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November 2014

It matters to me

I'm going to say a few things about Ferguson on my blog. Even though I have a POLICY of not saying things about things like Ferguson on my blog. Even though, even beyond the POLICY, no one cares what things I have to say about Ferguson. I'm breaking the POLICY because while it's served me well, I think, in this one instance, it may be hurtful to someone I know, a black woman from St. Louis. 

This whole time I've been thinking: what can *I* do? What *can* I do? 

Everywhere I read, the call to white people is: speak up! But I want to say to them: have you met me? I... don't do that. I have a POLICY. 

And also, I don't LIKE to speak up. I feel like there's a lot of people on the internet who are there ONLY to speak up. About everything. So many opinions and thoughts and stances about so many things. And I feel like there are lots of valid opinions and thoughts and stances about many things and I want to respect yours and I would like to LEARN about yours and maybe, one day, we can get to what I maybe think about things...

But I am wondering if the only thing I can do is speak up. Not to... I don't know. ENGAGE people, necessarily. Heaven forbid I have to engage with anyone. And not to join a chorus or a conversation and certainly not to start a debate or change a mind. I have negative skills in those areas. Also, quite honestly, it appears that all of my people are on the same wavelength here. Is it even necessary for me to speak up? 

I have been praying for God to show me what matters in this situation. I mean, what I can AFFECT in what matters, if that makes sense. I felt wrapped up in the rightness or wrongness of the grand jury decision, trying to figure out what I thought about all of that, but praying too, praying that God would take away the things that didn't matter and leave the things that did. Slowly, over the course of this one day, God rendered all of my thoughts about Ferguson unimportant except one: the fact that my black friend from St. Louis is hurting. 

So I want to sit here, on Thanksgiving Eve, ruminating over my blessings and I want to speak up. I want to shout: ASHLEY! I SEE YOU! IT MATTERS TO ME THAT YOU ARE HURTING! IT MATTERS TO ME. It matters to me.

I don't need to know how I feel and what I think before I grasp and abhor the fact that someone meaningful to me is hurting. I pray for the ability to sit in the tension, the humility to give up thinking I need what I think I need, the courage to walk alongside my sister in Christ, to pursue a Jesus-focused understanding. I think that's what I need to say out loud. That I'm here, Ashley, and I see you, I see this, I want to see it better.  

 


Reasons why Phillip will need therapy in January (SORRY PHILLIP)

The big fun thing that happened in the last few days was I SAW THE BAKERY NAME ON A WEBSITE THAT IS NOT ONE OF MINE. (Scroll to #7!) I only found this out from glancing at our stats and seeing a referral from the Seattle Magazine website. That was fun! I am absolutely certain that some staffers were told to compile links for an article and did a bunch of googling, but whatever, WE GOT MENTIONED. For a while now I've been noodling over doing some sort of press release, with pictures and Human Interest Angles (sisters! moms of toddlers!), but I keep balking. Part of it is the "what if no one cares!" fear, but most of it, I think, is that if we DO do that, then Thumbprints gets even MORE real and LESS of a hobby/side gig/experiment. 

Except, Thumbprints ceased to be an experiment the day the corporate caterer printed our three kinds of macarons (candy cane, gingerbread, clementine) and "assorted holiday cookies" on their menu. Since then we've received invoices for 9 orders (although I was given a heads up about two more tonight) and just those 9 orders total over 800 cookies. And this is BEFORE Thanksgiving - what happens AFTER Thanksgiving, when more people start thinking about their workplace holiday meetings and gatherings? Eeek. 

Oh, the other fun bakery thing is that I finally put up an online order system. THAT was a giant pain. But my own fault, as per usual. I spent weeks upon weeks creating graphics and writing copy for Storenvy, but when the Storenvy platform proved less than efficient for various reasons, I had to chuck it all and start over. I ended up using the Square Marketplace platform (we already use Square to take credit cards in person) because Lisa (@pixelatedmama, God bless her) sent me a link with directions for embedding a store "menu" into your OWN WEBSITE. Which is IDEAL, yes?! I honestly thought I could only do something like that if I bought a shopping cart dealie and paid someone much smarter than me to code it all up. 

