Friday, April 30, 2021

Z is for Zed

Z is for Zed. 

26 letters. 26 days of blogging. From A all the way to Zed. I think everyone should adopt the habit of calling z, zed. 

And truthfully, I don't have any fun Z adventures for this post. So I'm leaving you with a few final thoughts about my time overseas. 

It was magical. And impactful. And life-changing.

It was challenging at times and eye-opening often.

It was full of growing and changing and learning and loving. 

It was a long time, yet MUCH too short. 

It was just yesterday...except it wasn't. 

It was one of the sweetest seasons of my life for so many reasons. 

And I have loved reliving so many pieces of it here in the last month. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Y is for Young Life

Y is for Young Life

I talked previously about Young Life in my T is for Thursday Nights post but today will be a bit different. My parents used to laugh when people would ask my sister and I about what our favorite trip was and they would always rush to say...besides young life trips! Because so often, when asked that question sister and I would spit out Romania without too much thought. But it wasn't about the location- it was about the experience.

You see, in America, a lot of kids involved in Young Life have the opportunity to go to camp each year. They have them in several places and they are awesome (from what I hear). But, being overseas, us international kids didn't really have that option due to the logistics of getting us all there. So instead, we took service project trips. Young Life groups from international schools all over Europe would come together in one location through a ministry in that spot to support the local community in some way- while also still incorporating some "camp" elements at other points in the trip. So in 2005 and 2006 we headed to Romania. And in 2007 and 2008 we went to Bulgaria. 

Those trips were something else for a variety of reasons. First of all, us getting to Romania from England involved a flight to Hungary followed by a very long bus ride- about 10 hours if my memory serves me right, to our Romanian destination. Complete with a stop at the country boarder where are leaders were responsible for gathering up all of our passports, giving them to boarder patrol and managing all of the forms. I can't tell you why that was the best way to do things...but we made it. And I'm pretty sure we all agreed the crazy long travel day was so fun! There was also some rigamarole involved in getting to Bulgaria in the later years but nothing compared to the first 2. One thing that we always did was have a night in the "city" before leaving. So on the Romania trips that meant a night in Budapest, Hungary and in Bulgaria we had the evening to explore Sofia.

Aside from that one night, for the bulk of these trips, we stayed in some sort of hostel/lodge/campy situation. And it wasn't ever glamourous. But I don't remember that ever bothering anybody.  Each year there was a slightly different purpose to the trip. Year 1- there were a few jobs to tackle. Digging out a huge drainage ditch to prevent some flooding the town was struggling with and this worksite was known as "THE DITCH". It was a muddy mess and the most fun! 

That's my sister crushing it in the middle! 

But we also worked on some other projects around the town that year as well. The following year we worked on a playground, as well as a slightly smaller ditch. 

In Bulgaria things were a little different and both years we worked at orphanages- two separate areas though. We worked on building a playground one year- fixing their equipment to make it safer, repainting and adding in some new things. 

We worked hard.

Pretty sure this picture alarmed my parents when they saw it first. I'm know for my tendency to be accident prone.

And the other year we worked at a different orphanage but focused more on the inside. Repainting areas, fixing ceiling issues, maintenance around the building, fixing up the playground and spending time with the kids. That aspect of this trip made it extra special because we got to really interact with the people we were helping. It also made it particularly hard to leave that last day.

This trip was 13 years ago. But as soon as I saw this picture, I didn't have to think for a second to remember this sweet thing. Maya. 

When we weren't working we were doing Young Life things. There was some free time to spend with your leaders and friends. To meet new friends from the other schools. Fun fact- a friend that I met in Romania, who lived in Germany at the time, ended up living the floor below me my freshman year of college all the way in SC and we are still friends! Small world right?

There were also games. Lots of games. The silly kind, the gross kind, the messy kind, the funny kind. 

Who doesn't love a good game of dizzy bat? 

I don't remember what was in this jug...but I am positive that I won whatever competition was happening here. 

And who needs water balloons when you can have flour bomb fights!

And every night ended with a "talk" the part of club where they speak to us about the Lord. And usually on that last night of the trip their was a "Say So" time. A time set aside for kids who had found Jesus that week or that year, to stand up and Say So. Their leaders would stand with them and even thinking about it now gives me chills. 

