summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Monday, July 28, 2014

attempting a post....

Nothing screams Talk To Mom like Mom sitting in her chair. This results in scatterbrained writing, yes, I am blaming it all on the kids.

Today was wonderful! I love rainy days. I stayed up too late last night, or rather too early this morning. But not as late as a few of my girls, who were indeed making Ramen noodles and fried potatoes at 1:30 am. Anyway, imagine my surprise and irritation to be woken at 8:30 am by the dogs a salesman knocking at our door! Okay, I had already woken up, but I had a good book next to my bed, and was planning to read for a bit before facing the day. Or perhaps even fall back to sleep. But no, I had to jump up and grab my lovely polka-dotted robe, and tell that young college boy who had already been here last week to try to sell us books that we still aren't interested. I could not believe he came back. Samuel told him last week that we would not want to buy anything, and not to come back. He came back anyway, and way too early. I told him that my Army son already told that young salesman pointed up at the rain falling on him, shrugged, and motioned to come inside to discuss it. Um, no sir. No way, no how. I said, "I can't seem to make it clearer than this. I am not buying anything from you, and my Army son told you last week that already. Goodbye."


So, I talked to the little girls, and got back in bed for a bit, but didn't go back to sleep. I just enjoyed being back in bed. I left the door open so the little girls could come in for a few hugs. I love that.

Today was catch up on laundry day. I also swept the floors, vacuumed the furniture, and did tons of dishes. I packed clothes for the kids for our church conference, so I can take them out to the camper tomorrow when I clean it.

I also took a break in the afternoon with some coffee and dark chocolate that Paul brought from France, and some almonds. I have eaten very decently today....then I went for a rainy walk.

The chicken and veggies are done, we are having a, "casual" dinner tonight, the kids are starting without me. I just felt like writing, and didn't have a chance to today. Sonja used my computer to watch a movie, ect.

Ten kids were here all day, no one went anywhere until the afternoon, when Margaret took a few of them to town to bring back a Redbox movie, and get the new Lego movie for the little kids. She also helped Jonathan clean up his room today and organize his toys. :)

Camille is working on a scrapbook, which Margaret is also helping with.

The living room is all filled with kids now, and Paul is home from work. So I can't think straight, less straight than usual. So off I will go to have some healthy dinner....and perhaps write something more coherent tomorrow.

(Oh, I heard from Sam today, he likes it there so far. He can see Arlington National Cemetery from his barracks.)

why i love summer and my handsome husband....

The living room has been too busy for me to be able to blog today. This evening we had some kids over, some nice church boys. I made them popcorn and iced tea, and I broke out the tub of gummy worms. I made two pans of brownies, which Margaret and Jonathan frosted with peanutbutter frosting. I took a small nibble of Camille's.

Summertime. Bare feet. Shorts and a t-shirt. No socks for the kids. Picking grape tomatoes out of the garden, and eating them, all warm from the sun. Floating in the pool. Sitting in the sun to dry off. Wandering out to the deck in the morning and drinking my first cup of coffee, which is always the best cup of coffee. The spontaneous beach trips, getting stacks of books from the library. Passing out popsicles to kids in the pool. The late late nights, and sleeping in until 8 or 9. Sunshine and wild flowers. Being able to sit in the grass. Rasberries.

Of course I am a grown up, so my life isn't just sunshine and puppydogs. We have broken pool filter. The contents of the sand filter have blown into the pool, little by little, making it impossible to get the pool water clear. It's a lovely shade of light green, but I have put 30 pounds of shock into it, little by little here and there, so it's still okay to swim in. There is chlorine in it too. The water is warm and relaxing, and still tons of fun for the kids, even the older girls. We are planning to fix the filter when swimming season is over in the fall, rather than have it not in use at all right now.

I was gone too much this past weekend, too. I worked the baseball game on Friday. The younger kids were in good hands with their sisters, but I miss them, and all the things we could be doing, when I work baseball. Paul and I, Emily and Abigail, Samuel, Kathryn all worked.

Saturday was Sam's last day at home. I went to the grocery store with Abigail in the morning and got a few special things for Sam, namely Heater Cakes, the names the kids gave those frozen Pepperidge Farms cakes, because apparently the frosting on top looks like a heat register to them. Sam loves the vanilla with the vanilla frosting and coconut. So does Mom, but I only licked off the knife. Don't worry, it was a butter knife.

