Sitting around the dining table, I asked the Leflers to describe their family to me. Virginia, the mother of two sons and grandmother of four girls, a former resident of rural Texas and Nebraska who uprooted herself and moved to Chicago long ago, let out a sigh.
"We're renegades," she said.
Nick, one of the boys and the father of five-month-old twins, did not see it that way.
"We are, uh, boring," he said.
I saw Virginia's assessment, but not Nick's. During the course of our morning photo shoot, various family members got concrete dust on themselves while posing in a nearby construction zone, climbed trees in neighbors' yards and got into a leaf-hurling fight in a stormwater-retention ditch (which was dry, thankfully).
When the family storytelling starts to center around the tales of the patriarch, Jim goes to his drum set.
Nick and Christine
Jeremy and Mwende...
with Samara, feeling camera-shy, ducking behind her mom, and Aiden capturing more leaves for her bouquet.
Lefler vs. Lefler.
This went on for quite a while, and appeared to center on Nick and Jeremy settling some unresolved childhood disputes.
Meanwhile, Aiden decided the best way to get more leaves was to follow Aunt Christine and Uncle Nick.
Grandpa just wanted some time with his littlest girls...
...and his main girl.
Trespassing and leaf-hurling aside, they think they have done a good job so far.
The results of that job agree.