Baby, You’re a Ship – You Make Me Want to Wear My Evening Gown… and Cruuuuuuise

…aaaaaaaand we’re back.

After fifteen days, six countries, and three continents, we are finally back.

WOW is really all I can say.  I am simply blown away in retrospect.

What a trip we had!  It was amazing and truly once in a lifetime.  It was not a vacation by any means; it was much more of an experience.  We set an alarm almost every morning, were out the door and off of the ship to meet and explore (and get a little lost on more than one occasion), came back hot and sweaty and covered in filth, but our memories (and our cameras) are filled with some absolutely amazing things.

Yet, that was not the end of each day.  After we reboarded the Royal Princess, we then showered and dressed for dinner (Sheepdog is so mad that he missed that… I wore a dress and heels every single night, and I even wore gowns on the two formal nights).  Then, we started our nighttime adventures on the cruise ship.  We drank, we ate, we laughed, we cried, we drank some more.  My sisters, an aunt and an uncle sang on stage.  We gambled and played BINGO and asked if they had any swedish fish (sadly, no).  We shared stories and reconnected with old and new friends and family members.  We met new people and made new friends.  Then we drank some more.  Sister C, Kid A, and I (we were roommates) went to bed “early,” but many of the rest stayed out until all hours of the night watching (and participating in) shows and sing-a-longs and whatever else was happening aboard the incredible floating entertainment palace.

It was like being back in college... tiny twin beds (one came out of the ceiling ), no closet or drawer space, a very small shared bathroom, and lots of drinking.  And we loved every minute of it!

It was like being back in college… tiny twin beds (one came out of the ceiling), no closet or drawer space, a very small shared bathroom, and lots of drinking. And we loved every minute of it!

We made even more spectacular memories than I could have imagined.

I tried to jot down some of the things I was thinking and feeling throughout the trip.  It was hard, mostly because we were so busy and always running from one thing to the next, but I managed to keep a journal on my laptop.  Most of the entries are unfinished because I fell asleep in the middle of writing them.

My plan is to post everything, along with some pictures, over the next few days.

For now, I have to unpack and wash a mountain or two of laundry, catch up on two weeks of lost sleep, and should probably spend a little time in rehab.

My family did it like we always do things… absolutely over-the-top.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Family Trip vs. Vacation

This morning I woke up with Kid E’s foot in my face, dragged myself out of bed at this unholy hour, loaded and ran the dishwasher, threw a bunch of towels into the dryer, served C, D and E breakfast, cleaned up after them, and made a grocery list with plans to head out to the store this morning to get what we need.  Then I wondered out loud to no one in particular, “How is this any different?  I’m supposed to be on vacation too.”

Then I remembered that I am the mother to five kids and we are not gazillionaires, nor do we have live-in help, so even when we go away all of this crap still needs to be done by someone.  And then I started to daydream about going on a grown-up vacation versus a family trip and I got really, really excited.  I may have gotten more excited than was realistic because I actually was a gazillionaire in my daydream, but it is my dream, right?

The Family Truckster is loaded up for the family trip

On a family trip I have to grocery shop, do laundry and dishes, and make meals for an army.  On a vacation I do not set foot in a store (except to buy fabulous resort wear or fancy souvenirs for the kids), in a kitchen (except to nosh on hors d’oeuvres prepared by a buff, hot, local chef who prepares all of our meals for us), or a laundry room (no exceptions for this on vacation… since I’m super rich I’ll just buy more clothes if I run out of clean ones).

On a family trip I have to make and execute entertaining plans for each day.  On a vacation I can do what I want, when I want.  I don’t even have to tell anyone where I’m going.

On a family trip I wake up when someone else makes me.  Kids D and E are especially famous for rising with the sun and dragging me out of bed.  On a vacation I can sleep until noon, then take a nap fifteen minutes later if I should feel the need.

On a family trip I will often wake up in the morning with extra people in my bed.  On a vacation I will not wake up with anyone else but Sheepdog next to me.  The telemarketers may call me “Mrs. Swinger,” but that is really not my bag, baby.

Don’t get me wrong… I love a good family trip.  But it is a completely different experience from a vacation.  I love traveling with the kids, experiencing things with them and later being able to say, “remember that time…” and having all of us add our thoughts and memories to the story.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family vacations and I hope that is also true for my kids.

But there is nothing quite like a real vacation, with no kids and no work.  Just you and your spouse.  Sheepdog and I haven’t had a vacation together like that since Kid B was a baby and we went to the west coast of Costa Rica.  That was in 1999.  And I don’t want to jinx it, but we finally have another vacation planned – with each other and no kids and no work – in early 2012.  We have a countdown going.

That is not going to be a family trip.  It is going to be a vacation.  And there is a very big difference between the two.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…