I built some of the sweetest friendships on these trips. I grew in my faith. I learned about the world and was reminded I'm not in the center, that we need to think about others.

So even now, when asked what my favorite trip was I always leave with "well ASIDE from our Young Life trips..." because truthfully they're in a category all their own.  No, these trips weren't to the fanciest places or the most luxurious hotels. They weren't filled with sightseeing or other typical vacation activities. But they were impactful in a different way. In the way they shaped our faith, in the way they brought us together, in the way they fixed our eyes and our hearts on what is most important. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X- Rays and Parents

X is for X- Ray

This post didn't really have a destination when I started it...I just kind of started writing and decided to see where it went. This isn't travel related and it's not an "adventure" per-se, But it is about something that shaped me. 

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2002 the year before we moved overseas. I was fitted with a brace and while I did try really hard to wear it the recommended amount, it was tough. You see there are two main types of back braces for scoliosis and my particular one was the kind that came up over my shoulders. 

When we moved in 2003, I had to get settled with a new orthopedist and my mom did a lot of research and found me the best doctor- truly I loved him. He was so kind and thoughtful, with a gentle nature and the tact needed when dealing with emotional teen girls. I can vividly remember the drive to go to my first appointment, telling my parents that the only thing I wanted to hear was that he doesn't use the same type of brace I'd been wearing. And my parents let me know that I shouldn't put all my eggs in that basket. Trying to keep my hopes reasonable so as not to be disappointed. 

At that appointment, I found out that my curve had increased quite a bit which was not great news and disappointed all of us. But I was also gifted the news that he wanted me to have a new brace made- to fit the new curve- and it would be a much slimmer, less noticeable brace that DID NOT come up over my shoulders. I could have hugged him. I'm not sure I can express how difficult it was to be at my public middle school in that previous year, with a back brace that stuck out through even my bulkiest turtleneck. It seemed like a small thing but for me it was huge. 

But back to "X is for X-Ray'. In those next few years where I wore my brace consistently- seriously, my parents will back me up. I wore that thing as much as I was supposed to (23 hours a day) with minimal "cheating". But part of that meant that I needed pretty regular x-rays to keep up with how my curve was changing while I was in the middle of my peak growing years. So every few months, my mom and I would trek into the city together. We'd ride the train to London, hop on the tube a few spots to head to the downtown hospital for my x-ray and visit with the doctor. The thing I always thing of is mom and I getting to the hospital on those days together. You came out from the underground in the middle of the BUSIEST intersection and we had to cross the road to get to the hospital. And without fail as we prepared to cross my mom would grab my hand/wrist/arm. I told her once that she didn't need to do that, I assured her I wouldn't run into traffic and could cross the street safely. She laughed and told me it was as much for her as it was for me. And so it continued but with less eye-rolling from me.

When I was a senior in high school I was able to stop wearing my brace that fall. My growing had stopped and my doctor felt like my curve would remain steady moving forward. And so this 5 1/2 year season came to a close and mom and I didn't have anymore trips across that street. 

I think back on those years and that season of my life pretty regularly. Occasionally I think about how hard it was. How uncomfortable the brace was, how it felt like it made everything more challenging, how despite having a supportive group of friends I hated having to be different in that respect. But as I thought through this post I thought of how hard it must have been for my parents too. To watch the hurt and pain of their daughter. To see the huge curve that seemed like it wouldn't stop growing.  But mostly I think about how grateful I am for being where I was. For the doctor I had. For the sweetest friends who never made it feel weird or embarrassing. And for parents who were patient and loving and there every minute. For a mom who would grab my hand to cross the street and hold that same hand when I was having a hard day. 

So x is for x-ray but it's also for eXcellent doctors and eXceptional friends and eXtraordinary parents. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Wait Where?

Remember early on in my  A-Z countdown, I talked about our first visit to our new school...a mere 24 hours after landing in a foreign country? Well today's story starts during that same visit. We were touring the middle school, as I was starting the 8th grade, while my poor sister was taking her French placement test. And when we were in the main middle school office, the sweet secretary asked my parents if I'd be going on the pony trekking trip. 

The what? 

Oh you know... the trip to the Black Mountains of Wales.. for pony trekking.

