Monday, July 28, 2014

What Summers are Made of…

Summers are made of

strawberry picking



blueberry pie baking



and baseball hitting



Summers are made of

river rafting



grandparents visiting



and treehouse playing



Summers are made of

pool splashing




lessons in swimming



and slip and sliding



Summers are made of

frozen yogurt snacking



ice cream licking



and lemonberry slush drinking



Summers are made of

back patio eating



friends and neighbors playing



and marshmallow roasting



Summers are made of

book reading



afternoon lounging



and tire swinging


The summer has been full for sure.  I’m thankful for the time together and the memories we’ve made.  Hope you’re having a great summer!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anniversary in Paris Part 2

I’m back with Part 2 of my Paris trip
(This is a painting that we bought together one evening when we were walking along the Seine River.  I’m not super big on a lot of little souvenirs or trinkets, but I wanted something meaningful to bring home and I loved this painting the moment I saw it. I also liked that it was not just a mass produced photocopy, but was painted by a local artist.)
So, my last blog left off on day 3.  My body hit a wall that day from the jetlag and also from the previous evening’s long walk along the Seine River. I was worn out, stiff, tired and everything hurt.  Tim had to work that day and I felt like I “should” get out and do something since I was in Paris. But a short painful walk down the street to grab breakfast convinced me that I really just wanted to go back to our room and rest all day. So I spent my day blogging, reading, resting, and recuperating.  It was exactly what I needed and I ended up doing a lot of that on this trip.  Whenever Tim was in meetings or working, I read in our room or sat out on our balcony, enjoying the view and people-watching.  I let myself do nothing and be lazy and it felt so good. In my every day life, reading for hours or just laying around is not an option and I knew my body/mind/spirit really needed the break. It was wonderful.
The following day (day 4) was our actual anniversary.  Although we didn’t really do anything super exciting, this was one of my most favorite days. We enjoyed walking around together, eating at the little street cafes, and seeing the sights of Paris. And really, that was the best thing about this trip… just hanging out and being together without kids.  We held hands, we laughed, we talked (without interruptions!), we reminisced, we ate when we wanted to eat, where we wanted to eat, we took pictures of ourselves… it was so much fun just being together.
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Tim and I have always had fun together. We get along easy. He’s always made me laugh.  He really is my best friend, my most favorite person, the love of my life, my dream come true.  He is. But you throw a few (three) kids into the mix and all of a sudden, life gets a little bit stressful. Tension levels can rise at the drop of a hat. There are parenting decisions to be made, schedules to keep, discipline problems to handle, fights to break up, interruptions, distractions, meltdowns and tantrums, dinner times and bathtimes and storytimes and bedtimes to coordinate and make happen every day, and little people that seem to constantly need our time and attention.  And things are coming at us and between us all the time.  And so for these few days, we had NONE of that.  And it was heaven.  It was bliss.  It was just us and it was amazingly wonderful. 
At one point, we stumbled upon this little grassy spot away from the crowds, so we stopped and took some pictures.  If you’re curious, I used an app on my iphone called Timercam to take these.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever…

That evening, Tim’s work buddy went with us to take some fancier pictures of us in front of the Eiffel Tower with my real camera.  I’m so thankful for these (below).  I’m sure you know by now that I am a picture person. 
This one will most likely be blown up and hung on the wall.


And that night, we went out to eat at our favorite little French café.  It was delicious.  The French don’t know how to drink their coffee (can someone introduce them to half and half?!), but they do know how to cook.

The next day (my last day), Tim arranged for a driver to take us out to Giverny to see Monet’s house and gardens.  Of all the things I wanted to do, this was on the top of my list.

His gardens are beautiful and I don’t really feel that my iphone pictures do them justice.
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This is his famous lily pad pond.  This was the part I most wanted to see. You can see his house in the upper right hand corner of the picture and the bridge in upper left corner. 
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That night, we decided to do what the French do and get a baguette and cheese and eat it along the Seine River.  Earlier that day, our driver had highly recommended goat cheese, so we decided to give that a shot.  Never again. It was disgusting. 

Leaving was sad and hard. I didn’t want it to be over.

But I am so thankful for this trip.  It meant so much to me that God arranged all of this for Tim and me.  I am overwhelmed at times for His deep love and care for me, for us.  His ways are so intimate and personal for each of us. He knows our hearts, our desires, and our needs and goes to great lengths to provide exceedingly more than we can imagine. Paris for me will always be a reminder of His great love to us.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Anniversary in Paris

Hello from Paris!

