I had such a nice Shabbos! And here’s why – because I had all my children around the table for the first time in 7.5 months!!!
We made the decision to have dd16 come home less than two weeks before she got here, which was on Monday night. It wasn’t something we were planning to do until literally a night before we made the ticket. There are a number of reasons for doing it, and one nice side benefit was the fun in surprising all of the kids! (Well, we accidentally leaked the news to dd14, but she still didn’t know when dd16 was arriving so she had her share of being surprised, too!)
Dh changed his work schedule so he could come with me to pick her up, so I took the littles with me to pick him up from work; from there we went to the DC airport. (She found the best priced ticket on Air France, and that’s the airport they fly out of.) I didn’t tell the littles where we were going until after we picked up dh. We ended up having to wait about an hour for her, since her flight was delayed. When the passengers started exiting, they would come around a corner, and the first thing you could see was their luggage cart. Every time I saw a cart come out, my heart would jump and then I would see it wasn’t her. I told dh I never knew it could be so tension-filled waiting for someone to come out! And then finally we saw her – it was sooooo wonderful!
For dh and the kids it’s especially nice, since they haven’t seen her for so long. And for me and dd14 (who saw her two months ago), it’s still really nice! We’re enjoying having her home – the first day back she made a nutritious and filling lunch, got ds3 and ds5 involved in making dinner, made dinner, and then gave the littles baths. Aaahhh….I could get used to this! Seriously, that day it was clear to me why it was such a big shift around here when she and ds17 – because they both were actively involved in the running of things, and without them, a lot more fell on me.
When we got home from the airport, only ds12 was still awake. We called him out to help bring in the littles (that was our cover), and dd16 popped out at him. He was really shocked and it was so fun to see his reaction! From there she went inside and woke up dd10 up, and then woke up dd14. It was fun for us all! She tried to wake up ds8, but he was in such a deep sleep that he only partially woke up to tell her to leave him along – he didn’t realize it was her or even remember anything the next morning – at which point he was very surprised and happy to see her!
Ds17 came home late Friday afternoon. We had made a ticket for him first thing Friday morning, but the night before someone told him he could get a ride with him. Unfortunately, when the driver woke up the next morning, he was sick and ds17 had already missed the train he needed to take to use the bus ticket we bought. He called in time for me to get him another ticket that arrived here at 5:50 pm. Arriving that close to Shabbos isn’t how we generally like to arrange things. Due to the heavy rain, rush hour traffic, and road work, I didn’t get there to pick him up until 6:15. There was no sign of his bus, and by 6:30, I was getting increasingly apprehensive about what to do – I was afraid if I waited any longer that I wouldn’t make it home in time for Shabbos, and didn’t want to leave ds stranded in the middle of nowhere late Friday afternoon.
I called dh to ask him the exact time of candlelighting, and he said ds17 had called to say he had gotten a ride from the bus stop to our house a short time before. I was honestly a little irritated that I was sitting there for 15 minutes waiting for him when he was already gone, but mostly I was relieved that he wasn’t stuck on a bus on a highway somewhere. We were blessed that the highway on the way home was clear, and I got home by 7:05. Ds17 had walked in just 5 minutes before me, and we subsequently figured out that the red car I had noticed pulling away as I pulled up to the bus stop was the car he got a ride in!
Dd16 had come with me to surprise ds17, so we had to shift our plans a little and she surprised him when he came down to say hello to us all. It was definitely a rush to get ready for Shabbos, but a nice rush, and having everyone home again was really, really nice. Fortunately they’ll both be here for a few weeks, so we have time to enjoy everyone for a while.
And as one of the middle kids commented today, they came just in time to help get ready for Pesach!