If I could tell…

I was 22 years old when we got married.  And in many ways I thought I knew a lot but in all reality, I had no idea, the many struggles and the many joys that God and life would bring.  Since today is our 16th anniversary, I thought I’d make a little list of things I’d say if I could tell myself in these pictures a few good things about life.

If I could tell myself one thing, it would be that I definitely married the right one.  Oh sure, marriage would never be EASY, but there would be lots and lots of good in it.  Looking back, thought it seems like I married a teenager, haha, I really did married a godly and God-loving man who I’d get to learn and grow with in many ways.


I’d also tell myself to always treasure the people who have loved you well because you never know how much time you’ll have with them.  My Grandparents have both passed now, but wow, did they love me well.  They poured into me and my family and the legacy of life and love that they lived is something that lives on with us all.


I’d also tell myself it was worth it to pick the empire waisted dresses that would be flattering to my sister Leslie’s first pregnancy.  And then I’d laugh really hard because who would have thought back then that she’d go on to have ten kids?


I’d tell myself that the love for kids I had back then would continue on through 16 years of serving in ministry.  I’d say keep loving the kids because there are few things greater than loving them and teaching them about Jesus.


I’d also tell myself to treasure any and all time with family.  Considering ours is literally spread out all over the United States, we’d quickly learn how precious time together really is.


I’d also tell myself that it was stupid to try to share a tribute speech to my parents (I cried through the whole thing) but that really I could not have been more thankful to have the family that God gave me.  Through good times and bad, Dad said it best in that family really is forever.


If I could go back and tell myself things on my wedding day, I’d say “Laura, you have no idea how amazing the man that you are about to marry truly is.”  Yes, we have our moments.  But I really did marry my best friend.  Together we’d get to serve in ministry and love each other and have two beautiful babies.  We’d laugh and cry and learn together.  Somehow, we’d get to travel the world and see beautiful things and these would be the times that would continue to strengthen us and our marriage.


Also, I’d say fit and strong and healthy is always good, but so are cupcakes so just enjoy them when you get the chance.


I’d also say that being 22 and young is nice, but then being 38 and living life and having two amazing kids and a loving husband is even nicer.


Finally, if I could say anything to myself at 22 years old on my wedding day, I’d say life is going to be good in so many ways.  I’d say the best piece of advice I could give is to love God first and then let Him help you love your husband and kids and everyone and everything else would fall into place.

I’d also say, don’t worry, in 16 years you’ll fulfill your dream of owning a minivan and you’ll use it to drive your kids and their friends around and though it may seem weird to some, for you nothing could be better.


Today is our 16th Anniversary and praise Jesus for all that we’ve learned over these 16 years.  Sure, I’d like to go back and tell myself all sorts of things, but really they were things learned over time and I am so thankful for the amazing man I got to learn them with.  Happiest of anniversaries to my amazing husband and I hope we get many, many more years to keep learning and loving and growing together.


So, like many of us, I’ve spent some time both looking back over the past year and forward in anticipation of the year to come.  And when I look back, while there were a tremendous amount of things to be grateful for, there were definitely parts of 2018 that were pretty challenging and hard.

One of the biggest things for me was that we spent half of the year without another pastor at our church.  And for some reason, I took this really hard.  Because I knew the impact it would have on my marriage, our family and on our ministry having gone through such transitions before (we’ve now had five Senior pastors since we started here).  There were many days that I felt so down about everything and it really did take a bit of a toll.  Maybe it was also a bit of burnout after serving 15 years in ministry with Jeremy.  Or maybe there are just seasons of life that are harder than others.  Whatever it was, I know that I spent some good chunks of last year just trying to make it through my struggles and emotions.

But, on a happier note, I did survive.  And thanks to Facebook, I learned that people are doing this thing, where they pick a word to be their theme for the year.  And after a few days of reflection, I decided that my word for 2019 is THRIVE.  Looking up a dictionary definition of the word, I found that thrive means to grow or develop well or vigorously.  It also means to prosper or flourish.  And that is what I want to do in this coming year.


Even though things were challenging at times last year, I absolutely love our church and the ministries that we get to be a part of.  My heart, of course, belongs to Hangtime, which is our church’s K-6th after school program.  I’m excited because I know that God has laid it on my heart this year to continue to grow and develop well this program.


I will also continue to serve along side of Jeremy in youth ministry.  This year we are looking forward to many youth group activities, including Breakaway, NTS Camp and an in-development Missions oriented trip this summer.  I absolutely love my husband and though it is exhausting at times, we continue to feel God calling us to minister to teens and I want to look for ways to THRIVE as we serve this coming year.


