Friday, August 31, 2012

Long Vacation

This summer, we did a lot of vacationing. We made it to Chincoteague and Cape May in July, and spent the last 3 weeks in Kansas, San Diego, and Los Angeles. That's more than the two to three weeks we typically take. The idea was that Ed and I would both work some during evenings and we would plan a few days where we could work in the afternoon. Ed's dad joined us for the California leg of the adventure.

Two things that enabled us to have a drawn out vacation this were (1) willing employers and (2) home exchanges. The first meant we could work on projects even though we weren't present in the office (and I was able to complete a quick-turnaround project and keep other projects moving forward) and the second meant that our costs were greatly reduced. This made the vacation easier in some respect - we knew we would be doing work so were geared up to do it, but it also meant that we didn't have a lot of down time at night to process the day. Next time, I'd like to talk my nieces into coming and playing with Connor and Helen for four hours each day while Ed and I both worked. That would make the evenings a lot lighter - and Connor and Helen would love to have Anna and Emily along. That probably won't happen, but a girl can dream, right?

One thing that I didn't think through well enough was Connor and Helen's perspective. From my perspective, being on vacation is fun and different. I can see things I don't normally see. I can connect with far away friends. In general, it's revitalizing. But Connor and Helen's life is different than mine. Essentially, their life thrives on rhythm and their life is a vacation. Every day they have the opportunity to explore parks and do the things they want. And every day is pretty darn secure. It starts with a predictable breakfast, continues with an established rhythm of inside and outside time, includes time at the pool, and then ends with a dinner they probably recognize and a bed they know is theirs (except Connor, who has routinely taken to sleeping beneath a plastic climbing structure we store in the basement playroom - his cozy nest, he calls it).

Vacation to Connor and Helen is disruptive. They sleep with each other, they face new culinary challenges, and eventually, they really have no idea what day it is and they start to get a little fritzy. By our last week of vacation, Helen was rapidly deteriorating. She didn't want to sleep with Connor, nobody every did anything she wanted, and she did NOT like the ocean (even though she would have a ball at the ocean once she arrived). I oscillated between thinking I should be really understanding and cutting her some slack and thinking I needed to be stricter to give her more structure. My instability did not help the situation. This is something I'm going to rethink before we do this next summer.

Connor was a trooper. More than once, he commented that he had the best day of his life, and he really soaked up many of the experiences. Caution, though, is the theme of the day with Connor. On our last full day in California, we went to Abalone Cove in Palos Verdes. The scenery was just what you'd expect in California, and stunning. What we did not expect was the rather steep hike down to the beach - and the sign that warned of rattlesnakes. Ed thought Connor might refuse to go down the hill, but a casual discussion about how it was hot and rattlesnakes were probably hiding in whatever shady spot they could find off the trail seemed to keep him in motion. I have no idea if that's true about rattlesnakes, but it seemed reasonable and after the car ride we took to get to the beach, there was nothing that was going to stop us from actually stepping foot on it!

It was our lucky day, because as we headed off from the beach, we stopped at the Redondo Beach pier and walked into a restaurant that was serving clams and fries for half price. That is Helen and Connor's favorite meal. Ed and I were treated to half price salmon, raw oysters (which were disappointingly not very salty - no oyster beats Chincoteague!), and nut encrusted brie, along with half price drinks. We sat watching stingrays and schools of large fish swim beneath a pier that we had nearly to ourselves. Outdoor dining at its finest.

On our first morning back, Helen slept until 10:15 when I sent the babysitter up to wake her. I think Helen was really happy to be home.


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