Tag Archives: Family

Welcome to the Sunshine State!

It’s official—we are back in the United States. Our move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was our sixth relocation in just under two years. That’s right—we’ve moved six times in the course of 677 days. Five of those moves were between different countries. Two were between different continents and two were with a child less than one-year-old. Whew!

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Sunrise in the front of our apartment building.

We’re getting pretty good at packing and eliminating excess. With each move it gets a little easier to leave behind what isn’t absolutely necessary and buy pretty much just what we need at our next location. We really lucked out in Florida because our corporate apartment came well-stocked with the essentials—like coffee cups and wine glasses. We even have an egg slicer, cheese shaver and several bottle openers. Strangely enough, though, we don’t have a spatula.

It feels weird to be back in the U.S. after nearly two years, but it is nice to have more freedom to get around. Because of where we lived in Monterrey and the fact that I didn’t drive in Mexico, Baby Girl and I were fairly confined to our little neighborhood when Matt was working. Here, however, Matt carpools to work so I have a car several days each week. Plus there’s a lot more for us to do in Florida—even on days we don’t have the car. Baby Girl is taking swim classes, I found a gym called Mommycise that caters to moms and babies and there’s a beach and state park within a five minute walk from our apartment. I keep joking with Matt that it feels like we are on a bit of a vacation because it’s so much easier to get around and communicate with people out and about.

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Strolling the beach with Baby Girl.

That said, we’ll be excited to get back out into the international scene. Traveling—and racking up passport stamps—is pretty addicting. Still, we are taking full advantage of being back in the States for a few months.

On our first weekend in town, we took a water taxi down the Intracoastal Waterway, which operates like a hop-on, hop-off bus. It took us past the waterfront homes of the rich and famous and offered stops for various attractions along the route, including the 15th Street Fisheries and Las Olas Boulevard. We took the water taxi to Las Olas Boulevard and got off to admire the stretch of cute little restaurants and shops that is so quintessentially American. There was an art festival going on, so after stopping for some wine, beer and a light lunch, we strolled past the booths and talked about the types of pieces we’d want for our future home.

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Fort Lauderdale from the water taxi.

That Sunday we planned to go to the beach, but the wind was blowing so hard, we decided to just go for a walk instead. Even just walking along the sidewalk near the beach we were blasted with bits of sand and spray from the crashing waves. Baby girl was tucked safely away in her stroller, but Matt had to hold on tight because the wind kept trying to blow her ride off course. As we walked, we were amused at, but had to admire, the spring breakers who weren’t going to let large waves and chilly wind gusts kill their vibe.

This past weekend we attended the annual Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade. The main festivities were at Huizenga Plaza, which sits on the waterfront downtown. Booths hawking Irish-themed food, clothing and, of course, drinks decked the perimeter of the park and a large stage in the center was the focal point of the entertainment. We got there shortly before the parade started, so we grabbed a quick lunch of Irish bangers, cupcakes and beer.

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The parade started at noon and lasted well over an hour. We watched for a while and Baby Girl humored us because she had cold peaches to enjoy, but eventually we all had enough of the sun and went in search of shade and refreshment. We ended up strolling down along the riverfront and admiring all of the boats sailing up and down it.

Sunday we finally made it out to the beach. The weather threatened rain, but it thankfully held off. We were able to try out our new beach tent and relax to the sound of the crashing waves.

Living in Florida, it almost feels like we picked right back up where we left off in Atlanta—except this time we have a baby. As was typical of our former stateside life, our weekend are quickly booking up. Starting in May, pretty much every weekend is booked up until August when we’ll be getting ready for our next adventure. I’ll give you two hints where we are headed: we are studying Mandarin and practicing with chopsticks whenever we get a chance.

Stay tuned for more Florida adventures. If you have any tips for fun, family-friendly things to do here, please leave them in the comments!

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Our Next Destination is….Venice!

*Note: Photo above is actually from Destin, Florida but I don’t have any images from Ft. Lauderdale yet. 

Well, the Venice of the U.S. that is…Ft. Lauderdale! Yes, next week we will be trading in tacos and salsa for Target (woohoo!) and beaches. This will be our first time living in the U.S. for almost two years and Baby Girl’s first time living in the States—ever.

We weren’t thrilled when we found out we were being sent to Florida for Matt’s next assignment. After all, we gave up quite a bit to see the world—and the state below our home state doesn’t count! However, we should only be there until August and it’ll give us a chance to see some family and friends and get some things done before we are back on the other side of the pond again. After Florida, we are reportedly heading to Asia.

So, we’re going to make the most of the next few months. I’m going to get my Target fix and I know Matt’s looking forward to some good, craft beer. We’ve signed Baby Girl up for swim classes and we’re planning a cruise in May. The next few months will be pretty busy and, before you know it, we’ll be back to our expat life. Come to think of it, we may feel like expats in our own country after having lived out of it for a while.

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I still have some adventures from Mexico to write about (including a trip to Cancun this coming weekend), so stay tuned for those. I promise I won’t just spend the next six months writing about bumming it on the beach and daily weekly trips to Target.

Let the adventure continue!

Farewell to 2016: A Year Well-Traveled

2017 came to Monterrey with a bang. Well lots of bangs, actually. Since about December 12 (the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and arguably the beginning of holiday celebrations in Mexico), the sound of fireworks has filled the air all day long. Yep, even in the blazing sun, the telltale bang and corresponding puff of smoke has served as a reminder that it’s CHRISTMAS!!!

