Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, we hardly knew ye

When I look back at this year, I am completely amazed. Amazed that we survived it, amazed that our whole lives have changed, amazed at God’s faithfulness. Mostly that last one. I’ve been terrible at keeping up on here this year because of everything that’s been going on… so here is my condensed look at our year:

-We had just turned down a job offer that would have moved us to Midland. We finally had some peace in our lives and looked forward to a peaceful year ahead of us…
-We bought our plane tickets to Europe, thus making the trip official. There’s no backing out when you have non-refundable plane tickets.
-We were contacted by PR regarding the youth ministry position. So much for our peaceful year.

-We began the interview process with PR.

-PR offered Lance the job… and we accepted. Peaceful year? What peaceful year?
-We told God that we were following where he called us… and that because of that, we were trusting him to handle the details (like, oh, say… where we’ll live!).

-We began the painful process of telling Legacy folk that we were leaving. We cried a lot.
-Lance led singing for his last few times at Legacy.
-We began packing up our house to get it ready to put on the market.

-Since we had already purchased the aforementioned non-refundable plane tickets, we went to Europe… despite the fact that we had JUST started at PR and our lives were so crazy. We become trans-Atlantic travelers for the first time ever. We had a wonderful trip and totally enjoyed ourselves.
-As soon as we got back, summer stuff began at PR.

-We celebrated 4 years of marriage.
-We put our house on the market.
-My little sister got married.
-Lance was gone an awful lot.

-Our house was still on the market.
-Lance was still gone an awful lot.
-We began looking at houses in Arlington.

-Our house was still on the market, and we began seriously looking at houses in Arlington. We spent every Sunday afternoon touring homes.

-I got an email in the middle of church one Sunday morning that we’d gotten an offer on our house. After reading through that offer, we realized it was someone we knew from Legacy… and that his agent was someone from Legacy… and we cried and thanked the Lord.
-We began packing… like REALLY packing.
-We were still looking at houses and struggling to find something we loved.
-We began starting down the barrel of selling our house without having somewhere to go and making arrangements to stay with Lance’s mom short-term.

-We made an offer on a house that we liked but didn’t love.
-We found another house like a week later that we LOVED and made an offer.
-I worked my tail off and gathered every bit of financial documentation about us in 24 hours (and let me tell you – they required a LOT of financial documentation!).
-We packed up our entire lives.
-We closed on the house 3 weeks later. We got an amazing interest rate and a great price… and we bought our house from another CoC minster. Coincidence? Doubtful.
-We moved into our lovely new house on Halloween weekend. Still can’t believe we ever thought it would be a peaceful year!

-We had two youth retreats in November – one being the weekend immediately following moving into our house. Yeesh. That was stressful.
-We hired a painter to paint all of our common rooms during Thanksgiving week. What a difference that made! It started feeling like OUR house.
-We unpacked.
-We began shopping for Christmas.

-We took our trip to NYC.
-We unpacked.
-We put up all of our Christmas stuff which made it look so much more like a home, and we finished up our Christmas shopping about two weeks before Christmas and got everything wrapped and under the tree.
-We celebrated our first Christmas in our new home, and we enjoyed time with both of our families.

We’re still not done unpacking, and there’s wall painting and floor tiling to be done still… but it’s starting to really feel like home. We have singlehandedly kept fast food businesses in the black this year with how much we’ve eaten there. We can barely button our pants (but we do intend to change that)… but we survived it. At times this year, our marriage felt like a business arrangement as we did our dead-level best just to keep up with everything… but looking back, I feel like we’re stronger because of it. We followed where the Lord called us, and He blessed us.

God is so faithful to His children. In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 is to begin a journal of stories of God’s faithfulness in my life. I believe in and worship a God who continues to move and act in my life. He’s not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He’s also MY God. I stand in awe of the things He does, and I want to continue to remember those… and I want to pass those down so that my children and grandchildren will know that they are part of a legacy of faith.

I think my verse for 2011 is going to be Psalm 116:7 – “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Here's hoping for a more peaceful year in 2011!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

magical pictures

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our magical trip!

