Still working on that birth story, I promise. Where did all the time go?
+ + +
Now that our baby has reached 6 weeks without problem or incident, our family feels a little freer to make plans. It's always hard for me to do so when I am pregnant. You just never know what is going to happen, you know?
But we have been kicking around a particular idea for several years -- one that was put on hold a year or so when we decided to have another baby, one for which we have been setting aside money for a while now. It's time for us to think seriously about it.
And that would be, taking the kids on a significant trip.
I am not sure exactly when we might go yet, but we are making calls. We do think we know where we want to go. It seems funny, but the only places on our tentative itinerary are cities and towns that Mark and I have already visited (albeit separately).
In a way this is characteristic of me. I am a little intimidated by taking my five children anywhere new; I like to try out even a restaurant before I haul them all in for dinner. What is on the menu? How much background noise is there? Are there TVs on the walls? Do other families bring children? How close are the tables? Do the tables have glass tops (DANGER DANGER DANGER) and is the only table that's big enough for us a giant round one in the middle of the room? When is happy hour, and does it include half price nachos and $3 taps?
I told Mark when we first started discussing this that I didn't want to go trucking all over the continent with little kids. A baby is okay; they are very portable. Teens are okay too. But I will have three kids in the middle, elevenish, eight, and four-point-five. We need to stay put for a while. At least a week at a time. Have a home base, with 3 separate bedrooms and a kitchen. A place where we can get to know the neighborhood, venture out to see stuff when we have energy, come back in the afternoon to rest.
And where can we go that we won't exhaust the possibilities in 2 weeks?
Rome, of course. I have three kids learning Latin and I haven't gotten around to the cultural bits yet. I have a history-buff teen and an army-guy-doodling tween and a young daughter who loves beautiful things. All three think it would be super cool to go to a Wednesday papal audience in St. Peter's square. The baby will be portable and, I hope, cute. The only big question mark is the four-year-old, but there's one of him and two of us and there will be a lot of gelato around with which to bribe him and soothe the rest of us.
But we do want to go one other place, one a bit calmer (in some ways) than the Eternal City. One that is beautiful, one with challenging things to do outdoors, one that suits both Mark and me. It's okay if it is a tourist spot, since we plan to go in the off season.
So: Chamonix, in the French Alps. Birthplace of l'alpinisme. First host of the Winter Olympics. World class rock climbing and alpine touring and mucking about on glaciers (something Mark has done before). Téléphériques that whisk you up the mountain so you can take hikes among the rocky peaks (something I have done before -- it is the most beautiful place I have ever been). Cragging sites great for kids, all the wat from five-one to five-twelve, that you can walk to from the centre-ville to set up your own top ropes. Overnight huts in the mountains that feed you dinner after you straggle in and breakfast before you saunter out. Also a bunch of stuff that caters to families on vacation, because it is a tourist spot for sure: alpine slides, shops that will pack you a pique-nique basket, gigantic gear rental places, and a year-round population of mountain guides.
A week or two there, with my own kitchen, sounds just wonderful. (Hilly hiking is my favorite outdoor physical activity, and it is hard to think of a better place to find some.)
+ + +
Here's the thing: I don't really want to try this with a 1-to-3-year-old, so it is this year or four years from now. And four years from now my oldest will be grown. So this is the year.
Bring on the language tapes and tack the maps to the wall. It's time for a reeeeally long unit study.