Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nasal Mystery

For some reason, once our formal school year is over, everything seems to fall apart for us, health-wise, and we end up making a ton of trips to Bethesda, even though we've hardly made any the whole rest of the year.  Last year is was Jonathan's big lump of infection on his head after camping, and then his Lyme disease.  This year we've had the bout with strep, as well as Jonathan's reaction to the antibiotics, and Drew's infected finger.

I thought we were out of the woods, but then another . . . issue . . . came to our attention.  Micah smelled funny.  When we were packing up from camping, I noticed that his pillow (a penguin Pillowpet) smelled bad.  Well, I couldn't remember the last time I washed it, and we had just been camping, so it got washed.  But it still smelled, so it got washed a second time.

Eventually we noticed that it was more than his pillow.  Micah himself just sort of smelled off.  We couldn't pinpoint exactly where it came from, but I encouraged more showers, better potty hygiene, better teeth brushing, more use of mouthwash, etc.  Yesterday we were swimming in the pool, and Micah was around me.  I could smell this smell, and I realized that we were in a pool, for Pete's sake--all I should have been able to smell was chlorine!  What on earth was causing this smell?!?  As I was helping him brush his teeth, it finally dawned on me that the smell was actually coming from his nose--every time he exhaled, it smelled so foul. It had definitely gotten worse over the past 3 weeks, and now you couldn't avoid noticing the smell if you were anywhere near him, and he breathed out!

I googled "bad smell from nose", and the main thing that came up was a sinus infection.  But Micah wasn't running a fever, or having copious amounts of nasty green snot, or any other symptom of any sinus infection I've ever known.  I went ahead and made an appointment for 11:00 this morning.

The pediatrician was pretty sure Micah had a "foreign object" in his left nostril.  She couldn't clear out the nostril to see better, so she sent us over to ENT.  After waiting quite awhile, a resident called us back.
She set Micah up in this fancy chair, inserted a "nasal speculum" into his nostril (did you even know there was such a thing?), put on a head lamp, and peered inside.  She felt like there was something in there as well, so she got this suction tube.  First she put on a small nozzle thing, but that didn't work, so she went to the larger nozzle.  That also didn't work, so she asked for these long "nasal tweezers".  Then she pulled out this . . . thing:
It was a piece of foam, about 1 1/2 inches long!  It looked like delivering a small baby from his nose, lol.  Micah was remarkably cooperative during this whole procedure, but after she pulled it out, his nose started bleeding, which freaked him out, although we got it stopped quickly.  

So as we were making our follow-up appointment for 2 weeks from now, Micah asked me, "Mom, how did that big piece of foam get all the way up into my nose?"  Ummm, yes--that is the question of the hour!  I guess it will remain a mystery, because if Micah himself has no clue, then I doubt anyone else will be able to figure it out either!  I can't believe he didn't feel that something was up there, but he never once complained about anything.  He did tell the doctor that he had been having headaches kind of above his nose.  Also, we had noticed that he had started snoring.  Well, no wonder, with his left nostril almost clogged by a huge piece of foam!  I've been wracking my brain for where whitish foam is.  Caleb mentioned the foam pit at gymnastics, but Micah hasn't been to a foam pit for a long time--months, for sure.  I do think he must have fallen into foam, though.  Micah has never been one to stick things up his nose deliberately, and if he had noticed something go up his nose, I think he would have been alarmed and told me!  But I guess it will remain unsolvable.  I will say, regardless of where the foam came from, I am SO GLAD that it is out!  Micah already smells way better!  I will be quite happy if I never have to smell that particular smell again.  It reminded me of what I smelled like when I had my uterine infection after Drew's birth.  Learn something new every day, that's for sure.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Scattered in All Directions

Sunday morning we all scattered in different directions!  Luke and Bob were the first to leave.  They flew out at 8:15 for Luke's college orientation Sunday afternoon and Monday.  Nathan got up early to drive them to the airport, which was nice.

The rest of us got ready to leave around 8:30 to drive up to WSS, and, for my parents, Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Faith, and Elia, on to Ohio as well!  The youngers and I drove up there for the day so we could drop off Anna, Grace, and Emily to Camp Caleb, but then we came back.  Caleb, Jonathan, and Nathan stayed back here to hold down the fort and go to church.

