A Visit To Shedd Aquarium

On Saturday, we all went to Aquarium. 

For many years, I had a family Aquarium membership, but when the kids were grown up and gone, I witched to the individual one, occasionally bargaining for a pair of extra free tickets. When I realized in May that the Aquarium is reopening and that now it would be much easier for Anna’s family to visit, I decided to upgrade the membership back to the Family level. My individual membership expiration date was September 30, and I was sure it wouldn’t be a problem to upgrade earlier.

It turned out that it was a big problem! There was no way to pro-rate the membership. There were only two options: either to pay the full year of upgraded memberships right away, only for it to expire on September 30, or to wait till September 30 and upgrade then. I could not even “annul” the current membership because “two memberships at the same time are not allowed.” An additional complication was that they already took my money before realizing that they can’t do what I asked them to do :).

I was on the calls with them four times until I finally decided to take the September 30 upgrade. Also, they gave me two complimentary adult tickets and ticketed Nadia as a Chicago resident 🙂

That way, on Saturday, we all went to Aquarium pretty much for free:).

It was so-so-so good to be in Aquarium after such a long break!

Continue reading “A Visit To Shedd Aquarium”

On The Positive Side: The Birthday Party

Believe it or not, but the presents arrived at 5-30, Anna and & Family returned from the beach at the same time, and Igor and mom came shortly after. I locked myself in my bedroom to wrap the presents while my mom tried to get in and ask whether the presents arrived :).
I’ve got a dozen plastic cups filled with cherries and made two fruit bowls, and secured the candles “1” and “4” in the respective bowls.

The party turned out amazing. I was just thinking about the water balloons, but the neighbor kids were ahead of me and had a whole bucket of them ready:)

There was a balloon fight, and I told them it’s OK to throw balloons at me (I needed to cool down:)). Igor also offered himself as a target, and John smashed water balloons in his fist and threw them back. Also, one of the party items I bought out of desperation appeared to be the greatest hit: the tiny tubes of sparkling body gels! The girls covered themselves in sparkles, and I let them paint all parts of my body not covered with clothes 🙂

Then, a neighbor who is a mother of three girls observed the battleground covered with tiny colorful pieces of rubber and suggested the contest: who will pick up most of the pieces will get the prize! The girls rushed to all corners of the courtyard, and in a matter of minutes, the courtyard was clean. We decided that the race was tight, and everybody got an extra cupcake 🙂

How Many Things Can Go Wrong :)

I will try to catch up on all the things that happened since Thursday because I had no time to write about anything.

It was a birthday week for both of my granddaughters; Kira turned one on Jun 15, and Nadia turned four on Jun 19. The plan was that all the family would come on Thursday afternoon, we would spend the rest of the day on the beach. Then, we planned tons of activities for Friday and Saturday, and we had tons of fun, although the record number of things went wrong:)

First, due to several reasons, they left later, and then hit the rush hour traffic and then came to my place too late to go to the beach.

Nadia, Anna, and I went to the beach on Friday morning while John stayed at home and Kira had her nap, and the beach was awesome. We came to the beach a little bit after nine and were among the first visitors. The water warmed up during the previous several days, and a little bit later, it warmed up even more.
We spent more than two hours at the beach, and Nadia still didn’t want to go home.

After that, things started to fall apart. We planned a birthday party in the courtyard, and I sent an email to the neighbors to come and celebrate with us on Friday at 6-45. One thing I can’t bake is cupcakes, so I ordered mini cupcakes from Vanille Chicago, my favorite patisserie (I blogged a lot about them previously). It turned out that now that I live in the city, I can order delivery, and delivery is free for orders over $50! Yay! I ordered delivery on Thursday because we didn’t plan to be at home most of the day on Friday, and that was the only thing that went perfectly well – the cupcakes were delivered to my doorsteps when promised, and they were flawless.

I ordered both my and mom’s presents from IKEA because they have the best toys ever, and I did it two and a half weeks in advance. They said the parcel would be delivered on Monday, June 14, but it was not, and nothing appeared on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they sent me tracking information with delivery by the end of day Wednesday. The next morning, they changed it for delivery by the end of Thursday, and you guess what happened then… Now, the question was whether the presents will arrive before the party…
In addition, Anna realized that she forgot all the party supplies at home, so we had to buy something instead. I wanted to maximize their time at the beach, so I insisted that I go to Target and pick up the party supplies. Anna told me what she had in mind, but Target was almost out of everything. I spent some time figuring out what I should buy instead (everything worked great in the end), and then I walked to the CTA station thinking whether I should go to Jewel Osco or go back and join the family at the beach. Suddenly, I saw the message from my ecobee saying that my air condition seems not operating properly, which meant that I had to go home and see what’s up.

It turned out that the A/C was indeed not working, which was a problem with 84F outside and having five people and one dog sleeping in the house. Also, my co-worker who lives nearby just texted me that he is coming to visit and see the girls.

I returned home, let him in, and called the Heating and A/C service, which we used before. It was already after 4 PM and Friday, and I knew they do not work after-hours and weekends, so when they didn’t return my call, I realized I needed to find an emergency service.

So here I was, at 5 PM, googling the emergency AC repair, having Anna & Family at the beach, my co-worker in my house, presents didn’t arrive, my mom and Igor calling and asking when they can come, party supplies not unpacked and dinner for seven people not even started, not even mentioning the fruit plates which I planned to make for the girls instead of the birthday cupcakes!


