One of the things we have missed so much about Florida is the access to outdoor activities, specifically biking. Earlier this week we retrieved the bikes and set out to retrace the bike paths that we had mapped many times. Thinking back to the time that Kristina learned to ride, I had to lag behind and snap a pic when I saw her riding fearlessly with arms straight out. What a journey we have all been on since this child has come into our lives.
Yesterday we decided to ride to one of the state parks in our area. Following the designated roadway, we cycled along in single file. As we were making our way along the main street, I noticed a man in an oncoming car wagging his finger at us. I took a quick survey. We were all on the designated path; all the children were wearing helmets. As his car came closer, I realized he was counting. "Yes," I thought, "There are seven of us." I suppose we look like a veritable parade trekking along.
We parked our bikes and wandered the pathway around the lake and through the forest looking for raccoons and baby gators. We were scattered along the boardwalk, each taking our own pace to gaze at a fish in the water or a spider skittering along a transparent web, when I observed Robert drape his arm across the broad shoulders of one of the twins just ahead of me. His voice drifted back, "Son, there's no where I would rather be than here with you, enjoying God's creation. You're growing into a fine young man." And then he pulled back to look him in the face and said, "Oh, wait. You're not Nathanael!" I laughed at his joke as Nathanael made his way over to see what was so funny. The three of them set off and pulling the rest of us in their wake. "Boys, you're both growing into fine young men . . . despite your mother's negative influence." I refused to rise to the bait reflecting on the fact that he waited until he was safely several paces ahead before he made such an observation.
Our time back in Florida for Christmas Break has seemed dreamlike, unreal. We miss the lifestyle we had here and the routine we have so easily fallen back into since returning. Worshipping at our home church, dinner and a movie with old friends last night, movie night with my college girls tonight, coffee with Z tomorrow, and dessert with an old colleague and his wife the next day makes contemplating returning to Mississippi a weary endeavor. While I look forward to returning to work and visiting church with some of my adoption blog buddies back in Mississippi, we have been blessed to have this respite.