At different times in my adult life, vacations were designed for different purposes.
And let me begin by saying that I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my life to have had both the time and the resources to go on some amazing vacations.
When the kids were young, it was all about seeing new and exciting places and building memories of special times together. Whether it meant a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums, a week at a Disney Theme Park, or camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains…it was all about exposure and memories.
Living in Boulder, Colorado we can get quite insular. We don’t have a lot of diversity here. So it’s easy to forget that there are many different types of people, with different cultures and viewpoints making up the world. So I always felt it was important that we make an effort to travel around in order to expand our understanding of the world we live in.
When the kids were young, I thought of vacations as an opportunity to learn. Yes…it was also about fun. But when you’re raising kids, it’s also about seeing new things and learning about our history, different cultures (even within the same State!), and the vast beauty of our country.
We’d start months in advance and I’d get the kids involved in the planning process as much as possible. We’d get out maps, read books on the locations we’d be going to and talk about what we hoped to do.
We’d also start with a work chart about 2 months ahead of a vacation. The kids would earn .25 for each chore they’d complete, and by the time we’d leave on vacation, they’d have earned anywhere from $35-$50 (each) to spend along the way.
It was a great strategy.
Brian and I never had to ask the kids to do anything around the house leading up to a trip (Woohoo – they actually wanted to do chores so they could earn $$) and…once we were on vacation, they never asked us for anything.
None of the typical “Mommy…can I have that T-shirt/sweatshirt/banner/poster/etc?”
Instead, they would count their money and decide if they really wanted an item (or not) and would end up being incredibly frugal along the way. It was HEAVEN!
During those early years, our vacations were also about balance. A bit of activity, a bit of rest, and a bit of adventure. As long as the kids were happy…we were happy. And, as any parent knows, their happiness was based on maintaining that balance. If we screwed with the balance, they’d quickly deteriorate into cranky, unhappy children. And that…would not make for an ideal vacation for anyone!
As the kids got older, our ideal vacations became more about exploring the world. We’d venture farther and experience more. Whether it was a 3 week RV trip up through Canada, or across the Atlantic to destinations in Europe – each vacation was jammed packed with new adventures and explorations of new cultures.
Those vacations were “active.” We did a lot. We saw a lot. And…still trying to maintain some level of balance (this time because mommy and daddy would get cranky if we didn’t), we would also fit in a couple of quiet days to just enjoy our surroundings.
Now…as I take more vacations on my own (without the kids I mean) I love those restful, quiet, sit by the pool kind of vacations. Oh I still like a bit of adventure once in awhile. But honestly…I’m really good with going to one place and just hanging out.
When I’m in the mood to both explore and relax however, my ideal vacation is a cruise. I get to unpack once, see a bunch of places, eat well, dance a lot and still have some time to sit by the pool and hang out with a good book and a great fruity rum drink.
I’m really curious how it will be when the house in Ridgway is complete though (we’re about 50% of the way through that project). Will I still want to travel? Or will I feel like I have to “use” that house now that I have it?
I think I’ll figure out the balance…and still do a bit of both.
But I mean really…either way…it’s all ideal!
I’ve been insanely lucky to be able to travel as much as I have.
When I was a kid, we traveled a lot. I didn’t always appreciate it (because, hello, kids are stupid), but I’m so happy to have been to the awesome places that I’ve been with my family. My favorite memories growing up include many, many family vacations.
(It helps that my family kicks ass.)
Travel continues to be an important part of my life, especially in my life with Mike. We’ve been to some amazing places, and I feel very fortunate to look back and think about them.
Some of these vacations have been very busy, switching locations every couple of days. Some have been long, with a week spent in a single location.
A few have been lazy, spending days lounging around and getting too much sun.
And others have been adventurous, spent in tiny hostels, with days spent exploring – and getting lost – on foot, freezing because we didn’t pack enough warm clothes.
But this question is about my ideal vacation…
When I think of “vacation”, I automatically think of the beach.
This is funny, because I have quite the aversion to sand… and copious amounts of sun… and I think salt water is kind of icky.
(It’s a good thing I live in a land-locked state, huh?)
But what’s more ideal than sitting on the beach (or at least near a beach), reading, dipping your toes in the water, and drinking frozen beverages with little umbrellas in them?
I’m a fan of the relaxing vacations. The ones where you don’t really have to worry about much.
I’ve had some great vacations in busy cities where we always had something to do and somewhere to be. The big cities are fun and exciting, but I can only handle those for a few days.
But the sitting and reading and sipping in the sun? I can do that for muuuuuuuch longer.
