I have always told my kids, "stop and smell the roses." It doesn't mean to literally stop and smell the roses. It means to stop, enjoy life and enjoy each other.
I don't always follow my advice, but I've realized the laundry, that stack of bills and those other projects will still be there if you step away from life with your kids and do something fun...something out of the ordinary. In this crazy world we live in, it takes effort and a little planning to step outside of your routine, but it is so worth it.
Back when I was growing up, things were different. We didn't practice sports three or four times a week and we most certainly didn't have games or any practices on Sunday—that was family day. And we all sat down to dinner at 6:30 every night together, as a family. But times are different, our kids are busier and you have to do the best you can and steal those little moments of family time.
I tell you this because I want to share with you one of my "stop and smell the roses" adventures. My three kids and I set out early on a Tuesday morning, headed toward Boerne, Texas. It was an adventure just getting there; we hit a detour and were directed to small farm roads. At times, I felt like I was driving down roads I didn't belong, down private roads, across ranch land.
Two hours later we were there: Don Strange Ranch.
It's been around for years. It began as a little grocery store; back in the 1950s, it was the last store between San Antonio and Bandera. It evolved into a popular restaurant, and the Strange family expanded and added more acreage to their investment. The ranch now is home to parties, weddings, office outings, leadership retreats and family adventures, for people like us, who can challenge themselves through a climbing and zipline adventure.
We went into it not sure what we were in for. Our guides, Travis, Josh and Thomas, were young, fun and exuded a sense of sureness that they knew what they were doing. Our group consisted of the four of us (my kids and me) and two teacher assistants from the city of Shertz, Texas—the two ladies were on a birthday adventure.
We drove across the ranch, passing by a herd of longhorn cattle, we were in the heart of the hill country, surrounded by some beautiful land. We filed out of our cars and followed behind our guides until we came to a clearing in the woods. There it stood, we now knew where this adventure was taking us: 50 feet up, to a tower of wood, ropes and—at the very top—a bell.
We were all fitted in our harnesses and given our safety talk. We would be attached to a guide through a rope. The guides decided the three kids would climb to the top first, followed by the three adults. The kids were ready, with only my youngest showing a little fear. They shimmied up telephone poles and precariously placed their feet atop rock climbing holds. The climb was mostly straight up but they took it in stride, me clicking pictures as fast as I could. My middle child shot straight up, never stopping until he reached his goal. My youngest hit a road block just before the top and she was hanging on with all her might. Somehow, she had to figure out how to get up the side of a pole and pull herself to the top.
Her guide yelled words to help her, "Use your left hand! Go around the other side!"
From the ground, I could tell she was scared. On the other side of the tower, my oldest was standing on top of a telephone pole. She had to jump out, reach for two dangling ropes and then use her upper body to hoist her legs up and on to the platform. I was worn out and I hadn't even started my climb.
They made it up, one by one, each ringing the bell of honor. They smiled, leaned over the edge for their picture and soaked it all in.
Getting down was a much easier challenge. All they had to do was jump off the top platform and the guides would slowly lower each 50 feet down. It was if they were repelling but in mid air. They had made it. Now it was our turn.
Ten feet up, I froze. My heart was beating too fast, and I had this overwhelming feeling this was just not something I wanted to accomplish. The sweet voices of kids below bounced through the air.
"Come on Mom!"
"You can do it!"
I yelled out, "I just need a minute."
I knew I had to make it to the top, I just wasn't sure how. I began my ascent again. I could hear my youngest clicking away on my camera and from time to time her small voice would yell out, "Whatever you do Mom, don't look down."
It made me giggle and, of course, I looked down. I saw each of my kids faces watching and waiting for me to make it to the top. I reached deep inside, using upper body strength that had not been tested in this way in years. I pulled and pushed and reached the goal. I was on top! My two new teacher friends weren't far behind. The bell rang out to signify our success. We took in the view from the top and smiled for our photos. Back on solid ground, I grabbed each of my kiddos and hugged them extra long, we all felt a sense of accomplishment.
We headed over to the zipline, which helped us overcome the jitters of being up so high and leaping into the air. My two oldest took the leap first; my youngest and I went together, side by side, on the count of three.
After ziplining we headed to the Waring General Store for the yummiest burgers and fries. I relished sitting next to my kids on old rickety stools, munching on fries, sitting two hours away from home without a care in the world. We eventually made it back to our driveway and, oh, those roses sure smelled good that day.
Glad I stopped to smell them!
If you want to check out the Don Strange Ranch climbing and zipline adventure go to www.strangeclimb.com or give them a call at 830-995-4377.