Now that we have more understanding of the Thai calendar (school dates, breaks, etc.) and what it is like to live here in Thailand we will certainly do things differently in the future. We will be getting our work permits when we return which will allow us to renew our visas in Thailand, also we will not have to leave the country every three months to get our passports stamped which will save in time and travel costs. We will get Thai drivers licenses (so we can fly within Thailand without our passports - the US license and International Driving Permit have been fine for driving in Thailand so far) and have opened a Thai bank account to manage some of our finances from here.
We are moving forward as we become more familiar with Thailand and the way things work here. This trip to the States, however, is coming at the perfect time for us. Despite the wonderful support team around us (here in Chiang Rai with the Akha and with Foursquare friends in Thailand) we have been doing a lot of this "on our own". A time in the states where we know (culturally) how to behave and what to do will be a much welcomed mental change for us, and we hope to take that time of refreshing back to our work with language and learning when we return.
We have changed so much in the last year. We have eaten things that we cannot even describe. We speak (some) Akha. We even speak a little Thai. We drive on the left side of the road in the right side of the car. We've become more compassionate about the social needs of those around us.
But for all that change, we are still looking forward to Chipotle burritos, Red Robin hamburgers and steak fries, snowy mountains, watching an NFL football game live, speaking English and high quality cheese.