Well here it is. The final dedication of the summer to vacations as we come up on Labor Day, which was always considered the end of summer when I was a kid. Although most children now go back to school in mid-August, I still hold on to Labor Day as the official end of summer vacation. (Some things are difficult to let go of.
Vacations, as I have said before, were dreamed up as a way to escape from every day life and relax! As I have also said: WHAT??!!! Vacations involve no relaxation before or after and maybe a little in the middle.
As an example: I recently took a trip to Florida to visit Calvin, P3 and babies. Should have been pretty simple to do. We drove and I took Mommy's kids from my house to hers and then on to Florida. First of all, we left an hour later than planned and even at that, I had to return home 3 times before I finally had everything! When I was a kid, entertainment in the car consisted of books, my dad's radio choices, looking out the window or reading a map! My delays on this trip consisted of making sure I had movies, a dvd player and all the accessories and that the kids could run the controls. Of course it kept disconnecting which resulted in additional stops, because as much as you shouldn't text and drive you really shouldn't operate a dvd player and drive!
We were two hours late getting to Mommy's house because I took one of my infamous "short cuts" which resulted in being at a dead stop on the highway for no apparent reason and taking the wrong road! Leaving the next morning for Florida was further delayed because Mommy decided it would be necessary to vacuum the car before we left. Apparently she does not remember how dirty a car can get inside when you travel!
At any rate, we hit the road and headed south reminiscing about the last time we made the trip past Quantico. We were quite certain that we had been tagged as terrorists the last time. We were in a caravan of five cars heading to the Outer Banks. As we headed past Washington DC many years ago and were as far to the left as you could be on the road. In fact, we were on the opposite side of the highway and by the way, we had just made a "Pit Stop." Phones started going off. We had what my son referred to as a "Brown Alert" (use your imagination) and we needed to stop ASAP. So we had to careen across three lanes of traffic, across the median and three more lanes of traffic until we could get to an exit. In that particular area you have to travel a bit to find a gas station/bathroom. Well, as luck would have it, the "Alert" turned into a full blown (no pun intended) disaster. To some, it was funny enough to cause dropping to the ground with laughter and tears. To others, mostly me, it was anything funny. New rules: EVERYONE uses the bathroom any time we stop! The poor people waiting in line to use the bathroom where overcome with the smell!
This particular trip also included vomiting, which happens not only with children but dogs, family arguments, falling asleep in the airport parking lot waiting to pick up an additional member of the party and causing panic, looking for one person who thought it would be a good idea to walk from the gym back to our house in 100 + degree weather. Other trips have resulted in lost children at Disney World (by the way, their security measures are impressive!), flight delays and cancellations, emergency stops by the airline because of engine trouble, rocks hitting windshields, bad food causing GI disturbances and occasionally a little to much partying!
But where would we be without these stories to tell?! Thankfully, God has blessed our family with a healthy sense of humor. Even though some things were not so funny at the time, eventually we laugh and look at things in a lighter way. We have been blessed to spend time together as a family and I pray that these blessings can continue. Although I get a little nervous about what "could" happen with each trip, especially with so many people, I wouldn't trade these times for anything on earth. I hope that you have been blessed with a safe, enjoyable and healthy summer.
I am not really sure who designed the idea of taking vacations. In theory, it sounds good. A getaway from your daily grind. A chance to dine out, relax by a pool or the ocean, hike in the woods, golf, get a massage. The list could be endless, but is it? Maybe for a couple or honeymooners. Most of the time, it is just the two of you and it fits with the concept of taking a vacation. But even that can get iffy.
Let me explain...If you are an adult you are likely working if you can afford to take a vacation. Before you leave on your vacation, you have at least one thousand duties to wrap up before you can leave. So, at the very least, the week before vacation is Hell Week "1". By the time you leave you are exhausted and definitely in need of this so-called respite. If you are like my husband, you get to the end of your time off, you are so irritated at having to go back to life that you make yourself and everyone around you miserable for the last day or two. Now in all fairness, everyone is not like that and Doc did the same thing with weekends. At any rate, you head back to work after finally relaxing and enjoying some "me" time. In all likelihood, no one has covered your responsibilities while you were gone and therefore you come back to double the regular work load. (please note: this may not be true in all careers/jobs) So welcome to Hell Week "2".
