Sunday, February 13, 2011

our tremendous four day vacation

Please bear with an album's worth of photographs; this four days felt like a full-tilt family vacation, so I was clicking away like an old clicker dog. I will intersperse commentary and stories for variety.

I'll tell ya, permanent (non-seasonal) jobs for big, impersonal companies have some serious downsides, one being working five days a week, all year, with limited time off. You can't just quit to go hiking for a month. What's the idea there?! This particular job, of which Jason just completed one year, requires a lot of hours, so our time together has become precious. We try hard to make weekends either eventful or truly restful - both when possible. But last weekend was THE BEST EVER during our 8 months here in south Texas. Jason lined up his days off so that we could take four in a row. It meant working extra days beforehand and extra afterward, but the weekend turned out to be so, so, so worth it.

We had planned on spending time in either Austin or South Padre Island, but the week leading to our vacation was our most wintery one yet, as the edge of the cold front that was hitting the rest of the country lightly brushed us. We suddenly longed to be in a cabin in the woods, sitting before a fireplace. We found one online, and to the cabin we went!

Zoralee quickly tires of car rides.
Here, she's still trying her darndest to keep entertained.
small town drive by photo shooting
We pulled up to the cabin in our station wagon, in the dark and chilly evening air, feeling very much like a real family on a real vacation of old. This place was founded in 1926, and now has 60+ cabins that they will rent out individually. It's very quaint, 50's Americana, an image furthered by a tiny general store and black and white photographs on the cabin walls of people playing in the river, the women in ultra-modest swimwear and the men in hilariously tight shorts. Jason immediately set to making a fire while I put away our food and other things. Zoralee ran around the new digs with wonder and glee.

first night: Z laid with us on the couch and fell fast asleep with no rocking,
no singing, no stories, just conversation - a peaceful rarity

view of the Frio River from our cabin
in lieu of real fishing

 down at the river

a Papa rock, Mama rock, Zoralee rock, and baby in Mama's belly rock
wet hands

washing Mama's hair

getting into place for a timed shot

One recurring conversation topic between Jason and I is household simplicity, with occasional emphasis on the dishes. At the cabin, there was a small shelf above the sink with four cups, four plates, and four bowls. Additionally, four coffee mugs hung from tiny hooks that clung to the shelf bottom. Well, Jason thought that set-up was the cat's meow. He said he could really get excited about doing dishes more often with a situation like that. I asked what we'd do about company, or any time we needed more than four things. He said, "We'd do like old people do: have a china cabinet filled with china." So, I don't know if that counts as simplicity; it's certainly rearrangement. But I can see the appeal.

Jason reinforcing the concepts of "on top" vs. "underneath" vs. "beside"
after she took forever to fetch a paper from underneath the table

During the two main days, we went to Garner State park and Lost Maples Park, each within 45 miles of us, to hike and explore. Whew - it was good to get the cobwebs out of the lungs, even as on the first ascent, I thought, "Now, why do we like doing this?" But as we climbed, I soon shaped up in the brain. We are as wilderness-deprived as can be in the border town where we live, so to see a clean river and bright stars, deer walking about the woods, and the geographical wonder known as a hill, was unbelievable. I could've burst into tears over the fresh air, open space, and safety, if only I'd dared to waste any time with closed eyes.

Are you aware that there are girl juniper berry trees and boy juniper berry trees?
The girls have berries on them; the boys don't. True story.

identifying deer tracks


a sweet cave

Caves inspire story-telling.

Zoralee's leaf "umbrella"
She kept an eye on us and chastised us if we let down our umbrellas.

binocular baby

Before we had kids, Jason was set on referring to bodily functions and anatomy by their correct names. None of this "wee-wee" stuff for our kids. No Sir-ey; we were going with the full truth right from the start. From the time Zoralee first noticed that Papa had boy parts and Mama had girl parts, she has called the main boy part a penis. No prob. However, now she asks questions (loudly) and refers to penises in public, which has old Jason re-thinking things. I'm not really bothered by it, because yeah, they are called penises! But Jason is afraid someone will turn us in for exposing our child to lewdness or abuse. I tell him that anyone who has kids or has been around them will understand. Besides, that's about the only term we don't have a nickname for. Otherwise, we go with girl bottom, bum, boobies, potty, tinkle and poopers. By now, Jason has tried to turn the tide and refer to a penis as an It's-A-Boy. Like, "Yes, that gorilla has an It's-A-Boy." That strategy isn't really taking.

Okay, so that was my lead-in to the two public discussions about human anatomy and physiology we had on this trip. 
  1. Zoralee and I were looking at pictures in a state park headquarters trailer, waiting for Jason to use the restroom. "Where's Papa?" she asked. I told her he was going potty. "Does Papa have a penis?" she inquired for the 1,000th time in her life. I assured her that he did. I didn't bother looking over at the ranger, only 10 feet away. I figured she knew about penises already, and if not, she would surely get our attention if she wished to thank us for the information.
  2. At dinner one night in the cowboy restaurant pictured below, there was a family across the room, the father of which at one point was gone from the table. Zoralee asked, "Did that Papa go potty?" I told her yes. "Did he go poopers?" she wondered. I said maybe. And the next logical step, "Did he wipe himself?" I ventured a wild guess that, yes, he had. That particular family wasn't within earshot, so their appetite wasn't ruined, but I can't say the same for the couple next to us. They definitely heard the conversation, but we were laughing too hard to pay them any mind. Jason's face was suddenly extra sunburned.   

