Archive for the ‘Family’ Category:

Chicago Roots Down

September 14th, 2013

Back in 2008 Shayna and I moved from SF to Chicago. I ended the longest stint living in one spot – 13 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. The second longest time living in one spot was 11 years in Atlanta where I grew up. So when I left SF it felt like I was leaving home. I was always thinking in the back of my mind I’d return one day. Well, here I am, 5 years later in Chicago, and I finally accepted Chicago as home. We’ve decided it’s time to put some roots down and buy a house.

I still love California. I think I will always consider it home. The Sierra Nevada mountains may be my favorite outdoor place in the world, whether I’m snowboarding in Lake Tahoe or Backpacking in Kings Canyon. I’m always in awe. Besides the mountains, there are tons of other amazing outdoor options – Camping along rivers at the foothills, driving along the windy coast, Pismo sand dunes, Sonoma and Napa wine country, etc. And as a techie, there’s no place better to work – its like LA for movies, NYC for finance, and Washington DC for politics. And of course the people I’ve met over the years are really what make it home. The biggest group of crazy, goofy, smart, hard working, creative, people I may ever know. I was lucky enough to make some great friends and had more good times than I can shake a stick at (can’t shake them old sayings). I miss you guys.

Chicago gets better every day. There’s so much to love about this city, as long as you look. Thanks to burningman, I immediately found lots of people in Chicago that liked to get goofy, get creative, and get down to good music. Then there’s the obvious stuff about Chicago like how beautiful the architecture is, how big a city it is (feels so much bigger than SF and LA, only NY seems bigger in the US), how many museums, parks, and festivals there are, and how great the summer is. The summer really is fantastic. Really. Sure the winters can seem long come march, april, and sometimes may. But that makes the summer that much more delicious. And the tech scene will never be better than SF, but its getting better all the time, its a huge city, and my current job shows me that there are still plenty of exciting and challenging tech opportunities in Chicago. It still doesn’t have mountains close by, that will always suck, but there are direct flights from O’Hare to the Rockies. Just got to make enuf green so I can fly to the mountains for the weekend, like the way we drove to Tahoe on the weekends.

More specifically, it’s house time. Shayna and I have been through alot over the years and decided it’s time. Time for more room so we can do more with our lives. Time to customize stuff to make our lives better. Time to have a place that we can control and is ours to mold for us. The only question is, which house will be lucky enough to have the Norwoods? The first question our friends ask is where are we looking. Right now we have few constraints – in the city of chicago, but basically anywhere from Bridgeport (just SW of downtown) heading north as far as Lincoln Square. But more likely it’ll be closer to Logan Square (our current residence, which we LOVE), Bucktown, Humboldt Park, or spots ’round there. More important to us than the location is the house itself. But we are still early in the process, and even though we’ve made a prioritized list of what we’re looking for, we expect it to change after we start going to see more houses.

Oh, and totally unrelated .. we are planning a 2 week trip to Patagonia, South America, in February 2014. Hurray! Stay tuned for more Norwood Adventures !!!



September 8th, 2010

Leaving Wedding Ceremony

Well, I did it.  I got married July 31.  Officially and legally and in front of lots of family and friends.  It feels great.  The wedding was a whirlwind – so many people we care about all together in one place.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  It’s been about a month since it happened and I am still a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.  For the most part it went perfectly – We didn’t stress too much, things went as planned, we had gorgeous weather, everybody had a good time, what more could we want? Our really close friend, Juan, was our officiant (yay), his first. Wedding Ceremony Crowd Shayna and I wrote and read our own vows to each other then immediately after the ceremony ran off to the woods for a few mins to absorb what just happened.  It was very special.  I was really happy that so many of family and friends could make the trip.  Most of them are not from the midwest and were like .. where is Galena? But Oak Hill was a perfect choice for a wedding venue.  Shayna’s family and my family really hit it off – altho the parents did meet back in March of this year, so it was not there first encounter. In fact, everybody hit it off.  Our picnic theme really brought everyone together – we had BBQ and games like badmitton, croquet, bocce ball, and bags.  Plus our guests are all cool and awesome and there’s no way they wouldn’t all become best friends.

