Friday, April 28, 2017

Grateful Friday

Last night was opening night of the show Mark is in at his school.  Singin' in the Rain!  It was fun to watch.

I missed the first part of it because I was helping sell tickets at the door.  Patty came through the line whose son Nate is Braeden's friend from high school.  She's one of those people you know you'd be good friends with if your circles intersected more.  She asked me when Braeden is coming home (Nate is in Panama on a mission) and I said, actually....

We caught up on the news and the lady I was selling tickets with got a little impatient with me for chatting rather than helping.

After the show, Braeden had a chance to talk to Patty and it made him happy.  It also makes him happy that Nate has decided to go to BYU also.

Adam saw a man from our stake whose scout troop is combining with Adam's for camp this summer.  They made the connection that his son is Gene who is Mark's good friend.  Mark has been dragging his feet a little to go to the deacon scout camp with Adam in addition to the camp with his troop although Adam wants him to go to both.  (I think our kids started out liking to camp but then it occurs to them as they get older that they have a house, complete with bed and hot water.)  But Gene is going!  I said, "If Gene is going, Mark will go."

And Mark said of course he would.

We went home with an exuberant Mark.  We talked all about the show and our favorite parts of it.  Emma asked Mark what highlighter makeup he was wearing because she liked it.  (Mark had no idea.  Some girl had done his makeup.)

Emma pronounced he was wearing too much eyeliner.

Braeden contended it was the right amount for stage makeup.

Emma said, "Well, for stage makeup."

What other kind of makeup tips does she think her brother needs?

I digress.  This is supposed to be a post about gratitude and I'm getting to it.  Braeden said our family prayer before bedtime and in his prayer, among other things, he expressed gratitude for public schools.

It made me think.

I considered when we watched Emma's choir perform (and get straight superior scores).  I considered the play we went to at the high school to watch some of Emma's friends that was very well done.  I considered the joyful kids at Mark's school, singing and dancing (in the rain) and having the time of their lives.  I considered the teachers they love who inspire them to do more and work harder.  I considered the friends they've made, like Nate and Gene, that they met at school. 

I loved (almost) every minute of home schooling, but I love public school too and am grateful for the opportunities it provides.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Taxi service

Mark's classmate, the sort of strange one that gets rides from us sometimes, followed Mark to our meeting point yesterday.  He's not really Mark's friend, he just knows Mark is the kind of kid who will ask his mom to give a ride to someone else.

He climbed in and said, "Remind me of your name?  I forgot your name."

"Thelma."

"Telma or Velma?"

"Thelma."

"What year is this van?"

I told him.

He said, "Will you take me to the elementary school?"

"Sure.  Which one."

"The Tigers."

"Which one is that?"

"Central?" He said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

So we drove him there.  On the way he pulled a handful of coins out of his pocket and promptly dropped it.  He picked up what he could find.

"Um, Mark?  I dropped two coins in your car so if you find them later will you give them to me?"

Mark said yes.

He said, "Do you have younger brothers and sisters?  Will you tell them?"

Mark said, "I'm the youngest."

"Oh, good." Apparently you can't trust younger brothers and sisters.  Then I think he started questioning if he could trust any of us with his two lost coins. "Hey," he said sheepishly, "I don't mean to offend you, but are you...religious?"

"Yes," I said.  Then, since it's Utah county and I thought it would put his worried mind at ease, I said, "We're Mormons."

"Oh, good!" he said.

To hopefully avoid further entanglements with this kid, when we got to the school, I had Mark pull the seats out of the back so the guy could reach his coins.

"Well, bye!" he said as he walked away.

You can't make some stuff up.







Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Alarming happenings

My boys have decided that the husband for Emma is someone that could beat each of them up individually but together, they could take him down.

I have no idea why in the world deciding that was necessary, but there it is.

Last night we were talking and it came up.  I suggested maybe Adam was in that category.  "No," Braeden said, "He'd wreck us."

Mark was game to test the theory.

Adam was too, apparently.  He said he'd give them one minute and if they could pull him off the bed, he'd give them each $5.  He said I would time it.

What?!?

I didn't want any part of it.  I tried to talk them out of it, saying they would break something (the bed, a lamp, each other).

Boys will be boys.

It was a minute of high anxiety for me.  I kept yelling, "Don't break the lamp!" and "Don't hurt him!"

