Friday, August 29, 2014

Week of Appointments and a Ceremony

I had the best of intentions of taking some pictures to put in this post . . . but it didn't happen.

  • Monday Micah and Drew had well-baby appointments.  Technically Micah turned 3 on April 9, and Drew turned 18 months on May 30, so let's just say I wasn't early with these, LOL.  They were another thing I had all summer to do, just like the tea party!  Fortunately I was able to get 2 appointments together before September.  It was very good to get that out of the way!  Both boys are healthy.  Micah is really big for someone in our family--84th percentile for height and weight.  We NEVER see those numbers!  Micah is also still remarkably uncooperative.  He started fussing as soon as we went back to get weighed and whatnot.  The tech said, "I haven't even done anything yet!"  Yes, well . . . that's our charming Micah.  He did NOT get a lollipop at the end, LOL.  Drew was in contrast very cooperative, so that was good.  He's also bigger than average for us--the 44th percentile.  Fortunately, Drew was the only one who needed shots.  He wasn't happy about getting them, but it was a lot less stressful than if it had been Micah, I'm sure.  Grace tagged along as the designated big person helper, and she did a great job.
  • Wednesday I had another OB appointment, followed by my first non-stress test.  The appointment went well.  I saw yet a different doctor, and this one was quite unconcerned about how my fasting numbers are once again hovering right over the cut-off of 95.  It just underscores how different each doctor's assessment of "reasonable risk" is, because I think the doctor I saw last week would have already put me on pills at night.  I'm expecting that at next week's appointment, though.  The non-stress test was fine, although it took longer than it could have, since the baby always sleeps in the morning (after being wide awake all night long, dancing on my bladder).  Finally it was time for my mid-morning snack, and she eventually woke up enough for her to move and have her heartrate go up and do what it needed to do.  The only bad thing is that I have to go back not once, but TWICE a week for these crazy things.  I do not envision having a very productive month of schooling with the girls, with all these trips to Bethesda looming each week.  Less than 4 weeks to go . . .
  • Yesterday I had another chiropractor appointment, and then Nathan and I drove out to a centrally-located high school for our county for his driver's licensing ceremony.  Virginia is apparently the only state which does not just give the teens their actual driver's licence once they finish all the requirements.  Instead, they get a piece of paper saying they can drive, which is valid along with their learner's permit, until they go to this ceremony and get their actual license.  Nathan got the letter back in the end of May, but he was scheduled for a ceremony in June, while he was at PJOC.  So I had to call to get him a different date.  We had sort of assumed there would maybe be 50 people there or something, but when we drove up to the high school, the parking lot was full like there was a home football game or something, and there was a solid mass of people lined up starting at the door and wrapping around the building.  We joined the throng of teens and parents, and waited outside for 15 minutes to file inside.  I was melting, but really it could have been hotter.  Thankfully I didn't have to desperately pee or anything!  Inside the auditorium, a judge talked for a bit, and then the county prosecutor, and then the judge came back up for awhile.  What they said was actually quite good and sobering, about the privilege of driving, and how devastating it is if you are the one who harms or kills someone else because of bad decisions.  It was more than just the standard "you're going to die because you are a risky teenage driver" spiel.  Also the judge really stressed how the parent is the one who determines who can drive, and if they ever feel like the teen is not living up to whatever standards they have decided on, even attitude-wise or chore-wise, then it is the responsibility of the parents to take away the license.  After about 45 minutes of talking, the deputies started dismissing the auditorium 2 rows at a time to go to the back, where there were 4 tables set up, divided alphabetically.  There you waited in line, and eventually the clerk handed the parent the license after the teen turned in their learner's permit and piece of paper.  It all took approximately forever, and then we had to wait for awhile to be able to get out of the parking lot!  It was good and all, but the thought of having to do that 9 more times is rather unsettling.  We saw several families we knew, and we sat behind one lady.  Her youngest (out of 8, I believe)  is the same age as Nathan, and he and Jake were in TNT together.  So now she is all done, whereas I am just starting . . .
  • And speaking of starting, this morning, Bob took Luke to the DMV at the Pentagon to take his learner's permit test, which he passed with flying colors, not missing any questions.  So it all begins again--first the parking lot, then the neighborhood, then the rest of D.C.! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tea Party!

