Really, just two weeks? It doesn't seem possible. There's some kind of funky time-warp thing that happens on the interminable flight across the Pacific that turns days and weeks into lightyears and my beautiful memories of the summer are getting fuzzy around the edges. So before I do some serious forgetting, here are some highlights:
Lazy afternoons on Grandpa's farm
We feasted on fresh blueberries from Mom's bushes.
The kids were highly entertained by Grandpa's automatic chair.
Grace, appropriately attired for our Mississippi visit, stands watch over a box of Georgia peaches.
Hot dogs on the Fourth of July
Papaw with all his great-grandkidsOne last trip to one of my favorite spots, The Tea Room (it's now closed) - photo by Zoe
Our 20-year high school reunion weekend
All the grandkids, but one, with Grandma and Grandpa
Golf cart rides
Our kids' first backpacking trip. My dad, who has now section-hiked over half of the Appalachian Trail (so proud of you, Dad!) led the way.
Disney - oh how we love our trips to Disney World!
This moment literally made me weep - Zoe was chosen to play the part of Beast and she got to dance with Belle. It's cliche to say it, and I sound like a Disney brochure, but it was truly magical.
We loved getting to know this little sweetheart, our newest niece, Emi Faye.
We gained the obligatory Furlough Five by feasting on the likes of this...
All of D's siblings gathered (first time in 13 years) for their parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
Our panda-obsessed daughter got to see her favorite creature in person, at ZooAtlanta.
There were so many good times with our family and friends (and that other "F" - food) and saying goodbye is the PITS!
We had a very smooth trip back to Papua, the only snag being the cans of beenie-weenie my dad put in Carter's and Grace's bags. It was a little joke from our backpacking trip, and I guess Dad thought they might want a little snack along the way. In Savannah, and later in Tokyo, the security scanners pulled the cans out, carefully inspected them, shook them, put them through the x-ray machine again, and finally approved them for travel. Phew.
There were no other problems except my, um, meltdown at Singapore security. We spent a lovely 12 hours in our favorite airport, enjoying the new butterfly garden and coffee drinks and foot massages.
Then as we were going through Singapore security to get on our flight to Indonesia, my little "I heart Singapore Airport" bubble burst when they confiscated my favorite little fingernail scissors. I mean, these are the teeniest tiniest most miniscule scissors ever, and had breezed through all other security checks in my bag (perhaps because TSA was distracted by the beenie weenie?).
The blades on these little scissors were hardly an inch long, if that. Trying to imagine me taking down a jet with my little scissors was just ludicrous and I raised my voice a little.
"But they made it through security checks in the U.S. and Tokyo."
Stern Security Lady shook her head no.
Kind Helpful Security Man stepped in to help. "You can buy some more in Indonesia."
Unkind Jetlagged Natalie snapped, in Indonesian, "No, you can't! I've lived there 12 years and never found any like this!"
Kind Helpful Security Man backed off.
I thought of whipping out my 10-inch knitting needles, which could possibly take down a jet but have cleared security, but David wisely urged me to step away before I set off an international incident, and I did. In tears. My kids rolled their eyes and pretended not to know me. I, a bit ashamed, sat by myself and pretended not to know me.
But now we're back, recovered from jet lag and easing back into the swing of things. David is off and flying, the kids are settled into their routine at school, and I am teaching one of the high school English classes at their school.
Thank you to all our family, friends, and supporters who hung out with us, hosted us, fed us, and loved on us this summer. We miss you!