Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2013

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Where I stayed
The Ullrich Dream Home
Tom & Jodi's Estate
What I did
Hanrahans, Anspachs, Wallers & Ullrichs

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, November 2, 2012

Arriving early on Friday, November 2nd  

    We set up camp in Wheaton, Illinois near Chicago with yet more of Mary's family. OK, so setting up camp would mean a luxurious Guest Room, kingsize bed in a beautiful new home with woodwork and finishes to rival some of the finest craftsmanship I've ever seen. A round of full swing golf in the basement, anyone? We had to break out the the "new sponges" here.

Great small town anchored by Wheaton College, with a nice hiking/biking trail system, an eclectic shopping district and train service that goes directly to downtown Chicago. Nice people too.
(Well dah! They're my relatives!) 

Anyway, when we were gettting close I called my cousin Jess who gave me directions and instructions... mostly "Make yourselves at home" but also "don't pet Cody (their 12 year old deaf dog), He doesn't have any teeth but if he bites you it'll hurt!"  Jess also told us there was plenty of room to park  the Odyssey rig in the driveway or at the church next door (notice a theme here?) 

"Don't plan anything for dinner because my Aunt Kym (Hanrahan) is bringing pizza for all."  Talk about a classic Chicago-Style welcome!  We were treated to
"Gianorio's"  classic Chicago-Style pies...  as thick and delicious as the plush, scrumptious comfort of the Ullrich home.

Come to find out, Brock, Jodi and Tom's 24 year old son, pulled into the driveway from a business trip as we were unloading.  We surprised each other. He's a gorgeous 6'5" mean, lean NCAA Volleyball standout.  (He played for Universirty Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne (IPFW) during its 2007 championship run.)    This was our first introduction to the adult version of Brock, as it had been years (and years and years) since seeing him last.  I may be a bit prejudiced but you'd have to try REALLY, REALLY hard not to like and/or love this guy!  

And... as Billy is fast learning on this Odyssey of ours, that trait MIGHT just be genetic! I have claimed that I have THE BEST Family EVER for most of my life and I've puffing my chest out a lot lately with "I-told-you-so!"
    When I put the "plea" out there on FaceBook, Jodi's response was... "Mare,there is always room at our Inn! Tom and I are visiting (son) Zach, Britt and Grace this weekend, (in Birmingham, Michigan) but  Jess and Aaron will be around. Jess and Aaron "close" on their new house on Tuesday, so I'm sure we could put Billy's tools to some use  ;)    Xxoo, Jodi

Our hosts Jodi and Tom Ullrich have four kids. Zach, (who was an Illinois State Champion Quarterback at Wheaton North and Northern Ilinois alum,  married to Brittany lives in Birmingham, Michigan with new daughter Grace; Newlywed Jessica  (two time National Volleyball Champion at Penn State and husband National Heavyweight runner-up at Penn State and National Champion wrestling coach) Aaron Anspach, Brock (IPFW) whom you met already and Kelsey (Wheaton North & Lewis University-whose softball career has required updating the record books) is the baby.

This house is magificent and so is this home.  It is a showpiece yet a family haven and an entertainer's bliss. (I had 71 pictures to include in the post but Billy brought me back to earth (a job he's embraced for the past 30 years...) 

My pictures could never do it justice but had to share SOME.  Then again, the even more spectacular sights and sounds were those of this extended family.  (I HAD to keep all those pictures in!)

There were a number of remarks... a THEME actually... about making sure Billy was in the pictures to PROVE that he truly existed and THEY had met him!   (Many have accused me of a fantasy husband for years since he never came to any reunions or many big family gatherings. (He's a fantasy all right but a very real one!) 

Everything in this family and home is genuine.  Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say my favorite people are WYSIWYGs.. "What You See Is What You Get!"     No pretense, no facades, just real, true, bonifide, hearts and souls in the flesh.   So I guess I'm giving the credit here to Faye & Roll Doll (and Rolly's Mom my Auntie Mae and also Grandma & Grandpa Corcoran before her) for raising remarkable kids.  As my Grandma Mallery used to say "You done good!"

