Saturday, March 29, 2014


That's pretty much my reply when anyone asks how I am doing.  I feel just fine--no sickness or any other issues--but boy, am I tired!

Some of that is from exercise.  I've already started exercising at least once a day, in hopes of keeping the gestational diabetes as bay.  Unfortunately, it isn't working according to plan, as I just failed my early 1-hour glucose screen on Thursday (I'm only 14 weeks along).  Sigh.  So now I need to find a morning where I can spare 3 hours, plus driving time, to take the 3 hour test.  Failing it was not a complete shock or anything, but still, there's nothing like "failing" to really depress someone who is not used to failing any tests at all!  I think my body can deal with a reasonable diet with plenty of exercise, but it really can not deal with that modified hummingbird nectar that is the nasty orange glucola.  When I think of how many liters of that stuff I've drunk over the course of 10 pregnancies . . . blech!!

Some of the fatigue is just from a busy schedule.  Wow, do things just get busier with kids in high school!  And since I also wear the "guidance counselor" hat, I am constantly feeling like there are things I should be doing, as Nathan ends his junior year.  Some of that involves college visits.  We're trying to set some up for our spring break, but it's really not my thing, and I don't know what is worth it or not.  Let's just say no one around here is particularly happy that their spring break is going to be spent visiting colleges!

Each week has a lot going on.  Mondays Anna and Grace have gymnastics in the afternoon.  Tuesdays we have 2 co-ops, plus Nathan's rugby practice from 3-5, and then Civil Air Patrol for Nathan, Luke, and Caleb at night (and we are eternally grateful for my friend Lynnea, with whom we carpool!).  Wednesdays Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, and Grace just started a homeschool swimming class.  Also Nathan, Luke, and I have been tutoring at a local elementary school in the afternoon.  This has been so rewarding and fun, and we have really enjoyed working with the kids and building relationships.  In fact, last Saturday and today, Nathan and Luke helped with a pinewood derby held there at the school for the kids.  Thursdays are light, as the only regular thing is Nathan's rugby practice Thursday afternoon, which means that often doctor/orthodontist/etc. appointments are scheduled for this day.  Fridays I meet with Kimberly for our Bible study, usually in the afternoon, and then we have our OCF study in the evening.  Saturdays always have some CAP or rugby thing going on, as well as other random things, and Sunday is church, flag football for those refereeing it, and teen Community Bible study for Nathan and Luke.  In between all this is laundry, school, grading, chemistry prep and so on.

Which is not to say that everyone else in the world isn't busy too, because I know everyone is!  But for some reason what we have going on now is just really fatiguing for me personally, and I find myself constantly falling more and more behind with laundry, housework, and so on.  I'm just so tired!  The discouraging thing is that right now, we could afford to have someone come in once a month and help clean--but I can't get the house decluttered enough to have someone come!  Ack!  Which is why the thought of spending the week of spring break touring colleges, instead of getting caught up on the piles of laundry and paper clutter is not appealing, LOL.

And the thing is--this (school) year is really a "light" year for me.  I am only teaching chemistry and memory work.  I'm only pregnant.  Next year I'll be back to teaching 2 big classes (anatomy and physiology for the high schoolers, and life science for the junior highers), as well as the Latin I class I taught Nathan and Luke a few years ago now I'll be teaching to Caleb, Jonathan, Daniel McC, and at least one more person, and I'll still be teaching memory work.  So that will be busy!  At least Faith should be reading fairly fluently by then.  But I'll also be dealing with a newborn, and nursing, and all that fun stuff.  I don't see me getting ahead in any areas next year, LOL.  Maybe I'll have a really productive summer?  Haha!  I crack myself up!  

So right now I would say that I am really having to depend on the Lord and his strength to get through each day.  It is so silly to think that God doesn't give us more than we can handle--of course he does, or else we would think we were getting by on our own strength!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anna!

