by Melinda Gallo

Dave woke up at 10AM, while I didn't wake up until 1PM. It felt good to sleep, but I still don't feel rested yet. I walked into the living room to see all of our suitcases opened and partially emptied onto the couch. Clothes, books, papers, and cables were strewn all over. I was too tired to deal with any of it, so I went to my desk on the other side of the apartment to hide.

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We got on our flight in San Francisco at 2PM and settled into our seats with two full bags of magazines, our new PowerBooks with a few movies we copied onto them, and my video iPod onto which I downloaded a few new shows, like Lost and Desperate Housewives. Thanks to Apple, we can now pay $1.99 for each episode to download.

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It's always hard to say goodbye. We've been in the US for almost 5 weeks and we got so used to seeing our family and friends and now it's time for us to leave again. We have been asked many times how we like living in Italy and what it's like. But, after being in the US for so long, we almost forgot ourselves. It just seems so far away to us now.

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Living in Florence :: Child care tag team

Today our niece had the day off so Dave and I got to take care of her all day. She woke me up at 7AM so that we could build a gingerbread house together. Her mom bought a kit on Sunday and we decided that she and I would build it together. She has been so excited all week and finally this morning, she was allowed to begin the art project with me.

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I packed all the books I got out of storage and added the ones that I bought and put them in a suitcase. I was thinking about sending them as a friend of mine who lives in Australia suggested, but I just couldn't part with any of them for the 1-3 months it takes to receive them.

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Costco is so enticing. You shop around a huge warehouse where you can buy 10 of something you normally only buy 1 of. Of course, you will use it. You may not need it, but you figure you must be getting a bargain if it's at Costco, so why not get more? It's a great idea until we begin packing our luggage.

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One reason for us to drive up to Rocklin (about 100 miles from Los Gatos, CA) was to get our annual dental check-up. I lived in Europe for 10 years and have never seen a dentist there. I'm afraid of non-American dentists. Maybe for no reason, but I'm generally fearful of the possible pain and the possible low dose of anesthetics.

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We woke up early to get a head start on our trip back to the Bay Area. I finally got my first Jamba Juice since I've been here and enjoyed every last drop of it. We loved the hotel we stayed at in Universal City where we had exceptional views of Universal Studios and of the "Valley."

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Los Angeles is an interesting city. It's hard to believe that I was born here! Dave and I have enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It's odd that we rarely come to LA to visit and yet we truly enjoy our time here.

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Living in Florence :: Basking in the sun in LA

We arrived in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon. Dave got the directions off of the Internet and we drove straight to our hotel in Universal City. The last time we were here, about two years ago, we stayed in West Hollywood.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying Las Vegas

I love going to Las Vegas: I love the food, the shows, and the shopping. I don't gamble at all since for me it would just be paying to play. I noticed that in Las Vegas, you really get a good look at what the US is like. You see people of all different ages, races, and classes.

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Living in Florence :: Driving to Vegas

We just arrived in Vegas at 7PM and it's a warm 72 F. We woke up this morning at 6AM to leave Breckenridge at 8AM (we had to log onto the Internet again for work from Starbucks). We watched the weather and it said it might snow on Saturday, so we were happy to leave while the weather was good.

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Living in Florence :: One night in Brekenridge

We arrived at 3:30PM in Breckenridge, Colorado. We packed up all of our Christmas presents and other toys that we bought ourselves and drove up to Breckenridge (at about 9000 ft). Luckily, we thought of that pit stop before heading west since it took us at least 4 hours to pack up all our goodies.

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Today we celebrated Christmas. Since we arrived in Denver, we've been to almost every mall around to shop for gifts and for ourselves. We wrapped all of the presents and exchanged them with Dave's family. We shipped everything last year, which might not have been too terrible, but on many items that were shipped to us in Italy, we had to pay duty on them when they arrived.

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Dave and I have decided to rent a car and drive to Colorado to visit his family. We've driven it before when I was terrified to fly, but this time we did it mostly because we haven't driven in a year. We rented a Jaguar (heck, we haven't driven in a year...we can spoil ourselves a little) and left Los Gatos, CA on Wednesday morning.

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