Seriously... this trip was such a dream come true. I've always wanted to see NYC at Christmas, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Magical!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I have been a giant failure at blogging lately. Things are still so crazy. Super speedy update: We had our common rooms painted a couple weeks ago, and they look so good! They are a beautiful, neutral beige… SO much better than yellow! And it was totally worth hiring someone – they look AMAZING, and it took him 3 days to do 4 gigantic rooms. That would have taken us 4 months, 97 cans of paint, 15 sessions of marriage counseling, and we STILL wouldn’t be done. Let’s see… then we enjoyed Thanksgiving, and I went black Friday shopping and got a new TV for our bedroom. We left on December 1st and took a short trip up to New York City . I have always wanted to go at Christmastime, and right now one of our college friends is playing Pumbaa in the Lion King on Broadway (and he has a one-year contract), so we wanted to go up there even though we just took our trip to Europe this year. It was a wonderful, magical Christmas trip! (We saw the tree, watched the Rockettes, ice skated in Rockefeller Plaza , window shopped, bought me a Tiffany & Co. necklace… MAGIC, I tell you. MAGIC.) I did get kind of sick on the day we flew back, and I still have kind of a man-ish voice, but it’s getting better now. Lance and I hung curtains in our dining room last night, and I am SO excited about that. Our house is finally starting to look like we live there. We have some paint color samples on the wall in our bedroom and bathroom, but I am having a much harder time picking those colors than I had picking the common room colors. Sometime soon, I need to post pictures of the house with its new and improved décor and pictures of the NYC Christmas magic. I absolutely cannot believe that Christmas is in 18 days! So exciting… and yet, so much to do still!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

chaos chaos chaos... new house.

It has clearly been a long time since I’ve blogged… but with good reason. This past month has been total chaos. When I last blogged, we had made an offer on a house that we liked… but we didn’t really love it. We didn’t have that… feeling when we first walked in the door. We were negotiating on the price with the homeowner, and we were kind of struggling because we didn’t love it. We just wanted to make it work.

Well… so then we went to see another house… and we did have that feeling. We loved it. It was everything we’d been looking for.

And now we live there.

Amazingly, it’s only been 3 weeks and a few days since we went to see the house. We made an offer, negotiated quickly, found a mortgage company that could help us close in 2 weeks instead of a month, closed, and moved in.

The floor plan is awesome, and it feels gigantic to us… even though it’s really only about 300 square feet bigger than our NRH house. It has a formal living and dining, a giant master closet, an island kitchen with tons of storage, a long driveway, an almost-quarter-acre lot, a big backyard… and yellow walls. For some reason, the old homeowners painted every wall in the house yellow before moving. So… we’ll be painting. Even with the yellow walls, though, this house is an answer to our prayers. We just love it.

Of course, right now, we are mostly living out of boxes. I’ve unpacked some dishes and most clothes, and everything else is still in a box or a force-flex bag. I’m not the tidiest person in the world, but I definitely like organization. This, my friend, is NOT organization. It brings back fun near-panic-attack feelings like I always have when I’m out of control.

Anyway, I have a lot of pictures of the house, but I haven’t had time to upload them or do anything fun like that. I hope to have a picture post soon… because our new house is just lovely.

Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

confessions and blessings

I’ve been a terrible flake about writing on here lately. Honestly, it’s because I’m just overwhelmed.

My life is a constant flurry of activity these days. Our closing on our house in NRH is in 22 days. Today we are making an offer on a possible new house in Arlington . Our home office is pretty much packed up (yay), but then I remember that I haven’t even really touched the kitchen… and there is a TON to pack in there. I’m just exhausted… and we have a family retreat this weekend, a fifth quarter next weekend, a family festival, a junior high retreat, and a high school retreat… all before Thanksgiving. Yeesh. My back is full of knots, and I keep getting stress headaches. Well, stress/sinus. I always struggle with allergies when the seasons change. To summarize – I’m busy, sleepy, and don’t feel too hot.

Every time I sit down to write something, it ends up being more of a to-do list… and it sounds so negative… so then I give up and quit. Instead, I am going to try to focus on the good things happening in my life:

