8 Things I Have Loved About Paris

 We have lived in Paris for a whole 6 months and although that does not make me an expert, there are things that I have recognized about my new home that I really appreciate. My best advice when I first moved here from America was to not compare your home country to your host country. That has helped me manage expectations and also not to dwell on what is different here. The culture shock is real. I definitely had it when we moved to China, but even in Europe there is a cultural learning curve that you need to navigate and learn from. As I have adapted and recently reflected on the things that I have seen so far I think it would be fun to share. Some may be obvious and some may surprise you (like they did me!) but enjoy reading my top things I have loved about Paris. 


1. The walking- I KNOW! I am as shocked as you are! I will admit when we first moved it was a lifestyle change and definitely different but I have come to love how much we walk. First, I love how walking provides a way for you to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings. I feel like when I walk versus when I drive I notice so much more about buildings, people, the culture and the small details of the city. 

Walking has also provided me with a better sense of the layout of the city, because I don't rely on a quick drive. I also get to meander and step into stores to browse that I never would have been in if I had been driving somewhere specific. This also comes with an appreciation of moving my body. I love that I get my steps in and that it keeps me active. I feel more productive and I love that Parisians really lean into that in their lifestyle. 

2. The quality of the food, especially produce. I know this may be obvious to some. The fruit is so fresh filled with less preservatives than the United States and the produce has a much more pure taste to it. I notice that when I cook I don't have to add that much sauce or flavoring because the food here just tastes better. I know that's not true for everyone, but I feel like in Paris (or probably Europe) they use less ingredients in their cooking. In America we use a lot of sauce, flavoring, spices, sugar, etc. Here, I just don't add that much. This also could be totally a personal opinion (as most of these are), because I do hear from Americans that they feel like the food here is bland. But, I have come to appreciate just using less ingredients, plus it makes cooking easier. I also believe that food is healthier here than in the U.S. The serving sizes alone are a reflection of that. 

I did my research and found out that "America allows these additives in their foods, which are banned in Europe. - rBGH, ractopamine, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, olestra, azodicarbonamide, coloring agents (also known as Red #40, etc.), and BHA and BHT. In America, growth hormones and chemical preservatives are used to produce larger foods and to make sure that the shelf life of food products is longer. However, EUFIC and EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) prohibit hormones and advise against preservatives."- Learn more here And you definitely notice it! The chicken breasts aren't abnormally huge like at Walmart. The strawberries aren't massive. The shrimp isn't as big as a small dog. Although you originally think that bigger is better, the preservatives and hormones in America affect the taste and I noticed a big improvement in my digestion here when we moved. 

3. The public transportation- When we first moved I almost cried when we sold my minivan because the thought of not being able to drive anywhere (unless we rent a car) was really hard to imagine. We didn't have a car in Shanghai, and it posed different difficulties because we had a stroller and the metros are definitely not handicap friendly. (no elevators). However, SOME have escalators and you get really used to asking someone to help you carry the stroller up the stairs. Hallelujah that my kids can walk! The more I understood the metro lines and the transits of the city I think it is so efficient. I really wish that America had a better public transportation system. I have also taken the bus, which I don't like as much, but I like that it is still an option. We rarely take Ubers/taxi's, but it is helpful when getting to and from an airport. 

4. The baguettes, croissants and crepes. Non explanatory. 

5. Everyone speaking French I don't understand- Just kidding, making sure you're still with me!

6. The travel- although if you know us, this should actually be #1. You are a 2 hour and 15 minute train ride to London, a 1.5 hour plane ride to Venice, a 6 hour car ride to Switzerland, a 3.5 hour car ride to Belgium and a 4.5 hour plane ride from Paris to Egypt. We absolutely love that we are so close to all of these places! Everything is so accessible and nearby, which makes a quick weekend trip very doable or an extended road trip a breeze. We lucked out with our apartment, and there is an Enterprise rental car company in the garage directly below our house. How's that for serendipity? 

7. The city of Paris seems huge but is very accessible by walking and when you practice your navigational skills for long enough you see how small it really is, You can hop on the metro and 10 stops later be at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Seine. 

