The boy has an odd habit of starting many a conversation thread with the phrase "Speaking of..." You might be reading this with confusion right now, wondering "Why is this odd?" Because, friend. His "Speaking of..." comments usually refer to random crumbs of dialogue from six minutes ago. You have to be on your toes to follow his line of thought many a time.
Speaking of being on your toes...
We took our first vacation with children this past week, and that took a lot of planning. It didn't have to be as time consuming as it was, but the fruits of my labors, we did reap. It was a week of small miracles.
Speaking of miracles...
This isn't really a post about the vacation itself. It wasn't flashy, exotic or jealousy-sigh-inducing. But, frankly speaking, it was just right for our family right now. If A + B = C, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my family isn't flashy, exotic or jealousy-sigh-inducing either. That is an accurate statement. And, that works for our family right now, too. Living the life, my friend.
Here's my effort to reign it in here; I know you want to hear about the miracles. Ask and ye shall (maybe) receive.
*Five days. Hours in the car, including a stretch of 4 hours (a new high score for this bunch) to start the trip. Nary a whine. Nary a complaint. Nary a weep. I call that a miracle when sometimes I can't make it fifteen minutes across town without flailing and gnashing.
*Food. I was soaking up some HGTV early in the week, and one of the participants on the show was talking about his love of airplanes. He admires them so much to the extent that his self-proclaimed hobby is to buy a round trip cross-country ticket, say D.C. to San Francisco, and then fly the route just to fly. He doesn't stay in the destination city, doesn't sight see. He just enjoys what he calls the relaxation of the flight. It was something of a light bulb moment for me. If he can get away with calling that a hobby (though his partner definitely argued against the use of that term), then why can't I enjoy visiting new grocery stores as something of an odd hobby? I can. I did. I hit up 3 upscale, even swanky, little spots along the way, and managed to seemingly bring home more food than we ate for the week. Popcorns. Coffee. Vanilla macaroon granola (oooooooohhhhhhh, I love this). Roasted coconut chips. Coconut cashews. One place had a make-your own trail mix bar. One had three unique restaurants in it. One had a line of flavored vinegars and olive oils that you could sample before filling a jar with your preference. One had a little child care situation at the front of the store. Finding grocery stores isn't really a miracle, but it was a miraculous bit that they were all so accessible to where we were and that I walked through all of them sans-kids. It's hard to enjoy a good vinegar and olive oil bar when a small fry doesn't have the same interest. So...miracle.
*Ice cream. Prior to the trip amidst all of my hours of researching/planning/detail checking, I happened upon 3 ice cream/frozen yogurt places that were must try spots for me. And, in two days, I did. We hit up Jenni's, which is arguably one of the best in the country. We found a Graeter's with a playground in the store. I slipped into Bad Frog for some coconut (I see a theme emerging) froyo. They all live up to the hype, and I basically still fit into my clothes. Miracle.
*Accommodation #1. We tried the VRBO route for the first time, and it did not disappoint. Bedrooms for all. A stocked kitchen. Space to play and then veg after the kidlets were tucked away. Cheaper than a small hotel room. I wasn't sure how this was going to play out having never used this site before, so I'm going to label this a miracle.
*Accommodation #2. I found a cute-as-a-button bed and breakfast cottage for the 2nd leg of our tour de force, which frankly means knicknacks everywhere. Kitsch is one thing. Kitsch with young kids in tow is another. And nothing broke, which from any mother-of-young-children's point of view is a huge miracle.
*Prove me wrong. One big reason why we haven't really taken a vacation before is that I haven't been convinced it wouldn't be torture. Our kids generally don't ride well for long distances, and the boy isn't about to buy plane tickets for everyone. So we've been at something of an impasse for a while. Finally, we (mostly I) pushed aside our misgivings for the sake of a zoo and a couple of children museums that hit a good balance between child-friendly and adults-will-have-fun-too. My parents have a lake cottage that is easily accessible to us, and that has always sufficed to be our getaway spot for the last few years. But now, I already caught myself thinking about the next trip. And not only has my mind blazed that new trail, but also I found myself looking forward to another trip soon with the brood. I interpret this as all of the other small miracles adding up to this big one.