Anna, Grace, and Faith hosted a tea party this afternoon for 9 of their friends!  They have been wanting to do this for approximately forever.  Two summers ago during Grandma/Grandpa camp, Anna, Grace, and their cousin Emily had a tea party at a little tea room in Ohio with Grandma and Aunt Claire.  They had an absolutely wonderful time, but I think the place closed, since they haven't been back.

Well, sometime this winter, Anna and Grace started talking about having a tea party here.  I told them we'd have plenty of time to do it during the summer.  The girls made the guest list and planned various food delicacies to make, while I kept waiting for all the time we'd have in the summer.

About 2 weeks ago I realized that the summer was almost over, I'd be having the baby soon, and if we didn't get this tea party going, it would be hanging over my head for another year!  So I sent out invitations right then to make sure it actually happened, LOL.
The girls were over-the-moon excited!  We made a trip to Party City to buy plates, napkins, cups, and decorations!  I glanced at a few pinterest-inspired blogs, but I was simply not up to trawling thrift stores to buy real tea cups and saucers for each girl, making my own decorations, figuring out elaborate crafts and creative games, etc.
We did, however, make all of our own food!  Anna really wanted strawberry tarts, so I found a recipe on Taste of Home that sounded good.  It was for one big tart, but I knew we wanted individual ones.  It also used a pie crust, but I found these little phyllo cups in the frozen section at Wegmans, and hey, that was just a lot easier than me making a ton of little pie crust tarts.  I made a test batch of 12 on Sunday, and they were a big hit, so I made 36 for the party (and for the boys to have some down in the basement, where they were banished).  There is a thin layer of chocolate on the crust, then a custard-y layer, then the strawberries, which are brushed with current jelly.  Delicious!

I also made little turkey/cheese sandwiches, in an attempt to have a tiny bit of protein in the middle of all these carbs.  You can't see very well, but they are in the shapes of crowns and castles.  I had these cookie cutters in those shapes that I had bought several years ago because I was going to do something with them for one of the girl's birthdays.  I never used them then, but they were perfect for the sandwiches today!
We also made chocolate-covered strawberries, and chocolate-covered pretzels (to use up the remaining chocolate after we finished with the strawberries).  Those were very popular!  I dipped 2 pounds of strawberries, and we only had a few left.  And therein lies the difference between boy parties and girl parties--a boy party would have most certainly had no chocolate-covered strawberries left!  Probably nothing else either, LOL.

I also made some little loaves of banana bread, and lemon bars.  I overcooked the lemon bars a bit--I totally didn't trust the recipe when it said they would firm up after cooling!
We bought little tiara combs for all the girls, as well as rings and lip gloss.  When the girls came, they decorated these door hangers with stickers and foam markers because, well, it was a non-messy craft that didn't require any help or prep from me.  What can I say?  I am not crafty on a good day, much less at 35 weeks pregnant!
The girls also decorated their plastic "tea" cups with stickers and sharpies.  Then they ate.  We had a choice of raspberry iced tea or lemonade--I just couldn't stomach the thought of a hot beverage the end of August!  Everyone was so polite and quiet--another difference between a boy and girl party.  Then they went off and played.  I got Bruno the Bunny out so everyone could see and pet him (consensus:  softest bunny ever!).  Some girls played in the playroom with the dollhouse.  Others dressed up.  Some went outside. Eventually everyone ended up outside bouncing on the trampoline.  I had told the boys beforehand, "Oh, no one will go on the trampoline because they'll all be in their pretty party dresses", but that didn't stop anyone!

