26 days, 25 plane-ridden hours, 8 boat rides, 3 long-distance drives, 9 hours of car games and mild motion sickness, 5 cities, 2 houses, 3 hotels, 2 strollers, 3 car seats, 6 boxes of band-aids, 3 bee stings, 2 epi-pen close calls, and 1 missing toenail later. But we are back and almost entirely in the same condition as when we left. (Who needs 10 toenails anyway?) My family and I have just returned from the most fabulous, beautiful, challenging and exhausting adventure we have taken to date. There were a lot of pretty incredible moments of learning and laughter and love. And there were a few not so incredible moments of tantrums, tears and screaming (and the kids got upset sometimes, too). Maybe it's my momnesia, or maybe its the neurodegenerative effects of sunscreen repeatedly wrestled back into my own facial orifices, but I would say that this trip was a resounding success and only whet our appetites for more travel – embarrassing publicly nude moments and all.
My goal on this trip was to find a little bit of time each day and blog a bit about our adventures. This daily check-in, I thought, would be a great way to save our family's memories for our own benefit in years to come and allow our family and friends to virtually travel along with us. When the vomiting happened 30 minutes into our first first flight, oh-so-much-vomiting, I remembered how naive that plan was, what a (lovable?) moron I could be, and that there would be no daily blogging. Honestly, even daily showering would probably be a challenge.
So here is the next best thing. In the spirit of #throwbackthursday, I'll begin the retrospective travel journal that never was. I'll tell you the stories behind the cute little Instagram moments I've shared along my journey (spoiler: many will involve blood) and I'll let you meet my band of merry misfits because let's be real – until you've traveled with someone you just don't know them at all.
The Cast of Characters
The Parents: My husband and I have always loved to travel and by most standards, we are pretty laidback people. (Ok, fine. He is a pretty laidback person. I am a heavy drinker. All roads lead to Rome, people.) But this laissez-fairer attitude coupled with my insanely good packing skills should make us great candidates for traveling with kids, right? Or will these travels teach us that it's all a crock and there is no such thing as laidback international travel with kids? We shall see…
My boys. The life of every party, the most voracious cuddlers in any crew, and, without a doubt, the LOUDEST people in the room. Upon returning from our trip, I immediately called our pediatrician and asked him to check again the results of their last hearing exams. He assured me they are in perfect health…and perfectly male. Apparently, volume modulation is in indirect proportion to the amount of penis one has. Trust me. It's science. How will their largeness of life stack up to the mounds of pasta we are about to inhale?
The new girl. By any standards, this peanut is a ray of sunshine. Yet as she transitions from baby to full-fledged toddler, baby girl is making it known she fits in just fine in this opinionated family and she takes a backseat to no one. She's a big hit with Italian nonnas and Asian tourists who randomly photograph her on the street; there's actually a good chance this one ends up in a Japanese meme.
As any other parent who hasn't slept in years can tell you, the memory is the first to go. It's biological preservation. Sometimes it's better the details are just a little foggy when you have kids. But in this case, I'm looking forward to reliving this journey upon our safe return. I'm proud of us for making it through and excited to share our stories over the posts to come. And…I need something to do when I'm hiding from my kids after this extended period of time spent in close proximity.
Away we go…