Saturday afternoon I helped Paul pick beans from the garden. We also picked yellow squash and beets and tomatoes, and ate lots of all of it for dinner, along with chicken and hot sausage.

I made a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Sam. He had some friends over in the evening, and between them and my kids, most got eaten, except for the dozen I packed up for Sam to take back to the Army with him. I put them in a container and right in his backpack. Samuel and Kathryn

He left early this morning before the sun came up. Joseph drove him to the airport, because I had to work the baseball game again and didn't want to be exhausted. I said my goodbyes last night before bed, and it was sad enough. Sam is not terribly far away, but he is still away, and I miss him.

He is just so nice to have around. He would get up in the morning and putter around, he would maybe sweep the floors or put away clean dishes and wash up some dirty ones. He would take his sisters on spontaneous outings, he would sit with me and drink coffee and tell me about Army life. He is still the same boy, still tender and kind, wickedly funny, yet he is so grown up! This is a boy who didn't even want to order his own McChicken a few months back, and now he is buying his own plane tickets and heading to a base he had never been to, all by his lonesome. (he was rather surprised it cost fifty dollars to take a taxi from the airport to the base:))

Anyway. Sam is gone now, his leave is over. He said he was going to miss the dogs the most, followed by the yard. Our yard in summertime is wonderful. It's not wonderful by the standards of this world, it's not landscaped or weedeated. There are too many cars in our driveway, and usually someone has to also park across the front along the road, and there are always bikes in the grass. There are a few kayaks next to the house, and those nice little solar lights I insist on putting in along the sidewalk get pulled out when the yard is mowed, and not put back. I forget to put the grill cover back on when I'm done grilling, because the grill is too hot, so I'll do it later. The hose is sprawled out where ever it was used last, we don't have one of those nice little hose-roller things, but our hose wouldn't fit on it anyway. We hook like four of them together to reach the way back garden. If you wander to the back yard, the hot tub is just lovely, sitting there with some of the panels off, from the troubleshooting a few years back that never resulted in it getting fixed. I am still hopeful, but my brother who was supposed to fix it has hurt his back....

Anyway. Our yard has a pear tree and some maples, and a huge birch with a climbing rope. We still have a swingset with a slide, and only two swings and a glider, but usually only two little girls want to swing anyway. We do still have a baby swing, but no babies swing in it anymore.

Sam will miss us though. He will take some time to adjust to being there in a different place, but I am totally proud of him for going outside of his comfort zone. He says things are extremely disciplined there. No weeds and wildflowers I bet. He will be drilled and taught and reprimanded, until they make a smooth, robotic, soldier out of him. He will still do infantry training, after all, they protect the nation's capital.

Oh yeah. I love my handsome husband. Please keep him in your prayers. He has always been strong and energetic, able to take on multiple tasks, and take up lots of slack in our church, and at home. Lately, he has been tired. He has A-fib, which is being treated at the moment with medication, which shouldn't be making him tired, but the actual A-Fib might be making him a bit worn out. He just hasn't bounced back from his last trip to France yet. He wouldn't like me writing about him, but I can't just write this blog and pretend everything is all sunshine and happy when I am deeply concerned about him. I know he will be okay after a bit, he is going to have some sort of ablation or procedure done on his heart soon, but in the mean time, it is hard for me to see him tired. It makes me realize how much I love him. It also makes me see how much faith I put in him, and how much I lean on him. But God knows the beginning AND end of all things, He already has things planned for our best. Illness and weakness are scary things, but it is all weighed and measured! We are truly being tested, and when we look at it that way, it is easy to come into rest that He causes all things for our good. It still isn't easy to see my handsome husband all worn out and feeling blah though.

Busy days are coming, my blissful days at home numbered. Summer conference at church is in a few weeks, and the planning and shopping and packing that it involves is quite overwhelming. We stay in our camper, which has to be visited and cleaned out. The day after the conference ends, we are heading up to the mountains to camp for four days, which is a whole 'nother thing to pack for....all of us in tents! phew. I know it will be fun, but. I just hope Paul has a nice relaxing time, and that I can pull it together like Supermom.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a rainy day, perhaps a trip to the library will do us good. Camille, that little rascal, can read at a fifth grade level, and is only six and a half years old.

