The Confidence We Have

It’s been a tough week.  Some weeks are.  We went from vacation mode to jumping back in to a busy and full schedule.  Which was totally fine because for the most part, we really love our lives and what we do.  But it was certainly a pretty significant change of pace.  Then it really only took a few moments of reading the news or watching it on tv to be overwhelmed by the hurt and brokenness of our world.  And finally, I’ve just felt so sad these past few days, learning that a friend from high school passed away in a terrible and tragic car accident.  He was a teacher and a coach and a huge part of his community and while we are thankful that he is no longer hurting or suffering, our hearts break knowing that he now leaves behind his wife and three little ones.

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But I write all that tonight, to say that even in the pain and heartache, I know that God is there.  I know that He grieves with us when we hurt but more so, He restores and heals our pains.  I know that I can ask anything of God and that while he may not always answer how I want, He does indeed hear my prayers and He will work what is best.

And I write this all to share that yesterday, I shared a post on behalf of Michael and his family asking for prayers for the baclofen trial that he had today.  This was potentially something that could help Michael greatly as he works hard to recover.  But it was a trial and something that they would need to test in order to see if Michael would be a good candidate for a baclofen pump.

Well tonight, just as we were finishing up our first day of Hangtime, I got a call from Sally. I rushed upstairs to listen to what she would say in the quiet of our church’s sanctuary.  It was good news.  Michael did really well during the trial and he responded very positively.  Sally shared that everyone at the hospital was pleased and that she was able to see some good results very soon after the trial started.  She asked me to thank everyone who was praying for Michael because everything went as they hoped it would.

So thank you everyone.  It was a great and encouraging day for Michael.  Getting a baclofen pump could help him in many ways and thanks to today it appears that that will be the direction that is taken.

God has heard our prayers and we are so thankful.  We can continue to have confidence that God is working for Michael and on his behalf.

Cross Country

Today we started a whole new chapter in sports:  Cross Country.  It was actually Christian’s second Jr. High meet, but since we were away for the first one, it was the first time we were able to go and cheer him and his team on.

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We’ve always enjoyed watching our son play various sports.  He had quite a few years with soccer and then basketball, so cross country is completely new to us.  He’s been practicing with his team for the past few weeks and has really enjoyed and done a great job with it.

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He has two coaches that are doing a great job and that is a blessing as well.

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For the record, I’m pretty sure that Christian was standing up on the curb, so he officially is not taller than his Dad.  He is now a few inches taller than me, which is a little weird since I now technically look up to him when we are standing side by side.

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Quick shout out to the little sisters of the world.  She’s spent quite a bit of time at her brother’s practices and games and for the most part has been pretty good about it.

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I think I was more nervous than he was.  Running is not easy, and even more so when you are competing against others.  However, that is one of my favorite things about cross country.  Yes, it’s a team sport, but more so, it’s very much an individual sport where you are trying to compete against yourself.  There’s something powerful to fueling that desire to be better than you were last time.  I’m excited to see how far Christian will grow this season as he continues to work hard and push himself to do better and better.

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Christian has good friends on his team and it was fun to be there to cheer for them as well.

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After the girls raced, it was time for the boys to line up.  They ran a solid mile today.  Last time it was a little longer, so I guess it fluctuates a bit from race to race.

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After they took off, we waited.  Not being able to see the kids run the whole time is probably the bummer about cross country.  However, it was super exciting seeing them finally come around that last bend.

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We were so proud of Christian and all the kids, really.

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When it was over, he came in 12th place, out of the 7th and 8th grade boys that all ran together.  His mile time was 6:57, which is way faster than I could ever dream to be.  He worked hard and was proud of his race and we were proud of him as well.

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After dumping water on his head to cool down, he went off to join his team for their final stretches.  All in all, it was a great meet and we are excited for his next on which will be on Thursday.  Today was kind of our official start back into normal life, and I think we’re pretty much excited and ready for everything that fall has to bring.

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Disneyland Paris

We talked about this one throughout the past few days of our trip.  Jeremy researched and found that we could get to Disneyland Paris in about an hour with the metro and a train ride and also found us half off tickets online.  Since we fit so much into our first two days in Paris, we figured it might be good to change up the pace a bit.  But we weren’t totally sure so actually put the idea to rest yesterday, and planned to enjoy another full day in Paris.  But this morning, on a whim we decided to be spontaneous.  We actually had slept in a bit, but did the math and realized after travel we’d still have a good even hours in the park, so we did it.

