Our flight arrived in So Cal, safe and sound, Friday (the 3rd) evening at around 5:45. Dad, Peter, and Paul came to pick us up. As soon as the sliding door opened, and Faith saw Paul, she flipped! “Paul! Paul!” She was so excited. So, Faith, Peter, and Paul had fun playing the whole way home while Dad and Lowell chatted in the front and I sat next to Felicity who eventually fell asleep for another little cat nap. Both girls did so well on both flights out, thank You, God. Felicity didn’t sleep much, but she held her own pretty well considering the time change and travel. We were greeted at the house by the rest of the siblings, minus Andrew and John, and Aunt Therese, aka Aunty, was there with her hubby and 5 kids. Alden, Mary, and Kolbe were there, and Joe, Madeleine, Sam, and Katerina Atchley were as well. They drove in for the wedding and a mini-vacation. (Only Madeleine and Kitty were staying at my parents house though.)
We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, the 4thof July, to start the getting ready process for John and Mary’s wedding that started at noon. We were a collection of 32 people that all managed to get ready with 4 minutes to spare. I remember looking at the clock and specifically making that clarification ;) We caravanneddown the hill and got to the church as John and his groomsmen were having random photos taken outside. It was then that we got to see him and Andrew for the first time since arriving the night before. We had a quick hello, saw lots of other familiar faces, and took a handful of Schroeder Sibling Pictures outside the front of church before Mary arrived and the wedding mass began. It was a very nice ceremony. I have never seen my brother, John, look the way he did that day. He is SO in love!! I didn’t get any pictures on our camera that were worth saving because the church they got married at, St. Francis de Sales, is so huge all the pics come out dark on a basic digi cam like ours, no matter what the setting. And, because I wasn’t in camera mode at the wedding, I didn’t get any of reception either. (fired!, I know) It was a sweet little reception held at the March Air Reserve Base (air force) in Moreno Valley. They had a bar, salads, finger sandwiches, dancing, and lots of visiting. It was very nicely set up. We didn’t stay much longer than a few hours as Faithand Felicity were jet lagging bad, so we called it an afternoon/early evening after the toasts and first dance. We were sorry to go, but the kids were done. John and Mary spent their wedding night in their new apartment, went to Mass the next morning and headed up the coast for their honeymoon. They drove up Highway One and went to Carmel and San Francisco, making tourist-y stops along the way to and from. (They said they had a wonderful time and took lots of pictures that they shared with us when they got home on Thursday, later that week, when they also announced they were 18 weeks pregnant with a baby girl). We all spent the rest of our Fourth of July-Saturday evening unwinding and talking about the day.
On Sunday morning, we were on the run again! Out the door in even MORE record time to go to Guasti for 9:00 Mass. What a beautiful breath of fresh air it was to step foot into that church again :) The newly ordained Father Claude from St. Michael’s said mass. We all went to Krispy Kreme afterward as it’s a Sunday tradition for my family and some of the other families. From KK, a small handful of us went across the parking lot to lunch with our good friends, the Hackbarth’s. Connie Mumford – (she got married a few weeks after us) was in town with her two kids visiting, so she was able to be part of our luncheon. It was nice to visit with everyone and catch up on what is new in life. We headed home pretty quickly once we’d finished our food because the girls began their melting process and needed a good nap. Later that afternoon, Father Chrysostom came up the hill to hang out for dinner. Madeleine was able to get in touch with him and convince him to come up to see the cluster of Atchley’s, that had road tripped to So Cal from Tennessee, before heading back. We all immensely enjoyed our visit and very delicious chicken taco dinner!
Monday was more low key. As a last minute plan, our little fam went down to lunch with our friend, Ashley, and her sister, Angela, at Miguel’s. I hadn’t been feeling so great that day, so our visit was a little short, but it was so nice to see Ash again and catch up with her. She graduated the nursing program at Franciscan in Steubenville, OH last year and is now working at UCLA. I can’t recall anything else monumental that happened Monday. Just relaxing and trying to get settled withthe girls, and lots of visiting with the fam ofcourse!