  1. We found a house we like enough to make an offer on… and it’s even cheaper than most of the houses we’d looked at, so we’ll be able to put quite a bit down (at least 20%, maybe 25%) and have a nice low mortgage.
  2. Our house sold in this terrible market (totally all God).
  3. We are going to NYC the first week of December regardless of what else happens… so I KNOW I will have a little break and be able to get away for awhile. And I’ve always dreamed of going to New York at Christmastime, so I am just SO excited.
  4. Even though I sometimes get sad and miss my Legacy friends, we are finally getting to a point that we’ll be able to start attending some PR grow groups and hopefully make some friends there.
  5. I’m still in a non-Bunko/supper club group with some of my Legacy friends, so I get to see them and catch up at least once a month. I never realized what a blessing that could be for me.
  6. I decided that I really want Ugg boots to wear in NYC while we’re there since it will be so cold, so I went and tried some on this weekend and liked them enough that I’m ordering a Discover cash back bonus card to go buy them… hopefully in the next week or so. They were delightfully comfy and warm… which is good because that is MUCH more than I normally spend on shoes. (And someone come hunt me down and kick me in my face if I ever wear the Uggs with Soffe cheerleading shorts. I still don’t get that look. If it’s cold enough for your feet to need Uggs, don’t your legs need pants???)
  7. I’ve been reading through my Bible, and I got really bogged down in Isaiah and Ezekiel, but I’m now to the other side of those (just finished Daniel, actually), so hopefully I will pick up the pace and perhaps be able to finish reading through the Bible this year.
  8. Christmas is getting close! Yesterday I numbered off the days until Christmas so that I could do a countdown. Today makes 81 days until Christmas! I am so excited about that. I love Christmas. I mean, really. It’s ridiculous. I love Christmas. Did I mention I love Christmas? Well, I do.
  9. We are (sort of) beginning to get into a groove at PR. I am starting to know names and be able to talk to people… and find my way around the building without getting lost (hallelujah!).
  10. I have a really wonderful husband. He takes such good care of me and is so patient with me when I go through phases like the one I’m in now (borderline panic attack at least once a day). We’re SO different, so I know he doesn’t necessarily understand how I’m feeling, but he loves me and cares for me through it. It’s also been a big blessing to see him really thrive in his new job. Sometimes he gets overwhelmed, yes, but he just has all these new ideas and gets so excited when kids really get it. He has a precious heart.

Finally, I am so thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness. Throughout this changing churches/selling a house/buying a house/moving process, one of the stories that the Lord brought back to me over and over was that of Abraham. God called him out of where he was without showing him exactly where he was going. God was incredibly faithful to Abraham, and the only times things didn’t go well for Abraham were the times that he tried to manipulate his own situation instead of following where he was led. God just kept reminding me that I need to trust and not try to shape my own situation into what I think it should be. Amazingly, of all things, that is precisely what this past week’s sermon was about – about God calling Abraham to an unknown place and the faith it takes to move there. What a confirmation! Oh, He’s so good to me.

So… I’m still a little overwhelmed by the number of boxes that need to be packed and the arrangements that need to be made… and my allergies are still less than fabulous… but I know I am protected and loved and cherished by the King of kings… and that He will provide for my every need. After all, I’m worth more than sparrows and lilies.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

immeasurably more

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Our lives have been an adventure of blessings lately. Over the course of the past few weeks, we have gone from fearful, worried, hand-wringing, terrified about selling our house… to a house that is under contract and an option period that ends tomorrow. And the blessings don’t stop there.

So basically – here’s the story. Saturday, August 28th someone came to view our house (obviously always a good thing). The only comment they left was that buyer preferred a different color scheme… which made me cranky since I figure most people just assume they will repaint whatever house they buy. Anyway, no harm, no foul. We went to bed Saturday night and got up and went to church Sunday morning (as is our custom). During church, Lance got up to sit with a boy from the youth group who was getting baptized, and an elder stood up to make a veeerrrry long announcement (no joke – like 7 or 8 minutes) about budget stuff. Needless to say, I got bored, so I checked my phone to see what time it was. Well, now that I have this fancy iPhone, I also happened to see that I had gotten 3 emails while I was at church… and lo and behold – we got an offer on our house! So I (obvi) immediately begin crying and want to tell Lance but he’s sitting on the front row. When church ended, I ran over and told him, and we were so excited. We went out to lunch with Lance’s mom, and I was reading through the offer (a 22-page PDF… on my iPhone screen) and realized it was a contingency and said, “Oh, we need to not get our hopes up too high then,” and I asked Lance to print the entire PDF out for me when we got back to the church since reading the tiny print was making me batty.

When he printed it out, we realized that God had orchestrated this entire situation – we know the buyer’s agent, the buyer, and the people involved in the buyer’s contingency. They all go to Legacy, and we know, trust, and love them all very much. This has been an incredibly peaceful, easy process. AND thanks to the aforementioned contingency, our closing isn’t set until the last week of October, so we still have 6 or 7 weeks to try to find a house in Arlington!

