Much-needed rain is falling softly from the skies that hang low and gray. I’m sitting cross-legged in an over-stuffed chair near the fire and hugging a mug of Chai latte.
We’ve been gone from this oh-so-comfortable home these past two weeks. A road trip through Idaho to Utah, and then over Oregon’s Cascade Range to the Land of Grandkids.
One of my nephews lives near Salt Lake City. He underwent surgery for brain cancer, his scans are amazingly clear, and he’s feeling well (the crazy guy still runs 4 miles a day even on those days when chemo was messing with him). But he’s not officially in remission, which means the “C” word still hangs over him and his sweet wife and their five children.
Dan and I wanted to sit face-to-face with him and his wife. We wanted to know how they were really doing, which doesn’t happen as well via a text message or video call. We wanted to know what, if anything, they might be anxious about, and if cancer had changed their perspective on life, and if they were doing family-time-together differently.
My older brother, Steve—not to be confused with my younger brother, Mike, who ran a background check on Dan when we got engaged—also lives in Utah, at Snowbird, a ski resort high in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Steve is an outdoor guy. He walked us up to Alta from Snowbird on the back roads and snowy trails as he and Dan became better acquainted (this was their first time meeting in person).
Turns out, he approves of Dan. Which is a good thing since Dan and I have been married well over a year.
And then there were the five days in the Willamette Valley on the other side of the Cascades with the grands while The Parents escaped town.
I’ve written about how road trips are incredibly more enjoyable with a companion after putting in so many miles alone as a widow.
And I’ve written about how important it is to keep in touch with family, even when it’s not necessarily convenient … or when it’s their turn to visit us … or when we can’t really afford it (I remember those days of packing sack lunches and sack dinners to help keep the travel cost down).
I’ve also written about making memories with grandkids, and maybe breaking the houses rules just the teensiest bit, and about how it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.
This blog is a combination of all the above.
Every little out-of-the-ordinary thing we do with our grands is memorable. This is how it is with kids. Small things capture their attention.
Pumpkin-seed roasting, for example.
Dan mentioned that his mom used to roast the seeds after they carved pumpkins. And so we checked out an online recipe, and the older boys spent some time separating the seeds from the pumpkin goop, and we spread them on a cookie sheet with a bit of olive oil and seasoning before popping the pan into the oven.
Turns out, the kids love roasted pumpkin seeds. But more than a delicious snack, they loved participating in making something tasty.
With each road trip or flight or cruise, with each friend or family gathering, we get to write a new adventure book.
Either our books are empty because it’s more comfortable, less expensive, more convenient to stay home in our over-stuffed chairs by the fireplace, hugging our mugs of tea.
Or our books are full of laughter, and pumpkin patches, and walking on fresh-fallen snow, and eating at food truck courts, and game-playing, and Grandpa Dan’s famous blueberry pancakes for dinner, and pumpkin-carving, and deep conversations as we listen well to know how best to pray for these people we love so very much.
In the words of that wise philosopher, Winnie the Pooh:
We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.
Here’s what our adventure book looks like from these past couple weeks: