Pictured right: …

Pictured right: Kavi, at one of her favorite activities, pulling cookbooks off the low cabinet, and napkins out to spill across the floor. When I bought that piece of furniture, I was only thinking that it fit nicely in our dining room up against the kitchen island. Little did I know that it would become a baby playground (and a place where I'm constantly picking up after her...).

It's been a rough couple of days. Saturday night, for unknown reasons, Kavi kept waking up, and keeping us up. Since I'd stayed up a bit late talking to Kevin first, the end result was that I only got about three hours sleep that night, and Kevin got about five. We ended up writing off most of the day as a loss -- we just felt too horrible to get much of anything done. We did go for a walk; now that the weather's nicer, I'm trying to get in at least one substantial walk with baby and puppy every day. It's even easier since Susan sent Kavi's birthday present a bit early, a very lightweight (11 pounds) stroller (the Maclaren Triumph). Must take a photo to show you at some point; Kavi has a pink and brown stroller blanket that matches the stroller, and she looks super-adorable in it. Especially now that she's out in the sun a bit more, and is turning pink and brown herself. :-)

We also went over to Oak Park and just drove around in the rain, looking at the houses and the neighborhood. We've had this ongoing discussion about where we want to live, whether we're staying in Chicago long-term, etc. There's the possibility of us both going on the job market in the next few years, so we can try to get us both tenure-track jobs (well, tenured for him) in the same place. It'd certainly mean substantially more money, but it'd also mean a lot more administrative work, and at least right now, it doesn't feel like the right choice to me. I think we're leaning towards expecting to stay in Chicago long-term. Maybe in a few years, if a tenure-track job in the area opens up, I'll apply for it. But right now, with Kavi still small and our tentatively planning to try for another kid in the next year (yes, that's right, we're insane, just go with it), and me still wanting to keep up my writing, I think more admin work is to be avoided. Once the kids (plural?!) are in school, or at least pre-school, maybe things will change? I hear I'll have a little more free time then...those of you with older kids, tell me now if I'm wrong, please!

In any case, Oak Park (or Forest Park, next neighborhood over) looks really lovely. Great public schools, wide, tree-lined shady streets that are quiet and safe enough for kids to bicycle around on. Fewer hip restaurants and trendy coffee shops, but I think we can live with that. We still haven't even been to half the places in our current neighborhood (mostly because we feel bad abandoning our neurotic, whiny puppy at home. Also, eating out is expensive.) Oak Park is about the same commuting distance from UIC as our current condo, and for a similar price to our place, we can get a similar-sized single family home, which means a yard for Ellie and Kavi, and maybe even an extra room or two. (Playroom / guest room? Study?) Some of the rooms would likely be smaller, and we'd probably lose our lovely open modern floor plan, but I think there advantages to having separate small rooms too. A bit of privacy is nice, also closing the door between you and the hollering toddlers. :-)

The houses are beautiful, mostly about a hundred years old. It's hard to say what kind of style I like best -- I'm drawn to Victorians, with their beautiful bay windows and turrets, but I also like old brick houses, with moss and ivy climbing up the walls. I'm not so fond of stucco, which there's sadly a lot of in the area, and neither Kevin nor I particular like the Chicago bungalow style, which is also popular there. But in the end, the exterior isn't so important, ditto whether the interior is updated yet -- we're trying to focus on how many rooms, how large they are, and the basic layout. We want a house with good bones. It may be a long search -- we don't actually have any need to move until Kavi's ready for pre-school. Or we may find the perfect place tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

This morning is all about cleaning -- Kevin's parents are arriving this afternoon to visit for a few days. They actually won't care if I've washed the balcony windows or mopped the wood floors, but their visit is a good excuse to motivate myself to do some long-delayed spring cleaning projects. And with every bit I do, the place looks nicer and I'm happier to be living here. Especially if we end up moving sometime soon, I want to be sure that I enjoy our current home as much as possible, because it is beautiful. If it had an extra room and a yard, we might never leave.

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