Well, "retreat" might not be a fully accurate term. We did have three children under the age of three with us, so we spent quite a bit of time caring for babies. Ah, but what a gift to be caring for babies as a team--Momma, me, Jacque and Lena. My mom, especially, served me so well by helping prepare food for little ones, watching them so I could get a shower or a quiet time, and just pitching in to help with the hundreds of little tasks that go into caring for kids each day. Thanks, dear Mommy! You are such a blessing, and your hard work really did make this a refreshing time for me!
All right, so to limit my pontificating, I think I'll just list highlights in bullet-point form. And here they are:
-Being outside so much. Spring is here, and we've had just gorgeous weather the last few days. We all spent lots of time in Mom's back yard with the kids, playing and talking (and Mom and Jacque did a little gardening too).
-Walks and talks with Jacque. I rarely get one-on-one time with my middle sister, but this week I got in two significant chunks of talk with her while we strolled babies and pushed them on the swings. And that doesn't count the time we spent talking in larger groups. I feel like I know my sister better than I have in a looooong time!
-Listening to a Carolyn Mahaney message together. We squeezed this in while the kids were asleep (except Matthew), and then had a few discussions to follow up on what we'd heard. Really basic, solid, gospel-related stuff. Good reminders, and good to get to know my mom and sissies more through fellowship.
-Watching Enchanted together. I've wanted to see this movie since I first caught the preview, and now I finally have. It was all that I hoped. To this Disney-and-movie-musical fan, it was an extremely funny flick. Great pick, Lean!
-Eating Jacque's deeeeelicious Chickpea Pasta with Almonds and Parmesean. Yumsville.
-Eating my own Coconut Toffee Almond Crunch Cookies (not an original recipe, by the way) during Enchanted. Double yumsville.
-Eating everything my mom made. Obviously.
-Watching my girl enjoy her cousin Ari. She nicknamed him (at different times during the week) "Buggy-Oh" and "Chubbawub." (We have no idea. But it was cute.) She called him "Honey" once yesterday. And when he and Jacque left today, she wailed and would not be consoled for many long, loud minutes.
-The extra space. Cubby decided that four women and three children in the house was a bit much for him to handle on his own, so he spent the week with Aunt Lee in PA. He generously lent us his apartment, which meant each child got a room to his or herself and made naps and bedtime routines so much easier!! And no one had to sleep on the floor, or even a couch! Thank you very much, Cub!
-Our last night together. We put the kids down, briefed the sitter, and went to The Cheesecake Factory to enjoy dessert and conversation. (Thanks for buying, Daddy!) We ended up learning a lot of fascinating stuff about our family history from Mom. It magnified God's grace in all of our eyes, I think. Then we came home and tried to get some pictures of ourselves (it was my brilliant idea to skip asking the waiter to do it at the restaurant). But it was extremely late by this time, and none of us knew how to use the timers on our cameras, and we were punchy. Really punchy. Lots of laughter resulted, along with some really bad pictures. And some really good memories.
I love you, Momma and girlies! Let's do think seriously about making it an annual thing, OK? And thanks to each of you for the sacrifices you made to make it happen. I won't soon forget our special time.
And now for the pictures...
Meg and Ari playing together:
The lighting is bad here, but this is Ari's very favorite face to make, "The Nose-Scrunch."
The outside time we got this week made up to Meg the many earlier times when we haven't gotten out due to Matthew's nap schedule.
Happy as a clam--my mom in gardening garb. "I'm so glad that we got our taxes in! Now I can finally start gardening!"
Keepin' it real with a no-makeup, hair-stuck-in-my-mouth self-portrait.
Playing in the green, green grass.
Without camera-timers, we were forced to try this:
Although I must admit, no one forced us into this:
Trying, at least, to be serious:
A cousins concert: window-banging.
Ari getting smothered with kisses.
What a cute little man.
Matthew missed out on some of the cousins action due to naps, but he'll catch up soon.
One last shot before we parted this morning:
And now Dave has just called... his plane landed safely in Baltimore and he'll be back in my arms in a couple more hours. I can't wait to hear about the conference...