Outdoor Life Summer Travel

Summer holidays: Quality family time

July 3, 2009
Oliver in creek bed looking at a flower

Cities, countryside, family, friends and needed relaxation

With school holidays underway our family’s annual summer travel ritual has begun. Traditionally our summer days pass in a whirl of activities, dividing time between visits to family and friends in the US and exploring new corners of the Czech countryside as my husband Radek and I hope to pass on a few of the best summertime traditions from our childhoods to our kids, as well as create new traditions for our own family.

This year in the days leading up to summer, I spent my first week in the Jizerské hory with five other Czech mothers and their children. We stayed in a mountain top hotel and despite the torrential rain and thunderstorms, managed to spend several hours each day walking through the woods, playing at the creek, picking wildflowers and relaxing. Watching my children Anna Lee and Oliver interact with a new set of Czech friends gave me increased respect for the ways that children are able to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps that would put many adults in a tailspin.

Without the responsibilities of domestic chores and the distractions of daily life, the other mothers and I fully soaked up our escape into nature. We watched as the children made elaborate forts and bridges with sticks, pinecones, rocks and leaves. Together we examined an ant farm, where thousands of ants crisscrossed the path in front of us. Anna learned to blow a blade of grass like a whistle and Oliver took his first full-body tumble into a creek, emerging cold but otherwise unscathed.

During our US visit this year, we’ll try to focus more on cultural heritage points of interest. Since both Anna and Oliver have developed enough of an attention span to sit through theatre performances, my mother and I are taking the children to regional performances of “The Wizard of Oz”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and “Adventures of Frog and Toad”.

We’d also like to balance cultural activities with time spent outdoors. On past trips my father’s garden has been a huge hit. This year the children have helped pick fresh produce for a family dinner. They’ve also had the chance to ride bicycles and tricycles with the neighborhood children, squirt water guns and learn to slip-in-slide.

Last weekend, Radek and I spent two days hiking in the same area we visited for our honeymoon. Despite the sore leg muscles, we were thrilled to have a chance to be outdoors for two days together without the children. Much to Radek’s excitement, we even found scores of gorgeous, edible mushrooms in the forests we hiked through. Although we respected the state park’s signs that asked visitors not to remove any plant or animal from the park, snapping pictures instead.

This coming week we’re taking Anna and Oliver on a mini-road trip up the East coast, stopping in the nation’s capitol of Washington DC and then heading north to visit another Czech-American couple that recently moved from Prague to the US.

In lieu of a column during the month of July, I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with my family both in the US and back in the Czech Republic. I’d like to wish a wonderful summer to the bilingual and multi-cultural families in the Czech Republic and beyond, as well as to Half-n-half’s regular readers and supporters. I appreciate the feedback you’ve given me over the months, and I look forward to hearing more of your individual stories after the summer holidays.

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