Sorry for the delay! I can't believe it's been almost a month since our last installment!
After Josh & Kara's visit, I must say, Peoria is starting to feel more like our home. We have a church we attend, jobs we go to, a bible study on Sunday nights, and a group of friends we are getting to know! Things are starting to settle down and feel more regular, though we continue to miss our friends and family very much. Building a life from scratch can be hard, but we try to keep things interesting. We've tried some of the local attractions and restaurants to get better acquainted with our new town and keep our spirits up as we build our life in Peoria.
A couple weeks ago, we went to a Giant Flea Market (insert jokes about Giant Fleas here). It was pretty cool. There were sections of used books (which, of course, we loved). But there were also tables of really neat nostalgic stuff. Like 80's memorabilia (Alf dolls and lunch boxes, anyone?), crazy knives that we were sure belonged in Middle Earth, lots of WWII era stuff (uniforms, photos, magazines, newspapers, etc.), and the list goes on. Some highlights: a book of Bible stories published in 1889, "tar baby" dolls, K-12 textbooks from the 20's and 30's, magazines with articles about "negroes," and tables full of signed baseball cards, balls, and bats. It was really fun, and they have one at the end of every month. It may become a regular thing for the Osbornes.
We've also tried a few restaurants that we've enjoyed. Some friends took us to Culver's, home of the Butterburger and Frozen Custards. It's a pretty good fast food joint. Frozen Custard is like a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Their butterburgers are pretty solid, but as Nathan points out, it's not In-N-Out. Though nothing is.
I went to a sushi place with a new friend last weekend and, boy, was Nathan jealous! He has been scared to try sushi here. Truthfully, a sushi restaurant really should only visited once recommended by a trusted friend. It was actually really good, so we plan on going together soon. We are going a different sushi place with another couple on Friday night, so we may have 2 sushi joints in Peoria! Very cool.
Another favorite place is Cyd's, a gourmet cafe that I love!! They normally close at 7, but on Wednesday they stay open till 9 pm and have an amazing dinner menu. We have gone to a couple of Wednesday nights, and last time, we were blown away by the Maple Bacon ice cream. Don't knock it till you try it. Changed my life.
Speaking of all this food, it's a good thing the kids at my job keep me running around all day. My job certainly is a workout. But I have to say I absolutely LOVE those kids. I come home with stories everyday, and it makes us look forward to a day my stories will be about our OWN kids. I have one little guy that likes to eat EVERYTHING. Chalk, sand, paint, seriously. I told Nathan that he was licking paint off his fingers and Nathan asked me if I tried some to see what it tasted like. No. I'm not 2. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't eat the paint because he has a refined palette. He eats it because he is 2.
I get lots of hugs during the day and lots of "I love yous" which really warms my heart. But I do have to discipline my little guys, and I make myself laugh at the rules I have to make up. "NO" is absolutely forbidden in my class. Whenever I ask someone to do something, and they say "no", my response is usually, "We don't use that word with our teacher. That is an ugly word." Some of the more "spirited" kids have gotten around my response by making random noises rather than saying "no".
"You need to sit on the chair. Put your bottom on the chair please."
"Bottom on the chair pl.."
"BA! ... GAH!!!"
"Bottom on the ch.."
What am I supposed to say to that argument? I'm at a loss...
As for the weather, we are hanging in there. I've shoveled the driveway a few times, and I'm very proud of myself for being so rugged and self-reliant. Nathan doesn't mind the shoveling so much, but having to get ready earlier to leave time for snow prep is annoying us both. It just takes so much longer to get out the door. Wear layers, bundle up, coat-hat-scarf-gloves, warm up the car, shovel the driveway, salt the driveway, lock up, and finally, go on your way. In California, it's just grab keys and go. Sigh.... so jealous.
One funny weather related thing is trash day. No one puts their trash out the night before. You can't. It will snow and be too heavy. So EVERYONE puts their trash out in the morning. Along with all the other prep they have to do to get to work in the morning. Annoying.
The other funny thing is how many people leave their cars running EVERYWHERE. Like it's just fine. Pretty much all the parents at my work leave their cars running when picking up their kids. They get out, come inside, find their child, chat with the teacher, get child's coat, argue about putting coat on, finally convince child to put on coat, walk slowly with child down the hall, sign child out, walk to the car. Long process and the care is just sitting outside, running. We see cars running in front of pretty much every store we go to and even some restaurants. What the heck?! Why are these cars not all being stolen? Welcome to Illinois.
Lastly, I must share that I've been comparing stories with our friends who moved here from out of town. The couples group we are in is mostly out of towners like us. Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, etc. I was telling them how I get the same reaction everytime someone finds out I'm from California. "Why did you move to Peoria?" Or some variation thereof. I've even gotten a few "you poor things" from well-meaning, concerned citizens. After sharing this with my girlfriends, I came to find out my friend from Missouri usually gets general acceptance. "Where are you from?" "Missouri" "Oh,okay." No concern or great sadness from the Peoria native. Same thing for Michigan. Florida got some concern, but not quite so much as I had experienced. Apparently, Illinois residents have a firm grasp on where they landed in the recent home-state rankings. Poor Missouri. There's always next year.