I hate you and your vacation photos

Twitter becomes very, very annoying this time of year. Everyone starts posting their look-where-I-am-don’t-you-wish-you-were-me-but-haha-you’re-not vacation photos.

This week I was blessed enough to be sending out those photos instead of just sitting there thinking, “I hate you and your vacation photos.” Feels good to be on this end of it.

Cody building a wall to keep the ocean away from his soon-to-be-built castle.

The funny thing about vacations is how absolutely exhausting they are. Last year we went to Galveston for four days. This year we stretched it to five but I don’t think we did anything extra. Instead, we added a nap every day, which was nice.

The six inches of glass doesn’t make this experience any less creepy.

Our favorite location was the aquarium at Moody Gardens. It’s very expensive, but worth every dollar to see. Last year we met a bright yellowish-green eel and named him, creatively enough, Eely. Eely became a bit of a legend in our house over the year and the kids (especially Conner) couldn’t wait to go find him again. After making it through the entire aquarium, Eely was nowhere to be found. Conner was dejected, and being the emotional kid he is, I knew this would probably ruin the better part of his day.

So we made one last pass, everyone spreading out to find this eel. Finally, everyone was ready to give up. I turned to walk back to the group and saw a tiny bit of yellow out of the corner of my eye. I looked again and saw about an inch of Eely’s nose sticking out from under a rock. “Go get everyone!” I told Colton.

Sure enough it was Eely, comfortably hidden under his rock. The day was saved and Conner was happy.

Conner shooting down Japanese war planes while we toured a battleship.

It’s funny how vacations with kids become more an exercise in recreating last year’s magic rather than seeing new things. Other than a little extra shopping I can’t think of one thing we new thing we did this year.

Colton, who insists he’s too old to order from the kids’ menu, doesn’t have any trouble coloring on one.

Oh wait, there was one new thing. The Rainforest Cafe. Now maybe it’s just me being old and cranky, the hour-and-a-half wait or the $100+ bill, but animatronic animals (and the occasional “rain storm”) are not enough to make a good meal for me. But, the kids enjoyed it.

And as an adult, that seems to be where most of the enjoyment comes from. The vacation wasn’t really about me having fun doing things I wanted to do. It was about creating an experience the kids would both enjoy and remember. This was brought to my attention during some of the kids’ brattier moments, when I was suddenly not having any fun.

I love this view.

My idea of fun? The view above. We stayed in an amazing 2,800-square-foot house. Not only was it nice to spread the family out beyond the confines of a hotel room, it was a beautiful and relaxing place. My favorite spot was in the brightly-lit living room, sitting on the right side of the couch, writing. I love to write fiction, but being that my job is to be creative all day, I don’t usually have much left in the tank to write. On vacation I could pretend I had no other creative obligations and just write. I ended up with a good outline and 8,000 words on a new story and was quite pleased with it. What I wouldn’t give to be able to stay at a place like this for a month and just write.

The view while riding the ferry at sunset.

My wallet is a little lighter than when we left, and I’m a lot more tired than when we left, but I hope my kids have something they’ll remember.

Now to try an adult vacation some time.

And I leave you with a photo of Conner riding a dolphin, because, well, it’s Conner riding a dolphin and that’s reason enough to be featured.

Thanks for taking the time to hate me and my vacation photos.

Camera geek note: I opted to leave all my gear at home this year and just use my iPhone. I was perfectly happy with that decision and never once regretted not having to lug around several pounds of metal, glass and plastic.


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