About two and a half hours west of here (almost five hours if you decide to go during Friday night rush hour before a holiday weekend and make several stops like getting your 4-year-old new shoes at Target because you turned around in the car to realize she's barefoot instead of having put her shoes on like you thought, and the only other shoes you packed were for church) is a hidden-away 55-acre property in West Virginia, to which my parents escape almost every weekend. In our family, it is known simply as "The Cabin."
Last weekend, while Ed was off hunting in Colorado - successfully, I might add - the girls and I packed up and headed out to The Cabin for the weekend. Here's how a typical weekend at the cabin might go:
You arrive late Friday night. Bring in sleeping kids, tuck them in. Adults sit around in the living room drinking cocoa and catching up in quiet tones until someone (or everyone) starts to doze off. Go to bed. You might stay up late at this point, reading a favorite book and relishing in the fact that you have two whole days away from your house and all its chores.
Saturday morning Grandpa makes pancakes for breakfast - plenty for everyone and then some. You bundle up in warm jackets and go outside for the morning "chores" which consist of riding around the property in Grandma's supped up custom golf cart refilling bird feeders and bird baths.Then you might take some time to play in the new treehouse Grandpa and Uncle Dave built last summer. It's not exactly in a tree, but it is in the trees, and up high. Structurally sound to boot. Every grandchild to visit thinks s/he owns the treehouse, and has made good use of the pully bucket, speaking tube, spy glass and kid-size broom. My girls got in there and immediately claimed, "I'm so busy! I have a million chores to do!" These included sweeping the leaves out, and bringing up acorns in the bucket.
After the treehouse you might ride the golf cart up the gravel driveway to a location called "the beach" - a sandy area Grandma keeps stocked with weather-resistent hoo-haw from thrift stores like stone sandcastle statues and plastic dolphin knick knacks. After clearing the area of leaves, you might try to relax and not get bothered that your kids are getting covered in wet sand while they dig and play for awhile. You might go to your happy place and remember how magical childhood is or something like that.
After a busy morning you'll have a good lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips and yogurt. Then you'll take advantage of Grandma's big heart and sneak off for a nap at the same time as your 2-year-old. Your non-napper will have a great time doing drawing, stickers, reading books, and playing checkers with Grandma. After naps your kids will play downstairs with Grandma's collection of toys, mostly leftover from your own childhood, and they'll end up giggling and playing in the papasan that used to be in your room as a teenager.Before long, it's time to go outside again. Your kids will play "soccer" with a ball and cones. They'll swing in the hammock and pick flowers.
When they see you wandering off for a quiet walk in the perfect fall weather, they'll want to hold your hands and go with you, only to complain after three minutes that they're tired and want you to carry them back.
Grandma will make something FABULOUS for dinner, like a hearty stew that everyone gobbles up, and then Grandpa will go out back and build an impressive fire for sitting around, and later, for roasting marshmallows. You'll discover that your kids only like the idea of roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores, that in fact they prefer to eat plain marshmallows, chocolate pieces and graham crackers separately while walking on the log benches like balance beams and making up cute songs about camping. No matter, more s'mores for you, done just right with the chocolate getting melty on the graham cracker strategically placed on a stone near the fire while you roast your marshmallows to perfection. You might eat...more than one of these.
You'll stay up late again, reading your favorite book again, loving your little vacation and how happy and healthy your children seem out here.
Sunday morning is pretty straightforward - leave at 8:30 for church, a tiny congregation in the nearby town, and return around lunchtime. Eat lunch, more naps. Wake up and it's time to pack up again. Maybe one more romp to the treehouse; a quick trip to the beach to pick up the buckets and shovels left yesterday. Pack the car while Grandma and Grandpa close up the house - trash out, food put away, mice traps set, beds stripped, water shut off, etc.
Drive home to the chorus of, "When can we go back to the cabin???"