Back to School (last time!)

Paige came home at the end of the summer for about 10 days of relaxation, interspersed with doctors appointments and dental checkups and haircuts. The time flew by, and before we knew it it was time once again for her to head back for all her sorority recruitment stuff…

Before the very last first day of school picture! (Selfie)

As she begins her final semester of college!

Tim and I drove over for parents weekend, and to attend her sorority’s “Red Dress Gala,” which benefits women’s heart health. Our drive over didn’t begin very auspiciously, but we did arrive eventually, and loved spending time with Paige and meeting her friends!

Pomp and Circumstance

After much back and forth and (apparent) miscommunication about credits, at the very last minute we found out that Clay would indeed be graduating this spring.

Cue choir. Now all sing Hallelujah!

Seriously though, we’re very proud of him!

Trying To Reason With The Hurricane Season

Linda is quickly becoming the 5th member of our family…she fits right in and seems to be adjusting well. She’s made friends at her new school, and in the neighborhood. She loves going for walks on the beach and swimming in the pool. She’s getting good grades in school and she keeps her room clean, does her chores (doing her laundry, cleaning her bathroom and vacuuming bedroom, helping with Jack, and taking trash out), and helps around the house. She does her homework each day at the kitchen table, chatting to us and telling us about her day. 

She had one of her friends from school over for dinner last week because she wanted us to meet him. And she tried corn on the cob and Key Lime Pie for the first time!

A week after moving Paige into her new apartment in Tallahassee (and stocking her fridge and freezer with tons of food to last her a while), Hurricane Hermine paid a visit to the college town and left trees down and thousands without power. 

Paige and her roommates wisely decided to evacuate the power-less town (nothing was open, traffic lights not working, roads closed) and come home for the weekend – hoping that power would be restored when they returned. A couple of Paige’s friends who couldn’t easily travel to their homes (Miami and CT) came too. 

The girls had fun. They had a beach day and we all helped Linda make a fabulous Italian dinner one evening. 

FSU resumed classes today, even though thousands are still without power in Tallahassee, including Paige. I was not happy about having to send her back to a hot, smelly apartment (all the food we bought her and stocked the fridge and freezer with had rotted in the heat) with no electricity, air conditioning, hot water, or any way of cooling or cooking food. Frankly, I’m appalled that it has been 6 days and there is still no power but I am even more disappointed in Florida State University for not having the empathy or common sense to wait until power was restored before requiring the students to return to town for classes. 

I’m extremely disappointed in FSU and unhappy that it appears the City of Tallahassee decided student apartments should be the last to have power restored…but I’m hopeful that it will, finally, be restored today. 

The one about road trips and water bottles

Last Wednesday Tim and I drove to Tallahassee with Paige and got her all set up in her new apartment. She was excited and happy about the year ahead. I was…not so much.  I’m going to miss her. 

Luckily, sort of, for me I got another chance to see her a few days later. Apparently she forgot to pack this…and that…and so Linda and I drove back over with another carload of stuff (plus a few more groceries😬) on Saturday. 

Sunday morning, Linda went with a friend from school to visit the Castillo de San Marcos (fort) in St. Augustine and had her first ever visit to a Dunkin Donuts. I stayed home and slept late and then drank copious amounts of coffee and read a book. Both of us had a delightful morning. 

That afternoon Clay came by with a friend. Which was nice because we usually don’t see much of him once school starts…unless he needs to do laundry or runs out of food. 🙄

I’ve been cooking some more “American” type meals for Linda. Roasted pork medallions with egg noodles was a hit, and so was the meatloaf and mashed potatoes – especially the mashed potatoes. She loves those. 

Linda is enjoying school and has made several friends – one of whom will be coming home from school with her tomorrow to work on homework and have dinner with us. I’m so pleased with how well she’s adapting to life in the U.S!

Paige had her first day of classes yesterday. So far, so good! She’s also been busy running around filling out job applications (any Tallahassee friends who know of a part time job, please let me know!)

We’ve had lots of thunderstorms the past couple of days…and apparently, there’s more to come!

In addition to the threat of a tropical storm, our neighborhood is currently under a boil water advisory. Which is really, really not fun. So, in between rainstorms I’ve been running to Publix to buy water. Lots of water. 

Chartres, vicariously

Paige sent me photos (and a video) from her group’s outing to Chartres yesterday – c’est très belle! 

