Monday, December 30, 2013

"Bio is Best"

Recently, in a discussion about foster to adopt and adoption, someone made this comment (paraphrased) "Rightfully, the courts/DSS/CYS are all about reunifying the child with their biological family." It doesn't matter who it was that said it; that is the general attitude of the legal apparatus in this country. I'll be honest, I have some real problems with that supposition. Please note, I agree that ideally, all children would be raised by their married biological parents who loved them, were responsible, and who gave their children all the attention, encouragement, and guidance they need to become healthy, well-developed, responsible adults. However, we don't live in that ideal world; heck, if we lived in that ideal world, people who wanted to get pregnant would all get pregnant, and those who do not want to get pregnant would not. Since we don't live in this world, let's unpack the "bio is best" supposition to see why I have serious problems with it.

1) "Biological family is always best" presumes that biological parents are always the best possible parents for a child. If that is the case, why is any child ever removed from their parents' custody? If that is the case, then why do we not change children's legal status and return to considering them their parents' property, theirs to do with as they please? If bio is always best, then biological parents can do no wrong, regardless of whether they beat their children, prostitute them, neglect them, torture them, or even leave them to die. 

2) If "bio is always best," then this presupposes that simply by the fact of being unable to conceive and bear a child, every IF couple is unfit parents. Do we really want to presume that the simple act of giving birth is all it takes to be the best possible parent? Do you really want to compare stable, loving, married couples against drug addicts with no way of supporting themselves and find those stable but IF couples wanting? This is the same presumption behind people telling IF couples that "maybe God didn't want you to be parents."

3) Who requires prospective biological parents (or even prospective step-parents) to undergo criminal background checks? Where are prospective biological parents required to attend a series of classes on child development and child rearing? As of when are prospective biological parents required to undergo health screenings? Much is demanded of prospective foster or adoptive parents. While I understand that it is all done to try and protect children, it does not seem right to insist upon so much more from them while telling them that they will never be as good as biological parents. 

Here's the thing: it takes a lot for a child to be removed from the custody of his parent or parents. No, I am not saying that the system never makes a mistake or that children removed from their parent(s)' custody should never be returned to them. As we are all human, mistakes are made; people can learn and change. However, I think that rather than assuming that reuniting a child with his biological family is always and everywhere the ideal, the attitude should be one of determining what truly is best for the child's welfare. Too many children are returned to parents who continue to abuse or neglect them because of the assumption that family reunification is best.

If we are going to continue with assumption that family reunification is always and everywhere the best option, then perhaps we should bring back children's homes. I am my mother's first-born, but before me she had six children. All six of those children attended her wedding. You see, my mother worked in one of those children's homes; she cared deeply for those children in her care; at least one of them considered her "Mother." (At the wedding, this developmentally disable girl went up to my father's mother and said "I guess this makes you my grandma," which my grandmother was not quite sure how to handle.) Mom was amazed when I told her how much has changed, how biological parents now have all the power while prospective adoptive parents have little.

A small chance of maybe being able to adopt should not be held out as a carrot to induce parents to foster children; they should be told the hard truth that they will always be considered the lesser option, the choice of last resort to be the forever parents to the child/children that they foster. And if there are not enough people willing to foster under those conditions, then bring back children's homes. If foster care is always and everywhere a temporary stay, then a short stay at a children's home should do no (or at least little) lasting harm.

In many states under our current system, prospective adoptive parents can be asked to cover the birth mother's living expenses and medical expenses, while the birth mother retains all rights to change her mind at any time. I cannot help but wonder how often a struggling pregnant woman sees this as chance to have all of her expenses paid, without any intention of giving up her child. (Yes, I realize that this is deeply cynical of me, though I am sure it happens.) I cannot begin to guess at the pain and heartache that couples who have struggled to afford to cover all those expenses, only to be left with nothing, experience.

Please note that I am not remotely suggesting that we return to the bad old days, when the children of unmarried women were taken from them for no greater reason than their marital status or when the "unfit" were forcibly sterilized. I am also not suggesting that people should need to obtain a license to have children, either (though every once in a while, the idea is very tempting). What I am saying is that the pendulum has swung too far the other way, that we are letting the "perfect," the ideal get in the way of the good. Not every person who bears or conceives a child is a fit parent; let us recognize that, and in those cases, find good homes and families for those children.

