America Vacation 2016: Highs and Lows

Hello. It’s me. It’s been a while, I know. Probably nobody really cares so I’m not too worried about it. ? We’ve been in the US for the last month and just got back to Shanghai a few days ago. We’re still dealing with jet lag and unpacking and I don’t even want to look at the pile of laundry, so I thought I’d stop in here for a quick update.

First off, America is amazing. You beautiful, wonderful country, you. Stay great (and if you vote Trump in I swear I’ll never stop crying – don’t be stupid, guys). We spent a week with Terry’s parents in central California, then drove over to Tahoe to meet up with all his siblings and their spouses and kids, and then drove to Utah for some quality time with my peeps. But in an effort to show you real life, here’s the whole of it, good and bad:


The Lows:

  • The jet lag. You knew this was coming. Oh you guys. This was so. much. worse. than last year. Or any other year. I thought jet lag with a baby would be bad, but it’s so much worse with a toddler!! Ha! (Wait a couple years for me to bemoan how it gets even harder with a toddler AND a baby!) It is unbelievable to me just how long five days and nights can start to feel. Sander was up till 4 am for way too many nights, screaming uncontrollably, inconsolably, at the top of his tiny little lungs. Nothing worked. Nothing helped. I’m glad it’s over.
  • The flights. While Sander is generally a great little traveler, nobody likes long-haul flights. Especially when you’re sharing a seat with someone. And rather than fork over another thousand bucks to buy him his own seat, we shared our seats with our little someone. (Although, to be fair, it was mostly Terry sharing his seat with Sander, bless him.) Sander stayed awake as long as his little eyes could stay propped open, which ended up being pretty much the entire flight to America, minus maybe an hour. Thanks, kid. He was at least in a good mood for most of it. And on the way back he slept for about half of it (and screamed for a couple more hours). Luckily, we had an extra seat next to us on the way back that we took full advantage of.


  • The ride from the airport to Terry’s parents’ house. This was like my worst nightmare. Sander was strapped into an unfamiliar carseat (he’s used to riding in our arms in cars) and was beyond exhausted, leading to hysterics I’d never seen before and ending in him puking all over the (brand-new) carseat for four hours as we crawled through holiday-weekend traffic. I finally requested we pull over for a break. We stopped at Barnes and Noble, where I found solace wandering through the bookshelves, and Sander found relief in the kid’s section playing with trains, and Terry found himself in charge of changing Sander’s puke-covered clothes and cleaning the car (thanks, honey – I don’t deserve you).
  • Running errands. This is unavoidable, but we always spend a good chunk of our vacation sprinting from store to store in an effort to purchase anything we might possibly want in the next year. Clothes for me, clothes for Sander, maple flavoring, deodorant, vitamins, pain killer, baby toothpaste, books, tums, shoes, on and on and on. I dislike shopping in general and don’t enjoy spending money, especially in such big chunks. At least I can though. Still, it’s never one of my favorite parts of vacation.
  • The go-go-go. We were just constantly running from one place to another, and while that’s been appealing in times past, it’s just hard with a kid who’s still napping twice a day. Poor little guy just never knew when or where he would get to sleep, and woke up in a different place every few days. Definitely not a relaxing trip.