Sorry to anyone bored to tears over this stuff, but it's really all I do anymore. That and freak out about how I don't know anything about accounting. (Neighbor Ursula, who also finds herself in the throes of small business woe, has given me contact info for A Lady Who Comes To Your House And Sets Up Your QuickBooks For You and guess what I am doing as soon as the Christmas rush is over.) 

SPEAKING OF URSULA. Okay. So (giant subject change here) I recently created massive Family Upheaval by telling my folks we (as in me, Phillip, and our kids) were going to do our own Christmas this year. HORRIBLE! My family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, which is the proper way of doing things. We get together in the late afternoon and then it's snacky food and prosecco and presents and Christmas carols and loudness until everyone drags themselves to bed. Then on Christmas Day we (me, Phillip, and the kids) wake up, open our own family presents, go to church, come home, and host a brunch for Phillip's [much smaller] side of the family. Because my parents live about 50 minutes away, it's kind of a Thing to get down there and back on Christmas Eve, and then do all the Christmas Day stuff. It also means we can't go to the Christmas Eve Mass at our church (which is BETTER than going to Mass on Christmas Day IT JUST IS) and last year it meant my kids couldn't be in the Christmas pageant. Which was VERY SAD [for me] and I just felt like it was Time, you know? Time to start doing our own thing in our own house. 

However! Because my family is awesome and we WANT to have our Christmas Eve party with the 14 grandchildren together all at once, my parents and siblings generously decided we could do our big family Christmas on the 23rd and everyone could have their own family Christmas (or go to my parents' house, whatever floats their boats) on the 24th. I was very much looking forward to Christmas at my parents' house on the 23rd, doing the Christmas pageant and Mass on the 24th and coming home to open our own family presents and start our own Christmas Eve snacky traditions, and then put on the Cheung family brunch the next day, without rushing around. YAY!

Then Ursula came over and I was asking her when the Christmas pageant is this year (she goes to my church) and she was all, "There is no Christmas pageant." 

HA HA HA

Also, it turns out there wasn't a pageant last year either! It was just a children's CHOIR! But the guy who usually puts that on has a different job this year and no one has stepped up to take over and NOTHING IS HAPPENING. AND I CHANGED MY WHOLE FAMILY'S CHRISTMAS PLANS FOR NOTHING! 

And then Ursula said, "WE should do it!" And I said, "Yeah!" And that is how I find myself 1) up to my ears in macarons and sugar cookies, running a brand new business during its craziest time of year AND 2) hosting a Christmas party AND 3) creating a Christmas pageant from scratch at my church, where I don't know anyone. This is either going to be the most awesome December on record, or my husband is going to leave me by December 26th. Shall we take bets? 

Other things I need to do: 

Christmas cards? I didn't do these last year. I hate that. I need to do them this year.

Buy Christmas presents for P's side of the family. (My side? DONE. I am TAKING NAMES, people.)

Decorate. (We're doing this tomorrow.)

I almost never do Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving (besides send out our party invites), but this year? I mean, Katie's been warning me since JULY that I should get my other stuff done so the baking doesn't kill me. I started buying presents in October. And we're decorating tomorrow (sans the tree) because we'll be at my parents' house for Thanksgiving and then spending the rest of the weekend in Canada with Phillip's family. When we get home it will be SO NICE to have all our Christmas stuff up! I'm excited. I'll also be able to make a Stuff I Need For The Party list nice and early. 

As for Thanksgiving.... MEH. I was going to make something NEW to bring to my family Thanksgiving this year, but of course I had no ideas and then my mom called this morning and asked me to be in charge of the wine. THAT I CAN DO. I feel bad that Thanksgiving is just a bump in the road to Christmas [FOR ME], but whatever, one has one's favorite holidays, yes? 

OKAY I HAVE TO GO NOW. THINGS TO DOOOOOOO


Macarons and fat pants

Got an email today that made me panic for a second. It contained this sentence:

You must complete the permit process prior to operating a cottage food operation. 

