A year ago Tyler had just moved in with us. He had only been with us for 24 hours when we packed up a week’s worth of food, clothing, fishing supplies and flotation devices and headed to Sutton Lake, West Virginia. We had planned this vacation months before we even knew about Tyler so when the timing worked out that we would leave for a week…with friends…and be “trapped” together on a floating house…I thought, “This can go one of two ways. Either it will be the best thing in the world for us OR a bloody nightmare.” It was a blessing.
We rented the house boat with another family, dear friends of ours whose children are best buddies with our own. There is always a bit of trepidation about vacationing with friends. You wonder if you will drive eachother crazy and since we were vacationing on a boat there is always the concern that someone will end up being tossed overboard. 🙂 I was especially nervous because I was adding a new kid to the mix, having no idea how he would behave or how he would handle being stuck on a boat all week. I prayed as we drove..prayed and prayed that this trip would be a blessing for all.
When we finally arrived and pulled into the marina the first thing we saw was the beautiful houseboat that would be ours for the week. We admired her from a distance, promising our friends we wouldn’t board the boat until they arrived. When they arrived we were taken on board and given a tour by the rental company. It was better than we even imagined. There were 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, livingroom, a deck on top for lounging and a slide that went from the top deck into the water. Each set of parents claimed the “upstairs” bedrooms, Molly and Tatum shared one of the “downstairs” bedrooms and Grace and Olivia shared the other. Rusty and Lucus slept on the pull-out couch in the livingroom and Tyler slept on our floor.
After unloading the car we headed out onto the water with an instructor who taught the dads how to drive it while the moms unpacked and put things away. After a small motor boat came to pick up our instructor we were free to take off and explore on our own. The first thing we did was drive around the lake and get our bearings. Sutton Lake is a beautiful lake with few, if any, houses on it. The entire thing is tree-lined and secluded. During our week there we saw very few people.
After exploring for a bit and getting settled in it was time to swim. We anchored the boat in a beautiful cove and the fun began. The kids loved going down the slide. They added a little dish soap to make the ride down a bit more thrilling! The water was a perfect temperature and there were many natural rocks formations and boulders at the water’s edge perfect for climbing and jumping off. Tyler was a bit nervous at first due to the depth of the water and the new surroundings. The life vest we put on him made him a bit more comfortable but it was still days before he was willing to try the water slide.
Our days on the lake were filled with swimming, playing board games, watching movies, reading, scrapbooking and of course fishing. Tyler was introduced to fishing at the beginning of the week and that is all he did all week-long. He would wake up, run to get his pole and stand at the water’s edge all day. The fishing on the lake was a bit disappointing for the dads who were hoping for some big catches but perfect for Tyler, who thanks to a very dumb bluegill, spent much of his time catching the same small fish over and over again. 😉
Since school began before we left we spent a portion of our mornings doing schoolwork before the kids went out to play. It was fun seeing the kids lounging at the water’s edge reading their History or working on Algebra. One of the school assignments they worked on as a group was reading the novel, Treasure Island. It was a perfect book for our houseboating adventure. Near the end of the week the grown-ups decided to surprise the kids with their own hidden treasure adventure. While they were swimming we threw a treasure map overboard, sealed in a bottle. When the kids discovered what it was they quickly dressed in pirate garb..an impressive display given the fact they only had what was onboard to work with, and headed to shore to find their treasure. After following the map into the woods they discovered the loot, bags of candy. It was a fun way to end the week!
On the final night of vacation we ordered pizza. Yes, we had pizza delivered to the houseboat. We had planned meals out for the week and had a fish fry on the menu for one of those nights…well, the fish didn’t cooperate so we decided rather than leftovers we would surprise the kids with pizza delivery. We knew that at the marina there was a pizza shop that would deliver via motorboat so we ordered a few pizzas. You should have seen their faces when the pizza man pulled up. It was one of those special memory making moments.
I worried when we were told that Tyler would be moving in the day before we left on vacation. Through my human eyes it appeared to be horrible timing. “Why couldn’t he move in a week earlier so we have time to adjust or a week later so we are home and in a routine,” I worried…but one lesson I have learned through this adoption journey is “Faith in God includes Faith in His timing.” While the timing of Tyler’s arrival seemed less than ideal at first we soon discovered it was perfect. God knew just what He was doing. Being trapped on a houseboat together served as a catalyst for bonding. There was no place to escape to. We were together 24/7 without the distractions and busyness of home life. There was no phone ringing, no errands to run, just family time. Going with friends only intensified the bonding process because he immediately aligned himself with us. He knew he was part of team McCleery, not the other family. On that trip we had breakthroughs that probably would have come more slowly had we been at home. It was on that trip he began to call us Mommy and Daddy.
It truly was part of God’s plan. I see that now. The lake, the friends, the boat, the timing…all part of God’s great plan..