This summer it seemed like every time I turned around, I was seeing something about the need for foster parents. At the time I wondered if it was a sign that we were being called to go that direction. However, the more that I considered it, the more I looked into the attitudes behind CYS and even many private agencies, I decided "No." I would rather not be a parent rather than eternally be considered a second-class, not as good parent simply because I did not conceive and bear that child. In the future we may consider adoption again, but we will almost certainly focus on international adoption. Though international adoption is more expensive, there are no concerns about birth parents changing their minds, no need to sell yourselves as the best possible home and family for the child of parents considering adoption; there is less wait and hope and pray that someone will pick you; in many cases, within a certain time you will adopt a child. There is also the assumption that these children need families to adopt them, not that adoption is a semi-acceptable substitute for a biological family.

Truly, I am not as bitter and cynical as this post may make me seem; I am just deeply troubled (oh alright, and pissed off) by the presumptions behind "bio is best."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Un-Christmas-like Rant

Sometimes, like now, I almost feel like I should assign myself lines to write; in this case, the sentence would be "I love my in-laws." Then again, I'm not sure that writing that 100 times would help right now. I do love my in-laws, and they are wonderful people, but to describe them as disorganized and not the plan ahead type is a dramatic understatement. I don't know if it's because my family has always been somewhat spread out or if it has more to do with personalities, but my family has always been the scheduled, plan ahead type. My brother and I made wish lists for as long as I can remember, then Mom would send part of our lists to each set of grandparents. Everything was done ahead of time, so there was no last minute rushing around.

Last week I had Husbandido ask his oldest brother for suggestions on what to get the boys (our nephews, ages 10 and 13). We just needed one or two smallish things to complete their gifts; we had already purchased books and some other things for them. It took repeated follow-ups before we got an answer; in fact, we didn't get an answer until Thursday evening. The answers we got weren't really helpful, either. Granted, we are somewhat fussy gift givers. Both boys spend way too much time in front of screens, so we try to stay away from video games. (To give you some perspective, the younger boy was wearing a men's 28 waist pant at age 8. That Christmas, with his parents' permission, we gave him karate lessons to try and get him more active.) Neither boy has very much patience, so Legos wouldn't work either. We spent 3 hours on Thursday evening trying desperately to come up with what to get that would meet our requirements, didn't cost an arm and a leg, and would be equal for each boy. (Can you tell that I've seen more than my share of meltdowns over presents and who is favored?) Finally we decided on a Pokemon guide for them to share, and a Mario brothers tee shirt to add to what we already had for the older boy. We already had books and lightsaber M&Ms dispensers for both, and Minecraft magnets for the younger boy. We thought that we would be getting together in the evening on Christmas Eve, so our Amazon order should arrive just in time. 

Yesterday, though, I had Husbandido double-check with his parents about the schedule and menu. Without bothering to check on everyone's schedules, my in-laws scheduled the Christmas gathering to start at 2 pm. Husbandido doesn't get off today; his usual work day doesn't end until 3:45 pm. He's been careful about using his vacation days, in case I need surgery or if we succeed, since he's allowed to roll over some of his days. On top of that, the menu is stuffed shells and sandwiches, so nothing that I can eat. I was more upset about the schedule; he was more upset about the lack of consideration in the menu. We spent much of yesterday evening going round and round over whether he should take a half day, leave a couple of hours early and make up the time on Friday, or just get there two hours after everyone else. On top of that, the early gathering meant that I would be best off dropping Husbandido off at work, then picking him at the end of the day, so we could go straight to his parents. This would mean leaving before the UPS guy arrives. To my mind, Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve deserves its own circle of Hell; it is not something I would ever willingly do. But we were left with a tough choice: try to explain that his gift hadn't arrived yet and deal with the fallout or me go out shopping to search for a replacement gift. Husbandido kept telling me that I didn't have to go, and shouldn't go shopping. But honestly, I've seen way too many meltdowns and tantrums to want that for Christmas Eve. (Lest you think our nephew is a totally spoiled brat, part of his behavior, especially the lack of emotional controls, is due to him being somewhere along the autism spectrum.) Worry and stress over the situation made it hard to fall asleep; it was after midnight when I finally dozed off. So I hauled my sorry self out of bed at 5:30 this morning, dropped Husbandido off at work, and promptly hit the mall. It took me over 2.5 hrs, several phone calls to Husbandido, and searching an entire mall plus a separate department store, but I finally found something. I'm running on 4 to 5 hours sleep, which I don't do well. God grant me the patience to make it through today!

