Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We made it!

Well I realized I never posted that we successfully navigated our time without Amy and Charles and they made it back home to us. The last couple of days have been busy with trying to get caught up on laundry, some things around the house that I wasn't able to do on my own, and packing me up to head back home. I can hardly believe it's already time and yet it does seem like it's been forever that I've been here!

I have nothing extraordinary to share about these last few days. We had Raclette one last time for my farewell meal on Monday night and I made chocolate chip cookies one last time for them. This time they were just about perfect. :) Last time I made them they were SO DRY and I had to add tons of shortening and they STILL were dry. This time I started out with a whole cup less of flour and STILL TOO DRY. So bizarre. Apparently French flour is a bit different. But this time it was just a little too dry so I added a bit of shortening and made sure it had enough before cooking them. Then instead of cooking them all up I froze some of the dough in balls for Amy so they can pull them out and cook them fresh sometime in the future. Maybe they will think of me when they eat them. :)

Looks like I'm coming home just in time, Bath & Body Works is breaking out the fall scents and some new ones. Can't wait to smell them. :) The weather here has me definitely in the fall-ish mood! It's been cold and cloudy for the last three days. I did not bring enough long sleeves with me! I will remedy that the end of this month when we come for the retreat.

Well I'm going to try to get a little nap in before it's time to get to the airport. I have an 8:10 AM flight so we're headed to the airport at 6 AM. Au revoir my new French friends, I will miss you! But so AWFULLY glad to be able to see my home people again. "I've had my run, baby I'm done, I gotta go home." :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

today we did...

So this is my attempt at capturing what happens in a somewhat typical day here. For whatever it's worth.

7:11 AM - awakened by a little voice asking if he could get in the bed with me. I mumble something affirmative in response and he happily climbs in beside me and cuddles right up.
7:30 AM - alarm goes off and Thomas pops up asking "What's that?" I tell him it's time to get up and he is glad to hear it.
7:40 AM - wake up Sophie and check to be sure Emma is awake
7:48 AM - begin making coffee
7:52 AM - encourage everyone to come downstairs to eat breakfast as soon as they're dressed
7:55 AM - finish making coffee and sit down at the table
8:02 AM - call up the stairs a little more urgently for everyone to come eat
8:05 AM - everyone finally begins eating breakfast; Emma flips the switch to turn on the outlet the toaster is plugged into and the power to the house goes off again so I run downstairs to flip the button
8:12 AM - tell Sophie to brush her hair and find some shoes before her ride gets here
8:19 AM - remind Sophie she is still barefoot and her hair needs brushing and her ride will be here in one minute
8:22 AM - the gate bell rings and the Daisy goes crazy, I try to shush her and attach her to the leash before opening the door and gate
8:24 AM - call for Claire, it's time to GO
8:27 AM - let Daisy off her chain and breathe a big sigh
8:28 AM - put away breakfast things
8:45 AM - get sidetracked checking email and facebook for the morning and IMing with Joey on how to resell my iPhone
9:15 AM - check to be sure Thomas is appropriately dressed for tennis
9:17 AM - take a shower
9:31 AM - phone rings but nobody leaves a message so I don't pick it up (I can't speak French so odds are I couldn't talk to them anyway)
9:35 AM - gate rings again, Daisy freaks out again, it's Thomas's ride a little early (25 minutes!)
9:37 AM - coax Thomas into putting on tennis shoes instead of crocs
9:39 AM - sneak pair of socks in with Twinkle & Edit in his backpack
9:42 AM - start The Event premiere while washing dishes and straightening the kitchen
10:00 AM - move to living room and fold laundry while still watching
10:23 AM - attempt to straighten the house which looks like a bomb went off, take a comb away from Daisy who is chewing furiously
11:02 AM - Thomas comes home from tennis so my straightening changes from being productive to just neutralizing mess
11:25 AM - Thomas asks me to help him with his puzzle
11:36 AM - we discuss what to have for lunch, Thomas asks to have quiche (not one of the two options I gave), I decide quiche is fine and maybe while I'm at it I'll finish those apple streusel muffins Emma has been asking for
11:45 AM - Thomas asks if he should put the rest of the cheese in the quiche? A quick glance and I assure him it has PLENTY of cheese
11:47 AM - Claire comes home from school
12:05 PM - quiche goes into oven
12:17 PM - muffins go into oven
12:20 PM - I ask Claire to set the table so that it's ready when the girls get home from school
12:30 PM - quiche comes out
12:35 PM - muffins come out
12:45 PM - Emma and Sophie home from school and lunch commences
1:10 PM - I request help with the house and haggle a ten minute clean-up in exchange for watching The Newsies
1:14 PM - I take the basket with my folded clothes down the basement and discover the rug in front of the dehumidifier is completely soaked. I call for Claire to help me investigate the source.
1:18 PM - we establish that it is the dehumidifier although we don't know why and I turn it off and empty the reservoir, Claire takes the rug outside to dry
1:20 PM - I start another load of laundry before emerging from the basement to find the kids have done an excellent job with the cleanup. We extend it by five minutes to make up for the time spent in the basement and get the last little things put away out of the living room, Claire goes back to doing lunch dishes
1:35 PM - swimming lesson things are gathered so that they are ready to go
1:55 PM - we finally start The Newsies
2:45 PM - I can tell it's finally morning in the States because Savanna, Mom and Fezz all IM me within ten minutes
3:15 PM - we pause the movie and get shoes on for swimming lessons and grab some goûter to eat on the way
3:33 PM - set off for swimming lessons!
3:47 PM - get Sophie changed into swimsuit and the rest of us settle in to wait
4:45 PM - Claire and Emma head back to change, Sophie comes out from her lesson
5:03 PM - Thomas is ready to go home
5:25 PM - Thomas REALLY wants to go home now, I feel like I could fall asleep right where I'm at and wonder why since I've been getting somewhere in the vicinity of seven hours of sleep but decide maybe I should try eight hours tonight
5:45 PM - Claire and Emma are done, load up the car to go home
6:10 PM - arrive at home and decide on sandwiches for dinner
6:18 PM - begin getting out food, ask for the table to be set
6:37 PM - Emma volunteers to make smoothies again to go with dinner
6:45 PM - call everyone to the table
6:56 PM - Sophie gasps and says "I just saw a cat walk past!"; she, Claire and Thomas get up to investigate
6:57 PM - there is indeed a cat randomly walking up the stairs in the house; Daisy is not happy with this, we lock her in Claire's room while we deal with the cat
7:00 PM - the cat is friendly (albeit very skinny) but knows we are onto her and she doesn't intend to leave
7:10 PM - finally get cat out of house and get everyone back to dinner table; Thomas tells me he loves me for the 342nd time but it still has the same effect as the first :)
7:15 PM - I ask Emma stay at the table and finish eating and can NOT go out to check on the cat
7:17 PM - insist that Emma WILL NOT leave her seat until she is through with dinner
7:25 PM - someone opens the front door and in darts the cat again
7:26 PM - Daisy panics and I lock her in the kitchen
7:30 PM - cat is once more out of the house and I instruct the older two to begin dishes and the younger two to get ready for bed
7:32 PM - I open my work assignments from Bazaar
7:37 PM - I discover Emma is giving the cat milk from the window
7:45 PM - check on Thomas, is playing in his room so I assist him in finding clothes for tomorrow
7:53 PM - realize Twinkle & Edit are still in Thomas's backpack and we think it's still in the van
7:55 PM - the cat rubs around my ankles while I check the van. I decide maybe she can't figure out how to leave because the gate is closed, so I open and she runs happily out
7:57 PM - Emma is very heartbroken that I let the cat go, I redirect her back to the dishes
8:00 PM - Thomas found his backpack upstairs and I tell him to put his jammies on
8:01 PM - read a book, sing, and pray with Sophie
8:10 PM - find Thomas in jammies like I asked, read a book, sing and pray with him
8:18 PM - go back to work assignments, Emma is still moaning about the cat and asks to call her parents (to ask if she can keep the cat that is already gone)
8:30 PM - I attempt to send Emma to her room for bedtime prep
8:33 PM - Emma wants to know what Claire is typing to her aunt and Claire says she'll show her for €1. Emma happily agrees and pays up only to be disappointed at the non-juiciness of the email.
8:40 PM - I insist Emma must now go up to bed since lights are to be out in five minutes and remind Claire her time is coming too
8:55 PM - Claire heads off to bed
9:01 PM - I work feverishly on Bazaar but I have over 90,000 characters in profile names to read through and my eyes really don't do well
11:02 PM - I begin writing this post interspersed with many checks of facebook and a few emails I remember I was supposed to write
11:45 PM - remember the laundry is still in the washer
11:52 PM - walk past kitchen on my way from moving the laundry to the dryer and realize a few things didn't get put away after dinner
12:02 AM - get ready for bed and my back reminds me how long it's been since I went to see Dr. Ky
12:10 AM - I am tempted for the twentieth time today to buy the iPhone 4 so it is waiting for me when I get home and resist the urge only because I'm too tired to hunt up my credit card
12:13 AM - remember that I was hoping to go to bed earlier tonight...oops; but try to assure myself that tomorrow I can take a nap while the kids are at school
12:15 AM - move undone items from my to do list to tomorrow (i.e. vacuum house, mop kitchen)
12:30 AM - send email to Amy about leaking dehumidifier

And that was pretty much our day. So crazy to think a week from now I will be home in Texas!! I will definitely miss these kiddos but I am also looking forward to being home with "my" kiddos.

Mom is off to Michigan on an all expense paid trip to a special mothers conference and we are so excited for her! It's exactly what I had been praying for, that she would get an opportunity to get away from life for a few days and take some deep breaths. I know it's been amazingly helpful for me!

