This is us in our happy place: our family alone, off someplace desolate, on the water, unobstructed views (us, looking outward), out of the fishbowl (us, with nobody looking in).
We live such a public life in so many ways — on campus, on the blog, putting ourselves out there in the world all the time. Our family is conspicuous, and we are (for the most part), very extroverted. The combo is pretty intensive. We can’t (and don’t want to) shy away from that. But it is important for us to get breaks from that. Because it is tiring, and it takes a toll. Our nerves get frayed, and our souls get weary. From time to time we need to re-charge.
Amongst all the stuff we are incessantly confused by, there is at least one thing we’ve figured out: our family needs these get-aways in order to keep on going. All five of us do. Rejuvenating and re-grouping and reflecting are key for us. And so we make it a major priority to plan in these times for ourselves. We’ve structured our way-of-life around this. It is our mode of operation. Say whatever you will, think whatever you want, but for us — during this phase of our lives — it is worth it to live in a 750 square foot apartment, in a dorm, “in the fishbowl,” with relatively very few material possessions, and lots of demands on us, and lots of restrictions — in order to live the life we’ve imagined. Because of the opportunities we’ve had and the choices we’ve made, our life is full and rich all the time. We are so thankful for that. And part of that package is the ability to get ourselves away — off on our own — on a regular basis. We’ve been privileged to be able to forge this unusual life for ourselves. And we’ve worked hard to do it. And we are grateful for all of it.
This is sunrise from the house we rented. This is nothing to take for granted. And we don’t.
Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows that we are big fans of VRBO. We have found that for a family with active young kids, who really values privacy, and wants to get away from it all, and appreciates a full kitchen and a washer & dryer (!), renting a house often ends up being much more cost-effective, and much more experience-enhancing, than staying in a hotel or at a resort. For this Thanksgiving Break we rented a house in the Chesapeake Bay. We loved the small size of this cottage, the high-end kitchen and the outdoor gas grill (not typical of most VRBOs), and… most of all… the house’s location on a strip of completely, totally, mind-bogglingly, 100% private, natural beach. It was an amazing experience to have that place all to ourselves.
Don’t misinterpret this: these trips are not 24×7 idyllic for us. Yes, the photos seem to capture that, but the photos aren’t everything. Big and heavy conversations are had; hard stuff is worked on; laundry is folded and dishes are washed; kids get in trouble; parents disappoint. Yes, all that, and much, much more happens on these “vacations.” But much of that stuff is part of what is important about these breaks from reality— especially the tough talks about the challenges we’re facing. We need time to have those connections, as hard as they can be. And making time for that is just as important as making time for the awesome, light, and airy highlights. Some of those highlights of this get-away included:
- The bambinos’ “polar bear plunge” one night at sunset (Meera only got up to her waist; the boys, of course, did a full-body deep-dive completely-immersed plunge). You only live once! Go for it!
- Lots of cooking — some cheater (cinnamon rolls from the package), some from scratch (pumpkin cookies!), lots of good breakfast and dinner eats were had by us in that little house (eggs and bacon; grilled lamb chops and mashed potatoes).
- Chesapeake Bay seafood for lunches out (Owen is a crab lover and man can that boy eat crab like a pro!).
- Long walks on the beach, playing with sticks, skipping rocks, watching boats, catching crabs, climbing, exploring, running, jumping.
- Crabbing off the dock (we caught nothing; ’tis not the season).
- Dash was in heaven for his first family trip! Turns out, our puppy loves the beach (thank goodness because it could have been a real problem if he didn’t!). And, we were relieved to find out, he didn’t even mind the 5 hour drive to/from our destination!
- The house had an old-fashioned jukebox, which was a lot of fun.
- Lots of down-time with books, UNO, Boggle, coloring.
- A couple of very nice bottles of wine (H & B), chocolate milk (M), and ginger ale (K & O).
- A grand finale campfire on the beach, complete with marshmallows, on our last night there.