This year, we went to Illinois to visit Robert's family for Fourth of July weekend. On Thursday the 3rd, after work and daycare and his last day of daycamp for Marcus, we went to the airport and got out on a United plane that was only moderately delayed. Considering the dire weather warnings in effect, and the panicky rescheduling of most Fourth of July events (including fireworks) for the night of the 3rd, I suppose we were lucky that our plane took off fine, if late, and "only" had to detour an hour or so north (practically to Canada) to get out of the way of the hurricane approaching Boston. We got into Chicago late, but managed to get our Thrifty rental car and with only a minor wrong turn get to Jennifer's house a little before 1:00 in the morning. We did have trouble with the tolls on the road--we paid our first toll, $1.50, in cash to a nice man in a little booth, and our second toll, another $1.50, to a woman in a little booth, but our third toll en route to Jennifer's was a $0.60 exact change unattended toll, with no warning whatsoever. We later managed to log onto a website to pay the toll via credit card, but it was still unnerving to find ourselves in that situation on the road.
It was really great to see everyone and just have plenty of time in the weekend for the cousins to spend together. John and Emi waited up for us and greeted the kids happily. Samantha (at right) was completely asleep, but Marcus managed to walk up the stairs to John's room, where he and John were sleeping, and collapse into bed. Robert, Samantha, and I slept in Emi's room, and Emi moved down to the living room couch for the weekend.
Judy and Bill were staying just a few minutes away with Bill's brother Uncle Max, so we got to see them all, plus Jennifer and Joe, Friday morning bright and early. Marcus excitedly woke up John (perhaps unintentionally: he kept leaning over and saying, "John, are you awake? How do you sleep so much?"), and we all had breakfast and relaxed around the house and let the kids play in the backyard and the basement for most of the day.
Around 4:00, with Samantha completely asleep in my sling (then transferred to the carseat, then back to the sling, still sleeping), we went out to the Lisle Eyes on the Skies hot air balloon festival. Joe came later with John, who was also taking a nap (at home), but we meanwhile hit the kids' area of the festival, the food area, the vendors (Marcus was fascinated by a smoke-bubble machine), and the balloon viewing lawn. Samantha ate a whole pulled pork sandwich, a hot dog, and part of a (wonderful) grilled pork chop on a stick. Marcus, Emi, and Robert went over to the midway and went on the giant slide while Jennifer, John, Samantha, and I defended our "territory" on the increasingly crowded lawn. We had a great spot, though, and the dusk balloon "glow" and the fireworks were both really lovely.
On Saturday we all met Uncle Don and Aunt Loretta at the surprisingly nice Plainfield Delights restaurant, with excellent potato pancakes, "banana split" waffles, and a skirt steak, cheese, and egg breakfast that Samantha devoured--to say nothing of the warm cinnamon-dusted mini donuts that came free to the table as well.
Uncle Don sat next to Samantha and loved interacting with her, and Marcus sat with John and Emi and played Tic Tac Toe with them.
In the afternoon on Saturday we met Dave and Candy and Candy's sister, brother-in-law, and their two girls (Paige and Danielle) at Blackberry Farm, a local park/living history museum. Inside there were a few historic homes and a few buildings like a school, blacksmith, etc. to look in, plus a small museum building with old-fashioned costumes. As you can see (group picture at the top of this page), we made good use of the costumes.
There was also a barnyard, big playground, free carousel which Samantha screamed when it was finally time to leave, free pony rides, free hayrides, free mini train rides, and a concession stand with (not free, but really not overpriced) ice cream and hot dogs.
Marcus helped Dave and his brother-in-law talk the blacksmith's ear off. Here (below) Marcus is demonstrating that it's really, really difficult to bend cold metal.
We all went back to Jennifer and Joe's house for dinner, which was grilled chicken and corn and pasta, two patriotic pies, and then s'mores after supper.
On Sunday we made a midday stop at Culver's for butter burgers and cheese curds and frozen custard and then drove up to Bartlett to see the little Fourth of July parade, which goes ride in front of Uncle Don and Aunt Loretta's building.
We actually missed all but the final three floats of the parade, but Candy and her nieces collected swag for Marcus and Samantha, and the helpful nine-year-old daughter of one of Dave and Candy's friends shared her frisbees and candy with them as well.
We all walked/wheeled over to an ice cream store a block away, and after Uncle Don had a forbidden blue slushee, and some of the kids had ice cream (not ours--Marcus was satiated, and we didn't give Samantha the option), we relaxed in the backyard watching the bunnies and turtles and mini waterfall.
We went back to Uncle Don and Aunt Loretta's house for a visit--just enough time to feed their dog approximately 200 Honey-Nut Cheerios, I think--and then said goodbye to them and to Judy, Jennifer, and Emi, and went to Dave and Candy's house for Chicago-style thin-crust pizza before we hit the road back to the airport. The kids played and slept on the plane, and we got home a little before 1:00 in the morning, this time, after a great, if short, hot-weather weekend and family visit. Next year in Boston!
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Created: 7/8/14. Last Modified: 7/8/14.