Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas Movies of all time

Ahh. I love movies. Can I officially call that a hobby? If I had to choose between a manicure, seeing a movie, or buying a new shirt I would typically pick seeing a movie (with hubby+snacks). But when it comes to Christmas movies I have mostly seen those at home. Now this list is not super well thought out but I can easily name the holiday movies that, oddly enough, if I miss seeing them this time of year...well I'll just say, I don't usually miss seeing them. I know after I list these I am gonna remember some more so I just might have to update the list, as vital as it is and all. Drum roll please.....................

1. It's a Wonderful Life I was a freshman in college when I first saw this movie and I sat in tears at the end wondering where it had been all my life. I remember thinking how romantic George and Mary's first kiss was and how I just wanted him to get that ol' Mr. Potter. I have loved Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed ever since. My mom and I try each year to find a time when we can sit together (and she usually is not one to sit for a movie at home) and take it all in as George runs through snowy Bedford Falls and calls out to all the old familiar things that have been the backdrop to what he finally realizes has been his Wonderful Life.
2. The Muppets Christmas Carol Oh, how do I love thee o' Muppets. I shall count the ways. Gonzo and Rizzo are hilarious and sweet as the narrators of the tale. I had not thought much of Michael Caine as an actor B4 this movie but his portrayal of Scrooge is spot on and endearing. He was perfect. I have always appreciated Dickens' tone and meaning in this story but the Muppets version is the gold standard of it's retelling and with all the Muppets' flair the old tale gets a nice polish and is new again. Watch it! Yes. I think I will.
3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation It just plain ol' cracks me up but good. I can still remember seeing this at the theater with my Dad because as a teenager I shrunk into my seat as he howled with laughter (a trait I get from him) so loudly to Clark flying uncontrollably on his sled that he was that person in the audience who continues to make the audience laugh in response to his laughter even after the scene is over. Simply enjoyable.
4. Elf Now I totally enjoyed this movie the first time I saw it and still do. But it most definitely had to grow on my husband and two oldest girls. I can recall taking the girls to see this as a treat after the last day of school before the holidays. Everytime Will Farrell did anything embarrassing (which to them was pretty much everything he did) they actually had to hide their faces in their hands (you know, like people do at horror movies) and they shrunk so low in their seats that I had to pull Sara up for fear she would try to sit on the nastyness that is a movie theater floor. (Or maybe it was my howling laughter that did it?) Anyway, I have made them rewatch it so much that they now sit with silly smiles as they watch Will Farrell in full force as the Elf who delights in all things Christmasy, Santa, sugar! and love.
5. My Cinematic departure: Charlie Brown's Christmas. Who doesn't hear those faint strains of children singing slightly off key to "Christmastime is hereeee" and have a flood of childhood Christmas memories? But what I love best and most is that Charlie Brown's search for the meaning of Christmas is beautifully found in Linus' recitation of Luke 2:8-14.
Well, that's it. For now. I think. What are your Christmas favorites?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 5: Castle Chenonceau, back in the Loire

Here is a view of the garden patio out of our room windows/sliding doors. When I woke up this Tuesday morning I was so looking forward to the full breakfast included in the price for the room. Breakfast was listed in our room information booklet as being provided generously from 8am-10:30am. We hustled and packed ourselves up and we readied for the delightful breakfast in the old mill house off the garden. As we walked into the mill house breakfast room, we saw about three other families and I was happy to see it all seemed as sweetly described on the website. So imagine my disappointment when a harried and blustery French woman appeared from the kitchen, with a phone cradled to ear with her shoulder because her arms were flailing and she was telling us, "no, no, no, no!" What had we done? I was thinking. In quick shrieking French she ushered us out. I looked at my watch that showed it was only just before ten. The incident drew the attention of the others in the room who looked as clueless as us. Realizing that we were not exactly understanding her words she paused and told us in broken English that we need to go to the cafe next door. I still stared at her wondering how to ask if it was still included in the room rate when she seemed to read my mind and said, "He knows you no pay more." A-okay.

A little put off by this seeming rejection, but not wanting my disappointment to match the gloomy day and weigh down my troops I said, "Well this should be interesting" And thankfully it was. We walked in the "coffee shop" as it stated in English on the outside sign and were met with a very friendly and welcoming Frenchman who owned the small three table cafe. He already had our table set with breads, spreads, milk, and fresh squeezed orange juice. How encouraging it all was. He spoke a little English to welcome us and set a carafe of hot coffee on the table and asked the girls if they wanted hot chocolate (a staple for breakfast for French children--not so much for our children) Sara said yes, just to try it. He made Sara's day by automatically providing crepes and then topped it off by having Nutella available when we asked for it. Then to top it all off, when the girls pined for the possibility of finally having some eggs for breakfast, he overheard and noted it would cost extra (not offered on the menu even at the B & B) but he would be glad to make us an omelette. We ordered some up and I noticed only paid a fraction of what eggs cost most anywhere else. Sophia, again, refused to eat but enjoyed herself running around the cafe (no one else was there at this late morning hour) feeling freed from the stroller.

Once we were done, I had hoped we could stroll around the nooks and crannies of Honfleur, but the easy rain of the early morning had turned into a constant downpour. If it had been just David and I, this stroll would still have happened, but with three kids who didn't want to see the town in the rain and the possibility of physically getting under the weather we (much to my dismay and one of my few regrets of the trip) left the town of Honfleur hoping to return and enjoy it in the future.

At this point Sophia still had not eaten yet. So we had to find a McDonald's. Chicken nuggets were the order of the day. So I mustered some of my French hoping McDonald's was understood as a name universally. Lo' and behold I hit another language wall, and was corrected. The helpful lady at the B&B pointed out that they didn't call it by it's full name, it had been Frenchified to McDo's (pronounced: Macdough's). So to McDo's we went and stocked up on nuggets for Sophia for the day and headed back South to the Loire ready to tour a castle or two.

I read up on the choices in my Rick Steve's guide and chose Chenonceau. A beautiful castle on the River Cher by the town of Chenonceaux built grandly in the 1400s. Called the "The Ladies Castle" because of it's illustrious history of housing not only the King Henry II's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, but then once he passed on, his powerful Queen kicked out the industrious de Poitiers (moving her to a slightly less grand chateau) and moved in with grand plans of her own extending this castle over the river (quite a marvel). Versailles of course is the most grand castle to be visited in France, but the girls thoroughly enjoyed that they saw every inch of this well displayed castle and took pictures of each of the bedrooms four poster beds dressed with their elaborate draperies.