Now, I’m a fan of Disney.  We went when I was younger, driving twenty some hours from Michigan.  It was pretty magical and memorable.  Then about four years ago, on a cruise stop in December with our kids, we decided to pay a lot of money to take them for a very short amount of time.  The park was packed, and I rode about three rides with Ellee, but I loved it and loved having that memory as well.  So you can only imagine my delight, walking in to Disneyland Paris, for another fun filled day with my amazing husband.


I figured it would be a pretty awesome day when we walked by this staff member who was cleaning up trash as well as delighting visitors with his clearly amazing artistic abilities.  He drew that Mickey with a little brush and some water, knowing it would quickly disappear under the warmth of the sun, but doing it anyways to the delight of everyone watching.


Okay, so right away we got a great feeling about how our day might go, based off a few observations.  First off, there really weren’t that many people there.  Last time we were at Disney, you couldn’t walk without bumping into someone else and I distinctly remember waiting about an hour and a half for Pirates of the Carribean.  But as we made our way through the park, it was kind of quiet and peaceful.  Then, when we went to Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast, we saw that the wait time was only five minutes.  It turned out being zero because we ended up walking right on.  It was a sign of good things to come.


The same thing happened at Jeremy’s all time favorite ride, Pirates of the Carribean.  There was no wait and no line.  So we went on it twice.  It was positively delightful and brought back all sorts of fun memories.


Afterwards me we walked over to my all time favorite Disney ride and I’m not even joking.  I have always loved It’s a Small World.  Yes, it’s slow.  And yes, that song could probably drive you crazy.  But I can’t help it.  I love seeing all the different characters from all over the world.  I love the costumes and the backgrounds and thinking how amazing it is this world that we live in.  We’re all so different, yet all so similar.  It seriously makes me tear up a bit everytime I ride it.  That being said, we rode it and it was wonderful.  I also gained new appreciation for the London part of the ride.  It was fun to see the red buses and the Tower Bridge as well.


Also, this part made me think of our friends John and Naomi who are currently missionaries in Tanzania.  We are hoping to go visit them there in a few years, to see and support their ministry there.  Although once I told Naomi that I would love to support her and John but that I had purposed in my heart to never go to Africa, because it was far and a bit intimidating.  Lesson learned, you should never say never, and keep your heart open to what God desires.  Funny it didn’t take too long for God to start changing my heart about this and now I even plan that we will someday go and see them.  And maybe some giraffes too.


Afterwards, we got a snack, in the form of this chocolate pretzel.  It was delicious.  We also walked over to Disney Studios, which was a separate park that was included in our ticket.  And speaking of tickets, should you ever find yourself wanting to go to Disneyland Paris, you should totally check for discount tickets online.  We paid half of what was advertised at the park and it made everything that much more enjoyable.


Our first stop was the Animagique Theatre.  They were just getting ready to start a show, which was perfect timing for us to walk in just in time.  The show was absolutely delightful.  Having a good portion of my childhood take place in the 80s and early 90s, I basically grew up watching Disney movies.  My sisters and I knew and loved them well.  So when the show turned out to be a compilation of songs from different Disney movies, I couldn’t have been more delighted.  It was basically like a mini Broadway show and everything was so well done.  Thankfully the characters used both a mix of French and English so we could mostly understand what was going on.


Afterwards we went on the Studio Tram Tour ride.  It seemed a little old and dated, and we couldn’t figure out if it was bad or good, because some parts were bad, but others really good.  This was literally Jeremy’s face pondering this very thing.  Overall, I enjoyed the nice slow pace of the ride and also learning about how they do some of the stunts.


And then came my first worst decision of the day and that is when I agreed to go on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  I thought I had remembered going on this ride as a kid and it being a nice, slow ride up the tower, with a then big, but quick drop,  so I agreed and we got in line.  I should have know once we got to the elevator and there was a girl there hysterically crying her eyes out.

Now I should mention that ever since I was pregnant with our kids, I kind of just gave up on crazy rides.  I used to love them, but something changed and I decided I was totally fine never going on one again.  And I don’t know what it was.  Jeremy had wanted to go and I thought it would t be too bad.  I even got a quick photo before it started.  But when the doors closed, I realized I had made a big mistake.  It was not a slow ride up and then down.  It was up and then the doors opened to something scary, and then up some more and then down, then up really fast, then down really fast.  And it just kept going.  Basically, I was terror filled the entire ride.  There are a few points that I didn’t think I would make it.


