New Year’s Eve 2018

There are no words that can describe our 2018.  It was a life-changing year that truly made us believe that we can do anything.

As we settle into our New Year’s Eve here in Madrid, we can’t help but reflect on the enormous panic we both felt just 365 days ago.  We were just a few hours away from packing three dogs into a rented SUV and driving them across the country, taking a week long voyage and then driving across Europe.  We were just a few hours away from saying hard goodbyes, which we had been dreading for months.  We were just a few hours away from leaving the familiar and embracing all of the unknowns.

We stumbled some this year.  We learned some hard lessons.  We cried.  We missed our loved ones and things that give us comfort.  We didn’t have a perfect year.


We also proved to ourselves that we are capable of just about anything.  That the world will embrace you when you need it to be kind.  That dusting yourself off is part of life and most importantly, that nothing and I mean nothing, is permanent.

As we ring in 2019 tonight, we breathe gratitude.

Trying to pick highlights from the year is next to impossible, but high on the list are…

  • Taking my niece to Paris
  • Watching whales in Tenerife
  • Eating pasta in Venice
  • Slowing down at Lake Bled, Slovenia
  • Showing my family European life
  • Settling into our new home
  • And last, but certainly not least, carrying this active little girl for the last 37 weeks.

Please enjoy the pictures of our extensive travels.  We have no plans to slow down in 2019, even with our new addition.   This world is full of beauty and we intend to show it all to our Baby Girl.

There is so much we are looking forward to in 2019.

We love you!  Happy New Year!

Dan and Nan



Time. It can feel fast. It can feel slow. 2018 has been a rush of leisure for us. We have hurried through days and lounged for weeks, nicely adopting our new country’s attitude on savoring the moment and living a slow life.

One of the great pleasures we have had this year is showing our new home to our families. Dan’s mom has visited several times and different members of my family came and went for an entire month during the summer. Watching them experience our day to day life was fascinating. In such a short period of time, our routines and attitudes molded to Spanish culture and it wasn’t obvious to us until we were sharing our new life with our loved ones. We already take things for granted. It was eye-opening. (You will also notice some guest stars in some of the pictures).

Being an expat is “difficult”.  We live in such a beautiful country and our list of “must-see” places is ever growing.  On the other hand, we want to see the entire continent of Europe too.  When planning our travels, our attention often feels divided. We have the privilege of being able to travel frequently and the question always is: Explore Spain or a new country in Europe? Most of the time this year, Europe won, and I will catch you up on those travels in a week. But today, I want to show you the tiny portion of our new country that we have traveled to so far. There is still so much to see!


If you have ever traveled to Europe or even researched traveling to Europe, you know that Europeans love trains. While airfare between countries is unbelievably affordable, trains are still a very big deal. (When I say affordable, think 25% of what a plane ticket from Indiana to Missouri costs). So, we decided to take the train to the northern coast of Spain, Bilbao.

Bilbao is in Basque country. It is known for beautiful architecture, excellent food and a Guggenheim art museum. The city is easily walkable and comfortable. It is divided into two areas by the Nervion River. And you can tell a difference too! One side has been completely overhauled into a modern European city and the other side is, well, a little dirty.

During our two-day trip, we toured the Guggenheim and took a funicular to the top of Artxanda Mountain to get in the views.

Check out Bilbao…


This is in my Top 3 for the year. I still find my mind going back to our short little getaway to the tiny Canary Island of Tenerife. There is an endless supply of activities you can do here or you can relax.  Both seem to be equally encouraged.   In just a few days, we…

• Went whale watching
• Went on a star-gazing tour
• Dan rented a jet ski for an afternoon
• Visited an 18th century winery
• Spent a day at the pool
• I read an entire novel and Dan, of course, read two books 😊

It was beautiful, relaxing and English friendly. I would go back tomorrow…
(Tenerife will also always hold a special place in my heart because it was where I felt Squirms move for the first time).



There are several cities near Madrid for day trips or even afternoon outings. Wanting to escape the city for an afternoon, we rented a car and drove an hour to Toledo. I knew nothing about Toledo, Spain.

The hubster LOVES an ancient walled city.  Toledo is surrounded by a river on three sides and a nicely preserved wall on the other.  In the city centre, the streets are so narrow that driving them is impossible. The town is full of twists and turns, giant old cathedrals, stunning architecture and it is remarkably easy to get lost. 🙂

For literary buffs, Toledo is near La Mancha, where Don Quixote’s adventures take place.

We were all surprised at how beautiful and interesting we found Toledo.


I love sharing our adventures with all of you.  Next week, I will show you where we have spent our time outside of Spain this year.