We toured the pretty grounds and gardens and enjoyed getting around on foot after all our time in the trusty station wagon. There was even a hedge maze that entertained the girls until we all realized our hunger was growing and so the search for food was on. Again I turned to Rick Steves, our intrepid guide, and found our answer in Relais Chenonceaux, located in the town near the castle. Now, I could have just left it out of our tale but it is necessary to mention it as it provided us our second best French eating experience. The restaurant was situated in a very quaint and heavily timbered hotel. The ten or so tables were nearly all full yet, as our crew tromped in I noticed the utter quiet of the full room. We sounded like a herd of goats, girls bickering, me knocking the stroller against the walls of the almost too tight entry, and David carrying our wiped out, sleepy Sophia. Um, we most certainly stood out and I had that moment of, "hey lets just back out and find a McDo's again", as the whispering dining crowd looked up at us.
But I knew we were all too hungry to walk back the car we parked in a lot a block away in this small little village. I just had to suck up the fact that we were about to give all the French folks a tale to tell of the stereotypical rowdy Americans that interrupted their lovely evenings. Our waitress was abrupt and unfriendly (yikes) but, when the co-owner served the drinks and helped us in her near perfect English make out the menu a wave of relief washed over me. Sophia slept through the meal (yes, I wanted her to eat but the quiet was blessing). The girls ordered from the kids menu, a plate of sausage and fries (they deemed it the best of the trip), with an ever so cool short skinny glass of Coke (they longed for refills, but that again is an American convenience), and a dessert of their choice (Sara-B&N crepe, of course, and Anna always ice cream). Then I did a foolish American thing. I dared to ask for the possibility of a sausage meal to go. I had baggies and knew later would have a hungry toddler. I should have just casually ordered an extra plate and left off the "to go" part but the unamused waitress answered me with a "Pffft! Non." Point 1 French Waitress, Point 0 entitled American. So, David and I ordered two different meals and subtly split our tasty baked fish, and chicken. But before I had a chance to dig in I got the opportunity to make a huff with said waitress. I noticed not a smudge, but a hunk of dried food on my fork, and as I satisfactorily brought it to her attention she looked a bit aghast and quickly returned with a perfectly clean fork and a softer attitude. All Points even and done with-yea! We downed it all with a bottle of wine (our splurge for the day) while the girls finished off a bottle of water and shared our desserts (apple tart and ice cream). It seemed on cue that Sophia woke up as we were finishing our desserts. She sat on David's lap staring bleary eyed at the surroundings, silently taking it all in.

As we left the restaurant with a kind adieu from the proprietress, I stole some more glances of the small well situated village. I was, as many times before, so thankful for all our experiences as the distinct privilege they were, to be spending these adventures (however small) together, in some of the most beautiful surroundings France could provide. We chilled at the gite and again enjoyed cookies, leftover pastry, and Gilmore Girls before we headed to bed, ready to sleep in a bit the next morning.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This is Love

David and the girls get up early for work and school, but I woke up this wonderfully chilly December 1st morning to a hot pot of coffee and this sweet fire. We try our hardest not to turn on the heat in our home for as long as possible. And, this woodstove is a gem that efficiently heats the front end of the house (where we spend most of our day, Sophia and I) while the back bedrooms are quite, um, cold.

My husband and I may not exchange love letters or go on enough "date nights" but he does daily thoughtful things such as the fire and coffee that are a constant reminder to me of how well we are loved and how well he loves. Thank you David. Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Words, Good Man

Well, it is a new day and I am hopeful for the resurgence of patriotism I feel all around. I did vote for McCain and was a little disheartened by the the results last night but all the words McCain spoke in his concession speech seem to resonate with me. I share a few of them here now and am still proud of my candidate and as I said hopeful (and very prayerful) for our future.

MCCAIN: I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.

We fought — we fought as hard as we could. And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours......

I don't know — I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend Sen. Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.


Please. Please.

I would not — I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.


MCCAIN: Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Sen. Obama — whether they supported me or Sen. Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.

We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day Four--on the Road, Le Mont St Michel, Honfleur Normandy

This is the bad part of blogging so far after the thing has happened: forgetting details. The waking up on this day was early, the packing easy, and then the drive to Le Mont St Michel long but I hardly remember it. Good for you dear reader as you will not have to be subjected to the long retelling of these occurrences. I do remember that we stopped at the local Preuilly bakery for our pastry breakfast. The delish Chausson aux Pomme became my favorite and our french breakfast staple. I loved seeing the country scenery come to life around us in the morning sun. The dampness of the season rendered everything a fresh lively green and the rolling hills kept the views from any type of lush monotony.

I truly enjoyed the French autoroute (toll highways). They are wide with well marked road signs for sights and stops. Each roadside rest stop was nothing like I have seen in the states. They were always clean, and had at least 2 recycling bins. The roadside gas stops had the coffee and treats that were always a curiosity to peruse for familiar yet unfamiliar edibles. The coffee stands were not the pump and pour we are used to, yet typically, they were the automated affair that though in French, had at least 12 or so picture choices of what coffee you wanted: plain, with cream, cappuccino, hot chocolate, a mocha? And as I said before we never had a bad coffee in France. But best of all these were the cheapest.

Here is a pic of something we saw a couple of times at regular rest stops and gas stops: the pet stop. The French love of their pets, i.e. dogs, is real. The fact that this stop in particular had a bowl of food and water, free for any pooch that came in with it's owner, proves the point and gave me a chuckle and another opportunity to utter "Ah, the French!"

Our day was quite wet and got wetter (if that is possible) as we approached the Normandy region of France. But in the grey rainy backdrop Normandy still stood out. Now, I realize when people (especially Americans) hear about "Normandy" thoughts automatically go to D-Day when the beaches of Normandy were stormed by the allied forces and the Normandy invasion commenced. We have mental pictures from movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. And that is completely understood and honored by the French in this region. But the history and significance of this northern area goes beyond even those heart wrenching times. William the Conqueror hailed from this area, and the national symbol of Le Mont St Michel sits off the western most coast where Normandy borders Brittany.