My mom had this great idea of having us all stop at WSS and eating Sunday dinner there.  Aunt Claire had been to the old hotel, but not Uncle Jim, and neither one had ever been to the new hotel.  Emily and Elia had never been either, but Dan also worked here during the summers, and it's a special place to him.
Faith and Elia rode with the 3 littles and me up there, and as we were getting close, Elia said, "My dad talks about White Sulphur Springs, but I don't even know what it looks like!"  Well, now she and Emily can't say that anymore!  We stopped at the old hotel first, and we got the obligatory picture of the kids on the wagon.  The counselors for Camp Caleb were all at Harrison House, waiting to be taken up to Camp Caleb with their gear, and I heard one of them say, "My family has SO MANY family pictures taken on that wagon!"  Us too!
Then we headed up to Heritage House, where we had lunch.  Mom and Dad were borne off by friends they hadn't seen in years, along with Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, to sit at one table, and all the kids sat at another table--so that left me to sit with Amanda L., who is up working in the nursery all summer!  We had a lovely visit, only interrupted a few times by spills and the need for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the kids table.
The crew heading to Ohio pulled out after lunch, but the rest of us had a few hours before we needed to check in the girls.  I perused the bookstore, and I found this amazing drawing of Harrison House, which I absolutely loved.  There were a few other scenes around WSS that were also drawn like this, but this one was the only one of the old hotel, so I snatched it up.  It's a 4x6, and it came framed for $15!  Susanne at the desk told me that a 15 year old boy had painted it and the other scenes!  I was so amazed!  Then she pointed me toward another painting he had done.
This one is much bigger, and it hangs in the handicapped stall of the ladies' restroom on the first floor, of all places, lol.  It's seven of Mrs. Kent's tea cups lined up.  It's really detailed and pretty.  Anyway, I was quite impressed by this 15 year old's talent!
Then it was finally time to drop off Anna, Grace, and Emily.  They look excited here--hopefully they are having fun now!  I guess we'll get the full report on Friday.
They're sitting on Emily's and Anna's bunk beds--Emily on top, and Anna on bottom, if they stay the way they set it up originally.

Then Micah, Drew, Verity, and drove back home, with Micah and Drew bickering away until they fell asleep, lol.  It was quite a change to just have them, the 3 older boys, and me to cook for, since I'd been cooking for 18 the previous week!

Luke and Bob got back technically Tuesday morning--12:30 AM is when their plane landed.  They had a good time, although Bob came back a bit under the weather with the virus that had passed through our house the week before.  Luke said orientation was pretty much what he had expected.
I didn't have too much time to get details from him because we left at 7:30 Tuesday morning to drive to Bethesda for Luke to get his wisdom teeth extracted!  It turns out his wisdom teeth on the bottom had come in sideways, so we were not sure how complicated the surgery would be.  He just had his consult last Monday on June 5, and I was pretty worried that we weren't going to be able to schedule the extraction this summer, because Luke is hardly home after this week.  After Nathan's consult, he didn't get scheduled until probably 2 months later, which is pretty normal for them.  But shockingly, the doctor said they had cancellations *this week*, and the surgeries then were going to be performed in the regular main operating suite because of some random reasons I totally can't remember, so an actual anesthesiologist would be doing the anesthesia.  Wow!  So we were able to get the surgery scheduled for Tuesday, and we had to be there at 9:00!
The surgery went well, and it only took an hour, so there weren't any complications.  Contrary to what it looks like here, Luke has healed really well, with very little swelling or pain.  He even went to a Nationals game this afternoon with Bob, Nathan, Jonathan, and Bob's office!  

It's been quiet here without the 3 girls, for sure.  I'm looking forward to hearing the fun the older ones had at Camp Caleb, and I know the younger ones are having a grand time at Grandma/Grandpa camp!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Graduation Party For Luke!

Today we officially celebrated Luke's high school graduation!

It was so special to have both my parents as well as my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim here to celebrate with us!
We also had my brother Dan's girls.  Elia wrote in Luke's graduation book that he was her "favorite boy cousin".  So sweet!!
We had an incredibly brief ceremony where Bob and I presented the diploma (which I had a hard time printing off because our black ink cartridge has randomly started spewing black ink all over everything, grrr), and then Bob prayed for Luke.