Tuesday was my sweet not-the-baby’s FIRST BIRTHDAY! Our little fam drove to Orange Countyand took Fr. Chrysostom to lunch at a neat little Italian place near the Abbey. We, as always, had a wonderful time with him, talking about this and that. Our server brought Felicity a big cup of ice cream with a candle on it. Faith and Lowell helped her out with that. When we got back to the house, we put the birthday girl down for a quick nap before dinner. After dinner, we sang Happy Birthday for the fiftieth time (she LOVED it!), she opened a few presents, and then it was cake time. We brought the cake to the highchair tray and she pulled a piece out before we knew what was happening! HaHaHa! And, instead of blowing her candle out the traditional way, she pinched the flame with her little fingers! Aaww! Poor Felicity was pretty devastated about that, but was quick to recover when she realized she still had cake waiting for her. So, I got her rinsed in some cold water and put back in tip top shape in a real hurry because you don’t mess with a birthday girl and her first birthday cake!
On Wednesday, we drove to USC in the late afternoon to see one of the moms, Mrs. Childs, who took Lowell in on some weekends when he was still in highschool. (One of her sons, Eric, is a sophomore at USC and walked on to the football team!!! He will find out in early August if he made the fall team – WOW! Lowell feels quite special that he played highschool ball withsomebody who is not only playing with USC, but walked onto the team!) Anyway, we made the excursion to Los Angeles because Mrs. Childs is an ultrasound tech and she wanted to do a scan for us. She gave us a roll of some incredible pictures, including about eight 3D ones. Afterwards, we went to dinner right across from campus. As we were getting ready to head out, I got a phone call from Mary asking me to pick Alden up from Long Beach and bring him home…
That same day, Alden had planned on continuing up the coast with Joe and Madeleine to San Francisco for a few days before flying to New Orleans for an internship. So, Mary and Alden drove just about all the kids to the beach for the day, they were going to go to Mass at Fr. Jon’s house, and leave Alden there as Joe and Madeleine were also going to be staying before driving to San Fran. Well, when they were at the beach, Joe and Alden spent a couple of hours digging a 3-4 foot tunnel in the sand. When they finished, they climbed in to hide from the sun. A short while later, Joe decided he was going to poke his head up to check on things around them. As he stuck his head out, the tunnel collapsed burying Joe to his nose and Alden completely alive. Joe started screaming for the girls, who weren’t too far away tanning, to “get Alden! Get Alden!” Mary ran over and started digging, but Joe told her to get him out because he knew exactly where Alden was. So Mary went to Joe, and in the words of the kids, “like superman, just pulled Joe out of the sand like it was nothing!” They dug and dug, and found him a minute and a half after the cave in. When they pulled him out, he was purple and had sand in his mouth and lungs. Mary had to dig as much sand out as she could while shouting for water. I guess there was a little boy who had helped with the unburying that had just happened to show up again with a bottle of water. They didn’t see him before the incident, or after for that matter, so now refer to him as “The Guardian Angel Boy”. Rachel and Veronica ran to the lifeguard stand and got that guy to bring some oxygen and whatnot. There were onlookers throughout the horrible experience, but they were standing by taking pictures instead of helping save Alden’s life. What a world we live in, huh? They continued on to Mass, and confession, withFr. Jon and Alden insisted he was okay enough to continue with his original plan of going to San Francisco. We figure it was the shock talking because he was ready to go back not too long later, hence the phone call and us picking him up. The plan was established that we would drive him to one of the emergency rooms near where my parents live, and Mary was going to meet him down there. He was still coughing up alot of blood and stuff, so they wanted to make sure nothing very serious was going on internally. After a chest X-ray and a CT-Scan, the doc’s told him he still had some sand in his lungs but that it should work it’s way out in the same way food would, and that the blood was a result of scratching and not trauma. On the way to the ER, Alden told us he was sure that was it. He was praying his Act of Contrition and preparing, to the best of his fading in and out of consciousness abilities, to meet God. He tried to scream, but ended up witha mouth and lungs full of sand. He also tried taking little breaths that only cause the sand to compact harder around his chest and abdomen due to the movement. What a horrific experience that will not be soon forgotten by any of us, but thank God Alden is alive and well!
On Thursday afternoon for lunch, we made a short trip to the little Hill’s new house! My good friend, Erin, and her fam just closed a deal on a phenomenal house 10 minutes from where my parents live. It is a huge floor plan with just the widest open spaces imaginable!! I love their new house and am so happy for them that the whole transaction went as well as it did, considering the way most escrows go in California these days with all sorts of random delays. Anywho, we brought Peter and Paul down withus because they’re about the same age as Justin and Erin’s boys, Daniel and Josh, and they love to play with each other. We brought some pizza and soda to eat n’ drink, got the grand tour of their most amazing home, and visited for a few hours. Our girls, by now, were so good about all the adventures out, but when they were done, they were done. We got them back up the hill, down for naps, and settled in for the rest of the day. It was hard to cut our visit short, I love to spend time with Erin, but sometimes you just have to roll with what the kids want.