Any him.  Just stop.

They couldn't get him off the bed, although they came close.  Adam wouldn't give them time to confer and make a plan.  Later, he said they could have easily gotten him off if they'd made a plan and worked together more.

I just think boys are weird.

So that was alarming.  So was this:



I was gone for one night.  One night.

And this happened.


A dead withered leaf next to Felicia!

Feliciaaaaaaaaa!

I know it happened fast because I would have noticed a yellowing leaf.  I check her often because she causes me anxiety.

I can't turn my back on Felicia.

Or go out of town apparently.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Party time

Last weekend was a party.

First, Braeden and I bought a new plant.  Braeden said, "Can I name him?"

Since he lifted the plant and also pushed the cart at Home Depot because the plant was too big and I couldn't see where I was going, I said sure.

He named the plant Trevion.  I think I should have asked him what the name would be before I said yes.

But Trevion it is.

We tried to make him feel welcome.

The little friend on the window sill is a zucchini.  I hope I have too much zucchini this summer.  I'm always jealous when people have that problem.


Friday when Adam got home from work, Adam and Braeden and I headed to Nevada.  Emma had to work and Mark had multiple rehearsals so it was just the three of us.  You will not be surprised to hear that we stopped at Maverik on our way out of town.  Adventure's first stop.

I like road trips with my dear ones.  I said to Braeden earlier in the day that I wished Emma and Mark were going too.  He acted shocked and said, "I'm looking forward to it just being me."  As much as he loves his siblings he loves being the only one too.  Like I told Emma, as far as Braeden is concerned, he's the sun and the rest of us are the planets.

We visited with my parents a little then went to bed.  (My mom gave us cookies.)  Saturday morning, we picked up Olivia's kids and headed to Elko.  A while ago, Edgar was badly burned in an accident and we were there to help.  Lili and Ruben had 4-H shooting sports.  They needed a parent (or benevolent uncle) to stay with them.  So Adam did that and Braeden and I took the three other boys on an adventure.  We went to four different stores and bought four different donuts.


We had a taste testing to see which was the best.  The sprinkles, though not my favorite, was a crowd-pleaser.  We let the boys run at the park a little and then we hit the museum.  We saw the animals and the guns.  There is a large collection of taxidermy animals at the museum.  According to Omar, "They are real but not live and don't touch them."

Marcos has a cell phone that isn't activated and he took copious pictures of every exhibit.

I had a marvelous time.

Braeden snapped pictures in the van while we adventured around.



Omar was a fan of the mints Braeden bought and distributed frequently.




It was a lot of cute boys all in one place.

We picked up the older kids and let them choose the lunch spot since they didn't get donuts.  Wendy's it was.  On the way there, one of the boys asked if he could have soda.  At the same time, Braeden said yes and Lili said no (two oldest children--they are always bossy).  Braeden said to Lili, "You're not in charge."  (Not only oldest child, but oldest cousin in the van.)

Ruben asked Lili, "Then can I have chocolate milk?"

Lili said, "Apparently, I'm not in charge."

Everyone got soda except Lili, who wanted water.  Because really I was in charge and I wanted to get those cuties whatever they wanted.


I think if I could take this crew to lunch every Saturday for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy kid.

In the afternoon, we tried to get Olivia to have us do work around the house but she didn't let us do much.  We did fold some laundry.  I love folding laundry and my sisters don't.  My mom vacuumed and I moved stuff around for her.  I like cleaning in teams.

Meanwhile Braeden played/wrestled with his cousins on the trampoline and they about did him in.  He came in, sweaty and winded and said, "I'm exhausted!"

We took a walk on Marianne's new trail until I wimped out on account of my wimpy knee.  (Does everyone's older sister create walking trails on the hills behind her house or is that just mine?)

We headed back home Saturday night and I was happy to be reunited with Emma and Mark.  It's always nice to be home but I am grateful we live close to that Nevada gang.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The winds of change

Yesterday I was released as the Young Women president and I got a new calling.  I am a Temple and Family History Consultant.

Gulp.

On the one hand, I feel a bit of relief about the YW thing.  I mean, you know how I love not camping.  On the other hand, I will miss those girls!  They are some great girls.  The good news, I now have a short list of candidates my sons can marry.  I just need to convince my boys (and probably the girls).

