I’m alive! I swear. Alive and back in Aberdeen. I actually got back 2 weeks ago and to be honest- I don’t think that’s a bad lag time from spending a month in the US and having to fight jetlag and jump back into the swing of things. But my mother thinks the lack of blog love is unacceptable. I know it doesn’t help that I didn’t blog the entire time I was home, and though I really meant to get at least one more blog out before I left….it didn’t happen. But that’s okay. I wanted to post about all that went into planning to go home for a month, when you only go stateside once a year and have to get EVERYTHING done and see everyone. But I’ll just post about the planning and the outcome.
Make no mistake; it’s a lot of planning. Going away to any place for 4 weeks is a lot of planning. It starts with figuring out the dates- I have a more flexible schedule obviously, E doesn’t- mostly because he has a finite amount of days off. This year he had to use all his days off so we scheduled around that. For our Christmas trip next year, E’s dates are already predetermined because it ends up being whatever days he can spare after our travel this year. Yes, we actually plan out and designate every one of E’s vacation days for 2016 before it even is 2016. Must maximize what you got with fore planning.
Once the dates are set all the other scheduling has to be laid out. The following doctors appointments must be lined up for both of us (these are really important to get done stateside): dentist, optometrist, and dermatologist. Then I’ll schedule in a gyno and shrink appointment. Next, I had to book a day to visit my clients, a couple days where I could get on a horse (first, finding WHERE I can even get on a horse), and my global entry interview. One thing I booked far before flights was afternoon tea in Chicago with my mom and sister in law – a yearly tradition of shopping and indulgence. E reserves a day to come together as the Trifecta with his brother and drink heavily (and smoke brisket as it turns out this year). I book a day to go to Fort Wayne (2.5 hour drive) to see my best friend with her cousin/my friend, E plans a weekend to go down to Indy to see his brother an additional day and his best friends from college for a day – which I would drive down separately and join him in. Then there’s scheduling a couple evenings out in Chicago to see friends, New Year’s Eve, and seeing some local friends in our hometown. We even tried to schedule a Blackhawks game but I’m actually thankful that didn’t work out. AND AFTER ALL THAT, it’s bouncing from house to house every day to see and spend time with our families every other second.
I don’t mean for our families to sound like an afterthought- they aren’t. But since they live there and we’re living with them, and we know their schedules, all the other planning is done first and they fill in the blanks. ALL the blanks. Like I know my mom watches Max, my nephew, on Mondays- so I didn’t schedule anything any Monday if I could avoid it. Basically this is what we were looking on pretty well set in stone before we stepped foot on our flight home.
|Arrive 5 pm
Dinner w. mother & in-laws
|Wake up to flooded house- damage control.
Shop at Tony’s Saddle Shop
|Morning train to Chicago w. Mom & SIL for shopping & tea
Meet Megan for dinner/drinks
Joined by others for after dinner drinks.
Spend night in Chicago.
|Go to brunch with Tricia and drinks post brunch.
Nearly miss train home.
|Babysit Max all day
10am eye doctor
|Road trip to Ft. Wayne w. Lynda to see Heather – gone all day||Train to Chicago
Go to Shoe Hospital to drop off fav. Boots for repair
Get/eat Doughnut Vault
Apple store appt for new mac issues
Give homeless man extra doughnuts
Drinks & then tacos with Tricia
Nearly miss train home
|Leave house 7 am
Drive to Northbrook, IL for Carol’s Cookie meeting
Drive to Mundelein IL for marijuana dispensary meeting
Drive to O’hare & have Global Entry Interview
Pick up E arriving at O’hare
Get Giordano’s Pizza
Drive home & have dinner w. E’s family
|E goes down to Indy.
Horse Riding Lesson.
Meet hometown friend for drinks
|Drive down to Indy to meet E at our friend’s house.
After their babies go to bed play beer pong as if still in college.
|Drive home (3 hours).
Pick up my brother from the airport bus.
|Drive to Chicago 8 am
11-1: online shopping returns
1: E Dentist
2: Eat $100 worth of sushi
4: E eye appointment
5: Put name in at Au Chevel, go for drinks
6:30: Eat Au chevel
8: meet friends in Wicker Park for drinks
10: E’s little bro arrives in from TX
11: all drive home
|Horse Riding Lesson
Nails done with MIL
|Christmas Eve shopping (whoops)
Big Christmas Eve dinner at my family’s house
Wrap all the presents (whoops)
|Presents at my family
Brunch at my family
Brunch at E family
Presents at E family
Dinner at E grandma
|Lunch with Heather & Linz
See hometown friends
Celebrate East coast bro’s birthday and play games at my family’s
|Brunch with all in-laws & my mom|
|Drive to Chicago w. Stella
See Dave & condo building friends
Pick up prescriptions
Pick up boots
|Lunch with hometown friend||Stella Vet appt.
Train to Chicago
NYE celebrations w. Megan & co.
Stay night in Chicago
|Brunch w. Megan & co.
Brunch #2 & drinks w. friends
Ribs w. E’s family
|Undecorated Christmas Tree
Go to brothers and hang with dogs, nephew, and neighbors.
|Dinner with E’s family before little bros flight home
See home-town friends
Start the journey home
|8 am: Land in Edinburgh
Rent car and drive to ABZ
|Sleep until 3 pm. Whoops|
Remember- that doesn’t include eating dinner with one family or another every night (other than specific gatherings or nights out) or just hanging out playing with dogs or watching a movie with family at one of their homes. It’s pretty damn chaotic. Which might explain why I a) didn’t work out one single time, b) didn’t blog, and c) took so long to recover.
Lessons learned for next year:
1) I can’t eat all the things I love and miss in a month. I didn’t even get a DQ blizzard…for shame! Though making time for Au Chevel, sushi, and good steak are ALWAYS worth it. I did gain about 8 lbs while home, and I don’t regret that, but I need to manage my foodie expectations. But I did accomplish a lot….
2) I need to make sure the dentist understand what needs to be done, and schedules 2 appointments with enough time to get a crown in. I’m currently sitting with 2 teeth that need crowns. Fingers crossed they hold on for a year.
3) Bring home fewer clothes! I really felt I did better this year…but really, LESS CLOTHES HOME. I just need 7 outfits and wear them on repeat. What’s worse is the things I wore the most were the things I got new while at home. Definitely could have trimmed off 7 tops. Also- since I didn’t work out AT ALL, all those workout clothes were a huge waste. That being said, last year I ran everyday. Though Christmas break 2016 I’m pretty sure I won’t be as it will be a month or two out for the NYC marathon. So definitely: MINIMAL WORKOUT CLOTHES.
4) While it’s great to see as many people as we did, next year I think will be different. Prioritize more on the really good friendships, less on the acquaintances that I do love the opportunity to see, but the time should be spent on those most important to me.
5) There is never going to be enough time. Doesn’t matter if I come home 6 weeks next year, it will be just as busy. And in some ways that really sucks (the fact that I’m exhausted the entire trip home) but at least I don’t leave feeling guilty for not making good use of my month home when I abandon the states for another 11 months.
The good is I feel I saw a lot of people and gave them a decent amount of time. We also did really well with bringing 2 extra duffle bags (which yes charged us $100 extra each bag but was way better than being over weight) and overall packing to go home. And I have to say, my obsessive pre-planning and scheduling, even though it left me exhausted, paid off in maximizing our time home. Now, my work continues to get back to life in the UK and get on a good sched