The countdown officially began 51 days ago. It was then that our calendar was inscribed with the words "Family Retreat!" and we made plans to haul the Stevens clan down to Sunriver. It's hard to manage children who must wait 51 days for something, especially a something that involves "the cousins." Nerves have been raw, patience has been tested and obedience has been . . . shall we say . . . lacking. It was with great relief and satisfaction, therefore, that we woke up this morning knowing that the children could now finally say: "Tomorrow's the day!"
The promise of Sunriver is a great motivator. As we went through the day, I found it quite convenient to casually refer to every chore in light of it's relationship to helping the family get ready for the trip. I've never seen Drew and Aidan vacuum the van so eagerly and Anniebeth so devoted to the care of her little sister. Their favorite chore, however, was the one that most directly related to going on vacation: packing their clothes. I asked them each to clear off their beds and lay out the clothes they'd like to take. Shorts in one pile, shirts in another, and so on. They busily pulled their things together and then ran outside to play.
A little while later I went to their rooms and smiled at their interpretations of my instructions. The girls had each article of clothing folded in nice, neat piles, while the boys apparently started out with the best of intentions, but somehow fizzled out in the process. Aidan, the dear, was quite ready to skip ahead to the end, and I caught him heading out the front door with a bulging plastic bag. I suggested that we could probably go ahead and use a suitcase instead of a Safeway bag. He was thrilled with the prospect and proceeded to transfer his belongings to a suitcase with impressive zippers, clips and snaps (every one of which he tested) and endless secret pockets and compartments (not one left empty).
They say that getting there is half the fun. Well, the kids are having a blast just looking at their suitcases. I'm not sure that I'm prepared for the level of enthusiasm that will accompany us when we actually leave. Children are so good at delighting in their surroundings, and their eagerness is contagious -- I am indeed looking forward to our little excursion. But right now, I've got some serious packing to do.