Awake at 4am. Excited. Anxious. Unsure how I will manage the next 25 days away from all my boys. But at the same time, I know this is an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to see a part of the world I have only dreamt of.

Last night Tim and I had a date night….that’s the rare chance to have a meal and interact with your spouse without little hands dumping salt and pepper on the table or needing to go pee…again. But for every meal I have in Ireland, I will most certainly miss the little hands wielding steak knives (no, no…let mommy have the knife….) and feel a bit out of place not helping someone use the restroom. I am assuming my 14 college girls can manage that on their own.

I bought a new rolling carry on bag reasonably priced at Walmart. “weighs less than 6.5 lbs” the tag says. Indeed it does. And somehow the exterior dimensions are the same as my decade old model, but the interior features way more real estate. Oh, modern luggage technology…how I love thee. I am now under weight on luggage and resisting the urge to throw “just one more thing” in there. Sneaking suspicion that my grey Nike hoodie just made the cut…. (even though I swore not to look as American as I am)…I really want to bring the white one, but that is just insanity. I can’t make it through lunch without mucking it up. With more room and available weight, lots of items have started looking more attractive, such as these $3 clearance pink fleece pajama pants bedecked with red lipstick smooch prints and the script “America’s Next Top Model”….somebody stop me….

While I’m carrying on, I may be checking my bag on the return flight home, if my souvenir purchasing goes according to plan. I will not attempt to slide a Celtic dagger through security. Conlon will be so happy if I can add to his collection of knives (wait….I’m sensing a trend with my children and weapons). Two Aran island sweaters for Tim and I. The little ones? No idea what they will be getting. Probably not knives, though. And of course I have to bring home something for Leigh, who showered me with gifts after her study abroad trip last year. My mom probably needs some earrings. Depending on the precipitation I encounter in country, I may be sporting Wellies on the flight back, too.

Chances are, I will purchase a bag in Ireland for all the loot (minus the dagger) and stow that in the overhead bin, and check my suitcase.

Time to look over my packing list one more time, make sure all my devices are charged and ready to go, repack all my things for the hundredth time, and try to be in this moment with my family…when they get up anyway.