Sunday, March 18, 2012


We loaded up the family and went to our church's All Church Retreat this weekend, in a beautiful canyon out in the Texas Hill Country.

If you ask the kids, their favorite part was the bunk beds. It was hard to get them down. Until lights out, of course, then the novelty of sleeping in a playscape overcame their tired little brains. Wes got up to go to the bathroom forty seven times in ten minutes before I finally slid out of bed in my mummy sleeping bag and bunny-hopped over to him. It's hard for your kid to take you seriously when you are A) Participating in a one-man potato sack race, and B) Whispering so as not to wake the baby, so Ryan, who had the foresight to unzip the foot portion of his sleeping bag, stood up and took quick little sleeping bag steps over to Wes to back me up. We were the model of firm parental authority and it only took what felt like another forty-five minutes to corral Wes to his bed. Fortunately James managed to sleep through it all, which is amazing because have you ever heard someone trying to run in a sleeping bag?



The next day was a blur. James took a couple of naps, we made paper airplanes, decorated cookies, ran relay races, played in the sandbox, and tried to go swimming in the freezing water. All five of us packed into a canoe for a noisy trip up the river with our very own personal, pissed-off-by-his-lifejacket foghorn standing in the front of the boat. He didn't want to be held, he didn't want to touch the water, he just wanted someone to take this FARKING THING OFF OF ME. People out for a peaceful walk by the river were in for a real treat.

James managed to take a nap after that experience, but see if you can guess from this picture who didn't nap on Saturday after staying up hours past his bedtime?


Unsurprisingly, this happened not long after. We left him there while we finished eating dinner then put him to bed where he slept through the night and into the next morning.


Speaking of dinner, James ate barbeque like a man and I had to steal my brisket from Charlie.


With the little kids tucked into their beds, Charlie and I went to the sing-a-long (my favorite part, MY FAVORITE PART!) and then head to the campfire for some Smores making.


After I took this picture Charlie said, with full mouth, "I LOVE CAMP!!"


The activities were fun, but my favorite part of the weekend was the community. Everyone looked out for all of the kids on the retreat, which meant that if I needed a coffee refill all the way across the dining hall, I could go get it (if someone didn't jump up and take the cup out of my hand before I had the chance) without worrying about someone wandering off or doing something to annoy another table. When Ryan needed to run James back to the cabin for bed, Charlie stayed with a friend until I could get back to meet them. Friends played with my kids and helped Charlie get in the water when he wanted to swim and my hands were full. Our pastor and his daughter (and others) led the sing-a-long, which I spent sitting beside two dear friends, Charlie snuggled into my lap. I never stood outside the boys' bathroom for long without a dad asking me if I wanted him to go in there to get them for me. It was the embodiment of how community is supposed to be. They thought of every detail, from cabin placement (we had our own small cabin just big enough for our family so we wouldn't have half the family in the boys' cabin and half in the girls'), to the always-available lemonade, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee. It was such a gift to have my usual load lightened in that way.

James was asleep before we left the parking lot this morning and this happened not long after. The kids are already asking about when we can go back. I kind of feel the same way.



Kate in Austin said...

It was a wonderful weekend. You summed it up beautifully.

Jessica said...

That looks wonderful! I kind of miss going to the church camp I attended growing up.

Erica said...

That looks really fun. I think the wilderness might be a good place for Anna.

sarah said...

LOVE that last picture. Could Charlie sleep any more dramatically??!!

Sounds like such a nice time!

Phoenix Rising said...

I love that you do this stuff with your family. What a wonderful lesson about family, supporting others, helping, and having fun together you're teaching your children - as well as setting an example for others. I often look at your boys and think they are going to make excellent, caring husbands and fathers someday...and how important it is for my girls to find someone who values family and traditional values. Oy! I got WAY too deep. I LIKE SMORES, TOO!

Sarah said...

Love this! How fun-- and I know exactly what you mean about the gift of having your usual load lightened. I love sleeping Wes at dinner-- so, so cute.

Kyla said...

Sounds like a really great experience!