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Family Getaway

This year, with the kids a little bit older, we had a family meeting to discuss where to go. After some debate and discussion, we decided as a family to go to the ocean. After making said decision, the husband and children then went about their lives, their jobs apparently complete.

As most people know, the continental United States is surrounded on three sides by various oceans. Time of year also had to be considered, as well as hurricane and/or breeding horseshoe crab seasons. Amount of travel time was factored in, including whether to travel by plane, train or automobile. Airline and train prices were examined and compared, specials investigated and routes experimented with. Amount of allotted vacation time was also considered, as well as the children's various sports camps and activities.

After many late nights and hours on various vacation Web sites, I found an area that was met with roars of approval, and I therefore began looking for accommodations. I went on the Internet and started searching for places that seemed to encompass the various familial criteria, having made the monumental mistake of seeking their input.

For example, our beach needed to be within one day's drive because we didn't want to spend the whole time traveling. It had to have good shells, and the cottage needed to be decent; no shacks, and no bugs, particularly spiders. The cottage needed to fall within a certain price range, and it needed to be right on the beach–but not so close that we'd get knocked out by a rogue wave or that the kids could wander into the ocean in a sleepwalking state. It needed to be near a town so we would have activities and restaurants and stuff to do on rainy days. But if we could find a place where it didn't rain, they all agreed, that would be perfect.

After many more late nights and long hours on the computer, I narrowed our choices to three places, and put them before the group. They unanimously chose a cottage and I thought, "Excellent! Get my Staples button, because that was easy!" The husband and children then disbanded and went about their lives, their job, again, complete. I booked the cottage.

As vacation time neared, preparations began. I bought window shades for the car so the kids' handheld games would be viewable, and a splitter and headphones for the DVD player in the car so they could watch their movies without the husband and I having to listen. I bought little neck pillows for their little necks. I returned our books–early!–to the library, went to the post office to stop the mail, and to the grocery store to get snacks for the ride.

I made arrangements for care of the cat and the watering of the landscaping, including having spare keys made and disbursed. I used MapQuest to get directions for the trip there and back, researching major construction areas and anticipated delays. I gathered all necessary chargers for cell phones, cameras, Nintendos and DVD players. I also took votes and collected movies for the trip.

The next step involved beach basics: sunscreen, hats, towels, umbrella, coolers, chairs. Then the sweat shirts for the kids and me, as well as extra pillows, stuffed animals and special blankets. Next came boogie boards, swim fins, inflatable rings, shovels, pails and swim shoes. Along with the swim shoes went flip-flops, sandals and sneakers.

The rest of the packing followed several loads of laundry, ensuring that each traveler had every available outfit at his or her disposal. This portion included, for the boy, the girl and the mother, the following: bathing suits, underwear, socks, pajamas (including a variety of both nightgowns and boxer/top combos), shirts, shorts, skorts, sundresses, and Yankees T-shirts (all of them). This was followed by what I like to call "The Bathroom Bag," which includes everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to Band-Aids to Children's Tylenol and Benadryl.

The morning of our departure finally arrived. I got both kids up at 6 a.m. and went about getting their breakfasts, making coffee, filling the cooler and feeding the cat. I was organizing and assembling maps, directions, sightseeing brochures and pamphlets into neat piles when my husband came downstairs, freshly showered and shaved, carrying his one duffel bag.

"Hey," he said, "I'm all packed. What's going on here? Aren't you guys ready?"

I studied the pile of travel books in front of me, my eyes coming to rest on the AAA travel guide. I had perused it often in the previous weeks searching for just the right places to eat and things to do. It was my travel bible. I gently removed it from the stack and hurled it at my husband. His surprised and indignant look as he sidestepped the projectile told me he understood my point, and I couldn't help thinking, "Wow! This is incredible! It's just like they said about vacations: I really do feel better!"

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at msimone@twcny.rr.com.

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