Linking up with my friend Karrilee at Abiding Love, Abounding Grace to talk about vacations. She's had a whole week of posts you should check out ... some good stuff. She's one of the wonderful women that I've met through (in)courage and the Five Minute Fridays. It's just a blessing to discover these friendships - how real they are, and how much they change and impact my life. I'm so grateful. This was fun to just think about memories from a trip past. The very first one we took together as a family ...
It was our first vacation as a family – the first trip longer than thirty minutes with a little one strapped in the backseat. To really appreciate this, you have to allow me this confession: I do not pack light. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m okay with this. I own it. And when necessary, I work around it. The rest of the time, I just roll with it, and my family has learned to as well.
An easy example? Look at the purses I carry. Yes, I said multiple, because I tend to swap them out from week to week – sometimes if the mood hits – more often. There are no cute little bags, no sweet clutches, no dainty little bits. I carry a bag. It’s generally large enough to hold the aforementioned “cute little bag” plus one, not to mention my phone, iPod, a book (sometimes more if I break down and throw in the Nook), a notebook, makeup bag, sometimes my Surface … you get the picture. I’ve got stuff. Honestly, while it makes for quite the load, it’s also handy. I’m the one you want to be near at the sprayground if you’ve forgotten your sunscreen, towel, or snack for your kid. Bandaid? I’ve got that and my handy Neosporin spray tucked in there. Need to clip a coupon? I’ve got mini scissors. Seriously? I can hook you up. And that’s just my purse. My every day running around bag. Imagine me packing for vacation. Now imagine me packing for vacation with a toddler. You’re right. It was hilarious.
Thankfully, I happen to be married to the most patient man on the planet, and before too much time had drifted away (and before I could pack up the entire house), we were making our way down the I-5 corridor heading for the Oregon Coast. Being an island girl originally, I love the ocean whenever I can get it. I’ve never lived in a state that wasn’t connected to a coastline, and can’t bear to be away from water if I can help it. The coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest are hardly tropical, but they have a beauty all their own that pulls me back again and again.
Our time on the Oregon Coast that Spring was just what our little family needed. It was a welcome break from work, and a chance to escape the routine of everyday life for something a little different. My husband and I had often driven down here in the many years before our daughter arrived, and those trips were always fun. Doing it with a little one was both exciting – as we got to see things fresh through her eyes, and thought provoking – as we continued to rack up lessons as first time parents will do.
When I look back at these pictures from the trip I remember freedom, fun, a fresh start as we had recently moved back to the PNW. I remember long walks on the beach. What it felt like to feel the stinging spray of the ocean on my face. Looking down my camera lens at everything around me. I remember wandering through the factory at Tillamook Farm – when she couldn’t tell a real cow from a fake one. I remember squeaky cheese, fresh caught crabs, and flowers just picked off their stems. Those were the days when we were still discovering who we were as a family. We were each growing in our roles. New mom. New dad, Growing girl.
We’re almost ten years into that family life now and I can see how much we’ve changed. We still have our lessons, but our family has come through so much. I’m still lucky enough to be married to the most patient man on the planet, and I still don’t pack light. My girl is still growing – oh is she ever growing – and we have more vacations ahead, more memories to make. As long as we’re doing it together, I’ll be just fine.
As a side note, to answer Karrilee’s question (and I know she’ll laugh at this and say “just one more thing” and #KindredSpirits), if I had my fantasy vacation, I’d be ducking away to Italy for many months. Somewhere in the Tuscan countryside in a little villa with grapes and olives growing around; with walls the colors of sunsets and ripe peaches, with cold water from an ancient aquifer, and a nearby town with a daily market to stroll through.