As it turns out the 8th graders always take a pony trekking trip in the fall. And apparently EVERYONE is going...according to the secretary. So my mom says sure, then I guess she'll be going! Because they did not want me being left out of something, the moment I got started- because they're the best. 

So the kind secretary informs my jetlagged parents that the payment is due that day. Because the trip is in  just a couple of weeks. 

"Hm...Well... do we have checks that will work here? Or an account set up? Or the right kind of cash? Anything?" As it turns out they figure out a way to make it work. I don't know how. Did I mention we were jetlagged? But nevertheless, all settled.

Oh and I'll also need a sleeping bag...which in theory is no problem because we have sleeping bags. In our big shipment of things. That won'y arrive till after I'm due to leave. Oh no worries, we'll run to Target. target. But the secretary had the answer for that too and let us know where we could pick one up.

Oh and one more question...where is Wales? And pony trekking... that's like horses? She's never been on a horse. And wait, chaperones? Oh, just the teachers? 4 teachers- 50 kids and a bunch of horses in the Black Mountains... well OK then! 

So a few weeks after moving to a new country and starting a new school I rode on a bus with all my new friends to Wales. A place I hadn't even heard of before moving there. To ride horses for 4 days. We learned the basics of horse riding and spent the whole day, each day, out riding. Including one ride to a nearby city with a stop in a pub for lunch. Yep- with the horses in the parking lot. There were also activities and things in the evenings and lots of girly chatter in our bunk room. I remember that trip as the one that let me really feel like I was settled and a part of that group of kids. I was where I was supposed to be. 

I unfortunately don't have pictures to share from that week. As they were most likely all taken on a disposable camera and who knows where I put them. But I can picture everything in my head clear as day. From the look on my parents' faces as they were trying to work out what they were signing me up for. To the wide open scenery spread out across from us as we rode the horses. To the busy, excited chatter of 50 thirteen year olds off on an adventure. All of it. Etched in my brain. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

V is for...

 V is for...

I had most of my letters planned out at the start of the A-Z and letter v was one of the few I wasn't really sure which direction to go. So what do you do when you don't know what to write? Write a list. This is my very mixed up list of a variety of v words that didn't make it into any other posts. 

V is for visitors...coming from our old home to our new. I can't count the number of visitors we had when we were there but it was always a treat. It was a taste of home while also getting to show off and play tour guide for our new home. 

V is for vacation...trips to all over, giving us hundreds of memories to hold onto. Some of which you've seen through my A-Z...some that didn't fit in a letter but all memorable. 

V is for Vatican...a visit to a tiny country within a country. We got to tour the grounds, the inside and of course put cricks in our neck admiring the beauty of the Sistene Chapel. 

We visited the Vatican when we ventured to Rome. 

Also... is it just me or does it seem from the pictures I post, that my poor dad never goes on vacation with us? He does! He's just also our photographer usually :) 

And in Rome, we also saw the TreVi Fountain. (I know...a stretch)

I'm thinking I made a wish that this could keep being my life forever and ever...

V is for Stratford Upon AVon....ok this one is a stretch, but there is a v in there.  50 eighth graders exploring all things Shakespeare. Who got in trouble for making too much noise in the hotel. Also- who let us all stay in a hotel with such minimal supervision? Nuts! 

V is for valuable lessons learned. Too many to count each but they all shaped me into the person I am. Life lessons that taught me to accept others. To work with people from all over. To be welcoming and kind. To be flexible. To be resilient...oh boy that was a big one. To be confident and brave. To be adventurous.

V is for voice lessons...a favorite after-school activity. Complete with my first talent show performance. I'm pretty sure my parents were QUITE nervous for this, but I'm pleased to say I didn't embarrass myself- I remembered all the words, was on key and loved every moment. 

V is for volunteer...working with the middle school Wyldlife kids  as a junior leader. 

V is for "vamanos"...Let's Go! (to Spain). I participated in the Spanish trip when I was a junior and we went to Santiago de Compostela. I actually have not made a trip to a "major" city in Spain but loved every minute of this particular trip. 

I think they intentionally chose a smaller city...less English...with the purpose of the trip being full language immersion for the week. We stayed with host families, who were only allowed to speak Spanish to us and I stayed with one of my best friends. We had class in the mornings and then after lunch we explored the city, did some sight seeing and then were free for the night. There was a day trip to the beach, we went strolling through the mall and played futbol in the park. 