And all-too-soon, the parents were coming back.  The girls had a good time, and it was not too hard of a party, so I'm sure we'll have another one sometime!  We don't do individual birthday parties because we would just have too many.  A few years ago, we used to have one big non-birthday party a year in the summer for all our friends.  We had a medieval feast, a Revolutionary War party, and an Olympic party.  But then . . . we just had too many little kids, and I couldn't do it anymore.  Now we still have a ton of littles, but maybe we'll start up the yearly tradition again for the girls.  We'll see how I feel next summer . . . LOL.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pregnancy Update

Tomorrow I'll be 35 weeks along.  I had another OB appointment on Monday, and things are going fine.  This was with a different doctor than I had seen the past 2 times, although she looked familiar, so I'm sure I have seen her, probably during Drew's pregnancy.  She was pleased that I have only gained 26 pounds, which made me laugh, since that is what I had gained back on July 3, when I had that appointment with the weird doctor who was so concerned about my weight!

The only possibly concerning thing is that my fasting glucose readings have once again started being over 95.  Not much higher, but definitely over, like 96 or 97.  So frustrating!  This only started happening 2 mornings before my appointment, so I'm coming back in one week from today so they can check them again.  If the readings are still high, then I'll be put on a pill in the evenings only to keep those fasting numbers under control.  So in the meantime, I have once again upped my protein at my evening snack, and I have added a second fiber pill.  My reading was fine this morning--we'll see if that holds.

I am not really hopeful that I will be able to make it through this pregnancy without going on some medication, though.  It seems that my numbers will be fine for a few weeks, and then they will just all of a sudden start being higher.  I have noticed that my numbers are getting higher even after meals like breakfast, where I have never ever had any high readings at all, and even after I exercise.  For dinner tonight I had salmon, steamed broccoli, and a few strawberries, and then I walked for 45 minutes afterwards.  My reading?  115, which is just 5 points below too high.  Even just a week ago, that would have been below 109, for sure.

The only problem with being on medicine, the doctor explained to me, is that instead of being induced at 40 weeks, like I was with Drew, I'll be induced at 39 weeks.  That is definitely not something to look forward to, as I have no doubt it would be a fairly long induction.  Not because my cervix isn't ready or anything, but because the baby will be way up high, with a lot of amniotic fluid, and she won't move down and engage, so they won't break my water for fear of cord prolapse, so they'll just keep upping the pitocin . . .  and when the baby is eventually born, my uterus will be really tired, and not clamp up, leading to excessive bleeding, which leads to manual uterine sweeps, which with Drew led to a uterine infection . . .  So yeah, not looking forward to an earlier induction.  Interestingly, my friend Siri (the real person, not the voice that lives in my phone!) told me she learned that having a lot of amniotic fluid was a side-effect of gestational diabetes.  That makes sense with my experiences!  At least I know now that if they have to do those horrible manual sweeps, to insist on me being put on antibiotics proactively.  My sister-in-law Melinda, who has been a labor and delivery nurse for many years, couldn't believe they didn't do that as routine protocol last time!

Other than worrying about my glucose readings, I'm feeling okay.  Big, bulky, not sleeping well, but not too bad overall.  I've been seeing the chiropractor more regularly this pregnancy, so that has helped my hips (although I think I'm at the point where nothing really helps them for too long anymore, lol).  I have been faithfully doing my pregnancy workout DVDs in the morning after breakfast, and walking every night after dinner, which I am sure is why I have stopped gaining weight.  That regimen does take up a ton of time and really cuts into school in the morning, so we shall see how things go once co-ops start up after Labor Day.  At least Anna and Grace can work fairly independently now too.  Faith is the one who is not getting much school done right now.

I'm not sleeping well in part because I always wake up absolutely roasting, although the ceiling fan is on, and the AC is pretty low.  I think I'm getting a foretaste of menopause, LOL.  I still have round ligament pain, although I would say not as badly with this pregnancy, and the pains are only on the right side.  But this means I have to sleep a lot more on my right side, since I get the round ligament pain when I'm lying on my left side.  I used to only rarely sleep on my right side, so that feels weird too.  Of course, not sleeping well also means higher numbers in the morning, so I'm sure that is part of my problem.  Just a few more weeks . . .  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pregnancy Dreams