Well I'd really like to get some sleep now so I'm going to close this. Love to all at home!

Monday, September 20, 2010

  • blog
  • groceries
  • laundry
  • write postcards
Yeah I've begun making myself to do lists even here. What, you're laughing because I wrote blog on it?? Well I should add eat chocolate too. That way I can be SURE to check something off. :) My week is looking decently full of productive time even while the kids are at school. I want to work on leaving the house as clean as possible.

I've been having a great time with the kids, just as I'd hoped and expected they are being very good for me. The point system I put into place right away has definitely been oh so useful. The kids have responded very well to it. School days are challenging because while I have several beautiful hours of quiet down time, when the kids get home it's pretty much nonstop activity doing homework, getting dinner, cleaning up and preparing for the next day. It was so nice to have Saturday and Sunday with quiet times at home to clean things up a bit. The piles of things I didn't know where to put was growing. :) A quick ten minute M&M helped solve that!

Sunday was quite an adventure though as I had not really talked to anyone about how exactly to get to church. We'd driven there a few times but I was the passenger and not the driver so I was afraid I might not remember exactly how to go. Claire was staying with the McAuleys or I was sure she would have got us there. I kind of mapped it on Google and wrote down directions but I felt handicapped without my GPS on my iPhone and not knowing the language so I couldn't just easily dash in some place and ask for directions. I knew there were plenty of people who could help me if I called but I was hoping to not disturb them on Sunday morning. We loaded in the minivan after breakfast and I asked the kids if they knew how to get to church. Emma and Sophie both assured me they felt like they could remember the way so off we went. We only had to turn around once because I misunderstood what Emma was telling me but they got us to church in perfect timing nonetheless! I was so proud of them. When we were looking for a parking spot I realized I was going to have to parallel park for the first since I began driving. Thankfully I'd been analyzing everybody who had done it before me and managed to pull that off pretty well (and took a picture to prove it!). Then we got home again without any incident and I was just beyond impressed.

I've been having fun cooking for us and the kids seem to like it too. I made pot pie on Saturday night and apple crisp for dessert. All of the kids are anxious for me to make more. :) I am going to get more butter at the grocery store today and I can make more. Emma announces to anyone who will listen that I'm a world famous cook (not!) and has been begging me to make more yummy things so now I'm afraid of the act I have set for myself to follow. :D

Last night I think it finally hit me as I was closing the volets and locking up for the night that I was the responsible adult in charge of four precious little lives this week. It was kind of an overwhelming thought and I don't know how it didn't come to me before. Every time someone has mentioned anything about it I just kind of shrugged and smiled and said it wasn't too hard but the full gravity seemed to have finally sunk in. It's such a strange feeling to think I'm solely responsible for making sure these kids eat, get dressed, go to school and their activities...wow!

Well I'd better get on to the rest of my to-dos. :) 9 more days!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Paris take three :) and the REAL adventure begins

Tuesday was my last chance to run around Paris and get a few more sights in and boy did I ever!! I planned to go straight to the Eiffel Tower first thing and then added a few other ideas to my list to be completed as I had time or felt like it. I'm very much a laid back wanderer and not so much a "must see EVERYTHING" kind of sightseer. I made my leisurely way to the general area of the Tower and popped in a couple of stores to pick up some snacks and some more souvenirs for family members and friends. I had a good time shopping and picking things out and when I'd felt like I'd done just about all of that I wanted to for the day I went to the Tower.

I happened to come around the back side and was pleased to see that was the smart move. For some reason all the tourists coming in the front all went to the first two entrances and the back two had much smaller lines. Despite the shorter line it still took quite awhile to get on the lift to go up. It seemed like we had gone forever in it but when the operator stopped the car she informed us this was the second floor, to go all the way to the summit we would have to get off this one and go around to another elevator. I was shocked because just the "second floor" had an amazing view! I didn't know how it could get any better than that but went all the way to the top. I have to say the safety wire they have at the top kind of ruins the view and pictures you take of yourself so I think I would have been just as happy to stay at the second floor. I did want to say I'd been to the top though and because I'm only 24 I could still get the "youth" discount. At 25 you begin being charged as an adult which is several euros more expensive. Wow did I time this trip perfectly or what??

After spending a sufficient amount of time taking photos and wandering around admiring the view I made my way down to the second floor and then took the stairs from there. That was fun but ow did my legs feel it the next day! A lot of people had warned me to be careful around the Eiffel Tower because apparently there are lots of pickpockets and most of them referenced the gypsies as being particularly troublesome but I didn't see any at all. As I came out of the Tower to head to the metro I noticed several people looking across the street and wondered what they were watching. I didn't see anything for a minute but as I passed a policeman on a bicycle one of the men who sells souvenirs off a blanket pointed at another guy running through the grass on the other side of the street and began yelling. I don't know what he said but all of a sudden the policeman snapped to attention and off he went on his bike towards the man who was running. Just as he caught up to him two more policeman joined him and a bunch of these souvenir guys all came running and shouting. I just did my best to take a wide circle around them (although they certainly made it difficult as they were right in the middle of the sidewalk) and walked quickly away. For Mommy and Mamma's I just want to point out right now that it was no more violent than when the Walmart security catches a shoplifter at the door of the store (which seems to happen every other time I'm at ours these days!). :D And there were lots of policemen so I never felt in any danger.

After that excitement I decided to find the Champs-Élysées and see if I could find a mobile phone store and get a French SIM so I'd have my own phone while Amy & Charles were gone. It just makes me feel better to be able to make phone calls/texts from my own phone! I was hoping to also get internet so I could use my GPS but no such luck. I tried SFR, Orange and Virgin and all of them said they don't do internet on prepaid SIMs anymore. Oh well. For €15 I got a SIM card from Virgin with €5 credit and since it's only €0.07/minute to call within France I'm sure this should be plenty for ten days. I hope to investigate if I will be able to keep it when I come back at the end of October.

By the time I was through wandering that part of town I felt like I needed to head back to the station because I wouldn't have much more time before my train to Chantilly. However when I got there Amy called and said I could stay an extra hour so I decided to dash over to Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. I did this but realized I wouldn't have time to go inside and see anything so I just took a photo from the bottom of the hill, but was glad to see it nonetheless. My food for the day was a crépe complete (eggs, cheese and ham) and some ice cream for goûter. Yummy yummy!

I made it safely home, we had dinner, and I went downstairs to listen in on Granny's services. As soon as I had got online my friend Jen IM'd me and told me she was so glad I was safe. I was a bit puzzled until I found out there was a bomb threat at the Eiffel Tower and the area around it had been evacuated. This didn't happen until 8 PM local time however and I hadn't even been in Paris since 6 or so, and had left the area the Tower was in around noon. It was kind of spine-tingling to think about but it turned out to be nothing. I did hear though that it was the same evening that the anti-burqa law was passed so I have a feeling the two might be related.

Being able to listen into Granny's service was so very special. I didn't know but they had planned to read my last blog post and due to some technical difficulties I picked up right in the middle of it. It was kind of a shock and I felt bad for not having proofed that post really at all, they was just tearful midnight ramblings that I hastily wrote and posted as I needed to be in bed asleep.

Yesterday Amy asked if I could go to the grocery store and get the things we needed for while they were gone so she could tend to other things. I was more than happy to do it and a bit apprehensive about my first outing alone. Thankfully Cora is not very far away and I knew I could get there no problem but was wondering if I'd be able to figure enough out to find the right things at the store. There were a few things I wasn't sure about and those things I decided to wait until I consulted Amy or one of the kids. It's always difficult to grocery shop for someone else's family because everybody has their own favorite brand of this or that, much less to do it when you have another language/culture coming into play! There aren't as many recognizable brands here as you might imagine. Overall though I'd have to say the trip was a success as I got most of the things on the list and made it home by the time I needed to help make lunch for the kids. I was quite pleased with myself. :) The rest of the day was pretty much a zoo getting the kids to swimming lessons and then home to make dinner and get them in bed. Everyone was very tired and I felt sorry for Amy and Charles who I knew would still be awake for quite awhile packing and arranging things for their trip.

Today was bright and early but much easier than it might have been. Because of the excitement of getting Amy and Charles (and Audrey!) out the door the kids were up in plenty of time to get dressed and take their time with breakfast. We weren't rushed at all and got their shoes and things together and out the door to school. When Daisy and I got back it was so very quiet!! I keep thinking I hear Audrey fussing and have to remind myself she isn't here. :)

About halfway through my morning the mail lady came and what do you know, she had a big package for ME! I was so very excited to open it and when I did I started to cry. Dear, sweet Sarah had packed a whole box of all kinds of very special goodies for me! PJ pants that are super soft and my favorite colors (and actually quite needed as the only pair I brought are absolutely WAY too big for me now!), some beautiful purple jewelry, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a BIG bag of Peanut M&Ms, gel pens, nail polish and remover pads, an iTunes gift card and so so so much more. What a very special treat to get just as I've become single mommy of four!! I just feel absolutely blessed beyond compare that God would give me such a precious friend who knows me so well!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you dear friend!!!!

Well it's about 11 so I think I'm going to do a few things in preparation for lunch. I'm very much enjoying having the house to myself and playing my music out loud. :) I have a feeling this downtime in the morning is going to be my favorite time of day!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

my Granny

To be honest, after this week I hardly know where to start my blog post. So many conflicted emotions, so much inside and yet words seem incapable of describing it.

On September 9th at 12:05 PM, my dear sweet Granny's long silenced voice was finally restored. She was freed from her earthly body and the Alzheimer's that had slowly imprisoned her in her own body, into the presence of the Savior she loved to sing praises to. I really feel that she is where my deep love for music must have come from because I remember growing up she was always singing or humming. In fact I think I've sort of picked up her funny little habit of humming what seemed to be a random tune she would make up on the spot. In the beginning of this long goodbye I remember how special it was to take her to church and hear her still belting out hymns even though she was already forgetting who I was standing beside her.

