Miles and I unexpectedly joined the flight of expat wives westward last month to spend 4 weeks on a US tour.  Due to last minute booking, we ended up on a flight from Singapore to Houston (via Moscow) with a flight time of 23 hours 5 minutes.  Added to the connections and short flights on either end of that, and we arrived in Austin after a surprisingly pleasant 38 hours travel time.

It was great to reunite with Tim, and for a moment to feel the hairdryer-blast of 105 degree heat that came along with stepping off into our homeland.  During our 2.5 weeks in Austin, we caught up with friends and sisters, met new additions to some of our favorite families, ate Mexican and burgers, drank hoppy beers (all of us, some much more than others), went to the pools and splash pads, lake trails, farmers markets, and natural grocers we had missed.  We built in a bit of down time (I had one rough pregnancy week in there), and overall had a great time.

Then it was time to part ways with Tim again, as he needed to go back to Penang.  Miles and I flew north to see my family in Michigan and were greeted with lush, green, cool summer.  They had had a good bit of rain this spring/summer and the contrast to drought-stricken Austin was pretty astonishing.  We enjoyed what I was told was the best week of weather in MI this summer: mid to upper 70s, days of clear blue skies, evening rains and a lovely breeze to tie it all together. We first headed to the cottage, where Miles enjoyed the lake, but not so much the boat.  We saw grandparents and cousins, second cousins and neighbors, and I was reminded once again of the virtues of midwesterners.  We ate well, in a fortifying meat and potatoes kind of way, and at one point I found a cider mill (open! in August!) where I snagged a half dozen cinnamon sugar doughnuts that I all but hoarded for myself.  We ate berries by the bucketful, had tree-ripe peaches and the last of the rhubarb crop.  Back in Detroit, we met up with mom’s side of the family, more grandparents and cousins.  The best part for me was watching Miles bond with his grandparents (things with the dog fell off after a few days when the dog realized this little man would never go away or back down).  I loved seeing Miles search for fish with my mom and take my dad’s hand to show him around the playground.  My dad gave me a great gift one day when I wasn’t feeling too great and let me sleep while he took Miles for a walk then put him down for a nap – go grandpa!

We finished off whirlwind-style with a quick jet over to Chicago for some dear friends’ wedding (with reception at the zoo!).  We had a free day on Sunday before our evening flight to Penang, and I contacted some cousins whom I hadn’t seen in 15 years but have kept up with through blogs &  facebook.  Serendipitously, it was the day of their 2 month old’s baptism, and I got another family reunion out of the deal, making this short stay in the midwest the most I have caught up with family in literally decades!

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Back on to Penang, and we were ready to be ‘home’  (referring to Malaysia).  Our next scheduled trip out of the GMT +08 time zone will be in March, where we will introduce our expanding family (we plan to travel with a 10 week old!) to our expanding family (we’ll be gaining a couple Wilemans!).