The morning got off on a bad foot.  Bob rushed out the door at 6:30 to catch the 6:40 bus.  The free parking lot has been getting more and more crowded since the powers-that-be built the new parking garage, and it's been harder and harder to find parking places.  I heard him leave, and then I went back to sleep.  But then a little while later he came back!  He sat on the edge of the bed and told me he couldn't find a parking place, even at 6:30, so he was going to have to drive in.  Contractors can't get parking permits at the Pentagon, so he can only drive in 5 times a month, and he had already driven in once this month.  I worried about the rest of the month, and also next month, as we will have the "perfect storm" of Nathan needing a minivan to drive to the community college 3 days a week, I'll be driving a minivan to Bethesda once or twice for appointments and non-stress tests, due to my geriatric age, lol, and so Bob will have to drive the big van.  But if he can't even find a parking place on a Friday in August, what's going to happen??

So when I actually woke back up and got out of bed (which was 8:30, since Micah and Drew both cooperated beautifully and slept in as a nice little present for me), I was just feeling down.  We went about our day, and eventually Bob called to check in.  I told him I was glad he had made it in, but I just couldn't believe there were no parking places at 6:30, and what was he going to do?  He was confused.

Bob:  "Ummm, there were parking places at 6:30.  I parked there."

Me:  "You rode the bus in?!?  But you came back home, and we talked about your not getting a parking place!"

Bob:  "Noooo . . . "

It was SO vivid and real, though!  And what a totally bizarre thing to dream about--a mundane conversation, where I used the words "perfect storm", relating to parking issues!  Ha!  I still can't believe it didn't actually happen.

The first 3 nights after we got back home from Boston, I had dreams about losing one of the kids or the diaper bag,or wrecking the van, and they were quite vivid and realistic as well.  I didn't have any of those sorts of dream while we were actually in Boston (I was probably too tired to remember my dreams, lol), but once we got back somewhere safe, my mind went crazy while I was sleeping.  But still, I woke up realizing they were just dreams!  This whole thing this morning was so . . .  normal . . . It definitely didn't seem like a dream!  So Bob can drive in 4 more times this month if he has to.  Whew!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

ALO Interview

Nathan got home from White Sulphur Springs Friday night, bringing with him a terrible cold that actually some of the rest of us already had as well.  So we're just one happy hacking, sniffling family right now!  He had Saturday to recover, and then bright and early this morning he and I left to drive up to Ft. Meade, MD, where he met his admission liaison officer to have an interview, as part of his Air Force Academy application.

The ALO is usually an officer who lives locally and assists candidates in their pursuit of an Academy appointment.  Navy and Army have them too (BGOs and MALOs).  If Nathan was at our local high school, then there is an ALO for that school, and he would even be able to talk to teachers, coaches, etc. to try to get a feel for Nathan as a candidate.  Every candidate has to have an interview with the ALO to advance in the process, and the ALO fills out a form with their impressions from the interview to send to the Academy.  The saying goes, "An ALO can't get you an appointment, but they could keep you from an appointment", if they thought you weren't serious or whatever.  But the interview is supposed to be more low-key than the ones with the congressional representatives, who are making decisions for nominations!  Somehow, since Nathan is homeschooled, he got an ALO that is regional, not local, which was weird, because other VA candidates we have known had local ones.

Nathan (and I!) were both nervous.  I had stayed up late trying to update Nathan's transcript with his classes for next year.  The transcript is in Excel, which I have a hard time working with.  A lady on the Well-Trained Mind boards sent me her daughter's transcript as a template, and it is the only one I've seen that really works, since I need to include all Nathan's test scores for APs and SAT IIs to validate his grades, as well as a box explaining the different fonts used to denote classes taken at home, at Rivendell, online, and at the community college. But the borders were getting all messed up, and I had run out of room in the area for science classes--it was frustrating!  Bob had been up in PA all day with the girls, visiting an amusement park with his family, and he didn't get home until a little after 11:00.  He was able to help get it all straightened out, however.  *Whew*  We printed that off to bring with him, as well as the resume Nathan had prepared for his nomination packets, listing sports, extra-curricular activities, leadership positions, employment, and community service.

