Let me answer a few questions and give a few disclaimers before moving onto the Day Two or our Spring Vacation.
1. Have been getting lots and lots of emails about the release date of Making the Shot Three; An In-Depth Discussion on Focus. I'll explain more about its release in the next few days, but (I'm too nervous to an exact release date.) I feel confident it will be ready to release early next week. The writing is done, the audio is done, the images are done - it just needs a little more tweaking to get it just right.
2. The only two lenses I used on our Spring Break trip were my Nikon 35mm f1.4 and my Nikon 85mm f1.4 (Nikon makes lesser-expensive versions of both of these lenses; the 35mm f1.8 and the 85mm f1.8.) Remember though, I do not block the shooting information on my images so if you double click on any image here on my blog, you can copy and paste the URL into Jeffrey's EXIF viewer and it will tell you the camera I use, the lens I used, my aperture, SS, ISO, etc.
3. Josh has planned almost every trip we've ever taken as a family or as a couple. Honestly, I don't care much about where we're going or what we're doing - and kind of prefer to just taking a backseat and enjoying the ride. His plans are usually pretty loose because he's really spontaneous and doesn't like having a specific plan or agenda. And somehow, his loose plans always work out.
In general though, he and I like the same things. We love small towns, we love being where there aren't many other people and we love stopping the car a bazillion times along the way just to stretch our legs, breath in some fresh air and take in some new sights.
So for this year's and last year's Spring Break trips, he made reservations at a hotel for our first night of the trip only and had touched base with hotels in some of the other towns that we might potentially stay in. He also plotted out a few potential routes to drive, looked into the populations of various towns along the way, and different sites of interest.
Several times a day during our trip though, we were making decisions about which direction to drive, whether to stay or press on, etc., and though I am a girl who enjoys organization, structure and planning, I kind of like that kind of spontaneity when it comes to traveling..
4. Last year's Spring Break trip (Here's links to photosfrom Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, and Day Six.) was the first time we ever decided to take our attention off of ways in which we could entertain ourselves and onto ways in which we could contribute to a community, and if you asked anyone in my family, they'd probably list that trip quite high amongst their best memories. I think our minds and our prayers were just really focused on letting God direct the entire trip and He did. Just a few miles before arriving at our first destination, we stopped to help a guy that was out of gas and he offered to buy us lunch. During lunch, we met a gal who invited us to play basketball later that night. During that game, Josh was guarding the local pastor who needed some work done around the church. And the whole trip kind of went just like that.
It felt magical. So magical that my kids wanted to go back to the exact same towns we went to last year. Josh and I decided against that for a couple of reasons though:
- We don't want our kids to stick with what is familiar just for the sake of familiarity. We want them to be willing to pursue what is unknown and unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
- Sometimes, it's just better to leave a perfect memory as a 'perfect memory,' rather than spoiling it by trying to recreate it.
So we talked to our kids about this in advance, telling them that if they had their minds to set on what they felt our Spring Break trip SHOULD look like, that they'd miss out on what the trip COULD look like.
We also talked to them about the fact that sometimes God just needs us to trust Him, even when things aren't going the way we want them to go.
And we prayed about it too.
Unfortunately, we didn't run into anyone who was out of gas on Day One of this year's trip and spent most of the day just traveling and stopping at scenic vistas. So when my kids laid their heads down on their pillows on Day One, they all voiced concerns about things not going like last year's trip.
We just reassured them that God had a plan.
When we woke up on Day Two, Cole and Courtney decided they wanted to go running (in their pajamas) with Josh...
That ended Cole leading the pack on his way back to the hotel.
And Courtney taking up the rear (in tears) with Josh heading back to get her.
And then there was refrigerator (icechest) oatmeal in the back of the truck for breakfast.
And another Travelall for me to fall in love with.
And some hot chocolate at a local diner where we hoped to get a chance to talk to someone who could hook us up with some work that needed to be done locally.
That ended with the waitress announcing that our hot chocolates were on a house and a lead to go talk to someone at the local museum about doing some work.
And a few minutes of checking out the cafe's antique shop.
Then there was a long, painful break from photo-taking.
In a nutshell, Cole started acting like a turd while we were packing up our hotel room. So, as we loaded up in the truck, I (unsuccessfully) tried to lighten his mood by putting him in a headlock and making him promise to change his attitude. Somehow, in my (misguided) mind, I actually thought this tactic was working and could have sworn I heard him laughing, but once he broke loose, he took off running down the alley and that's when I knew our day was about to take an unfortunate detour.
You see, Cole is a hot-head and is notorious for getting mad and running off.
In fact, after we packed -up our campsite and loaded up the truck after last year's 4th of July trip, we had to scour the woods looking for Cole for more than 30 minutes because he had taken off in a fit of anger (and if you've ever had to look for your child in the woods for 30+ minutes, you know the thoughts that can run through a mothers mind in that length of time.)
So we drove around the little town looking for him for a few minutes, while I tried to convince Josh just to drive up to the museum and to leave him (bored and wondering where we were) for a few hours to teach him a lesson. I mean, he's 13 and he really does need to learn this lesson once and for all because it's a bothersome and dangerous problem.
