On Christmas Eve, Steve sat in the dining room as I removed tubing from his first dose of at-home antibiotics. Katie sidled up next to him and gave him a hug.
"Daddy, I missed you," she said. "I'm happy you're home."
The week that Steve was in the hospital was crazy at home. The kids and I often weren't home, and when we were, we dashed in and out. We're not the neatest family under the best circumstances; in times of chaos, we are even messier.
I managed to wash and dry clothes but had little time to fold and put away laundry. Sometimes I loaded the dishwasher. I never made the kids' beds. My usual piles of paper started to topple. Throw in extra Christmas goodies and cards and end-of-semester schoolwork, and it was just a disaster.
Meghan, Julie and Allison intervened. When Meghan was here taking care of Margie, she took care of laundry and clutter.
The night before we came home, Julie and Allison spent much of the evening here, going from room to room to tidy. They are both busy moms who work full time outside their homes; they both spent precious time two days from Christmas to make sure our home looked especially cozy when we returned.
Uncle Jim spent much of his vacation taking care of his niece and nephew. He picked them up from Aunt Mel and Uncle Greg's house in Anna on Monday and brought them to Frisco. He managed to prepare dinner, clean up after a Katie accident, take care of Margie, run errands, fill my car with gas and more, all in one night.
He continued to help Tuesday and Wednesday, when the kids moved in with Jim and Betty. The three of them juggled Christmas preparations while keeping Cooper and Katie well entertained, well fed and well loved.