But man what a year it has been! We have now been in Paris for 10 months! The kids have successfully completed one grade level and started another at their fantastic British School of Paris! The dogs can now walk on leashes (with their Haltis, of course) without dislocating our arms. I no longer get lost on the infamous Bus 360 (bus 360 hates me) and can successfully navigate the grocery store without having a panic attack or angina. Patrick is settled into a work routine and really liking the folks he is working with. Lots of positive things.....
Being back in the States for the holidays has reminded us of what we love and miss so dearly. First of all, family and friends. Second, being able to communicate freely (no "Franglish" or charades!). And third, just the EXCESS of everything.... I know I had taken for granted how easy it is to get your hands on whatever you want when you live here. I think even if you grew up in Paris or Berlin or another country, you really don't have the access to the instant gratification factor so prevalent in America. There are no Super Wal-Marts open 24/7 to supply your craving of Nacho chips and dip at 11:00 p.m.!
We have been enjoying one of things the U.S. has to offer in plenty....eating out often and not feeling like we are breaking the bank! While I am trying to boycott Chick-Fil-A, the rest of the family just couldn't resist getting their fix! Damn that tasty chicken. We also have been mixing it up and eating Mexican food and Indian food (special request by Patrick~Paris does NOT know spicy!) and I had to hit the Taco Bell for old time's sake. The kids are all for having some good ole American burgers and fries and so a visit to Cook Out in N.C. was in order and I am sure we will be dining at Five Guys before we leave Florida. Also on the agenda is a visit to Joe's Crab Shack with Shanan and Ken for some Florida coast seafood!
I loved being back in N.C. Seeing my family and dropping by work and seeing all my co-workers. Even got to go out to dinner with a group of dear friends from the office. Max got to spend TWO solid days with his best bud Charlie, go to a N.C. State basketball game with him and the Dads (the team won! Bonus!) and we had a great dinner of Smithfields' Southern BBQ with the whole family at the Beck's. Mmmmm, hush puppies! Sweet tea! Cole slaw! Samantha got to see one of her best buddies from school and Taekwondo, Lexi. We met for lunch at Panera Bread and then stopped by Allen's Taekwondo later to see more friends and her instructor, Ms. Weggman. Unfortunately, Patrick's good friend and Godfather to the kids couldn't make it to N.C. for Christmas (damn that retail job!) but Patrick did get to play a practical joke on him visiting the store where Kevin used to work and they have talked (Skyped) while we are State side and it doesn't cost a fortune and are in the same time zone!
We have a few more days in Florida, but it has been awesome so far. The kids are playing with their cousins every day and loving it! We even have an added benefit this year as Peter (a long time family friend) is here from Berlin! We plan on seeing Shanan soon and hope she can join us for a little while on New Year's to blow stuff up in the street in front of Tara's. Another tradition! Thanks Uncle Shawn! You rock!
So all in all the year is ending on a super positive note (aside from a pinched nerve in my neck!) I will try to post again before we leave the U.S. because I am sure I have forgotten some awesomeness......and hopefully I will have pictures.