Anna turned 8 years old today, along with her birthday buddy Amanda L, who turned 16!  We signed up to bring dessert for Bible study, of course, and Anna picked out several good ones.  She did NOT want regular cake--she has become very anti-regular cake and frosting lately, which I have done nothing to discourage, LOL.  Instead, she wanted angel food cake with strawberries.  She has fond memories of Uncle Paul bringing that to Grandma and Grandpa B's house one time, and she thought it was delicious!  I made 4  nine-inch loaf pans of cake, but I was worried about how it would turn out, since I had never made angel food cake before, so I cheated and also bought one in a regular "ring" shape from Sams this afternoon.  I needn't have worried however--the ones I made were good (and all disappeared), and all that is left is 1 slice of the store-bought cake, plus 1 slice of the homemade that I set aside for Nathan.  I also cut up 5 pounds of strawberries (all gone), and we used 2 bottles of spray whip cream.  Yum!

Anna also picked out frosted banana cookies (and she did the frosting), and mint-frosted brownies (all of which also went, except for what I saved out for Nathan--good thing I thought of that ahead of time, or there would have been nothing left except crumbs, I am sure!).  

Nathan is gone this weekend at a Civil Air Patrol competition with a team of 9 from his squadron.  They have been practicing all. the. time. the past few weeks.  I am so glad all that driving is done, but I do hope they perform well and think the whole experience was worth it!  He'll get back Sunday afternoon, hopefully in time to go to flag football referee training, and then on to Community Bible Study.  Busy!

Anna is really growing into a lovely young lady!  She and Grace have been taking gymnastics classes for a year now at our local rec center.  It is an understatement to say that she absolutely loves gymnastics.  She is always doing walkovers and splits all over the house.  She wishes we had more mats to she could practice her back handspring at home!  We did buy a low balance beam from a friend of ours whose daughter (Caleb's age) was done with it.  Anna LOVES having a beam in the playroom, and she is always doing cartwheels and walkovers on it.  All three girls and Micah too use the beam all the time!  It has really been a fun addition.

Anna has also started a homeschool swimming class, along with Caleb, Jonathan, and Grace.  She has always been a little fish, just like her dad!  She is excited about being on the swim team for our local pool this year.  

Anna's new love is reading American girl books.  She's been reading Kirsten ones, but she is also branching out to Molly.  

With Nathan gone the whole weekend, we are spreading out her birthday celebration over several days!  Jonathan was so sweet this morning, and he got up early to make her breakfast in bed--eggs and toast.  We had her birthday desserts tonight, but we'll have her special birthday dinner and open presents Monday.  She is definitely related to her grandmother--she requested steak for her birthday dinner!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Storm, Then Silence

Last Sunday afternoon our friend Lori stopped by with some bags of hand-me-down clothes for the kids around 6:00.  Snow was starting to stick to the ground, but it wasn't too bad.  She wanted to leave pretty quickly to get back home before the roads got back, but we chatted in our entry way for a few minutes.  As we stood there, our lights flickered several times, and they even completely went out for a minute or two before they came back on again!  We were surprised because we rarely lose our power, and frankly, this wasn't some huge, windy storm or anything. But around 6:30, the lights went out for good.

We rustled up a ton of flashlights (which are never where you can easily find them when the lights go out, LOL), and we ate a cold rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Eventually I got the camping lanterns out of the garage when it became evident the power wasn't coming back on any time soon.  We huddled around the table and read books while Micah and Drew played with little flashlights.  Jonathan told the girls stories, like we were camping!  At 11:00, the olders of us were ready to go to bed when finally the lights came back on.  I was so glad they came back on while we were still awake, so we didn't have to get out of bed to race around the house, turning off the lights we had forgotten were still on!

When we woke up Monday morning, we were not pleased to realize that although the power was off, Verizon was still very much out.  We have FIOS, so this meant our home phone, our internet, and our TV were all out.  But it was a beautiful snowy snow day (even Bob didn't have to go to work!), so we just enjoyed the 7 or so inches we got, and we hoped that the internet would mysteriously be restored to us again.  It was St. Patrick's Day, and this time I tried a new recipe--Guinness beef stew, like I had when Bob and I went out to an Irish pub with a couple from our church and some friends of theirs back in December.  It was really good (we ladled it over colcannon, which are Irish mashed potatoes with cabbage and bacon), but the girls were not impressed with the smell of Guinness when I was making the stew, LOL.  I'm not too worried that they will end up heavy drinkers!