And that was where we were headed. Once again the forested greenness of the vistas, the small villages in the thick timbered style had me entranced. Now the cathedral of Le Mont St. Michel has a very long history itself. It was originally built in the 8th century by a bishop who felt led by the Archangel Michael to build a monastery on the rock island that jutted out from the coast and it is still there, cathedral and small (now touristy) village that surrounds the church with its population of 70 or so.
We stopped just before the causeway to the Mont at the well stationed grocery/convenience store to buy a few items for our in station wagon picnic. The girls were so good about making the most of our budgeting situation. I would travel with them anywhere. And our excitement grew as we watched cars stream into the parking lot showing that even on this dreary Monday the Mont was still a sight to be seen and explored.
We so enjoyed this tour. Yes, there was a constant thick dampness in the air (bad, bad, hair day and constant dewy sweating), all the ancient tight, stoned paved, steep walkways were rain slick, but upwards we charged with the girls delighting in the sense of "what's around the bend" and Sophia wanting to troop ahead on her own. This was the sight that had originally, on a poster in my high school French teacher's class, inspired my day dreaming to one day explore "that place" and here I was. I almost let the stresses of toting a 1 and 1/2 year old through steep stairs, and muddy gardens, with a stroller, and diaper bag get to me but the wonder of it all kept hitting home.
We strolled the cathedral and the small village with the girls buying a souvenir or two on our way back down to our station wagon. Our driving for the day was not done. At this point it was about 4pm but we still had a 1 and 1/2 drive along the coast to Honfleur. But I must say that in the parking lot we spotted something that caused us all to pause and chuckle.
See this man: What appears a little off. Yes, he is a very nicely outfitted man but one part of his ensemble quickly reveals his "European" sensibility. Yes, his man capris. And his was not the first or last exhibition of this French fashion trend. I and the girls the whole trip kidded David that when we first visited everyone back home that he should get a pair and wear them to show how fashion forward he had become. Ah, no, was his immediate answer. I knew this would be the response from the man who dislikes capris on women, and states that no man thinks capris are attractive on any woman. But the girls and I wear them gladly anyway. And so apparently do European men. Alrighty then.
We made it to Honfleur in good time and the rain was still looming but at bay. Honfleur is a sweet little port town on the Normandy coast whose thick timbered building of varying colors make the village quite picture pretty. No wonder impressionists like Monet found its views ones to be captured on canvas. David drove us through the oh, so, tight, winding roads to our Rick Steves recommend B & B, La Cour Sainte Catherine. The lady proprietor was so helpful through e-mails that I was sad that we did not get to meet her when we arrived for our room. As David parked I walked through the large old wooden entrance doors (in olden days these were so large as to accommodate horse drawn vehicles as they entered inner courtyards that many old French homes still have), into the cobblestoned paved inner courtyard with its crowded blooming garden, where a 30 something man was running around with his two Sophia-aged girls. He, I found ,was English and kindly directed me to the lobby that was cozily tucked away in a smaller building off the gardens. The kind housekeeper appeared ready for me and immediately showed me our room in the same small building. The room was completely ready and perfect for us. And to me, the amazing part was that no money at this point had exchanged hands at all. Over the e-mail it was simply me asking for a space and her putting our name down. No deposit or credit card numbers were given out. Just the honor system.

My family piled into the room, the girls claimed beds and unloaded, and we knew our first task was to explore a little and definitely find some spot for dinner. I loved this walk. The little homes that lined the tight road each had their own style. I first thought of the possible ages of these original looking row homes, then I tried to imagine if these quaint village images were just the same old same ol' for the locals. I looked at how out of place we seemed in our jeans, tennis, and American athletic wear in the midst of this old village. Then we turned off the small street corner into the center of town port crowded with small boats, restaurants, and people. I then saw plenty of American casual to put me at ease.

We scoured the menus on display by all the restaurants surrounding the port. Seafood was the order of the day and we were ready and willing. Sara was even chomping at the bit for her own bowl of mussels. Yes, you read me correctly--mussels in a brothy tasty sauce accompanied with frites of course. Sara tried them for the first time in London when I ordered a bowl (what a shock to us all) and declared them good and was wanting to be adventurous again. So order them we did and she ate and enjoyed them with gusto, nearly finishing her whole bowl which was generously filled to the brim. Anna ordered shrimp expecting the usual c-shaped delights and instead got the typical French preparation with the head on! David ended up having shrimp and Anna had to look away from the bug-eyed langoustines that seemed to keep staring at her. I also had a delish bowl of fish soup, wonderful mussels, and the always good salad with the perfectly mixed vinaigrette. We had ordered the fixed-price 3 course meal and each got a dessert. Sophia, as her usual, slept for a portion of the meal and once awake, rejected any bits of dinner we tried to feed her off our plates.

As seen in the picture above (finished result of course) Sara scored herself a chocolate crepe and we requested banana be added to it (ended being 4 dollars extra for the one banana--yes, she surely at the whole thing). We all declared this the best meal of our whole trip to this point and it was desperately needed in order for French cuisine to redeem itself in the eyes of my family.

We walked back to our hotel as the sun went down (our whole meal took 3 hours) and I looked forward to touring the sweetness of Honfleur before we traveled back to the Loire the next day. Sophia ran about the room back at the B & B and watched her daily Charlie & Lola. She thankfully ate some yogurt as everyone took turns in the shower to ready for bed. We all fell off to sleep quickly and comfortably. Ah, Normandy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day Three-The Loire: Descartes, Angles Sur L'Anglin

Here's our gite:

Well the next morning we awoke (truly, I awoke, I was typically the early riser during our trip-no most definitely not the norm) around 9:30am. So well rested and ready for a day at leisure. I walked into the dark bathroom and ---no lights. Panic. I knew it had been stormy as we drove in the night before but I had not even considered electricity loss, and I live in the country in Texas where when we have a storm I gather our candles, matches, and flashlights. Then I gave out a prayer of thanks to the Lord because as tired and weather worn as we were, with no phone in the farmhouse and no cell phones, we could have been stuck in complete dark in the middle of the night--yeah, I think the Lord knew I would have lost it and He was probably more concerned for my family, so I thanked the Lord for their sake.