But then I saw that it was addressed to a "Michael McKinsey" and it was from a guy purporting to be from the Fresno County Department of Public Health. So. I'm guessing it's kind of spammy? But still? Weird? There was an attachment that obvs I am not clicking on, but now I'm like even the spammers now how to give me anxiety attacks. Of course I am all ready to hit back with, "THIS IS WHY WE RENT SPACE IN A LICENSED KITCHEN, [INSERT FAMILY UNFRIENDLY TERM]", but I think I'll just ignore for now. Or furiously google the guy who supposedly sent it. 

It did make me remember the cottage food process we DID undergo and how I was going to write a Sternly Worded Letter to send to allll my representatives.... yeah. I AM still frustrated and irritated and a tiny bit super angry defensive about that, but I don't have TIME to take that on. I AM VERY BUSY BLOGGING OKAY? And other things. 

Tonight the "other things" began to take on a distinctively egg whitey glow... MACARONS. So Katie's husband is a manager for a catering company with a big time corporate client. And because 1) we have a connection and 2) Katie makes awesome treats, we ended up on the official Holiday Menu that all the corporate clients (who pay for things with corporate credit cards, ahem) see when they are choosing their Holiday Soirees. Or Holiday-Themed Meetings. Or what-have-you. Although it was kind of a bumpy start (FOOD BUSINESS PEOPLE. ALL NUTJOBS.) (DOES THIS NOW INCLUDE ME?) we already have 6 orders for December. Kind of a big deal for a teeny tiny upstart baking company who celebrates 6 orders in a month. Except, it's only mid-November. And these are for a Major Local Corporate Behemoth. And now we are freaked out about HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE ALL THE MACARONS OMGGGGGG. 

(Do you like how I always say "we"? Like I have ANYTHING to do with making macarons? I WILL, for your information, be making a bunch of things for the "assorted cookie platters" which are also on the official menu, but macarons? HA HA HA NO.)

On the other hand! WE MIGHT MAKE MONEY IN DECEMBER! THAT WOULD BE SO NOVEL! (No really, that would be... amazing.) 

The only thing I don't like about this deal is that they aren't advertised as THUMBPRINTS macarons/assorted cookie platters, we're just contracted through BIL's Catering Company and so no single person is going to look us up later and order her own macarons. But whatever. I'm not COMPLAINING or anything. 

I've also finished all the listings for our online store AND figured out the shipping questions. I'm not sure I answered those questions WELL, but I did my best, and we will see how it goes. IF anyone buys anything through our online store. Which I haven't put up yet. Because Katie still has to go through it and say things like, "Um, no, I'm not doing that." But soon! (I hope. All I really feel like doing is sleeping. But. Sigh.)

The sleeping? I am just going to hope that this is because I have not been religiously taking my iron pills. Back in August when my mental health had gone seriously south and I was Distraught and Desperate and DONE, when I started the new SSRI I stopped taking all the [expensive] [gigantic] vitamins and supplements my naturopath had me taking. I mean, they obviously weren't HELPING, right? And no medical insurance was paying for THOSE pills [lots and lots and lots of them] so I just stopped. I WAS ANGRY, OKAY? But I also stopped taking the iron (I wasn't in the best head space, you understand) and now I'm wondering if the iron actually WAS helping me or I'm in an especially tired place right now or WHAT IS WRONG JEEZ. I wake up exhausted. I spend my whole day wondering when I can sit down and conk out for a minute. And Sunday morning at the retreat I went to last weekend I woke up with this super weird back pain thing and now I'm Fatigued AND Falling Apart. IT'S TERRIBLE. 

And it's just making me aware (as opposed to deliberately choosing NOT to be aware) of how poorly I am treating my body these days. After not eating + nervous tummy during the Worst Week Ever (August 2014), I'd 1) lost quite a bit of weight (silver lining!) and then 2) began to SERIOUSLY make up for it. I mean, after that I was all, "You eat whatevvvvver you want, Body. You just do what feels good." And I did! I don't think I was eating my feelings so much as eating was something I COULD enjoy. So I was gonna ENJOY IT. Bring on the Nutella! 

