Day 1: Hostage Negotiations Begin

When Rich first suggested to me that he ask Vanessa to keep her kids for a week, I had some thoughts about what that meant.  Three kids under the age of 7 for several days.  I hadn’t been had to work with small kids on a voluntary basis in a while.  It was always easier to stand back and let their parents do the heavy lifting.  But then, it might be an opportunity to see if I could still take it.  I would have grandkids one day, if I got lucky.  Why not.  Vanessa deserved a break bigger than overnight.We jokingly referred to this as taking the hostages.  We would treat it as a covert operation to exert our will and influence on Vanessa’s kids.  It didn’t work when we tried it on Alex’s kids.  It might work this time.  Negotiations began between Rich and Vanessa.

Rich extended the offer to his sister, Vanessa.  I think she was hesitant to believe her ears that someone wanted to take her kids off her hands for a few days.  Then, it was her older brother in Illinois.  We thought she could come and hang out with Chris while he was in the Romeoville office for the week.  They could have the week to themselves and it wouldn’t be at home.  When she realized it was a genuine offer, she accepted.  I thought she sounded a little too pleased once the shock wore off.

So on Monday, Vanessa drove to our house.  We went out to dinner and I took advantage of this opportunity to share the Pink Margarita with her.  I think she liked them.  Somehow, they tasted better this time than when we took Rose with us.  The kids did very well at the restaurant. Vanessa then chose to spend the night to ease them over the fact that she was dumping them for a few days.

On Tuesday, we went to breakfast at The Windhill Pancake House and sat at the breakfast bar so the train could deliver our food.  It’s kind of a kitschy sort of thing.  I have had an excuse to do with someone small, so it was a reason.  The troupe dropped me off at home to continue working.  They all headed out to the Illinois Train Museum in Union to explore the train and ride the trolley.  Then it was lunch at Chi Dog, where the kids got chicken fingers.  What?  No hot dogs!  Bel finally lost one of her upper teeth that had been extremely loose.  Guess who gets the tooth fairy to visit tonight?  Hope she got the memo on the change of address.

After lunch, Rich got them back to the house.  Vanessa packed up and slid out the door.  She packed her things into our Honda and headed out to meet with Chris in Romeoville.  I saw that secret smile on her face as she headed down the road.  I think I heard her whisper something about a nap.

Meanwhile, we rounded up the kids and headed down to the river to check out the fishing action.  Rich had managed to get three rod and reel setups for the kids.  That in itself is a good story I’ll have to write up sometime.  With a fresh pack of worms and carp bait, we loaded up the wagon and started the walk to the lake.

Everything was new to them.  They asked questions about the neighborhood, the channel, the birds, the dogs, and finally the road taking them to the fishing hole.  I do believe the entire neighborhood heard that we were going fishing.  We got to the banks of the Fox River, set up our spot, and dropped lines into the water.  Cael didn’t last too long.  A couple of times with worms and he was done.  He was more interested in what he could find in the dirt and the sand.  The sun was warm and he just wanted shade.

Sofia caught the first fish of the day right off the bat.  It was a small bass and not really a keeper.  She was excited to have landed him though.  We took pictures and then threw him back to join his brothers and sisters.  She soon gave up trying and joined Cael in the hunt for rocks and whatever else they could find along the edge of the river.

Now Bel it turns out is an enthusiastic fisherwoman.  She has a very good arm for casting and gets quite a distance out there for such a small person.  She pulled up my chair and got settled in for the long wait as she focused on casting for that big fish.  She sat near Rich and asked a lot of questions.  I think they were amicable fishing pals out there enjoying the late afternoon.

I missed her big haul of the day while I made a trip back to the house with Cael.  Rich managed to get some pictures and Bel took some with her own camera.  It looked like a good sized fish.  Bel was more than happy with the outcome and was busily fishing for more when I returned.

Rich finally got a good sized carp in his attempt of the afternoon.  We cleared the beach as he was expecting the fish to struggle in its fight to stop progress to the sand.  Just as he got to the beach, it slipped the hook and was free.  Rich had to grab it and pick it up to prevent its escape.  We got a picture of everyone standing around the fish before it was allowed to slip back into the river.

Now that just excited Bel to more dreams of bigger fish.  She promptly cast her line into the water and settled in for the wait.  Cael and Sophia had been struggling to stay interested in their surroundings.  I packed up some of the things and we walked the road back to the house.  Cael saw a crane and was very excited to learn about what this bird was. Sascha was glad to see us again.

I was afraid how Sascha might treat the kids.  Would they be playmates or just a nuance?  Turns out, she loves kids.  She was gentle in her own way and liked to hang out wherever they were.  The girls were coloring at the kitchen table and Sascha planted herself next to them.  She seemed to like Cael the best and wanted to try and clean up all the time.

It was getting later and later without Rich and Bel showing up.  Finally, they appeared around 5:30.  There was no further luck with the fishing after we left them.  After getting things settled down, we put in to fix dinner.  Hamburgers straight from the grill were on the menu.  With salads, chips, and all the dressings for the burgers.  Everyone did a good job of finding something they liked.  Conversation flowed pretty well.  Bel was very entertaining with her stories and questions.

After dinner, the kids had a Flavor Ice a piece.  Then we took Sascha for a walk.  Cael was a little bit tired and having trouble keeping up.  That prompted a shoulder ride back to the house.  Sophia came with us.  Bel opted to join Rich and Sascha for a continued walk toward the lake and back around to the house.  I think Bel enjoys talking to Rich.  They seem to be similar in their outlooks on life.

Back at the home place, we put in for baths.  There was enough sand everywhere to warrant this.  Besides, most of the feet had had a lot of river exposure.  Bel took a shower in our bathroom while Sophia and Cael dove into the tub in Rick’s bathroom.  There was some disappointment that the water wasn’t deep enough to require oxygen tanks, but it was enough to take care of business.

After getting dried and dressed, the kids settled down on the living room floor to watch a movie.  I think they picked out something appropriate from the streaming Netflix offerings I showed them.  Cael feel asleep really quick.  Bel enjoyed an orange and wasn’t accosted too much by Sascha wanting her share.  As they wind down to sleep tonight, there is hope they sleep in.  But probably not.  They are just kids after all.

Bel announced early one that we would be fishing right after breakfast.  The mighty and powerful Bel has spoken.

Cael enjoying a romp on the girls' bed.
Cael enjoying a romp on the girls’ bed.
Is this a dining room table or an art center?
Is this a dining room table or an art center?

 

Waving good bye to Mom.
Waving good bye to Mom.

 

Up close and personal with Cael.
Up close and personal with Cael.

 

Cael claimed the big rock as his spot.
Cael claimed the big rock as his spot.

 

Checking all the lines.
Checking all the lines.

 

Sophia with her catch of the day.  This was the first fish.
Sophia with her catch of the day. This was the first fish.

 

Bel showing off the fish she caught.
Bel showing off the fish she caught.

 

True fishermen.  Make that Fisherman and girl
True fishermen. Make that Fisherman and girl

 

This is how the afternoon went for us.
This is how the afternoon went for us.

 

Bel, Rich, Sophia, and Cael with the big catch of the day.
Bel, Rich, Sophia, and Cael with the big catch of the day.
Cael and Sophia were more interested in rock collecting than fishing.
Cael and Sophia were more interested in rock collecting than fishing.

 

 

Evening entertainment on the first night.  We lost one early to exhaustion.
Evening entertainment on the first night. We lost one early to exhaustion.