Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: A Year in Review

I've done this for a few years and it's so fun to look back- 2013, 2014 (love all of my veiled references to David without mentioning his name lol), 2015.

January: I flew back to Israel 2 days after Christmas to finish my last month of classes in Haifa. I tried to do as much sightseeing as I could before I said shalom to one of my favorite countries. I visited the Stella Maris monastery in Haifa, a mosque and the covered markets in Akko, and finally, one of my favorite cities in the world: Jerusalem. It was a memorable trip because for a usually perfect weather year-round kind of country, this day was freezing with pouring rain, flooding, and crazy wind. After finishing up a few papers and exams, I moved home at the end of the month.

February: I started out the month finishing up more papers for school and getting over my jet lag. Me and David got to celebrate our first Valentine's Day together being on the same continent. Just a few weeks after moving home, I got hired for a full-time teaching job. 

March: I started working! It wasn't just full-time, it was ALL of my time. Everything for grad school got put on the back burner. David took off solo on a road trip across America, and I have to say that him being gone for a while got me thinking about things...

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

April: This month started off pretty memorably. On April 2nd, David popped the question at the capital building in Madison. After a little over 2 years of international dating, we were getting married! It was fun to surprise my parents, break the news to everyone, and start the planning process. The rest of the month was sort of a stressful combination of working and wedding planning.

May: Again, almost every waking moment was spent trying to finish my lesson planning and other teaching responsibilities. With David, we made an effort this month to do some sightseeing around the area before he had to go back to France for the summer- including Port Washington, downtown Milwaukee, and the covered bridge park in Cedarburg. The other big BRIGHT spot of the month was road tripping to southern Missouri to bring home our family's new baby- Buttercup! We also brought home Buttercup's sister to her new family. It was one  of the best moments of my life to have those adorable baby puppies on my lap for that drive. A lot of my time throughout the spring and summer was spent playing with and trying to train little miss Buttercup. 

June: David left towards the beginning of the month, and as expected, it was not fun. The next week, school ended! I officially survived my first real teaching job. I learned a lot and got better at teaching. Jumping in mid-school year to a crazy schedule of teaching 5 classes at 3 different schools was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I had a much more chill summer job that started in June- teaching dance part-time to cute little ballerinas between 3-6 years old (7th summer I've done this job!).

July: The month started out with a family vacation. We flew out to Utah, got to see some of the Bishop family, and then drove north to Idaho for the Houdek reunion. We spent a few days at Yellowstone, which I had not been back to since going as a kid. I spent a few days in Utah afterwards and got to catch up with some great friends. Another happy part of the month was Jenna and Cabren (and their dogs) moving home to Wisconsin. After the trip the wedding planning started to ramp up. I also flew to Tennessee for a quick trip to visit my friend Stephanie, who I hadn't seen for 2 years.

August: Finally! My dance teaching job ended, and I got to go to France to visit David. He was hired for a job on the French Riviera, so that is where I went. I stayed in Cannes, and also got to visit Nice and Ventimiglia, Italy. With David, we spent lots of time swimming in the Mediterranean, and also went on a day trip to Monaco. It was so good to be reunited after feeling a little mopey over the summer. By the time I was flying home, we were in the final countdown until the big day.

September: THE BIG MONTH. Possibly the biggest and most important month of my whole life. Most of my time (and my mom's) this month was spent wedding planning and finalizing details. It is a time-consuming process to plan a wedding. I had a fun Parisian-themed bridal shower. David and his parents (their first time in America!) flew into Chicago on the 24th. The next day, me, my parents, and the Rubinos made the lonnnnng 11 hour drive to upstate New York. Our wedding day was the 28th. We were married in the Palmyra temple, and it was a day filled with peace and contentment. Palmyra is so beautiful. After a lunch with the family and friends who made the long journey to celebrate with us, we spent a night in Niagara Falls before driving back to WI for the reception. The day of our reception, on the 30th, was probably the most fun day I've had in my life. Everything turned our perfectly, and partying with friends and family I love was amazing. 

October: I officially moved to France just 2 days after the reception on October 2nd. Despite what other people had told me, it didn't really feel like a big transition to live together for the first time. Maybe because we waited until we knew each other before we got married (cough unlike some BYU marriages cough). The bigger transition for me was having too much free time. Not only was it the first time in my life that I wasn't working (can't because of visa situation) or in school, but I moved to a small town where I don't know anyone and have no car. I still struggle a lot with boredom and finding things to do- funny because while I was working full-time I would have killed to have the chance to be lazy. Of course, I tried to keep busy with some traveling. In October, I went on walks around town, explored Antibes for the first time, and with David visited both his hometown, and the impressive Palais des Papes in Avignon- which I loved.

November: Similarly to October, sightseeing kept me entertained. With David we made it to Grasse, Aix-en-Provence, and the American military cemetery in Draguignan for Veteran's Day. At the end of the month, I met my mom in Paris!! We also got to go to the Christmas markets of Strasbourg together.

December: This was one of my favorite months of the year. For the first few days, my mom was still here. We toured around the south of France and San Remo, Italy. The next weekend, we went with David's mom to the Lyon Festival of Lights. The third weekend of December was the best of all- we had an incredible time in London together!! Of course, Christmas was the next weekend. We spent it in Gap with David's parents. On the 30th, I flew home in order to get my long stay French visa at the Chicago consulate (and to visit Buttercup/the family).

I guess it's been a pretty memorable year! 

Our main wish for 2017 is for everything to go well with American immigration. We officially applied for David's visa in November. If that's approved, we're supposed to hear back in about 6 months. From there, David will need to interview at the American embassy in Paris and submit more paperwork. We were told when we applied that the whole process should take about a year from the time we submitted the application. That means that we'll move back to the U.S. next fall if everything goes according to plan.

I'm thankful to have the chance to travel in Europe this year, but we're both excited to settle down in Wisconsin when we get the chance.

Happy New Year/Bonne Année to all!

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