So what did I do? Well, I stirred David awake, of course. "David you need to fix the electricity." I said ever so soothingly. "What?", David answered groggily. "Uh, yeah, we have no electricity and I guess that's fine for now but nighttime will come again, plus, I need to do my hair (I should have said most importantly)." So my sweet handyman and jack of all trades woke up, stumbled around downstairs and found the correct breaker switch and voila, we were set. Yeah, honestly, I was set and could curl my hair.

Now, the girls slowly roused and got themselves ready because we not only had to find a phone to let the owners/manager know our ordeal and see if they could check stuff out while we were gone, but we also had to find food and I had researched a local market in Descartes about 20 minutes from us.

This drive was beautiful. Rolling hills, fresh greenness from after the night's rain, neatly situated villages. I mean, yeah, I know trees are trees, and roads are roads, but their everyday scenery is still plotted differently than our central Texas dry landscapes in June. Now, I cringe at this point because in Descartes the fullness of a small French village was everywhere with the weekly Sunday market taking over the center of town and in full swing, but I, being so caught up in taking it in and finding the food carts for our takeaway lunch, shamefully didn't take a single picture. Argh. The market struck me as a blend of old time produce, spices, and artisan stalls and flea market tacky. Just right. The morning was damp, threatening rain, people milled about and chatted aplenty, and at the end of the road we found the food stalls the gite owners had described to me online.

Two boisterous men cooked away in the trailer booth, and took orders while chatting with customers. I was touched with a tourist's hesitation, but alas, as the one French speaker of my group, gathering the goodies was up to me. Now, don't get me wrong, David became excellent at the art of deducing what was being communicated (especially where food was concerned) but this direct person to person interaction in France was up to me. And in Descartes I got not one, two or three, but four opportunities to butcher the language of love. This first opportunity was the easiest, as the vendors were flirty and completely helpful as I ordered the Paella (being cooked oh so dramatically in a paella pan about three feet in diameter), and pasta (yeah, it wasn't lost on me that the two items being sold were not of Frenchy origins). At this point David noticed the large rotisserie chickens coming to peak gold while their rich drippings were falling on peeled small potatoes at the bottom of the rotisserie. Yum. But we already had all we could fit at the bottom of Sophia's stroller and our eyes where bigger than our tummies because we had not had our breadfast.

As we headed to the small Descartes town square where had noticed two bakeries (patisseries) on our way in, I noticed a fact of French life. To find the best town bakeries watch the locals. And in this instance it was right on, as one bakery had nary a visitor and the other had a small line out the door. We made our way into the patisserie and I ordered with a little more confidence. Sara, being a little adventurous, saw a picture pretty pastry that we had to get. We found a local cafe/bar and got our space surrounded by locals.

Again we were breakfasting late, 11ish, but all around us we noticed groups of primarily 50-60ish year old French men "gossiping" and sipping wine and various colorful cocktails in much the same way the old country boys in our boonies town sit around the Dairy Queen, coffee in hand and chew the fat. Our waitress came over and David actually ordered his own drink and I did swimmingly until I hit the language wall of our trip by ordering an apple juice.

In France juice is "jus" and the type is "jus de____ " (juice of _____ ). Well we had already ordered jus d'orange (yes, orange juice, very good) now we came to the stalemate of jus de pomme (juice of apple, you would think). We had seen and purchased this very "jus" in two instances already. She stared at me blankly. "Jus de pomme," I said. She was even more puzzled and slightly annoyed. I pointed at Anna "Jus d'orange por elle" (orange juice for her) and then at Sara "Et jus de pomme por elle" (and apple juice for her). The waitress just shook her head and said,"non, non, non." No, at what, I wondered. David was looking slightly embarrassed and then she motioned over the supposedly English speaking bartender and grabbed the attention of the bar customers around us. Oh, goody, the dark headed Hispanic woman sitting in the midst of her very blond German-looking family didn't stand out enough. Now I have to show everyone I don't know what I am talking about. The 30-something bartender looked kindly and again in heavy accented English asked what we were ordering. So first I tried in French and again the jus de pomme was the stumper. So I then repeated the order in well pronounced English and even acted out the eating of the "pomme". Yes, everyone, I am a tourist, butchering your language and now a loud American. "Sara, do you have to have apple juice?" I asked. "Well, I guess not." Sara said with a look on her face like she was losing hope of the very thing that was going to help her keep it together for the day. Of course, the bartender answered with a less bewildered "non" than the waitress and I just ordered "une carafe d'eau" (jug of tap water) for Sara.

All we could assume from the frustrated exchange was that just as the orange juice is always served at bars and most cafes fresh squeezed that they were troubled by us expecting a fresh squeezed glass of apple juice? Who knew. But I soon promised Sara that we would purchase a six pack of her favorite apple juice, just for her, the next time we spotted it and that set her to rights. Good timing, because she then took a healthy bite of artistic bonbon and quickly spit it out. And this normally was not an acceptable reaction but once David took a taste of the disgusting sweet, he cringed and then understood the flavor. "Uh, Jenny, that isn't honey coating the fruit and cake. This whole thing is soaked in rum. Lots of rum." Poor Sara. And then we all had a good laugh.

Understand that yes, of our crew, Sara would even confess to being the pickiest. But on this trip as with most, we had discussed with both the older girls that food was going to being an adventure (um, challenge) too. We told them that they should never react in disgust, complain if what they ordered was not what they had imagined, pout, cry, cringe, or utter phrases like gross, yuck, ugh, or nasty. And they graciously complied knowing that if instead they took a bite, proclaimed "it is not my favorite" then we would compromise, switch dishes, let them just eat dessert or find some fast food if possible. This actually worked out wonderfully. They would actually be game to try new things because they knew that if it didn't work out they would get something more acceptable. Typically though, they would end up liking what they ordered enough to satisfy them and only twice in 14 days did we succumb to fast food. Victory indeed.

