren said.

DuPage County crews also have used up the season's supply of salt, equaling 25,000 tons and costing almost $1 million. On Tuesday, the county board approved a second contract to purchase up to another 12,000 tons if needed.

About 1,300 tons of salt were used during the snowstorms Monday and Tuesday alone, said John Kos, the county's director of transportation and operations.

With about 950 lane miles of pavement to keep clear during often unpredictable winter weather, Kos said he is unsure how much more salt the county will need before spring arrives.

I did read some good news in a related article, though. The Public Works department is on the hook for the damage done to our mailbox via the snowplow. Only catch? We will have to wait until spring to dig a new hole for the post. So come MAY, we might just have a brand new mailbox!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday, American Girl Style

We celebrated Halle's birthday at the American Girl store in downtown Chicago. Although we've lived here for 8 months now, this is the first time that Halle has been to THE store! She's been asking to go for months!! Halle had picked out a Just Like You doll in the magazine that they so kindly sent to our house, so when we got there, she headed straight for the display.
Since this was her "party" we invited her very best friend, Brianna, to go with us! Here is Halle with her new doll, Alyssa, and Brianna with her doll, Felicity.

I think she likes her.....

Nana, Halle, Alyssa, Brianna, Felicity and I (Halle's mom) had tea at the AG Cafe.

They had special seating for the dolls....

...and they got to enjoy tea as well.

Here is Halle enjoying her hot cocoa.

As a side note, February 10, 2008, was the coldest day I've ever lived through. It topped out at 9 degrees which was not far from the low of 4. The wind was blowing 90 miles an hour (maybe a slight exaggeration, but I don't think I'm far off) so the wind chill was in the negatives. Seriously, you almost couldn't breathe. These are NOT the conditions that I would have chosen for the day we went into downtown Chicago. But although a seat in front of the fireplace was very inticing, even the cold couldn't keep me from celebrating Halle's birthday with her at this special place. I LOVE that girl!

Happy Birthday Halle!

Halle is 5! I can't believe it!!

Nana and Granddaddy came to Chicago especially for Halle's birthday! Nana made her another beautiful Disney princess gown. This one is Ariel's wedding dress. Halle was thrilled!

Another one of Halle's favorite gifts was matching outfits for her Bitty Baby twins, and a matching outfit for herself as well!

I think 5 looks good on her!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What I've learned from my first winter in Chicago

I have to say, it has been a real experience to live through a winter in Chicago. (And I may still have 2 more months of it.) But experiences teach us things and here are a few things I have learned:

1) Expect snow at any time. Sometimes, if you go into Target, even on a relatively clear day, when you come out the world looks like this:

And your car looks like this:

And if you take a moment to take a few pictures, your cart of stuff will look like this:
So, here are some more things I've learned:

2) Zip your purse. The snow will go right in it.

3) Even if the day is clear, don't go out in your Uggs unless you've waterproofed them. I've been surprised by the snow a lot. Best bet? Wear your snow boots. Even if the sun is shining.

4) Always zip your coat.

5) When you come out of Target and it's snowing, grab your ice scrapper/brush combo from the bottom of the trunk BEFORE you put on the groceries on top of it. Otherwise you will have to dig for it while it snows on you.

6) It can snow when the temp is above freezing. Really, it can snow any time it wants to.

7) A scarf is not just a cute accessory.

8) I may not be able to wear the 2 pairs of shorts I just bought at Target just yet.......

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Snow Day in Illinois

When the neighbors started talking about a possible snow day from school on Friday I was in disbelief. I thought only Dallas closed their schools because of snow. But when I woke up on Friday morning the snow was as deep on the road as it was in our yard, I understood why they cancelled school! The snow came down so fast and so hard that the snow plow/salt trucks could not keep up with it. These pictures were taken AFTER Johnny shoveled our sidewalk and driveway (by the way, it took longer than an hour!) and the snow plow truck had made a few swipes down our cul-de-sac. Still, an amazing amount of snow. Check it out!