School starts next week, summer is just about coming to a close. What does that mean in eastern Montana? It is FAIR TIME! My boys know that as we start to gear up for the school year, their favorite summer event is coming to town. At dinner last night they both talked about what rides they think they are tall enough for this year, and how many times they think they will go down the giant slide on the potato sack. Graham remembered that there will be cotton candy, and Micah chimed in “don’t forget the kettle corn”. We love the fair. It calls to mind all of the fun we have had with the kids as they run around marveling at the rides, amuse themselves in the fun houses, and try their luck at the games. Most of the memories we have from the fair are magical.
I say most because two years ago was the first time the boys went on the Farris Wheel. I was nine month pregnant at the time, so I stood below and let Brandon have the fun of taking them on the giant wheel. Micah was so excited. He had seen a Farris Wheel in Seattle the year before and had been talking on and off throughout the year of how great it would be to ride it at the fair. So it was the first ride on the list when we arrived. Brandon, Micah and Graham all piled into one of the gondolas— the boys with wide, expectant eyes. Graham was sitting by Brandon and Micah was sitting across. As they started their ascent, apparently Micah’s wonder and excitement was replaced by a terrified realization of just how high they were. He was mortified. Brandon was spending all of his energy trying to keep Micah calm and focused on him instead of the height, and Graham was just sitting next to him quietly enjoying the ride. Or so we thought. About halfway around Graham whispered to Brandon “Dad, I’m stuck.” Not making sense of his three year olds whispers, Brandon asked for clarification, “Dad, my finger is stuck.” Sure enough, while Brandon and Micah had been consumed with Micah’s new fear of heights, Graham had been exploring the physical make up of the cart they were sitting in. It seemed like one piece of molded metal. There weren’t joints to get your fingers caught in, or levers to get smushed by… but right next to Graham there was a small hole drilled through the seat. Not big enough really for anything… well anything but a little three year old’s finger. So there on the Farris Wheel, Graham inserted his finger into the random hole and got it stuck. Stuck, stuck. He had pushed it in all the way past the fatty padded part, and now couldn’t get it pulled back out.
Continue reading “Getting Stuck”
Graham loves the beach. We have been blessed to have the opportunity almost every year since he has been born to make our way to the Pacific Ocean. He is now five, but the awe and curiosity of what he will discover in the sand still consumes him. He can spend hours looking for shells and poking at sea creatures. This summer was his first exposure to the beaches of the north west. After a week in the heat of Arizona, we made our way up to Washington. Our first stop was a night at Ocean Shores. It was intended just to be the stop over before we got to our destination, but it became one of the highlights for the boys.
At Ocean Shores you are able to drive your vehicle down on the beach and park. As soon as we got into town, we did just that. Once all of our toes were digging into the sand we let the boys start exploring. It was low tide, so thousands of little puddles had formed in the sand. The puddles held the magic— little crabs, sea weed, shells, tiny muscles attached to rocks. Some of the puddles were shallow, some would swallow your leg to your thigh. Graham was mesmerized, he would go from puddle to puddle marveling at its contents. At one point soon after we got there, we talked about parameters- that the boys needed to stay between these two points and they shouldn’t get too far away or they wouldn’t be able to hear us over the wind. They were both agreeable and promised to stay close. Micah was interested in just watching the waves and thus was only feet away from me, but Graham loved those puddles. He would start right next to us marveling at the puddle and what it held, but then his eyes would wonder over to the puddle just next to it and then he would run over to see what was inside— then his eye would be caught by the puddle just next to it and again he was off… until he had puddle jumped far beyond where we agreed to stay. It happened over and over again, he wasn’t trying to disobey, but his eyes were on the sand and when he was just moving from one puddle to the next it never seemed like he was going very far off course.
Isn’t it wild how similar life is. We know where we want to be, we know where we should be. But we spend so much time looking at the sand— we keep our vision set on the things right in front of us, the “stuff” and the lists that fill our days, that we don’t realize how far off track we are getting. If Graham had only looked up once every two minutes, he would have seen that he was getting too far and should find a puddle closer, but his vision was set and little step by little step he was led away.
Continue reading “Lost in the Puddles”
A week ago we returned from a month long adventure on the road. We spent four weeks traveling 4,217 miles— that is over 72 hours of driving with three boys (7, 5, and 1) in a minivan. It was amazing. As Brandon and I planned our trip we knew that it was going to be an unforgettable month, perhaps because of the scars we would all have from that much time cooped up together, but we were both naively optimistic that in the weeks ahead our adventures and time together as a family would result in experiences and moments that would last a lifetime.
We were right.
Over the month of July we were able to spend time with Brandon’s side of the family— swimming in the AZ heat and making forts with Nana, playing with cousins and catching up with old friends. We spent time with my side of the family in a cabin in northern Arizona where we painted faces, had dance parties, marveled at the wild life that wandered into the yard, and went on a hike that many of us weren’t sure we would make it home from. We left Arizona and headed up to the Washington coast. We looked for shells on the beach, went hiking in the rainforest, spent time with Brandon’s bother and beautiful family, and explored areas that we had never seen before. From there we headed to a conference in Spokane, where Brandon and I were spiritually fed and inspired and our kids where blessed by friends to play with and leaders who taught and inspired them as well. Our last week away brought us back into Montana where we helped with the camp our Presbytery runs. We spent a week outside of Redlodge and talked with Elementary school children about God, explored the forest, saw our first “real” moose, and got dirtier than we have been in a while.
It was a beautiful month. Along with the amazing adventure came the sleep deprivation, the arguing, the tantrums, and the bickering, and something else…
What I hadn’t expected when we planned our journey was that it would turn out to be a recognition of where we have been and a time to honor what God has done in our life thus far.
Continue reading “The Adventure that is a Lifetime”