~Saturday, May 13 (Travel Day) to June 13, 2023~
Day 1064 to 1095
Happy summer everyone! Hope you are enjoying the warmer weather (but not too hot), and the longer days. I must say, as much as I enjoy keeping a meaningful daily diary and putting my thoughts to paper (or computer), it was nice to have a little break from my morning ritual. In the past month, I have found myself only jotting down quick notes of worthwhile material that I could assemble down the road. Well, that “down the road” is now. And thank you so much for your patience in standing by to read what we’ve been up to these past few months. We’ve got several weeks of material (photos, videos and blogs) to get you guys caught up, so stay tuned weekly.
To begin, is the summation of our time in Illinois. After weeks of anticipation to reunite with family in Illinois (we have missed our precious grandchildren, daughter and Devin so much) and the arrival of our first granddaughter Sofia, the day finally came for us to break away from the camping mode and our lackluster search for a new home. It also meant finding a suitable place to store Billie Jean (the trailer) for a month (more on that later). What I WILL say is that “she” was very happy and content with her temporary digs. Once “she” was taken care of, we could leave North Carolina peacefully and get on with our plans. Hearing the words, “I’m all fired up for your visit” by our 5-year-old grandson, Easton, only made us want to put the pedal to the metal that much more.
In admitting my terrible guilt in not keeping you all in the loop for a few months, I feel I need to recap where we last left off. Jeff and I were in North Carolina, specifically the Asheville area, back in mid-April, on a calm but eager quest to find our new abode. Up until mid-May, we felt pretty disheartened with the properties we were seeing and the prices people were asking. The real estate market had certainly changed since we hit the road 3 years ago. Interest rates had adversely affected inventory. So while our real estate agent was keeping an eye on things, we said goodbye to our time in North Carolina for the time being and hit the road to Illinois, this time without the trailer.
To break up the 9-hour drive to Mahomet, IL, we opted to stay at a modest hotel in West Virginia so that we could arrive the following morning of Mother’s Day. Having really never experienced much of the east coast, we were reminded just how quickly you can move from state to state in a short span of time compared to the west coast. We packed 3 or 4 states into those 9 hours………West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and finally, Illinois. We also found ourselves dancing around storms, always seeming to time things just right as we dodged all of them. No wonder the air is so clean and pure and the pastures so green and lush with all that rain. We also had to adjust from being surrounded by the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains for weeks to ultimately land in the interior flat plains of the “prairie state” (Illinois).
Once we made the turn onto Hannah and Devin’s street, those scrumptious hugs couldn’t have come soon enough. I guess Easton didn’t expect our arrival quite so soon based on his reaction when he didn’t know whose truck that was pulling into their driveway. “That’s grandma and grandpa Easton,” Devin said. Before we even made it out of the truck, Easton was on our laps in no time, eagerly saying, “I missed you so much!” Now if that doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what would. Carson ran out just seconds later with the same exuberant hugs. It had been 5 months since those last embraces. Immediately, Easton and Carson were anxious to help me unload the truck and introduce me to our sleeping quarters while Jeff helped Devin prepare a Mother’s Day dinner……Fettuccine Alfredo and homemade breadsticks. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day and a delicious meal. Hannah gave me a very special gift……another round, gold charm with an initial “S” for Sofia to add to my “grandmother” necklace she gave me 5 years ago. So special! And a little birdie must have told our son, Shane, about the fact that I desperately needed a new pair of sunglasses. Well, it was quite the upgrade…..a pair of Maui Jim’s. So nice not to be looking through a pair of pitted, scratched lenses anymore! Thank you guys so much!
A few days later, sadly, Jeff came down with an awful case of bronchitis that was very hard to shake. He spent the first 4 or 5 days in bed with little to no energy and the concern of getting everyone else sick. Thank goodness he was over it by the time Sofia arrived, though the residual cough continued to linger for days.
We simply relished in watching the wonder and curiosity of our grandkids. And words like “wook” for “look” and “tomato” for “tornado” (thank goodness there were none) and Easton’s comment of “this is so much fun everyone!” was the icing on the cake. Plus, all the special moments of cooking
together (Easton now likes Brussel Sprouts), storytime,
bathtime, park time, splash time, and how to ride a bike time were just some of the highlights.
Just a short walk from their house was the perfect location to have Easton try riding without training wheels (a sidewalk right next to a greenbelt so that if he ever fell, he had grass surrounding him for a softer landing. And boy did he surprise us. He got it on his second try! I began to wonder if he’d been secretly practicing all along. What a natural! Who knows, maybe his overenthusiastic cheering section had something to do with his accomplishment. It’s so great that we were able to witness such a momentous occasion and to see Easton develop confidence over time. He’s also quite a good golfer for his age as he hits the course regularly with Devin and Devin’s dad. Now for those swim classes this summer! Carson is a very methodical, organized and creative little boy. His favorite things to do are building things and drawing. He follows after his father in the creative department for sure. And of course he looks up to and mimics everything his older brother does.
