July 4th 1933 (3:00 p.m. – free time prior to Annie's adoption party)

Dear Bessie,

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, the office when Mrs. Greer came into give us Mama Esther's itinerary for our day to keep us and the youngsters from getting underfoot during the party's set-up.

Hmmm … once, Oliver headed toward his desk, his business disposition triggered my 'secretary hat' to fall back into place, as I followed him in a similar fashion to take care of the more pressing matters that couldn't wait until Monday. We both immediately went into our business mode, and I vaguely recall Mrs. Greer playfully tsking us before leaving the office. Oliver and I didn't stop what we were doing until Annie popped in around 5 p.m. to see if we were hungry as she carried two plates of food in her hands. I remember looking up at Oliver in shock because we not only slept through lunch but we also forgot to call down for something light to hold us over until dinner.

"Grandma Esther, told me'ta bring ya somethin' light 'fore dinner. She said dinner would be served at 8 o'clock sharp and notta second later!" Annie stated before giving us both our plates containing a brownie and a heart shaped ham sandwich, and when we both spied our sandwiches a certain person's face turned a deep red almost matching her hair. "What? Abigail showed me how'ta cut off the crust! She told me that's how ya did it for her as a kid, mom!"

Oliver and I shared sweet loving smiles as we both took bites from our sandwiches as Annie continued, "I snuck ya both a brownie from the kitchen too, I figured since I helped make'em I could sneak one for both of ya!" Upon closer inspection we both noticed a chocolate ring around her mouth indicating she also took part in a few of her creations as well. Oliver actually pointed it out by wiping away the evidence with his thumb since I used his handkerchief earlier.

"Hmmm, it looks like the chef sampled her own creation too."

"Daddy Warbucks, I needed'ta make sure that they were eatable."

"Do you mean edible?"

"Yes, edible, Daddy Warbucks!" Bessie, I will never tire of their little tête-à-têtes or hearing her refer to us as mom and Daddy Warbucks!

I also have to say, on our behalf, Oliver and I were both very productive during those few hours though, because we not only finished the imperative tasks, but we also put a good dent into this coming week's work as well. After all, we now have a very cute motivation to excel and complete work much faster than ever before, yet still being mindful to avoid costly errors by continuing to use the successful Warbucks' business model and efficiency.

Anyway, the rest of the evening was spent going over Annie's file with her again in addition to answering as many of her questions before joining our family, friends, and guests for dinner. The only odd moment during our perusal of her file was when we turned back to the graphite picture. Annie tensed up for a minute and had whimsical look on her face, but just like that it was gone. Then, Bessie, just like I thought she would, she requested a frame for her family's graphite picture which we both agreed whole heartedly too. She even asked if she could learn to draw or paint one day and Oliver indicated Annabelle, his 'adopted sister,' was a wonderful artist who may take on a sweet yet mindful apprentice. Annie catching on to Oliver's drift said that she knew of a sweet and mindful apprentice.

After their tête-à-tête we reviewed our itinerary for the next day to ensure we stayed out of the party planners' way. First item on the agenda was for the three of us to have breakfast with J.B. over at his cottage in the morning. Then swim lessons were to occur midmorning with the other girls as well as the other 'boys.' After swim lessons the 'boys' were to take the girls and possibly the 'older girls' to the park to burn off some more energy. Then free time for naps or more fun but the goal was to keep the 'little people' from being underfoot during the preparation and to avoid any unwanted injuries. Lastly, 'all the girls' were to convene to their designated room in order to prepare for the party.

While reading Esther's instructions/orders for all of us, which were mainly for the 'younger girls' and the men who were willing to live vicariously through them, we all snickered at her creative notations. We then decided to call it a day for all the deep thoughts and revelations that centered on each girl's loss and sorrow or at least we were going to try.

Oliver suggested that we head outside for a bit and see what everyone else was up too. Unfortunately, none of the girls were out or their 'caregivers.' Annie informed us that the girls were really upset earlier and were still trying to regroup. She said they were melancholy and confused so they were keeping to themselves earlier. Annie stated that she understood but she felt guilty too. We were puzzled at first but she quickly supplied us with a reasonable answer. She stated that even though her 'birth parents' were dead and for a very long time, her situation was different from theirs now because she had found two loving parents and a home.