It was easy to make ourselves at home. We wined and dined with my cousin Kym and her handsome, charming WYSIWYG husband Neal Hanrahan on that 1st night, which was perfect. Kym and I are exactly the same age had many great times together in our early teens in spite of living 1,000 miles apart.. again thanks to our folks.

We had the joy of spending the most time with Jessica & Aaron, though busy packing and planning to move into their new home in just a few days.  We met some other college Volleyball friends of Brock's who had come from surrounding states to play in a breast cancer awareness tournament. (They were bummed that they only took 2nd place... I think he said there were 100+ teams.) The house is so big that the only way we knew they all spent the night was the 19 cars in the driveway (HaHa - okay I'm exagerating but we didn't hear a thing!)  Billy & I tried out a lot of the great rooms in the house but actually hung out a lot up in the sitting room that's part of the "Gym" as we were pretty much the only ones home during the weekend days.   

When Jodi and Tom got back from Michigan on Sunday afternoon, Kym had orchestrated an awesome family meal for all. Kym and Jodi are "twins born five years apart." They are as close as my sisters and I.  

So more great conversation and cuisine!  Often the conversation makes its way around to the Corcoran Clan Reunions and this one was no different. The Ullrich family volunteered to coordinate the next one in 2015 and in fact Jodi and Kym were leaving on Sunday to do a site visit to the top choice "Seventh Mountain Resort" in Bend, Oregon.

We had a grand time and lamented leaving this slice of Heaven, even with the excitement of so much of The Artful Odyssey ahead of us, not to mention we were only going 30 minutes away to Jess and Aaron's new house in St Charles, Illinios and we would still see these cousins for another day or two.

I have a lot more to say but I'm afraid it would be at the risk of losing you all.

So, as is my M.O., I will add more details (and 64 more pictures?) of this stop in the next few entries.  We are SHOCKED at the number of views (1200!!!! ) we are getting on the BLOG!  We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE receiving the comments from any and all of you.  We do not know who the visitors are unless you comment so we'd love to hear from you. 

A few people told us they thought our email had "been hacked" because they were getting our TravelPod links. It was kinda funny a few people called and texted to make sure we were OK since we hadn't posted anything new in a couple of days...We're spent a magnificent week in Ann Arbor and are really at my sister Connie's house in Madison, Indiana right now. I'm working to get the posts current.  Mare  
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pete on

J and Merr win agai...Yeah!!!

Jimmy Martin on

Still with you. Keep it coming. You know I don't text for the most part but did email to make sure you were O.K. when you dropped off line. Have a great Thanksgiving. Now there are some memories that I feel more than explicitly remember. It was the 60's/70's.
Love always,

Auntie Helen on

What a beautiful house of Jodi and Tom's . Thanks for the photos. Just a DREAM HOUSE. What a lovely couple. They are so generous and kind.
We had a fabulous time at Fran's B/Day Party.What a fun time to catch up with everyone. Lois Hoialmen, son Jeff and daughter Vernie were there, which was a real bonus. Fran's family, and Pat did all the food, and it was delicious. It was held at the complex where Tony and Michell work and where Auntie Pat lives. The place is beautiful , so clean and well kept. Fran looked like a Young Charmer, full of pep and enjoying the day.We arrived home just in time to go to Rick and Joyce's for an early Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of good food all day long...........Waiting for your next adventure. Hugs and Kisses

Banana on

Bend, Oregon for the next Reunion? I want to go!!!!!

Jessica Anspach on

LOVED THE BLOG!! You guys were the BEST! Thanks for everything, mostly for making the couple days very special with fam!

Mallery on

Wish i could have seen everyone!

gypsytour on

I do too Baby!

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