Accidental Insults

So I was working with the Spandex King on a family/description/random unit. I’m confused about what the theme was. But at some point it turned into descriptions. I’m just going to put it out there that I’m really bad at describing people in English. I tend to describe people by “fat, skinny, tall, and not tall” and then usually what they are wearing. I don’t properly utilise the English language. Anyways the SK is the same age as my dad (mid 50s) but I thought he was  like 70 for the longest time until he randomly told me what year he was born, which was kind of a weird conversation. The fact that hes 55ish and I thought he was 70 should tell you something.

So we had just revised the descriptor words (big, small, tall, thin, fat, ugly, beautiful, old, young) and then SK looks at me and goes “describe me.” I was like oh no… Because how do you be polite when you call someone old? So because I’m horrifyingly awkward sometimes, I go “well um you are tall…i guess… um you have blue eyes… um and you are wearing a red sweater and black shoes” He looks at me and goes “that was actually horrible” well gee thanks…

Then one of the students start to describe him and the student goes “you have white hair” to which he FREAKED out. He was like, “WHITE HAIR!!!! I DO NOT HAVE WHITE HAIR!!! Meaghan what color is my hair??” which to be honest, his hair is that weird blonde/gray/white color that happens once you turn 50 and you were blonde back in the day. So what do you say to someone who might be in denial about their age?

The SK is staring at me and I’m just standing there like WHAT THE HELL DO I DO, so because I’m awkward, I stuttered out “um maybe it is kind of sorta whiteish grayish blonde?” Then I realized he didn’t understand my butchering of English “kind of sorta  wihiteish” meant nothing to him because those are words and expressions he has never heard. All he heard was “blonde” and that was all he needed to hear. He goes “see class? I am not old, I am beautiful with blonde hair! Strong too!”

If you say so Spandex King, if you say so.


Here is a random picture of a grotto in Avignon... just because


Supermodel Documentary Hour

HOLA!!! Notice, I’m starting this off in Spanish instead of French! I suppose I should really be doing it in Catalan, but I haven’t quite gotten around to looking that up. Anyways, the adventure has commenced! I am currently on the TGV on my way to Paris so that I can leave tomorrow!!!!

i'm in the right seat ya'll check that out!

I’m very proud because I am in the correct car and seat so WIN! However as usual, I have way too much stuff with me and I’m annoying people all around with my gros sacs. I have a giant suitcase full of goodies and surprises for loved ones in the US, plus my backpack for Barcelona, and then another sac that has breakable items/laptop/books that I’ve already read in it. I’m getting a seriously awesome workout lugging these bad boys around… guns of steel baby guns of steel!

Well to recount, I’ve had a very shall we say… interesting week. Tuesday was a pretty good day because I got to eat galettes and crepes at Odile’s house. Odile is the lady who took us up in the hills picking grapes and stuff earlier this year. I love galettes and crepes and these were wonderfully homemade and so YUM! Plus we spoke in French the whole time and Odile was like “gurl yo French is balla!” except not like that at all, but anyways that’s basically what was said. However on Tuesday sheesh got weird at school because I told the Principal that I would not be there Thursday because of my medical visit. Because Ron Burgundy is who he is, he was like “Meaghan why aren’t you going to be in school on Thursday?” Before I could respond he started throwing out options, like “its your boyfriend isn’t it?” and I was like no not at all. Then clearly since it wasn’t my boyfriend, the next logical conclusion he drew was that I was a lesbian. He goes “oh well if it’s not your boyfriend then it must be your girlfriend… Ah I’ve found your secret!!” And started winking at me. I was like no absolutely not that is not my life haha. He was like “don’t lie, you Americans are so funny!” I was just like you are a nut Ron Burgundy, you are a nut.

I also found out that the Spandex King is as old as my dad, which was weird. He definitely looks like he is 65-70 range and my dad is not anywhere near that. He was talking to me about the movie, “the Incredible Shrinking Man” which came out in 1957 and I was like “oh I’ve never seen it, it came out the year my dad was born so…” and he goes “oh your dad was born then? Me too!” It was weird like so many other things.

Also I was proprosed to by a student, again. This is now the second proposal I’ve received from 5th graders. Sw33t Lyfe.