Oh Bessie, my heart broke for my little girl as well as her friends! She went on to say that she found her way down to the study and then onto the kitchen after she peered into the office and found us busy at work. Of course, we both said she should have come back into the office, but she said that she was okay enough to seek comfort from her 'grandma and grandpa' before baking 'yummies in the tummies' for after dinner dessert for her friends and family. We continued to stroll through the gardens and as we did Annie requested The Secret Garden be this week's nighttime book. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed with the different emotions I was feeling in that moment yet a quick squeeze of Oliver's hand let me know he was feeling similar emotions as well. All I could do was say it was a splendid idea especially since our nightly tradition would continue and I could read whatever my daughter's heart desired because length and time didn't matter now, we had all the time in the world! A tight bear hug and ear to ear grin from Annie was my answer to my short response.

Dinner rolled around and we made sure all the girls, their 'caretakers,' and of course my … I mean our family partook in the meal in the stately dining room. The mood definitely had an air of somber to it with all the orphan girls appearing to be overwhelmed yet eager to try all the food Mrs. Pugh and her crew prepared for dinner. The items were simple yet delicious most likely to ward of upset stomachs due to the sudden diet change all the girls would experience. Then Annie's brownies were served for everyone's dessert. The looks of delight and awe on each of the girls' faces were reward enough for Annie's thoughtfulness.

After dinner, the girls all gave each other goodnight hugs before they parted ways with their certain 'caregivers' to get ready for bed. I escorted Annie up to her room which is across from mine, but before we ascended the stairs Oliver stated he would be up soon to check on her after we completed our nightly routine. Unfortunately, Oliver didn't make it up to her room until well after she had fallen asleep because President Roosevelt had called to check up on Annie as well as to confirm his stay tomorrow evening for the 4th of July/Adoption Party combo. However, Oliver was able to help me put her to bed because I was still holding her after reading a few bible stories, and even though I knew the sandman was starting to claim her I still continued to rock and sing Ballyeamon Cradle Song to her.

Oh, Bessie, I just couldn't relinquish my hold on her even when she was getting drowsy so I insisted that she stay on my lap for a few more minutes even though I knew fully she would fall asleep there. I know too that when Oliver found me I had silent tears coursing down my cheeks again, but I couldn't help it as I held my baby close as I continued to rock us both in a soothing manner.

Bessie, we nearly lost her in more ways than one! I also felt guilty because most of me felt relief that her parents were dead in conjunction with the knowledge that no one else could ever take her away from us again! However, this also meant she truly was an orphan yet the Bennetts weren't dead beat parents either because they truly did care for her wellbeing by giving her up (i.e., a parent's ultimate sacrifice is to give his/her child up so they have a better chance at life, somewhat like Ellis)! Those thoughts were causing the guilt along with more questions! Like why didn't they come back for her after Margaret Bennett recovered? Why would they live so close yet not return for her sooner? Could we uncover more of their story for Annie?

Anyway, Oliver stepped into her room to discover the room was half lit, Annie asleep, and my tears! I remember seeing his shadow and looking up but not shying away from his silent query. No words needed to be said as he recognized the need to release my pent up emotions again. He slightly grinned as he bent over to give Annie a tender kiss on the cheek and then a lingering sweet kiss on my lips! Oliver then silently offered to hoist her out of my arms and assist with tucking her into bed. I remember at first shaking my head no but then Oliver silently directed me to give into his request as he mouthed that I needed my rest too! He didn't let me respond, Bessie, he just lifted Annie off my lap and headed toward her bed. The only thing I could think to do in that moment other than slap him was to turn down her covers for him to lay her down comfortably.

Bessie, it was just like the night after the movie but much more intimate and family like! After, we both kissed her good night we slowly headed out her room hand in hand as we both continued to glance back to make sure she was safe and sound. Once, we were at the door and Oliver closed it on me, because I continued to peer into her room longingly, I turned my full attention toward my fiancé, however, before I could give him a piece of my mind he slammed his lips against mine! Initially, I wanted to brow beat him for whisking Annie out of my arms before I could rebuttal my need to hold her close for a few more minutes in order to reassure myself that she was ours permanently; but, as our kiss grew more heated my treacherous hands traveled up around his neck on their own accord.

