In 4 hours, we leave for the airport for the trip of a lifetime. Maybe it's silly to pack up a 5 year old little girl and head over to Europe for 2 weeks. Maybe it's a waste of money that we really shouldn't allocate towards a vacation, to go on a Disney Cruise of the Mediterranean.
But maybe it is just so exactly what our priorities are, and maybe it's exactly what we need as a family.
I love that, since Lilly Lou was born, we haven't played by the rules - but have instead ruled our lives with our hearts, our instincts. We didn't let her chromosomes limit her, or us. I didn't have to sacrifice my career or my mommyhood: I was able to do both at the same time by working from home and being super involved in her life. We took the adventure of living abroad for a year and took advantage of every moment and opportunity; same with our year in New York, taking a 4 year old to Broadway theatres where elderly women would frown at bringing such a small kid to a show, and then at the end introducing themselves to Lilly and saying the loved watching her reactions to the performance.
I love exposing Lilly to every new opportunity, whether it's playing in Central Park or a playground on the beach of New Zealand, or getting her first trampoline in the suburbs, and getting used to living in a "real" house.
I love watching her confidence especially right now - at its peak - as she has her mommy and daddy's undivided attention for a month. That she bops out of her room in the morning, knowing daddy's not at work and that mommy's not overwhelmed with whatever is going on - and knowing each day is just a gift for our family. Her first concern each morning, these days, is to ask daddy if he's gotten coffee for mommy yet. (Because she knows the gift of each day is only a good one if mommy has had coffee.)
It has been an amazing 2 weeks here in our new home. Full of wonderful surprises. The house is so great; only Jon had seen it before we arrived, so it was nice that exceeded our expectations when we moved in. Little things like having a child toilet seat already permanently attached to the half bath (Lilly loves it!). Flowers blooming in the backyard, vegetables and herbs growing in a little garden. Lilly's own playroom where she's set up as her "Lilly cave" and we're only really allowed in with her permission (of course we can see in through the side glass doors which is nice to check up on her). A gourmet kitchen which we are taking full advantage of, cooking every night. A big backyard where Lilly loves exploring, and the freedom of going out to her trampoline whenever she wants because the yard is fenced in.
And even better, who would have predicted, we've moved into a super friendly street - our neighbors are all so welcoming to us; the local church is so nice and the people there make us feel at home. The YMCA has indoor and outdoor pools that Lilly and Jon have explored every day. And, most importantly, the musical theatre camp that Lilly has signed up for in August.
Life is good, in our new house, in our new world. And, like always, Lilly takes these adjustments well; I admire her ability to live in the moment and take advantage of each of life's opportunities.
I love that she totally understands travel - that she's known for the past week that we're going on the airplane, for a long trip. That she's going to see "Disney Mouse." That she can repeat the following, while counting them off on her fingers: "Barcelona, Malta, Sicily, Naples, Capri, Rome, Portofino, Santa Margherita, Corsica, Monaco." That she asked if she can have a backpack just like mommy and daddy for the airplane, and when she says who's coming on the trip, sometimes it's: "Mommy daddy Lilly and Lala" (lala is the name of her portable dvd player - yes, children who don't have pets or siblings will name their electronics and think of them as family) or sometimes it's "Mommy Daddy Lilly Grandma PawPaw Lyndsey Julianne" because she really wishes she could go see her grandparents and cousins instead, even with this "trip of a lifetime."
For me, I've been thinking about this trip for 2 years. And have been planning it for the past 6 months. And now that it's here, I'm nervous and excited and feel like I still could do so much to prepare, but it's just about here. We were up late last night packing, woke up early this morning with anticipation for today. Today isn't a fun day, necessarily, except for the excitement of starting our adventure: today we drive an hour to the airport, take a flight which has a 3 hour layover, then take the overnight redeye to Barcelona. Lilly's good with flying and airports so I'm not "worried" but it's still never relaxing to travel for 15 hours or so, with or without a good little 5 year old. And I worry about everything, from our adjustments to the time difference, to whether there'll be enough to entertain Miss Lilly in Barcelona for the 3 days prior to the cruise, to whether we'll have sea sickness on the plane, to whether we'll forget - or lose - something important.
But mostly, I can't wait to continue the next two weeks of family time, exploring new countries, sharing new experiences with my favorite people, and making the most out of our time together. "Real life" begins August 1, but until then, I'm having a good time immersed in Lilly's world.