The Joy Of Vacationing With Kids

On a recent family vacation to the beautiful island Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I observed something, and it’s not the first time.  I see families from many cultures and from all over the world traveling on vacation with their children, including infants, but not as many black families traveling with their children.   Don’t get me wrong; I see them, but not as often.

Nope, I’m not judging anyone, I am only commenting on my observations, wondering why we don’t travel more with our children and am writing to encourage more to do so.

As a child, I was not privileged to family vacations.  My parents and other relatives went, but the kids stayed home.  For my parents, I believe the choice was mostly economic but also cultural in that kids don’t belong in grown folk affairs and vacations were considered grown folk affairs. They worked hard and earned the right to getaway to chill.

Remembering the longing to board an airplane and fly away with my parents greatly influenced my decision to travel with my children.

At age three, our 27-year-old daughter’s first flight was to San Diego, California.  Our 13-year-old has been flying since the age of five.

Traveling with children is a wonderful experience.  Watching their curious eyes light up in amazement and disbelief when they see an aged and dilapidated building that is a school in another country or the joy of meeting and playing with other children who do not speak the same language, but understands volleyball or a game of catch in the pool.

Taking them to different cities, states, and countries open their eyes to the world outside of their own.  We want our children to grow up and become adults who are open-minded and learn to appreciate and to respect what is different from their experience.

So much of the hatred in this world stems from ignorance, a lack of tolerance and understanding for others who look and sound different.

Over the past week, I watched my son go from clinging comfortably to my husband and me to shooting hoops, playing volleyball with kids from other countries and hanging out in the teen arcade. I love it!!
Playing catch with a kid from California.

Below he is enjoying a moon rocker ride with his dad.  Later he gets to drive it.  🙂


Quick family pic before heading to the pool.

Earlier in the week, we drank fresh coconut water directly from a coconut.  S0 after a morning horseback ride, my son decided to pluck his coconut from a tree.  My friend and I watched him diligently work at getting the coconut; refusing to ask for help, he was determined to get one.   He has always been independent and always wants to do things himself, so I knew he was not going to ask the guides for help.


Well…. It took him about 15 minutes to get his coconut!  Failure was not an option. The theme of all things is possible continues.  🙂

Our son has wanted to go horseback riding for awhile.  What better place to try it than on a beach in Punta Cana!

In the picture below, he is getting instructions on how to direct the horse.


A rare occasion where hubby is 100% relaxed… All it took was a trip to Punta Cana and a horseback ride on the beach!

Posing with a fellow loc wearing resort employee


Here he confidently serves the ball in a game of volleyball with fellow vacationers; most speak very little English, but they all are having fun and are enjoying the game.

Other fun activities that Tailor enjoyed including taking photos with exotic pets. I love these pictures!

tailor holding snakeTailor holding monkey2

Monkey on tailor headIguana on Tailor forearm


Posing for the camera at the end of ride…  🙂


After the ride, my son was ecstatic!


Driving the moon rocker (dune buggy) with his dad was one of the highlights of his trip.  I drove too, but in a separate vehicle.


After spending the day at the pool, we headed out for dinner.

Check him out below. Action shot jumping to catch a football.


Deep in thought. Love his locs!

Throughout the year, we are busy as heck.  School, football, basketball, track, tutoring, and more.  Like any family, we experience stress and work each other’s nerves.  Rushing from one activity to another, squeezing in doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, school projects, working overtime, birthdays, holidays, graduations and then some are enough to wear down the most upbeat and energized family.

Decompressing as a family is a perfect remedy.  Everyone can relax. Our vacations involve very little “scheduled” time.  We pretty much wing it and take it one day at a time.  We all needed this trip.  While taking a break from the moon rocker excursion, we rested at the shore of an empty beach.

beach

I took my son by the hand, walked him to the edge of the water where warm turquoise colored water splashed our bare feet.  I instructed him to clear his head, listen to the ocean, and to look out as far as he could see.

I explained that we are a blessed family and should give thanks for all that we have and for our amazing experiences.  I went on to tell him that some children and adults will never see the natural beauty we were witnessing, and he should savor the moment.  I also told him to use the vacation as motivation to continue to do his best in school and in all that he does.

“When you get tired and and feel like you can’t go on, think about our wonderful vacation and work harder so that you can continue to reap the benefits of hard work.”

I explained how the process works for me, and it is just another way to stay motivated.  I asked him if he understood what I was saying and he did.

