Glad to be at home after almost three months although we only had outstanding exchanges!
How otherwise would you be able to afford such an extended trip to Europe?
The house is still standing and in very good condition. One one occasion we had to sweep the garage first from sand, find pots and pans that had been rearranged in the kitchen. This year, we had nothing of that sort and are still in touch with our exchange partners; even met up with the ones we exchanged with 3 years ago. Elisabeth, that was her name, even started a blog about her experience. So if you want to hear a second opinion, go to her website on Facebook.
Every year you learn something new or you take away an idea from one of the houses that you are staying in. We were so impressed by the garden decorations in Luxembourg that we're already looking to implement such a mirror here as well.
From the start, I advised to have an owner's closet where you can put away precious heirlooms etc. Since we downsized to this smaller home we have to lock away these items elsewhere. Note to self: As you are getting older, my dear, do write down where you hid what! It seems such a trivial piece of advice but I'm still looking for my favorite little ornaments, a set of 5 sheep that I hid last year...
We learned this summer that it is wonderful to meet up with the prospective exchange partners. We do not necessarily want to stay in the same house with them, however. We prefer to meet them and then are prepared to spend the night in a hotel. When the Buckleys arrive with all their luggage for 3 months, it always feels like we're moving in and crowding in on the others. And in spite of their house description, there may not be sufficient beds for everybody when couples are used to sleep in separate beds. Sounds like a very intimate detail, but better be practical about it.
I also took away from this trip that I really want a cleaner abroad. Otherwise I just end up doing chores like at home. And also find a different cleaner here who is willing to do our house on a Saturday. The femme de menage in Luxembourg even came in on a Sunday morning to do the necessary after we left.
What was important to us and proved invaluable again is having our mail sent to a private company in TX by the US postal office instead of it just being held there. We could screen the mail that had arrived there, either have it scanned in or sent to us in Europe. The convenience of the whole process is worth considering the fees.
A nice thank you card and letters by all of them made our day on our return. They all really enjoyed our house and Florida in the summer.
We are ready to plan for next year. We've already had enquiries for 2017. Why not plan a long weekend in the meantime here in the States? We are going to renew our membership. I just found out that we'll get that reduced rate of $89 again...