Monday, March 13, 2006


As part of the process to obtain a social security number for myself (Paul was provided one automatically after applying at Social Services), I had to have my biometric data recorded (fingerprints, height, weight, hair/eye colour, signature and photo) to accompany my already submitted application. This involved a trip north to a government facility in a strip mall. Not too easy to reach, particularly with the children during the week, so we decided to hire a car to visit the place, and to tie this in with a visit to IKEA.

We need to furnish an apartment basically from scratch. We are waiting on some furniture items to arrive (sofa, cot / crib, change table and cookware) but need to buy the rest (extra seating, sofa bed, beds, shelves, dining table & chairs, coffee table, lamps, linen, crockery, glassware etc. etc.). We figured that the most cost effective way of doing this was to visit IKEA – a concept that I have grown up with and become quite accustomed to, for furnishing a place on the cheap.

Paul picked up a hire car Saturday morning and we set off in search of the DSS office, on a beautifully sunny and warm morning (17C) .We had almost found the place when a rumble and liquid sound in the backseat alerted us to a vomiting Luc. Of course we had nothing but my lovely new scarf to mop up the mess. I went to my appointment and then to search for some baby wipes, cloths, paper towel… anything to assist the messy situation. I found a really large supermarket and raced inside to be confronted by strange smells and Chinese signage. I realised then that it was an Asian supermarket, and only stocked cooking items and ingredients (no toiletries in sight). I would have loved to explore the many exotic items here… but speedy action was required. I found a Dollar Store and found and purchased some cleaning items and some infant clothes. We cleaned Luc and dressed him in some rather small (but dry) clothes. Luc found this quire amusing as he tried to stretch a very small shirt over his protruding belly. We then headed home, taking the slower and ‘gentler’ suburban route (thinking this would be better than the expressway). This helped us gain a good appreciation of our soon-to-be neighbourhood in Lincoln Park: the shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, etc. …. until Luc was sick again.

Our aborted trip ended in a bath for Luc and Chicago hotdogs for ourselves. Paul went in search of a babysitter. He has had success on, finding Katie (who was busy with her parents this weekend), and now Lisa – who made her way over to our place immediately after Paul’s call. We were so grateful.

I pointed out to Paul that Luc was never sick in the Peugeot and has only ever been carsick in ‘American’ cars! He had a terrible bout of carsickness when we were on the ‘Road to Hana’ while in Maui, Hawaii last year. In fact we all felt rather queasy on this trip (including Paul, who was driving).

IKEA hasn’t been in the States for as long as in Australia, so when people told me it was large, I thought it was due to the fact that it was different from the typical US furniture store (i.e. inclusive of warehouse facility for flat-packed take-away furniture). What people actually meant was that this store was LARGE! Set in acres of car park, the store has 3 levels. IKEA aficionados in Australia will be aware that the shopping experience is constructed around a defined route through as series of ‘rooms’, set up with furniture arranged as if within a living room, dining room, bedroom, etc. to provide real examples of how items for sale might be coordinated. IKEA here seems to be just too busy to follow this concept and instead, displays items by type (seating, tables, linen, etc.), as a typical furniture store.

The store was really crowded although the parking lot (carpark) was barely half full….but we did arrive at around 6pm on a Saturday night! This place must surely be chaos when at capacity. We didn’t purchase too much but gained a good impression of what we might buy closer to our moving date.

Our Sunday was spent visiting establishments not necessarily available in the city centre. Our first stop was Target. This is just like the Target chain in Australia with the same logo etc., only - you guessed it - BIGGER! The store includes several additional services than the Australian Target including a pharmacy, grocery section and mini Pizza Hut and Starbucks outlets. We spent the rest of the day in the North Clybourn area. This area includes a number of furniture and electronic stores, a large Wholefoods store, clothing stores and many other shops. Parking was chaotic and at an absolute premium with all carparks threatening to tow unless you were actually shopping in the store that owned / was adjacent to the carpark… it is expected that you drive to the next shop’s carpark if you decide to visit another shop!

Photo is of Luc at Fantasy Kingdom - an establishment we have been frequenting during the cooler weather.

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