Posts Tagged ‘ family vacation ’

Socially Unplugging While On Vacation Isn’t Easy

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

This morning I witnessed you doing something bizarre, something I’ve never seen you do before.

You and I were playing in the backyard when your cousins walked up. Immediately you put your head down and made your way over to a black pipe connected to the wall. 

It’s not that you were pretending to be stuck. Instead, you just covered your face and didn’t say a word.

Even with your cousins trying to engage you, you remained a statue.

I couldn’t quite figure it out.

When you finally moved, you simply repeated the action at the screen door.

It’s not that you were angry, upset, or unhappy in any way.

You just didn’t want to socialize.

Trust me, I can relate! In order to function, I have to have a couple hours a day with no one around; which is why going on vacation with family can be challenging for me too.

So truly, I know what you were going through, now that I think about it.

What else could you do, as a toddler who claims to never be tired, and refuses to rest other than when he is forced to?

How else could you communicate with me that you just needed some time to yourself, without having to go somewhere to take a nap? You didn’t need physical rest.

What you needed was social rest.

You and I have that in common. We’re highly social, highly verbal people who need designated time to just zone out and mediate without someone or something interrupting our thoughts.

I get it now.

Next time this happens, I’ll try to accommodate somehow; maybe by taking you on a walk.

That’s why I enjoy writing, reading, and biking in my spare time. It’s a means of recharging from human interaction.

Whereas the total of two hours of driving we usually do when we’re not on vacation gives us that “zone out” time, we aren’t getting that regularly this week.

So while your behavior this morning did seem pretty weird, now that I’ve written to you about it, it totally makes sense.

And that only further exemplifies why taking a social break is a good thing sometimes.




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2012 Christmas Vacation Family Road Trip Checklist

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

In a couple of days, we will be loading up the Honda and making the 3 hour journey to my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama to spend the Christmas holiday with my side of the family.

There is definitely potential for this road trip to be stressful…for all of us. So I want to do my part to make this as easy as possible for our family.

I’ve compiled a “2012 Christmas Vacation Family Road Trip Checklist” for us to go by. Let’s take a look:

For the car: snacks, bottled water, toys, books, crayons and coloring book, clean-up wipes and/or Kleenex, sunglasses, travel blanket, small garbage bag, iPod/CD’s

Necessary electronics: cellphone and charger, camera and charger, laptop and charger, compact DVD player and DVDs

For the destination: the Christmas gifts and cards, food to contribute to the Christmas dinner, family tradition activities (like board games and playing cards)

Toiletries: diapers, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, contacts and contact solution, razor, unmentionables

Clothes: underwear, socks, t-shirts, casual and dress shoes, outdoor play clothes, indoor play clothes, church clothes, warm coat, light jacket, pajamas, hats

It seems that no matter how hard we try to prevent it, we always end up forgetting to pack something. I’m not saying this year will be the exception, but it’s worth a shot.

I designed the list with you in mind. In particular, I asked myself, “How can I do my best to keep Jack from being bored and/or hungry?”

We will pack some of your favorite toy trains, stuffed animals, plenty of Goldfish crackers in plastic baggies, a blanket for you to “make a house” with in the back seat, and even the Carbon Leaf CD which has several of the songs from the soundtrack to your favorite movie, Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!

If you’re happy, then Mommy’s happy, and that means I’m happy.

Now, let’s start packing…





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Experiencing India Syndrome While On Family Vacation

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

23 months.

We left first thing this morning to fly back home to Nashville, after 8 days of visiting my wife’s family in California.

That means that now my family will be undergoing a reverse culture shock.

For the past week, my wife and I haven’t worked and our son hasn’t gone to daycare.

While we made it out of the house most days for some kind of adventure, like seeing the California State Railroad Museum, for the most part, there was definitely a major lack of structure.

And that’s basically the whole point of taking a week-long family vacation: to chill out and enjoy spending time together as a family.

However, when you do that as a family, it sort of messes with your head.

The thing I’m tempted to compare it to is an article I read this week in Details magazine called “Death on the Path to Enlightenment: Inside the Rise of India Syndrome,” by Scott Carney.

