Monday, July 13, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #7
Whistler, BC, Canada

"It is not the mountain that we conquer
but ourselves."
-Edmund Hillary



TRIP #7: WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Trip number seven on the 10 FOR 10 came about amid the drama and devastation of this past spring.  As much as SC loves spending time with her grandparents, she felt left out from not getting to travel overseas with us on the past two trips.  AC also needed a break, because as much as I was gone, he traveled to the UK for work at other times as well.  We needed time to engage as a family, and to recover from the losses we had been dealing with.  

It was decided that we would travel to Whistler, where SC would get to have her first ski lessons, because we were able to get some great deals on post-spring-break late-season skiing.  Whistler is actually where AC and I took our honeymoon, so it was fitting that one of our 10 FOR 10 trips was to travel back there.  We loved it that time, and were very impressed by how global the community there was.  That was the first time I had ever been out of the USA!  We went back when SC was an infant, though all she was able to do was sit in the snow and eat Zog's fries.

After attempts to learn both skiing and snowboarding, I am not into snow sports (though my friend L suggested I would be great on a snowmobile).  So for me, this trip was low-key, relaxing and full of books, making tea, and taking walks in the woods.  We signed SC up for two individual days of ski lessons, and after that allowed her to decide if she wanted a third day, which she did.  AC skied in the way he likes best, out in the morning late after a leisurely breakfast and coffee, and then back early for a late lunch and a beer at the foot of the mountain, watching everyone come in for the day.  It was nice for us to be together, but each have time apart.


She was a little nervous on day one, but was very happy when we picked her up, and told us she had a great time.  She moved up from level one to two after just the first day, and after the third day of lessons was ready to start on level three, which takes the kids on blue runs.  We got lucky and the third day of lessons was a Saturday, so they had professional photographers take pictures of all the kids and their classes.  We have never bought these type of photos before, because they have never been better than something we could reproduce on our own, but these really showed just how much she enjoyed skiing.


On the last day SC and AC went out together, and he was impressed with how much she was able to do, though she made it clear that he was not her teacher, so she was not going to listen to any advice he had for her.  Being so late in the ski season, the snow was very thin and wet, which made things a bit more difficult, but all in all, they had a great time.  In fact, the only down of the trip was when we were driving back to the airport, a two hour winding trip down from the mountains into Vancouver, and SC got car sick.  Luckily nothing happened in the car, but we now have in our memories what will forever be know as "The Vancouver Airport Incident."



The next ski trip we take will hopefully also be to Whistler, because we were so impressed with their kids' ski lessons.  SC had three different teachers, and we could tell every single one of them understood the age group they were teaching, and genuinely enjoyed getting to pass on their knowledge of skiing.  Next time we want her to be able to take a five day class, with the same kids and teacher the whole time, but that will require more planning than this quick trip did.  Also, AC gets altitude sickness, and the peak of Whistler Mountain is only about 7,000 feet, which is lower than the bases of almost every mountain in Colorado.  Whistler is just the place for us!


In case you missed the first post ...

WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
In July 2015, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #6
London & Oslo

"I've the most extraordinary longing to say 'Bloody Hell'!"
Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Act I (Nora)


TRIP #6: LONDON & OSLO
This sixth 10 FOR 10 trip was a tag-along for me while AC had work to do in London, and then went to a conference that started in Oslo, Norway, and then traveled to Kiel, Germany on a cruise ship via the north/south waterway between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.  

To start the trip off, we were upgraded into first class, the real one with the beds that lay down completely flat.  It was incredible and so much more comfortable than spending hours cramped up in  a seat that barely reclines a few inches.  Once there, we spent the weekend in London wandering around.  We discovered Brick Lane Market on the East side, which is open on Sundays and full of delicious food vendors.  AC had to work the first days of the week, so I played the tourist and went to Kensington Palace for the fashion exhibit, and the V&A for the wedding dress exhibit.  


We took a quick flight to Oslo on Tuesday night, and Wednesday AC had meetings to go to, so I spent the day wandering the main street area, Karl Johans Gate.  I bought a scarf from a local shop, and wandered out of the way to find a local potter to purchase a beautiful coffee mug.  I spent most of the day, however, at the National Gallery, which I was very pleased with.  It had the most logical flow pattern, and related every national artist to what was going on with the rest of the world.  I learned so much about not just Norwegian artists, but how they fit in relation to the worldwide art movements as they were happening.  Of course I saw Munch's famous Scream, but enjoyed the rest of the museum's works just as much.

