We ventured up north this past weekend for a quick family getaway. My mom and I left early Thursday with the boys and every so often from the backseat Jack would ask, “where are we going mama?” To which, I would cheerfully reply, “up north!” And he would shout back, “yea! up north!” purely based on the excitement in my own voice since he had no idea of where up north really was. Jack & Jamison were good little travelers for the almost 4 hour car ride. My let’s leave after lunch and the boys can take their nap in the car on the way up there plan wasn’t exactly going as scheduled with about 45 minutes left in the drive. Two sets of blue eyes peered back at me, still very much alert and now fidgety, too. So, we decided to get out and stretch our legs for a bit at the next exit. And low and behold we found a fresh produce stand and some wildflowers. More importantly though, we got just enough fresh air for the boys to run off some extra energy and finally squeeze in a quick nap before we arrived. Even if it was the slumped over, passed out kind of sleep that always looks like the child will need a chiropractic adjustment or an inversion table when he wakes up, at least it would keep them going until bedtime.
Even though rest & relaxation with little people requires more planning, more packing and more entertaining, it also comes with more laughter, more love and more memories. Lucky for me, I had lots of loving and helpful hands on deck with the boys. Jack & Jamison loved every minute of bonding with their older cousins. And the adults, well we enjoyed our own bonding time over cocktails and stories, retelling the old ones and creating some new ones, too.
I think one of the most fun things about having kids is getting to experience all the “firsts” again. Their first time swimming, their first trip to the fair, their first time sitting on Santa’s lap. I remember finding joy in so many of these things as a child, but now as an adult I appreciate how these joyful experiences came to be. And, I find joy in their joy. Ordinary, everyday events you’ve done a million times become much more sweet.
It’s easy for adults to feel bogged down by all of the must do’s and have to’s that run rampant in our brains each day. The responsibilities and forward marching progress that keep us churning from sun up until sun down. But the genuine joy and admiration of a child that hasn’t been entangled in all of these things yet, it’s so reaffirming and heart warming. They see the world with fresh eyes and new insights. While we are busy worrying about what to make for dinner and lists beckoning to be checked off, they are only concentrating on the present. The right now that demands all of their focus and attention. Their imaginative and creative little minds haven’t been tamped down yet.
Sometimes I imagine parents as the atlas figure, kneeling with the globe weighing heavily on their shoulders, shielding their children down below from any possible blow or disappointment that might dampen their spirits and crowd out their growing confidence. We try to protect them from all the unwanted outside world influences as long as we can. I know you can’t shield them forever, but for a little while. For a brief little window of time, the world can be magical and contain infinite possibilities. It can include people by the likes of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The world will be ready and willing to dish out harsh truths and let downs soon enough. When I can no longer be Atlas and the storyteller of myths and legends, only mom.
So it was with much joy that I watched Jack experience many firsts this past weekend.
Uncle Rob & daddy took Jack canoeing for the first time.
Jack went bowling for the first time, which by the way was super fun because the middle of nowhere bowling alley we arrived at had great music, black lights that made his shoes & t-shirt glow in the dark and laser lights. Did I mention beer for the adults? We found a 6 lb. electric blue ball that Jack tried to rifle down the alley with all his might. And, tiny little people bowling shoes…so cute. I had to fight the urge to accidentally take them home with us.
The weather in late July felt more like late fall, so instead of the beach trip we planned, we found a John Deere Dealer instead. It was like the fair with no deep fried food or price of admission. We sat on every tractor, skid steer and gator we could and even drove around the back lot to check out the additional stock and repair facility. All three boys loved it, Jack, Jamison and Jason. They even got to check out the authentic JD toy tractors in the store. Can you say kids in a candy store?
The red granite gravel roads in the area give a beautiful earthy tone to the old dirt roads familiar in other areas of the Midwest. And on the way there, when we were closing in on the last 10 minutes of Mr. Google’s directions, I was pleasantly surprised that the last 3 turns were from one gravel road to another. That and all the great old barns proved for lovely country visages once off the interstate. Just what vacation calls for.
And early bird wake up calls by Jamison weren’t so bad with the view of the sun reflecting off the water each morning.
We went for a walk one day and I was admiring this wildflower and found a cool albino spider climbing alongside it’s center. I don’t know if that’s what an arachnologist would call this translucent little guy, but that’s what I’m rolling with. By the way, I don’t recommend googling albino spider either, a couple of scrolls down and I was prepared to have spider nightmares for the next month. Ew.
We were actually trying to convince Jack to jump in that puddle… he was wearing his rain boots after all. He is my cautious boy.
And while my brother and his boys were four-wheeling, we enjoyed an impromptu photo session of my beautiful niece Lainey. I love that girl. She is fiery and fierce, competitive and wise beyond her years. She is full of life and energy and is always quick to help someone in need. And, she loves a good puzzle as much as I do. Seriously, sister takes puzzle making to a whole new level. In the short time we were there, we completed (2) 300 piece puzzles in about an hour each and then decided those were way to easy. So we located a good 1000 piece puzzle with about 3 colors total and decided that felt more our pace.
Three days later and we’re finally unpacked. Only one more month of summer left. Here’s to making the most of it.