Chad and Shayna in Isle Royale National Park The honeymoon was fantastic, too.  I’ll spare you some of the personal details and just tell you how awesome the midwest is.  Basically we took 2 weeks off after the wedding to go camping on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, hitting bed and breakfast joints before and after.  It’s about an 8 hour drive from Chicago to Copper Harbor, Michigan, where we had to take a 3-4 hour ferry to the island.  Our room at copper harbor was one of our favorites of the trip – the crow’s nest at Harbor Haus restaurant was a giant round room with gorgeous views of the water.  And the food at Harbor Haus was some of the best I’ve had in the midwest – I loved their rack of lamb. Chad Norwood RULES We spent 6 days on the island, 4 nights camping and the last night at the rock harbor lodge.  Shayna was a real trooper, pushing hard and not slowing me down, even though this was only her second backpacking adventure.  Yes, thats right, we backpacked. We carried all our food and gear that we needed for 5 days on our backs.  Well, we did eat sweet wild raspberries that we just picked off of bushes along the trail. But the rest we brought with.  The island has an amazing yet serene beauty.  As a national park there is verly little development on the island. Except at the 2 harbors (where this a lodge, restaurant, gift shop and general store) there is nothing – no cars, roads, bikes – nothing but boats, canoes, and backpackers.. and wildlife.  We hoped to see moose and wolves, but saw birds, rabbits, squirrels, a fox, a giant owl, a bald eagle .. pretty good, actually.   We mostly hiked but also swam (I loved dunking my head in the clear, cool, refreshing lake) and canoed (Shayna loves canoing) in Lake Superior. After the island we hit door county, wisconsin.  It’s a small peninsula in lake michigan with a bunch of cute harbor towns that’s been compared to old towns in new england.  Our other favorite room was at the Black Walnut B&B in sturgeon bay, the big town in door county. Our favorite meal (except harbor haus) was at the cookery, in fish creek, one of the many cute small towns.  Also, on the last day, we decided to take a detour and hit the New Glarus Brewerey (mmm.. Fat Squirrel) in the cute little swiss-german town of New Glarus, Wisconsin.  We enjoyed tastee beers then decided to spend one more night away from home. Lots of fresh beer had nothing to do with that decision.  Yay.

But not all our friends could make it to the midwest, so we are celebrating with them in California on September 18, cali style. We reserved a resort in the mountains with cabins, camping, swimming pool, music, and lots of shenanigans. Looking forward to that !!


December 30th, 2009

Chad and Shayna in Engagementland

It’s official, Shayna and I are engaged!  Yee-haw.  Aww Yeah.  Hurray.  We decided over thanksgiving in Athens, Georgia, to get married.  At that time I was not ready to be publicly engaged, but now I am.  Last week we told parents and friends, and now I’m here to share some more info on this major life decision.

We’ve been dating since the fall of 2004 in San Francisco.  We met each other a few times at parties, but the first time I spent some time with shayna was when Tim Lang and I helped her move some art. She was in school at the time,  was looking for help to move some big pieces, so I offered my help and Tim’s van.  After that day I knew I liked her and soon we went on our first dinner date at Axum Cafe, an ethiopian restaurant.    When she graduated from school the following June, our relationship changed from dating to sorta-dating for the next year or so, since she moved away from SF and I stayed in SF.   I did visit her in New York, where she worked in a woman’s art program, as well as in New Orleans, where she was helping after Katrina.  I convinced her to return to SF for Burningman in August 2006 and we were officially dating again.  In Feb 2007, I started a 6 month trip around the world, 3 months of which was with shayna.  When I returned we moved in together.  During my trip around the world, shayna was accepted into grad school in Chicago, but delayed enrollment for a year primarily for me.  So in the spring of 2008 the time came for me to decide if i wanted to give up my home of 10+ years in SF to move to Chicago with Shayna.  I did.  Chicago was a very big transition.  Luckily we found some good friends fairly quickly which made some of the very rough patches in fall 2008 easier to swallow.  The summer and fall of 2009 were really good to us as a couple.  But it wasn’t till she left for Athens a couple weeks before Thanksgiving did i realize she’s the most important thing in my life and that I wanted to be with her forever and ever.

There was no tradtional proposal.  Neither one of us are too fond of traditions purely for the sake of traditions.  We believe in this day and age its more important to enter marriage with eyes wide open with both people knowing exactly what they are getting into. However, I did get down on one knee in our photo shoot in Athens, which I’ve called Engagementland.  A few of these pics were emailed to friends last week.  We also met with an artist from athens who is making us custom wedding rings – you can see pictures  similar to what we’ll have  in the Engagementland set as well.

As soon as we tell people we’re engaged, one of the next questions out of their mouth is “when’s the wedding?”  Well, it looks like this summer – July or August 2010.  Stay tuned for more on this.

