Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Snowball Fight in August

Alternate Title: Why You Shouldn't Wear a White Dress to a National Park

Zooming down the Pacific Coast Highway, watching the surf smash against giant rocks – keeping my eyes peeled for whales, I am struck by what a beautiful life we have crafted for our family over the last 15 months.
Last night, Dominick, my eight year old, told me he’d rather live in a house, than travel the country. When I delved deeper into his concerns he told me he “doesn’t like packing up”. I can commiserate – that’s not my favorite part either.
But then I reminded him, if we lived in a house:

He wouldn’t have known that people make play houses out of driftwood on the beaches in Oregon – and he would definitely never have been able to have a picnic in one.

He wouldn’t have known that sometimes lava cooled faster than trees disintegrated - leaving huge tunnels that he wriggled and giggled through one random Tuesday.

He wouldn’t have known...

that God made a few water parks of his own, including one on the outskirts of Sedona, and that on hot days, kids like him can ride a plume of snowmelt 150 ft through a river bed.

He wouldn’t have known you could slide down 200 ft sheer sand dunes, after you’ve watched whales frolicking off the coast.

Then he chimed in, “If we lived in a house, we’d never have had a snowball fight in August!” True, true!
Last week, we toured Crater Lake National Park. Just like all my Internet friends told me, the water was a blue like you’ve never seen before. It’s a blue that touches the very depths of your soul and can calm even the most frazzled mother of four. This color does not translate on even the most stunning professional pictures of the area. You must go there to experience this color blue!

While we all anticipated splendor, fantastic views, attending an educational junior ranger program, and snapping the obligatory family photo, we did not know an icy cold treat awaited us. Mounds and mounds of snow – in August! It seems, this year, Crater Lake accumulated 637 inches of snow – and some of it is refusing to melt.
Since, we lived our previous, stationary life in Florida, snow is a BIG BIG DEAL to my kids, and absolutely something that can go untouched.
Our last snowball fight was in Yosemite in May – just like this August day, we were dressed in shorts and flip flops, throwing snow at each other and sneaking it down unsuspecting shirt backs.

But this time, our Toni – the four year old who insists on wearing dresses and then doing EVERYTHING “those crazy boys” do, had left the RV in a delicate, white sundress. At the end of the snowball fight, she retreated to the truck, looking like a tattered and well-loved rag doll. Boy, was she ever a mess. Other mothers might be aghast by this image– but I know, when the dress is long gone, the memory of the day will stay with her. She came by each stain with the tenacity and courage of the spirited woman I know she will become.

Our time on the road is just as much about exploring America, and spending these precious years with our children, as it is about exposing them to the infinite possibilities their lives hold. Sometimes – most of the times, it means getting messy, but it’s a beautiful mess – much like the rest of our lives.

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