Sunday, June 28, 2009

Avoiding the usual together on our own

Planning, planning, planning...

So we're planning a vacation. Or, at least, we're trying to. I haven't requested additional days off for marriage counseling, but that's because I think I've finally Figured Us Out. And Deborah agrees with my analysis.

See, each of us approaches the idea of a vacation with a slightly different bias. It's subtle, but the implications are huge. Deborah's idea of an ideal vacation is that she doesn't do the things she normally does. My idea of an ideal vacation is that I do things I don't normally do. Theoretically, these two definitions amount to the same thing; in practice, they're quite different.

Deborah's idea of a great vacation involves going somewhere, and staying in that one place, relaxing (or, better yet, playing games) and having someone else does the cooking and cleaning. This, in short, would drive me nuts. My idea of a great vacation would be to go someplace we've never been, and go exploring, moving constantly, following whims, trying things, having adventures, not knowing what's going to happen next. Deborah likes to make a plan at the beginning of the day and stick with it until the end.

To make matters tougher yet, I am an introvert, and I am energized by being alone with my thoughts. Deborah, the extrovert, has an almost physical need to have other people around.

Oh, and, we've got three kids. Three! They have their own needs and personalities, as well.

So: How in the world do we plan a vacation that we'll all enjoy? It's taken many months of discussions and planning, but I think we've got something that will work.

Deborah has always wanted to learn horseback riding, and wanted to make that the central activity for this trip. (I'm neutral about horses; Deborah and Fiona are quite excited.) We mentioned this to Deborah's mother at one point, and she cheerfully pointed out that there were quite a number of stables dotting the countryside up there, mere minutes from their house. Say, that could work! Free lodging, child care, and a chance for four generations + cousins to interact? Bonus! So, lessons each day, and side trips are being planned during the week, such as climbing Mt. Monadnock, visiting Plum Island, and catching the latest Harry Potter movie. (I'm trying to somehow sneak in a trip to Maine, too. I've never been. Why miss a chance to claim another state?)

The unique aspect of this trip, though, is the transportation. I'd rather take the scenic route, and go all day. Deborah wants to take the highway, and drive at night. So... with great love and admiration for Deborah, we're doing both. I'm leaving early in the day, by motorcycle (adventure and solitude for me) while Deborah and Paul will leave in late afternoon (two drivers, companionship, and sleeping children for Deborah) in Paul's Jeep. We'll meet up for the night somewhere in Pennsylvania. (Preferably a hotel with a pool. Pools are good for wearing out kids.) The next day, we'll all drive together, but Deborah will ride with me on the motorcycle — much more romantic than getting lost!

View Motorcycle Route in a larger map

View Car Route to NH in a larger map

There are a ton of details left to tack down... but I'm getting excited about this!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Adventures of Summer- Swimming

(Guest blogger: Deborah)

Now that school is out for the summer, I have been going on all sorts of adventures with the kids.

The first adventure was swimming lessons. Fiona is in level 2 now, but it's Aiden's first year. We went each day, first thing in the morning for nine days. I didn't even get them dressed, but just had them get their swimsuits on each morning. Aiden has about 5 swimsuits- one that we got last year that still fits, some hand-me-downs from two other families, and this wet suit that I got at Kids' Market. I think he looks soooo cute in it. :)

One day, Aiden felt his wet suit before he put it on and said, "Is this a wet suit?"
"Yes," I replied.
"No it's not!" he laughed, "It's a DRY suit!"

Here is Fiona swimming with her teacher, and later standing on the diving board. She stood on the board, getting more and more nervous. Despite our coaxing, she finally turned and got back off again. For the rest of the day, I talked up jumping off the diving board. We talked about why she didn't jump off, and what to do when you're scared, and the correct procedure for jumping off a diving board. We acted it out with her animals. I told her I would give her ice cream if she jumped off all by herself.

The next day she got to the end of the diving board and paused. I was hopeful that she would jump, but she still didn't do it. There was only one more day of swimming left.

The last day of swimming lessons, Aiden's class went over to the diving board. (The teacher was in the water with a floating thing to catch the kids.) Little did I know that Aiden had been listening carefully to all the things I had been saying about jumping off the diving board. He was so excited. He ran right over and wanted to be the first one. He got to the end of the diving board and fearlessly jumped right off. As he proudly climbed back out of the water, I promised him ice cream, just like I had said for Fiona. Later he jumped in again, and asked if he could have two ice creams since he did it twice, but I said No, one was plenty.

Fiona's teachers put a life jacket on all of the kids that day, and that gave Fiona a boost of confidence enough to jump off by herself, so she also got to claim her ice cream. On the way home from swimming that day, we picked up Andy at work and all went to Dairy Queen together.

Oh, and here is what Risanna did at the pool — charmed all the parents!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Young Perspectives on an Old Beverage

We were having chili, and nothing goes with that like a good glass of Guinness. The kids were intrigued.

Fiona studied the glass very carefully, and announced that it was beautiful, a sunset with fluffy clouds over a darkening sky, with fireworks. (And yes, that's pretty much how she said it, too.) I took a picture to document her description.

Aiden, on the other hand, wanted a taste. I let him have a tiny sip in his glass. "What's it like?" I asked. He considered for a moment. "It tastes like trains."

Forget what they say on labels about fruity overtones or a dark amber color, or all that frou-frou. We need to have kids describe things for us.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance?

So Fiona graduated from pre-school. I say that with a straight a face as possible — I really don't think all the pomp and circumstance is really necessary for one's impending entry into kindergarten, but at the same time it's nice that they did something to mark the passing from one institution to another.

The kids, largely bemused and (mostly) sticking to their practiced roles, weren't as interesting to watch as the parents, who, um, asserted their rights as photographers. And since everyone else was doing it, I didn't feel quite so bad about sneaking up to get an unobtrusive shot or two.

As utterly silly as I thought this was, I have to admit: I got a little choked up. Not because I thought the current event was so momentous, but because it said, "This is the first time of many." We've had Fiona close to six years... sixteen can't be all that far off.

Diploma? No, this is a horn! And a telescope! And a baseball bat!
The school (wisely, I think) made sure the real diplomas were handed directly to the parents in an envelope.