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Hello, 2015. Happy New Year.

January 13, 2015
Home Sweet Home

Today, it was El & Lil's first day back to daycare.

Today, because it has taken us five days to recover from jet lag.

Jet lag, because we spent three weeks in the States (Georgia, to be precise), for the holidays.

We have lived in the Austria for over a year now.  Last year we spent Christmas in Europe, so this year, we decided to spend it with my family back home.

I was surprised by the culture shock that awaited me. The moment I heard the captain's voice on board the plane was the moment a wave of what felt like relief came over me. Finally, after all this time of living completely immersed in the German language, there was a language that was familiar to me - English! I felt immediately at home... and I was still sitting on the Munich Airport tarmac.

Imagine my delight when the flight attendant asked if I wanted ice (ICE!) for my Coke. In the beginning, I grumbled to myself as to why I couldn't have an iced coffee or how "cold" just wasn't the same as "ice-cold".   Now, I have grown accustomed to having a cold beverage with no ice... and forgotten the refreshing feeling of an ice-cold beverage.

It took us nine and a half hours to land in Philadelphia. The girls were stellar passengers - playing, napping, eating and snacking on the plane food. We had a two-hour layover which didn't last very long since we had to reclaim and recheck our baggage and go through the security check points again. We, finally, made our flight to Atlanta where my family came to pick us up.

Finally, back in the States again!

It was a familiar feeling - like a favorite blanket, like old friends, or like driving on cruise control.

Speaking of which...

Driving on an American highway is way more relaxed than driving on the Autobahn. By far. On the highway, the speed limit is set to 65mph and most people obey it. People seem to mosey along the speed limit. Some faster, some slower.

However, on the Autobahn, where the speed limit fluctuates from 50mph to 75mph to NO speed limit. Drivers can't mosey along. All drivers need to be aware of other drivers around them... particularly those speed demons who come from no where and are on your bumper at any and all speeds above 75mph... flashing at you to get onto the slower right lanes. When there's an accident on the Autobahn, it's usually a very bad one... even fatal.

That being said, the quality of the Autobahn seems better to me. The lanes are constantly under construction and being re-surfaced... resulting in a smoother ride, which is more appreciated if you're driving at obscene speed. The highway to Savannah, I-16, definitely could use a re-surfacing... it was so bumpy! And the Atlanta highways were just as crazy in some spots - watch out for pot holes!

We spent the first half of our holidays in Savannah. Unfortunately, most of that leg of the trip, Lil and I were sick with a cold bug. Bah!

It was nice to spend Christmas with my folks.  The weather was fantastic - mid 60's, T-shirt weather. We had a big tree and lots of gifts and tons of food. My Mom spent so much time cooking and running around... that she's still at home today suffering from a yucky cold and exhaustion. Poor Mom!

Back home, Austria was experiencing its first big snow storm. Phew, can't say I'm sad we missed it.

By the time New Years Eve rolled around, we packed up our stuff and headed back to Atlanta where we spent the remainder of our trip. I threw a small party that night with old friends... struggled to keep my eyes open til midnight (I did it!)... and rang in the new year with old friends and new friends.

We took the girls to the Atlanta Aquarium. If you are ever in Atlanta, you have to check it out. It's the largest aquarium in the world! They have beluga whales! Huge manta rays! Whale sharks! Nemo! Dori!

Shopping back home was different to me now - the sheer volume of selections was astounding. I felt a bit of vertigo shopping in the grocery stores. I stood in awe in front of the yogurt section at the 50+ options I could buy. Back in Austria, my local supermarket is one-fifth the size and gave me only three or four yogurt options to choose from... honestly, it has really one or two options because the other two are just so sugary.

I must confess, I didn't maintain a good eating strategy, and thus, ate for nostalgic reasons, primarily. Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, BBQ, burgers, caramel popcorn, mom's Vietnamese food, Southern food, the list goes on. I gained three pounds on this trip. Oops.

El & Lil didn't eat very well during this trip... I think this shift towards more processed and heavily seasoned or sweetened foods affected their moods. They don't seem to have a taste yet for American foods. El was definitely throwing more tantrums than usual.

El got sick towards the end of the trip... so the remainder of my time there was hanging out with my sister, eating sushi (finally after all this time away!), getting my hair cut, and just mentally preparing for our trip back to Austria.

The flight was quick and lasted only six and a half hours thanks to this... but our jet lag lasted much longer... approximately five days... and we're still dragging our boots behind us.

But, 2015 is a new year... and there will be many adventures ahead...  so, let's get to it!

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