I remember sitting in the bathroom one night when I was staying with her a couple of years ago and crying because I missed my Granny and knew she would never be back even then. I weep now knowing that my younger siblings and cousins will never have the precious memories of her that I do. I know I'm so very, very blessed because most people don't even get to know their great-grandparents and I had not only my Granny but also Oma, and Grandaddy & Grandmother Wilson.

There are many fun memories of Granny that stick in my head from when I was small. Granny was the one who stayed with us and help when Mom would have a new baby. She also often brought a special treat when she came to visit, Cookie Crisp Cereal, and I remember her taking us to McDonald's a few times. Her house was like something out of a book, she had beautiful flowers and often a vegetable garden. As a kid I loved playing her old childrens' records and using a slide projector in the bathroom to look at cartoons. There was the amazing treehouse she built (seriously who can say their great-grandmother built a treehouse??) and a big tire swing that we forever battled wasps for, not to mention cool little trails in the woods around her house and the best blackberry cobbler you ever tasted in the summer.

But I think of all the things that impressed me the most about Granny, the one thing that stuck with me the most was her prayer life. If anybody knew how to pray it was Granny. I could hear her praying under her breath a lot throughout the day, and at night when the lights were out I could hear the whispers. She prayed for protection and against spiritual warfare, for colds, and for everything in between. Because of her influence I grew to see the importance of prayer, and I noticed she didn't always just ask for things but almost always included thanksgiving. Her Bible was also very important and well read. I knew when I got up in the mornings she had been up for awhile already with her coffee and Bible on the swing. I'm ashamed to say I'm not nearly as faithful to my Bible as she was to hers.

I know my Granny was only human but so many spiritual lessons in my life I can trace roots back to things I learned from her, and one of the most remarkable things about this is I don't often remember her actually talking about these things--it was just me watching her live them out. Actions speak much louder than words. Because of the Alzheimer's Granny hasn't been the same person I knew as a kid, and I'm so grateful God allowed me as a child to observe those things in her life. Far too often we don't pay attention to spiritual lessons as children but somehow in this case I absorbed those seeds from her and they have sprouted over time. Some much healthier than others but still there nonetheless.

As we've watched her body and mind deteriorate these last few years it's been a very sad and painful process. For probably a year now I've been praying that God would be merciful to her, because to actually die from Alzheimer's is a very ugly picture. Several times she went into the emergency room with seizures and other things and I'd think we were reaching the end and she'd somehow bounce back. When I left to come here to France I had no idea this would finally be the time she wouldn't. This week when Mom told me things weren't looking good my heart sank. I wasn't wishing to be home to see her one last time, I had seen her shortly before I left for here and she wouldn't have known me anyway. Something inside of me just couldn't fathom not being at her funeral. It wasn't about what she would have wanted, I knew I could probably be sure she would be excited for me to be here and wouldn't have wanted me to cut my time short. It was just something that personally for myself I really felt I needed. Unfortunately there is just no way for me to come home in time and I'm trying to remember God knows and has a plan in all of this. He knew long before I did about this trip and knew that Granny would be coming home right in the middle and still led me here. I'm already planning to visit her grave as soon as possible when I come home.

And so I cry tonight as I did on the 9th, but certainly not sad tears for Granny's sake. She is sooo much better in heaven than where she was just a few days ago. I cried when I saw my mom's Facebook status about my Pappaw welcoming her and using his special name "Mrs. Bake". I cry for me and how much I miss them both but I know why God wanted them there with Him. Between the two of them they'll be singing all eternity. I can't wait to get there and listen to them, what a grand duet that must be!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Musée du Louvre

So Sunday after church I got to go to the Louvre!! I must say that navigating the Paris metro is a tad more difficult than London because they didn't have little helpful tube maps laying around everywhere and obviously the language barrier. In addition my handy dandy iPhone was not being of any use to me because I still haven't figured out how to make it work in France. In London I was able to use this awesome little app that I told where I was at and where I wanted to go and it told me exactly which tube to get on and all the connections I needed to make (if any). I may or may not have taken the most direct route from Gare du Nord to the Louvre but I got there and for that I was immensely proud of myself. :)

The Louvre was just as amazing and overwhelming as everyone says it is. My plan was to follow the advice of a new friend here and just see the Egyptian exhibit and then walk to the Champs-Élysées because it was an absolutely magnificent day. I did wander through the Egyptian exhibits and somehow took the wrong door and ended up in the paintings. My priority was not to see the Mona Lisa since I've never been in the fan club but I noticed a sign pointing down a hall for it so I thought well gosh it would be silly of me to be here and so close and NOT see it, so I went to find it. Well just because there was a sign DIDN'T mean I was close to it but I did finally find the room packed with silly tourists snapping photos of the relatively underwhelming Mona Lisa in a room with quite a few MUCH bigger and to me more impressive paintings. Oh well, I can say I was there in the room and I saw it. :P Whatever that is worth...

After that I walked down to the Seine and down a bit thinking I was headed towards Champs-Élysées but I actually went the wrong way and ended up back at the other end of the Louvre. I bought a few souvenirs at a shop close that had some really cute stuff I hadn't seen anywhere else yet and strolled through the tuilleries and enjoyed the absolutely gorgeous weather.

Since I had taken awhile to get where I was and wasn't sure that I would be able to just go back the same way as I was closer to a different metro station I opted to go ahead and try to make my way back to Gare du Nord so I would have plenty of time and not miss the train back to Chantilly. Thankfully it didn't take nearly as long to figure my way back as I was starting to get the hang of it. I had plenty of time so I opted to get a sandwich from one of the restaurants in the station and also got an ice cream. Like a very naughty girl I ate my ice cream first because I didn't want it to melt. :) I also stopped at the vending machine and got a bag of peanut M&Ms, not as big as the one I bought in the States but it was bigger than your normal snack size. Unfortunately I've already eaten about half of it. :P I was able to get all the way home without further incident and was quite pleased with myself for now having successfully navigated the world's second busiest metro system in another language no less. :) Yay me!! I'm really grown up now, yes Mommy?

Fall seems to be upon us today and I know that is hard to imagine for my peoples back in Texas. It was very cool and rainy today and I felt like curling up in bed with some coffee or tea, soft fuzzy socks and a book. It also just smells like fall. Looking at the forecast (I think I finally have the right Aprémont in my weather!) it appears we might be in for more of the same the next few days. No exciting plans this week that I can think of besides school. I do ask that you pray for me as I'm a bit homesick hearing that my Granny is not doing well this week. I really hate not being at home with the family. :(

Since I have no plans I don't know when the next blog post will come unless you want to hear all the juicy details about my day. :) "Oh today I ironed and folded clothes, and made Audrey laugh, and played playdough, helped make dinner, and helped clean up..." It just gets old if I repeat the same things every day. I did put up a few pictures from the Louvre on my Picasa/Facebook so be sure to check that out. Au revoir until next time, whenever that may be!

Friday, September 3, 2010

be still and know

Much to my mom's relief I made it back to the Cross family in France after my ten day vacation in the UK. :) My foot which was so very painful by Sunday got better within about 48 hours of arriving back in France. I don't know if the ibuprofen reducing the swelling made so much difference or just not walking on it so much allowed it to begin to get better but it's been totally fine since. There is still a twinge from time to time and the spot is still sore to the touch but I'm no longer considering looking up a doctor here.

School started back up this week so we've been trying to adjust to the new routine. It's so strange having the house quiet from about 9-4:30! Just about the time we'll be figuring out this new set up though Amy and Charles will leave for Houston and it'll be just me and the kids for ten days. I think though that the changing up in routine is a good thing for me because it doesn't let me get in a rut and I have to constantly pay attention to the task at hand, and yet there is much less chaos than in my life at home so that I'm able to remember what it's like to stop and smell the roses. I really really hope that when I get home I can not go back to crazy, helter-skelter, flying by the seat of my pants like I was before but settle into more of an easygoing pace that gives me time to help those closest to me who need it and also allow for me to not live on the edge of burn-out all the time. The lady who spoke at the GEM conference was amazing and so inspiring. Why do we think we are so important that the world will cease to move if we need to draw away for some time alone with God? I know I'm so guilty of this. It seems so overwhelming at times, all of the needs that are screaming at us. This was what she talked about that helped me so much as I began in my head to try to prioritize things. From Alicia Chole's blog:

rest, part two

2. rest: a framework

I would like to strongly suggest that you consider purchasing a great book that will provide a spiritual, physical, and interpersonal framework for our redefining of rest: Margin, by Dr. Swenson.

Barry and I read this book years ago. Picture a straight line that represents our daily reserve of personal energy. Swenson is a medical doctor whose premise is that God designed us (physically, emotionally, relationally) to live between points A and B and that the space between B to C is on reserve for the unexpected, for crisis. BUT on a daily basis we live from A to C. So when a crisis does arise, it pushes us over into overload.

In other words, God didn't design us to live to the end of our abilities every day. We're supposed to have a buffer. If we live each day to the end of our rope, there's nothing left to hold onto when an unanticipated problem calls for something "more."

How very very true this is!! And I know I've been living in overload for far too long. It's so evident just by the way that for a year or two I couldn't even handle being at church. All I wanted to do was go home and crawl into my PJs and my bed. I couldn't handle being with people. Sometimes I still feel that way when I am getting close to the absolute-overwhelmed-overloaded moments. I remember last year at VBS, CI and CMT needing to find a quiet corner at various points and just breathe. This year was better but VBS was a different level of involvement and CMT I didn't get to help with. I feel like this last month has been so great for being able to clear my head and ground myself a bit more, I felt like I was caught up in a tornado being carried higher and higher and faster and faster. I am keenly aware of how much too easy it will be to get sucked up into the vortex of business once I'm home but I'm bound and determined to give it my best shot at slowing down.