After that, we opened up the ice cream sundae bar, like we had for Nathan.  It's a nice thing to have in the middle of the day, and well, I love ice cream, especially with crushed Oreos, strawberries, M&Ms, chocolate sauce, etc. . . . Yum!  We also had some other munchies, like grapes and some really good roasted red pepper hummus from Sams with pita chips and pretzel thins.  Uncle Jim, Anna, and I had gone shopping at Sams on Thursday, and this was a free sample.  It was soooo good, and we pretty much polished off the entire big tub!
It was great to see so many of Luke's friends again, from so many different parts of his life!
These are some pretty special guys right here.  When we started Rivendell, our goal was that the boys would make the kind of Proverbs 27:17 friends:  "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I am so thankful for these guys who have provided that encouragement and motivation over the past years!
Verity was so cute with her play phone.  Here she and Aunt Claire are having a deep phone conversation.

I made a board for Luke too, like I did for Nathan.  I had so much fun going through pictures and memories!  I actually used the same board, lol--I left the verses on, but I did take all of Nathan's pictures off.  But then several of the pictures I had used for Nathan also featured Luke, so those went back up again.  Double duty!  I did print out a ton more pictures of Luke, and I had a hard time deciding which pictures to use.  The other people enjoyed looking at all the pictures, I think.  Lots of fun memories!

And here is one last bonus picture:  Faith decided to separate the M&Ms in the bowl by color. I was quite surprised to find out it was her, because she is not what I would term "OCD" or anything remotely related to that, lol.   

Friday, June 09, 2017

Busy Week

 1.  A week ago today, Jonathan turned 14!  He wanted powdered sugar donuts because apparently he loves them but never gets them.  Who knew?  So we remedied that, and on National Donut Day, at that!
 We took a chocolate cake to Bible study that Anna decorated really quickly but was still delicious.
 Saturday morning he got to open his presents, which included a new backpack, headphones, a selection of candy, some fidget spinners he picked out himself, and an amazon gift card from Grandma and Grandpa.
 2.  The reason we couldn't spend too much time decorating a cake on Friday was because we were frantically preparing for a very exciting event:  the arrival of the cousins!  The girls flew in Saturday, and everyone was so excited!
 The girls have been having a fun time all together.  One thing they've done pretty much every day is make breakfast for all of us!  This is a pretty big group, because on Sunday evening, my parents drove in, and on Tuesday evening my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim also flew in.  SO much fun!!
 3.  Last Friday we also received word that our neighborhood was getting repaved--and we had to have all our cars off the street starting on Tuesday.  Ack!  I panicked there at first because I wasn't at all sure how that was going to work with all our company, plus Luke's graduation party coming up on Saturday.  In fact, it was a flashback to a few weeks before our wedding when all of a sudden (to us) the powers-that-be decided to replace a bunch of underground pipes, including one that ran right in front of the chapel front door.  So next thing we knew, there was a twelve foot moat such that no one could use the chapel front door.  We had to go in and out for our wedding through a tiny side door, which was not ideal.  Oh well.

Anyway, Nathan and I did a herculean amount of garage cleaning and organization so that we could move his CR-V in there.  We parked the big van in front of the L's house.  The street guys milled up our street on Wednesday, and who knows when they'll come back to repave it.  Hopefully not tomorrow during the party, lol.
 4.  We went out to Olive Garden to celebrate my mom's birthday!  We had a really nice dinner.  The L's came too.
 Then we came back home for dessert (I made a nutella cheesecake, chocolate cake, and lemon bars for those who don't like chocolate) and presents.
 Anna, Uncle Jim, and I had gone to Walmart earlier in the day, and I had restocked my wrapping paper selection.  I bought a "Happy Birthday" roll, a generic cupcake roll, and a"Baby" roll, thinking that should cover me for the whole year of present-giving opportunities.  But when I got home and wrapped my mom's present, I literally paid no attention to the roll I was grabbing (???), and I wrapped the present in the "Baby" wrapping paper.  AND I DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE IT UNTIL MOM WAS GETTING READY TO OPEN HER PRESENT!!  LOL!  Not sure what happened there, but we all got a good laugh at it!
5.  We've been dealing with a quick-moving stomach bug here, to add to the excitement.  Elia and a few of our kids have been sick, and it hit me early this morning.  It's not been fun, but at least it's been relatively quick.  Drew and Verity had the hardest time getting over it, but I think they both were a little dehydrated.

