A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I said to Coach: I HAVE AN IDEA FOR WHAT TO DO FOR CHRISTMAS.
Me: WHAT? I HAVEN'T EVEN TOLD YOU YET.
Coach: (visibly cringing) OK, GO AHEAD.
Me: SINCE ED IS STUDYING IN BUDAPEST NEXT SEMESTER, WHAT IF WE BUY PLANE TICKETS FOR CHRISTMAS? THEN I DON'T HAVE TO DO ANY REAL SHOPPING AND THE OVERFLOWING CLOSETS WON'T EXPLODE.
Coach: HMMM. (long pause - this is often how he converses, lag time. It's his communication style. Irritating at times, but not as irritating as a forgotten alarm *this is foreshadowing of tomorrow's post*). I KIND OF LIKE THAT IDEA. ONE OF MY PATIENTS TOLD ME THAT BUDAPEST IS REFERRED TO AS THE PARIS OF THE EAST. I'D KINDA LIKE TO GO.
Me: TANK WOULD HAVE TO GO SOLO DURING HIS SPRING BREAK, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T ALIGN WITH THE OTHER KIDS' BREAK. YOU AND I AND THE 3 YOUNGEST COULD GO OVER THEIR SPRING BREAK.WOULD LAD HAVE A BUDDY TO GO WITH HIM?
This was something of a miracle. Coach and I on the same page. We liked the idea of gifting the kids an experience vs stuff.
I have no photos to accompany this post, so please enjoy this 4 second video of the girls and I eating cold, very small helpings of Thanksgiving leftovers. I thought we'd be home in time for more dinner, this was to hold us over - silly me, we got home at 11 pm. Other competitions were finishing up in the background.
I'd already run the idea past Ed. I assured him that we'd visit but we wouldn't expect to spend every moment with him, he'd have classes. He seemed most pumped about having Tank, Mr. Good Time Charlie, visit. Shock.
Over Thanksgiving, Ed and I searched for flights. Ziggy, the guy who did our siding, is from Poland. He texted me suggesting a good site for finding international airfare: FEARYBOO. Huh? Thanks, autocorrect. The actual site was fareboom. Ed booked his flight after much back and forth and debating over times and layovers, etc.
Fun fact (a jog back in time): Ed was torn about whether or not to study abroad.
Ed: BUT I MISSED A BIG CHUNK OF MY COLLEGE DAYS ON CAMPUS. I DON'T KNOW IF I WANT TO LEAVE. MY 18 CLOSEST FRIENDS WILL BE HERE IN THE FRATERNITY.
Me: YEP, AND THOSE FRIENDS WILL BE HERE WHEN YOU GET BACK. YOU'VE BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. I SAY TRY SOMETHING NEW.
He worried that the program would limit student travel and he didn't want to go and not travel around. We assured him any traveling would be amazing. Just before he came home at Thanksgiving when he was still on the fence, he called me and moaned: LISTEN TO THIS EMAIL. He'd been given a $3,000 scholarship towards his study abroad plan.
Me: THE UNIVERSE IS SPEAKING TO YOU.
I took a step back, this is hard for me, and let him make his decision. A few weeks later, he decided to go for it. He also got more scholarship money for next semester, which is awesome.
ENTER CONUNDRUM CITY.
BECAUSE NOTHING IS EVER SIMPLE (not in chronological order, #1 came up recently but it's the most important):
1. The college announced AFTER ED GOT BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER THANKSGIVING that they will decide on Dec. 17th whether or not they are going to cancel travel abroad programs. So? Not buying tickets for everyone for Christmas, then? With the latest variant, is the universe speaking to us?
2. Reggie got invited to play basketball by an Under Armor sponsored team in our area that plays around the country showcasing its players for NCAA recruiters. He's out of his mind excited. They start practicing over spring break. So? No Budapest then? He could miss the few days over spring break this year, because he's a sophomore. Next year would be more crucial. Still, something to consider.
Oh, and let's consider how this team might impact the July Yellowstone trip. Reg's new exciting opportunity plays for 3 weeks in July. Ouch.
Reg: WHY ARE WE EVEN GOING TO YELLOWSTONE? DOES ANYONE EVEN WANT TO GO?
