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Dreaming of Vacation

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The boys in Jamaica, Spring 2005
The boys in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Spring 2006

Tonight at the dinner table we were dreaming aloud about vacation. Braydon and I were talking about various islands of the Caribbean that we’d like to explore. Owen was talking about “our family — Mommy, Papi, Kyle and Owen — going on a big airplane on vacation.” Kyle was talking about “on vacation we be going in the ocean, deep in the water with the fishes, big waves, salty in the eyes!” It was sweet family vacation day-dreaming together. It was fun. At one point I said to Braydon, Kyle, and Owen: “Hey guys, so, do you want luxury or adventure?” There was a pause. Braydon thought about it. Owen looked up with a blank face, then ate more lasagna. Kyle turned, looked me in the eyes, and said: “Luxury and adventure!” :) NOW THAT’S MY BOY!!!

This time of year Braydon and I always start dreaming of vacation. We have an annual tradition of vacationing in the spring — after the school year ends. We started this when we were both in graduate school and we had no money. We’d save and save and store up our loose change and plan and scheme for how we could do a vacation on the cheap. Then we’d hit the road for the 18-hour drive in a car with no air conditioning to Charleston, South Carolina. I remember it was a really big deal for us one year because my dad gave us his Mobil card and said he’d pay for our gas money. We stayed in a super cheap but very clean no-frills Hampton Inn hotel — we chose it partly because it was really inexpensive (since it was located relatively far from the beach) and partly because it served a “continental breakfast” (cereal and milk) as part of the room rate. We used to eat that breakfast in the lobby with the truck drivers every morning before we’d head off for the day. We’d pack our own food and eat on the beach for lunch. We used to bring $200 cash with us for the entire week. We had that and only that, and we made it stretch for all of our dinners and all of our spending money. We’d read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’d unwind from the year and plot our future. We talked about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months and all that we hoped for in whatever was to come in the next year. It was a little slice of heaven. And we’d come home refreshed and loaded with good memories.

We began to diverge from that Charleston vacation trip as soon as Braydon graduated with his doctorate. He got a “real job” that paid seriously good money… and that spring we took our annual vacation up a notch. We still went to Charleston, and we still drove the car with no air conditioning, but we stayed in a fancy resort. The place had nice rooms and a beautiful pool and it was right on the water. We got a taste of the good life and we liked it. Our first really incredibly divine vacation was the following year — to the Dominican Republic. Next we went to Riviera Maya in Mexico. Once we both had finished our doctorates, and were both making good money, our spring vacations just got better and better. We went back to Mexico a couple times, we travelled cross-country through France, we went with friends to a couples-only resort in Jamaica. In our late 20s/early 30s we travelled quite a bit throughout the year, but those spring trips remained our major milestone yearly event — a cornerstone of each passing year. We always did the same thing— we’d read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’d unwind from the year and plot our future. We talked about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months and all that we hoped for in whatever was to come in the next year. It was a little slice of heaven. And we’d come home refreshed and loaded with good memories.

Now that we have the boys we’ve kept our spring vacation a constant. Our first year, when the boys were just barely 12 months old, we went to Jamaica. And then last year, the week after they turned two, we went to the Turks & Caicos Islands. We are currently in the throws of major research to figure out where we’ll go this year. It’s different now. Instead of looking for resorts with spas or golf courses or scuba centers or cigar bars we’re looking for “child-friendly” with kitchenettes and washing machines and safe beaches and room service. All new needs now, but I still love the process of figuring it all out just as much. It is a fun decision to make. A luxurious and embarrassingly blessed position we find ourselves in. Ultimately, though, it really doesn’t matter where we are because this year we will do the same thing we always do, regardless of location: We’ll read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’ll unwind from the year and plot our future. We will talk about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months, and all that we hope for in whatever will come in the next year. If all goes well, it will be a little slice of heaven. And we’ll come home refreshed and loaded with good memories. All four of us.

A Saturday in NYC with MorMor

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Today after Little Gym, we drove into “the big city” (as K & O call it!) with MorMor. We divided our time between our two favorite parts of Manhattan: Chinatown & Greenwhich Village. We arrived in time for lunch at Joe’s Shanghai — which is, absolutely, one of our all-time favorite restaurants on the planet. My mom loves it as much as we do. We go there first and foremost for the Soup Dumplings but also for the Szechuan Style String Beans and the Shanghai Fried Flat Noodles. It was K & O’s first visit there… a big event in the life-history of our family!!!… and we found out that Owen loves it (especially the green beans!). Kyle — well, not so much! But later in the day Ky Ky loved the Haagen Dazs strawberry milkshake enough to make up for it! After exploring the streets of Chinatown (and my mom, Owen, and I exploring a sketchy back-room of a street vendor where we purchased two awesome Prada bags that clearly were not 100% legal… and for which we clearly did not pay the full “Prada” price…), we took a taxi to Washington Square Park. The highlight of the day for K & O was most definately the taxi ride! But they also loved the Washington Square Park Playground almost as much. The weather in Manhattan was unbelievably beatiful today and hit record highs in the 70s this afternoon. Everyone was out, thus we had a prime people-watching day (always a favorite passtime for my mom and I)! Owen was in his glory in the city today. Kyle was a bit over-stimulated. Braydon, my mother, and I… well, we were all a mixture of both. But how much fun was it? It was so much fun!

Owen & MorMor off the beaten path in Chinatown

The boys don’t like having to wait for a table to open up… but…

…Joe’s Shanghai’s soup dumplings are sooo worth it!

Kyle practices with his chopsticks

Braydon’s favorite Chinatown treat: Iced Black Tea with Black Tapioca Balls

Exploring Chinatown

Haagen Dazs milkshakes

MorMor & Kyle watch a street performer in Washington Square Park

Kyle at the playground in Washington Square Park

Kyle, Heather, Owen, MorMor

Owen Happy City Day

Christmas in NYC

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We drove into the city today to get a little taste of Christmas in
The Big Apple.

Here’s Kyle livin’ it up NYC style

Here’s Owen & Kyle when they had a good long chat with their first Black Santa (as far as I’m concerned, this interaction alone was well worth our day trip!!!– I was hoping we’d encounter a Black Santa while we were there!)

Here’s Owen on top of the world in Central Park

H & K in Central Park

B & K in a taxi cab — the taxi cab ride was a major highlight for the boys

Another major highlight — All of us snuggled together for a ride down 5th Avenue in the back of a bicycle rickshaw

Coffee Break — the boys have a croissant overlooking the street

End of the day, my three gorgeous city slickers, right before getting in the car to head home.