Last Saturday, Christian threw me a surprise as part of my Christmas present this year.  The surprise was him getting together this amazing group of girls, each one being a dear, dear friend that I’ve been able to invest in at different times over the years.  It made me cry to have them all together and so thankful for the ways they’ve blessed my life.  I’ll continue to love and support them and cheer them on to doing great things for Jesus in this coming year.  Because I truly think that a big part of thriving is doing what you can to grow those around you.


This year, I also want to continue to THRIVE in connecting with our extended family.  It’s a bit hard since between Jeremy’s family and mine, we are all literally spread out across the United States.  But they are a blessing and any time we get in this coming year will be a great blessing as well.


Another challenge that was quite great this past year for me, was accepting the fact that our kids are no longer little ones with little problems.  And there were parts of the year that I spent trying to survive the fact that we’re now parenting teenagers (well, one officially, and one close behind).  Friends, parenting teens is NOT easy, or pleasant at times, or frankly all that enjoyable when the going gets tough.


But there are many, many ways to THRIVE in doing so, and this is what I want to find in the coming year.  I have a daughter that is moody, but absolutely delightful and this year, I’m pursuing the good while enduring the bad and the ugly.


And last year, while there were times when I thought this kid and I wouldn’t actually make it… this year, I am trusting God as I get to watch our son pursue so many great things.  In addition to family things and church things and school and his club volleyball, he also picked up a job busing tables at Trumpets on the weekends and we are so very proud of his hard work.  Raising a teen to love Jesus and to do the right things seems impossible at times.  But this year, I want to find ways to trust God and to THRIVE in it.


Last year, this incredible man rode over 8,000 miles on his bike.  And it wasn’t my favorite because it’s terrifying to think of all the possibilities of what could happen while he’s on the road.  But thankfully, through lots of prayer, I’m realizing that loving him and supporting one of his passions is a beautiful way that we can THRIVE in our marriage.  We’re also taking a trip in April, so that will help too ;).  In all reality though, I do adore this man and am so very glad to get to do life with him.


Yes, when looking forward to 2019, I truly want to find many ways to THRIVE.  And part of thriving will include a bit of self-maintenance.  So for that, I’ll look to Hot Yoga and my goal to read through the entire Bible in this coming year.  And being transparent, I learned last year that it also helps for me to connect and talk with a great counselor that I started seeing.  She’s incredible and every time I left a session, I felt lighter and more at peace.  It was something that helped me tremendously and something that I want to continue to utilize this year.


So friends, hold me to to it.  My word for 2019 is THRIVE.  I’ve shared a plethora of ways that I’m going to try to accomplish this, knowing of course that some days will go better than others.  But I’m good with that, and ready for all that God has to show me in this coming year and I strive to THRIVE and serve Him.



Fifteen years ago, on our wedding day, Jeremy gave me a card with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  I saved that card, and actually read it today and realized what a lovely thing to think that the words he wrote so many years ago, would still ring true today.


“You are my best friend, my greatest encourager and now today, you are my wife…  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as we continue to serve and follow Him.  I love you with my whole heart.”  What God would have in store for us would be greater than we could have ever imagined at 22 years old.


God would end up leading us to move to Long Island after Jeremy accepted a Youth Pastor position right out of college.  It was also a big surprise that I’d be pregnant in our first year of marriage, despite me thinking that I would wait till, well, now (in my mid to late 30s) to have kids.


Our family would ultimately end up with two amazing kids that we very much love and adore.  They also drive us crazy at times, and parenting next to marriage is one of the hardest things we’ve done, but it’s also brought us the most joy which seems to make the hard times mostly worthwhile.


In my early years of marriage, I always assumed with Jeremy being a pastor that we would move around a lot.  And whereas we’ve actually travelled around quite a bit in the last 15 years, we’ve continued to feel called to serve and lead at Eastport Bible Church, where Jeremy started right after we got married.


Loving the students in our Youth Group and pointing them to Christ has been overall, quite a wonderful way to spend 15 years.  We’ve learned a lot and grown a lot ourselves as we’ve worked to teach and love our students.  And over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of teens and that itself has been quite incredible.


In 15 years, God would bless and grow a deep love for Long Island within our hearts.  Granted, it’s easy to love a home where the Bay is a mile down the road, New York City an hour and 20 minutes away and the Ocean only a 15 minute drive.


