My boys and I just returned from our annual spring break trip to Southwest Florida. This year ranked among my favorite. No longer am I bogged down with strollers, pack and plays and car seats. The boys pack their own toys or electronics for the plane, which alleviates my job of finding ways to entertain them. They are seasoned travelers by now so they know how to go through security, and to make sure they don’t leave without putting computers and ipods back in their backpacks.
In addition to the ease of traveling, the boys are at an age that allows us to participate in activities as a family. I don’t have to split them up for naptime or because one of them is afraid to get in the ocean or another one can’t ride his bike. We do things together and, for the most part, all of that togetherness was quite pleasant. Add in the bonus of cousins, an aunt, an uncle and grandparents and – badda boom, badda bing – we have extra playmates.
With nothing we HAD to do, our days were still packed. Tradition, for us, means starting the day off with a bike ride to the marina to get ice cream. Yeah, I know, I win Mother-of-the-Year Award for healthy breakfasts.After we finish off our ice cream, we usually ride back to the condo and the boys’ play each other in a game of Draw Something or Scramble.
By this time, it was usually my youngest who would announce that it was time to ride to one of the three parks in the area to play basketball. So off we would go… the boys, their bikes and me with the basketball in my bike basket. (Anyone for alliteration?)
On occasion, we would get a mean game of bocce ball going. Let me tell you, these boys are competitive. We had trash talk and near fist fights over whether the balls were out of “bounce” as my youngest says. I’ll let you in on a secret when it comes to bocce ball: Don’t play when it’s open dog run. Dogs like balls and some of them just don’t care that you are playing an intense game where the balls are to stay where they are. But like most things, we all just roll with it. (Bad pun. Sorry.)
Miniature golf is another tradition. We played twice this year, but like usual, we seem to pick the hottest day of the season to go. Thankfully, Asher did NOT throw up on the course as he has done in the past, and we played early enough in the day that we weren’t putting ourselves at the risk of heat stroke. Even so, we were anxious to get home and hit the pool, something we do at least once a day, but most days two or three times.
It’s always a blessing when we get a beach day with big waves, especially being on the Gulf of Mexico side. Our trips to the beach are not usually day-long adventures because the teenagers get bored, but with waves like these and a game of football and paddle ball, we were set. Add in Uncle Todd’s metal detector – oh yes, we did find treasure — a bottle cap AND a cent! – some nice conversation, a PEOPLE magazine, and a beautiful sunset, and we were happy as clams (Oh gosh, there I go again.)
One of the great joys of the week was playing tennis again. My guys are getting better each year and while they still really don’t know what they are doing, at least they can return a ball here and there and we can volley a bit. I forgot how much I loved the game, having played in high school and one year of college. No matter what we did, as long as someone had a ball or a buddy to play with, most times the crew was content. Of course, we had the typical sibling arguments but there were magical times as well.
My parents’ condo is in Bonita Springs, and some years we hit Naples for a day or two. This year we all went together and had the gift of seeing dolphins playing by the pier. After a stroll on the pier, we had a fabulous lunch at the City Dock and an afternoon walk, admiring the yachts. I had a favorite, as you can see from the photo below. (Shout out to all my Mad Men groupies!)
Since we were there over Easter, we spent Sunday at my parents church in Naples. The music was stunning, but my poor children were subjected to my singing of the Hallelujah Chorus at the end of the service. The pastor said we could sing along with the choir if we wanted to. Well, I wanted to. I didn’t learn the alto part in high school for nothing. After a few eye rolls and uncomfortable fidgeting from both sides of me, the service ended and we headed for brunch. But on our way to our car, we ran into a family we have seen almost every year since my oldest was a toddler. We said hello and promised we would connect later in the day at the pool. Oh how times have changed when boys and girls play together without a problem. Now Noah, my oldest, and his lovely “old” friend Georgia barely looked at each other. They said hello and then quickly turned to their friends and cousins to escape any further embarrassment that their parents may cause them by forcing a renewed friendship.
Even with the extended time we took for Spring Break this year, I wasn’t ready to leave. I mean… who wants to go back to cooking every meal, doing load of laundry after load of laundry and going to work instead of playing at the pool? Besides the whirl of activity and little responsibility, it’s always a great time to connect with my parents, when we are not hurried or under stress for one reason or another. The kids get significant time with cousins and grandparents, and of course, memories are added to our book of Family Life. A book I cherish more and more the older they get.