20. Trains. More than 100/day, we're told (though I don't notice them often). Easton is in boy-heaven.
19. Church Bells. On the quarter hour.
18. Bicycles. There are bike racks everywhere. Often they are full. It probably comes from being a college town where Freshmen are not allowed to have cars. We love it. Just 2 blocks from our house is a great bike path that leads to playgrounds, bridges, and beautiful scenery.
17. No yard work. One of the coolest things about the house we're renting is that it came with yardwork and snow removal and ...
16. Two of the best landlords on the planet. Chuck and Vicki are so responsive and generous. Their family owns 5 houses in a row, which makes for a great community.
15. A small elementary school. In Charlotte our kids' school was one of 99 elementary schools in the district. Here there are only 13. We can really tell the difference. Less beaurocracy. More freedom for teachers and parents.
14. Aldi. Our favorite grocery store is here. The store is small and quiet. The food is delicious and inexpensive. There are no decisions to make, because there is only one brand of everything!
13. The Gym. Wheaton College has a great gym, and it's free for students and their families. Four gymnasiums, an indoor track, an exercise room, and a huge swimming pool. This morning we spent an hour playing indoor soccer as a family and trying out the track. When it gets too cold to play outside, this will be awesome!
11.The Cosley Zoo. It's small. It's free. It's less than 2 miles away.
10. The public library. We can see it from our front door. It's the biggest and best library we have ever seen. And Eliana can walk there by herself!
9. A full basement. Though unfinished, it holds a LOT of stuff. It's part shower room, part laundry room, part storage, and part play area.
8. Friendly neighbors. Yesterday Easton gave a concert-on-training-wheels to Mark & Julie and me. His face just lights up whenever "Mr. Keith" comes home from work. Emma sparkles when we tell her she can go out and play with the Wall kids. Eliana's had play dates with two of her friends from school already.
6. My study carrel. It is a HUGE blessing to have a little office of my own where I can leave my books and supplies. When I close the door it's just me and my books, with nothing but e-mail to distract me. Wheaton is unique among other schools in providing this kind of space for doctoral students. I am really thankful.
5. Time. My Amazing Husband has figured out how to do almost all the shopping, laundry, cleaning, dishes (by hand!), and cooking while still getting his work done so that I can focus on my studies and spend time with the kids. Last weekend he took all 3 of them camping for 3 days while I studied and studied and studied. Wow. Wow. Wow.
4. Glorious weather (so far, anyway!). The leaves are turning colors, and there is a chill in the air. We packed away our A/C units and fans weeks ago, and have been wearing coats and scarves ever since. Lovely.
3. Learning Community. Around noon most of the PhD students emerge from their study carrels and convene in the library cafe to eat and talk. A few of us are meeting to share dissertation resources. On Wednesdays, Danny and Easton join us. Very cool. Every other thursday all of Dr. Block's PhD students (a.k.a. "Blockheads") have lunch together in the cafeteria, his treat. If only we could freeze those moments in time. Priceless.
2. Pedestrians. Everywhere. This is definitely a walking culture, and we're in a prime ...
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. I walk down the street to school. Danny walks the kids to school. Then he walks upstairs to work. We walk to the library. We walk to downtown Wheaton. We walk to events on campus. We walk to the campus restaurant (where the whole family can eat for $12!). We walk to the train that will take us to downtown Chicago. We can even walk to church, though we haven't settled on one yet. We're probably putting 8 miles/week on our van. :)