Wednesday night we went to dinner with all the other conference speakers, and then Thursday morning we embarked for the two-day conference.  For me it was intellectually exhilarating, which is probably not what most spouses would say if dragged along on a technical conference.  However, I am very interested in certain aspects of data technology, so I even sat in on some of the sessions.  I also enjoyed getting to know so many of the other people that AC has the opportunity to work with, and had some pretty intense conversations.


The other thing I did on this trip was take the opportunity to read seven books from my "to read" list.  Of those I read, my favorite was Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey (and I hope to review it soon).  The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins were both very good as well. 

We only were able to spend a few hours in Kiel before turning around to head back to Oslo, and we met up with some local(ish) friends of friends who had set up an outdoor picnic, complete with sandwiches and drinks.  AC and I stayed for a bit and then wandered some, but not too far into the city, since we had to make it back to the boat at a specific time.  

Saturday morning we arrived back in Oslo, and then promptly flew back to London, where we spent the weekend before I headed home on my own.  AC still had some work to get done and would be coming home at the end of the week.  Even though it was a tag-along trip and AC had to work some, we both had a great time, and I would jump at the chance to tag along to this particular conference again.


In case you missed the first post ...


WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
Next July, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).


**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

10 FOR 10: Trip #5
London & Paris

"Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself,
hollowed and fashioned by history..."
Anne Rice, Interview with a Vampire



TRIP #5: LONDON & PARIS

Our fifth 10 FOR 10 trip was one for only AC and I, and one that required plenty of advance planning.  We were to spend a few days in London, with the highlight seeing our favorite football team, Arsenal, play, and then head to Paris for a few days, including Valentine's Day.  We ended up traveling back to London at the end of the trip so that AC could do some work, but that meant we were able to see Arsenal play again, which was just fine with me.  


I will be honest, other than that we went to the games and spent some much-needed time with local friends, I don't remember much of what we did in London.  I barely remember exactly what we did in Paris, because much of my memory of this trip is clouded by the dog's problems back home.  I do know that we enjoyed walking around various parts of the city and having some much-needed time to really focus on each other.

In Paris we purposely did not do every tourist activity, because we hope to go back with SC in the future.  We walked around the gardens at the Rodin museum, and made jokes about the number of sculptures that seem to have been done by someone other than Rodin, laughing at how we have no knowledge of how such large, elaborate works of art are actually made.  We climbed the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and in a very touristy fashion marveled at the traffic patterns. We leisurely shopped on the Champs-Élysées.  We spent a day walking in Montmatre, and stopped to have coffee in the square when the rain started, and laughed at the other tourists with their cheap umbrellas that didn't begin to hold up to the wind and rain.  



We made it up all three hundred stairs at Sacré-Cœur, and marveled at the view.  We watched the line of people standing in the rain, waiting to go up Notre Dame, and just listened to the bells ring as we chatted and had more coffee.  We walked through the Jardin des Tuileries, though nothing was in bloom.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Musée de l'Orangerie, and spent a significant amount of time viewing Monet's Water Lilies.  The vastness of these paintings is overwhelming and extraordinary.

We did not go up the Eiffel Tower, as that is one of the things I want to experience with SC, but the location of our hotel meant that we walked past it every day, at different times of day.  We also did not go to any of the other museums (even though we had initially planned to), instead opting to spend our days outside, walking around, and stopping more than once for coffee.  We also ate so much delicious food, and enjoyed the ability to have a long meal with no one rushing us in and out.  All in all, it was mostly a relaxing, romantic trip.




In case you missed the first post ...


WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
Next July, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"It is likely I will die
next to a pile of things I was meaning to read."
2015 Summer Reading Challenge


"It is likely I will die
next to a pile of things I was meaning to read."
-Lemony Snicket


SC is quite the reader these days, so attempting to come up with a summer challenge that will actually be a challenge for her hasn't been easy.  Most parents and organizations that have challenges do it to simply get kids reading, which really isn't a problem here.  However, we do want to continually encourage and reward her for the reader that she is.  After some thought and discussion, AC and I finally settled on a simple "cash for pages" method, because SC has been very interested these days in picking out and buying things on her own.

