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unpacking memories

The last few days of home leave went by in a flash. S took Munchkin trick-or-treating in the small New England town where she grew up. D went to a couple of ska concerts. We hardly left enough time to pack up the car for the move to DC and are now caught up in the whirlwind of trying to settle into our new life while spending the bulk of each day at the Foreign Service Institute. We have yet to fully unpack, but also don’t want to put off unpacking the memories from our home leave travels for too long.

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After our brief vacation in Ireland en route to the United States, we spent a week in the tri-state area, where we both have family, before heading north to Vermont for another family reunion. S’s cousin lives in Canada and has a son who is 6 weeks older than Munchkin. We had not seen her since our wedding, and much as we were looking forward to catching up, we were even more excited about getting the next generation of little cousins to meet for the first time.

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We scoured the map and picked a place that was roughly equidistant from D’s parents’ house in Connecticut, S’s parents’ home in Maine, and S’s cousins’ house in Ontario. We settled on the Killington area of Vermont and rented a house on Lake Amherst, which coincidentally commemorates the same British general whose name graces D’s alma mater.

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It was late September, but fall lagged in arriving this year, and the trees just started changing color during the long weekend we spent in Vermont. The temperatures dropped as we arrived, however, and we could practically see the foliage transforming over the handful of days we stayed in the mountains. We hiked to a small waterfall and took the kids to a nearby farm, but also had as great a time watching them run around the lake house as on these outings.

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We cannot say that they truly played with each other — it was more the case that they played around each other, directly interacting only occasionally. But it was fun watching them nonetheless, and we appreciated the chance to meet little E. We both come from small families and rue the fact that we live so far away from the few relatives we do have.

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Munchkin may have been too young to show much interest in his cousin, but he was plenty excited to see the dogs. In addition to being reunited with Emmie, whom we brought home a few months early and who had been staying with S’s parents, he also met and completely fell in love with Libby, the massive Leonberger puppy S’s parents acquired this year.

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Lake Amherst is idyllic, and we easily could have stayed there considerably longer. Unfortunately, while we were on vacation, the rest of our family did not have this luxury. So we bid adieu to S’s cousin, and continued our New England odyssey by returning to Maine with S’s parents.

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