This morning, despite drizzling rain, the "big" Patty boys are hanging out together, while the little ones are playing in the yard.
Asher came in and found me in the house, to ask if I'd come out to the tent with him.
Of course I went out! It's quite cozy and warm in here, especially with Caleb's down blanket over the two of us.
Meanwhile, Judah is with Papa by the campfire, "reading" the Hobbit comic book to him. His dad has been reading it to him so he knows all the characters and the story quite well!
It's amazing how time seems to stand still out here in the yard when it becomes a campground. Crowding together to hang out on Nonnie's lap was never so fun!
It rained off and on all morning, but that didn't stop the boys from wanting to stay outside.
They only came in when it was time for lunch!
And then it was right back outside, trying out Uncle Caleb's new tent that he's taking back to Albania for backpacking trips with guys this summer!
After naps and rest time, we gathered in our living room to celebrate Haley's 26th birthday!
The actual date is May 28th, but since we're so close to it, we wanted to celebrate her with a fun dessert, gifts and encouraging words. We love Haley so much!
Giving words to her about who she is, what we see in her and how she's blessed us, is easy to do!
While dinner was being prepared after our party for Haley, Dave and Caleb were out working on packing up the trailer in anticipation of their departure on Monday. This is a lifesaver for them, to be able to take everything back to Albania, and the trailer will be awesome for hauling things for summer ministry!
We all then gathered around the table one last time for dinner.
Five months of family meals around this table has been an epic gift. There were so many good meals served here and such happy conversations. The growth of kids has been amazing in these months, and there has been the addition of Jenna to our table!
We had our first meal here (of this five month stretch) back on December 29th. Never did we imagine back then that we'd still be sitting here ALL together on May 23rd! (If you click on that link you'll see how much the kids have grown in these months!).
After dinner popsicles in the yard was a reminder of how many months have passed during this unique season. When everyone came five months ago they were rushing inside because it was cold outside!
Now we're lingering out here as long as possible, enjoying spring air and even bare feet as is the case with Asher, who prefers that by far when he comes to visit!
Aunt Claire had the boys captivated this evening as she ran around with them, sang songs, and gave them lots of love.
It won't be easy to say goodbye to Caleb, Haley and family when they leave on Monday. This has been such a treasured period of time, getting to be close to each other during this pandemic that has kept us all close to home.
I have a little sign in our bedroom that a friend gave me. It says, "Family is a gift that lasts for ever." And that's what will make it easier to end this season of having lived life together.
While we will probably not ever experience this kind of season again (though, "never say never!"), we will treasure it in our hearts as it has deepened the bonds of relationships in our family. We know each other in different and even more meaningful ways for having journeyed through these months together.
The pandemic has not been easy, and it's not really over. But we are moving on with what God has next for us all, and trusting Him for the days and months ahead of us, as we've done with the months behind us.