We had a busy week visiting family in central and northern NY and Philadelphia. The weather made traveling interesting; the freezing rain and snow squalls gave Dick a good refresher in winter driving. 😯 We’re thankful that we didn’t have any mishaps with our rental car. It was amusing to compare drive times in Europe where five hours in the car will get us to Germany or France to drive times in the US where it takes five hours to get to central NY!

I tried to be mentally prepared for the various encounters we would have with our families. I knew that some would be curious and ask questions and some would not. I wanted to be cautious to share our experiences without seeming to gloat or monopolize conversations. I enjoy conversations where there is a lot of give and take. I also love curiosity because I’m curious too! Our nieces and nephews are always up to something new and I like to get the updates. Some family members have new jobs since we’ve been gone and we wanted to know how that’s going. My brother is building a new house for his family and it was exciting to see their progress. We enjoyed large family dinners and as many smaller family visits as we could. It was a bummer that some family members were sick during the holidays, but we’re grateful that we were able to stay healthy. Our families have been very supportive for the most part and we continue to need their support. It was really nice to be with people we know and love!

My favorite part of the week was New Year’s weekend with our kids gathered at Jasmine & Matt’s house near Philly. They have put a lot of work into their new house and it accommadated us all nicely. This is one thing I will brag about: I have great kids and kid-in-laws! We had a lot of fun together hanging out, walking through Longwood Gardens, eating good food, watching football and getting out of the Escape room! This was all I wanted for Christmas; my cup overflowed. Now, we look forward to them all visiting us in The Netherlands during the coming year.

In some ways it feels like we never left this land, not much changes in seven months. We don’t have a physical home here, so it seems strange to be visitors in the place where we once lived. I’ve been noticing things that I once paid no attention to — like the proliferation of fast food restaurants, abandoned or run down properties, huge SUVs everywhere and cheesy Christmas decorations (like those blow up thingys!). On the flip side, I’ve been enjoying the things I missed — like the convenience of the DD drive-thru, yummy pizza, good TexMex and great snack food (I guess that’s why Americans are um . . . bigger?). 

We’re squeezing in as many visits as we can with friends this week and spending more time with family. It’s all going by so quickly!