A Thought...Part One

There are fresh lessons being taught here.  Piercing my soul and causing reflection of the deepest kind.  Only sometimes they swirl around like the cream in my coffee.  I try to catch them and can't.  They turn in on themselves and together and then all but disappear.  But I long for them.  Like the summer longs for the dreariness of winter to take hiatus.  I replay the conversations, the lyrics, the circumstances just like an old record player.  Picking up the needle, putting it down again.  Pause.  Then it begins again and sigh.  That deep breath of a release only to realize it's happened again.  Missed.  And I don't want to miss them.  Or anything. 
 I was listening to a more seasoned mother than I just yesterday and she said so matter of a factly, "I have no regrets about my mothering".  Those words.  They struck a chord.  Could I say that?  She went on to say that she lived in each moment fully with all of her children. Even the hard, messy stuff.   What a gift.  Isn't that the way we are told to live?  Our days are numbered.  Us, in our flesh are not privy to the number, not even the how or why.  We are told to live.  To love well.  We are told that our past does not account for our future.  There it is.  The lesson.  Waiting like a gift box all prettied with shiny wrapping paper.  Begging to be opened.  Inside, the message.  Love.  Love well.  When the day is done be grateful.  Gratitude will never leave you empty and love, well it will cover a multitude.  Thankfully.
Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. 

Thankful Thursday

water balloons from the "war" that took place in our front yard last week,
a little ode to the last days of summer
4023. first day of school smiles
4024. evenings when everyone is together reading
4025. sunshine
4026. lake beach last day of summer
4027. picnic in the sand
4028. singing radio songs together, loud
4029. new pens and blank paper 
4030. sweet catch up phone calls with far away friend,
all while her baby boy "talks" in the background
4031. praying together around the table
4032. carpool group for soccer training

New Season

The first day of school.  Forms have been completed.  More forms have been signed.  Folders, pens, pencils, graph paper, binders of varying sizes and comp books all have been bought.  Let's not forget the art supplies that might as well be for a college art class because I have no idea.  Yes, that's been done.  No, we don't have our new uniforms because for the first time in eleven years of doing this I wasn't ready.  Not even close to being on top of my game.  Nope.  And last night at dinner when I apologized for that Thing 2 promptly said, "well that's OK at least we're going to the first day of school".  Yes child.  At least you will be present on the first day, because we know there have been many years where you haven't been.  Mostly due to trips and this Mama wanting to squeeze as much summer out of the year as humanly possible.  Priorities people.  Don't judge. 
As the last few hours of my favorite season slipped through our fingers yesterday I couldn't help but reminisce.  These Things are now a junior, sophomore, 8th grader and 6th grader.  Gone are the days of elementary school and classroom parties.  Here are the tenuous hours of homework, essays and standardized tests.  Welcome and goodbye.  Because of all this I feel compelled to post some photos from first days of school long ago. 
I'm guessing, Preschool for Thing 4, which means kindergarten for Thing 3, 2nd grade for Thing 2 and 3rd grade for Thing 1

Um, kindergarten for the eldest, be still my heart, and just look at that hair, love

First day of preschool in Tennessee for Thing 4, this was a hard transition and we said hello to so many firsts this year

These Things are all sass, not much has changed.  Thing 1 in 4th grade, Thing 2 in 3rd grade and Thing 3 in 1st grade...first day of school in Tennessee for them

The not so excited faces when we learned we were accepted into a new school the day before school started, bringing our summer to an abrupt three week early close, not so fun!  In the end they loved the school, their teachers and the friends they made along the way.  Thing 1, 7th grade, Thing 2, 6th grade, Thing 3, 4th grade and Thing 4, 2nd grade.

  I do believe that Thing 4 was off to day care for the first time here, other than that the girl Things were at the same school and grades as the first picture.  This was a challenging day for Mama and that year he was at daycare was a difficult one for us all. 

