Monday, July 13, 2015

The Hard Reality of An Easy Family Trip


I keep meaning to tell you about Miami.

Cory has always had a burning in his heart for the Magic City. It has a little to do with the food, a little to do with Dexter Morgan, and a lot to do with the music. For a man whose hips have never, ever swiveled, the Cuban/Latino-infused beats have a way with him. Like, it moves him. Literally, very slightly.

When we realized we would only be a couple hours away, it seemed like a no-brainer to go.

Funny thing: We were warned against it. By multiple people. "Everyone is naked there." But we threw caution to the wind, our dreams alight on the high hope that at least some of the good people of Southern Florida would clothe themselves for our arrival.

Our prime destination: Little Havana.
The research told us it was like stepping into a different country. I loved the sound of that.

As a multi-cultural family with a global worldview, the idea of traveling trans-Continentally is inspiring. I would love for my kids to experience the rich cultures God created. It's mind-blowing and important and I want them to see it for themselves, to really understand their place on the map and the obligation they have to others. I don't want no America-centric humans up in here. 

But.

As a family on a one-vacation-in-a-decade budget, it all seems....improbable. At least for now.

Voila, Miami.

Here's how we vacation when possible: Full immersion.

(Or in the case of Miami, 2/3-immersion, on account of the rampant rumored nudity.)

Forget the touristy stuff. We want to experience the real-worldness of a new place. Eat in their local dives. Walk the neighborhoods. Stare across the street at an ordinary, chain-link-fenced stucco home with a dilapidated swing-set and imagine what it feels like to step out the door in the morning and board the bus to school.

Cultures only run as deep as the humanity we're willing to notice, and the eagerness to simply imagine a different life has to be worth something.

So, that's what we did. We loaded up our rental car, buckled the kiddos hip-to-hip, blared Cuban music, and hit the road.


 
 

 
 






 {Ace Hardware, please.}


 {the mom is beginning to show early signs of despair...}









{Bob Goff doppelganger alert!}



 
Wasn't that a fun day? Aren't we darling?

Here's what happened an hour or so after we left the city: mass mayhem with broad displays of general unruliness, resulting in much bargaining/threatening/shouting, culminating in Cory yelling louder than he has yelled in at least three years of parenting, while barreling down a 4-lane highway deep in the mangroves of Southern Florida.

And that wasn't even the half of it.

After an overpriced dinner at the McDonald's drive-thru ($14 for the kids, and we tried to order cheap, say what?) and radio silence for the last 45 minutes, we strode wordlessly inside our condo, where Cory called a family meeting.

(Editorial note: We call family meetings roughly once every two years.)

Though the yelling and angst had run dry, the tears were just beginning, as evidenced by Ruby, who commenced sobbing.

Followed by me.

Silas marched to his little condo-bedroom-home and brought me a "Siley shirt" to make me "feel better" (cue more tears) and also offered one to Ruby, who politely declined.

Red-eyed and ashamed, we all felt so sorry.

The root of it was, we expected too much. THERE IS A COST TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL. Even when it's only pretend.

Silas made his rounds rubbing all the weepers' backs. Calvin sat stony-faced and exhausted. Cory sent us all to bed.

Maybe you've never been on a vacation in your entire life and you hate this time of year because of people like me who clog up your feed with pictures of palm fronds. Maybe you see my family looking so bright-eyed and sunkissed and think, "It must be nice to be them." Maybe you assume we always get along. Maybe you assume our home is usually peaceful. Maybe you assume I'm an awesome, patient, fun mom or that having a husband who works in the jail might be a handy card to keep in your hip pocket when the wildlife gets way, way too wild.

(That last part is true, but only for like the first month or so. Then it loses its punch and/or you feel guilty about making empty jail threats to minors. Whatever.)

We're all just humans, doing our best and failing often. The only thing I have to offer is my commitment to telling the truth on the internet. I'm not sure if it helps, but it sure can't hurt.

