Hello everyone, your favorite bloggers here.
First thing's first, Chris added a few pictures from meeting up with Gramps (AKA Rev, AKA Joseph, AKA Joe), as well as some from Papa's actual birthday with his brother Gerry. We added links here as well as in the older posts.
Yesterday we took a trip up to Belleville to visit the Casson family, who are longtime friends of Papa (AKA Gene), and all of Chris' mom's family. Deb's mom and Jerry Casson were great friends, and raised their kids together for a few decades. The Cassons are a loud, fun-loving bunch, and it's always a great time to hang out with them. This shindig was at Rick's house (Rick being one of Jerry and Dave's many children who made it to the party), and we got the grand tour including the bar they'd installed downstairs, the lake in the middle of their little community, and the winery owned and operated by the guy who built the neighborhood.
The Winery was fun, and really any place that hands out free tasty alcohol can't be all bad. The make wines with awesome names like Old Hippie, Smart Ass Chardonay, The Doctor's Zin, and Hope (which is a Riesling in a cobalt blue bottle with a pink breast cancer awareness label, donating the proceeds to the local Susan G Comen foundation). We ended up with two bottles of Hope, and figure that by including it with the bottle of Brut champagne they gave us at the House on the Rock, we'll have enough to share with the 8 folks at the house some evening.
The birthday cake was tasty, and the candles (yes, there were really 80 of them) were successfully extinguished. Everyone brought some food product so we had a big buffet of chicken, brats, porkiness, all sorts of potato salads/coleslaws/sides, and of course you can't have a big family get together in the mid-west without an assortment of American beers. Deb had spent the last few weeks scanning old pictures of Papa as a kid, attending various weddings, family portraits, etc and Kim put together a great slideshow of pictures for everyone to enjoy. It went over very well and everyone was gathered around the TV to watch and see what trouble Gene had gotten into growing up.
Kim of course gravitated towards the pool (since she's a particularly awesome swim instructor) and towards baby Olivia (since she's an early childhood education guru [Also, she says "And the baby's so cute!"]), so naturally she sought to combine the two. In an impromptu swim-lesson, after obtaining parental consent of course, she danced around the pool with Olivia and they blew bubbles at each other. This baby took to the water perfectly, and Kim's hopeful that early exposure to swimming before Olivia has a chance to develop an (irrational) fear of the water and resistance to swim lessons makes her the safer and more confident swimmer just like she's seen in other babies who started swimming early.
As I'm writing this, we're off to Flora to visit Synda who is Deb's cousin. There's a lot of family all over the Illinois area so while we're back here, we're making the most of our proximity to catch up with everyone we can. More updates and pictures to follow!
PS - The spiderweb pictures at the end of the album don't really have anything to do with the birthday, but my dad pointed them out, and I thought they were cool.