Yesterday, Igor was going to take mom to the Devon market, but it was too short of notice, and she said she could not go at that time. So I thought that in that case, I could take her to ALDI (and show her the way so that she could do it herself in the future). Knowing her daily schedule, I called her at 3 PM to tell her that I will stop by in an hour. She didn’t pick up, but in a could of seconds, she called me back. To my surprise and horror, she said: I am not sure I will be at home in an hour, I am not sure where I am. When I asked her to read the name of the street at the intersection, she replied: California.

Those who know a little bit about Chicago geography can understand my feelings. I asked what’s the other street name, and she said: Toughy. She could not tell me which direction she is going. She asked a couple of people where is Morse CTA station, and she said they were should her different directions. I hypothesize that people were just showing directions to the nearest CTA because she was so far away.
I had to wait till she reached the next intersection (aI opened Google maps and followed her) to confirm that she was going in the opposite direction.

First, I wanted to get Uber and pick her up, but I was afraid she wouldn’t stay in one place for 30 min, so I started to direct her over the phone. I was also afraid that the phone would get discharged, so I didn’t keep her on the phone the whole time. After one of my calls, she told me that she already turned on Morse Ave and she knows where she is going. I got dressed and prepared to leave the house. I called her one more time, and she said she is not sure why she is on RIdge, not on Morse. I asked her again to read the nearest intersection sign and told her to stay where she was (again, for those familiar with the surroundings, she was at the corner of N. Ridge Ave and Chase). When I finally found her, she was out on the streets for more than three hours and asked why I am calling Uber when we can walk home.

Yes, I already set up location sharing on her phone, and I made sure that the internet is on all the time, and Anna and I talked about other precautions.

I Just Had The First Party!

This morning, Vlad and Dylon left for DC. Originally, it was for Dylon’s job, which he starts in September. So originally, we thought that they would be around for most of the summer. That’s where the plans for my move mid-summer were coming from. But then Vlad started to look for a job too, and now they are moving earlier because of him :). Vlad can’t be without a job for long, and now he will be a Beverage Manager for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in DC.

Anna and the girls came to visit me on Friday night, and we and an almost impromptu party at my new place.I also texted my neighbors from the next building I met a couple of days before to come over and meet my family. It was so good! Good having most of the family together, good being around the like-minded people, good to meet new folks like in “before” times:). Vlad ordered a takeout which tasted great, and we finally opened my “Technologist of the Year” champaign and a couple of other bottles I had for years!

When I was packing, I found several boxes of glasses which I didn’t know about!

Oh, and Vlad got all “A” for his classes, so now he finally got his diploma in Classics!

We Moved My Mom!

On the one hand, it was way easier than moving me because mom only had 22 boxes, not 155, and she has less of the furniture, and both places are on the first floor. But, on the other hand … that was a phycological challenge. Mom did not understand how to pack, and although I told her multiple times that I will pack everything, she was still trying to get things into piles, and then she would get upset when I break these piles. Also, she wanted to take with her all the plastic bags from the stores she accumulated over the past three years and all the disposable packaging she ever had …

Skipping all the details: I was able to pack everything, Vlad rented a truck, Dylan drove me to Palatine, we loaded the truck and unloaded.

Continue reading “We Moved My Mom!”

Traveling In The Opposite Direction

Because I was so absorbed with my move, I didn’t even tell anybody about Boris’s visit – the first time after November 2019.

He technically could come through all that time as a spouse of a US citizen. But first, there were no flights. Then, it was really bad here, and I didn’t want him to come and sit inside for a week. Later, it became possible for me to travel, and you know the rest. Boris said he didn’t want to get sick outside Finland, which I could understand.

Long story short, he felt comfortable traveling after his first dose (In Finland, due to the vaccine shortage, they have a twelve weeks interval between two doses).
Like when I traveled to Finland, he has to present the papers twice more than the number of borders he crossed. But unlike with me, one situation became very serious.

He checked -in for both flights on the way to Chicago, but just when he was about to board the plane in Frankfurt, they didn’t let him on. An official told him that B1 travelers from the Schengen zone are not allowed, and “if he were traveling from Russia, it would be fine.” Boris pleaded with him that in his case, he could travel, and in the end, they reissued him a boarding pass, and he boarded – the last passenger on the flight.

He had no problems passing the border control here, and the officer, as it often happens, was amused with our family arrangements :).

He also had to take the test on the way back, and it turned out that the only way he could do this was to come to the airport yet another hour earlier. It all worked fine, and there were no more issues. However, Boris is still bitter that the Biden administration didn’t do anything with this ridiculous situation when people can’t travel from the Schengen countries but can travel from Russia. And I agree 🙂

And Now I Need To Move Mom!

Another day off work spent on packing my Mom/s stuff. I left my house at 7-40, Got to mom’s house at 10 AM, and found that a) she didn’t turn her air conditioning on and was wondering why it is so hot inside b) her shower faucet broke the night before, and she didn’t email me (her landlord accepts service requests through their website only).

So the first thing I had to do was to open my laptop and send a service request. And then I started packing, which mostly involved taking her stuff out of the bags and the small boxes and putting it into moving boxes while she was whaling that I am breaking her order of things.

hen we sat down to eat, and simultaneously, my real estate agent called, and the maintenance worker knocked on the door. I managed to sort it out :), and then I took mom to her doctor’s appointment, and while we were there, her shower was fixed.

Then, I did more packing, and very son the everything which was on the surface was packed 🙂 Next, mom said she does not remember where her mailbox key was…. I stopped at the ACE Hardware to make extra mailbox keys and then drove back to the train station. And then I had to meet with Igor to check on mom’s new apartment.

And then I had to go to the grocery store.
And the air conditioner is not fixed.

Well, life will be better!