Sunday, May 1, 2011
We had a really nice Easter vacation spending time with my dad "Boppy" and step mom, "Mimi" (what the kids call them). It was so nice to go back "home" to Illinois, to the suburb of Chicago (Palos Park) where I grew up. It is so peaceful, an area filled with forest preserves and lots and lots of old, old trees. My favorite are the old oak trees scattered throughout.
The days went by fast, but they were well spent. Easter dinner with the extended family was just lovely as my southern step-mom created an authentic Southern Easter dinner and J had a blast playing with all his cousins. I made a couple of my recipes during the week, Tray Baked Chicken and Papa's Goulash which my dad and Debbie (and J) really enjoyed. I was able to catch up with a couple of my good friends from childhood and they got to spend some time with J.
I would have to say that my most favorite part of the trip was my daily walks while J was napping. I was able to leave the house while Boppy and Mimi kept watch. I spent time just drinking in the beauty of the Lord's creation as I explored the familiar area. Taking time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells drew me closer to God. I took time just gazing in front of the pond that is down the road where a pair of geese have made their home. I loved just listening to the birds and watching the trees sway in the breeze. A couple of my walks were 30 minutes and a couple over 45 minutes. Each walk enabled me to spend quality time in prayer and communion with the Lord out in nature. It was very sweet. It also brought back so many memories of riding my bike up and down the roads and running all over the neighborhood. The houses themselves have changed so much. On each street, several of the old houses have been torn down and immense homes have taken their place. Some look like castles, some look like mountain lodges.
During my walks, it was a treat to see a flock of migrating warblers. They let me come incredibly close and I knew they had to be some type of warbler by their mix of yellow, gray and white colors. After searching the internet, I discovered they were yellow-rumped warblers (first picture). I really enjoyed watching the birds throughout the week, and saw another bird, the white crowned sparrow (second picture), which stopped over at my dad's house. I also enjoyed hearing the birds. The call of the woodpecker, the songs of the robin and the cardinal, the noisy call of the blue jay. My dad's porch was a great place for watching and listening to the birds. It was such a blessing to me.
Another favorite from the week was spending lots of time with J reading books. I didn't have my computer with me and we watched very little TV, so we had lots of time together. I took some time to go through our old kids books in the dank, musty basement and my dad let me take several of them home. They were a wonderful discovery for J, who spent literally hours with me each day, just having me read them to him. He loved this finger play book (picture above) and after having me read it several times, he enjoyed doing the finger play on his own. Frog and Toad are a new favorite.
One of our final treats was making a trip to our little town's ice cream parlor, The Plush Horse, which has been around since 1937. They have a life sized white stuffed horse inside and J was just thrilled to see it. He picked his seat at the cutest little tiny kids table. It was fun taking him to a place his mom used to visit often as a kid. The ice cream is just delicious.
We had plenty of unpacking and settling in to do once we got home, but it's good to be home after having a nice little vacation away.