Oh my goodness, the Lord is taking care of us! Honestly, if I had tried to come up with my perfect situation, it would not have been anywhere near this great. God is absolutely watching over us and guiding our every step. And how this is increasing my faith! When He calls, He leads. He provides. He blesses. And then He smiles when I am somehow amazed (yet again) at His faithfulness.

Okay, I know this is already long… but I also have to share that the Lord had just really been putting particular verses and Bible stories on my heart throughout this process. One of the main ones has been, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us – but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1) And God gave us this situation in the midst of chaos – in the midst of a 27% housing market decrease in July – and took care of every detail… and I didn’t do a darn thing. Couldn’t if I wanted to. I had NO control. And all I can do is marvel, stand amazed, and give the glory to Him… the One to whom honor is due.

To end, the verse that has been soothing my soul for the last week as we work out all the details of our housing contracts – “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:7)

Praise the Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

attitude check

The other day I was commenting (or perhaps complaining, if I’m honest…) about how long it’s taking to sell our house and how it’s so hard to still be in limbo and still trying so hard to keep the house so clean all the time. My sweet husband listened and nodded… and then goes, “Well, I think our situation is pretty great. We HAVE a house to sell, which not everyone can say… and we are looking to buy a house near my new job where I am being paid MORE… and we have the money to buy ANOTHER house when it all works out… so I feel like things are pretty good overall.”


Humbled much?

And it’s not like I can be mad at Lance’s sweet face even though he totally (gently) put me in my place.

Anyway, I’m working on my attitude. I strive to be a non-negative Nancy , and sometimes I fail I guess. I know how much I prefer to be around joyful people, and I long to be a joyful person myself, and I think I’d gotten in a complainy funk. (Disclaimer: everyone goes through ups and downs. My desire to be a joyful person and to be around joyful people is in no way a desire for others or myself to be fake-plastic-Stepford Wife happy all the time even though life can be a roller coaster. I’m speaking in broad generalizations.) I’m trying to change my prayers… thanking God that he’s given us SO many blessings that we are having to figure out what to do with them all… and thanking God for the day that he will resolve our situation and amaze us with his goodness, as he always does. He’s proven himself entirely faithful, entirely gracious, entirely awesome. He loves me unendingly, immeasurably, incredibly much. He has given me every good and perfect gift. And he adopted me and engraved my name on the palms of his hands. He’s not going to forget or abandon me now (or ever). He’s too wonderful for that. So until he shows me exactly what he’s got planned for me, I’m going to rejoice that he’s leading me—that he’s gone ahead of me and prepared a path and a place for me.


“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. …those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

-Psalm 34:4,5,7,8,10b

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

bulleted list

Some things to know about me lately:


  • totally found a new favorite Sonic drink this weekend: Diet Dr. Pepper with raspberry. Oh. My. Word. SO good! It even beats Diet Dr. Pepper with cherry or Diet Coke with lime for me. It’s THAT good. Seriously.
  • have such a love/hate relationship with my Garmin. LOVES: never completely lost, can change route or destination on the fly, can even search specific places. HATES: I feel a compulsion to beat the expected arrival time displayed on the Garmin, which turns every trip into a race against the clock. Coming back from camp, I needed to avoid part of I-35 where there was some major construction, so I had to go the long way and STILL managed to shave nearly 15 minutes off my time! If I get pulled over for it, I’m thinking a cop won’t buy my “but, sir – I have to beat the Garmin” excuse. Oh, and also in the “hate” category: the Garmin has started giving me directions at strange times. I was in the middle of nowhere… just me and some cows and those big white birds that hang out with cows… and there not even any other roads. Suddenly the Garmin says, “Turn right.” I yelled “Are you kidding me?!” out loud to the Garmin. Strange (both the Garmin and me probably).
  • spent like 4 or 5 hours organizing nametags at camp this weekend. It was tedious, meticulous, detail work… right up my alley. Ha. Well, until the slipcover things that the nametags went in started scratching my hands.
  • shopped for a baby shower gift to be from my entire section at work… so I had like $250 to shop with. That is definitely the most I’ve ever gotten to spend on baby stuff, and I LOVED it. Maybe someday I’ll get to buy that stuff for me…
  • invested a ridiculous amount of time in trying to get some more CDs into my iTunes… and naming everything appropriately. I need to load it all onto my iPhone, and I would really like for it be right before I go to the trouble to do that. My perfectionism rears its ugly head yet again.
  • am only blowdrying my hair like twice a week now. The rest of the time it ends up in a ponytail or a braid or some other hairstyle that doesn’t have to be dry when I get to work.
  • think that about covers it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

mini update

It took me 2 months to tell about my 8-day trip. Be impressed.

