We had a triumphant return to Grapevine, and received a very warm welcome by Tera’s parents. The house was immaculately clean, and I felt a bit guilty as we unloaded the car and brought all of our “stuff” back into their house, filling up the hallways and corners. We promptly settled back into the house, to the room attic upstairs where all 6 kids sleep, and the guest room that Tera and I get to claim when there. But we still had a lot to squeeze into 2 weeks - one week for the upcoming wedding, getting driver's licenses for Nathan and Anna, and repacking everyone for our next 8 months of the year; and one week to settle in the two oldest kids at BYU.
1. Week full of activities at Grammy and Grampy’s
2. A full house with relatives
3. Playing string quintet music for Mary’s wedding
4. Getting Nathan and Emily settled at BYU
5. Spending 7 hours to get Anna’s driver’s license
6. Packing and repacking
(Click below right to read more . . . )
1. Week full of activities at Grammy and Grampy’s - Back in the USA, our first week was quickly filled: we fit in a much anticipated movie (Black Panther), watched a fantastic community theatre show (Little Mermaid) at the Artisan Theater, fit in swimming and roller skating and horseback riding and indoor rock climbing days, and played with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Plus, we helped the kids finish their music preparations for their cousin’s wedding, celebrated with Nathan as he passed his final road test and got his official driver’s license, and helped Anna get back into her old job at “Doughlicious”, as well.
2. A full house with relatives - Two of Tera’s sisters and their families came for a visit and to attend the wedding, filling up Grandma and Grandpa’s house even more. In addition, Emily’s boyfriend came to stay for a few days. For a few days, there were 20 busy children and adults shuffling beds and bathrooms and the kitchen in my parents' home. Delightful chaos!
3. Playing string quintet music for Mary’s wedding - The wedding occurred at Tera’s brother’s house, itself a horse ranch with barn, pasture, horses, dogs and chickens. The kids played beautifully, the ceremony was lovely, and the reception was full of good food and friends. We had spent a good deal of time practicing - in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Texas, and it finally culminated on a beautiful day, with the kids providing the music as the bride and her entourage gracefully walked down the "aisle".
4. Getting Nathan and Emily settled at BYU – After the reception was over, Tera, Nathan, Emily, Jonathan (boyfriend) and I (Erik) loaded up in the van and drove north to Utah. We drove the 20-hour trip in one continuous run, driving through the night on Saturday night, with a brief stop for breakfast in Denver with some friends. We made it to Utah on Sunday afternoon, ready to send Emily back to school for her senior year at college, and not-so-ready to send Nathan off to his first year of college as a starting freshman at BYU. We spent the week helping Nathan unpack and shop, and helping Nana to procure items for Emily’s apartment. Tera and I also saw some shows at the Hale Theatres in Sandy and Orem, and Tera and Emily went to Women's Conference at BYU. One week later, Tera and I flew back to Texas for a one day layover before beginning the next part of our journey.
5. Spending 7 hours to get Anna’s driver’s license – As we were packing up suitcases with one day left in Texas, we realized that with Anna’s 16th b-day the following day (the day we fly out), she would be eligible to get her driver’s license, but that we hadn't planned to be back in Texas until January (8 months from now). So, we hastily called for a next-day driver’s test and Anna did some last minute studying and video-watching. The following day, the morning of her birthday, we drove to the testing center, and Anna passed her on-the-road driving test, and then we headed to the Texas Department of Public Safety to get her actually license. It only took us 6 hours of waiting in line to get the license. Yes, 6 HOURS at the office plus the hour it took to take the test. It was so utterly ridiculous and inefficient. That left Anna and I with about 45-minutes to spare, in which we furiously packed up our last minute things, and made it to the airport in time for our international flight to . . . . .
6. Packing and repacking – While I was sitting in line, Tera was at home getting the family packed up, and planning for which of our belongings stay in Texas (in storage for at least 8 months), and what goes to Europe (for 3 months in a carry-on suitcase) and what goes to Utah (into one family suitcase for 2 months of summer, 2 months of travel, and 1 month of winter). Getting packed up to leave is always the most stressful part of the journey.
Plan? What plan?
Our first Gap Year was a fabulous "2017-2018 School Year" of travel: from the Netherlands to Jordan to Texas to Hawaii to Mexico to Central America to London and back to the Netherlands. Our "2018 Summer Vacation" took us all around Western Europe, back to the USA on a transatlantic cruise, a road trip through New York and into Canada, and ending up in Utah. We have now kicked off the "2018-2019 School year" with a trip to Asia. Follow along with us on our visits to new places, as well as revisiting some of our favorite places from our time living there. It's going to be great!!