Back on a more practical note, Audrey has really good days and really bad ones. :) Hoping pretty soon she will settle into more of a routine that she is comfortable with and works well for Amy. I do have to say that when I gave her a bath the other day she didn't get NEARLY as upset when I got her out! And I think if I'd been a hair faster she might not have cried at all. :) We ARE making progress I can feel it.

Sunday is the first Sunday of September and every first Sunday of the month means free entry to some museums in Paris so guess where I'm going after church?? I'm hoping to go to the Louvre for sure and maybe I'll just stay there all afternoon. I'm pretty excited about it!

Well as I said we've been trying to get into the school routine so no new pictures this week or exciting happenings, but I think I put up enough pictures from my trip to the UK to last awhile yeah? Spin through them if you haven't seen them all yet. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Highland games, some castles, and Edinburgh

The last two days have been QUITE busy and super fun! It's really impossible to capture into words and pictures the whole experience I'm having here but I can try to give you a small taste I hope.

Sunday morning we went to Crieff, Scotland which is apparently where Ewan McGregor is from, to see the Highland Games. Pictures and video are in my Picasa but there was dancing, pipe bands, some heavyweight stuff (hammer and log throwing), running and jumping contests and lots of carnival style food and shopping. It was super cool hearing all the bagpipes and seeing lots of kilts. :) After that Clif wanted to tour The Famous Grouse distillery which is the oldest one in Scotland. It was actually kind of interesting to see the process but I still think the stuff smells gross. :P Then we drove a bit through the Highlands and saw some beautiful scenery, a couple of castles and a very old church. All of these things are also in my Picasa. :)

Today I got on a bus to Edinburgh all by myself and made it there, yay me! I think the only mode of transportation I won't have used by the time this trip is over is maybe a boat. If I could figure out how to fit that in somewhere... :D In the Edinburgh bus station I was looking for a map of the city and found a flier for a free tour of Edinburgh. It sounded interesting and the last one of the day started in just under twenty minutes so I pulled out my handy iPhone and located the Starbucks it was to start in front of and headed out. It turned out to be very cool and so worth it!! He gave us so much history and really cool stories about the different buildings and things. The parts I found the most fun and random I included here.

1) Charles II's statue. So apparently he really wanted the people home in Scotland to like him and one of the ways he decided this could be helped was to have a statue of him put up. He had it made so that he wore roman clothing and was on a horse. The problem with this was that two different people made the statue of him and the statue of the horse. He had asked for his statue to be big and apparently nobody told the guy making the horse so it looks like a donkey in size, comparatively speaking. Then there was a day every year where they had a ceremony and put a crown on the head of the statue but the crown poked holes into the head of the statue and when it rained it filled up with water and made the whole thing lean. So then they had to drill a hole in the bottom of the horse to make the water drain out. I bet you can guess where some smart-aleck decided to put the hole. Anyhow the whole thing seemed to backfire on him. :)

2) Our tour guide showed us the window of a cafe and said that in that in front of that window a poor single mother wrote a book and took some of her inspiration from buildings she could see including a school for orphans. Today the woman is richer than the queen (she is J. K. Rowling). I'll just admit right now I had no idea she lived in Edinburgh at any point in time. :P But I didn't know a LOT of things.

3) Greyfriar's Bobby. A policeman in the 1800s owned him and when he died Bobby came every day to his grave in Greyfriar's Kirkyard and sat by it for 14 years until he died. They buried him just outside the cemetery (he wasn't allowed to be buried IN it) and there is a headstone for him that people leave all kinds of little doggy things at. Close by is a statue of him and a bar named after him. :) Of all the famous people buried in Greyfriar's his is said to be the most visited.

4) The Stone of Destiny. So the Scots had a special stone used in coronation of new kings and at some point the English took it to London. The Scots really wanted their stone back and it was kind of a sore point for a long time. In the 1950s there was an attempt to steal it and return it, and they did a really good job and almost got away with it before being found out and turned in. Then in the 1990s the stone was indeed returned to Scotland to be kept there until needed for a coronation.

5) I had a Dr. Pepper Zero today! I didn't even know they EXISTED. Do we have those in the States?? It wasn't a perfect DP or anything but yay me for having one!! It's been so long...

So that was today and yesterday, tons of fun and lots of things learned about Scotland! Some things I knew a little about and other things I had not a clue but all of it was super interesting. I hope to look up the free tour group in London and Paris both and highly recommend them to anyone else who should go to any of the cities they have tours in. :) So far the rest of my week is a big question mark and I have no idea what I'll be doing but I'm sure having fun making things up as I go!! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Falkland Palace and St. Andrew's

Today after sleeping in (ohhh how wonderfully I slept!) Sheila and I hopped in the car and went to see the Falkland Palace. She had never been so I thought it was fun we would experience something new together. :) It was a beautiful palace with really nice gardens (pictures inside are not allowed but outside photos and the gardens are up in my Europe album on Picasa and Facebook). We spent a long time there looking inside at the rooms which they have furnished and there were people in each room to answer questions.

After that we headed out to St. Andrew's to see the castle and cathedral ruins. That was super interesting especially the castle. Apparently once someone tried to attack the castle by mining underground into it and someone inside knew about it so they dug a counter mine to catch them (and succeeded). You can actually go down inside the mines, it was pretty cool!! Next to the cathedral is St. Rule's tower and you can go all the way to the top of that. It was QUITE a climb round and round the stairs spiraled all the way up. When we got up the view was absolutely amazing though, and the wind is crazy up there. :)

Then we walked down a couple of streets and went to the golf course. St. Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world (and I had no idea before I came here haha). We also went down to the west sands and it was so beautiful. I love the clear blue water and the sky was pretty amazingly blue too.

Tomorrow we are going to see some Highlands games!! How COOL is THAT? I'm really excited, it sounds like fun and Sheila says they've never been and have always wanted to go so it'll be a new experience for all of us. :) And hopefully on Monday we'll go to Edinburgh and see some sites there. After that I have NO idea what I'll be doing or which country I'll be in but I guess we shall see yes?? :D This is one adventure, let me tell ya...

Friday, August 20, 2010

trains, trains, and more trains

So I was in a total of six different train stations in the last 24 hours! How cool is that. I think my favorites were Gare du Nord in Paris and St Pancras in London because there were lots of interesting stores and cafes. By the end of the day though I was definitely feeling like Tom Hanks from The Terminal. There's just only so much you can do in those places and they don't all have free wifi AND a plug available. It seemed to be pretty much only one or the other. I did get about halfway through reading Mrs. Polifax on the China Station and I watched Fellowship of the Ring and about an hour of The Twin Towers. That helped keep things interesting. I also popped into the British Library which was between St Pancras and Euston stations (I walked from one to the other). They had wifi AND plugs but I didn't have the right converter with me and by the time I went to get it and come back the library was closed.

I ate a ham quiche for lunch, a jalapeno chicken wrap for a snack-ish and then for late dinner I had my first pasty. I don't know what was in it but potatoes for sure but it wasn't what I ordered because I asked for bacon and cheese and there was definitely no bacon. It was pretty yummy though whatever it was!

While I was online Luke popped up for a chat and quoted "London" by Brandon Heath to me. I guess I'd never heard that song before and had him send it to me. I then proceeded to make a playlist of homesick songs and had my iPod going all evening repeating those songs. It was fun in a melodramatic way to wander aimlessly around the train station singing that song and "Home" by Michael Bublé. :)

So finally after a long day I got on a sleeper train to ride to Scotland. The original plan was not to do this until Saturday and to only have to go from Cumbria but an unexpected hospital visit for my London friend meant I needed to go straight to Scotland. It's a long trip from London to Cupar! I spent the first 45 minutes watching LOTR on my laptop and charging my phone until my laptop battery died and then got all comfy and went to sleep. I dozed off and on waking whenever we came to a train station because I wasn't sure what time it was or when we'd make it to Leuchers which is where I needed to get off and catch a train to go BACK to Cupar (we would pass through to get to Leuchers).

Finally we got there and I hopped up and grabbed my stuff and plopped onto the platform. Only two other people got off at that stop with me. The first thing I noticed was the wind was VERY cold when it blew so I pulled my sweater out to layer on top of my hoodie. Then I looked at the board trying to figure out when the train would come through. Apparently whoever was supposed to be opening that station was late because the doors were all locked so I had to wait out in the cold wind. I was so very glad to see the train stop to pick us up!! Then the sixth and final train station in my trip, and Sheila picked me up and brought me to her adorable cottage where I took a shower and changed clothes and felt human again!! I hate sleeping on planes or trains. :P She also had an amazing little breakfast ready when I got out.

After that we set off to see what we could see! I put up pictures again in Picasa but I've seen two castles, a windmill, and had fish and chips already. :) I love even just driving through the countryside, it's so beautiful!! It's pretty much everything I imagined and more. :) God is so awesome, I can't believe He gave me this opportunity!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Château de Chantilly, and PARIS!!!

Sunday after church I got to go visit the Château de Chantilly which was really very cool. It's complete with a real moat and some huge fish things that could probably eat people I think. Most everything in there was French so unfortunately I don't know much about the Château itself, just some things about the artwork and such. The gardens looked amazing but it was a rainy day so I did not wander them much. I spent a good three or four hours out and walking around in there. It was really nifty and I did put some pictures up on Picasa and Facebook.