Only when air was required did we finally pull our lips apart then rested our foreheads against one another. Our silence was soon broken as we heard doors opening to the other guest rooms, however, instead of going our separate ways I mischievously pulled Oliver quickly toward my suite before anyone exited the rooms. Just as I was about to close my door, Cecile's head popped in front of it. Luckily Oliver was already hiding behind it before Cecile noticed him.

"Grace, all the girls are tucked in and asleep for the night! All of us will return around 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning to assist with their needs and follow Esther's itinerary. I'm pretty sure today was probably just a fluke that all of them slept in for so long. I imagine their fatigue was due to their long run last night," stated Cecile as I hastily stepped out of my room to shield Oliver more from discovery after realizing Mabel, Jane, and Annette were also standing nearby.

"Oh girls, you don't have to return that early!"

"No, G-G-Gr I mean Miss Farrell …"

"Annette, you've always called me Grace during the off hours! What's going on?" I inquired as Annette, Jane, and Mabel all looked uncertain as Cecile just rolled her eyes.

"W-w-well, we're not sure what to call you," stuttered out Annette.

"What are you talking about?"

"Grace, what Annette is trying to say is in the near future you will be dame de la maison and several people around here aren't sure how you'll want to be referred too," answered Cecile with another eye roll.

"Oh, well … I would hope that during business hours people would still address me formally like they always have, but I would hope my friends would continue to call me Grace during our personal time. I don't see my 'status' changing my mind on who I call my 'true friends,' and even though marrying Oliver will send me into other social circles I doubt many of those ladies will welcome me nor will they truly be my friends," I replied using air quotes and rolling my eyes to punctuate my point.

Bessie, I hadn't even given it a thought that by marrying Oliver I would have some friends disown me or become uncomfortable calling me one. I know those high society vultures would and will snub me, but I never dreamed my own friends around the home would feel uncomfortable about continuing our friendship.

"Please, all four of you are my friends, I couldn't imagine life without your friendships. Here in this household we have all become a tight knit group not only because we're career oriented women and enjoy having steady and stable jobs, but also due to our immediate camaraderie and friendship!"

Cecile, God Bless, Cecile, stepped up and gave me a big hug as she said, "I wouldn't dream of ending our beautiful friendship, le meilleur ami!" The others followed suit with grins on their faces allowing my heart to start beating regularly again! "Les Ami, we will see you tomorrow morning bright and early to assist with the girls," was Cecile's parting words before all four turned to leave.

When I finally reentered my room and closed the door behind me with a huge sigh of relief, that my friends would still be my friends, my heart nearly leapt out of my throat when Oliver's shadow cast over me; however, it quickly settled down as he placed a chaste kiss on my lips, but when he pulled away his expressive eyes had such guilt and remorse within them.

"Oliver, what's the matter?" I inquired as I cupped his face.

"Grace," Oliver exhaled with a hitch to his voice.

Bessie, I remember drawing his forehead down to mine as I placed a supportive kiss to his wonderful lips to encourage him to continue.

"Grace, what you said out there …"

"What that the high society vultures won't have me in their circles?" I added with a snort of indifference eliciting shock from Oliver.

"Yes, and …"

"Which shocks you a bit that I would be very aware of their 'blue blood' requirement?! Oliver, I've worked for you now for over 10 years, and I've been your 'companion' for most business events. I'm well aware that I've been a lowly secretary in their eyes for a long time, but I've also noticed that you've been snubbed numerous times during social events as well. My big handsome 'teddy bear,' your money will never be enough for those snobs, and honestly I would never trust any of them enough to give them my 'true friendship.'

"After all, Mama Esther and Papa William have instilled those precise principles to each of 'their children' for a long time that family and true friendships are the greatest gifts a person will receive in life and to value them deeply. We just have to keep reminding ourselves every once in a while," I finished but one look toward Oliver had me continuing, "Their advice was to always remember that: 'When times are great everyone wants to shake your hand or rub elbows with you, but when times are bad look around you because the people who are still there, supporting you, and are willing to give you the shirts of their backs are truly the ones you can call friends.' I highly believe the high society ladies would not be willing to give me their mink coats should you lose the house, Oliver!"