Braeden handed me this during sacrament meeting:


Which was, you know, helpful.

I am sort of enthusiastic about my new job but also feel a bit of trepidation because I don't know much about family history.  The bishop gave me a xerox copied description of my calling from the Church News (apparently it's a new calling in the church).  The first line of the description said that you didn't need to be experienced in family history.  So I guess I'm qualified.

There were tears and hugs from the young women which sort of shocked me in a good way.  They like me!  I like them too.

I'll miss them.




Friday, April 21, 2017

Grateful Friday

Adam brought me flowers again last night.  He is my best cheerleader, anchor, entertainer and friend.

Also he is a wizard and fixed my computer.

Braeden is a great sidekick.  We spend our waking hours together.  We are a lot alike and it feeds both of our souls to talk stuff over. 

Emma has a terrible cold.  I'm grateful for her stoic grown up and responsible nature.  She trudges to work despite feeling rotten.  It's a very adult behavior because when you're an adult, the show must go on.  Also, she gets me.  Also, I let her stay home from school today.

I'm grateful for the zaniness Mark brings to my life.  Yesterday we were driving and talking about marriage (Braeden was more interested in the topic than Mark).  Braeden asked me what it was about Adam that I didn't even know would matter before we got married.

Mark piped up, "His great genes.  I mean, you didn't know you were going to get the amazingness that is my hair."

Braeden and I laughed (and laughed) at that.  Mark can't get his hair cut because of the play (which is thankfully next week).  His hair is crazy and big and every day we look at each other and shake our heads in wonder.

I am the one with curly hair but now I am glad to know that Adam's genes are responsible for that business.

I'm also grateful for extended family.  Braeden and I visited Adam's cousin Pam and her family.  In a weird series of coincidences, Braeden and Branson were both called to the Chesapeake Virginia mission and they are both home for medical reasons.  (Branson had to have surgery because he tore his ACL.)


The boys enjoyed visiting and Pam and I--who have a lot in common, we are the same sort of mother--also had a good chat.  The boys talked about the missionaries they knew and they caught each other up on happenings they had heard about.

It does my heart good to see them together.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nothing

Yesterday Braeden asked me if he could read my blog.  I said, "I didn't post today.  I don't really have anything to say."

Braeden gave me a sort of wounded look.  You may argue that a lot of the time I don't have anything to say and I still blog.  It is mostly because of Braeden and that wounded look.  I can handle it when he's here but I want him to get my blog when he's on his mission.  I can't handle thinking about him having a wounded look when he is far away.

My mom called me to see if I was OK.  She said, "You didn't blog...."

So I'll tell you what's new.

My icloud storage is full.  Every time I open my laptop it tells me that.  And this morning I got a sort of threatening email about it.  I think it's darling of the computer to think that I know what to do about it but I need to wait until Adam can address this issue.

Yesterday I had an allergy attack.  The kind that makes you lose the will to live.

I talked to both sisters on the phone and had lunch with Tabor so that was sort of a banner day.

I was walking upstairs and Emma called up, "Are you coming down soon?"

I said, "What do you need?"

She said, "Nothing, I just want to talk to you."

What?!?

I quickly went back downstairs because when does that happen?  Answer:  when the Ulta catalog arrives.  Emma wanted to discuss.


I had the laurel class over for our activity.  We had a pudding bar.  No Pinterest was even involved on that one.  I just thought it up--although probably it is on Pinterest since everything is.  Both my boys thought it was weird and Emma liked the idea.  Tabor thought it was a winner too.  He said, "The girls will like it."  And he has three daughters so I call him an authority on the matter.

I was preparing the stuff--Oreo and Nutter Butter and graham cracker crumbs, fruit, mini marshmallows, chopped up Reeses Peanut Butter cups.  I told Mark not to eat any of the mix ins.  He started to laugh and said, "What?"

"Mix ins," I said.

He said, "Oh, I thought you said McSins--like a combination of McDonalds and sins."

I still don't have much to say, except I didn't die of allergies.  And it's OK to write about nothing, I guess.  It's right there in the title of my blog.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lasts are hard

Yesterday Emma stayed home from school, sick.  She was actually sick, not my-brother-is-home-from-his-mission-so-I-don't-want-to-go-to-school sick, like certain unnamed eighth graders were last week.

