The trip up to PA with the 10 kids couldn't have gone smoother. I cleaned and packed the van on Saturday, then the kids and I were on the road by 6:20 Sunday morning.
They all did great, even my one that is known for travel troubles. I fed them granola bars and bananas when we left, then we stopped at a rest stop and drive-thru after we made it around the DC belt-way. 7:30 on a Sunday morning is a perfect time to drive through there - one of the rare times we haven't encountered serious traffic challenges. I love this quick picture we took at the rest stop and was proud of my three big girls for not being embarrassed; they sometimes have this issue of being a spectacle in public.
We made it into town nice and early. We had a quick stop at Target to buy Ben pants and Tori a sweater and sandels. JD, Gabriel and Alayna met us there and we had a fun filled reunion in the shoe aisle - it had been about nine months since we had seen Gabriel! We then checked into our hotel rooms and changed for the funeral home. We met some of JD's sisters at the Chinese buffet and I thought I'd snap a quick picture of the 12 kids coming out of the buffet. Gabriel was stopped and questioned by a nice family that was interested in his military service. The other 11 stood and watched -
The family talked and talked and then JD got in the conversation. If you know JD, that's worse than if I get going.
When Gabriel made it back, we snapped one and headed for the van.
We were all so happy to see Alayna again also, although we have been blessed to see her a few times since her move to San Diego. She really is Alei's best friend and they are very, very alike which is sweet since Gabriel and Alei have also always been very close.
After our hours at the funeral home, we let Gabriel take the kids swimming at what is normally bed time. This may have been more rational if I hadn't woken them up at 6:00 a.m., but we try to be fun parents sometimes.
I, on the other hand, was exhausted and attempted to rest.
Here's my look if I hear the camera click and I've been half asleep -
The funeral itself was absolutely beautiful; JD and his sisters did a wonderful job. We were blessed to meet four little girls that have been born in the last few years that we had not yet met. This is Isa. We found her look at Selah to be most entertaining.
Gabriel gave her a napkin and she cleaned up Selah's greasy face, then she appeared pleased.
We took all kinds of family photos that need some editing, but here's a sneak peek of just our family of 14.
We left PA a few hours later than I hoped, but I wasn't too worked up since JD was going to drive the van and Alei the red Escape. We were only about 45 minutes out of town and Red died on Alei. We were then forced to rearrange lots of car seats and LOTS of stuff from Grandma's house so that I could continue on with the children while JD waited on a tow truck and then checked into a hotel. Today's verdict is that the engine is completely gone and while the vehicle really isn't worth it, we don't have many options other than replacing it. So, JD rented a mini-van, reloaded again and is on the way home. We will have a 12 hour trip to go back for the Escape in two weeks and a $3,000 bill. It has been a problem for the entire time we have owned it - it may be time to sell it and recoup what little it's worth above it's latest repair bill. OR, it may run great now for a while - hard to know! I have been so tired and so stressed the last week, and feeling sicker and sicker during the weekend, that I just cried by the side of the road when it came down to me doing the whole trip again. I drove through the dark mountains and pouring down rain for the first few hours. We were then at a virtual stop on 95 at midnight due to construction and wreck caused by the construction. It continued to rain hard all the way home until I pulled in at 1:30 a.m. I told Alei that she was going to have to buck up and take a shift, but since she has never driven the van, it was raining, we were on the DC beltway and she forgot her glasses, that wasn't realistic. I was so, so happy to safely pull into home and I'm already trying to figure out how to get out of the 12 hour trip back!