She also seems to still be enjoying living life as a Parisian…

Although, apparently, sometimes those cobblestones really trip her up

Anyway, back in Florida Tim and I have been enjoying spending time with Clay (when he’s not working). He’s been hanging out at the house with the old folks and it’s been really nice. 

I’ve been busy trying to get Linda’s (Italian exchange student) bedroom set up. She’ll be arriving in a month. I’ve sent a couple of emails and hope to hear from her soon so that we can start to get to know her a bit before she arrives.  

Other than trying to get bedrooms switched and set up, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and just trying to enjoy the quiet before things start to get hectic…soon…


Since I’ve been home, I’ve been sleeping a lot. For some reason, this trip across the pond hit me harder than usual. I’ve just been dragging. 

Other than sleeping, my week was filled with a migraine (probably influenced by the jet lag), lots of laundry, and lots of face timing with Paige. The International Program at FSU has had many activities planned for them…first they did a walking tour of the neighborhood where Cité Université is located. They learned about the facilities on the campus (like a dining hall where she eats true French meals for about 3€ – such as roast duck!) It actually costs more for her to do a load of laundry (3.50€) than to eat! 

She’s made a group of friends (funnily enough, one of the girls she knew years ago when she used to do rhythmic gymnastics. Another is friends with one of her good friends who moved to Minnesota. She’s friends with her in Minnesota and they just happened to run into each other in Paris. It’s truly a small world.) Paige and her friends have been exploring and walking all over Paris and enjoying the fact that they can drink the fine French wine legally. 

They’ve hung out at Champs dès Mars, they celebrated when France beat Iceland in the Euro, they went on a Seine dinner cruise, went to a comedy show, and she has a cooking class today and they tour Chartres this weekend. That’s just this week. Oh yeah…and she has her French classes too! 

Happiness is locating the coffee machine in the dormitory!

Happiness is also yummy gelato on a beautiful Parisian day!

Making a simple dessert in cooking class. 

When I was in Paris, Paige and I had a cassoulet one day for lunch that was so good. I was determined to try to recreate it when I got home – even though it’s in the upper 90’s here and probably not the best time of year to undertake an all day cooking/baking dish. Still, I tried, and it turned out pretty great. If only I could also manage to produce a crusty, French baguette to go with it…

We’ll always have Paris…

My last day in Paris  was bittersweet. We slept in, which was nice, and then walked to the closest Monoprix to buy a month’s worth of toiletries for Paige. We returned to our hotel to pack and then met Louise for tea. She came all the way out to Montmartre to say goodbye to me. (I seriously love those kids so much. They are the best.)

Saying goodbye was hard. Paige will see both Simon and Louise (and hopefully Roxane) again this month, and will spend a weekend at their country home with the family, but it was hard for me. Simon and Louise were our first exchange kids and I’m probably closest to them. They have a special place in my heart. 

After saying goodbye to Louise, we finished packing and headed over to Cité Université to check Paige into her dorm. 

We dropped the bags off and then walked down to a café to have a snack and a cup of tea before walking to the local supermarket to buy some supplies for Paige to have on hand. 

We returned to the dorm, unpacked and set her dorm room up…(it’s very cute!)

Paige has her own room…

And her own bathroom. It’s cute…it’s like a lav on a boat; all in one. She can shampoo her hair, brush her teeth, and use the toilet all at the same time 😉

She has a little refrigerator…

And plenty of room for her clothes…

(Please note the supply of Bueno bars at the foot of the bed, in case homesickness sets in)

After all that, and delaying the inevitable as long as possible, it was time for me to go. I uber-ed to my hotel at the airport, but not before lots and lots of hugs and promises of TONS of photos from Paige. I was a bit weepy when I got into the car…tears of happiness that my girl is getting to have this experience…and of course, sadness. I’m going to miss her. 

Paige has been true to her word. Here are the photos she’s sent me thus far…she’s made some friends, they’ve been walking all around the city and taking advantage of their free metro passes. They went to Champs dès Mars and celebrated France’s Euro victory over Iceland (Allez France!). It looks like she’s having fun. 


The kids (and their parents) are enthusiastically counting down the days until finals are over and summer vacation can begin. Okay, truthfully, the parents are probably a bitmore enthusiastic   than the kids…they’re in the midst of studying and writing papers and presenting research. They’re exhausted.  But we are all ready for this semester to end and to get to spend some time together relaxing. 