But really the biggest news all week is about my medical visit. As you know, I had two canceled and then got myself locked inside an apartment all day for the third one, so my one yesterday was my fourth. Thankfully it was not canceled, I made it there on time and everything seemed to be going well. The doctor was really nice and telling me how he thinks its silly Americans have to do it because if you can afford to come to France, you can afford health care, meaning we aren’t bringing infectious diseases into the country, which is a pretty valid argument. When he looked at my X-rays he said, “In all my life, I’ve never seen an American with tuberculosis” and I was like I mean is it really that common anymore? His response, “yes it is I see it all the time and I deny people their visas because of it.” Definitely realized how “first world” this conversation was. Anyways so that was all good, I went in for my interview with the lady who would give me my Stamp-thing that tells customs that “this person is allowed to enter France, their visa is valid” or something like that. I realized something was wrong when she started throwing her hands up in the air pacing going “I know I saw it I know I know” which when I asked what was going on, she replied “ I can’t find your stamp” To say that I was freaked out is an understatement. So the conclusion is, someone lost it. Somehow my folder had a photocopy of it, but not the actual thing… great job OFII of Lyon, thank you so much for doing your job and keeping everything together. So now I have a handwritten letter on the photo-copy saying I can enter but…. I’m SCARED!!!!

This is just a pretty great example of beauracracy here. I love France very much and I love every minute here even the bad ones, but sometimes I just want to strangle someone and say THIS WOULDN’T HAPPEN BACK HOME!!!!!! When the OFII guy was trying to figure out who exactly lost it, every single person blamed the post. He was like no, the post did not open an envelope take out that sticker and throw it in the trash, it was lost before it was sent but no one would claim responsibility. He looked at me and says, “I work with a bunch of idiots.” I laughed it was funny.

So now I’m in limbo visa status…LE SIGH…

Last night I went out with my friend Adrian and Stephanie to this one café/bar in Nyons called Palmiers. It is a pretty nice place, I get coffee there a lot (it tastes the best) and the server guy is really nice. Last night while we were there having drinks, I made like 2 jokes in French and the server guy laughed. I was so proud of myself, joking in a foreign language… PROGRESS! He also told me that I spoke well and I didn’t fake-speak French which confused me, how does one exactly “fake speak” French?

This is how you fake speak French…

Well I will try to do a Barcelona (Ay Caramba!) update when I get back to Paris before coming to the states but we will see what happens!

Ill leave you with my TGV photoshoot (the lady next to me definitely thinks I’m weird) enjoy homeiz!


supermodel documentary hour!

What I learned to say in French today…

POST-EDIT: I was informed by a real Francophone  that the following French phrase I will discuss does not actually mean what I thought it did. Clearly my potential future as a translator is questionable. However he did clairify that it was rude and fairly terrible. Anyways the story revolves around what I thought was being said… enjoy!

It’s not very nice. It, like most interactions I have with my teachers started off quite innocently and then it got weird. With the Spandex King, we are working on an animal unit and making up sentences for the animals. Example: bears like honey. Innocent right? We get to a hippopotamus and he wants the kids to say “Hippos have big mouths” which is also very innocent. He then looks at me and goes, “do you know what we would say in French?” and I was like “umm bouche?” [French word for mouth] and he was like “Ha ha  ha ha no no no, we would say ‘gueule'” which made all the children snicker. Because I’m a crazy foreigner I was like um what is the joke I don’t get it? One child then screams out “Ferme ta gueule!” which means more or less, “shut the fudge up” except replace the dge with ck.

"only I didn't say fudge..."

What was the response of the Spandex King? He goes “yes, it is a very bad word if you say it like that. But if you say it about an animal then it is ok.” I’m sorry, a child just dropped an F BOMB in class how do you NOT respond to that? When I was ten we were punished for saying “oh my God” (thanks catholic school!) by having to write the Ten Commandments over and over… dropping an F bomb would have meant  suspension. Sometimes France just amazes me. Anyways, I’m now adding this to my repetoire of French insults of which I’ll never use but now know. I’m now at 2. Yay for language progression? Hmmm debateable.

In other news, IT SNOWED TODAY!!!!!!

our lil baby mtns all covered in snow

snow on the fountain that doesn't work in the center of town

It is supposed to keep snowing for the next few days so hopefully if that happens I will take some betta pics. I snapped these on my way to work this afternoon.

