It’s the time of year we all know and love. Every May, it amps up. Leaving parties, birthday parties for kids who will leave during the summer holidays, and the Expat Wife Exodus. (Again, I’m being SAHM-centered. It’s my world. I tell it like it is.)

Every June, at the end of the school year, the trailing spouses pack up the kids and head home to the Motherland. Or the Fatherland. (I won’t be 100% sexist here.) School projects are finished, final letters written to teachers and classmates that won’t be there when we return in August, and then – the packing starts.

I am a bit of a freak where packing is concerned. Right after DiploBoy 2’s birthday party in mid-May, DiploDad pulled down the suitcases for me and I set them on the guest room bed to start packing. Truthfully, one of the suitcases was already full, and one week out, I’m 90% packed. Actually, May 13th, I was 85% packed.

I start my Christmas and birthday shopping for my friends and family in the U.S. the day after I return from my last U.S. trip. I pick up stuff to bring back in the summer and then wrap it and drop it with each relevant recipient with “Do Not Open Until Xmas” stickers on them. Except for my friend, A – no, never. I send hers late, because she still owes me the days from when she opened her gifts in October one year. Everyone else is either pretty good at waiting or pretty good at lying about it.

I’ve got 23kg per bag, three bags total, plus a carryon per person to fill, and I’m going to make the most of it. Not least of all because when I come back, I’m bringing things that I can’t get here, or that are really expensive. So the more space I take up with stuff to leave, the more room I have to “mule” things back.

I’ve got a lot of fun stuff packed. I’ve got spices and mixes so that I can fix some of my favorite Indian dishes for my stateside friends and family. I spent the last two weeks learning how to make a few things from V and ohmigod – now I know why my body has added an “extra layer of ghee” to itself since I’ve been here. The Hidden Butter Level in her cooking is worse than I thought. I’ve got some biryani masala (masala essentially means “spice” here), a pani puri kit, and some jalebi mix. I need to go buy a jalebi funnel, and I will then leave it with my sister, who will find it sometime in November and then curse me for adding yet another useless kitchen gadget to her junk drawer. I have a few packs of masala chai.

I haven't opened the pani puri kit.  I am praying everything I need is in it.  I doubt I can find the stuff in West Virginia.

I haven’t opened the pani puri kit. I am praying everything I need is in it. I doubt I can find the stuff in West Virginia.

I have some cool Christmas ornaments and some Barbie in India dolls. (I generally hate Barbie. I made an exception for her in a sari.) I have some Goa Football Team jerseys for the boys and bracelets for the girls. I have some embroidered linens, jewelry boxes, porcelain dishes of various kinds (mugs, plates) and some glass bangles. I even have an actual 3’x5’ Kashmiri carpet. I’m sure there are other thing I’ve forgotten, but as my sister reads my blog, she’s going to need to have a few surprises, so I won’t look further than the first layer of my suitcase just so I can list them here. (No, you’re not getting the carpet, hon. Sorry.) Somewhere in there are five t-shirts for each of the DBs, a dress and a pair of shoes I’m planning on wearing to our family reunion, and my favorite workout clothes. I should probably throw in a pair or two of underwear for each of us sometime soon before I forget.

She's still a skinny bitch, even if she's in a sari.

She’s still a skinny bitch, even if she’s in a sari.

The DBs have already picked out a few books for summer reading to put in their carry-ons, and we’ve all packed our hoodies in our carry-ons too. I’ve got our plane toiletries set aside and all we have to do is throw in our toothbrushes right before we head out the door. I even threw in a couple mini bottles of booze in my toiletries bag – hey, they’re less than 3 oz., right? In my carry-on I’ve already got the GPS and my U.S. cell phone put in a convenient outside pocket for easy accessibility and I have all of our passports in my “plane purse”. Our e-tickets are printed. Our car reservation is saved as a screenshot on my iPad.

Hidden in a locked drawer in my bedroom closet are Ziploc baggies for each of the DBs with gum, candy, and snack mixes in them. They will be packed the morning of into their carry-ons, along with the fully charged electronics and the applicable games, and delivered to their custody with the threat of death or dismemberment if they dare to mess with them before takeoff.

Especially if they mess with the electronics. I’ve got a 15-hour flight to Newark and the last thing I need is to board with a half-charged Kindle Fire and a battery-dead DS and two kids who get bored at the drop of a hat. Plus, I plan on reading on my iPad (note “my” is in bold, italics and underlined) until it dies and then watching every movie I haven’t yet seen because family movie night choices haven’t gone my way for months. I need these kids distracted with illicit junk food and hours of LEGO Batman for DS while I do this. If they are cranky from lack of sleep, video hypnosis and junk food when they land, then I’ll deal with it. Actually, I won’t. My brother-in-law is taking them camping for the weekend, and they leave the afternoon we arrive. Bonus. I Think I’ll add another packet of Mentos and a Pepsi to the Ziplocs.

Yup, you guessed it.  That's a cricket set.

Yup, you guessed it. That’s a cricket set.