Monday, July 28, 2008

Changes In Lattitude

“When you take small children along, it’s not a vacation as much as a change of location,” Shirley Gaddis Soto. (my mom)

Summer is “vacay” time. Most of us try to get away from our day-to-day patterns and obligations in pursuit of a little refreshing. In Phoenix a necessary component is escaping the brutal heat, so many of us point west and head to the beaches in San Diego; a mere 360 mile trek.

We stay at the same ocean-front condo every year so it feels like home. I love listening to the waves as I fall asleep at night. (I try to ignore the frequent sound of low-flying aircraft heading to and from the nearby airport) I thrive on just sitting on my patio (I put a beach chair on top of the picnic table, rest my feet on the wall, and have a birds-eye-view) and looking at the sea. The coolness, the vastness, the contradiction of calm and power…it awes me and always brings me closer to its creator—my creator. It’s soothing.

I have much more time now that my kids are grown to just sit admiring the blissfully cool view. Not always though. When the kids were young I had much less time for myself. My husband and I accepted the above quote as sound advice when our kids were little, however, so unlike many young parents we tried to figure a way out of spending our entire vacation tending to the needs of our young ones. I encourage everyone to take this wisdom from my mother to heart. Whether you tend to be a slave to family needs or the job that pays you, make every effort to free yourself when you’re on vacation.

A few simple choices can make the difference between returning home refreshed, or exhausted and frustrated. As far as family is concerned, everyone should be able to relax and have fun. Decide on a location and lodging that is conducive to this. Can the baby be easily contained or does she have direct access to the stairs or open fire pit? Are there fun, affordable activities nearby or would you have to spend hours driving to get to the theme part. Are your kids old enough to enjoy a theme park or other (expensive) outings? (We took our kids to Knotts Berry Farm when our son was three years old and our daughter was three months. Classic young parents’ mistake! We lugged the baby around trying to keep her happy and spent a lot of time looking for rides that our son was tall enough to ride.)

Eat simply or eat out. Cooking is labor intensive and the cleanup can rob time away from quality moments together, unless the whole family is involved in helping.
Bring a teen-aged girl along if possible. She can play with one child while you play with the other, help keep track of them while you’re on outings and allow you to get away for a quiet dinner sans kids. Pay her way, plus a small wage, give her time off to enjoy the beach alone and she’ll love it.

Leave work behind (physically and mentally). Take time to relax your body and mind and feed your spirit with joy and fun. Don’t add extra stress by trying to do too much or over-spend.

Make every effort to ensure that vacation is not (to quote Jimmy Buffet)just a change in latitude, but a change in attitude. You can take one any time if you apply that philosophy. Where are you now?
Diane Markins


Anonymous said...

Right now I am siting at my desk in my home office, totally refreshed, relaxed, revised and chilaxed from 10 days in our Rim Home 150 miles from Phx...due east! Sitting out on the porch swing about 4 hours a day, listening to the rain and the birds, smelling the fresh "pine after the rain" and admiring the handiwork of my creator!! I love my life! I work when I'm there, a few hours a day to stay in touch. However my business is an extension of my life, so it is not a burden, but a part of my life! Good One! I am in heaven in the woods and mountains, cooking 3 times a day, taking walks for amusement and reading good books. I guess I am the way I am because of our family "vacations" when I was a kid...
We had about 4 a year...same place, same times...Mawie and Papaw's house!! In the hills of PA where real wolves howl at night and scare the crap out of kids playing hide and go seek until 9PM. Always in bed by 10 becasue the broom on the kitchen ceiling hitting our bedrrom floor was sure to go off at 6AM. It would be Mawie (my Great Granma) yelling for us to get up, get our chores done before breakfast. And up we got in a hurry cuz breakfast was always discustingly sweet...pancakes with homemade syrup (that we helped make on vacation), fresh baked bread (we did that too!) and pies, pies, pies!! After we mowed, raked, baked, sewed, scrubbed the cellar and canned, we played!! In the woods we chased ole man harrington's cows , fished in the pond, swam in the creek, stole someones horse and rode it around. Caught lightening bugs at night and made rings out of them, and bees by day to see how long they could live in a jar
(shhh) (I know some of you did it too if you grew up back east). Never wore shoes, never carried a phone, never came home until it was time for lunch and 1 hour before time to help cook!
And WHAT were our parents doing? Sleeping, reading, helping Mawie and Papaw with chores they were no longer able to do, talking, telling dirty jokes, fishing....relaxing and having fun.
How I miss those vacations!@ And oh yes! Sometimes we camped! In the backyard, on the ground with a flashlight...until the wolves started. Then we were back in the house!

Pat Williams

Diane Markins said...

Sounds delightful and a little like an old movie. I grew up in Phx and we didn't have lots of vacations. The ones we did have didn't involve lots of extended family or chores and I didn't see my first lightening bug until my kids were with me. My vacation memories are different but evoke feelings of mmmmm...yummy. To each his own as long as it ends with those kinds of great associated emotions.

Anonymous said...


I am so happy for you and your family to have the opportunity to vacation together on the beach in CA. I have shared the privilege with Nancy a couple of times and it was awesome. What a wonderful legacy to be a part of!

I grew up on a farm in MO and we didn't go on family vacations. During sumer vacation from school, I looked forward to a week of Vacation Bible School with my Grandma's church. I would alos get to stay for a week with each of 2 aunts (mother's sister's) and also with my grandma. I really felt special that they asked me to come and I would work with them in their homes and learned many lessons that I value today.

I guess I would have to say that "Vacation" is just not part of my husband's vocabulary. We camped, snow skiied, water skiied, and fished a few weekends when our boys were young,(before sports committments), while extended vacations seemed much too costly for us. Our one, 2 week vacation was in 1976 in a pickup and cabover camper through Colorado to Yellowstone National Park. Our memories remain cherished by each of us and are still brought up in conversations from time to time.

I have 2 other friends who create memories for their families and friends by providing a retreat place for their loved ones from the summer heat of Phoenix and though I sometimes wish that it could be like that for us, I ask God to help me focus on being content where I am and to thank Him in all things, "for this is His will for 'me' in Christ Jesus."

This summer He has blessed me by having a girlfriend who is single, invite me to vacation with her for a week in mid-August in Vale, CO. Though I miss having my husband share in these times away, I am so blessed that God provides a way where there seems to be no way.

Have a refreshing vacation! You are Blessed!

diane markins said...

We are indeed blessed and "getting away" or escaping the heat are small compared to spending time with those we love. My grown kids still love to spend as much time here with us as they can. My inlaws are here and often my Dad and stepmom come. My sister and her family come for a week so I get special moments of having my nieces drop over for a little chat. Friends from Dallas that we went to highschool with have stayed a few days this week, (We've laughed ourselves silly)and a couple other girlfriends will be coming in the next week. We'll celebrate my nephew's 21st birthday on our patio this weekend. The glorious weather and specular views are almost incidental compared to the the relationship aspect and memory-making that goes on. We are blessed indeed.