When we lived in the states we really didn't do family vacations. We occasionally went camping overnight, and we made a few day trips to the beach every summer, but we didn't have the budget, time, or the inclination to take family vacations. In fact before we moved overseas I can only remember two vacations, and one of those was our honeymoon. The other involved a RV. Let it be stated for the record that stuffing 3 kids (2 in diapers), 2 kittens (and their litter box), and two adults into a small confined space for 14 days is NOT the way to family happiness. At one point Dave offered to drop me and the kids off at the nearest airport with enough money to get home. I think he was serious.
In the last four years we have taken trips to Bavaria, England, Victoria Falls, and this Christmas on the way back from R&R we are swinging through Cape Town for a week. Everyone is excited about the upcoming trip, and each for different reasons. Colin wants to see Table Mountain. Grayson wants to see penguins. I'm not sure what Alonzo wants to see/do but he does seem happy about the chance to check off another country visited. Dave and I are just looking forward to having a bit of time to decompress after R&R. Seeing family and friends is wonderful but it can be a bit crazy and exhausting.
So why the change? Why do we take vacations now when we didn't before? Lots of reasons. Probably the biggest reason is where we are living. We are only going to be here in Africa for 3 years. After that we may never pass this way again so we are eager to get out and see as much as we reasonably can, while we can. Then, of course, we are at a different stage of life. The kids are older and more independent, we have more money, and Dave earns a heck of a lot more leave time than he did at his previous job. All that adds up to some pretty fabulous vacation opportunities.
I hope we continue to take family vacations every year for a long time to come, even if we end up back in the states. I love the time we spend together, exploring new places, and enjoying new experiences. One thing I would change is documenting our vacations, I tend to do a lousy job of that. I get so busy all caught up in the moment, that I forget to take time to reflect and write it all down. Looking back through my archives, I realized I didn't manage to do much more than post a few pictures of the trips. I will do better this next trip. Well, I'll try any way.
Next Family Vacation: Cape Town, South Africa.
*Update: Alonzo just informed me that he wants to go diving with the sharks in Cape Town. Umm....NO! I watch shark week too. I've seen the sharks jumping out of the water down in South Africa. This falls in the same category as tattoos, bungee jumping, and motorcycles. If you still want to do it when you grow up, leave home, and can pay for it yourself, then go for it. I am NOT going to support this insanity. Sorry Charlie.