Trips

Coming down.

It is said that all good things must come to an end.  This holds true, unfortunately, for vacations and The Vacation High.  After living freely for a few days on vacation, the inevitable end arrives.  This is where you must come down from The Vacation High.

For me it begins the night before departure.  If we’re staying at a hotel or other rented space the check-out time is usually around 11am so some preparations must be done the night before.  Dirty clothes must be gathered and all belongings accounted for.  The place that you called home for a few days and nights is no longer yours.  Time to pack your bags and get on with your normal life.  Once the day of departure arrives it’s helter-skelter to get the bags repacked and back into the car.  This is usually a process since you always leave with more than you came with.  Dirty clothing takes up so much more space than clean clothing does.  And there are always souvenirs.

Once everything is in the car, you check-out and then you see your bill.  It’s always more than you expect because of crazy taxes and fees.  So that’s always a downer.  Then begins the drive home which is always, for some reason, much faster than the drive there.  Although I’m always happy about having a successful trip, the drive home is never a happy time for anyone.  We want to be back where we were with the people we were with doing the fun things we were doing.  But instead we’re headed back to reality.

The hardest part about coming down from The Vacation High for me is the laundry.  I need a better system.  What usually happens is that the dirty laundry is repacked into individual suitcases.  Then when we get home I have to go through everyone’s bag to get the dirty clothes.  Then I have to sort them and wash them.  For some reason, this takes me days.  Case in point, we returned home from our last vacation on Sunday night.  I have still yet to finish washing all of the dirty laundry.  Oh and don’t even mention the unpacked bags that are still strewn about the house.  They’ll get put away one of these days.  But that feeling of excitement and anticipation has left me.  I’ve come down from my high.  As Soul II Soul sang back in the 80s “Back to life, back to reality.”

The vacation high.

Remember all that stuff I talked about yesterday?  Planning a trip, packing the car and hitting the road?  Well, all of that combined with actually being on vacation gives me what I’d like to call “The Vacation High”.  It’s many things all rolled into one (or into a few days actually).  The feeling of excitement and anticipation before going on the trip, the stress and anxiety of packing for the trip, and the happiness and exhilaration of being on the trip all combine to give that high.  It’s a great feeling.

Being on vacation puts me in a different state of mind.  There’s no laundry to be done, no beds to be made, no appointments to attend.  You’re in a different environment doing different things but there’s that sense of comfort because you’re with the ones you love most.  On vacation, you eat whatever you want and don’t think about how long it will take to burn off the calories.  Ice cream, fried dough, pizza, candy.  You name it, when I’m on vacation, I eat it.  Then there’s the beer.  I’d never let myself eat the way I do when I’m on vacation on a regular basis.  Not only would it seriously hurt my waistline but it would take away from the feeling that indulging on vacation brings.

Going new places, seeing new things and creating memories for my family and with amazing friends just gives me such a sense of of pure bliss.   I love seeing the look on my girls’ faces when they experience something for the first time.  It really is amazing.  And sharing those experiences with such incredible friends makes it that much better.  It’s a good thing we don’t vacation too much or I just might become a vacation addict and require some sort of rehab. :-)

You call THAT a vacation?

When most people hear the word vacation images of tropical islands, warm beaches and fruity drinks probably fill their minds.  While all of those things sound amazing to me, they’re not what comes to my mind when I think about vacation.  To me vacation is time spent away from home with loved ones doing things that you all love.  So while sitting on a warm, tropical beach sipping fruity drinks would definitely fit into that category, it’s simply not feasible (at least for us) with two small children.

Instead, our vacations involve packing our car full of everything except the kitchen sink, driving for a few hours, and getting comfy in a hotel/friend’s home/mini resort for a few nights.  Here is how it usually unfolds – A few months prior, I’ll suggest to Scott that we should do X.  He’ll agree because I always have fabulous plans.  We’ll arrange for accommodations either in a hotel/resort or with friends (I do most of this planning).  The week of, we confirm all of the reservations, make lists and take multiple trips to Target for necessities.  Two days before, I begin getting things ready.  Laundry is done, bags and suitcases are laid out and items start getting crossed off of the lists.  The day of departure everything is finalized in bags and suitcases.  This includes clothes for Scott, myself and both kids (and plenty of spare outfits for spills/accidents/weather changes), toiletries for all four of us, toys, kids plates/utensils/cups, any special or hard to find food or snacks, extra pillows, air mattress (if necessary), pack and play, etc.. As I said, everything but the kitchen sink.  Scott packs the car.  I refuse to be a part of it other than to request which few items are to go in the back seat within an arms reach for emergencies.  He’s a master at doing it and I’d rather not interrupt.  Somehow he always makes it fit.  Then we all pile in the car, stop at Dunkin’ Donuts (it wouldn’t be a road trip without this important stop) and hit the road.

