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Saturday, 20 May 2023


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I live just outside Peoria in Washington, IL. A short 10-12 minutes and we can be to downtown Peoria across the river. By coincidence we were in Bloomington last night too. Stopped for dinner on our way back from the state track meet in Charleston, Illinois. We love the area. We've lived here for 8 years. If you want some local advice about the area, let me know.

About geography: it took me a little while to get used to the flat corn and soybean fields. We're not from here originally. But, the wide open spaces have their own beauty especially in the mornings and evenings. And mid season, when the corn and soybean are all vigorously growing it's a sea of gorgeous green around here. Even the wind turbines can be graceful giants in the Illinois wind (although I understand living very near them can be complicated).

In Peoria you'd be near or on the Illinois River. Lots of varied landscape and great local places for outdoor walks.

After I drop the kids off for school in the morning my schedule is flexible on Monday if I can be of any help to you.

Congratulations on the grandchild!

Mike, if there's ever a reason to move, being closer to grandchildren is very high on the list. We have two that are five minutes away and we see them all the time. Nothing better than watching them grow up.They do grow very fast and now is the time to get to know them and develop a lasting relationship. One word of caution, is this where your son is going to live for a long time? If you move to be closer, be sure they will be there awhile; otherwise, stay put. We got lucky and our children decided to move back to their home town after years of living elsewhere.

Congrats on meeting your grandson! What a delight. We expect photos.

Interesting that you might be thinking of moving to Peoria. My grandfather, W.W. Keefer, was a Linotype operator for what is now the Peoria Journal Star (now sadly owned by the vulture firm Gatehouse) in the early 20th century. Around 1918 he was inspired to
head West to make his fortune, and founded a small newspaper in Powell, Wyoming, where my father was born in 1919. The paper went bust, so W.W. took his family and his wounded pride back to Peoria, where he got his old job back on the Linotype and where my father graduated from Manual Arts High School in the depths of the Depression.

Ah, family lore. At least I know where I got my deep love of newspapering and my poor business sense.

We visited Peoria frequently in my early childhood; we lived in Alabama in those days. I recall Peoria as a prim but friendly working class city of stout red brick houses. You could do worse.

You think you know what to expect after having a child and then they hand you your first grandchild and kerpow you're a goner.
Nice feeling. Enjoy it.

Being a grandparent is the dividend from your investment in raising children. If you’re smitten now, just wait until the first time (and maybe every time after) he calls you Grandpa.

Wonderful, Mike! This made my day.

Congratulations Mike to you and your family. Amazing how quickly those little ones can attach strings to your heart! Photos will be priceless as time moves on, you can never shoot enough. I have seven grandkids from 11 to 21, best part of my life. Enjoy!

That's so wonderful, Mike! Congratulations.

Moving closer to your son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and various in-laws will put you right into the middle of family that you'll enjoy for years and years. Make it happen -- you will never regret it.

I suspect summers are worse than NY. Hot and humid. Champaign is a university town with those cultural advantage, but probably expensive.

Observations based on four years in Champaign-Urbana when you were still in diapers.

It's flat: https://www.artic.edu/artists/24183/art-sinsabaugh (photographer and monochrome)

But the lure of children and grand children is powerful and important.

And you will treasure those snapshots taken with Kate's phone all your life.

From the title I first tought, why is he so exicted about clouds, that he put an exclamation mark behind Cirrus. This clouds are normally not my favorite.

I am so happy for you Mike. You have earned this extraordinary experience. Drink it in like the fresh sweetness of honey and savor the memories. Hold them close to your heart. There is very little else like being a grandparent. If you are going to move and establish a relationship and bond with Cirrus, do it while he is young. As he grows, other priorities take over but if you have already developed that connection, it will always remain.

On the lighter side, if I had known being a grandparent was so satisfying, I would have skipped kids and gone straight to grandkids! Lol Enjoy!

This near complete lack of family contact situation just seems so foreign to me. My wife's family is at the other end of Europe yet we still seem to have more regular visits in either direction. My side of the (extended) family is around daily, often taking care of the kids even on last minute basis.