Also on Friday night I hung out with my real French friend! YAY!!! French friends are hard to find, they are elusive like a unicorn. But I think its official, I have my first real French friend! Her name is either Leslie or Eleslie, I don’t know. I know, I look like a terrible person BUT when she gave me her number she said to me, “my name is Eleslie with an E at the begining everyone spells it wrong.” Then I typed it into my phone, showed her and was like “this ok?” and her response was “perfect!” BUT she texted Stephanie the other day and spelled it “Leslie.” I’M CONFUSED. Eitherway, she is still an official French friend because she has since texted me wanting to hang out! Progress. I’m just going to avoid ever saying her name and say things like “hey girl!” It’ll make it easier.

Thats bout it round here… Be back Stateside soon! But first, bring on Spain… Ay Caramba!


Oh Punaise!

French people love American music. It is all over the radio here, playing in cafés, the public transportation… you can’t escape it. My favorite is when it’s all old stuff from the 70s and 80s. Well I have just come home from our weekly market and while I was there browsing through the used book stand I realized the song that was playing in one of the stands nearby was, “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver. The conclusion I’ve drawn is that French people love this song. Remember when i couch surfed in Grenoble and the guy I stayed with insisted on playing it on his guitar repeatedly? Yeah…that happened. I just think it’s kind of a strange song because its so America-centric, I mean you can’t have more pride than “Almost Heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains Shenandoah Valley… West Virginia mountain mama…”  I feel like this is just another example of how random people in France are haha.

Well in other news the lice outbreak has continued to BOTH of my schools now. I’m living in constant fear that I will unfortunately contract it. I’m trying to keep the children at more than an arm’s length. However this has been going on for almost two weeks so, I think I’ve got pretty good chances. I’m still mildly concerned that no one told me at either school. If theres some weird infectious disease outbreak at my schools will they tell me then? Probably not, they’ll probably just let me get turned into  a zombie with the rest of them. I have decided that in the event of a zombie outbreak while I’m in France, I’m going into hiding at the high school here. It looks like a prison and is surrounded by olive fields. I think I’d have some pretty good odds there. You can never be too prepared.

(I’d like to embed a video or picture of the lice check scene in Billy Madison, but unfortunately the internet failed me)

So at one of my schools (the one I don’t like) there is a teacher I’ll call Mrs. Anger Management. She is really nice to me, but in a sort of backhanded way. I make posters for her every week and shes says things like “oh this looks nice, but the corners on three pictures aren’t fully glued down so it is kind of sloppy. don’t they teach you how to glue in America?” Or my favorite comment was “oh you don’t look as nice as you did yesterday.” Like did she really need to say that? It’s not like I looked like a hobo, one day I wore a dress and the other day I wore pants… Anyways she FLIPS OUT on the students all the time, I mean like 0-60 in .003 seconds. On Tuesday we were working on the parts of the body with some drawings and she looks at one kid’s paper and was like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING? NO APPARENTLY YOU DON’T!!!!” grabbed his paper and ripped it in half!!!!!! I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react to that but I’m pretty sure I was just standing there with my mouth open. Not very professional haha.

I feel like this could happen any day now…

In exciting, non-school related news… I AM GOING TO BARCELONA!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!! I’m going the Feb 11-14, then America 15-22 and Greensboro the 17-19 where I will see ERIC CHURCH in concert YESSS, cannot WAIT

No need to complicate he's a simple man...

OH can’t believe I forgot to mention this story… well for this whole medical exam thing we have to get X-rays done to check and see if we have TB (although considering I’ve been here for almost 5 months I think it’d be a little late if I did have it…). As you know, pregnant women can’t have X-rays done. Well at the office the woman looks at me and goes, “are you pregnant [in French]” and I respond, in French, “no I am not” and she looks me up and down and says “are you sure? you know pregnant… a baby inside you” and I was like “yes I understand and no there is no baby inside me” and then she says in English, “baby yes pregnant yes.” Apparently to this woman I looked pregnant, which I don’t get because I’m actually the thinnest I’ve been in a year. Maybe she just thinks American girls are slutty… who knows but I was wearing a turtleneck and sweater soooo that would be the opposite of that… anyways it is a mystery. Also she didn’t ask my two friends if they were pregnant, just me. Awesome.