They were to meet at the Ft. Meade PX, which is over an hour away, so Nathan and I had plenty of time to talk in the car.  I had typed up a list of potential questions I had found from various threads on the service academy forums as well as college confidential, just to get him thinking about things.  We had good discussions and were able to come up with examples and stories for the questions I had, so that was good.

The interview was really long--one hour, 10 minutes.  Nathan came out of it thinking it went okay, but it could have gone better.  He felt like for the first 30 minutes he had good answers for all the questions.  The first ones were the no-brainer ones, like "What made you interested in the Academy?", and ones about leadership and the advantages/disadvantages of homeschooling.  We totally predicted those!  The last part was harder though, and Nathan felt like he said, "Ummm . . ." too much and moved his hands nervously.  Also, the questions were more situational (like "When was a time you disagreed with your leadership, and how did you handle it?").  We had (obviously, lol) not been able to predict all these questions, and it is hard to think of relative examples for weird situations on the fly, so Nathan felt like he wasn't as confidant/prepared here.  Also, for some questions we had discussed a situation that would fit . . . but then the ALO wanted a second example as well!  Ack!  Nathan felt like he had used up all his good stories in the first 30 minutes, lol.  But from what Nathan told me, I thought he did as well as could be expected, and that the ALO got a good sense of his character/experiences/personality.  It was definitely good to have the practice before nomination interviews!

For anyone who might be curious, here is the list of questions I had typed up, along with the ones Nathan had trouble with that weren't on my original list.  Hopefully it will be helpful to someone else!  I grouped the situational questions at the end.

  • What sparked your interest in the Academy?
  • What is motivating you to go, other than being a pilot?
  • What do your parents think of you pursuing an Academy appointment/military career?
  • What do you think the advantages.disadvantages of homeschooling have been for you?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Should we provide military support for the current situation in Iraq (or insert some other current news event)?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What is a book you have read lately/one that has impacted your life?
  • Do you think the honor code is reasonable?
  • How have you demonstrated leadership?
  • How have you confronted adversity?
  • Share an ethical dilemma you have dealt with--how did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had a time when you failed at something?  How did you respond?
  • Have you had a time when you were really stressed out, had many things to get done, and couldn't possibly complete them all?  What did you do?
  • Share a time when you have watched a peer succumb to peer pressure.  How do you feel like you respond to peer pressure?
  • What is something you have regretted in the past, or that you would do over, if you could?
  • What is example of a situation where you disagreed with your leadership, and how did you handle it?

