When we began our 12-month countdown last September, we made a list of the things that had to happen before we could leave. We checked off most of the items one-by-one over the past few months, but when 2011 began, two big ones remained. The first was selling our house. We can’t afford to leave for Europe as unemployed gap year travelers with no income and a mortgage on a vacant house. And we don’t want to be tethered to the worry and hassle of having renters in the place. Getting a call about a burst pipe while “wandering down the Champs-Elysées” would kind of break the mood. Unfortunately, selling the house has yet to happen. The second thing remaining on our must-happen-before-we-leave list is that our daughter who just graduated from nursing school and is currently living with us had to find a job. There was no way we were going to sell the house out from under her and leave the country for a year with her unemployed. Well, the list of must-happens is now down to one because Caroline got a job! She starts at the end of February, plans to move out this spring and so all we have to do before we pack up and leave is sell our millstone of a house! I often imagine our trip as a Christmas tree tightly bound in netting and as each month passes and we check off things on the to-do list, we snip some more plastic to free up more branches. And now the only piece of seriously strained netting holding back our trip’s – I mean, the Christmas tree’s -- full glory is a little transaction called selling the blinking house.