Happy Birthday to Ewe's dad today!
I am going to talk about family vacations today. My parents live 2 days drive and Ram's parents live 3 days drive away. My sister is currently in South Korea after several years in South Carolina. We have no other living siblings. My sister came to visit us, but we never visited her since we moved here almost 8 years ago.
What we have tried to do with vacation time is one week to my parents, one week to CA to Ram's one living grandparent and Ram's parents come to CA the same time as us, and some years one week to a LCMS conference for Ram and we tag along and see friends. Many years it doesn't work to go to the conference. Unfortunately our parents live in two different directions so we can't do one big vacation and see everyone. We fly to CA and drive to Ewe's parents. Even flying to CA is difficult because we live 3-4 hours away from the airport. Because Ram has a tri-parish it is very difficult for him to be gone on Sunday. We try to time vacations that we are back for Sunday with the exception of one Sunday a year to go to my parents-it's too far to drive there and back if we didn't miss one Sunday. But our CA trips are usually back by Saturday night. Once I went without Ram with my parents and the Lambs to a wedding in CO. When I got back we both decided we don't want to do vacations without each other again.
1. For our trips to my parents, I plan for weeks before we go. I don't do Facebook so it is the old fashioned way of snail mail to the older people, e-mail to the younger people. Our last vacation we went to Fort Wayne, Saint Louis, and back to Fort Wayne before we came home. It actually worked to see everyone in our limited time without using Facebook. On this trip we saw 1 church friend from my single days, got haircuts with our "family beautician", 3 college friend families, 3 high school friend families, 1 Seminary friend family, several church friends from where Ewe taught, Ewe's last living great-uncle, Lamb 3's godfather, Lamb 2's godfather, played at the new Fort Wayne Seminary playground, went to the "new" public library, went to a splash pad, went to the Fort Wayne zoo, and of course spent time with Ewe's parents and sister. We also saw several friends at the installation service at St. Louis, but I'm not counting them in this tally. It was a lot of work to contact everyone and work out a time to see everyone and do everything we wanted to do. It was definitely worth the planning.
We also plan a few restaurants to make sure to go eat at. This is our chance to eat out at Fort Wayne restaurants. We also planned a time to have my parents babysit the Lambs so we could go to Hyde Brothers book store and out for lunch at the restaurant where we went out on our first date.
I sent my dad a tentative schedule for our vacation before we went. He thought we were trying to do too much in too little time, especially considering the ages of our Lambs. It all worked out. I treasure the time that we spent with friends and family on our last vacation and it helps me to get to our next vacation.
2. I would encourage you to set a tentative date (and where) for your next vacation even if that date is 2 years away. We went to Fort Wayne when Lamb 3 was a few months old. We did not return for over 2 years. When we decided to take our next vacation and Ram talked to the elders of each church to tell them the dates we would be gone, the elders were surprised it had been that long since I had been "home". It was a huge relief to me to have a date to look forward to. My parents had come here, but I hadn't been "home". As soon as I had the date I started planning even though it was too early to start contacting people about possible times to get together. I started thinking about places we wanted to go-possibilities for fall if the weather was nice, people that we wanted to see, restaurants we wanted to eat at. I didn't realize how much I needed this until I actually was planning it. It will be a long time before we go back to Fort Wayne, but I'm already thinking about places to take the Lambs next time.
3. I think by the way that I plan vacations, we probably see some friends more often than if we lived in the same town. I know I rarely got together with some of my high school friends when we lived in Fort Wayne, but they made time to get together when I visited last September.
4. Maybe some day we'll be at the point where we can take a vacation to go sightseeing around the USA, but in the meantime our way of doing family vacations will have to do. I'm not going to give up seeing our family when we only see them a few times a year as it is. There are so many places that I would like to take the Lambs as part of our homeschool education. We also have friends all over the country. I am jealous of friends who live within one day drive of at least one set of parents-that would be so helpful for us. Lamb 3 has never been to Ram's parents house and Lamb 2 doesn't remember ever being there. I think it is terrible that our Lambs don't even know what it is like to go to the home of one set of grandparents. Maybe some day we'll be able to go more of these places. For now, it is important to us to go to see our family.
5. I would also encourage you to find the time to take a short overnight trip with the family some times. We went to Mayo for Ram's check up in January. We stayed at a hotel two nights. He had doctor appointments, but we didn't have any other scheduled things for 3 days and the church members knew we were going to be gone that whole time. It was really fun to have no schedule-just swim at the hotel, do some shopping, eat out at a little nicer restaurants, etc. I didn't realize that I needed this break until we were there. Since our family vacations are usually very scheduled to make the most of our limited time with our family, this was a nice short get away. I hope to find time to do this again once or twice a year.
So how do you deal with family vacations?
Check back tomorrow for more tips about being a rural pastor's wife.