Tomorrow marks the beginning of our 30-day countdown. As has been true for the last few months, we are caught between trying to live in the moment and planning for the future.
Posts tagged ‘fun and games’
“For a better marriage, act like a single person,” wrote Stephanie Coontz in a recent pre-Valentine’s Day op-ed in the NY Times. She went on to cite several interesting studies measuring couples’ happiness, which seemed to point to a measurable – and positive – difference in the happiness levels of couples that maintained their pre-marriage hobbies compared to those who devoted themselves exclusively to family. Intuitively, this makes sense. We love our kids, but they can also be too much, and if we didn’t have outlets – yoga, poker, Ultimate Frisbee – we’d drive ourselves nuts.
After bidding adieu to the Garden Route with an oyster feast, we headed inland for a two-day stay in ostrich country. Oudtshoorn – the little town in the Karoo where we stayed – is quite literally known as the “ostrich capital of the world.” Not only is it home to the largest ostrich population anywhere on the planet, but it also hosts a number of specialized breeding farms, including a show farm that features ostrich safaris and ostrich racing.
The biggest downside to D’s most recent South Africa trip was that he was away for Munchkin’s fourth birthday. D made it back for the party, but could not accompany the little man to school to mark his special day with his classmates. The little man, meanwhile, has quietly grown up quite a bit – especially over the last several months.
S has visited the Netherlands several times: first on a full day layover on her way back from study abroad in Ghana; then again for a two-week research project for her college thesis; and finally with her parents for a week-long vacation when she was pregnant with Munchkin. Over the course of our six-and-a-half years in the Foreign Service, Amsterdam has become our transit hub of choice, especially considering the dearth of flight options into East Africa. Instead of simply flying through on her way to and from Tuscany, S decided to tack on a one-day layover in Amsterdam to see a close friend and explore a bit deeper one of her favorite European capitals.
Tuscany’s richly deserved fame as one of the world’s premier art, food, and wine destinations draws millions of visitors every year. While adults flock to Florence, for young travelers, one of the region’s highlights is hidden away in the tiny town of Collodi, roughly halfway between Florence and the Ligurian coast. Carlo Lorenzini, the Florentine writer who created Pinocchio, had family in Collodi and adopted the town’s name for his pseudonym. Modern-day Collodi is replete with all things Pinocchio, and its quirky amusement park dedicated to the famous long-nosed marionette is a must.
Old habits die hard, and the temptation to venture out from the cozy Tuscan farmhouse to explore the Italian countryside proved too great to resist. S and her family visited San Gimignano, Lucca, Siena, Pisa, and Florence, the hour-long car rides proving perfect for Junebug’s naps.
Coming home from the airport, the kids in their car seats and the trunk stuffed to capacity with bags and travel car seats, it would not be immediately clear to the casual observer which one of us had just returned from a two-week vacation. S, coming off an all-day flight alone with two kids, did not project the picture-perfect image of relaxation. D, meanwhile, looked liked he had gotten some sun and leisure during his family’s absence.