Correcting the time-space continuum: Despite yesterday's post, we actually drove to Berlin on Christmas day and got back home late yesterday (thank you, blogger's "Scheduled Posts" feature). But I still hope you all had a happy New Year's.
Getting us all to Berlin on a budget required a huge rental van and a driver with nerves of steel. David and Sam split the driving duties (a nice thing about using a local car rental agency--they don't mind having a 22 year old drive their cars). I happily settled into the jobs of conflict negotiator and treat dispenser from the back seat.
What we thought would be a fifteen hour drive turned into an eighteen hour drive when we had to detour off the motorway in the middle of a snowstorm in Czech Republic. Ai yi yi! And David's poor brother and his family, waiting up for us until midnight. AND, as we were shuttling in luggage we dropped one of their Christmas presents on their tile entryway. Sticky red pomegranate syrup. You could still see splatters of it on the front door days later and probably will be able to until the spring thaw when it will finally be possible to thoroughly wash the front door without the water immediately freezing. My sister-in-law is such an angel that she just smiled and said, "Every time I see the splatters I'll think how happy I am you came to see us!"
We also discovered an unanticipated problem with renting a vehicle in southern Europe--i.e. Bosnia--and driving it to northern Europe. Our van had no heat in the back. The windows by the back seats were covered by ice unless we were running the heat in the front seat so strongly that they had to open their windows. Which kind of defeated the purpose. I felt like I was a character in Little House on the Prairie.
Ruth pointed out to me that Isaac and Eleanor were excellent travelers. Very little whining and complaining. Good thing I have her to notice those things because I hadn't noticed it until she mentioned it, but she was absolutely right.
It was really fun to be together. And we weren't even all that cramped either--one of the advantages of having a big family is that although you're forced to rent a van too big to drive narrow European streets, you get plenty of elbow room. Sightseeing through the windows was out (although the feathers and fans of ice were beautiful). So we did other stuff. Ate wafer cookies and chocolate and potato chips and carrots and apples. Ruth read "James and the Giant Peach" and Emma Lucy read "The Silver Chair" and "A Christmas Carol" and Edward read "Dancing Dan's Christmas" and we listened to Edward's Taylor Swift album and the oldest kids taught us a really fun game called "Contact" that we played over and over and over (ask if you want to know how).