I let her sleep most of the morning but then woke her up because she needed to be able to sleep at night and she had to go to her regional choir festival.

Emma and Braeden chatted and chatted and Braeden said, "I'm so happy!  I realized why.  Because I'm with Emma!"

It doesn't matter how prickly she can be sometimes.  Emma's brothers adore her.  We all do.

After lunch we had silent reading time which is what we used to do back in the salad days when I home schooled those lovelies.  It was my favorite time of the day back then and yesterday I loved sitting around with them, reading.

Then we took Emma to the school where her festival was and went to pick up Mark from his school.  Then we were going to go back and watch her perform.  On the way, Emma called and said she needed her choir robe which was at her high school.  So we went there.  Braeden knew where the choir room was and if you want to get looks, go striding into PGHS wearing a missionary name tag.  And seriously, that kid strides.  I struggle to keep up with him.

There was another boy in the choir room and he was dithering because there were all these robes and did he need to take them to Lone Peak High School?  Braeden said he was there to get his sister's robe.  The boy said, "Yeah, I was going to bring it to her because I saw she didn't have it earlier."

We left and Braeden said, "How did he know Emma was my sister?"

No idea.  Super recognizer?

We got to the school and the boy, the patron saint of all choir robes, climbed out of a nearby car.  "Do you want me to take it to her?" he asked Braeden.  Braeden handed him the robe.

Before Emma's choir performed, we heard American Fork High School's choir sing.  They sang well.  Braeden asked, "Is Emma's choir better than this?"  I said I didn't know and Braeden looked at me like I had deserted the army.

Emma's choir took the stage and they were better.  They sounded amazing and I was so glad to be there.  At some point I realized it was one of the lasts.  Why do kids have to turn into rotten seniors and leave their mothers anyway?  There will be one more choir concert but the end of year concert is never as good.  It's more of a fun concert and they have sung all the real music earlier.  I soaked up the expression on my Emma's face as she joyfully sang her little heart out.

She's easy to spot.  Even though she has the same hair color and basic complexion as all the girls, she's the one with the red red lips!

Her brothers gave her a standing ovation and I didn't.  Mostly because I would have started crying.

Don't judge me.

Emma was confused about how the boy who delivered her choir robe got it in the first place and how he even knew who she was.  She keeps to her introverted self and she's always surprised when people know her.

I'm not surprised.  If I went to school with her, I'd want to know her.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter weekend

Our Easter egg shaped fruit pizza.  It was a group effort.


Adam bought me roses for Easter.  What kind of monster is he trying to create?  Am I like Lila from the movie Holiday Inn?  "This kid even expects presents on Father's Day."

Emma worked late Friday night and was gone all day Saturday for a state drama competition (she medaled!).  Braeden asked if he was gone this much when he was a senior. 

Yes. 

Saturday evening she let me brush and braid her hair while she told me about everything.  She said, "I don't like being touched but I like when you brush my hair.  Maybe because my hair is dead."

So this is to say, my daughter is weirder than your daughter.

She is not to be outdone by her brothers though.  At lunch in El Pollo Loco, they kept pretending to taze each other with the little thing that lights up when your order is ready.  They'd "taze" each other and then collapse dramatically on the bench next to them.

What can you do besides hope the food gets there quickly?

I overheard a conversation between them.  Mark was enthusiastically telling Braeden about what he does in his PE class and how much he enjoys it.  Mark asked, "What did you do in PE when you were in junior high?"

Braeden said, "Think about how I wished I wasn't in PE."

See?  Now that I can understand.

I couldn't find Braeden's Easter basket anywhere.  I had Braeden climb up and look on the top shelf in the dungeon, which is our dark and forbidding storage room.  He said, "All I see is a dead rat."

I freaked out a little and he said, "Do you really think I would be this calm if I saw a dead rat?"

I said no but I told him not to DO that to me.  He hugged me and apologized.  We never did find the basket.  Losing stuff makes me a little crazy.  I told him I'd have it for sure by next Easter.

Adam created an Easter egg hunt for us.  He hid mandarin oranges.

Braeden picked out what ties he wanted everyone to wear for the day.



I set the table for our Easter feast with the BYU babes.   I care more about how the table looks than the food.  Just fair warning if you ever eat dinner here.