So that was our week.  Lots going on, and lots of fun with extended family!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Damp Camping Fun

This weekend we went on our annual camping trip with our homeschooling friends.  It was considerably wetter than any other year we've gone, so that made things a little bit more interesting, but we still had a grand time!
 Fortunately we knew the forecast going into the weekend, so we were somewhat prepared.  We dug up this "shade tent" from the recesses of our garage (I'm not sure we've ever even used it before?), and we set it up over the picnic table.  It was a little crowded back there, which caused me to ponder how we might better set things up next year (I've got big plans . . .), but it did help keep things a bit drier.  I don't think it rained Friday at all, but Saturday it rained off and on pretty much the whole day.  We even canceled out hike to the falls because of it!  Fortunately it was nice in the evening, and so we were still able to have our taco bar potluck, which was fun.  Sunday we still had our church service (it sprinkled a time or two, but really we hardly got wet), and then 2 groups hiked up to the falls two different times.  We had a dry spell Sunday afternoon, and so we gambled and left the tents up, hoping they would dry out before we put them away.  We lost that bet, however, as it started raining pretty solidly, and we ended up taking the tents down in a rush, and stuffing everything in the back of the 2 minivans as quickly as possible (also as unorganized as possible, lol).  That meant we got to put up the tents this morning in our front yard to dry them out, along with the tarps, camp chairs, sleeping pads, etc.  Not quite as much fun as setting up at the campsite!
 The kids still had fun.  Along with our usual construction toys, they added in a waterfront! Water and dirt--how can any kid be happier?!
 One of the older girls helped our girls make these leaf crowns, which they thought were pretty fantastic.

 Nathan got to use his hammock a bit on Friday, since it wasn't rainy.  Verity thought it was nice too!
 Nathan and Luke had their work cut out for them, keeping a fire going with all the rain and general dampness.  They persevered, however, and they also split a ton of wood from this big round section that Bob and Anna rolled down to our campsite from the entrance to our loop.
 Verity thought she owned the place, of course, and she wandered happily around to the other campsites, visiting.  She did take a wonderful nap Saturday afternoon.  This year she slept in our "toddler travel bed" instead of a pack-n-play, marking the first time since Nathan was born that we have camped without a pack-n-play.  She thought she was pretty big stuff, with her Winnie-the-Pooh sleeping bag!
The funnest part was that this year the L's came too.  We've been camping with them since Nathan was 8 weeks old, and Elizabeth was pregnant with Amanda, back in Colorado!  Now here we re al20 years later!
Here is a picture of us from a camping trip to Molly Gulch, I believe, back in 1998.  Obviously we haven't changed at all!  Ed is cooking on their Coleman camp stove that we shared during all those camping trips.  When we started going on this camping trip 4 years ago, we just borrowed theirs!  With them coming this year as well, we finally had to bite the bullet and buy our own camp stove.  We bought the exact same Coleman camp stove.  We figured after trying it out for 20 years, we were finally ready to commit, lol.  It worked great for us!

We did have some unusual medical issues this trip.  Two weeks ago, Nathan had a really sore throat and just wasn't feeling well.  Eventually Grace and Jonathan did as well, with the added bonus of a nice rash all over their bodies.  I took them in to the doctor on Thursday, May 18, before we went to WSS, and no surprise there, they all had strep throat (scarlet fever for Grace and Jonathan).  Nathan got penicillin, Jonathan got amoxicillin, but I asked for Grace to have something different, since she had massive hives the last time she had amoxicillin, so she got a Z-pack.  Well, Friday morning, as we were packing up to leave, Jonathan showed me what looked like bug bites all over his arms.  We couldn't figure out when he would have been bitten, but I gave him some benedryl. He and the older boys came later than the rest of us did, and as they were driving, he texted to say he looked like he had chicken pox!  As we watched this rash spread all over his body, it struck me--he's probably having a reaction to the amoxicillin, just like Grace (and Drew and Verity)!  So he didn't take any more pills, and the rash seemed like it was starting to go away--although it is back now, so I'm going to take him back in tomorrow.  Crazy!

The other medical issue was Drew's finger.  When he was doing his dishwasher job (unloading the silverware) last Monday, the day after we got home from WSS, I was startled to see what looked like a blister at the top of his right pointer finger!  I asked him what had happened, but he kept saying he didn't know.  It looked a little like the blister you would get after a burn, so I asked him if he had touched the hot metal when he was roasting marshmallows on Saturday night.  He looked clueless and said he didn't know.  He certainly never complained at all at WSS or any other time about getting his finger burned or hurt in any way, so I filed it away as a mystery and proceeded to literally never think about it again.