My xray is in the center... No TB here bitches!


C’est la vie…WEIRD

So technically at this moment, I’m an illegal alien in France. Shh don’t tell the government. Well actually could you? I’d love to get my visa finalized so I can legally stay here until May. It would be nice. So basically to stay here, it is required that all non-EU citizens go for a medical visit. I was supposed to have my appointment today but the doctor felt like quitting on Friday last week. Did they tell us this? No. I showed up today and the guy was like “oh sorry none of you have appointments because the doctor quit. We’ll call you sometime in the next few weeks bye!” Um thanks? Somehow I fandangled to get an appointment in Lyon on Monday. I got skillz, werk it!

While I am thankful I will no longer be an alien as of Monday afternoon, this was just a little hard to deal with. However the guy who is in charge entertained me with a bunch of wack-o stories this morning like… how he wants to run away to Peru (?) and live in the Andes mountains so he never has to see people; how he wants to build a road from Marseille to Tahiti that no one can use except him; how in 4 years he lived in all the different borroughs of New York City; and a very long speech on the benefits of electric blankets in winter (aren’t those things illegal for starting fires on people while they were sleeping or something?). He also asked myself and Mika if we enjoyed French men and their kissing skills… I just pretended I didn’t know what he was saying. I figured that was the best escape route out of that question. Discussing the different kissing styles of French and American men was not what I wanted to be talking about this morning, or ever.

But now all of that is (hopefully!) sorted, I can breathe easy. But not for long because there are so many other things in France that stress me out. Now, you all are going to think I am crazy when I finally put these things on on paper, because you will be like “what?! that is the easiest thing ever!” But I will say, daily life in another country is HARD like woahhh.

For example: the Post. I HATE THE POST. With a passion. I avoid going at all costs. I don’t know what it is about the post office in France but it is pretty much the scariest place on Earth. The people are just intimidating and there is always a huge line and they make you feel like an idiot. Once in Rennes, I went to one 6x in one day hoping it would be open. I think they just closed whenever they saw me coming. It ultimately resulted in me having a screaming/crying/banging on the door fit repeating “WHY AREN’T YOU OPEN I NEED TO MAIL THINGS” which did not solve anything. Then my host-mom told me she had just been there and mailed things. See? They are awful.

Next example: finding a seat on a train. On a TER (regional train) this isn’t so hard, but I really don’t like wandering around trying to find an empty two-seater while everyone stares at me and my gros sacs (because I can’t seem to travel without them…). I feel judged, and I probably am haha. I would judge me if I saw me wandering around with gros sacs. It makes me nervous. But the worst is the TGV. They give you assigned seats and somehow I always mess it up. I always get in the wrong car and then sit down and then someone is like “oh you are in my seat. Oh you are a foreigner? You don’t know anything clearly because this is car 6 and you are supposed to be in car 8. Get out!” How do I end up 2 cars away from where I’m supposed to be? I don’t know. I really do try to get on the right one but I think I get confused and there are always old smelly people around and it clouds my brain (people over 40 don’t wear deodorant).

Final example: talking on the phone. I get so scared. I never know what people are saying. For me a big part of understanding is watching someone’s expressions, and reading their lips. Talking on the phone erases that. Anyways, I’ve figured out that if I just say “oui” a lot people hang up faster. Unfortunately this means I agree to things without having any idea that I did. Whoops…

In other awkward news, I was proposed to by a student on Tuesday. He asked me if I wanted to marry a French guy, and before I could respond the teacher (who I’ve nicknamed the Spandex King because I always see him in his entire spandex ensemble biking… a sight that cannot be unseen) said, ” why? are you interested?” and he said “yes I am. She is nice and pretty.” Well thanks little boy for making my day! Glad to know I have a backup plan for 10 years from now… lol just kidding.

Also Ron Burgundy had a classic one liner… We were talking about families and one kid accidentally labeled the grandfather on his paper as grandmother. Ron Burgundy looked at it and said, “when was the last time you saw a woman with a moustache? oh wait, Meaghan has one so I could see how you got confused” then he cackled and hugged me and walked away. I wish I was witty in French and had some good comebacks but I really don’t. Besides saying “at least I’m not old!” I got nothing… and I stole that from someone else so really I can’t count it. DANNNNG

Also apparently there is a lice outbreak at one of my schools and no one told me. I found a piece of paper talking about it in the teachers lounge. When I asked someone, they were like “oh yeah… you might want to check your hair and wash all your sheets, you probably have them” ummm thanks for telling me??? I feel like thats kind of important but maybe my definition of important and French teachers is different haha.

