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February 11, 2014

By Linda Beerman
"How many people live in this house anyway?" This was a question asked of me a couple Fridays ago when we had four ten year old boys at our house for a birthday party. Dan and I looked at each other and laughed because we've wondered that same thing over the years. We were eating supper with the young guys as my dad wandered into the living room and turned on the T-V. Our foster son, Brice, had come home from his college classes in Canby about an hour earlier for the weekend. He enjoyed flying a helicopter around the house with them, and then all five of them were in a pile on the living room floor wrestling at one point. Soon my mom came out to see what was happening with the party. That is what prompted the question...and the laughter. If he had only been here the next day...

On Saturday, about six o'clock in the evening, I was cutting up some vegetables for supper. I heard some strange noises outside the laundry room door, and when I went to the window to investigate, my oldest granddaughter, Shekinah, and her sister, Ellyanna, had their faces pressed to the glass peeking in! What a surprise..we had been expecting them the next day in time for church, but they had decided to come early to beat the storm that was forecast to come. I quickly opened the door and forgot that I had a paring knife in my hand. Oops...just about had an accident while trying to receive all kinds of hugs! Once I got rid of the knife, I could open my arms for both Sophia and Natalia as they streamed in. Their dad had parked at the end of the driveway and the four oldest had come up the dark lane to surprise us.

By the time Mark and Heather came up to the house with the car, we were ready to welcome the three youngest daughters...Jordana, Estella, and Acacia. Both Jordana and Estella have boundless energy, so I need to be up on my sleep and ready to keep up with the action when they arrive. Mark decided over the weekend that Jordana takes after me: she not only looks a lot like her daddy and our family, but loves to talk and eat chocolate! Estella is just learning to talk and loves to do anything the other sisters are doing. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with her! I told them I think she will make up for the fact that they don't have a boy! It was Acacia's first visit to our home, as she just turned two months old. She is pretty calm and seems to be a very patient, content baby. That is a good thing!

We did all make it to worship that Sunday, despite the weather. It was pretty nice until noon, when the snow started coming down. Since Mark is usually preaching in their own church in Winona, MN, it is rare that he gets to "come home" for church. He always enjoys visiting with old friends and families that are there. After services we decided to load up on pizza before making the trek home. With our tummies full, we started north to the farm. We had to take it slow as the wind was really gusting, but only the last two miles were really tough. Those miles are gravel, with no helpful white lines to help guide you. We took our time and watched the side of the road, and made it just fine. We were happy to see that my parents had made it home by then too. They had eaten out after church with some other friends.

Mark and his gang camped out with us until about noon on Tuesday. We spent lots of time playing games, watching some fun movies, and of course eating, laughing, and "catching up" with our visiting. There was no school here on Monday, so our ten year old foster son, Tony, really enjoyed hanging out with the girls. One game they all enjoyed is called "Man Bites Dog". The object of it is to make headlines with your cards and try to get the most points. It was also educational in the fact they learned how to put nouns and verbs together to make sense, most of the time giving us some good laughs. Another game that is always a hit at our house is an old one that my grandpa taught me when I was young. It is called Wahoo. It is played with marbles on a wooden board that was homemade. Dan has since made a board for each of our grandkids, and they all like to play and see if they can beat us. Many times they do!

Bedtime found us finding places to lay everyone down in several areas of the house. We actually have five bedrooms, but with fifteen of us sleeping here that weekend, we needed some extra spaces. Three of the little girls layed "sideways" across one bed, with room to spare. Some had sleeping bags on the floor, and the couches were used too. By the time lights were all out, everyone had a place to lay their head! It was good we had plenty of blankets and pillows so all were made comfortable. There is something cozy about hunkering down under warm blankets in the cold winter time.

It was hard to say goodbye when they all got packed up to leave. It was cold, but sunny outside so we were thankful for travel mercies. They made it back to southeastern MN just fine in their nine passenger Surburban that they just acquired. When the new baby arrived, a different vehicle was needed so they could all come together. So glad they found a reliable one for their family. Mark does the packing, and each bag and parcel has its place. It definitely is FULL when they are ready to depart.

This past weekend was a little calmer with just one visitor, an eleven year old girl who came for respite care. She and Tony were outside for hours playing on the snow hills and making forts around the hay bales. But again, we had time for games, popcorn, movies, and hot chocolate. Winter has its frustrations, but when family or friends come to stay, it makes time just a little happier and warmer to spend the hours.

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