There was a fair in town that week so we spent the evenings riding bumper cars and getting snacks, hanging out in the park, being every bit the free teenagers we were. 

V is for volume. The VAST  amount of things I want to write and want to share about my time living overseas. And then as I try to get it all out, I can't quite put into words all that those years meant to me. 

But I sure do appreciate you guys coming along for the ride as I try. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

U is for Underground

U is for Underground

Living outside of London, one of the first things we had to learn was the London Underground, most commonly known as "the tube". Now let me tell you I have since ridden on public transportation in many major cities, but the London Underground (and above ground) trains are by far my favorite and easiest of them all. The maps are easy to follow, even for the most novice of travelers and as far as public transport goes- pretty clean and they always felt very safe.

And in the years I spent overseas, I spent a good amount of time hopping all over the city on the various tube lines. Early on in our stay overseas, a friend of mine asked me to go shopping with her in London- meaning both an above ground train trip and bopping in and out the tube once we were in the city. I was 13. And I think my mom was shocked at the idea that it was normal to just send your young teen off on the train by themselves, but she was brave and said yes and that began years of me developing independence, confidence and responsibility. 

The underground weaves you all around London, to all of the places you want to go and visit while you're there. Because while movie montages would imply they are all right next to each other, some of the best sights are spread out far across the city. 

You're of course going to want to check out Big Ben and the Parliament building. 

And then make your way across the bridge to check out the London Eye. A giant ferris wheel that gives you some stunning views of the city. It goes far slower than any ferris wheel you find at the fair, the "bubbles" you go around in are full glass-windows and giant. 

And occasionally at the base of the eye, you'll find some other fun things. Like extra-bouncy giant trampolines that require a harness. And maybe your parents will be cool enough to let you try it. 

One of my favorite tourist locations in London is the Tower of London. The tours are given by the "beefeaters" and they do such a phenomenal job- they're both informative and hilarious and its the most engaging tour. It's one of the tours, I didn't mind doing over and over with each visitor that came to see us. Plus the crown jewel collection is there...and that's obviously a can't miss!

Did you even go to London if you don't see Buckingham Palace? 

And a personal fave...stopping at Hyde Park to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather, with an ice cream cone and a Cadbury chocolate flake? The weather in London gets a bad wrap, and there are definitely dreary, rainy months. But the summers are just the best!

And sometimes, you won't ride the tube. You'll walk all over, down every street, or jump into an iconic London cab. 

But no matter how you get from spot to spot, in and around're in London! Which is the best place to be. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Thursday Nights

T is for Thursdays

When I was a freshman in high school, Young Life came to our school. And my sister and I both became very involved. For those unfamiliar with Young Life, it is a faith-based youth organization with the goal of ministering to middle and high school aged kids. It typically involves a weekly young life "club" and for our group, that particular event rotated between different homes each week. Club was full of fun- lots of games and competitions and silly/messy/ ridiculous activities usually capped off with some singing and then a short "talk" that focused on teaching about the love of Jesus. 

We also had a weekly bible study that while still fun, was less of the games and silliness and a little heavier on the worship and Jesus. And for 3 years that bible study was on Thursday nights, in my living room. I feel 100% positive that those Thursday nights heavily shaped my early Christian walk. I grew up in a family of believers and always had that foundation but it was in my early teens that my own walk with the Lord truly began to develop as I watched and listened to my leaders week after week. Remember my swim coach? Well when he wasn't pushing me to run up a huge flight of stairs or reach a personal best at my next swim meet- he was speaking truth into my life and planting seeds that would take root and grow. Each Thursday, just a group of teenagers, talking about life and the struggles and joys that come along with it and how we can hold both of those  feelings in a relationship with Jesus. 

Every Thursday, there were piles of shoes at the door in the laundry room. Kids crammed together on our wrap around couch or on the floor-ears and hearts open to a message that would weave itself into our very core and become very much apart of who we are. That would begin to shape the people we grew into. 

Thursdays were a day of rest as a teen. Something kids don't get nearly enough of. And I don't mean in the physical sense but in the emotional and spiritual sense. It was a day that no matter how crazy or busy it had been- for 2 hours we could all be still. And kids need that. And they need adults, besides just their parents (although they definitely need those too), speaking Truth into their lives, cheering them on and just walking alongside them through the good and the bad. And that's what Thursday was. That's what Young Life was. 

