Making new friends & Nick's family tree

When I first got back to California we spent most of our time running errands and going to our favorite places. I wanted to catch up on all of the food that I had missed. Kentucky Fried Chicken definitely was one of them! Not the chicken of course, but the mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, cheese balls etc. is delicious! It was wonderful being surrounded by mountains and beautiful sunsets disappearing behind them again. It was overwhelming to be back so I didn't want to see any other people but Nick on some days. As much as I absolutely love seeing everyone again after being so extremely alone, I need my balance. Nick can hang out with friends almost every single night without any problem. But I need my alone time about every other day. I am emotional person with lots of thoughts so I need time to process that. One other reason for why I wanted to take it slowly in the beginning was because I barely knew anyone of Nick's new friends. They aren't exactly new friends, but when so many moved away during the year he started hanging out with other friends who he hadn't seen for a long time. That meant that I came back into a completely new group of people that I had to get to know. During the past three years, being an au pair and meeting Nick, I have met so many new people that I am honestly a bit tired of introducing myself over and over. After a while your brain gets exhausted by all of the new impressions. I missed Sofie so bad and just wanted to hang out with someone who knew me already. But a month into this experience I feel like I have finally gotten to know most of them and I now consider them to be my good friends :)

On another note, I have wanted to explore Nick's family tree for a long time and ended up doing some research while I was still in Sweden. It's so hard as a geneaology researcher to know if you have found the right people. You can only hope that you are following the right track because it's a lot of work that goes to waste if you don't. But I think I got this done correctly. I have found quite a bit but the part I got furthest with was his mother's father's side. His Netherland heritage.
 
One thing that is very tricky with the English language is how to explain the difference between your mother's parents and father's parents. In Swedish we have different words for all of them. So now when I am going to explain Nick's family tree and who everyone is, I will use these words to seperate them.
Father's father = Grandpa
Father's mother = Grandma
Mother's father = Grandfather
Mother's mother = Grandmother
 
Around the year 1600 a man named Pieter Regeer was born in Belgium. He married a woman named Jaquemijntje Malevaars. They had a son named Matthijs Regeer and he married Marija Isaaks Venningh. All four of them decided for some reason to move to the city Leiden in the Netherlands. Matthijs and Marija had seven children together and the family name Regeer was kept in the family all the way until Nick's grandmother's mother got married and took her husband's last name. Leiden must have been quite the place because the family lived in the same city for about 300 years until they moved to San Jose, California. I personally don't know the reason why they moved but a ton of people immigrated to America in the late 1800's and early 1900's because they were poor and got news of the gold rush. Some of my own relatives did just that. So to sum this up, Pieter Regeer was Nick's mother's, grandmother's, grandpa's, grandpa's, grandpa's, grandpa's father :)
 
Nick enjoyed checking out his family tree on Ancestry and I want to keep working on it sometime in the future!
Surrounded by kitty cats
Out for a walk with Charlie
Breakfast omelet, love love love
Out running errands

Christmas Sweater Party

On December 17th we were invited over to Tasha and Oliver's house. They live just three houses down the street from us but this was the first time I got to meet them. In the evening when we got ready I was reminded of something cute that one of our cats do a lot. When we showered we all of a sudden heard Buggy mjauing outside the door. So we let her inside and she wanted to jump into the shower too. She can sleep all day and night and it so quiet. But she is so interested in all of the typical human things that we do. Like showering, or cooking food in the kitchen. Buggy looks at us with her big eyes like she genuinley wants to understand what is going on. While cooking food she often runs between our legs and begs for us to cuddle with her. And when we come back after being out somewhere, she is the only cat who ever greets us in front of the house. Her mjauing has no boundaries then :P I have missed that little cutiepie so much.

The Christmas sweater party at the neighbors house was great! I got to meet plenty of new people but also old friends who live there. The guys played their guitars as they always do, we all brought Christmas treats and also something for the White Elephant gift exchange. I ended up picking a present full of spicy sauces. You can imagine Nick's reaction :P he hugged those bottles all night, lol. We also got our very first wedding present from Kristie and John! They gave us a nice crockpot which is great for us who always cook a lot of food :) I am happy to now know our neighbors better since I am sad to not have my Swedish friends around. It helps to get to know new people even though they of course don't replace any other friends in my heart. But there sure is space for more friends in there  :)

Nick with Peter's cute dog Rosie
 The hot sauces I "won" for Nick :)

Tough kitty love & Going back to Effie's!