Tonight is Clay’s Capstone presentation, where he (and his group) will present their research findings. 
Paige managed to squeeze in a bit of free time with her roommates and they took a day off to go paddle around the Rez – a mental health day! 

Tim and I are driving over to Tallahassee this weekend to get Paige (mostly) moved out of her dorm. And then, in less than a week I’m going to have my kids back. I can’t wait! We are planning a quick getaway to spend some time together before summer jobs (and classes, for Clay) begin. And then, in July, Paige will be heading to Paris to study French for the month. 

But for now….I just can’t wait to get my kids back. At least for a little while. 

February, already?




 The past month has flown by and been a busy one. Quite a bit of time was devoted to securing housing for Paige for next year…she ended up signing a lease for a (very nice) apartment with a few friends. She is very excited about not living in a dorm next year, and having her own bedroom and bathroom. She also managed a quick trip home for The weekend in the middle of month so she could get her hair done (and her laundry😏).

As usual, she also kept me updated with all her news…including very happy news. She is officially no longer a freshman. 


Clay has also been busy with school, and work, and research…



I had my training with World Relief, to help a refugee family, and now I am waiting to be assigned a family. 

Tim and I had a spur of the moment, empty nester weekend getaway to Savannah…and it was wonderful. I took lots of photos, because Savannah, even in January, is beautiful. We walked along the river and watched the tugboats go past and walked through the city market and window shopped. We had fabulous, delicious meals. We went on the hop on, hop off trolley tour and meandered around Forsyth Park and listened to musicians and admired the stately old mansions, and we found the Mercer-Williams House (from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil).



On the way out of Savannah we decided to stop by the  Bonaventure Cemetery, which is also featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It was a dreary, overcast day and the cemetery was…absolutely perfect. I confess that I have a kind of “thing” for old cemeteries. I love to walk through them and read the tombstones and imagine the lives of the people that rest there. I find them beautiful.

Bonaventure was breathtaking. It is not manicured…there is a sort of wild, southern beauty to it. There are large old Live Oak trees everywhere, draped with Spanish Moss and Resurrection Ferns. I imagine in the springtime it is glorious, when all the Confederate Jasmine and Azaleas are blooming. But even in January it was gorgeous with Camellias blooming everywhere. The statuary was hauntingly beautiful. Some of the Angels were dis-colored on their faces and it looked as though they were weeping. 

Words cannot do this place justice, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Even photographs aren’t enough though, really. If you ever have the opportunity, do go to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah and walk through the magnificent 100 acres of peaceful, serene beauty. You won’t regret it. 




“But I never think about dead people. Looking at these old graves makes me think how generation after generation of the same family are all gathered together. And that makes me think about how life goes on, but not about dying. I never think about dying.” 

― John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

Winter Break…

The kids spent the past couple of weeks immersed in books and laptops, studying and writing papers and (Clay) doing research. They drank copious amounts of coffee and stared at notecards and computer screens until their eyes ached…and then they took their final exams for the semester. 

Now they are both finished until January, and both are thoroughly enjoying sleeping in and being lazy. Clay still has ongoing research projects he is working on, and still has work, but other than that he’s enjoying his free time. Paige has been bonding with Jack and reading and enjoying having a room all to herself and being able to shower without having to wear shoes. 
We are all looking forward to Christmas and the quiet serenity of the mountains of North Carolina. 

I’m also excited about a new project I’ll be undertaking in 2016. I am volunteering to help refugee families with World Relief in Jacksonville. I have training in early January, and then after that I will be a “friendship partner” to a newly arriving refugee family. I will meet them at the airport and each week for several months, helping them with anything they need help with; getting a library card, learning to use American appliances, answering questions, helping with English, explaining cultural differences, etc. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to expect…but I’m very excited about the opportunity to share something of myself and, hopefully, be an example of American generosity and hospitality. I hope that all of the refugee families resettling in America (who, by the way, have usually been waiting to come here for several years) are met with love and grace and kindness. There has been so much hateful, xenophobic rhetoric from certain people in the news lately…I am ashamed for anyone to think that that is how Americans are. 

I encourage you to read about some of the Syrian refugees who have been cleared to come to the United States as profiled on  Humans of New York. I also encourage anyone who feels moved by the stories of unimaginable suffering, to donate either monetarily or of your time to World Relief. (Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services are also wonderful organizations helping with refugee resettlement.)