But now... hrrmmm. My fat pants are too tight. You see? And while I am in a much better headspace this year re: How I Look, I have enough sense to know that I am not taking care of myself. I am not eating ANYTHING that's good for me. I am not getting outside. I am not getting any exercise. I am sleeping terribly. And even though I KNOW that the longer I keep up this "lifestyle", the harder it is to change, I'm finding it hard to care. My anxiety stuff is not totally figured out. My work/parenting balance is not at all figured out. I sort of feel like... well not that I'm doing the best I can, but that any sort of check on what I eat or how much I move is alREADY setting myself up for failure. You all know how much I love to fail!

When I mentioned how much I despair over pants, a good friend said, "I don't feel like you should be worrying about that right now." Which is so nice! But the rest of the world says, "If you don't start NOW, you never will!" I feel like the rest of the world is right, and also totally has me nailed. I'm waving at them while I eat another leftover toffee bar from the subscription boxes we sent this weekend. HEY THERE, WORLD!


I clicked Buy: THE EUROPING

I'm not sure how long we've been talking about going to Italy with my parents, a few years at least, I think. But the whole time I have STRESSED and STRESSED about how much airfare was going to cost. Even though I knew that everything ELSE about the trip was going to be horrendously expensive as well, maybe I felt like I would have some measure of control over plane tickets? Maybe? That seems silly, but you know subconsciouses, they don't always make sense. 

Anyway, today I finally clicked BUY. [Insert Appropriate Shriek or Dry Heaving Sound Here.] I went through this big long process last year where I read about how to work the frequent flyer system and I signed up for a bunch of credit cards and I actually DID amass a crap ton of miles. Plus Phillip still has a bunch of miles from his Traveling For Work days (REMEMBER THOSE? HOW ABOUT LET'S NOT.) But you guys, I could not figure out how to make those miles work for us for this trip. I can see how they would have worked if it were just Phillip and me, or if we were taking our whole family somewhere stateside, or wanting some kind of vacation package, but the frequent flyer gods were stubbornly against letting us use our miles for Europe. The best I could do with our combination of miles was getting us a one way flight to somewhere in Europe, but with RIDONKULOUS fees. Like so many fees it didn't make sense to use the miles at all. Not when the fees were ten times smaller to go somewhere like HAWAII. (Look out, Honolulu! You are going to improve my seasonal affective disorder come Winter 2016ish!) 

Today I purchased a one way flight from Seattle to Venice on Condor Air, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, with a layover in Frankfurt, for less than half of the price of roundtrip airfare to Venice. And then I purchased a one way flight from London to Seattle on Icelandair, with a layover in Iceland, for less than half the price of roundtrip airfare to London. It was still a quiver-inducing chunk of change, but a chunk that was about two grand less than I expected to pay. So. NOT BAD, ME!

Should you be interested, when I went to the actual Condor and Icelandair websites, the prices were even lower than what was quoted on Kayak and Expedia because CHILDREN'S TICKETS ARE LESS. I KNOW. Kayak sent me directly to the Condor website to book, but I'm not sure about Expedia - I might have done the whole booking process THERE. I paid $400 per kid to fly home from London. That's crazy! The roundtrip flights to London were like $1200! AIRFARE IS SUCH A PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHAT!

At one point during this process I found roundtrip flights to London for $4045. Total. I mean, it came with terrible times and layovers and extra stops, but still, when you're expecting to pay something like EIGHT thousand dollars, seeing that price helps you keep hope alive. 

I chose to do the one way flights mainly because of the Venice to London situation we'll have to do in the middle. A round trip to London would have involved a round trip (or two one ways, depending) to Venice, but the layovers, the possible overnights, and traveling between different airports in London was not worth the couple hundred dollars I MIGHT have saved. So. 

