I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, since we can't -for many reasons - go on "real, travel-style" vacation this year. We both planned some extended time off, just in case, and I didn't give up easy. I tested the waters on a few different ideas, but when they fell through, I conceded to my sneaking suspicion that we were going to have a stay-cay this summer. Party foul!!
(Currently living jealously/vicarioulsy through the onslaught of other people's better fortune via FB and Instagram. I try not to indulge longer than a few swipes...depressing!😉😂)
Now don't go feeling too sorry for your little homie over here in Miz-er-ee. You know I won't let something that lame get me down. I have taken it upon myself to provide a multifaceted vacation extraordinaire for all that call me "mine."
Not only are we having the exciting entertainment-packed experience that vacation should be (according to me), but we are also experiencing the productivity of having time off at home AND the comfort of chill-time in our most congenial atmosphere. I pack a lot of punch in this one little creative human brain. Or maybe I'm just selling it well. (Too bad my entrepreneur skills only apply to my role as mom...and honestly, they aren't always successful there...remember when Eden called me out on the whole homeschool "life skills" day that was really just a "let's clean the house today"?)
Well, anyway. I have one fan who rarely questions my great ideas, and I had him out cleaning my garage on his vacation day 2, right smack dab in the middle of a heat wave.
We had really accomplished all I knew I was going to set out to get done by 1:00, and we were lying on the couch...and the thought of doing that for the rest of the day made me REALLY depressed. So, I gathered up my resources, took an earlier recommendation from my wise, nature-loving, nephew, and I texted the family group about a pending adventure in the works. I had them at "cave." (Well...everyone but Eden. Turns out her social life is intense. I guess that's what happens when you have a friend group that includes about 20 girls.)
Man, we had fun. Of course, I wowed them with (what turned out to be) the natural bridge first. Then, we found several accessible creeks. Of course, I waited patiently as they explored (You know me. 😉. Actually, when I know my kids - or dog - are/is happy, and I will definitely benefit later from their current enjoyment...I can totally hang.).
Now, this is the part that gets tricky. All in all, I don't do anything without purpose. Hiking is definitely for enjoyment. But...I need to feel the satisfaction of meeting a more fulfilling goal. So, let's face it. I wanted to know I had exercised...like, enough to feel mentally and physically exerted. So, I wasn't sure how long was the "loop trail" after the mile-long walk to adventure cave, but I was definitely going to walk it.
At first, I just lured them along with "I don't know" answers to their "how long is it?" I kept trying to sell the "lake 2" this way. Thank God for the very clearly labeled signs. "See...it says the lake is right up here."
Then, it rained on us a bit. Not a drench, but a nice, cooling, lawn-sprinklers kind of rain. (See "heat wave" above.). Of course, I told them I'd ordered that part. Of course they called BS on the whole thing. 😬
Well, thank God of Heaven above, we finally came upon a beautiful lake. I made sure to compliment it's size. "So much larger than I expected!" There was a ramp and a boat. I even spotted a couple of deer way out in the distance, on the other side of the lake. They were mere brown blobs, but they were obviously coming in for a drink. I had verification from the entire group, after a long and harrowing process with some of our less savvy nature spotters. (Whew!)
Everyone was happy and re-charged. We walked on.
Slowly, but surely, the complaining began to drift in like stains on white baseball pants. (Let's talk about that another day, ok?) I, alone, fended them off - the valiant Lone Ranger, nature-hiker heroin of the Midwest.
"How much longer?"
"Well...I think it's about 1 more mile."
"Mom's lying!!!" The eldest began a campaign against my competencies AND my integrity.
I defended my integrity. "I did NOT lie. I told you I don't know. I think it's about a mile more. The reviews said 3.5 and 2.5. I think the walk to the cave was 1 mile, and this loop is 2.5." I'll admit, I was glad they hadn't noticed the mile markers. They were not promising.
However...to my great fortune, we came upon a "fitness station," which we had seen early on. And this one said, "Congratulations. You have completed the fitness stations." I jumped on the evidence of my integrity. "SEE!!! We have made it to the last fitness station! This is it."
Imagine my maternal horror when we stumbled upon "Fitness Station #9." Ooops. It only took a few more before the entire group realized we were counting down from "the end." So, maybe we went backwards???!!! 💁
Somehow, I managed to turn that horror into my benefit; because now, we had a countdown. Each "fitness station" we passed brought us closer to what had to be the beginning. And by the time we got back to the cars, I had fresh, ice-cold waters, snacks, and the promise of a treat at the next QT we saw. (I settled for the first gas station, which happened to be a Conoco. They did NOT complain.)