Our favorite destinations range from an hour and a half to a little over four hour away via car.  So, depending on where we’re going at the time, we decide if we’ll drive straight through or make a stop along the way.  Generally speaking, anything two hours or less is a straight through drive.  If it’s a trip with a stop we try to plan the drive as follows – get in the car just around nap time for Nora.  Stop for “lunch” when she wakes up.  Eat and then finish the drive.  This usually works out quite well but as of late, she hasn’t been a huge fan of sleeping in the car.  In which case, we try to get at least half of the drive under our belts before stopping.

At this point, we’ve already had so much excitement and anticipation about our vacation and we haven’t even gotten there yet!  Once we arrive at our destination it’s time to unload the car.  (I’d like to take a moment to apologize to whomever decided to host our family for one of our vacations.  We bring a shit ton of crap with us.  Thanks!)  After that task, which is usually left up to Scott so I can wrangle the kids, is done, the vacation begins.

I know what you’re probably thinking right about now… That sounds like the furthest thing from a vacation that I could possibly imagine!  But you know what, it really is fun.  Is it stressful?  Yes.  Do we want to rip each others’ heads off at some point?  Yes.  Do we forget things? Yes.  Do we often say we’ll never do it again?  Yes.  Would we change it for the world?  No.  This, my friends, is how memories are made.

Image credit – worldofstock.com

Note:  Though this picture loosely represents what our packed car looks like, we DO NOT drive a mini van. :-)

Miss me?

I apologize for the brief blogging hiatus.  We were on a family vacation with one of my besties and her family.  We were very busy catching up, enjoying each others company, and eating very unhealthy foods.  Oh and we spent a few days taking the kiddos here:

We all had a blast but with all of the excitement there was no time for blogging and with all of the packing and planning that it takes to pull off a family vacation of course I didn’t plan any posts ahead of time.

Anywho, I hope my millions of loyal readers (ha!) haven’t missed me too much.  I hope to be back to a more normal posting schedule really soon or once I get my house back into livable conditions.  (I’m not sure which is worse, packing or unpacking!)

Just my luck!

So, remember how I told you that I had been looking for months for a double jogging stroller and then we scored a sweet deal on one last week?  Well, as you know I went up to my parents’ lake house for a few days this week.  It’s in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  If you blink when driving through the town center, you’ll probably miss it.  There’s an antique store, a pizza place, a bank and a library.  Oh, and a place called the Community Clothing Center which is sort of like a Salvation Army store or thrift store.

Before heading to the house, we always stop at the grocery store to get what we’ll need while we’re up there.  The closest store is about 20 minutes away so it’s just easier to get everything before hand.  Anyway, as we’re driving from the grocery store to the house, we pass through the tiny town center.  There’s never anything exciting to see or do down there but I always look around as we’re going through.  As we pass the Community Clothing Center my mom says to me (did I mention that she was with us?), “Hey, there’s a double jogging stroller just like the one you just got.”  I looked over and saw it and she was right.  It was just like the one I had got, except that it was blue.  I just shrugged and said, “Figures, since I just bought one.”

I kept on driving but then my mom and I decided that we should at least go and check it out.  So I turned the car around and headed back.  I pulled up in front of the CCC and had my mom hop out and go inquire about the stroller.  She goes in and comes back a few minutes later and knocks on the window.  I say,”How much?”  She just laughs and says, “They don’t charge for things, you just make a donation.”  Ummm, ok.  At that point she hops back in the car and I get out to go check out the stroller.  It’s legitimately the same stroller I just bought, an InStep Safari TT Double Jogger.  It has all the parts and is in fairly good shape.  It has some stains but nothing that can’t be cleaned.

We decide that, even though I just bought one, we should take it.  She can either keep it at her house for my girls and my  nieces or leave it up at the lake house and we can use it when we walk over to the beach with the kids.  Either way, all we have to do is make a donation and the stroller is ours.  We’re trying to think of what to give for a donation and we’re rummaging through our purses.  Collectively we came up with $15 cash.  It’s all we had.  My mom goes back in, gives the woman working inside the money and tells her that we’re going to take the stroller.  As she does this, I am waiting outside by the car.  An elderly man is sitting in one of the chairs outside the store.  He’s mumblimg, “Where’s my nurse?  She’s over an hour late.  I might just croak right here waiting for her.”  I’m not sure if he’s talking to me so I don’t answer.  Then another man approaches the store, looks over at my car and says to me, “Niiiice car!”  At this point my mom is (thankfully) come out of the store.

I start folding up the stroller and open the tailgate to my car.  So this stroller is NOT small.  It folds in half but that doesn’t mean much.  Oh and my car is already pretty full of our bags of clothes, our food and miscellaneous stuff for the kids.  I have no idea how we’re going to fit the stroller in the back of the car but somehow we manage.

So now, in a matter of 5 days, I have no one, but two double jogging strollers.  It’s just my luck!

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