Just yesterday...
Thing 4, 6th grade, Thing 3, 8th grade, Thing 2, sophomore and Thing 1 a junior
With all that, I can now write about the first day of school since it has come and gone.  Uneventfully I might add.  Thing 4 had no issues opening his locker.  Thing 3 made a decision about her music class that she had been struggling with.  Thing 2 made the new students feel welcome.  Thing 1 confidently began her junior year. 
And here we are. Another school morning and I'm sitting at the desk writing in silence.  With my coffee next to me.  Covered in prayer.  The first day of school over and done.  Family dinner and celebratory dessert inhaled.  Paella and dark chocolate sea salt toffee with vanilla ice cream( so as not to break tradition) for those of you that were wondering.  We had our first family meeting of the school year last night too.  Friends, we were at the table for over an hour and a half.  Pure bliss.  At one moment during our meal, as the Things were sharing their highs and lows, I looked around and my heart smiled.  I mean I felt it from the inside out.  Is there anything better than that?  I don't think so.  Everyone was talking, inviting us into their day, their experiences, their feelings.  Laughter, lots of laughter.  Thing 4 played his new clarinet for us.  There was, though, a hint of frustration on Husband Jared's part.  And no, it wasn't from the clarinet playing.  Our Things are loud and then they're competitive too.  Sometimes during our family conversations they try to out do each other, talk over one another and it makes him batty.  I don't blame him.  Last night though when it all became too much he just hung his head.  I like to think he was praying for us all.  That we would learn to become better listeners.  Maybe have a little patience and not interrupt.  Yes, that is surely what he was doing.  Right?  When I realized what was happening I made eye contact with all the Things and they instantly hushed themselves causing Husband Jared to look up and then the table roared with laughter.  Highlight of the evening. 
Yes this new season is bittersweet, but we're having fun.  Taking it all in and hopefully giving more away.  Cheers to another school year begun and all the promise that the days ahead hold. 

Mama Dates

With the beginning of another school year almost here it was my goal to spend some intentional time with each of my Things.  A way to see where they're at, hear their heart and have some fun.  They were each able to choose how we spent our time and it was so telling of who they are. 
The first date was with Thing 2.  An afternoon presented itself wide open for the both of us.  We went for our training run together, in the middle of the day.  It was exceptionally hot and sticky.  Not our best choice.  Lunch at Chipotle, Thing 2's favorite.  Some pool time together and then a cold treat at Caribou.  We rolled down the windows and blasted the country music and sang our precious hearts out!  Sweet ending to a sweet afternoon together.
Selfie in the car, making the "oh so happy" face!
Thing 3's date was next and no surprise she chose to visit the Yum bakery.  I had shared with her the delight that this place is when I met a friend for breakfast there.  She was instantly intrigued and wanted to see for herself, or maybe taste for herself.  And taste we did.  We chose not one, but two scrumptious treats.  The mini strawberry cheesecake and the Patti cake.  Which was right next to the "bakers man" cake.  There may or may not have been giggles at that one.  Clever display.  Our forks fought over the desserts and we laughed and talked and steadied our hearts.  And when we were finished we rolled ourselves back to the car and came home with very full bellies. 
Thing 3 told me to make the "duck face", I think, so I obliged,
boy did I feel silly! 

Patti cake and café au lait, Mama's treat

Strawberry cheesecake
Now onto Thing 4.  He had a tougher time deciding on his date location.  Maybe too many choices?  In the end we wound up at the arcade, with the promise of a milkshake to cap off our time together.  We loaded up our gaming card and found out that it was happy hour!  That meant half price games across the board.  Thing 4 couldn't have been happier.  He even shared some of that money so his Mama could reminisce and play Ms. Pacman, my all time favorite.  We challenged each other in ski ball and air hockey, he won both!  Thing 4 shot some hoops and ducked between the lasers.  He pounded the sharks on the head and tried to win as many tickets as possible.  Fun times!  Then we stood at the prize counter for about half an hour trying to decide on just what was worth spending his tickets on.  Only, they don't use paper tickets anymore.  It is all electronic.  No more games spitting out tickets as you stand there proud of your feat and no more tokens.  Oh no.  Tickets are added to your gaming card, the card which  you have to load with money before you play.  And the card which you have to pay for.  No more straightening out dollar bills to listen to the tokens fall.  Those days are gone!  My boy and I had so much fun, this date spoke to our competitive nature.  At the end of it all Thing 4 had his choice of dessert and a strawberry milkshake with French fries to dip was his request.  Not a problem.  As we sat in McDonald's we were able to talk, Thing 4 offered to share his milkshake, and I soaked up this eleven year old boy of mine. 
Mandatory Thing and Mama selfie for date day!
Shooting some hoops
Last, but certainly not least, Thing 1, the eldest.  I thought I knew what we were doing for sure on this date, some sort of shopping.  And we did, only not where I thought.  First it was downtown Excelsior, to take photos and stroll around looking at all the shops, then she changed her mind and we were off to Goodwill.  OK by me, either way.  I scored a scooter for Thing 4 and rode it around the store without getting caught. When we were standing in the check out line and Thing 1 gave the scooter a try she was scolded and asked not to ride it in the store.  Go figure.  That gave us a chuckle.  Thing 1 scored some coffee cups for an art project, we found a glass jar for Thing 3's shells, a snorkel and face mask for the kiddos and lots of other goodies.  No furniture which was what we were originally looking for.  Still fun to walk the aisles and find treasure.  We were in need of some coffee after that excursion and sat at Caribou once again talking and laughing and connecting.  This date was especially fun because Thing 1 drove me around.  Only after walking the aisles at Goodwill and then Target she was tuckered out and needed to be driven home by her Mama.  It was nice to be needed. 
We were unintentionally matching for our date,
 this is not the first time this has happened!

