July 30, 2014

Biking the C & O

The other day we decided a change of scene would be good for everyone.  Except we can't go anywhere we might encounter germs.  The medication Addison is on suppresses the immune system leaving him extremely vulnerable to any kind of illness. 
We have had a very mild summer.  I do not believe it has gotten above 100 at all and it has only been in the 90s a very few days.  Friday was so cool it felt like fall around here.  Actually, as I write the girls are curled up by the pool reading... with beach towels wrapped around them because they said it was cold. 
Back to Friday.  It was beautiful weather and we happen to live a few miles from the C & O Canal.  We were looking for a way to boost spirits a bit and take everyone's minds off of all the uncertainties that have become a daily part of life.  We decided a bike ride along the canal was just the thing. 
Nathaniel spent the entire day making sure all the bikes were in working order.  The kids removed seats from the van and the suburban.  Because when you have 11 people, that's a lot of bikes.  They got everything in and situated and packed a picnic for dinner along the toe path.      
 When Allen got off work we packed the kids in.  Ten minutes later we had unloaded 11 kids and 9 bikes.
Only to discover Addison and Carmella's trailer had blown an inner tube in the wheel. 

I seriously want some kind of major mom award for acting like a grown up at this point.  Truly all I wanted to do was throw myself down on the pavement and throw a major temper tantrum. 
Just saying.  Even I have my a limit. 
Quite simply, a blown tire was the point where I HAD ENOUGH!  Seriously, at that moment I just wanted to weep.  But I didn't.  Self righteous as this sounds I am going to say it.  "Yeah, me!"  I put on a smile and sent the family on ahead.    
 And I am glad I did.  I hear they had an amazing time.  They came back smiling and laughing and full of tales.  Being who we are.  But what has been lost in the stress of the last weeks.
 It really is a beautiful place and I am so glad they were able to experience it.  I look forward to going back after we get that tire fixed.  Hopefully, very soon. 
 But in the meantime, I was left with what to do to keep Carmella from being too heartbroken at being left behind.  She is a good sport but to be honest I think she has had enough, too.  I decided to try my luck at a park nearby.  Since it was Friday evening and really out of the way of just about everything I thought it might be pretty empty.  I tucked getting ice cream cones into my back pocket just in case there were other kids there. 

Thank God the place was abandoned. We pulled out a picnic blanket, some library books and a See's lollipop (thank you Nicole!). 

For a few hours we ran, slid and read... Carmella informed me, among other things, that this is not the play ground (that would be the slide in our back yard) this is the PARK!

We had a great time.  We giggled and talked and I was again reminded why Carmella is Addison's big sister.  I was sitting on the blanket watching him revert to the behavior of a three month old... and trying to get a smile out of him and seeing only blank stares.  I was thinking of how hard he has worked to learn all those skills that now seem no where to be found.  Skills that other kids don't have to work for at all.  In short, I was getting discouraged and heart broken. 

But not Carmella.  She just says, "Henry want's to slide."  So we slide.  And "Henry wants to climb."  So we climb.  And "Henry wants to sit on the dinosaur."  So we sit.  Carmella is not bothered about whether Henry pays attention or responds.  She just keeps doing what's best for him.  Involving him in all the life that is around him and believing that one day he is going to slide and climb himself. 

That was good medicine for me.
When "the guys" were finished biking they joined us and we shared our picnic.  

A change of scenery and a little fresh air went an awful long way.  We returned home feeling like a weight had been, if only for a time, removed.  And that is something we haven't felt in a long time.  It set the stage for a pleasant and relaxing weekend in which we were reminded we are not defined by our circumstances, no matter how dire they may seem at times. 

We are defined by the God who made us, the family we are, the attitudes we live and the choices we make.

Oh, and maybe carrying a spare inner tube wouldn't be a half bad idea.


  1. That part about Carmella and Addison... so sweet!! It brought tears to my eyes.

  2. What a blessing to have children around to point out the light when all we see is dark. I love that. It truly is amazing how God puts families together. Kuddos to you for not throwing a tantrum, too! I am ashamed to say I probably wouldn't have been as good of a sport

  3. My dear, brave Mama. Next time, we'll make sure all the tires are ready. And didn't Addison sport that helmet/sunglasses combo like a regular sport? :) Love you! -Kay