Ah, you guys. The truth of it is...we have a choice to make the best of what we've got. This crew complains, but in the end, I do everything I can to make the journey and the hardship worth their while. We have a good life. We have fun, and we have each other. So, even when my heart starts to complain...it's like any other judgment that comes through my brain...I just have to put it in perspective.
Today, after chores, I took my kids to a local lake. (I should have mentioned Jesse has been a part of these adventures, as well. Remember, I ALWAYS focus on efficiency. Along with all my other duties, I have to wear out this puppy every day.) We have explored the lake endlessly, and most of the time, it has taken me multiple attempts to find what I am looking for. Well, today, I got it right. I had the gps set. We got to the trailhead I intended (which = free parking, because...efficiency, my friends)...and to my surprise...they had installed a beautiful, new dog park.
Jesse got to explore AND meet a few, wonderful new friends. I made new, passing, friends. (And I read in a Bible devotion today about how that is really good and useful, too.). I even welcomed two guys and their dog with a hearty wave as they pulled in. (Unfortunately, I thought they were Xander and her boyfriend. But you know what? Awkward is perspective. They laughed, and I don't mind, anymore, if the joke is on me. I kind of like bringing laughter and joy...and when I am content in myself, it happens to feel really good to make someone else smile.)
We hiked a mile or -and a half to the beach. Jesse was good. We saw a German Shepherd near the water. Xander took Jesse down to see. I was not so comfortable with it and ended up finding a spot to sit and observe with him. Xander and BF sat with me, while Matt and the boys went to the little, crowded swimming hole. They had so much fun!!
I was alone for a bit, and a fully uniformed officer started walking up the hill toward me. He asked me if we'd taken the dog to the beach. I was honest. Apparently, they are not allowed. I was not surprised, and I told him so. (He was simply responding to a call that someone had made to "report" several dogs on the beach.) He was kind. I was kind. I kept Jesse up on the hill away from where the others swam. I like to follow rules...especially when I agree with them.
Well, here's the funny thing. Later on, this man walks by, and I could tell he wanted to approach me. I tried to be as approachable as possible. He responded, "Have you seen my dog?" He was the owner of the German Shepherd. He had a foreign accent, and he told me all about his experience with and love for his dog. He even brought him over, after he had finally found him. He talked to me about the dog's name...a former city where he had lived and experienced racism. I offered the meager condolences a white lady can allow. "That's not cool. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I sure hope you don't experience it here!"
We were fast friends, and he was quickly gone. After he told me, "I take my dog everywhere!" I didn't have the heart to tell him about the sheriff and the rules. (And anyway, I believe that particular sheriff is competent to do his job, and mine was not to be an officer...but to be a friend. And I feel like my life is richer because of that simple moment and that simple choice.)
It's all about perspective, my friends. Adventure is around every corner...it's all how you look at it. Maybe a bunch of people scrambling for joy in a man-made lake in the heart of the Midwest seems depressing when you've experienced the natural beaches of international waters. But, the truth of it is...beauty is all around us. In the ugly AND in the beautiful. We just have to have senses keen enough to appreciate the beauty in what we have.
|Mysterious plant update...guesses???|
I, for one, am looking forward to the adventure that is tomorrow. For sure, it will come alongside strife and sorrow, frustration and disappointment. But what good story is made without these same elements?
Not yours. And definitely, not mine.
Let's adventure! What do you say?
...but wait...there's more:
My friend knocked. I did not hear. Jesse did. I came to the door. She showed me why she was afraid to ring.
Most people would have killed it by now. I just hope I can keep it through Halloween.
Funny story. The bug man came by. I had just put on my pajamas. I was ready to relax and watch some Olympics. (I am conflictedly honored and embarrassed by the 40 yo Women's Basketball Olympian. But, guys...she doesn't have kids, and we can NOT compare apples to oranges.)
Anyway...the Bug Man, also, did not ring the bell. He, too, was horrified by my latest pet. He knocked. I did not hear. Jesse did. The boys investigated. Now that he saw my boys, I felt I had to respond.
I threw on my robe. He asked how I was. I was honest.
"I just got in my pajamas, and I'm trying to relax."
He talked about the bugs he was dealing with in our neighborhood, like spiders. He pointed to my bell.
I told him, "I deal with bugs around here." I pointed to the spider, "See that? It says, 'No Soliciting.'"
We both laughed. He left, and I enjoyed my peace. But I couldn't help recognize the connection when we heard this song on the way home from the lake. So...you're welcome.
Have a happy week, my friends. Barring all tragedy, it is really up to you! Love, Always...