Despite the fact that I’ve been less than thrilled overall with the move to the US, not everything has been bad and we have been having some fun and enjoying quality time with the people we care about here. In my 4.5 month break we have spent a lot of time with friends, been to more parties and gatherings than I can recall, tried some new things, celebrated holidays and anniversaries and just overall taken advantage of the opportunity to be with American friends and family. Some of the highlights have been:
My blog turned 3 years old on September 2, though I wasn’t blogging at the time…
We watched the WEBN Labor Day fireworks, one of the largest displays in the country, sponsored by WEBN, a local radio station. The fireworks are synchronized to music that you can listen to on their station. I used to love going to these fireworks, put off over the Ohio River and seen from all over the Ohio and Kentucky sides. This year we had a great view from a hill in Kentucky that overlooks all of downtown Cincinnati and the show was incredible, as usual, even if the weather wasn't as cooperative as I would have hoped.
view of Cincinnati from the hill where we watched the fireworks
fireworks over the city skyline
A high school friends 30th birthday party at her house out in the middle of nowhere on the Little Miami River. I saw a lot of people I knew back in high school and hadn’t seen in years. The theme was “dirty ‘staches” and a great time was had by all. She even had a keg and jello shots, which brought me back to the days of college parties. It was a real stroll down memory lane!
dirty 'staches party
Halloween. This was Lionel’s second Halloween spent in the US, but the first one when we had enough time to really enjoy all the typical American Halloween activities (last time was when he came out to visit me when we were still dating and I was busy with grad school and 2 jobs). So we took Lionel to his first (and second) ever haunted attraction. The first one was the Haunted River at a local canoe livery which was really interesting. I had never been on a haunted river ride in the dark either, and so we really enjoyed the experience, even if everyone in our group agreed it wasn’t as scary as we expected. We also did a haunted barn/haunted corn field that was pretty scary. And we had a Halloween party at our place complete with Halloween decorations and creepy Halloween food. It was a great success, if I do say so myself.
Halloween party...with Michelle and Lindsay. I was a vampire (minus the very uncomfortable vampire teeth)
and Lionel was a lizard
my incredible skinless face cheeseball...I was very proud of this creation!
and more of the spread
my pumpkin..a graveyard scene complete with zombie hands and a ghost,
probably the fancies pumpkin I've ever carved!
Also for Halloween we participated in “Run Like Hell,” a 5K déguisé through a cemetery to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It was Lionel’s first ever 5K, and my second with my first having been at the end of September.
Susan and I grabbing a drink after Run Like Hell
We went to a couple of street festivals including the BBQ and Blues Festival and the Apple Festival, both held in my home town, the Greek Festival in Columbus and the Sauerkraut Festival in a nearby town. We had lots of great food, checked out some interesting booths and listened to some great music.
the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church in Columbus
Lionel at the BBQ and Blues Festival
I learned how to make egg rolls from scratch when I helped my friend Susan prepare TONS of food for a party she had. We were pretty proud of ourselves in the end as it was a major undertaking. I don’t know if I would ever do it again…it took the two of us 3 hours to make them!
I went on a work trip to St. Maarten/St. Martin, the Caribbean island where our time share is located. I was only there 3 days, but it was a great experience and I’m happy I had the opportunity to go. I see it as the only perk to my otherwise thankless and miserable job. And luckily, very little work was done and most of my time was spent drinking bottles of incredibly nice and expensive wine with my boss, given to us for free by the hotel employees (our company also owns the hotel) and eating delicious food on the company dime. I wish I could have explored the island a little more, but I wasn’t there long and we mostly stayed near the hotel, located on the Dutch side. Though one night for dinner we went to this incredible restaurant on the French side overlooking the beach and we also went to a little bar/grill on a bay near the airport before flying out.
St. Maarten, and if you look closely you can see St. Barth's in the distance
the view from our table at the French restaurant we went to on the French side of the island...
very expensive (40 euros 3 course menus!), but the company was paying!
my delicious meal at the French restaurant, shrimp and scallops in coconut and curry sauce
with sweet potatoes and plantain chips
the beach in St. Maarten
feeding the iguanas
on the island
Simpson Bay, the view from the bar and grill where we had lunch near the airport
We celebrated Thanksgiving with most of my family…20 of us total. My mom and I did all the cooking and everything was delicious and we ate ourselves into a turkey coma. It was my first Thanksgiving in the US since 2006, so I really wanted to do it up and enjoy it. I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning while tending to all the food preparation, and then took it easy that night because my company made us work on Black Friday…so un-American! Not that I would have participated in the shopping extravaganza that the consumerist tradition of Black Friday is, but it still would have been nice to have the day off and get a four day weekend like everyone else I know who doesn’t work in retail or food service.
Also on Thanksgiving Day Lionel and I celebrated our 4thwedding anniversary! Of course, since our anniversary fell on Thanksgiving Day this year, we didn’t really celebrate at all…maybe next year! I guess I can’t complain though since last year we spent our 3rd anniversary on a cruise…
And then 4 days later we celebrated the 7thanniversary of when we met. My how the time flies! Sometimes I can hardly believe that I have known Lionel for 7 years, but it’s been a wonderful 7 years, despite all the obstacles along the way.
Now we are getting ready for Christmas and are busy decorating, shopping, wrapping, packing, shipping and making merry. I love Christmas, so my spirits are a little higher than they have been the past few months, which is a nice change and should help the time pass quickly through the New Year. Unfortunately, we don’t really have any specific or exciting plans for this holiday season. Since I’m still in my first year with my company I have basically no paid days off, so I can’t take any time off to enjoy the season or travel anywhere, so it looks like we will be having a very low key holiday.
The only other thing happening in our life right now is our big news and deserves at least an entire post, maybe more, so I will save it for next time. Stay tuned…