Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our new favorite place...

Last year Brendan and I were out on a date and stumbled upon Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World. We wandered the store looking at the live fish, four wheelers, boats, clothing, gear, etc. The whole time I just kept thinking about my childhood in Orrtanna PA. The country, hunting(this was not my thing), fishing, hiking, and spending every waking hour out of doors. We had a wooden swing set that my parents built.  It has a climbing rope, rings, a trapeze swing, a fire pole, slide and swings, we would play on this as well as a 2X4 beam held up by two cinder blocks (it was our balance beam).  We were a gymnastics crew you see!  There was also the most beautiful creek about a mile from our house that had vines hanging from the trees.  We would jump from the bridge into the water or swing from the vines and then jump in.  Yes of course there were dangers.  One time my friend S and I were at the creek and had just waded in when a very long water moccasin swam between our legs.  We FROZE and as soon as it was by we got out and decided to wait to swim another day.  Thankfully that snake was shedding so it could not exactly see that our legs were threats, at least that is my thoughts-it could have very well been a complete God moment!  The other "magical" thing about our beautiful little neighborhood was a forest behind our house.  My sister, S, A, H, and I would generally go there together.  It was funny how each of our houses had their own unique ways to play.  Our house was right in front of the thicket that we dared ourselves and each other to venture into.  There were vines and swamp areas in it (aka mud holes that never dried due to the dense forest and lack of sunlight).  We also lived in front of the corn fields that we would play hide and seek in.  Finally our house had a huge unfinished basement.  We had a "stage" made from palettes, that we would sing on.  We would roller skate around and around as if it was our own personal roller rink.  And we even turned that basement into a "haunted basement" for our neighbors to come through on halloween.  H lived in a beautiful victorian farm house with a small barn.  Her mom was in to all things natural and her house always smelled like fresh plants and baked goods.  I remember crashing my bike in front of her house one day so she brought me in, put aloe right from the plant on my knee and sent me on my way.  I had never seen a plant heal before.  I was amazed!  S's loved music, board games, and making the best salads.  She always had beauty tips and ideas as a kid.  We would make facial masks from different refrigerated goods (think mayo and eggs, lol).  When we were very small her mom would "babysit" our dolls when we went to school.  A's house had a basement full of toys that was so incredible, it felt like we had the go ahead to play in a toy store.  Anyway, back to the "magical" part, the creek that I mentioned before, ran behind our house too, many parts of it were rather shallow.  There were trees all around and a perfect clearing that allowed the sun to shine on the water and rocks in the shallows.  The rocks would sparkle and just out of reach from the suns rays there was a small "island" in the middle of a deeper area with faster paced waters.  The bull frogs the size of dinner plates would hang out on the island and jump into the water with the snapping turtles when they would spy us.  Why I loved exploring the fields, thicket, and woods around my house, the most magical part of my childhood took place on the train tracks that were about 1/4 to a 1/2 a mile in the opposite direction of the creek bridge, but I am afraid that I must save that story for another post.

This trip also reminded me of a time in my life when I was much older.  I was in middle school when one of my very best friends (J) that I had known since Daisy Girl Scouts (age 4) and was living just a few streets away from the home my mom purchased after my parents divorce.  It was a really great coincidence that my mom purchased the house near to hers.  About two years later we were assigned to sit next to each other in math class.  Everyone had tables made from three desks pushed together.  It was J, myself, and our good friend (a boy this time lol) B.  One day the two of them came in to math class clearly disgruntled.  They wouldn't talk the entire time and afterwards I usually walked with "B" to our next class.  He went storming out.  I caught up with him and he just said that he didn't want to talk about it.  I turned around risking being late and caught up with "J".  I hated when there was any unrest or hurt feelings.  So when I caught up to "J" she shared with me that her mom and his dad were getting married and that they were going to live together and be step-siblings!  Oh my!  The tension quickly past and their home became a playground for there six kids; three girls and three boys.  Because they resembled the "Brady Bunch" and I was there so often my nickname quickly became Alice.  Ironically, the boys had a cousin "L" and he also lived in my neighborhood.  He was also a regular fixture at their home.  Their parents welcomed all of the kids friends into their home.  After a year or so it was the place for all of us teens to hang out.  And I loved it there.  There was always something happening!  I had always wanted a big family, so hanging out with her family was amazing (and helpful now that I am a mom of five).  It also gave me so many grand adventures.  Her step brothers who were also some very great friends of mine, were always doing CRAZY things.  They were dare devils for sure and I loved every minute of it.  They lived  in the woods just on the border of a different school district but thankfully they came to ours.  I would not be who I am today without all of these experiences.  They had acres and acres of land full of fun outdoor excitement.  From a pool and trampoline to the pond, four wheelers and Swiss Family Robinson Style tree community that they had built, and no I am not exaggerating, I really wish I had pictures of it.  There were multiple tree houses made from branches etc, in multiple trees with rope bridges connecting them to each other.  We would do all kinds of stuff and I was determined to do all that the boys could do. So if they dared me to jump from the 'highway bridge' into 5, 6 or 7 feet of water I would, especially if it was dangerous. We played paint ball and went tree skipping (climbing trees and jumping from one to the other-I did this once and only once because I nearly fell from the tree!  It was crazy and it was a blast.  Like I said NEVER a dull moment!

When I became a mom I lost my courage because after all, I had a little one depending on me.  I also became a mom before many of my friends.  Many of them are still not parents but want to be one someday.  But as a teen I also struggled because I also grew up around the city, visiting family and I also was blessed to be an exchange student and travel to foreign countries.  It was very odd for me to find my place so to speak.  I felt that I could not be a country girl and a city girl and that I had to choose just one. Kind of silly now but I think for teens, especially girls, it is very real that 'this group wears this type of shoe' and 'that group likes that kind of music'.  Being at Bass Pro really reinstated my desire to teach my children to grow, learn, and love all of the many many aspects of society and our world around us.

Brendan on the other hand has always been interested in engineering, computers, video games, and electronics. He never appeared to be the 'type of person' who liked camping or fishing. This impression that I have always had of him bothers him because apparently he loves the out of doors. I had no clue.

So our trip to outdoor world was followed up with several conversations about "what we would do if we won a shopping spree to Bass Pro" and "how we have to take the kids there, they will LOVE it."

Now a little less than a year later and we finally made it, and yes our kids had a blast. Brendan had so much fun he actually ventured off from the kids and I for over 30 minutes to educate himself on all things 'firearms' [yes my husband is very technical with an engineer's mind, afterall he is a stellar airman :)] He also enjoyed the paint ball and camping gear. We would love to have a paint ball fight and play airsoft together, although I doubt Bren would shoot me with an air soft gun because he doesn't want to hurt me (he is quite the gentleman too). I loved the bows and fishing stuff along with the camping gear. The kids went crazy over the pop guns and every single one of us wants a marshmallow shooter of one kind or another to have a marshmallow fight. Another favorite was a four wheeler!

This past weekend they had free pictures with santa and crafts for the kids so we stopped in and really had a blast. It was like visiting an amusement park even though it was a store!

All in all I desperately miss nature, trees, rivers, and mountains. Even more I am so sad that my kids do not know what it is like to just go outside and play and explore the world that our wonderful Creator has made for us. They always have to have someone to play with. I pray that we will have some land sometime soon, with trees and room to run!

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