Tag Archives: memories

Merry Christmas from the Martin-Webers!

True to our long-standing tradition, we went out for breakfast in our PJs and Santa hats on Christmas morning.

 


More old friends, and some new – day 6

It would have been obvious 2 months ago when the trip was a current affair which day of the week it was, hence the use of numbered days in the post titles on the blog.  But now, it has occurred to me that not even I am clear on the flow of the days.  So I looked it up.  Day 6 was a Friday.  We left Houston on Sunday, day 1.  So far, we’re talking 5 nights away from home, and only one day away from arriving at the furthest point on this trip: Chicago.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Bourbonnais.  I had recently found one of my piano and French students from way back on Facebook and he told us that if we were in need of lodging, his girlfriend worked at the hotel and could probably hook us up with a room.  Our plans to find a place to stay weren’t panning out, so we ended up taking them up on the offer.  It was a treat to have a few nights where we could wind down as a family and just enjoy each other’s company.  Thank you Frankie and Megan!  Let me just throw in also that I’ve stayed in a few hotels in my lifetime, and when it comes to breakfast, the Hampton Inn is doing something right.  That’s enough for repeat business as far as I’m concerned!

After the breakfast feast, we went driving around town, taking in more sights that utterly bored the kids: our second home, the duplex where Lavinia was born, the McDonald’s we would walk to for hot fudge Sundaes when Ophélia was still in a stroller, the area where we took Ophélia trick-or-treating for the first time, dressed up as an adorable Christmas present with armholes that wouldn’t allow her to drop her arms.  Poor thing, but she was really cute!  And we also dropped in on our friends-from-way-back John (the most amazing chiropractor in the world) and Savannah, whose kids Jessica used to nanny and are now all grown up.  I wanted to snap a picture of a local Mexican restaurant chain called Taco Johns for our Houston friends (Houstonians tend to be very proud of their Tex-Mex), just because of their tag-line, something like: “Best West-Mex in town” or something or other.  This may shock some of my Texan friends, but mexican food in the North is pretty darn good, as I recall!

The day was more of the same old feeling of familiarity mixed with the unmistakable marks of change.  It’s been years since we’ve been back and so much of the area hasn’t changed a bit.  And yet, much of it has changed.

We had a wonderful time reconnecting with the Henning family, the owners and teachers of “Dance in the Light” ballet studio.  They were very interested in hearing about all that has been going on in our lives, and what’s just over the horizon.  And we loved hearing about all of their stories as well, as we had some catching up to do with Ruth and her 3 daughters, all of whom we got to know through their instruction at the studio.

We wrapped up the day by meeting our amazing friends Thom and Rhonda, and Soleil and her fiancé Rich, at Monical’s pizza, perhaps the most popular pizza chain in the area.  Jessica taught the owner’s daughters voice lessons way back when.  The local Monical’s tradition is to color your pizza with French and Ranch dressings.  They actually bring both dressings to the table in squirt bottles, and though I once mocked and disdained the mere thought of such an odd and unrefined custom, I eventually tried it and discovered that it was way more tasty than I expected.  I can be a real snob.  But I’m open-minded.  You should definitely try it too!  It was a wonderful evening of reconnection and our kids and their kids running around and being super-cute.

And then we crashed in our hotel beds, looking forward to our first day back in Chicago!


Day 5: Nostalgia hits like a summer storm

Maybe I’m waxing poetic because of the ominous skies outside.  Stormy weather for the next few days is predicted, whereas yesterday was actually clear and hot, reminding me a lot of… Houston.  Ironic, I suppose, that we set out on this drive in the middle of a heat wave; hoping for a little relief from the Houston heat, we’ve discovered that it’s just as hot everywhere else – or maybe it’s just fair.  To be clear, I’m not feeling nostalgic on account of the heat reminding me of Houston!  No, it’s because we just rolled into the tri-city area where Jessica and I spent our first few years of marriage together: Kankakee, Bourbonnais, and Bradley.  And stormy skies always remind me of summer wind and lightning storms in France, walking through the park in the evening, listening to the wind in the trees, feeling it cool my skin and blow through my hair while the trees swayed, it was energizing, exhilarating.

We hadn’t been back to the Kankakee area in about 8 years, and the skies had that surreal tumultuous look indicative of a storm brewing; the kind of impossible sky I’ve seen in famous paintings that make me shake my head in disbelief: these kinds of skies don’t occur in real life.  Only, they do.

We had planned on meeting up with old friends, Tracy and Wayne, for a pool party that afternoon, but they had to cancel, and maybe it was for the best, as the rain started falling hard and cold and would have put a damper on our party, for sure.  But we didn’t bring our swimsuits for nothing.  The hotel we stayed at had a nice indoor pool that the kids and I enjoyed later that evening.

But more than the weather, it was the familiar sights that really brought us to that nostalgic place.  Driving into town, conversation shifted completely to sentences like:

“hey I remember that place”

“Is that where…?”

“That’s where Ophélia was born”

“Up there is where we used to go to church”

“There’s our favorite pizza joint.  It’s still there!”

“Hey, didn’t that used to be…?”

The girls didn’t think it was near as amazing as Jessica and I did.  The day was filled with quick jaunts down memory lane, including paying a visit to Ophélia’s first ballet studio, “Dance in the Light.”  It would be impossible for me to do justice to the wonderful quality of the day here in this post.  I just can’t figure out how to capture it, and I suspect I would just bore you with all the details I would want to cram in – just like the kids’ disappointing reaction to our excitement and delight.

In the evening, Jessica was invited to a La Leche League meeting by a friend that used to be her voice student and who used to babysit our kids.  All grown up with a baby of her own, she thought it would be great fun to invite the founder of “The Leaky Boob” (the online breastfeeding support community Jessica started a little over a year ago) to come and join the evening’s activities.  From what I heard, Jessica, Cosette, Soleil (our friend), and the LLL ladies all had a great time.  Meanwhile, the rest of the kids and I enjoyed some splash time in the hotel pool, followed by a pleasant surprise on the TV: Wall-E!  One of my favorite kids movies.