Well thats about it. Life here in France is weird. But hey it keeps it interesting. Anyways one month until I’m back in the US of A for 7 days so holla fo datttt!

2012: French Resolutions

I feel like I am being clever and calling this French Resolutions because it rhymes with French Revolution(s), but that is probably just a bad history pun… LOLZ nerd alert! It would only be better if I could work in a Napoleon comment, but hey you can’t win them all! Actually this is a well timed pun (so punny) BECAUSE today at school Ron Burgundy forgot I was American and was trying to make me talk about the differences between England and France. He is going on about all sorts of things and finally one kid raises their hand and goes, “one time France had a queen and her name was Marie Antoinette but then all the people killed her because she was mean. England didn’t kill their queen” I thought this was hilarious but I think Ron Burgundy just thought I was crazy for laughing. Oh well he is pretty crazy too so I guess it works out.

this is exactly what he looks like... plus a gold chain and you can see his chest hair... 70s classic

Welll anyhoo happy 2012 ya’ll! I can’t believe that it is not 2011 anymore! What a great year 2011 was, graduating and moving to France being the highlights, but I can’t wait to see what 2012 bringz, hopefully more delights and wonderfulness!

So New Years was fun! I went to Grenoble with my friend Mathanee who lives there. She is British and so funny with all her British English expressions (mate, knackered, using the word “piss” with like 10 different meanings…) which I just find hilarious. British English and American English are really quite different srsly! But we had a good time just going out and enjoying ourselves. Thankfully Grenoble wasn’t too frigid. Sunday we actually just layed around all day recovering from the celebrations and talking. It is really nice because she is someone who truely reminds me of all my friends back home in America and we just can talk about anything. We talked perhaps of taking a trip to Barcelona in February before we both head home during February break.

partyin' like its 1999, and by 1999 i mean 2012

So anyways that brings me back to the French Resolutions (haha I still think it’s clever)… 1. Run 5 miles 3x a week… so I can continue to eat baguettes and cheese like it’s my job (speaking of, new fav. cheese is def St. Marcellin, a type of goat cheese)… 2. Quit speaking so much dang English and really focus on my français… I’ve been doing super good about reading in French, now to just speak in it more… 3. Travel outside of France, meaning Barcelona, Italy, and (toss up) Switzerland or England… 4. Avoid the real world at all costs.

I like my list I think it looks pretty dang good! Sometimes I get lazy with my French when I know someone speaks English and I really need to stop that and just say Non, pas d’anglais! But really it is my own fault. Also as an afterthought, I’d really like to learn how to text in French because I’m fairly certain I sound like an old person when I text.

Hip people send cool texts like “CC sa va?” which took me a REALLY long time to figure out what that meant… translation “what’s crackalackin” more or less. When I text I type out all the words like “Bonjour!” which is the un-cool way of saying CC (coucou). I am the texting queen back in the US and here I think I sound like a grandma, and I feel like one too. It takes me ages to decode texts and usually I have to ask someone what they mean. Oh technology sometimes I find that you are not really my friend.

maybe i should buy this so i can be cool, also i have no idea what these twho dudes are trying to say

Today was also a great day at school because I’m finally starting to fit in at my fav. school. I walked in this morning and all the teachers “faire-d la bise” (franglais) with me… that is the thing where they kiss you on the cheek and you do it to people you are friends with. No teachers have ever done that to me so it just really made me feel accepted. I really am so happy here and so glad I got placed in this town with all these nice people!