Today though was a SUPER adventure because Jennifer and I got on the train this morning and went to Paris for my first time!! It was really wet and kind of cold again so we tried to do some inside things. On the sub as we were going in an accordion player got onto the train with us and played! He was really good and it was so very cool. We started out at Notre Dame where I discovered I'd left my SD card in my laptop at home and only had enough space for 5-7 photos on the camera which was super lame but I was sort of okay with that knowing I'll get another chance to come back. Jennifer took one picture of me in front of it but then I realized that went straight to my camera's internal memory and I don't think I have the cable to transfer it to my computer haha!! Those two or three pictures I took inside may have to wait until I get home to get moved to my computer. :) I took a couple of the amazing windows. The church is just amazing and breathtaking especially when I consider the fact it was built without any fancy equipment, just piece by piece by someone's own hands carefully sculpting and crafting and putting all the pieces together to form this amazing building.

After that it was still kind of spitting although not all out raining and so we went in a few little shops behind Notre Dame. In one I was able to find an SD card for a pretty decent price so I decided it's not too bad of an idea to have two SD cards anyhow in case one gives out (eh Sara??) so I picked one up. I also got one or two other odds and ends for different people and got many ideas for others but being the terrible decision maker that I am refused to buy too many things today in case I see something else even better later. I can always come back. :) We went to lunch at a nice cute little cafe and I had salad, quiche, and a yummy chocolate cake that was pretty dense and fudgey with some coffee. Yum! I could definitely live the French life!! By the time we finished eating it had stopped raining so we decided to walk by the Seine to the Louvre. It was so fun to visit with Jennifer and hear about what God is doing in their family's life and how they came to France! Along the way I snapped photos here and there of the things we saw and just tried to soak in the atmosphere. It was so very very cool!

By the time we got the Louvre it started to rain again and there was a very long line to get in, so we'd maybe only have an hour or hour and a half to look before we needed to catch the train back to Chantilly. We decided to wait on that (or I did anyway) and go look in the shops around that part of town. After we had located a little crepe shop and got some yummy warm crepes with nutella we walked around and ended up near Saint Eustache and the l'Ecoute. :) That was fun! But of course it was raining again and so we took refuge in the underground mall by the metro station. I decided I very much liked a lot of the French clothes. I do NOT get into the skinny jeans that are everywhere but they had some super cute cardigans, cashmere sweaters, knit tops and dresses.

Well as they say all good things must come to an end so we made our way back to the train station to go back home again. It was so much fun to just kind of wander through Paris! I didn't feel any pressure to see everything in the rain because the plan is for me to come back hopefully more than once before I leave so I can see more things. I will also feel more confident now if I venture out maybe the first Sunday in September to see the Louvre (it is free that day!), maybe I will be able to find someone to go with me. In three days I leave for London and how exciting is THAT in and of itself, but even more fun and exciting to me is that I will get to meet one of my longest best internet friends!! I'm so very very blessed, God has done EXCEEDINGLY abundantly above and beyond all that I could even imagine. I'm so grateful for these incredible opportunities He has given me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

church and Senlis

I have decided I know French better than Polish. :P Or at least I can guess at it better! It's much easier, I'm SO glad I didn't go to Poland for a mission trip. Just being in the airport I found it such a relief because I felt like I could almost read the signs!! Polish just looks like garbledy gook to me. French still SOUNDS like garbledy gook a lot to me but at least I can read the signs!

Today was my first visit to the church here with the Crosses! Their church is a little bit away from their village in a town called Nogent-sur-Oise. It is really cute and Charles said it is unusual for a protestant church to actually HAVE a church building, a lot of them meet in hotels and such. I did not get pictures because we were super busy but hope to get some next Sunday. They actually have a very decent sized Sunday morning crowd! I think the normal attendance is around 120 he said. Very respectable methinks. :) I helped Emma and Claire with a little Sunday School kind of thing during the sermon and they did so well for a 9 & 11 year old! I'm so proud of them. :) We played a few games and sang some songs, and the girls even told the story of Paul & Silas in prison. At the very end we also managed to teach them a Bible verse.

After the service Amy dropped me off in a town called Senlis for a little sightseeing. I was a little nervous going on my own since I can't speak french at all but Amy gave me her phone and dropped me at the big Cathédrale and said we'd meet back there. It was actually kind of fun!! After I admired the Cathédrale and took lots of pictures as surreptitiously as possible I went across the street to the Office de Tourismé. I got a little map of the town there and she pointed me in the direction of the Château Royal next door and the Musée de la Vénerie and Musée des Spahis. It only cost €2 to see all of it so I figured might as well! The Musée des Spahis was kind of lame, all it had was some different uniforms and a few weapons, and was all of two rooms. The Parc et vestiges du Château Royal was really nice! A pretty little park and you could see the wall that goes around the city. It was pretty cool to think that's been there for hundreds of years. I went in the Musée de la Vénerie which was about hunting and had some paintings. It was again kind of mehh but hey I saw it! The bummer was that everything was in french and the only english was this tiny little pamphlet that hardly told me anything about them that I couldn't tell from looking. After that I wandered a few streets but most of the shops and things were closed between the fact it was a Sunday and it is August (most of France goes on holiday in August!). I did find a little bakery though and managed to buy a chocolate eclair with the only three french words I know (bonjour, un, and merci :D). It was a VERY yummy eclair! I did take pictures and for those you need to go to my Picasa album as usual as I don't want to make a two hundred foot long post with all of them. :)

Tonight for dinner Charles did another really cool salad with lettuce, nectarines, some kind of cheese, some nuts and a dressing he made to go with salmon on a bed of some other random hodge podge of veggies (tomatoes, purple onions and capers for sure). I'm looooving the new foods! It's so fun.

Well this week should be busy! Hoping everyone at home is doing well. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

au revoir Poland! ;)

Wow so we did make it safely back to Aprémont with all five children and all 16 pieces of luggage and assorted pillows. :) I'm sorry to confess I did doubt God could get us through a time or two but in my human weakness I thought surely this is not going to happen. But it did!! To start with our bus to the airport was about fifteen minutes late arriving at the hotel to take us. This was okay I thought because we had plenty of cushion time once we arrived. We were leaving around 10 AM and our flight didn't leave until 2 PM and it was just under a 2 hour drive to the airport, no biggee right? Hah. We got there and the domestic terminal was on the FAR END of the airport and we had to walk all the way down only to find we had to go UP stairs to get to it. Where is the ADA when you need them?? :P Man oh man they'd have a hay day in Europe. We ended up unloading all the suitcases off the carts we had, carrying them up the stairs, and reloading onto new carts. Then we went to check in and it took FOREVER as it did last time to get it all done. Apparently they had trouble running Thomas's passport, like it didn't show up in their system which is ridiculous since he's already flown more than once with it. In the end they only checked him into the flight from Kraków to Warsaw and we would have to check him in again there. It was also an ordeal for them to try to find us all seats together. By the time all this was done we had just under an hour before our flight was supposed to board and we still had to eat lunch. The hotel had given us lunches to bring and eat so that was super nice and we enjoyed opening those up but as you can imagine with that many little guys it takes awhile to eat lunch, go to the potty and get ready to get on the plane. By now we are pushing 15 minutes til boarding and still have to go through security. As we are just about to head through the lady from the airline counter runs up and asks for our passports again because she has to do one more thing. When she comes back she says for us to hurry because they are boarding now! It is NOT an easy task to hurry five kids through security along with three laptops (those all have to be pulled out of bags you know), a stroller and cranky baby. I had been holding Audrey because she'd been fussy and Amy was still finishing up so we got everybody through but me and Charles and then Amy came back out and got Audrey. We finally got through all that and reassembled everything only to realize that this stupid tiny airport in Kraków is one that you have to ride a stupid bus to the plane. So then we have to load everyone onto the bus and hang on to kids so they don't fall over. We finally got everyone all on the plane and situated and Amy says "don't you just breathe a sigh of relief when we all get settled in on the plane??" Yeah. Definitely. Thomas asked to sit by me and we had a good time on our short flight. :) He is SO stinking CUTE!!!

The flight from Kraków to Warsaw is only like 30 minutes long which seems hardly worth all the effort to get on and off the plane. :P But it was what we had to do so we did it. When we got to Warsaw we only had ONE HOUR before our flight was to leave for Paris and we had to go through security AGAIN and get Thomas checked in! The security line was INSANE. They only had ONE ROW open in this airport and there were like a hundred people all waiting to get in. We weren't the only ones in a time crunch either as people kept running up to the front, some barging their way into the line ahead and others begging to be allowed as their flights were already boarding. The two big ones were a Chicago flight that was boarding right then and the Paris flight we were trying to get on which was in fifteen minutes by the time we got to the front. We finally made it through security once more and got to the gate to get Thomas checked in which took just about the rest of the spare time we had. Amy had hoped to get the kids to the bathroom before the flight but didn't find one close and our flight started boarding so we had to skip it. They were kind and allowed us to board first so we got everyone in place before the masses started pushing their way on. As soon as the plane got good and off the ground I went to sleep. I think I slept an hour, it was so good!! I would have loved more but shortly thereafter we began landing preparations. Charles and Amy kept asking me this week if I was exhausted yet after various things and I was able to answer honestly not yet but last night and tonight I AM.

The rest of the trip was not as interesting, just gathering all the suitcases and getting them to the car, then unloading everything at the house. I've got my stuff mostly unpacked and dirty clothes ready to be washed as I've just gone about two weeks since I had that opportunity last! Yeah it's about time. :P I'm pretty tired so I think I'm going to at least get my teeth brushed and whatnot. Love to all my peoples at home!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today's been another good day for spiritual food as I was able to attend the sessions this morning. Audrey stayed in childcare in her stroller and slept so Amy and I were both free to go. I didn't realize it but the main speaker this week is actually someone who works in a closed country that doesn't allow missionaries, and he has been going by only a first name which I've been told isn't even his real name even at this conference so far away. That's just how careful he has to be to prevent word from getting to the wrong people about what he does. I think a lot this week I've been lulled into forgetting about how dangerous some missionaries have it because so many have it so "good". In closing this morning the whole entire group of missionaries gathered around him and his wife to lay hands on him and pray. If I've heard correctly he has been beaten many times and has had to have his face partially reconstructed with metal plates (or that might have been a different missionary here). I feel so blessed to be among these people this week! I know they are just humans like the rest of us but something special about the ones God has out there in full time ministry away from homes, friends, and family and even more so the ones who are being persecuted for it!!

