Monday, February 22, 2010

An Anything Can Happen Day!

Sunday morning was a typical Sunday at the Carter household: total chaos. It's the strange phenomenon known as "Getting Ready for Church," when all hell breaks loose, and I know we're not alone in the homes in which this plays out. On this particular day, we were extra weary from a certain night spent with a near-5 month old who thinks he's 5 days old and, as a result, wakes every two hours demanding food, attention, kisses, whatever. We were oddly free of firm commitments to the Sunday School and service hours, and perhaps because of this rare opportunity, Jeff and I reached the same conclusion simultaneously (over the loud screaming and gnashing of teeth - Aidan and Leo's, that is - ) - we'd skip church and spend the morning regrouping as a family.

It became an Anything Can Happen Day before we even knew it! Our first thought was to head to a local favorite trail for some trail walking. We figured that the warm temps of the past few days would make the trail clear of snow, and it was shaping up to be a gorgeous day with sunshine and a high in the 50's - a blessed change from all the snow! We packed our GORP, grabbed our camera, and were off...

The trail was impressively snow covered, still. Nevertheless, we walked around a bit, admiring the way the forest still looked in the snow, and marveling at all the damaged trees. Aidan and Leo chased each other in and out of the snow and mud, and in those first moments I knew we had made a good choice. Unaccustomed to the warmth of the sun after such long winter days, we reveled in the brightness and happiness of the day. I found a snake (albeit a dead snake) that was fascinating to the boys; Jeff and I felt that its discovery authenticated the "nature" aspect of our trail hike. Eventually, our boots could not keep us warm any longer, and we headed to our next adventure destination - C'ville Coffee, one of my favorite, yet infrequently-visited, coffee houses in Charlottesville.

The coffee house was warm and inviting; the barista delighted in watching our kids as they ordered their cocoa (Leo, vacilating between cocoa and coffee, finally chose the cocoa). We settled into a table in the "family" section of the coffeehouse. It was comfortably crowded yet fairly quiet - the perfect context for people-watching. Eventually, the lure of the kids' play area overshadowed the deliciousness of their hot chocolate, and Aidan and Leo headed over to play with the other kids. When Jeff joined them, to "supervise," I realized what a perfect place a coffee house is for us - my social butterfly husband is afforded the opportunity of socializing with all the other outgoing, extroverted parents while I am left to luxuriate in the quiet privacy of my mug of coffee and the morning paper. We spent over an hour there, and it nourished our hearts and souls.

Still, our day begged for one more adventure before returning home for a late lunch and a nap for Leo. I kept wracking my brain for a cheap yet exciting thrill that was fairly nearby - and then it struck me. The beach back at the lake! Jeff agreed it would be so fun to see what it was like now, knowing we'd be back in a mere 3 months or so, ready to swim and sunbathe. We didn't tell the kids where we were going, just that we had one last adventure. Leo promptly fell asleep and Aidan had his nose buried in his Leapster, so they were equally surprised when we arrived at our final destination. Leo opened his eyes and not two seconds later shouted "The Beach! I LOVE the beach!!!"

We traded snowballs for sandcastles and snow boots for shade umbrellas, and savored the chance to see the beach in such rare form, still covered with inches of snow. Regrouped and refreshed, our family returned home, happier and more connected than we could have hoped for that morning.

In our highly structured, highly routinized life as a family, our Anything Can Happen Day was an important reminder of how much fun it can be to let go of all routines, committments, and responsibilities, and simply be spontaneous. "Spontaneous" is one of the last adjectives one would ever use to describe me, and yet it felt so good to be a spontaneous person that day. In fact, it felt so good that I promptly came home and penned in on my to-do list, "Plan another day soon to be spontaneous."

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