Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pedal Adventures

What is with me?? I've drafted about a dozen posts over the last four weeks or so and have trashed every single one of them. There is no shortage of activity around here. ... I've just lost my blogging mojo. Maybe my season of blogging has ended, but somehow I'm still attached to the idea of keeping this journal alive. ... So, in an effort to kick-start some activity here I'll share a little window into our past holiday season -- which is really just a bid to make you look at my vacation pictures -- and then quick, publish it before I self-consciously delete it!

The Griswald family adventure about to begin!
I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. Growing up, it was a very special time for me. My mom loved Christmas and although I have boxes and boxes labeled "Christmas" in my attic, it's just not the same without her. It will never be the same. But really, if I'm honest, it was never the same for my kids as it was for me as a child. The holiday traditions that I grew up with just didn't work for my family and after a season or two (or five!) I realized that traditions are meant to support people, to connect them and to give meaning. If the cost of maintaining tradition is too high then it is far better to create new traditions and new meanings. So that's what we did. For the past three years we have eschewed Christmas and all the trappings and focused instead on doing something as a family; instead of gifts, we shared an experience. We took our time. And because we are who we are, the experience had to be centered around water and bicycles. None of you are probably surprised!

The calm before the Christmas Eve storm
This year we headed South -- destination Florida! And I don't know why, but coming off of some really great camping experiences with my kids over the summer, I insanely thought: why not spend Christmas camping? So that's what we did. And? Even though a lot went wrong, like our Christmas Eve feast of fish tacos eaten at a picnic table in the pouring rain and the lesson in rain-fly management that resulted in spending the entire rest of the night at the campground laundry hoping our quarters would last. ... well, a lot of it also went right. And in the words of Sami, it was: "The Best Christmas Ever!" Yes, there was the camping, which was an adventure. And yes, the ocean! What can I say about the joy of watching Oliver in love with the ocean? He is the kind of happy in the ocean that people search for their whole lives!

Oliver tolerating yet another photo!
40 miles on the West Orange bike trail, Wintergarden, Florida.
But it's the biking that I want to tell you about because I can hardly say how amazing it was to watch Oliver navigate the world by bike on this trip. It's hard not to forget those early days on a bike with Oliver. It's hard not to forget how many months we spent just teaching him how to pedal. And then how scary it was to take Oliver from the sidewalk in front of our house to the street! For months I was so terrified that he would get hit by a car that I couldn't even go along when Nik took him for a ride. Every time they left the house I strained my ears for the sound of emergency vehicles! Fast forward a few years and a thousand miles later and Oliver is able to capably navigate riding everywhere our bikes can take us. And what can I tell you? After a half year of public school under our belts, it was good to be reminded that my boy excels at something that many people can't or won't even try! Watching him and trusting him to be able to navigate in a city where everything is unexpected and new? Where a mistake can have tragic results? Well, it kind of put being able to sit still and silent in a classroom for an hour in perspective in a way I didn't anticipate. So, here is the rest of the photographic evidence:

32 miles in: Oliver has had enough! And so we wait.

This is what happiness looks like at Castillo de San Marcos
Biking St. Augustine means never having to look for parking!
Biking and bridges -- what could be better!
Expoloring St. Augustine by bike.

Biking Savannah!

Biking and fountains? It can't get any better!

I could never have anticipated that persisting in our efforts to teach Oliver to ride a bike would have such a profound impact on our lives. We have biked in seven countries and countless cities. Biking has allowed us to see and do things that would otherwise be very difficult. It has given Oliver a measure of independence that must feel incredibly exhilarating to him. And it serves as a great reminder that we are really only limited in our imaginations.


  1. Laurence1:20 PM

    Waou ! it would have been too bad if you had the idea to delete this post !
    great holidays ! the way you spend christmas is moving and great ; biking is independance : bravo Oliver !
    « we are really only limited in our imaginations » : it always has to be in our mind in bad days but we always find energy to go on in Day sixty seven !

  2. You are awesome Christine! I would like our family to be more adventuresome like yours. I'm glad you posted.