Thursday, July 30, 2015

Our Mediterranean Adventure: Your Own Adventures With Grandma & Papa

Dear Em,
So, I spent quite a few posts recapping mine & Daddy's fun (& long) European trip. You may be wondering what you were doing during that time. We love to travel, & we go on trips frequently- both with you & without you. I have always wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise. I figured it would be the best way to see as much of coastal Europe as I could in the shortest amount of time. I also knew it wasn't an ideal trip for you. Multiple days spent looking at old buildings & statues wouldn't be much fun for you.

Before we booked our trip, I checked with Grandma & Papa to see if they were available & willing to watch you. Lucky for us, they would be returning from a cruise of their own days before ours was scheduled to depart, & they were excited to spend the twelve days with you (we really are beyond blessed with the support we have from all your grandparents). I quickly booked our trip without doing a whole lot of research, excited that my dream vacation was becoming a reality & knowing you would have a blast with Grandma & Papa.

I then spent the next several months in a state of growing anxiety over the fact we were abandoning leaving you for 12 days.

First, I realized that communicating with the outside world from a cruise ship is complicated & crazy expensive. Then I factored in the time change (& the fact we would be traveling through different zones during our trip). Then I considered our jam-packed, excursion booked schedule. I also realized that our trip was right around the same time you would likely have end of the year activities planned at school- activities that we were probably going to miss. It was then I began to both panic & feel like I was the worst mother in the world for traveling so far away from you for so long.

How the heck were we going to talk to you while we were on our trip? Every trip we've ever gone on, we've skyped with you at least once each day. There's no way you could go 12 days without hearing from Daddy & I...& no freaking way I could go without my Emma's cute, little voice.

My first priority before we left for our trip was making sure we had a doable communication strategy. I purchased a call/text cruise plan & small European data plan from AT&T for a fraction of the cost of the Royal Carribean internet plan. We had enough talk minutes/texts/data that we could talk to you every other day, text throughout the day, & email each time we were in port. Since we wouldn't be able to skype, Daddy & I prerecorded videos for you to watch each day. I had outlined scripts, & we used props. In each video we recapped what our daily activities were, talked about what you had planned for your day (we had a rough school schedule), said our prayers, & told you how much we loved & missed you. I also had put 12 rubber bands on the door knob of your room at Grandma & Papa's house. Each day in our videos, I told you to take one rubber band off the door knob. This acted as a little countdown to when Daddy & I would return. It was tough not seeing your adorable face each day, but I was happy knowing you could see ours in your daily videos.

We also tried to involve you in our trip by gifting you European themed toys & books. On the first day of our trip, you came home to a big bag of gifts waiting for you after school. You opened the bag to find an Around the World Coloring Book (you colored in the countries as we made our way through our trip), a World Atlas (a way for you to learn about the places we traveled), & a World Puzzle. Then as we traveled throughout the 12 days, you opened up gifts with books that went along with our adventures (i.e. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the WorldAdventures of Bella & Harry, Madeline & the Cats of Rome, & Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina- because Fancy Nancy loves speaking in French).

Honestly, I could have planned none of those things (actually, I probably planned a little too much), & you would have been great. Grandma & Papa had so many fun activities planned for you. Your days were filled with amazing adventures. I expected you to sound a little weepy each night we called you, but your voice was full of excitement as you recapped all of the things you had done & seen. You had no problem listing your three favorite things for us at the end of each day. Daddy & I breathed a huge sigh of relief every time we talked to you. You were too busy having fun with Grandma & Papa to miss us too terribly, & we were so thankful for that. It was easier for us to enjoy ourselves knowing that you were having the best adventure of all.

We did miss your school music concert, & you were pretty bummed about it. Luckily Grandma saved the day by filling in for us. She promised you that she would send us pictures & video, & that made it OK for you. The pictures & video she emailed us put such a smile in our hearts. We watched them more than once during quiet moments of our trip.

All in all, the 12 days of separation seemed like it was surely harder for me than it was for you...& that's just as it should be. You had gotten to have an incredible vacation with Grandma & Papa, & we all couldn't be happier to be back home all together. Plus, you were really thrilled to receive the souvenirs (most of them your favorite...candy) I had collected for you as we traveled from country to country.

I came home expecting to have extinguished the travel bug. Instead, my eyes were opened to so many more places I want to travel. I think with all the talk of travel & all the European activities you were gifted, your eyes were opened too. We have talked about one day taking you to some of the places we visited or Paris or Ireland or a tropical island...but that can wait. For now, we're happy to be home. The only trips we have on the agenda are short & domestic...& will be spent as a family of three.

I love you so,

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