Monday, August 21, 2017

August 20 – A Teenager Arrives to the Olson Family

Happy 13th birthday Magnus! Yes, we now have a teenager on our hands. And what better place to celebrate your 13th birthday than on a Filipino island enjoying the beach and ocean. In fact, we gave Magnus the chance to choose what he wanted to do for his birthday. We could have gone to swim with whale sharks, done an island hopping and snorkeling tour, a hot air balloon ride, or rented motorcycles for the day. He chose to go fishing, so we hired a local boy to take us out. We met him at 8:30 am but the tide was very high and the water choppy so he asked if we could postpone until 1:00pm, when he was hoping it would be calmer. 1:00 came and brought it with it even stronger winds and waves, so we decided to put it off until tomorrow afternoon, leaving us the rest of the day to do as we pleased.

Stella and I happily agreed to a game of Magic with Magnus on his birthday morning which, I think, made him very happy. For the rest of the morning and afternoon we simply hung around. We all spent a lot of time in the pool. We went for ocean swims. We walked the beach and raced hermit crabs. The hours came and went. For dinner, Magnus chose sushi so we went to the local Sushi Boat restaurant and enjoyed some of the best sushi we’ve ever eaten. We then went to Dunkin Doughnuts, bought Magnus the largest, chocolatiest doughnut they had on offer, and sang him Happy Birthday.

There was no birthday cake, no birthday presents, and no birthday party, but several times during the day Magnus called us all together, gave us a group hug, and said thanks for the best birthday ever. We are so very lucky.

This will probably be the last extended family trip that we ever do. The last time we traveled to this part of the world it was for ten weeks and the kids were 8 and 10 years old. This time we went for seven weeks and the kids are 11 and 13. In another three years they will be 16 and 14 and I just cannot imagine that our schedules will be such that we will be able to take that much time away. Magnus will be working and driving by then. Stella will be in her first year of high school and busy with friends and activities. Both Ana and I have been so fortunate to have been given these extended leaves from work, but unless we quit our jobs to become teachers, or retire, it’s just not the kind of thing you’re able to do frequently in a regular job. Does it make me sad thinking this may be the last time we do a trip like this? Yes, it does. These trips have been life changing for all of us, and something that we will have to cherish in our memories forever. Which is why we did them at this point in our lives, when we knew it would not be disruptive to our kids’ lives, and when they still think we are pretty cool to hang out with – and are picking up the tab!

It is certainly not the end of our travels – hell no, there’s plenty more of that to come, but unless our situation changes drastically, this will be the last full summer away for our family.

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