Yellowstone has transformed into the-search-for-the-holy-grail-type trip. I might drag my people to Yellowstone, after 5 years of planning, whether they like it or not. Call me Clark Griswold. My fear? Us arriving in Yellowstone and a ranger greets us with: SORRY FOLKS, THE RANGER AT THE GATE SHOULDA TOLD YOU . . . PARK'S CLOSED.
3. Hey, let's toss the possibility of Irish dancing world championships into the Budapest decision mix. That happens in Belfast, Easter week. As of now, Curly says she's NOT going. But, what if I buy the tickets AS A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE and then she decides she wants to compete? I have no plans to do World's on my way home from Budapest. I have my limits, friends.
4. Tank arrived back at school the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He called me.
Tank: Hey, my mission trip application is due in an hour. It's a spring break trip and it's kind of pricey, like $275. I really wanna do it. They split up the volunteers between different destinations so we branch out and really soak up the experience. I really liked the one I did before the pandemic. I liked seeing how much we helped people.
My internal voice: And why did he not bring this up over break? This sounds amazing, glad he wants to do this . . . SO, DO I TELL HIM ABOUT THE POSSIBLITY OF BUDAPEST? OR DO WE JUST SEND HIM AFTER SCHOOL GETS OUT IN MAY WHILE ED IS STILL OVER THERE?
Me, kicking and screaming: BUT I DON'T WANNA DO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.
Yesterday, Dec. 5th, was Tank's 19th birthday. I texted him: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BIGGEST BABY. *He was 10 lbs 3 oz. I was induced 3 days early.* He's been a big presence wherever he goes every since.
Would you travel to Budapest over spring break? (if Ed doesn't go then we certainly won't)
Other ideas for how to gift to my offspring without adding STUFF to our home?
Posts planned for Tues and Thursday this week. See you there.
What a brilliant idea - a family trip! Why does everything have to be so complicated?? I guess with so many people who are all busy it’s to be expected. I do hope it happens - Budapest is a beautiful city!! I feel your pain on the Yellowstone trip. We have been trying to take our family to Portugal for a couple of years. Rescheduled twice due to Covid. Finally it’s supposed to happen next July but one family now won’t go due to health concerns, one couple is expecting first baby a few weeks before. So frustrating.
My husband went to Budapest a decade or so ago and LOVED it. I think it would be fabulous if you could all go! Hoping that scientists get a handle on omicron quickly so you can figure out what to do.
Budapest sounds really cool!
I hope you are able to get your travel plans figured out soon, it seems having big kids complicates everything!
Oof. International travel. My oldest two were supposed to go to Europe summer 2021. It got postponed to summer 2022. But now with Germany shutting down borders and variants popping up, who knows if it will happen. The teacher who planned the trip is less than good at communication. Luckily, I bought trip insurance, and if it gets cancelled, I'm only out the $50 per kid sign up fee.
It was so much easier to plan things when kids were little. Sigh.
Budapest sounds great - why not just take the girls, farm Reg out to someone responsible, and enjoy yourself? As for the big kid' presents, buy them a new pair of jeans or sneakers and send them on a fun day out in the summer. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And buy tickets that are refundable or can be used another day.
Do your kids have valid passports? Check the expiration dates.
I might travel to Budapest over spring break, but not if it required committing to it right now. For me, there would just be too many variables in play right now.
I might put it off for a few years and do it then. If Ed does go, it could be a return trip for him. I like going back to some of the bigger cities where I've lived to revisit my favorite places/activities--he might feel the same way.
Non-stuff gifts to offspring...I don't have many good ideas. Memberships/passes to places that they like to go? Or things that they like to do? My kid is getting stuff... but at least 2/3 of it consists of clothes that I'd be giving her anyway because she's outgrowing things fast at the moment.
I'm relieved that fearyboo was just an autocorrect!
How cool. I do hope my daughter wants to study abroad, such a great experience. I really hope he gets to go, but I would be holding off buying any international flights until this b*****d variant is not causing so much uncertainty. Some European countries are going into lockdown and making travel very difficult. I’ll keep everything crossed for him.
I went to Budapest for a hen party (bachelorette?) about 4 years ago. It’s lovely city, with lots to do and see and really cheap. I can imagine how fed up you are at the thought of having to now start Christmas shopping! Not to brag, but I finished all my Christmas shopping tonight - hurray!