Until we got up to camping on Friday.  He went potty, and I was lifting him up to wash his hands, since he couldn't reach.  I noticed that his finger was swollen, tight, and red all the way down to the second joint of his finger!  What in the world?!  It looked still like the blister you might get after a burn, but now it was much huger than it had been, and it looked terrible.  But he had never complained about it once during the whole week!  If I hadn't happened to notice it on Monday, I would never have even know when it started (well, as close as I could know, anyway, since Drew himself could give no clues)!  We showed it to all our friends, and one friend offered some essential oils she had brought with her.  We put meleleuca and oregano on it, which really stung, and THEN Drew complained and cried about it!  He actually cried out in the middle of the night a few times too.  But in the morning, the blister had split down the middle, so we thought that was a good sign.  We put antibiotic ointment on it and a bandaid.  Sunday the bandaid was off, but the finger still looked pretty awful.  Now that we're home, we've been soaking it, but obviously there is still infection in there.  We can't figure out what happened, but we're wondering if it wasn't some kind of bite or something--something he wouldn't have felt.  There is no way it was a burn, because those throb, and he would definitely have cried and let us know!  He fussed enough with the oils on it!  So I'm planning on taking him in tomorrow as well.  Hopefully I can get 2 appointments!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lessons From Testing

Today we finished another year of standardized testing for our homeschool co-op, and I for one am quite happy to be done!  As the coordinator, it's like running around like a crazy person for the actual 3 days of testing, plus all the legwork beforehand.  I got to see the Lord work in a very special way this year, though, and that really made it memorable!

Last year we used the Iowa test for the first time, since BJUPress said that Pearson, the publisher, was going to stop supporting the Stanford test after June 2016.  It took a lot of time, but I finally worked out a schedule for all the grades, and I figured we were set.

But then sometime in the fall or winter, I was reading a thread on the Well Trained Mind forums where a lady said that she would be using the Stanford test for her kids this spring.  I asked how that could be, and she replied that Pearson had decided *not* to stop supporting the test after all, although it wouldn't be updated (read "bought into compliance with Common Core", which I don't think anyone in my circle cares about), and Pearson still might stop supporting it "at any time".  Hmmm.  The benefit with the Stanford is that it is untimed, as long as the student is progressing, and that takes a lot of pressure off the kids, especially in the math sections.  I decided we would go back to using Stanford for as long as we can.

But with all my playing around with the schedule last year, I decided to tinker with the Stanford schedule that we had always used as well.  The lady who had been the coordinator at our co-op for years and years before me had set it up for 3 days of testing, but I wanted to see if we could do the required math and language sections in just 2 days for all the grades, and then just have the optional science and social studies sections for those who wanted them on the third day.  I worked it out, but it highlighted the discrepancy in testing times for the various grades.  First grade needed so much more time than any other grade!  Plus, they only had one extra section, and "environment" one, that was suggested to be 30 minutes long, so a third day just for that seemed silly and should have been my first clue that maybe this grand plan would not work so well, lol.

In the meantime, I received the "big box o' tests" for BJUPress almost 2 weeks ago.  I opened it weekend before last to make sure I had all the tests people had ordered.  I realized, as my heart sank to my toes, that I was missing a first grade test and a seventh grade test.  I  compared my sign-up list with the student roster in the box, and I realized that Christine's tests were the ones missing.  What on earth happened?! I printed off her confirmation email and called BJU last Monday.  They were apologetic but said that there was a problem with her credit card, so her order didn't ship.  They had tried to contact her, but not very hard apparently, not leaving messages and not trying email!  I immediately called her, and she called them. It turns out her card had been compromised after she had ordered the tests, so she had to get a new card, but BJU doesn't charge your credit card until the tests ship, which was several weeks later.  Who knew?  Anyhow, BJU express-shipped her tests, and I got them, along with a set of directions for both grades, last Thursday, in plenty of time for this week's testing.  Whew!

For some reason, we had a much bigger than usual number of first graders--11.  First grade is the hardest grade to do a standardized test for, since there is such a wide range of perfectly normal.  On the one hand, you have the (primarily older) kids who have been reading for awhile, and then you have the ones who are technically reading words and sentences, but for whom paragraphs are way too much.  I think the Stanford 1st grade test is actually pretty hard--there are 7 paragraphs at the end of the reading comprehension section, with questions after each paragraph.  Some of the kids breezed right through--and others didn't.  There were tears and frustration, and the class ended up over an hour behind my "schedule".  In fact, by the end of Monday, they hadn't finished 2 of the sections I had scheduled for that day, and obviously my plan of only leaving the optional part for Wednesday was not going to work!