I've had about five different people today say "Don't you feel called to minister to the people of _____". :) Some in jest, some earnest, some a mixture of the two. I got to the point where I just laughed and said that I hadn't felt that calling YET. I know better than to say never to God. :) I still don't really feel any leading to full time mission work even after being here but I certainly haven't closed the door on it in the future. I just don't know yet where God is leading me! I do know that I reaaaaaally want to help them with their missionary retreat later this year but I don't know how logistically it could work. Does anyone want to teach a children's program maybe somewhat like CI or CMT for missionary kids at a retreat in the Swiss Alps around Oct 29 through the beginning of November? :) I don't see myself doing it alone for sure. If anyone is seriously interested in helping (with or without me lol) then please let me know and I will get you more details on it!

One of the other things that struck me today as I looked around at the missionaries were the great variety of shapes and sizes that they come in. There are both old and young, some that just LOOK like missionaries (don't ask me why!) and some that look like businessmen or college students. Some married, some single...God calls all kinds of people! This morning they were mentioning a family and I didn't catch what country they are in but the husband is a potter and has an art studio or shop of some kind, and has had amazing results witnessing to the people who come in to buy his work. What an awesome tent making business that also helps you fish for souls!! I think it's been so interesting and so encouraging to hear how missionaries a lot of times live relatively similar lives to the rest of us -- they wash their own dishes, have to grocery shop, go to the bank etc but use these opportunities to build relationships and trust with people so that they can eventually invite them to church and talk to them about Jesus. Why don't I do that more? We are ALL missionaries right where we live. It really is a lot about lifestyle evangelism! Bringing Jesus with us to our every day activities. One of the things we discussed in session this morning was how we can do this more and I know I've got a unique opportunity as a nanny at home to talk to other mothers and caregivers at the park, at Chickfila, at the mall...in fact I did get to do just that a few weeks ago at a park, the woman appeared to be Muslim and SHE struck up the conversation with ME. We didn't get to chat long before I had to leave because a kid hurt himself but it is exactly the kind of thing I should take advantage of to share God with others.

Well pray for us if you think about us in the middle of the night haha!! We are off to the airport around 10 AM local time, then a 2:25 flight to Warsaw, and a 4:15 flight to Paris. We only have an HOUR between our flight arriving in Warsaw and leaving again so I hope it's enough time and the first one isn't too late leaving!! :-/ Traveling with kids is stressful enough even at a ration of 5 kids to 3 adults. Hopefully it will all work out well though and we will be back "home" again in France and get some rest this weekend. Or so I hope. I have no idea what the agenda is. :) Have a good evening all my peoples at home in the States!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I keep debating whether or not to blog each night but then it turns out I always have plenty to say! I can't tell if it's just because a lot is happening here at the conference or if it's going to be like this the whole time but regardless here is today's recap. :)

I kept Audrey this morning for Amy while she went to the first session and then we caught the end of the second session before lunch. After that Amy wanted a nap so she let me take sleeping baby in her stroller and we went to my room and enjoyed the rain with the door to the balcony open. It was soooo refreshing and I loved hearing the thunder. Audrey didn't seem to mind it and slept right through. I was able to have a neat little chat with Sarah too so that was a happy time! I haven't been able to talk much to friends since I've been here between the time difference and CMT conference. I was able to talk to my mom a bit last night and a couple of nights ago. After that Amy said I could have a little over an hour off to myself before she wanted to go to another session and I thought wow what I can do!! I ended up napping to the sound of more rain and thunder and being awakened by more IMs. :) Jonathan was just catching me on his way out the door for the day. I was glad to have the little contact with two different friends today as it made me feel much more connected.

I had only been with Audrey for about ten or fifteen minutes before Charles came in and said he was skipping a session to take a nap and I could have some MORE down time. I was thrilled because Alicia Chole had another session and I was dying to sit in on more of her stuff. When that was over I once again had a few more minutes before they needed me for dinner so I went down to check out the gift shop. They have a really spiffy one here at the hotel. Too bad I don't know how much all this stuff is in US$!! :D I have a feeling it's like dirt cheap but I don't know for sure...I bought some postcards but now I don't know how to mail them. It's really rough because the people here at the hotel don't tend to speak much english and there are hardly any signs or papers with any kind of english on it.

It has been downright chilly today!! I'm not sure the exact temp but I'm guessing it's close to 50 now. Incredible weather to me a Houston gal who is used to it not dropping below 75 at night during the summer. :) Loving this!!!

This evening we had dinner with a missionary from Greece. He is apparently actually Greek himself and has dual citizenship. He was one of 6 boys, they were missionary kids and out of those 5 of them are now missionaries themselves!! I found that to be sooo encouraging and amazing in a time when Satan is fighting families so hard, particularly men and ESPECIALLY those on the front lines for God, and here is a family that stayed strong. Just one of the many incredibly awesome stories I've been able to hear this week. I am LOVING being able to mix and mingle with missionaries in a way you don't normally get to. One of them even asked me if I'd come back to the conference next year! :D I said you know I'd be totally interested in coming back but we'll just have to see what happens right? Amy said she was thinking about whether or not she'd like to have another baby and didn't think after Audrey she could manage. Then she said "buuuut if Megan would come back and commit for a whole YEAR now THEN I could have another baby! So I guess it all depends on if Megan will come??" Hahahaha...

Something else that's happened because of this trip is I picked up a book called "Who Has Your Heart?" by Emily Ryan who is actually from Houston. It's for single women and really some of the most straightforward talk I've heard, it's so refreshing. It's based on Jepthah's daughter in the Bible. Yeah that tiny little passage. I can't wait to share it with some of my friends! I picked it up off the swap table they have for the missionaries (Amy told me I should check for some books because she brought a ton and the cute little old lady in charge was BEGGING me to take lots of them home; I felt kind of bad and like I should just borrow them and return so someone else can read them but Amy insisted I should take it home with me to share) and I've been reading it while Audrey naps to pass the time. Wow. It's super excellent and I'm loving it.

Tonight I have my room all to myself because Charles & Amy went to visit friends on another floor and we put them all to bed in their own room so I could babysit them altogether. I liked sharing my room but it's also easier getting up in the morning without being afraid I'll wake someone. Thomas slept right through the first night but Emma I think woke when my alarm went off this morning. :) Anyway for now I'm chilling on my laptop and now I'm chatting with Melody (score!! 3rd wonderful friend conversation of the day after so long of nothing!!) and waiting for them to come back so I can go to bed. I think I'm officially changed to the right timezone now because I am READY for bed at 10ish and feel decently rested even as early as 6:30, or did until this morning. I think I'm just getting tired again because I'm getting only 6ish hours of sleep at night and running all day long and I KNOW my body does better on 8, or at least 7. Hopefully I can catch back up this weekend after we get back to France. Good night dear friends and family. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Audrey did a little better today! She really likes listening to music while she sleeps so I set up my iPhone (which is in airplane mode but today I realized this doesn't prevent me from turning on wifi!) playing the Galkins and Steve Pettit in the room where she slept. :) She still had trouble when the people came back once again from wherever in the middle of the afternoon and were super loud and noisy stomping away in the room above us. I ended up finally having to pick her up and calm her down and then she was happy. She will be better once we get back to her home I'm sure.

The food here at the hotel is really and truly amazing. They have a chocolate mousse every evening with dinner that is like WOW and all these fried foods haha. Last night they had fried BROCCOLI. I felt a little better because I thought only Americans could take an otherwise healthy food like an onion and fry it. I keep thinking surely I'm going to gain a ton of weight while we are here but then I remind myself that the main conference room is on the 6th floor, our room is on the 3rd floor, dining is on the 1st floor, and today the ladies had lunch on the 8th floor. And I haven't been using the elevators except for when I have the stroller because they take too long. Surely it all works out in the end right?? :) The weather is also absolutely fantastic, I wish I could have it be like this all the time! The window stays open in my room and the temperature is never too hot or too cold.

This morning I started out with Audrey after breakfast and Amy went to the ladies session for a little bit. We worked out a phone system because only one of the cell phones can send texts and she left me the one that could send and she took the one that can only receive so I could let her know when Audrey woke up to eat. When she came in to feed her she encouraged me to go into the session because it was super good and said she'd try to bring Audrey in the stroller after she finished. I went ahead and got in and she was talking about "Whispers from God". They were so very very convicting!! I didn't have anything to write with at the time so I'm trying to write things down as I think of them and hope to look at Amy's points she was able to get. We were still in and out with the baby so we didn't get all of it but it was sooo amazing. If you get a chance to look up Alicia Britt Chole please do! She apparently gave her testimony this morning about being an atheist and getting saved in her 20s. It's an amazing story I hear. From the rest of her lesson I was so very encouraged, I have already ordered two of her books. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to hear her speak a little more before she leaves Wednesday. Please pray Audrey will be good!! :) I'm also giving up the regular mascara and pulling out the waterproof for the rest of the week. :P

We went to the water park again today and the girls got me on the slides. The first one was pretty fun but the second empties into a kind of toilet bowl type swirly thing and is oh-my-gosh scary!! I was not thrilled about that one and probably won't do it again. :P Claire kind of tricked me into doing it anyway. I asked her how deep the pool was at the bottom and she kind of hesitated and said "it's not too bad". I said "how deep!" She said "it's not TOO deep!" I sighed and went for it anyway. Yeah it must be like 10 ft. :P I hate those because you feel like it's going to take forever to hit the bottom and come back up!!

