We were blessed with a "mini-cation" for two nights this week. One day for ministry planning with our colleagues, another for family time with our kids. Amazing how a fifteen minutes' drive out of town, crisp white comforters and closeness to the crashing waves can change one's entire perspective! A swimming pool certainly helps, too, slowing down our frantic motions and soothing us with gentle rounds of a family-made whirlpool and both silly and meaningful chatter.
One morning I watched as the three boys each awoke. First Ian in surprise at being in a new place and yelping a bit in confusion, which resulted in giggles from his brothers who languidly stretched and began tossing verbal teasing followed quickly by action. In no time pillows were brandished, beds were leaped and arms and legs were locked in the inevitable wrestling of little boys. Big brother Owen still holds an advantage with long legs and quick reflexes, which he uses to maximum potential. Tough-as-nails Alec is a plucky one, though, and holds his ground! At one point a little brother was beating on big brother who allowed it before finally bellowing in boisterous bravado, "Stop. Hitting. My. SIX-PACK!" Then the tangle of confusion began again before Mommy eventually intervened, calling the match for the sake of family and future longevity. :)
At the pool, our kids are happiest. Little seals slipping and somersaulting around its perimeter, teasing and tormenting each other as only siblings can do. I don't often join the fun but had planned to in this instance. No matter how painful it may be to don a swimsuit, the one thing that overcomes the awkwardness is that moment when the kids realize Mommy is actually coming in. Then the screams of shock and delight rival the entrance of any superstar to the red carpet. These are the moments that melt your heart.
We introduced our kids to the game of classic Pit this trip, adjusting it to a more child-friendly level. The shiny silver bell held a tempting fascination for fifty little fingers. "Two! Two! Three! Three! One! One! One!" rang out in a tumbled tempo into the evening air, and I wondered what the handful of other guests must think of our crazy little English-clamoring crowd. The kids loved it, though. The next day, out of a moment of reflection Alec suddenly declared to Daddy, "That game we played yesterday was AWESOME!"
All good things must come to an end, or so they say. Our 48 hours at the hotel went too quickly and not wanting the vacation spirit to slip away so soon, we planned one final surprise for the kids. Lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, and then ... the new LEGO movie! Never mind that Daddy couldn't keep his eyes open or that Mommy thought, "All that hype over this?!" because the kids - well, they loved it. And as a gift that keeps on giving, the result of investing two hours of our time into their enjoyment resulted in an equal amount of parental rest and relaxation at home. Because as surely the LEGO geniuses planned when they plotted those one hundred minutes of money-making marketing, our kids wanted nothing else but to immerse themselves in building-block imagination when we returned.
I write all of these memories because sometimes I just watch and smile throughout the sweet moments our family shares. This time, I didn't pull out the camera often or try to capture every candid expression I could. But I didn't want to forget the precious experience it was. On our last morning at the hotel, as the kids chatted comfortably around the table while Pedro and I prepared breakfast in the guest kitchen, we shared a hug and expressed admiration for how thankful and happy our children were with such a simple offering of togetherness and time away. I love them all so much, and I am so thankful to God for His grace in giving me my husband and "fabulous five."