Hmmm... well.... in exciting news, we paid off our truck a couple weeks ago! We went out to Texas de Brazil to celebrate the fact that the only debt we have now is our mortgage! We are so excited about that... and we feel so pleased and so proud that we were able to do that already.

Also, last week, I got an iPhone 4! It's a lovely little piece of gadgetry.... by far the fanciest phone I've ever owned. I'm still learning how to lose it, and I live in constant fear that I will drop it, but otherwise, it's fabulous! AND it has a pink bumper on it. Amazing - I know!

Lance is gone for his final week of camp this week. I could not be happier to get this week over with so that he can be home with me where he belongs. It's hard for him to be so busy and gone so much. I'm soooooooo ready for us to be able to spend time together and really invest in our marriage.

We have our house on the market, and we've had some lookers, but no offerers yet. We're praying and trusting... and would appreciate any additional prayers you would like to offer on our behalf.

We've had lots of questions about how things are going at PR and how we're doing... and things are going well. I'm ready to move closer (no more 30-minute drive, please!), but Lance is loving his job and is doing a great job. He has felt so called to ministry for so long, and I love seeing him rockin' and rollin' and doing such a great job. It's also great to see him so happy and so excited about his job.

I am very ready to be out of transition. I don't deal well with change, and I feel like I've been in a constant state of change for 4 months. I am ready for stability. I'm like a small child - I thrive on routine. And naps. And snacks. Anyway, I'm ready for things to settle.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

day 8

On our last full day in Rome, we went to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica/Square. The Vatican was incredible, and I had booked a tour with a company... which was incredibly fantastic. We saw all kinds of sculptures and paintings and tapestries... but the highlight for me was the Sistine Chapel. We had been warned that the company that restored the Sistine Chapel walls and ceiling actually owns the rights to the images, so you're not supposed to take pictures. It was strange - there were guards yelling "Quiet please! No pictures!" in the chapel, but people were taking pictures all over the place. If you know me well, you know that I am a rule follower through and through, but I asked Lance to go ahead and sneak some pictures since everyone else was doing it. Ha. Okay, but really - I was completely overwhelmed by the Sistine Chapel. I just sat with my mouth open staring at the walls and ceiling. It was SO beautiful. It was kind of almost a spiritual moment for me.

I'm sure that this picture is not big enough for you to tell, but one of the things I learned about Michelangelo is that he never used female nude models - only male nude models. Because of that, he really didn't know how to paint female nudes... so his females are big, muscled, buff men... with breasts. It's kind of funny.

St. Peter's was incredible as well. I don't know that I can even really explain how massive it was...

I really wish I had more words to describe the experience of being there... but I really don't. Ha. Oh, it was beautiful. What an amazing way to wrap up our trip.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

day 7

Day 7 was definitely our most random day in Rome. We started out going to St. Peter in Chains Basilica, which holds the chains that allegedly held Peter when he was in prison. It also has Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. It’s a rather unassuming basilica (I would have walked right by it if I hadn’t been looking for it), but it’s a pretty cool place. It’s also one of the oldest basilicas in Rome.
We also went to the Spanish steps (not as cool as I’d hoped) and Trevi Fountain (WAY more crowded than I’d hoped), as well as Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. The Spanish steps were quite grand, but there was some construction being done on them, so it was hard to get good pictures. That made me a little sad… but it was still a really neat place. After taking some pictures on the stairs (and getting some cash at a nearby ATM), we headed up Via Condotti to leave. Via Condotti is home to some of the highest-end shopping in the world. It definitely put the Champs Elysses to shame. We passed Burberry, Bulgari, Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Armani, Louis Vuitton… probably more. It was a long street… and I felt poor on it! Anyway, then we attempted to go to the Mausoleum of Augustus. TOTALLY underwhelming. It was inaccessible to the public, had orange construction netting surrounding it, and had trash scattered around it. I was actually angry that I’d walked that far to see that. Ha. Anyway, then went to the Pantheon, which was a pretty amazing place. The technology/architecture was so advanced. It was such a neat thing to see. We actually ate lunch in the piazza there in front of the Pantheon… and then we got gelato. Fabulous! After that, we went to Piazza Navona to see the Fountain of Neptune and then to Trevi Fountain, which was SO packed with people. We had to elbow our way down to the front, and even then, we had to stand off to the side to take our pictures. After that, we headed back to the hotel to rest (we were completely exhausted)… and then we ventured out that tonight to get the tiramisu I’d read so much about. It took us so long to get there that we ended up eating just tiramisu for dinner that night!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