Now, if you have children, all of the above goes totally out the window. VACATION!!!?!!! Hah! My "work" (albeit unpaid) is the family. My work always went on vacation with me! Add to that the work of packing everyone's bags, loading all luggage and child equipment into the vehicle, closing up the household so that at least you don't have to face a mess when you get home, arranging for dog care if necessary. All this prior to going on this wonderful excursion where everyone but you relaxes and enjoys themselves. You are the mother. You still change diapers, take care of laundry, cook meals or deal with children of a variety of ages at restaurants, make a thousand trips to bathrooms and rest stops (mostly because the kids need to experience each and every bathroom along the way), referee fights about everything and anything including children accidentally touching each other and looking at each other, and doing constant head counts to make sure no one is left behind. (if you are as blessed as me, your husband pitches in with at least some of the above.) When you finally arrive home from this change in scenery, you are exhausted and in need of .... you guessed it .... a vacation!
Now, I don't want you to think it is all bad. We have a lot of great memories from vacations. It is definitely a time to spend together without the hassles of daily life and activities. It is amazing to watch your family laugh, enjoy each other (at least some of the time) and try new activities. But mark my words, a family vacation has nothing to do with rest and relaxation for the parents!
We have tried some large family vacations now that the kids are adults. We set it all up and whoever can go does. As a grandmother, these have been a little more restful. I pitch in with the kids as I feel like it, but sit down and read my book when I don't! There is true (and slightly evil) joy in watching my children try to "vacation" with their children! As we go through the various stages of life, we suddenly have a little more love towards our predecessors.
I don't know if you have been able to get away at all this summer with all the craziness of this world. Try to take at least a day or a weekend and devote it entirely to a fun activity with your children. Take the time to marvel at their minds and hearts. It is well worth the work that it will take. Somewhere down the road you will smile and realize that the work was not so much, that you would do it again in a heartbeat and that you actually miss "vacations"! May God bless you and your family with some happy times before the kids go back to school!
Well, we will progress with stories in my lifetime and move on from childhood vacations to adulthood. And by the way, we are skipping the infamous spring breaks of college. First of all, I could never afford it and second, I am sure it wouldn't have gone well!
So, let's move on the the next big step - The Honeymoon! Who doesn't need a good vacation after the stress of planning your perfect day. You are exhausted from navigating seating charts, thank you cards, rehearsal dinner, keeping relatives happy. Did you ever wonder if anyone has the responsibility of making sure the Bride is happy? Did you ever wonder how many smiles in pictures were painfully applied over gritted teeth? And how about those pictures!!! For someone like me, who hates photographs, it was one of the most painful days of my life. Dozens of pictures of an unphotogenic me throughout the day! Every wedding in our family has some sort of crazy story to tell. The last of the kids is being married next year, one more tale to tell.
But enough of that, the point is, who wouldn't want to go on a great vacation after all that? My husband and I had no plans for a honeymoon. We simply started driving for the East Coast. Or we thought we did. We got an hour and a half into the trip and stopped for the night, only to turn around and go home the next morning because we forgot the camera. So a short delay, right?
May I make a suggestion to all couples right now. Never decide to drive for long periods of time in a car with your new spouse. Trust me, it will test your marriage from Day One! Now, my father was a stickler about teaching us to follow a map. (Those are the things that show roads and cities that we used to navigate our trips before GPS existed) It is pretty much a straight shot across the country on I-80 coast to coast. Simple, right? Until your husband asks you which direction to go and you read the map and tell him and he goes the opposite way. "What are you doing? I said turn right." The answer was simple and yet it almost caused his untimely demise. "It just feels like the ocean is this way." We spent a week like that. Thank God part of the week was spent on Martha's Vineyard looking for James Taylor's house. It is an island and all you can do is go in circles!
My kids all planned trips. Some as soon as the wedding was over, and some a few months later. Who wants to go on a tropical vacation in July, right? "Mommy's" first hiccup was when her husband left his wedding ring in the bathroom of the hotel and did not realize it until after they were at the airport. That resulted in my cousin retrieving it from the hotel for us. (Wait, why didn't someone help me out with our camera?) Pook's wife was sick the first few days of their trip. Nothing like a honeymoon alone. I knew something was up when we were hearing from him. (She recovered quickly and did enjoy the rest of the trip.) Thank God, most of the trips were uneventful. But then again, there were only two of them! So much more happens when you just add one more person into the mix!
I do remember going to Boston as part of our Honeymoon. We got all dressed up for a romantic dinner. It was a special treat to order lobster and look out onto the ocean while someone waited on us and made sure we had everything we needed. Our waiter also spent the evening apologizing to us!
Seated next to us was a loud older couple who argued about EVERYTHING! They threw insults and threats at each other as if they were passing rolls. The waiter very kindly let us know that marriage isn't always like that!
I don't know about how other states are, but my husband is an Ohio State Alumni. Let me say right now with a smile - those people are crazy! We of course, halfway across the country to attend a Buckeye football game. That was the grand finale of our wedding week and honeymoon! What every girl dreams of, right?!
