The clothes have been hanging on the hallway bannister since Wednesday, though the packing process began a week ago with laundry and clothes organizing.

We used to choose a color scheme for the kids–and even matching outfits, but this time, the color scheme chose itself. With the exception of the subtle browns of our oldest young adult, the rest of us will be a vibrant mix of ocean blue and coral.

We’re bound to stand out in the Frankfurt International Airport anyway, so we might as well wear things we like.

In twelve hours our very long day will begin, but the thought of the fun and joy at the other end of the journey makes it all worth it. The kids’ moods have been swinging from happy/excited to devastated/nitpicky–I’d forgotten what nerves can do.

But since we are all buttoned up and ready to head out the door, I forced the kids outside for some exercise. Even though we’ve been in a literal fog all day, the two hours they spent on the trampoline seems to have done wonders for them. They are relaxed, happy, and eager for the hugs they’ll get when they land in the US for the first time in six years.

I finished my chores by lunchtime and went out for a run through the mud. It was so quiet and peaceful–I even saw deer! It was a great way to begin a journey.

I am nervous about how the kids will react to America. Will they have panic attacks in Super Wal-Mart? Meltdowns at Target? I already plan on taking pictures of the rows and rows of milk jugs–GALLON sized, no less! For me, (a person accustomed to 1 liter cartons for my tiny fridge) it’s a novelty. And I am sure to be in AWE of American washing machines–I might be able to fit more than 3 towels in one!

I will miss my husband, my dog, and even my juicer (yes, it’s become that important to me), but I can’t wait to hold a cup of hot tea or coffee in my hand and chat face-to-face with the people I love so dearly.

My co-author has forced me to stick to the “one-bag rule” outlined in our book, The Gypsy Mama’s Guide to Real Travel with Children–and I’ve found it a little difficult, to be honest. But then I think about the fact that we are going to the land of plenty, and even if we arrive at midnight, there will be a store open somewhere. We won’t starve, or stink, or have frizzy hair–all the necessities can be found.

I find it ironic that for all the years I lived in Alaska, there was never a Target or a Starbucks, and Olive Garden was a fantastic dream.

And now I have lived for six years in a place where targets are shot at with arrows; where olive gardens are a seven hour drive and include ancient ruins; and Starbucks is an hour and a half away.

Despite the Toy Ban of 2012, the kids want to visit Toys-R-Us. They claim they don’t want to buy any toys, but merely to view it in a museum-like way.

I’m not sure they’ve convinced me.

Though I know we will pick up a few things we need, the best part of this trip will be spending time with friends and family.

We’re ready.

We’re set.

And now, it’s almost time to go!

See you on the flip side!


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