Goodwill treasure
These dates are always so much fun.  One on one time in a family of four Things is a rare gift so when the opportunities present themselves I try to run with them,  I'm so thankful for the time with each one of the Things where it's just me and them.  Where I catch glimpses of their hearts.  Hear what's running through their mind.  Be silly with them.  Allow them to choose and in doing so they reveal themselves to me.  It was truly a great way to bring our summer time fun to a close.  Or the beginning of a close.  We still have some fun left in us before school starts.  I hope...

Thankful Thursday

Photo Creds to Thing 1
4013. holiday with sweet friends
4014. mama and thing dates before school
4015. family game night
4016. new school supplies
4017. face time with nieces
4018. library books
4019. water balloons
4020. the way she is taken in by whatever she's reading
4021. things cooking dinner
4022. cooking with book club, all four meetings! 

More Field Trips

With the end of summer on our heels we have been soaking in every last drop of the sunshine and each other.  We are all too aware that with back to school comes schedules and homework and earlier bedtimes.  Not that we don't crave a bit more order around here but oh how I love the lazy days of summer.  Eating dinner after all the playing and swimming has been done, staying in pajamas until lunch time, crafting, catching frogs, and lounging on the sofa with our favorite books. 
In light of all this we have taken a few family field trips. 
First to the Minneapolis Farmers Market.  That one came from Mama's list, in case you were wondering.  It was only the girl Things, Husband Jared and myself since Thing 4 was still in Tennessee.  Our early morning began with a sweet treat from Yo-Yo donuts and lead us to the chaos that is parking for the market.  Reminded us of Turkey and the parking garages there.  Rather interesting.  Nonetheless we made our way around rows and rows of fruit and veg, flowers and crafty goods.  We scored a bundle of cilantro for only a $1 and a bunch of kale for my green smoothies for a $1 as well.  I only wish I would have snapped a photo of the young man who helped us.  He was clearly imitating his father who was sporting a suit and tie.  Very knowledgeable of his produce and even gave me pointers on how to store the cilantro so it stayed fresh.  Won me over in a second.  There were fresh picked strawberries that tasted like sugar with a green stem and sweet corn beckoning to be grilled and adorned with melted butter.  Which we did, of course.  Then there were flowers.  Dahlias.  Every which way. In bouquets, on their own, sticking out of buckets and wrapped in cellophane.  Swoon.  The reddest tomatoes and the greenest cucumbers.  If only I could have stayed all day.  But we didn't.  When our bags were loaded down heavy on our shoulders and flowers covered our faces we made our way home.  To wash and cut and clean and cook all our  finds.  It was the best kind of field trip if you ask me. 
Family selfie