Mark is the one that put ice in the cups.  He did it with enthusiasm.

We had a lovely feast and read the story eggs my mom made us when all these kids were little.  Then we decorated fake eggs with chalk.



Many times throughout the weekend, I'd look around and think, "I like being here."

Friday, April 14, 2017

As we go marching up the hill

Braeden asked me, "Do you want to go up to an exceedingly high mountain?"

I said, "Maybe a moderately high mountain."

We went up behind our house and we walked and talked.  (I don't know, have I mentioned how much I love being with that kid?) We were talking about the hard and seemingly endless things that life hands us sometimes.  Sometimes life doesn't make sense or seem fair.

Braeden brought up the Mormon pioneers and how they were forced to leave their homes.  That probably didn't feel fair or make sense to them.

"But now look," he said, gesturing across the valley.  "There's a temple (Mt. Timpanogos) and there's a temple (Payson) and there are two temples (Provo and Provo) and there's going to be a temple there (Saratoga Springs)."

I grew up in the Great Basin, a child of pioneer ancestry.  I learned all the pioneer songs.  I celebrated the 24th of July (the day the first Mormon pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley).  Still, I think I had never fully considered it all.  It was hard.  Of course it was hard.  I've always known it was hard physically.  I guess I hadn't appreciated how hard it must have been mentally.  I'm sure they felt like it was unfair and didn't make sense.  They were U.S. citizens in a country founded on constitutional rights including freedom of religion and they were being driven from their homes for their religion.

If that had been me would I have groused the entire way across Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming about how unfair it was?  Would I have spent the time trying to devise a strategy of escape and just wanting to "fix" it all somehow?  Because those are usually my coping strategies.

As a child I learned this song:

When pioneers moved to the West,
With courage strong they met the test
They pushed their handcarts all day long,
And as they pushed they sang this song:
For some must push and some must pull,
As we go marching up the hill;
So merrily on our way we go
Until we reach the Valley-o.

The song made it sound to my ears like a party.  Merrily on our way we go until we reach the valley-o.  It wasn't a party.  I'm guessing it was even more mentally taxing than it was physically taxing.

They didn't see that someday there would be a valley dotted with churches and soon to be five temples.  They saw mile after mile of barren and inhospitable desert.

The lesson for me is to keep pushing and pulling, with courage strong to meet the test.  

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The dishwasher

Yesterday Braeden said, "Do you want to empty it or load it?" to Mark.  No one asked him to do that and frankly moments like that are a little startling to me. 

Mark sighed a little and said, "Empty."

It reminded me of a conversation I overheard between two single people on our trip .  They were lamenting the travails of being single.  Believe me, I know how blessed I am to have Adam in my life.  I wouldn't trade for all the world.  Their conversation did make me smile though.  They were talking about how hard it is to have to do ALL the work.  For example, the man said, "If I don't start the dishwasher, it doesn't get started."

I considered how much laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and cleaning I do just for myself.  Not much.

The woman said, "Yeah, I don't have kids to help with chores."

The man said, "I would love to have kids I could just give a list of chores to that I wanted them to do."

Having kids = free time!  Am I right?

I could write all day the reasons I'm glad I have children.  Them helping around the house doesn't make the list.  Maybe some people's children do help a lot around the house, but still.  If you are having children for the labor they provide, you may be disappointed.

The good news is, it eventually happens.  They eventually, shockingly do ask their brother if he wants to empty or load the dishwasher.

It just might take 20 years to get to that point.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Three

This is how Braeden takes selfies now.  Weirdo.
He's back!

It was a less dramatic welcome home than most missionaries get.  Adam and the kids were in the airport Starbucks and I went up the stairs and stood by the sign that said you have to go downstairs to wait for passengers.

Don't tell me how to live my life Salt Lake airport.  That handsome kid striding toward me with a big smile is my boy!

He scooped me into his arms and then he said, "You're not crying."  And it's true, I wasn't.  I was just happy.  (You can ask any of my people though, I have cried plenty.)

He had many delays and it took several tries and rescheduled flights but it finally worked.  I've got my three kids back together. 

Three is my favorite number. 

He has a doctor appointment today.  We'll start the process of trying to figure out when/if he will be able to go back to his mission.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the kid.  Braeden is everything to everyone.  It feels like a party when he is home.  He even had Emma talking.  Before school. 

