2016 Summer Road Trip – Family Time

The reason we drive 2,249 miles from Beaverton to Chicago is our family: our younger son, his wife, and their (now) two boys live in a western suburb of the Windy City. Their second child was born the day we left home and we could barely wait to get there; rather than meandering across the country we took the fastest track through Idaho, the top of Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and into Illinois. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on little Cornelius.; here he is sleeping in his swing.

Little newborn C sleeping in his swing
Little newborn Cornelius sleeping in his swing

Summer in Illinois means hot and humid, but that doesn’t phase  two-year-old Jurgen (pronounced with a  soft “J” like the “J” in Mojave) . His backyard is outfitted with a play structure, a wading pool, and a sand table. When they first bought the house there was an above ground pool set on a base of rough gravel; after removing the pool Andrew spent two summers digging out the gravel so they could have a barefoot-friendly yard to run around in. We spent hours in the backyard spraying the little man with the house while he ran around in his diaper.

Here is Jurgen. in my favorite picture of the summer.

J. on his play structure in the backyard
Jurgen on his play structure in the backyard

Carla, Jeanette (Henriët’s mom from out-of-country) and I spent our days playing with J.; holding C. and helping with the cooking and other housework. Carla and I stayed at a Air BnB apartment a couple of miles away and each morning we were delighted as we walked in the door and Jurgen. would light up with a big smile and say “Ouma, Oupa, play!” One of the highlights of my life – seriously. We’d plop down on his play mat to play cars, animals, and read. That boy loves to read! Now that we’ve been home we are experimenting with reading with him over FaceTime.

Holding our little newborn grandson was a blessing. Here he is after our trip back east; it’s amazing how much bigger he was after just a couple of weeks. He’s really stretching out here. He is a tall dude.

Little C. stretching and working out
Little Cornelius stretching and working out

As part of our trips to Chicago we usually visit my mom’s cousin Barbara May in the farm country of central Illinois near where my mom was born. She recently moved from the house she grew up in to a smaller  place. As part of the move she gave us some family treasures and heirlooms including some old family silver which we in turn gave to Andrew and Henriët. Meanwhile, Henriët’s sister recently gave her a baking cookbook. Figuring a cake and new silver called for celebration, Henriët baked a four-layer cake while her mom made scones and we had high tea. Henriët and her mom had a great time in the kitchen while the rest of us played.

Table set for high tea
Table set for high tea
Henriët's beautiful cake, with scones and fruit for high tea
Henriët’s beautiful cake, with scones and fruit for high tea


Sadly our visit was drawing to a close. We wanted an informal family portrait, so I set up my camera on a tripod. Jurgen was watching, wondering what I was up to.

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Jurgen, wondering what his Oupa is doing.

Wrangling a newborn and a two year old to pose for a picture is a job in itself; we took a few and got a nice one of the new family.

The family, J, Andrew, Henriët, and C.
The family, J, Andrew, Henriët, and C.

I also wanted one of the extended family. It was a bit impromptu; had I been thinking ahead I would have worn a nicer shirt – but hey, a Dodgers’ Hall of Fame shirt is nice, right?

The extended family with Henriët's mother Jeanette
The extended family with Henriët’s mother Jeanette

Jurgen wanted to see how the remote worked

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This was our last night in town; we spent some time the next day before heading back west toward home.


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