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By the time you read this, I will be in Arizona spending a long weekend with my parents and my sister and her family. This is not my vacation, it's simply the wrap-up to what proved to be the kind of vacation I think I'm going to take every year from now on. 

Here's the back story... I get a bit frantic every spring as I try to find stuff for my kids to do in the summer. The younger one is really easy--find a few camps that have stuff to do with dinosaurs or science and throw in a few tennis and swimming lessons here and there, and we're golden. My older son was the challenge this year. He was signed up for an overnight camp for a week, but other than that, he had no interest in any other camps and planned to spend the summer hanging out with his buddies, skateboarding and playing his guitar. Hmm, that was clearly was not going to work for my sanity.

It used to be so easy. I'd sign the kids up for whatever camp and off they'd go. And now? There had to be a way to capture at least a little more time to myself. What to do? What to do? Turn on that thinking cap, Mollie. You can figure something (anything) out. 

A few mornings later, I came across a fascinating email that contained an incredible one day sale on flights to Arizona. Hmmm. My folks live in Arizona. My sister lives two blocks away from my folks. What if I could convince my family to take the boys for awhile? Surely they'd love to spend time with my darling kids. They didn't get to see them nearly enough! 

I set the plan into action and within two hours of getting the "yes, we'd love to have the them!", the boys had tickets to fly to Phoenix, and I had a ticket to fly out for a long weekend at the tail end of their trip. This was going to be awesome. Seven days of just my husband and me. Wow! We'd taken trips away from the boys, but never had we spent a week alone in our house. 

Two weeks ago, the kids were getting pumped about their trip, and my husband and I were equally excited about our "stay-cation," when my husband learned he needed to go on a business trip for five of our seven days. Poor thing. I really tried to sympathize, but in my mind I was eagerly making mental lists of everything I could do (or didn't have to do) for FIVE days BY MYSELF!

This is how my vacation went:

Day 1:  Twenty-five minutes after we took the boys to the airport, my husband and I conveniently found ourselves drinking margaritas and eating fish tacos at a great spot over in Midtown Crossing. We returned home around 5 and promptly took a two hour nap. After nap time, we headed to Benson for First Friday, a light dinner, drinks and some music. It was one of those nights that reminded me of our pre-kid days. 

Day 2:  I dumped my hubby at the airport and promptly called my best friend to confirm our noon lunch date. We headed out for a two and half hour lunch followed by some junking (hitting the thrift shops) and then found ourselves back at her place talking and laughing about everything under the sun. It was around 7:30, when I recognized the look in her husband's eyes that said, "I know you are on vacation from your family, but we've got three kids to take care of, will you please go home." Hey, that's cool, I had dogs who probably really, really needed to go out. So, I went home, ate leftover pizza from two nights ago, watched bad TV, and fell asleep on the couch. I could get used to this!

Day 3:  I woke up early (yes, some habits do die hard) and settled into my usual Sunday morning routine of too much coffee and the paper. I started thinking about what I should do for the rest of the day. Maybe I should clean. Maybe I should finish painting the fireplace that I started painting three weeks ago. Maybe I should finish ripping wallpaper down from our bathroom. Maybe I should mow. Oh choices! choices! I couldn't decide what of those options sounded the best, so instead I downloaded a book and started to read. Uh, oops, four hours later, my book was finished, and I hadn't accomplished anything. I spent the rest of the day putzing around the house and finally topped off my day with Chinese food from the grocery story, which I ate in the family room while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey. I was living large! 

Day 4:  I went to work in the morning, because, yes, there were still some responsibilities one had to attend to--especially that part where I informed my boss I would not be around for the next two days. After work, I headed to the cabin. For the rest of the day into the evening, I sat with my rear in a sand chair and feet in the lake while reading a stack of magazines. Kids? Husband? What are those? 

Day 5:  Took a jog around the lake followed by a very long bike ride. I forgot to mention that the previous evening had been topped off with a pint of Haagen-Dazs, so this was seriously necessary. Then, before I knew it, I resumed my position from the previous day on the beach and sat there for an entire trashy beach novel and a couple issues of O Magazine. This day was even better than days 1-4!

Day 6:  I spent the morning relaxing and then it suddenly hit me that my husband was going to be home that night. I needed to high-tail it back to town to do a few things around the house so that it didn't look I hadn't done anything all week. Ugh, obligations! 

Day 7:  It really felt like vacation was over. I had to work and before heading to the office, my husband and I spent an hour talking about his truck's bad transmission and whether we should fix it or replace the car all together. On the bright side, we did go out to dinner where we wanted and then spent as much time as we wanted afterwards hanging out and talking.   

Day 8:  Vacation is officially over and now the trip begins. I hopped the 6 a.m. flight to Phoenix and upon landing will drive another hour and a half north. I am very excited to not only see the boys and my family, but also the beauty of Northern Arizona. And, between you and me, having had a terrific vacation before the family obligations begin, will make it that much better!

Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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