First rule of success: keep your standards attainable.

As much joy as we were beholding, something had to be done to keep our family grounded, so midway through, I volunteered to have a pregnancy-related bout of insecurity and emotional non-fortitude. Other than that, we couldn't have written a more pleasant script.

We ended our trip with a night and restful morning in San Antonio.


Christi said...

You guys needed this so badly!! We are wishy washy about using some tax money to take a trip during Spring Break and this post definitely made me swing to a certain side.

Rena said...

What a great weekend! I loved the pictures and the stories, and I wish, wish, wish that I could have been at the Cowboy Cafe to hear that conversation. My eyes are still watering from laughing at it. The downside is that posts like this make me miss you guys SO much. Hurry home ♥

Rena said...

One question. Hasn't she learned about "the fellows" yet?

Rachel Clear said...

Lori, this was seriously the greatest post I've read and looked at in a long time. I loved it. I felt like I was there, experiencing this really rich, beautiful family time. What a treat

There are so many hilarious things I want to comment on, but I can't remember what all of them are, so I'll just go from memory.

First, you'd thing those juniper trees would be the opposite, with the boys having the balls. Just sayin'.

Secondly, Zoralee's conversations about penises are the BEST! We call Bennett's penis a penis, but I still can't decide how we'll go with the female anatomy. Most of the choices just sound so crude, but the word penis is harmless, cute even. Anyways.

These photos were wonderful. They reminded me of all of your Alaska posts from before that had so many great nature shots. Seeing you guys outdoors in the wild just suits you so much. I hope you can find spots like this in North Dakota, so you get more moments like this more frequently.

I love you, sis. This was a great post. It did my heart good to read it and look at all of your beautiful photos.

tamie said...

So when I started reading this post, I was thinking about how nice, grounded, normal people like you guys manage to have vacations without things going katywompus like they so often do for me when I'm doing the kind of thing (such as vacationing) that makes me feel extra-pressured not to go katywompus. Then I got to that last bit at the very end about non-fortitude and I just about cried with relief. There is nothing quite as reassuring as hearing that someone you really like and really respect manages to have moments of non-fortitude too, even when everything is so "right" and "perfect" as it looked on your vacation. It's so interesting that I try to hide my own weaknesses, and yet it's so encouraging when others show their own tendernesses.

tamie said...

Also: wonderful photos. Also: wonderful text. Also: you have a heck of a lot of fortitude, however much you may or may not feel it. And PS: lately I've been thinking maybe you're a 4, not a 9. Who knows?!

Shana said...

Now these photos, my friend...are the photos I like to see of you and your fam. Outdoorsy ones because I know how much you love that. And, how cool is that cabin. Totally awesome!

I am so very very relieved that you are teaching Miss Zoralee proper hygiene after poopers and so were the others in that restaurant as well! I can't wait to see her comments if this babe really is a boy!!!

So, did you decide? Are you going to a simplistic kitchen?

And, I thought of you in the grocery store yesterday. How you always have baby, mama and daddy size things. There was a small, medium and large size dorothy lynch salad dressing and I couldn't decide which to get and I thought, "you know, if I were Lori...I'd probably just take a photo of this!"

melissa said...

Like Shana, I see you all over the place when I see mama, papa, and baby sized things together!!! This post was amazing. I didn't realize your family time was so squeezed these days =(
Great photos! Great stories! I love the meltdown~it's universal, and you description of it was exactly perfect, not too descriptive and not too vague, JUST enough for all of us to go AHA! Been there. And laugh.

And the stories with the penis references and potty references? Oh, I've been there a million and one times. Some favorites;

Matthew, in a public bathroom inside the stall with me:
"Mommy, you hab riddy, riddy, riddy, riddy, riddy big bum!"
Thanks kiddo.

"Mommy, you hab GINA!" And points at my crotch. He did this a lot for a period of time. In public.

"Mommy, you go poop on top my pee! Mommy, you need toilet paper your poop? I get toilet paper, mommy go poop."
I have this 'thing' about pooping in public toilets, I HATE it and try really hard to be discreet. Pretty tough with that moment by moment commentary going on.

Ayden, on a crowded public beach:

Matthew, sitting in a restaurant;
"Mommydaddy why is my penis getting bigger right now?"
Fortunately his speech was still so garbled no one else probably knew what he asked, but still!

Now this one is my fave, and it's not even my kid:
I was walking in Walmart the other day and this kid and his dad were walking behind me. I kept trying to lose them because I had some gas building up but they kept following me until some snuck out. On my high protein diet my farts could kill an elephant. The kid says to his dad,

Elaine said...

I am glad you guys got some good family time in. Many days I wish my hubby could be self-employed with a family run business. :) I liked your conversation about simplicity. Every week I tell BJ and the boys, "as soon as we buy our next home, we are getting a good "cup" system going!" You wouldn't belive how many cups my Jesse uses in a day. yikes!