It explains how when Westerners, especially Americans, visit the mysterious and ancient country of India, they are prone to… classicly freaking out:

“This quest to become superhuman—along with culture shock, emotional isolation, illicit drugs, and the physical toll of hard-core meditation—can cause Western seekers to lose their bearings. Seemingly sane people get out of bed one day claiming they’ve discovered the lost continent of Lemuria, or that the end of the world is nigh, or that they’ve awakened their third eye.”

In essence, short-term delirium can set in when we find ourselves in unfamiliar environments, especially when the new locale is perceived as exotic or at least completely the opposite of the culture we live in every day.

So let me just say that after a week of not working, staying with family with free room and board and no real schedule, it took me about 4 days to overcome my India syndrome.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that my son absolutely had to battle through his own version of of short-term delirium.

That’s something my son and I definitely have in common: We don’t do well when there is no plan or boundaries.

So it did take the two of us about half the week to get into the new groove.

I made it part of our morning routine to push him around the neighborhood in his stroller while we looked for dogs and owls, while my son clenched tightly his toy rubber eyeball and Jeep.

He also learned better the concept of watching TV, which is something we pretty much deprive him of back home.

Of all things, he particularly liked an old black-and-white western show called Lawman. He even learned to sing the theme song, which basically consists of saying, “Law-man…”

As for my wife, well, we were staying with her family who she only gets to see about once a year, so she was fine in what, to her, was a familiar environment.

We had a wonderful time in California, no doubt about it. But I think my son and I learned a valuable lesson for next summer when we go back:

The two of us will need to mentally prepare for the cultural shock by mapping out a schedule and creating a routine for a vacation where the lack of boundaries and routine is basically the reason you go in the first place.

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Losing Sleep Over Where My Son Will Sleep (Part 1)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

23 months.

We’re not a family of beach bums. We’re the opposite; whatever the opposite of a beach bum is.

In other words, we like to go where the crowds aren’t and where the weather isn’t very hot.

Fortunately, my wife’s family is in Sacramento; which gives us a good and necessary reason to travel out there once a year.

This weekend, that’s where we will be flying. With Jack’s 2nd birthday coming up on November 16th, this is the last time we can take advantage of him getting to fly for free.

No doubt about it, I’m very excited to take a week off from work and travel to one of my favorite spots in America.

But of course, I’m looking at this from a realistic perspective. A “vacation” with a nearly 2-year-old where we’re flying cross-country is not exactly a vacation for me.

I don’t mind being a glorified version of a stage hand while my wife catches up with her family and gets to see Jack, after over a year since last time.

Even the plane ride with Jack doesn’t intimidate me much. After all, I survived it last year when he was much more high maintenance.

The only thing that worries me is where he will sleep. It’s a really big deal to me.

If he doesn’t get good, consistent nights of sleep while we’re out there, I will turn into the Incredible Hulk.

(Not the updated Avengers movie version, but the 1978 Lou Ferrigno TV show.)

I don’t like me when I’m angry. When Jack doesn’t sleep well, neither do I; then I turn into a monster.

Jack still sleeps in his crib and he has outgrown his Pack N Play.

So one option is to put up some safety rails alongside a twin bed once we get there.

Another option is to buy a cheap or used Pack N Play as soon as we arrive, but A) I don’t want to have to worry about that after getting off the plane and B) I don’t want to spend money on something I may not be able to bring back home.

The best case scenario is we find a friend or family member who has a Pack N Play that we can borrow while we’re there, but no luck on that so far.

I guess this dilemma took the back burner in the midst of planning not only the trip out there but also Jack’s birthday party for that side of the family.

But here we are, days away from leaving, and I don’t have closure with this.

To dissect why this causes so much turmoil and unsettledness for me, it is because it’s my job to get Jack to sleep for all his naps and bedtimes. That’s one of the things I do! I’m very proud of that skill.

Without me getting him to sleep, it’s a world suspended in chaos. Bad things, man.

Getting Jack to sleep is something I’m an expert on. But without the appropriate place for him to fall asleep, I can’t work my magic.

The world is coming to an end.

To be continued…


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