demersgonehome


One final blog post, by Blair…

Welcome Home!

We received a wonderfully warm welcome home!

We’re back! Over two months have passed since we walked through our front door after spending almost ten months abroad. I thought I would be writing this post within a week of our return, but somehow just could not bring myself to officially complete the blog. It all just felt so final. So I have let many weeks go by while bearing witness to the joys (and pains) of our re-entry. And this final blog post retreated to the far corners of my brain while I navigated our transition back into “normal” life.

So many people have asked us, “How does it feel to be home?”  Well… it feels wonderful to be home — to sleep in our own beds, drive our car, stock our own fridge, and generally relish in the ease of life in the U.S!  It goes without saying that the many reunions with our friends and family members this summer have been the absolute highlight of our return. We’ve had a revolving door and an open-house policy, relishing the ease with which we can connect and be social whenever we please after feeling so far from our loved ones this past year.

Schuyler, Zoe and Thayer have had an easy transition back into their lives here.  They are out playing in our neighborhood, riding their bikes as often as possible, loving such freedom and independence after the year of extreme togetherness.  They’ve enjoyed a lot of unstructured time at the beach and pool, as well as some great day camps and, for the older two, sleep-away camp. When it comes to the speed of our re-acclimation, Jeff and I are pretty much eating their dust.  

The girls, with cousin, Cody, dirty after a day of environmental/wilderness camp.

The girls, with cousin, Cody, dirty after a day of wilderness camp.

Naturally, despite the many joys of our return, parts of re-entry have been challenging. The barrage of phone calls, texts and emails that clutter our daily lives and interrupt so many of our quiet moments were initially exhausting for Jeff and me. After living under the radar for so long, we had adjusted to a slower pace of life, to uncontaminated time for our brains. In addition, managing the weekly calendar for a family of five, all of us now often going in different directions, has been an adjustment after so many months of living in the moment, day to day, all together. It is taking patience and practice to re-master the scheduling needs of a typical American family, even one that tries not to overdo it! We do miss the simplicity of one rolling duffel bag per person and small hotel rooms or apartments. And in our own ways, Jeff and I are grieving the end of such a special time in our lives. It’s hard to let go after so many months of planning and execution, and to move forward into the next stage of our family’s life together.

Just when I worry that our trip is slipping too deeply into the recesses of our busy minds, small reminders of our year appear at the most random times. For example, I reached into the pocket of my raincoat last week and pulled out a receipt for something we purchased on a rainy day in Hanoi, Vietnam, last April.  While away at camp in Maine, Zoe had a counselor from New Zealand, and they shared an inside joke about preferring the kiwi term “togs” to the American term “bathing suit.”  While playing in the woods with her cousins recently, Schuyler started brushing her teeth with a peeled twig, imitating the Maasai people’s dental hygiene practices that we experimented with in Kenya. And Thayer just lost her second tooth, immediately wondering if the tooth fairy would reward her in Dong or Dollars!  

These little reminders of our year abroad infiltrate our lives at home with regularity, and there is some comfort in that, just knowing that the trip is still with us. And then there are the more subtle signs of the impact this year has had on us, which are starting to rear their wonderful and welcome heads as more weeks pass since our return.  For example, we are noticing a different kind of confidence in the girls, one that perhaps comes from knowing they have accomplished something both challenging and unique at such a young age.  Jeff and I have a renewed appreciation for simplifying, slowing down, finding time to be together.  We talk about our priorities, how to live and work with intention and purpose, how to find a healthy balance while navigating the frenzy of opportunity facing us each and every day.  We more deeply appreciate  the community in which we are raising our children, the proximity of our families, and the depth of our friendships.  We are evermore committed to traveling with our children in some way, shape or form, for the rest of our lives. 

But for now, as we move away from the adventurous traveling lifestyle, as we go about our daily routines at home that sometimes feel mundane, we bring with us a treasure trove of memories and a deep gratitude for the incredible gift of this past year abroad. Ten months of shared experiences have bonded our little family of five in ways that we haven’t even begun to really understand. We look forward to feeling the ripple effects of our adventures together for many years to come.   

 THE FIRST PHOTO

September 6, 2014... Departure Day

September 6, 2013… Departure Day

THE FINAL PHOTO

And After...