Tuesday:  When we woke up with still no internet, we had to scramble with plans for Rivendell, since we need to skype.  Fortuitously, I had already planned to not do a lab, but instead to go over problems, so we met over at the McC's house.  The older boys did all their classes over there, but in the afternoon, the younger kids still had to come here for memory work and literature, since there wasn't enough places for classes at the McCs for everyone.  It was tricky, having people in 2 places.  For one thing, we couldn't skype with Lily and Justin for their afternoon classes, but also a mom was visiting to see what Rivendell was like.  Instead of a regular day, she saw us scrambling around, trying to get various people various places. Suffice to say,  it was stressful.  Also, I finally found the number and called Verizon.  After wading through a complicated tree of options, I finally got to talk to a real person.  After trying various resetting things for 15 minutes, he concluded that our main box was fried, and the earliest he could send someone out was Friday between 8:00 and noon.  Ack!

Wednesday:  I had to take the boys over to the McC's house so they could do their online history class.  The highlight of my day (okay, week!) was getting a haircut that evening.  The last time Suzy cut my hair, she was pregnant with Bennett, and I was still pregnant with Drew.  So yeah, let's just say my hair desperately needed some attention.  Plus, I enjoyed almost an hour of chatting with her!  I definitely need to make haircuts a more regular part of my routine!

Thursday:  Christine took Luke and Caleb to a private school about an hour away so they could take the National Spanish 3 exam.  The NSE powers-that-be are EXTREMELY unfriendly to homeschooling, such that we are definitely not having Caleb and younger do Spanish!  They will do French, which is Siri's preferred language anyway.  Anyhow, Christine and the poor teacher at this school had to jump through so many ridiculous hoops to be able to take this test.  It was such a nightmare!  The teacher was so incredibly nice and helpful though, and the actual test-taking experience was much nicer than it was for Isaac and Nathan last year, who took it at a public school near us (that isn't offering the test this year).  Nathan's computer wouldn't work, which was very flustering, and when the teacher finally got it working, he was quite a bit behind, so he really rushed and did terribly on the vocab part.  But he ended up with a bronze medal, so it was okay.  Not a good testing experience, though!  These computers, however, were all macbook pros, and there were no malfunctions at all.  Christine took the boys out to lunch at Chick-Fil-A afterward, and they were so relieved to be done!

Friday:  I got up early this morning to be ready in case the repairman came right at 8:00.  Kimberly came over here at 9:30 to do our weekly Bible study, so we wouldn't miss the guy.  He did call while she was here to say he would be over a little later than 12:00.  Well . . . okay, I guess.  Lunch came and went.  Nathan left for his final behind-the-wheel driving time with the instructor at 3:00, and the guy still wasn't here.  I called Bob, and he chatted from work with somebody at Verizon who "guaranteed" that the repair guy would be there in 30 minutes.  Well, that time came and went.  At 5:00 I thought he really wouldn't come today, and he certainly wouldn't come over the weekend.  But Nathan and Luke have assignments to do, and when WOULD they come?!?  I was really discouraged.  But then--he called again at 5:30 and said he was on his way!  Amazing!  He showed up at 5:40, replaced the box, and left at 5:50, after assuring me that since the new boxes have 3 prong plugs, this should never happen again.  Why, oh why couldn't we have been first, if it was that easy of a repair??  But it's okay!  Everything works again!  I don't have to type on my phone!

So now we need to do all the internet things that we have been putting off all week long--registering for the SAT 2s, making hotel reservations for a college visit to UVa and a tour of Monticello, paying for Nathan's pararescue summer activity, etc., etc.  I just hope we can remember it all!  It's good to be back, though.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Pregnancy Update

Sometimes it's hard to even remember I am pregnant, since there is not a single area in my life that gives a bit of slack because of the condition, LOL.  Of course then, every night I am so very, very tired at around 9:00, so I am reminded then.  But I have to push on through, because that is the only time I can grade papers, work chemistry problems, plan lessons, and so on.  What ends up happening is that everything takes 10 times as long, I make lots of random typing mistakes, and I have a much harder time understanding and remembering chemical concepts.  Sigh.  Oh well!

