How do you GLUE a family together anyways?? Fear. Screaming. Chaos. That works for us. :)

We have never traveled “for the holidays”. 

We were, typically, a ‘stayput’ kinda family that did all the traditionals.

BUT…this year we got a little bit of a giddy spark in late summer. 
It may have looked more like a vision of a melting snowman with it’s “parts” lying all over the front lawn…..and feeling like ‘we’ might be that snowman (again) by December 31st 🙂 
Um. Yep. Way different from my initial and wrong description of “giddy spark”. (I swear I try to be honest..what was that about?!)

Instead of plowing through December this year, we wanted to sorta leap over it?
 Does that make sense?  A lot has happened in my extended family this year and past that made December feel … a “RUN!”. 

So. We Ran. 
To Mexico. 
To celebrate the end of the known world!
 (who knew?! The Mayans were wrong! But it was certainly fun ‘wandering’ with that culture before and during and around the 21st of December 🙂

We were gone for 13 days…which turned into 15 because we ended up stuck in Dallas due to “snow” issues at home…it was QUITE an adventure from the moment we left our front door to the moment we got back to it!

So…Why “run”? 

It was not really “running” it was “the need for different”. 

The “need for new” experiences. (all of which are pictured below 🙂

We certainly got that and more as the following pictures (oh wow a lot :)) will show….

But…We learned a lot as we plowed our way through another foreign city let alone the country. 

We learned that adventures bring you closer…even if you sorta hate them in the midst. 

We did some “out of the envelope” family activities –
* jungle zip lining,
*jungle repelling, 
*swimming in an underground Mayan cave (a ceyanote),
 *the boys and Jim went ocean snorkeling, 
*I got a tattoo from a Spanish dude on the beach while the kids checked in on me every now and then (true story), 
*we traversed ancient Mayan cities & ruins, 
*we -again- used our Spanish-in-training to navigate our little group….
*and, obviously, we survived the “end of the world” in the middle of where it was to end (wink)….

During some of the above…there might have been some screaming, some “OH NO I AM NOT’S”, some “ARE YOU SERIOUS?”, some “Uh..this is NOT the right way!”,  and possibly even a few Spanish no-no words uttered by the random terrified Mom as she was being PUSHED off the tower to zip line hundreds of feet down… (well deserved no-no words I gotta say)

And then you add … 
The sudden and surprising and the logisticallychallenging blizzard-layover in Dallas for two days…there were tears, anger, confusion, and unknowns. 
There was some exhaustion and “Why didn’t we just stay home by the fireplace & Christmas tree?” questions. 
There were moments when Jim and I were only seeing dollar signs and NOT the happy smiles of our kids. 
(vacation is always more expensive than planned! is when I plan a vacation at least)
There was some “homesickness” for a few traditions but… 
All of that said….RUNNING in December was the right thing for us.  
We, even if it was just Jim and Andrea, needed to “run”…We needed a “break” from the December pressures. 
We have been doing the traditional “December” for oodles of years now for the kids and wouldn’t trade any of those Decembers for anything…
But…phew…we just didn’t have another “December” in us this (last) year. 
Call it “escapism”. 
Call is “weak”.  
Call it “selfish”. 
I call it “self-preservation” and in the middle of that…
We managed to create some crazy weird and fun memories that are definitely NOT a part of normal life and that, even the kids say, are (now) more of a gift than anything we could have wrapped up in a box. 

(pictures…a lot 😉
(though there were definitely a few naysayers about ‘not being in our house on Christmas’ throughout the trip… somebody hand the boy a tissue..please?! mercy 🙂 

We (finally…thank you blizzard)…made it home. A few days later we saw our Pastor…
He said, “Wow…so you made back?!” 
I said, “Yep. Eventually, eh?!

He said something that I think will now become a bit of a family mantra of sorts… though I haven’t honed the words perfectly…  
He said…

“I heard someone explain how some families really stick together and get on well year after year.”

