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The Moon, The Sun, Little Man, and The Land of Fire and Ice

Back in the initial stages of planning for this Spring Break, we made what we thought might be a risky decision. Despite a rather cold, damp, and LONG winter, we got together as a family and decided to forgo a week of recharging our batteries by basking under the sun and frolicking on a sandy beach somewhere, opting instead for an adventure in the Land of Fire and Ice. We had first attempted to plan a trip to Iceland to visit friends for the summer of 2013, but the sudden passing of my father-in-law that winter had turned our family upside-down in so many ways and we struggled a bit to right the familial ship and to even the keel. After that, each time we tried to work out a plan for a summer visit, the timing never seemed to square: there was a wedding here and a wedding there…and special camps and activities for the kids…and the years went by.

Having both read and been told that the “best” time to visit would be the summer when the weather would be more stable and mild, we had never considered any other season. However, summer is also the highest tourist season and, having grown up in a popular tourist destination, I am well aware of the advantages of exploring places off season. So…we bought tickets for Spring Break, booked an Airbnb, and began the countdown.

During the month leading up to our departure, I was happy to note that the weather in Iceland was turning out to be fairly consistently more pleasant and warmer than it was at our home in the Midwest. Of course, the temperatures were nowhere near the tropical highs in the more typical spring break destinations, but it was nice to see that we would not be any colder than we already were. We included some warm wool under-layers to keep the packing as light as possible, and off we went!

We have been back home for a few days now, and I can honestly say that the natural beauty of Iceland, together with the laid back hospitality of the people and the joy of reconnecting with old friends, made this one of the “warmest” vacations we have ever taken. Personally, my favorite aspect of the trip was watching my Moon, my Sun, and Little Man see a part of the world they had not yet experienced. As much as I like to explore new places and to see them with my own eyes…seeing them reflected in the eyes of my children gives me a different, fresher view…one unhampered by the weight of adult responsibilities and biases. Watching them reach across language and cultural differences to strike up friendships…seeing them kick around a soccer ball together with their new friends, roll down a grassy hill, or break out into a full on spontaneous snowball fight… all bathed my soul in a warmth that would be the envy of the brightest sunbeam.

From breathtaking waterfalls, to natural wonders, and the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis…I could feel the joy of fresh discovery with every gasp and giggle. I could sense their minds expanding and once again drinking in the realization that the world is so much more than any place we currently live…that their possibilities are endless and not confined to any certain way of doing things.

This turned out to be the perfect vacation…just what we needed, but please do not picture days of perfectly behaved little angels frolicking about. These are, after all, kids (my awesomely quirky and flawed little off-spring…in a far less than perfect world). It was also a week of helping them survive screaming toddlers on a red-eye flight, finding a rental car that seemed intent on evading capture, enduring sea-sickness on a whale-less whale cruise, praying for a neighbor to open the front door to our apartment building after watching one of the kids pull the door shut and realizing that the key was still inside. There were poking battles verging on fist fights in the car, “accidental” ice balls mixed into sibling snowball fights, groggy morning teenagers, and the continuous battle to get Little Man to say “IcelanDIC” instead of “IcelanTIC”…while trying not to say “it’s DIC not TIC!” too loudly… In other words, it was a family vacation…one that I will treasure.

Our seemingly “risky” decision ended up leading us to a wonderful, and real experience! We will be back, Iceland!

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