day 6

After the most dramatic/traumatic early morning flight in history, we arrived in Rome. We really very nearly missed our flight, ran through the airport, got ignored by everyone pretending they don't speak English only to discover they do... it was pretty terrible. Anyway, we made it to Rome. On our first day there, we saw the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It is just incredible to see these things that have stood for 2,000 years. I don't think there's all that much explaining to be done, so here are some pictures:

I kind of had to drag Lance along to the Colosseum because he was so bummed by our morning flight issues... but we both ended up absolutely loving everything about the Colosseum. It was absolutely incredible.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

day 5

Day 5 (and our last full day in France ) was pretty incredible. See, when we were planning this trip, I kept asking Lance what he wanted to do in Paris and in Rome… and the ONLY thing he had his heart set on in Paris was making the trip up to the Normandy coastline to see the D-Day beaches in northern France. We booked a D-Day beaches tour through Fat Tire Bike Tours (mostly because it was all-inclusive, so I didn’t have to arrange a hotel to stay in or a taxi to get us to the beach or whatever). We got up Sunday morning with our picnic lunch packed and boarded the train for Bayeaux , France. Now, I have thank the Lord at this point—I hadn’t really looked at the time on our ticket, and I thought our train left at around 9:30, so I thought we had plenty of time. Well, we pulled into the big station to get on the big train from our little commuter train at like 9:04, and I pulled out our tickets just to check… turns out our train was leaving at 9:10!!! So we were power walking through the station, trying to read the signs in French… Anyway, we made it on our train just fine, and I just kept saying, “Oh, thank you, Lord!” over and over. I have NO idea what we would have done if we’d missed our train! Okay, so we took the train into Bayeaux , France , which has to be one of the – if not THE – most picturesque towns in history. They have a chapel in the center of town (also called Notre Dame, actually) that was built 100 years before the Notre Dame in Paris . Oh, it was beautiful there. I felt like we’d stepped back in time. We ate our picnic lunch there, walked around a bit, and then met our tour group. Our tour guide (her name was Rose) was born and raised in Bayeaux. She was wonderful.

First, we went to Pont du Hoc. Obviously, the full history of this place is pretty long… but the VERY condensed version is that the Germans had set up fortifications atop this cliff overlooking the sea. There were big machine guns and bunkers and such. Well, the American planes bombed the shnikey out of Pont du Hoc… and then a very brave group of American Rangers scaled the cliff and overtook the German soldiers who were still there. (As it turned out, the German guns had been moved a mile away. They were found later.) Anyway, the pictures of the “after” of this place are incredible – it looks like Swiss cheese. For whatever reason, the craters were never filled in, so it’s now just this huge Swiss-cheese-looking field atop a cliff.

Then we went to Omaha Beach itself. Honestly, I don’t even think I’d ever seen pictures of Omaha Beach other than during the D-Day invasions. During those days, it was foggy and rainy… and men were dying and guns were firing… and there was pain and fear and sadness and anger… and in my head, the entire day is gray. The men are gray, the ground is gray, the sky is gray. In real life, though, Omaha Beach is simply beautiful. The colors are so vivid that it looks like they were photoshopped… but they are really just that color. It is so sad to think of how many men gave their lives on that beach… and it seems almost impossible that that gray, gray day happened here.

After that, we went to the American Cemetery . I’m almost at a loss for words in describing it. It’s immaculately manicured, and there is an unparalleled degree of uniformity and perfection… and it’s also much more emotional than I’d thought it would be. The way the cemetery sits at the top of the cliff, overlooking the very beaches where some of those men gave their lives… It’s humbling and sobering and somewhere between ironic and noble. I was blown away by the number of crosses that read “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms, known but to God.” Our guide told us that only 40% of the American soldiers that gave their lives in the D-Day invasions and related operations. For the other 60%, their families elected to have them brought back home and buried here. There is also a huge wall of names of people that were never found after the wars.