I truly look back on all of the stuff with a smile. It makes for great stories! God has blessed me in so many ways and often, like not killing my husband over the map thing I am taught patience. I am thankful for all the crazy experiences and can't wait for more. I hope that you recognize God's blessings this week and smile.
Well, we have reached the end of another summer and so, my plan is to dedicate my writings in the month of August to the incomparable “Family Vacation”!
Come on, we have all taken them. Whether it was as a child or as an adult with our children. If you ever sit and listen to my children, the stories are unforgettable and cause my stomach to ache from laughing. To start with, whoever dubbed the meaning of RV as “ruined vacation” was a genius. But you don’t need an RV to experience what some might declare as a ruined vacation and hopefully most learn to laugh.
Always begin at the beginning so please allow me to go back to some of my earlier vacations as a child. At least what I can remember. When I was younger, our family got into camping with a group of people that my mom worked with. My parents went first on their own to see if they would like it before subjecting us to it. Turns out there were some pretty fun vacations when we camped. We always found campgrounds with pools and horseback riding and hiking. So there was plenty to do. At first we borrowed equipment and finally my dad bought a pop-up camper. However, being the frugal soul that he was, he opted for an homemade one. It was cool, but not as elegant as the ones you bought at the store. One of my earliest recollections is when we hauled that camper with mom’s old Cadillac (60’s, I think). We got to the campground and began to set up. As I recall, dad unhooked the camper from the car and the Cadillac began a slow roll down the hill. My mother went running after it to try and jump in as the driver’s door was also open. What was she thinking?! My mother was not an athletic soul! She did manage to jump in though just after the car hit a tree and came to a sudden stop! Did I mention that my dad was frugal and took meticulous care of his belongings? That smashed fender/bumper was not a shining moment. There were arguments about who didn’t set the emergency brake and then my memory blacks out!!! I think that starts out as a potential ruined vacation, don’t you. After several days, we got back on track and actually did have some fun.
Another memorable vacation was a trip south for my cousin Ron’s wedding in Alabama. My parents decided to combine it with a trip to newly opened Disney World. We stuffed luggage, two grandmothers, three children and my parents into dad’s station wagon. Back then, kids did not have to wear seat belts or use car seats. That was what my mother’s arm was for. (No wonder she eventually had problems with a dislocating shoulder!) We would fight over who got to sit in the rear facing seat of the wagon. When we first went to Disney you bought tickets for the park. The rides were rated as A, B, or C. You bought ticket packets that you would use once for each ride/event. Packets were priced according to how many A tickets (the best rides) and how many B and C tickets. A “C” ticket let you climb up the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. Did I mention that my dad was frugal? It was shear agony to have to wisely choose how you would use your tickets.
I remember the summer the “Gas Wars” were on. We traveled everywhere on $20 because gas was less than 25 cents a gallon! We rarely ate out when we traveled. Mom would spend days frying chicken and packing a cooler of sandwiches and drinks. Ever wonder why they have picnic tables at rest stops? Sure, today you figure those places are simply for bathroom breaks. “Back in the Day” you did stop for a bathroom break (only once or twice a trip – I maintain that habit to this day!) and then you would virtually unload most of the car and carry the cooler to a picnic table and prepare a full lunch of sandwiches, fried chicken, potato salad, etc. Dad might enjoy a beer (because that wasn’t illegal back then either). We would load back up and drive until we got to our hotel for the night. That meant ALL of us crammed into one room. We were required to order off the children’s menu, no questions asked!
Souvenirs! Ah, what memories I have of those! No I don’t really, that was always considered junk by my dad. We would maybe be allowed to pick one thing during the vacation. That is a habit I do not maintain, especially with my grandchildren. My kids might argue that I was a little stingier with them. By the way, my children were shocked to open a box in my “jewelry drawer” one day when they found a piece of a lobster claw. It was my souvenir from our vacation south. Grandma got to order a lobster for dinner, and I begged to keep the claw. I also have a small piece of glass that I imagined was a jewel of great rarity. My kids all tease me about the sadness of having a lobster claw for a souvenir. However, one year, Daniel vowed to eat and build me the rest of it, piece by piece. That lasted right up until the dog got ahold of it! I still have that claw. We will see who fights over it when I am gone!!!
Oh, for the good old days. Sad by today’s standards of spending, but rich in so many other ways. This whole silly virus thing has taken us back a little to older years of spending time together and finding simpler things to do. I am not sad about that. I hope God walks with us as we continue to rediscover Him and the blessing of our families. More vacation stories to come!
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!