Steve and I have made the discovery that our new home, the Quad Cities, is suprisingly cool. If you don't live in the midwest and have become (purely by accident on my part) a bit of a snob about it, you certainly wouldn't expect a section of Illinois that is nowhere near Chicago and a couple of cities in Iowa to have any kind of cool factor. And yet...
There are more independent coffee bars here than there are in all of Northern Virginia. Sure, there are fewer Starbuckses, but Starbucks isn't exactly cool, is it? Almost all of the public libraries here are new and gorgeous AND include yet more coffee shops. Why did no one think of that idea before?
There's a lot more for us, as a family, to do than there was in our old neck of the woods. On a cold day, we were pretty much limited to taking Jack to the play area at the mall (unless we wanted to take a pissed off toddler on a really long road trip). Now the options abound. We can keep things simple and take him to look at the fish, cats, and bunnies at Teske's, a garden store that sells pets. There is a play area at the mall here, too. The library has a gigantic children's section, including. Or, we can get more creative. Steve tells me that the Children's Museum in Bettendorf is amazing. I had a great time taking Jack to John Deere Pavillion to climb on all of the tractors they had displayed. There is a cute little zoo to go to when the weather gets nice, plus several other museums we haven't visited yet. All that, plus plenty of parks, walks along the river, and so on.
And life is indeed simpler and slower. This morning was really a great one for me. I woke up, got dressed, and had time to drink coffee, read the paper, and cook a pot of steel-cut oatmeal. Then, I woke up Jack and got him dressed. He wanted both waffles and eggs for breakfast, and I not only had enough time to make them for him, but also to watch a bit of Dora before work. That drive to work took about 13 minutes and included a nice drive along the Mississippi River, where I watched a barge drift along.
Plus, Jack just called to tell me that he went poopy in the potty. Life is good.