One of the many benefits of being a military Family is that we don’t take anything for granted, no matter what the size. Whether we are flying 4,000 miles to Alaska to visit Family or if we are driving three miles to the park, we soak up all the quality time that we can.

When looking back on all our experiences, I found it wasn’t the significant notorious places that held the fondest memories; it was the quality time that was spent.

While we were stationed in Italy, we were able to take our kids all-over Europe. We took them to Euro Disney in Paris. We walked every square inch of the park. Euro Disney was like American Disney “after dark” as it was smaller and all the characters seemed to be smoking cigarettes. Our kids didn’t let on if they noticed the difference.

The heat beared down on us. In between rides, we took refuge in the shade and ate frozen lemonade. All four of us were exhausted as we sat on the packed train to get back to our hotel.

On a smaller scale, we planned a camping trip last year. My husband caught the camping bug, was inspired to get a tent and immediately planned a trip.

We loaded up the kids, our two dogs, our gear and headed to the campsite. It had been a while since we had set up a tent, so our kids played with the dogs as my husband and I struggled with the tent.

We had both worked, so dusk was quickly approaching and taking with it all of our daylight. Finally, my Alaskan instincts kicked in, and I got the tent set up. We ate by the “campfire,” which was actually a small grill, as campfires were prohibited. We all climbed into the tent to get settled in for the night.

In the middle of the night, we had to admit defeat, as the North Carolina summers weren’t conducive to comfortable sleeping.

We went home feeling defeated, and like we let our kids down. The next morning we were pleasantly surprised when talking with our kids. They laughed about cooking smores over a grill instead of a fire and how much fun it was to stay up late in a tent altogether.

They laughed about our Rottweiler, Luna, and our Yorkipoo, Cocoa, both trying to hog the air mattresses. So now when we plan Family outings, we try to remember to stay in the present, rather than trying to orchestrate the big picture. Because while we are focused on that, we could miss the beauty that is right in front of us.