I am tired, it has been a long day. Paul stayed with the kids today while I worked the baseball game. I didn't want to work a second one in one weekend, but lots of people were on vacation, so I did. It's not bad, I actually enjoy being at the stadium, but by the time I get home, my knees hurt and my legs ache and I am not ready to make dinner. Today I took a nice swim when I got home, and couldn't have cared less what color that water was in the pool.

Ah well, it's bed time....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

love love love summer

From my morning walk.

Today has been glorious. The sun shining, the breeze blowing, a coolness in the air that the sun covers up. The pool water seems warmer than the air.

It's the kind of day that goes by way too fast. The kind of day that begs one to spend it outside. To hang up laundry to dry in the breeze, and to putter in the garden. I got caught up vacuuming today, the living room and the furniture, then the stairs and the downstairs hall...the little girls wanted to go in the pool, so they kept asking me and I kept telling them In A Few Minutes. I hated doing housework when it was so nice out there, so I finally just put it away and went outside and sat on the deck to get all hot before swimming. Samuel sat there with me, until some of the girls talked him into going out and about. They get antsy sometimes, those girls, wanting to Do Things, and Go Places.

Sam asked me if I wanted to go, but no, I did not. No sir, today I wanted to stay home. The girls waited impatiently for me to take them in the pool, while I sorted out who was going with Sam and what they were doing. Joseph and Margaret and Evelyn and Sonja and the two little girls were staying home with me. I told them that after we swam, we would go get ice cream....
This is Sonja K. Like the corn fields in the back ground?

Joe declined the ice cream invite, but the rest of the ones home went with me.

(Turns out the princesses couldn't wait for me to take them in the pool because they had a good plan. It involved a realistic looking plastic snake. Scaring Mama is fun! For them, anyway.)

We are home now, some of the older girls are leaving to do some church things, Evelyn is picking wild flowers with Charlotte Claire and Camille, and Samuel is shooting one of his guns with Jonathan.

I have to get moving to make dinner. I sort of know what we are having, but am not positive. Either taco salad or chicken on the grill.

Our garden is producing green beans and some grape tomatoes, a few yellow squash, and some beets. We have had radishes and lettuces, too. Hopefully the melons will grow this year.

Summertime is wonderful. We have blueberries that Emily picked with the girls the other day, a watermelon, and some cherries. I love having all this yummy stuff.

Tomorrow Paul and I are working at the baseball game in the afternoon. In the morning I am taking my brother to an appointment. So I have enjoyed this blissful day of enjoying my kids in the sunshine, but who knows when another day like this will come along? The days seem to have appointments and shopping and library trips and and and....

Early Sunday morning, Samuel is leaving for his duty station in Washington D.C./Virginia, to guard the capitol:),and represent the United States. It will be interesting to see what he ends up doing. He could be a flag bearer in ceremonies, or a casket bearer in funeral detail at Arlington. All the Old Guard are infantry first, and they still do P.T., but most of what they do is in Washington D.C., and they rarely deploy, which makes this mama happy. One child deploying while we were at war in Afghanistan was enough for a lifetime, thank you.

So we have a few more days with Sam home. He is playing video games with Jon now. Jonathan simply adores Sam. He totally looks up to him, and Sam doesn't disappoint. Sam gives him the time of day, talks to him like an equal, and includes him in his outings. When Sam first left for the Army, Jon was so sad and lost....he will be having a rough time come next week.

Well, dinner is not getting cooked, and this chair is extra comfy in the afternoon after a busy day sitting in the sun and swimming and eating soft ice cream, yeah, I had one....and vacuuming and washing dishes and sweeping and putting clothes away and brushing tangles from little girls' hair and taking that long walk down the hilly road....I could definitely take a snooze, forget all about dinner....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

lots of kids going lots of places....

Ah, summertime. A few years back, we would pack into our 15 passenger van, laden with coolers and strollers and play pens and beach umbrellas, with toy trucks and pails and shovels, 15 or 16 towels, and hit the beach. When it was time to go home, after packing all that stuff, plus the tired sandy kids, back into that big van, I would be hotter and sweatier than I was before we got to the beach in the first place. But the middle part was refreshing. When I wasn't sitting in the shade nursing a baby:)

Anyway. Life has evolved. I still have sixteen children, but all of them aren't "children" anymore. Four of them are nurses, two in the Army, one an accountant, one an that big van has been sitting in the driveway, leaning into it's flat tire, looking very depressed, not driven in months.

