The sun is rising above the palm trees in my yard in Florida. I rose early—still jet-lagged but also charged to sit down at the laptop to put some words down—but then everyone else in the family woke up, too. One by one, they came out of their lairs at 6 a.m., so jazzed up it was as though they just spent the night hanging from the ceiling instead of actually sleeping. I quickly realized my precious alone time was not going to happen.

The boys left to go fishing, their current red-hot passion, because they thought they’d catch more fish before sunrise. I admired their dedication. But the girls, of course, settled in to the couch, chattering away. My beautiful, loving little girls. How could I tell these sweet, fresh faces to scram?

My peaceful, creative mood wavered but I worked hard to not let myself be disappointed, to remember that these young humans will not be in my home forever, needing me to listen to everything on their minds. And what a lot they have spinning around in there!

And now the little one is singing everything on Adele’s mind, too: Hello from the other siiiiide… I must have called a thousand tiiiiimes… And on. And on. And on. I’m sure Adele is a wonderful artist, but I can’t say I’d mind if I never heard another lyric of hers in my lifetime. With two girls who love to sing, her words are the soundtrack of my life these days. I hear her songs in my sleep. I need some kind of selective memory-erasing drug to obliterate the whining, I’m-a-strong-woman-even-though-the-boy-left me lyrics. Egad.

We just arrived back in the U.S. after a five-week trip in Europe. I feel so fortunate to have had such a remarkably good trip…! But it was a tiring one. We kept on the move: Loire Valley, Paris, French alps, Florence, central Italian mountains, Rome… It was a bustling, sightseeing, busy-body kind of journey. Not our usual style, which is to rent a local place for a few months and settle in, with minimal sightseeing. This time, we zipped around France and Italy, seeing everything we thought we could (or should?). There’s something about Europe that makes you feel like you have a job to do. Europe, with its castles and monasteries and medieval streets, has been a tourist mecca for so long that no visitor can claim they “didn’t know” what they were supposed to see.

But, because we’re not people who subscribe to the ideas of “should” or “supposta,” we did NOT see the Louvre, or the David. We did not go up inside the Eiffel Tower. We did not go inside the Colosseum, nor did we visit any museums related to the Roman ruins. But we did wander the streets, take about 2,000 photos, and eat lots and lots of cheese and bread in France and about a hundred pounds of pizza and gelato, respectively, in Italy. We did more than eat, of course, but I need time to digest before explaining it all.

And we put the miles on. I don’t have a pedometer, but I can promise it was extreme. I wore out my flip flops, the cute ones with the red flowers on top. And maybe part of the bottoms of my feet, I’m not sure yet. I can’t say how many times I thought, “Miles to go before I sleep,” but it was probably every day of our city days, when we trekked through Paris, Florence, and Rome. So often, I played that little “count to 100” game I have. It works when waiting for a bus or metro train, walking to find a restroom when you (or someone whose sweaty little hand you’re currently holding) really need to go, or counting down the minutes until the plane lands. Just count to 100, slowly (repeat if you have to), and hope the desired outcome happens before you reach the end of your count. Even if it doesn’t, you’ve calmed your mind by the slow and steady stream of numbers through your head.

I feel so fortunate to be able to live the life of my dreams. To play with my kids, to teach them through traveling to interesting places, and to work doing things I love. I am grateful, so grateful. But, at the moment, just a little tired. :/

I’d like to write more about the special experiences we had while gone. I intend to. I’d like to describe the unique vibes of each place. The awe-inspiring people we met. The funny stories and the the way things seemed to always work out. The concerns and fears. But for now, I’ll just reiterate how good it is to be home, back to my familiar vistas, my easy wifi connection, my comfort zone, my pillow, and my native language. I know me and know I’ll get the travel itch sooner or later, but right now I’m just happy to be back in my own skin for awhile.