We fly to Venice on May 20. My parents will pick us up and take us to their rental house in Sacile. The only for sure while-in-Italy plan right now is to go to Venice on the train as many times as we can stand. Which is probably a lot. But we'll also probably rent a car (I am expecting the car plus gas to cost as much, if not more, as our plane tickets, sob) and take the kids to see castles in Austria, maybe go as far as Munich. Also Phillip and I recently watched Band of Brothers and Phillip might need to see Berchtesgaden (as do we all.) 

I mentioned the just-us getaway to Paris, right? Yeah. I mean, we'll see. But we have GRANDPARENTS. IN EUROPE. THINGS NEED TO BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. 

And guess what. The OTHER set of grandparents are coming too. I know. Maybe the universe is all, "Poor Maggie had a REALLY shitty July and August and we need to make it up to her." I know some of you aren't big on your in-laws, but mine are pretty spectacular and also retired and big time travelers and HEY, WHY NOT. My mother-in-law's sister lives in France, so they're thinking they'll go visit her, then spend a few days with us in Italy (our parents get along! They like each other! It's adorable!) and then spend probably the whole week with us in London. SO YOU KNOW. I don't have to fret too much about taking 3 kids around London by myself while Phillip's at the office because I'll have Fantastic Grandparents tagging along. I am seriously giddy, you guys. Right now I cannot wait to take FIL to the Chinese restaurant in the small town my family lived in Italy, not because he'll like the food (I can pretty much guarantee he will not) but because he is Mr. Outgoing and makes friends wherever he goes and he will be delighted to meet the Chinese family living in Small Town Northern Italy. 

Also! Also! Phillip's work, when he asked them if he could work, say, a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, and then, say, come back on Monday, thereby requiring a WEEKEND STAY, was all, "Sure!" Which means we have a whole weekend! With Phillip! To do stuff! By which I mean spend more money! 

Oh man I am so freaking excited. 

I wonder what it means for the bakery that I'll be gone for three weeks. 

OH WELL!!!! 

Actually, tomorrow is cookie subscription mailing day so I, uh, better get on that. Instead of yammering on here. You are probably super annoyed with all of my stars aligning I'M SORRY I'M JUST SO HAPPY FOR ME. 


HALP, people who work from home

There's no school tomorrow. Something about veterans or whatever. FINE. I'll just suffer through an entire day at home alone with these hooligans. 

(I'M JOKING. About the veterans. I *am* on my ninety-third WWII book. But I was not joking about the hooligan part.) 

ANYWAY. I am a teeeeeeny bit freaking out because even though I brought my computer on the retreat I volunteered at this weekend, I didn't crack it open at all (SHOCKER) and I feel BEHIND. I am behind on personal things, like responding to emails and evites and updating my calendar so Phillip knows what the heck is going on around here and figuring out when we're going to see grandparents and what's going on at school ETCETERA ETCETERA. And I'm terribly behind on WORK stuff, which is super not good. I am terrified of the day I forget about an order that's due because I just didn't update the calendar or bother to tell Katie or something else completely stupid. And also I really want to get that online store up and running before it gets much closer to Thanksgiving and I just don't know how it's going to happen. I can get SOME stuff done in the gaps when the kids are in bed or Phillip is doing stuff with them, but what I really need is some good several-hours-long chunks of time when I can concentrate and test things and THINK. I'm finding that I can DO stuff with kids around (package things, print out postage, tie ribbons) but the THINKING and PLANNING with kids around is beyond me. And if I don't think and plan, we don't grow. Blargh. 

And tomorrow everyone is home. Plus my sister-in-law and her three kids will be here most of the day since they live a few hours away and are in town so my brother can go to a nearby interview. So they can maybe move closer. I love having people around, but it's not like I'm going to get any work done. I need to get work done. Ack ack ack. 

I also see that I am making two meals this week for a friend who just left the hospital, I have a birthday get together, I have a cookie delivery, and possibly meeting up with a brand new friend so I have to put a little more effort into Having My @&%$ Together that day. CAN I DOOOO THAAAAAAT?

