Congress, in its great wisdom (insert personal comments here), mandates that Foreign Service Officers spend two months or so every couple of years relearning what it is to be an American so we can best represent the U.S. as “authentic Americans” overseas. We decided to embrace the opportunity “home leave” this year and wound our way back and forth across America, seeing spectacular scenery and spending lots and lots of time with family.
Part 1 of the adventure was Kansas City. For two weeks the boys recovered from jet lag and were helped through their initial feelings of displacement through constant attention from Jen’s family. Dominic went to his first baseball game (embarrassingly for him it was the Royals), Alexander and Mom went to a jazz festival in the park, and both boys did lots of exploring outside with Pappy. The zoo, the rainforest exhibit, the frontier village park, and lots (and lots and lots) of eating made for a busy couple of weeks.
From there, we headed north to the corn fields of Iowa. Fourth of July was spent on the farm – Aunt Katie’s in-laws’ farm, that is. The boys fed cows, ran through sprinklers and had their first ice cream cones with their cousins. The real adventure began for them when, after a couple of days at home with their Aunts and Cousins, they all boarded a train with Tata (Jen’s mom) and headed to California via a couple of days in Santa Fe.
Meanwhile, we (Jen and Tony) had our longest stretch ever away from the boys. We went white water rafting in the Grand Tetons, biking in Lake Tahoe, wine tasting in Sonoma (Healdsburg), and finally wandered our way down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA. The trip was amazing and we are so grateful to the Macke/Jones clan for making it possible! We were thrilled to get back to the boys, though, and had a great week in LA (really, at Disneyland) with the Weaver side of Jen’s family. (Great) Granny was able to take all 7 of her great grandkids on Its a Small World (twice) and Jenny was there to baptize her Godson Dylan and spend some quality time with her best friend, September, in the process.
We loaded up the car again and headed to Colorado via Zion National Park. The next two weeks were a whirlwind of activity catching up with Tony’s extended family. The boys went to the zoo with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Amanda. They finally got to see a winning baseball team with the Rockies and spent lots of time playing and swimming with DJ and Hannah, whom they adore. Pa gave them their first crack at slot machines and we all revisited a couple of our favorite places in Breckenridge.
After a brief stop in KC to pack up, we all headed to DC for a week so Jen could “consult” for work and everyone else could focus on catching up with friends. It was an amazing summer. We figured out the boys slept in 17 different beds, frequently were confused by their lack of “home,” but ultimately thrived under the constant attention of beloved family members. It was a summer to remember and we are so appreciative of the time everyone took for us!