End of Summer

October 1st, 2009

What an awesome summer.  My first one in Chicago, and it went by so fast and kept me so busy I didn’t have time to write any blog posts.  ’twas full of chicago biking, sunshine, friends, and music – my favorite things.  I also worked on some good projects, and met many cool people.  Besides Chicago, I took a few roadtrips around the midwest, ventured to NYC by train, Atlanta by plane, and spent almost a month in California and Nevada.

Chicago Corner Farm

One of the biggest things I did this year was help start a community garden.  Shayna wanted to grow plants for making fiber, and she found a couple other locals, Noah and Margaret, who were looking to start a garden.  With some grant money from Shayna’s school and a lot of hard work, we cleared land, built some beds, and planted many edibles, a few ornamentals (flowers and such), and fibers for making paper.  We busted our ass on the weekends in the beginning, but was definitely worth it.  I enjoyed being outside, working with my hands, meeting neighbors, and of course eating tomatoes, basil, and other herbs and vegetables.  We also made a smaller garden in our backyard, too, with our upstairs neighbor, Andy.  You can read more on the website Shayna and I put together – chadnorwood.comC/a>.

Chicago Critical Mass, May 2009

Summer had a cold start this year.  In fact, I think we only turned on the AC once this whole summer.   But that didn’t stop us from having lots of fun.  I already blogged about Indiana Dunes camping, but we also started out in may doing the Chicago critical mass bike ride.  I spent way more time on my bike than in a car, bus, or train .. the way life should be.  Chicago makes it easy – it’s flat and its never too cold at night. We rode to brunch, to the beach, downtown, to bars .. I even rode over 10 miles home at 4am from the south side of Chicago. I also rode crazy bikes at the Tour De Fat festival sponsored by Fat Tire beer.


Speaking of festivals .. Chicago wins.  Every weekend, all summer long, there are several street festivals in various neighborhoods throughout Chicago.  Blues festivals, House music festivals, Irish/Scottish/German/Polish Festivals, Beer Festivals, Ribs Fest, Wings, Taste of Chicago (biggest one ever), and the list goes on.  Chicago city law requires them all to be free, but they usually ask for $5 or $10 donation.  They always have street vendors – food, shirts, art, etc.  They usually have 2-5 stages where bands, djs, or somebody performs.  And the people go nuts if the weather is beautiful – unlike California, rainy days will keep you inside, but that makes the sunny days even more precious.

We also enjoyed many visitors – especially our SF friends !! Juan, Jason, Damian, Ramon, and Monica came out for a weekend making me feel at home.  We showed them the beautiful Millenium Park, the view from the top of the Hancock tower (2nd tallest bldg in chicago), the beach, summer street festivals, and chicago deep dish pizza.  A month or so later Checkoway visited and we had a similar experience – drinks, tall buildings, beach, and enjoying friends.

Shayna and I also loved the scenic and surprisingly comfortable 20 hour train to NYC for a wedding of an old friend, Sarah Bates, to Leo De Alvia .  I’m very happy for them and enjoyed seeing all our friends in NY.  In addition to NY,  I also made it to Atlanta for Fathers Day.  Got to give it up for good ol’ Dad !! And it was nice seeing my sisters families and nieces and nephew.  They grow up so fast. heh.


We had lots of fun with our new Chicago friends – monthly dinner parties, rooftop BBQ on 4th of July, lots of biking around to bars, cubs game, and other summer activities.  Best event with Chicago friends was the camping trip to Oregon IL.  Oh man was that fun. We camped and made s’mores over the fire, told stories and went on hikes.  But the main event was on sunday – the Demolition Derby.  Oregon is the home town of Miss Amanda, and she showed us how they have fun in the midwest – crashing cars.  Booya !!

One of my favorite trips this summer was Lakes of Fire – a regional Burningman in Michigan, about 3 hours from Chicago.  It was about 500 people (instead of the 40,000 at burningman in nevada), and it felt more like home than i could have imagined. I met amazing people, saw some cool art, and had tons of fun.  I especially enjoyed meeting the freakeasy and illmeasures peeps – they throw good parties in chicago for the bman crowd.


Last but not least was our trip to Burningman.  We joined Brasstax (our SF crew) in the Boombox camp.  It was my 10th year at bman, and altho i love it, i love my friends more, so i spent most of my time in the camp.   We flew to SFO on thursday, drove up early (friday before it started) and left 8 days later (sat night as they burned the man).  We assembled the boombox in 4 days and tore it down in 1.  We “burned” it … altho most of it was good wood so it got recycled.  I could go on and on about bman but pics are worth a thousand words.  Anyway, it was great to spend some quality time with my crazy friends.   After that I spent some time in California hanging out, Eumi’s and Lori’s bdays, a day hike at mt. tam, and did another trip to Tahoe for Fritz’s Bachelor Party.  I love tahoe – could be my favorite natural place on the earth.