Thankfully I did.  But it did take a few minutes feel right again.  We slowed down our pace.  Jeremy rode another roller lasted while I sat and tried not to feel nauseous.  We walked back over to our first park and got there just in time to see a fun parade going by.


I loved the floats and the characters.  Again, brought back so many good memories from my childhood and from our kids’ as well.  Speaking of our kids, I did feel bad that they aren’t with us.  But then again, with how much we love Paris, maybe someday it will work out to bring them.


After the parade, we went up in the Swiss Family Robinson’s Tree House.  It was so fun and another favorite of both of ours.


We grabbed dinner at the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue.  We realIzed it was the same place we had taken the kids when we were in Disneyworld.  It was very good and filling and we enjoyed our meals a lot.  And it was after this that I made my second bad mistake of the day.  And that was agreeing to go on Space Mountain.  This was another of Jeremy’s favorite rides.  And I wasn’t a fan, but again, I thought I had remembered that it wasn’t that bad.  We actually had to wait for this ride.  A grand total of ten minutes or so.  It was the longest that we waited all day.  I should have used this time to ponder life and the value of not going on rides like this.

Because when we got to the ride and saw it had those over the shoulder harnesses, I should have known.  It was pretty much the most terrifying experience I’ve had in many years.  It was crazy and fast and had these stars and 3D planets coming at you.  I’m pretty sure it went upside down and I will admit eventually I just closed my eyes and prayed it would be over soon.  I walked off it dizzy and went and laid down on a bench.  Note to everyone, if you don’t like feeling like you’re going to have a heart attack, this ride is not for you.


Thankfully, I recovered, but it did take awhile.  And thankfully, as we were walking out, we passed the castle just in time for the Disney Dreams Nightime Spectacular.  We had seen it in the brochure, but it sounded kind of corny.  Thankfully, it was anything but.  Again, it was a beautiful compilation of Disney movies and songs and animation and lights all over the castle which acted like a big television screen.  They also added in fireworks and fire throwers and it was the most delightful experience I could have imagined. The picture doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but it was the best I could get on my little phone.


All in all, we really could not have enjoyed a more wonderful day at Disneyland Paris.  Besides those two times I thought I wasn’t going to make it, everything else about this day was awesome.  It was a positively delightful way to spend the day in Paris’ version of the happiest place on earth.

The Prettiest Day in Paris

Today was pretty incredible and I don’t think we could have asked for a prettier day spent in Paris.  The weather was perfect, the kind you can’t even feel because it’s neither hot nor cold.  And we really did enjoy the most fun and full day of walking around and taking in more of the amazing sights that this wonderful city has to offer.


We visited quite a few beautiful churches today, including this one.  I have to say, this church’s stained glass window game was on point.  The entire sanctuary was filled with beautiful glass depictions of scenes from the Bible and it was just incredibly stunning to see.


Afterwards, we walked a block or so to see the grand Notre-Dame de Paris.  The church was stunning, both inside and out.  It actually reminded us of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral with some of its design elements.  We enjoyed our walk throughout the church and took various moments to sit, reflect and pray.  It was a peaceful way to start out our day.


And on our way out, we even spotted Quasimodo, or at least the church’s stone depiction of him.  We randomly overheard a tour guide pointing him out, otherwise we would have walked right by.  Can you find him?


We ate lunch in a garden behind the church.  It was so pretty and beautiful and the perfect setting for our broccoli quiche and fancy cheese on baguette sandwich lunch.


Afterwards, we walked through some shops in the coolest little area.  We stopped by a gelato place that we had seen on a food show we watched.  It wasn’t the best gelato I’ve eaten, but it was refreshing and fun to try something out that we had seen.  So we balanced it out with a few chocolate macaroons and then a banana and Nutella crepe.  I can’t say it was my healthiest food afternoon, but I will say it was my most fun.

For dinner, we picked up some fancy French cheese and a baguette.  We walked over a bridge that we assumed was the famous lock bridge because, well it was fully covered in locks.


We walked over to the park by the Louvre and enjoyed this:


While looking at this.  We ate and talked while taking in the sheer beauty that is Paris.  It seriously is the most beautiful city.  Everywhere you look, there are fun and interesting and historical things to see.  This city has certainly made its way into our hearts and we are loving every minute we get to be here.


