And then we tried to figure out how we could order milkshakes without the kids noticing. At ten o'clock in the morning. Because stress eating.
I asked Ryan if I could find a sitter for tonight so we could get out. Instead, he said, we should do something fun as a family. I was dubious. They'll wreck it! They'll fight the whole time and it'll be miserable! No, he said, we have to do this. We have to force ourselves. He was unusually resigned and promised me Chinese food and ice cream after bedtime so I went along with it.
We decided to go hiking and then get cupcakes after. My god I am talking about junk food a lot.
You guys. This is what Charlie looked like at the beginning of our magical family
He ran ahead. He refused to stay with us. He yelled at Wes a lot.
See! This is special! This is so special!
Look, Mary wore her big girl jeans for the occasion!
Wes had to stop approximately forty-seven times in the first quarter mile to get rocks out of his shoe. When I finally asked him where all the rocks were coming from he said "Probably from this this big hole in my shoe."
After calling Charlie back a thousand times we finally decided to send Ryan ahead with him so he could go at his own, very fast pace.
This turned out to be a good call because Wes liked to meander along with his hiking stick and talk to every single person we pass. And pet every dog. And examine every rock, leaf, and insect in our path. And take multiple potty breaks.
When we caught up with the rest of the family, Charlie was returning to his normal self. Three quarters of a mile of near-running on a rocky trail was good for him, apparently. I told him about cross country. He said it sounded too complicated.
Ryan took some really amazing pictures of James.
We admired the creek for approximately ninety-seconds before everyone started begging to put their feet in the water. No pictures of that because they just took their pants off and waded right in. While the kids splashed around half-dressed in the muddy creek, I was sitting on a fallen log feeding Mary. NATURE! The van smelled disgusting the next day.
James's pants were not salvageable.
By the time we got back to the car we were all having so much fun we decided to have dinner TOGETHER AS A FAMILY instead of Chinese after bedtime. WOAH. So we took them to Schlotzky's and got sandwiches and let them play with the computerized drink machine and many, many times looked at each other over their happy little fuzzy heads and wondered aloud "WHO ARE THESE HAPPY CHILDREN?" Because, you guys, it is honestly impossible to overstate the amount of screaming and fighting and antisocial behavior we were dealing with JUST THAT VERY MORNING.
After dinner we went for cupcakes and as we were walking to the trailer Wes found a bottlecap for Charlie's collection and Charlie was so overcome with gratitude that he wrapped Wes in a huge, spontaneous bear hug. We were officially on another planet.
Mary was so excited to get to the cupcake place after her bedtime then held high in the air next to a giant rotating cupcake for our amusement.
Then handed to a seven year old for more magical photo memories.
What happens when you tell everyone to jump and say cupcake!!!
We had such a lovely time. And the moral of the story is, when your kids are being jerks, take them out into nature against their will. It's the stuff memories are made of. And therapy.