Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Last Vaca as a Family of Four

Braydon and I are big on vacations. I won't go into depth here about our philosophical views on the topic (I could go on and on and on), but suffice it to say: big vacas, mini vacas, it doesn't matter-- we're just big on taking real breaks. We work really hard, our life is extremely intense, and we use our vacas to unwind, re-coop, and rejuvinate. Regardless of what other little breaks we've had during the year (and we try to take as many as possible), every May since 1996 Braydon and I have gone on an annual big vacation together (Charleston, SC for a bunch of years when we were serious budget travelers; then once things got less extreme financially we ventured outward in the world-- adventure travel in the Dominican Republic, Mexico a few times, road-tripping through France, etc.). Every May since 2005, with Kyle and Owen in tow, we've gone on a week-long vacation as a family of four (Jamaica when the boys were 12 months old; Turks & Caicos just after they had turned 2; Virgin Gorda this past May when they were just barely 3 -- On top of our love of vacas, experiencing the Caribbean together, giving the boys this early exposure to their birthland, immersing them in places so close to their roots, has been very important to Braydon and I). These May trips have been an anchor that have kept us both grounded and able to soar. I can't articulate the value we place on these vacations, the importance of them for underlying and enabling our life as we know it. We are grateful that we're in the position to be able to do these trips-- we're very fortunate. But there is something weirdly reciprocal in the "vaca">=<"real life" equation that is our life... Without the "real life" part (the ambition, the grind, the achievement, the intensity, the work, the lack of sleep) the "vaca" part would not be possible-- AND-- vice versa. It is a whole equation, a strange dialectical formula for living. But one cannot come without the other. So, amdist "real life" we scheme and save and budget and plan for regular vacas to keep our life in synch. The kind of life we have is not for everyone, but at least so far it somehow works for us. And luckily (luckily, luckily, luckily) it seems to be working for K & O too. We thank our lucky stars for that.
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But now I'm pregnant. Bizarrely, (my pregnancy was very unplanned), Baby Sister is due to arrive in the middle of May. So, this year, for the first time in 12 years, Braydon and I will not be able to take our big May vacation. For the first time ever in their lives, Kyle and Owen will not be able to take a big May vacation. That night in September when we found out I was pregnant and figured out my approximate due date, the obvious implications for the May Vaca were one of the first things we thought about. We were thrilled about being pregnant. But we were already dreading the fact that we would not realistically be able to bring our boys back to their Caribbean in May of 2008.
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So, last week we left for Sand Key, Florida... squeezing in the trip right on the cusp of the 3-months-'till-due-date (I'm due exactly 3 months from today!), right at the start of the third trimester, just before things get really crazy. Our last vaca as a family of four. It was the best thing we could have done for ourselves. All four of our selves.
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We stayed on the beach. Although Kyle and Owen were two of just a handful of kids there, it was a great, relatively family-friendly resort. The beach was beautiful and the shelling was amazing. The boys loved the pool and the huge bubbly hot tub. The weather was gorgeous for most of the time we were there. And a huge plus for us: the hotel/resort guests included lots of black folks (always a great thing for our family) who doted on K & O, complimented them on their dreadlocks and cuteness and swimming prowess, and made us feel very welcome and at home. The boys had room service for dinner every night and were asleep by their usual 6:30-or-so bedtime. Braydon and I ate fresh grouper on our room's porch each night while the bambinos slept. We read and slept and fed seagulls and found seashells and drank non-alcoholic drinks and walked the beach and soaked up the sun and sat by the pool and played in the sand and explored the dunes and talked talked talked and did what we do best on vacation: bonded as a family. We flew home to rain and sleet and lots of ice. But our little get-away made everything seem o.k. in the world. We came home feeling balanced and recharged and deeply connected. We hope it will keep us going for the upcoming weeks as we embark on the final phase of anticipation before we become a family of five. K & O are very aware that our next vacation will include their baby sister. And Braydon and I have a sense of how much our life is about to change with the addition of our baby girl. We're all excited about it. But we're also a little anxious about the shifts that will take place in our family. So this trip to Florida was extra sweet for all of us.
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(Lots of trip photos are posted separately below. As always, you can click to enlarge.)

6 comments:

Bek said...

I love your philosophy, it is very similar to ours.

You will LOVE the third trimester (at least, I am) and you will have a ball as a family of 5. It is a grand adventure, but I am pretty sure your boys are up for it...

Thanks for the reminder to have BALANCE in our lives.

trish said...

So happy your family was able to rejuvenate. Our vaca phil. is so alike. And K & O will be lifelong travelers which is a very good thing :)
Awesome pics and WOW! I have never seen so many shells.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful!
Kathrin

Malia'sMama said...

This trip looks amazing. I hope you are feeling better, now. :)

Cindy from central NC said...

Heather,
What a beautiful post. Official-official congrats to you for your new family addition....

I am so very happy about the success of your trip. What a peaceful and rich and deep and important thing to do to get grounded. That kind of thing works for us, too. When life is absolutely insane (and it's mostly the "good" insane, but insane nevertheless...), we've been mostly able to take a breath and break and truly recreate--in the sense of what the word "recreate" really means. So, good for you guys for having that time......
Love,
cin

Rony said...

Great post Heather! I so agree with you to about the break. I just returned for a little get-away with the girls (daddy couldn't get a way) to visit friends and family. Even though fm wasn't with me I loved the one on one time with the girls. We are planning a vacation this summer now that I can finally take time off.... And weekends offs. Yea.