July 20, 2014… home again

 

TRAVEL TALLIES

Number of continents: 5   (Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, N. America) 

Number of countries: 14   (England, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong/China, Japan, United States)

Number of airplane flights: 32

Number of airlines flown: 16

Number of flights delayed: 2

Number of flights missed: 0

Number of bags lost: 0

Total air miles traveled: approx. 48,000

Types of transportation: 42   (jet plane, turboprop, single prop, helicopter, train (bullet train, subway, steam engine) car, van, combi, minibus, bus, taxi, trolley car, tram, RV, safari jeep, tuk tuk, ferryboat, jet boat, junk boat, basket boat, vaporetto/water taxi, hydrofoil, bicycle, scooter, skate board, pedi-taxi, motorbike, cable car, ski lift, alpine luge, horse, horse cart, ATV, water buffalo, elephant, rickshaw, zip line, wheelchair (Schuyler – food poisoning in China), and of course, our own two feet.)

Number of places we slept for two or more nights: 52

Types of accommodation: hotel, B&B/inn, motor lodge, youth hostel, house, villa, apartment, condominium, camper van, trailer park, houseboat, Bai compound, farm stay, Maasai manyatta (mud hut), traditional Chinese Bai home, ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).

Number of museums visited: 29 that we can recall well

Favorite Cultural Activities:

Roman Baths and Nunney Castle (England); Experimentarium (Copenhagen); Anne Frank Haus and Canal Boat tour (Amsterdam); Dutch soccer match and Klaas Witts’ architecture tour (Bergen); Glass blowing demonstration and gelato tasting (Venice); Colosseum and Pantheon (Rome); Maasai warrior training, Maji Moto widow’s village, Enkare Lepa School (Kenya); Langa Township, Robben Island, Slave Lodge, Bo Kaap (S. Africa); Sydney Opera House production, Harbour Bridge New Year’s Eve fireworks (Australia); Maori tribal dancing exhibition, Surf Lifesaving class, Mount Maunganui Schools, bungee jumping, gold mining, farm stays (New Zealand); fortune telling and Chinese medicinal herb tour (Hong Kong); water puppetry performance, cooking school, fashion design, pottery making, eco fishing and farming, street food tour, kayaking through floating village (Vietnam); traditional silk dyeing and weaving class, Mekong River boat trip, giving alms to monks (Laos); umbrella painting, HIV orphanage, monk indoctrination ceremony, Long Neck Village (Thailand); Chinese ink painting, Baisha silk embroidery lesson, Naxi hieroglyphics lesson, Tibetan Monastery, Chinese kite making, dim sum lesson, Forbidden City/Tiananmen Square, Family Learning House (China); Yuzen pattern painting, traditional hot baths, Hakone Open Air Museum, Hiroshima Peace Park (Japan), Pearl Harbor (Hawaii). 

Favorite wildlife encounters: Every minute of our 6-day safari, Monkey Town (S. Africa); koala, kangaroo and reptile encounters (Australia); snorkeling (Great Barrier Reef and Watamu, Kenya); horseback safari, chasing zebras, David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (Kenya); Kaikoura seal colony, Pete’s Farm Stay, Rangitikei Farm Stay, horse trekking (New Zealand); water buffalo riding (Vietnam); elephant riding in the Mekong River, Asiatic Black Bears (Laos); Tiger Kingdom (Thailand); playing with “Ginger” the Tibetan stray dog (China). 

Most Unusual foods eaten: “Smiley” (road-side sheep’s head, S. Africa), poisonous green ants (Australia), goat meat (Kenya), silkworm poo tea (Laos), yak meat (China), just about everything in Japan.

Birthdays celebrated: Thayer’s 6th (Australia), Blair’s and Jeff’s 40th (New Zealand), Zoe’s 10th (China)

Number of doctor’s visits: 4   (Sydney, Mt. Maunganui, Hanoi, Chang Mai)

Difficult moment that we now laugh about: Schuyler vomiting all over our 10-seater aircraft, S. Africa.

Number of nights Blair and Jeff spent away from the girls:  1   (a heartfelt thank you to Jeff’s parents for that)

Number of times we pinched ourselves: countless

Number of regrets: 0

 

Thank you everyone for your love and support along the way.  We couldn’t have done it without you! 

With love,

Blair, Jeff, Schuyler, Zoe and Thayer Demers

 

THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT ALONG THE WAY!

