Four exclamation points worth of excitement is welling up in me, and why?
We have lived in this same one-bedroom apartment
at Trinity International University
in Deerfield (really, Bannockburn), IL
for OVER A YEAR!
Ok, for most people, that's no big deal.
For us, it's a first. We've never lived in one place for over
a year since we were married just under 3.5 years ago, and
today we realized we had moved here a year ago
after we remembered it's Saturday, not Friday, and
that we moved here a year ago this past Thursday.
Yes, that's almost a run-on sentence,
and no, I'm not fixing it.
So, after we exchanged high-fives and I said "I'm going to blog about this!",
John came up with the good idea to highlight the places we have lived so far.
No pictures of our apartments for now, although I am
sure I can add some some other time,
but here's a little run-down of all the places we have lived since the summer of 2008.
Twin Cities, MN (our engagement)
I lived in Chaska, MN, and John lived
in Dinky Town of the University of MN campus in Minneapolis.
Chaska highlights: I lived by a nice little lake that had some good trails around it, although way to many bugs. That's a lake for you, though, so no big deal. The old part of the town was historic and pretty, and I should have spent more time there and explored around their old buildings and parks near the MN River. Also, I only lived about a quarter mile from where I worked, but was still far enough away that I didn't run into students every minute.
Dinky Town highlights: Lots of restaurants, close to everything you need to see in Minneapolis, and right near a bunch of other cultural highlights. What I liked best is that John lived in a legal fraternity (he was in law school) that was in an old historic mansion. It had nice architecture and was a welcome escape from suburbia (I needed it!). Once you got over the frequent gun shots heard from not-at-all far away, you began to appreciate the awesome music scene and tasty hole-in-the-wall cafes that were just a block or two away.
John worked at a boy scout camp and a chaplain and an instructor.
Camp highlights: this city boy with a country boy heart got his fill of manliness that summer before we got married. He also had an awesome time working with kids and preaching God's Word. This place had plenty of bugs, no air conditioning, and the same food every single week, but John loved it to bits. I got to visit him that summer, and it restored my faith that teenage boys could be acceptable citizens in society. John talks about going back from time to time, and he usually is smiling when he does it.
Our first apartment
Ames highlights: We got hitched in August '08 and settled in to a two-bed, one bath, galley kitchen apartment. This was the biggest place, save "The Center" - see below, that we have yet to live in. We packed everything we have ever owned and wasn't still at our parents into this place and still had room to spare. The kitchen was tight, and I'll admit that I hardly cooked in it compared to what I do now, but the place came with every amenity we could have possibly wanted: new carpet, new paint, free internet, free cable, all utilities included except for electric, a deck, a nice bathroom, and a stones throw from a Walmart. Yes, this MN girl would have never conceived having a Walmart in her backyard as a good thing, but I'll tell you - it provided for great late-night entertainment and wallet-friendly purchase. Plus, we didn't waste gas driving there, even in the winter.
Newton highlights: Without firm employment in Ames and a new 12-month lease waving in front of our faces, John wisely decided that we should live in Newton. Living with his parents was a little daunting conceptually, but that's not what he had in mind. We ended up living in his grandpa's office building/warehouse, which housed his old electrical contracting business when it was still operating. Meisner Center, which has the creepiest shadows I've ever had to live with, was set up for four months as our apartment. How did we do it? Well, pictures from that I do have somewhere, but we used a conference room as our living room, the main office as our bedroom, the break room as our kitchen, and the secondary entryway as our computer room. The last one was because it was the only place with a window close enough to the WiFi one of the center's renters let us use for free. The bathroom had a shower (for mid-day golf outings by the boss - used once, ever), and we did laundry at John's parents house. We also watched TV, cooked, were ate dinner, and played games at John's parent's house. We basically lived there and slept at "The Center." It was a good place to live, save a few break-ins that happened while we were asleep in a different part of the building. I only found out about the second one this past Thanksgiving because John and his Dad didn't want to freak me out anymore than I already was. Overall, though, it was a safe, fun place to live for the fall.
Des Moines, IA
DSM Highlights: I'll try to make this shorter than "The Center," but it will be hard. We LOVED Des Moines! We lived the oldest historic neighborhood in DSM, Sherman Hill. The houses there are amazingly beautiful, and it was a pleasure just to take a walk whenever we were able. We lived in an apartment complex with great neighbors and an incredibly nice landlord named Dan. Dan would do a great job attending our needs, and he also helped facility a nice community! Oh, and we got to paint our 2 bed, 1 bath apartment, too. It was fun, but made us never want to paint an apartment again! :) In addition to a nice apartment experience, we were walking-distance from Downtown DSM, as well as some awesome restaurants and a fancy schmancy grocery store. Finally, we had a community garden here at the local elementary school, from which we learned what to do and not to do when it comes to growing your own things. SO fun and such a great experience overall. We'd suggest this neighborhood to anyone. Finally, we attended a wonderful church. Grace Church in East Des Moines, where we met awesome people in and out of our small group, were a part of Awana, and grew more in our faith than we had in a long time.
John's parent's house
Newton, again!: Well, due to several events all colliding at once, we ended up deciding to attend seminary here in Chicagoland. The trick with that was that we had a month in between when our lease ended in DSM and when we'd be moving to IL. Thankfully, John's parents are great, and we got to stay with them in their 3-bedroom, 1.5 bath house for that month. Now, we'd be heading up to MN for Christmas anyway, so we weren't there the whole time. That being said, we were in tight quarters for a while, but we got used to it. It was fun spending time with them, particularly when you compare that to purging through every single item you own in order to downsize for a big move. Lots of games, food, and good memories came from that month. His parents are very generous and hospitable, that's for sure!
---- A little aside: this past summer we lived at my parents house, too, until my dad passed away.
While it was definitely difficult considering the circumstances, it was a great experience doing life
with my mom and sister. I deffintely miss seeing them every day, and I don't take it for granted
when I get to. In addition to spending great time with my mom, dad, and sister, I also got to see
my friend and her husband bring their son home from Ethopia, another friend's little one-year-old
boy, have coffee and late-night walks with my best friend from HS, and see many family
members throughout those weeks. Plus, my dad affirmed his faith in Christ - praise God!
And that leads us to our little apartment in Bannockburn, IL, with a Deerfield mailing address and an incredibly expensive overall price tag. We've met great people here - great, GREAT people who have awesome hearts for God. We're still figuring this area out, but these 12 months haven't been without some fun discoveries of what the North Shore has to offer. Hopefully we'll be able to get to know more people, both on-campus and off, and we'll continue to appreciate this place as our home more and more.
So there you have it - everywhere we've lived in the last 3.5 years. It's been good training for the potential future of living as an army wife, I'd have to say!