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I don’t know what to call this place. When we’re in Saipan, we call Denver “home.” But when we’re in Denver, we flip flop and call Saipan, “home.” It’s confusing.
The dust in finally starting to settle here after our annual home leave trek (to coincide with a dental conference Adam has to attend). In a stroke of the best luck ever, SNAP! conference was the same weekend as the dental conference. Which means I got to go!
I did learn a ton and have a to-do list that is as long as my arm, but the very best part of SNAP (as always!) was the people! I got to hang out with (or meet for the first time) so many ‘online friends’ that are now ‘real life friends.’ Anneliese, Jen, Jess, Adrianna, Melissa, Marissa, the other Melissa, Andrea, Dana, Kate, liZ and Elizabeth. Friends, these women are gracious and talented and fun and funny and the real deal.
And rooming with Stef from girl.inspired and Kelly from Sewing in No Man’s Land was the best ever. I know many of you follow their blogs. Can I just say that however wonderful and amazing and encouraging and legit they seem on their blogs, they are twice that in real life. Adore those girls. Just adore.
After the conferences, we reconvened in Denver for the craziest whirlwind two weeks. It was was SO fun, and SO busy. Seeing family and friends was the highlight for sure. The cousin time, and the mornings at playgroup, and the chance to go to our old church, and the extra special Lita and Papa and Nana time- simply the best.
We also threw a birthday party, a baby shower, and a serious graduation party. Whew!
Of course, I tried to hit up Sonic’s Happy Hour every day (I failed, but it was a valiant attempt). And we tried to squeeze in as many “America Things That We Miss in Saipan” as we could- Target, IKEA, Home Depot, the zoo, the science museum, Qdoba, ChickFilA, Smashburger, Starbucks, La Loma, Tocabe, Mad Greens, Noodles & Co, Root Down, Whole Foods and Sprouts, Trader Joes. The access just to everything you could want (produce, furniture, party supplies, milk, just food in general) was both shocking and fabulous and overwhelming.
Reverse culture shock, man. It’s a thing.
And after trying to cram in every single thing (and failing- you should see my uncrossed off list of things that we forgot to do or buy), the kids and I jumped on a flight back to Saipan. I wish I could say it went well, that we have this 30-hours-of-travel down by now (honestly, it really does usually go fine), but it turned out to be a pretty rough travel day. Delayed flights plus kids exhausted by the whirlwind visit plus just me (Adam had a different flight home) was a recipe for rough. Oh extra extra long travel days. Emphasis on the extra. And long.
After the whirlwind, and the crazy travel, we are back ‘home’ in Saipan. We miss our people, and Target, and Sonic more than usual. I saw Pi crying earlier this week and asked what was wrong and she said, “I just kind of forgot how much I miss our family, and now I remember.” I feel the same way, sweet girl.
At the same time, being ‘home’ (haha!) gave us the chance to look at this year with a little distance and realize just how special this time in Saipan has been for our family. Sometimes I think you don’t realize how easy and good a season is until it’s past, and I am extra thankful for the chance to see that while we’re in the middle of this.
All of this extra long post to say- the dust is settling, we’re getting back into our routine and I have a bunch of fun things to share with you in the next couple of weeks.
ps- People who have lived overseas for awhile- does the trip home get less whirlwind-ish with time?
Jessica Kok says
Living overseas can be such a roller coaster. Some days I’m ready to hop on the next flight out of Korea, but most days the thought of leaving makes me tear up. Our trips to the US have gotten less crazy. Of course, our kids are older now too. When I was packing for our trip to Malaysia, I thought “I don’t need to bring my neck pillow. It’s only a 6 hour flight.” Funny how perspectives change!
Haha- I have the same bipolar feelings towards Saipan (currently more hop-on-a-plane than sad-to-leave, though I do know that the day we leave this island will be ROUGH on my heart).
And isn’t it funny how your flight standards change? 😉
Kirstin, I am exhausted just READING about your trip! So happy that you got to reconnect with family and old friends during that trip and hope you get settled back into island life again quickly. When you live far away from family, going back is bittersweet because you definitely realize how much you miss them. That was a very astute observation that Piper made!!
Haha, Nicole, it was exhausting for sure! And we are still finding our groove, trying to settle back in and reacclimate. Saipan takes a bit to get used to, and I feel like we’d adjusted and then went and un-adjusted ourselves by going home. Ugh. 😉 Also, still missing family a TON. Bittersweet is a good way to describe it- great when you’re there, but even harder than it had been when you leave.
ps- I am neck deep in adoption paperwork and have been thinking about you guys a ton! Hope foster is going well- have been praying for you and your kiddos as you welcome people into your family and then send them back to theirs!