June 24, 2016

Southern Illinois Days

A little over one month after we returned from our trip to the US, and I am finally getting around to blogging about our last stop, to visit Nathan's family in Southern Illinois. We love traveling to Salem any chance we get, everything from visits with family and friends, amazed with how much the boys remember when we return for visits and their love for the area, the peaceful nature trail, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and just being in the country.
 And for all the times I have been coming here since 2009, this was my first springtime visit! I instantly fell in love with these yellow flowers that were blooming in all the fields...to find out they are weeds, ha! I didn't care weed or flower, they were beautiful and made me happy.

Grandpa and Grandma P. had a bike with training wheels in their garage from when the Jolliff's were in town, and it got a lot of use during our visit too. 
We played at lots of parks. This was the park where Nathan went to grade school
Caleb practicing his battle poses.
And Benjamin, being the free spirit he is. Makes me nervous at times, but we love it!
And the boys did lots of swinging.
This year they figured out the tree swing in the backyard.

More bike riding at home. Making circles in the garage and riding up and down the street.

Betty's flowers were in full bloom!

One day we went to the Jolliff's farm for a quick visit. The boys enjoy playing at their place and seeing the cows. We didn't get to see the rest of the Jolliffs and kids on this visit, but it was nice to get up there!

Another day we visited Joanne Henry, Suzanne's mom (from the previous blog post).  Nathan's parents and Suzanne went to school together, so she has known Nathan's entire family for a long time. It was nice to meet her and introduce her to the boys.

Another day we visited Jim and Cindy. Does their house look familiar? It's the house that Nathan grew up in and lived in for many years as a kid!  So not only was it a treat to visit with them, but for Nathan to be in his old house :). They have done lots of beautiful renovations and painting, it's such a charming home.
Look at that amazing yard  and woods he got to play in as a kid!
Jim is alway so kind to take the boys on a tractor ride when we visit.
Poor Benjamin did not want to get off!
This is a handprint from 1984 of Nathan's hand, when his dad laid the concrete slab in the yard. They are doing work in the yard and when they remove the slab, we will inherit it...maybe Nathan's parents will for the time being ;).
And it was just about a perfect fit for Benjamin.

Always fun to visit with their family!
This picture melts my heart of Nathan with the boys in front of his house, when he was their age!

More playground fun, that day with Carrie and her kids, Jaxon and Gia. Carrie is one of Nathan's childhood friends, so it's fun to go back to see them and their families.
Our kids played really nicely together and became buddies quickly.

Benjamin enjoyed playing baseball in the yard until the sun went down, any day he could.
The crops have not been planted yet, and there are still remnants of the corn harvest from the fall. The boys and grandpa did some field walking and corn stalk whacking.
Love the sunsets...I did not wake up for any sunrises on this trip, but they are just as beautiful.
Grandma had some new books for the boys. They really liked this one...'Waiting is not easy.' No it is not!
They were good helpers in the yard, digging up worms and getting ready for the new planting.

Another day we went to Forbes Lake, and stopped to get some good BBQ and play at a park along the way.
We did some serious kite flying. Caleb's kite was not cooperating at all. It was not operator error, we all had problems with it.
Benjamin's kite flew high in the sky.
And Caleb's kite wound up as a backpack.
We made it to Forbes and walked along the boardwalk and almost got a boat ride, but they boat owners did not have life vests for the kids. Then we took a short hike in the woods and enjoyed the nice day.
Grandpa and Benjamin :).
And we stopped for lemon ice cream on the way home! You can never have enough lemon ice cream.

Grandma and Benjamin making flower stamped napkins for Mother's Day. All you need are celery stalks, white napkins, paint, and voila.
For Mother's Day, we went down to Giant City State Park for a delicious southern cooking brunch - fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, and pie and cobbler for dessert. While we waited, it was a nice setting to take some pictures. It was a treat to spend Mother's Day with Betty, and I am so thankful for having both a wonderful mom and mother-in-law!
On the way home, we stopped at Boo park, a must see when in the Carbondale area.  The park was built as a memorial in the early 1990's in memory of a boy who died in a car crash. He loved fantasy, so his parents built the park in his memory. The park is full of statues, dragons, and a huge wooden castle that you can get lost in over the multiple levels. Mark and Betty took the boys here last summer and they loved it, and they loved it just as much this time around!
A trip to Salem is not complete without multiple trips to the nature trail behind the water reservoir. Nathan grew up running on this trail, and he has probably put in thousands of miles on this trail over the years. This afternoon, Benjamin wanted to run with daddy too.
And the other tradition at the nature trail is to throw duds (rocks) into the water with grandpa and grandma.
And get tickled at night by grandpa. I think he may have gotten them worried with one of his moves...
But they made it out alright and with smiles...and said, do it again, grandpa!
Another day, Mark and Betty took the boys to the St. Louis science museum, while Nathan and I went to a doctor appointment. They spent about half of a day there, and said they easily could have stayed hours longer. It looked like such a great place for the boys to explore, imagine, and be creative.

And we were lucky enough to play in some rain that evening.
And some puddles too....
Boys will be boys....and I wouldn't change a thing about it!
Grandpa took us to the airport on the last day, and we said see you soon. It was such a wonderful visit with them, and we cherish the fun times we had and memories made. We love you very much!
And it literally is see you soon, because today I am meeting them in Chicago on my way back from a business trip in DC, and we are flying to Jordan together! They are staying with us for the next couple of weeks, and then going to visit Elizabeth and their family. Next post from Jordan...with grandpa and grandma P. I have missed Nathan and the boys very much the past 2.5 weeks, and I am ready to get home to them! Please pray for safe travels for all of us today and tomorrow.