After our makeshift breakfast, we paid up, and drove out from Descartes to the local grocery store for more provisions. Sophia was loving the juices, milk was a necessity and of course we stocked up on Sara's apple juice. We had some fun seeing the differences in what foods are staples, what flavor differences there are in potato chips found in France versus US....Potato chips ala Bolognese (meat flavored tomato sauce), shrimp flavor, anyone? Again, fumbled our way through the check out and I had to pay extra for our plastic bags. Ah, France.

Once back in Preuilly I attempted to contact the gite managers (Terry and Maureen) and had unreal trouble putting together the right number codes from the phone card I had purchased in Versailles. See most all the public phones (and there are almost as scarce as our US phone booths) do not take coins but use a phone card system. And my phone card had its helpful instructions in French jargon that I was not acquainted with. Finally I did get an answer but, whoever it was went off the phone to fetch Terri or Maureen and forgot about me on the phone. I waited about five minutes, yes, five minutes is long when your in a tiny dirty uriney smelling phone booth in the middle of village Preuilly. I then called the owners, who live in London, and they promised to get us some help and again were very polite and understanding.

My final call was going to shape up our day and hopefully perk us all up. While researching the area we were going to call home I came upon a sweet blog that was a lot of help in my planning: Days on the Claise. Susan and Simon are Australians who blog daily in such picture filled detail about their home renovation in Preuilly and day to day observations on small town France that you feel as if you are there. And when I found their site in April and left a question-filled comment, Susan so sweetly answered back' and offered such helpful information on the area that I wrote back to her more than once and we eventually had hopes to meet once we arrived in Preuilly. But each number I tried wouldn't go through, or even more oddly it would ring, stop and silence. I felt Iwas losing the fight against the French phone system. There was no other way for us to contact our hoped-to-be new friends. I gave up knowing we would try again that night yet knowing this was the one day that had worked out for all parties concerned over e-mail.

Though oh, so glad to be in central France the weather was a bit gloomy, so we went back to the gite for me to build my excitement in doing laundry in the tiniest washing machine I had ever seen, lunch, rest and pin down what we wanted to do next. We knew that the next day we were going to drive some 5 hours to Normandy (North coast of France) and have an early and long day. So we decided to tour some castle ruins in a nearby medieval village: Angles-sur-L'Anglin.

What a sweet drive this was also. Angles s/Anglin is only about 15 minutes from our gite and once we came upon the village it took our breath away. We parked by the ruins and I had to stop to take in how sweetly situated it was by the river and hills. We took a quick tour of the ruins of the medieval castle (Sophia and I had to sit out part of it because of steepness and some precarious climbing but the girls declared it "Great!") What troopers they are in being steeped in history, ruins, and museums without a mall in sight.

We walked around the bend in the road towards the bridge that crossed the swift moving Anglin river and the delightful beauty of the village did not disappoint. But we were again hungry travelers, so we followed this cobblestone path to the promise of more village life to be seen. I think we all enjoyed the small discovery of the town square filled with cafe tables. Across the street from the square on two opposite sides were a cafe and a bar that served the tables in the center. We settled ourselves and gave Sophia some much needed running around time. I got a delicious raspberry beer and a savory crepe (just okay). Sara of course got yet another banana nutella crepe and ice cream, Anna just ice cream, David just a beer and Sophia a little of all our treats. I do wish I took a picture of our enchanted stop, but see, I was enchanted. I simply am trying to describe the dreamy remembrance of one of the handful of times we just slowed down and took it all in.

We finally gathered ourselves together for our quick walk to the car, and back the gite. A downpour on our way to the gite canceled out our plans to eat out for dinner at an open air lakeside restaurant and so we ate leftover paella and pasta instead and stayed in watching some of the Gilmore Girls DVDs we brought and washing and drying some more clothes for our next day's trip to Normandy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day Two-Chateau Versailles and The Loire Valley

Well, I thought we were going to rise, well rested and ready to go. Instead I think we all agreed that we felt wiped still and so the morning was slow going. The exception being Sophia, who apparently awoke before any of us, moved the small table near the window and carefully placed all her toys on the table and was busy organizing. Which is what I had to jump awake to do because not only were we going to visit the palace of Versailles, but we also need to be packed completely to check out and yet organized for our 3 hour road trip to our Loire Valley (Central France wine country) farmhouse ("gite"-vacation rental home) that we would call home for the four days. Once I was done buzzing around and we were all finally ready to face the new French day it was sadly later than I wanted, 10:00am. But the day was ours to enjoy.

First on our agenda was Breakfast. And the "breadfast" of champions in France is a nice croissant/pastry (yummerific for me) and very nice and small cup of coffee (each time I saw the European smallness of the French "large" I heard Lorelai Gilmore in my head saying "Barbie dream cup"). For kids there was the traditional French bowl of hot chocolate, but the girls wanted none of it (what?!) so we had to hunt at a couple of spots to complete our bread/breakfast. So we turned into our first Patisserie, whose staff was friendly and ready for us. We got a full selection of basic pastries: Croissant, Pain Au Chocolate (Ah, delish), Chausson aux pomme (tasty tasty buttery apple pastry), and a French favorite, buttery carmely raisiny pastry we ended up liking but I can't for the life of me remember the name of. Each French morning this was our usual selection with the occasional impulse choice and I know it served me well but I have to say that my breakfast loving family was sorely missing plain ol' cereal and especially eggs, bacon, and biscuits at about our fifth pastry morning into the trip. And I have actually read where Europeans largely think little of American food but American breakfasts are a hit across the board.

Once we found our pastry, and bought some canned juices for the girls, we sat ourselves at a typical sidewalk cafe and gave the attentive waiter our coffee order of cafe au lait. I have to add that this way to breakfast was what Rick Steves and other guide books recommended for the budgeting traveler but David and I felt odd. It was a little strange for us to take food from one place and sit at another only ordering a couple of drinks. We knew we were eating at a later hour than even the French usually have breakfast, but as I looked about the oh, so, picturesque French cafe scene I noted a couple of other late breakfast eaters. And I even noticed a pastry wrapper from a place different from the cafe. Yes, this set me at ease. As the waiter brought our scrumptious coffee (I actually never had a bad cup of coffee in France, small-always, bad-never), we chuckled at our American desire for a Grande. The girls enjoyed all the pastries, and Sophia turned up her nose to any of the bready goodness, yet she clamored for coffee and after a couple of baby sips we had to stop her. I knew I wouldn't make it through the day with a caffeine fueled empty belly toddler. As we sat with our last morsels of breakfast before us, I took my second mental picture (because I didn't take an actual picture) of the 70 some degrees, cool breezy morning.....the five of us huddled close to our cafe-small table, the French cobblestone street near us mostly busy with pedestrian traffic... and the French conversations wafting around us. Ahhh. Then Sara said, "I'm done, where are we going next?" Versailles Palace.

