I realize it’s been awhile, and honestly I keep waiting to catch up on life before launching into something new, but let’s face it -that ship sailed a few years ago. I honestly don’t know that I will ever be fully caught up. But that’s ok. I think.

Let’s just jump in, shall we?

We just returned from a little jaunt across the pond (we won’t talk about what number of trips this has been for me last year, m’kay? Apparently some people have issues with me traveling so much).

We have been planning to spend Christmas together in England for the past nine years -but something has always come up. This year we decided to make it happen. We also decided to add a little side trip in, because why not? The location? Bruges.

But it wasn’t quite that simple, because really, nothing ever is. I mean it sounds like a fairy-tale, because Bruges is a fairy-tale kind of town…but let’s be real, this is our family we are talking about -nothing is ever simple with us!

See, the ‘plan’ was for mom and dad to leave a few weeks before us and take a trip around Europe together. Which sounds fine and lovely -but meant that there were literally, ALL THE DETAILS to sort out. I’ll spare you the details, but basically things went from a month long jaunt across the country with no plans what so ever, to a two week journey to Italy and Switzerland with a bit more stability (read: a place to stay at night instead of camping on the street corner *coughdadcough*). The plan was for mom and dad to travel a bit, then to meet up with the rest of the family in Bruges.

Everything was going swimmingly until a few days before they left for their trip and dad came down with a ‘mysterious rash’. It wasn’t until a few days later that I absentmindedly sent Amanda an email about dad possibly having shingles…which is when it hit us: dad had shingles. Insert: Panic mode.

Apparently, our family never takes the simple route.

What ensued was a few hours of panic: would we have to cancel the trip? Why hadn’t we bought travel insurance? Could we re-book? Was he infectious? What would we have for lunch? The questions were endless.

We had a few main issues:

1. Dad isn’t one to go to the doctor. In fact, I can count on one hand the times he has actually gone -and all of them have been for emergency situations, not for, what he was still referring to as “A weird rash or allergic reaction.”

2. It was nap time at work for me (no I don’t nap at work, I watch napping kids!), which meant I couldn’t call and arrange doctor appointments and convince dad to go unless I wanted to risk waking sleeping toddlers, which, no.

3. Amanda was in England, 9 hours ahead of us -but the only one available to make the connections between dad and the doctor.

4. Mom and dad’s flight left for Europe the next morning.

Amanda and I frantically emailed back and forth trying to convince each other that it would somehow work out while simultaneously trying to make connections. Mom managed to make a last minute doctors appointment and convince dad to go -which in and of itself was a bit of a victory. The doctor diagnosed him with shingles, wrote him a prescription and amazingly, cleared him to travel.

…and then they were off.

They spent two weeks in Italy and Switzerland, having what dad calls “The trip of a lifetime.”

While they gallivanted around, I was en route to England…where the plaque (or stomach flu) had apparently hit hard.

The plan had been that I would fly in, spend the night and then we would journey out to Bruges from England on a 6 hour bus ride. However, in the night -David got taken down, and while he really wanted to travel -he had no intention of riding in a bus for 6 hours when he could barely stand (wise man that he is).

Instead, Amanda and I braved the journey there alone -with two kids. Or, who am I kidding -she braved the journey -I rode along and watched.

We spent the next day and 1/2 touring by ourselves with no supervision (read: no one to tell us no). The next morning, since David was feeling better -he booked a flight to come join us. Mom and dad managed to find us -and we all manged to spend a day and 1/2 together in the magical fairy land of Bruges.

Every time that we have gone to Bruges we have debated about doing two things: Taking a horse carriage ride, and climbing the Belfry. This time, since we had no supervision -we decided to do both! First up, a horse carriage ride!

The next day, after everyone had arrived -Amanda and I climbed the Bell Tower while everyone else went on a horse carriage ride. Hauling the entire fam up the 366 (narrow and winding) stairs didn’t sound like fun. We made it to the top just as the clock struck 2. While it was amazing to hear those bells -I was glad we hadn’t timed it to be there at say, 12!

The views from the top:

Amanda I joked that she found a fella at the top and took a picture with him. We had a few people fooled for a few minutes (it was really just me and the wind was really crazy!!)

Then of course we had to reward ourselves with a round of waffles!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to hike Deer Mountain -an iconic mountain in Ketchikan. But for whatever reason, it has never happened. No one was brave enough to accompany me up there and I really didn’t want to hike it alone.

It went from something that would be neat to do -to something that would most likely never happen. You know how after something is so far out of reach -it tends to grow and become a bigger deal than it really is? Yea. That was me.

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A few months ago, mom went off the UK as she does periodically.

It isn’t until she leaves that I really start to take notice of all the things she does around here, things that often go unnoticed and taken for granted. Things like:

• The towels always being folded and placed nicely in their drawers…as opposed to rumpled and stuffed in.
• The toilet paper roll always being replaced and hardly ever being empty…as opposed to 3 or 4 empty rolls sitting by.
• The printer always having paper…as opposed to running out and wondering where the paper is.
• The paper towels always being fully stocked…as opposed to, you guessed it, it being empty and me standing by clueless as to what to do next.

So up until this point, apparently mom has had the duties of paper stocking all to herself…

But today, I realized something important that she does that I never really noticed before.

Making coffee.

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So far this trip I have been called A: “Jet-setter” and B: “Crazy.”

Personally, I would go with option B. Although A does have a nice ring to it. Let me explain.

When I returned from England a few weeks ago, I came with a stack of invitations to various events. Weddings, birthdays and the such. I had big plans to make them all happen, but then reality stepped in and I realized as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make it all happen. I had to decide between a few of them. I hate deciding and put it off until the last minute, which basically meant that by the time I had decided to attend THIS event, that between work and money and other commitments, I could only be gone for the weekend.

Which is how I found myself in England for the weekend, flying for nearly 18 hours with approx 2 hours of sleep.

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Anyone who knows me will know that I have a long-standing love/hate relationship with hugging. I’ve written about it before, but me and hugs –we just do not get along. As I’ve gotten older and realized that hugging is just a fact of life that I will have to accept, I’ve done my best to overcome whatever issues I have with them.

I’ve come to accept that some people like to be hugged -and like it or not -they will hug you too. The only thing I can do is make it as less awkward as possible and since I am all about eliminating those awkward behaviors -I have given it my best shot. I now will hug someone without turning completely weird. It’s taken some time, but I have gotten there. I now will hug my friends, a random person in church, and as a recent event proved -I will even hug complete strangers.

Let me explain.

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