So we've been on this massive trip and we're not done yet. We started out last December using the Christmas vacation as the perfect springboard to start my husband's six month sabbatical.
Sabbaticals have long been part of a professor's lifestyle--they were originally designed (I think) to make sure profs kept up with their research, and to encourage the exchange of techniques and ideas between researchers at different universities/institutes. One of the ironies in life is that when you get to be a really good researcher the natural progression is to get a job as a lecturer and immediately you get immersed in teaching and admin. This works for some people and not for others but having a sabbatical every 6 years gives people enough thinking-space to keep those research juices flowing.
Anyway, first we headed to the UK to see our families because we hadn't been home in more than three years and the children had started to forget what my half of the family looked like. The snow followed us up and down the country and even into France. Europe, in fact, had the worst winter in 30 years. Winnipeg by contrast had the mildest (why does this make me feel paranoid?). France now seems like a distant memory. Thank goodness we took every opportunity to explore the Brittany coast and Paris and Normandy. The kids were the perfect age to go on long walks along coastal paths, to explore the hustle and bustle of one of the most beautiful cities in the world and to run around pretending to kill Germans at Pointe du Hoc (I know it wasn't politically correct, but it wasn't my idea).
When we left France--with tearful goodbyes from my kids for their teachers and classmates--we began a trip through the UK that looked fine on paper, but turned into a bit of an epic. Don't get me wrong, it was brilliant/amazing/wonderful to see everyone. But we stayed in at least 16 different beds in three weeks and that doesn't count the people we 'popped' in to see. The mental energy toll was enormous. Thankfully we vegged out at our parents/in laws and that made all the difference and kept us functioning human beings.
Spending quality time with in laws and my parents was worth every ounce of homesickness. My husband and I are both very close to our (crazy) families and find it hard to cope with not seeing them very often. My mom even threw a birthday party for me--my 42nd :) Anyway, the big trip is over and although we still have a few weeks and a few thousand miles to go, being back in Canada I do feel like we are already almost home.