I said, “HOW?!!” [doesn’t that sound like some holy grail secret or something? I was thinking he was going to quote a scripture or hand me a book to read… or some secret handshake or seomthing…]

He said, ” They camp together.”
HUH? (dang I hate camping but..)
He continued…”Have you ever heard of a camping trip that goes perfectly? NO! There is always something that goes wrong. However, the family then looks back on and laughs hysterically over it all. It pulls them together. The adventures/bad/surprises breed common ground. ” (sorta paraphrasing but you get his great point)

I said, “YES! I completely see what you are saying and I ‘think’ we just did a bit..or rather…a lot of that the last 3 weeks or so. We need to keep doing more of the terrifying adventures and/or mis-managed getaways!” (sorta paraphrasing but you get my response 😉

After he said that…I have now seen it play out. Now that I have been made aware of it at least. (Maybe it is obvious to others….but not to this Momma.)

No longer is Trey dragging his knuckles about how much he hated snorkeling but he’s laughing about how he doesn’t know how “he made it back to the boat alive”. 

Tye is not talking of how scary the dolphins were but ….. now he “collects” dolphins and we all get why 🙂

I, however, am still not laughing about zip-lining from the clouds to the ground. Seriously? Stupid. Dumb. Base.

We are all past complaining about how horribly cold the underwater cave water was and are now onto laughing about how Mom had to sing “Supercalafragalisticespyaladocias” to Aven. 
I had to sing to calm her down….
 (she did not have an appreciation for being under the ground, in freezing water, in semi-darkness…. shoulder-shrug?!)
  ….to stop her screaming (cuz screaming in an underground cave with water up to your shoulders is REALLY loud and REALLY sorta terrifying for Mom and girl…) …
Jim and boys are past the freezing water memories and on to talking about the fish they saw in the cave and are now laughing about the temperature of the water…etc.

The whole “Mayan Calendar” thing….
 We were not ever ‘scared’ of the world ending…but just being “down there” when it was advertised to end was a bit thrilling.

I can see how all of this “BINDS” us …..

Sure…daily life “binds”…. but watching a reenactment of ancient Mayan life, surrounded by Mayan ruins..on the night the world “should” end…well… that really binds too!
I never really put all of this together before. 
When we relocated to Antigua, Guatemala for 3 months to be with baby Aven until her adoption was complete, we did it with a mild sense of adventure but it was spurred just to simply be together with our baby and ALL of our children. That way we could all experience her babyhood and miss out on as little as possible.
That Guatemalan adventure is mentioned many times over each month.
I ‘knew’ it brought us together but I thought of it as sort of just something “we talked about”…I didn’t realized the impact of that adventure until we got home from the last one.

I’m so grateful for them…even if I am screaming, and saying no-no words in Spanish, and doing things that ONLY my beautiful family could talk me into doing….

….I imagine a lot of my kids have similar feelings about some of the things we ‘pushed’ them into (hopefully without the no-no words in Spanish though?).  

Even homeschool…now that I truly ponder it…sort of feels like an adventure is a bit unchartered and it could go different directions for each and every one of our kids. 

I hope homeschool is binding us. 
I hope it is not quietly ripping us apart..
 (being together so much, the kids living a different lifestyle than some of their friends and being forced to ‘stick up for it’ could cause bitterness…or they could end up learning near to nothing and won’t even be able to get a job at McDonalds…that could all quietly tear us apart 🙂 !! ) …..

We will trust our guts on that one though…our God Guts.

I think God gave us that “withering Snowman” image when December was approaching
I believe He knew December would just be to “much” of “everything” for Jim and Andrea (the kids would have been fine…..but sometimes it’s about the parents too, eh?!).

Jim and Andrea are sorta tired a lot of the times with everything going on….

Even though it turned out to be a smidge more adventurous and uncertain than the anticipated “sitting in a chair by the beach for a few weeks”…..
(now who is surprised anyways?! smile)  
I think God gave Jim and Andrea a present by nudging us to “RUN” in December.

We made memories that we will talk about at their graduations (well..hopefully those happen…snirt), parties, weddings, etc. 

