August 17, 2011
Welcome to the Baskin Travel Blog. We are taking our family of 6 (all four children, but not Fenway the Bassett Hound) out of school for some family bonding travel. We will spend 8 weeks in Europe (starting today), return to Texas for a month of camp reunions and then leave for 11 weeks in Asia and 3 weeks in New Zealand.
Why are we traveling for 5+ months with 4 children?
Are we insane? Not necessarily, but we surely cannot be called bright.
Are we masochists? Not really, though running a summer camp and then taking a trip like this might lead one to wonder.
No, the reason is simpler than that: my sons are now taller than Susie Ma’am. Let me explain.
Increased height is not inherently disruptive. But this particular revelation really took Suise Ma’am and me by storm. They become taller and more mature so slowly that we generally do not notice while it is happening. As parents, we tend to think of our children as 2 years younger than they really are. [Note – one of the cruel ironies of parenting is that our children tend to think of themselves as two years OLDER than they actually are. As a result, parents see their 12 year-old as 10 while she thinks she is 14 – not a great recipe for domestic harmony!]
So we noticed one day that our twins (now 14 years old) are taller than Susie Ma’am and are closing in on me.
Please do not think that I am saying that we missed our children’s youth. We have been happy and enthusiastic participants in their growth.
Yet, the height change made us realize how transient our time with them is.
We also miss out on summers with our kiddos. We get the rare privilege to spend our summers with our campers. We get to watch them make friends, gain confidence and find joy. We find this deeply satisfying and exciting, but we still miss out on the trips to mountains or the beach that so many of our camp families enjoy. Or perhaps more than the trips, we miss a seasonal slower pace of life that most families experience during the summer. Our life feels a bit like a treadmill – school busyness is replaced by camp busyness, which is replaced by school busyness. Until our last goes off to college in 2019, we will not have a slow season.
You might wonder if a trip like this will create a sense of slower pace. That, my friend, is a good point.
These two thoughts (our kids growing up and the lack of summer vacations) led us to this crazy idea. We will take them out of school for a year and give them a different type of education. On this trip, we will journal daily, examine art, study history, appreciate nature and appreciate each other.
I am also hoping to share a daily blog for our camp families.
My goals with this blog are modest. I hope to make you smile. I plan to share the occasional insight about life traveling with 4 kiddos.
By the way, here are the names of our traveling troupe:
Susie Ma’am – the brilliant and happy mother
Wiley Sir and Liam Sir – twin 14 year-old boys that are about as similar as peanut butter and asphalt
Terrill Ma’am - 13 year-old daughter who is most notable for a great disposition
Virginia Ma’am – 10 year-old daughter who desperately wants to keep up with the ‘big kids’ and manages to do so most of the time.
Steve Sir - the greying father and camp owner.
I will frequently quote the Silver Fox (my mother) in my writings. She is woman who is imminently wise. Every bit of advice that she has shared with me has proven to be golden. She always told me that the single greatest calling of a life is preparing your children to be loving individuals that contribute to their community.
Yet we can all get distracted from this grand calling at times. We get distracted with the minutia of life. Perhaps the most important part of this trip is focusing on the family and our children. I want to be present for my children, not distracted or worried.
I hate when the concerns of the day distract me from time with my children. I want them (and Susie Ma’am) to know that they are my priorities. As we travel, I will have constant opportunities to do so. This trip is a chance to put my attention on my intention – valuing the family.
Oh, and having some fun in the meantime.
I hope you enjoy the blog!
One last note – we are struggling with mild pangs of guilt. Fenway (our 8 year-old basset hound) looked at us rather suspiciously as we left. Let’s be clear, she is not the brightest bulb on the tree, but she knows that something was up as we spent a day packing. She paced around nervously trying to figure out what we were doing. We petted her and played with her, but she knew something was up.
Yet she continued to look at us with those soulful eyes, as if to say “I love you all and I know you would never leave me”.
As we left, I felt a little like a traitor as we pulled away. At least she will have Paul Sir and Kirksey Sir living in the house so she will not feel entirely deserted!