When Phillip and I created this joint desk thing in a very public area of our house I made a big stink about how I was going to insist that he keep it clean and looking nice and picked up and now I'M the one with a giant unopened pile of mail, a bajillion bakery Post-It notes, scattered pens, hand sanitizer, nail polish, all the fancy camera paraphernalia, printed out spreadsheets, receipts, cards, magazines, and for some reason the tongs to the cocktail ice bucket. I don't know. Now accepting applications for Personal Assistant. 

I'm going to sit down and do the thing that is probably least important, which is stamp and address my Christmas party invitations, not that I have any idea when I will have time to actually think about what we're going to have for the party this year (do you want to come?)

Wait. First. People who work from home. Do you use daycare? Family? Mother's helpers? Babysitters? My mother-in-law retired this summer and seems to be more than willing to come up whenever I ask and watch Emma. I think this is my first and easiest option, though I can't make it a regular thing. I mean, even if it turned out that she came up one day every week, I'm not going to ask her to COMMIT to that. (No. Don't tell me I should just ask, because no.) So while I have that option, it's not something I can necessarily plan around. Other options are: finding a daytime sitter and then escaping to a coffee shop? Once a week? I'd rather not work with someone else in my house watching the kids. My sister could? Sometimes? But definitely not something I'd ask her to commit to doing either, just on an as-needed basis. There's preschool too, but that seems even more expensive than a sitter, only a few hours, I'm not excited about the for-sure unpleasant adjustment to going somewhere without me, and also the going back and forth in the car is my least favorite thing ever. HOW DO YOU DO THIS? WHAT IS YOUR PLAN? 

When we were trick or treating I found out there's a CHINESE DAYCARE down the street from me. Like, I can walk there. They would feed my kid good food and teach her Chinese. I should do this, right?! Maybe? Ack. 

Maybe my biggest hurdle is admitting to myself (rather than the blog) that I really do need one or two days a week to do Work, on my own, no kids, get it done, focus, then close the computer and let it go. I answer email all the time, I talk to Katie all the time, I update the calendar all the time, but I'm talking website and marketing and planning stuff. Just a few hours a week. I need to commit to finding that time and making it happen. Right? (ACK)


And I shall eat my weight in tortellini with cream sauce

The last time I was in Europe I was pregnant with Jack. Younger Me is heartbroken over this terrible fact. Present Me is resigned and accepting. Future Me is horrified at how much money Phillip and I are going to spend to go back. 

OH YES. For YEARS now my parents have been talking about going back to Italy to see their godson graduate high school. Quick back story for anyone new around here - my parents MET while teaching elementary school on American military bases in Europe, then they went back to the states and had a bunch of children, then they went BACK, taking us with them. I was 10 and starting 5th grade when we moved to Sicily. Two years there, then three years at a base on a 12x18 mile island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, then three years (for me) at an Air Force base in northern Italy, about an hour north of Venice. I graduated from high school there, then went to college in Seattle and, as you may have deduced, stuck around. My parents were there, what? 13 years? And moved back to the states 5 weeks after I had Jack. And they haven't been back since. 

So it's kind of a BIG DEAL. And when they started throwing around the idea of going back, I started throwing around the idea of going WITH. Because OBVS. Right? Right. 

Except DEAR GOD has anyone checked the prices for transatlantic flights these days? Pass me my smelling salts. I used to mosey on down to STA Travel on the Ave and sit jealously while a tattooed and pierced and clearly well-traveled young agent found me a $700 ticket to Venice. Flights are now TWICE THAT. And my family has MORE than doubled in size. 

But I've never been one to let a silly thing like MONEY stop me! I did spend my entire savings on a European Tour the summer before my senior year of college, not knowing quite how I'd PAY for that senior year of college when I returned. (The answer: a better paying job than the year before, trimester-long "emergency loans", and the fact that tuition at that time did not require signing over your firstborn, sheesh.) 

(Phillip, on the other hand. Pray for the ulcer.) 

NO, I'M KIDDING. 

Basically all we REALLY decided was 1) my parents are renting a HOUSE and if there is ANY time to take your family to Europe it's when your parents are footing the bill for LODGING and 2) hey, maybe Phillip's job could assign him to one of its European offices for a week? Maybe pay for a plane ticket? Hmm?

