So much fun happens when we are together, and sometimes the pictures don't even tell the entire story. Zeke had asked to go mini golfing and also drive go carts. We have a great place for that kind of fun, and it is a blast from the past for our family! It is called Funway and we went there often when Gwen and Doug were younger. They have added a bunch of stuff and it was the perfect place for our adventure today. To add to the nostalgia, we first ate lunch together at another family favorite spot - Pal Joeys. Only this was a new location, one that we had never visited before, right on the Fox River. We dined outside and we all enjoyed the warm weather and the view of the river. When we got to Funway, mini golf was the first thing on the agenda. Doug and I stayed in the shade with a sleeping Grace while the rest of the crew hit the course. As they were turning in their clubs Zeke asked who won! I loved Gwen's response - "Everyone won!"
The ever smiling Grace woke up - all smiles, of course! She was quite happy just looking around at all of the stuff happening around her. I love this picture of her since she was quite surprised by the sound of the water cannon just behind her!
Then it was on to the Go Carts! We had a bit of a scrambling around since there were height and age requirements to ride alone in the carts. Zeke decided he wanted to ride with Uncle Doug and since Ellie wasn't old enough (or tall enough) to ride alone, Tim took the wheel for her. Lia was both old enough AND tall enough to drive the cart by herself! I wasn't quite sure that she would actually go alone, but she certainly did!
The first couple of times around the track Lia had a worried look on her face! You can barely see her in the cart, but she sure managed to drive it! She was all smiles by the third time around and she even sped up a bit!
Zeke had the biggest smile for the entire ride! It was the perfect way to celebrate his 6th birthday.
To add to the fun, there were bumper boats. Lia and Zeke wanted to ride these, and Tim had to take Zeke since he was not old enough to go alone. There are water shooters on each boat and you can soak the other people. Additionally there are large water sprayers around the pool that shoot at random times. They were soaking wet but all smiles when they were done!
We finished the day with a round of ICIES (which Doug decided were just high fructose corn syrup, flavored and artificially colored and then mixed with shaved ice)! While Doug's description is most likely pretty accurate, they were a cool refreshing end to a really warm and wonderful day.
I was thinking about those very sweet, cold drinks as I sat down to write this blog. The entire day was filled with sweet moments. There was the wonderful feeling looking around a very large table as all 11 of us enjoyed being together. I loved the precious moment watching Grace break into a big smile when Aunt Gwen was tickling her toes. There was the look on Ellie's face when Grace was so happy looking at the flowers on Ellie's dress. There was the smile on Anna's face as she used her "stick" to hit the ball into the hole (or sometimes kicking it with her foot). There was that grin on Zeke's face when Uncle Doug encouraged him to raise his arms as they sped around the go cart track. Then there was that moment when Tim and Zeke managed to get Gwen sprayed with water, even though she was on the side of the pool. And the moment Lia got her boat behind Tim and Zeke and shot them in the back! There were all of the sweet faces of the kids, each waiting their turn to hold "baby Grace". So many precious moments.
Yes, those sweet moments are things that I actually did NOT photograph! I had my "real" camera (not my cell phone) during our lunch and afterwards when we walked across the bridge by the river, but when we got to Funway, my camera was no where to be found. I remembered having it in the car, but it was missing. Both Ken and I looked through my purse several times (my camera is really small), but it was gone. I had my phone, so I did get some pictures. The worst part of losing the camera was that I had not uploaded any pictures in May. On our way home, Gwen sent me a text with a picture of my camera! It had gotten stuck into a bag of things that I brought for her and taken to her car! So my camera is safe with Gwen!
Here's the thing. I think I got the message from all of this. It is really good to have pictures, and I certainly appreciate them since I scrapbook. But it is also really important to keep these sweet memories by really SEEING them as they happen, rather than seeing them through the lens of a camera. And seeing the small things. I know that I am often guilty of taking so many pictures that I sometimes miss out on the very thing I am trying to capture. Today, I spent a lot of time actually watching what the kids were doing. And it was wonderful. There is something very powerful about really being present! Right now, my memory bank is filled with sweet, sweet memories.
Given all of the electronics that each of us uses each day, our phones that are never far out of reach, the tablets and computers that are often in front of us, this is a good reminder. Put down the phone or the camera and pay attention to the event. Don't miss out on all of the special little sweet moments that make for wonderful memories. Even when my camera is back in my hands, I will be much more aware of just how often I use it. Today I am thankful for all of those sweet memories that I didn't miss out on!
Jesus, thank you for warm weather, for wonderful family times and so many great memories. Holy Spirit, remind us all to be aware of the distractions that keep us from really being present in the activities around us. Keep us mindful of the small things that become sweet memories. Amen