The Shaddle boys do love their toys, and Jim is the best at collecting them. This is Jim's boat, the "What Was I Thinking? II" (an appropriate name, I guess). Jim docks the boat in Diversey Harbor, a short walk from Kathleen's condo in Chicago. Most of his summer weekends (when not working) are spent on the boat, cruising around the beautiful Chicago Lakefront or up Lake Michigan to Wisconsin, or across the lake to lower Michigan, or just hanging out with friends. The boat is a floating motel room, complete with cooking and shower facilities, fore and aft berths (each sleeping 2), and 2 lounge areas (one below deck and one behind the cockpit) which can also convert to sleeping quarters. It's a beautiful and fun boat, powerful enough to ski behind if you want.
Jim also has a jetski that he keeps next to the "WWIT? II" that is a blast to ride. Catherine and I had a go at it last year when we visited during the Air Show. I was not the most the adroit jetski pilot, however; I dumped Cathy and me into Lake Michigan when I tried to turn too quickly! The designers cleverly planned for bozos like me; the jetskis have a key that attaches to your life jacket; when you fall off the jetski it shuts itself off. Hopefully the pilot can swim to the jetski and hoist him/herself back on (we could).
Jim is in the process of building a house outside of Bloomington, not too far from Devon's school. (Actually, Bloomington is pretty easy to get around in, so nothing is really that far from anything else, but everything is relative.) The shot on the left above is the front of the house, below it is a rear view. I haven't seen the floor plans for this place, but from these photos it looks to be pretty nice. Here in California it would probably be a million dollor home (depending on where it is of course!) Jim tells me it will have 5 bedrooms and about 40 bathrooms. Looks like he plans on having lots of guests! It will have a full basement (something common in the midwest but almost unheard of here in California!) which Jim plans on finishing out (or at least a portion of it will be) with a full apartment, kitchenette, etc. I am really looking forward to seeing it! He plans on moving into the place in early April, and has had a ball shopping for the furniture and stuff to fill up drawers and cabinets, although I still doubt if he'll do much cooking!
Jim has had a deck on every one of his houses thus far. His first house had a small deck off the kitchen, so he built a huge 3 or 4-level deck complete with fire pit. On his second place he built a deck we all said could be seen from the moon (the 9th wonder of the world), with a beautiful little gazebo, several levels; the works. Rumor has it that the new house is having a deck (or maybe two!) built--I'm sure they'll be nice but they'll have to be pretty special to top the others!
Besides being into toys, Jim is pretty handy with tools. He built this playhouse for Devon and will be moving it (and probably remodeling it as well) to the new location when he moves in. The exterior (which, for the record, does not lean...the photo angle makes it look kind of cockeyed but it's not!) is a gingerbread style, complete with finished siding, shingled roof and complete porch. (It sits on its own little support posts.) The interior is drywalled, painted and wallpapered, with a ceiling light/fan and a little space heater in the wall (obviously it is fully wired as well). Quite a little playhouse, right? After Jim finished it, Devon threw a little tea party for some friends, and Mom arranged for "refreshments" (traditional English tea and scones). It was quite the event--even got some local press. (A reporter for the Pantagraph--the local paper--came out and did a story on the party and the new playhouse.
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