My life experience tells me that that there is nothing in a man's life more important than being a father. Having read about you and Xander for many years now, it seems you have done a wonderful job as a parent.

Grandpa, I would think that living within an hour's drive from Cirrus would be well worth all of the work and problems involved in moving across the country. You are a great father, being close to your grandchild will make it much easier to be a great Grandfather, also a very important and rewarding part of a man's life.

Mazel tov, Mike! Wishing nothing but health and happiness for Cirrus, you, and your family!

I had wondered what prompted such a long road trip. The best reason, it turns out!

Oh, boy, what a decision. My eldest daughter and my wonderful son-in-law (won the lottery there) and grandson are in Vienna, Austria. As much as I'd like them to be closer, I've been advising them to stay there. Maybe my wife and I will move closer to them in a few years! But one thing you might want to consider: how much they might like to visit you in the beautiful spot you are in. Because it does seem like you are in a wonderful spot.

I’m so happy for you!
Move as soon and as near as you can. Your job allows it and these moments are the most precious.


Long time reader, first-time commenter. I'm a commercial shooter based in Peoria, but live in Bloomington-Normal. Know Peoria very well - if you have questions - feel free to reach out.


Congratulations on the grandson!

What a wonderful experience. Congratulations!

Congratulations on being a grandfather for the first time and congratulations on moving close to Xander and family.
I never got the chance to meet my grandparents and my dad never got the chance to meet my son. I know he would be really proud of him.

All the best Mike, you deserve it!


I am very happy for you. Some things mere words cannot describe.

There is nothing like being close to family. Only you can decide to make the move.

If your in-laws live in the same town, chances are Xander will stay long there.

Dan K.

Move! Do it! (Been hoping you would)

Life is short, and it’s good to spend it with family.

A lovely post. Congratulations Mike.

Go for it, as long as they are committed to the area. Look for a spot closer to medical care and facilities. Family is so important.

Congratulations on the arrival of your Grandson
, you will never be short of a photo subject!

Looking forward to your house move stories, you know it will happen.

"Yesterday, all things considered, was one of the great days of my entire life."

I've been reading TOP since day one. I can't recall a more positive, uplifting sentence, than the one that starts this post.

Your joy of holding Cirrus is a reminder that more pixels and wider apertures are of little significance in the wider scope of things.

All the best to the entire family.

Hey Mike, my over three-decade career was at the Peoria Journal Star and moved to Upstate New York about 10 months ago to work on a book. The Midwest landscape can be incredibly beautiful, the Illinois River Valley is a joy to photograph. In reference, to an above comment submission, don't listen to anything David Vernon says.

Warms my heart, Mike. If you do decide to move back in the area, let me know. I've got plenty of space at my place if you need a home base to spend some time house hunting (it's a three hour drive to Peoria). And I come back to upstate NY often enough that I can help you box up stuff... :)

To become a grandfather is a extraordinary blessing, I am glad for you Mike.
Best regards.

I told my wife, "I know where Mike is heading" - so glad you made it.

The next greatest thing will be when you hear the word "Grandpa"
And believe me, you will grin from ear to ear and your eyes will water.

That's awesome, Mike! Definitely you should move. I know it's hard to contemplate the hassle of moving but I do think you'd benefit from it in the long run. Forty minutes away sounds like a good distance. You don't want to be too close to, uhh, wear out your welcome. Not that I'm suggesting anything between you and Xander and his family; just my experience and observations about my own family.

Mike, my wifes family has a 150 year history with the Peoria area (Morton/Washington). The family farm sis till there. You can get a lot of house in Washington for the $'s. Simple living as we did a 10 year stint there before moving south. Stay out of Peoria if you can as it has the typical dem run city problems. Good luck and congrats on the G-child.


My most sincere congratulations, ...nothing as wonderful as grand children. Move, it will enrich the rest of your life.

Congratulations, Mike!

You don’t say much about how Xander and Kate feel about you moving closer, and likely being around much more often. I’m assuming that they are equally enthusiastic. Close proximity to in-laws and grandparents can work fantastically for many; some distance seems like a better idea for others. Clarity about boundaries and expectations can be good — ideally before making significant changes or investments.