This week I was reminded that I am in fact pregnant because I had to go to Bethesda twice for pregnancy-related things.  First, on Wednesday I went to the "OB orientation", where I mainly fill out my pregnancy records.  Someone on my facebook page said their doctor just photocopies her old record--no sense in having her fill everything out each time she gets pregnant.  I just laughed because that is totally not the way of the government.  I have to fill out the exact same information on about 10 different forms for EACH pregnancy!  I had the brilliant idea after the fact that I should have typed up a spreadsheet with all my previous birth information, printed that off, and just put that in the records.  I think I'll do it anyway, because I know all the details for each birth will fade and blur together as time passes!  As it is, there are only 5 spaces for previous births, but they want information on all births, so I end up writing all up and down the margins.  Crazy!  I did bring a cheat sheet of sorts to help me remember all the birth dates and weights, but it didn't have any extra info on it that was asked, like where each child was born, and what complications each had.

Anyway, the nurse in charge of the orientation let me go *really* early this time, since she recognized me as having been through her spiel a few other times (3!).  I didn't have to listen to the genetics counselor or the nutritionist!  It was still a long morning because I had to go to the lab and get blood drawn for a zillion tests, plus give a urine sample.  I also got my first actual appointment scheduled--for yesterday.

So I went back to Bethesda yesterday, taking Anna and Grace with me because we were heading to the commissary afterward, and it didn't make any sense at all to go back home to get them and then head back into the city.  I prepped them for what they might see--an internal exam, a pap smear, a breast exam--but it turned out it was all for naught!  The doctor did a quick dating ultrasound (my due date from the internet was right--Sept. 25), so I'm about 11 1/2 weeks right now.  Then we trouped next door to "fill out the rest of the paperwork".  (I thought, what paperwork could there possibly be?  I filled so much out on Wednesday!)  He wanted to talk through my births.  He was not at all concerned about genetic problems ("even at your age, it's still just a 1-2% chance"), and he didn't try to pressure me at all into any of the blood tests, etc.  His big hobby horse was shoulder dystocia.  He asked if I had any births with that, and I said yes, Grace had a mild case, less than a minute.  They just pulled my knees to my chin, tugged and pulled, and she was out.  I gave a synopsis of that birth story (paranoid doctor, induction early, Grace didn't want to descend, I think she was just not positioned well, since she was by no mean my biggest baby or anything).  The doctor replied that size was not a predictor for shoulder dystocia, in fact, nothing was a predictor, and since I'd had it before, my chances were greater of having it again, blah, blah, blah.  In fact, the only way I could guarantee NOT having shoulder dystocia was to schedule a c-section, and he wanted me to know that was an option.  Probably not my best option, seeing as how I had now delivered 3 more babies without shoulder dystocia, but still, I had a higher risk, blah, blah.  As he was going on and on, I remembered that I had seen him for one of my last appointments before Drew was born, and he had given the SAME spiel about shoulder dystocia then, even down to the c-section option!  Whereas no other doctor had ever even mentioned it, LOL.

I brought up hemorrhage, since I had troubles with my uterus clamping down after Drew, and I had to have all those manual extractions, which led to that unpleasant uterine infection.  Well, again he was not that concerned (even though that was the HUGE concern of the doctor for Grace, and why she induced me early--she was so sure I would hemorfhage everywhere, and she didn't want to risk me going into labor during the night, when not everyone would be around to save me).  He basically said I have an old uterus that is just tired, but there are ways to be proactive. (What ways?  Why wouldn't they have done them last time? I'll have to ask as it grows closer to time.)

So we just chatted for awhile about all my previous births, and about gestational diabetes, and then he told me to get a one-hour glucose test done before my next appointment in 5 weeks (blech).  Oh, he did say that the one bigger risk now that I'm over 40 is of my placenta deteriorating faster, so I'll have to get some non-stress tests as I get closer to 40 weeks, and they won't let me go over 40 weeks.  Since I haven't gone into labor on my own at or before 40 weeks since Faith (and not for the 3 before her either), it is *highly* unlikely I'll go into labor myself this time either (that poor tired uterus again, LOL).  So once again I am looking at an induction, with a baby floating high and not really descending, since my uterus is so stretched out.  Sigh.  Hard to be thinking of these things now, with 28 weeks still to go!  Maybe I'll finally go for that epidural after all . . .