I'm really enjoying being in the company of so many missionaries. I know they are just normal people like the rest of us but there is something special about people who have been called to leave family and friends and home and what we like to think of as "financial security" and good jobs to come live a life of hardship and sacrifice. Sometimes I think I have problems, well I don't have half of what some of these people have to face. Some of them deal with the same trials I have on top of being separated from family. It's been so neat to listen to them as they are having a week of refreshing and so many of them are good friends. It feels like a big family reunion! And they are all so open and receptive to a new person. It's really been a neat time.

Well I think I'm going to climb into bed. The sun keeps coming up around 4:30 and this hotel does not have decent darkening shades on the windows. I spend 4:30-6:30 tossing and turning because it's so bright in my room. :( Oh well! This is my sacrifice this week right? ;)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It feels so bizarre to me to think about where I'm at. In Picasa I've been tagging my photos with locations and looking at the map it just kind of astounds me to think. I'm in one of those little places you might hear about during the Winter Olympics, and some sad little story about this olympian who had the worst life ever and here is where they lived. Okay maybe not exactly but for some reason when I think of Poland I think of Winter Olympics. It's just how my strange little mind works. Oh and I forgot to point out last post that Wisla is pronounced Vee-swa or something like that. It gets super confusing to me but they seem kind of picky about it. ;P It also throws me for a loop to get Facebook ads in whatever language I'm currently in (French and Polish so far) and even Blogspot picks up on my location and some of the site changes language accordingly. Very crazy.

I think I've finally met my match with Audrey! She is the first baby I've not been able to quickly identify the secret to calming down. She gets soooo worked up and did it several times today. I'm convinced there has to be a secret to it, I just have to figure it out! Hopefully she will be better tomorrow. I know that yesterday was a traumatic day with the plane and bus, so today was super difficult. Maybe she will be a little more settled.

We went to the indoor water park today and Thomas and I played in the wave pool while the girls went with Charles to check out some of the slides and things. It was pretty fun and Thomas is quite the little fish! I didn't realize at first it was the wave pool because it cycles between just a pool with fountains and this wild wave thing. It took us off guard when it first started up and I know how much Joel gets nervous in the water so I was right beside him in a flash to scoop him up out of the water, but when he came up he was laughing and not crying. It made ME nervous because the waves were pretty big and he kept getting knocked over by them but he kept going back for more. :D The only major negative I found was that it seems Polish men prefer to wear speedos. Ew.

Thomas and Sophie are definitely my little buddies. :) It really helps that they are stinking cute and pretty good kids. Tonight the big girls went swimming with friends and Thomas and Sophie had to get ready for bed so I was helping them while Amy nursed Audrey. She was still trying to get her down for the night and said they'd probably like to hear a story so I made a very feeble attempt that was pretty lame because I stole someone's lines about Jimmy and wild chicken. They both decided then that they wanted to tell me stories too. At one point it was soooooo funny because Thomas was trying to tell an "important" (serious) story and not a funny one. He'd compose himself and say "once upon a time"...and he'd look at Sophie and say "don't Sophie!" and then burst into giggles. I tried to get some of it on video. He cracks me up because he is so very proper in his pronunciations, and then he'll randomly switch into French on me and I can't understand what he's saying. :P Tonight I helped him with his pajamas and said "is that good?" and he said something in French. All I caught was "bien" which is good so I thought it was fine. Claire laughed and said "he said it's NOT good". For a special treat since Thomas and Sophie didn't get to go with the big girls tonight I said they could sleep in my room with me. Sophie backed out at the last minute but Thomas is sleeping away on a palette in the floor. :) It's fun to have a little buddy who is as loving as Joel! It helps me not miss him too much.

Well I'm going to quietly get ready for bed and hit the hay. Gotta be up early again tomorrow. I'm just wishing I could figure out a way to get real bottled water instead of this nasty fizzy junk they keep giving us in our rooms. Ick.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

the journey to Wisla, Poland!

What an adventuresome day we had today!! I’ve never flown with kids before and always pitied those who did, especially the mother who had two little ones and all the assorted gear that goes along with munchkins and how did they ever manage to get through security and on and off the plane without going mad. I have an even greater appreciation for those women today! The morning didn’t start off so well when Audrey began screaming half an hour before we were set to leave. Thankfully I was able to take her and calm her down for Amy while they finished last minute preparations and loading the van. We were just about set to load up the last of the bags and the van wouldn’t start. A few moments spent pulling the cars out so that it could be jumped and we were back in business thankfully and off we went to the airport.
While there was virtually no traffic driving to the airport we quickly found that it was indeed a very busy travel day for France. First unloading the suitcases and bags was no small feat, Amy pushing the stroller with baby Audrey inside and Sophie and Thomas clinging to each arm, and Claire and I each had carts piled with suitcases while Charles parked the car. We made quite the processional. :) Once inside there were OH so MANY people!!! I don’t know where the heaviest flights were headed but it wasn’t our counter. Instead they were all wrapping lines around so much that no one knew where one line ended and the next began and it was pretty much mass chaos as people pushed and shoved their way through looking for where they needed to be. After two or three stops to ask questions at various ticketing counters we finally found where our airline was supposed to check baggage in and we got into that line. It moved fairly quickly until WE got to the front. Then the lady was so confused between how many of us there were, the baby, the nanny, who had checked suitcases and which ones belonged to who. We had only just finished sorting through all of it and getting it all checked in when Charles finally made it back from parking. He joked about what great timing he had. Of course that was only the beginning!

Next we had to make it through security, which if you’ve traveled in the last two or three years you know what an undertaking that has become. One must essentially half undress, removing belts and shoes, emptying pockets, pulling laptops out of bags, etc. etc. This plus a stroller and baby, who had so far been perfect and sleeping, but I was worried would wake up screaming again at any time. Thankfully she didn’t seem much disturbed by being pulled out of her seat and patted down (gotta watch those two month olds, never know when they might be trying to smuggle liquids or fingernail clippers on board!). By the time all of this completed we only had half an hour to kill before our plane was to begin boarding. God is good for allowing us just enough time!! Somewhere in here Emma was kind enough to point out to me that once again she approved of my outfit. She is such a mess always telling me how romantically I dress. I’m glad I haven’t let her down so far since she has such high expectations of me now. :D
All along the way in the airport it was amusing to me that our little travel party seemed to grow. There were several other missionaries with GEM headed out on the same flight with us. The Williamsons had been scheduled on an earlier flight but it was cancelled and they were rerouted to ours. I thought that was kind of fun. A Candian pastor who has apparently done some work with Charles and the gypsies was also there.
Getting on the plane was another small task but didn’t go as badly as it could have. We got settled into our seats and waited about twenty minutes before the plane actually took off. I’m not sure what the deal is but so far every flight I’ve been on this trip has been so late leaving the airport! Maybe this is typical of an international flight but I know when I’ve flown domestically the last couple of years we’re usually good about taking off right on time or even five minutes early so that was kind of annoying. Patience IS a virtue however. :) Once we got to Krakow we had to walk down the stairs off the plane and get into a bus like Germany only the airport was like so close we really could have just walked. In fact by the time our crew got off the plane and on the bus the others could probably have walked to the terminal and back again. Krakow is not a very large airport so we were able to fairly easily use the bathroom, collect our suitcases and find the bus we were supposed to get on for Wisla and the hotel.
The bus was pretty nice!! I think it was more comfortable than all the planes I’ve been in this week. Thomas sat by me this time and it was a lot of fun. It was most everyone’s first time in Poland so that made me feel more a part of the group to get to experience something new with everyone instead of being the only newbie in the bunch. :) We oohed and ahhed over the beautiful scenery as we drove through. Although I’d seen photos online and heard about the hotel from another missionary I was still amazed when we got to the hotel. It is one of the biggest hotels I’ve ever seen! I don’t have a lot of pictures of the hotel yet but I hope to get some more soon. The one annoying thing is that GEM told us we shouldn’t drink the tap water but the free bottles of water in our rooms are icky bubbly water. That’s not very satisfying at all when you are thirsty! I’m leaving mine open to see if it will go flat. :P Does it work like that? I figured it’s worth a shot anyway!
Mealtime is apparently going to be quite the experience all week! It’s this extraordinary buffet and I liked everything I put in my mouth. There were “turkey nuggets”, potato dumplings, penne in a white sauce with mushrooms, vegetables, salad, and much much more that I can’t even remember. The dessert spread was just as amazing!! Charles told Emma when she asked to go get some that she should be moderate, and then Amy said “go get one of everything so we can try it all and decide what to get!” Emma being quite literal did just that and came back with two bowls full of a little of everything! We all tasted a bit of this and that and then went back for our own bowls. :D My favorite part was the chocolate mousse complete with dark chocolate curls on top. There were several other very yummy things that I have absolutely no idea what they are because all the signs are in Polish. It was soooo yummy.
There was an opening kind of session tonight that I got to sit in on part of. There is childcare available for all the children down to Audrey and Amy said she hopes for me to be able to attend some of their sessions. We started out with everyone in their classes but as if I was worried about job security the nursery came within ten minutes to get Amy because Audrey (who had been angel ALL DAY after her first little screaming fit that morning) was crying. Amy calmed her down and then brought her to me and I took her out so she could sit in on some of the service. She fussed a tiny bit at the beginning but I talked to her and within moments she was grinning, cooing and even laughing at me. As it got closer to 8 she did get hungry and fussy but I was glad to see she did not scream or become inconsolable with me. Bless their hearts in the nursery but I’m thinking they maybe don’t take care of babies a lot or something. :)
Well breakfast comes early (it starts at 7!) and I think I want to try to get this posted and still get some sleep. I can’t get internet in my room, I have to go to a public area of the hotel which is lame but I guess it’s better than none at all! We’ll see how much I can post the rest of this week as I’m supposed to help with Audrey so that Charles and Amy can do their jobs here at the conference. Charles is the GEM director in France so I think that makes him kind of important. :) The one thing so far that amuses me is while there are a lot of people here for the conference it still seems to have a small church family feel to it because everyone seems to know who I am, even the ones I don’t remember meeting. :D This week should be pretty epic!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Starting with last night I finally began to feel useful! Today continued that trend. It was Emma's birthday today so of course there was much to do between making the day a party for her and packing for Poland. There were lots of little odd jobs to do like helping Sophie with her "restaurant" where we made crepes for everyone (I had never had them, and we didn't make them from scratch just put things in them and warmed it up), washing Daisy the dog so she was ready for her trip to stay with friends while we are gone, and helping with dinner and cleanup. We ended up with lots of extra company for dinner!! It was funny every time we added someone, I ran downstairs to check the freezer for more frozen pizzas. :) It turned out pretty yummy though I think because we had started out with little pita pizzas and had extra toppings so I threw those on the frozen pizzas. They were much better that way!