It’s not surprising, then, that the grand finale of this nearly month long display, so to speak, was New Year’s Eve. All day and through the night, the sound of explosions reverberated off the mountains surrounding Monterrey. At midnight, we were able to enjoy a free show looking out our windows because every direction in which we looked, we could see blasts of color fill the skies. This continued well into the wee-hours of the morning as each time zone celebrated the ringing in of the New Year.

So here we are in a fresh new year with lots of unknowns. How many times will we move? What countries will we live in? What new languages will we learn? When will Baby Girl learn to nap?

Before looking forward, however, I thought I’d take a look back at 2016. The other night, Matt and I scrolled through our pictures and were amazed at just how much we’ve experienced. So here’s a little glimpse into our past year.

The Moves
We started the year living in Toulouse, France before getting a last-minute directive to move to Frankfurt, Germany. We lived there for about two and a half months before moving back to France. We stayed there until the last day of August when we packed up and moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Whew!

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Frankfurt, Germany
The Life Changes
When we rang in 2016, I was about 13 weeks pregnant. Fast forward to July 4th and we became parents of the most amazing baby girl. Life is certainly different, but we’re enjoying every moment (yes, even those 3 a.m. moments when we’re trying to get a wide-awake little girl back to sleep—at least we are sneaking in some extra snuggles). We can’t wait to witness all the things Baby Girl is going to learn this year—and all the things she is going to teach us as well.

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New parents and a baby girl in Marseilles, France.
Six months later!!

The Heartbreaks
2016 certainly sent us on a roller coaster of emotions. We experienced the incredible high of welcoming our baby girl into the world as well as the heartbreak of losing my dad to cancer. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and wonder what kind of grandpa he would have been to our little girl. I try to take comfort in knowing that we’ve got an extra lobbyist in Heaven keeping things organized and making sure God is watching out for us.

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Pat Biggs-1950-2016
The Travels
We were so lucky to be able to visit so many incredible places over the past year. From two of the smallest countries in the world (Luxembourg and Lichtenstein) to the largest waterfall in Europe, the Rhine Falls. We also went to Zurich (Switzerland) Cologne (Germany), Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) and a number of places in France, including Paris, Bordeaux, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Marseilles, Provence and the Loire Valley.

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Overlooking the port in Cannes, France
The Experiences
From staying in a chateau in the Loire Valley and tasting wine in Bordeaux to eating Fondue in Switzerland and ant mole in Mexico City (story to come), we’ve been blessed to have so many cool experiences over the past year. Hiking down into the caverns of the Gouffre de Padirac and winding our way along the city walls in Luxembourg are two highlights early in the year. The end of the year is marked by a visit to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary north of Mexico City (stay tuned for pics and tales from that adventure!) and working our way from food stand to food stand in Mexico City.

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Gouffre de Padirac
2016 was full of its ups and downs, joys and challenges, but we were blessed to see and experience so much. We’re excited to see what the New Year will bring. Happy 2017 everyone! Wishing you all much joy, love and health in the New Year.

Expat Reflections: 19 Hours for Hugs

I’m a bit behind on updating my blog, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks here. Two weeks ago, my dad went into the hospital. He wasn’t eating and was growing increasingly weak. After spending a lot of time in the hospital last fall receiving chemotherapy for Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a cancer that is aggressive but relatively rare among adults in the U.S., he was understandably hesitant to go back. Fortunately my mom was eventually able to convince him.

It was a good thing she did. After lots of tests, including MRIs and CAT scans, doctors learned my dad had a tumor growing in his brain. They decided to do a brain biopsy and the results showed the cancer we thought had been cleared in the fall had returned—this time attacking his brain.

Matt and I fortunately already had a trip planned to visit my parents in Arizona, so last week we were able to be there to cheer up my dad and support my mom. When he was battling cancer in the fall, my dad asked when we were going to get started on grandkids. I was shocked because he’d never even so much mentioned being a grandpa before, let alone asked us about our plans to start a family. His wish came true, though, and at Christmas we were able to deliver the news that he would soon be a grandpa.

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My dad, mom, Matt and me in Arizona a couple of years ago.

Fast-forward to our trip to Arizona. We found out the gender of our baby a few weeks before we left and planned a little pregnancy reveal for my parents. We ended up having to do the reveal in the hospital, but the news really seemed to excite my dad and he loved (and I mean really loved—he couldn’t get enough of it) the cake we got to help with our surprise.


One thing I don’t think you can ever prepare for as an expat is the physical distance between you and your family and friends—especially in particularly joyous or difficult situations. I’m sure there are some who might say, “the farther, the better,” but it’s moments like this or even fun times like my cousin’s wedding in September that make the ocean seem bigger and the continents a greater distance away.

Visiting my parents in Arizona took us a full day of travel in either direction. At five months pregnant, that can be no small feat, but it was worth it (I’ll share tips I came up with for traveling while pregnant in my next post). We don’t know when we’ll be able to make our next trip home, so we tried to make the most of every minute we had there. We even managed to squeeze in some baby shopping and a nice dinner with my mom on our last night.

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Matt spoiling me and his little baby girl already.
Black and white in an attempt to mask our exhaustion.

My dad will be starting the first of several more intense rounds of chemotherapy this week. We’re all praying the treatment is successful this time. I wish we could be there to continue providing support to my parents, but I’m grateful we had the time we did with them.

So, especially as we approach St. Valentine’s Day, I encourage all of you who live close to your family to pay them a visit and give them a hug. For those of you living at a distance like we are, be sure to reach out and remind your families just how much you love and miss them.

Happy Valentine’s Day and much love to you all!

quote8Pat Biggs BLS