Happy 2nd Birthday Wesley…I Think We’ll Stop Here…

December 12, 2012 on 7:10 am | In Announcements | Add a Comment

This past Friday, we celebrated Wesley’s 2nd Birthday. In the morning, Aimee and I took him to the DuPage Children’s Museum. Out of all the cool activities they had there, I believe Wesley’s favorite was the big wind tunnel:

In the evening, we just had a small celebration at Lolo and Lola’s. Here is Wesley acting cheeky as we sing “Happy Birthday”:

On Saturday, we had the whole family over at Lolo and Lola’s for Wesley’s official birthday party. As expected, the house was packed to the rafters with family and food. Here is Aimee helping Wesley open up his gifts:

Then, we all gathered around the cake for another round of “Happy Birthday”. I think Wesley was a bit awestruck at all of the attention. He still needs to learn that the candles are there to blow out and not to touch:\

And, this is definitely an appropriate place to put an end to 15 Hours Ahead and our great Australian adventure. Hope you all have enjoyed reading about our life Down Under as we have had writing about it. We certainly look forward to the day we can read this with Wesley and teach him about all the things he experienced during his first two years. It is a time in the life of our family that Aimee and I will cherish forever.

Joe, Aimee and Wesley

0 Hours Ahead

December 7, 2012 on 2:53 pm | In Announcements | 1 Comment

In contrast to many of the pictures we have taken over the past two years, here is Wesley just a couple days ago. This past Saturday, we safely arrived in Chicago. As always, the trip back was long and tiring, but we made it. We were happy that Wesley slept a good deal on both flights. He wasn’t too happy when he was awake, but you can’t win them all. Plus, all of our luggage arrive safely. We had 4 boxes, 5 big pieces of luggage, 2 backpacks, 2 small pieces of luggage, a pram and a car seat. Luckily, we had some kind souls along the way that took mercy on our plight. A number of random delays made us almost miss our connecting flight to Chicago in Los Angeles, so we were happy to see everything on the conveyor belt at O’Hare. We were also happy to see family again. Wesley has shed any kind of “stranger danger” and been interacting with anyone that pays attention to him. For him, it’s almost like we never left.

While it was hard leaving the nice weather in Sydney, we were happy that our first few days in Chicago were unseasonably warm. And, I can say in all seriousness, that the cold weather has not been as shocking as I expected. In fact, it is a welcome change. I might not say that in January, but that is beside the point. Right now, we are still getting adjusted to the time change. The new schedule was not kind to Wesley the first couple days. We are pretty sure he cried himself hoarse. It will take some time for all three of us to be truly settled in. Once we unraveled everything over two years ago, we knew we were going to have to ravel it back up upon our return. It won’t happen over night, but if we have learned anything from the changes in our life during our time away, it is that it will eventually get done.

Buh-Bye Sydney

November 29, 2012 on 1:35 pm | In Announcements | Add a Comment

We still have two days left, but things have truly wound down here. The keys were handed over to our apartment yesterday and everything is at the hotel now. Plus, Aimee has pretty much wrapped a report she wanted to finish and has shifted her focus to closing out at work. Save for a few details, we are set to head home. Since we are only down the road from this water playground in Darling Harbour, Wesley and I headed down there today. We will probably go there tomorrow as well…it is supposed to be 90 degrees. Here are a couple of pictures of Wesley before the real thing lands in Chicago in a few days:


So, in the immortal words of Wesley…Buh-bye Sydney. Hope it is not the last time we meet…

Getting Rid of House and Home

November 26, 2012 on 1:56 pm | In Apartment | Add a Comment

It probably doesn’t happen very often in life where you are forced to get rid of almost all of your possessions, so this past weekend was certainly a trip. Other than selling a handful of things over the past month, this weekend was the time everything had to leave. I had posted some of our bigger items on a classified ad site with the note that it had to be picked up over the weekend. I had responses for a couple of things, but we still had a few things left to sell. The yard sale was set for Saturday from 8-12. Here is Wesley just before we were to open our doors:

Overall, the yard sale wasn’t a huge success. We had an hour and a half period when no one showed up. We did have someone pickup the couch and buy a few things. And, a woman came at the very end of the time to buy a bunch of items since she had moved recently. However, the bed and the cot were unsold. So, I re-posted those items and offered them at a big discount. Sure enough, I had a taker for the bed and a taker for the cot. The people who came to get the cot also bought the changing table. Then, they contacted me later to say they would take all of the toys and baby items. The wife is due in March. Here is Wesley in our increasingly empty apartment on Sunday morning.

Our local family came by on Sunday for lunch and to say goodbye. The main item we knew they were taking was the table and chairs, but they were certainly happy to take a few other things as well. Then, someone came over to pickup the fridge later in the afternoon. So, we realized you don’t need a lot of people to buy your things…you just need the right people.

The whole experience was pretty interesting since we had all these different people coming to our home and taking things away. Almost everyone asked why we were selling everything. Like I said, this is not your normal situation.

Speaking of which, someone asked me if I thought Wesley knew what was going on. Even at his age, I’m sure he must know something is happening. At the same time, we have thrown many different situations at him over the past couple months that he seems to have a good bit of resiliency. We’ve been without a fridge for just over a day, and when Wesley wanted more milk today, he wasn’t confused…he pointed at the cooler. One funny thing he has done while we started moving items out…his new TV watching position:

A few more things to dispose of, then it is on to the hotel…

Three More Things to Miss…

November 22, 2012 on 2:53 pm | In Australian Culture | Add a Comment

I’ve already spent some time here talking about some of the things we will miss about Sydney. And, I think it goes without saying that we will miss Sydney because it is a constant reminder of the first two years of Wesley’s life. Just thought I’d share a few more things…

The Accent


I’m not going to miss it for the reasons you are probably thinking. I’m going to miss it because it was the soundtrack of our lives here. When you are used to hearing American accents all of your life, it is something you don’t think about. For some reason, I expected to here an American accent every once in a while…and almost never did. When I did hear it, my ears instantly perked up because it was a reminder of home. So, hearing the Australian accent everywhere we went made it pretty clear we were no longer in the United States. And after a while, I stopped thinking about it just like I did back home. Now, I’m sure I will miss the Australian accent when we return home.

The Harbour

When we first arrived in Sydney, I was instantly interested in the downtown area. Since Chicago is well-known for its architecture, I wanted to see what Sydney had to offer. And while the skyline is nice to look at, it pales in comparison to Chicago. And, I began to realize that the buildings really aren’t all that impressive. What does make Sydney interesting and beautiful is the harbour. Specifically, how the buildings and houses look gathered around the harbour. I always wanted to see different views of the harbour because each one gave you a different perspective of the city. In my opinion, that is the main tourist attraction here.

The Weather

We have joked many times about the winter here because, well, it is not winter. People in Sydney don’t know how nice they have it. Does the rain often put a damper on things? Yes. Does the wind come off the Antarctic every once in a while and change an 80 degree day into a very cool 60 degree day? Yes. However, when you can comfortably wear shorts 7 months out of the year and not have to own a pair of heavy winter gloves, you tend to forget about little annoyances like wind and rain. I just hope I haven’t become too climatized…

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