I get asked a lot, "How are you settling in?"
That's a difficult question to answer because settling in involves many things. It's a multi-faceted process. Moving as drastically as we have involves literally starting over in all areas. New everythings - streets, neighborhoods, parks, church, gym, doctors, dentists, haircutters, you name it, it's probably new. So as I begin to fill in the blanks to all these areas, it is a settling in. It just isn't something that happens quickly. I will attempt to share with you some of our settling in steps, so you can see where we are along that path.
One of the keys to feeling settled in a new place is stocking your pantry and filling your fridge. Which means you need a grocery store.
Historically, I've been a Kroger girl. Guess what? They don't have Kroger here. They have Jewel-Osco, Mariano's, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Food-4-Less (which apparently is owned by Kroger). Those are the big names. There are also small corner grocers that specialize in various ethnic foods. And I've been told there is a Fresh Market place that sells every kind of thing under the sun at incredible prices. Have yet to venture there, but I'll let you know when I do. I hear good things.
There's another place that's been recommended to me specializing in international food products, which is great because I cook Indian food a lot - necessitating special spices and ingredients found at an Indian grocer. I'm told this particular place will be just what I need.
There's a Jewel-Osco (or as the locals call it, "the Jewel") within walking distance of our house, but as I've learned, Jewel's are independently owned and the prices vary pretty substantially at each location. The Jewel by us is the most expensive around, so convenient though it may be, I shop elsewhere.
Our very first grocery experience upon moving to Chicago was at Mariano's. It looks like it'd be a very pricey place, but it's pretty reasonable. It's also the first place I've seen with a full blown wine bar inside it. It cracked me up enough to take a picture of it.
Do people actually go here to drink wine? Or do they get so frustrated by shopping that they just veer over for a glass of red.
There have definitely been moments when shopping with my crew that I would have welcomed a glass of wine. Especially when they throw a fit to get the taxi buggy. Confession: I hate those things. I never use them unless Kyle's with me because they hold a fraction of the items I usually need and we end up pushing 2 baskets.
I am impressed with the wine selection. You gotta be.
The other side of this store also has a sushi bar, coffee bar, more cheeses than I've ever seen...it's pretty fancy.
Aside from finding new grocery sources, settling in involves opening a whole lot of boxes and finding new homes for their contents. As easy as boxes might be to fill up, unpacking them takes forever. They start out lining the halls and walls and slowly get whittled down to boxes that contain things you don't use that often and you almost begin to not see them as you go about your day. That's the danger - their seeming invisibility. Cause they're still there!
In the picture above, Wyeth and Singer are sitting in our second floor hallway. Hallways are great holding places for boxes. This particular hallway had carpet on it when we moved in, and we have since pulled that up. Just for grins - see the electrical socket on the wall behind Wyeth? See the cord plugged into it? Ok, now note the little power strip at the edge of the hall by the stair railings (sort of directly behind Wyeth)...I went to unplug that cord and realized that the cord was actually underneath the carpet. The carpet had been laid down OVER the power strip cord. Why, I ask you? Why? Just chalk it up to one of the countless peculiarities left behind from the home's previous owners. Those just keep popping up.
This is the boys' room. When we first moved in. What a mess. Not settled in so much.
The key to not losing your mind as you settle is flexibility. (And grocery store wine bars). Just kidding. Not about the flexibility. You gotta be a little bohemian and ok with it. Mattresses on the floor. Pulling clothes out of suitcases. No window coverings. Window a/c units just out there. As with pretty much everything in my life, it stretches me - forcing me to give up the illusion of control and order which I feel I need.
Thankfully, the little ones adapt quite easily to all this. The chaos affects them, of course, but in different ways. And as soon as a semblance of order or structure is put in place, they really do begin to settle in. Even when our clothes are in suitcases because nothing else is set up.
To give you some perspective as we begin our story in this new house, the previous owners moved in here in 1965 and lived here until fall of 2015. They left their mark all over the place. They were owners of an antique store, jewelry designers, collectors of various things including vintage cars, WWII memorabilia, model airplanes, posters, glass objects and who knows what else. The walls of this house were covered in so many picture hooks, hangers and nails that I can only imagine what it looked like. It's pretty clear that the walls were so covered up, they couldn't even see the condition of the plaster walls. Hence their current state.
The poster above is on the outside of the laundry bin in the basement. Pretty cool, actually.
In the early days of settling in, Kyle took off work and we all pitched in to re-assemble beds and create as much cozy as we could. Dorien helped Kyle put Brooklyn's bed frame together. Her room is on the second floor and is one of two rooms on that floor which had not been covered with carpet. Her floors are in good condition, and I think they may be a pine? Not positive. I'm learning about all this as I go, but I do know the downstairs main areas are oak, the kitchen floor and back staircase are maple and the 2nd floor is something different.
When old houses like this one were built, the main rooms were all about show - impressing guests. They used the fancy wood in those spaces, such as the beautiful oak flooring in our house. Then, the areas of the house which weren't open to the general public used a less fancy, but very durable wood - usually a maple. Which is what we have. The floors with bedrooms often had something completely different. If there was a servant's area, which is what our third floor was used for, then that could have a different wood as well. In this case, whatever is there was covered with a linoleum that was then covered with carpet in the 70's. We are in the process of unearthing the original floor. More on that at a later date.
Back to the previous owners.
Due to their collections, there were handmade shelving units EVERYWHERE.
It was a true feat in storage/display creativity. I will show you pictures of each room of the house in its "before" state in a different post, but trust me when I say that in order to even consider "settling in" it was necessary to strip the house of its thousands of nails, hooks and shelving units.
Kyle and the boys went around the house for the first several days with a drill and a box (for screws and nails) and dismantled, unscrewed and hauled out everything that was attached to the walls. It was hilarious to hear Kyle exclaim, "What in the world?" as he stood on a ladder to reach pulley systems mounted near the ceiling by our stairs, or as he pondered the electrical socket installed about 3 inches below the ceiling in another room.
The boys' work resulted in an unbelievable pile of wood and metal that lasted about a day in the alley behind us. The scrap metal trucks thought we were a God-send.
Here's some of what came off the walls. Just to give you an idea. Some of the wood pieces we kept thinking it might come in useful in the future when it warms up and August and Kyle build a clubhouse...
The boys were fascinated.
So, in answer to that question - "How are you settling in?"
The answer is slowly. One day at a time. One thing at a time. Little by little.