Now Versailles the town is unpretentious, bigcity/smalltown feel with all the French arts and architecture, but it is decidedly overwhelmed by the grand figure of one of the most world renowned palaces....Versailles. The palace and the grounds' sprawl is seemingly larger than the town itself. We parked near the palatial entrance and approached the gates in much the same way elegant society did back in the day. I looked down and commented to the girls that we were walking on cobblestone that Marie Antoinette must have traveled over. Blank stares. So began my little (mis?)education of the the girls in regards to French royalty, the revolution and Versailles. Then we stopped in our tracks and took in the massive size of the 700 room Chateau, and the massive line weaving its way around, and filling the entrance.

I have visited Versailles before, way way before this day. My first visit was in 1993, and it was awesome but the line then was also long and so all we had time for was the castle and a quick picnic on the beautiful grounds then we left. I still had an aching desire to tour the gardens, Marie Antoinette's famous royal peasant abode and enjoy another picnic. So I left my family in the ever increasing line to the chateau and checked out the garden's entrance. Before I saw the gardens , I heard them. And this let me tell you was amazing. On this Saturday, Versailles, was showcasing it's gardens and fountains in a musical spectacle. Luxurious classical music was pumped through hidden speakers throughout the gardens and around the fountains in such a atmospheric way as to make you feel that at any moment the royal party of King Louis the whatever number was going to stroll by. It was the perfect soundtrack to the delightful gardens, beautiful weather and day. Also, no lines!

So I ran to David and the girls and we all decided the grounds before the chateau. Something else the music helped with is that as crowded as the castle and gardens were you did not hear the constant hum of people but the moving lilt of the music. Sophia had the opportunity to roam about and we spent the next five hours taking in most of the gardens. Yes, the grounds are so intimate and inviting yet large you can get lost in the exploration of them. Sara declared that she loved castles and Anna enjoyed touring the Queen's Hamlet. We actually did not have time for the castle (small regret for my crew, but not for me) but the girls did get the sample experience of the extravagance of the palace by touring the smaller palace on the grounds (yes, the royalty found it necessary to take a break from palace life with smaller place about a mile from the big house).

We picnicked, we took pictures galore, and we realized we had to leave to make it with daylight to our farmhouse in the Loire, about 3 1/2 hours away. We blessedly found another small grocery store in Versailles, stocked up, and after longer than we hoped made our way out of Versailles to the French highway. Ah, the French highway with its very clean countryside, just as clean and environmentally friendly roadside stops and toll booths aplenty. We were moving along smoothly until we were about supposedly 1 hour or so away from the gite. At that point the threatening clouds broke into a constant hard rain and the Loire river we drove over was raging against it's edges. Now, at this time I should share that God most definitely went ahead of us because we had a GPS screen that became invaluable at this point and I had not requested one in our rental when I had booked. All the small country roads that our Michelin French road map did not cover was on our trusty GPS screen. But as we sleepily approached the main road to our little French village: Preuilly-sur-Claise (around 10:30pm), horror, our little quaint country road was terribly flooded. A small line of small French cars and trucks were parked just before the flooded road and I realized no matter how much I wanted to ask a "hey, what's up and how do we Americans find a back road to our little gite?" uh, well I had complete French language block about what to ask or say. So David took charge, and put all his attention on the GPS as the girls as I split some bread and a few cold cuts to make our dinner.

Finally, at 12:30am we pulled into our little country gite, after a couple of scares encountering gutted shacks and dilapidated farmhouses and hoping against hope that our gite wasn't in similar shape. We breathed a sigh of relief and walked in our 18th century farmhouse that was completely ready for us, unpacked, snacked on some yummy French chocolate cookies, showered, and fell into our beds. I thanked the Lord for our safe adventure and knew that Sunday AM was going to be time for sleeping in.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Trip-Day One-Versailles

Oh, my when I even start thinking about this trip I get overwhelmed with moments to remember. So my way of keeping them complete is to journal them in chronological order (big wow). So here goes. Day one is actually months and months of planning. That was my job. And the Lord was good to us in that, we had our little stash in order to take our adventure and yet it seemed as if it would all be blown on the airfare alone. My excited readiness that started when my husband looked at me at the beginning of 2008 and said "Hey, why don't we visit Adam and Ale in Spain?" would come crashing down each time I saw the prices for a family of five around 6,000-9,000 dollars. And we are talking coach here people--sheesh.

But then, while trying to plan out our itinerary, my hopes would rise seeing that there were actually ways to budget day to day in Europe, like it was more affordable to stay in an apartment in Paris versus a hotel! So lo and behold only two hours (in April) after David and I decided the European adventure was a no go, I just had to take one last look online....what I saw on the screen was the green light I had hoped for in the discount price of $3,500 for all 5. I still gulp knowing that the price is pricey but not the astronomical $$ I was seeing before. We were going to have 3 connecting flights but we felt we could do it (more on that later).

Now I just had to share that bit because Day One went so well and I realized that the long hours of planning helped me quell the "what's gonna happen next" concerns along with all the prayers for how the Lord went before us.

Spain was our main destination, but the most affordable connecting flights go through London, England, or Paris, France, so since we were already paying the airfare and had 14 days why not stop along the way to Seville. So after much, and I mean much, research (because I ached to traipse through the pricey but a bit out of the way Provence region of France) we settled on the Loire (central) region of France, with a quick jaunt (heh) to the Normandy area of France (Northern coast, facing England). So, here goes.

Now in flying out from our central time zone of the US to Europe most flights leave one day with next day AM arrival times. We flew Dallas AM to Toronto early PM (where we had most of our difficulties), Toronto mid PM to Montreal late PM, then Montreal late PM to Paris early AM! Luggage for international trips is very limited, we were each allowed one checked bag, two carry-ons and one personal item.

