Slacker Mom Vacation Wins

standard February 20, 2015 3 responses

This week was “Ski Week” in our school district, a bizarro break that can always be found somewhere between Winter Break and Spring Break, rumored to have started back when families would literally just head for the hills as soon as the snow got good and the schools started closing to pretend that they were controlling the situation. (OK, I admit I might have started that rumor.)

It’s kind of a joke these days because snow, like rain, has been rather scarce around these parts for the last few years.

In any case, god forbid the children ever have to go to school for more than 6 weeks at a time, and so Ski Week still exists.

And, while last week I had virtually no work to do, this week I was absolutely slammed. Which is awesome when you have two children begging to be entertained.

Even better, after two days of working like crazy and periodically yelling “I sure hope you guys aren’t on the computer again” out of my open office door, C and I came down with a small stomach bug.

She spent an evening throwing up, I spent almost 24 hours sleeping. Which was great, because of all the deadlines I somehow had to meet. For a whole day I alternated between intense writing and equally intense napping.

And that was the day I stopped asking them if they were on the computer or wondering just how many TV shows they’d watched.

Guilt gained ground as the nausea and sleepiness relented and I found myself lamenting my less-than-stellar vacation orchestrating to a friend the next day.

Her reply?

“You know, they’re still better off than the kids who are working in the fields.”

I stopped my whining and thought about it.

Two kids, playing educational games on computers and watching truly harmless TV shows, running around in the sunny backyard, no pressure, no schedule, just unstructured free time. For a week.

If you ask the International Unofficial College of Super Judgy Moms I have completely and utterly failed my kids this week. No educational day trips, no intricate crafts, endless hours where I completely ignored my kids…

If you check my Facebook stream, we have completely and utterly missed the point of Ski Week. Clearly we should have either been on a ski run or on a sandy sunny beach.

But if you ask me or my kids? I think we did this vacation just perfectly. I met all of my deadlines beautifully and my kids are relaxed and recharged and just about bored enough with each other’s  company to almost want to go back to school.

Almost. But they shouldn’t worry too much. They’re off again in 6 weeks and I’m sure I’ll be just as lax about planning anything for them to do and just as busy then as I was this week.

swinging

A Magical Family Vacation Aboard the Carnival Inspiration

standard August 21, 2014 6 responses

It seems fitting that hours after dropping off the kids at school for their first day that I should sit at my desk (missing them a bit, I have to admit) and write up the second part of our vacation.

The morning after our day with the Mouse and the Magic we lazed about before packing up to head for the cruise ship terminal an hour away.

As I’ve mentioned before, going on a cruise was a very last minute decision on my part. It was that or heading to a rental on a lake. Even as we headed to Long Beach I still wasn’t 100% sure that I’d made the right choice. I did worry a bit that the kids might be sea sick and that we’d bitterly regret being on the open seas.

Lucky for me, my kids have stomachs of steel like their mama!

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We started having fun even before we got on board. Excitement was high!

Family shot at departure

We got on board on the early side, giving us plenty of time to explore the ship and grab some lunch poolside. It didn’t take long for the kids to grasp just how much fun was awaiting them.

Like… water slides?

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Or mini-golf?

Minigolf on deck

We had booked an inside state room, just big enough for the four of us and our stuff, but Carnival graciously upgraded us to a balcony suite which we took no time at all to get used to*. (It wasn’t hard… at all.)

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Pull out couch in Carnival Cruiseship Suite

Not as fun as bunk beds, but quite cozy nonetheless.

As soon as the kids were settled in for the night, I stepped out onto the balcony to put my new camera through its paces. I dearly loved my Nikon D40… but it was no match for the dark. The D3200 allowed me to play, play, and then play some more. Low light? Who cares!

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Bright light? Doesn’t stop the camera either. Also, waking up to this every morning? I could live with that!

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We woke up the next morning at our first port of call – Catalina Island, which I’d never been to, but had heard much about. We took our sweet time having breakfast on board and discussing our day on the island. As we talked, Little L grew more and more agitated. I brushed it off, until I realized that she was anxious about taking the small boats that were ferrying people from the big ship to shore.

My gut reaction was to tell her to suck it up and to force her to come with us. And then I realized I didn’t have to. Instead, I asked her if she wanted to spend the day at Camp Carnival.

She was quick to agree and instantly her grumps vanished. M, on the other hand, was skeptical, worrying about the family component of our family vacation vanishing into thin air. I prevailed. The thought of not having to jolly a cranky 7-year-old along all day sounded perfectly amazing.

See? Smiles all around!
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Catalina Island was utterly adorable. I could have spent a whole vacation right there, walking around the beachy downtown, having coffee in quaint coffee shops, taking in all the sights.

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After a bit of walking around, M and C decided they really wanted to go kayaking. I got them settled in their little boat and, with a bit of a skip in my step, headed out for an hour long walk with my camera.

