After God affirmed to us that moving to Joliet was in His plan, we were anxious to get there. We lived in a rental house until our chocolate house was completed. We did all the painting on the house, inside and out, and hung wall paper, and stained trim. The house was a quad-level...like a tri-level, but then had an additonal basement level another few steps down. That was a common design in that part of the country.
I was a stay at home mom, and to keep myself busy and the boys entertained, I did preschool at home, with structured lessons. I mentioned in an earlier blog that Dad introduced the boys to the computer, and they had lessons on the computer as well as games. Plus we had a beautiful large park and playground with a picnic area that was located just down our backyard. The boys also had their sand box and tree house to play in. Once a week we went to the local library for the boys to participate in a children's program which contained story time, music time, and crafts. It was all a very nice arrangement.
We met good friends at church who also had two sons about the age of our sons. Sharyl and I would sometimes meet at the mall and walk around with our boys. Other times we would meet at a McDonald's playland and let them play while we visited. We took turns going to each other's house with our husbands, and played games while the kids played GI Joes, or Transformers, or PlayMobile sets. Those four boys were very good buddies and got along wonderfully.
Bill and Sharyl have been life-long friends...friends who came to visit us in other states that we lived in. Those kind of friendships are rare, at least with us. We were shocked and saddened a few years ago to hear that Sharyl had died in her sleep. She was the life of the party, a popular high school teacher and Sunday School teacher, and for years led children's church. We had to stand in line for over two hours just to walk by her casket the day before her funeral. I am so grateful to have known her and called her my friend. This has been a little side-track here, but our years in Joliet found us spending a lot of time with Bill and Sharyl and boys.
Our Joliet Years were also marked with many childhood diseases and accidents. Both boys had the measles and chicken pox during those years. In fact, our youngest one had the chicken pox while his leg was in a cast. It was an itch you couldn't get to for scratching! The same leg was broken twice. Here's the story:
We had gone back to Tennessee for the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. We stayed with some friends in Cleveland, and on Sunday we had a picnic at a local park. Our youngest one was playing on the monkey bars when he fell. We thought he had just sprained his leg, so we didn't get it examined until the next day. Then we found out he had fractured it. He had the cast on a few weeks (a walking cast), and after it was removed and his leg was wrapped in elastic, his father went to sit down on the couch next to him, and accidentally caught our son's foot and fractured the same spot a second time. What a trooper our little boy was!! We have movies of him playing ball outside and running around the bases with his cast on! Nothing was holding him back.
Another time the boys were playing in their bedroom, and the young one had another accident. He fell and hit his forehead against the edge of the plate where the door latches, and cut his forehead open. I took him to emergency (Dad was out of town), and they had to stitch his forehead. I was there when they put a shot in the split to numb it. He just laid there and bravely didn't say a thing, while the tears trickled down his face. He has always been strong when it came to pain.
Another time when Dad was out of town our oldest son was running a fever. He was quite lethargic and didn't want to be up and around, so I kept close to his side. By midnight his eyes were glazing over and I knew I needed to do something quickly. I called a grandma type figure from our church and asked if I could leave the young son with her, as I had to take my other son to the emergency room. She was glad to help.
Ends up I spent the week in the hospital with our son. Paul was out of town the whole week, but Doris was very capable and enjoyed keeping our other son. The son in the hospital was severely dehydrated, once again we were close to losing him. I'm glad I rushed him in when I did, or it may have turned out differently. I had prayed and asked God what to do that night, as I was so scared about how sick he seemed to be. I do feel it was God's nudge that had me take him to the hospital instead of waiting to see the doctor the next day. Another intervention from above. I knew God had a purpose for this son's survival. I felt the responsibility to raise him to honor and obey God.
During our years in Joliet, both sons started school. It was so hard for me to put them on that school bus, yet I knew that was part of raising children. Paul and I were called into a special meeting at school regarding our sons. We were told that they were very advanced, and it would be easy for them to get bored in school. Rather than have them skip grades, they were going to offer them extracurricular assignments to keep them challenged.
For our part, we were told success in life did not depend on intelligence, rather it came from healthy self-esteem. It was important that the boys were happy with themselves and not pushed to prove themselves by their grades. I don't think I am wording that exactly right, but I just know once again I felt the responsibility as their mother to keep their lives in balance. Being a mother is not an easy task when you take the position seriously, and I did. I was very privileged to be given these two marvelous sons to raise and guide in their early years. I did not want to fail them nor God!
After our second son started school, I took a part time job. I knew I would get restless at home by myself. My job had me home about an hour after our son got home, so he stayed with a neighbor until I picked him up. He had playmates there so he didn't mind it at all. By the end of his kindergarten year, we were moving again. Paul had received a promotion in his company which took him back to his former plant. We loved Tennessee, we had good friends back there, and winters were much milder than near Chicago!! Make no mistake, we had good years in Joliet...it was the perfect setup for our young sons, in the neighborhood, in the church, and at school. But to go back "home"! How loving God is!!