Hey Y'all!!! Whew. What a summer!
We escaped for a week! A whole. Entire. Week. And it was WONDERFUL. And deeply needed.
It didn't start so great. I had my first ever (and I hope my last!) migraine. I thought I was dying - having an aneurism. It was horrible! Nothing over the counter could tame it. The day we were leaving town I finally went to the doctor. I worried I had meningitis because of the pain down my neck and into my back - it was just a weird compilation of symptoms including a rash on my stomach and a sore throat - strange - all that to say, I'm wondering if that was my body's way of dealing with all the stress we've carried for the last six months?
But getting on the road - even in pain - was good. We picked a lake based on proximity and went through VRBO for lodging.
It was fantastic! Before we could unlock the front door, the children had run around the side of the house and were yelling - shouting - "Mama! There's a hammock! Oh Mama! Look at the fire pit! Wow! There's sand at the lake!" And my favorite was Little Man hollering, "Mama! There's an American Flag here. I bet the people who built this are American!" Hee hee.
The kids spent hours and hours playing on and in the hammock.
Little Man learned to play chess. He's quite the thinker. And he's learning about not being a sore loser.
We spent hours and hours in the water. Floating. Talking. Laughing. (And on our last afternoon we saw a water moccasin! Yep! I was so glad we saw it at the end of the week!)
We drank margaritas in the sand.
We had a fire in the fire pit almost every night. And of course we roasted marshmallows (and thanks to our kiddos super ninja skilz we ate a lot of ash and dirt) and made s'mores!
The children fished and fished. I was relieved they caught nothing. I don't do fish on hooks and The Engineer isn't so fond of them either. The fact that they didn't get so much as a bite did nothing to deter their efforts.
We've been reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. It's a fabulous read. I'm as eager for the next chapter as the children are. The story has inspired hours and hours of adventure and play.
The story is set on an island in a lake...which made their adventures and play while at the lake all the more realistic.
They spent the better part of the week going by aliases. Sister was "Ma." Little Man was "Alamo" (for The Alamo - "where Davy Crocket died.") And Little Bit was "Megan." Ha.
A few summers ago some precious friends shared their wisdom on child rearing. They have eight children ranging in age from five to twenty-one. One thing they said that stuck with me was the importance of getting away just your little family. Even with the bickering and the fussing and the frustration it can be, not to mention the expense, it's just important to get away as a family.
That's part of what inspired our lake trip last summer. That and the girls wanted a memory for their birthdays. Shortly after our move I told The Engineer I thought a getaway would be worth the investment. Y'all, it was. Yes, it is a huge privilege to be able to get away. I used to think it was frivolous. I'd rather get another project done. Oh, I am seeing the error in my thinking. Time away is an investment, a precious and costly investment in our family.
We took our watches off the minute we walked through the door. The children slept together upstairs in a bunk room. The Engineer and I took the downstairs master. We agreed on no tv for the week - and we stuck to it! With the exception of eating dinner in front of the Olympics Opening Ceremony our last night there. Going without any tv (no movies, nothing - any - as in, we didn't turn on the black box!) was awesome!
The kids dressed themselves...or stayed in pajamas...or put on pajamas to go play at the water's edge...which may or may not have lead to "skinny diving." (We call pig tails "pink tails" and wet wipes "wep wipes" so why not call skinny dipping "skinny diving?") There was only one neighbor there the whole week. He arrived about two minutes after our children stripped down. He walked around the side of his house to hang a hammock and saw them from a distance. The Engineer and I were sitting in the sand reading. He cracked up and waved. We waved back, like this is all totally normal.
We chilled on the dock.
We invited the grands to join us for a few days. (My mother-in-law took these - thank you!) My Mama wasn't able to make it - bummer.
Getting away, specifically when it was just the five of us, made me love my family more. It gave me time to step away from the daily chores of life - no sheets to change, no shirts to iron, no projects, etc. and to see, like, to really see my children.
It was good for our marriage, too. To be able to step away from the demands of life.
