the three

The three. Together once again. Today was the day Saffron returned from her six-month adventure in Berlin where she stayed with Oma and the two dogs who live with Oma. She attended a German-speaking school, made new friends, and collected unforgettable memories. An eight-year-old living in another country, immersed in a different culture and language, and communicating with her parents via Skype on a daily basis is an extraordinary experience and not one she will ever forget. Now she is back with us and the next adventure begins.

Saffron's flight arrived at 16,05h from Heathrow. I arrived at exactly the time her plane landed. There are three places one can wait for arrivals at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. I waited at the top two levels until asking for a second time and being told the customs area is downstairs. Never having been through customs in Austin on any of my travels, I was unfamiliar with that exit. So, I waited. The wait was endless - almost an hour after the flight landed.

Saffron flew back with Oma who will be staying with the children and their father for the next two weeks. She was excited to be home but overwhelmed, it seemed, as well. The experience is not typical of most children her age - being away from her immediate family for what seems an eternity for a child. Seeing her brother and sister brought a great smile to her face. She hugged them and kissed them and wanted to catch up with them.

The plan was for her to come with me straight away from the airport. She wished to spend time with her siblings first, so she left with her father and Oma. The drive home from the airport took twice as long as the drive to the airport. Traffic at 17,00h was the culprit. I made it home by 18,17h and immediately got on Skype to chat with my boyfriend as it was past midnight his time. My daughter arrived at my doorstep an hour later with her siblings to wish her goodnight. They will see their sister tomorrow evening when I drop her off at her father's place.

My daughter went upstairs to take a shower before dinner. She was excited to see her new bed - the daybed which has been half-assembled for the past six months. This past weekend, I finally put in the metal slats, washed the frame, and dressed the bed in her favourite colours. She loved it and is now sound asleep in it. We ate dinner. She requested salmon, rice, and broccoli - or 'brocolye', as she wrote me in an email over a month ago. Her request was specific and she ate it all. Afterwards she got three pieces of the Rittersport dark chocolate with hazelnuts as dessert.

The bed time story was 'Post für den Tiger' - the same one I read to her siblings the last time they were here. I read a few pages until Saffron asked to read. We then took turns reading and I was impressed at her ability to read German. Before she left for Berlin, she had difficulty reading any German. Now she was reading like a native.

The little girl who left for Germany last July returned a big girl who has brought with her many memories and experiences she would not have otherwise acquired. Although she was always the independent type, she gained a greater sense of independence as she had to live outside of the safety net of her parents and siblings. With The Three together again, the balance is now restored and I am overjoyed. A new adventure awaits her as she acclimates to a life in America - a life quite different than in Europe. With her siblings by her side, she will not have much problem adjusting to her new life.