So there you have it. The best days can end in the most human ways.

Pass the mojitos.


32 comments:

  1. Although it's not fun to be in the midst of that kind of day, it's so refreshing to read. Somehow whenever we go on vacation, I always end up feeling like I should pull out "the Berenstain bears and too much vacation ". And yet it's worth it in the end. Most of the time ;) thanks again for keeping it real. :)

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    Replies
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  2. Although it's not fun to be in the midst of that kind of day, it's so refreshing to read. Somehow whenever we go on vacation, I always end up feeling like I should pull out "the Berenstain bears and too much vacation ". And yet it's worth it in the end. Most of the time ;) thanks again for keeping it real. :)

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  3. you nailed this post. glad you got away and that you're a "normal" family. :)

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  4. I loved every minute of that post. Good luck today, another rainy, stormy, inside kind of day!

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  5. This post is hilarious and poignant. Love the line, "culture runs as deep as the humanity we're willing to notice." So, so true.

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  6. You're so real and I LOVE it! Great pics and memories. Teresa

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  7. You're so real and I LOVE it! Great pics and memories. Teresa

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  8. Photos are gorgeous. Your kids are fab. Also love the conviction piece, as I have a very deep conviction that some very important people in my life object to vehemently. Love this blog.

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  9. I love---no, loveloveLOVE--this post. The honesty is WAY more refreshing than any palm tree.

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  10. As a kid, every.single.one of our family vacations was a road trip because we couldn't afford international travel. Every trip also featured a yelling mess in the car with tears, threats of spankings, and frustration. Looking back, even those moments are nostalgic.

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  11. True life. Love it..... it's all we've got!

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  12. Thank you. I was scrolling through the beautiful pictures thinking how excited I am to travel when my children are a bit older (currently 6,4,2 and 2), and this blog was an excellent reminder that there will be struggles then, too. There is no such thing as perfect family time, because we are all imperfect people. Though I still think things will be easier when I do not have two year old twins.

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  13. hahaha, well not really. sorry actually. next time bring some cousins. seriously. we just had the loveliest of lovely family vacays and I am giving the cousins all the credit.

    oh and miami looks positively international ;)

    xo ellie

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  14. Love this post and the honesty! Sometimes traveling isn't all it's cracked up to be - usually, but not everyday is sunshine and rainbows!

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  15. Wisconsin (family of 4 plus my mom and sister minus my brother in law who had to stay home with a very sick poodle) is also not so easy peasy.

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  16. Ah, yes. It happens to all of us, doesn't it? So sorry we missed each other that day, but it sounds like it would have been the straw that broke the camel's back! And you are brave, brave, BRAVE. I have such anxiety about unknown places, and there are so many around here. I have yet to travel into the heart of Little Havannah.
    PS. I saw a convenience store restaurant sign i must snap a pic of and send to you. Keep your eyes peeled!

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  17. pass the dang mojitos, yes.
    loved reading this! this is how we "vacation", on a smaller scale in some ways with only one child. it is CRAY. but good somehow.

    these pictures make me so happy. love you to the moon.