The Highs

  • Seeing my people!!! I love you all and if I didn’t get a chance to see you I’m so sorry. ☝️ #toobusyformyowngood #itsmenotyou
  • In n Out! Cafe Rio! Cheesecake Factory! Ice cream galore!! Cold cereal! Oh my gosh I seriously don’t want to see sugar for like at least a month (she typed as she grabbed another leftover Oreo).
  • Catching up with old friends from Paris! They were on their US vacation too and my dad convinced them to come over for a BBQ. These are some of our favorite friends from our days in France, and Terry and I stayed with them when we visited Paris a few years ago. It was so so fun to see them again.
  • Hiking! I did as much of this as I could squeeze in. I don’t get nearly enough mountains for my liking, so I gotta get it when I can. My sisters were happy to oblige and joined us on a whole bunch of hikes.
  • Lake Tahoe. We’d never been before, but my goodness it was pretty. Sander hated the sand for the first day or so, but warmed up to it when he saw his cousins playing. Pretty soon we couldn’t stop him from barreling right for the water. Terry and I rented a kayak for a bit too, which is one of my favorite things to do anytime I’m near water.
  • Seeing Sander play. He’s growing up in a city and hasn’t had much chance to do the kind of outdoor playing that was normal for me in my childhood. But we squeezed in a lot this summer – playing in Granny’s backyard with the ride-in toddler cars, running around while we sprayed water at him from the hose, a splash pad, playing with sticks and dirt on the trail, going down the slide and swinging on swings, all kinds of stuff.
  • I got a haircut!! I’ve been dying to chop it off for months, and my oldest sister was happy to oblige. Feels great to have a bit of a new look!
  • Point Lobos, California. This is one of the prettiest places, and it’s not far from where Terry grew up. It’s been a few years since we’ve been out there and I was so excited to go back.


  • Convincing my mom and sister that they really did want to watch the Bachelorette with us. ?
  • Revisiting all my old stomping grounds. We went to BYU campus and made the requisite stop at The Creamery on 9th (#grahamcanyonforlife), drove past the house I lived in during high school, went up the canyon I spent years living next to, and just generally enjoyed being back in the mountains that feel so much like home.
  • Barnes and Noble. Oh how I love you. There is almost nothing better than just wandering through a bookstore, picking up books that look interesting, taking your tottering stack to a chair, and sitting down to peruse them for a while. I can’t even tell you the number of times I did this while in high school and college, and it’s always on the top of my list to do when we’re back in the states. You who live by English bookstores, take an extra stroll through one for me, would you? (And then report back on what great books you found.)
  • Silly TV shows! I almost never watch TV. (Movies, on the other hand, I watch almost daily.) But there’s something about being on vacation that just makes silly TV shows just right. We binge-watched a lot of House Hunters International, Tiny House Hunters (which was a new one for us), the Office, and the Bachelorette, especially during those long long jet lag nights. I’m good for another year now.


  • Getting rid of all our stuff. We left a household of stuff at Terry’s parents’ house when we moved to China and this is the first time we’ve been back there since we came here three years ago. We decided it was time to clear out a bunch of it. More on this in a separate post because I have a lot of thoughts on it. For now, suffice it to say this felt so freeing. ☺️
  • Shopping with my sisters. I know, I just said I don’t like shopping. This was the one day of shopping I did enjoy. I’d messaged all my sisters beforehand saying I needed a wardrobe overhaul and did they want to come shopping with me (again, this deserves its own post because I have way too many thoughts on this)? We had such a blast together. It’s not often it just gets to be me and my sisters, and this was such a treat.
  • And last but not least, seeing my family (including my brothers – I feel like I keep mentioning my sisters – just throwing it out there that I do have brothers that I adore and was so happy to see). It’s so fun to watch them all love Sander and want to play with him. He was never starved for attention. And it’s so much more gratifying to have a conversation in person than it ever is on Skype. We loved hanging out with all our family – mine and Terry’s.


How’s your summer been treating you? Any trips you’ve taken or will take? Or are you having adventures closer to home??

By the way, one of my aunts mentioned to me while I was there that she missed getting my blog posts by email the way she did before I switched to the new website. If that’s the case for you too, or if you’d like to start getting my posts in your email, it’s super easy to do! See over on the right-hand side where it says “become an email buddy!”? Just type your email address in there and hit the “yeah, let’s do it!” button right underneath and follow the instructions. Voila! A little Caitlin for your inbox. ??

One comment

  1. I have actually missed reading about all of your adventures! I’m looking forward to the shopping excursion with your sisters, and getting rid of a bunch of old stuff.


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