Since we are currently stationed 1100 miles from "home" for both us, our vacations usually consist of driving to Missouri and spending two or three (or six) weeks with my parents. I'm child number 5 of 6 in my family, and while I'm not particularly close to any of my older siblings, I'm super close with my baby sister (who is only 2 years younger than me) and my mom. My husband thinks we're fighting if I don't talk to my sister more than 2 days in a row, and we've been known to spend hours on the phone 2-3 different times in the same day. So being so far away is hard! We've been pretty lucky, and have been able to travel home at least once a year every year except one I believe. I don't think we went home at all in 2009, so my little sister came up here.
While my husband was deployed, my son and I were back and forth between here and Missouri quite a bit, though. It was a pretty rough time for a while. My basement started flooding about two weeks after he left, and continued to flood every day for a while. When it finally stopped, and I was working on cleaning it up, my cat got sick, and ended up passing 5 weeks after he left. So my wonderful mom and older sister came up shortly after that and helped me to make sure I had my basement cleaned up and ready to go, and then we went back to Missouri all together (which also made it much easier to deal with 2 dogs and a 4 year old at rest stops). I stayed for 6 weeks, and then came back up here at the beginning of September, only to spend less than a month at home, before getting a call that one of my uncles had passed away, and we were on the road again. That time we stayed until about a week before my husband came home, in November. We came home only to discover that the breaker that one of our freezers was plugged into had been tripped. So yeah, it was a pretty rough 6 months. I had my family to help me get through it, though, and I was so thankful that they took us in and helped deal with the stress of everything that was going on at once.
Elliott became even more attached to my parents and my little sister, though (she still lives at home). Don't get me wrong, he's always been pretty close to my little sister, in particular, and my mom as well. They talk on the phone, he includes them in his stories, etc. But after living with them for so long (11 weeks total while my husband was gone, and we were there 2 weeks with my husband less than a month before he left), it's hard to not see them very often now. We were able to spend 2 weeks with them in March during the time directly before and after our Disney trip, since my sister went with us, and my parents were kind enough to keep our dogs while we were in Florida. Still, with Elliott getting ready to start school next month, it made me sad to realize that it would be at least 14 months from the time he saw them last until he gets out of school, and could reasonably expect to see him again. He was used to seeing them frequently for the last year after all.
So I looked into what we had saved for our vacation for next summer and decided that we would be able to go to Missouri this summer. We had tossed that idea around before but weren't sure that the timeline was going to line up right, but with all the flooding here, several of our plans were cancelled or postponed. So we decided last week, to leave this week! Carl isn't going to be able to go with us, but Elliott and I will be going for 3-4 weeks. We'll be back 2 weeks before school starts.
Our "fun" budget is going to be pretty small, due to this being an unplanned trip, and trying to get out of debt, but there's so much to do that it shouldn't be a problem. I am planning on taking Elliott to a civil war battlefield, the George Washington Carver museum, and Precious Moments for sure (we actually went to the latter two last summer as well, and they are FREE) for sure. And possibly a second civil war battlefield and the Laura Ingalls Wilder house again. :) There's also a great children's program at the library down the street from my parents' house, and he'll be involved in church. I think it will be a great (frugal) vacation!