We went from there to some German armaments where the guns are still in place (although obviously not functioning). We also drove through a town that was pretty damaged during the war. They’ve since rebuilt, but there were before/after pictures. I kind of wish I could have/would have videoed everything she said. I hate that there are already some things I can’t remember. I need to watch Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day and some of those kinds of movies now… because, strangely enough, I’ve actually visited those places in real life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

j/k... that was day 4.

As it turns out, I can't count to 4 correctly. I kept looking at the pictures thinking, "Did we really do all of those things in only 3 days?" Nope. Four. I'm sure that intelligent internet-using kindergartners everywhere are totally judging me right now for my lack of counting abilities.

And - as an excuse/explanation for why it's taking me so long to finish posting about our trip - I got myself addicted to making a photo book on Shutterfly, so I've been spending all my spare time doing that. Well, that and a million other things.

Anyway, day FIVE coming soon. Hopefully I counted that one right...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

day 3

On our last full day in Paris, we went to Notre Dame first thing in the morning. We climbed up the 400 steps to the top of the cathedral, saw the bell towers, took a million pictures of the gargoyles, etc. It was amazingly beautiful. And the INSIDE of the chapel! Incredible! Oh my word.... it's really a shame that pictures can't capture how breathtaking it all is.

After that, we headed to the Musee d’Orsay for me to look at the Monet and Degas paintings I wanted to see… and then we boarded the train for Versailles from the d’Orsay station.

I guess I should pause here to say that we saw some of my favorite things on this day… but it was also the most dramatic day ev. So, first thing in the morning, I went to the ATM to get some cash (we only had 10 euros total between us)… and my card got rejected. I was in a total panic. We had no cash, and I had no idea what was wrong with my card. We went on to Notre Dame and that was so amazing that I kind of forgot about my cash woes for awhile. Then, at the d’Orsay, I asked if they had an ATM, but they didn’t. So, here it is lunchtime, and we can’t eat at the little shops because they don’t take cards… I was stressing. Ultimately, Lance convinced me we should just head on to Versailles (I had read that there was a McDonald’s across from the train station there, and we were pretty sure they’d take cards). I agreed, and we went ahead and bought our train tickets… and then mine didn’t work, I couldn’t get through the turnstile… and I may have cried. Anyway, we got on the train, made it to the Versailles train stop, and ate at the McDonald’s there without incident (all this time, Lance is trying to convince me that it must have been the ATM and not my card because my card had worked at the train station and at McDonald’s) and continued the search for an ATM since I wanted to go into the gardens, and that cost an additional 8 euros, and I didn’t know if they would accept cards. Lance saw a tourism office as we were walking to Versailles , and they pointed out an ATM just across the street, so we ended up with cash… and doing a-okay.

Okay, so back to Versailles.

Versailles was AMAZING. Oh my word. Everything about it was just incredible and immaculate and perfect. After doing a partial tour (from Rick Steves on my iPod), we went out to the gardens (now that we had cash to pay for the tickets!!!) to see the fountains. I’m so glad we did. That afternoon was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was SO beautiful. We even had a crepe at a little café out in the gardens. It was pretty much perfection. It made me wish over and over that I were a princess. I kept telling Lance that I could just see ladies in their fancy gowns strolling through these gardens. Again, pictures cannot do it justice. In person, it's so beautiful that there that these giggles just kept welling up inside me.

When we got back to La Defense (one of the main train stations in Paris), we stopped into the Monop’ (basically a little mini grocery/convenience store) and picked up food for a picnic on Sunday since we were going on our D-Day Beaches tour, and then I had a croissant for dinner… and Lance had McDonald’s again. For shame, I know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

day 3

Instead, we decided we should go to the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning and go up then. We still had to wait in a line (about an hour total), but we got to go to the very top of the tower, took about a million pictures, and even ate lunch up there (baguette sandwiches).

After we got done at the Eiffel Tower , we headed toward the Rodin Museum (which we had tried to visit the prior day, but it was closing time already (it closes at 4:45!) to see The Thinker.

The Rodin Museum was really neat overall. I got to see several sculptures I’d been looking forward to (Hand of God, the Kiss, Gates of Hell, etc.), and lots of the sculptures were outside, which was really neat. It was also a much smaller museum… so I think we spent about 30 minutes there… and that included a bathroom break! After that, we headed to the Louvre. Wow. What an impressive place the Louvre is.