"You know … Esther and William, are very smart people," Oliver stated with a grin but it soon evaporated, "Grace, I never dreamed that you would lose friendships … if you married me! I've known for a long time that the majority of the staff have a strong camaraderie around here ... it's also one of the reasons I feel it's one of the best in the country, that's why I've never bulked or batted an eye due to everyone's closeness. However …,"

I shushed him before he could continue, "Oliver, obviously you heard our conversation and all is well; plus, Cecile, le meilleur ami also known as my best friend, would never have unfriended me, Oliver, her nonverbal response to the others' concerns indicated that too me! I appreciate your concern, I really do but I'd rather spend the rest of my life as your wife than worry about losing friends over it! You and Annie are all that are important to me other than my family and 'true friends' …"

Bessie, he silenced the rest of my comment with a searing kiss that caused my knees to buckle. He then backed me up against the wall as we continued to … oh Bessie, the feelings and emotions that our … do I say it … 'make out sessions' unleash within me are so powerful and mind blowing! If it hadn't been for the next chain of events, I don't think Oliver or I would have stopped our raging hormones from taking over, and Abigail's earlier assessments would have been correct!

What were the chain of events, you ask? My bedroom door flew open ramming its doorknob into Oliver's back, causing him to gasp in pain, and sending a rush of air into our heated kiss which stopped our ministrations for a moment as we took stock of the sudden intrusion on our 'make out session'; however, the flash of Annie's terrorizing dash into my room, via my peripheral view, was all the cold water my raging hormones required as my 'mama bear' persona kicked in to attend to my frantic 'cub!' Oliver must have seen the look of concern flick on my face because he too looked in the direction of my sitting room as he hastily allowed me to move from my position between him and the wall! I know my face flushed a gruesome red when we shared a quick look, one, to ensure he was okay as he rubbed his back and a slight grin from him confirmed he would live; and, two, too confirm how lucky we were that our daughter's sudden appearance saved us from following our hormones and not our heads.

Just as I headed out of the hallway and turned into my sitting area Annie came flying out of my room with terror etched on her face with tears cascading down her cheeks! The moment she saw me she dashed right into my open arms, and as I stood up she wrapped her limbs around me like a baby monkey does to his mother as she buried her head in the crook of my neck as her sobs finally unleashed. Oliver then joined us in the middle of the room and hastily wrapped himself behind me. Bessie, I imagine Annie sensed Oliver's presence before he joined us so as he went to embrace us she let her legs go around my middle for a split second before snaking them around Oliver, cinching us even tighter together!

Bessie, there was no arousing lust from our closeness in that embrace but two parents supporting their scared child. It was so endearing because Oliver placed his chin on my shoulder nearest Annie's head to lovingly nuzzle her as well as me. When we did share a watery glance, it was to confirm our love and devotion to our new family, but also silently agreeing with each other that we needed to table our own wants/needs and address our daughter's at that moment. We stood in that position for at least five minutes until Annie's sobs reduced to hiccups and her hold on us loosened a great deal, however, when Oliver pulled back from our embrace her head shot up as she silently inquired about his action. He then led us over to the sofa as I sat down with Annie still in my arms as he pulled us into a side hug.

We stayed in that position for another 30 minutes or so until Annie's hiccups receded as we continued to murmur sweet nothings of comfort to her in addition to rubbing her back in a soothing motion. It wasn't until Oliver sighed in resignation and stated, "girls, I think I should head out now," that our family moment was halted and reality set in for at least Oliver and I because Annie sat up with confusion on her face.

"But Daddy Warbucks I thought … I thought … after my nightmare a-a-a-and I found both of ya in here, we could all cuddle and sleep tagether 'gain like we did this mornin'!"

"Annie, I think we should all sleep in a bed tonight! I'm not sure my back will forgive me if I sleep on a couch again, but I'm sure your mother wouldn't mind you staying with her tonight," Oliver said as he gained my eye contact before stating the last comment to Annie in order to receive my confirmation and agreement, however, his comments didn't pacify our daughter as she plowed on with her pleading.

"Well, couldn't we share mom's bed then?"

"Annie, you can stay with me tonight, but it wouldn't be right for your father to stay with us because we're not married yet."

"But ...," trailed off a very upset and defeated Annie.