8. The Parisians value quality over quantity. Their homes and apartments are not as large as America so they tend to only buy what they need and things they really consider a necessity. If they buy something they tend to learn more into quality focusing on it lasting longer than just having massive amounts of cheap clothing from Walmart or Target. At first it was a concern that I was having to pay a bit more for clothing, but I love that they value the quality. Which leads me to also appreciating the fact that they are semi minimalists and you don't need lots of clothing to lead a stylish lifestyle.

These are a few of my favorite things about living in Paris, and I am sure that I will have more to add after 3 years living here. Don't worry, I also plan on writing a blog post about the things that I tend to dislike or have a hard time with. I know you guys find the dirty and raw opinions fascinating. I will get there! 

Arriving in Paris

Bienvenue, friends! The blog is back! When I first started this public journal it was intended to update friends and family on our relocation to Shanghai way back in 2013. Since then it has turned into a travel diary, medical updates, mommy confessions and I even slipped into some crafts. It was a weird time for us and there were many uncensored things shared, but I am a very open person. Whoa, that was weird, I actually heard 100's of my friends nod their heads. 

Reference points for any new people- 

One of my chronic health condition posts is HERE if you wanna learn about near death experiences (and we won't judge you for that sort of thing). 

If you want to check out my farewell post to Shanghai it can be found HERE

Life is crazy and takes us on many different adventures. One day I am tethered to an IV pole for a year, 6 years later I'm scarfing down baguettes like its my full time job. The fact that I am fortunate and so very blessed is not lost on me. The fact that I can call Paris home and be healthy enough to walk 7 miles a day to run errands in this beautiful city is something I will never take for granted. Okay, enough with the trip down memory lane, I just had to set a tone for the future. 

We arrived in Paris on June 29th, 2023. It felt like a whirlwind. I have a sacred tradition when we relocate to somewhere new. It is called ugly crying at take-off on each of our relocation entry plane rides. It's very fun. I sit there for 20 minutes, (okay 4 hours) and ponder about my next 3(ish) years. Will my kids have friends? Will I have friends? Where will I buy food? I have to find a hairdresser....and a nail salon...and a dentist...and a doctor...and a gynecologist...and a therapist...IN THAT ORDER! I told you it is fun. My husband really enjoys it.

We get to our new (to us) apartment. There have definitely been other renters. We purposefully chose a place that has huge and elaborate crown moulding and paneling. There are fireplaces in most rooms and a fully closed brick oven in our dining room that Samantha thought was a barbecue. We wanted the Parisian adventure! We live on a very busy street, which is entertaining and loud all at the same time! I hum along with the drunk man on the sidewalk below, I listen to the tourists trying to find the Starbucks and I love hearing all the ambulances. All joking aside, I absolutely love being in the heart of the city close to the Arc de Triomphe. The traffic below has come to be background noise at this point. 

The interesting thing about Paris in the summer is that people leave for about 6 weeks to vacation. Usually someplace in the South of France or Europe where it's a cooler temperature. It is custom and very normal for the city to clear out and many many shops to close with a sign on the door saying "Be back in September! Merci!" I admire this about them. They cherish their vacation time. Everyone takes it together and then you get to come back and talk about all of the adventures. But, I will be honest there was a few times when I didn't love this little tradition. Like when I went to my favorite patisserie and saw they were closed for 4 whole weeks. Like, how dare they keep me from the macaroons and Madelines! They should've consulted me. But, life went on and I found another patisserie a block away. This is the life I live right now. 

We've spent our summer making new friends that already feel like family, exploring a little bit of Europe including Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Finland and PARIS. This kids started school at the American School of Paris, and they absolutely love it. We have oriented ourselves with the metro system and have successfully not lost our children on it yet. We are getting acclimated to church being in French and still trying (unsuccessfully) to ram all of our stuff into closets! 

 I can already tell you that there won't be enough time to do it all, and there won't be enough prayers for my French to become fluent. But one thing that there will be- will be growth and change and croissants. Many croissants. 

I don't use Facebook as much anymore, but you can find me on Instagram at catherinebuhler

Hi, I am the immunocompromised person you are saving.

