After Christmas, my primary objective was completing my entire list of things to do in America. The shopping part was overwhelming at first, because stores in the US have EVERYTHING and its easy to lose track of what you’re there looking for in the first place. My list was also quite daunting; I had more than 40 things to do/peoples to see/foods to eat/items to purchase while I was home, and only two weeks to do them in! Luckily for me, my Mom and my sister Tori were up to the challenge of completing “The List” and we steadily made our way through.
I even had a section on The List devoted to goodies I needed to take back to other volunteers in Ukraine, such as peanut butter (I had 5 requests for peanut butter alone), jello, mac n’cheese, ranch dressing, and other American staples that you can’t get anywhere in Ukraine. I also bought a Swiffer for my apartment, because Ukrainian brooms are a joke and I have no mop to speak of. So the Swiffer does both; you start with a dry cloth to sweep, and once the floor is clear you use a wet cloth to mop it. Such a handy invention! The Swiffer was a Christmas present I bought for myself 😉
My favorite part of The List was clothes; I needed some new teaching outfits for Ukraine and a new dress for the New Years Eve wedding I was attending, so that meant lots of time at the mall. My sister Tori isn’t a big shopper, but she was a great sport and humored me in my quest for cute clothes. She even agreed to come down to Columbus with me and my Mom, where we spent a lovely day at the legendary Polaris Mall with my friend Stephanie from college. We had a blast going from store to store, and I found a beautiful navy lace dress for New Years Eve. The only problem was that I was binge-shopping; after a year of withdrawal from malls and cute clothes, it felt like I was binging on clothes every time we entered a store. I definitely got my fix though, and some great outfits to boot. Now the Ukrainian winter just needs to pass quickly so we can get appropriate weather for my cute dresses 😉
Also on The List was a day in the water truck with my Dad. He’d reserved this day on my calendar more than a month before I came home, and promised to take me out to breakfast at our favorite diner if I agreed to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7am. Tori even agreed to tag along, and we had a nice time together driving to the tiny town of Shelby and delivering water with our Dad. One of the stops required hard hats, so we got a cute picture of us inside : )
In my down time (of which there was little), I luxuriated in the feeling of driving myself wherever I wanted to go, and drinking as much coffee as I could, leaving me in a near-constant caffeinated state.
In the days following Christmas, I got to see several dear friends (Justin! Liz! Stephanie! Emily! Peeny Popper!) and family members (Aunt Dawn! Aunt Linda and her girls! Uncle Carl!), and I ate so much yummy food that I’m sure I gained at least a few pounds. I had Italian food at Olive Garden, French food at my parents’ favorite restaurant, Chinese food at P.F. Chang’s, Mexican food in Columbus, Middle Eastern food in Oberlin with Tori (I thought of you Tammela!), and yummy homemade food every time I made it home for more than an hour 😉 I pretty much overloaded on everything; clothes, food, friends (if that’s even possible) but I wanted to fit as much as possible in my short time home.
The only bad news is that I didn’t get to cross off every item on my list; the good news is that I’ll be home FOR GOOD in 11 months, and have all the time in the world to finish The List. ; )