Working in the hospitality industry means that as much as you love the idea of vacations, you rarely take one yourself. Like Tsh, it was time to “take our own advice,” and head out before the burnout hit (and the kids missed out on another summer at the beach).
We set our budget, spent weeks browsing craigslist and VRBO (from the advice in The Money Saving Mom’s Budget), and took family “votes”/input on ideal vacation desires. We were amused at the criteria from our two oldest children (ages 5 1/2 and 2 1/2), who requested that we:
- go “somewhere far away,”
- “go shopping for food & clothes,”
- “go to the beach,”
- “stay in a mountain cottage,” and
- “get ice cream and taffy.”
We accepted the challenge, and found a small rural cottage on a farm. (It was surrounded by trees, so we stretched that “mountain” definition a bit.) It was located about an hour’s drive from the beach, and on the outskirts of the city. Our children fell in love with the resident goat and sheep, and we all enjoyed fresh eggs from the chickens.
The first evening we had fun browsing a favorite thrift store, picking up some needed clothing items for the coming seasons. (These children are growing so quickly!) The kids were also thrilled with the discovery of a “Bead Toy,” for only $2! (They’ve been wishing for one these past couple years.)
Then we headed to a favorite grocery store, where we got a few grocery items, and made sure to get some delicious coconut milk ice cream, too.
The next day, we headed to the beach. I kept forgetting the camera, leaving it in the car or cottage. But it was so nice to just enjoy being with my family.
We started out with a beach picnic, but then had to pack up to find a public restroom. (Ah, life with a potty training 2-year old!) After the essentials were taken care of, we found a quiet beach to explore. It was our baby’s first trip to the beach, and he spent it sleeping in my Ergo carrier.
The older children loved collecting seashells, digging in the sand, and putting their feet in the waves. It got pretty windy and cool, though, so after awhile, they requested a trip to a local candy store instead (with a saved-up dollar from Grandpa)!
Gen did a great job reading all the candy flavor labels, to choose her bag of salt water taffy. She also had fun petting a pony pulling a little carriage outside the shop.
Calvin began introducing the children to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, with some breakfast and bedtime readings (which we’ve continued since coming home).
On our last day, after checking out of the cottage, we visited the local library nearby for their Library Book Sale. Calvin and I were thrilled to find some antique classics that had been on our wish list (including Haliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels for $3), while the children had fun playing with some of the library toys. We also read some books together (and the repairman fixing the exit with lots of tools was fascinating, too).
On our way out of town, we stopped by a favorite shop to share gluten-free cinnamon rolls as a snack.
There were a few tears on the way home, in disappointment that the vacation had ended. But once we arrived home, everyone was thrilled to enjoy the blessings of our home again. The children ran and played in our lawn, discovered new sprouts in their little garden, rediscovered the fun of their own toys and books, and we all appreciated being back in our own beds at night.