- that I love America as much as, or maybe even more than I remembered.
- that I love my brothers and sisters very, very much and am grateful that they married such awesome people and gave birth to such lovely (seriously gorgeous), intelligent and fun children.
- that family gossip will never affect me much again. I feel like I "get" everyone in the family. And love each of them a ton*. Oh, I already said that. (*that's 2,000 pounds of love each.)
- how people can live without cooking. This has always been a mystery to me.
- that minute rice bears virtually no resemblance to actual rice.
- that it was a very, very good idea to take Spencer with me.
- how different every family is. I loved spending time in so many different homes.
- that I am not a good conversationalist, but decided it's okay because silences were never awkward.
- that I am lucky to have the parents I do.
- that I have it in me to forgive a sister for having a cupboard full of bags of chocolate, vanilla and peanut butter chips which have EXPIRED. It took me about a week, but behold, I did forgive.
- that, as a guest, I am terrible at helping with dinner prep/cleaning. This bothered me, but not enough for me to overcome my insecurity and get my rear up and give it a try.
- (or rather confirmed) that for me, sitting around at home with people I love is usually as fun or enjoyable as going out to do something with them, and often it's more enjoyable.
- more about what kind of person I want to become from being with so many people I admire.
- that everybody makes stupid mistakes or bad choices that cause crisis in their lives. And that it's okay to just learn from them and move on. And that it helps to get sympathy from those around you.
- that arms do not actually fall off from carrying a toddler for long periods of time. Even if you keep expecting them to. And pretty much wish they would.
Plus a billion other things that kind of made me a little bit of a new person.
And the fact that I would go through what it took to get us home all over again* -- twice, even, if necessary! -- says everything about the trip. It really was one of the best experiences of my life. And I'm still happy to be back home. Home away from home. Together with my family, away from my family. Actually, those last four words are the not-so-happy part ...
*story to come