However, the challenge part comes into play with the final page goal, and there is a huge reward if she makes it.  The challenge for SC this summer will be to read 10,000 pages.  At a price of $.01 per page, that will earn her a total of $100 for the summer.  However, if she can get to that $100 mark, then her prize will be doubled.  Finally, AC decided that any book she writes a four sentence summary/review of (because that IS an area that she needs some extra practice), the earnings will automatically double as well.  So she has the opportunity to earn $300 all for herself this summer, if she is willing to put in the effort.

The challenge is running May 1 - August 15, which will give her some break time before her new school starts.  The rules we have come up with are that any first-time read counts, including comics and graphic novels, but only novels and chapter books will count as re-reads, and each book will only count once, mostly because it is too difficult to verify if she actually read 100% of a book on the fourth or fifth time through.  

So far she has just made it to the 10% mark of the challenge, though she has not written any summaries.  We told her that instead of waiting until the end of summer for any pay-outs, we would give her the prize along the way, after each $10/1,000 pages.

If she makes it to 10,000 pages by August 15, I have no idea how we will make next summer more of a challenge, or if this is one that we can do year after year.  As much as I read, 10,000 pages in just a few months would definitely be tough!

Monday, May 4, 2015

"In spite of everything I shall rise again ..."

"I felt my energy revive, and said to myself, 
In spite of everything I shall rise again: 
I will take up my pencil, 
which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, 
and I will go on with my drawing."
-Vincent Van Gogh, Letter #136 to Theo (1880)

The past four months have been complicated and difficult for our family.  At the beginning of January, we got news from AC's company that they would be looking into the cost of moving us to the UK for a year or two, and AC was instructed to begin handing off some of his responsibilities in the US, to travel a couple of weeks each month to the UK, and to direct his energy there.  


We were nervous about such a big change, but very excited.  As a family, we began to take steps to prepare ourselves for this large move.  AC and I modified our 10For10 trip #5 in February to include time in London for house hunting, and were able to add me onto a work trip in March using airline miles.  We began to research schools for SC, as we knew it might be easier for her to transition into a new culture if she is able to be around other people more, but we still wanted to find one that allowed her to continue being herself, and focused more on whole life learning.  We asked our good friends if they would be willing to live at our home and take care of our three cats, as they are a bit older, and we knew we would be living in a much smaller space.  

We also took our family dog, Rexy, to get a check-up at the vet, because we would be bringing him along.   He had been having breathing problems for a while (noisy breathing), which in the past we had been told was caused by a soft palate issue, and it would need a quick, cosmetic fix.  Our local veterinarian office had recently brought in a new doctor, and she was very worried when she looked at our pup.  She told us that his breathing issues were much more serious than we had been told, and she could see him turning blue as he got excited and breathed heavy.  She suspected that he had a bit of a collapsing trachea, which is apparently very common in small dog breeds, and ordered a fancy x-ray called a fluoroscope, that takes moving images.  The fluoroscope confirmed that his trachea is collapsing, and not just a bit.  It was collapsing to almost completely closed from the top of his neck, all the way down into his rib cage 2-3 inches.  


We were sent to a surgeon who has performed many successful fixes for this problem, but because of our dog's age (8 years old), the success rate would be much lower.  Also lowering the success rate was the fact that the surgeon would not be able to get to the part inside his rib cage to fix it.  However, after examining him and viewing the scan footage, she expressed deep concern that he would make it even the next few months without having a procedure done to attempt to alleviate his breathing issues.  We chose to have surgical rings inserted on the exterior of the trachea, because the long-term success rate of those seemed to be higher, rather than an interior stint, which would build up scar tissue over the course of a year, and either need to be re-done, or cause irreparable damage.  

The surgery went well, though the surgeon mentioned afterwards that things were much worse once she got inside, and she was shocked that he had lived with such a large area of his trachea collapsing for as long as he did.  We took him home, contained him so that he would not pull anything while running around, gave him all the medicines to help get him healed quickly, and just loved on him.  After two weeks of recovery, AC and I had to go out of town for our 10For10 #5 trip, to London and Paris.  We left our pup at a great boarding facility, and knew they would take as good care of him as if he were at home with us.

