Friday, September 28, 2012


His broad shoulders are carrying a heavy load - both in the substantial backpack he wears, and in the burden he carries each day.  I can't help but watch him and wonder -- does he see the change that is happening almost overnight?  Does he feel the growth that I see each and every morning?

I like mornings now.

Well, maybe not mornings, but I really like the time I get to spend with him.  Just he and I.  We have already created several inside jokes, and we laugh about them while the rest of the world is still dreaming.  The house is quiet.  The others, asleep.

As we drive through dark streets to his six a.m. religion class, I try not to notice the puffiness around his eyes, or the weariness on his face.  The mama in me worries, wondering how in the world he'll ever sustain this pace of 13-hour days.  But then he smiles, lights up, and tells me all about his upcoming day.  He has taken the pressure, exhaustion, and work load and chosen instead to see them as a routine that he enjoys.  A challenge.  He drives himself to do better, to run faster, to study more.

I tear up, wondering just when exactly my little boy decided it was okay to cease being just that.  I turn from him and wipe the tears, not wanting him to see me mourn for what once was.  Truthfully?  I'm prouder than I could have ever imagined I'd feel at this moment.  And I wouldn't have him any other way.

But there is a part of me that will always miss his chubby hands and toothless grin.  His Lego days, superman capes, and endless rounds of Goodnight Moon.  Skinned boy knees, all curled up in my lap.  Soft arms around my neck, and whispered I love yous every night at his bedside.

He's grown up seemingly almost overnight.  Right before my eyes, and quite without my permission.  Nobody warned me that this would happen in high school.  Nobody said that he would rise to the task, take on responsibility and seriousness with the ease of slipping into a new shirt.  I expected it to be harder, more fraught with emotion, and requiring the inevitable pain that growth produces.

Instead, he's taken life by the horns, and done so with more grace and charm than his mother has known in a lifetime.

I'm so proud of you, Mack.

I can almost forgive you for destroying the drapes in that one old house.

Almost.  But not quite.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

And this concludes the longest vacation recap in history...











Well, over a month after it began, the recap is finally complete.

We rounded out our journey in Merry Old England (or Dingland, if you're in our family). When we were planning this trip last December, we had hopes to spend a few days in London. We searched high and low for a hotel room and couldn't find one to save our lives. Scratching our heads as to why all of London was booked solid, the Husband hit the nail on the head.

The Olympics.

Yep, we were hitting England smack dab in the middle of the Olympic Games. It made our decision easy. We would avoid London like the plague, and instead spend our time north in York.

Which was a treat because when the Husband was 14 years old, he moved there with his whole family while Opa got a master's degree at York University.

We were able to see the school he went to, walk to his favorite place for Fish & Chips, as well as see the house they all lived in. The current owners happened to be home, and were thrilled to give us a top-to-bottom tour. The house had been remodeled extensively, so it looked a lot better than when the family lived there 25 years ago.

Other highlights included:

* Touring the York Minster with Opa, who helped work to restore it after a fire in the 80s.

* Watching the Husband get roped into helping a street performer.  He threw real knives to this nut who was up on a unicycle, juggling blindfolded.  Luckily, no one lost any limbs, and none of my children have as yet started juggling knives blindfolded on a unicycle.  Bonus.

* Walking the ancient wall around the city of York.  Originally built in 71 AD.  You can imagine Chase's commentary.

*Shopping in the Shambles and wishing desperately I could move here.

* High tea at Betty's.  Why can't we get clotted cream here in the states?  Delish.

* Going to church in the old ward and being treated like rock stars because everyone still remembered the Husband, his family, and the impact they made while there.

* Rounding out a four-country whirlwind tour with the best tour guides anyone has ever known.

It was a fantastic trip with fantastic people, and I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to go.

And, if you're still reading after all these posts, and you're not one of the people who were on this trip, you deserve a medal.  Phew.

The End.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Deaf and Dump

Our next foray into the Never Ending European Vacation Recap takes us from Salzburg via train to Munich, Germany.

As soon as we sat down on the train, we were handed a card that looked like this:


Sadly, I wanted to correct her poor English grammar more than I wanted to buy a key ring at whatever price I might wish.

Poor thing.

But to sum up our time there, I would say Germany for us consisted of these three things:

Suit Buying.









Hannah, Oma, and I headed out early one morning to meet a bus tour that took us to Linderhof, Oberammergau, and Neuschwanstein.

All three were absolute perfection. We debated going, as it was a good two hour bus or train ride from where we were staying in Munich, but I'm so glad we went. It was fascinating. Beautiful. Breathtaking. (And a little bit hot.)  Even with the tour guide who reminded us over and over like pre-schoolers to "Not miss da bas," we had the best day ever.

The boys, meanwhile, spent their time touring the BMW factory. While the Husband withstood temptation to bring home a large, blue souvenir, he did assure me that "someday" he will. Apparently, the folks at the BMW make it a pretty sweet deal to buy your own car, pick it up at the factory, drive it all over Europe, and ship it home. I'm pretty much okay with that because it means I get another trip over here.

By which time, I hope not to be deaf or dump.

Most unexpected of our time in Germany was buying the Husband a suit. After our departure from home, an unplanned business meeting popped up that he had to get home for. It required him to leave us a day early, but left him no time to stop in St. Louis and pick up his clothes. Kudos to the fine folks at our German department store who got that puppy altered and ready in the nick of time.

(Literally. We were waiting with luggage in hand to take a train and board our flight to Manchester just as they were finishing up.)

Munich was a bustling, beautiful city and we were sorry to bid her adieu.

Stay tuned for one last post where I bring us full circle to Merry Ol' England.

It will end. I promise.