My faith is a huge part of who I am today, it informs how I live my life, how I do my job, how I love the people around me. And so much of that is thanks to a pile of shoes in the laundry room on Thursdays. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

S is for Seefeld

Continuing along today with the April A-Z Blog Challenge. Our family moved to England when I was just shy of 13 and spent the next 6 years across the pond. This month, I am reflecting on the time I spent overseas during my teens.

S is for Seefeld

Or slopes, or skiing or all of the above! In today's teenage overseas adventure we are headed to Austria. I have never been a big skier but I thoroughly enjoy charming ski villages and snowy mountain vistas so I will always be up for a ski trip. 

We stayed in the most charming little hotel that was walking distance from the slopes and shops. One of the things I always think of when this trip comes to mind is how delicious the food was. The hotel gave you an assigned table for your stay and we enjoyed most of our breakfasts and dinners at the hotel. They served the most delectable traditional German dishes. It was often followed by relaxation in the cozy bar area by the fire. 

My mom, who is also not a big skier, was kind enough to take a ski lesson with me the first day. It helped me build my confidence and reminded I do in fact know how to ski. Mom always like to recall how she avoided one of the little moguls and our instructor made chicken clucking noises at her! All in good fun :) 

This was also the trip where my dad, sister and I all got to attempt snowboarding for the first time. We booked  a1/2 day lesson to give it a go. I was pretty excited because the snowboards are a lot lighter to carry than skis. And I thought perhaps I would enjoy it more...however as it turns out I find this MUCH harder than skiing. Keeping your balance, keeping the board super flat while riding the t-bar so you don't fall off, steering- too many things to think about. While I feel like we did finally do a small amount of snowboarding, all 3 of us spent a good chunk of that lesson on our behinds. 

The best part of the ski trips we went on overseas were that, even if you don't want to ski you still get to enjoy being up on top of the slopes! There are trams you can take to the top of the slopes and there you are met with a cafe to grab hot cocoa (or wine...but lets remember I was like 14), blankets and adirondack chairs. So when we weren't skiing mom and I spent our time enjoying the views, reading and chatting. While sister and dad went on run after run on the slopes. 

Mom and I are in the middle!

Seefeld is not too far from Innsbrook so we scooted over for a day of sightseeing at the former Olympic village. 

The coolest part was seeing the huge ski jump. I can't even imagine standing up there, skis tipping over the edge and then flying down the mountain.

In between sightseeing in Innsbrook, skiing and enjoying the views...we managed to squeeze in some ice skaing, shopping (you've gotta have furry boots right?), plenty of good food, went through about a hundred hand warmers and loved every bit (probably) of the family togetherness. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Hodgepodge and A Bunch of Rocks

Participating in my mom's hodgepodge this week. You can head to her blog to join in the fun- it's not too late! 
If you're looking for my A-Z post, it is in the final question :) 

1. Find a penny. Look at the date and tell us something about your life or what you were doing that year? 

Well that was trickier than I thought. I rarely pay for anything in cash so I rarely have change in my wallet. But after digging around in my purse for a few minutes I remembered, hubby keeps a jar of coins on his desk. So! I found a penny and it was from 2001. In 2001 I was 10 turning 11 that September. I would have been finishing 5th grade and starting middle school in the fall. I believe this was during my basketball playing days. And we spent a lot of time on our boat that summer out on the river. 

2. Were you given an allowance as a child? Did you have to earn it in some way? Did you learn to save money when you were a child or is that something you figured out as an adult? 

I do believe we were given an allowance although I can't really remember how much it was or often we earned it. I know we did chores as a way to earn money. Example: pulling weeds for my dad- a penny per weed! Hah! But we also helped with doing the dishes, cleaning our room, dusting, washing baseboards etc. And we have always been taught to save. I feel like as a kid I was more apt to spend money quickly on little things but as I got older I became much more frugal. But my parents always taught us it was important to save your money and think about the future and I am so glad they modeled good money managing for us. 

3. April 23rd is National Take A Chance Day...what's a chance you need or want to take?

Well as I've gotten back into my blog, I have really loved the writing process and I'd like to do it more. So I'm thinking of taking an online creative writing class this summer to see how I like it. 

