In the almost 10 years we've been married, about 97% of our time off and vacation days have been spent visiting family or going to big events for friends and family (weddings, graduations). Sometimes those "vacations" have included a few fun, just-for-us times, but usually not. Obviously, family is very important to us and we want to show everyone how much we care about them by being present for events or just spending time together. Especially when family lives in another state. It's easy for a year to go by without seeing someone when you live hundreds of miles away, which is really hard when those someones are your immediate family!
After living with both my husband's and my families for extended times in the last three years, it became more evident how much we need our own time as a nuclear family. When it was no longer available on even a daily basis, we wanted it much, much more. Add a kid, and then another, and we realized how much we need to preserve and protect our time, allowing for new memories to be made for our kids that illustrate and enforce who and what we are as a unit.
Now that we are finally living in our own home again (and enjoying it immensely) we still were noticing how much of our limited free time was being given (and sometimes taken) by others. We sat down to talk about it and decided it was time to really stake a claim on our autonomy as a family of four. And to make decisions about what we do with our free time that reflect what we love and care about, above and beyond our family members.
August of 2009 marked our first real family vacation. K was 3 and we decided to go camping for two nights in Michigan. It was wonderful! Despite some early pregnancy nausea, caused by a pregnancy I was not yet certain was a reality, we had a great time. K loved the adventure, sleeping outside in a tent and with us, cooking over a fire, playing in the woods and at the beach-all of it. We adults liked the low key pace and unplugged atmosphere of it all.
Our second family vacation happened last week. We made plans to visit an old college friend and her family in Wisconsin, a two hour drive from us. Not wanting to waste too much of our time on driving, and keeping with the spirit of preserving and creating special family time, we decided to stay over one night.
We planned to spend the morning and afternoon with our friends, which we did. We enjoyed a lovely service at their very charmingly decorated and welcoming church, had lunch and did some shopping in Lake Geneva. I've heard a lot about Lake Geneva but had never been there. It was fun to cruise around the shops on main street, exploring some of the more unique wares and eats they had to offer. The three kids we were toting did really well and seemed to enjoy the outing a lot, too!
Right around dinner time we parted ways and headed to our hotel. I found a place called Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark in Lake Geneva that we decided to stay at. It was amazing! For a very reasonable rate, we got a one room suite that allowed Jim and I to have our own room, had a full kitchen (fridge, stove, sink, dishwasher, dishes, cabinets), big bathroom with whirlpool tub, balcony, fireplace, pull-out couch for K, dining area, lots of closet space, 2 TVs, DVD player-the works! The place has a huge indoor waterpark, arcade, workout facilities, restaurant, convenience store, and area for special events that are held pretty much every day (movie nights, crafts, etc). Next door is a stable and small petting zoo. Nearby is also a skiing area that you can pay for separately when the weather permits that activity.
When you book the room, you get 4 passes to the waterpark for each day. So, the first night after checking in, we spent a couple of hours in the waterpark. K was SO excited to go that he could barely contain himself to wait while we all got our bathing suits on! Then when we got there, he ended up being scared of doing almost anything by himself. The second day he finally warmed up, and we found out we could use life vests that the park provided. That made him feel more at ease. By a couple of hours before we left, he was sliding down the biggest kid water slide into 4 feet of water (as long as we caught him)!
We got a late check out, but it was still kind of a pain to have to pack up in the middle of our day. Especially with a baby who still takes two naps a day. But, we had lots of fun nonetheless. It was great that we were even allowed to stay all day at the waterpark. Our prayers were answered and the time moved very slowly, so we felt we made the most of it. I can definitely see going back again someday, hopefully for longer!
Our next vacation is Jim's family reunion in Maine this August! We're super excited about that one, too. Partially for the location, and partially because it will be a nice long trip-at least a week. The reunion and family part will be about half of it, then we plan to break off and do some sightseeing and traveling around on our own. Can't wait!