Let’s Talk Vacation. Like a Kid-Free Vacation.

Here in Northern Virginia, we woke up to about another inch or two of fresh snow. Not much but enough for preschool to have a two-hour delay. And since the majority of the United States are experiencing colder-than-normal temperatures, it seems like as good of a time as any to discuss summer vacations. While Clay and I have had the occasional night away since having kids and we’ve taken quite a few family vacations, we haven’t taken the quintessential ‘just us’ vacation. Not unless you count our four-day house hunting trip to Lawton, OK back in January 2011. And I do not count that. Sorry Lawton.

In addition to our New England Extravaganza (as we’re calling our planned 2014 summer family vacation), Clay and I are planning a trip for just the two of us (cue Bill Whithers or Will Smith…both versions are equally annoying). The children and Lucy will be livin’ it up with the grandparents while we fly off to some exotic locale without having to worry about carseats, strollers, or kid-friendly snacks. There is just one small problem – we don’t know where we are going just yet.

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We have a handful of vacation destinations that we’re planning to experience with the kids once they’re a little older, so places like Hawaii and Disney World are not in the running for this upcoming trip. And we’re ruling those places we’ve already been on a ‘just-us’ vacation pre-kids (Bahamas, Southern California, Montreal, New York City, etc…). We’re not swimming in a gold coin pool every night so we’re keeping cost in mind. And we will only have about 5-7 days for this vacation so we’re a little hesitant to fly somewhere in Europe with such a limited timeframe (and budget). Oh – and a cruise does not appeal to us at this time (or frankly, anytime). so that’s out too. So now that you know the places we don’t want to go, here are some vacations that we’re considering…

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Juneau and Sitka, Alaska. When we visited Alaska (Anchorage area) in August 2011, we fell in love. Unfortunately, the possibility for us to be stationed up there is almost nil so it is resigned to a vacation destination for the time being. However, I am not sure if it will work with our timeframe and budget…we’ll see.

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Banff, Alberta, Canada is also on the short list and one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. I’ve never been shy about our love for Canada and we’d love to explore a province that neither one us has been to before.

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Napa Valley, California and Yosemite National Park. Wine and the outdoors? Yes, please. A day in San Francisco would be quite nice too.

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Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. To be honest, this location is the current front-runner. It works with our timeframe and appears to be financially feasible. While hiking may not be everyone’s recipe for a perfect vacation, I can’t think of a better way to spend some alone time with the man to whom I am contractually obliged.

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An All-inclusive Resort. This option is sort of like a record skip. The above options have the common thread of outdoorsy-type adventure and an all-inclusive resort is the complete opposite. But we do love the beach. However, I doubt this option will prevail.

So there you have it – our short list. If money and time were no object, we’d be going to Scotland or Ireland or France or Germany or (you catch the drift)… But unless there is some sort of Hail Mary miracle, I think we’re going somewhere in the US or the Caribbean. I suppose there is always next year. And while there is a small chance of us getting stationed overseas, with all of the defense budget cuts taking place (at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if the government starts asking Clay to pay for the privilege of serving his country), those opportunities are becoming more and more of a pipe dream. C’est la vie.

What has been the best kid-free vacation you’ve taken? I am totally open to suggestions!

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Snow Day, Part Deux

Have you heard about the storm that has buried the Northeast under a massive amount of snow? Who am I kidding…of course you have. Thank you 24-hour news cycle. The schools were cancelled yesterday in anticipation of the late morning/afternoon storm and they are cancelled again today (the number of nonrefundable preschool days Weston has missed is making our bank account weep). Because the post was closed, Clay was able to enjoy a couple of hours of freedom before heading to the airport (’tis the season of TDYs). After sitting on the runway for a couple of hours waiting for the plane to de-ice, he finally made it to his destination safe and sound (phew!).

Rumors have it that this is the most amount of snow (about 6 inches) the area has received since Snowmageddon in February 2010. While the half-foot of snow currently on the ground isn’t one for the record books, it is still nice to experience at least one significant snowfall during our time here.

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Being the dutiful mother I am, I outfitted Weston in hand-me-down rain boots and a couple of pair of Clay’s socks because I didn’t bother buying snow boots for his fast growing feet this year.  Lesson learned.

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Violet watched the neighborhood children play as the snow fell around her.

There is only so much a baby can do…

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And no snowstorm is complete without something sweet so I whipped up a batch of maple snow cream. It is simply snow, milk, and maple syrup (I poured from the bottle that Martha and Edward brought us from their trip to Vermont). I know the thought of eating snow is repugnant but I obviously live life on the wild side. And the concoction was absolutely delicious.

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Now if you excuse me, I am going to brew another pot of coffee because Violet has decided that sleeping at night is for the birds. And the car and driveway aren’t going to clear themselves…

Just a Season

We spent yesterday afternoon walking around the National Mall, popping into the Air & Space Museum and hitting up the American Indian Museum cafe for a late lunch, complete with Indian fried bread for dessert. One of my favorite aspects of Clay being stationed at Fort Belvoir is being able to live so close to our nation’s capital. As a young political science major during my undergrad years, I dreamed about being able to roam the halls of such important buildings and being a small part of the government machine in effort to help the country run just a little bit smoother. I never pictured myself staying home with children for a prolonged period of time but yet here I am, at home with a four-year-old and a six-month-old and no formal career.

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I’ve spent the past four years finishing graduate school, volunteering too many hours to count, and taking the occasional odd part-time job here and there. When asked what I do for a living, I answer, “I stay home with our kids right now” in the most confident voice I can muster and try to resist the urge to produce my transcripts and former performance evaluations as physical proof that I have attributes to offer outside of the home. It is important to note that I am choosing to stay home at this point in time with plans of returning to the workforce within the next two to three years. But as is the case with other major decisions, I wonder if I made the right choice.

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I’m not regretting choosing to stay home – in my heart it still feels right for me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn the temporary loss of my professional self and wonder if I am forever stunting my career. Additionally, the military lifestyle can produce some career-related obstacles due to the ordered moving around and somewhat unpredictable schedule so choosing to stay home can sometimes feel like I am shooting myself in the foot twice. I realize that this is the epitome of a first world problem and complaining about the luxury of being able to stay home is quite gag-inducing. But I’d be lying if I pretended that I am 100% confident in my choice to stay home for 5-6 years and not feel pings of jealousy as my peers advance in their careers.

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At the end of the day, I just hope that I am not selling myself short or seen to the world as taking the easy way out. I often say that I am not near as confident as I pretend to be – this is just one of the many areas where this notion rings true. And as I remind myself that this brief time is just a season, I can only hope that I am appreciating it as much as possible, because I know I’ll miss it terribly when the season finally changes.