4. What's some outdated slang you seem to use a little too often? 

I would say all of my slang is outdated.  I don't really know what the "cool kids" say these days which tells me its probably not what I say... Right now I can't even think of slang I use although I know I use it regularly. But alas, this is what happens when you blog after a full workday. Your brain forgets words. I'll have to go scout out other people's answers and see if anything rings a bell. 

5. It's National Poetry month and I always like to make us work our brains a little...

Roses are red
Violets are blue fill in the rest with something original...

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My class just started poetry.
Can't wait to see what they can do!

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I'm going to use this space today for my A-Z Blog Challenge entry, which if you've been following along you know I've been taking you through some of my overseas adventures from my time living there as a teenager. 

R is for Rocks

Picture it. A family of four sitting in their favorite italian restaurant on a Friday evening talking about the upcoming weekend. The kids are teenagers bracing for  a weekend of some forced family fun. 

"So where are we going tomorrow?" daughters ask curiously.

"We're going to checkout Stonehenge" the mom replies. 

"What's that?" they ask in return with puzzled looks on their faces.

"Pretty much a bunch of rocks."  dad chimes in. 

"Wait what? We're driving an hour to go see a bunch of rocks?"

Parents, should you ever want to take your teenagers to see Stonehenge and you hope to keep spirits high...this may not be the way to describe it. However, they weren't wrong. It is a bunch of rocks. We drove about an hour and we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere when all of a sudden as we came over a hill, in the distance, in the middle of a field was a bunch of rocks. But giant rocks! Arranged in a peculiar way. With a curious nature of how they got there. We parked and did a audio tour- the one where you hold an audio-set to your ear at different checkpoints to hear some info. There are a lot of different theories about the rocks- some more scientific than others but pretty much everyone is in agreement as to their position being related to the summer solstice and then also perhaps to burial grounds. It was a beautiful setting, the English countryside as the backdrop, with interesting information and we actually ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves. And even went back with visitors without complaint on future trips. 

But I always love to tell the story of how our parents told us where we were headed because I assure you the looks on our faces were priceless. 

Photo Credit: My mom's scrapbook...remember when people had real photos in actual scrapbooks?

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Continuing along today with the April A-Z Blog Challenge. Our family moved to England when I was just shy of 13 and spent the next 6 years across the pond. This month, I am reflecting on the time I spent overseas during my teens.

 Q is for Quilon    

I'm not sure I'll really be able to put all the words I want in this post but I'll try.

Our home.


I love that homes have names in England. When our family moved overseas it was a very quick timeline. I believe from the time we listed our house in the U.S. to us being wheels up on an airplane across the pond was 29 days. So when our parents went over to look for homes sister and I didn't accompany them. We saw pictures but the first time we stepped foot in that space was the day we moved. 

A car had picked us up from the airport and driven us to this new home, where we groggily got out of the car, looked at our new home and promptly realized we didn't have keys and the realtor was nowhere in sight. So back into the car we went to a local hotel while we waited for the realtor, who was quite a ways away. We napped, sister and I both thoroughly unaccustomed to jet lag and the emotional turmoil that comes from being young teens moving across an ocean. And then a little while later finally got to see what would become by favorite home I've ever lived in. 

I loved my room. My cozy little room, with a twin sized bed and a tiny little window nook. A nook where I'd sit and read or write in my journal over the years. A room that had 2 major slants in the ceiling that I hit my head on pretty regularly despite knowing exactly where they were and how much I would need to duck. Everything in the home felt "old" in the most charming way. It had radiators that I would put my coat on before heading out the door so they'd be nice and toasty. There was a "secret" door from our front room the hall that blended into the wood paneled walls. It had the tiniest bathrooms with pedestal sinks. And the world's most spectacular backyard, complete with small pond, greenhouse and "tea house". 

We once had a dead hedgehog end up in that pond and that story has woven itself so deeply into our family that my mom, sister and I all have a collection of hedgehog related knick knacks that we keep buying one another. A friend of mine also fell in that pond. And a tiny cousin. So maybe not the safest of ponds? But it was also for catching tadpoles and frogs with my friend. And for relaxing out back listening to the bubbling water. 

