Zoos, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens, and Natural Museums allow children to see God's Creation up close, to learn more about all of His amazing creation.
Children love to see things up close, especially animals!
Our family has always enjoyed zoos and aquariums the most! There's something about see seals and monkeys play that always delights me! And I'm a grown-up!
The sad thing is that so many of those zoos, aquariums, gardens, and museums teach evolution and don't believe that God sent a worldwide flood in the time of Noah. It should not surprise us that people who don't know the Lord don't want to glorify the Creator of all things.
"Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.' 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly" (II Peter 3:2-7 ESV).
Just because the world is misguided, doesn't stop us from teaching truth to our little ones. I love to show my children the truths about our Creator in the Bible. When I see a gorgeous sunset or an adorable animal, I remind whoever is around that we serve an amazing Creator! I want my children to look around in wonder at the world and all it contains; then, pause and praise God!
So, how can we visit these fun places and teach our children the truth?
I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
I remember those days. Our little ones were two and four. We had close family friends with children approximately the same age.
What fun memories we have of going on adventures together with both families (a total of nine children).
We set ourselves up for success because we wanted field trips to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Here are some of the things we did.
We often went as families to more involved field trips like Sea World because then there were more hands to help with the little ones.
We brought big strollers with lots of storage room. Often the children would walk and the strollers were simply backpacks on wheels.
We made a flexible plan before we went. For example, if we were going to Sea World, we sat down with the map the day before and made a plan of where we would go and what we would do. Of course, plans shouldn't be set in cement. Often they changed, but having an itinerary took away the "where should we go next?" discussions that waste time and make toddlers and preschoolers cranky.
We made sure to do at least one or two things the little ones would love early in the day so they could enjoy those things when they were at their best.
We got an early start. Little children do best in the hours before lunch so we made the most of them. Packing the car the night before helped a lot. We would load up everything but the cooler, making sure the diaper bag was full of diapers, wipes (which double as napkins), and suntan lotion (hey! we live in Florida).
I love take-offs. The excitement of acceleration and lifting above the clouds.
Whether it's a trip to Texas, Philadelphia, California, or Minnesota, every vacation is an exciting adventure. Each place has its own history. And, of course, delicious food.
It is so exciting to visit other countries, hear other languages, explore other cultures. What fun to get out the passport and see the nations!
God has opened the door for me to visit Europe three times. I took my older three daughters to London in 2011, the whole family visited the Netherlands in 2012, and we traveled to Italy this year.
In London, we stayed in a hostel, planned our own itinerary, and went everywhere on the Tube (London's subway). In the Netherlands we rented an apartment in Den Hague (cheaper than Amsterdam), bought a train pass, and made day trips to castles, Harlem (to see Corrie ten Boom's museum), Amsterdam, and Belgium. Everything was close and we had a blast. Our last trip was to Italy and we tried something new: a guided tour. We flew into Venice and traveled throughout Italy on a tour bus, flying home from Rome. The tour was a wonderful way to see everything we could possibly imagine in Italy.
Pike's Peak is one tall mountain!
My daughter Julianna was taking a semester off work to attend Ellerslie, a Bible college out in Colorado. I decided to fly out with her a few days early so we could see a little of Colorado.
"Let's go to Pike's Peak!" she suggested.
"Hiking?" I asked, shuddering inside. People do hike up and down Pike's Peak, you know.
"No, not hiking," she laughed. "They have a little railroad."
Little railroad, as in tiny railroad, tiny tracks, and big tall mountain?
I was nervous, so I went online to research and discovered:
"What is that?"
"It's a shell. A little animal lives inside," my daughter started to explain to her younger brother.
We were vacationing on the beach. Life was slow and relaxing, but we were still learning.
You see, all of life is an adventure and learning is a fun part of that adventure.
We are always soaking up knowledge of some sort. It might be learning about flying or fighting from playing a video game. It might be learning about crime scenes from watching a murder mystery. We learn about animals from taking care of our pet. Sometimes we learn negative things, too. Why not be proactive learners, instead of passively soaking up information?
I am always curious. I love to imagine.