Oh gosh - having so many busy people does make something like this trip next to impossible to plan!
If you end up deciding not to go - here's a few ideas of non-stuff gifts. Experiences closer to home - spa days/sporting events/season passes to places of various interest.
Pat - Ed told me last night that he doesn't think they are going to cancel his abroad semester. That will make me very happy. Then Coach and I have to figure out the rest of it.
Poor amazing Portugal trip. It sure does get tough to travel with all the schedules and agendas when they get older. I remember planning a Disney trip when the kids were little. We took kids out of school because I was like I CAN GET AWAY WITH IT NOW.
Suzanne- Yes, it does sound amazing. It reminds me of the trip we took to Vancouver because of dancing. We never would have gone there if it hadn't been for dancing. Not sure if we would make it back to Budapest if we don't go while he studies there.
Jenny - It does sound really cool. So much to consider and figure out that sometimes I feel like skipping it. One concern I have: will they have GF food over there.
Big kids have so much going on these days. This is why we reserved 2 whole weeks at Yellowstone so we could cancel the dates we didn't need once we whittled it down after looking at the kids' schedules.
Kara - I know people in my book club who traveled to Paris or other international destinations a few months ago. I think they identified a perfect window. Not sure we will be so lucky. I really hope your kids get to do their trip, although a teacher with poor communication skills sounds frustrating.
Anonymous - I have considered not taking everyone, but the girls went to Scotland when Curly danced there. I grew up in a home where there was no equity and I try to make things somewhat even. We could possibly take them out of school a few days early and then be back in time for him to play basketball. Missing those few days this year wouldn't be the worst.
Reg has an up to date to date passport. I think Lad does too. Ed just renewed his. Coach and I are fine, but the other kids need theirs renewed. I know I need to get that done. Such a hassle.
oops THAT was for me and THIS is for Anonymous - I have actually considered that exact scenario - go back to Budapest AFTER he's done studying there, at some point. That might be fun for Ed.
Yes, I agree - we need to be aware of cancellation policies.
I've thought of some things to gift them . . . Tank needs a sport coat or suit for future interviews or presentations. Mini needs stuff for college, like a bathrobe - something the boys had no interest in. Curly would love non hand me down basketball shoes. Reg has no winter coat . . . it is in the 20s.
ccr - It was so funny when we were trying to make that name work.
Charlie - He has gotten an email saying there is very little chance they will cancel so that seems promising. Thanks for crossing everything for him though. We will take all the extra luck.
I have heard that it is cheap and food is inexpensive. Maybe we should all move there.
Gigi - The 3 youngest went to Florida a few years ago for spring break sort of last minute. They had THE BEST time. The planning of this does make me think that maybe we just do a Florida trip again and avoid the stress.
I have three kids' birthdays to gift for also. Coach and Reg are flying to Creighton in Omaha for a basketball game in January for Reg's birthday gift. One thing figured out. ONE. Sigh.
I LOVE the idea of traveling as a gift. A few years ago we sent the girls to Portland and Seattle for 7 days; it was an amazing experience for them both and thankfully it was before the shit hit the fan.
Have you ever heard of Pack Up and Go? I did this with some girlfriends a few years ago and it was amazing; a suprise trip for the whole family. I know timing is the hardest part for you guys, but maybe you could find a time for all of you over the summer? This would be a blast for your crew.
Budapest does sound magical and somewhere you might not visit otherwise.
I too woud love to get out of shopping this year. I am limiting myself to a few LARGER items for each kid instead of lots of small stuff. (Roomba??!!)
YOur life is a series of MAKE A DECISION, BUT IT WILL HAVE TO BE CHANGED ANYWAY. ;)
I have not heard of pack up and go . . . is this a link to what to do when my offspring have pushed me to the limit? I'm guessing not, but I've been in that mindset before. ;) Ed really feels like they won't cancel. Now, whether or not it makes sense for the rest of us to go. I haven't even mentioned that my paternal grandmother, who died when Curly was around 2, was born in Hungary. She's the one I credit with my ability to tan. The rest of my relatives hailed from Ireland. I did NOT get the fair skin that was obviously heavily in my genetic mix.
I do like the idea of focusing on something big for each. Maybe someone could get his own place from Santa? Well, maybe not THAT big. Dare to dream though.
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