And we are off

A week ago today we started our journey at 7:00 am from Jackie and Rudi’s house.  Margaret and 8 of her friends had a sleep over in their camper (although Margaret and two got no sleep). They stayed up all night playing card games, Truth or Dare and other teenage girl things. Frank and two boys were watching tv and playing video games most of the night .Jen, Janie and Maggie had stopped in earlier. We took Jackie, Rudy and Fran to our favorite spot, Swirl’s Wine Shop.  Paul and Ben joined us at Swirl. I think I was in bed by 1 am. At 5 am four of the girls went to Starbucks. At 6 am Margaret was giddy when she woke us up. We had breakfast and attempted to leave by 7.  There were many tears but many smiles in the last few months, but it was time to drive East.

Margaret and I were in the Subura, talking, singing, dancing. Then Margaret would crash or get texts and become sad.  We were hoping she was going to help with the driving, but she did need her sleep. When I would get tired, I would call someone on the phone to stay awake. Frank and Matt were in the rented Ford Escape. Matt didn’t mind the quiet time when Frank was sleeping or reading, although Frank did read out loud occasionally. The first day seemed to fly by and we made it to a Ramada Inn that had an indoor water park in Des Moines, Iowa.

We left around 10 am after breakfast and found construction as soon as we passed the

Illinois state line. Traffic was slow and stopped at one point, but we made it to Joliet for a late lunch and a stop at Matt’s alma mater, University of Saint Francis. Family all picked out some College clothes and I got a new pair of winter gloves that fit perfect and were cheap in July. 🙂 We then managed to get to Erika and John’s house and start to unwind. Lou Malnati’s pizza for dinner started our eating habits.

Saturday was a busy day. I got up early to do yoga. Matt and I ran to O’Hare to drop off the rental car (we had called and it would be double to drop it off in Naperville). We spent the day setting up many games in the back yard and helping organize for the party. Lauren got home from camp. Eileen came in with the ham. Soon the house was filled with relatives of the Sullivans. Kari Rothmeyer, former music teacher from MSES, stopped by with her new husband Jake. My sister Janet and her husband Kevin stopped in.  Tim, Kathy, Mary, Gery, Jane, and Mary with all there families supplied hours of fun conversation and fun for the kids. I ended the night by suggesting a movie for the young ones and the adults had more talk time. I wish we could get together more but the time together was perfect. Matt and I took our evening walk to unwind.

On Sunday, USA played Brazil so Matt was glued to the TV. John took Lauren and Margaret to Pelican Harbor Water Park. Erika, Eileen and Frank followed after we heard Kari and Jake were already there. Then Matt and I arrived for a fun day in the sun after USA won in PKs (very exciting game). Matt grilled chicken, eggplant and other veggies for dinner and we went for another evening walk.

Monday was crazy day. We tried to leave early but got out by 10:15 to go to the Chinese Embassy. We can only apply for a Visa 30 days prior to leaving and we wanted to do it in person. We got there and were told by another American that you must fill out the forms provided in the office, not the ones on the Internet. Matt and I start scribbling away for his form and my form. The children needed to be on number patrol. They kept watching for numbers that the workers would call out and getting us a new number when we got too close so that we didn’t loose too much time. Then suddenly Margaret and Frank stated: the workers left and we realized they were closed from 12-1. We walked along Erie and saw Pizzeria Due and had lunch. Matt didn’t wait for the pizza, he went back up with our numbers at 1 pm. He met with a worker and realized we needed to fill forms out from

Margaret and Frank. He started and we paid for the pizza and went back to help and have the kids sign them. Then we handed everything over and we wait until Friday. We did take a picture and the children were mortified.

Matt then had to get to Midway for his trip to Atlanta for International Baccalaureate Training for his new job. He anticipated missing us a lot but was excited for learning new skills for teaching.  Alberto the new Music and Spanish teacher from SCIS was joining them. We dropped him off at the airport and drove straight to my cousin’s house, Chrissy and Chris. Our children are same ages and wanted them to get to know each other a little more. We spent late afternoon and ate dinner with them. Kids bonded a little and we were off to stay with my college roommate Kristen Lynch.

Eileen Whelpley was taking a train from Kenosha to Chicago in the morning so we could all have a day of visiting. My Frank and Kristen’s Frank became fast friends, playing the Xbox and basketball outside and laser guns. Margaret sometimes played with them and Ellie and other times hung with the grown ups. Kristen’s house and hospitality made my kids not want to leave. Kristen tried to get me to walk 4 miles, but I slowed her down so we probably only did 3. Then we had a lazy day just talking. We all went to PotBelly’s for lunch in Lincoln Square. We walked to the Brain Store (which we could have spent more time at, even though we were there an hour). We also stopped at the bookstore. Then back to Kristen’s for more lounging and talking. The SMC girls used a Groupon to eat at the Parthenon and had a ball. Jim got to stay home with all the kids and experience “Pretty Little Liars” with Margaret.

In the morning Eileen left early and my family left after a late lunch. We were excited to get to Frankfort to finally see my mom. We allowed Frank to watch the re-run of the Tour de France as long as he checked the soccer score. Margaret and I helped Nanna organize boxes of frames, pictures and paintings and artwork of Papa’s and hers. My mom has a lot of stuff since she sold her Florida home and brought lots of stuff back to Frankfort. We had a light dinner and played some Phase 10.

This morning I walked the Prestwick Country Club Golf Course.  The dew on the grass was unbelievable. It felt so weird to have so much moisture. The first memories were of golfing, but then quickly I switched to learning to ice skate on the pond, the tiny hill we sled down as children, finding balls in the creeks and ponds, climbing the willow trees that are still everywhere, capture the flag at our house and the Schau’s, riding our bikes on the golf course, jumping the fence at the pool, playing tennis, and running through the sprinklers. So many memories…  Looking forward to spending the day with my mom and having dinner with Mindy and Don tonight.


About toniobarton

Toni Olivieri-Barton has been teaching 21st Century Skills to adults and children for over 20 years. She has worked in the education field for the last 10 years. She currently is a Director of Global and Tech Integration at Fountain Valley School. Her last job was as a librarian/media specialist and IB Coordinator at Woodmen-Roberts Elementary School in Colorado Springs. She facilitated all 2nd through 5th graders to have an opportunity to flatten their learning by connecting with students from around the world. Previously, she worked in Shanghai, China as technology coordinator at Shanghai Community International School. During the past 10 years Toni has assisted three school districts with staff development. In 2016, Toni was also featured in the book “The Global Collaborator” by Julie Lindsay. In 2011 she won an ISTE Award in On-Line Learning. Toni holds a BA in Philosophy and a minor in Mathematics from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Toni finished her Master's in Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado. As a Flat Classroom Certified Teacher, Edmodo Ambassador and Certified Trainer, and Graphite Certified Educator, Toni has brought global collaboration projects to her new school. She has also maintains a blog about technology integration. She will continue to bring her global collaboration experience to wherever her future takes her. In her spare time, Toni likes to hike, read, quilt and practice yoga.
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2 Responses to And we are off

  1. Janet says:

    Can’t wait to see your travels and hopefully visit you all!!

  2. Erin johnston says:

    Just discovered your new blog! Looking forward to hearing about all of the adventures! See you next week!!! xoxox

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