A Family Recipe…

From the moment you’re a little kid you get the impression or idea that you’re supposed to find a partner and start a family. This view is slowly changing but for my generation and from my perspective it is still the perceived recipe of “success” or the “All American Dream”…Thanks Norman Rockwell.


The American Family Image…of years past


1 part marriage

2 parts kids (if lucky, a boy and a girl) – creating grandparents

1-2 part(s) steady job(s) with benefits with minimal to little vacation

1 part house (or something to call “home”) with an optional yard within which the kids and optional pet can play

1 part becoming a grandparent

At first glance there’s nothing wrong with the above However I find it a bit plain and it doesn’t offer much flavor or variety for my taste :-). I’m one who likes to mix things up by placing a bunch of random stuff into a bowl knowing that the end dish will be a slam dunk, complete with a little shock and awe.

As Pamela and I wrote in our introductory blog post, we tried to create the above recipe by going down the child path. We had the house, the jobs (with a generous amount of vacation), a happy and healthy marriage, plus an adorable Boxer, Penny Love. The thought of adding kids was exciting yet daunting knowing that our norm would be forever changed. We embraced the opportunities and obstacles presented to us in trying to have a child. Really, Pamela endured all of the physical obstacles and I did my best to support her emotionally at each doctor visit and check-up during the IVF process. After a few unsuccessful attempts, we put the baby making business on hold and choose to live our lives again and do what we love to do; play outside, travel, be with friends and family. We also chose to purchase Ellie, our Metal Baby (I coined this as it was about the cost of another round of IVF).


Ellie in the wild.

Over the past 4 months on the road, living life and just sort of wandering and driving…lots of driving (It’s not a short drive to get from Fairbanks, AK to Grand Targhee, WY)… I’ve thought about how lucky, Pamela and I are to be able to do what we’re doing, taking this trip for us and at times for others. On some of the longer drives I’ve thought of how my sister and sister-in-law are great parents and how their kids are amazing (spoken like a true/good uncle) and how different their lives are now. I think of how much joy those kids bring to my folks and Pamela’s folks, making them grandparents (Diddy, Ga, Da and Lulu, as their lovingly called).

There are a few things that I can guarantee that my Mom will do on a phone call:

  1. She will ask what the weather is like wherever I am
  2. She will tell me how the weather is was/is or is shaping up to be back in Maine
  3. She will tell me a tale about my niece or nephew

All off these things make her smile as silly as it sounds…talking about the weather, look at Joe Cantore when he comes upon Thundersnow…My mother and father could light up a coal mining tunnel 2 miles unground with the glow from their smiles when they talk about their grandkids and it’s adorable and everlasting. There are the stories of babysitting, going over to help fix up a new playground or building a sandbox, moments at the lake house and time spent on the boat. All of which are moments in time that can’t be taken away from either of my folks and moments that really my sister helped provide by following the “recipe”. It has been on these drives that I think of how great it is that my folks have the grandkids around giving them reasons to talk, smile, worry and spoil. My parents were heart broken for Pamela and I when we were not able to have a child after trying every way we could. They were also very understanding in our decision to put things on hold, allowing us to live our lives and travel. I’ve at times felt sad that I wasn’t able to provide my folks with grandkids, affording them another story opportunity and moment to cherish and tell their friends about at the local bean supper (A traditional New England gathering).


Yup…A bean supper. 

Recently over the past few weeks, I realized that our not having kids has lead to some great memories for my folks to share with their friends at the local bean supper. I am creating moments that my folks are inspired by and they are proud of me for following my heart. I also credit Ellie (Metal Baby, this is a stretch I know), with inspiring my folks to travel and create moments and memories to tell their grandkids about. My folks chose to get on a plane and travel across the US to Alaska to spend a week with Pamela, Penny and I during part of our time up there.  Furthermore, they chose to do this with a weeks notice.  They’d known for months that we were going to Alaska and they waited until the eleventh hour to spring this on us. It was one of the greatest surprises I’ve ever received, even with the last minute scrambling Pamela and I did to help arrange their Alaskan travel plan, which included a glacier tour, as it’s something my mother had on her bucket list.  Our time together seemed long and short, sort of like going home for a major holiday. The moments we had on that trip were some that I will never forget, not because it was Alaska, but because my folks flew 4,000 miles to spend time with me/us and that didn’t happen that often when we live in Boulder, CO 🙂

On the glacier tour, we zigged and zagged in and out of fjords and ice fields. We felt the cold glacial breeze on our faces as we stood in silence on the boat’s bow taking it all in and taking photos. As we returned to our seat in the cabin, my mother said, “Seeing the glacier brought me to tears, realizing what I saw here, with you, being a part of this journey”. I will NEVER forget how happy my mom was to be with us in Alaska, seeing glaciers and Grizzly bears 🙂


Seeing glaciers in outside of Whitter, AK. 

Hearing my folks retell the stories of their trip when I talk to them brings a smile to my face and offers me peace, knowing that I’ve given my folks moments, memories and things to look forward to and a new recipe for “success”.

Jon’s Recipe:

1 part married to an amazing wife, Pamela Robbins

1 part adorable, loving, therapy dog, Penny Love

1 part rented house in Boulder, CO

1 part converted Sprinter Van (Ellie)

1 bike to explore and create memories with

1 year and maybe a sprinkling of additional months or years spent exploring, creating memories, moments and seeing friends

The best part about recipes is they can be tweaked to fit your needs or taste!

6 thoughts on “A Family Recipe…

  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing. We can all contribute to our families in different ways. My parents love sharing our camper + mtb adventure pics with their friends. We are inspiring them to travel and explore a bit more as they ease into retirement. I’m SURE your travels will have a huge impact on your nieces and nephews too. Hopefully they’ll see that there are many different ways to “grow up” and find happiness and success in life. Keep having fun. You’ll be able to create a very impressive photo album book of memories to share with your parents at the end of this year. 🙂


  2. This was outstanding Jon! Enjoy the road of life!


  3. Jon, what a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your travels!!!


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