Opinion Saturday

This weekend I’m again giving out two prizes. First is the illustrious (grin) Golden Keyboard Award, given to the person with the most thoughtful answer to this week’s question. A second person, chosen randomly from the commenters, will win a 6 month Netflix membership, which will allow you to have three movies out at a time. (details here).

(Side note: John and I just finished watching Constant Gardener, which is a movie set in Kenya. We almost never watch R-rated movies, but made an exception for this one because we’d heard it was so powerful and I so much appreciate views into Africa. all I can say is our time was not wasted. Wow.)

Today’s question: Tell me about the best moments of a recent trip you took with your family.

For us, it was our trip to the Oregon Coast over Spring Break. We visited the ocean and went to the aquarium and went out to eat various places. But the moments that stand out in my mind are the times we spent gathered around the table together as a family: eating salmon, playing games, and talking. Simple moments. Precious memories.

You have until Monday evening to share your best moments. The two prizes will be awarded Tuesday morning. Hit me with your best thought!

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  1. For Mother’s Day, we took a day trip to Baltimore. The trip was lovely. There was nothing to pack, no schedules, no plans except to spend time together. The moment that encaptulates this for me was when my big kids were on the paddle boat with my husband and I had the chance to just sit and watch them enjoying eachother while our toddler and I enjoyed crowd watching and the warm sunshine. It hit me that there aren’t many moments like this one. Moments when your only goal is to relax and enjoy. I tried to soak it up and hold on to that memory whenever life gets hectic.

  2. I live in Illinois, my cousin lives in Vermont. Last summer I took the girls to visit his family. He and his wife had three children then (four now) – one by birth, and two African American children by adoption. My three are Chinese. My favorite moment was standing on the deck with my cousin, watching our six children play together. They live a thousand miles from each other. They were born in Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and three different provinces in China, and represent three different races. But they are family and love each other fiercely. Not only will I always cherish watching them play together, but also the conversation I was having with my cousin at the time – about how God builds families, and isn’t He just so creative in how He does it some times! I think our children will always remember that trip too – they still talk about it fondly and can’t wait to visit with their cousins again this summer…

  3. Kris Long says:

    On Mother’s Day we attempted our first “car trip” to visit family since adopting a sibling set of three from Ethiopia. It was a beautiful day and I loved nothing more than watching my new children experience the joy LIFE. We were outside the entire day swinging, fishing, playing in the sandbox, four wheeling, eating and laughing. Oh, to see older children enjoy the beautiful things that we have long taken for granted is so refreshing! It was a Mother’s Day full of abundant love with my husband and seven children!

  4. We always make it a point to reseach the places we are going (even if it is to visit family), and find the things that will appeal to a wide range of ages. It isn’t hard with the Internet to find free or relatively inexpensive diversions within the area where we are going.
    One of our best investments has been a small GPS unit and signing up for geocaching. This is a family friendly way to get in some exercise, and the “cache” (treasure!) at the end gives the kids an incentive to keep going. The caches are all over…urban and rural areas, and constitutes a good way to spend an afternoon without spending any extra dollars.
    I love sitting down with my family at dinner…wherever we are and talking about “best parts of the day”. It’s a tradition at our mealtimes here, and it’s a way to maintain a portion of the familiar in an unfamiliar place. It’s also really amazing to see some of the things that leave the greatest on the children.

  5. We don’t travel much outside of California, where we live. And even though it’s not considered a vacation really, a nearly weekly or bi-monthly trip to the Huntington Gardens here in LA is something that always fills my mind with good memories. I love watching my husband take pictures of our son and exotic plants around us. I love sneaking a little lunch together as a family behind the Palm Tree gardens. I love the quietness as we walk together, taking in the fresh, well-groomed beauty of the Japanese and Rose Gardens. And finally, I love watching my 22 month son explore as he splashes around in the Children’s Gardens, drenching himself and anyone within 5 feet of himself!
    It’s not a vacation, but for me, each time we go, it refreshes my spirit. It’s a very special place for our family.

  6. Now you’ve got me curious! We’re going to have to watch the Constant Gardener!!! : )

    We have YET to go on a vacation with the whole crew (since Karis has been with us!!)!!! BUT last year….in April…..I was about 41/2 mo preg….we went to FL to finalize the adoption!!!!! WOOOHOOOO! Well, that in itself was fantastic, so there was NOTHING that needed to be added to the trip to make it one of the most memorable things as a family!

    However, Jason went out of his way to make it EXTRA special. We got to stay VERY close to the beach, and we had a pool. So, we spent one day in the pool with the kiddos, which was a BLAST! Then went to court and spent the eve at the beach where there was a “market” along the beach! It was a fabulous eve with an amazing sunset behind the ocean!!! And a man who swallowed fire!! And the kids just played, play, and played more in the sand (in fact, one of our funniest memories of this trip was when Keziah picked up a hand full of sand….and our guess is that she loved how soft it was(Clearwater beach sand is AMAZING…like powder!!), and rubbed the 2 handfuls of sand all over her face!!!!!!! YIKES!