Dear Mike, you mentioned Peoria ... that reminded me of a story told by the great speech pathologist Charles van Riper in his autobiographical book “A Career in Speech Pathology” (1979).
"A long time ago, early in my career, I attended a workshop there (Peoria), had made my contribution, but still had a day to go before going home. And it was so boring. Maybe you don't know Peoria. When you've looked at the window displays ten times, you have no choice but to go back to your hotel. There's a wonderful little monologue in the old play "Lightning" that aptly describes it.
"How I got the idea of getting married?
Well, I was just in Peoria, I was in Peoria on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It rained every day in Peoria. Then I just got married."-
Unfortunately, I was already married at the time, and out of desperation I read the classified ads in the local paper and came across an ad inviting people to a funfair.
I took a cab and went there. ... "

So, watch out ..., you are warned ... (smile)

Congrats. That's almost exactly what my mother said when she met my nephew for the first time a couple of days after he was born, instant love. Kids look to grandparents for wisdom, start writing some down for him.

BTW, your post sent me into a geographical tailspin. I couldn't figure out why moving to New Jersey would move you closer to them and then realized I had confused Peoria with Passaic. This is all the moreso silly because my only connection with Passaic is that I think it came up in a few jokes on the old TV show F-Troop.

Travelling long distances to visit family can really add miles to the odometer. Wouldn't it be so much nicer to ride a train.

Our first and maybe only grandchild is 7 months old. About a month ago we moved from New Jersey to Virgina so that my wife could provide child care while my daughter and son-in-law work.
Was it worth the move from the state that I spent my entire life in? Hell, yes! Congratulations on one of the best day of your life. It's also one that you earned. I hope you have many more.

So happy for you, Mike! I am sure many of us would be happy to help pack boxes for you when you decide to move; have a photographer-move meet and greet and see who shows up. That little Cirrus guy is just precious. 😍

Congratulations, Mike and Cirrus, on meeting such an important person in your lives. Wonderful!

Congratulations! My first grandchild Björn is just three weeks old, and I share your excitement. It is a wonderful feeling.

Congrats on the new grandson. As any grand parent will tell you, it is the best experience life has to offer. For me it just gets better as time goes by. You get to watch their not-so-little brains develop and their personalities emerge. The love is unconditional. While eventually, they will irritate a grandparent in some way, so much that would have bothered me with a child is forgotten with a grandchild. Our role in life is to spoil them, even if just in little ways. It's a relationship like no other.

Best post I've read here for a long time. This trip is obviously just what you needed.

The wonderful thing about grandchildren is that you can hand them back! Just kidding. I am very fortunate in that I have three grandchildren and the furthest one is only 25 miles away. This is a new chapter in your life that you are bound to enjoy.

Congratulations Mike!

If you're considering the area, make sure you take a look at Urbana-Champaign (not sure of housing situation there), big UofI campus, so plenty of happenings that go along with that.

Your grandson needs you. You need your grandson. I'm sitting here thinking about my 4 grands, age 8 to 5 months and my eyes are watering. Move, already. You won't regret it.

Beautiful. Congratulations!

Congratulations on meeting your grandson and seeing your kids again!
You are in my neck of the woods now. I live in Champaign. I have been over to Bloomington a lot and I get the impression that it is much more midwestern-parochial than not. It seems more conservative than Champaign. Even though Champaign has what is considered a world-class university, the town is quite conservative.
I have also read that Peoria is economically depressed and has a higher crime rate.
This will be somewhat of a culture shock for you. But I hope it works out for you and that you enjoy wherever you land. :)

Congratulations Mike - you deserve such happiness.

Congratulations Mike! This post made me happy. I so hope you have that one more move left in you.

'Cirrus' is an interesting & unusual name.
For someone who also has an unusual name, would you be willing to shed some insight on how they decided on it?

many hearty congratulations to Kate, Xander, Cirrus and you Mike. I wish the new parents the very best and the happy grandpa a succesful move (if it comes about )

Mike, few decisions need more serious consideration than those that involve following someone around as they live their life. You wonder if you have more than one move left in you. Consider your son. Is he committed to his current home for the rest of your life?

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