Post-5k race.After a few days apart in Michigan and California, Kail and I spent the last portion of our home leave visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Virginia Beach. Kail stayed for a week before heading back to Amman, but I was able to enjoy an extra two and a half weeks with my family.Mount Trashmore State Park.Since I’m planning to have the baby in Virginia Beach, it was also helpful to be able to establish myself as a patient with a local OB practice, tour the hospital where I’ll deliver, and get some shopping done for essential supplies. We’ve basically had to set up two nurseries (albeit one temporarily, for the first several weeks of Piopio’s life), and shop for two layettes — not to mention plan for a 17+ hour journey back to Amman with an infant … but that’s a topic for another post.The Blue Angels.It was a fun trip and nice to spend so much time together. Our first full day in town, we attended the Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show. We got to see the Blue Angels and several other impressive flight demonstrations.Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.As we did during our 2015 home leave, we took a day trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We visited Bodie Island Lighthouse, had lunch on the waterfront, did some outlet mall window shopping, and climbed the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. After stops for fudge and frozen custard, we headed back to Virginia Beach. Rachel and I actually returned to the Outer Banks another day later in my trip to visit Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which was a bit too far to squeeze in during our trip with Kail.Brunch at Bay Local Eatery.Other highlights of our time in Virginia Beach: Touring the Nauticus Museum and Battleship Wisconsin, along with a naval base cruise; morning runs around Mount Trashmore Park, a former landfill turned city park; and all the delicious brunches we could want.I was really into sandwiches from Taste Unlimited — not sure if it was a pregnancy craving or just because they’re so darn good.Kail was able to attend one of my prenatal appointments with me, and we also spent a fair amount of time browsing for baby furniture, gear, and clothes. We ended up buying a playpen/bassinet combo, along with a carseat and stroller “travel system” — our first major baby-related purchases.Cape Henry Memorial.After Kail left, Rachel and I toured the Cape Henry Lighthouse and Memorial in Virginia Beach, which commemorates the site where the Jamestown-bound colonists first made landfall. We went on walks at First Landing State Park, including participating in the Surf for the Cure 5k — Rachel’s first 5k race!Sand-sculpting competition at the Neptune Festival.One weekend, we headed to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk for the Neptune Festival, an annual event featuring live entertainment, pop-up shops from local and regional vendors, and an international sand-sculpting competition. We also visited the Virginia Aquarium and Virginia Zoo.Giraffes at the Virginia Zoo.I had a fair amount of time to prepare for baby and relax, but it was nice to keep up my exercise routine and remain active. One thing I was really looking forward to, since my trip coincided with the change of seasons from summer to fall, was visiting a pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins.Pumpkins at Cullipher Farm.Never mind that it was still in the high 80s in Virginia Beach. I was going to pick and cut out my own pumpkin. (And you better believe I was enjoying my share of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes since their debut on September 1.) When you’re deprived of a true autumn for so many years living overseas, you’ll take what you can get!The perfect pumpkin.As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t grow up with certain traditions like carving pumpkins or baking Christmas cookies. But Kail and I have made them traditions in our little family of two, and we’re looking forward to continuing these traditions with Piopio.Jack-o-lanterns (mine is the owl on the left).This was the first time Rachel had carved a pumpkin. Halloween was still a couple weeks away, but since I was leaving for Amman we carved them early. We even roasted pumpkin seeds tossed in cinnamon and sugar. Yum.What are your favorite holiday family traditions?