Okay, so first thing's first. I totally caved and had an amazing latte this afternoon at the community center on base. So much for caffeine-free. But in my defense, it was nearly 2 pm and I was at a children's birthday party, and said community center also has an indoor play zone with has no volume control. And it was tasty. And I did make it about two weeks. And frankly, that's enough for me.
Okay. Phew. Confession time is over! Now I'm going to get all impossibly giddy on you, so let me make apologies up front.
First and foremost, I'm seriously stoked about my brother coming to visit soon. He and his awesome wife and their adorable kiddos will be making the trek across the Atlantic to see England...err, I mean us. ;) Actually, I think they are pretty excited about both. My nephew Ben is about nine months older than Caleb, and they are going to have a blast!
We're going to bit hitting some things we've done before, such as Bath and Dover and Stonehenge, but we'll also be throwing in some new trips such as Hampton Court Palace (oooh, Tudor excitement!), Windsor Castle, and possibly Burghley House (Jane Austen AND Tudor excitement!) I can't wait!
Second, we are about three months out from our Mediterranean Disney Cruise, and I could NOT be more excited! I finally got our plane tickets and hotel sorted, so that's a relief. Now it's a matter of scouring the zillions of Disney shore excursions available and figuring out what our "Must See"s are!
I'm not going to even try to disguise it: I am giddy. I'm so thrilled and the idea of being back in Italy again. The thought of walking around Florence seriously makes my heart beat a bit faster.
I really have been super lucky as far as where I've been able to live. I got to live in Italy as a teenager! For nearly three years, we were stationed at Aviano Air Base (best base EVER!), and for field trips, we went places like Verona (think Romeo and Juliet), Germany, and Florence. To this day, Florence is my favorite city in the world. I'm so eager to go back and see if it's just a magical as I remember it.
Unfortunately, my family never made it to Rome while we lived in Italy, so I'm also especially excited to finally make it there! I can't wait to see the Sistine Chapel and the Coliseum. I can't wait to eat Italian food in Italy. Just thinking about it, my mouth is already watering for REAL tiramisu and gilato! I'm so excited about having spaghetti carbonara in the country where I originally tried it, and maybe even a sgroppino. Even the little things, like a San Pellegrino Lemonata are getting me so excited to relive some of my youth in Italy.
I'm nostalgic and expectant and so excited I just can't stand it! To experience it all as an adult, with deeper appreciation for just how remarkable it is to actually be in Italy, will be so incredible. I only wish there was some way I could coordinate it in such a way that I could run into my old friends from Aviano High School while we are there. That would be the icing on the cake.
Okay. Phew. Seriously. Let me take a breath. I'm getting so excited, it's ridiculous. I just can't believe this will all be happening soon. It takes away a bit of the bitter sting of realizing this is our last year in Europe. Chances are very likely I'll never live on this continent again. But I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had growing up and marrying into the military that make me a little more of a world citizen than I might otherwise have felt.
To give Caleb a chance to have some of these experiences, even though he is so young and will probably not remember any of it, feels like such an amazing gift to give. I know that might seem silly. But I regularly think how cool it is that some of his earliest experiences and impressions have so much historical and cultural significance. Maybe he'll look back on these pictures and think, "I was there?" But the sights and sounds and textures of his earliest impressions will be those of castles and coliseums. In my little head, it just doesn't get any better than that.