I quickly cupped her chin in my hand as I tilted her head up to look at me, "Annie what is it? Why are you so adamant about your father staying here?"

She tried to dodge my request, but softly relented when our eyes met, "You'll think it's stupid and I was bein' a baby cryin' over it."

"Annie, look at me! You are a one tough little cookie so I'm sure your tears were for a good reason," I stated as I kept a hold of her chin. Just looking into her eyes I could tell she had a nightmare about last night and I was right.

"I dreamed you didn't get there in time and Rooster dropped me off the bridge! Then when I didn't return'ta ya, ya and daddy didn't stay tagether," Annie finished with tears cascading down her cheeks again with her lower lip trembling on the last part. All I could do was pull her back into my chest as Oliver gathered us both back into his embrace.

"Oh Annie, I can't say that last night's ordeal will leave your dreams for a while, but know your daddy and I love you and each other very much!"

"Your mother is right Annie, what I feel for the both of you is soul filling and … well I guess you could say I've seen the light again which was once diminished a long time ago due to unwarranted family pain as a child that has festered in my heart for decades! You and your mother are beautiful beacons, who have brought this old tyrant back into the world of happiness and his future plans are only to enjoy his days on earth instead of just existing. Like your mother said to me a few days ago capitalism, power, and money can never love me back, but my two girls do and I am thankful every day that you do! So, know I truly do wish to stay with you and your mother tonight, but I don't want to ruin your mother's reputation."

Oliver's statement had Annie's head popping back up with a quizzical look, and tears of joy and love cascading down mine. However, before I could respond to his wonderful declaration Annie inquired about some of his points, "How would mom's reput … reputation be ruined? You love each other and you're gettin' married, right?"

"Well, yes …"

"Then what's the matter? Cause when I saw both of ya in here I was hopin'ta …"

"Sleep with both of us again tonight," I supplied and she ducked her head with a slight bashful grin on her face. "Well, Annie, society sees things very differently than you, and I'm not sure if they would believe that our relationship was strictly business before your arrival here if the wrong person found us. Your father is very protective of 'his girls,' and I'm sure he wouldn't take it too kindly if some people, who are jealous of his success, inferred something so viral from something so innocent!"

"Mom, I'm not sure what some of those words mean, but what if I'm in the middle since Daddy Warbucks doesn't want'ta sleep on the sofa 'gain? Would that ruin your reput-reputation mom?" Annie asked with a hopeful look on her face along with puppy dog eyes. Oliver and I silently held a quick conversation over her head, and we agreed it would be a gamble but she was worth it.

"Um … well … uh I think that you being in the middle would be the ideal solution if we were to share a bed before we're married," Oliver said as he tugged at his collar a bit. It was so adorable, Bessie, I'm starting to figure out his signs of embarrassment as his ears started to turn red as well. After all, I know all his serious and business ones by heart, but seldom have I had the luxury to experience a sweeter one such as embarrassment!

Eventually, we agreed as Oliver headed back to his room to retrieve pajamas, a casual outfit for tomorrow, and his robe. He figured that way he could leave my room in decent clothes so if anyone did catch us it would appear innocent, and we would place his clothes in a laundry bag and Annie would take it down to the laundry stating she was helping out her Daddy Warbucks. Oliver ended up laying on top of the covers for propriety's sake just encase we were discovered tomorrow morning before we awoke. He laid on his right side with a few throw blankets on top of him as Annie and I snuggled under my covers with her on her back in the middle with me flanking her on her left. She was so sweet before the sandman claimed her once again stating, "I'm the meat in between two amazing slices of bread creating a wonderful Warbucks' family sandwich."

Oliver and I softly chortled at her description but loved every moment of it. I would say, Bessie that we stayed awake for another 30 minutes or so basking in the moment of finally being a family. We shared a tender kiss over Annie's head expressing our love for one another before finally allowing the sandman to claim us as well.

Boy, were we lucky to have thought of possible repercussions of last night's comforting, but we definitely didn't think of being discovered by Papa William during the early hours of the morning. Apparently Sandy had roused him up earlier that morning due to his needs! Bessie, we totally forgot about him! It was mortifying, Papa William stated that he went in search of Annie, and when he didn't find her in her room he crept into mine! UGH! He stated our secret was safe and that it appeared we took all the right precautions, however, he then pointedly looked at Oliver and stated no more sharing rooms until we were married. Of course, this sent us all flying out of our family cocoon, and Annie instantly apologizing to her grandpa!