Afterwards, the girls and I headed over to radiology to make my 20 week ultrasound appointment (May 7).  Then we had lunch at the on-base McDonalds before heading to the commissary.  Because it was just the 2 of them, I bought them each a Happy Meal, which they thought was quite special! The time at the commissary was long and tiring, but hey, now my pantry is resupplied (or will be once I finally finish putting all the stuff away . . . currently we have brown sacks circling the island and filling the laundry room).  And the girls and I had a fun time!  Unlike the boys, they actually LIKE going to the commissary and picking out all the food, talking about the meals we'll have--and of course, picking out a candy bar from the checkout lane at the end!  Well, the boys like that part too, LOL.  It was a super long day, though, and I was SO tired at Bible study last night.  I was just glad I made it through without falling asleep!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Happy Birthday, Luke!

 Luke turned 15 on Feb. 27, and he got the best birthday present of all on that very day--he got his braces off!!  He has had this "phase" of braces on since Feb. 14, 2011, so it has been 3 long years.  But we got back a paper with the pictures the orthodontist took of Luke when he first started, and it was so long ago!  He started in 2008, back when he was 9!  His smile looks fantastic, but now he has to wear a retainer on both top and bottom teeth for an entire year to hopefully keep everything where it is.

For Luke's birthday dinner Thursday night, we had chicken packets, stir-fried garlic green beans, spinach strawberry salad, and mixed berries.  It was so yummy!  After dinner we had ice cream, and Luke got his present from us--Ticket to Ride Europe!  We got to play this last night, and I must say, I liked it even better than the original!  I don't know my European cities quite as well, so it will be a good geography lesson for me too.
 On Friday, we brought a real smorgasbord of desserts to Bible study.  We were celebrating ALL our February birthdays!  Faith asked for mini cupcakes, frosted with purple and pink, of course, and Luke asked for a chocolate Snickers cheesecake as well as Air Force dessert (hey, the cheesecake is just not that big), and I was perfectly happy with both those options!
You would think with all that dessert that we would still be eating it here at home.  Ha!  Did we mention our Bible study usually has around 28 children, not to mention adults??  We brought home a little bit of Air Force dessert, which I had made in my huge 17x20 pan.  That was all!

So Luke had a good birthday.  He is still ruminating over what to spend an Amazon gift card on from his grandparents . . .  We are looking forward to another year with Luke, as he matures even more physically (he's passing up Nathan . . .), emotionally, and spiritually!  He's a lot of fun, and best of all, he is my finder/organizer/marshall of cleaning up.  Without his leadership, not much around here actually gets accomplished, especially while I am gone, LOL.  He's a keeper!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Jumping Right Back In

We really didn't have too much time to recover from the big trip.  Tuesday morning Bob had to leave for a TDY to Dayton at 6:00 AM, so he was up and out of the house bright and early!  Tuesday was also Rivendell, so it was right back into the routine.  A new wrinkle in our schedule was that Nathan started rugby practice that day, from 3:00-5:00, so we had to leave at 2:45 to get him there, and it messed up my memory work time!  I could tell I was still tired and just not thinking through things correctly.

As soon as rugby practice was over, we had to rush home, where Lynnea was literally waiting in our driveway to take Nathan, Luke, and Caleb to CAP.  They are having to leave so early because Nathan and Lynnea's daughter are participating in a cadet competition in March, so they are having extra practices. Crazy!

Then we all had to go to CAP to pick everyone up, because Nathan was finally having the pin-on ceremony for his promotion to 2nd lieutenant, the first officer rank, which actually happened back in January.  There was terrible traffic, so we barely made it.  As soon as we all walked in, the commander announced, "We have a promotion tonight!", and I had to walk over to the center of the room!  I just quickly passed Drew off to Jonathan, and it was all so sudden, he just stared and didn't react (whew).  Since Bob was out of town, Luke did the honors on the other side.  This is a really big honor for Nathan, and the result of a lot of hard work!  He also got some good news while we were still in Travis--he got accepted to the USAFA Summer Seminar!

