The kids still had a vacation day yesterday (thank you, opening day of deer season in Pennsylvania!), but they are back to school today and I feel like this busy weekend is finally winding down. Mama is beat, my friends, but in a very happy way.
Now that I think about it, I've been going full steam since last Monday so I guess it's a stretch to call it a busy "weekend". I think "busy week" is a more apt description.
Last Tuesday we hosted a good friend and her daughter for dinner. Normally I would not be jazzed about having dinner guests during Thanksgiving week, but these are the kind of friends for whom you make an exception. They live on the west coast, so their visits are infrequent. Plus, this is the awesome woman who delivered Fiver, so there's that!
Tuesday was a busy day, because poor Sally threw up on her teacher's shoes (poor teacher!), and was sent home from school. She was very disappointed to miss the mini-Thanksgiving feast in her class (she was to play the part of Pilgrim girl), and I was very disappointed that her illness derailed a chance to meet up with Colleen of Martin Family Moments fame.
It would have been the first time I've ever met anyone I know solely through blogging, and we had hoped to meet up on Wednesday morning as they passed through our area on their travels. Alas, it was not to be. I would have been ejected from the Mommy Club if I had knowingly exposed five children to a stomach virus. Especially when they would be in the car and far from home.
Happily for everyone concerned, Sally recovered after about 12 hours. She recovered so well that she asked me for spaghetti and meatballs on Wednesday morning. Uh, that's a negative, good buddy.
Next time, Colleen, next time we'll do it!
Thursday was the big dinner here at the HomeFront Corp. We had our usual gang, as well as my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my other brother and sister. We've been doing this since we moved to this house, so my Thanksgiving prep has become a routine. I know what I'm going to do and when I need to do it, so I usually feel pretty relaxed about it all.
Rob had the day after Thanksgiving free this year, and I wanted to do something fun with the kids. We don't do spontaneity well with the children being the ages they are, but I really felt like we should take advantage of what turned out to be a beautiful weekend of unseasonable temperatures.
We decided on a train ride in the town of Jim Thorpe, PA. Jim Thorpe is very close to us, and it's so beautiful and quaint that it's called "The Switzerland of America." Apparently due to the cute shops, homes, and gardens tucked into the mountains, and not because of its neutrality. (I live in PA, and I know that us natives are rarely neutral about anything.)
It's one of those towns that I'd really love to just walk all around and explore. Except then I realize that all my children would also be walking around and exploring. Mostly with their hands and mouths, which is universally frowned upon by mothers and shopkeepers alike.
So exploring Jim Thorpe has gone on the extensive list of "Stuff that Aimee and Rob Must See Without Small Children In Tow." This list is primarily composed of movies, restaurants, and stores, but sometimes whole towns like Jim Thorpe make it on there.
In case you are wondering, Jim Thorpe, the town, is named after Jim Thorpe, the man. He was the consummate athlete, playing football, baseball, and basketball professionally, and he was also a decorated Olympian. The town used to be called by the Native American name of Mauch Chunk (pronounced "Maw Chunk"), but there's a whole story about how it became Jim Thorpe. You should read up on it -- it's both depressing and inspiring.
Anyway . . . the train ride was fantastic. We took the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway along the river and through the mountains, at one point crossing over the river on a very high and very narrow trestle. It was so narrow that you couldn't see the supports from the train windows. It made it seem like we were flying over the river. So cool and terrifying at the same time.
We also found out that the weekend after Thanksgiving was the beginning of the Santa Train, where they pipe Christmas carols through the cars and Santa comes to visit each one. We've been on Santa train rides in different towns, but this one was the best so far. It was close to our home, it was low key and less expensive, and it was the perfect length of time for a ride.
But what really pleased me was that Santa said "Merry Christmas," and the carols really were carols -- everything my kids would normally hear in church. And altough there were some signs around town saying the generic "Happy Holidays," there were just as many saying "Merry Christmas." Good job, Jim Thorpe, PA, the Switzerland of America.
On Saturday, the kids' school held a movie night fundraiser where parents could drop off their children at the gym for a movie and then have two hours to themselves. Since we are not at a point in our lives where we can take advantage of that anyway, I volunteered Rob to be a chaperone. He was full of love for me on Saturday night, I tell you, but he did his duty cheerfully.
Sunday was new translation day, and we were ready. We are so blessed to belong to a parish that took its responsibility of educating the flock very seriously. We have been preparing for several months, and all of our homilies for the past six weeks have been about the history of the mass and how the new translation is better all around. We've practiced the new music settings, and the kids have been doing the same at their weekly school masses.
And right out of the gate, I flubbed it by saying "and also with you." Gah. That's what happens when your attention is diverted by your 3 year old loose cannon who is trying to make a break for it. And as I was saying the wrong response, I caught myself and tried to replace the words with the new ones, but it just came out sounding all garbled.
Luckily, I had Fiver right in my ear whispering, "Mom. You said it wrong. You messed it up. You should have said 'and with your spirit' but you didn't." Yes, thank you, dear. Messed up. Got it.
Once I got past that, I did pretty well, and I love the new translation overall, especially the creed. So good.
After mass, I applied for a personal loan and took the four older kids to see "The Muppets", while Rob stayed home with the sleeping babies. Now it was my turn to chaperone, although at least I had popcorn and candy to get me through. Plus, the movie was cute and the kids enjoyed themselves. We rarely get to the theater, so it's still a treat for all of us when we do go.
Which brings us back to the week at hand. This post has become so long and boring that I hesitate to even publish it, but I've come too far to turn back now. Also, the spell check is not working, so I cannot even begin to imagine what kinds of errors I've made, but it's too long for me to go back and proofread carefully before the kids get off the bus.
Aren't you so glad that my stick-to-it attitude has saddled you with this kind of mediocrity on Tuesday afternoon? Maybe I'll get it together someday . . .