When I think back to some of my best memories from my childhood, a lot of them are from our family vacations. It was the 90s, which meant my two younger brothers and I were piled in the back of our Lumina with an old school tube TV with VHS player hooked into the cigarette lighter allowing us to enjoy some now classic movies. We made the seemingly several daylong drive to Colorado from Kansas City more times than I can count. Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Ouray, etc, we hit them all. Those were some of the best times. I still remember taking the obligatory family tourist photo at every opportunity. My matching windbreaker suit and puffy hair tied back with a neon scrunchy. I pretended to be too cool for these trips, but looking back, those were some amazing times! My husband on the other hand spent some of his best family trips either camping or at the beach in Gulf Shores, AL. Our family vacations were not anything extravagant (except our two trips to Disney World). They usually coincided with some type of sports tournament for one or all of us, but they were some of the best times of my life. Those were the memories I wanted our kids to experience.
Since we had B, our life has revolved around breastfeeding, fertility treatments, and babies (A and D). Family vacations were not even on our radar except in our “maybe someday” conversations. You know those conversations you have on date nights (LOL… another fond memory), before bed, or over morning coffee when you dream about what life will be like when you are out of the trenches. When the kids were all babies, we just didn’t have the energy or funds to take any fabulous vacations. We kept saying that we would when they were older, didn’t need require so much stuff, and there wasn’t so much planning around pumping and naps. I don’t regret our decision to postpone traveling because vacations with three under three just wasn’t a good idea for us. Every family does their own thing and what works for them.
Our first family vacation experience was post-deployment to Branson. B was 4-years-old and the boys were 2.5. It was a blast, kind of. We tried to do everything we had planned but after being there for only a day, B got the croup virus and had to go to the urgent care. The next day, D got the croup virus and the following day A caught the bug. We spent every single night taking turns in the steam in the small condo bathroom. That entire week someone was not feeling well. By the end of the trip, Derek and I were so exhausted that the thought of another vacation made our heart rates skyrocket and our palms sweat.
Let’s fast forward to this summer. We finally moved to a climate that was not a million degrees in the summer and the kids were off the naps and bottles… the time had come. It was time to jump head first into another family vacation. It just so happens that we live about 45-minutes from a beautiful national park called Land Between the Lakes. We found an awesome little campground that had cabins, RV hook ups, condos, and camp sites. The decision was made to rent a cabin for the week right on the lake. We had so much fun grilling, swimming, taking a pontoon boat for a spin, riding golf carts around the campground, and fishing. The kids had a blast! The boys caught their first fish with Daddy and Uncle Jim. We went on an awesome hike around a pond called Hematite Trail, found blue rocks, and even took our new puppy with us. By the end of the trip, we were all exhausted, but the kids said it was their best vacation ever. They actually had so much fun that we decided to rent a cabin the following weekend too! We definitely love this newfound freedom with the kids. Not being tied to naps or schedules anymore is opening up so many possibilities. I’m working on a future post with a review of the resort we stayed at. So, stay tuned! What are some of your favorite memories from family vacations? Maybe we can all inspire each other for future family trips!