Oh - and on top of it all, I've started having good mucus. With the chaos yesterday, we didn't get a chance to be intimate, and tonight I'll be way too tired. Just what I want for our first month spending more than $200 on meds.

Fortunately, I've had some time to come home and cuddle our cats, which has helped my mood significantly.

To leave you on a brighter note, here are two beautiful performances of "In Dulci Jubilo," which is one of my favorite carols. First, the King's Singers.

And then, the Vienna Boys Choir.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Extravaganza Round-Up Part II

Now that I'm mostly over that pesky bug that one of my house guests gave me, as well as the minor accident we were in the Sunday before last, I can finally finish my wrap-up! (We're both fine, though Husbandido's car needed 4 new tires, and I am really not thinking about the "minor" body damage that knocked out one of the running or fog lights yet. [Is 2013 over yet? I'm really hoping for a better 2014.])

I was fortunate that my mother was willing to help with the cooking after my brother's family arrived. Let's face it, playing with a grandchild is probably a lot more fun than making potatoes au gratin or roasting a turkey. Together Mom, Husbandido, and I put together a pretty good Thanksgiving feast. We struggled a little with the GF pumpkin pie (Pillsbury refrigerated GF pastry dough), but it turned okay, if a little over cooked. (While the crust wasn't particularly buttery tasting or flaky, it was perfectly serviceable - meaning that while it wouldn't compare to the best gluten containing pastries/pie crusts I have had or made, it was good.) It took searching through a few cookbooks to find a recipe for potatoes au gratin that worked with the ingredients that we had, but they turned out fine. Our turkey looked tiny in the giant roasting pan, but it avoided any liquid overflow (like when we hosted Christmas for the in-laws a couple a couple of years ago... I'm still hearing about the smoke and having to kick everyone outside briefly while I cleaned the inside of the oven). 

The  big excitement of Thanksgiving was our uninvited guest late in the evening; an uninvited guest of the variety that we are NOT supposed to have, given our 3 cats. Yep, my SIL, sitting and reading in the living room, spotted a mouse. Husbandido, Dad, and Brother took to the task of hunting down the mouse. I tried to enlist first Biscuit, who was completely unwilling to be around so many strangers and hid behind the TV stand, then Robin. Fortunately for me, after a while Robin realized what was up; he did a great job following the mouse and flushing him out from under the sofa. After Robin caught the mouse, he happily trotted through the dinning room, past my mom, into the office, where more problems arose. You see, Robin didn't want to give up the mouse, and when Husbandido eventually convinced him to let go for more than a moment, the mouse ran under his desk. The one good point is that the office has a door, so at least the mouse was contained. Husbandido's desk is large heavy piece, with a hutch on top, so getting that mouse back out took some doing. Eventually, though the mouse was vanquished.

Friday proved to be the most difficult day of the visit. We went to Sarris' Candies and Ice Cream to celebrate my mom and SIL's birthdays. Since there wasn't a table big enough for all of us to fit around open, we split into 2 tables, Husbandido and I at one table, everyone else at the other. What was so hard for me was seeing my mom talking about kids and child rearing with my brother and SIL, knowing I may never have those kinds of discussions about the stages children grow through and her advice and wisdom. The other interesting event was decorating. Since Saturday was when we would celebrate Christmas, it was time to get all the decorations up. I've never "speed decorated" before, and honestly, I hope I don't need to repeat the experience! I usually really enjoy the process of decorating, but feeling crunched for time made it a lot less fun. Then there was also trying to set aside particularly sturdy/nonbreakable ornaments for Posey (my new nickname for our 16 month old niece) to "help" decorate with. Her help mostly consisted of picking up ornaments and carrying them around in bags, boxes, or baskets. It was really cute... if slightly frustrating, given time constraints. Here are a few pictures of the house decorated.