The summer ended with one final trip to St. Louis for Shayna’s 30th birthday.  The main event was the city museum, which is my favorite man-made place on earth.  If you haven’t been, and you are still part kid, you MUST go.  It was also nice to do a road trip and see friends in another city.

Fall is supposed to be nice in chicago but pretty short .. in less than 2 months it will be cold for a while.  Then spring and summer again !!!  If you want to visit, plan now, cuz it’ll give you something awesome to look fwd to.


Christmas 2008

December 30th, 2008

Another wonderful Christmas with my family.  Once again, I was lucky enough to spend a week with my entire immediate family, this year in Atlanta.  My older sister and her family of four, The Robertsons, drove up from Tybee Island to spend a week with us, and my younger sister and her family of four, The Aikens, live in Atlanta and are not traveling since they just got a new family member 6 weeks ago, Miss Baby Jane.

We had lots of good food, both at home and out, my favorite being Christmas dinner – Thanks mom for cooking! We also had two big adventures, one to the Georgia Aquarium, the biggest aquarium in the world, and the other to Stone Mountain, where we saw the Santa Parade, saw short musical, had a all-you-can-eat dinner, rode the train around the mountain, made our own cookies and saw fireworks. Mostly I enjoyed spending time with my family, especially playing with my nieces and nephew.  It’s also nice to be able to go back to the home I grew up in, see how things change and some stay the same.  Look at my pictures to feel my adventures.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

Christmas 2007

December 27th, 2007

Just got back from another trip back to the east coast, this time for Christmas. Similar to Thanksgiving, I flew in and out of Atlanta, spending a few days at my parents house in Atlanta and then a few days on Tybee Island, about 5 hours away on the coast of Georgia. My younger sister Leslie and her family did not make it to Tybee, so we had a nice Christmas dinner at her house Saturday. My older sister Lara and her family drove up from Tybee for this (and other reasons), so we had the whole family together Saturday (Yay). After dinner on Saturday we exchanged a few presents, including my gift to my family – a 8×10 149 -picture Flickr/Qoop photo book (a great success).

Sunday we drove down to Tybee Island to spend Christmas day on the beach. We got to see Amazing Addy (my niece) and Super Sam (my nephew) take part in Christmas eve services at the local church. Then we went home, had our usual homemade pizza, set out milk, brownies, and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. Christmas morning was not as hectic as in the past. The kids opened presents around 8am, I got to play with them while we snacked on sausage biscuits, egg and ham casserole, and apple cinnamon bread. Then my parents and I hit the road back to ATL to catch my flight back to California.


November 23rd, 2007

Yesterday was the big day. For me, this year’s thanksgiving was especially big, for several reasons. First, i ran my first real race – a half marathon. Second, I got to enjoy the big meal with my family on Tybee Island, a mini-vacation for the 10 of us. And third, after thinking about it, I have much to give thanks for.

First lemme tell you about the half marathon. It was the Atlanta Track Club’s Half Maration, starting at 7am on Thanksgiving day (route). I had to get up at 5:15am for that – that’s 2:15am California time – so thats like crazy early for my body. But i did it, and my younger sister Leslie and her husband were there with me. Luckily it wasn’t too cold, but it did rain on us, which sucked. I ended up doing quite well, beating my secret goal of doing it under 2 hours – 1:56 to be exact. Hurray. After the race they gave you a medal, powerade, water, bananas, snickers protein bars, among other things. But the best part is that you burn tons of calories .. so later that day i was super hungry and got to eat enormous amounts of turkey and sides – guilt-free.

After the race in Atlanta we drove 4-5 hours down to Tybee Island, which is near Savannah on the coast of Georgia. My sister Lara and her family sold their house in Ohio this summer and moved down here for a year. Just because they want to. My kind of family. The house is gorgeous – 3 bedroom with a deck (and hot tub) with a gorgeous view of the coastal marsh and setting sun. We had alot of traditional items for us Norwoods – Turkey, dressing, stuffing, cranberries, Ham, corn, mac’n’cheese, broccoli cheese casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, and mixed vegies. Mmmmmmmm….