On our way to our next museum, we noticed a group doing burpees down by the water.  It made me kind of excited because I plan to rejoin my old gym this fall and will probably be getting my burpee game back on soon.  Granted, no one actually likes burpees, but they are an amazing full body  workout to do.


Our final destination of the day was the Museum d’Orsay.  It came highly recommended from my friend Lillian as well as Trip Advisor, so we know it would be worth the visit.  And it totally was.


Also, the entire time while we were there, there was an orchestra and full on opera going on.  The entire museum was filled with beautiful music and it was just incredible.


We had a good hour and a half to wander the halls enjoying sculptures and paintings.  The museum had the most incredible collection of Monet.  This was my favorite from their collection.


The highlight by far for me though, was the beautiful collection of Van Gogh they had.  His work, Bedroom in Arles has always been a favorite of mine, so you can imagine my delight when I turned the corner and there it was.  I learned that this was one of his three renditions of the same painting, the other two being featured in Amsterdam and Chicago.


The detail on this masterpiece was amazing!  I was so thankful to get to see this painting in person and it’s a memory I’ll always cherish and appreciate.


So there you have it.  A full and incredibly pretty day in Paris that was filled with beautiful and pretty things.  Tomorrow is our last day and then we head home.  It’s been a wonderful vacation and while I’m somewhat sad to see it go, I’m definitely ready to get back home, to our kids and to normal life.  Thanks for checking in on our day and goodnight!

Paris is Pretty Amazing

Okay, so I’m probably just stating the obvious.  But after our first full day here, I can say with confidence, that Paris is pretty amazing.  We started out with a morning at the Louvre, which is the largest museum not only in Paris, but in the world.  Some people, who aren’t museum fans would hear that and cringe.  But we are not those people because we love museums so we were super excited.  Funny enough, we took our skip the line tickets right over to the big line on the left.  But amazingly, it went by crazy fast whereas the regular line on the right hardly seemed to move.  It was totally worth the few extra euros that we paid.


From inside the museum, and while waiting for Jeremy to grab a map I learned that a tiny man works hard to clean all of those beautiful clear glass windows.  Okay, so he was probably regular sized, but looked quite small compared to the vastness of the glass pyramid.


I’ll start off by saying that the Louvre was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.  There was room after room after room of incredible sculptures and paintings and statues and antiques. I personally really loved this angel, even though she didn’t have a head. 

 
I wasn’t the only one who was impressed by her headless beauty.  I can’t even imagine the skill sets it takes to create such beauty and depth.  Also, it should be noted from this picture, that if you don’t like crowds, the Louvre is not for you.  There were lots and lots of people all throughout the museum.


As we moved through the rooms, we couldn’t help but notice that sometimes the beauty of the room was not only in the art, but in the rooms themselves.  I guess at one time, the Louvre was a fortress and then a palace built for French royalty.  I tried to imagine what it would be like to have this be your dining room.  Pretty spectacular, right?  


A few more museum observations.  I personally always feel bad for the statues that are missing limbs.  It seems to apply to lots of them.  And do you ever wonder where all their hands and arms go?  It’s a museum mystery, I suppose.


Ellee told me she wanted me to bring her home a pet cat.  When I saw this, I thought it would be perfect.  


This display reminded me of when I was growing up and our Barbies heads would randomly come off.  I wondered if it was someone’s ancient Barbies heads collection.


One of the highlights of the museum for most people is seeing the Mona Lisa.  It was cool, though I couldn’t get close enough to check it out for fear of being squished to death by the crowd.  


I personally enjoyed the painting right across from the Mona Lisa just as much.  And that’s the thing with this museum.  There was just so much art to appreciate and enjoy.


And finally, you have to feel you’ve made something of yourself in life, if someone paints you sitting gloriously on a tiger, on a horse.  Life goals, right?


After a few hours of walking through the Louvre, we finished up and headed outside to take in the beautiful surroundings of the museum.


We headed to our next destination on foot.  We stopped by what we thought was a drinking fountain though Jeremy was quite skeptical and it was nearly impossible to drink from.


We walked and walked until we got to this fountain.


And then we walked some more till we reached the Arc de Triomphe.  It’s an incredibly famous monument in Paris and known to our family for the times we’ve seen it featured on the Tour de France.