I called Christine to vent my frustration, and she wondered if it would be possible to split the 11 first-graders into 2 groups.  She was a qualified test administrator who wasn't scheduled to test on Tuesday, so she was willing to help out--but we would need a second book of test directions, since they are so scripted, especially for first grade.

But wait!  We HAD a second set of directions . . . because her order, which included a first grade test, hadn't gone through the first time, and so it had to be sent out separately, with its own set of administration directions for each test.  Isn't that amazing how the Lord worked out what we needed, even before we knew we needed it??  So we split the first grade up into 2 groups for Tuesday and today, and it worked much better.  Some kids did have to come back today that weren't planning on it, but everything worked out fine.

Next year I am definitely going back to the original 3 day schedule for both the first and the second grades.  The second grade tester said she thought the days were too long for the second graders too.  For everyone else, doing the required sections in just 2 days worked out just fine, and it was a nice option that they didn't have to come back on Wednesday if they didn't want to.

Now, I am just so glad to be done.  This stress and responsibility really takes it out of me!  I will be very glad to mail that big box right back to BJU Press tomorrow.  Good riddance!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Restful Weekend Retreat

 We spent the weekend at one of my favorite places--Harrison House at White Sulphur Springs.  Our OCF group had a retreat there, and it was so nice and relaxing.  The old hotel was looking very fine indeed, having been freshly painted and spruced up on the outside!

We got there Friday night.  One family that retired last year and moved to the Midwest drove back for the retreat, and it was really wonderful to see them again.  Another family, who PCSed 2 years ago, also drove down for the retreat, so it was a weekend with old friends!  Ed L. did a great job leading 3 sessions on discipleship, which were very practical and helpful.
 Once again, Amanda L. got up at 6:30 and organized the crowd of teens to make breakfast both days, and Nathan was our griller for lunch on Saturday up at the picnic pond.  The weather was very cool the whole time, which was a nice change of pace from the sweltering weather we left behind in VA!  Also, it never rained, so that was also very nice.
 Caleb drove me to the library Friday morning before we left so he could pick out some books.  This was our view of him during much of the weekend.
 Verity was happy to be eating a banana cookie here.  We made 5 dozen banana cookies, and 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies, and they were all eaten at lunch on Saturday, which is rather impressive.
 The grownups spent a lot of time talking and laughing.
 Verity and Drew were a little too close to the pond for my liking!
 The younger teens/preteens had a great time together too.
 This was my view from the porch swing on Saturday afternoon.  I read a really good book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.  I just randomly picked it up at the library last week, but I really enjoyed it.  An elderly widower discovered a charm bracelet of his wife's a year after she died, and he ended up tracing the story of the charms, discovering she had a rather exciting life before she married him.  As he discovers her story, he really came out of his shell and started living again.  It was a nice, quick read, perfect for a relaxing weekend!
 There were quite a few older teens as well, and they played a lot of games and had fun too.
 We didn't get a family wagon shot, but that is not to say kids were not up on the wagon, however.
 Saturday night we had a hay ride up to Heritage House for dinner.  Verity was a little unsure at first, as you can see by her tentative smile, but she sat with Jonathan and Stephanie, and ended up being just fine.
 There were a lot of kids between our 5 families!
 Up at the new hotel, Tim and Amy P got special carrot cake slices to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and everyone sang to them!
 After dinner we went over to Ft. Cochran, where the A. family had organized some games.  First we played a rousing game of "What's my name", where we all had animal names on our back (ant-eater for me, platypus for Bob).  Then we played several rounds of charades.  Here is Luke acting out . . . something . . . oh yes, "bunk bed".  There was a lot of laughter!
 Then it was time for smores.  My kids mostly like making smores, as opposed to eating them.  Verity doesn't even like toasted marshmallows, much less smores!  She only likes raw marshmallows, the stinker, and she definitely doesn't like having sticky hands!  Micah loves roasting marshmallows, and he was quite proud of this specimen in particular.  It did have a nice brown cap, which you can't see because my phone camera is really old and not very good, lol.
Sunday morning we had another delicious breakfast, and then a brief church service.  Before that, we took this lovely picture of us all squished on a very uncomfortable couch.  This picture will not be our Christmas card picture, lol.  Then Ed finished his 3rd session, we packed up, and we all headed back home, along with everyone else who had managed to escape Northern VA for the weekend.  Sigh.  Traffic is not a good way to come down off the mountaintop, and back into the real world!  But here we are, getting ready to start 3 days of testing bright and early tomorrow morning.