This summer we have been on a real roll with adventures. With so much changing in our family's life, it seems to have spurred us on to try more and more new things. While we have had A LOT of fun on our adventures, I have to think about what our family has taken from those experiences (I do need something to blog about, after all!).
So here is a run down of our take aways, some COMFY and some not-so-COMFY.
DIGGERLAND/PHILDELPHIA—This was our second trip to Diggerland. We went last summer. Although we had a lot of fun, the bloom was off the rose on this one. Last year, we were at Diggerland for about six hours. This year, Joshua was ready to go after three. He had a blast during those three hours, but a good deal of the excitement for him was the "first-time" experience feeling. I'm not sure how you can judge if an activity that was so much fun one time will elicit a similar response on a return trip??
The day after Diggerland, we drove to Philadelphia to tour the Submarine Becuna. Joshua and Jeremy share a fascination of submarines, big ships, and the like. Joshua was thrilled to be going on a real submarine that fought in a real war! We thought it would be a nice daddy-son thing to do. I would find the submarine tour interesting, but it was not a high priority for me. At that time, Joshua had just started to have some difficulty separating from me. And, he was incredibly determined not to go on that submarine unless I went too. His 4-year-old mind/imagination had this horrifying picture of the submarine sailing away with him and daddy on it and me on shore.
Lesson learned, Diggerland: Be COMFY with the fact that some things are not as awesome as you want them to be. We still had a great trip, it was just different than what we expected and that was OK. Joshua had fun at Diggerland AND he had a blast at the indoor pool at our hotel and eating his dinner ON his bed from take-out containers. Fun really does not have to be complicated.
Lesson learned, Philadelphia: As irrational, and even silly, as Joshua's fear seemed to us, it was incredible real to him. After a showdown of stubbornness (Joshua saying he wouldn't goon the submarine without me and us saying I was not going to go), we had the delayed sensitivity to slow down and figure out what Joshua's big worry about the situation was. It did not matter how many times or how many ways we explained the situation to him, he could not get past his fear. Some would say, then just skip it, then he will learn a lesson. But, we felt the COMFY thing to do was to listen to his fear, validate the importance of his feelings, and support him as he conquered that fear. He was asking for help, it just took us a while to figure that out. I went on the submarine tour. Once we got on the submarine, I held back and let him and Jeremy experience it together. Not only did he have a great time and learn some really interesting fact, he was incredible proud of himself for managing his fear and getting himself on that submarine!
SKYLINE CAVERNS—This was our first family foray into caverns. Joshua had been studying geology at preschool so the timing for a cavern visit worked well, especially with a very rainy weekend on our hands! As much as he wanted to go, there were a lot of nervous energy around the visit for Joshua. How dark would it be? How would we know where to go? Would it get hot like the core of the earth?
Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to look a little silly. One of the big sticking points for Joshua was his uncertainty about how dark the cavern would be. So, we all proudly walked through our tour holding flashlights. In the end, another great adventure. Joshua took pictures with his own camera. He was really comforted by the fact that we had a tour guide who knew his way around the caverns.
STRAWBERRY PICKING—We had loved apple picking in the Fall, so strawberry picking in the Spring was much anticipated. We did the picking right when we arrived at the farm and enjoyed the wagon ride to the field, looking for "just right" strawberries, and filling our containers. But it was a really hot morning with no shade. By the time we got back to the main part of the farm, we were weary and getting hungry. We were there on a Strawberry Festival weekend, so we knew the farm's cafe would be open. But, it would not be open for another hour. And, we hadn't really brought any food since we were planning on eating at the café. Fortunately, we had a lot of strawberries available, but things deteriorated quickly. We all got a bit fussy and even after the café opened, Joshua just wanted to play on the many fun things the farm offers. Once we got to the café, there was a LONG wait for food and VERY expensive and limited options.
Lesson learned: Always bring your own food. It is funny because being "thrifty" people we usually do this. We almost always have snacks at a minimum and most of the time pack a full picnic.
NEW YORK CITY--We had been talking about going to NYC for some time. Joshua studied architecture at preschool including the Empire State Building. (He also studied Fallingwater and the Eiffel Tower which we will visit this summer. The Taj Mahal will have to wait for another summer.) We were to have a rainy weekend at home, but the NYC weather looked great. We enjoyed an incredible view from our hotel, visited the USS Intrepid, happened upon a great splash pad, ate HUGE matzo balls, went up the Empire State Building and played in Central Park. Jeremy and I had been to NYC before, but being there with the awe and excitement Joshua was expressing made it feel like the first time again.
Lesson learned: Simple things are just as memorable as big events. We had as much fun playing at the splash pad (free) as we did on the USS Intrepid (definitely not free). Climbing on the rocks at Central Park and riding the subway made just as big an impact as the view at the Empire State Building. They were all great, so just be sure not to miss both types of experiences.
Delaware Shore—We went to visit some family on the Delaware Shore. We had a great time visiting, playing fearlessly in the waves, and just being beachy. A notable member of the family we stayed with is their 110 pound dog. A very friendly and intimidating dog, especially for someone who weighs 45 pounds!
Lesson learned—Intimidation bordering on fear of something can turn to teasing/pestering in a blink of an eye. Too quickly for me to understand what was happening. For example, when we arrived we told Joshua not to say the dog's name because the dog will come to him. Joshua was good about not saying it for about a day, then the dog's name seemed to be slipping into the conversation with startling frequency.
CANOE—On Mother's Day, we went to a park along the river. They were not in season yet, but we saw that there were kayak rentals. Joshua was VERY interested. We found a weekend to go to a local park that is on a lake and rented a canoe (that way we could all be in the same boat). We all loved it! We took our picnic in the canoe and docked the canoe to eat our lunch, we explored more of the "forest," saw lots of turtles, and met some very friendly geese. It was a blast. Joshua rowed, navigating, steered, pulled the canoe into the dock.
Lesson learned—Someone will always rock the boat. It may present a moment of imbalance, but it allows you a chance to shake things up and reset your course. (I'll let you guess who rocked the boat the most...and it was not Joshua.)
Our adventures have been fun, built confidence in all of us, and spurred on our thirst for finding new adventures. We also reinforced the lesson we thought we learned: always bring a lunch! I am confident these lessons, especially the lunch, will help build our COMFY family life together wherever we find ourselves.