During my first couple of days here in San Jose we took it pretty easy. I was jetlagged but managed to turn that around surprisingly fast. We ran some errands and tried to figure out a way to fit all of my stuff in our small bedroom and closet. My two bags are still laying on the kitchen floor full of things ;) During the first 1½ week my cat allergy was really bad. I had expected to have to go through that whole ordeal with itchiness, runny nose and asthma all over again and that it would eventually get better after a few months. But I got another reaction that I don't usually get. I had red spots all over my hands and neck and some on my face. It was really frustrating and I was worried that my allergy had gotten worse and that living with cats would be a nightmare. But after just 1½ week I felt a thousand times better. I have allergy pills, an inhalor, nose spray and eye drops for whenever I need them (because I still do) but I use them less and less.
 
I was also worried that the kitties wouldn't remember me. And it made me sad at the beginning that they actually didn't seem to remember me. Poor Reese, who is Nick's best buddy and who always sleeps in bed with him, didn't want to sleep in bed with us at all. Of course not. I stole his spot and I stole Nick from him too. Snickers who usually rolls around on her back and wants her belly scratched like a dog to whoever walks in through the door, was not sure about me either. Buggy stayed away from me for a good long while and didn't want to be touched. But finally there was some hope when I saw my little Twixie bear. She came running up to me meowing and wanted cuddles, as if I had never left her. She and I have always had a special bond. Nick was close to giving her away several years ago because she was always out and about and didn't desire a whole lot of human contact. But we are both so glad that he kept her, because now that I am around she wants to hang out with us all of the time. And my heart overfilled with joy when both Snickers, Buggy and Reese got used to me. Two weeks later they all sleep in our room/bed at night. Our four babies are happy and content again. Never would I ever give them up for the sake of my allergy.
 
We didn't just want to sit at home the first week so we celebrated my return to America by going to The Cheesecake Factory. The next night we went to our favorite karaoke bar Effie's where we saw a bunch of people who wanted to welcome me home. Nick had announced on Facebook that we would be there. So people who normally don't even come to Effie's stopped by which was wonderful! My spontaneous welcome home party was perfect and everything I could have asked for. The highlight was definitely Nick singing "Sweet Caroline" while everyone in the bar sang along as a big choir.
 
The pretty flower bouquet that I got from Nick after he picked me up from the airport <3 They are still in full bloom
As much as I miss the Swedish nature and how you can see miles away, I also love the palm trees and mountains
Mac n Cheese balls as an appetizer at The Cheesecake Factory,.. we could eat these for dinner every night and be totally fine with it. SO delicious.
Back with my handsome love
We unpacked the box of Santas that I had sent before leaving. Wish we had more Christmas decorations this year because just having these (plus two more) Santas became slightly creepy, lol. But I still love them. They are going to look much better to live in a bigger house where we can spread them out in different rooms.
Nick with his best buddy Reese
When I woke up I was finally greeted with some sunshine
Our little Buggy bear
Snickers and Reese
My tiny Twixie
I am happy to be back with this guy who actually can cook food, compared to me. And who is able to sneak in some healthy vegetables into my diet once in a while ;) it's not easy making food for a picky vegetarian who doesn't like cooked vegetables but he knows what he can get away with :P
Like this... I'm such a baby... if he mixes spinach and tomatoes with pasta, cheese sauce, mushrooms or eggs I will eat it ;) because it's delicious when he makes it
My first time back at Effie's! I missed this place and the people there so much.
Michael Skilj did a very rare appearance at Effie's! But he also lives three houses down the street from us so it's not like we never see him ;) such a blast to reunite with my friends!
Our best buddy Jon was there of course!!
And Nick's mother Ingrid was a nice surprise! She stayed there with us all the way until closing time and then was nice enough to buy us food and drive us home!