That never happens.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Not today Russia, not today

I've been meaning to blog about this but I keep forgetting.  Let's just say I don't quite have my faculties about me....

Anyway.

At the airport in Paris when we were flying home, Emma and I were the only ones who didn't check luggage.  We are light packers.  We were in the border police line together.  It was one of those long zig-zagging lines.

I noticed a woman dodging around people to get ahead of everyone.  I figured she must be late for a flight or something.  I didn't begrudge her cutting in front of us.

Then I noticed more and more of the same thing and they were all holding Russian passports.  A woman grasping a red Russian passport was behind us, cutting around people, getting closer to us.

"Don't let her past us," I whispered to Emma.

Emma is no shrinking violet.  She planted her feet and put her suitcase next to her and I did the same.  She was not getting past us, two sturdy American women!

Emma was on the inside track and that was the side the woman kept trying to get past us.  She was nudging against Emma and Emma, who's been the most stubborn person I've known for as long as I've known her, was not budging.

The angst and displeasure showed on the Russian lady's face but we were not moving.

I said to Emma, "I've never loved you more than I do right now."

As the woman pushed against her, Emma turned to me with a smile and whispered, "Not today Russia, not today."

I've said it before, if I was only going to get one daughter, I'm glad it was Emma!  She is the bees knees.

This is Emma braiding my hair when we were in the awful cave so I wouldn't die.  Also, I'm smiling in this picture.  I don't remember smiling in that place....



Monday, April 10, 2017

A list

1. The jet lag is real.

2. I saw a video today about the opening of the Paris temple.  It delighted me because I've been to all the places it showed.  Last week we stopped by the Paris temple (didn't go inside because the open house hasn't even happened yet).  All of the sudden our wi-fi started working.  The same wi-fi that works in every church in the U.S. works at the Paris temple too! 

3. Braeden is coming home tonight!  I am excited to see him and disappointed he needs surgery again.  And excited to see him.  (It's going to be hard when Mark is on a mission and doesn't come home a few times....)

4. The other night we were reading the scriptures together as a family.  We were in Jacob, in the Book of Mormon, and read about the "faith and great anxiety" of the people.  Adam said that sounded like me.  That sums of my experience in motherhood.  It doesn't get easier.

5. Yesterday my parents stopped by on their way home from Tabor's house.  My mom had done an Easter craft with her other grandchildren and wanted to do it with us too.  We made a family of bunnies.  Jimifer, Denzel, B-hawk, and Sinbad.



Is Sinbad named after the guy in Arabian Nights?  Is he named after the comedian?  Or is sin bad? 

6. Adam has invented a variation on Yahtzee that we are obsessed with. 

7. I like being with these guys (I mean my family, but also the bunnies).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

All the things

taken from inside the Musée d'Orsay--I can spell it even though I can't say it correctly

What's a girl to do that just returned from a spectacular trip and minimally blogged while she was gone and wants to write down all the things, but really?

That's a lot of things.

I wrote in a journal while I was there because I have to write stuff down or maybe it didn't really happen.

I guess what it mostly comes down to about the trip is that I treasure the time with Emma.



I loved seeing her try out her French.  The girl who used to be too afraid to order in a restaurant, was ordering for me in a restaurant.  In French.

I loved hearing Emma with her friends.  They are wickedly funny and clever.  They wrote a song about Farid, our really quirky tour guide.  Inserted in the middle of the song was a rap in French.  Because why not?

Seeing so many beautiful sites, so much history, was amazing.

Mont St. Michel
a cathedral in Rouen


The American cemetery at Omaha Beach was a powerful experience, so was sitting in mass in a centuries old church.

This is where we went to mass, in Chartres.  The guy in the blue jacket?  Our buddy Farid.

Standing in front of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Cassatt.  Incredible.  It fed my soul.

Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night when it was all lit up was pure magic.

the view from our river cruise on the Seine


We ate way too much bread and discovered the best kinds of macarons.  Seriously, those macarons could change the world.

I learned to appreciate some American things.  Hotel rooms and reliable internet for example.  And also water fountains.  We mostly walked around thirsty.  In restaurants they'd put a small carafe of water on the table and the glasses were small like shot glasses.  We'd fill up our water bottles in bathroom sinks and sometimes the water was warm bordering on hot but we were that thirsty.

