As I write this I'm sitting in the bedroom that Mark grew up in, our temporary home these last couple of weeks prior to our departure. His parents have been great to take us in. We are quite the explosion of people and stuff, as we are still carting around everything we need for all of our varied activities this last month. We've just returned from a wonderful week with our friends in Carlsbad (thank you Watsons!) and a short girl trip to Oxnard. Wilder is now the proud owner of a spanking new drivers license which, sadly for him, he is unable to use as we won't be obtaining insurance coverage until we return. The activities still in front of us include: a week long visit to my parents and family in Phoenix, Peyton's 15th birthday party, church camp for the kids and endless last minute details to manage before our trip.
My biggest concern currently is that we have yet to find a tenant for our guest house. This is income we need to make the house payment, and going without really isn't an option. Second I'm having difficulty getting our health insurance to cover our medications for the time we will be gone. Mark and I, being older than your typical world travelers, have medications we need to take daily. Aetna is not terribly sympathetic to our situation and refuses to cover the 9 months needed up front. The current plan then is to take the first 3 months with us, have my parents bring us the second 3 months when they join us in Europe in October and probably have the last three months shipped to us somewhere. It isn't ideal, but it's better than paying out of pocket for all 9 months up front. We are also still working out final details of access to our funds overseas (Charles Schwab account - no ATM fees ever), what specific technology to take with us (netbook, ipad, unlocked iphone), and how we can best manage our communication both locally as we travel as well as staying in touch with those at home (appointments to skype set up via email and of course facebook and this blog).
Another major concern is school for the kids. They have been taking American History online this summer, both to meet this requirement as well as to try out the system in preparation for completing courses while we travel. Wilder has found this style of instruction works really well for him. He is moving quickly through the curriculum and doing really well in the course - Peyton not so much. This is especially interesting as it is basically the opposite of how they function in a traditional classroom.
Finally, we are spending these last two weeks saying goodbye. We said goodbye first to our house and pets, and now we are moving on to our friends and family. 9 months isn't forever, but it sure seems like a long time right now. Making sure we spend quality time with those we care about is a top priority. We are each amazed at the outpouring of love from those we share our lives with. The parties and parting gifts are as heart warming as they are heart wrenching. Through the process we have come to believe that we will truly be missed!
The sensation we are experiencing at this pre-departure point is akin to sitting in a roller coaster car as it pulls you steadily up the incline just prior to pulling you screaming into the abyss. You aren't entirely sure you want to be on the ride, but there is no turning back.