Unfortunately, the Sunday night before we were to come home, we were awakened by a call from the boarding facility that Rexy had stopped eating, and his behavior had changed dramatically.  They took him to the emergency vet (which is, luckily, attached to the surgery center), and he was having serious problems breathing.  After an x-ray, it was determined that one of the rings had cracked, and was causing tracheal collapse again.  However, because of the place he was in recovery, his body was not responding well to the level of sedation needed to fix or replace the ring.  He had a breathing tube in, but was only ok with the lightest level of sedation.  Each time the doctor attempted to take him deeper, his vitals would tank.  In the end, AC and I had to make the most difficult decision in our marriage to date, and from thousands of miles away.  After talking to multiple doctors, including the surgeon, the option to attempt to extend his life had too low of a success rate, and could have gone wrong in an extremely traumatic way for Rex.  AC and I have previously discussed quality-of-life issues, specifically with regard to ourselves/each other, and we decided we needed to make the most unselfish decision in this case, as we would if it were one of us struggling with life.  


When we returned home two days later, we had to go through the terrible process of explaining to SC what had happened.  She had known that there was a risk involved with the surgery, and that his healing and health were not guaranteed, but it is one thing to explain that possibility to her, and quite another to explain that the dog she has loved all of her almost seven years wouldn't be coming home.  I personally still struggle with little things every day, like hearing the dogs next door bark and him not reacting, or not hearing his collar jingle when I first come into the house.  The worst for me is not feeling his weight on the bed, especially when AC is gone on a business trip.  I never realized how much I counted on Rex to get me through the loneliness that comes with having a traveling spouse.  As cheesy as it is, for me Rexy defined the phrase "man's best friend."

Sadly, the bad news didn't end there.  Just before AC and I were to leave on our next trip to London, where we hoped to begin nailing down housing options, and even pay a deposit on the awesome Montessori school we had found for Sophia, AC had a meeting with his bosses, where they told him that after looking into the company's own policies, it was simply too expensive to send us over there.  After the struggles with the dog, specifically in an attempt to make sure he could come with us, the news that we would not be going to the UK at all was a devastating blow.  To top it off, we had already "paid" for my ticket (through miles), and had made arrangements for SC to stay with my parents for spring break while we were gone, and we didn't want to disappoint any of them.  The trip actually turned out excellently (and became 10For10 trip #6, but more on that in another post), but going into it, both AC and I were not in a happy place.

Things have turned around for us a bit.  Since we weren't going to be moving to the UK, that meant AC wasn't going to have to keep traveling there for weeks each month, and was able to revert back to his one or two days at a time trips within the US.  We cashed in more airline miles to take an impromptu family trip to Whistler, Canada, where AC and I took our honeymoon, and SC got to try skiing for the first time (10For10 trip #7).  It was a much needed true vacation for all of us.

We decided after finding that wonderful Montessori school in London to look around our area for one, because it has been a real struggle for us to keep up with the social needs of SC and get as much academic work done as we all would like.  We have had a hard time fitting in with many of the local groups, so we either spend a lot of time driving around and meeting various friends each day, or we sit at home, all alone, doing schoolwork until it is time to go to SC's different activities in the evening.  Luckily, we found one that will only take 30 minutes each morning to get to, and it seems just as good as the one we liked in London.  It also goes through eighth grade, so if all goes well, we won't have to change schools or figure some other option out until it is time for high school.

Finally, we decided to go forward with our pre-UK plan, to move a little bit east toward both AC's office and the airport.  Initially we were going to look to move this summer, but as we were watching the action on Zillow every weekend, we stumbled upon a new housing development less than three miles from my sister-in-law, closer to AC's office, but not so close that we wouldn't be able to reasonably get to SC's current activities that are near where we live now.  We were not planning to build new, mostly because the new developments available in the areas we were looking were way out of our price range, but then this new development popped up recently, and it is exactly what we were having trouble finding in an older home.  We are all very excited, though our finish date won't be until early 2016.


So, that is what has been happing with us these past few months.  Even though we will not be homeschooling in the near future, I will hopefully still find time to blog and share what has been going on with us as we continue on the journey toward the wisdom spoken of in Proverbs 2.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What 2 Read Wednesday:
"None of you are going to die..."
Book Review: The Iron Trial
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


"None of you are going to die
and you're obviously not dead."

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, The Iron Trial
Book #1 in the Magisterium series


Having recently reread the entire Harry Potter series with SC, I was slightly skeptical of how good another book about a boy who just finds out he is magic and goes off to a special school would actually be.  J.K. Rowling has set the bar pretty high.  However, other than a few similarities (which would probably be present in ANY book about magical kids going to magic school), this book is it's own story.  