We saw one and only one water fountain in all of France.  It was on American soil.  The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach is on land given to America.  There were big bathrooms with multiple stalls (exciting times!).  Outside there was a water fountain, just like outside public bathrooms in America.  We saw an older woman checking it out and then trying to wash her hands at it.   Emma's friend Fiona showed her how it worked.  The Frenchwoman was delighted and then showed her husband.

There was a group of French school children there.  They were about 10 and we watched them try to mimic us and drink out of the fountain.  They struggled to get their mouth in the right spot and were laughing like it was the most unusual thing in the world.

Is everyone in France just thirsty all the time?

Life, with it's twists and turns, threw us another curve ball while we were away.  Braeden needs surgery again.  He's coming home again.

We are hopeful that he will be able to return to his mission after the surgery.   Adam returned from his vacation with Mark and his mom a few days before we got home.  He bought milk so we're ready for Braeden.  I'm looking forward to hugging him and taking care of him and talking to him and all the things.

The five of us, shoulder to shoulder and facing things is a good place to be.




Monday, April 3, 2017

Today was another glorious day although it had a harrowing ending.

We walked down the street of our little village to a chateau this morning. It was (relatively) small and just lovely. It was the kind of place where a Disney princess would live.

We rode the bus to the Chateau de Chenonceau. It was one of my favorite places we have been!

First, the day was perfect. In the history of the world there has not been more perfect weather. We walked through the castle and admired all the everything. Most of the castles were ransacked after the revolution but the locals liked the lady who lived there so they spared it. That is why there are a lot of the original furnishings still. We walked through gardens and a carriage house and a maze and it was completely wonderful. The wisteria was just starting bloom and there were tulips and all sorts of flowers starting.

We drove to La Cave dux Maines.  It is a limestone quarry that is now a troglodyte.  I think.  A cave.  The ceiling was low and my claustrophobic tendencies were rearing their head.  I just wanted to leave.  Emma kept checking on me and squeezing my hand and braiding my hair which did help.  The tour guide was telling us about how they raise snails and mushrooms in the cave and I just focused on Emma braiding my hair and not panicking.  When the tour guide talked about how sometimes the quarry would collapse back when they were getting out the limestone Emma said she could feel me react.

Terrible.

Why do people go in caves?

Why did I?!?

We ate dinner in the low ceiling restaurant.  I told Emma, "I just want to see the sky!"

We had an interesting dinner.  I passed on the snails.  Emma's teacher was shocked and said they were very French.  I said, "I know how much the French love snails so I will sacrifice and not eat any.  I am a giver."

We had this bread stuff they pronounced free although I am pretty sure that is not how you spell it.  You put all sorts of things in it.  They brought us butter and pate.  Then this sort of bean soup and then Brie. The girls were all game to try the pate until they asked me what it was.  Then a few of them had a little nibble and did not like it.

For dessert we had a lovely apple tart that helped take away some of the sting of the earlier nastiness.

At the earliest opportunity I happily returned to the bus.  Caves are scary beyond all reason.  That is all. 


Top photo:  the view out my hotel window in Azay-le-Rideau

Riding along the Loire River

Chateau Chambord

The Cathedral at Chartres (the guy in the blue jacket in front of the cathedral is Farid, our quirky tour guide)

I know how to pronounce very little of that.  I figured out the name of the village where we are staying by looking at the local weather on my phone.  I had heard people say it but that didn't mean I knew what the word was.

We are having a marvelous time.  Yesterday was a calmer day, riding the bus through the countryside and the like.  We attended mass in a 13th century cathedral.  It was incredible.  I felt my nothingness and the insignificance of my troubles in the face of such longevity.  How many prayers have been uttered in that space?

Besides the castle we visited, the Loire River is dotted with them all along the way.  They were originally fortresses but when methods of war changed, they turned the fortresses into castles.  So much history!  In the western U.S. things are old if they are from the late 1800s!

We are about to leave for another day of adventures.  I had better get myself together!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

On top of the Eiffel Tower!

I don't have much time to blog. I just got wifi and we are about to leave!

What do you at midnight at the Eiffel Tower with your BFFs?

Lay on the ground and stare up!

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