2 Down, 34 Weeks To Go.

Photo Credit : https://morguefile.com/search/morguefile/1/marathon/pop

I’ve completed a half-marathon (walking), and I’ve watched my husband complete both marathons and other long-distance endurance events. At the start, the energy is high and you’re feeling strong.  I can SO do this! And then someone says, “ready, set, go” and you’re doing it. Your feet are moving forward, and if you’ve practiced at all, and tried to prepare at all, your subconscious is whispering things like, “stick to the pace, don’t rush it, save your energy.”

That’s where we are right now as a family. The challenge has begun and we’re moving, steadily, trying to be mindful that there is a long, long way to go yet.

We’re two weeks into school and the girls have already zipped to the end of their first “9 week” unit in math. They are on a fifth grade spelling list because fourth was too easy. My son is plugging along on-pace and that’s mighty fine with me because I’m not sure I can run too far ahead since I’m relearning as we go.

I am extremely glad to be able to take the time to balance the social studies and history we’re learning. We are focusing on African-American/Black History, Indigenous History, and what’s traditionally passed along as history, otherwise better described as Colonial/White History. It is shocking (though I know it shouldn’t be) to read how history is stated traditionally. Some king somewhere “giving” away land to the rich, the rich then subletting to a poorer group, and all the while doing this on land that was previously occupied, and indigenous groups “agreeing” to certain terms. Altogether, I’m hoping it gives my kids a broader understanding both of the real history of our own country and that history tends to be one group’s interpretation, and to ask the critical questions to help understand a place and people more broadly.

Our first trip is very soon. We have the RV prepped and ready. We have our itinerary set. All we needed were three new passports to arrive in the mail. The date the woman at the passport office gave us came and went and so I called the passport agency. With the dates of travel so near, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to re-route this trip to be all stateside and that we’d have to explore Canada another time.

When the representative answered, she didn’t give me a lot of hope. Yes, our passports were in-process and they were in the Chicago office, but there was no guarantee they’d be in our hands in time for the trip. She reminded me that the long side of 6-8 weeks was smack-dab in the middle of our trip. I felt stupid. She was right. If I’d been paying attention at the time we were submitting them, I’d have realized the agent there as giving us an optimistic delivery date. If I’d realized that, I would have expedited them from the start. So we were a bit stuck.

A friend reminded us that if we were desperate, we could go to the Chicago office and wait in line. If you’re there within 48 hours of travel (needs to be documented somehow, like a plane ticket) then they can rush through things that day. However, going by RV means that we wouldn’t necessarily have documentation of travel. No car rental, no hotel, no flight.

The next day, a set of letters arrived. Our application had included a notarized form that indicated the father of my children was indeed the father of my children and that he knew I was applying for their passports and not attempting to sneak my children out of the country. (This is a form DS-3053 which is used if both parents can’t be present at the time of application.) I called the number on the letter and spoke with a representative. He advised that we fill out a new form for each child, expedite it to the office in Chicago. He marked each application on his computer with a note about the urgency of the applications.

I’d forgotten the representative had said the Chicago office would call me, so at first, when unknown call rang, I ignored it. But in between the last trill and the voicemail chime- I realized what it was. I called back and hallelujah, he’d sorted out the trouble with the old forms and was sending the passports to our home. Woo-hoo! He even called a second time to let me know it’d cost me less than I thought it would.

So, hopefully, very soon we will be fully ready for the first trip. Our dog is heading home with her grand-dog-parents shortly and there will be nothing else to be done except leave.

I hope this is the last of the pre-adventure excitement but if there’s more, I’ll be sure to fill you in.

To all of you reading, cheering, commiserating, offering advice, sharing ideas, and finding creative solutions for us, thank you for being part of our moral support.  We couldn’t get here without you.