Southern Force (18 and under) and Southern Express (16 and under) Win First Place at Orland Park
For the third year in a row, Southern Force attended the Sparks Invitational Tourney at Orland Park, and for the third year in a row, won first place without losing a game all three years. It was exciting to find out that Southern Express with players from our local towns was also there. And even more exciting when they also won first place in their 16 and under division. Southern Illinois did itself proud.
After bouncing around our decision as to when to leave for the weekend, we decided at noon Thursday to leave at 4 p.m. that day instead of early Friday. We made it off the farm at 4:30, made a couple of stops in Marion for gas and a car wash, and were on our way up Interstate 57. We stopped for supper and the night at Rantoul. And we were in Orland Park for the women's softball tournaments by 9 a.m. on Friday when Southern Force played their first pool play game of that day.
It was good to see Gerry, Vickie, Erin, and Geri Ann and the Southern Force players and parents and grandparents we knew and gradually to meet team parents we had not met before. Although they had planned to play all season, Chelsea Petty and Sojourner Moody had not been able to play until this tourney. This was Sojo's first tourney after knee surgery and she was playing with a brace. Geri Ann was also on the roster, and was actually put in three different times as a pinch runner and scored a run once in that capacity. Last year when we won the nationals at Marietta, we had a very young team, but with many of the girls returning, we had a little older team this year--but if you averaged in Geri Ann's age, we might still have been called a young team. Ha.
Jeannie had learned we were coming up, and since they had not been able to get hotel rooms over in Iowa as they had planned (where Rick was running), she and Lige and Cecelie were home alone. Well, not really alone, for they had Leah and Lucky too, of course. So they decided to join us altho Cecelie had one final swim lesson that morning. So it was after noon before they were able to take off from Freeport. She was unable to get lodging where we were, but they did get a room at Sleep Inn, which turned out to be the place Southern Express was staying.
By the time Jeannie arrived, we had played another game after lunch and gone back to our hotel. So Lige and Cecelie joined Geri Ann in our swim pool, and Jeannie and I lounged and watched them swim while we visited. Then Gerald took our swim group out to supper. As we drove around unfamiliar territory looking for a restaurant for kids, we finally let the kids choose a new restaurant, which they saw like the one Aunt Mary had taken Geri Ann to in Lake Saint Louis area--where the kids played Trivia on a handheld game contraption. We got off the highway and found a place to park and got our party of six to the door and saw the sign: Not open yet. Training session. As we prepared to turn around and head back to the car and highway, these very friendly young people held the door open and with great enthusiasm welcomed us inside. We followed their directions and they urged us to sit down as it would take minute and then guided us to our table and we were handed menus and the kids were given the game contraptions and began to play immediately. All this was done with great friendliness and vigor by the young workers. We were then told to order whatever each person wanted and the meal would be free! It turned out to be a special night for parents and friends of the employees being trained--and I guess also for anyone like us who accidently happened onto the establishment. We had excellent service and the kids and adults liked the good food, and all we spent was the tip! We left with more enthusiastic goodbyes and good wishes from the young employees. We took Jeannie and her two children back to their hotel, where they walked the dogs and swam again in their pool, and we went back to get to bed as soon as possible in order to attend the 9 a.m. game on Saturday.
We only had that one game that morning it turned out. This park welcomes dogs, so Lucky and Leah were able to join us. The play equipment for children was great and right by the park and there were even benches there in the shade to watch the games. We should have had a leisurely day. We planned to treat the kids to the big water park there that afternoon.
Unfortunately, Lige's ear had begun to give him some trouble, and Jeannie was involved trying to get hold of doctors back home to send his ear drops prescription to an Orland Park drug store. This was complicated by the phone number she'd gotten off a drug store drive- through turning out to be the phone number for a different drug store. (Don't ask. We never found out why.) And further complicated by her needing the most recently changed insurance company number to avoid paying $l00 for the drops. So her day was spent calling and calling with Rick's cell phone breaking up repeatedly until finally she got all the needed information to all the right people and she found the correct drug store (after we sent her in the wrong direction after we had lunched) and she picked up the drops and ear plugs and got back to the water park. Again we sat beside the water this time in the hot afternoon sun and tried to watch the kids and visited while they tried out all the exciting stuff at the water park. Geri Ann took on a challenging mentoring job and she was able to encourage Cecelie to get up her nerve to do everything the big kids did.
We went to IHOP for a quick supper cause it was almost time for the evening's game. When Lige could not eat his food, we realized that his ear was hurting more than the usual problem that was cured with ear drops. We went onto the 6 p.m. game with the kids and Lucky and Leah, who of course thought they were as big as any big dog they approached. It was so dry at the park that the girls were playing ball with great clouds of dust surrounding them everytime they ran, and when they slid into base, they were coated with grime. In this environment, Cecelie had entertained herself by carrying dust to the first bleacher and doing art projects there in her little corner with the dirt. By the time the game was over, Jeannie was afraid to start the long drive back to Freeport as planned without something more for Elijah, who was obviously in great pain.
