Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Summer for Slowing Down and Savoring the Moment

When we pick a vacation destination, I jump right into trip planning. What is there to see? What should we do? Where should we eat? How much time is enough to see it all?

It's not that I want to rush through an experience, or see things just to say I've seen them. But tomorrow isn't promised to any of us, and you never know when or if you'll make it back to a place. So while I'm there, I want to really live it up.

And while I still love to research a new place and figure out what makes it special, in recent years I've changed my mindset about doing it all. That's been one of the beautiful things about having kids. You slow down. Sometimes you slow way down. It doesn't mean we don't get out into the world, it just means we do it a little differently. Traveling with kids has been more about enjoying a moment than it has been about making something into a moment.

Here's what I mean: An ordinary trip to the playground is more special when palm trees are your backdrop. Meeting a street performer might be what you end up remembering best from a jam-packed trip to the big city. Hiking while the baby snoozes in your Ergo is special not just for the beautiful trail but because it means quiet conversation with your husband. And every great vacation day ends with ice cream (actually, I thought that was true even before kids...)

Our trip to Saginaw Bay in northeastern Michigan last week is a good example of this change in thinking. We spent 7 days at my inlaws' cottage right on the lake. It shows me that a vacation can be about just enjoying your environment, the food on your plate, and the people you're sharing it with. It's not always about museums, popular restaurants, and doing what others consider must-see things. (Although I still love all that, too.)

This trip was about savoring the full moon over the water each evening with a cold beverage by my side.

And actually being thankful your baby is an early riser, because it meant you saw lots of lakeside sunrises.

It was breathing in the freshest of air, savoring every breeze, and feeling the sun on your face.

It was about grandparents, aunts and uncles getting quality time with kids that are growing up faster than I ever thought they could.
The week included a celebration of our country on the 4th of July. I've spent the 4th in some beautiful and popular travel destinations. Madrid. Boston. Charleston. But this holiday spent in little Pinconning, Michigan will rank right up there with those trips.

I'll always be a do-er when I travel. Sightseeing is in my blood and motivates me to travel to new places. But I'm learning to appreciate the special, unplanned moments that make our trips even better than I ever imagined them to be when I was back at home weeks before, pouring over a guidebook.

Our travels this summer have been sweeter, livelier, and certainly more exhausting. It's like someone cranked up the color wheel and made everything a few shades more vibrant. It's a feeling a camera will never be able to capture, and a trip planner could never schedule.

This post is a part of Photo Fridy at Delicious Baby. We're off to a different area of Michigan this coming week, so things will be a little quiet again. Keep up with us on Facebook where I tend to hang out more when we're on the road.

This post was also featured on the Ergobaby blog as part of their Summer Travel Series.