Now I have a lot of things to post about. It's been a good break, but I think I'm back!
Earlier in July, my cousin Joseph came up from Chattanooga, TN, to visit. He was born about three weeks after I was, so I wanted to him to come visit so we could celebrate turning 40 together. I haven't seen him in five years. I was a little nervous about it, and so was he, especially since he lives alone and is almost never around children. But...we thought we'd give it a whirl.
Elaine and I picked him up at the airport around noon on a Saturday. I'm notoriously direction-challenged, but I not only navigated getting to/from/around the airport, I also parked the car and only got us lost one time while trying to find it. This is a personal best.
We decided to stop at a Japanese restaurant on the way home to have some sushi, but we walked in ten minutes after they'd stopped seating for the afternoon, so we satisfied ourselves with Subway instead. He saw our house and got to hang out a bit with Lucy and Elaine, who had been beside themselves with excitement that he was coming. We made no less than three trips to the grocery store (by then in the pouring rain) getting stuff to make supper.
The next day, we went to my parents' church. It was a service of grace that day, and their pastor had asked them to share a bit about the journey they have been on. As a side note, people often ask how my mom is doing these days. I always say: she is still with us. She had two very good months in the spring but seems to be slipping a bit over the summer. She has pain again, and I can just see the effects of the cancer slowly working away. However, she is her same bright self--just taking a few more rests and her pain medication. Neither she nor my dad really wanted to get up and talk in front of everyone, but they went ahead and did it.
I had been really praying for them all morning and was kind of nervous about it. But Mom got up there and pulled it off, no problem. She talked about last summer on her 75th birthday, how she had decided the plans she had for the remainder of her life--but God's ways were not her ways and He had decided differently for her. I was so proud of her; it was a hard thing to do, not the least of which because she was wearing pants for the first time ever on Sunday morning. She had called me earlier, all worked up about that--but it was cool and rainy, and there was going to be a picnic afterward.
All of us, including Joseph, went to the picnic then, and there had to be no fewer than eight pans of cheese potatoes. Awesome. Afterward, Darren took the girls out with him to play mini-golf, and Joseph and I went to the new Harry Potter movie. It was fantastic, if you haven't already seen it--definitely my favorite of all the Potter movies so far.
Monday, Joseph and I went to Chicago. He is really easy going and didn't have a big agenda. He just wanted to get a feel for the city so he didn't need to do a lot of tourist-y type things. I for one was relieved not to have to go up in the Sears Tower for the nth time. It kind of loses its magic after you work there. It was a beautiful day, so we just roamed around and then took the Wendella architectural boat tour, which was really cool. I had never been on it before, and though I knew some of the information, certainly didn't know all of it.
After the tour, we tried to visit Holy Name Cathedral, but it is still undergoing repairs after a fire there this spring. By that time, it was time for us to meet Joseph's college roommate, whom he also hadn't seen in at least five years, for dinner at Reza's on Ontario. Another occasion for a bit of nervousness--how do you mix three people who don't all know each other together? It ended up being a blast, we all ate a lot, laughed our heads off, and didn't break up until around 11:30 p.m. Also, his roommate is now my friend on facebook because after you have a 5 1/2-hour dinner with someone, that's qualification enough to friend them in my world.
On Wednesday, we went to Wheaton to the Wade Center. Despite growing up there and living in the area for so long, I hadn't been before and of course, neither had he. It seemed a little small at first, but it was wonderful. We two literary geeks were overwhelmed by not only seeing The Wardrobe, but by being able to touch both Lewis's and Tolkien's desks and chairs and Charles Williams' bookcases. Then we looked through all the merchandise and bought books, so...a glorious afternoon.
Thursday came too soon--it was time to take him back to the airport. I've noticed when people come to stay at your house you're either secretly dying for them to leave by the end or fighting tears at the airport because you don't want them to leave. This visit was the latter. We'd had such a great time talking, laughing, eating, staying up 'til 1 a.m. each night, watching the "State of Play" miniseries, etc.--it was all ending too quickly. Unfortunately, neither of us has any pictures of the visit!
It was a great 40th birthday celebration for both of us, and we definitely plan on meeting up sooner than five years from now. Not to mention, the girls absolutely adored him, and Elaine called him "Uncle Jophus." Lucy said, "Now that Uncle Joseph has been around us, he's not nervous with kids anymore. In fact, he'll probably want them around him all the time now!"