Friday, February 3, 2012

Great (Vacation) Expectations

Earlier this week, my sweet family of three returned from our very first real family vacation.  We went to Arizona for five days to escape the cold, dark, harsh Iowa winter.  (However, when we booked the flight, we had no idea this year would turn out to be one of the mildest winters we've ever seen!)

Arizona is one of my favorite places to visit-- mostly because my best friend in the whole wide world lives there-- but also because of the climate, the scenery, the people, and the endless possibilities when it comes to dining and outdoor recreation.  When I have traveled to Arizona in the past, it has truly been a vacation.  I have never slept in (due to that nasty time change) but always find myself relaxing and just soaking up the sun.

So as we planned our vacation with a 23 month old in tow, I was envisioning this trip to be quite different.  I can't say that I was dreading it (who in their right mind would dread going somewhere sunny and warm in January!?) but I honestly wasn't expecting it to feel like a vacation.  Deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew it would be fun in that "parenting" way  (like when it's "fun" to play with your kid at 6:30 on Saturday morning--- but you also honestly know that it's really more "fun" to sleep in... all by yourself... in another lifetime).   We were lucky enough to stay at my relative's beautiful house and I thought it might be hard to entertain C in a non-baby-proof home with only a few toys.  I had no idea if he would nap, sleep, eat, cry, whine, etc. etc. so I pretty much expected no napping/ sleeping/ eating, and lots of random whining and crying.

.....And it is my belief that these low expectations resulted in a fantastic trip.  C was an amazing little traveler.  Our flights out were delayed and he handled everything great.  We didn't even get settled in to our "home" until close to 10:00 (Iowa time) and he still managed to get a 'decent' sleep in the Queen bed with me.  (Unfortunately, my sleep could not really be described as decent)  When we woke up on Thursday morning, it was the beginning of an amazing trip.  Each day was sunny and gorgeous and filled with a perfect mix of activity and relaxation.  We had such a great time as a family-- I think we truly enjoyed each others' company and had so much fun spending time together.

As I reflect on this, it's strange to me how a vacation can feel so different from daily life.  My family is so fortunate to have many opportunities to spend a lot of time together as a family on a regular basis, but it never feels so relaxed, carefree, and fun.  We head to the park for a picnic, or the hill for sledding, or the children's museum.... and while we have fun, it's as if those thoughts of work, laundry, home improvements, returning calls/ emails, dinner plans, grocery lists, appointments, and errands are always lingering just below the surface.  I find myself being torn-- I want to enjoy playing with C but I equally want to have all the laundry finished before I'm too tired to even start it.  When you're on vacation, I guess the playtime always wins-- and it's all good.

Now that we have returned, my heart has filed away those amazing vacation feelings and is slightly aching for them right now.  And while we can't run back to Arizona anytime soon, and will never be able to duplicate this particular trip, I hope that we have many more family vacations to look back on with such fond memories.  The only problem, of course, is that it's going to be awfully hard to duplicate those low expectations again after having such a fantastic trip.

I love how Charlie is hugging me in this pic... and it looks like we're in Hawaii not necessarily Arizona.  

Want to know what we did?  Check out our recap here!

1 comment:

  1. I agree that there is something so special about family vacations. Even if you don't go that far. Our favorite family vacation was a trip to Door County Wisconsin. Dusty and I go there alone quite often over the years, but we'd never taken the family until two years ago. It was amazing...

    Glad C was a good little traveler! Can you have him teach his second cousin (or whatever the heck they are to each other) Natalie how to be a rock star traveler? Because she's going with us to Italy this summer (Brie's graduation present) and I'm crossing my fingers that she does well...