So what did our family of five carry, drum roll please, (and I add this because I am so very proud of my frugal and efficient packing-it seems the only thing I am frugal and efficient in doing).......For all of us we actually carried only one medium sized checked bag, two carry-ons (with two days of clothes in case of baggage loss) for the overhead bins, and one back pack with entertainment and snacks, one travel DVD case with extra baby essentials and my purse jammed in it, and of course a backpack diaper bag...Viola! But what had to weigh us down were the baby/toddler essentials of a stroller (which we handed to the flight personnel at the entrance to the planes), and a car seat for Sophia for the planes and the car we rented in France. Managing this load of trimmed down luggage should have been easy but with all the carry-ons and baby essentials going through security at each connection, sadly, got my stress level up. So much so that at one point, in Toronto , with the flight we needed to catch almost closing I was running barefoot to our connecting gate with shoes in one hand and Sophia haphazardly strapped in her stroller in the other hand, with the back pack and carry-on both draped across me and far ahead of my sweet David and Anna, and Sara who marveled at my frantic speed. Yet, we did just barely make it and I knew the Lord went ahead of us in these near misses and my family kept me from wanting to erupt all over airline personnel .

May 30th, Friday, we landed in Paris. Oh so tiredly yet leisurely, we found our car rental booth and in my very broken French (the Parisians are forgiving when you try) I got us set and David found our car. Now thank goodness we did not have to drive far, but David navigated us through suburban Paris traffic (where we caught our first far off glimpse of the Eiffel Tower) to the small castle town of Versailles, France. As we drove in to the town center, we noticed that a weekly morning market was in full swing in the main square. The colorful produce, meats, and spices were on display and people darted around the stalls. The image was so vivid and my first mental snapshot of France. David was broken in quickly to the survival of the fittest/quickest/pushiest driving of the French, where pedestrians, bikers, small cars and big trucks mash together and claim their strip of the road and we made it to our oh, so quaint and comfy Hotel du Cheval Rouge. How nice it was to leave the bustle of Versailles small town traffic and enter this quiet courtyard parking lot:

Now I did so much Internet research, but quite a few gems on our itinerary were thanks to Rick Steves. The hotel staff was very warm and welcoming. The room was basic, clean and just what we needed. But I had to fight to keep my troops awake. See, it was noon, but our bodies felt like it was 4am. So in order not to suffer jet lag we had to wait for sleep until a decent nighttime hour. So we quickly refreshed ourselves and headed out to find a place for lunch.

We didn't feel so adventurous as to tour the neighborhood for just the right place, so we found the first inviting bistro outside the hotel. The nearest and yet not the tastiest. But the girls made a discovery about French food here that remained true for the rest of our French meals: frites are yummy (umm, translation, French fries). With most kid friendly meals at cafes or bistros you will find frites as a side and the girls were always satisfied and could find them on every menu. I had hoped for a more pleasing intro to the French menu but at least we filled our bellies, dinner, I hoped would be better.

After lunch, tummies full, David and the girls were ready to fall over, but we had only taken 2 hours for our 3 course lunch and 2pm was too early for beddy bye. So we strolled the streets. I loved it. We searched for Rick's recommended creperie, our dinner spot for that evening, found it and tried to stroll some more but David and the girls were so worn out a brief rest was required. I knew that we still needed some milk, snacks, and fruit for us and mainly Sophia. I left my sweet crew in the room, got some sketchy directions from the front desk clerk, and set out to explore Versailles.

After a couple of wrong turns I found the Monoprix (think small Wal-Mart) and enjoyed the feeling of being like a local, grabbed the hand basket and extended the handle after I noticed all the shoppers trailing their baskets on the floor behind them. I easily found what few essentials we needed, especially for Sophia. Then I quickly remembered that the checkout process is quite different from the American way. First of all the checker is usually seated. Secondly you bring your own bags or you pay extra for the bags you need (about 10 cents per bag). Thirdly and importantly - you bag and take out your own groceries. Quite a few times we saw people put all their purchased items, bag-less, back in the cart in order to take them out to their cars where they had boxes and storage for them. And, very often, you return your cart to the cart park where you grabbed it from because that is the only way to get the Euro ($1.50)out of your cart handle that you had to put in it in order to unlock it from the other carts. Ingenious.

But in this instance I was three blocks from our hotel and lugged three heavy bags of groceries to our room. Near our hotel, I encountered David and Sophia walking down the sidewalk and munching on a large juicy sweet strawberry. David had ventured into the town square's enclosed market and bought some fresh fruit. I was so surprised and delighted by him also venturing into the French scene and chuckled a bit when I saw he had paid nearly $15 dollars for three bundles of fruit. But thankfully Sophia was eating and had enjoyed the walk and charmed some locals.

Closer to dinner time we tried to explore another area of Versailles on our way to our Creperie and we discovered a quaint little courtyard with a trickling fountain. The shops surrounding the courtyard had high end antiques, custom made jewelry and art. The window fronts were so crowded with color and detail that we sat a while and took it in. Above one of the shops a set of French doors opened on the balcony and we glimpsed a very chic interior living room and a mom and her baby stood by the doors taking in the cool evening. And, yes, the thought crossed my mind, "How wonderful that this is her everyday." The girls posed for pictures by the fountain and then we were ready for our delicious crepe dinner.

Now crepes in France are not just a sweet affair. Just as often they are savory. Picture a thin crepe (pancake like) about the size of a medium pizza that is covered with cheeses, onions, meat and about anything else you may want for a dinner, then it is folded up to look like an open envelope. We each ordered a meal crepe and a dessert crepe. Anna and Sara and I were satisfied but it was not the tasty meal we had hoped for and David, who could deal with almost any type of food could not get his down. His first encounter with a cheese he couldn't like. Reblochon. It smelled and tasted like stinky feet. I think he avoided the dinner crepe from this point on. We were very pleased with our dessert crepes and I with my hard cider drink (think light yeasty beer with slight sweet apple aftertaste). Sara proclaimed that she would eat at least one Banana Nutella crepe each day we were in France and I think she almost did. But Sophia would have none of it and so began her boycott of Frenchy food.