It was still light for Jeannie to search out an urgent care at local hospital but driving those roads with unfamiliar turn-offs was challenging. We took Cecelie back to our hotel, where we were cooled off and I gave her a bath and shampoo but did not have clean clothes to put on her as I had not thought to get them from Jeannie's van. Finally Jeannie got what she thought was excellent care for Elijah for his pain and another prescription for an antibiotic to take care of what was now known to be an ear infection. She picked up Cecelie at our hotel, and they got back home to Freeport at 2 a.m.
She walked into church the next morning eager to hear from Leslie's youth group who were to have arrived back in San Diego after a week in Mexico. The first thing she heard was that most of the kids either had food poisoning or a virus and one was in hospital. Not only could they not go to the church service in SanDiego as planned that morning, they would not be able to come home as planned on the flight home later in the evening! However, Leslie was evidently one of the least sick ones and she and some of the kids arrived home at 3 a.m. Monday. I think the rest of the group were able to come home last night. Leslie seems to be doing all right, Jeannie said, but Elijah had to be taken to his home doctor and received a stronger antibiotic. And told do something more today if he was not better.
I failed to phone this evening. Things piled up on me. We had had a phone call yesterday while driving home from a man we know in central Missouri and he was bringing his wife and daughter over to see our house as he was here on business today--and we had talked some time back that he wanted his daughter to see our house because he thought it was just what the daughter and husband needed to build on their recently constructed lake. In all the confusion of re-entry to home life late last night, that completely slipped my mind this morning. So after lunch while I was busily involved deleting emails for three e-addresses, they arrived and really got to see the house in its lived-in condition. We had a lovely visit with them and their adorable 8-month-old baby boy, and then it was time for supper--which I didn't have to prepare very much for thanks to a delicious bowl of spaghetti that David's mother had sent last night. With fresh corn-on-the-cob and tomatoes, we had a fine meal. Moving laundry over to the dryer, etc., putting food and dishes away, etc. kept me busy, and I did not get Jeannie called about Elijah. I hope we have good news in the morning.
Getting back to our mini vacation: After seeing the two Southern Illinois teams accept their trophies Sunday afternoon, we left the ball park about 5 and headed north towards McHenry above Chicago. We ate a wonderful supper at Buffalo Grove at the Buffalo Ice Cream Shop and restaurant. I would definitely recommend it.
Gerald was able to maneuvir the Chicago traffic and then to locate the Pierces' home with his computer directions without our even having to phone for help. We got to our friends' home in time for a great evening visit and heard all about their afternoon jaunt going to a Master Gardener tour and summer picnic. Unfortunately, we did not get to go with them as they had hoped--so I missed the home that has a stuffed lion in the living room! And missed getting to ride a golf cart around a farm home with raspberry plantings and other gardens. But it was still light enough for Willitt to show us his beautiful plantings and shrubs and trees and deck in back on their acre lot and to nibble on blackberries and goose berries from the vines there.
We went to bed late and slept late yesterday morning, and then feasted on orange juice, baked oatmeal, biscuits, two kinds of marmelade, four kinds of jelly, perfectly fried bacon (like I can never do), and hazelnut coffee that I learned to juice up further with instant cocoa! We talked and talked around the table despite all the catching-up the night before. It had been a long time since we had been together as they don't get down to Southern Illinois very often now that Carolyn's mother passed away a few years ago. It is too long a trip to make easily, which is why we had never visited them. Carolyn and I were debate colleagues for two years at SIUC back in the days when men and women had separate divisions! She was also a bridesmaid at our wedding, and we have kept in touch all these many years seeing each other when we had opportunity. We enjoyed filling in the blanks since the last visit and catching up on our children's lives and updates about both families' grandchildren.
We were so stuffed from breakfast that we felt we needed to refuse the Pierces' lunch invitation and the trip around their town (actually Johnsberg rather than McHenry despite the McHenry address I have always used for them). We wanted to stay and visit longer, but the dreaded drive back through the toll roads and traffic faced us and we knew we needed to get back on the road and back down I57 to Southern Illinois. Gerald made it through the city without a problem, and I drove some in the middle of the long drive home although he drove most of the way as usual. What a wonderful luxury to have the roads we have, but the traffic gets heavier every year.
It was a good mini vacation, and I did feel refreshed and invigorated when we woke up at Woodsong this morning. Gerald spent the day getting his garden back in shape and took lots of tomatoes to neighbors and the soup kitchen.
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