home leave is awesome

I’ve been slacking on the blog because I’ve been so busy loving home leave, which, on a scale of one to best thing ever, is pretty close to best thing ever. For the non-Foreign Service folks reading this, home leave is Congressionally mandated vacation that Foreign Service Officers must take in between tours abroad. There is a catch, of course: it must be in the US, although housing is not provided. Fortunately, this is no problem whatsoever for us since we have lots of family and friends who have been opening up their homes to us.

It took Scarlett a little while to settle in but she is really enjoying her time here. My parents dogs have been tolerating her well enough, although they don’t usually feel like playing with a hyper puppy, which Scarlett doesn’t understand. As we learned in Uzbekistan, Scarlett loves being outside, so living in houses with fenced-in yards has been wonderful. I fear she will sorely miss running around unleashed when we return to DC for language training in the fall.

Scarlett, sporting her pink doggie life jacket, enjoying some time on the boat

So far this home leave, I have been able to enjoy the loveliness that is my hometown, spend time at the beach, explore Newport, RI, watch one of my most favorite people in the entire world marry the love of her life, visit my in-laws, and eat. A lot. So much delicious food! So far, we’ve had pizza (five times and counting), sushi, Chick-Fil-A, steak, BBQ, Dairy Queen, and scallops. Not to mention the snacks and drinks most Americans take for granted (a list that includes, but is not limited to: Klondike bars, hint of lime tortilla chips, seltzer, Pop Tarts, and cereal). Oh, and real milk. And bagels. The list goes on and on.

The first time Grant went into a grocery store, he was overwhelmed by all the choices: hello, “reverse” culture shock. By this time, I had been in the US for a few weeks, and I had gotten over most of my grocery store awe, although I have a new appreciation for American supermarkets. In Tashkent, we went to one grocery store and it either had what we wanted or it didn’t. End of options. (Whereas the store we went to in the US had two lengthy rows dedicated to just soda and iced tea, for example.)

We are looking forward to spending more time with our family and friends over the next few weeks before hitting the books!

admiring the view of downtown Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

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