When Mike and I first started traveling together, we had different views of travel. For me, it was all about lounging around and afternoon naps and reading half a dozen books. Mike liked that stuff, but he also didn’t want to waste our time or miss out on things.
After nine years of traveling together, and lots of different destinations (huge cities, remote beaches, and quiet mountain towns), we’ve perfected a nice balance. We spend about half of our time on the exciting stuff: the sightseeing and visiting and running around. But in between those busy days, we have times to relax and hang out. To spend all day under an umbrella on the beach, reading and eating sandwiches out of a cooler.
(And Mike knows he has to keep as much sand off of me as possible.)
(Because it’s gross.)
So, my “ideal” vacation? Somewhere beautiful with big, bright flowers. Days that are a mix of adventure and afternoon naps. Some tour buses or sightseeing, but also days by the pool.
And if there are frozen alcoholic beverages thrown in? Well then it’s pretty damn perfect.
(ESPECIALLY if those frozen beverages are served IN A POOL. But I’m not too picky.)
(But really, a bar IN A POOL. What genius came up with that gem?)
As we just celebrated Mother’s Day, Ally and I thought it would be appropriate (and nice) to think about what my mother’s (and her grandmother’s) have taught each of us. My mom…Del, and my “other mother”…Stella (Brian’s mom), both died within the past two years.
Both of them were a big deal in our lives.
And , both of them taught us a lot.
I was incredibly lucky to have these two very dynamic mothers in my life. Both women taught me more by example than through any form of lecture or instruction. Neither was the type of woman who demanded or directed, but instead encouraged me, held my hand in good times and in bad, and helped guide me toward becoming the woman I am today.
(So if you don’t like me…blame them)
Ahhh…but it’s not that easy… Damn it.
I know I have to take responsibility for who am I (which is one of the things they both taught me).
But they also taught me all kinds of other things, like…
It’s important to become an independent woman:
My mom taught me that independence was about developing your own opinions and being able to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself, even though (ironically), she was happiest in her dependence on my dad.
Stella taught me to embrace my independent spirit, and yet, don’t be afraid to lean on those who love and care about you.
Be fearless when choosing a career:
My mom didn’t worked outside the home while I was growing up, but was tireless in her encouragement of me to find a career that would challenge my mind and tap into my personal skills. She taught me that there were many paths I could take, as long as they led in a direction that would allow me to learn and grow along the way.
Stella taught me that no matter how old you are, you can make a contribution to others through work or volunteering. Shortly after Brian and I were married, Stella went back to work (full time) at the age of 60 in a job that required her to learn a whole new technology (automatic typewriters were just coming into vogue back then). She was never so vibrant or as happy as she was in that job. It helped her gain a whole new level of self confidence…and opened up a whole new group of friends that would be with her the rest of her life.
You’ve got to ENJOY your children:
My mom taught me to be a disciplinarian (good manners were a must!) but not to forget to have fun with my kids. She believed that humor built the strongest ties (with your children…or anyone for that matter). And spending any time with her…meant a time filled with stories and laughter…and fun.
Stella was also a stickler for good manners, but taught me that there was always time to play a game, work on a project or sing a song with your kids, and if it didn’t seem like you had the time…it was up to you to figure out a way to find it.
Love completes you:
My mom loved her family more than life itself…but she had only one true romantic love. My dad. She taught me that love completes you, but be cautious and judicious about who you love.
Stella taught me to be open to love people of all ages, and from every walk of life. She truly loved her friends and family, and more often than not…her friends became her family.
I know that a day doesn’t go by without some life lesson becoming apparent that I learned from one of these two mothers.
They added so much to life and I miss them more than anyone could know.
And luckily, I now have another mother in my life who offers me all of the love and encouragement I could ever hope for (thank you Mary!). And…I continue to learn from her as well.
What a lucky woman I am to have such wonderful mothers in my life to offer me such wisdom.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom – Del, to Stella and to Mary.
Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me.
Mom told me this post is supposed to be about my grandmothers, so I won’t really write about her, because I always usually listen to her.
BUT, I can’t write a Mother’s Day post without saying that she’s amazing. So, a quick poem:
C is for caring, because she cares about me (and you) a lot.
I is for intelligence, because she’s smarter than your average robot.
N is for not normal, because normal she is not.
D is for dashing, because she’s beautiful and hot.
Y is for y-awesome, because that’s all that I’ve got!
AND NOW, what I learned from my Grammy and Grandma:
Never act your age.
Stand for something.
Wear your seat belt.
Lift your hands up when you’re choking.