Thing 3 and the bouquet she chose

Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes
Second field trip was to Summit Avenue to view F. Scott Fitzgerald's historic home, along with the other historic mansions that line this street.  The only taker we had for this jaunt was Thing 1.  Apparently we cannot even bribe our Things with food anymore.  Husband Jared offered lunch at Cosetta's and there was no interest.  Shame.  They missed out on a divine lunch.  Just the smell of sausage and peppers wafting out onto the street about does me in.  Reminds me of my Nana's house growing up.  Something special.  We sat on the rooftop this time and enjoyed a view of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Lo and behold as we made our way out to the car the new bakery was open.  We're not ones to skip out on a new experience so we oohed and aahed at all the delectable pastries and finally settled on a chocolate covered cannoli and gelato for Thing 1 and myself.  So rich and creamy, mine was topped with a double shot of espresso, also known as an affagato.  Scrumptious.  We drove the mile over to Summit, parked and walked around.  Necks craned the entire time taking in the architecture, especially the turrets.  Those are Thing 1's favorite.  There were iron gates, trees older than the streets, stained glass windows and then there was F. Scott's house.  We paused.  Read the sign and learned some history.  Our walk continued up and down each block and there was always a little something that caught our eye.  Whether it be the garden, the porches, where it seemed everyone was sitting outside and people watching, or the wild flowers.  It was a grand day in St. Paul. 
Thing 1 and me at lunch
Husband Jared enjoying his chocolate covered cannoli


St. Paul's Cathedral

Admiring the view
One last day trip this past weekend.  This time to a quaint town by the name of New Ulm.  When we were home from church and gathered around the counter I threw my MPLS magazine out to the Things and said let's pick a new place to explore today.  This particular issue was full of hikes, biking trails and walks.  Since we don't currently own enough bikes for the entire family that was off the docket.  All of the interesting hikes, according to the Things, were hours of drive time away.  Not an option either.  Now the walks, that's a different story.  So they chose New Ulm and off we went.  Only about an hour and a half away the drive was beautiful.  Farms on either side of the highway.  Smallish towns off in the distance.  Even Minnesota's largest candy store in the middle of nowhere.  I made Husband Jared promise to take us there another day.  I mean, how cool does that sound?  Anyhow, we found New Ulm and I must say when we parked along the main street downtown I wasn't sure this place was going to live up to any expectation the Things might have conjured up.  It was empty.  Most stores were closed.  Only restaurants were bars and not even an ice cream shop or sweet treat in sight.  Hmmm. 
Downtown, interesting Bavarian style architecture
We continued walking to find the Glockenspiel that we had read about in the magazine.  Built to pay homage to the city's roots this clock was erected after a sizable donation was made by a local family and then three other countries pitched in to help out.  It really is quite a display.  There are three performances daily and when we arrived we had just missed the 3pm show.  Husband Jared decided it was worth seeing so we went to see the town while we waited until 5pm.  One antique shop was open so the Things and I had a look around there.  Thing 4 stumbled upon a stack of old comic books and the girls and I managed to find Mema a new lefse rolling pin.  Score.  The day was not a loss.  While we were antiquing Husband Jared was reading up on the city. Come to find out there is a brewery.  August Schell's to be exact.  And actually in the history of the city there have been at least seven different breweries that called New Ulm home.  Since there was time before the big clock show we drove out to the brewery.  We were late for the tour and late for the music but we were able to have a look in the museum and stroll the gardens.  Not a total loss.  The girl Things stole my camera and snapped a few photos.
Brew House

Magnifying glass


These gnomes reminded us of the three Daddies,
Husband Jared, Brien and Steve, on holiday

Monogram iron gate, love
We read about the history of the brewery, saw the "old" tools used for bottling and capping, and looked at the historic artifacts saved by the Schell family.  Fascinating really.  They do even brew root beer on site, from what I understand.  Which would have been fun to taste on the tour.  Oh well, another time.  Maybe Oktoberfest!  Not wanting to miss the performance at the Glockenspiel we raced back to the square and parked ourselves on a bench for the ten minute show.  Spectacular.  I can only imagine what it must be like in Germany, where the clocks are even more ornate and intricate.  There was a statue on the wheel representing each part of New Ulm's history and thirty seven bells that chimed throughout.  Very neat and worth the wait.

Performance, 5pm
Following the performance there was one last icon to see before leaving New Ulm.  Hermann the German.  He is seen in the photo below holding his sword high above his head.  Hermann stands tall on this rather elaborate display.  There is a windy staircase which leads you to the top of the monument but it will cost you, so of course we passed on that.  Instead we walked around the perimeter taking in all that was Hermann.  The entire monument is 102 feet tall and in the year 2000 it was designated as a national symbol of German heritage.  Remarkable.  And from there we concluded our tour of New Ulm.  All in all it was an informative day full of firsts.  First time seeing a Glockenspiel in person, first time viewing a national symbol of German heritage and first time visiting a brewery, for the Things at least.  It was fun being tourists in our own state. 
Hermann Monument


