A week ago today we packed up the last of our possessions, and then loaded 8 bags, 3 carseats, a stroller, and our children onto a plane in Germany and headed across the ocean. After two more flights we finally landed in Tallahasse and collapsed into our beds, exhausted, after 24 hours of traveling. (On the plus side, jet lag is a non-issue if your kids stay up that whole time.)
After a week in the United States I’m adjusting, but still find myself occasionally startled by differences. Watching my children discover this country for the first time is entertaining. Here are a few examples:
When we woke up our first morning here, Lucy rolled out of bed onto the carpeted floor. Then she just stood there for a good 30 seconds or more, wiggling her toes in the carpet. “Wow!” she kept saying “it’s so soft!”
In Europe, all the light switches are flat and you just push them to turn the light on and off. Annika still can’t find the light switches in this house, and I hurt my hand the other day when I hit one instead of flipping it.
Our children are delighted by ice and fascinated by the ice and water machine in the refrigerator. Yesterday I came out of the bathroom to find that all three of my girls were completely, soaking wet and were trailing water all around the house. When we asked them where they got so wet they informed us it was from the fridge. They had been playing in the water dispenser, and the kitchen was flooded!
We were prepping our kids by telling them that everything in America is bigger – the cars are bigger, the roads are bigger, the stores are bigger, the shopping carts are bigger, the houses are bigger, the refrigerators are bigger, and even the people are bigger! We took them all to Costco and they were amazed. Big carts that fit two kids! Huge parking lot with hundreds of cars! Then I found a giant bag of Craisins and showed Annika. “See, Annika, everything here is bigger!” She just started giggling and couldn’t stop; she had never seen such a huge bag and was so amused to find that things in America really were so big.
Now I realize that not all of Europe is cold, and that not all of America is hot, but the biggest (and best) change for our family has been the warmer weather. After not seeing the sun consistently for a few years it has been kind of amazing to wake up to sunshine every morning. I thought I would hate the heat and humidity, but it hasn’t been bad at all. (Though the ants I could do without.) We’ve been playing hard and enjoying all the activities sunshine affords. My kids are in heaven with so much space to play and the chance to go outside all the time. I love seeing them dirty and sweaty and happy.
I know I’m home in my own country, but I feel as if I’ve been traveling. New places, new weather, new food, new culture. There are big trucks, bbq joints, palm trees, unfamiliar bugs, accents I’m not accustomed to, and really, really big stores. So I’ve been trying to experience it and photograph it just like we have been on a European vacation. Here’s how we travel with kids in the South United States!
As far as we found, Europe does not have swampy rivers with Alligators. This is definitely something your kids should experience.
Our children may have been used to eclairs, savory crepes, and maybe even schnitzel, but fried okra, field peas with snaps, creamed corn, bbq pork with coleslaw, and sweet cornbread were new tastes and a welcome experience. Maybe we’ll try alligator before we leave?
A trip to Orlando gave us the chance to visit family we hadn’t seen since our children were born, a trip to Cocoa beach, and a day at Sea World. Even if Sea World isn’t your thing, a visit to an amusement park is a must for an authentic American experience, complete with cut-off t-shirts, cotton candy, and blaring music.