We slowly made our way back to the hotel, made calls to home, took hand held shower/baths (a very wet and slippery ordeal) in a skinny persons bathtub (hey even the girls commented on their tight fit), and dozed off easily at a respectable 10pm. I laid in bed and peered out our open balcony windows at the almost dark sky and breathed in the night air. "Wow, we are really here." I thought and said a prayer of thanks to the Lord for the adventure we had started.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

France and Spain

Even as I type the title I cannot believe we have gone and are back. Now I say this as a person who is still surprised (very much so) that I have visited France twice before and Spain once before. I can remember a girl of 16 who got her passport in order to be able to travel with a school group to Russia only to have it arrive a few days after she found out there was not enough money for her to go on the trip. Yeah, I cried when I tucked away my passport in my file box. (Yeah, I was a geeky kid that kept things in a file box. ) And my loving and unknowingly prophetic mom said "Well, maybe you can use it sometime later?" to which I, in my state of teenage this-is-the-end-of-the-world-dejection answered, "Yeah, sure mom, how is that gonna happen." (That ungrateful kid, your mom had just sprung for a not cheap passport and you sass her!)

Sometime later I accepted the Lord as my Savior!, I graduated from high school, I went to college at the best place for a new Christian like me to spread her wings (UT) and was surrounded by the most active and encouraging family of believers I could never have found on my own, when I sat in a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting and was told that if I gave my summer to the Lord, He could take me any place. The names of all the possible stateside vacation locales were posted on the overhead along with the international locations. I felt like I was being pointed at and asked directly what I was going to do about it. Now I am not a beach girl but those were the only possiblities that seemed available to me, because we had to raise our own funds (not meaning our own without the Lord's help, I mean without a missions board or church specifically funding us) and the money needed to go was not by any means exorbitant, but, hello, I was in college, any trip was expensive. It took my unbelieving roommate to urge me to take the leap to the locale that my eyes kept falling on "Paris". And how did she do that, well, she said "If you say God is going to have to provide the funds for you to go any of the beach places why can't He provide for you to go to Paris." And she didn't say it as a test, she said it with the child like faith in that He can do anything. And He did. (that previous three word sentence is a story in itself, but I have already gone on to much for the intro about our trip) I used the filed away passport (it had not expired) for an eight week summer mission trip in Paris, France where I truly began to understand evangelism and the heart for it, and I fell in love with France.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Top 5

Top 5
as passed on by Steph

1. 5 things under $5 that I cannot live without:
*Light & Fluffy Smoothie from Smoothie King in lieu of lunch after workout
*Neutrogena under Eye Cream (Yes, Steph, I too have had since my mid-twenties, that same anti-wrinkle battle going on in my head-what has this youth obsessed culture done to us!)
*plain bagel from Panera
*(the absolute best kept secret for pampering feet) Dr. Scholl's deep healing overnight foot creme!

2. 5 Favorite Movies:
In no certain order because I love my absolute favorite movies.
*Sense & Sensibility
*It's a Wondeful Life
*Return to Me
*Lord of the Rings (cheating because, the title encompasses the whole trilogy)

3. 5 baby names I love:
*uh, Sophia

4. 5 songs I could listen to over and over:
*I'm not who I was (Brandon Heath)
*In this place (Coldplay)
*Crazy in Love (Beyonce)
*Best of what's around (Dave Matthews Band)
*In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)

5. 5 people who have influenced me in a positive way, although there are a lot more:
*It must be a given, but always my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
*My wonderful David
*My mom
*My loving sister
*my dear friend Beth Hassell

6. 5 things that are always in my purse/diaper bag:
*besides the obvious, goldfish for Sophia (yeah, mommy sneaks a few)
*a play cellphone for Sophia
*Paper and Restaurant leftover Crayons
*change of clothes, because Sophia love her liquids
*Purse: tire gauge, you just never know

7. 5 Moments that have changed my life forever: (In order of occurence)
*Parent's divorce (the good and the bad and all the love that was a covering)
*Mom's remarriage and the good step-father that is still a part of my life
*Accepting Christ as an 18 yo
*Growing in Christ in college, being involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and learning that the Lord most certainly does lead us to Himself with "cords of human kindness with binds of love"
*Marrying a wonderful Godly man who loves the Lord, me and his girls, adding to that the miracle of the instant family with two sweet natured step-daughters and my most miraculous-Sophia Louisa

8. 5 obsessions I have now:
*planning our once in a lifetime(I hope not but we are going to certainly may the most of it) trip to France and Spain
*blogging (er, uh, actually, honestly reading others blogs and trying to be encouraging by commenting long-windedly)
*DVR, yeah, it rules, Commercial free since 2006
*I have got to confess this, because I enjoy the tight friendship/relationship stories minus the extreme Samantha explorations: I want to see Sex and the City the Movie and know what happens with Carrie and Big, and all.
*Jon & Kate plus 8

9. 5 places I would like to go: (like there's only 5...ha!)
*North Carolina

10. 5 appliances or kitchen tools I cannot live without:
*Our awesome gas stove
*Tea kettle
*Coffee maker
*uh, that being said, coffee grinder

Now because I am nosy I would love anyone to post their five and give me a heads up if they wouldn't mind sharing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well we had a sweet, low key Christmas season.

Yes, I had to get the traditional, "first time baby sees Santa Claus and is terrified" pic.
See, she was okey-dokey later.

A little strep throat here, a cold there, teething everywhere and yet the holiday time was spent cozily together and with dear family and friends. Thank you dear Lord! Here's to a New Year with more of the same and, as my mother-in-law toasted, a New Year with Peace. Amen.
I love blogging. But do I do it. No. It is just like the fact that I so enjoy watching Jon & Kate plus 8 and marvel at their efficiency and gumption but does that translate into me doing the same? No, I simply sit and watch and, yes, don't make the most of my time. One of my flaws. But when I read and so admire other peoples blogs I love to compliment and encourage because they are so inspirational to me. So is this a new year's resolution raising it's ugly head--oh no. I don't believe in all the "I'm gonnas". We will just see.

I know Steph made herself a "little diligence jar" and that is such a good idea but I would end up procrastinating on the jar itself. So blogging will be my diligence jar. Anyone welcome to keep me accountable. Uh, I think.
So I hope your New Year is encouraging and that I will blog again soon.


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