Papa and I got to look after the five M grandchildren for six days. Mommy and Daddy were taking a much-needed holiday, gallivanting around Georgia and Florida and just being sweethearts for a change. It was their first long break in over thirteen years of marriage.
I am a big believer in marital getaways. I think it has been the glue that has kept Jeff and I going for almost 34 years. We have many fond memories of weekend escapes to hotels at the coast and mountain resorts, in downtown Portland and Seattle and southern Oregon, as we reconnected and learned to play together again.
We didn't have any kind of honeymoon when we got married, just the weekend in our apartment and then Jeff was back at work on Monday. Two kids and three years later, we still hadn't gotten any kind of romantic holiday. When my mum came to visit, we decided to take advantage of it and Jeff booked a m/hotel for one night. I think it was in Long Beach. It was only a few miles away from our apartment, but it felt gloriously exciting to be spending twenty-four hours on our own.
I'm sure we must have gone out to dinner, and then to the motel. Not having had much experience with hotels in our low-budget life, we didn't know what to expect.
Jeff had found one with hot tubs in the rooms.
Skip forward to sleep-time.
We turned out the lights and lay awake in the glow of streetlights and neon.
And pretty soon it started.
There were cockroaches all over the floor, no doubt lured by the dampness of the hot tub.
Shortest night away from the kids EVER!
Mum was pretty surprised to see us at the door at 2 o'clock in the morning.
The kids arrived at 5:50 on Friday morning. We put them all to bed and they slept till about nine.
Jeff had the crazy idea to take them out to the Ranch, so we spent the morning packing the car and getting ready.
And Madelyn opened her birthday present from Jenny because it was too big to take with us.
The trip out there was blessedly uneventful, and the kids were happy to be there.
Picture credit to Jeff.
Kenzie and Madelyn claimed the guest bedroom.
Kenzie knows how to make a room her own!
We ate dinner and everyone was very busy, climbing the stairs, doing puzzles, playing games.
First thing Saturday morning, I overheard Jeff saying, "It's 27 degrees outside, why are you wearing shorts?"
I came out to see Daniel, standing outside in his shorts, proving that he was warm enough.
He lasted for three minutes, which he thought was admirable!
Jeff took all of the kids across the street to the park while I made lunch.
Food is a big deal with this lot. They are hungry all of the time. We ate much toast, macaroni cheese, and pizza.
It was cold and Natalie couldn't find her coat, so she wore Papa's hat and my jacket.
After lunch, we drove to Lake Billy Chinook.
The glee engendered by stone-skipping never diminishes.
Papa was the King of stone-skippers.
Madelyn has a funny little strut when she walks, swinging her arms and looking like she means business.
The lake is gorgeous and the kids had a blast. They wanted to stay longer but we had gotten a late start and still had places to go.
We had to make a quick stop at Freddie's in Redmond, as Jeff had forgotten to bring dress shoes for church, and then we stopped at a park in the dry canyon.
Daniel was the only one brave enough to climb the rock.
It got cold quickly when the sun went down, so we headed home for dinner.
Sometimes, Miss M gets grumpy.
Lucky I stopped in at Grocery Outlet.
It took me over a day, but I finally talked Josh into trying a pig-in-a-blanket.
Hot dog, wrapped in gluten-free pizza dough.
He loved it and ate several more over the weekend.
Daniel wanted to have a party, so we did.
Some of us did the limbo.
Madelyn wanted in on the act so she started walking around with her chest stuck out. It was hilarious.
We had wheelbarrow races.
And danced to Alabama.
These kids have Song of the South memorized, thanks to Papa.
We all relaxed a bit on Sunday morning.
Except me, probably.
Too busy feeding everybody.
Joshie, showing off the naturally coloured and flavoured candy I found for him.
It was Madelyn's birthday, so she opened her presents after church and Natalie planned a party.
I was tired of making food, so she had a birthday Three Musketeers instead of cake.
And she didn't mind a bit!
We played SkipBo and ate candy while Papa hid in the bedroom. After a while, he came out and livened up the game by being silly, and everybody ended up laughing hysterically. I told him to go away so that we could finish the game, but he didn't listen.
Here's Madelyn, eating pumpkin spice bread toast (her new favourite) for breakfast and wearing a new birthday outfit.
We went home on Monday afternoon.
We didn't have a party on Monday night.
But we did on Tuesday night, New Year's Eve.
We played SkipBo again.
And I talked Josh into trying a g/f version of s'mores.
Gluten/dairy-free pastry with chocolate chips and marshmallows.
He liked it.
You want to see another picture, don't you?
We stayed up till eleven and then the kids went to bed.
Some of them were very grumpy the next day.
I took them to the park in the afternoon to wear off some energy, while Papa and Madelyn napped.
Bethany and Chris came home on Wednesday night.
I wish I had thought to get my camera ready to capture Madelyn's expression when she saw them. It was one of pure, ecstatic joy.
And now our house is strangely quiet again.