Tag Archives: play

Not all vacations are created equal

Meet Frugly. (A frog so freakin' ugly, I thought he was cute.)
Meet Frugly. (A frog so freakin’ ugly, I thought he was cute.)

Not all vacations are created equal.

It was around day 4 that I realized this vacation was different from other vacations we had taken with the girls. They’ve always been good travelers, willing try new foods, explore the sights of wherever we may be, and complain very little. We have traveled with them via car, plane, and boat. We’ve used buses, trolleys, rafts, and trains to explore new countries, cities, and towns. We’ve stayed in tents, hotel suites, rustic cabins, and the simple, small room of a pensione. Each experience has woven a memory into our collective family cloth. And, each memory has bonded us tightly together as a family.
That’s one of the beauties of vacation–the memories that are created. These are the stories that are told and retold so often they become identifiable by just a word or short phrase. In our family, I can say, “running bear snack” or “snow in Grand Canyon” or “Frugly” and immediately we travel back in time together. These words become the portals to a secret world shared only by the 4 of us. Sure, we can tell friends and family the stories associated with these “code words,” but the feelings that are conjured when the tales are shared are ours and ours alone.
More often than not, we are “movers” on vacation. It matters not if we are exploring our own backyard during a staycation or discovering the treasures of a new state or country, we make the most of our vacation time and get up and go. We take the largest bite we can with the time we have when on vacation. We are unconcerned if we’ve been there before; we savor the experiences and treasure the time together.
This vacation, however, was different. Unlike the cattle ranch cottage or the rustic cabin we rented for a week in Jellystone, I didn’t need to entertain small children. This time there were no planned tours, no sightseeing, no grand travel days or naps to accommodate; there was no schedule of any kind other than arrival and departure dates. There were no wardrobes to plan or complex (luggage) packing plans. There were neither tickets nor passports needing to be checked and rechecked in my obsessive neurotic way. And in that, this vacation has been perfect. Sure, I love the “big trips”, but I’ve loved this, too, and will cherish these memories.
In the last week, we have laughed together, hiked together, nurtured each other as a mild stomach bug passed from one to the next, and above all, just sat in silence and in comfort while we read together. Each of us finding our own nook to settle into, books have been ploughed through, discussed, and shared with one another. There have been mother/daughter walks, father/daughter walks, and husband/wife walks. Each of us has had opportunities to share time with each other privately and as a family, and each of us has had private time to hear our own thoughts and listen to the gentle sounds of the forest. Together, we’ve played games and searched for familiar constellations in the night sky. We’ve shared the flora and the fauna of the forest, pointing out deer sightings and wildflowers with the same enthusiasm. Traveling with older children brings is own special gifts. There are deeper conversations and more time for each of us to “just be still”. Our tones have softened, our pace slowed, and our love grew all because we had no schedule.
And, as always, memories have been added to the fabric that weaves this family together. So, I’m off to do my “boob dance” (don’t ask) and laugh about the memories created with my almost grown children.

What weaves the fabric of your family together?

(I wrote this the day we returned from our summer vacation and came upon it as I was doing research for our next family vacation in the spring. The memories it triggered made me smile and giggle. Those are the memories I treasure.)

A blank slate.

Last night, while visiting with new friends on my TM Facebook page, I was introduced to Etsy through a post by The Lucky Mom. I had heard of Etsy before, but I had honestly never visited the site. Yes, you might say I am a member of the 1%–just not that 1%. Etsy is a site that delights and inspires. I love crafting, all kinds of crafting, and have since I was a little girl. And, for this craft lovin’ mom that is easily distracted by “shiny sparklies”, Etsy is like nirvana.

Though I could have spent hours looking through the wonderful homemade pieces of art, it was Lucky Mom’s gratitude chalkboard that I kept coming back to, that I marked as a favorite, that I pointed out to my husband with a not-so-subtle Christmas gift suggestion. It was the same chalkboard that was on my mind when I awoke this morning.

Laying in the dark, I pictured the colorful chalkboard in my mind; “Today I am grateful for…” The list came fast and easy. Every day begins as a blank slate, and I have so very many things I am grateful for. And, though you could squeeze many answers into the blank space on Lucky Mom’s “gratitude chalkboard,” I think the intention is to write one– the one that fills your heart that day. I love that idea because it forces me to really focus my thoughts on that which I am most grateful for.  Now, it could be easy for me to  “go through the motions” and write “My family” daily, but not truly connect with my feelings of  genuine gratitude for them. Sad, but true. Definitely not fulfilling. And, certainly not what Thanksgiving is about.

“I have so much to be thankful for. What one thing would I write on my chalkboard today?” I pondered as I made my way down the stairs. I worked my way through my mental list as I prepared my coffee (which is, of course, on my gratitude “short list.”) There are so many things and I was beginning to feel like I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to just one. Then, I walked into my living room, and there– spread far and wide across the floor– was my answer.

Today, I am grateful for Legos. Legos that spread across the floor and bleed into the next room. Legos that multiply in the dark and are noisy and messy and small. Legos that are painful to step on and obnoxious to sort (so I stopped trying.) Legos that prompt spontaneous “Lego parties” and are left out for days at a time. Legos that bring my husband down on the floor to play. Legos that are stolen by our black, long-haired,  kleptomaniac cat. Legos that spur the creative juices in each of us. Legos that include pieces from my childhood –with extra gratitude to my mom who had passed them on to my oldest sister for her children and to my sister who passed them to me when her children were done with them. Legos that hold memories of our trip to Legoland many years ago. Legos that reflect the changing interests of my girls as they have grown. Legos that promote laughter and sharing and bring out the child in each of us. Legos that bring us together as a family. Legos that leave memories long after they are put away. Yep, today, I am grateful for Legos.

And, because there is room to squeeze in one more answer on my “chalkboard”– Today, and everyday, I am grateful for you. Thank you for reading. 🙂 And, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

What one thing are you most grateful for today?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom