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Monday, August 24, 2009

all photos from deep creek lake 2006 & 2007
My favorite Family Vacation



Before I start recapping our European vacation this summer I thought I would share some thoughts I had during our trip and after about the experience.

Before our family moved to Maryland we had never taken a family vacation with just our little family. We missed cross country family reunions, funerals, mission homecomings and farewells. Jeff worked every Christmas at the hospital for 3 days straight and we would have Christmas eve in a hospital lobby or cafeteria. Our friends from Tennessee never knew us as their friends who traveled.

So when we moved here we had a huge lifestyle change. A little more money (but that evened out quickly with the cost of living) but we had Jeff. He was home before it got dark, home on the weekends and home EVERY holiday. We were pulling into town on fumes. Not gas fumes but on family fumes of keeping our family together. We were craving time with him and time together as a family.

After being here a few months Jeff rented a cabin at Deep Creek Lake, a little resort town a few hours north in Maryland, for Columbus day weekend. It was not anything fancy or overly exciting but it was a retreat for our family. I had just got my SLR a few weeks before and had a blast playing with it during that trip. It was the first time we had ever paid for a vacation rental all by ourselves. It was our first family alone time trip - with just us. It was only 4 days. I remember thinking how amazing it was to have Jeff all to ourselves for 4 days straight.

Our activities consisted of sleeping in, playing checkers, having a bon fire at night and roasting marshmallows, hearing Jeff's scout songs, sitting in the hot tub, walking down to the lake, trying to catch fish, taking day hikes, collecting and pressing leaves, watching movies and staying up late.

As we have talked about the places we have been in 3 years - Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Morocco, Holland, Belgium, Hilton Head Island, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle, Colorado, North Carolina, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, the Beach - and all the amazing things we have seen and done, our trip to Deep Creek Lake was our favorite one.

It was what it represented and being focused on our family that made it so great, it had nothing to do with where we were and what we were seeing. We had worked and waited 12 years for that vacation to come together.

I know how I can get when I read blogs and see what other families are doing. I can often fall into a trap of
how something amazing gets confused with something that is necessary. So I am just putting our recent Europe trip into perspective. There was not anything we did on that trip to build the strength and character of our family that could not have happened in a tent in our back yard.

We did see some amazing works of art and gained an appreciation for other cultures and ways of life. All of these can be taught in a family by reading, going to local museums and stepping outside of ones box and doing a little bit of service for people not like them.
There were a lot of checked boxes for things we had dreamed of seeing in our lifetime - but that is just stuff and fluff. Don't get me wrong it is exciting and great but it is what it is.

I always ask myself after doing things together as a family - did this trip bring our family any closer together? Are we stronger than we were before we left? Did this help build relationships with the girls to be friends for life? Is there more Sister Power? Did this experience bring Jeff and I together and renew us to go home and be strong influences in the girls life for good?

photo taken by Stuart Photography


I am in the business of building a family not in the Travel, sight seeing business. If my family can become stronger by traveling great. But at the end of the day and at the end of my life I want to be able to know I did everything I could to unite a family that will help raise generations.

so my ending thought is that ....

you don't have to go overseas, to the top of a mountain or stand in front of the Mona Lisa to build a family, that all can be done over the kitchen table and on your knees.

26 comments:

Kelly(M&M) said...

What a beautiful post. I have enjoyed reading of your travels and will admit being a little jealous of them. I love seeing how much you truly enjoy your family. Thanks for the perspective. You are awesome and have a great family. I am sure your kids know how loved they are. Thanks for the insight into your family. Glad you had a fantastic trip.

Christie said...

I suppose I am a blog stalker... I used to live in the DC area, I am a military spouse, and we now live in TN. My hubby is also a Dr, and we too are LDS. I watch your blog every so often and totally relate to the relief of finally having ones spouse back!! Thank you for this post and the reminder of why we vacation. I appreciated it a lot

Shauna said...

I wish I could stop by and HUG you this very moment. I needed this reality check/reminder at this exact moment in time.
Well said.

Sharon C. said...

Your post was, indeed, a very good reality check. Keeping things in the proper perspective is a life-long challenge, and we all need to sit back and look at our lives through the proper lense. All in all, I hope your trip was wonderful. We love you all.

stacy{s} said...

Wow. Deep thoughts that I need to hear. Especially since we are just a family of 3. Thank you for the much needed counsel.

