We have been blessed with 13 Grandkids…(and three unofficial official Grands in Australia). Each is uniquely blessed by our Creator with different personalities, gifts and talents. A gathering of everyone often includes lots of laughter and, as families go, maybe some tears…but always – good memories. The 13 North American cousins all love to be together. But, you can imagine the struggle it is to get to individually know them. Somewhere along the way, the Baldwin family came up with the idea of Ten Trips. (we have since discovered that famous author Bob Goff also did Ten Trips with his kids, so I feel like we are on the right track.)
What is a Ten Trip? A Ten Trip takes place when a Grand celebrates their tenth birthday (or, if we move out of country during that time, their 11th birthday. I’m looking at you, Abigail.) A Ten Trip is made up of something that that Grand wants to do. Here’s a run down of what we have done to date:
- Caleb – Caleb was our first trip. He loves sea life and at that time – he’s almost 18 now – he loved whales. So we took him on our boat up to the San Juan Islands and visited the whale museum Orcas Island Whale Museum. We spent a day or two motoring around the Islands, where he learned to Skipper, and then made our way back to home. During the tooling around time Caleb drew (he’s quite a fantastic artist), learned how to BBQ on the boat with Papa and mastered the rowing of the dinghy. We had hours to sit and watch the porpoises leap by, fish, go ashore, eat out, listen to dreams and worries, and to pray with and over him.
- Jacob – (we call him Cubbie or Cubster although we can’t remember why we nicknamed him that). He was a big Seattle Mariners fan. In fact he stated that he would be their BIGGEST fan, if it didn’t cost so much. Obviously a Mariners game was on the schedule! We got great seats and ordered the Mariners Birthday Package In the birthday package, you not only get your birthday on the scoreboard, but you get a Mariner bag full of goodies, including a cool hat. He also wanted to spend time on the boat. We moored at the Elliott Bay Marina. This was and wasn’t a great idea. The marine hosted a party with loud music, so sleep was elusive. Cubs also learned about cooking on the boat, Skippered for a bit and slept on the deck. Long talks on the water and about life during the game (because, you know ..baseball..)..followed by prayers in the evening, are what Nana remembers most! We fished on the way home, and he learned how to row the dinghy.
- (Some things were almost becoming a right of passage.)
- Ben was the next one up. Ben loves survival stuff and shooting and fishing. We took him up to our favorite fishing resort in Sekui, Mason’s Olsons’s Resort. We not only caught some yummy salmon which he then helped Papa smoke and grill, we explored the land around the inlet. Ben collected drift wood and shells and then Ben Captained the boat. We didn’t moor but instead rented one of the resorts stand alone cottages. The cottage was right on the beach with feet of sands before us. He went out with Papa to fish, and I stayed behind a couple times. It was a lot of fun. He too learned about BBQing on the boat and how to handle the dinghy. Then we did some shooting at targets. Both pistols, rifles and crossbows. Ben talked often with Papa about life…and of course there were Prayers!
- Sylvia. Our first girl 10 Trip! She wanted to wait until it was warmer, so we could go on the boat. But the weekend we did it, the weather never cooperated. Her big thing was Indoor skydiving. But, we also went to a movie, went to a game arcade so she and Papa could get their competitive spirits going and ate out..a lot. Our alone times were dotted with talks and games and prayers.
- Abigail. Abs is the one that had to wait until her 11th birthday for her Ten Trip, because we had moved to Australia the year of her 10th. We moved back the year of her 11th and flew her to Texas for her Ten Trip. She says that it was worth the wait. The move to Texas wasn’t really planned, but for Lance it was a homecoming, as he was born in Dallas and lived in Texas until the fifth grade. He still has (beautiful) family there, so we weren’t alone in our move. We had lived in our home for only four months when Abigail flew down! She was the second person to use our guest room! Flying down was of course a huge part of her trip. I think she was very brave, being that she was going as unaccompanied minor. And, she really didn’t remember her other flights. We had a full schedule for the Grand who had awaited the longest for her time with Nana and Papa. We ventured to Dinosaur Valley. It was hot and muggy. But what a delight. She stepped into actual Dinosaur prints and she and Papa swam in natural lagoon. It was an incredible feeling to realize we were standing, swimming, walking, where Dinosaurs had once roamed! We swam at our housing developments water park almost every day, swam with Aunt Jenna and Uncle Jim a couple times at their home, watched some movies, ate good food. We took a day for rest and then went kayaking on Lake Lavon. The next day, because she is very creative and artistic we went to the Crayola Experience. Of course we spent some good times giggling, dreaming and praying together.
All the Ten Trips end too soon. Time alone to listen to their dreams and fears and accomplishments. The year after their birthday we give them a scrapbook with pictures and narrative of the time together.
Their parents have commented that they would really like a Ten Trip, but you know, they’re way to old! It’s challenging enough to think that the first Ten Trippers are now 18, 16, 14 and almost 12! But, just wait a bit, with so many Grands there will be another one any moment! In fact, next year we have THREE Ten Trips to plan! God has blessed us more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
God has moved Lance and I all over the globe. That could prove challenging to be involved in our Grandkids lives. But, then He has also provided ways to be able to connect and make memories that, hopefully, will last them, and us, a life time, including, Ten Trips.
My big dream now, is to be able to take EVERYONE (including the Grand’s parents) on some kind of big family vacation. We’ll see how God works that out!
I’m speaking in general terms now : Most grandparents agree that family is important. We reach empty nest stage with maybe a little sorrow, maybe a little glee. And, usually, we all think that season of live arrives too fast. And, maybe dream of empty nest time as finally ‘me’ time. But, as I see it, family is a God given gift and while we are here on this planet for a short time, we need to cherish those entrusted to us. God gave ’em to us. That is an incredible privilege.
Make sure to take time to connect with those closest to you and don’t get lost in the daily minutiae of life. Daily stuff is nice. Daily stuff: phone calls, texts, watching tv, doing homework together is great, don’t get me wrong. Wish I could do that. But, since I can’t I will devote time to do it…you can, too.
This is time spent that no one will regret.
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged.