A couple of weekends ago we loaded up the car and headed up to the Hill Country to Elijah's Retreat, (a retreat for families with autism). I booked the cabins over a year ago (weekends book up really early. All the weekends for 2015 are already spoken for!), before we moved, before we made the decision to adopt, and before I scheduled a gajillion fall photo sessions. It ended up coming at the exact time that I badly needed a break. I finished all the editing that was due and left my computer at home. GLORIOUS.
Our good friends, the Kolbabas went along. There are very few couples that we can see ourselves traveling with and they definitely make the short list. We cooked outside, OUR CHILDREN GOT ALONG THE WHOLE TIME! (I repeat: our children got along the whole time!!!), the weather was fabulous, we relaxed, the kids got dirty, rode horses, I read a bit, and we didn't miss technology at all. Oh, and it was LIKE camping, but with a bed and a toilet and four walls. Kids were happy, husband was happy, I was happy.
We loved it so much that, while we were there, we booked a long weekend again next May. I want to go back tomorrow. The kids claimed it was better than Disneyland (blasphemy!). Ironic coming from the four children that have the most Disney loving parents I know.
We realized a couple of days before our trip that there was a misunderstanding about our fingerprints for the adoption paperwork we are currently working on, so we made an appointment in a nearby town on Friday morning to get those done. While we were gone, the kids rode horses. Mandy took some pictures so I could see how much fun they were having without us.
Storey and Grayden crack me up. They are are basically the boy and girl version of each other, which makes for the ultimate love/hate relationship. Fortunately, they were on a "love" kick during this trip. We kind of want them to get date just to see what would happen (would they kill each other or get married?)
Zak's favorite part was driving the tractor around....in his flip flops. Next stop: real farmer. The little barrel train was a huge hit and the kids rode it all over the property.
Lots of playing in the dirt.
Though it was mid-October, we live in The Land of No Seasons, so got to take advantage of the blow up water slide. The adults didn't bring bathing suits, but donned our pj's and joined the kids on the slide. It was enormously fun.
The kids got to feed all of the animals, but their favorite animal to drag around (or be dragged by) was Oreo, the baby goat. Storey asked if we can get one for a pet. I guess then we wouldn't need a lawnmower?
Mandy was the only adult brave (crazy?) enough to get on a horse. She will most likely throw eggs at my house for posting this picture.
I'll redeem myself with an adorable picture of Avery. She only sort of looks like she's been eating dirt.
Four kids and a goat (Oreo) in the hayride.
Note to self: children will give you their rapt attention if you have a bow and arrow in your hand.
During our stay, we were able to talk with Jeff (owner of Elijah's Retreat) about his decision to move out to the country and build a safe space for families with autism. I love hearing stories of God directed paths. He and his wife felt strongly about this particular piece of land and have watched as their prayers to create a respite retreat have been answered. He said that all of the work on the property (cabin building, path clearing, train building, etc) has been done by volunteers from churches in the area and professionals willing to donate their time. So inspiring.
Storey and Grayden were collecting all kinds of bugs, frogs, and creepy things. Grayden called them "forest creatures." Storey found an enormous millipede Friday and was carrying it around for awhile. Grayden caught one Saturday and they made a house for it (aka tortured it). Both of the kids had weird bright red stuff all over their hands most of the weekend. We thought it had come off of the water slide or something because it looked like dye. Mandy sent me a picture of Grayden's hands (looking worse than ever) on Saturday evening asking, "What in the world happened?". I turned to my trusty (but overreacting) friend Google and found out it was from the millipede. Of course, the internets only provide the worse case scenario-THEY ARE GOING TO DIE! It recommended taking the kids to the emergency room and went on and on about blindness.
I asked Jakson if he held the millipede (his hands weren't red). He looked at me matter of factly and said, "No I read in a book that they are poisonous. I tried to tell Storey". Nice. Glad he shared that information with the rest of us. Oh, kids.
Being overly dramatic, like her Aunt Katy (p.s. I love to blame things on Zak's sisters), Storey took it upon herself to tell every adult in Primary and at school Monday that they needed to watch her for rashes and difficulty breathing. Because, you know, THE POISON.