So… I made it! The trip here was not exactly smooth sailing though. Just as we were pulling out of the driveway to drive to the airport, the skies opened and began pouring down lightning, thunder, and rain  So if I wasn’t already anxious enough about leaving my kids and flying to Paris, the rainstorm and the resulting slower and heavier traffic on the interstate didn’t exactly help. But we made it to the airport safely and on time. After Tim’s dad dropped me off, I was on my own. If I wasn’t absolutely convinced that God had ordained this trip for me, then I would not have gone, but I’m learning to trust, to risk, to take adventures with Him. Still, I was nervous and stressed. I am not much of a traveler, so airports can feel like a maze to me, but I asked questions and followed the crowds and the signs and eventually made it to my gate. Then we found out that our plane (that we were supposed to fly out on) had to land at a nearby airport because of the nasty weather. So their little detour ended up delaying our flight by 3 hours as we waited for them to refuel, take off, and get to our airport. My flight didn’t leave until about 12:30 a.m, instead of 9:25 p.m. After that it was an almost 8 hour flight to Paris. It was a long, uncomfortable, mostly sleepless night on the plane.

 Once I got to Paris, I made my way through the airport, through customs and then to baggage, hoping to see Tim on the other side. But because of his work obligations, he ended up not being able to meet me there. If you’re used to flying and airports and foreign countries, then maybe this isn’t such a big deal, but I was pretty overwhelmed by all of it. A foreign country, unfamiliar territory, and me no hablo Frencho…. not a fun combination for me. So then I had to figure out how to exchange my money for Euros, get to the RER (metro/train), buy tickets, get on the correct RER, change RER trains mid-way, and then find Tim’s hotel. I don’t do these things, much less in a foreign country. Tim bought me a GPS when we moved to D.C. and I can still get myself lost. I have no sense of direction and I’m not a map person. My brain doesn’t work like that. Sorrynotsorry, it just doesn’t and I can’t help it. So I will just say, it was all Jesus that I actually made it.

 When I finally found the hotel and Tim, I was on the brink of an emotional breakdown… tired, hungry, cranky, overwhelmed, emotional, missing my kids, and exhausted from the traveling. I had all the feelings. So he took me to Starbucks. A little taste of home, something familiar, and that made things so. much. better. I was new again.

That night, we walked through the beautiful streets of Paris and ate dinner at a local café. The food was rich and delicious.

 It was drizzly, but we walked down to get a better view of the Eiffel Tower.

A great thing about our hotel is that it’s very close to the Eiffel Tower. I took this picture from the top balcony of our hotel.

 At night, it lights up. And every hour on the hour, it sparkles.

 And it is completely massive.

Our room doesn’t face the Eiffel Tower though. At first, I thought I would be disappointed about this, but I actually love the view from our balcony. The buildings we face are beautiful to me. The old architecture, the flowers on the balconies, the brick chimneys, and dark shingles…I just love it all.

 And there is a quieter, tree lined street below. I’ve been enjoying just sitting out on our balcony, watching the cars, the buses and the people go by. Even as I type, I’m sitting out here on our balcony and a horse drawn carriage is clip-clomping past, along the street below me. It’s perfect and peaceful.

 On my first morning here, Tim had to work, so I walked down to a small bakery, bought a croissant and an Americano coffee. (We’re learning that the French like their coffee much, much darker and stronger than we do. They drink little tiny Espressos. So when you order an Americano, you’re basically just ordering a watered down Espresso… not exactly my favorite. I’ll take a little bit of flavored coffee with a lot of half and half and fake sugar please. Since that’s not really an option here, we mostly just go to Starbucks.) Then I walked over to the Champ de Mars and sat at the park and people-watched and thought and prayed and journaled and enjoyed doing nothing and not being in a hurry.

 That afternoon, Tim and I decided to walk along the Seine River and see the sights.

We walked for miles upon miles, from the Eiffel Tower all the way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. I believe this is the Louvre.

We stopped at the Love Lock Bridge and added our own Lock of Love.

 We bought a lock from a street vendor, then wrote our names and wedding date on it, and locked it on the bridge. Tim had a sneaking suspicion that the street vendors go back out and remove their locks , clean them up, and re-sell them (because the keys were the same for all the locks and the locks looked a little bit beat up/used), so Tim broke our key off in the lock (#weshowedthem), then, following the tradition, we threw all the keys to our lock into the river. And now our lock is locked on the bridge for-ever and we’re locked in love!!

Also, while we were out walking, we bought a painting of the Eiffel Tower in the Spring from a local painter.  I love it.  It's the perfect souvenir.

 Our walk ended about 2 1/2 hours later at the Notre Dame Cathedral

 After that we ate dinner at a street café and then started the long walk back to our hotel.

Along the way, I saw this cute little street and that couple kissing makes this picture even better. So Paris!

 Which brings me to today. My feet have blisters and my legs ache from walking miles and miles (almost 8 miles) in my boots yesterday. I’m also tired (probably from the time change and not being able to sleep last night), so today I’m taking it easy. As much as I enjoy walking along the streets and sight-seeing, I also am enjoying resting and quiet and reading and doing nothing. At some point while I’m here, I hope to make it to Monet’s Gardens.

 Have you been to Paris? Do you have suggestions? Favorite cafes? Favorite things to do? Favorite things to eat?