Anyway. Weeks of me furiously pecking at my laptop and Phillip having breezy oh-so-casual conversations with his superiors has resulted in the following (though, to be sure, no tickets have actually been purchased yet):

Taking a one-way flight from Seattle to Venice in mid- to late May of next year. Yes we ARE taking the kids out of school. I felt very anxious about this until I started pricing things out and decided to take extreme advantage of my parents' generosity.

Hanging out with them for a week and a half to two weeks, depending. In a house that they have rented. With enough room for my family AND my sister-with-the-new-baby's family. We shall take the train to Venice and drive to Austria and get fat(ter) eating all the things we all miss and probably go to Venice again and THEN...

Because Phillip will be super irritated with me if I drag him to Europe and he doesn't get to go to Paris AGAIN, we will probably leave the kids with my parents for a night or two and take a cheap flight to Paris and blow whatever we were going to spend on their combined orthodontic work. Again, I am banking on the extreme generosity of my parents and also our good friend who is an orthodontist.

AND AFTER THAT. We will take everyone on a cheap one way flight from Venice to London because Phillip's job was all, "Sure, yeah, totally fine if you want to visit the London office, we won't pay for your plane ticket because we're not SENDING you there, but we'll pony up a generous amount of pounds for your tiny business traveler hotel room OR, say, a three-bedroom flat you find on airbnb.com, whichever works!" So we're talking 4-5 days in London, maybe more? Depending?

Second week of June-ish we take a one way flight from London to Seattle. The kids will have one week of school left if they'd like to return for the festivities, IF they recover from the jet lag fast enough... And summer will have barely begun.

I KNOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW.

I have to tell you guys that the only way in the WORLD we can pull this off is knowing that we don't have to pay for a hotel or vacation rental. If we had to do that there is NO WAY NONE. I'm still not exactly sure how we're going to make it happen what with renting a car and the price of gas and how much food my second grader now eats on a daily basis. I've priced out flights and WOULD YOU BELIEVE that it is CHEAPER for us to fly one way to Venice on a Wednesday than it is for us to use my [many] FF flyer miles on Alaska Airlines on the one Sunday they have an award flight? The fees are RIDICULOUS. It's even worse flying back from London. With miles. Flying out of another city actually made it cheaper all around, since Venice is such a pricey spot. And easyJet and Ryanair flights are dirt cheap making it easy for us to GET to London in the first place. (And Paris. Ack.)

It's been nebulous and free floaty for so long that I have to write this all down to quite believe it might happen. We've been waiting to see what Phillip's work would say about overseas travel, expecting that they would agree, but not with the crazy flexibility. I mean, Phillip is basically going to tell THEM when he's going. That's the other thing that makes it possible - because he'll be working (for real!) he won't have to take a whole three weeks of vacation time. (Uh, all his vacation time for the year. Maybe some from the next year too. Oops.)

 

I have no qualms about taking my "young children who won't remember" on such a big and expensive trip. I think Jack and maybe Molly WILL remember. And also I'm the person who took them to Disneyland when they were BABIES because *I* would enjoy it. Heh. Having my parents there for two thirds of the trip will of course make it easier to have the kids along too. My mom is already talking about taking the kids to all the places where she used to go on field trips with her class.  I speak and understand enough Italian to order in a restaurant and read road signs and get on a train. The airplane ride is going to blow. The jet lag will be awful. The figuring out logistics on site with my husband will of course be nightmarish. But we are SO. EXCITED. Way back I gave Phillip an out, telling him it was TOTALLY OKAY if he didn't want to stress about the money or take the time off or whatever, but he was more into it than ME. If we don't go when my parents are offering us FREE BEDS TO SLEEP IN, when would we go?!

So. There's your heads up about this blog turning into a bakery slash Europe trip planning blog. Not sure if it was possible to get MORE boring, but I'm trying my hardest! Oh, also consider that a desperate plea for any and all Budget European Travel Tips & Advice THANK YOOOOOOU