'Grandpa William' stated he understood but reasoned with her that he was only looking out for his 'little girl's' reputation just like her Daddy Warbucks would do the same for her one day. This seemed to appease our little sprite as she hugged her Daddy Warbucks and told him she'd be okay without him in bed tonight as long as he tucked her in well. Her implications that she still wanted to sleep with me caused warm fuzzy feelings to spread throughout my body because my little girl still needed me tonight! She's so independent already which makes me feel like I've missed so much in her life to help mold her into a wonderful young lady but times like these makes me feel needed still; however, I also realize that I need not feed into this where it becomes a horrible habit, but knowing Annie's toughness she wouldn't allow it to get out of hand either. After all, she took on the role of nurturer at the orphanage or at least with Miss Molly!

Bessie, I'm so glad I'm ambidextrous now! My right hand is starting to cramp but I have so much more to tell you! I fear if I don't write it all down I will forget the great events of the last two days! I haven't felt my hand cramp up this much since my first few months working for Oliver that's why I started to practice at night with my left hand so I wouldn't have arthritis in my right hand by my mid-thirties. It definitely has paid off!

Anyway, this morning the three of us headed over to J.B.'s cottage where we were not only greeted by him but Annabelle and Christian as well as their three children Evie (Evelyn Joy), Twister (Philip Oliver), and C.J. (Christian John). They were invited by J.B. to partake in our initial meeting as a family as well as breakfast too. We decided last night that we wouldn't attend Mass today but stay over after breakfast and listen to The Golden Hour with Father Charles E. Coughlin with J.B. After learning of our plans, 'Mama Esther' made the executive decision for the rest of the household too, stating they would also listen to the program in order to reduce the mass chaos that would ensue during the organization of the rest of the girls and adults for church.

I have to say, Bessie, breakfast was marvelous and Annie definitely charmed Oliver's family just like mine, even though she initially was a bit shy in front of the children! After all, they were the first children outside of her friends from the orphanage that she's encountered since her stay with us, however, all of them were quite charming and sweet. Evie or should I say Evelyn is almost 19 years old with a heart of gold and the spitting image of her mother, and Twister at the age of 17 has already inherited his father's good looks (He's earned the nickname for his running back skills). Then there's C.J., Christian and Annabelle's surprise nine years ago, he's sweet yet a stinker, and I believe he and Annie are going to be a handful in the near future. After all she already invited him and Christian to the scheduled pool time today as well as the park, however, I believe the invite was the start of their future 'boy versus girl cousin squabbles/competitions.' Annie, also remembered her manners and invited Twister and Evelyn too, however, their invite came after her father cleared his throat and pointedly flicked his eyes toward each of them.

Then there was J.B.! He's such a gem and … oh Bessie, Oliver was a completely different person behind those closed doors, or should I say … the new Oliver was never new at all but only hidden from the rest of world, and if I'm being selfish, specifically ME; but, not to his surrogate father, J.B., and sister, Annabelle and her family! He was so relaxed in that warn out dining room chair, and those soft looks he gave 'his surrogate family,' you could just tell he respected and loved each and every one of them, even the children. No wonder Christian never blinked an eye at Oliver's bark, he knew his gentler side! It was invigorating yet annoying all at the same time! I know, I on the other hand, felt nervous and somewhat foolish during breakfast especially in front of Annabelle and Christian because I never before put two and two together. Annabelle sensing my slight distress immediately put my mind at ease after breakfast asking that I stroll in the garden with her a bit before the radio show.

Once we left the cottage she linked her arm in mine like we were two school girls, and even though we were two adult women with a decade between us it still felt so right. Bessie, she even started giggling like a school girl when she asked me to share how her 'brother' finally got up the courage to ask me for my hand in marriage. We walked for at least 20 minutes before Annie and C.J. retrieved us for the radio program. Of course, I relayed the whole story to her about the ups and downs leading up to the proposal along with a bit of sugar coating, especially since I knew her but really didn't know her either; however, after our time together I must say I can't wait to get to know her better on a more personal level.