Kimberly said...

Excellent and insightful post - thank you.

mimi said...

Excellent prospective Kristi! I too, am grateful that your young family have had these wonderful experiences together no matter where you went. The girls will never forget the love you and Jeff shared with them by including them in such adventures, big or small. Many people would have left such young girls behind while investigating Europe.

eve said...

Very well said.

Everytime I see a post from you I can't believe it. I'm thinking "they're back at Ramstein already?" or "they're on the plane already" or "they're back in the States already". And now, you're back in the States and blogging. You just keep surprising me!

Beckie said...

I completely agree. In fact, most of our family bonding is done during the rare moments we are together at home.
Vacations are tons of fun but also a lot of work.

lelly said...

wonderful perspective, kristi. really wonderful.

Lauralee said...

oh that makes me want to cry... thanks for your thoughts... as always- so true- so true!

Jill said...

Great post Kristi! You are so right about all of this. You have a completely different perspective than most of us nondoctor's wives and I'm sure if you'd been blogging back during those hard years of never seeing Jeff you wouldn't feel the need to explain things now. It's a great thing to document for yourself and a great reminder to the rest of us. Thanks!

Charity said...

Loved every bit of this post. Thanks

The monkey bunch said...

Simple beautiful! My husband's family who are all stay in the same area kind of people, don't understand our need to vacation without it being a trip to come see them. Sometimes it really is about your own family unit and the strength you want to build within it.

Liz said...

Beautiful post Kristi! You are absolutely right. I have often felt that after one or more of our trips that it was just a waste of time because our kids fought the entire time, or at least if felt like it. But the times when we just go build a bonfire for a night of roasting hot dogs and smores have been the better times and memories. Thanks for reinforcing that feeling that building my family IS more important the places I've been.

Melissa said...

Kristi,
My hubby finished school 10 years ago and a couple of years ago we started getting to the point in our lives that we can take fun vacations. You will notice as you enter this phase of your life that you may get some people saying "odd" (or even downright rude) things about decisions you make.... do not let it get to you... it is a hard transition from student to job holder... the way you handle it is up to you and your family, and you and your family alone... period! don't feel like you need to defend yourself to others. (i'm not saying that you do, but just from personal experience noticed that happened to me)...
A lot of things will come up beyond just vacations, trust your heart do what is right for YOUR family, that will be the only thing that ever matters :-)

And PLEASE post more details from your trip!!!! I'm dying to know where you stayed in Brugges, we want to go there next spring.

Amanda L. said...

I love, love this post. This is a great reminder to me.

It is easy for everyone to forget that we are not in the travel business (or anything else) but the business of raising a family.

We are on the heels of heading up to Maine for our last blast (in a tent trailer of all things) and this post reminded me the 'whys' of why we are going.

Welcome home and don't be shy with the Europe pictures!

Anna said...

This is great. I totally understand the thought of working and waiting 12+ years to finally have some family time. My husband has 3 years left out of his 17 years of medical training and we can't wait to finally have family time! Doesn't matter where we go...just that we are all together.

Nora from Chicago said...

Lovely. Well said. Welcome home.

Mags said...

What a wonderful post that keeps family life/vacations in perspective...Love it!!!

michelle said...

This is a wonderful post, Kristi! I loved every bit of it. My favorite part was the questions that you ask yourself at the end of a trip. We should all be asking ourselves those questions at the end of every week, every day. Beautifully said.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Simply profound.

Elisa said...

Thanks Kristi, I needed that.

Claudissima said...

Kristi, great post...about family and what a family should be. However, having been part of a family with my dad as a Doctor, I can honestly say, that thanks to him, we got to see the world. There is nothing else that will brighten your horizons as travel will do. You have given your girls that wonderful gift and yourselves too (if you did not travel before) because once you see Europe (or any travels) the world opens up to you in a different way than ever before. You are changed, in a good way, and it only re-affirms the values and lessons you have taught your family. And sometimes those opportunities never arrive for some, and they really miss out on world of new horizons wether it be spiritual, personal, cultural, family. The key is also to do things as family, and travel is one where you only create the best memories ever!

denise said...

This is a beautiful post - thank you for sharing it. I love your closing sentence - about achieving great things around the table and on our knees. Thank you!

Holly said...

Once again Kristi, you have touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your prespective on traveling and what matters most.

Glad y'all are home safe and sound!