Our journey has been adventurous, joyous, and filled with laughter for sure. But it has not been easy. It is controlled chaos. Every day is an encounter with, what Amber has coined, the "twin-ado." Just take one look at the toy and snack debris in our basement after one afternoon and you will understand.
We often say around here that there is nothing we would rather do than spend time with our kids, but there are a whole lot of things we wish we could do.
But this year, after a two-year hiatus, we finally got to venture to the beach and spend time away. The four of us made long hauls to Norfolk, VA and Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Yes, the twin-ado made its descent upon Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean beaches.
And we learned many things on our first two summer vacations as a family.
1. Car Rides SuckI used to have a rule for road-trips that, barring extenuating circumstances, travelers get one stop per four hours. I said, "used to have a rule." We made it to Delaware before we had to make a stop due to car sickness. Not pretty. Then we made another for lunch. Then we made another for diapers. Then we made another because we thought someone was car sick. Then we made another because I decided to walk the rest of the way...it would be faster.
I used to think that portable DVD players were yet another sign that our culture does not know how to be together and has grown dependent on technology for everything. Now I think portable DVD players are a sign of the new creation. Although, if I hear that little red muppet sing about his "world" one more time...
I remember when I was accused of missing half of vacation because I would sleep in...until 9:30. This year we certainly made up for all those years. The kids woke us up rearing to go and hit the beaches, or eat grapes, or launch their alphabet magnets all across the kitchen floor. Try making toast as vowels are launched at your waist line.
Still, there is nothing like waking up to a sweet angel (and their stuffed animal of choice) knowing that you have the whole day to spend with them without email or phone call interuptions.
3. Sand Is for Digging and Eating.
You learn how to dig holes in the sand rather quickly when two toddlers find so much satisfaction in a wading pool on the shore line. Also, it is pretty gratifying to be able to tell your kid, "yes, my child, I created this...for you." They then look up with eyes wide with gratitude and awe versus rolling in confusion and disturbia. Digging holes does not look as cool when you build them by yourself and for yourself as a grown man.
Sand is also a lot like shake and bake for pretzels and crackers. Kids don't seem to mind the added crunch and grit that results in dropping or chucking an afternoon snack from their shaded spot on the towel. Instead, they pick it up and insert directly into mouth before we even have a chance to brush it off. Thank God for A&D.
4. WE LOVE GRANDPARENTS
It's on record. We love you! Sure for your love for our kids, how you have raised us to be good and decent human beings, and because you are great people whom we admire. But mostly we love you because you are free childcare :) It was so refreshing to know that when naptime or bedtime came around we had people skilled in the art of twin care to look after our sleeping children so we could read, take a walk, wade in the waters, or snooze in the sun.
5. We Missed Our Dogs
Sure, we love our beagles as though they are family and sort of wish we could bring them along. Sort of, but not really. Except that they make excellent vacuum cleaners during meal and snack time. We had grown accustomed to immediate clean-up, which made us think our kids were superstar eaters. Wrong. Most of their food ends up on the floor and now we know why our dogs barely eat their own food. After every meal it became a nutritious field of land mines: grapes, sandwhich particles, cheerios, strawberries, and whatever else they decided to launch off their tray.
6. We Need More Things to Talk About...Or Do We?
Amber and I went out one evening to grab dessert just the two of us. We quickly realized that our life has become so consumed with kids, diapers, childcare, and family obligations that when we have a moment to ourselves we sometimes lack varied talking points. So we kind of just sat together over desserts and drinks. And that was a gift in and of itself. There does not always need to be rapid dialogue to enjoy an evening with the person you love. Relationships of worth are content with the sacredness that comes from simply being alone together.
We were not sure how our kids would respond to the water. They love the bathtub but this is a bit different. After about three hours we found out...they love it. They also are quite fearless and unaware that the water is deeper than the bathtub or kiddie pool. So when the tide was low we took full advantage and waded the waters with them. Look out Michael Phelps, we may have some swimmers...or at least future belly floppers!
8. Never Forget Your First Family Vacation
I always loved the annual trips to the beach, but this year was different. I did not want it to end. I used to make fun of my family who sulked along the shoreline while I was eager and ready to return home. Yet, this year I was the one with the lump in my throat and pleading for just one more day. It also could have been the realization that we had an 11 hour car ride ahead of us. See point number 1.
Life moves so fast. Too fast. I have also been told that it only picks up speed as you get older.
But does it have to? Do we have to become so co-opted by the cultural pace that we assume we will live forever as victims to hurry?
I am growing more and more aware of the obstacles to living life in a healthy, sacred, and faithful rhythm; I am also becoming more aware of the need for rest.
I am grateful for vacation. It reminds me of what is really important, who are really important, and refreshes me to be who God has called me to be the other 51 weeks out of the year.
I also hope that what Amber and I learned on vacation this year will help us prepare in years to come...
but probably not...
Until then, time to clean up the debris in our basement.