We didn't get home until after 10:00.  Wednesday I woke up at 10:00 to a silent house.  I couldn't believe that Drew or the girls at least weren't up!  And then I realized that Nathan and Luke have their online history class at 9:45 . . . I ran down the hall to get them up, and they were sleeping soundly as well.  Somehow their alarm hadn't gone off, so they had to scramble downstairs and sign in late!  We were all just so tired.

The rest of the week was just kind of a loss, I think.  No one could find the right school books, I could never find time to unpack the suitcases, so they just continued to sit in the upstairs hallway, laundry was everywhere, everything was just chaotic.  I would say it took us until the following Wednesday to have a normal day of school and to feel like things were somewhat back to normal again.  I'm still really tired, but hey, that's basically life for me now.

So was the trip worth all the recovery time?  Absolutely!!  I don't want the kids to think that, because we have a lot of kids, we can't ever do fun, different things.  And I really wanted to do something big as a family before Nathan and Luke go off to college.  Here we had 2 full weeks of time together, making a lot of priceless family memories.  It was so fun!  It also reminded me of just how much I enjoy being around all the kids.  We do a lot as a family here in VA, like eat most meals together, etc., but we are often going in different directions now, and it was so nice to all be mostly together for an extended period of time.   And besides, there aren't that many kids who can say they have ridden on a C-17 or a C-5!  I'm so glad our homeschooling, and Bob's job, allowed us the flexibility to do this, and I am SO thankful for the C's, who hosted us.  It was so good to visit with them!! So the trip was definitely worth it from all aspects!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Testimony of God's Grace

As we waited around at Travis, I grew more and more discouraged.  I was feeling very fragile emotionally anyway, and I was just so tired of being in limbo, checking the terminal facebook status all the time.  The only remote possibility that was there was a flight with a Sunday morning showtime of 11:20, but it only had 19 tentative seats.  I knew the chance of us getting on that was extremely slim, and I was just so discouraged.  Bob and I talked about what to do.  We decided that if Bob could get any seats on that flight, then he would take whatever kids he had seats for, and I would take the rest home commercially.  So he called Southwest and got great fares for Monday--on a flight leaving at 6:00 AM, he reserved 7 seats at between $225 and $234 (plus Drew would be a lap baby).  Then he got 3 more seats on a 12:00 flight for a little more, but still the average for 10 seats was about $250, an incredible deal!

But I was incredibly stressed about the logistics.  For one, I would have to get to the Oakland airport with whatever kids at 4:00 in the morning, all by myself, and turn in the rental car (and we weren't even sure we could turn in the van there--I might have needed to change to a minivan or something and drop that off instead).  Nathan and I spent some time figuring out how to divide the kids, depending on how many seats Bob could get.  We decided that Drew would always be with me, and the Nathan and Micah would be the first to go with Bob, since it would be really hard for me to deal with both big carseats.  Caleb would be the big boy always with me, and then we would divide up the girls, Jonathan, and Luke.  It was tricky, and I felt like it was one of those lifeboat-type problems, even though I knew it wasn't (thank you, pregnancy hormones).  I was a teary mess, anyway.

My friend Janet from our church in Ohio had posted  a "Jesus Calling" devotional on Saturday, and it was so encouraging to me.  I had to keep re-reading it!  It said:

February 15

Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remembering that nothing is impossible with Me.

Pry your mind away from your problems so you can focus your attention on Me. Recall that I am able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine. Instead of trying to direct Me to do this and that, seek to attune yourself to what I am already doing.

When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd. The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn’t be afraid of anything. Rather than trying to maintain control over your life, abandon yourself to My will. Though this may feel frightening—even dangerous, the safest place to be is in My will.

“For nothing is impossible with God.”
—Luke 1:37

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
—Ephesians 3:20–21

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
—Psalm 23:1–4

We packed up Sunday morning and headed over to the terminal at 10:30.  The good news was that they had released 34 firm seats, but that still wasn't *that* many.  There is a computer monitor that show everyone who has marked themselves present, along with their category (we are category 6, the lowest priority), and for the category 6 people, it is in order of signup date, because people who signed up earlier get precedence.  So at a glance I could see that there were 27 people in front of us, and I was so sad.  I walked back over to our suitcases so I could finish separating out what we needed (another logistical hurdle for me).  I was definitely teary-eyed and feeling very low.  I was so sad because I knew Micah wouldn't understand why I wasn't going through security and getting on the airplane with him, and I didn't think I could deal with seeing him get really upset.

