Tomorrow, We Go Home...

...for a day or two, anyway.

This past Saturday, we held a traditional "Keven's Come Home" shindig, whereby all of the various Lofty and Hankin relatives make the trek here to inundate the house. Normally people only get together like this for funerals, weddings, and reunions, but Linda and Trevor host one every time we fly over. The relaxed atmosphere (everywhere but in the kitchen where Linda worked like crazy) made everyone feel at home.

Thirty-two people attended, including Andy and Kara (uni friends who drove down from Chelmsford, which is northeast of London in Essex), Steve and Silvia (Trevor drove to London to pick them up for the event), and fully twelve kids aged 18 and under. We put all of the girls' Christmas toys away for fear of sharing disasters, and they happily played with the Loftys' ancient collection of toy cars and watched Wallace & Gromit.

The girls each received more presents, too, which we opened yesterday: dress-up boxes with shoes, a crown, and jewelry (from Uncle John & family), plus a storybook, a puzzle book, candy, and a Furby (from Kev's aunt and uncle, Rose & Keith). The Furbies are...strange. Juliette loves hers and talks to it constantly, but Ilsa is a little afraid of hers -- a condition that is not alleviated by the fact her Furby seems grumpier than the one Juliette received. Weird, but oddly entertaining. Juliette slept with hers last night.

Andy, Kara, Steve, and Silvia stayed the night, and we all enjoyed a cooked breakfast the next morning before setting out. Andy, Kara, Keven, and I went to Guildford for shopping, but mostly we just found a Starbucks and hung out talking for three hours. We have not seen them in over two years, so our goal for the afternoon was simply catch up time. Once they drove home, Keven and I met up with Ian, Kev and Steve's childhood friend, for a really excellent Indian meal. Because Steve and Silvia returned to London yesterday evening, that was our good-bye to them for this trip.

Today will be jammed with preparations for our departure tomorrow afternoon, including a hill of laundry, various body-cleaning activities, and packing. Also, we'll be going to a kids' museum sort of play place this afternoon -- the final hurrah. Last Friday, Keven and I went shopping for essential British munchies, so we have five bags of groceries and all the Christmas presents to shove into our suitcases. That's my evening sorted. When Linda & Trevor traveled to Australia earlier this year, the security was as crazy as we described in Chicago, so although our flight doesn't depart until 3:30PM, we'll be arriving sometime mid-morning to get checked in. Nothing like last time!!

We're to arrive at O'Hare just after six, which puts us back in Madison sometime around 9:30PM -- if everything goes according to plan. The weather looks like it will be clear, after snow showers there today and tonight. Wednesday will be a series of errands, including the retrieval of our fish and houseplants from various guardians. Thursday, we'll head to my parents' house for Christmas II -- just missing the snow storm that will be coming through later this week -- and I'll have my laptop back!

As for work, I managed to keep up with my word count through Friday. With the possible exception of today, when I might be able to get my daily 1,000 words finished -- I am taking this week off while I upload all of my handwritten stuff to the computer and assess where I am, plot wise. I am in the process of securing two PAID online workshops to teach later this autumn (one on grammar, one on history -- my strengths are so predictable!). I also have Golden Heart entries to read, promos for Unusual Historicals to sort out, a possible agent search, and final revisions on the last third of Serenade. Stuff to do!

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