 

 Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

– Mary Ritter Beard

 

 

 

Categories: ASIA, demersgonehome

11 comments

  1. How does one begin to put closure on such an amazing, life-changing 10 months? Of course, you’ve realized, that you never do. It is amazing the way small things, like the receipt in your pocket, the teacher from New Zealand, will continue to follow you forever! I’m so happy to hear the transition home has been smooth. Your family’s life style has done a 360 and everyone has gracefully hung on for the ride and landed right back where they should be. We
    lcome home!

  2. Hello Demers Family… I’m just so happy that you guys gave yourself this gift. And it’s a gift that will keep on giving in countless ways for try rest of your lives! Your loyal readership misses following your adventures across the globe but it was fun while it lasted. Happy birthday Schuyler, and see you all soon! Xoxo

  3. Dear Blair, Jeff and girls,
    Such a lovely final chapter of the blog, a final episode of a truly fantastic journey ‘on the road’ for 10 months… There’s some sadness that no new chapters will follow and that an almost daily ‘check’ on my laptop (“would there be more news from the Demer’s ?”) is no longer needed. We ‘ll have to develop new ways of staying in touch, especially with all this water in between our homes. And we certainly will ! It was absolutely wonderful getting to know you and to follow you round the globe. Thank you for allowing us to travel on your shoulder…and for lifelong friendship. Bergen is waiting for your return. Namasté and stay well !
    Klaas (and Lilian, Zinzi, Linde & Wisse

  4. I was so excited when I saw that familiar heading in my inbox! I had been missing you all and the riches your travels brought into my life. This final posting seems just right. Here’s a toast, with breakfast o.j. :-), to you 5 and to all the adventures at home and abroad that are yet to come. Fiona

  5. Awesome! I love the before and after pic. XO

  6. Thanks for letting us follow along, and thanks for the ideas and information as we developed our own trip plan! I hope to enjoy our year as much (and have as few trips to the doctor and missed flights!) -Jen (fouroffthebeatenpath)

  7. Holy stats! Incredible…

  8. What an incredible journey. I’ll miss all those blogs… read every one! The flip side, of course, is how nice it is to look across the street to see all of you once again. In your final entry I particularly related to “frenzy of opportunity”. Well said. The never ending balancing act is one many of us deal with more than we’d like. Being aware of your priorities has got to count for something.
    Here’s to the Demers and their safe return! So happy to have you back in the ‘hood.
    Love,
    Sue and Kent

  9. Dear all;

    I love this last blog because it sums up in such a moving and beautiful way your re-entry to NH with its multitude of feelings and emotions. That you have absolutely no regrets is lovely, and I know, even though your memories might fade, that what will not fade is the feeling of closeness and “knowing” one another in a way that cannot be experienced at home with all your individual daily and hectic schedules. I know the girls are back in school, that camp was successful and that Jeff is going with the long hair look. I know also that you might be getting a dog (YEAH) and I hope that it is named after some memory from your trip. I can suggest a few names, but of course, I would start with smiley, (or whatever the sheep’s head was called)
    In any case, all our lives are rich and full and perhaps too busy; I hope that all of you take the time to simply and quietly remember and cherish the time spent with each other. I know you will.

    All love

    Juan

  10. Blair, Jeff, Schuyler, Zoe & Thayer – thank you so much for sharing your journey around the globe with us. It has been an amazing experience to be an observer of your explorations, activities and adventures. We look forward to seeing how this experience shapes your lives back in Portsmouth. We’re guessing just a spark of many more amazing experiences and full lives making a difference locally & globally!

  11. Dear Blair, Jeff ,Schuyler, Zoe, and Thayer ,
    What a wonderful summary of your 10 months abroad. The love and warmth in the final photo tells it all and I think the following poem really captures the significance of the entire journey.

    Living Wide Open:
    Landscapes of the Mind

    I will not die an unlived life,
    I will not live in fear
    of falling or catching fire,
    I chose to inhabit my days,
    to allow my living to open me,
    to make me less afraid,
    more accessible;
    to loosen my heart
    until it becomes a wing,
    a torch, a promise.
    I choose to risk my significance,
    to live so that which came to me as seed
    goes to the next as blossom,
    and that which came to me as blossom,
    goes on as fruit.

    Dawna Markova—“I will not die an unlived life–reclaiming purpose and passion”

    Thank you again for sharing your amazing journey and for opening your hearts to all of us. love patsy

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