    And the actual driving time was some of our favorite memories! We just sand Patch the Pirate tunes most of the way there and back! The kids LOVeD it!!!!! So did we!!!

  7. My best moments were over the Easter break when David and I went to fetch my Mum from Switzerland. We always go walking on the mountains together, and somehow, he finds it a good place to talk up there in the silence. The beauty is so special, and the peace just perfect. I remember sitting in the forest, and saying to him….. you will bring your children here one day and teach them about this peace, and he said, oh yes, and we will have the more adventures to add to the family chronicles. (We always manage to turn a straightforward walk into an epic!)
    He is 18 now. These times together are precious.

  8. Our most recent trip was my brother’s wedding in New York almost 2 years ago. I was a bridesmaid (7 months pregnant!) and Bean was 18 months. It was a precious time with my brother and his new wife – both of whom were deployed to Afghanistan 3 months later, but not before meeting the new baby. We’re still awaiting my brother’s return. Anyhow, the wedding reception was by far one of my favorite memories – of all time. Navigating the spiral staircase in my bridesmaid dress and 3-inch heels (!!!) at 7 months pregnant with 200 sets of eyes on me was torturous, but once we got past that, the rest of the evening rolled on wonderfully.

    Bean met all the extended family, most of them for the first time, and amazingly, she came out of her shell for the first time ever. She spent the whole night on the dance floor, twirling in anyone’s arms who would dance with her. And while she was pretending to be a ballerina, hubby and I had some precious moments of social time, just us together as well as catching up with old friends and extended family. So we got to see Bean in a completely different environment – just eating it up, and we had our own time of rest and fellowship, surrounded by dear people we wish we could see more often. I remember wishing that night would never end.

  9. Our last vacation was on spring break. Our daughter Meron, age 11, had newly joined our family and we felt the vacation would be a nice time for some bonding. We were thrilled when our older daughter Sarah was given permission by her college professors to take a few day off and join us.
    The girls shared a room in our condo and one night they stayed up late playing a game that Meron had suggested. They each had to take turns telling 3 stories about themselves that was funny or scary.
    When they shared the next morning about their evening, we laughed at their stories. While we reminisced over Sarah’s stories, Meron stories gave a wonderful opportunity to get to know her. Eight days of togetherness with no obligations other than spending time together just can’t be beat when bringing home a new child.

  10. One of the most memorable trips for me was the first time we took Sean to Illinois to visit my parents at their house. My parents still live in the house that I grew up in and there was just something magical to see him snuggle with my mom in the same chair she snuggled me and to eat in the same kitchen in which I ate when I was growing up. But more than anything, I will always remember watching my 76-year-old dad and Sean jumping in rain puddles in the street together. I could almost see the little boy that my dad was in his face and also in the face of my little boy at the same time. I felt that somehow just for a moment, God let me see time through His eyes.

  11. My three grandchildren live on the outer banks, NC. I am in N.
    Calif. We rented a house (off season so it was within our realm of finances). My oldest son lives on the island, and my middle son lives in Hawaii. He flew from Hawaii and brought his love with him. My darling daughter, in SF, was unable to come. We missed her! Our daughter was there in spirit and we spoke to her on the phone.

    We had a blast! The house was big enough to give everyone a bedroom and bathroom. We played pool, sat in the hot tub, and everyone shared in the cooking and clean-up. We got to go to the 8 and 10 year olds first basketball game too.

    It was incredible watching my two sons laughing and cooking together – brought back so many memories flooding over me.

    One evening all the guys played a game with nerf guns and the laughter never stopped. Too bad war can’t be fought with those guns – maybe everyone would end up rolling on the floor with laughter. (In my dreams).

    We also all went to the beach – a point where waves came together splashing from two directions. We saw a six foot shark in the surf, just about where my 5, 8, and 10 year old grandchildren surf in the summer. Gulp. I say lots of prayers.

    We fished and played in the sand and it was wonderful.
    I felt like we were the Walton’s. The week was full of laughter, memories and hugs. It was a mother’s dream.

  12. I’ve been thinking and trying to pick my favorite, but when I came back and read Tina’s (#10) I decided not to post; I want her to win. That last sentence brought tears to my eyes.

  13. I’ve been blessed with three miracle travellers! They never fought or argued while travelling. I promise! We’ve been fortunate to travel to so many states with our kids and have enjoyed every single minute.

    I like Tina’s too and hope she wins, but I just wanted to share a great trip tip that we did with our kids as a way to earn a little spending money of their own.

