We used the anniversary for a couple of things. Firstly, we celebrated with lunch at BJ's Restaurant followed by a swim in the afternoon at San Onofre beach. BJ's is quickly becoming one of our favourite places. The food is really quite good, the pricing is pretty reasonable and the home-brewed root beer is sublime.
Secondly, we asked the children some of the things they currently like and dislike about where we've been for the past year. We gave each of the children a chance to voice their opinions -- except for Micah, who remained generally self-obsessed.
- Joshua: Dislikes the politics, the average American IQ. Likes that there are plenty of church kids around.
- Elijah: Dislikes the chocolate and no rugby. Likes the obsession with other sports and the climate.
- Mara: Dislikes the chocolate and that the ballet schools have too many people in each class. Likes that school starts later (8:55 instead of the German 7:40) and that everyone likes her accent.
- Ariana: Dislikes the patriotic hype -- 'the greatest country on Earth' is mentioned every morning along with the Pledge of Allegiance -- and missing some of the German bakery treats. Likes the warm climate and the doughnuts.
- Bryna: Dislikes walking home from the bus stop (bit too hot some days). Likes kindergarten, doughnuts and the trampoline.
- Gaynor: Dislikes the chocolate, health care and the sugar content in many foods. Likes the proximity of church, the climate and the cost of clothes.
For myself, there are number of irks about where we are at, some due to being new and others because of the culture and all that entails. I'll probably blog about some of these in the coming months, if nothing else than to get them out of my system a little. On the other hand, there are many great things to enjoy about living here. The general attitude is much more similar to what I am used to in Australia, the weather is a definite bonus (again, much more like Australia) and the availability of many things is a decided boon.
At this stage it is unclear how long we'll be here. Though we will probably stay until at least late 2010, beyond that there are no plans to stay and no plans to leave. We'll continue to make periodic assessments and just see how it goes.
 The anniversary was actually end of August but it has taken me this long to get the post finished.