Saturday, June 13, 2015

Off we go!

 

I have an adventurous heart beating in my chest.  The longer I live the more I realize that Life in and of itself is a daring adventure.  Our normal days are full of little adventures that take our courage and perseverance.  And that are thrilling or hard and beautiful.

But ever since our England adventure in 2012 I’ve been craving a different kind of adventure.  The kind that gets you all giddy and alert and alive. 

So, tomorrow we are off on a grand Shumway European tour.  We’re headed to England, Austria (with a day stopover in Prague on the way), Switzerland and Ireland.   All those fall photo shoots I worked on are finally turning into an adventure!

I booked the tickets in April when life felt pretty stuck.  And just booking them ignited a spark inside, made me feel alive after that long buried winter.   I couldn’t decide if we should really do it.  We got REALLY inexpensive tickets and we’re staying almost entirely with friends and family, but we’re still spending a chunk of money.  But we’ve been blessed to be able to save up for this for a few years and I’ve never regretted spending money on an experience, on exposing my kids to something rich and new that lodges in their souls and becomes part of the fabric of their little beings. 

I had visions of getting them totally prepared for this trip, learning a ton about all the countries we’re going to, but life is busy! I just returned  47 prep library books that I checked out, 5 of which we read.  We’ve been trying to walk or run or bike a mile every day so that their legs can keep up.  We’ve been watching movies set in the countries we’ll visit.  And I think my big kids can at least locate these countries on the map….but we’re going to keep up the learning while we travel.  I find so much more time to discuss and teach and read while we’re adventuring. 

Someone asked me the other day what made my heart leap.  What really gets me excited, what makes me feel full and alive.  I’ve been thinking about it and one of the main things that lights me up is adventuring with my kids.  I love exploring new places with them.  I love the way time slows down when we’re pulled out of our routine.  I love how my brain starts firing in differently.  I love being disconnected with all of the to dos of my everyday and just having my kids and the experience to focus on. 

I’m excited. 

I’m also a little terrified.  It’s just gonna be me and the kids getting over there and moving our way through London and Prague to Vienna where Jeff will meet us.  We have a triple stop over (cheapest tickets) tomorrow and a red eye thrown in.  The kids are gonna all be strung out and me might miss a flight. 

But, traveling is an adventure.  And adventures aren’t always wonderful.  They’re bumpy and glitchy and full of surprises, good and bad.  I have to remind myself that those are all part of the big glistening memory we’ll have stored up in our hearts after this is all through. 

The three mantras I’m gonna try to keep in my head are:

“Enjoy it!  Because it’s Happening”

“Live in Anticipation of the Memory” –Mary Ann McFarland

“It’s all part of the Adventure.” –Hazel Shumway

I’m still hoping for an uneventful journey to London tomorrow though!  Wish us well.  I hope to blog a bit from the road.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Bar Harbor–2015––the beginning of all the fun.

IMG_7539This is our 7th year going to Bar Harbor as a family (and with some friends) for Memorial day.  I love having a tradition that grows and changes with our family, but stays the same in lots of other ways.  Constancy amidst change.  It’s a comforting thing. 

Every year we all look forward to this trip through our chilly Boston spring with butterflies in our stomachs because this trip means we’ve made it through the bitter winter. It means that the earth has come back to life, the sun has started working again.   It marks the beginning of all the summer fun which then rolls into the majesty of fall and magic of holidays.  It’s the start of the crazy-fun-life-marathon that doesn’t stop until we hibernate in January again. 

This year Acadia was especially glorious since the winter was so harsh.  All that spring green was soothing to our souls.  IMG_7386Our car ride up was uneventful, once we got in the car of course.  It is such a mad dash, always, to get this clan on the road (and all those bikes!).  But once we’ve done it I love being able to just be there, together.  I love the time to talk and listen together to audio books and stop for bad food.  This part of the tradition is 100% easier than it was 6 years ago.   IMG_7350Not sure why Jeff is making that face….I think experimenting with the new selfie stick made him nervous.  IMG_7360IMG_7321We stopped in Portland ME at Flatbreads to get lunch.  We had this whole section of the restaurant to ourselves, which thrilled the kids.  IMG_7323Eli and his wife Julie, Zara and their one month(!) old baby Dean came with us again this year.  They are the most relaxed, easy, fun, exciting, cute people in the world to travel with.  IMG_7535The afternoon we got there we checked in and got our bikes all ready for the next day.  Then we met up with some other families for a very rainy and cold and wet cook out.  But we got everyone refueled, and saw some pretty spectacular things on our way back to our motel.  IMG_7382IMG_7393IMG_7398IMG_7391The light and the mist that evening was magical.  Cute Hazel was struggling to contain and express the joy she felt at seeing all this beauty.  I’ve created a nature/beauty junkie!  It’s awesome to see the thrill of it all pulse through her veins.  To know she loves it like I do.  IMG_7381

