Our visit to the US started later than most folks. It seemed that as soon as that final school bell rang, folks were on their way "home." I have friends from several countries now, and that word means something different for everyone - a lake home in the Southeast, a vacation home back in Scandinavia, a condo in the South, or perhaps a parents' home somewhere/anywhere. In any case, the definition varies person to person, but everyone was nonetheless anxious to get back! Since Joe could not take much time off this summer, we decided that just the kids and I would head back for a few weeks or so, and that we would take a family vacation somewhere in Europe once we got back. Furthermore, since we had been away from Virginia for a couple of years, my oldest son was eager to visit his friends who would also be starting high school this year. As a birthday present for my son, I agreed to tack on a quick trip to the end of our CA stay. In all honesty, the moms of these friends are close friends of mine as well, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to catch up with them as well. I wanted to make sure we would be able to celebrate Joe's birthday with him, so I scheduled our trip for the day after his big day. We celebrated with a wonderful lobster dinner (his favorite) and quickly packed for the long trip - 2 hours by car to Brussels, 8 hour flight to D.C., 4 hour layover, and a 5 hour flight to the West Coast. Our day started at 5:00 a.m. and ended in San Diego at 8:00 p.m. that same night. We were exhausted, but happy to be "home."
|La Jolla, CA|
We spent the time as most tourists do - lots of trips to the beach, SeaWorld, Balboa Park, etc. Each day was busy and the kids were loving it. My only frustration - the huge time difference from Luxembourg. Trying to catch a few minutes on the phone with Joe was a constant challenge since catching him before bedtime meant calling some time before 2:00 p.m., often when were heading to the beach or a show at SeaWorld. We missed him a ton, which always reminded me, at least, that we weren't really home. We also spent a lot of time making the multiple, necessary trips to Target, Kohl's, Nordstrom's, CVS, etc. for school clothes, OTC meds, and other random items that are difficult to find or are expensive here in Europe. Not to mention our frequent eating-out ventures in order to feed our long-denied fast food addiction - visits to Chick-fil-a, In-N-Out Burger, Rubio's, Kono's, and (my favorite) Panera. No, it was not the time to worry about diets - that is for when the kids head back to school. But, after a couple of days of the fast food/burger thing, Panera became my preferred choice - as was my morning jaunt to Starbuck's with the oldest son.
After a long weekend in Richmond, we headed back to Lux. Another long travel day - 2 hour drive to D.C., 2 hour wait for the plane, 8 hour flight back to Brussels, and 2 hour drive to Lux. At least going east you are flying through the night, but since by this point I had no idea what time zone we were in, I spent the majority of the time catching up on the in-flight movies. The next two days were a flurry of sleep deprivation and packing for our week trip to Italy.
Suffice it to say, it has finally settled in that home is Luxembourg and that our trips back to the US will be "vacation" rather than the expat version of "going home." I guess it comes with the territory when you make the decision to move here for an "indefinite" period of time. We will head back again at Christmas time - this time to Colorado where my brother-in-law and his girlfriend will host. As for next summer, we may head south to Texas, or the kids may head to camp. Either way, home will be Lux and we will still spend the bulk of our time here as a family. Someday I hope that we can maybe have a spot to call "home" back in the US, but by the time we settle in here and start looking beyond our rented home in Lux, our spot may be somewhere else here in Europe. We spent a week in Tuscany (next blog post) that is truly one family's "love of the heart." I hope someday to find the same, wherever that may be!