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Tag: vacation

Cape Crusading

by on Jun.24, 2011, under family, travel

Family vacation – 6 days, 5 nights in Cape Cod, bookended by a combined total of about 20 hours of driving.  Despite the latter, the trip proved to be a lot of fun and a welcome reprieve from the daily routine.  Sure the kids had their questionable moments and I’m coming to learn that there are some tensions that come with parenthood that will likely take years to uncoil (though I suspect the specific cause will simply shift over the decades until they are finally untethered and on their own), but all in all it was a great trip.

We started our vacation the day after school was out for summer – packed the car to the gills with food, toys and clothes (both for the destination and the journey), and headed out as early as we could with the hopes of being well past the major metropolitan areas before the afternoon rush.  As it turned out, Google Maps failed me in its default recommendation and led us most of the way there via I-95 – as a result we were moving at a rate between 10 and 40 mph from Northern New Jersey to mid-Connecticut.  We managed to get out of the congestion briefly just past New Haven only to hit rush hour shortly after and until Providence, RI.  Despite all of these transit setbacks, the kids were well-behaved, remained in good spirits, and generally kept themselves entertained for most of the journey.  For part of the trip I decided to stream Pandora through my iPhone – I had previously setup a number of stations to suit various tastes:  one with a variety of modern music that I like, one based on a number of feel-good songs that my wife likes, and one based on a playlist of songs that the kids have come to enjoy (containing songs from artists such as Ok Go, The Gorillaz, Pomplamoose, and “Give Up the Funk” by The Parliament Funkadelics).  I started by playing the kids mix and apparently got a stream of about 7 or 8 70s funk songs … which the kids seemed to enjoy much more than I would have expected.

The resort that we stayed at was a small collection of quaintly-sized homes (mostly single-story twins) that was situated right on a bay near Hyannis.  The unit we opted for had one bedroom with a twin and a full sized bed in it and a Murphy bed in the living room.  Initially the kids found the Murphy bed so fascinating that they opted to take that bed while my wife and I would get the separate beds in the bedroom.  But in less than a half hour they were fighting (Cricket kept whining because Grasshopper kept kicking her, Grasshopper kept kicking Cricket because she wouldn’t stop whining, etc.) which required them to be separated.  So the first night I got the bedroom with Grasshopper and my wife and daughter shared the Murphy bed.  For the rest of the week the kids took the bedroom and we took the living room and all was copacetic … except for the fact that the kids seemed to like to wake at the crack of dawn.

The first morning, Grasshopper was up at 4:30am.  He seemed unsettleable so I gave him some books and toys and told him to play quietly.  After about 45 minutes of that, he had to go wake up his sister, and by 6:00 they had my wife up and trooped on down to the beach.  At around 7:30 they returned so that I could take a shift and my wife could get in a little more sleep, so I took them back to the beach where the played happily until about 10 before we gathered to plan our day.  The rest of the week we got to sleep in until around 7 to 8 (one of the drawbacks to being somewhere with a wide horizon on some of the longest days of the year).

Most of our days were punctuated by day trips to various parts of Cape Cod.  On Father’s Day we drove up the National Sea Shore and spent the afternoon in Provincetown.  We managed to visit 2 museums (a pirate museum on the pier as well as a Cape Cod history museum at the base of the Piedmont Monument), climbed the tower, and I got Cricket to try seafood (which she insisted she hated, but after a bite of my lobster BLT, she ended up stealing a quarter of my sandwich and on a seafood quest for the remainder of our trip).   We spent the next day in Chatham enjoying the beach, perusing the shops, and watching the seals circle the fishing boats at the docks, and spent Tuesday enjoying the amenities closer to the resort (e.g., the pool, the beach, and various mini-golf courses) before finally packing up and leaving on Wednesday.

