Monday, April 8, 2013

Quantity and Quality

Of the many gifts we offer our children, the gift of time (quality and quantity) is perhaps most important to me. In fact, this is the very definition of my role as a stay-at-home mom:  I provide my children with massive quantities of my time with them, as well as the quality of time I create.  This past week, during Spring Break, I felt like Jeff and I were able to give both quality and quantity in heaping abundance.  We filled our week with wonderful memories.

On Monday, we headed to the D.C. area for our annual Spring Break adventure trip (a standard Christmas experience gift).  We started at Nottaway Park with a picnic lunch.  My past and present worlds collided as I watched my own children run and laugh and shriek in the same fields I roamed as a child.  I have one particular memory of this park from my own childhood, a day where my parents unexpectedly and randomly let my brother and me both play hooky.  We spent the entire warm, spring day in that park so many years ago, and the close bond of our family that day paralleled the feeling of my own family on this present day.  

Picnic at Nottoway Park - my old stomping grounds...
Love this pic!
 After lunch and playing, we raced each other to the car (I won) and made our way to D.C. We toured the completely-packed Natural History Museum, specifically to see the dinosaurs.  Luckily for me, the exhibit has changed very little in the past 30 years.  While Aidan, Leo, and Pax counted plates on the stegosaurus, I counted children, over and over again.  One, two, where's Pax?  One, two, where's Leo?  

(Can you see the dinosaur hiding behind
 Jeff and I played it cool but were secretly thrilled when the kids were ready to leave the overheated, noisy, packed museum less than an hour after we arrived.  (Yet another perk to the free museums of D.C.)

"I see Nemo!  I see Nemo!" shouted Pax

I was, however, genuinely disappointed not to see a single cherry blossom in bloom on the gorgeous trees around the Tidal Basin.  The harsh, long winter took its toll on the trees, and it would be another week until they were even thinking of blooming.  We headed out of the city and made our way to the hotel.

A little bit chilly, a lot fun.

 Next stop was dinner at Generous George's, an old favorite of ours:

Chef Leo creates his pizza, while Pax looks on with suggestions
George, you are soooo generous!

Day 2 (Tuesday) of our adventure:  Great Falls Park.  I never grow tired of this park, of watching the falls and the swift, slightly menacing river.  The sprawling, fairly level park offers tons of space for each boy to roam and explore, and we always manage to make new discoveries when we're there.  This year, we explored the canals a little more thoroughly, and tried to re-create for ourselves what it must have been like in the 1800s to use the canal as a means of conducting trade and commerce.

This was one of those "run into the frame" photos.  A miracle we're all here!

On our way home, we searched for a place for lunch.  Nothing sounded good - until I remembered one of my favorite, rare lunches as a child:  Decadent Lunch.  (Thank you, Mom, for yet another brilliant tradition for me to introduce to my family!)  We stopped by SweetFrogs and ate until we were stuffed to the tadpole-gills. (Get it?  SweetFrog? Tadpole?? GILLS?) 

On Wednesday, the kids enjoyed a day at home with Jeff, who generously took the day off so that I could take a group of kids from youth group on a hike at Shenandoah.  (Did you know I recently accepted the position as Youth Ministry Leader at our church?  It is such an incredibly good fit for me and for our family, and I am grateful every day for this new opportunity in my life.)  Our hike was so much fun, and it felt great to spend my day with older kids on adventure.

Grandma treated us all to a viewing of "The Croods" on Thursday, and it was such a treat, indeed!  The movie was very cute, but what I enjoyed even more was watching them watch the movie.  We went shoe shopping afterwards (total success!) and then went home to enjoy what little sunshine the week offered to us.

The sun didn't last long on Thursday; it turned to a mix of sleet and icy slush that evening. On Friday morning, we woke up to absolutely no power, which made me more than a little grumpy.  I'd love to say that I wanted to make the morning extra-special for the kids, and so I took them to IHOP for breakfast, but the bare truth is that I was beyond desperate for a cup of coffee that the pancakes and french toast they ate were but a mere side effect to satisfying my primal need for coffee.

During breakfast, I got a text from a friend inviting us to join them at the local indoor pool, and of course my first thought was to say no, because I hadn't planned on it.  But my second thought was, "but you are supposed to be working on being more spontaneous!" and the coffee had started to take effect.  I decided the pool was a great idea, and at the very least, a surefire way for me to get a hot shower in.

The pool was great.  It was so fun to catch up with our friends.  The hot shower was enjoyed in my very own bathroom, since I'd called ahead to see if the power was back on.  Halleluiah!  I might just be spontaneous more often. 

The rest of the weekend was filled with sunshine, good food, and good times with neighbors.  And best of all?  On Sunday night, I knew it had been a truly wonderful week because of the sense of longing, a bit of future-missing, that I might feel come Monday morning when the school bus drove off....

And what a relief to feel that, given our recent history... where I was forced to give heaping quantities, yet abandoned the quality.

Indeed, I am so grateful for this week, and these memories.  


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