Sunday, August 03, 2014


We drove up to Boston last Friday, which was a really long day.  We left at 9:15 and got into the hotel at 9:45, after traffic, construction, and many, many potty breaks after lunch due to Micah, Drew, and Faith.  It was stressful!  I had stayed up until 1:00 the previous night finishing the packing, and my glucose numbers were high both the travel day, as well as the next day.  I think it was due to stress, since I had all sorts of healthy snacks, like a ziploc bag of rotisserie chicken I had shredded, cheese sticks, almonds, etc.  I've never eaten so healthily on a trip!
Saturday we stayed closer to the hotel, and we visited the Minuteman National Historic Park, Concord, and Lexington.  MNHP has a really nice video presentation about the events leading up to "the shot heard 'round the world", and it even kept the attention of the younger kids!  Above you can see Anna on the Old North Bridge in Concord, with a beautiful field of wildflowers in the background.
Past the bridge, on the way to the visitors' center, there were some really great climbing trees that my friend Allison had alerted me to.  The kids could have stayed there all day--Bob too!
Sunday we headed downtown to the USS Constitution area.  Instead of actually touring the ship, however, we spontaneously decided to spring for a tour of the harbor on a duck boat.  The tickets also included 2 days on their hop on/hop off trolleys, and well as one other "free" excursion.  The kids really enjoyed the duck tour, even though Micah looks less than enthused in the picture.  There was a lot of rain that day, so it was nice to be doing something other than walking.  The trolley ride was really great, I thought.  Our driver was really funny, and we got to see all the sites in downtown Boston I had wanted to see, without Bob having to drive, and me having to navigate!  With all the little kids, it wasn't like we were going to be able to stop and tour every thing anyway (plus, it is almost impossible to find parking for the big van), so this was a really low-stress way to see the city.  Micah and Drew both fell asleep, so it was a win all around!
After our super-successful day on Sunday, we were all ready to actually tour the Constitution, as well as do a few other things.  We headed for a parking lot in the North End, by a trolley stop, that we had seen the day before--but they didn't want our van to park there.  After wandering around a bit, we headed back over to the USS Constitution area, where again we couldn't find a place to park for more than 2 hours.  Hmmm.  We parked there, and then we discovered that the Constitution is closed on Mondays.  Of course it is!  We just hadn't paid enough attention to the signs on Sunday, and our hotel didn't have free wifi, so I couldn't look it up the night before (grrrr--that was a huge source of frustration during the week).  We ate our lunch on the sidewalk by the van while we tried to figure out what to do.  We decided we would try to take a short cruise down the Charles River for our "free" excursion, but that meant navigating downtown and trying to find parking.  Amazingly, we found what must be the only parking garage in Boston with a 7'6" height (our van is 7'2"), so we parked there.  We walked through a mall to the back, where the tickets were sold, and we managed to get seats on the last cruise of the day, at 4:15. Of course, it was only 2:45, so we had to burn some time.  The younger kids went up and down the escalators a few times with Bob, and everyone who didn't have gestational diabetes ate dollar freezees from the Burger King in the food court.  Eventually we got on the boat, and that was a really nice time too!  Most of the time, Bob and the kids hung out at the front of the boat.  It was relaxing, and we again saw a lot of Boston.  I feel pretty familiar with the landmarks now!

We ate dinner at the mall, since we knew we would be stuck in traffic otherwise, and when we got back closer to our hotel, we had to make a grocery stop.  Since Bob would be working the next several days, the reservation for those days was at the government rate--which did not include breakfast.  (This hotel definitely was all about nickel-and-diming you!)  So we had to stock up on breakfast things like instant oatmeal that you could make using the coffee pot.  At least we had little fridges in the 2 rooms!
Tuesday morning, Bob got up to meet his new boss in the lobby and ride over to the meetings with him. On the way out the door, he realized that we had never actually parked our van the night before.  We had left it out front after dropping everyone and all our groceries off!  So he called me to come down and move it.  As soon as I got outside, I realized it was dead, since I knew we had left the hazard lights on, and they were no longer flashing.  Oh no!  Bob and the new boss were kind enough to turn around, the hotel had a jumper thing, and they were able to get it started.  Still--a very stressful start to the day!

We did not plan any sightseeing that day.  Instead, we arranged to meet Allison and her 4 boys at a playground on base.  It was another beautiful day, not too hot, and the kids had such a great time running around.  Then we went over to their house for lunch, and the kids really enjoyed having actual toys to play with again!  It was fun to catch up with her, and it was a really relaxing morning, which we all really needed.

As we were leaving, we were all feeling pretty good, so we decided we would again attempt to tour the USS Constitution (it's going into dry dock for repairs after the summer).  We couldn't find parking right by it, but we did find a space by the Bunker Hill Monument (which looks just like a smaller Washington Monument).  Even though Anna does not look happy in the picture above, it actually was interesting to tour the ship, and I was glad we made the effort.  Drew is also not happy in the picture, but he was just done with sightseeing all around, by that point, LOL.  
After we walked back over to Bunker Hill, Luke, Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna decided to climb all 294 steps to the top. While they were doing that, the rest of us went to the van and got some cookies so we could all have a snack when they were finished.  It didn't take them too long.  Luke took my phone so we could see the view with no effort, LOL.  Above is a view of the Naval Yard, with the Constitution there on the right.
Here are the intrepid stair-climbers!  Faith and Micah were very disappointed that I didn't let them go too, but . . .yeah.  They're not our stoic ones.  When Faith started complaining almost immediately after the others left about pushing the stroller up a small hill, I knew I had made the right decision!