Friday we spent most of the day at my parents house, just kicking back and relaxing. For dinner, though, we drove to Riverside and went to dinner at Lowell’s Uncle Bryan’s house. It was great to get to spend a little bit of time with Uncle B! We always enjoy our time spent with him, too. But, how could you not? He’s just so much fun, and we really enjoy Cindy, too. They treated us to some totally delish carne asada, home made guacamole, and opened their home to our crazy girls, thanks, Uncle B! We got a later start on that visit, so had to call it quits after a few hours because Felicity was ready to turn in for the night. A really funny side note about our getting to their house. The whole way down, Faith was talking about Papa (my dad) and the kids, and the cows, etc. She wasn’t really sure what was happening when we pulled up to Uncle B’s place and started walking up to the door. But, when the door was opened, and she saw him and realized we were going to be hanging out there for a while, she screamed at the TOP of her lungs like somebody was ripping her arm off! HaHaHa! I brought her back to the car, explained she had to be on her best behavior and that we were only going to be there for a little while to eat dinner, then we were going back to Papa’s house. She could handle that arrangement so agreed to go inside and be a good girl. HaHa!
Saturday was just stay home day, finally. It is such a catch twenty-two! We love to go and see everyone, but at the same time, it can start to wear you out. Being pregnant and jet lagging doesn’t help much either. We had a family day on Saturday. Almost everybody participated in a game of croquet in the latter part of the afternoon, and Andrew, John and Mary came up for dinner and a pleasant evening of simply hanging out. There is something beyond what words can explain about the late afternoons and evening at my parents house. It doesn’t matter how hot the day was, it always cools off into the most relaxing, peaceful nights. It’s really that way for alot of So Cal, but it seems so much better up the hill. Maybe because it’s distanced from the hum of any of the cities? Or because you can actually see alot of the stars from their house? Maybe it’s because of both aspects? However you want to look at it, I just love it!
Sunday morning, we hit the ground running again. Last minute packing and getting ready to head out the door for Mass and airport. After Mass, but before we had to check in for our flight, we went to Krispy again. I did really well until somebody said something to me, or looked at me just the right way, I can’t remember now what did me in… But I lost it. I cried and cried about having to leave. Then, I would recompose myself, only to lose it again. Sometimes goodbye’s do that to me: just leave me a blubbery mess! There were plenty of tears going around amongst the sisters and Mom. Even Grandma Atchley and Kitty cried! I saw my Dad get misty too. Anywho, sob story short, we said our goodbye’s when the time came, and made the quick trip to the airport with James, who was taking the little car we were in to a birthday party. We got all checked in and headed to Vegas in what seemed like no time at all. When we got to Vegas, though, we found out our flight to Albany had been delayed. It wasn’t a huge a delay, but an hour delay ontop of our already hour layover wasn’t thrilling. The girls were golden throughout the whole thing, though. The trip to Vegas. Being in Vegas. And the trip to Albany from Vegas. We landed in Albany at 12:30 Monday morning, which was only an hour later than our scheduled landing of 11:30 Sunday night. We scooped up our bags and carseats, caught the shuttle to our mini van, and headed home to our much missed beds.
If you’re still with me after this forever long post, I just have one little note to add:
FaithLOVED every minute we were at my parents house. She had free reign of 2 acres and got to go see/feed the 2 cows whenever she felt like it. She had aunts and uncles to play with, so long as they didn’t invadeher bubble too much ;) She went and played on the swings. She got into the ice chest, that was kept just outside the front door, second most to her always hanging out down by the cows. My heart was broken for her on Sunday when we had to leave. Oh! I remember why I started to melt at KK. She kept asking to go back to Papa’s house to see the cows and “wweeeeeee” as she often referred to the swings as. How sad that she wasn’t getting to go back to the wide open spaces, and not having to be watched every minute she wasn’t indoors! But, like I said, when we weren’t on the go as a family, she was having the time of her life just hanging out at Papa’s house and I savored every moment of it for her because it was priceless.