On Friday, we loaded up the car and headed north to Jasper, where Andy’s brother (Rich), wife (Cindy) and kids (Gerrit, Oliver, Molly) live. We went to visit not for the fun video games, or golf cart rides, or even the crippled chicken (no really, they have one in their garage) (also, wouldn’t Crippled Chicken be a good band name?), but to see Gerrit and Oliver march with their band, and to cheer on Molly at her volleyball tournament. We’ve wanted to get up there to see the kids in various school functions ever since we moved to Indiana and our drive became two hours shorter. Fast-forward through five years of doom and then newborn twins, and we were finally on our way.
We stopped at Culver’s for some lunchtime butter burgers, which always sounded gross to me until I ate one and realized that they are indeed quite tasty. I gave Henry a half-filled ketchup container cup-thing, and he had a BLAST dipping his French fries into the ketchup. He even started dipping bites of his grilled cheese sandwich. It was his first time eating ketchup and it was so cute! Eleanor didn’t really get the fun behind dipping fries in ketchup; another time, perhaps.
We arrived in Jasper in time to hang out for a few hours, Henry and Eleanor enjoying the company of their aunt, uncle, cousins, four dogs, various cats and bird. In the space of just one hour I managed to slip off a stair and land on my elbow, Eleanor wiped out after not seeing a step and ran right off it, and Henry slipped on the wood floors, did some funky horizontal splits, and faceplanted. We were off to a great start.
Friday night was the football game, where the weather decided to not cooperate but instead continued the rain that had been falling all day. Babies were bundled and umbrellas were purchased and we scoped out a good seat in the bleachers after watching the band march in, Gerrit on his clarinet and Oliver on his sax. This was Henry and Eleanor’s first time staying up past their bedtime, so I was a little worried about how things would go, but oh, they were so wonderful. They snuggled on laps, sitting under umbrellas, and said “ball! ball! ball!” over and over. Henry also enjoyed pointing out the balloons tied to the rails of the steps, and Eleanor made sure we knew there was an apple (“a-ma!”) on the umbrella of a man sitting in the row ahead of us. Lots of folks in the crowd had cowbells to ring (because they’re the Aggies, get it?), which delighted the babies to no end. The babies also enjoyed the halftime show, as they watched their rain-soaked cousins march around the field. By this time, those of us who were not babies were quite damp, so we headed back to the house for some chili. Henry and Eleanor changed into their jammies and sat with us at the kitchen table, begging for saltine crackers. Babies went to bed, and I enjoyed some fireside margaritas with Cindy before heading to bed myself.
On Saturday morning we were treated to a full breakfast—pancakes, bacon, eggs straight from the hen. We lounged for a bit, and then Cindy, Molly and I headed to Molly’s volleyball tournament. I miss playing volleyball. I didn’t realize how much until I walked into the gym and saw all the setting and spiking going on. So I had a great time getting to watch the games all afternoon. Rich, Andy, Gerrit, and babies joined us for a while. Henry was BFFs with Gerrit, sitting on his lap and playing with Gerrit’s cell phone (even dialing one of Gerrit’s teachers—oops). It was a round robin tournament, so we got to see several games. Watching Molly was a treat. I know I’m biased, but she was really good! She had to serve once when it was game point, which would freak me out if I had a row of family watching, but she hit it right over the net.
After the tournament, we enjoyed an afternoon and evening of hanging out. We watched the Michigan State vs. Michigan game—Andy taught the babies to yell, “TOUCHDOWN!” which they did whether a team scored or not. Henry and Eleanor had each received a bag of Halloween goodies when they arrived, and they sat at the table and colored in their very first coloring books. We went outside to see the chickens, and the babies yelled “cock-a-doodle-doo!” as they smiled and peered into the chicken coop. We strolled down to the pond to see the ducks, which got Henry all fired up. He went, “quack quack quack quack” all the way from the coop to the pond. Eleanor loved to scoot through the leaves.
Back inside, Henry and Eleanor treated us to some piano and drum playing. We got the babies fed and to bed, and then enjoyed a late supper of burgers, shrimp, squash, tater tots, and (for me, at least) many, many, many margaritas. (Hey, the bottle was purchased just for me, so I needed to be an appreciative guest.) Rich treated us to some of his Eskimo music CDs, which he accidentally turned on full blast, nearly startling me out of my chair with tribal shouts. The music was nice, but we still mocked him, because c’mon, it’s Eskimo music. We were going to watch a movie after supper, but Andy and I instead watched the boys fight ghost pirates on their Xbox and then crashed early.
Sunday morning brought another yummy breakfast. We discovered the treat to making Eleanor like eggs is to cook ‘em with cheese and ham. The babies devoured their eggs and sausage like we had never fed them before, and then Henry would lift his plate and go, “more?” His pleading little face looked just like an orphan from Oliver Twist. Henry and Eleanor barely left any food for the grown-ups. Must be the country air.
After breakfast we got out the Wii, which I have never played before and am now convinced I need (*ahem* my birthday is next month *ahem*). We played tennis, and boxed and bowled. I’ve noticed that my shoulder muscles are really really SORE, and Andy asked if it could be from playing Wii. Which could be true, but then, wow, what a really sad statement to make about myself.
We went back outside, where the golf cart was ready for a spin. Eleanor preferred to swing and march through the leaves, but Henry started grinning and saying, “car! car!” He smiled during the whole ride, going “zoom!” and “whee!” and “quack quack” when we spotted the ducks. After the go-cart ride, Henry sat on the driveway in the toy car his cousins played with when they were smaller. He’s my transportation lover, that Henry.
By then it was nearing naptime, so we snapped some photos, packed three dozen eggs into the trunk, said our good-byes, and headed back to Indy. I love that Henry and Eleanor are getting slightly easier to travel with, so hopefully we’ll be back to Jasper soon. How wonderful that the babies live just a few hours’ drive from such a loving aunt, uncle and cousins.