We had no internet connection - and it was fantastic. The Engineer couldn't check email...specifically work email. It was just good to step away.
Sister begged for time behind the lens. She was adamant about capturing "us." She told us exactly how to pose.
Based on my own childhood, despite the giggles and cries of "ewww" and "gross," there is such assurance in seeing your mama and daddy being affectionate. One of my favorite memories is of my dad coming home from work, it seems like it was every single night, and kissing my mama in the kitchen. I always acted grossed out, but in my heart, it was the best.
I love this man. So much. We have our hurdles and our bumps, but we are hanging on tight - determined by the grace of God to stay the course. Being away gave us a lot of time to talk. We decided we don't always like each other, but we do love each other. Love is a choice. Like comes and goes. At least for us. Just being honest.
This past Sunday I had one of those - um - maybe I shouldn't have said that - kind of moments. We were in Sunday School talking about lies and how our hearts are quick to take truth and spin a lie from it. The teacher asked for examples based on the truth, "God Is Love." A few gave examples. And I felt that tingling, that urging, that "I gotta say it, but don't want to" feeling. So I spoke up and said that I am quick to use the truth that God is love as license to sin.
(Sister journaled daily - and the entries - priceless!)
I got a lot of blank stares. So I began to explain, "I want to be a good mom and I know God wants me to be a good mom. So when I sin, in trying to be a good mom (you know, like lose my temper with my kids and sin against them) I am quick to justify my sin, "well, I know I just blew it, but I am trying and God is love and He loves me, so it's okay." (Because the reality is, sin is never okay.)
Anyway, I just got more blank stares. And then I had that "they're all going to think I'm whacked but I KNOW I am not the only one" feeling. So I said, "Maybe I'm the only one so whacked." And the teacher just said, "okay" and went on to the next person. I feel like we are really getting off to a good start here!
Life is feeling a bit smoother. Sort of. Geographically, I am learning my way around much better. We are getting to invest in some sweet friendships. Such a blessing!
I am playing rearrange. The house itself is chaos right now. I hate to move stuff, only to go back to the way things were. So instead, everything is out of place while I try to figure out another option. (It's like rearranging the board in Rummy-Q, trying to play that last tile...only the plan didn't work and you aren't sure you can get it all back and you still have that tile you need to play...)
I have a few projects up my sleeve. A few ideas. And I am hoping to paint our peach on peach on peach bedroom very soon. Only, someone painted latex atop oil, so all the trim - EVERY BIT of trim - is peeling. I am DREADING sanding and scraping. Like, it seems so huge I am struggling to find the emotional energy to tackle it. And yet, no offense if you love peach, but the color is driving me crazy!
Back to the lake - I will forever remember making dinner and glancing over to see all three children making a circle, holding hands, and sitting down and the playing began. And it was precious. There is nothing like seeing your children playing together. I have treasured that memory up and am storing it in my heart.
Side note: this girl is INSANE!!! We thought Little Man was wild and crazy - she's is equally nuts, probably more so. She keeps us laughing and exhausted.
She and Little Man were too cute out on the dock fishin'. He would cast and then give her a turn. She'd slap the water with the rod. And back and forth, back and forth. No wonder they didn't catch anything.
This is the stack of books we read cover to cover. Not including all the children's stories. That week was awesome. We'd put the kids to bed and sit and read and read and read. So much fun!
Coming home was even sweet and good. I was sad to leave, but it was time. I neglected to mention that though we loved where we were, I woke halfway through our trip around 2am to the feeling of something crawling on my arm. I flicked it and started to doze off when something told me, "that was real. Turn on the light." So I did. There was a SCORPION ON MY LEG. I screamed. The Engineer was up in a flash and saved me. I didn't get stung. I think it was just one of those fluke things. We'd already seen a beetle in our bed - ick! It was a really nice house. Those were the only bugs we saw. It was just weird. So anyhow, I didn't sleep very well after that.
There's nothing quite like your own bed, ya know?