Turning lemons into lemonade may be the greatest life skill a traveler will ever need. After all, contentment is a state of the heart.
As I was tossing around ideas for our family’s end-of -year post, I mentioned to Brent and the children that we do not want to give the impression that our life is always blissful. Like everyone else, our year had some lowlights and some highlights. But…we are having a hard time remembering many lows.
Josiah declared, “We think too positively, that’s our problem.”
Good problem to have, I say.
As we reflect of the year 2015, I am happy that our family squeezed a lot of lemondade out of some sour situations. That’s the key, you know. If you want to look back positively on 2016, as the old adage says, “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Travel may change your country or state, but contentment is a choice. Joy is something we choose, even with missed flights, driving into a river and money never stretching quite far enough. So grab a cup of tea, coffee or lemonade as we reflect on how we turned lemons into lemonade in 2015.
The Lemon: Although our baby responded beautifully to his heart surgery in Mexico, his oxygen levels did not improve as much as we and his team of specialists had hoped.
The Lemonade: Too bad, we had to spend more time on the gorgeous Mexican Pacific coast. As long as we were at sea-level, baby could breathe without supplemental oxygen. During the early part of 2015, Jeriah’s heart and lungs healed.
The Lemon: In our home, turning 13 means a very special birthday trip. We had been so busy with baby’s doctor appointments and moving (after spending most of 2014 beach-side), we did not get to celebrate Hannah’s turning 13th on her actual birthday.
The Lemonade: We were settled into an amazing villa (with a pool) in a wonderful community near Ajijic//Chapala Mexico. That gave us the freedom to have a mother-daughter birthday trip (albeit late) to Cozumel, Mexico. There Hannah swam with dolphins.
The Lemon: It’s the store it, mail it, sell it, just toss, toss, toss it routine. Aaugh! This is one rut that brings the travel-loving Inion Eleven to a frustrating, screeching halt. Punctuate the storage runs with more than a few trips to the dentist.
The Lemonade: We get to spend time with a great bunch of kind and supportive folks at Lakeside Presbyterian Church. We also enjoyed a worldschool gathering with other family travelers, a boat ride across the lake and learning more about Mexican culture through festivals, parades and neighborhood rodeos. Our dental experience was pain free on both the work and the cost–well worth the time in the chair! While staying put, our children enjoyed classes in baking, swimming, painting and carpentry.
The Lemon: Two flat tires, an RV battery explosion and a broken starter took their toll. We weathered a round of chicken pox with the younger crew. We flew from Mexico to Pennsylvania in time for an early fall cold snap.
The Lemonade: We had an amazing visit at home. We were gifted with a wonderful place to stay in, close enough to my dad’s to get a new coat of paint on his place. For Brent, it was the first time we had seen his Dad since before we left for the Philippines– eight years ago. We especially enjoyed seeing Jeremiah’s dream fulfilled when he saw Thomas the Tank Engine at the Strasburg (Pennsylvania) Railroad.
The Lemon: We arrived in Iceland without our lodging secured. Foggy weather kept any view of the Northern lights out of reach, even though we stayed up late, shivering in the cold.
The Lemonade: Iceland turned out to be our favorite destination ever! We found an incredible home to rent with a flexible and hospitable owner. Later in our trip we experienced the beauty of rural Iceland at Hotel Berg and the Geo Hotel (a blog post on those hotels is in progress). It’s a trip we will never forget.
We visited the Videy Island, swam in geo-thermal pools, stood in awe at Geysers and waterfalls, stood between tectonic plates and so much more. On the very last night, we were served the best bowl of lobster bisque we have ever tasted. As our meal ended, the manager of the Geo Hotel let us know that the Northern Lights were dancing in the sky. It was the longest, most brilliant viewing Iceland had that year–a spectacular family moment we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
The Lemon: We took the whole family on the Tube (subway), hauling strollers and wheelchair up and down stairwells all the way to Buckingham Palace, in a persistent London rain to see the changing of the guard. We got there just in time… to see crowds leaving; it was canceled for the day.
The Lemonade: A week later, armed with our learning experience and the weather report, we beat the crowds and grabbed right-by-the-gate spots at Buckingham Palace. We caught great up-close views of the palace guard and the musicians. We caught glances, expressions and humorous exchanges between crowds and London police.
The Lemon: A misread itinerary helps us miss our EasyJet flight to Paris. Airline would not budge on policy and the next, nearly empty flight left without us. We book tickets for a six-hour bus ride from London to Paris. We arrived the night before the Paris terrorist attacks.
The next day, while exchanging euros with the two youngest ones, police are responding to terrorist attacks 20 minutes away. For a few hours, a bomb scare empties out a grocery store nearby. Security concerns close down the Christmas market.
The Lemonade: We experience great, front row, upstairs service from UK Megabus double-decker service to Paris. We get to see the City of Lights at her patriotic best with the Eiffel Tower in blue-white-red. The Louvre and Notre Dame have very short wait times. We meet our first Syrian refugees living on the streets of Paris; they give us a sense of perspective.
The Lemon: A warmest in decades December means no snow to these travelers from Mexico.
The Lemonade: The lingering greenery and just cool enough evenings make for great outdoors trekking to neighboring Rotteln Castle, a beautiful Christmas market in Basel, Switzerland, outdoor ice-skating and the tranquil walking trails around our spacious house-sit in the Black Forest.
As we bid farewell to 2015, we find ourselves grateful for the lemons. They remind us that we can choose to be soured by life´s struggles or find a way to create lemonade. That choice is ours.
As we look toward 2016 we have big dreams and some destinations not yet revealed. Lord willing, we will head to Italy this week. We have friends we want to visit in Milan and then we hope to visit Rome. We are considering going to Greece to help with the refugee crisis. In March, we hope to go to Israel. Here´s a video of how we told the children.
We hope you will keep following our journey as 2016 promises to be a year full of adventure for the Inion Eleven. We wish you a wonderful new year filled with loving, learning and the courage to turn lemons into lemonade.