(You can't tell clearly from the picture, but the angel on the left is mourning, while the one on the right is holding an infant.)
(Yep, I am a total sucker for Precious Moments. I also refuse to remove our memorial for the child we lost from the mantle.)

Saturday, we took Posey to a Gymboree open gym. Conveniently, the Gymboree is located in a shopping mall, so the rest of us were able to go shop while her dad and grandmother took turns supervising her. Shopping with my mom and SIL had some good moments, and some bad. It's never a good feeling when one of the people you are shopping with is asking for a size smaller, especially when that is one you have no hope of ever fitting into. (And I had been feeling pretty good about losing close to 10 lbs, too. Nothing like comparisons to leave you feeling like a fat blob.) When Posey was getting tired, my mom brought her out, to join everyone else; only she hadn't realized that my brother had put her shoes in the stroller, so she searched for them in the shoe cubbies. Mom put what she thought were the right shoes on Posey, then started walking around with her. When we ran into them, we had to let her know that she was a shoe thief. Thankfully she was able to return the shoes before their actual owner (or her parents) found them missing. 

Saturday evening was the big Christmas celebration. My Mom loved the wreath I had made for her. 

Brother and SIL seemed to appreciate Father Leo's book, and were at least amused by the Raku pottery piece (purchased) and wreath I made to match. (They really aren't into decorating.)
I received a ridiculous amount of GF baking mixes from King Arthur and Cup 4 Cup (produced by Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame; Brother and SIL are foodies), so expect another major product review post in the not too distant future.

Mom and Dad didn't quite know what to make of the gecko/Redwood burl objet d'art that I made (other than "it's going to wait until they drive out to come home with them"), but I think they liked it. It is a bit... overwhelming. Fortunately it's outdoor safe, intended for placement in their front courtyard.

This is the chaos after all the presents were opened. I'm letting the cats have the boxes to play with for a while, though there's been less playing than I anticipated.

Sunday morning my mom woke up very sick; sick enough that we thought my parents might need to delay their return to Arizona. Mom managed to get up and dressed in time to say goodbye to my brother's family. Amazingly, Dad got almost all their things packed in their suitcases, and they did leave on their scheduled flight. I was worried, but Mom made it back okay. It was nice to have everyone visit, but I've been enjoying the peace and more relaxed schedule now that everyone's gone.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who are the poor?

This Advent and Christmas season I wanted to share two passages from Mother Theresa's book No Greater Love with you. At this time of year especially, we focus on helping those less fortunate than ourselves, whether it be through Angel Trees, Salvation Army red kettles, end of the year donations, food banks, or volunteering. Unexpectedly, Mother Theresa asks us to look closer to find the poor - to see the poor close at hand, in our own lives.

p. 93
The world today is hungry not only for bread but hungry for love, hungry to be wanted, to be loved. They're hungry to feel the presence of Christ. In many countries, people have everything except that presence, that understanding.
In every country there are poor. On certain continents poverty is more spiritual than material, a poverty that consists of loneliness, discouragement, and the lack of meaning in life. I have also seen in Europe and America very poor people sleeping on newspapers or rags in the streets. There are those kind of poor in London, Madrid, and Rome. It is too easy simply to talk or concern ourselves with the poor who are far away. It is much harder and, perhaps, more challenging to turn our attention and concern toward the poor who live right next door to us.
When I pick up a hungry person from the streets, I give him rice and bread, and I have satisfied that hunger. But a person who is shut out, feels unwanted by society, unloved and terrified - how much more difficult is it to remove that hunger?
You in the West have the spiritually poorest of the poor much more than you have the physically poor. Often among the rich are very spiritually poor people. I find it is easy to give a plate of rice to a hungry person, to furnish a bed to person who has no bed, but to console or to remove the bitterness, anger, and loneliness that comes from being spiritually deprived, that takes a long time.
p. 101
 We know what poverty means, first of all, to be hungry for bread, to need clothing, and not to have a home. But there is a far greater kind of poverty. It means being unwanted, unloved, and neglected. It means having no one to call your own.
Do we know our poor people? Do we know the poor in our house, in our family? Perhaps they are not hungry for a piece of bread. Perhaps our children, husband, wife, are not hungry or naked, or dispossessed, but are you sure that there is no one there who feels unwanted, deprived of affection? Where is your elderly father or mother? Abandonment is an awful poverty.
Who are the poor in your life? Who do you know who may be feeling more alone than ever this season? A single sibling or cousin who feels like they no longer fit into their family when everyone else has married? An elderly aunt or uncle in a nursing home? A friend estranged from her own family, with nowhere to go? The couple longing for a child to share the joy of Christmas with? Many of us are ourselves poor in this way, but in recognizing our poverty and hunger, we learn what it is that we can give to one another.