Who says family vacation means you all have to be together ALL the time?

Before we knew it, it was time to get back on board. I joined all the other people busy snapping shots of our boat.

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Our second night on board was just as fun as the first, with some added treats. Mmm chocolate and strawberries…

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And new friends!
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On our second morning I woke up as we were slowly making our way into Ensenada. I snuck out onto the balcony, making sure not to rouse my slumbering family, and put my camera to work again.

I wanted to love Ensenada. I really did. But it was a little… sad… unfinished… grimy.

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We headed off the boat in the hopes of finding a cute beach town to visit and instead found ourselves in what could have been, in a more prosperous place, an industrial area. Instead of walking around as we’d planned to do, we hopped on a tour buss headed to the big local attraction, La Boufadora, a big ol’ blowhole, where all the tourists gather to watch water shoot up into the sky before heading to the open air market to haggle over keepsakes.

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I’m glad we went. I’m glad the kids got to see a bit of Mexico – though I’ll definitely be taking them back to see more of it as I think it would be a shame to have Ensenada be their only take on the whole country. But I’m also glad we had a whole day at sea after so that we could end our trip on a more positive note.

The kids ran off as early as possible to hang out with their friends at camp, leaving M and I to relax and laze the day away. Lucky us, we were also treated to a really cool behind the scenes tour of the ship. We saw all the kitchens and some of the staff areas.

Whenever I cruise I’m always mesmerized by the thought of the lives of the staff happening under the feet of all the vacationers. Seeing them in action only increased my awe.

Carnival reflections

All in all, it was a fantabulous vacation. We all came home, happy, rested, and excitedly planning next summer’s trip.

Want to know why you should consider a Carnival Cruise for your next family trip? Stay tuned. I have a top 10 reasons why coming up soon.

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*Please note: This trip was planned for and purchased by us, I was not compensated for this trip. The Carnival team went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and treated us like royalty the whole time we were on board because I had, prior to our departure, informed the PR team that we’d be sailing the Carnival Inspiration. That said, it has to be noted that the customer service team on the ship, as well as all the staff we encountered, are incredibly dedicated to their jobs and truly bend over backwards to make everyone on board have a fantastic time, whether or not they’re social media VIPs. 

Summer is for relaxing, right?

standard July 24, 2013 Leave a response

When I worked in an office and had to be at a desk every day, summers were exactly like every other day of the year. The kids had to get up with me, had to get dressed and ready, had to get out the door, had to be on time to their activities. It was a necessity, but it meant that summer never felt like, well, summer.

This is the second year in a row where summers are really feeling like summers. The kids get up when they want, have breakfast when they feel like it, get dressed eventually, have no real scheduled activities, and follow no set schedule of any sort.

For instance, right now they’re outside riding their bikes in the street.

I love that they finally get to experience true summer downtime. I have awesome memories of hot days spent riding my bike up and down the street, swimming, hanging out, and yes, sometimes being bored. I’m glad my kids are making their own memories.

But I’m loving it so much that it’s making it hard for me to stay productive.

For the first half of the summer I was doing a great job of creating a daily to do list and cranking through it before we headed out every afternoon to go swim. Then we headed to Chicago for a week of quality family time with my sister and her kids and, after a rather hectic two days of cramming work in while trying to enjoy all my nieces and nephew, I shut down my laptop, ignored my emails, and just relaxed.

You try organizing 6 kids for a photo when all they want to do is go swim.

We’ve been home for a week and I just can’t motivate myself to get back into the swing of work.

My office is a mess, my to do list is pretty light, and I have zero motivation to tackle the things on my “I’ll get to it when I have time” list.

I’m in full on summer vacation mode.

Now, trust me, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s good to take some time off, it’s good to relax and read a book for an afternoon, it’s good to step out of the rat race. But, every day that I stay stepped out makes it harder to step back in.

I know this. I know I should be at least thinking of stepping back in.

And yet, the books call, the couch and the lounge chairs beckon, and I really want to listen.

It stands to reason that organizing and cleaning up my office would be a great first step. Maybe even creating a bubble chart of my Summer/Fall goals. After all, I do have a book coming out soon that I need to start promoting.

But it can all wait, right? At least until after swim lessons and this evening’s picnic with friends? Maybe until after tomorrow’s morning at the park?

It’s just that summer doesn’t really last all that long and fall will be here all too soon. It makes it hard to feel guilty about putting it off a bit longer. 

4 more weeks of summer. We’re going to embrace each and every one.

A Week in the Mountains: Wordless Wednesday

standard August 1, 2012 2 responses

A mere 5 hours away from our home lies an incredible lake. We hadn’t been for the last two years. I’m glad we went.

Knee deep water forever. Kid heaven.

Chairlift to the top!

Still room for silly

And for sisterly love

Beauty as far as the eye can see.

Ok, ok, I’ll spare you the other 150 pictures I took. Check out everyone else’s Wordless Wednesday though!