We entered through the glass pyramid…

And I had a list of masterpieces I wanted to see (the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, the Wedding Feast at Cana , the Venus di Milo, etc.), so we worked our way through that list…

And then we had a Starbs break… And then we headed back out to see the Egyptian artifacts that Lance wanted to see. By this time, it was getting close to 6:30 (or whatever time the Louvre closes), and I was trying desperately to get back to the gift shop before it closed. It seemed like every which way we turned, there was more Louvre! We made it to the gift shop and then decided to go into the Carrousel mall attached to the Louvre to eat dinner (and, of course, to take pics by the inverted pyramid). As it turns out, Mary Magdalene’s final resting place (ala Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code) is somewhere between the Virgin Music megastore and the Apple store…

Anyway, we ate dinner in the food court there (quiche and bread)… and then I read that the Louvre is open until 9:30 on Friday nights, so we ventured back in! We spent HOURS there... and still didn't see even half of what there is to see. Just amazing!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

day 2

We went to Giverny (Monet’s home) on Thursday morning with Edie and one of Edie’s friends. It was an hour or so outside of Paris , so we just enjoyed the views of the French countryside on the drive out there. Honestly, Giverny was something I really wanted to see, as I have long been a fan of Claude Monet… but Lance wasn’t too keen on the whole idea, so he was mostly going just to be sweet. However, Monet’s home and garden were far more beautiful than either of us had imagined, and Lance was as overwhelmed by it as I was. He spent the entire time we were there with our new fancy-shmancy camera glued to his face, taking pictures of all the incredible flowers.

One of my favorite parts was the Japanese footbridge and the water lily pond. Those have always been my favorites of Monet’s paintings, and it was incredible to see them in real life.

Then we ate lunch a little café near Monet’s home (we both had omelettes and frites) and then headed back into Paris. After we arrived back in the city, we headed toward Hotel des Invalides.

Since that weekend was a military holiday in France , the courtyard of the museum was blocked off, so we ended up just kind of passing through it to get to Napoleon’s tomb. The building itself is just unbelievably beautiful…

And the rotunda in which his coffin rests is just impressive all the way around.

Then we went over to the Eiffel Tower … where we wasted a good 30 minutes trying to capture my joy mid-air.

We were going to go up into the tower, but the line was just unbelievably long (had to have been at least 3 hours) because they only had one pillar of the tower open. Anyway, we ended up scratching that idea, ate dinner, and then went back to the apartment.


Okay, so I have now tried to post about Day 2 on three separate occasions, but blogger just will NOT let me upload images. I'm hoping it will stop hating me and allow me to post pictures.... but if not, I guess Day 2 will just have to be a narrative. I'm giving blogger two more days to play nice, and then all of you will just get a lame story with no pictures if it can't get its act together.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

day 1

Okay, so, we flew out on Tuesday, May 5th at 5:10pm. My sweet friend Jocelyn and her preshy little Levi drove us to the airport (thanks again, Jocelyn!!!), and we made it through security in like 7.5 minutes and sat at the gate (or maybe at McDonald’s in the airport…) for almost two full hours until time to leave. Our doctor had prescribed some sleeping pills for us, so after a not-so-tasty airplane food dinner, we each took one and planned to sleep our way to France . No such luck. I think we each slept for maybe an hour or so total… out of a 9.5 hour flight. It was a bummer. Anyway, we landed in Paris at 9:30 in the morning (on Wednesday, May 6th), and our friend’s mom (Edie) picked us up at the airport and took us back to their adorable Parisian apartment – with a view of the Eiffel Tower! – and we showered, ate, and changed clothes… and then headed out for the day. Edie showed us how to use the metro and helped us buy our 5-day metro passes, and then she dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe.

Lance and I headed up to the top for some cool views of Paris (and some chilly wind gusts!).

Here are the stairs we climbed to get to the top…

Then we walked back down all those stairs (a dizzying feat, I assure you) and headed down the Champs Elysses. Obviously there were all kinds of high-end retailers…

And we stopped and bought world-famous macaroons at the intimidatingly fancy Laduree.

They were amazingly delicious... especially that vanilla one. I believe my exact words were, "I'm going to marry this cookie."

By this time, we had had a VERY long day (since we’d only catnapped on the plane) and we both started getting cranky, so we headed back to the apartment… and went to bed. At 7:30. Yes, it was still quite light outside. Ha. Anyway, we slept a solid 12 hours, so that was great. We were much less cranky on Day Two.