One thing that was hard for me was realizing that we were making family memories--without Nathan.  And after this year, that will be the new normal!  It was sobering to think about.  I was again so glad we could take the space-a trip to Hawaii in February, where we could all be together for 2 weeks!  That was a really special time, and I'm really grateful for it.  Of course, even with just the 8 kids, we got plenty of long looks and whispers, especially from the foreign tourists!
Wednesday we met up with the McC's, who had just gotten in to town the day before.  They were visiting Christine's mom, who lives in a lovely old house south of town.  We met up there, then caravaned over to Plymouth.  There we went on a  walking tour guided by Leo from the Jenney Museum.  It was fantastic!  Leo was really informative and a wonderful story-teller.  Also, he really focuses on how the Pilgrims built their society on the structure of the family, and how the way they practiced their faith was the foundation for our government and our freedoms.  It was so interesting, especially from a Christian perspective, which I really wasn't expecting!  
After the tour we walked back down to the harbor so the kids could see the replica of the Mayflower.  It's so small!  Crossing the ocean in that thing would not be my choice.  I really admire the courage of those who did!
After wards, we drove down to White Horse beach. The water was cold, but that didn't stop anyone!  Everyone happily played for several hours, then we went back to Christine's mom's house to eat pizza before driving back to the hotel.  It was a long day, but really fun!
Our last day of sightseeing was Thursday, and we met the McC's in Quincy at the visitors center for the Adams National Historic Park.  There are 3 houses on the tour, and a trolley takes you around to them.  There is the one John Adams grew up in, the one right next door where he and Abigail lived (and John Quincy Adams was born in), both of which are fairly small, and then there is Peacefield, which is a large house, more along the lines of Mount Vernon or something, where John Adams and Abigail moved into after they came back from several years in England.  They had become accustomed to a higher standard of living and wanted to move up a notch back here in the States!  That was really a lovely house, and several more generations of Adams had lived in it, so it had electricity and even some plumbing.  The nicest thing about the house was the library, which was built as a separate room from the rest of the house, as you can see in the picture above.  Christine and I were both coveting such a nice building for our libraries/homeschooling!

Friday we left to drive back home.  It was another long day, although only 11 1/2 hours this time.  We went a different way, so we didn't really get stuck in any traffic, which was nice.  My poor hips and back will never be the same after all the driving in the big van though.  We had a lovely time, and all the older kids said they felt like we really "did" Boston, and they learned a lot, but it was so exhausting.  I don't think I could have done one more day, and I was so glad this trip for Bob wasn't scheduled one week later in my pregnancy, or I don't think I could have done it at all!  It about did me in!  Now we're trying to get ourselves unpacked and organized again, and the younger kids caught up on sleep.  They have been very, very crabby!  I think it will take me a good week to recover as well, LOL.  And I still have a ton of planning stuff to finish before Rivendell starts back up again, and I have this baby.  Just one step at a time . . .

Saturday, August 02, 2014

July is Over??

