I had a glorious idea of how this all would work. It would be simple, yet effective.
Starting in September, Hubs and I would hold Sunday night planning meetings for just the two of us. We would lay out the itinerary, figure out lodging and transportation, and make a to-do list which we would divvy up and triumphantly check off as we completed items.
Then, starting in January, we would get the kids involved. We would give them their own journals at that point so they could begin recording their thoughts and ideas. They would become involved in the planning, picking places that interest them, and coming up with their own ideas of what we should do.
And of course there would be French lessons. We would find the best program (maybe even splurge for a pricey Rosetta Stone?!), and my beloved family would learn French while I gently corrected mispronunciations and told stories of how I learned/used certain phrases during the two years I spent in France.
Hubs and I have met maybe 6 times since September. We have a 6-page to-do list which I wanted to take a picture of for the blog, but I have no idea where I put it. The only thing on it that we have checked off is “renew passports,” which is actually not completed as the post office didn’t sign their portion properly, and we just had to send off the kids’ applications again.
We worked on an itinerary, but never finished it. We have an Excel spreadsheet which details where we are going, but at this point there are 6 versions of it, and I am never sure if I am using the right one. (“Prague?! Didn’t we nix that in December?”)
We did hold a few family meetings. The first one started to go well as we mapped out our route in England for the kids to see. (Don’t ask about the journals…it’s March, and they still aren’t purchased.) But then it went sideways when Hubs and I didn’t agree on where we were going, changed the trip itinerary mid-meeting, grabbed computers to try and figure out distances, got completely lost in the minutiae, and had no idea the kids were even in the room. It ended with our daughter kindly saying, “Maybe you and Dad should have this stuff figured out before we meet.”
The second meeting wasn’t much better. We didn’t really have a game plan for the discussion. Our youngest was too tired, so he kept kicking everyone as he rolled around on the couch. We got frustrated; there may have been some yelling; and multiple family members ended up in tears.
We I actually did find a great, free, online program called Mango! through our public library. We have done about 6 lessons, and that is going decently well. As long as I stay out of the room.
As for the practicality of the French lessons, I think Hubs said it best when the program had them practice, “Excusez-moi. Parlez-vous français?” He just looked at the screen exasperated, threw up his hands, and said, “I can guarantee you that I am never going to be asking someone if they speak French! What the heck would I do if they said, ‘Yes’?”
But, we’re sticking with it. The plan is for a French lesson at 4:30 pm today, followed by a family meeting with reports to be given by each family member. On the agenda? Shakespeare, the Imperial War Museum, Carcassonne, and Anne Frank.
I think those are all still on the itinerary….