The End

My holiday posting is coming to an end, unfortunately.  That means it's time to move on.  And that also means school is starting in one week..  Can you even believe that?  I most surely can not.  Let's get on with our last day with the Eagles family in Florida. 
We had a slow, lazy morning.  You  know, my favorite.  Then decided to take a drive into Clearwater.  There had been talk of seeing the dolphin from the A Dolphin's Tail, the movie but we, meaning us grown ups, were thinking more of lunch or a coffee and a leisurely stroll exploring a new area.  So that's what we chose to do.  The beach was breathtaking.  The whitest sand I've ever seen.  Definitely more crowded than our stretch of beach, but beautiful nonetheless.  Restaurants and shops lined the marina and we had many choices.  Can't remember the name of where we ate but I do know we had a gorgeous view of the sea.  And there we sat, ordering fried pickles for our mates to try and reminiscing over the last week's adventures. 

The group at lunch, minus the two Daddies

The Clearwater Marina

Thing 4 and Siobhan, look at those sweet faces
So we walked after lunch and shopped a bit and walked some more.  Then we spotted a gelato cafe and snuck in there for some air conditioning and a frozen treat.  The little Italian lady behind the counter had the sweetest accent and bless her heart she was not only serving gelato but making the full menu all on her own.  We waited patiently and it was worth it.  The best gelato I've ever tasted accompanied by a double shot espresso that would keep me going the rest of the day and late into the night.  Which everyone knows you need on your very last day at the beach with your friends who live International lives. 
Then there were two...
Still laughing and remembering all our fun over the past week we were all ready to soak up some more sun and surf time.  This time the camp wasn't completely set up so the Dads made the best of it.  The children all ran around in and out of the sea, in and out of the pool again.  Shell hunting and swimming and digging for sand crabs.  Our friends had to depart the beach early for a family dinner nearby and left us on our own.  We were determined not to leave before the sun did.  And we didn't.  There was more fishing and walking and picture taking and sunset watching. 
It was a marvelous day. 
And after such a day we made dinner with whatever left overs were in the refrigerator, showered all the sand out, hopefully, packed our bags and were ready for bed.  Just at that moment there was a knock on the door and everyone knew what that meant.  Our friends were back for one last night on the balcony, one last iced lolly(popsicle) together and one last laugh.  Yes please.  Forget that I had wet hair and my pajamas on, no matter.  There we sat late into the night again.  Discussing religion and politics, America, football(soccer) and careers, the next move and when we'd all meet again.  Even with knowing what the next morning held for us, long drives for each family, we were determined not to spoil the night with goodbyes.  We hugged necks, carried sleeping children to bed and simply said, "see you in the morning".  Which we all knew was only a few hours away.  No difference though.  It all made sense to us.  Prolong the inevitable as long as possible. 
The next morning the sun rose just as it always does.  Waves were still crashing and we were loading Betsy for the drive that awaited us.  We made small talk with our friends, traded left over food and paper products and then we hugged each other's children and kissed their cheeks and embarrassed the boys to no tomorrow.  Onto the girls and I became weepy.  Dads hugged and shook hands, and then Suzanne and I looked at each other and the tears came.  Whispered words in each other's ears and a hug and then backs turned and time to go.  No looking back. 
It was hard this time to let go.  When you fall so easily into a rhythm.  Life lived together in the most foreign of circumstances and then again on holiday it was like no time had passed.  I am grateful to be able to say that I have friends like that.  I am grateful for a beautiful week of memories made. 
One of my favorites that Steve snapped over the week, that was our view.  Wow!