Grammar is *really* important.
Candy has no expiration date. (Just because it hurts your teeth to eat that jelly bean or licorice whip, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.)
Watch old movies.
Say please and thank you.
Send birthday cards.
Take risks in your life.
Make jokes about things that usually make you cry.
Do crossword puzzles.
Sleep is over-rated.
Baking is also over-rated. (Why bake when you can buy perfectly good brownies in a box?)
(But some people deserve to be hated.)
I miss my grandmothers.
But I’m so thankful that they taught me all of these lessons (and many more that I can’t list here).
(Like seriously, the choking one? Totally useful.)
Happy Mom’s Day!
(PS: Mom, I was going to put “young” for the “Y”, but I couldn’t make it work. I want full credit, though.)
I like purses.
I have a lot of them.
Different shapes. Different colors. And…different sizes.
They make me happy.
But I must admit I tend to gravitate toward larger bags.
For me…size does matter (you knew it had to show up somewhere in this one).
I’m not sure why. It’s not like I put more in a large bag than any other bag (the proverbial “evening” bag being the exception since you’re lucky to fit a lipstick and license in those).
I put the same stuff in every purse that I assume other women put in theirs. Wallet, checkbook, phone, lip stick(s), Advil bottle (filled with a variety of pain relieving substances), pen, and reading glasses.
Oh…and tissues, card holder (with my She Thinks business cards), tic tacs and loose change of course.
And sometimes my e-reader. (You never know when you’ll have the chance to finish a chapter.)
And a sweater or scarf. (You never know when you might get chilled.)
I think a big purse makes me feel secure. Like I have options.
Ya know…the option to carry more stuff should I have the need to pick stuff up and carry it somewhere.
Maybe it’s a girl thing.
Or a mom thing (God knows, we moms seem to carry a lot of stuff).
But there are women out there who use really small bags and seem to have everything they need in them.
I admire that. I couldn’t do it. But I admire them for it (it makes me think they must be VERY organized and efficient).
The other day someone (a guy) saw me with one of my big purses slung over my shoulder and asked me if I always carried my “luggage” around with me.
I wasn’t offended. Guys don’t understand big purses. They’re intimidated by them. Like they’re scare of ‘em (or they’re scared of what they might find in them).
How many times have you heard a guy say “what do you carry in that thing?”
As if we carried a bunch of deep dark scary stuff like poisons or snakes or bags and bags of feminine hygiene products that we’re ready to whip out in public at any time.
But the bag in question wasn’t that big. It was a hobo bag and it was just a bit stretched out from months of swinging it from my shoulder to the floor, or over into the backseat of the car, or onto the end of the banister where it lives when I’m at home.
But the comment did give me reason to take a good hard look at what had become my “go to bag”…and I was forced to admit that it did look BIG.
Or rather…long. Months of daily use and abuse had caused it to look more like a woven laundry sack (albeit with a nice leather strap and matching leather bottom) than a stylish shoulder bag.
Not what I was going for.
Apparently I had become too lazy to change my bag and I had entered into a purse rut.
Normally, I love to change my purses to go with my outfits. It’s part of the game of mixing and matching different colors and textures to make a full outfit, with purses adding another piece to the puzzle.
But over the course of the winter I seem to have ignored all the other bags lining the top shelves of my closet…and my one “go to bag” was obviously now showing the worse for wear.
I’m so embarrassed.
I guess I have no choice but to seek out one of the many big purses I have at the top of my closet, so I have the option to fill it with lots more stuff.
I don’t know what (if anything) purse size means. Maybe that you’re an important person with important things that you need to carry to important places?
I’m trying to come up with a reason as to why I carry bigger purses. Is it because I need that much room? Is it because I have so many things that I need to lug around?
Is it because I’m important?
I love purses, and usually I adopt the motto of “the bigger the better”.
I have plenty of smaller purses that I think are adorable, I just don’t use them as much as the gigantic ones.
Why? Because I have shit to carry that I need!
Actually, I only have a few things that I actually need to carry.
My wallet (which is pretty tiny) my book or e-reader (which goes everywhere with me), my phone, and my keys.
Other than that, there’s really nothing I need to take with me.
So why do I insist on carrying around an oversized purse?
Because they’re pretty.
There’s really no other reason than that.
It’s personal preference.
I guess I like that I have the room to shove snacks (I like to carry snacks everywhere in case I get hungry, because if I get hungry I get cranky. I’m basically 3 years old), or a sweater (I’m also basically 78).
But as long as I can carry those few things that I need (like my book), then I’m fine.