If you'll excuse me, I have a great-aunt and a grandmother to go write to....

"The Lord hears the cry of the poor, Blessed be the Lord."


Monday, December 9, 2013


For so long, I had prayed for and desperately wanted answers, but as today drew near, I found myself becoming apprehensive. Did I really want to know? What if the news was all bad: that we should give up on having a biological child? On the other hand, my frustration with our RE stemmed almost completely from a lack of answers and the approach of just pushing my reproductive system harder rather than fixing what is wrong.

Regardless of what I thought or wanted, our follow-up arrived this morning; here is what we learned.

According to Dr. P, my pre-ovulatory hormones are okay. Estradiol should be around 260 - 300 around ovulation; mine was 132, so I am not producing a good quality egg (type 3 ovulatory defect).

Post peak is even worse, though. I tried to write down all the values mentioned, but I missed one of the expected estrogen values for either P+7 or P+9.

Estrogen     Expected     Me           Progesterone     Expected     Me
P+3             88                46            P+3                    9.4               8.3
P+5             108              63            P+5                    14.4             12
P+7             120(?)         63             P+7                    15.7             14
P+9             120(?)         82             P+9                    13.6             7
P+11           98                78             P+11                  8.1               4.8

My FSH and prolactin were normal. Vitamin D levels were very low, 21, where normal is 50 -75. TSH was 1.93; I missed what normal is.

Here's the plan: I need to start taking 4,000 IU of Vitamin D-3 daily. Next cycle I will start on Femara, 6 tablets on day 3, taking Mucinex to maintain/improve CM, and post-peak HCG injections (P+3,5,7,9). I'll be doing P+7 blood work every cycle. We were cautioned not to expect treatment to work right way; it could take 2 -3 cycles before I return to anything like normal fertility. If we do not succeed within 6 cycles, it will be time to consider diagnostic laproscopy. As of right now, there is no plan to put me on thyroid hormones.

My thoughts and reactions: Eep! I was expecting post-peak progesterone to be low, especially given how many days of spotting I've been having, but I didn't expect the low estrogen values. I can't say I had really thought about my vitamin D levels at all, so that was also unexpected. I wasn't at all prepared to jump straight to post-peak HCG injections; I thought I'd get to start out with progesterone pills. While I'm not needle-phobic by any stretch of the imagination, I can't say I'm eager to dive into regular injections. Add it all up, and I'm definitely feeling overwhelmed by it all. On the positive side, it does seem like our doctor is taking everything seriously; there isn't time wasted putzing around. He clearly considers this protocol one with a good chance of success. I can't help but wonder if I have always had all of these problems; while my earlier sympto-thermal charts weren't beautiful, they weren't anywhere near as much of a mess as my CrMS charts have been. Is age starting to take a toll on me? There's no real way to know, so that speculation doesn't really do any good. All it does is make me more nervous and apprehensive; somehow I have to let go of it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Adoration in Advent

Eucharistic Adoration doesn't come naturally to me; the first few times I went left me feeling  like a fake, like I had no idea exactly what do with myself. Over time I learned that bringing others' prayer requests with me, rather only my own concerns, helped. After praying, I turn to one of the books I have set aside for during Adoration. Much of my hour was filled with finishing No Greater Love by Mother Theresa; in fact my promised hour was done by the time I finished it. But instead of leaving, I felt a pull to open up Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life... by Julie Davis. This was the reflection that I opened to:

Hold On, I Know I've Got a Quarter Here

God is not a vending machine.             Joan Kimber

So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, who accepted their offering, and fashioning this gold with graving tool, made a molten calf. Then they cried out, "This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:3-4)

The reason the Hebrews demanded a golden calf is largely misunderstood these days. It was not to worship the statue. They wanted to summon him at will to answer their prayers. 