Wow, this summer is flying by, and unfortunately I have not been very efficient at getting things, especially homeschool prep, done!  So, what have we been up to lately?
  • Back on Friday, July 11, the kids (except Nathan) and I got up early and drove up to White Sulphur Springs to pick up Luke from staff, and Caleb and Jonathan from Camp Caleb.  It was so good to see them again!  They all had wonderful times.  Caleb and Jonathan were excited that there were kids from another big family there at the same time as they were (the mom is also expecting #10), so they didn't feel weird about having so many siblings!
  • The reason Nathan wasn't there was because he drove himself to the Civil Air Patrol place to meet the other people from his squadron who were on encampment staff, so they could all drive down to encampment together.  He originally didn't have a slot on staff, but someone else had to drop out, and the encampment commander was from our squadron, so he asked Nathan to take the empty spot.  Nathan was happy to oblige!  He was on the standards and evaluations team, so his job was to be intimidating, quiz everyone to see if they had learned their required knowledge, and conduct inspections to make sure their drill and uniforms were in order.
  • Luke had about 12 hours at home, and the next morning he met up with the rest of his squadron mates who were also attending encampment as basics so they could all drive down together.  Another week with 2 kids gone! 
  • Monday, July 14, we were delivered a 20 pound box of fresh blueberries by Elizabeth.  Each summer she puts in an order with a friend of hers, who drives up to Maryland to pick them all up.  Yummy!!!  We spent the rest of the week gobbling blueberries, as well as making blueberry bread, blueberry kuchen, and other blueberry-related yumminess.  I did manage to freeze one gallon bag, but we ate the rest of them in short order--they are sooooo good!  Next year, we're definitely getting at least a box and a half, if not 2!
  • Thursday, July 17, Bob and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.  Bob bought tickets awhile ago to a Straight No Chaser concert at Wolf Trap, which has outdoor seating.  I was a bit worried about it being unbearably hot, but instead the weather was absolutely perfect!  We had such a good time.  They are an acapella group, so it wasn't too loud, and they just seemed like such a fun group of guys.  When Bob first got the tickets, we had thought Nathan would be at home that week, but he and Luke were both gone, so it was Caleb's first time to get all the younger kids down to bed.  He did great!
  • Sunday, July 20, encampment was over.  We had not planned on actually going down to pick up the boys, since Lynnea and her family were going, and she said they would bring the boys back.  But again, the weather was unseasonably pleasant, even overcast for the most part, and I mentioned to Bob that this was really the year we ought to go down to see the ending parade.  All the other years, it's been broiling hot, and next year we'll have a baby too!  So we spontaneously decided at 7:30 in the morning that we should drive the 4 hours.  We roused the troops and were on the road not long after.  It was fun to surprise the boys!  Luke actually saw our big van in the parking lot while he was waiting to march in.  At first he assumed it was someone else's, but when he noticed the USAFA bumper sticker, and the parental bumper sticker, and the half-peeled off bumper sticker with the Mother Theresa quote, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you can live as you wish" . . . well, that was just too much coincidence, and he realized we must actually be there!  We enjoyed the parade, and we ate lunch at a not-highly-recommended place with a bunch of other staff and cadets, which was fun for Nathan and Luke, LOL.  We did hit tons of beach traffic on the way home, so it was a much longer drive back, but it was good to hear stories.  Luke had a really hoarse voice, and Nathan was really tired--it turns out staff is hard work! 
  • Monday, July 21, I had another OB appointment, although I had made sure it was with a different doctor than then previous one!  This appointment was 1000x better.  The doctor was so nice.  She said my weight looked great, and she looked at my little booklet where I had been recording my glucose readings for the past week.  She thought those looked good too.  I actually have had troubles with my fasting number in the morning--it's supposed to be under 95, but the numbers had been averaging closer to 100.  She said that was not too bad, and that while I may need to eventually take a pill at bedtime to help regulate my numbers through the night, I wasn't there yet, and she wanted to give it more time.  I told her I had done some research and had some things I wanted to try--like more protein and fiber with my nighttime snack--and she thought that sounded great.  And since then my numbers in the morning have indeed been lower (although not as low as in other pregnancies, but lower than 95), so those things are working.  My other numbers I really have had no problems controlling, so she was very pleased with those.  She was so nice, I made my next appointment with her, even though it meant I had to move a chiropractor appointment I had scheduled in August!
  • Wednesday, July 23, we finally celebrated Nathan's 17th birthday!  Bob grilled steaks, and we had corn on the cob and broccoli for dinner.  I made another blueberry kuchen for dessert, and Nathan opened his presents.  We got him a book about pararescuemen called Guardian Angel by William Sine, and another one called One Bullet Away:  The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel Fick.  We also got him a rugby ball and a shirt that says "Scrum Down". 
  • Friday, July 25, all of us (except Nathan again) got up early and got in the van.  This time we were driving to Boston, where Bob had a TDY to Hanscom last week!  Nathan also got up, and he got picked up by Elizabeth, Amanda, and Theodore L. to ride with them up to White Sulphur Springs for his weeks on support staff there.  He and Amanda will both be on staff, as well as a bunch of other guys from previous staffs of his, so he was excited about seeing everyone again.  Our trip to Boston will definitely be a separate post!