The World at Large

Moving to the US

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Getting back after a week demonstrated, yet again, just how quickly the boys are growing.

Luc is a little more articulate, and much more agreeable than when I left. When asked to do something he often says, "OK" with no fuss. The week before it could be tricky to get him to do the things that he wanted to do. He's still a few days short of 3, so you can't expect a lot, but he really grew up while I was gone. He's also becoming quite pleasant to talk to, and his active imagination is really taking off, along with his sense of humor.

Nicolas has never been backward in coming forward, but in the week I was away he has suddenly decided to "come out of his shell". He now "talks" incessantly. The words are mostly meaningless (though there are 2 or 3 that we can recognize), but they are all unique, and seem to be far from random "babble". You can particularly tell that he's saying something to you when you recognize appropriate words in the middle of one of his soliloquies. It's particularly sad when he is hurt (either due to his own actions, or those of his brother) and he comes to you crying and tells you all about it. There's something poignant about the distress of someone who is unable to properly communicate it to you.

Best of all, Nic now wakes at the same time in the morning, but will usually go back to sleep, letting us sleep in up to 3 hours later than we used to!

I had finished reading to each of them this evening at bed time, but I was reluctant to turn out the lights as both were engrossed in their respective books. Luc was reading about tigers, and Nic was reading about trains.


While I was away I kept an eye on the weather forecast for Chicago, and it was starting to look nasty. Sunday was due to be particularly cold. However, the reality ended up much worse.

During Sunday and Monday we heard all sorts of news about how bad the cold was. Then came the news that Monday's temperature made it down to -10F (-23C), which was the coldest in Chicago for 10 years. Good reason to stay inside.

After all the travel I took Monday off. We decided to use this chance to get out and catch a cab to the Children's Museum. Then at the last minute Anne decided she'd like to go to a local diner for breakfast, and we could catch the cab from there. This all sounded good, so we got rugged up for the cold, and walked out.

The air outside was cold but bearable. We turned the corner and Luc decided that he wanted to stop on all the patches of ice left over from the last snow fall. So Anne stayed with him, while I walked on with Nic.

I got to the corner of Clark St, and saw someone peeking around a building to look down the street, possibly looking for the bus. I was wondering why he'd adopted this strange pose, until I turned the corner myself and suddenly caught the wind in my face. The news had talked about a windchill at -30F (-34C) and I suddenly understood what they were talking about. I grunted like I'd been hit. Anne came around the corner a little after me, and told me she did the same thing.

I felt bad carrying Nic through this, but he had a hood up, and his face towards me, meaning that it wasn't hitting him. So he looked fine, while I was starting to think this was a really bad idea. I had less than 50yds (about 50m) to go but the pain on my face was almost enough to make me turn back. By the time I made the diner I couldn't see for tears, and my cheekbones were in agony from the cold. I was quite worried about the tears freezing, but we made it inside before anything dire like that happened.

A few minutes later I saw Anne and Luc rush down the street to join us. I'm not sure how she convinced Luc to come down the street into the wind like that, but making him do it at a run wouldn't have been hard. At this point I resolved to hail the cab on my own, and only when it was stopped would I let everyone out to get into it.

I enjoyed breakfast, though it was an exercise in "comfort food" with almost no fiber content. Diced potatoes, bell peppers (capsicum), onion, and sausage, all fried in a pan, with cheddar cheese melted over the top and scrambled eggs. I'd been tempted to get something a little healthier, but hey, it was the house special! Besides, I'm permanently wrapped up against the cold at the moment, so my expanding waist won't be so visible. (OK, OK, I'd better start training for the triathlon later this year).

The Children's Museum was fun, and Nic was old enough to enjoy a lot of it for the first time. His favorite thing was a "jeep" that he could climb into and steer the wheel of. He kept coming back to this exhibit over and over, just so he could turn the steering wheel and say, "Brrrrrrrrrm, brrrrrrrm."

One of the areas was full of jumbo sized board games, including dominoes about 2 feet long. We sometimes set up long domino patterns for tumbling at home, so I thought it might be fun to do the same here. Luc really enjoyed it, and it got several other passersby interested. In the end, Luc had up set them up over a dozen times, and refused to be taken away from them. That will teach us to stay anywhere past nap time. Of course, over the next few days Luc has asked incessantly to be taken back to the Museum to play with the dominoes again. In the meantime he's asked me to set up patterns with the 113 that we have here. While time consuming, it's actually a lot of fun, so I've been obliging him more than I thought I would.

Snow and Soap

It started snowing Monday night, and it has been beautiful. The snow hadn't been "sticking" of late, since the pavement was usually above freezing. However, the Chicago City Works Department has been reporting that the pavement is 2F (-17C), so the snow has been free to just pile up.

Much of the snow I've seen until now has been very small particles, with very little of the crystalline structure of snow flakes we've been told about. But at various times in the last couple of days we've had some very large flakes coming down. I walked to the store (they call them "stores" here, not shops) to get milk, and was watching them fall. Each flake would catch the light brilliantly, leaving the air full of sparkles. As I walked along the ground looked like it was flecked with diamonds. I thought this must be typical of falling snow, but Anne saw some of her friends last night, and they were also commenting on it.

The other thing I noticed were the large, thin flakes falling. I remember seeing kids TV shows where stage productions would use soap flakes to substitute for snow. I used to think this couldn't possibly look like real snow, but now I know it can.

Also, my principal leather shoes (the water proof ones) have been wearing out lately, and I've been considering getting a new pair. However, after walking in the snow last night and again today, I could swear that the soles have been worn much further than they were. Walking on snow definitely takes more effort, and it feels very gritty. I wonder if it can wear soles away faster?


Indy got back only to fall ill, and with other people away that was only going to leave two of us working on our project this week. Based on this, we agreed to telecommute for the last couple of days. Given the cold and now the snow, the timing could not have been better.

The problem with telecommuting is that I do more work, not less. That's good for the office, but it means I get less quality time with the family, since I'm always trying to get back to the computer to get more done. It's nice that I can be here, but it's frustrating that I can't pay full attention to Anne and the boys. Anne probably needs a little more help this week too, since we are having a birthday party for Luc this weekend. I'll be back in the office tomorrow, so maybe I'll be of more help when I get home!


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