(All of our kids out there swimming with dolphins at once? Are you kidding me?!
 I was a ball of tears…tears of FEAR that my children would be the first humans eaten by a tame dolphin in centuries…
…. yet also tears of gratefulness that they were getting to experience that together….
Yep, I will be talking about that…and the stupid zip-lining. NEVER go zip-ling. NEVER. Trust me.)


We are out to seek more binding adventures.

I pray they do not necessarily have to occur in a foreign country …. (even worse for me :)…

…..or around a withered fire, with only lukewarm hot dogs to eat, and with only public showers to share…but..if that’s where the next “let’s get glued”  (smile…) adventure awaits us…

…. then I will suck it up and eat the nasty hot dog and just bring my “no water necessary” shampoo and soap 🙂

Let’s BIND!

Thanks for being here my friends…I TREASURE you and love when you comment…

I would LOVE to hear some “Binding Adventures” you have had or some suggestions!





(At this point….WE THOUGHT we were headed home…-yes, Aven had her New Year’s Eve Mask on in the airport-…but…we only made it from Mexico to Texas… binding 🙂
If you made it this far…leave me a “binding family action” idea or experience in the comments section!!!! 
(Cuz..if u made it this far you ARE an adventurer :)) 

4 thoughts on “How do you GLUE a family together anyways?? Fear. Screaming. Chaos. That works for us. :)

  1. One “binding” experience that comes to mind was the ill-advised trip to the Florida Caverns….during the dog-days of August, with a just-turned two year old son, and a fresh-out-of-the-oven 8 week old daughter…. why did we go? I cannot recall at this moment. What did we do? Well, we camped out in a tent in the campsite….with less than comfy potties/showers/etc…. and we slept in sleeping bags in said tent….yes, 8 week old girls DO tend to get a sleeping bag, shared with Mom a wee bit, ummmm…. wet! Still, this was the adventure that will always be remembered as the place where to two year old son learned to “pee like the big boys” as in, standing up. Thankfully, the 8 week old was not overly traumatized by the experience…and oh yes, the caverns WERE cool during the day, but I think the “awesome” of it all was a little lost on the two year old and the 8 week old…. just sayin’…. Sounds like you had a wonderful few weeks of bonding!

  2. Oh Andrea…I so love this post. I so agree with the “camping trip” thing! It’s so true! I so love your card, and now I have all these pictures to look through too!! You have the most beautiful family!!

    Yep, we just never know if we are doing it right, but we do the best we know how and you know what…that’s the best we can do! Homeschooling, this, that, the other. We do the best we can, and we keep on doing it : ) Your kids look amazing to me : )

    And I agree, sometimes we have to do what’s best for us as parents…because it actually ends up being what’s best for the kids too. Let’s see if I can change the saying somehow…”Happy wife, happy life.” Happy Parents…” Okay…I can’t think of anything, but you catch my drift : ) It’s just good for them. Heck…a trip to Me-hico ; ) I’ll take it!

    Those pictures brought back memories. One of the stops on our honeymoon was the Mayan Ruins : )

    Love you SS

  3. It is so important for us to teach our kiddos to forge ahead and not follow the crowd. So that is how we try to live. Sometimes it’s really scary. Other times it’s an exhilarating rush.

    I loved all your pictures. (epecially the gorgeous blue shoes) What a wonderful trip!

    Just the idea of moving to another country to show our kiddos a different perspective of life was scary enough. The actual move was our “binding” experience. All the things we are used to -language, food, smells, sounds, certain standards of education. Losing the convenient efficiency of the “fancy country” -the affectionate term we use to describe the US. We crossed the border during a hurricane and were the last car into Mexico before the border was closed because the river was washing out homes and bridges. We were living in a true, authentic little Mexican village. Now we feel a bit spoiled being here in Playa. We have grocery stores, comparatively stable electricity, more security, and the BEACH and TURTLES and DOLPHINS in our backyard!

    We truly feel that this move has bound our family together and shown our kiddos how to value and collect experiences over possessions.

    Our family motto has become, “If we survive this, we will have a cool blog post.” 🙂

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