Callum Hunt is a twelve-year-old boy with a physical disability who has to go through the "iron trial," an entrance exam of sorts to the school of magic called the Magisterium.  His father, who was a mage and went through the school, encourages Callum to do all that he can to fail, because he believes the Magisterium is a terrible place, fraught with death and war.  He points to the fact that Callum's mother died just after his birth, because of a war brought on by the mages, as proof of this idea.  Though Callum does his best to fail, he is still chosen to be an apprentice by the same master who taught his mother and father, along with an orphan boy, Aaron, and a girl, Tamara.  Callum's father fights to take him away before the mages can gather them to leave, but is hauled out of the building, and Callum is taken on to the school.

Black and Clare create their own world, with their own set of magical rules, and in some cases delve where Rowling does not dare, complicating the good vs. evil narrative in fascinating ways.  For example, one of my (and SC's) favorite parts of the story is when Callum finds a wolf puppy in the woods.  This is just after a huge battle with "chaos ridden" wolves, ones who have been infected (for lack of a better word) with chaos magic, the dark and potentially evil magic that "devours."  Callum cannot help himself in rescuing this potentially dangerous pup, because he knows what it is like to grow up without a mother, and the pup (later named Havoc) not only brings Callum and his fellow apprentices closer together, but shows them all that there may be more to the magical dark area than the simple dictate "chaos wants to devour."

All in all, this is the perfect series for us to follow up a reading of Harry Potter.  It is HP on steroids, and both SC and I are now firmly enveloped into the Magisterium world.  We cannot wait until the second book,  The Copper Gauntlet, comes out next September.


**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.





Tuesday, January 13, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #4
Grand Cayman

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for He has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers."
Psalm 24:1-2


TRIP #4: GRAND CAYMAN

Our fourth 10 FOR 10 trip was one simply for family time and relaxation.  Over the past couple years we have been lucky enough to take a trip (though some through tagging along for AC's work) to an "exotic" beach location during the early winter months, and this year we planned one specifically to recuperate from the busyness that our life has recently become.  Even on our other beach trips, there has always been an agenda of adventure or work, and while this one did have an exciting learning experience with some aquatic wildlife, most of the time we sat on the beach or lounged in the water.  AC and I spent a ton of time talking about plans for 2015, while SC was in and out of the water all day, building sand structures, making friends with other vacationers, and looking at all the fish milling about with her scuba goggles.  It was the most easy, relaxing, do-nothing trip we have ever taken!  It is definitely on our list of places to go back to one day.


The one adventurous part of the trip was when we went to swim out in the ocean with semi-domesticated sting rays.  We went on a tour that included a stop at "Stingray City," a sandbar out from the north side of the island, plus two snorkel stops over the various barrier reef chunks.  The stingray swimming was interesting, though we will probably never do that part again.  The water at the sandbar came up to my chest, and there were hundreds of stingrays of all sizes swimming at various ocean depths in and around all the people.  I say they are semi-domesticated, because they are used to being fed, so they are curious and friendly, but they have not had their stingers removed, so your feet must stay firmly in the sand.  With the water level up so high, and the surf moving you around, it isn't very easy.  AC had an easier time staying in place because he is taller, except he was holding a squirming SC who was terrified of getting stung.  She was actually fine until some of the other women in the tour group started shrieking, and then she got it into her head that she had something to be afraid of.  The two snorkel stops were amazing, and we saw so many interesting fish. We saw a "stars and stripes" puffer fish, so many angel fish, schools of silver damselfish, bright blue tangs, a needle-nosed gar, and a "stoplight" parrotfish.  Luckily, we didn't see anything scary or dangerous like moray eels, barracuda, giant grouper or lionfish. We regretted our decision not to bring any cameras at this point, though we did it on purpose so as not to be constantly looking through a lens vs. experiencing and relaxing.  Oh, well!  We did get a few fun shots from the cameras on the phone while we were on the beach.



Finally, if you know me well, you know that I collect artisan pottery (mostly mugs) from each location we visit.  Usually I forget to do any research beforehand, which leaves us trying to cram in a last-minute unplanned trip to a local artist shop nowhere near where we are staying or going for the last day.  This time, however, I made a plan and found 3 Girls and a Kiln online, and was able to contact them about what they might have to offer and how to purchase.  They crafted this beautiful mug with coral on one side, and the Grand Cayman motto (from the Psalm listed above) on the other, and actually delivered it to me at the hotel since I was leaving before the next craft fair day.  



In case you missed the first post ...


WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
Next July, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).

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