It was also a landmark year fro us since our big epic 17 mile bike ride on Saturday from our motel to Jordan Pond and back was accomplished with every single Shumway peddling with their own two legs.  Sure, two of them were connected to us and were pulled through the carriage roads.  But, they pedaled a bit, giving us some booster power.  Emmeline heaved a big sigh of relief when we were done exclaiming that it sure was hard pushing her daddy all those miles.  Boy, have we come a LONG way over the years.  There was one year (2011) where we pulled all four kids behind us.  (check it out 2008 and 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and then 2013 and 14 still haven’t been blogged….oops).  2011 was epic, with Jeff’s bike, then Hazel’s tag along, the the trailer with three children.  IMG_7604IMG_7415One thing I have learned as this tradition has evolved is that parenting your kids through family adventures doesn’t get easier as they get older, it just gets tricky in different ways (and rewarding in different ways).  There were a few times as we biked all those miles this year that I longed for those fussy babies in the trailer.  I found myself having to ‘pull’ my big kids along with words, and at times that seemed a little tougher than the challenge of pulling them for all those years with my pedals. IMG_7525IMG_7529

IMG_7408IMG_7411Popovers with a view and these people, doesn’t get much better than that. IMG_7414

IMG_7421 On Saturday night we ate at Rosalie’s pizza (just like we always do).  It was crazy busy (just like it always is).  But Em had the time of her life with Zara as we waited.  I know this picture is super blurry, but I love those two faces.  I loved watching Em get the chance to be a bigger person, to shepherd and help a little person through the day. She had endless patience with little Zara, always being kind and helpful and so so cute.  This gives me hope for Emmeline since kindness and patience and calmness isn’t always her strong suit.  IMG_7428Hazel also LOVED little Zara.  We went to the harbor after pizza to throw rocks.  I think they all could have done it all night.  The light there in that harbor, heaven. IMG_7430IMG_7437And this was the year where I loosened up enough to let every one of my kids get their own big, expensive ice cream cone at ben and bills.  Feels good to progress, to not feel so tight and worried.  Another reason why I love having the same trip year after year.  I can see progression in all of us, including me. Bar Harbor Group Photo May 2015On Sunday we had a special Sunday service on the rocks down at Seawall, the southern tip of Acadia.  It was a beautiful day.  Full of sunshine and the spirit.    IMG_7554After the service the kids explored the tide pools and we had a wonderfully warm, sun drenched picnic.  I even got a little sunburn.  Very exciting. IMG_7556IMG_7558

IMG_7440Every year at Seawall the kids somehow find a lobster lounging around in the tide pools.  A real, live, ‘wild’ lobster which always, for some reason, has rubber bands on his pinchers.  IMG_7448Hazel legitimately finds some great sea treasures.  This girl lives for tide pools.  IMG_7457After church at the rocks we made our way to Sand Beach.  Another of my all time favorite place in the world.  It was sunny and breezy and perfect.  IMG_7462IMG_7467A wave got us right after taking this traditional shot.  Soggy feet for the rest of the day. IMG_7477We then found this: IMG_7473Hazel’s dream hike for all of it’s danger and adventure.  Our walk along these sea side cliffs quickly turned into a climbing adventure for all of the kids.  They could have climbed on these rocks all day.  IMG_7483IMG_7491It was enough to give me a heart attack, watching all these little people climb high.  They were careful and agile and brave.  I remember that thrilling sense of accomplishment from my rock climbing years.  I’m too chicken now.  Even too chicken to fully watch this.  My toes go numb.  IMG_7494IMG_7497I was happy to rediscover my hiking with little kids strategy before all of our upcoming summertime hiking adventures: keep kids’ minds involved in more than just the work of hiking.  Peter complained anytime we were focused on hiking.  But, the minute we were immersed in some kind of imaginative game he found his hidden stores of energy.  IMG_7498Here he is with his shooter gun that he used along the hike to slay thousands of dragons and keep us safe.  IMG_7500IMG_7502You can’t see it cause they’re too far away, but Em held Zara’s little hand as she rode on Eli’s back the whole hike back to the car. IMG_7566That night we had a great fish and chips picnic overlooking the harbor (everyone but me scattered to play before we thought to take a picture).IMG_7568And then our trusty car climbed to the top of Cadillac mountain to watch the sunset.  IMG_7572IMG_7608Watch out for Emmeline when she turns 16.  Look at that sass.  IMG_7577Love these cute little cousins. IMG_7579These kids spent less time watching the sunset and more time exploring this deep crevice.  And I think many of the tourist found them popping out of the ground more exciting (and photo worthy) than the sunset.  I think these little groundhogs blew up on instagram in India that night.   IMG_7581IMG_7583I don’t blame all of those tourist for taking pictures….these kids are cute. IMG_7584IMG_7520On Monday morning we had brunch at Two Cats.  Again, forgot to take a picture with all the people in it.  But I wanted to remember this awesome little breakfast place, set in an old house.  Full of Memorial Day crowds, strawberry buttered biscuits, fresh oj and spicy breakfast potatoes.  This place makes me happy.  IMG_7589And since we’ve never walked across the harbor at low tide to Bar Island we thought we had better do it.  We walked across the sea on dry land, giving us a whole new perspective on the parting of the Red Sea.  IMG_7591And we got to see the bottom of the ocean and all of it’s intricate little worlds.  IMG_7594IMG_7595IMG_7599Em found star fish!IMG_7600

I wish we had a picture at our funny little Motel. I think it’s one of the huge highlights for our kids.  Mostly because they have all you can eat muffins and fruit loops for breakfast.  IMG_7372It was sad to head home.  Back to real life and with it’s pace and demands.

This place feels like a little part of our home.  It’s made it’s way into the fabric of our family.  It has raised us, brought us up to crave beauty and the thrill of being alive after a long dormant winter.   IMG_7523

For the beauty of the earth. 

For the beauty of the skies. 

For the love, which from our birth, over and around us likes.

Lord of All to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise. 

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