The Last Few Days

Thursday was technically our last day together as a party of fifteen.  The Reynolds family was set to depart early Friday morning for their flights back to Turkey.  That made us all sad.  We tried to avoid the goodbyes and conversations that come with for as long as humanly possible.  Unfortunately the day came anyway.  We were determined to make the most of the day though and that we did. 
With clouds in the sky, the kiddos, the whole lot of them, had jet skis on the brain.  So what else was there to do but head down to the marina at St. John's Pass and find out about rental.  The three Dads, myself and all the kiddos piled in and headed to Woody's rental shop.  It was there that four of the nine children took their safety test to be licensed jet ski drivers.  It was there that the four adults readied ourselves for the adventure ahead.  Thankfully I took Siobhan and Thing 3.  The two girlies that did not have speed on their mind.  A leisurely ride around the gulf looking for dolphins, that's what we were interested in.  The four children, pardon me, teenagers, passed their test and were set.  Seating arrangements were figured out and off we went.  Under the draw bridge and out in to the open water.  Husband Jared and Thing 4, Brien and JP, Steve on his own, Thing 1, Thing 2 and Eva, Will and Tom and then Thing 3, Siobhan and myself.  First stop, to drive by the other two mums for a photo op.  We started off slowly and then as the girls became more comfortable I went a bit faster.  Then they asked me to go even faster.  Then faster.  We were flying over waves and crashing down, all while squeals and screams were filling the ocean air.  They would hold on a bit tighter and then catch their breath.  Then they even said at the end they were so glad we did this, best part I think I even heard.  Made my day!  Towards the end of our time Thing 4 jumped on with the Reynolds boys and each of the three teenage girlies took turns driving, with Thing 2 getting up to the highest speed.  No big shock there!  What fun we had!
Thing 4, Tom and Will

Eva, Thing 1 and Thing 2
We returned from our outing to find our camp set up and waiting for us on the beach.  Chairs were found, feet planted in the sand and the children were off once again.  This time, shell  hunting, playing tag in the pool and sitting with their chairs in the water, at least the girls.  There were big plans to grill on the beach, roast marshmallows and have some fun with sparklers in the dark. 
 I could hardly wait! 
After what seemed like only a few minutes I saw Thing 4 washing his feet and waving for Husband Jared and I to come over.  When I asked the other boys if something happened no one was aware.  Then I heard the shout, "Mama".  And I knew.  You know when you just know?  That Mama instinct kicked in and I ran over to my boy.  Sure enough blood was gushing from Thing 4's ankle and upon inspection I knew stitches were in our future.  We carried him upstairs to clean the wound and attempt to close it with a butterfly bandage but no avail.  Husband Jared quickly found an urgent care facility nearby and he and Thing 1 raced over there with a very calm Thing 4.  I stayed behind with the other three Things and to help with dinner and such.  Never a dull moment.  I do believe that Thing 1 posted on FB, "What's a Hanson family vacation without a trip to the ER?".  Well I suppose that might just be an accurate statement.  Anyhow, my gang returned home after only an hour with two stitches and a sore foot.  Thinking our plans for the remainder of our beach time were scrapped we were all quite bummed for Thing 4.  Yet despite our protectiveness he ran upstairs, found a sock and was out in the sand playing footie with his mates within mere minutes of his return.  Way to rally Thing 4!
The football, just waiting

The boys

Thing 2 and Siobhan, sweet friends

The boys being buried by Thing 4
Our dinner, ribs, corn and grilled peppers
Dinner time, Afiyet Olsun, as they say in Turkey
Thing 4 and JP

Our Group and nighttime set up, only ones left on the beach

Sparkler fun

Thing 1

More sparkler art
Even with a minor speed bump in the afternoon we managed to stay on the beach until the late hours of the evening, or rather, early hours of the morning.  We taught our friends all about s'mores and just how to roast the perfect marshmallow so that upon placing it between the graham crackers the chocolate melts right over, spilling onto your fingers.  All nine of the kiddos ran around with sparklers in hand, the girls being a bit more deliberate about their burn time than the boys, but fun was had by all nonetheless.  Us parents sat in our chairs and watched happy kids.  There were some quiet moments, only because we all  knew what was coming at the end of the night.  Maybe that's why we stayed chatting and star gazing.  Oh my, I almost forgot the turtle nests that were on the beach.  It was/is egg hatching season, May through October and we were fortunate enough to see a few nests on the beach.  They were protected but every night the girls would walk up and down to see if any baby turtles were trying to find their way to the water by moonlight.  Another special memory of our week. 
Reluctantly we cleaned up and headed inside for goodbyes, or rather, see you laters and hugs and kisses on the cheek.  Children first.  Tearful hugs commenced between us Mums and then I raced to my room.  I'm not one for goodbyes to begin with and knowing it could be years until we see each other again I just couldn't handle it.  It is bittersweet, like I've always said.  So I prefer to replace "goodbye" with phrases such as, "until next time", "hasta luego", and so on.    Catch my drift?  And with all of that us six climbed in bed exhausted after such an eventful day and not necessarily looking forward to waking the next morning and missing five of our peeps.