When the children came to fetch us, Annabelle was just starting to tell me how she and Oliver grew up as siblings; however, she briskly tabled our conversation since young ears were around and asked that I join her for some tea this week. I stated that it was a splendid idea, though as I said it I was trying to figure out when I'd fit it in with the wedding planning and all.

The Golden Hour, wasn't so golden in our daughter's eyes, Annie let us know on our way home. She stated she liked her bible stories better especially since I read them to her. Annie said that Father Coughlin had a weird way of telling the bible to the people, but on a positive note we didn't have to sit, stand, and kneel every five minutes. Once, we entered the mansion all thoughts of the radio program left her when we were instantly greeted by six excited girls already in their new swimsuits. Of course this had Annie dashing up to her room to change into hers along with an equally excited Oliver! All I could do was shake my head and laugh at their excitement!

Once they returned the other 'boys' and 'girls' were already in the pool area. They were starting their first swim lessons or getting reacquainted with the water. Apparently Kate and Pepper had some experience swimming as young children; but were still a bit anxious about swimming on their own or they were lapping up the one on one attention from the fellas. Jane, Mabel, Annette, Cecile, and I sat on the different lounge chairs watching all the girls frolic and float for a while before we each bid them goodbye until the park activities. I at least had a mission to complete before I forgot. What was my mission? It was to search for 'Mama Esther' and Abigail to tell them that Oliver and I agreed to their idea about moving the wedding up this morning as we strolled toward J.B.'s cottage.

Hmmm … obviously you've figured out by now my first installment today was during the allotted pool time for the 'boys' and 'girls' giving me the chance to catch you up to recent events! Well, now, I'm currently writing to you during our free time because my two loves disappeared on me after we returned from the park. They both had ornery looks on their faces so I know they are up to something especially since Bert Healy showed up as well! So, not knowing what to do, I came back up here to catch you up with the rest of last night's events as well as today's.

Oh my goodness, I may need to buy another diary soon! I might just fill this one up by the end of the week at the rate I'm going and I just purchased it in January! You know me a new diary for every year! It's pitiful that it's been filled with more information in the last week than all the months leading up to Annie's visit! It just goes to show the humdrum and rut Oliver and I have been in before her arrival! It's also a shame the last four years my diaries were only half full for the whole year as well! Love and children definitely add zest to life for sure and the need for more pages to fill!

Anyway, now, my left hand is cramping so onto my right again! Okay, now where was I? Oh yes, the park! What a fun and beautiful day with a slight breeze! Abigail, Ellis, and Willis joined us as well as Annabelle, Christian and their crew. I have to say Kate was enamored with Evelyn and I could see Cecile's eyes turn a bit green even though Molly barely left her side; she only left it when all the girls and C.J. took off to play a game of tag or something! The 'boys' also brought along a game of crocket in addition to the kites. Oh … and after breakfast Annabelle returned to her house to retrieve the boys' swimsuits as well as their family kites and Twister's football for the park.

It was quite comical to see the girls playing football with the 'boys,' and thank goodness we thought to call Alan to capture the park's events as well as tonight's party because there were definitely candid moments to snap during our park adventure. When the 'children of all ages' returned to the blankets to refuel we opened the food baskets that Mrs. Pugh filled with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and other yummy vittles.

However, I think the most amazing thing that occurred after we ate was when the girls took off to play again while everyone else in our group looked tuckered out. It was a reminder that, one, the girls worked from sun up to sun down pushing through their fatigue, and, two, that this was probably the first time in a long time that they were actually allowed to have fun! Bessie, I am sure most of them didn't want to stop because they wanted to savor every moment of their weekend. Even little Molly pushed on when you would have thought she'd have passed out from sheer exhaustion, poor C.J. was trying to keep up with them but he wavered on the trip home falling asleep on his father's lap.

The girls may have crashed by now … at least I keep thinking Annie's going to come in and ask to crawl into bed with me for an hour or so before the party starts, but she hasn't yet and it's already 4 p.m.! Have I really been writing for an hour now? Well, I know I'm getting tired so I'm going to take my suggestion and crawl into bed for at least an hour before I need to start getting Annie and myself ready for the party! After all, a girl needs her beauty sleep especially if her prince looks sharp in his tux!

Until next time my friend!

Grace


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