I recently went home to Potomac, MD, and even though it’s been since high school when I last lived there, it still feels like home. My home-home.

As I drove on the back country roads, where everything is at least 15 min. away, I remembered how fast to take each windy turn, the uneven bumps, and surprisingly, my way around. (In Portland, I need to google just to get to the SW, 5 min. away.) Every new thing is noticed: houses where farms used to be, bigger trees, bike lanes, and camera speed traps.

The main highlight was, no doubt, meeting my nephew for the first time. (That is, in person; I have stalked him on the web every day since he was born six months ago.) Yeah, I am biased, but he really is even cuter than in the photos!

Tata moi et Yohan

Tata (that's me!) holding Yohan for my first time.

But what I love about going home is the comfort. And it’s not just my mommy’s comfort food (which if you know her cooking, is well worth the trip). It’s the comfort of my family together and the fact that we can sit around the kitchen table for hours (talking about the same stuff, Slow Boy likes to point out). It’s seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles, who throw spontaneous get-togethers, using our visit as the “reason”. And it’s hitting on our tennis court, even if I am terribly rusty.

Home is also at my Ba’s (grandmother) house, the one she and Ong Ngoai first bought when they came to the states and has now stayed in the family. Every one has at some point lived there; I shared a crib with my best cousin Wang. Even though it was recently renovated, each room felt all too familiar. There’s the closet in which Wang and I tried on Ba’s heels and shared secrets we’ve kept to this day. The living room, where I’m still not sure if I’m allowed to sit on the ornate, antique furniture. The pool, equipped as ever with modern super soakers (they’re awesome) and where every grandchild has swum, including Yohan!

I caught up on my cousins’ lives. My youngest cousin is now entering high school and finally friended me on FB, where I find out she got to meet Obama. The next three “youngest” are applying for college; one was recently an extra in a movie; and they all can’t believe I went through high school without a cellphone. I feel old. And I mix up their names all the time.

The cousins generation turning into aunts and uncles.

A summer vacation also wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach. After packing for just one baby, I applaud my family for making the return trip every year with all of us. By all, I’m talking at least 50+ relatives. Ah, we were a sight to see as we invaded the pools in South Carolina.

Now my parents have a beachfront condo in Bethany beach. It was a beautiful time to go: not too sunny or warm, and therefore not too crowded. Yohan might have been just as thrilled as we were to show him the ocean.

Going for a walk along the beach. I pointed out le tour Eiffel on the horizon.

Like Oso outside our door, I spent most mornings waiting for Yohan to wake up. The first time we heard a sound from the baby monitor, we immediately took him out of his crib to play. But we learned the hard way to never, never mess with a baby’s schedule…

Id be content just watching my nephew sleep. Wouldnt you?

I'd be content just watching my nephew sleep. Wouldn't you?

In the one week I was there, he had learned to hold his bottle, sit steadily, make forward (literally) progress in the walker, and pick up a new spitting habit. (He used to be able to roll over but he put on a few lbs. Visiting grandma will do that to ya!) In that week, I also learned the extended lyrics to numerous baby songs. Got a crying 6 mo. old? Singing, ceiling fans, and fresh air should do the trick! But whatever you do: test the milk. Whoops — Yohan, can you forgive your tatas?

Tonton Ben and an excited Yohan

After this visit, I realized that though there may not always be the house or tennis court in the backyard, I will feel at home-home any place where the family is altogether. I thank my parents for raising us to stay close (it helps that the rule is the kids come home to the parents šŸ˜‰ ).

Christmas is the next time we’ll be together, and by then, Yohan will be crawling fast and maybe uttering some Frenchie sounds! I cannot wait. Fortunately, til then, I have my sister’s reliable Flickr updates, Skype for the weekends, and my mama’s frozen pho and cha gio that I carried back with me šŸ™‚

Here's to the start of many family reunions!



  1. what a sweet post and great photos! i’m so sad i didn’t get a chance to see you while you were home! it sounds like you had a fantastic visit.

  2. Really great photos and looked like everyone had a blast catching up and hanging out.

  3. I love that your name is tatas. I’m pretty sure that no one has every called you that before.

  4. […] not as many long weekend runs as I’d like. It didn’t help that we’ve been gone (back home) or racing in dragon boat festivals (just did San Francisco this past weekend!) for the last five […]

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