Ten of my kids can drive now, 9 with licenses, one with a permit.

So we have lots of littler vehicles.

Today, Samuel, who is home on leave, took some of his sisters (and cousin Olivia) out and about to the big mall in the big city.

Mirielle, one of the nurses, had the day off, so she took Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille to a hike to and play in.

Aaron came to visit me, then I left with just Abigail, and went to the beach. To the beach, with only my own lunch in a lunchpail. My chair, my towel, my sunscreen, waterbottle, and I was good to go. Abigail packed her own lunch:)

It was just too easy! We were out the door just like that! We found ourselves sitting there in the sun with nary a child to look after! We didn't need to face the water, to keep our eyes trained on swimming children, but could actually turn our chairs to face the sun. We talked and laughed and ate our un-sandy food. We swam at our leisure, and sat in the sun to get hot again. On the way home, shh, we stopped for ice cream. All by ourselves.

Home...the mall kids were home, some in the pool. I joined them, then Mirielle brought the little ones home, they joined us.

Dinner, youth meeting, now relaxing. Yes, more relaxing.

It is hot here in central New York state. It was hot today, hot and sunny. Our house is not air conditioned, and it is very warm in here. We have the fans on, and the hum is making me want to fall asleep. I don't know why I am so tired...

Well, I have an idea....see, last evening, we had a family gathering. Most of the kids were here, we had burgers on the grill and green beans and zucchini from Emily's garden, pasta salad, and brownies with homemade frosting, as per Sam's request.

Without getting into the details, I had to take Mali to the emergency room after dinner. (always wash that hair!). She has some heart problems, it skips and bumps along sometimes. She has had it checked out in the past, but it has been acting up, and last evening, it was acting up. She started having problems breathing, and we decided to go see what was going on. I drove as fast as I could without crashing, and even ran a red light, as her panic-y breathing was making me panic too.

She is okay, we found out after several hours and several tests, but really really has to follow up with a cardiologist to see if she is really fine.

Life is never dull, that's for sure.

And as much as I hated leaving everyone and heading to my most un-favorite place, I enjoyed my time with Mali. Once she was hooked up and started calming down and breathing more regularly, she was quite funny. They say nurses are the worst patients, but I am thinking they are probably the best. Mali knew what questions to ask, but didn't appreciate being on the receiving end of the needle.

It's scary when your heart thumps around like that, missing beats and doing funny things. I'm glad we had things checked out, and I am glad she is okay. When one of your kids is suffering or in danger, the importance of all other things just slips and slides right down to nothing. I was praying on the way to the hospital, believe me.

Anyway, life is good, and I am thankful. The kids are watching Bugs Bunny, and it's long past bed time. I love summer, just love it!!!

Cam just asked me if I loved her. Duh! I could not love her more! With their faces tanned and their hair streaked with sunshine, they look so healthy and sweet. They are pretty tired out from their busy day spend outside, Cam is stretched out on the couch.

I suppose I have rambled, but it seems to be what I do best. Believe me, my sunny mood isn't 100% natural. No, this very afternoon I had to really fight off an attack of the Feel Sorry For Me spirits. Poor me! I can't do anything right! Our pool isn't clear, our house isn't clean, our water is all mineral-y, the towels don't match, the freezer needs to be defrosted, I can't organize to save my life. Paul said one thing to me, one thing that wasn't meant to be rude, just an observation on his part, and Oh goodness, I was ticked off. My thoughts just took off, I was convinced within 5 minutes that I was a terrible mother, and that he just doesn't like me. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but. I was headed in the wrong direction, in my thoughts. Then a new thought be thankful. To ask God for help, that I could be changed in these things, that I could hold on to what is good.

Now I get to tuck in the princesses...

Monday, July 21, 2014

the good the bad and the ugly...

Sammy is good. He just is. He is tough and determined and does what needs doing. Today, for example, he did 25 push ups every hour for the first five hours of the day. He took a few sisters and his cousin to the pizza shop today, just because.

