The one comment that Dean and I get a lot... 
well besides,
"Are all these brats yours?"...
The one comment we get even more often than that is;
 "enjoy them while you can, they grow up sooo fast"
I'm sure you get that too. 
It's a universal sentiment. 
I even find myself saying the same thing to younger parents.
It seems to be the thing to say.

So we decided to enjoy them (away from home) -
A few months ago we took a little trip South to St. George for a little RR&R
(roberts rest and relaxation)

It's probably the one thing we do really well. 
The Roberts' sure know how to come in like a herd of Elephants and take over a place.
To see us all heading for the pool is quite a sight. 

On this particular day, at this particular pool, 
we encountered the Belgium Men's Soccer Team. 

I have never seen a bunch of grown men in speedos run away like little girls  
like they did when they saw us coming.   
We had the pool cleared in seconds, 
(they left, but not before pointing and taking pictures and exclaiming loudly 
in their European accents "freaks of nature!") 
They were a bunch of whimps. and yes, all those brats are ours!

Look at the guy in the background, he's thinking..."oh please, when will these people leave?"

After a less-than-restful night (fully expected), the next morning we did leave. 
We finally packed it all up, abused our late-check out to the last minute,
 stuffed our pockets with free hotel muffins and we were outta there. 

Instead of heading for home, we took a detour
I wanted to take Dean and the kids to a happy place.
The place I plan to retire.
A few miles off the beaten path placed us right where I wanted to be. 
Beautiful Pine Valley. 
 A place I've heard about, always wanted to visit and someday plan to live out my final days in complete serenity.
Pine Valley is a sleepy, one stop-sign, pioneer town 
nestled in a lush, green valley North of St.George

I was convinced it's the perfect place for Dean and I to someday wave goodbye to the city lights, wish the kids luck, tell them to come and visit for Thanksgiving, 
un-list our phone number, and make our grand transition to empty nesters.   
It would be glorious.
I would spend my days sewing, taking pictures and decorating our cozy new home...
Dean would of course be busy, running a few cows, and our evenings would be spent in the den eating like kings and drinking in the warm evening breeze. 
- just the two of us.
It would be Heavenly.

There is just one problem...

well, actually seven of them.
(they kinda scare me sometimes.)

Who's idea was it to have all these kids anyway?

Dean and I drove slowly up and down the streets of Pine Valley scheming and plotting er, I mean admiring the quaint little homes, waving to the locals and planning our future. The kids were zombified in the back seats watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks, CHIPWRECKED!"

We dreamed of a day when we wouldn't have to watch "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

We made our way over to the prized landmark of the town, the Pine Valley Chapel. 
Very historical, and very beloved. 

In our usual Roberts style, the kids climbed up and on and over and through...

Quickly, a sweet retired couple came out of the chapel to greet us
and offered to give us a tour.

It was thrilling, huh Brett! yeah buddy!
Actually it was very interesting and I found out that I have some ancestral ties to the area.

As the Missionary couple told of the colorful history of the area, 
how the Chapel came to be, and other touching pioneer stories...  

Dean and I had a few "other" questions for the Missionary couple;  "how long have you lived here?" "how much snow do you get in the winters?"
 "how high are the property taxes?"
 "anyone looking to sell?" 

We really bonded with the couple. They loved us, and we loved them right back. 

Before leaving, Dean winked at me and whispered,
 "just a matter of a few years, and then this place is ours...don't tell the kids" 

And wouldn't you know it,  just as we were leaving, the sweet sister said to Dean and I, 
"enjoy them while you can, they grow up sooo fast!'  

We pushed aside the advice and loaded the rascals in the crowded car and drove home, 
still dreaming of our retirement plans. 

A few weeks later Dean and I found ourselves in the worst possible situation. 

School shopping with seven kids. gulp.
it was all fine and dandy... for the first two minutes.

and then the teasing started...                                             and the chasing...  
and the screaming...
 and the inflicting of bodily harm.

and the pouting,                                   and complaining,
the boredom... 

and the down right belly-aching.  

Dean and I had prepared ourselves for a full day of shopping with the kids,
we were ready for whatever they could throw at us.
The crying we took in stride...
The arguing we said "bring it on", 
the shenanigans, so fun...
the running around...
and becoming public menaces... 
and whatever this

At times I felt like we were running in circles.
I looked around for my reinforcements, and I found him...hidden away in a corner, pretending to be on a important phone call. Can you blame him?

The two of us made a real effort to keep the phrases like; 
"stop! you are embarrassing yourself"
and "we are going to get kicked out of here" to a minimum.

most importantly, we tried not to let on that they out numbered us.
we are older, wiser...we are the grownups.
The grownups are in charge! 

we kept telling ourselves that.

Even mall security circled us for a few minutes and then gave a sympathetic look and left.
We had hours of shopping ahead of us,
but "planking" became the plan for the rest of the evening.

It was useless to fight them.
We had no shame.

Dean and I sat down exhausted, delirious, adding up the receipts in our head, 
and surveying the damages...  
and just then, a fine looking older man walked by with his wife, 
pretended to steal Quincy's nose and before walking away offered this bit of sage advice...
"enjoy them while you can, they grow up sooo fast"

I bit the side of my lip to keep from laughing or crying, which ever.

And then the day was over,
 thankfully over. We left before being escorted out.

On the drive home, as the kids watched "The Smurfs" in the back seat, 
in the front seat Dean and I discussed the future.

 "Really?" I said, "Really?"...

"do you really think that someday we will miss all the fighting, and arguing, 
and the battles over money and not enough money,
the blow ups over dirty rooms and grades, 
and the rolling eyes and smart aleck remarks, 
and the toddlers refusing to eat, and the teenagers eating too much, 
the never-ending laundry, and never-ending dishes,
 the lack of respect and the lack of sleep,
the constant giving, and the constant taking,
the feuding and wrangling, 
the excess play time, and lack of responsibility, 
the fracas and fray and free-for-all?  

"Really Dean?" I said, 
"someday when the kids are grown and on their own, 
 and we find ourselves retired and blissfully alone in a lovely place all to ourselves,
do you really think we will miss any of that?"

With a raised eyebrow and a nod, Dean said with a bit of a laugh; 



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