Sunday, March 9, 2014

Family Retreat

We happened to have a voucher for a free night at the Marriott that Aaron and I had already secretly booked for a family over-nighter this weekend, but when Hank brought home a flawless report card, we brilliantly decided to "reward" him with a sleepover at the hotel. We had no sooner broken the news to the boys before Max got busy packing. No need for socks and underwear, he brought the know, his blanky and pillow pet:

When we arrived at the hotel, the seven of us stuffed into a 100 square foot room, the boys cranky from hunger yet bouncing off the walls with energy, Aaron questioned the intelligence of our idea. Let's be honest, doing just about anything with five little boys is a lot of work, but taking them away from their environment, out of their routine, getting them all excited about swimming and playing, and then feeding them full of junk food and keeping them up late is basically a recipe for disaster.

We solved the hunger issue by ordering pizza and then Aaron took Hank, Max, and Joey for an evening swim while I hung back at the room with Rocky and Ben, who was adamant in his decision to play with his Legos and "go na-night" and wanted nothing to do with swimming.

After their swim session, we put on a movie and pigged out on junk food. With Hank and Max sharing a roll-away, Rocky tucked into his pack-and-play, Joey in a makeshift bed on the floor, and Ben plunking himself down in bed between Aaron and I, I was prepared for a rough night. Lo and behold, everyone slept great!

The next morning we feasted on donuts and then hit the pool early for another swimming session...and a magical moment ensued. Hank and Max splashed wildly for hours, cannon-balling off the side of the pool, blowing their pool noodles like spouts at each other, and doggie paddling in the perimeter of the pool. Joey clung to Aaron like a little...uh, Joey clings to a kangaroo, just happy to be along for the ride. Ben wasn't even slightly interested in the pool, but was pleased to find some disposable paper cups that he was able to count, sort, and stack. Rocky kept me company while I dipped my toes in the hot tub and soaked in the whole scene. For as encumbering as it can be to lug our family of seven around on our everyday comings and goings, what made that moment at the pool magical was that it felt...effortless. We shared an experience together, as a family, and it didn't feel like work. It didn't feel like a chore. It didn't feel like a job. It felt like fun! I needed that. I needed to be reminded that although taking care of these boys can often feel like a difficult task, my kids are really cool people. People that I really like to be with.

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