Looking back at the trip, I’m sure my wife and I would have had a more relaxing version of a vacation were we there without the kids, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.  Even when the kids were pushing their limits (e.g., hooting as they ran up and down the ramps in the Piedmont tower to hear themselves echo), we couldn’t help but take joy in their unbridled enthusiasm.  And the trip gave me a new perspective on all of the family vacations I remember taking as a kid.  In the end, I managed to relax and unwind a little and spend 6 days not touching a computer, not being concerned about deadlines or meetings, and not needing to know what time it was – at the cost of a little loss of sleep and a little sunburn.  And considering the kids (and my wife) wanted to know if we could move there, I’d imagine it was good for them too.  Now I have to figure out when we can afford to do it again.

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Vacation Tales

by on Jul.13, 2010, under family

I’ve decided that I need to redefine what I term a vacation. While I enjoy visits with my family immensely as they are rare due to distance, such visits are not truly vacations and often another one is required shortly thereafter (no offense intended to those family members I recently visited – we absolutely enjoyed coming down). Being back at work is no vacation, that is for sure. Anyway, there is no single cohesive narrative of my trip, but a number of small anecdotes. So that will be the form of this post.

Part of our visit to my parents’ house overlapped with a visit from my grandmother. My grandmother is very religiously-minded and has a very low tolerance for bad language. I like to think I was tame, but my wife pointed out on our drive home that I still managed to drop a few mild bombs (e.g., what the hell, darn) and whenever I did, my grandmother would visibly flinch. Meanwhile, one of these overlapping evenings she was playing cards with my mother and had a moment of frustration with her choices in discards to which she exclaimed some phrase that was clearly not a swear, but carried all the tone of one. I made a comment along the lines of whether it was really not cursing if the inflection was there to which I got no response from her, but my mom nearly burst into snorting laughter.

On the ride home (which was during the day this time), the kids spend good amounts of the time ‘reading’ – by which I mean the got out theyr Tag books and let their Tag readers read the stories to them. They were entertaining themselves and not complaining, so I can’t fault them on it. Well there was a book that Cricket wanted to read that was one of Grasshopper’s and which was only on his Tag reader, so she asked him nicely if he wanted to switch readers. He responds by looking at her and saying “No,” in a tone suggesting it was a stupid question then turns to the back of the reader where his name tag is affixed and drawls out his name as if reading it slowly to her. Being as he is 3 and can barely recognize all of the letters in his own name, I couldn’t help but find the moment hysterical.

Due to coincidental travel, my sister-in-law had left her cat at our house while we were gone (there are clearly a lot of questions as to the logic there, but bear with me). See she lives about 30 minutes away from us and her parents (who live a mile from us) and she doesn’t have any reliable acquaintances near her who could feed and check on the cat at their own home. But she didn’t want to have to burden her in-laws with another cat in their own house, and since my mother-in-law had already been commissioned to water our plants, it seemed to stand to reason that she could feed the cat while she was there. So we came home from our travels to a paranoid cat. It would spend the majority of its time hiding from all of us and only seemed to eat food at night when we were all sleeping. Cricket wanted to take it for a walk … in its carrier. She seemed rather disappointed when we turned her down.

We also managed to fit in a beach trip this weekend (though it still involved visiting family). The kids had a blast – Cricket spent hours getting knocked over by waves while Grasshopper chose to have no truck with the sea and stuck to digging randomly in the sand. I played in both capacities off and on and eventually resigned to relaxing in a beach chair and reading on my new Nook (book and product reviews coming soon). Being that it was a very sunny day, we were vigilant with sunscreen application – the kids got at least 2 extra coats and I reapplied at least 3 or 4 times. Ironically the kids came out of the day with minor rosiness in a few spots and I ended up lobster red from waist to neck. But I was able to drown my pain in boardwalk food, so it is all good.

Now if only I could find time (and money) for a real vacation ….

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Half-Baked Plans

by on Jul.02, 2010, under family

So we’ve been planning a trip south to visit my family for months now – and by planning I mean we intended to come and we knew generally when we would do so, but beyond that few of the details were thoroughly worked out. In the end the main driver to our travel plans was the time I schedule as vacation (figuring picking some time is better than waiting for a fully-baked plan to come together). We debated many variants to the plan (camping either on the way down or on the way back, taking day trips to places while we are down here, etc.), but many were nixed through lack of effort, lack of planning or lack of enthusiasm. Sometimes just the trip itself is enough. And sometimes I make impulsive decisions that are not well thought through.