Well, has been an interesting time to be alive. That is. for. dang. sure. When COVID-19 first made the news I wasn't too worried. I thought it was only a few cases and far away! In China! I was glad that we weren't still living in Shanghai, but I thought it was contained and not very worrisome. And then it started popping up in the United States. I grew worried. I went last week to Miami where I met with my surgeon. She looked over the labs that I get every other month and noticed that my Vitamin A, E, D & Iron were low. This was frustrating because I thought that all of my levels were normal but she found some labs that were not included in my online database. Because I have short-bowel syndrome my body has a hard time absorbing nutrients from a diet a person with all of their small intestine would have. I probably only get about 1/2 the nutrients you get. My food digests in my system in about 12 hours whereas the normal person takes 24-72 hours. Don't tell me how I know this, but it involves corn and i'll just leave it at that. 

So why do I tell you this? Due to my condition, my immune system is compromised. In the past 2 years I have been hospitalized 19 times and have had about 15 surgeries/procedures. I have had pneumonia 3 times and various infections due to my body having a low level of resistance to virus's and bacteria. At my appointment I told the receptionist that I had a lingering cough. No fever and no body aches just a cough. They led me to a small tent outside of the entrance where they monitored me for 20 minutes taking my blood pressure and temperature frequently. I was surprised but it was also reassuring that they were doing what they could to prevent the spread of the virus. I asked my Doctor how she felt about the virus and if I should be worried. She looked at me and nonchalantly said, "Well for you, this would kill you." She's a peach, let me tell you. She really gives you the warm and fuzzes. 

In the news you have read that the people that are most at-risk are people that are old and those who have underlying health conditions. This is me. I am that person. I am the one that would get this virus and I would not be able to fight it. I have been in that hospital, I have been on that ventilator. I have had a 106.7 fever and I have been so depleted I could not find a reason to live. 

BUT  through through countless prayers, fasts and therapy session I have found that reason. My family. They are what is the most important and I want to be here on earth to see Samantha finally learn how to tie her shoes, I want to see Preston using complete sentences. I want to be there for my kids for every break-up, wedding and school dance they go to. 

I am the reason that you are staying at home. I am the reason why you are homeschooling your children. I am the reason why you are now forced to work on a laptop while sitting on a bed. I am the reason that you have been forced to play Candy Land for the 986 time today. You are isolating yourself because you want to save me, and I adore you for it. 

I have been able to see many beautiful things during this isolation period. A neighbor posted on the Facebook page that she would run errands for those who are compromised. Beautiful. A sunset that I enjoyed because I had to go outside to get fresh air. Beautiful. The nurses and doctors who show up to work not knowing if they will come into contact with the virus but to save people on a daily basis. Beautiful. A man in Spain was leading a rooftop jazzersize class that people could join in by looking out their windows and following along. Beautiful. People are sharing their talents by providing kids online resources for free. Beautiful. Celebrities are taping themselves reading children's books and posting them online. Beautiful. In Paris people open their windows and applaud the medical professionals for keeping them safe. Beautiful. My neighborhood is having everyone draw sidewalk chalk masterpieces so that children can go on a scavenger hunt on their walk. Beautiful. This morning I sat and played Legos with my kids because we didn't have anywhere to be. Beautiful. 

If this isolation has taught me anything it has taught me to be still. To be present with my children. To prioritize and assess the needs of my family. I encourage us to spend this time to relax. The world is becoming increasingly distracted and busy. Be still. Have a diet coke. Take a nap. Watch too much Netflix. Play that board game you haven't opened since getting it at Christmas. Bake the cake. Read the book. Do these things because you care and you want to help. And wash your hands while you're at it! 

So please, I beg you, stay home.  Protect me. Protect Grandma Sally. Protect Shannon who is fighting cancer. Protect Danny who has type 2 diabetes. Protect Gina who has a heart defects. Do it for us. Old Navy can wait.  


Preston recently turned 2 years old. It seems like I just gave birth to him yesterday. But on the flip side, weeks of suffering has felt like years. 

See, in a lot of ways Prestons birthday is a different kind of birthday for me as well.
That was the day that I was given another chance at life. I was bringing this baby into the world, and at the same time I was saved. Preston is perfect. He is a mellow kid. He’s flexible, he is outgoing, He is happy and he is the reason I am here today talking to you.