He tricked me today, my army son. He had an empty soda bottle, and as we sat there on the deck with Emily and Margaret and Kathryn and Suzanne and Sonja and Olivia (a cousin) and Charlotte Claire and Camille and Dani (cousin) (Joseph was in his room, Jonathan in his room with his friend Phin)....anyway, Sam tricked me. He pretended he was "chewing", and spitting into the bottle. It was only coffee, but he thought he was so funny. I was actually pretty shocked, but very relieved when he laughed and said he had also fooled both Emily and Margaret when I was in the pool. Chewing tobacco, yuck.

Anyway. Summer, I love summer. Here is some more good....
Down our road...the wildflowers grow, there are so many different ones... Queen's Lace and the cornflowers,the Tiger Lillies, and the wild daisies and buttercups...

This is also good. Miss Char didn't want to smile, so Cam tried to help her. Emily came over and took these three (with cousin Danielle) blueberry picking. I am thinking....pie.

This is also good....I love these dogs, and of course my baby Camille. Labs are good pets. They are smart and good and faithful, and lazy and cute, and they don't mind when the kids smother them with loving. They are the kind of dogs I always wanted, they follow me around the yard, rarely run off to visit the neighbors, and usually come when I call them. Duke actually always comes, Suri stops to look at me to decide whether or not to listen...if I promise a treat, she will almost always come. After having Rosie-The-Bad-Dog bite Camille, I never can fully trust an animal, and always remind the kids to be gentle with the dogs, not startle them or tease them or step on their feet...but these two are just good and nice:)

I'm not sure this is the Bad and the Ugly, but their room IS messy. But they keep busy, and they love dressing up.

Hmm, I am not so sure there IS a Bad and Ugly. Granted, things aren't all sunshine and puppy dogs. There are always trials, and some things I cannot write about, because they aren't my stories to tell. Paul and his A-Fib, for example. He is on meds, and has to have a surgery/procedure done in the near future, which is almost always successful, but it still wears on me a bit, as much as I don't want to worry about it. He takes such good care of himself, never misses a work-out, eats healthy food, ect. To have something wrong with him is much harder than I ever would have realized, I would rather have it myself. I think he'll be okay, but believe me, even the thought of it being something serious, I can't bear it. I simply love him so much.

I tried to articulate this to the girls today as we floated around in the pool. This world puts so much emphasis on looks. Girls feel fat and insecure. But none of that really matters. Paul is 52 years old now, but I don't look at his gray hair or his wrinkles and think, "wow, who is this old guy?". No, I just love him. It doesn't matter what he looks like, although I must admit he has really nice eyes. And a cute smile. Never mind....

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that Paul works so hard, while I stay home and enjoy the kids. But then I am not just enjoying them, I am connecting with them, teaching them and guiding them. They are growing up so fast, slipping right through my fingers. These summer days are blissful...sitting on the deck eating cherries, them with their iced tea, some of us with coffee. We dip in the pool, wander out to weed the garden, have some lunch. My lunch today: I like to microwave a few slices of pepperoni, it makes me feel like I'm having pizza, without all the cheese and dough, plus we don't have any pizza, and it gets a lot of the fat out, and it's yummy. So I had some of that, a few almonds and cashews, a handful of blueberries, and a few lime tortilla chips. And some cherries.

Now I am having that yummy afternoon coffee with a few pieces of chocolate, salted caramel chocolate, to be exact. I am not going to have any more, either.

We are having a yummy dinner tonight, because I think all the kids are coming over. Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Mali and Aaron...I think everyone will be here except for Benjamin, who is far far away on the west coast. We are having burgers on the grill, pasta salad with cucumbers, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, and green beans from Emily's garden, brownies with homemade frosting (the yummy cake frosting I make, Sam asked for it.)

It is hot here, 83 degrees. Sam says we're babies, it isn't hot. He did his Basic training in Georgia, so he thinks this weather if just fine. Plus, we have a pool in the back yard. His sisters say that he is the baby, he needs two blankets at night because he thinks it's chilly. Evelyn says he is the captain of the Wussy Pops, her ultimate insult, since Jonathan is just a Private Wussy Pop.

