Lincoln called me from work on Friday at around noon to tell me that he would be home at one. Lands End is trying a new summer schedule, releasing employees at one o'clock every other Friday. This is an effort on their part to help establish a healthy work/life balance. He also informed me that he would, indeed, be ACTUALLY leaving at that time because they had been told that staying would not earn them any brownie points, it would instead be frowned upon. I was absolutely thrilled about this development, almost as thrilled as the employees. Word on the street is that they may make it EVERY Friday next summer if it seems to be working out. So at 1:02 my husband walked in the door. It was one of those, what do we do now? moments. But more like, wow, the possibilities are endless. So Lincoln took Devon fishing while Jesse slept and Renie and I prepared food for Saturday. Lincoln and Devon, armed with new lures Lincoln wanted to try, headed to the Wisconsin River to find a good hole. Renie and I made macaroni salad, devilled eggs, whoopee pies, and set the chicken to marinating. The girls arrived home from school at 3:30, followed by Lincoln and Devon around 4. The boys came home pretty excited because they had caught 5 small mouth bass, the last one being the biggest Lincoln had ever caught. They would have stayed longer if not for the swarms of mosquitoes along the riverbank. (Note: they did not keep any of the fish because I don't clean, cook, or eat fish. Lincoln probably would have been the only one that would eat it.) Since it was still pretty early, Kennedy and I decided to go for a bike ride together on the Military Ridge Trail. The Military Ridge is an old railroad bed that has been torn up and filled in, creating a smooth, level biking path. It runs 40 miles from Dodgeville to Madison. Since I just got my bike, we hadn't ridden on it yet. We parked at the trail head and unloaded our bikes, not really sure of what we would find. We were very happy to discover that the trail runs pleasantly along the countryside with trees arcing overhead with dappled sunlight splashing through. It runs along the road for a while and then turns away into pastureland. We passed cows and farmers plowing fields. The scent of apple blossoms was heavy in the air and violets dotted the roadside. We looked out over the rolling green hills and dreamed about how fun it would be to ride a horse over the hills and down into the hidden valleys. We enjoyed one an other's company and the glory of the beautiful day. I think we rode close to 10 miles, round trip. It was one of those hours I will freeze in my memory as a perfect moment with one of my children. We returned home to find dinner ready- our usual Friday night fare, take-n-bake pizza from Walmart. A very lovely day indeed.
Saturday morning Lincoln and Kennedy went fishing.
They didn't have much luck and returned around 8:30 a little disappointed, but happy they had gone. At 8:45 we had an egg hunt. For those of you who are not aware of our family's tradition, let me fill you in. When my parents joined the church, they learned about keeping the Sabbath holy. (This wasn't news to them, but the importance of it and actual practice was.) They reflected on it and decided that hunting for Easter eggs and doing other fun activities didn't really work with the Sabbath. So they invented their own holiday. Easter was set aside for going to church and reflecting on the death, resurrection and atonement of Jesus Christ. Spring Holiday was set up as a day to celebrate the arrival of spring. Tradition was that we celebrated it the first Saturday that all the snow was off the ground and we knew there wouldn't be anymore that season. Growing up in northern NY, this usually meant it took place in May. Having lived the past 6 years in NC, we were able to do it the Saturday after Easter every year. (The Saturday AFTER so we can purchase clearance Easter candy. ) Easter, as you know, was very early this year so it's been a couple months. My kids are not accustomed to waiting this long, but they survived it. So we had our egg hunt at 8:45, got everyone hopped up on sugar, and then went to the girls' soccer game at 10.
After the soccer game we loaded everyone up and drove to Governor Dodge State Park for a picnic. We brought along kites, a plastic bat and ball, badminton rackets and birdies and other outdoor toys, including mine and Kennedy's bikes. We had a lovely picnic by the lake, playing in the sunshine and dandelions.
We stopped at the playground in the park and we walked by the dam and waterfall below the lake.
We saw a sign posted on one of the trails noting that the trail met with the Military Ridge Trail in 2.2 miles. We determined that Kennedy and I would bike to the trail and then to the trail head and Lincoln and the little ones would pick us up there. The trail from Governor Dodge was paved but VERY hilly. I'm talking long, steep hills. Hard enough for me with a brand new bike with lots of gears, grueling for Kennedy on her freebie bike with inefficient brakes. I was very proud of her. She was close to tears after the first big hill- even walking our bikes up it was tiring- but she sucked it up and persevered. There is a portion of the trail that actually runs on the shoulder of a main road. This was hot and sunny, and steep uphill. We were very happy to see the point where the trail met the Military Ridge. At that point we still had 2.5 miles to go, but this was level and pleasant as I described before. This time we saw a huge bunny on the trail and lots of butterflies. We were so excited and grateful to see Lincoln and the kids beckoning to us from the end of the trail as we approached, everyone talking at once about what had happened while we were apart. Another wonderful parenting moment- seeing my child tackle something difficult and rise to the challenge, without complaint or giving up. I guess that's all I can hope for. That we can teach our kids that life is not always smooth and level. There will be hot sun and steep grueling hills. But they have it in them to conquer the hills- even if they sometimes have to get off the bike and push it-, to overcome the adversity and reap the blessings that come as a result. Blessings of seeing that they can do whatever they set their minds to and blessings of being together as a family forever when we've set our minds toward the Lord.
The perfect end to the day was a Mommy-daughter date with Julia, with this glorious sunset as we drove home.