It is convenient to look back over the chasm of time, shaking our heads sadly at these willful people. They had Moses in their midst, God's own choice, and they still tried to get their own way.

We would do better to look in the mirror than to "tut-tut" over the Hebrews. We are no better. We don't want to suffer, we know just how to solve this problem if he'd just listen to our prayers, and Lord Almighty, do hurry up, because we surely don't want to wait around!

How limiting this is. It narrows our vision and our recognition of God's plan, which is so much broader than anything we can possibly know. Not only that, we are cutting ourselves off from the surprises he has planned. Those of us who have had any glimpse of the divine plan know that we never would have thought of anything like God's intricate, elegant, multilayered design.

We would do far better to follow the Car Guys' wise advice: "Don't tell the mechanic what to fix. Just tell him the problem, and let him come up with the solution."

That he knows it is enough.

(I can't reccomend this little book more highly, though it doesn't always jump out at me quite this much; in addition to her book, Julie also writes over at Happy Catholic.)

In my earlier prayers, in addition to laying all the requests and intentions at His feet, I had also been asking Why? "Why did You raise a friend's hopes so high just to dash them? Why do You seem to answer some prayers so quickly and easily, while others are left waiting?" 

This reflection was just what I needed to hear: God is not a vending machine. We put in our prayers, our hopes, our dreams and cannot know what we will receive; it may be what we asked for, or something else entirely. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Extravaganza Round-Up (Part I)

First of all, a gigantic Thank You! to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. I made it through my week of hosting without any major meltdowns, and I didn't get sick until everyone was leaving; I'm counting that as a win.

A few days before my parents were scheduled to arrive, I found at they weren't going to stay in Philadelphia through Monday and drive out on Tuesday; they were driving out on Monday. (They were in Philly for a wedding the weekend before Thanksgiving.) Needless to say, losing a day to clean and finish the gifts I was making ratcheted my stress levels up several notches. Before coming out, my mother kept offering to help with the preparatory cleaning, which I both appreciated (help is always nice) and resented (Really? You don't think I'm capable of getting my own home clean enough for guests?). Though I wasn't able to get it all done, the most important things were completed (but I really ought to write a letter to and send that Thanksgiving card to Grandma...). Fortunately or unfortunately, my parents' GPS had them taking 376 through Pittsburgh to drop their rental car off at the the airport... at rush hour. First they called and said they would be getting to the airport earlier than planned, leaving me rushing out of the house and struggling to get in touch with Husbandido, who works near the airport and was scheduled to pick them up. Of course he was in a meeting, so I had no clue how it was all going to work: if I was going to leave my poor parents waiting out in the cold or if we would make it in time. The mess that is 376 at rush hour meant that my panic over my parents' early arrival was totally unnecessary; I was eventually able to reach Husbandido, and he was able to pick them up in time. We had a nice dinner out and a quiet evening, visiting at home. 

I was more conflicted about Tuesday; back when I thought my parents were arriving that evening, I had scheduled an appointment to have my hair done that afternoon. That in addition to my regular Tuesday morning Bible study left me feeling like I was abandoning my folks on their own all day. In the end, I followed my mother's urgings and went to both, which was probably good for me, since that was some of the last time away from everyone I would have until they left. Somewhere between 4 and 6" was lopped off the back of my hair, and it's a totally different color than I would ever have chosen. I like how it turned out, but I was disappointed that no one else seemed to like it that much (Mom and Husbandido, I'm looking at you.) 

Wednesday was a return to chaos. My brother and his family were scheduled to arrive that evening, but problems getting snow tires on their car kept delaying their departure. My parents, Husbandido, and I had talked about a movie, but we didn't want to run the risk of not being home when Brother & family arrived. We decided not to go see Catching Fire, and Husbandido worked late. Then we got the update from Brother - they wouldn't be arriving until after 11, so we set out to see the movie. (It also meant a lot of leftover roast.) Catching Fire was sold out; we saw Frozen instead. I was skeptical at the start, but I ended up really enjoying it. As we were leaving the movie theater, my dad got a text from my brother saying that they would be getting in around 10:15/10:30 pm. It was a good thing Catching Fire had sold out; otherwise we wouldn't have been back in time. There was the usual chaos getting everyone settled in, but no major problems.

Since this getting long, I'll break here and continue tomorrow.