I didn't go on my walk this morning. I woke up two million times to a certain bedroom door opening and slamming, as per usual when the little girls have someone sleep over. They stay up late and get up too early:). I sneaked out here and Sam was still sleeping, so I told the girls they could have one of the chocolate chip cookies I made last night and watch a movie on my computer, good parenting right there. I then got back in bed and finished my book, oh heavenly bliss. Remember the book and movie, "The Shining", Stephen King? Well, a few years back Mr. King was at a book signing, and someone asked him whatever happened to Danny Torrance and his mom. Mr. King had also been wondering what had happened to them, so he started writing, "Doctor Sleep", which is just plain good reading. I read it in fits and starts because I haven't had much time for reading lately, but I really enjoyed it.

I still have it in my head that I need to go on my walk, but like Sam says, I am a big baby and it's too hot out:)

Sam is sitting at the table with some of his sisters, talking about stuff. It's a lazy afternoon, and I totally love it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

summer days and summer nights....

Camp fire on the deck with marshmallows, s'mores, Twix bars...13 of the kids were here, Mali and Abigail went home, but 11 are still here. A few are playing Zelda, we got chased inside by the mosquitoes. They are eating popcorn and a few were putting together a puzzle.

Today I stayed home all day. Sam went out and about with a few of his sisters. Jon and Char went out to the back garden and picked raspberries. I went in the pool with the little girls, and sat in the sun on the deck. I puttered through the garden, pulling a few weeds and eating the one ripe cherry tomato. I went for my walk, mopped the floors, did some laundry, and made a nice dinner of corned beef, potatoes, and carrots.

Mirielle is moving out. She is moving into Emily, Abigail, and Mali's house. wah. I am serious. She is one of my very best friends, and I always enjoy talking to her when she gets home from work in the morning. She will only be 5 miles down the road, but I did cry when she moved loads of stuff out today. She is painting the room first, so she isn't all the way moved out, but still. I am going to miss our times together, they will get more infrequent, and we will get used to it, and I hate it. I know they have to grow up and move out, but wah.

The little girls are still up, enjoying having so many siblings in the living room. Cam is going around the room hugging everyone, so Mama has to go tuck them in now....

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Samuel James is home!!!! He's home, and I love it!!!!

He passed his fitness test on Monday, and didn't tell his Mama. Then yesterday he got the okay from his Sgt. to go on leave, so he texted Mirielle...and said shh, don't tell Mom. So...I was out and about yesterday with some of the kids, we went to the library and to the thrift store, and ordered pizza (if you order Domino's online, it's half price).

Then Kathryn said she needed to be home by 4 because she was doing something with Mirielle. I grumped about that a little, I mean, we were going to go to the park, then next thing we knew, we had to get home. Then at home, Mirielle was all dressed in scrubs and fixing her lunch. I was puzzled, I thought she had the night off. No, she said, overtime. Okay. Why did the girls have to get home then? She said she was dropping them off at Em's, they were doing something with Emily. Oh. Okay. I guess.

A few hours later, a car pulled in the driveway, and I thought Paul was home from work. But two doors slammed, so I went and looked out the window. It was Mirielle. hmm. Then I heard his voice. Distinctly Sam's voice, and I saw a glimpse of camo, and I actually shrieked with joy, I mean I SCREAMED. I was so surprised and excited! I ran out and hugged that poor boy half to death!

The little girls came running when they hear me scream, they said they thought there was a snake in the house:)

So yeah, they pulled one over on me.

He is home for a week +, and it's wonderful. He and I went for one of our evening strolls last night, him in his bare feet, like old times. When he left in February, the snow was piled up by the foot, and it was freezing out, so it had been since last fall since we walked after dinner. Sam is the best walking companion, he just doesn't run out of things to talk about.

Today we surprised Grandma. We visited with her for a bit, then headed to the small city so Sam could buy a few things. McDonald's drive through, too, since he hadn't had any since February. Then to BJ's where I finally bought those cinnamon rolls he loves...and some chicken wings, which are in the oven right now, and some corned beef for tomorrow's dinner.

Who could ever imagine what a feast it is to just have one child (I say "child", but he is almost 19:)) home? It is amazing that there is so much love in my heart for each one of these guys. And that we are all so glad to have Sam here for a bit. He is indeed stationed in Washington/Virginia, and will start his training there soon with the Old Guard.

And now to get that dinner made....