Most importantly, I give thanks. I am so thankful to have such a good, solid, family. We don’t always get along, but for the most part we are very compatible, and I really enjoy spending time with them. I also have to give thanks for my friends, which are just as important to me as my family. These are the people with whom i spend most of my time – i have fun with them, i learn from them, and i get help from them when needed. I also give thanks for my life so far – the opportunities I’ve had with education, jobs, traveling, and the ability to choose where i live and how i can spend my time. For that i must give thanks to being an American. I truly feel blessed. Amen.

The Carolinas

July 26th, 2006

I grew up in the south, but last week i learned to apreciate the carolinas a bit more. I spent 10 days with my older sister, her husband, and their 2 kids, Addy and Sam. The 5 of us drove around north and south carolina in their big red truck (chevy suburban) towing their Outback trailer. Thats right, an RV. But the best part was spending quality time with family, doing nothing but enjoying ourselves – hiking, swimming, eating, and drinking.

I met up with them in Boonville, NC, on Tuesday, July 11, after they’ve been on the road for over a week. They were staying in a private campground, with a pool, putt-putt, general store, and an amazing hiking trail down to a river. Of course we did that river hike, and had fun with the whole family (including rigby, their boston terrier) playing in the water. We also spent some time at the Rag Apple Winery, which had decent wines. The man pouring was very knowledgable about NC wine – many tobacco farmers are switching to grapes. Lara and bryan hope to switch to grapes from their jobs, too.

On Wednesday we drove to Boone, NC, a bit more in the mountains. We stayed at the Boone KOA tent/RV campground, the nicest spot we’d stay. It had a pool, putt-putt, playground, pond, goats, chickens, cows, green grass and blue skies. We got some serious chill on there. The weather was great – we were almost at 4,000 feet, much cooler than the rest of the hot humid south this time of year. On thursday we drove to blowing rock, a not-so-great tourist attraction, but a nice trip. On the way back we stopped in town for a tastee dinner near ASU. Friday we stayed at camp, enjoyed the pool and nature.

Saturday we packed up and headed to Asheville, NC. This was my favorite city – small mtn town that attracts people from all over the country, including artists and hippie types (gotta like a splash of san francisco in the south). On the way we stopped at another tourist spot, Grandfather mountain. This was much better than blowing rock, they actually had a zoo with cougars, bears, eagles, and more. And of course, they are famous for their swinging mile-high bridge. Later that night my parents met up with us in asheville, driving about 4 hours up from atlanta. The first night they actually slept with us in the trailer – and lara and bryan took the tent. But the next night they opted for a bit nicer bed at the Grove Park Inn.

On Monday we drove to Greenville, SC, and stayed at Paris Mountain State Park, the first non-private spot we stayed. This was right outside of greenville, and my grandfather used to take my mom there to swim when she was a kid. It was beautiful – the lake and the nature trails around it. We were also lucky enough to have my mom’s mom, edith, join us for lunch on monday and tuesday. Tuesday was especially nice, we got to celebrate Sam’s 3rd birthday (his actual birthday was wed, july 19). Larry and Evelyn treated us to lunch from whole foods, Sam got presents and a cake, and mama was very happy to spend time with her great-grandchildren. It was good to see her out and laughing.

Tuesday afternoon we headed to the beach, arriving at Hunting Island just after dark. The next morning i got up early and walked along the beach. It was perfect. Tide was almost all the way out, revealing the coolest patterns in the sand i’ve ever seen. And the lighting was amazing – the sun still coming up over the ocean – the waves were carefully crashing around me, birds flying above, a few people strolling about, not too hot yet, quiet, calm, peaceful. Later we came back out with full family, swam in the ocean, built sand castles, and walked an hour down to the lighthouse. An amazing view up there.

Thursday, July 20, was my last day. We stopped at the hunting island nature center on the way out, then headed for the airport. I got the pleasure of eating waffle house for my last meal – can’t beat their waffles! All in all an amazing and relaxing trip. Thank you lara and bryan for letting me into your mobile home!

Uncle Chad

February 27th, 2006

I’ve been an uncle for almost 5 years. My older sister, Lara, and her husband Bryan, have 2 kids, Addy and Sam, and they are both awesome. But last week my other sister, Leslie, gave birth to her first, Katherine Alice Aiken. Yeah!! And for added bonus, she was born right before midnight on my dads birthday. Even though i’m far away and have yet to see her in person, i know she’s beautiful and feel lucky to have another one in the family. The picture here is from the hospital less than one day old – she had to stay in intensive care for a couple days but now she’s at home with her mommy and daddy, Leslie and Michael Aiken.