There has been so very much going on that I have so very little time to post anything. So much about which to post; yet no time to give anything the focus that it deserves. When I last left off, we were eagerly anticipating Nathaniel's arrival from Iraq. He arrived at the Harrisburg Airport on a Sunday afternoon and we enjoyed a fabulous two weeks with him. Two weeks was hardly enough time at all, but we managed to fit some neat activities into that small space, with plenty of well-recorded memories to boot.
Since he had been aiming for Memorial Day weekend, Nathaniel was able to join the rest of us for our annual camping trip with the group from church. This year we went to Hickory Run State Park, notorious for bears, where we saw not a single ursine invader in camp. We were prepared though- nothing with scent, nor food of any description, was left outside of our car. The extra effort paid off in no midnight scares or stolen meals,… but also no photos of a bear sitting at our table chowing down on our dinner. (Yeah, I was almost hoping…)
Nathaniel loved being out in the coolish, green, lush woods of our beautiful state. We even found a swimmin' hole for the kids to splash in, complete with waterfall. Our first meal, as always, was salmon cooked over the campfire and served on salad, which is one of Nathaniel's favorites. (Our menu for the two weeks was driven by what he'd been missing while in the desert.) We shared fajitas another night with our camping friends, the Sharps. Relaxing with the family far away from the phone, the calendar, and the rush and bustle of home was such a blessing. With the group from church it's also so neat to have our friends wander into our site with some coffee and time to visit, chatting over shared donuts or hot dogs. Always having plenty to share, and never running out of things to talk about, the weekend away is the perfect opportunity to bond with our church family.
Once we got home again the kids had to go back to school, Bekah had finals, and we ran Nathaniel around a bit for some things that he needed. On Wednesday evening we went together to a Reading Phils game. We had gone to several Florida Marlins games while we lived down there, but they are not nearly as fun as a local ballgame. Though the Phils lost rather miserably, we still had a lot of fun. The between-inning activities were a treat, the ballpark hotdogs and fries were as delicious as they should be, and the atmosphere was certainly terrific in our little section since we had our whole family there.
On Saturday we took Nathaniel to see the Statue of Liberty. Having discovered in December with the Scouts that going to see Lady Liberty is not a difficult task at all, we were thrilled to have our Soldier join us to see the representation of just what he is defending. Beginning with Ellis Island, there is a lot to see, but we have no ancestors who came through there, so we didn't linger before getting onto the ferry to Liberty Island. The weather reports had unanimously predicted thunderstorms all day in NYC, but we didn't get a single drop of rain. There were some clouds high in the sky, being driven by the near-constant winds, but we had sunny and warm weather all day. Though we had only reserved tickets for the pedestal level- going all the way to the crown requires a reservations far earlier than we were able to manage- we still had a great time and were able to see and photograph as much as we wanted.
Our two weeks flew by and before we knew it the time to return Nathaniel to the Army had come. Jim drove him to the airport early on a Tuesday morning and he made his way back to Iraq. Since his leave was so very close to the end of his deployment it won't be long before we see him again. The time we had was precious, and we are ever so grateful for it. Being able to have all the kids under one roof, able to hug that boy whenever we want… priceless.
I now have some time ahead of me in which I'll be able to catch up here with what's been going on. There's more- much more to share. Our lives have been blessedly full.