Birthday Death March.

There are two sides to every story. Two different ways of looking at everything in life. I’ve mentioned before that blogging has helped me improve my attitude…moving away from the glass-half-empty way of thinking towards the glass-half-full attitude. Looking for inspiring stories to blog about makes me notice more the wonderful little things hidden in the everyday.

The night before...dinner and birthday cake with my folks.

So with that in mind, I give you a few photos from my birthday. Rather than buying a new camera lens (always my go-to gift idea!) I decided to support the Free Wheelchair Mission and change three lives with three wheelchair donations. (Check out this one minute video if you want to know more about this great cause. It might make you cry.) And while mentally I understand that sharing Christ’s love with the needy is more important that fooling around with a new lens, I admit I felt a little bit of a let-down when I didn’t have anything to open on my birthday. (Yes, I’m just that shallow.) So to remedy the problem, I decided that my ‘present’ would be spending my birthday doing everything I love: nature, photography, fabric, sewing, art, and books.

Breakfast in bed, "Hapee Brthday" cards and Greg even picked roses from our garden!

What could be better? A nature walk, trip to the fabric store without kids, a little bit of sewing on a quilt for the foster babies, dinner out, and book club. So we started with a morning walk in our nearby regional park…out in nature, taking pictures, watching the boys run around and explore the oak groves, relaxing with the family. We even got to see a baby bobcat running up the trail in front of us! That was the best part of the morning. So cool.

But I did mention that every story in life has a second side, didn’t I? Because this little “walk” is what Greg and I will hereafter refer to as the “Birthday Death March of 2010.” I cannot blame Greg for the lack of quality trail maps of this park. He was present and lucid when I told him the boys wouldn’t need sunscreen because we probably wouldn’t last that long anyway, and that two small water bottles would be enough for our “walk”, and that I was going to wear my trusty Rainbow sandals because we weren’t doing anything strenuous or anything. So we drove to the park and started out. Beautiful day. Oak trees lining the paths and reaching towards each other making tunnels for us to walk through. Sure, it was a little more hilly than I’d expected, but we were having fun.

I love how they each have their own walking sticks.

We are having fun, aren’t we? Which way is this trail sign pointing anyway? It can’t really mean up there, can it? Let’s go this way. Come on, boys, let’s go. Wait, where ARE we going? This sure seems farther than I’d thought. You mean we have to climb up that little slippery crevice to get where we’re going? Okay… At least we’re in the shade. Wait, not anymore. Now, I think we went the wrong way…let’s go around this way. Where are we going? I’m hot! My feet are aching! I’m tired! (No, that wasn’t me speaking, it was the boys. But I agree.) How long have we been walking? Nobody wants to answer that question, because however long we’ve been going for, we have that much more to get back to the car. Jake’s back aches like an eighty year old man. Tyler is scared of the red ants on the path, the rustling in the bushes, and his own boogers, which stop him, screaming, in his tracks. No, I am not kidding. Wait, he has another prickle in his shoe. Tyler, if you sit down on the path back there while we hike ahead, you’re going to get eaten by a mountain lion. Wait, did I just tell my child, whom I’d like to encourage to love nature, that he’s about to be eaten by a mountain lion? Yes, I think I did. This geocache had better be worth all this. You can have a snack when we get to the cache. We’re almost there. Maybe. Just a little ways up this hill. And a little more. Just around that bend. I think. Only a little further…

taking a break on the trail

We made it to our destination! I had envisioned a pleasant little jaunt in the park and after one of the most strenuous uphill climbs in recent memory, we have reached the spot where we’ll find the geocache. If we look hard. Okay, maybe a little harder. Where is that thing? Could it be over there? No. Look over here again. Let’s sit here in the shade and eat our fruit leather and drink some more of our diminishing water supply. Okay, that cache has to be here somewhere. No, it is really not. We can’t even find the dang geocache that brought us on this convoluted trip. What? Greg says it’s time to start back. I’m tired! I’m hungry again! I peed in my pants! (Again, not me, but the boys. Thankfully.) Time for mommy to hold the backpack, my camera bag, Greg’s huge “chase away the mountain lions” stick, Tyler’s hiking stick, Jake’s hiking stick, and the two pieces of brush that Jake is using as ‘claws’. All so that Jake can get a piggy back ride from Greg for a bit, then Tyler can have his turn. I feel like a pack mule. Greg looks like a pack mule.

But we’re almost there. That phrase seems to be the catchphrase of the day. It’s all downhill from here now that we’ve spent the last several miles getting to this point! No, really, we’re really almost there. I can see the pavement again. That’s the spot that we thought was the wrong direction several hours ago, which actually turns out to be the right direction, now that we’ve gone completely around the mountain to return to this point. But take heart, it was a big loop, so we didn’t lose any time. I think. My stomach hurts. I think I might throw up. (Me this time, not the boys. It’s been an iffy week for my stomach, but I don’t speak up. We’re almost there.) It is hot. Thank goodness it’s not as hot as it has been the past several days. We’re almost there. No really. There’s the gate. The car! The boys start running! I flop into the front seat and sigh. The birthday death march is over. We check the gps and find that we’ve just taken our children on a four and a half mile hike with an elevation change of almost a thousand feet. Which pretty much means it was uphill most of the way. I think. Is that even possible? I guess not. Honestly, those boys did really well for the kind of hike we took them on. This is the kind of hike you work up to, not just jump in the car and go to celebrate your birthday. What can I say, we are not smart people.

It really WAS beautiful, I have to admit.

Now we are home and the boys giggle in the tub upstairs. I drink an icy smoothie and wonder if there’s still time enough to get to the fabric store to use my birthday coupon. My feet need a good rinsing. I need a shower. Happy birthday to me.

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