What does one do on Home Leave? Oh, anything you like, I suppose, but unlike most care-free vacations, this one usually comes with a pretty hefty to-do list. Most of it fun and some of it tedious, here is how we filled our time in the States:
- Visited Friends. We. Had. So. Much. Fun. We have found ourselves with enough friends who feel like family, classmates and acquaintances in Atlanta these days (not to mention all of the shopping trips we took here during our stint in Charleston!) that it made its way on to our itinerary as another “home” on this trip. Our sweet, sweet friends Kristen and Stevie took us in for a few days, allowing us to meet their precious baby boy, explore the massive Georgia Aquarium – E LOVED seeing the marine life and especially the dolphin show…I’ve never seen her so excited!! a perfect activity for a 13 month old – and simply enjoy being in their presence again. (Unfortunately, we have NO pictures of our time in ATL. I was the lame-o traveler who showed up with all of our batteries charged – yay!! – and no memory space on either my camera or phone. Sad fail. It was a wonderful time with a number of amazing people.) Our time in Indy, too, was filled to the brim with lunch dates, dinner dates, coffee dates and play dates with dear friends who always welcome us back with open arms, even after years of living away. We met more adorable new babies, enjoyed hearing about new adventures and soaked up the opportunity to sip coffee together without a computer screen between us. The last minute re-route to Boston on the way home even allowed us to see kindred spirits there, though a lovely bout of food poisoning the first day sadly cut a number of much anticipated activities out of the schedule. With the fragmented life Troy and I have led, the friendships we have made over the years and the continuity of those relationships probably mean more to us than we can adequately communicate. Thank you so much to everyone who made time for us while we were in America. We loved every moment we got to spend with you! (And to anyone who shared a meal with us…so sorry about our chaos…we won’t do that to you again!)
- Visited Family. Of course, the main reason for Home Leave is the chance to spend time with family…parents, siblings, cousins. Thankfully, Troy’s side of the family lives in close proximity to each other, making it easier to maximize our time together. E loved racing around Mimi and Poppy’s house with cousin Micah, opening cabinets, climbing into closets and experiencing her first tractor ride through the backyard. We visited the Children’s Museum…the world’s largest!…celebrated an early Thanksgiving, and the guys pressed gallons upon gallons of apple cider using an old family press. We know it can be difficult when family arrives in town just once a year and are so thankful to everyone for spending all of your extra minutes in the week with us!
- Went Shopping. More than once. Or Twice. Target, the mall, ooouuutttllleeetts. Oh, shopping. We came with a list. Mostly clothing, and mostly for E, but we had a job to get done. The plan was to spend one extra day in Atlanta to do all of our shopping and be done for the trip. A likely unattainable goal, sure, but imagine what a relief it would be if we could make it happen! Well, we did a pretty good job, but special sales and problems finding correct sizes, unfortunately, pushed us off track. We spent the rest of our vacation fitting in quick trips to the mall and Nordstrom Rack to finish off the remaining items. Not ideal, but what can you do. Also on the shopping list? The insanely yummy (and quick…and easy…) Pumpkin Bread mix from Trader Joe’s…it’s just not fall without it! And after our stay at Kristen and Stevie’s, we may have added a box of TJ’s delicious Pumpkin Cranberry Scones…my mouth is watering at the thought. Our trip to Target added everything from Neosporin, which they don’t sell in the UK, to diapers to cheap, warm slippers to…wait for it….Quaker Real Medley oatmeal cups. Oh man, those used to save my life on quick mornings. And they’re delicious. And the oatmeal in the UK is actually porridge. Ick. The cups were a terrible choice in terms of suitcase space, but I needed them. Just 6. Now, less for quick mornings and more for those few and far between days when mommy gets a little “me time” and eats breakfast all alone (who are we kidding, 6 is more than enough). Many more essentials made the list, but it’s all escaped me now that my mind wandered to the edible “comforts of home.”
- …and just for a fun one – British specific: Ate a fabulously juicy steak (because the Brits just haven’t figured out how to do that one right yet!) Steak is a must, and the Tomasiks know how to serve it! Juicy, seasoned filets wrapped in bacon. You certainly can’t find that in the UK!
Do you get an annual Home Leave? What are some of your must-dos or must-buys for that much anticipated annual trip?