We’re back home and feeling very relaxed.  In two weeks, I will be back to work, and he starts 8th grade.  Our entire family is already talking about next year’s trip.  We’ll print his favorite pictures from the trip in poster size and hang on his wall; they will serve as great reminders for all of us to continue to work hard throughout the year.  🙂

🙂


The Life Of A Football Mom

Attending a football camp in July for my son isn’t my idea of a vacation. Anyways, this four-day trip has me scrambling in the most odd and unusually way.

The challenge? Scratching my head because both of my fridges are jammed packed with food from two consecutive weekends of partying and fun with friends at “the resort.” Ha! Ha! My friend Michelle upgraded the title of our “backyard” to “The Resort.” No, our yard is nothing over the top, just a nice pool, pretty greenery, humming birds, lots of sun shine, and good old fashion fun with two-handful of incredibly awesome friends and family.

Both fridges are filled with fresh strawberries, cucumbers, blue berries, spinach, tomatoes, and more! Leftover potato salad, turkey burgers, collard greens, baked mac and cheese, ribs, and more crowd both refrigerators. Yikes!

I am old school and was raised on the conviction of “waste not, want not.” So the thought of throwing food in the garbage makes me cringe. Speaking of cringing, I had to toss a fairly decent amount of a home-made margarita cocktail, made with Grey Goose, down the drain!! NOT cool! But there was no room in either fridge.

I am taking some of the day-old leftovers to a friend’s house, but still some items won’t make it to the fridge or freezer. Sadly, some will end up in the trash.

This morning I realized that letting broccolini, tomatoes, and spinach go bad is just too disturbing to me; hence breakfast:

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Sauteed broccolini with garlic and a spinach and tomato egg omlet

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Smoothies are in order for an afternoon snack and tomorrow’s breakfast. I will wash the remaining fruit and pack it on ice in my cooler, hauled right up to hotel room, and shelved in the fridge.

From what I understand, my son’s camp will include long days filled with intense workouts. Fresh fruit will refuel and recharge his battery. This is our first official football camp and I am a little nervous– nervous for me and for my son.

While this is an overnight camp, my baby, who hates being called “baby,” will stay at the hotel with mom and dad. There is no way in hell that I am trusting my 10-year-old to some unknown counselor. From the stands, binoculars and all– like a hawk– I will be watching him to make sure that he stays hydrated in the heat and to monitor the bathroom situation. Call me paranoid, but I am not giving anyone the chance to hurt my child. I want to say more, but that’s another lengthy post.

Oh yeah, speaking of resorts, Alex is all checked into the All Star Pet Resort, where posh like miniature beds await the nervous and suspicious pooches. The Resort is located in an ideal rural setting that is beautifully landscaped. In addition to pet sitting, grooming services and additional outdoor and unleashed play time (for an extra fee) is available to “guests.” Now that Alex is set, mother won’t have to worry about caring for him. Although Alex is pretty well-behaved, he is still a puppy and, at times, likes to take off running.

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If you know me personally or follow this blog, then you know that I eat healthy and try to avoid junk food. My healthy snacks are already packed; which will make sure that continue I eat well and avoid wasteful spending on empty calories, non-nutritious food, loads of sugar, and only God knows what else.

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This posts must end now. Why? The pool is calling me. My reward for completing this long overdue post is a dip in the pool.

Talk to you again soon!


I was afraid but I did it anyway…

I can swim, but I don’t like deep waters.  To be more specific I don’t like being submerged in water where my feet can’t touch the bottom surface.  The fear is a mental block that I’m working through.

While vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, hubby was fixated on giving our son the opportunity to swim with Dolphins.  We asked him if he wanted to do so and without hesitation, he said, “Yeah!  I wanna swim with the Dolphins!”  I was excited that the two of them would swim together and I would get to take tons of pictures.

We visited the activity desk to schedule a date and time.  “How many?” the agent asked.  Simultaneous responses…  Me:  “2”  Hubby: “3”

“You have enough credits to include all three of you!”  Hubby says, “Okay great!”  I think, “Sh**!  Somehow I’m getting out of this.”

Fast forward three days later…  We’re still confirmed for three.

An inner voice in one ear says, “run!”  Another voice whispers, “don’t be a chicken___!  Go for it!” With great apprehension, I listen to the voice that tells me to go for it.