As the time for the roll call got closer, I decided to walk back over to the computer monitor to see how many more people had signed in and were ahead of us, so I could have a better idea of how many people would be with me.  As I walked up, there were another few retirees watching the screen and talking--about us, I realized.  They were surprised that a cat. 6 person would be needing 11 seats; usually the big families were active duty (cat. 3).  I told them that only the last 2 kids were born when he was retired, LOL.  So we started talking, and I said we were hoping to get back to Dover, where our van was, but that it wasn't looking very likely (as I tried not to cry . . .).  One man said, "Oh, I think you'll be fine!"  I was so surprised, since there were clearly so many people ahead of us.  He said, "You have to look at where they are trying to go, too . . ."  As it happens, there was a roll call for a flight to Hickam, Yakota, and Okinawa (both in Japan) only 20 minutes after our roll call, so people marked present for that flight were also on the board--but their destination was not US, it was JPN or HI.  Oh my goodness.  I about fell over.  There was a small inkling of hope!  In fact, the man and his wife were also trying to go to the east coast--but they had decided to try for a small flight to McGuire (the base in NJ) which only was releasing 10 seats, that had a roll call about 40 minute after ours.  So even they weren't competing with us!

The kids were playing back in the family room area, so I went back there.  Bob and Nathan went to the roll call--where our names were indeed called.  I am actually tearing up just thinking back about it!  I can't describe the sense of relief that I wouldn't have to deal with Micah crying, or getting a different rental car, or getting over to the Oakland airport, or any of the numerous other things I had been so worried about.  Honestly, getting on that flight will definitely rank in my mind as one of the primary moments for me of seeing God's grace work directly in my life when I felt so tired and overwhelmed.  I was just filled with praise and thanksgiving!!

But getting on the manifest is not *quite* the same as actually getting onto the airplane.  We went through security, and Nathan even said, "We've never been this far and had anything happen to not actually get on the airplane, right?"  We were waiting for the plane to land, and they told us to be ready for the passengers already on the plane to come into where we were to wait, while the plane refueled or whatever.  By this time, it was the middle of the afternoon, so Drew especially was very tired and ready for a nap.  We kept feeding people whatever they could find to eat--snacks from their backpacks, left-over lunch meat and other stuff from our fridge in the TLF, etc.--in an effort to stave off temper tantrums.  Finally they announced that the plane was actually going to land at Travis 2 hours later than they expected (so around 4:00, not 2:00).  We were puzzled as to why this would be a new announcement--wouldn't they have already known??  Why don't the airplane communicate with the terminals?  If we had still been out in the main part of the terminal, the kids could have played in the family room, and I could have put Drew down for a nap in the crib room.  Oh well--I tried to focus on how incredibly grateful I was that we were all together!

Eventually the plane did land.  They bussed the passengers over to the terminal, had them get out--and then had them turn right back around and get back on the bus!  In one of those full-circle moments, we were pleased to see our friends from Charleston who had driven up to try for the original McGuire flight, and who did get out on the first Dover flight, the one where the seats released went down from 53 to 19!  We got on a bus as well, and we headed over to the aircraft, another C-17, like our first flight.

They didn't have families board first, so we were scrambling for seats.  Nathan, Anna, and Luke ended up sitting together, Caleb and I were together on the other side of the plane, and towards the back Bob had Jonathan, Grace, Faith, Micah and Drew.
After take-off, we could all move around like before, so it didn't matter at all that our seats were all spread out.
There was a large contingent of active-duty passengers, and they all brought aero-beds, which they plugged in to the outlets in the wall and blew up.  Then they promptly fell fast asleep, where they remained for the duration of the flight, which was 6 hours.  You can see the edge of them in the left of the picture.
Micah was awake for awhile, but he eventually gave up and fell asleep.
Drew fell asleep while we were still waiting to take-off--but then I was very disappointed to look over before we had even reached cruising altitude to see that he had woken up again! He was pretty happy for the flight though.  I guess it was a power nap.  I cut the ear plugs in half again, so they were only about 1/4 the original size.  This worked better because they weren't a long, so they didn't stick out as far, but by the end of the flight, he still was able to get them out at will.  Oh well.
We landed around 1:00 eastern time.  We stepped off the plane into the 28 degree weather, and our friend from Charleston said, "This isn't Hawaii anymore!"  I said, "It isn't even Travis!"  Brrr!!  We got our luggage, and Bob and Nathan hiked over to long-term parking to get the big van.  I was so relieved that it started! 