It was my first day to finally feel human or normal again. The first two nights even though I slept very well and had no trouble going to sleep I just couldn't seem to feel up to par during the day. Finally around 5 PM yesterday it was like a switch flipped and I thought "hey I don't feel like my eyes are constantly crossed!" Today all day I felt great and didn't even take a nap. :) Yay me!!

Well I'm going to get ready for bed and get some sleep before we have to be up and out early in the morning! Apparently it's a super busy travel day for France tomorrow as everyone goes out of town for August, and we get to drive to the airport in it and then fly out haha. Oh boy. :) I came for an adventure didn't I??

Thursday, July 29, 2010

day two

I don't think I'll always be able to blog every day (surely not enough exciting things to talk about EVERY day for 66 days right??) but for a little bit I have a lot of firsts so here goes today. We went to the grocery store today and how different it was to be in a store where everything is in a language you can't understand! Some things are easy to pick up on but I was trying to imagine doing a whole shopping trip like I would at home in Walmart or HEB for our family and it was kind of a scary thought. I found it interesting that the set up of the stores felt more like the malls we saw in St. Lucia where there are several different stores all together, your clothing store and shoe store and the grocery store but they are separate things all in the same building. To get your grocery cart you have to insert a coin (or a fake one) into the handle to unlock it from the others, then when you bring it back and hook it back up it gives you the coin back. There are also no bags, you have to bring your own. Another scary thought for large shopping trips!!

By the time we got home I was miserably sleepy again. I really don't know exactly how it works that I can get a full night's sleep (I had no trouble going to sleep last night and staying asleep) and still feel like that in the afternoon! I slept for an hour and finally about 6 PM Paris time I began to feel more human again. Great, that means it was about 11 AM at home in Houston so obviously my body is on Houston time. So once again it rings true that it isn't always about how MUCH sleep you get but WHEN you get it.

A new missionary family that is trying to get established here came for dinner tonight and the Crosses also invited a good neighbor-friend to come eat. We had pork tenderloin, salad, rice, steamed broccoli, and bread. After we had eaten plenty of that they brought out a platter with several different cheeses for us to all try and more bread. Ohhh it was so yummy!! I don't remember what all cheeses there were but one was walnut, one had pepper, one was bleu, and a couple of others. THEN we had some dessert and coffee. The company was fun too!! I have to find out how to spell the neighbor's name but she is so sweet and fun. She showed me how to kiss each cheek and pronounced me French. :) She speaks some English so between her English and Charles & Amy's French we can all get along just fine. I can hear them now all discussing the language and culture with the other family. It's pretty interesting.

It is rather chilly today! During the heat of the day it was gorgeous but now that the sun is going down it's actually a bit chilly. We are going to Wisla, Poland for the conference this weekend and I expect it will stay similar temperatures (70s in day, 50s at night). The hotel looks amazing!! It's going to be such an experience. We will be at the Hotel Golebiewski, I don't think I've ever been anywhere so fancy. :)

Well tomorrow is Emma's birthday! She is turning 9. We are supposed to do some crepes and pita pizza I think. If you could pray for baby Audrey, Amy is really working with her trying to get her to sleep. She does these little cat naps a lot and doesn't really sleep good. Last night was good but tonight has been rough with the company. It would be good if she can get this figured out for our trip! I know Amy is very tired constantly dealing with the baby.

Thinking and praying for all my people at CMT this weekend!! Hope it goes super well. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

day one :)

So last night when I was typing up that post I was literally falling asleep as I typed. I don't know when the last time I've been so sleepy I did that!! I don't remember anything all night until there was a knock on my door and a sweet voice was calling "Megan! It's 10 o'clock, time to get up!" Amy had sent Thomas to wake me so I could try to adjust to the right timezone. :) I had slept a full solid 12 hours (YAY for me Sarah yes?? :D) and would have kept right on! She taught me how to use their awesome little coffeemaker and I made a nice big cup of coffee before I went outside to get in the sun and try to teach my body what the new time is. The coffee is very good!! The machine looks a bit like this one:

I took my cup outside with Thomas to the trampoline. We weren't out there for terribly wrong before Amy reminded us that Thomas's collarbone was broken very recently and the trampoline was probably a bad idea until it healed. We decided to come inside and play some games, so we played Chutes & Ladders and Candyland. I made them count in French when we played Chutes & Ladders and they had to say the colors in French when we played Candyland, so I can now count to five but the colors were a little less easy. ;) Oh well keep trying yes? Numbers are probably more important for me right now than colors anyway. It's really fun though because most of the time I ask what something is in French and Sophie and Thomas can tell me.

I promise tomorrow to try to take some pictures of the kids and the house/yard. It's such a neat little place!! We played until about 2 or so and then had a rest time. I took a little nap, IM'd a few people (as it was finally morning hours in the US) and back to playing we went. Dinner and dishes and bedtime routines completed I'm down here in my room again. I keep eying the bookshelf in here which has at least half a dozen interesting sounding books on it. I might just be able to get through one or two of those these next two months. :)

For all those at home in Houston, be very jealous...the high tomorrow is 70 I think. ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the trip begins :)

This post is going to be kind of long so if you read nothing else here is what has gone through my mind over the last 24 hours:
1) 90% of female flight attendants are stuck in some horrific outdated hair decade. I can't decide what it is but it's frightening how many of them there are.
2) why is it everyone uses black suitcases? It makes luggage pickup entirely too dull if I'm the only one with bright colors.
3) airplane food is still lame
4) Europeans are way too into the skinny jeans thing which does not look flattering on ANYONE. And most CERTAINLY not on guys. Yet almost every guy that passed me in the airport (that wasn't in a suit) was in them. Ew.

To save myself time I'm not going to include photos in my posts but if you go to my Picasa page you can look at the pictures I've been taking (complete with captions).

Thanks to some heavy storms that moved through around 2 PM the airport traffic got backed up and our plane was late getting in and getting ready for us and subsequently late leaving. It was scheduled for 4:35 PM and we took off right at 6. Against my better judgement I took a tiny nap before dinner was served so it took the edge off my sleepyness (I only slept 4-5 hours the night before hoping that would help). After we had eaten dinner I met the man sitting in the row with me (nobody sat in the middle so we got a little extra space yay!). It turned into one of the most fascinating conversations I've ever had. He was originally from Slovakia and came to the US when he was 17. He married, had three boys, and takes frequent visits home. He was a Christian and you could tell by his opinions. :D It was a really cool time and he was super nice which was a comfort somehow. It was my first time to take such a long flight, and to do it alone so I was glad to have a nice person to talk to.

We finally made it into Frankfurt (a little late still despite the pilot's best efforts to catch up on our time). It was kind of weird because apparently they ran out of gates or maybe they do this with all the big planes but they parked out wherever and bussed us to the airport. The buses were packed like sardines. :P When we made it to the actual airport I looked multiple times at my boarding pass I'd printed from home and knew I needed to be at gate A24. I was pretty easily able to locate that gate with a good half hour or 40 minutes to spare and noticed the sign said "Prague". No worries I thought to myself, that's where the plane has just come from and those people getting off it. About 5 minutes to boarding time I hear the announcement to board but it's for the Prague flight. I run to the Lufthansa counter, show him my pass and he looks it up. Oh no he says I need A36 they must have changed it, but you better hurry! Ugh, I had to go another long ways down to get to A36 and just got there in the nick of time to start boarding with the rest of them. No sooner than I got settled on the plane and we started taxiing to the runway and my eyes began to close involuntarily. I seriously have never had this happen but I think I just completely passed out and didn't even notice the take off. I woke up right as they were making the rounds with drinks feeling only slightly better.

I got off the plane in Paris and headed for baggage claim to see the most bizarre looking set up I've ever seen in real life. I hope to get a picture of it on my way home as surely I will be slightly less stressed. They have all these moving walkways in little bubble tunnel enclosures that weave in and out of each other in this dome shape. It seriously reminded me of something out of a sci-fi movie. I didn't get lost, located my suitcases and found Bro. Charles with Sophie and Thomas. They took to me right away which makes me feel oh so good. :) Sophie has dragged me by the hand all day chattering about this and that and Thomas occasionally pops up with his two cents. They are way too cute. :)

Well I'm running on about 6 hours of sleep in the last two days and not sure how much for the whole weekend. Not nearly enough!! I'm going off to bed. Love to all of you, thanks so much for the prayers!! If you want a prayer card still ask my mom about them Sunday.