So much life was lived in this house. Homework done at the kitchen table. Birthday sleepovers in the living room. Waiting in the front room for the bus to stop out front. Croquet in the yard...because that's what you do with that kind of yard right? Young Life bible study every Thursday for years, piano practice in the dining room, picnics in the backyard. A thousand visitors from our old home to our new home to take around and explore. 

Well my initial thoughts were right. It just can't all go in this post. I wanted this to be all things London. But there is so much, just in this house that my brain can't wrap it all up with the other London things. So that will have to be saved for another day. I'll leave it with this picture. 

This is the last time I was at this house. Taken the morning we headed for the airport to fly back to university after spending my freshman spring break at home. My last time at home. This picture tugs at my heart for a time that has now LONG passed (this picture is 12 years old). But the picture also makes me smile. The 4 of us together in our favorite place.


Monday, April 19, 2021

P is for Paris

Continuing along today with the April A-Z Blog Challenge. Our family moved to England when I was just shy of 13 and spent the next 6 years across the pond. This month, I am reflecting on the time I spent overseas during my teens.

P is for Paris

Aside from England where we actually lived, I would say I spent the most time in Paris while I was overseas. We went on more than one trip as a family or with people who came to visit us and I also went on more than one occasion for a swim meet. Typing that out, I always feel like it sounds a bit obnoxious but a trip to Paris when you live in England is more like a trip to a nearby state in the U.S. And aside from the fact that I don't speak a word of French past hello, goodbye, please and thank you, I consider myself very comfortable there. 

We took the Eurostar which was fun and I believe the day of our travel was Thanksgiving- our first one living overseas and it was quite the shock to the system having our "Thanksgiving dinner" on the train. I want to say it involved duck pate...a duck is almost a turkey right? That's what we told ourselves anyway. But we were on a train on the way to Paris so you can't complain too much right?

I wish I had a picture of the hotel we stayed in our first trip. The elevator could not fit all 4 of us so we went up in twos and our luggage had to go up by itself because of how small the lift was (and we really didn't have that much stuff I swear!). The room itself, which was said to fit 4 of us, was the tiniest space, one of the beds was actually in a closet. So it definitely made it a bit of an adventure. 

We of course made all the touristy stops that trip. The Arch de Triumph, The Louvre, Notre Dame and of course... The Eiffel Tower. 

Now I will pause and tell a short side story here about a different trip to Paris I took with our swim team. We were there for a meet but had some sight seeing time. And my coach decided that instead of taking the nice quick elevator ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it would be a great conditioning exercise to RUN up the stairs. 

First of all, I don't care to run pretty much anywhere, but definitely not up large flights of stairs and most assuredly not when those stairs are super steep and tall and feel like you may go off the edge at any moment. I do not recommend this method for scaredy cats or most normal people. But if you're looking to climb almost 2,000 stairs at a very brisk pace with a coach shouting motivational quotes down to you while he kicks your butt getting to the top then this activity might be for you. Now I happen to love this swim coach, and you'll hear a bit more about him in a future post about Young Life but this is one memory that always sticks out when I think of Paris, swim team or any large amount of stairs for that matter. 

So back to the touristy things...all of it is beautiful and amazing just like you imagine. And also very busy. 

The crowd to see the Mona Lisa is absurd and the days I've been there at least it's hard to even get close! We also went over to Montmartre to stroll around and sister and I had our portraits made. 

I will say, mine looks EXACTLY like me (when I was that age anyway) and both drawings are framed in my parents home still as a lovely memento from our time there.

One thing I love most of all about Paris is all the delicious food. The tiny cafes on every corner. Just pop in for a quick coffee and some sort of delicious pastry. The delightful little outdoor lunch spots, the fact that every meal includes cheese? I mean what's not to love! AND crepes. Enough said. My favorites would be a crepe fromage to start followed by a crepe sucre as dessert. Cheese and sugar. Simple and delicious and on each trip I would consume as many of them as possible and surely more than is recommended but that didn't stop me. I am actually now the proud owner of a crepe pan...but I have yet to attempt making them. Perhaps this weekend, now that I've got myself thinking about them. 

Paris gets a lot of attention as such a famous city. Some would say its "overrated" or too overly "hyped
crowded with tourists and to some extent that may be true. But the other parts that are true? It IS magical. It IS romantic. It IS beautiful. It lovely and delicious and bright and spectacular.