In a poor decision, we started driving back home immediately.  We should have definitely just stayed one more night in the Dover TLF, since Monday was a holiday!  But we were just running on autopilot by that point,  and we just wanted to get home.  Bob was a total machine, driving back the 2 1/2 hours.  We pulled in at 4:00 AM, totally and completely exhausted.  We came inside and fell in bed!  We all slept until noon on Monday.  But it was so good to be home!!

A Day in Sacramento

Saturday we headed the other direction to Sacramento.  There was a ton of traffic going east, so it took us longer to get there than we had thought.  We figured everyone was heading from San Francisco over to Tahoe to ski or something.  But then we looked on the other side of the highway, going west toward San Francisco, and it was just as crowded, if not more crowded, than our side!  We decided people in CA just want to be where they are not on weekends, LOL.

Eventually we got to Old Sacramento City, and even managed to find a parking place for the big van.  Everyone got out--and immediately Faith starts wailing and shrieking loudly.  Nothing like a quiet, unobtrusive entrance!  It turned out that Faith had somehow (details are still sketchy) run her hand against a wooden raised box thing, and she had gotten a ginormous splinter in her finger.  It wasn't just on the surface either--this sucker was deeply embedded.  And since we had been doing all this flying, we had nothing even remotely sharp in any bag.  (Note to self:  at least put a safety pin on the diaper bag.)  After some Civil War-era medical care, we did manage to get a large chunk of the splinter out (Bob held her arms, and I pushed the bottom of the splinter up and got it out a bit with my teeth, then the rest of the way with my fingernails).  It was quite the show.  We were parked right in front of this "psychic" business, and the lady just sat in there on her couch (the door was wide open, for walk-ins, I guess) and stared at us!

After all that excitement, we walked through Old Sacramento City to the California State Railroad Museum.  We had been there once before, back in January 2001, when we visited my brother Dan, who used to live in Sacramento.  We were almost ready to PCS from Colorado to Ohio, so Nathan was 3, and Luke was almost 2.  It had been a while!  The museum was as good as we remembered.  There are a ton of trains on display, and the best part is that you can walk through quite a few of them!  Micah in particular loved that.
This train reminds me of the Little Engine Who Could-if only it was blue!
This is in the dining car of a luxury train.  The kitchen was behind it.  They also had several other cars to go through, like a passenger car (where the berths were being made up to sleep in, so you could see both ways), and more of a first class part, where each person had their own little cabin.  Train travel seems so cool, although I'm sure it's like air travel now--only really nice if you are really rich, LOL.
We made our way upstairs, which was definitely the favorite part of the younger set.  There was a big display of toy trains from way back when until now, and there was also this huge model train set-up.  It had all sorts of lights and sounds, and the sun even rose and set, so you could see the lights at "night time"!  Drew and Micah were QUITE enthralled with this.  Drew did not want to ever leave!  But one of the girls dragged him off, because the next area was a play area, with several train tables and all the Thomas train stuff you could imagine!  The youngers played here for probably an hour, LOL-until closing!  Bob, Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna went off to watch a train movie, and Nathan and Luke actually walked down the street and toured the California State Military Museum.
We left and walked back to the van with no further splinter incidents.  I really enjoy walking around Old Sacramento City!  I think old buildings are jut so neat, architecturally--I would love to see inside all of them! 

We made it back to Travis before the BX food court closed, so we were able to have Anthony's Pizza.  I also bought a pair of tweezers in the BX, for further splinter removal operations . . .  We were able to get the rest of it out later that night, thankfully.  It was such a monster!