When doctors went in to deliver him they found that my small intestine had strangulated and they had to remove the part that was dead. That part was 90% of it. For one year I couldn’t eat anything. Not even a bite. For 20 months I had a semi-permanent IV sticking out of my chest. For 20 months I had a feeding tube that hung out of my stomach.
There have been tender mercies. There has been happiness. There has been many people who have given me life. For 2 years I have been able to find joy through my family.
For 24 months my husband has encouraged me. In the early days of my recovery he hooked up my medicine, helped me bathe and took care of our newborn son. He never left me alone to suffer. He rubbed my back as I threw up repeatedly for 5 months. He came to visit me in the hospital each day often bringing flowers, balloons, pictures the kids had drawn, an iPad with Netflix, my pillow, a hug and a kiss. He saved me.


My 5 year old daughter has run around retrieving numerous things for me, she has ran upstairs to get diapers, toys and medicine for me so I wouldn’t have to climb them. In the early months I tormented myself with worry on how my health would affect her life. I worried that she would grow up resenting time when I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt guilty for the days when I was grumpy because I was in so much pain, had nausea or was too tired to try. The other day I was laying down and she brought me a blanket and wrapped it around me. She has taught me so much about compassion. She saved me.

My 2-year-old son has brought us all hope and joy in a very dark time. We clapped and smiled when he sat up, stood, walked and talked. His progression has brought us so much delight. When I would sit in the hospital bed sick and tired, he fell asleep in my arms giving me strength and courage. He has been patient with me from the very beginning. If they wouldn’t have gone in to deliver him, they never would have seen my dying intestine. He saved me.

My parents have spent so much time in Florida taking care of my family. For months at a time they would stay and cook, clean and tend to my children. My mom would come to the hospital and brush my hair, bring me magazines and she always brought the encouragement. Many times when I was hospitalized my mom would come and take care of us. My dad would weed our yard, take my daughter fishing and to school. My in-laws provided us with support and prayers. They were here to help and feed Preston when he came home from the hospital. My sister came to visit armed with positivity. She curled my hair, fed my baby, and gave me daily pep talks. My best friend Melanie came to visit when I was discharged from the hospital. She helped me bathe, painted my daughters nails, made me chicken broth and pulled a few all nighters with newborn Preston. They saved me.

The surgeon who took on my case from the very beginning. He carefully untangled my intestine, a process that took 4 hours alone. He was careful and diligent. He was conservative and gentle with the alteration. He was thorough when explaining the surgery to my husband. He was optimistic with the process but made sure to explain everything so there were no unnecessary surprises. In my hospitalizations (18 in total) he was there by my side offering sympathy, strength and knowledge. He visited me daily, made changes to my medications, asked me how I was doing, and sat next to me while I cried many tears. He was everything you would hope a surgeon would be. When I would thank him for saving my life, he thanked me for enriching his own. He saved me again and again.

My short bowel specialist/surgeon who performed my revision surgery a year ago in Miami. She gave me hope. She is highly knowledgeable about my condition and she knew right away what needed to happen. She was the one who decided to flip my small intestine backwards to increase absorption. This procedure still blows my mind. She knew it was possible. She gave me my life back. She saved me. 

My friends. The many people that took action when I needed a tribe to succor me. The individuals who prayed for me all over the United States and across the world. After I gave birth to Preston and laid intubated in the ICU, people of faith were fasting in my behalf. They pleaded with the Lord to heal my battered body. Strangers I had never met sent me quilts, blankets, flowers and encouragement. My new friends in Florida took care of my children, brought my family meals and came to the hospital armed with nail polish, board games and gossip. Oh, how I love my friends. They saved me.

All these individuals played a big part in my recovery. But I can't stop there. The person that truly saved me was the Lord. He never left my side. He gave me comfort as I lay alone in the hospital. He was there when I had a colossal panic attack in the ICU. He was there working next to my doctors during all my procedures and surgeries. He guided me to these people who have helped me heal. Christ saved me. 
We celebrated Prestons birthday with cake and ice cream with friends. While we sang Happy birthday to him he looked up at me with a huge smile on his face. I couldn’t help but well up with tears. Two years ago we weren’t sure I’d be here for this celebration. I could’ve missed this whole experience. I am so happy I was present and have been able to see him grow. We did it, son. We’ve been saved.