Tomorrow is the last day of the Sims' summer vacation for 2011. It has been nice and long. And necessary.
Early in our marriage, we couldn't afford a vacation. Or so I thought. Then Captain Fun came to me and declared, "I bet we can go to the beach for $350."
"No way," I said. But if anyone can pull off a vacation for four for $350, it was Captain Fun. Even back then, he was a pro at having fun.
We stocked the ice chest with sandwich fixings and fried chicken, brought cereal and milk along for breakfast and filled the remainder of the meals in with cheap fast food--except for that one nice dinner out for fresh seafood, of course. We stayed at Motel 6 in Pensacola, Florida--a reasonable drive from Memphis (our home at the time). And, of course, gas was a lot cheaper than it is now.
That was seven (almost eight!) kids ago. And over the years, every time I think we can't afford a vacation, Captain Fun reminds me of that first time I uttered those words. And he still takes it as a challenge.
We have stayed everywhere from Motel 6 to the Marriot. I prefer the Marriot, of course, but have even resorted to KOA when necessary. I still pack sandwiches, we eat a lot of pizza (a cheap way to feed so many) and just today we drove through McDonald's and ordered from their $1 menu: 11 McDoubles, 2 McChickens, 11 small fries for less than $25. (We had our drinks in the ice chest.) It always freaks out the kid on the other end of the speaker when we show up, but they survive it.
Best of all, we're together--something that is getting harder and harder to do. Our first day at the ocean, in fact, I was counting (like all mothers do) and was delightfully surprised when I reached the number nine. All of my kids, I thought, right there in the ocean. Together. My heart filled with gratitude.
So get out the ice chest. Check out hotels.com. Or pull out the sleeping bags.
Whatever it takes, go on those family vacations before your kids are up and out.
Just tell them Captain Fun sent you.