Friday, August 14, 2015

Return from Hogwarts

So, last week, Easton and I found ourselves in Diagon Alley, watching our favourite books come to life. We loved every square inch of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. It was an incredible experience and though I've never been a big fan of theme parks, I have to say, this was right up my alley. (Sorry, a week with Easton...puns come naturally now.)

I faced my fears and rode every roller coaster at least once with Easton....most of them numerous times, even going so far as to ride the front car of the Hulk coaster, which is not for the faint of heart. I loved it! It was even more fun hearing Easton giggle and scream the whole time. We walked a million miles and our poor feet were screaming each night as we crawled into bed, but it was worth every stinging step. Now that my fear of flying, crowds, roller coasters and visa bills have been fully conquered...ok, well - not the visa bills...but the others...I can honestly say it was a great week and I am so glad I was able to do this with Easton. I learn more and more about this kid when I just get to spend time with him. Once he gets past talking about super heroes and conspiracy theories, YouTube recaps and John Oliver's philosophies, he really does have an incredible sensibility about him. Even in the middle of a trip to Harry Potter World, we talked at length about Zimbabwe and what he's looking forward to. We talked about high school and classes he wants to take and he told me, inadvertently I'm sure, that there were at least three girls that would marry him if I offered them $50 like I have offered his now-future-wife, Gabi.  It's amazing what you can learn about your kid when he's relaxed and not complaining about his older brother. 

Easton using his wand to start the fountain in Diagon Alley

The incredible Knight Bus with talking Shrinking Head

My travelling buddy

The fire breathing dragon above Gringott's Bank in Diagon Alley

Speaking of the older brother, he and Jason return home from Cambodia tomorrow. Jason has been so good about updating that I feel in many ways we were along for the trip but I can't wait to hear first hand how it went. Aidan conquered some serious fears on this trip too! For a kid who HATES spiders, to the point where he will beg for it to be removed from his presence, I challenged him before he left to at least LOOK at the fried tarantulas in the roadside stands. He didn't think he could do it. Turns out...he TASTED one. I'm assured it was the teeniest, tiniest piece imaginable...picture the pinky toenail of a tarantula, but this is nearly unbelievable. But, if there's one thing I've learned about my kids when they're out serving, is to never, ever underestimate them. I have watched them do incredible things, taking much more courage than I have, and done it well. Probably the most rewarding thing as a parent is to watch your children grow into independent people...even if it means that they may one day leave you to pursue their own paths. 

Aidan's got his dancing face on...the Cambodian conga

Aidan leading his students through an English lesson using a seek and find game

Bicycling with the students

I've been listening to a good many friends this last season of life as they've watched their children graduate and move on to college and work. It's heart wrenching to hear them talk of empty rooms and long distance phone plans, Skype dates and the countdown to school breaks. I am dreading those days with the knowledge that I am going to squeeze every opportunity to hang out with these guys that I get in the next few years. And yes, maybe I do secretly hope that one or both will be the guys that live in their parents' basements for their college years...or their comic book store years, whichever makes them happiest.
Returning home has made me feel a certain contentment with whatever the future holds for our family of four and one fur ball. We've been here 9 years with no idea what is next, it may be 9 more. Our house is furry and full of laundry and stacks of books and bills and projects to be tackled but it is full of life. The kids are home and we're going to enjoy it while we have it. For all too soon, we'll be in a house that stays clean and a fridge that stays full for more than a few hours at a time, and we'll be thankful for the mess and the memories made in the meantime. 

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