Happy 4th of July!!
And a very Happy Birthday to my sister!
I hope you guys don't mind if I take a minute this week to send the most heartfelt thank you I can muster to my parents. Those of you who know my mom and dad (and that's most of you reading this), know that they are pretty awesome. They are regularly doing stuff for us and, more importantly, with us that makes me feel so very blessed. The most recent thing... takes the cake.
You all know that they went away with Spencer on a trip and got back this time last week. What you might not realize is the whole "back story". You see, several years ago they came up with this crazy idea to do something special for each of their "grands". They decided that on or around the 10th birthday each of the kids would get to go on a trip with Berber and Pappy. A trip of the child's choosing. A trip that matched the interests and individual desires of each of the kids. A trip without parents. Without siblings. A chance to be the center of attention. This trip, in other words, was a chance for each of the grandkids to feel special.
When we first started talking about this wild idea, I thought it was brilliant. 10 year olds are pretty awesome. They can tie their own shoes and feed themselves. They have a sense of humor. They have a personality. This is WAY different than traveling with a preschooler. (Way easier!) And 10 is not yet (at least in my limited experience) to the point where they would rather be with friends than family. 10 isn't 16. 10 year olds still have an ability to revert back to wanting to be taken care of like a little kid (from time to time) and don't mind hanging out with the family (provided something cool is going on). 10 years olds are old enough to remember these trips for the rest of their lives.
These 10 year old trips are, in my opinion, one of the best ideas EVER!
Spencer happens to be the oldest of the grands on my side. So he got to go through the whole process of choosing a trip - and then taking it - first. And boy oh boy, this trip did not disappoint! He worked within some guiderails (no European extravaganzas) and chose a Tauck Bridges tour called Cowboy Country. They went to Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Cody, and Mt. Rushmore. They stayed in lodges and on ranches. They fished and hiked and went horseback riding. They saw bear and buffalo and bald eagles and a fox and some moose. They learned about the geology and the wildlife and the history of the area. They ate game and tried new foods. They rode on airplanes and busses and river rafts. They met people from all over the country and made new friends.
I got a chance to relive all of this through some very beautiful pictures of some very beautiful country.
And more interestingly, I have gotten to hear all about this trip from Spencer. Not in a sit-down-and-spill-all-details-of-the-trip-at-once way. That's not Spencer's style. Instead, he has talked about this trip off and on for more than a week. It's fascinating to hear about the things that HE found fascinating. It's very revealing to see this trip through his memory. And what I've seen through his stories makes me more thankful that he had this opportunity than I have been for anything in a very long time. This was a very special trip for him. Maybe the trip of a lifetime.
And not just because of the awesome scenery or the friendship he made with a boy from Texas. This was a chance that he would never have gotten, under any other circumstances I can fathom, to bond with my parents. He spent 8 days building relationships with two of the most important people in my life. These relationships will be the thing that outlives the memories of huckleberry pancakes and steaming geysers. These special bonds that he built are the reason I am so very thankful that my parents came up with this wild and crazy idea for 10 year old trips all those years ago. These bonds are truly priceless. And if you don't believe me, I will share a little thing that I witnessed the other day while having dinner with my parents at our house. My dad was at the head of the table and Spence sat beside him. At one point I looked over to see Spencer's finger hooked around my dad's finger on the table. Spencer - the guy who no longer lets me give him kisses goodbye and really shows very little emotion on a regular basis - practically holding hands with my dad - the guy who never shows emotion. I just about burst into tears right then and there.
And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has realized just how special this trip was. The night that Spencer returned home was pretty chaotic. Quinn (and Ozzie) ran to the car to greet him. Zane wrapped around a leg. Beck launched himself at Spence as soon as he sat down. There were lots of hugs and laughs as Spencer and my parents shared some highlights of their time away. We emptied his suitcase so he could distribute the little gifts he had brought home for his brothers and show me his souvenirs. It was all fun and games and laughs - until it was time to go to sleep. As the house quieted down, Spencer started crying. He cried and cried. Big tear rolling down his face as his bottom lip trembled and he visibly tried to pull himself together. Around the lump in my own throat, I attempted to soothe him and figure out what was wrong. It turns out that he was, quite simply, sad that the trip was over. His time away was THAT much fun and meant THAT much to him. It WAS the trip of a lifetime. He was sad that it was over.
So I want to say thank you to my parents. Thank you for taking the time and effort out of your busy lives to do this trip. Thank you for making it so much fun. Thank you for giving my Spencer memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you for being you! I love you!
(now rest up... cause Quinn's cruise is a short 8 months away and that child will keep you hopping!)
Have a very safe and Happy 4th everyone!