Coming home!

We have made so many memories, and seen so many places over the last year and a half of living in Europe.  Our home has literally been wherever we are.  Our family has loved having this adventure and we have grown closer together because of it.  In 10 days we will be home!  It feels a little sureal to think of getting on an airplane and flying back to a place so familar to us.

Our days have been filled with both frustrations and successes.  Life is not always as picture perfect as I would have liked but it has been being lived to the full!

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Frustration…

In Prague

Success!

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Location #7: Atherton, England

Moving from Boston Spa to Atherton was the hardest move we have ever had to make.  We left our pretty little village behind to go live in what felt like the slums of England.

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In Harrogate we had a wonderful Church community and had become friends with two amazing families who happened to have kids the same ages as ours.  Sabria was in daycare, Acadia had American friends and all the kids she met on the playground spoke English!  We spent three and a half months there, and had made it home.  It was not perfect, our landlord was a bit of a challenge and our appartment was stuffed full of her belongings.  She would pop in to pick up mail and have huge boxes of wine shipped to our appartment for her to pick up.  We wanted to find a place closeby but never found anything in our price range.  After moving to Atherton I was so depressed, I wanted to just go to sleep and wake up when it was time to move again.  I felt trapped in a maze of brick buildings that I could not find my way out of!  I made the trip back to Harrogate and Boston Spa a couple times just to try and revive myself.  And it always helped tremindously. In Yorkshire the roads are lined with rock walls and green hilly pastures full of sheep.  In the Spring baby lambs are prancing everywhere and huge patches of yellow daffidills lined to roads.  Crocus was popping up everywhere.  Spring was so refreshing after a long rainy winter.  But then I had to return to Atherton!  I hated leaving the apartment.  I hated going to the store.  Our first time going out to buy groceries a woman overheard our American accents and started literally laughing in our faces that we were Americans living in Leigh!  The fact that our apartment was in Atherton and not Leigh made no difference, and the fact our stay was only for 6 weeks didn’t matter either.  Stupidity addmitted!   May I please move back to Yorkshire now?!?!

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I was amazed how an hour and a half drive could take us into such a different world!

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The highlights from living in Atherton were nieghbor friends for Acadia, Trafford Center near Manchester, and our visits to Liverpool and Formby beach.  There is always something we can find to be thankful for, even in Atherton!

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Location #6: Boston Spa, England

We have been living in Boston Spa, England for a month now, so a blog post is well overdue! Boston Spa is a charming little village of about 4,000 people, located in the region of West Yorkshire.  For our Manhattan friends, I would say it would be similar to a European family touring the USA and landing in Clay Center for a spell.  Sometimes I feel like what we are doing here is at least as absurd!  Although there are plenty of castles scattered around the area which I can’t say that we have in rural Kansas!

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A view of our apartment from High Street

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Our apartment is on High Street (the main street in town) above a tea room called Dulcie Butterfly.  The entrance to our place is around back, and happens to be conveniently located right next to Brook Babes Nursery.  Sabria attends three half days each week.  She loves it, but unfortunately she has been sick nearly this entire month! One of the ladies at the nursery told me that the children and workers alike are usually sick the first 6 months they are there!  I am not sure how she thought that I would find that consoling!

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Sabria’s Nursery

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In Boston Spa there are several nice restaurants, one of which is called Fifty 50.  We have only eaten there once so far, but loved it!  They have amazing burgers and their chef was a contestant on BBC’s Masterchef.  Also on high street, we have a small grocery store, bakery, library, flower shop, hardware store, gas station, a few Chinese and Thai restaurants and a couple of cafes.  So for being a village Boston Spa has plenty to offer.  There is a river running through town with a nice walking path along it, but it has been quite muddy for going on walks.  The British are all about walking and getting fresh air, so I know that mud is no excuse!  I just need to go out and by us each a pair of galoshes.  There are already a few crocuses popping up along the trail, and any little sign of Spring gets me very excited!

Most days Adam works in Wetherby, which is only about 3 miles away.  There is a library and a coffee shop that he rotates between as needed.  Acadia and I have been doing school together, which is especially nice the days that Sabria is at the nursery!  We have been very blessed to have made friends with a couple of families from the States who have kids the same ages as ours.   Acadia LOVES having friends that speak English!  We have also been attending Hope Church in Harrogate (a town of 75,000, which is about a 20 minute drive from Boston Spa).  Our Sunday’s at Hope have been very refreshing.  The people are extremely welcoming and it is a Bible centered and child-friendly place.  The first week they had the children standing up front dancing with ribbons during the whole worship time!  Every week the kids are up front and have a way to be involved in worship; it is awesome.  Being able to be part of a community is definitely something we value and has been challenging for us to find this last year.

The grocery stores here are very much like the ones back home, very easy to shop in, but most of the produce is imported and there are lots of processed foods.  Visiting the grocery store is still an interesting experience though, despite all of the familiar brands and the fact that everything is in English!  On one particular grocery store run, in the two minutes that it took to check out my groceries, the clerk had called me “my love” or “my darling” more than 5 times! In fact it would be hard to recall a visit to the grocery store where I was not called ‘love’ at least once, although it does sound more like ‘luf’. 😉  When it comes to food, I must say, that I do miss the food, wine and cappuccinos in Italy ever so much!  Although not in that order!  Last night Adam and I officially gave up on wine here.  Most of the wine is imported from Chile, Australia or America, so this is nothing against the UK.  We are just very much coffee and wine people, but it feels like we now have no choice but to become tea and beer people!  At least it is just for a season!

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Tea time with Acadia

We have taken a little break from sightseeing since arriving in Boston Spa.  We are taking the winter months to get recharged.  On our way here we spent a week in London and loved it!  We got spoiled by all of the free museums!  We went to a children’s event/workshop at the V&A and Acadia got to hang one of her drawings up in a temporary exhibit at the Museum!  So exciting for a young artist!

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A picture of our goofy girls on Sabria’s first day of school

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Christmas Markets in Europe!

Christmas Markets we visited: Lucerne and Basel, Switzerland; Strasburg, France; Cologne, Germany; Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, Belgium

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Sabria turned 2!

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The birthday girl!

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The Atomium, in Brussels, Belgium

Inside the Atomium with mommy.

Inside the Atomium with mommy.

Blowing out her candles.

Blowing out her candles.

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Revisiting Castiglione Fiorentino

I spent a few days in Castiglione Fiorentino in the Spring of 2008, visiting a friend who was there to study abroad.  It doesn’t feel like that long ago but at the same time it seems as though it was a different lifetime… And now here I am again!  Castiglione is a very quiet little village, and a perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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Visiting Florence

We took the train to Florence the first weekend we were here, it was an easy day trip as Florence is only an hour away!  We spent some time  walking around the Basilica; it is an incredibly impressive and beautiful building!  They spent 140 years building it, so that says something!  I did not take a lot of pictures of the city, because, believe it or not, sometimes it is nice to enjoy a place without looking at it through a view finder!  Here are some of the photos I took while at the Boboli Gardens, though.

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