To elaborate more on the cooking time we had…..you can never teach your grandchildren the love of cooking too early. They enjoyed looking through recipe books, choosing the meals and shopping for the ingredients.
Stirring and pouring seemed to be their favorite part about this fun activity. The goal was to have Easton and Carson involved in the process more so that they’d be willing to experience new foods. Roasted chicken, tortilla soup, roasted brussel sprouts and falafels were just some of the things they were willing to try and actually liked. And of course, we couldn’t skimp on dessert. The boys helped with baking chocolate chip cookies and while Carson napped, Easton made special deliveries in his kid friendly automobile, to several of their neighbors. He made quite the impression!
Then there was backyard time with climbing trees, playing cornhole and firing up the firepit for some evening s’more time. We even saw our first fireflies of the season. The boys and I were also keeping tabs on our avocado seed we were trying to successfully make a tree. Our efforts were unsuccessful, with no sprouting whatsoever, forcing us to blame it on a bad seed (I actually don’t think it had enough moisture).
With each passing day, we expected it to be THE day that Sofia would arrive. Even the doctors expected Hannah to have a preterm delivery. Needless to say, we were all grateful that Sofia decided that being in her safe and sound cocoon for as long as possible was best. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride as Hannah and Devin had to be sent home several times due to false labor. While we waited, Jeff and I were able to concentrate our time with the boys and help with projects around the house. One of the projects was Jeff giving Devin a crash course in lawn care while mine was helping Hannah get her kitchen and pantries dialed in. In the end, we accomplished a lot.
We were grateful for the few weeks we had with Easton since he already had plans to be with his dad in Michigan once school let out for summer break. At least we know in the coming
months, the time that we’ll have with our grandchildren will be much more regular as we move closer to them. It wasn’t until a few days after Easton left, that baby Sofia arrived. Sofia Monroe List was born on May 31st at 4:15 p.m. at 4 lbs. 12 oz. and 17-½ inches in length. Hannah had a fast delivery,
like the two previous and just like I had with both of my children (maybe genetics plays a part in that). And what a strong cry Sofia had. Who knew she’d be such a calm, content baby? And of course, she’s absolutely beautiful! At 4 weeks early, she couldn't have been healthier! So blessed! While Hannah and Devin stayed at the hospital for several days to have Sofia carefully monitored, Jeff and I held down the homefront with Carson and the dogs. Once Sofia was home, we were thankful that we had 2 full weeks with her and to help with whatever was needed.
My, how fast that month went by. The night before we were set to leave, Devin’s parents came over for a delicious dinner of pulled pork and a competitive game of cornhole. It was just the guys of course as the women couldn’t get enough baby time. We had to make it an early evening since Jeff and I had early morning flights……Jeff to California to visit Shane while I flew to Oregon to spend time with my mom and sister (if you may recall, my mom had just moved from California to Oregon to be closer to family). I was not very receptive to that 3:30 a.m. alarm sounding off. But it was necessary for the 2-½ hour drive to Chicago O’Hare. It was so nice of Hannah and Devin with the kids in tow, to drive us all that way. It wasn’t until just before we entered the airport terminal that I discovered I didn’t have my cell phone. I guess I had set it down in the backseat as I said goodbye to the kiddos, forcing Hannah and Devin to make another loop around the humongous airport to ensure I had it. Thankfully, they hadn’t gotten far. While Jeff’s departure was around 7:30 a.m., mine wasn’t for another 6 hours. I had no problem filling my time enjoying my Starbucks, grabbing a bite to eat and taking care of overdue business on my laptop. I swear, airports know no time as they are always bustling no matter what time of day you show up (especially an airport as large as O’Hare). Everybody seems like their morning people! Once in the air, I caught a glimpse of just how bad the air was from all the wildfires in Canada before settling into a 4-½ hour long, enjoyable conversation with an Illinois native. The 70+ year old gentleman was heading to Oregon to see his one of 10 grandchildren play in a soccer tournament. His wife was sitting directly behind him since they both prefer aisle seats. Anyway, you think I’m a talker. His witty humor and intriguing storytelling kept me entertained the entire flight. It wasn’t until I landed, waiting to disembark the plane that I rehashed what an amazing visit it was with our family and to take stock of just how blessed we are. Having that month together was just plain awesome!