We are back from Alaska. Vacation is over. We are now prepping. Prepping, prepping, prepping. An old saying attributed to Ignatius of Loyola is, "Work like everything depends on you and pray like everything depends on God." A trip like this is similar. To get the most out of it we need to prep and plan like we can control our trip and then when we are actually in the middle of it we will need to be as flexible and ready for adventure as if we'd done nothing and have no expectations. After spending most of today just trying to put one foot in front of the other to fight off stress-paralysis I'm not sure that revisiting these old plans and pictures is a good idea or a bad idea. On the one hand it's nice to see that we've actually made progress - on the other hand it reminds me of the immensity of this experience. Overwhelmed is my middle name. OK, time traveling back to December.
|We bought two umbrella strollers for the Cath and Glo for Christmas. It was a lot of reviews and research and we have been using these strollers for the last 7 months and they are fantastic!|
|Christmas Day Stroll.|
|The girls received the Madeline books for Christmas from Grandma.|
|Did you know that Madeline went to London? Who knew?!|
|James is never one to let an opportunity for a toast go to waste. To John's new book and to the year abroad! Cheers!|
|The ever-growing pile of research. I LOVED Take Your Kids to Europe and Europe Through the Back Door. The DK Family Guides to particular cities seem great. I'll let you know more in a few weeks if they are worth the $$$.|
We took a trip in March to an exhibit of St. Thomas More's relics that were on exhibition at the John Paul II institute in Washington DC. We saw this as a dry-run. It's not that far a drive for us and we remembered that the Tower of London doesn't let you see the cell that Thomas More was kept in. There's a little information about him on the tours of the Tower but not really enough for us. So the weekend before we went was watched A Man for All Seasons with the kids. They all watched it! They all enjoyed it. There was a fair amount of pausing and explaining but it still held their attention. That's just a parent to parent FYI. I was surprised that they had to good taste to see that this is a SUPERIOR movie.
As a dry run of what we hope to do for six weeks straight (road-tripping with stops at awesome sights) this was excellent. It was excellent because it was so real. So less-then-ideal. Don't get your hopes up - it wasn't a total disaster (that has it's own charm eventually) it was just annoying and mildly disappointing. Still glad we did it but really. It wasn't awesome. It's not Alaska, afterall.
As you can see from this picture. We immediately had to stop at The Wal because a half hour from home we realized that SOMEONE
wasn't wearing any shoes.
THANKFULLY, because of this unscheduled stop we were able to obtain the food with a local flair.
It was appreciated.
Not ten minutes further down the road a different SOMEONE had (haaaaaaad!!!!) to go to the bathroom.
And another one.
And another one.
And another one.
But we got down to our great country's great capitol. John worked here for a year between his Masters and Licentiate degrees. He was working there when we first started the conversations that led to us dating. I'd say that he was working there when we first fell in love but that sounds awkward. I don't really use those kind of words.
I couldn't take pictures in the exhibition. It was really, really cool. We got to see a nightcap that Margaret has embroidered for St. Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey's breviary, and some of More's clothes. I only know that because I snatched glimpses of plaques as I chased REALLY wild, REALLY
Maybe it was a result of that local Walmart food.
Still trying to eek out something meaningful for them out of the trip, we took them to our beautiful National Basilica that is just down the road. It seemed like a good idea to visit our own nation's National Basilica in our capitol before we go see everybody elses. Also, the year that John and I got engaged we used to attend mass in the mysterious and dark crypt regularly. I was so excited to show them. Surely, this would put them in a more meditative state. They will love the various shrines to to the Madonna from all over the world, surely.
In reality it was very difficult to find a way in with the strollers and then there was Mass so we couldn't spend any time there. Also, the cafeteria smelled really good but wasn't serving any food. So the kids were unable to think about anything except being hungry. OH WELL. That is real life. I'm glad that it went so mediocrelly. It brought my ideals and expectations down to a manageable level. Europe will not make magically well-behaved, engaged and pleasant children. Or parents.