I feel so peaceful. So joyful. So content. I feel truly happy at this moment. There is in the background an enormous To Do List waiting to be done, and all sorts of life problems to be sorted out, but the last 4 days have been Heaven. And I want to preserve it. I want to capture these treasure moments. These days of laughter and love and play…it is what life is for. It won’t always be like this. But for a few blessed days, it has been. And I must remember them!
This last weekend we took a family trip to Billings. Not a spectacular Spring Break trip (Blake and I spent the Spectacular on our New Zealand trip, eh? I will write about that another day), but it was absolutely perfect for us. The boys were thrilled. Funny right? When the kids are this age, you don’t have to go far. Our last few family trips have been Billings, Helena, Big Sky, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, and camping in Hyalite. And in Avind’s mind, especially, those are the most magical places on earth. He is not much of a car travel lover. After about 5 minutes he usually begins his incessant, “I just want to be in _____________________ now!” (Me too kid!) statements. But as soon as we mention a family trip he is pulling things out his room to pack. He had fuzzy, reindeer, and his pillow ready for several days before we left.
So, off to Billings we went. I drove so Blake could read out of Harry Potter while we traveled. There was a good deal of snow after Livingston and the drive was more beautiful then I have ever seen it. We made a few shopping stops that I have needed to make and then we went somewhere that delighted the children and horrified their father. :) Chucky Cheese’s. Despite my internal aversion, it was a great “focus on the kids” plan. We did not register that 3 o’clock on Saturday is prime birthday party time so it was packed! And Avind has not been to a Chucky Cheese’s that he can actually remember. He was almost in a trance. Collin does remember it, and he was enthralled to be there again. We spent too much money on mediocre pizza, waited to take our turn for lame games, took our traditional picture in the booth, and earned enough tickets to buy a gummy ring and a couple of miniature plastic spaceships that are worth about 10¢ a piece. And the boys loved it all.
The boys couldn’t wait to check in at the hotel. There is something exciting about staying in a hotel when you are little. The boys each have their backpacks and I haul in food we have packed and pillows. There is always much running and bed jumping and tickle monster going on once checked into our room, while Blake reminds us on several occasions that we can’t jump onto the floor and disturb people. And many minutes are spent in the bathroom by a certain 6 year old who has learned that if you have to go poop, you have an excuse to lock yourself in a room away from everyone else and read for an hour.
I ran out to get Subway for us to enjoy while we cuddled up and watched, “Frozen” which was on the Disney Channel. And then the battle of bedtime begins because it is late, and the boys cannot leave each other alone long enough to fall asleep and after a few tries we split them up, one in each bed, turn the noise maker as loud as it will go, and retreat into the bathroom to hang out for the rest of the evening because if we stay out in the room the boys will never actually fall asleep. After long showers (unlimited free hot water supply means long, long showers) we crash ourselves. And then, they are talking and it is too early, but if you move they will find you and really insist you wake up, so a pillow over the head can buffer the sound enough and hide you in order to half sleep for another 40 minutes or so.
It. Was. Perfect. I can’t even count the times I thought, “This is it. This is what life is about. Sharing this moment with my 6 year old/my 3 year old/my husband is why I exist. I am whole.” Collin was tall enough this year to go on the big slide in a double tube with one of us. We did it over and over and over. and then we would switch and the other parent would do it over and over and over. Collin, always my water-loving partner, never ran out of steam. He played hard all day long. I loved going down that slide with him and watching his joy. And remembering hours together at Water Country or swimming in our community pool after a run when he was just a baby but still loved water and would go all day then with his water-loving mother, too.
Avind especially loved when Momma would swim in the wave pool pretending to be a shark or an alligator while he was with Dad and try to steal his goggles. Avind’s limitation is that he would start to get cold and his whole body would begin to shake. Since he was too young to be allowed in the hot tub, I learned the trick of sitting in the hot tub and holding his body against mine while his feet were in the water. So, we would play for a while, and heat up at the hot tub, and then play some more. I very carefully, finally got him to try the little red slide in the play area. First, we were just watching. Then, after bribing him with candy, I got him to go on my lap while he buried his face into my shoulder. Soon, he peaked a bit while we went down, and then peaked even longer, until finally, he watched the whole slide and eventually went down all by himself. It was incredibly gratifying to watch his progress. And to feel that I did it right. So often I force him to do something and he hates it. And he is mad and I am mad and nothing good comes of it. But this time, I did well. And he was happy and confident.
Blake was awesome. Water is not his thing, but he was right there with us playing, and swimming, and loving. Once even I felt worn out, I let Collin make all of his last moments, and we cleaned up and went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. I cannot even believe how delightful that experience was. I never ever thought I would actually say that about eating out all together. But it was once again, perfect. The kids were totally occupied by the little peg game on the table (which is a complete contrast to all the other Cracker Barrel experiences I have had with pegs flying everywhere), and they each actually ate some of the food. That, is in and of itself, is a full-blown miracle) Avind was really excited to share trout with his daddy. The food was fast, filling, and inexpensive. And we topped it off with a yummy chocolate cake dessert to share. Wow, right? Our trip home went quickly as we read the best part of Harry Potter book 3. To make a great day even better, later that evening, Avind asked if I would read the “Little House” books with him and we began book 1 together, him and Collin all snuggled up with me in front of our warm fireplace. Blake was even more perfect by folding laundry for us while I read. Right?
To top off our magic days, we used Monday to finally put up the boy’s Christmas present from us: the trampoline. Phew! It is quite the event! Took us many hours. And the whole time I kept thinking, “This is going to be a beast to take down this fall!” But Blake and I had two very excited little helpers and we managed to do it correctly and without any significant arguments or disagreements. It helped that I made us stop for a lunch break. Food is good! When we were finally done, it was all worth it. We played and laughed and jumped and tickled and loved and played and laughed. We had a wonderful time. The boys stayed out until it began to get dark and finally came in for pancakes. It was, as I may have mentioned a few times before, perfect. :)
You bet they slept well after all that. Poor Blake forgot he was not 15 and was extremely sore and had a good headache in the evening as a result.
Blake had to get back to work today, but I had another day with my boys. One thing that has been helpful for me this break is that I do not have a lengthy agenda this time. I have lowered my expectations for what I need to get done while at home. My priority has been the kids. And it is so much better. I know it can’t always be like that. Laundry has to be done, homework needs to happen, and bills have to get paid. But this week, my boys are my To Do List.
The boys insisted on jumping on the trampoline this morning, despite the cold layer of rainwater on it. Collin went out, came back in and went to his room, and returned, saying, “My feet were cold, so I now have 4 pairs of socks on!” He learned that his feet still got wet and came inside. We went into town and had a treat at a coffee shop, spent a couple of hours in the library, and several more hours at Walmart. Even Walmart was fun and good. That is when you really know it is a special week. Kids jumped some more this evening, we had a good family dinner, and finished with popcorn and family movie night “Chronicles of Narnia” complete with cuddles.
So, there you have it. In my life’s dictionary under the word “perfect” you can read about these last 4 days. I am the luckiest girl in the world. :)