Monday, July 20, 2009

Event Full

This vacation turns out to be like none other I have ever taken. Seems to me I have succeeded in taking advantage of the best that northeast Ohio has to offer. Although I have yet to get back to Cedar Point as an adult, I have two good offers already for next year. I have reconnected with my roots differently than on other visits. Even the kids have made friends here.

Visitation Rights
This past week has been full of the business of visiting. In addition to the few friends I catch up with whenever I am in town, I have had half a dozen appointments to meet people I had not met with in all the times I have come home to visit over the years. My youth pastor's wife; a high school friend; my friend Kristen to whom I already introduced you; and Dodie, my HS mentor's mom, who lives in a nursing home. Each was a blessing to me, each helped re-string some threads between me and my earlier life.

I unexpectedly and especially enjoyed my visit with Dodie and her friends. I took 6 month old Lulu to meet her, and was virtually swept away by the joy she brought to everyone in that place. What a feel-good experience to share this sweet piece of baby with people who don't have babies in their lives!

The women reminisced about their own babies, the men practiced their grandfatherly duties. Tired hands reached out to shyly caress her little baby feet, and smiled in that unguarded way people have when gazing at a brand-new person. And for just a moment, hope flickered in the eyes of every resident of Bethany House. Lulu and I brought joy, but we received so much in return. Babies are a special kind of magic, aren't they?

Pear Tree Seeking Boarder
The weekend was full of family events. We went to the zoo as a family, and I am so glad we did. I very nearly went with just my sister-in-law and all six of our children. As it turned out, we added my brother Mike and my parents. This brought our group tally to 5 adults, 4 mobile children, 3 cameras, 2 strollers, 2 nursing babies, and a picnic lunch. The only thing missing was the partridge.

By the end of the day, we were collectively exhausted from chasing children through a busy public park. We stopped for dinner on the way home, and when we came back out for our final 5 minute drive home, I was shocked to discover the time was only 6:30pm. My children were dismayed to hear of my plan to put them to bed immediately, but they were showered and asleep by 8:15. Awesome.

Like Mike
I accepted my brother Mike's offer of a Sunday bike ride, and thus began more adventure than I had bargained for. Our biking party also included my dad and Boo Bear, with Rooster and cousin Gabe along for the ride in a bike trailer. As we began our ride, I realized I had not ridden a bike since before I learned how to drive. That's a long time. I found out that the reward of biking with Mike is ice cream. How awesome is that!

As we were preparing to gear up for the ride home, Boo reflected on our individual bikes.

You know, Papa's green bike should be called The Grass. And Uncle Mike's blue bike is The Ocean. The boys in the red and purple trailer are The Berries. That makes my black BMX bike here the Black Stallion. And you, Mom, your white and red bike is The Candy!

I love this girl and her imagination.

Five minutes into our return trip, I heard her little voice behind me:

And here comes the Black Stallion from behind, ready to go for the lead!

She came flying up the dirt path past Uncle Mike with the trailer, past me on The Candy, abreast of Papa on The Grass, when suddenly we heard a loud crack! like the report of a pistol, and she suddenly leapt from her steed. Sadly, the Black Stallion, grizzled veteran of Uncle Mike's childhood, had blown a tire! Miss Boo had reached the end of her ride.

We happened to be right by a playground, so Mike and I stayed with the kids while Papa rode on ahead to get the van and bring it back to collect Boo and the Black. This provided Mike and I with a rare opportunity for connection. And a good memory upon which to build a relationship that has been amiable but not as close as it could be.

With the Black stowed, Papa and Boo drove off in search of fresh tires. Adult brother and sister continued the ride with our two sons in tow. And we had a wonderful time. We stopped and took photos several times, and even at the end of the ride we continued talking for another hour.

Mike is an awesome dad. He takes his kids on bike rides. He teaches them about nature as well as the value of being active. He then treats them to ice cream! I want to be more like Mike. For now I am content to have created a fun memory biking with him.

Chasing Rainbows
Sunday evening my dad and I took the kids to the park. As we talked my dad mentioned that the broken clouds would make for a good sunset, and that he knew a good place to go watch it. So we piled back into the car and drove to the spot at the end of the runway at the airport.

As luck would have it, we had sunset to the west, and a rainbow to the east. But before I could photograph the rainbow, we suddenly had a jet bearing down on us from the south! And a minute later, another! By the time I collected my wits from the excitement, the rainbow had faded. But we did end up with some good sunset photos.

I remember my parents taking me to the airport when I was a kid, to watch the planes come in. Things have changed; it's hard to get thrillingly close to the underbelly of a jet plane anymore. I am so glad the kids had a chance to experience that thrill. I had forgotten how fun it is.

It even helped fill my rumble quota.

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