    We brought our hand held Yahtzee game and each of the kids took a turn and played one game. Whatever their score was at the end was how much cash we gave them. We also had three envelopes that contained $1, $2, and $3. My hubby would ask a Bible question that they all knew and whoever was first got to pick the first envelope, and so on until they each had one. Then they opened their prize up at the same time to see who got how much $!! And then to earn an extra $2 we had an empty map of the United States and they had to fill in each state correctly, which we knew they had them memorized but it didn’t hurt to have a refresher! This not only took up a little travelling time, but it was just a lot of fun too.

  14. Even though this was a “day trip vacation” our recent trip to Boston was so memorable to me since I got to see my dear friend since High School Bronja who lives in Sweden and I had not seen in person for 5 years, and my first photography assistant Mat who I had lost touch with several years ago but Bronja had kept in touch with since my wedding in 1993. It was the first time the three of us were in the same room sharing a meal together in 12 years and we all now have spouses and children…it felt like a tapestry of life and friendship with more intricate layers and patterns… a wonderful meal shared with laughter, stories, giggles and little ones.
    The years we were apart simply melted away.
    We then walked around Cambridge and Harvard Square …it was a glorious brisk early spring day and after pictures and more talking we went to an Ethiopian restaurant for wonderful food where our Ethiopian born son was doted upon
    (and loved every minute :-)). It was a wonderful “mini vacation” and memorable for even our almost 5 year old who thought it was so cool that we have “such old friends” LOL :-).

  15. We haven’t had an opportunity to take a real vacation in a while. But recently, our family visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg together (we live near it). My husband, 3 year old son and 8 mo. old son.

    The 3 year old is a total roller coaster watcher, so that was his favorite part, but he also went on the log flumes for the first time when he was there and climbed around with my dh on the big tree house. He was thrilled at all the rides he went on.

    The 8 month old spent a lot of time in my ergo carrier watching everything. He too loved the roller coasters and looking down from the skyride.

    It was also great for me to have time with all of them. Usually we don’t go anywhere together because of my dh’s work schedule.

    Thanks for the great contests~~~

  16. We just returned from a trip to Korea to visit our five and 7 year olds foster families. Max, our 5 year old, came home 3 weeks before his 3rd birthday. Amazingly, at the time we were in Korea, Max Joon Min had been with his foster family for 2 years and 8 months and home with us for 2 years and 8 months.

    There is just so much that I cannot write in this short entry about the value of this trip for our children and myself, but the real reason for our travels was to bring Max back to the family that had loved and cherished him for almost 3 years. What it meant to them is beyond words. Max’s Noona (older sister) told me that her mother lights a candle and puts a bowl of traditional seaweed soup in front of Max’s picture every year on his birthday and the day he left.

    Although we needed a translator to communicate, it was so comfortable to just be with Max’s Omma and Appa. They have become my family also. We have such a connection that it is incredible, there must be a red thread connecting me to Mrs. Song. She told me that several times when she would dream of Max, the very next day her family would receive an email from me. The last time it happened is when I emailed to say that we were coming for a visit.

    One thing I really enjoyed was hearing stories about the kids when they were younger and finding out that they have many of the same traits now as when they lived in Korea. Catherine was with her foster family until she was 18 months old, and even then, she was jealous when her foster father or mother had to tend to the other babies. Max did not like to walk anywhere when he was younger either, although he will run silly circles for hours on end. Max also would be very shy and embarrassed when his Omma talked about him and would try to cover her mouth. She told me this when Max was trying to do the same thing to me at their house.

    Like I said, I could write about this trip forever (and in fact I will on my own blog), but more than being a trip for my children, this was a gift to the women (and men) who loved my children before I even knew that there would be another child in our family. It is such a selfless love that ends in a mix of great pain and joy. To me, it was a blessing to be able to give that gift.

    **Sorry for the novel, Mary 

  17. We just got back today from spending the weekend in Sunriver (oregon), and had a wonderful time. Our 3 boys are all in grade school, and we have an adopted daughter (1 1/2 years old) from China. We had our bikes and my husband picked up a baby carrier for the back of his bike for our daughter. On Saturday our family took a long ride and ended up at the ice cream shop for lunch (yes, we all had ice cream cones before lunch at 10:30 in the morning). After walking around the mall area, we headed back for the long ride to where we were staying. My boys chattered as they rode and our daughter fell asleep on the ride back, and it was one of the most pleasant things in the world to me. The word for the morning was contentment.

  18. The best moment of recent vacay history was on our Disney vacation in November. Before my eyes my serious old-soul four year old transformed into a effervescent boy. From clinging with death grip onto the sides of Dumbo to shouting, “Let’s go again!” after his first rollercoaster. The transformation was infectious in its joy and brought tears to my eyes.

  19. Here’s a recent trip we took…

    Town of Bland: Population 565

    It was a wonderful visit!!!!

  20. Did you get my comment?

  21. ARGH! I keep trying to leave you a comment with my link, but it isn’t letting me.