Family, the 4th, and Starcourt Mall

My Uncle Bob and his wife, Carie, came to visit the week of July 4th, and I was more than happy to host them, Grandpa, and my parents for a feast. We made a low country boil and enjoyed homemade ice cream. Chuck did a ton of the work, bless him, so he deserves a lot of credit. Now that I think of it, I’m open to low country boils instead of turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We took a family photo after dinner, per usual.

Jeremy and Uncle Bob went a few rounds on the chessboard. In the first game, Jeremy beat Uncle Bob in three moves. Not sure he was expecting that! I think a stalemate was the second result.

When our guests had gone and it was finally dark, we lit up a few low-key fireworks and sparklers, which pale in comparison to the week-long firework displays that went on all around us. Our equine and canine neighbors were not pleased!

The next morning, we took Bob and Carie on a short hike so they could get a good view of the Foothills from above. If I’ve not mentioned it before, I absolutely love where we live.

I think Major had the most fun.

When our guests were gone and the holiday weekend was free from responsibility, Chuck, Jackson, and I took to Netflix to binge the third season of Stranger Things.

MAN OH MAN did the nostalgia get me. When I say they nailed the 80s, they really did. The main new set of the third season is a MALL, and the set design was on point at every turn. Starcourt Mall was all 80s all the time. I won’t give any spoilers other than I liked this season more than the last (though not as much as the first, which was near-perfect). I was in tears when it ended.

If you’re a Stranger Things fan, you may enjoy these two articles (here and here) about the theory that Hawkins is actually based on East Tennessee. Fair warning – they include spoilers.

Last days with Jacob and Owen

Both Great Grandpa and my mother left on Friday, so it was just the six of us for two more days.

We had grand plans for Thursday and Friday, but rain showed up and didn’t leave. That meant no Splash Country and a shorter canoe trip down the Little River.

The canoe fits three comfortably, which is just as well since Jackson was at basketball camp and Owen had no interest.

When I asked Jacob what he wanted to do while in Tennessee, the one request he had, other than eating at the Asian Buffet, was to go canoeing.

While they floated down the river, Owen and I went home to eat lunch and play cards. This was the only one-on-one time I got with Owen, so I treasured it, however brief! Jeremy and Owen are “best cousins” and stick together as a pair almost 100 percent of the time.

I also took the opportunity to snap some headshots for Owen, who’s trying out for a play in his hometown.

He looks so much like his dad in this photo:

When they got home from canoeing, I grabbed Jacob and subjected him to photos too.

Owen loves his big brother 

I drove them to the airport on Sunday and cried as I said goodbye. Jacob teased me – “We’re not even your kids!” – but he doesn’t understand that they are the next best thing to being my kids. I endured his teasing because I know he loves me, that they both had a wonderful time in Tennessee and enjoyed being a part of the Miller Camp for Boys for a week. Their plane landed safely in Chicago and off they went into the care of their grandparents. My sister and brother-in-law flew home a few hours later, so by Sunday night everything was back to normal.

I feel like I’m still recovering from the week – is it an age thing or an introvert thing, or both? Utter exhaustion persisted for a solid three days. Today is the first day I’ve felt semi-normal.

Still, I’m thankful for the time we had and the memories we made, and I think Jacob and Owen feel the same.