First we are suited with a life vest and wait.  I’m a little nervous at this point, but I’m sitting so my fingers tightly grip the bench.  I look around the waiting area hoping to connect with another set of nervous and fearful eyes.  I don’t find any. Maybe they’re faking it like me.

“Group 3!”  Oh my goodness, that’s us!  There are eight in our group. After we’re instructed to douse our hands with hand sanitizer, we’re escorted down to the next level. Thankfully I’m distracted by my son.  He is so excited that he doesn’t hear some of the instructions, so I repeat them to him.

We walk until we approach the dolphin tank.  Looks like an over-sized pool surrounded by concrete. We’re instructed to remove our footwear and place them in a box.  As we do this, we begin to receive instructions on the do’s and don’ts of interacting with the dolphins.

“Can everyone swim?” the instructor asks.  Umm…  “Should I tell her that I can swim, but am terribly afraid of deep waters?”  “No… I am wearing a life vest. I think!”  I’m so darn nervous I cannot think straight.  “Hun, this is a life vest, right?”  He looks at me oddly like I just spoke in French.

Our guide says, “You’ll be swimming into the center where the water is 15 feet.”  My thoughts are, “15 feet!!!!!  No!!!!  I don’t do deep waters!!”  I want to just scream, “get me the hell out of here!” but I don’t want to embarrass my family or make a spectacle of myself.  I tell myself, “don’t punk out girl, just listen and breathe!”

In a single line, we step down into a wading area. The water is about five feet deep. Our feet touch the ground, I am happy.  We’re all situated and are instructed to swim toward the middle and place ourselves shoulder to shoulder in a straight line.

I look to the right of me and my hubby and son are already out.  I step out and my heart is racing harder than I think it’s every done before.  Although I am wearing the vest and I can swim, I’m still fearful of drowning, but I try to remember the techniques to swim and slowly catch up to hubby and son.

When I turn around and see how far I am away from the platform, I quietly panic.  “Scream for help, they will get you out!”  “I don’t want to die this way!”  I know my eyes are probably bulging like they’re about to pop out.  I am so scared!

I look over and my son loves it and is full of excitement!  “Breathe girl breathe!  Come on!  You can do this!  Breathe!”  I calm myself down a bit by talking myself through it and by doing some serious breathing.

Our group placed our hands out face down and the dolphin swam slowly just beneath our palms so that we could feel his smooth and slippery skin.  Touching the dolphin also helped to calm me.  After a few more minutes we swam back to the wading area.

I’m thinking to myself, “okay great, we’re done, I’ m ready to get out.”  Lol!  Nope!  Not yet, a few more tricks!  “Is she kidding? I’m happy with what we just did.”

Six of the eight in our group were brave enough to take a ride on the dolphin’s belly.  I was one of the two who passed on that opportunity. My son was the first to volunteer.  I was amazed at how he swam out to the middle of the tank and eagerly waited as the dolphin swam out to him.  As instructed he grabbed on to the dolphin’s fins and enjoyed the wild and speedy ride to the waiting area. Hubby then took his turn riding the dolphin’s belly.

Our son riding the dolphin’s belly!

Hubby’s ride on the dolphin’s belly.

I did take part in two other cool tricks with my family. Since I didn’t do the belly swim, I was given the chance to do something else.

Our guide instructed me to swim away from the wading area again.  I swam out a little ways by myself.  I felt more at ease this time.

Out of nowhere, the dolphin swims around to my left side and kisses me on my cheek.

My first kiss by a dolphin!

I’m frozen!   “Turn and kiss him” she says.  My eyes glance left first and I can see him right there!  I slowly turn my face to the left and kiss him on the mouth as instructed.  Oh wow!  That was the coolest thing that I’ve ever done!  At that moment, I forgot that my feet didn’t touch the ground and finally relaxed.

Would I do it again?  Undoubtedly yes!!!

I am so glad that I pushed myself through my fear and anxiety and did not give up.  I think I was more afraid of the deep waters than I was of the dolphin.

So often in life, we give up when it matters most.  Running away from our fears instead of facing them head on and ultimately missing wonderful opportunities.

Swimming with the dolphin was a reminder of the rewards of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.  Kissing the dolphin on the mouth was something that I never imagined doing and, aside from watching my hubby and son ride the dolphin’s belly, the kiss but was the most thrilling part of my trip.

If you get the opportunity to swim with a dolphin, I highly recommend that you give it a try; surprisingly you might like it.