Anyways since I couldn’t think of any way to work in a Napoleon pun I suppose I’ll end it here. If you think of any good ones, please leave me a comment with some inspiration (calling all history nerds…or dad) and i’ll leave you with a guy who is trying to convert Muslims by wearing a Jesus smock… because that is really going to work…

stylin' for Jesus


Silly Santas and Scary Elves: Adventures in Strasbourg

So as you know, I just spent the weekend in the land of Christmas OD: Strasbourg, France. It was the stuff of dReAmZ fo realz ya’ll! If you love Christmas and want to have an overdose on Christmas cheer, then you should probably try to make it a life goal to visit Strasbourg at some point in your life. I want to go back, like now. However I have so many other things to accomplish this winter break 🙂

There are like 800,000,00,000 reasons why Strasbourg was B.A. but I’m just going to list my favorite reasons:

*Crazy Santas… everywhere you looked there were Santas and they all looked ridiculous, usually drunk, and enormously obese. Santas don’t look like this back home and I loved it! I took pictures of as many drunk/crazy Santas as possible

the fat b... "get in my belly" santa... also potentially drunk as well

"why yes i'll take another BOWL of vin chaud!" (drunk) santa

the "i'm going to break into your house and steal all your sheesh" santa

*Evil Elves… apparently evil Elves is like a “thing” in a European Christmas. The Children’s Market had an “evil elf” that would “trick you” if you lost sight of him. Ummm whatever happened to Rudolph? This is like the Miser Brothers (if you don’t know what that is well go youtube it. Its freaking weird but I loved it as a kid) on acid and like scarier.

happy holidays just doesn't have the same ring if an evil elf (in sunglasses) and a bat (?) aren't included

just what you want on your christmas tree, spreading holiday cheer

*Drinking in public… IT IS ENCOURAGED TO DRINK WINE IN THE STREETS. YUP you read that right! Everywhere you turn there is a stand selling “Vin Chaud” or Mulled Wine and it’s freaking awesome. Not only is it acceptable to drink wine in the streets its encouraged… Drink up people! It’s good for the economy!

helping the economy thrive by drinking wine in the streets

*Crazy hats… Not only is it encouraged for people to drink wine in the streets, it is also encouraged that they wear crazy hats while doing it. I’m not talking children, or parents with kids I’m talking full grown adults with no reason at all to be wearing crazy hats wearing crazy hats: polar bears, wolves, crazy Santa hats, birds, and a bunch of other weird things. It’s like a “thing” and I LOVED it!!!


santa strip tease?

*The Lights… My pictures do not do the lights of this city justice. They were AMAZING! Even better was the cute town of Colmar that I visited. Both were spectacular and awesome and well words don’t really do it justice, and neither did my cheap (but handy) little camera.

check out this badboy rockefeller center!

*The food… sausage? Yes preaze! Sauerkraut? Yes preaze! Bread? Yes preaze! Beer? Yes preaze! Crepes? Yes preaze! Pretzels? Yes preaze! Vin Chaud? YES PREAZE… Did I gain an extra 10lbs on this trip? Probably. Was it worth it? I’m not sure yet but that food was DEELISH.

I couchsurfed here with a cool dude who took a lot of time to show me the city and the food and culture. He took me to the town of Colmar to see their lights one night and it was amazing. It was much smaller, quainter and more lovely. It’s like how I went to Toulon when I visited Marseille; the big cities were grand and spectacular but I’m a sucker for a small, quaint, lovely little place.

I spent Saturday with an assistant friend going to all the different markets throughout town (there are like 10, not exaggerating), and then on Sunday I did the same thing just by myself. Also it snowed Sunday afternoon! Talk about Christmas wonderland!!! The only thing that could have made it better would have been if all of a sudden people broke out into song and a choreographed dance in the street and then I met my true love or something like that. You know, typical movie business. Also this all would have happened while it was snowing and I had perfect hair.

Also, while trying to take a picture with Pere Noel (Father Christmas for all you non-frenchies out there), I was PHOTOBOMBED by a child. Look at the lower right hand corner of this picture… and then check out the zoom action.

just tryna get some last minute face time with santa!


Now, I am on my way to Paris (well when this is published I will have already arrived… but still) for a few days and then it is off to THE GERM aka Germany. I’d also like to point out my absolute inability to pack in a reasonable manner. The guy sitting next to me on the train is probably thinking “what the hell is wrong with this girl? She has like 17 HUGE bags” well not 17 but 2 gros sacs as I like to call them. Sighhh… sometimes I wonder how I make it through life unscathed. (post script: he gave me a super weird look when I attempted to arrange my things to get off the train, which took some serious effort)

2 gros sacs, plein de trucs (2 big bags full of random things)

Anyways, sending Christmas cheer and winter wonderland magic across the Atlantic!