And after that we took a break.  Because my feet were so tired.  We probably walked a good fifty miles while in London and ended up walking another fourteen total today.  We’re fans of walking, but I think it finally caught up with me.


So we ended up taking the Metro to see this beauty.


And I have to say, she was more spectacular in person.  Standing under the Eiffel Tower we were both just amazed at the structural majesty and beauty of this monument.  We asked kind strangers to take our picture with Jeremy’s nice camera, but we also took a quick one ourselves to commemorate the moment.


And then we bought a crepe and sat by the water in view of the tower and we made another memory and it was awesome.


And then we began our long walk back to the hotel.  We walked and we talked and then we found a fun (though not French) place to eat.  I got spare ribs and Jeremy opted for a delicious burger.  The food was delightful and thankfully close.  Though afterwards, we decided to walk around a bit more, just because we were enjoying the night and our time together so much.


And that sums up our first full day in Paris.  It was long and amazing and fun and I have to say this city is just incredible.  We are both so thankful to be here together and are heading to bed now.  Thanks for stopping by and goodnight!

Hangtime is Almost Here!

Hello Friends!  Just a friendly reminder, Hangtime starts in one week from today!  If you haven’t already, please register your child here.  If you want to know more about our free after school program, click here.  We are so excited for this upcoming year and would absolutely love to have your kindergarten through sixth grade children join us.

Cheerio, London and Bonjour, Paris

This morning, we said goodbye to London.  But not before enjoying just a few more adventures.  Our first stop of the morning was a tour of Westminster Abbey.  It cost us 20 pounds per person, but we both agreed it was worth ever penny… Or should I say “pence.”  


Sadly there was no photography allowed in the Abbey.  So you’ll just have to take my word that it was absolutely incredible.  It was filled with tons and tons of intricate tombs, memorials and statues.  Many kings and queens were buried there as well as other well known historical figures including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  It’s also famous for its funerals (Princess Diana), weddings (Prince William and Kate Middleton) and for hosting the Coronations for the English and British monarchs.  I did get a picture of a courtyard we saw while walking through the cloisters.  All in all, it was so amazing and if you ever happen to find yourself in London, it is certainly a must-see.


After the Abbey, we walked back over to the National Gallery.  We love art museums and wanted to take another look around.


You can’t tell from the picture, but this woman was doing a pencil drawing of one of the paintings and it was pretty amazing.  


After the museum, we started to head back to our hotel to pick up our bags and head to the train.  We saw this fancy guy on the way, just hanging out on his cool horse.


Closer to our hotel, we stopped to grab a quick fancy lunch.  It was incredibly delicious at the beginning, but not so much by the end.  It was too rich tasting and kind of heavy, but an experience, nonetheless.


Thankfully, we logged about 8 miles of walking in by the time we reached the train station, so that helped.  Speaking of trains, We decided to take one to our next destination, Paris, France.  It was only two hours and once we figured it all out, was an easy way to get to where we were going.  The station was a little crowded.


But we got to our train and we’re then were good to go.  After a 20 minute trip under the English Channel, we traveled through the most beautiful and lush French countryside and into the great city of Paris.  We walked over to the Paris Mètro and took a twenty minute trip to Saint Germain des Près, where our hotel was.  Quick shoutout to our friend and world traveling neighbor Gina Skarka.  With many of our European trips, we’ve asked for her advice on where to stay and she has been spot on every time.  The area that we are staying in is so awesome and she totally aced it again.  Thanks Gina!


Once we settled in, we decided to go and explore for a bit.  We ended up getting dinner at a restaurant called Lèon de Bruxelles.


I got the Mussels and they were amazing!  They came with friends and the portion was huge and thankfully Jeremy helped me eat them all because I couldn’t have on my own.  


After dinner, we walked around for a bit and admired the most beautiful sites.


We found the Louvre and are excited to check it out tomorrow.  


And that sums up our day.  Waking up in London and going to sleep in Paris is a pretty spectacular feeling.  It’s been my goal on this trip to truly appreciate the opportunities that we have had to see these two incredible cities.  Again, I’m so thankful and so happy to be traveling with my incredible husband.  We are looking forward to enjoying our time in Paris.  To close, I’ll end with a picture I took at Westminster.  I thought it was a beautiful prayer and wanted to share it to end my post tonight.