So we are packing and cleaning late into the evening on Wednesday when a ‘brilliant idea’ pops into my head. Knowing that the following day of travel would likely be long and arduous due to the combination of other early holiday travelers, various rush hour commuters, and my own children’s shortage of patience for long car rides, it strikes me that we can avoid all of the above by hopping right in the car that night. The loose plan was that we would drive as long as we could stay awake – taking shifts as needed – while the kids slept through the trip down. In the least, we get past the major cities and find a place to crash for a few hours until we can continue south. While my wife was hesitant, the kids were all about getting to their grandparents’ sooner and I was able to sway her.

So by 12:30 AM we are finally packed and ready to go (bad omen #1) and we get started. Grasshopper had already fallen asleep before we left so we just had to move him into his car seat. Cricket was awake still, but fell asleep within the first half hour. After 3 hours and a couple brief stops to refuel, I’m starting to wane. Unfortunately my wife (partially due to me being chatty to start off) hadn’t really gotten enough rest to take us much farther. We made it south of DC which was our main concern, but my wife was hesitant to stop at a hotel that would cost over $100 and I was too tired to Google one that didn’t, so we settled for parking at a rest area near Potomac Mills. My wife was paranoid about the kids developing some weird leg disorder I hadn’t ever heard of, so I had to convert the seats to beds they could lie flat in. We had pillows and blankets and were all set … in theory.

Grasshopper decided he had his second wind and kept trying to talk and play – which I mostly responded to with loud shushing and barks of ‘go to sleep’. After about an hour and a half he finally settled back down. Then an hour later I was awake and couldn’t settle back down (it couldn’t have been the discomfort of sleeping sitting up in a mini-van). After silently arguing with my wife about getting the kids re-situated for the next leg (where she conveniently through a good handful of sharp I-told-you-so’s she’d been saving up since I suggested the night drive), I finally started quietly shifting the kids back into sitting positions to continue the trip. They stirred and grumbled, but were back asleep within a half hour on the road. And we made the rest of the drive with little incident. Around 9 AM we stopped for breakfast and a driver switch, and I got a shallow nap for a good amount of the remaining leg.

After 11 hours we finally made it to our destination. In truth, even if we had left bright and early Thursday morning, it would likely have taken just as long between traffic and stops. So it generally worked out. But most of the ‘extra visit time’ we gained was spent either alternately napping or dealing with meltdowns from cranky, sleep-deprived children. But both of these are easily washed away by a normal night’s sleep for all … I’ll let you know when we get one of those.

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Return to Form

by on Jul.27, 2009, under About Me, family

Obviously I’ve been a bit lax in posting lately – partially due to being on vacation last week, but also due to being busy and falling behind on such things. I am going to try to be more disciplined going forward. In truth, I owe it mostly to myself to do so (not to discredit my readership, but frankly I know that it is small and not very regular – if I’m mistaken, please let me know).

As I believe I’ve stated before, the main purpose of this blog is to act as a sort of digital journal. I post my thoughts and experiences as much for my own catharsis as for anyone else’s enjoyment. With less posts comes less release. And all work and no play … well you get the picture.

So I will try to be more vigilant and consistent in my postings. I will try to stick to my regular memes as best as I can. And I hope that you continue to enjoy my musings as much as I enjoy sharing them.

By the way, for those interested, my vacation entailed a trip to visit family in North Carolina. We spent as much time as we could relaxing in the pool. I finally caught Star Trek on the big screen with my dad (awesome reboot – looking forward to more from this cast). And the wife and I got to have a dinner without kids via a double-date with my sister – Brazilian steakhouse and nice strong drinks (good times). Thanks again to everyone for the hospitality.

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