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  18. Thanks for the smile you put on my face this morning :) Keep on keeping it real, girl!
    Our kids were older when we took our first international trip (10 and 14 turned 15 during trip). We traveled to Argentina where my husband grew up (MK) along with his parents and sister, so we could see where he'd lived, gone to school... The thing is, missionary families move. A LOT. So after the sixth or seventh place (which did sort of all look very similar) our kids didn't bother to do much more than glance up from their books, and then keep on reading. Husband: quite miffed. They could have stayed home and read and we'd have saved a lot of money! But then we arrived at the last house my husband had lived in (and which his parents still owned), in the little town where he'd finished high school, where the tranquil Calamuchita River was less than a city block from the house... It's a magical place and it cast its spell even over the kids. They put down their books, ran around the neighborhood investigating, wore swimsuits almost constantly so they could go take a dip in the river when they got hot... We still took a lot of day trips to other places in the province, to see people and places from my husband's childhood, but we'd drive back to the house near the river and it seemed the kids were in their swimsuits and out the door before we'd unfolded ourselves from the minivan. We're glad we did the one week "tour" in Buenos Aires first and then spent the rest of our time in the interior where we could enjoy a different pace of life. It had been so frenetic that first week, and stressful as we tried to navigate the public transport system, and stay together as masses of people pressed in on every side no matter where you went. We also tried to pack a lot into the week, seeing as much as possible. So arriving in the country the 2nd week was so refreshing. My daughter loved meeting the vegetable and fruit man at the road, helping her grandma pick fresh produce for the day. My son mowed the lawn without complaint because he was so intrigued by the tiny electric mower with the long cord.
    I think we need a few days on vacation just to unwind from our usual tightly-wound selves to actually be able to enjoy a different kind of life. Otherwise it's too much of a shock to our system.

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  19. Really cool pictures, and it looks like so much fun!

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  20. If this post had a like button, I would press it. :)

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  21. If this post had a like button, I would press it. :)

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  22. If this post had a like button, I would press it. :)

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  23. Bless Silas' heart for trying to comfort everyone! I grew up pre-mini vans and my dad had little patience for me & my 2 sisters squabbling on trips. He had an arm that could swat into the back seat and the ultimate threat was that he would pull over and spank us. When we had to go to the bathroom on trips, my mom would produce magic chewing gum that made us not have to go--and it worked! Lol!

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  24. Bless Silas' heart for trying to comfort everyone! I grew up pre-mini vans and my dad had little patience for me & my 2 sisters squabbling on trips. He had an arm that could swat into the back seat and the ultimate threat was that he would pull over and spank us. When we had to go to the bathroom on trips, my mom would produce magic chewing gum that made us not have to go--and it worked! Lol!

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  25. I read your blog frequently but don't know that I've ever commented. But this post was SO refreshing- I couldn't help but comment! Thanks for your vulnerability, and for reminding us, once again, that there is so much that goes on behind the scenes of a perfectly-posed instagram photo! :) And it's always such an ironic encouragement to hear that I am not the only one with grand family vacation plans that don't turn out 100% perfectly, like I imagine in my head. Thanks so much.

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  26. I love the part where Cory sent you all to bed! I can picture this clearly in my mind...you and the kiddos contrite, heads hanging down, heading off to the beds in the very same room, only feet away from each other (if you were in a hotel) or off to separate rooms if a condo, and Cory thinking "i can't wait to get back to prison!"

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  27. Having been on an "electronics fast", one thing I have missed the most is your blog. I love truth, and stories about raw truth and real life. My husband was off for a few days and we live on a tight budget as you and I said,"we haven't even been able to do anything fun!" Then our merciful God smacked my jaws a bit and reminded me of the times we Have been able to do fun things and most of all, those who never get to experience a jaunt down the road (disguised as a vacation) and I should be grateful. And , do I ever remember, the breakdowns of traveling with four girls...whew! That in itself is worth being sent to your room...because in your room, it is usually quiet (for a few minutes , anyway).. God bless you , my dear...for showing the real you..real family..and a Mighty God who covers it all!

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  28. I love how you write and keep yourself vulnerable and real. It makes you easy to read and makes you lovable, without knowing you. Keep up the good work.

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  29. Great! I love this life. I can totally relate!

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  30. Cuban food!!!!!!!
    But I can't. EVEN. with the family.
    Little Havana Honeymoon.
    I like how that sounds because I LOVE Miami and Bruce has never been.

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  31. I don't know if this remotely relates but the whole time I'm reading this very lovely description of that chunk of vacation that always happens in my family (ahem), I am thinking about how much you look like the Madonna statue in the picture you captioned with "signs of early despair." I think that's telling in some way. Maybe? Either way, that's how vaca rolls.

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