And about that time, Josh spotted him in his rearview mirror, running in the opposite direction of our truck.
So Josh threw on the emergency break, flung open his door and started off after Cole. There was some yelling at that point in time, but honestly, there has been yelling every single time this has happened and it hasn't detoured Cole from doing it over and over and over again.
A few seconds later, Cole into the truck and Josh started driving again before I told him to pull over.
And then I did the only thing I felt I could do to make sure this never happened again...
I took Cole's new, hardbound #4 book in the Harry Potter series (the book he was totally engrossed in and the only book he brought to read on the trip) and I threw it in the trashcan.
I wasn't really even that mad when I did it. In fact, I struggled to do it because I love Cole's love for reading. But I also know Cole well enough to know that books are just about his only currency and that I had to do something big to finally put an end to this reoccurring problem.
And then everyone was silent for awhile, except for Annie, who was in tears, promising to buy Cole a replacement book.
And then our lead at the museum turned up empty-handed.
And then a long conversation outside of the truck with Annie helped her to understand how hard it was for me as a mom to do what I did with Cole's book.
And then we decided just to get on the road to head to our next destination.
And then there was some more silence in the truck.
And then when Josh stopped to grab catsup and mustard (for our lunch) from a local grocery store, I got out, walked to the back of the truck and cried for a few minutes because parenting just feels so stinking exhausting sometimes.
And then we got back into the silent car again and drove for awhile.
And then we spotted a pond full of more geese than any of us had ever seen in our entire, collective lives, so we pulled over to check it out.
I was hoping that if we walked slowly and quietly enough that we wouldn't disturb them, but before we even got in photo-range, a couple of them got scared and within seconds, the entire pond of geese were in flight.
It was a sound I had never heard before - thousands and thousands of wings all ascending at once.
And I sight I had never seen before either.
I was quite sure I was going to get pooped on, but it was so surreal that I didn't care.
Somehow, my kids and I all managed to escape their droppings.
Josh Downs wasn't so lucky though - he was covered in it.
And then Cole hugged me apolized to everyone (and I know Cole well enough to know that when he apologizes, it means he is truly over it and doesn't have any intention of holding onto resentment - not even over a new, hardbound #4 book in the Harry Potter series laying in a trashcan 30-miles away.)
And then we got in the truck again, only to stop just a few miles down the road for a snack break.
I think the kids left at least a dozen notes inside that market.
And not much longer after that, it was time to pull over to BBQ lunch.
And a while later, we arrived at our second overnight desination in Cedar Falls, CA.
We couldn't find anyone at the hotel we were planning on staying at, so we went across the street to Cedarville Grocery to kill a bit of time.
As we were getting settled in our room, Cole and Courtney got into a big enough fight that Josh told them both to sit down on the couch until they had resolved it on their own.
After 30+ minutes and no resolution, Josh announced that he and Annie and I were leaving and locking the door behind us and that they weren't to leave the couch until they had worked it all out.
So Josh and Annie and I went on a walking-tour of Cedarville on our own.
That's where Annie named and fell in-love with a feral cat after scaring away all of the other feral cats in the neighborhood.
And then we spotted a church with a dual-sport motorcycle and Josh Downs exclaimed, "How cool would it be if the pastor drove that dual-sport?!?" (Josh has a dual-sport motorcycle he drives to work and therefore feels camaraderie with everyone who drives a dual-sport.)
A few minutes later, we were standing inside the church, talking to the pastor with the dual-sport motorcycle (and Annie was still crying over having to leave her beloved, new, feral-cat friend.)
And a few minutes after that, we were walking back to the hotel room, excited about the work the pastor had set us up to do, and placing wagers on whether or not Cole and Courtney had resolved their issues.
Turns out they had, so we all set off to explore Cedarville together.
And then everyone got in their pajamas and read, while I cooked bean dip.
And then we played spoons.
Unfortunately, neither me, nor my camera settings were prepared for the grand finale to our game of spoons, when Josh announced to Cole and Courtney (the final remaining contestants in the game) that he had placed the last spoon into the waistband of his pajamas and that they'd have to catch him to win the game.
What they didn't know was that he had secretly slipped the spoon to Annie and that the spoon was now hiding in the wasitband of her pajamas instead.
Blurry shots, but good memories (and that's totally ok in my book.)
And then, it was time to bid farewell to Day Two.
As I'm getting ready to hit the 'publish' button, I am hesitant because I feel so vulnerable to being scrutinized for my parenting decisions.
I'm hitting publish anyhow though because it's important to me that I never paint an unrealistic picture of my family or of myself as a mother. It's also important to me that you not leave my blog feeling as if my family is perfect and yours is not.
I am a mom who wakes up most mornings feeling optimistic about the kind of parent I'm going to be that day and goes to bed counting the ways in which I feel like I failed my kids.
And then I wake up the next morning, only to repeat the same cycle.
I'm flawed and so are they.
But we're all learning and growing and laughing and forgiving and become better people together.
And I kind of think that's what family is all about.