But more than just a love for the beauty of our surroundings, is that we’ve grown an incredibly deep love for our church and our community as well.  I never imagined that we’ve be living in New York, but looking back, it’s exactly what God had in store for us.  And while other opportunities have come throughout the past years of our time here, we continue to believe that God is leading us to stay and to minister right here on this beautiful island.


Between us, never would I have imagined the opportunities that God would bring for us to travel the world together.  Marrying a man with a sense of adventure mostly just makes you become more adventurous.


And I have to admit (much to my mother’s dismay of me traveling outside of the country) that I absolutely love being adventurous with this man.  Everyone may not understand that we’d rather trade fancy cars and furniture, for trips overseas but that’s okay.  In 15 years, I’ve learned that strengthening your marriage is always a sound investment so that is what we’ve done, and to this day, I have no regrets.


And for transparency’s sake, please know that our marriage has not always been easy.  Having a strong relationship takes a lot of effort and truth be told, we’ve not always gotten it right.  We’ve gotten angry (and at times, have stayed angry) and have had our share of arguments and sleepless nights.  But as Jeremy wrote on our wedding day, in the long run, we’ve remembered that despite our differences or arguments, we truly are best friends and thankfully with God’s help and abundant grace, we’ve gotten through those tough times and often times come out a bit stronger for having gone through them.


And over all, I’m happy to share that 15 years later, I absolutely adore this man.  There is no one in the world I’d rather do life or ministry with.


I love, honor and cherish the marriage that God has blessed us with and pray that the next 15 years will be just as wonderful as the first.  I pray that we will continue to be best friends, we will continue to encourage each other and that we will continue to pursue what God has in store for us as we serve and follow Him.

Happy Anniversary Jeremy Herr, I love you so very much.


For My Birthday

I got a Nor’easter for my birthday.  It was the fourth one we’ve had this month.  And for the most part, I didn’t mind.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love living on Long Island, despite their weird winters and gusty snow storms.


The weather changed our plans from a nice lunch at Rhum in Patchogue, to a super tasty breakfast at the Country Diner in Center Moriches.  Jeremy took me out and we both tried the Eggs Benedict over Crab cakes on English muffins with spinach and a delicious hollandaise sauce.  It was delightful and so was sitting with my husband of almost 15 years, reflecting on life and all of its joys.


We drove around in the bad weather for a bit and when we got home, I found the most wonderful ice cream cake sitting on our porch.  It was from my Hangtime friends and it was so delightful.  I love ice cream cake, but more so, I love that I get to spend a lot of my life with people.  Hangtime is my heart… and getting to do something you are passionate about is half the battle of finding happiness in life, right?  I was so sad that we had to cancel Hangtime yesterday because of the bad weather, but this delicious cake made it seem that much better.


I also walked inside to find this delightful arrangement of flowers sitting on our counter. Our dearest Grammy Joy brought it over and it was just the sweetest thing.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but someone came up with the brilliant idea to make the flowers look like a sweet little puppy dog.


The storm brought our kids home with a 2 hour early dismissal.  It was sweet to be shown such love and care from them both.  As I was reflecting yesterday, I thought, what a blessing it is, to be 37 with a 13 and 11 year old.  Our kids are in a great time of life, and doing so many great things.


Sure, there are ups and downs, but overall just so many things to be thankful for.  Getting to enjoy a cozy afternoon with them both made me so happy on my special day.


Jeremy grilled us up some delicious wings, despite the freezing cold sleet which overnight turned into a good 8 inches of snow.  We finished the day watching my all time favorite movie, The Greatest Showman and overall, it was a fantastic day.  My official present this year, will be a beach cruiser bike that I can use this Spring to ride around town with Ellee and I could not be more thankful.


And that about sums up the many joys of my 37th birthday.  I make a point to write them down, because life goes by so fast and it’s so easy to forget.  But the things that I want to remember, in my 37th year of life, are the things I’ve shared in this post.  God has truly blessed me with incredible friends, living out my life’s passions and being surrounded by the family that I absolutely love.  I’m often reminded of my shortcomings and always want to be transparent in that sometimes my life is hard and often times, I fail in many ways.  But overall and at the end of each day, I know that I’m truly thankful… grateful… and blessed.

I Would Walk 500 Miles

After waking up in Switzerland and catching and early train, we arrived three hours later to enjoy a beautiful Fall day in Milan.


If today had a theme, it would have been walking.  Because we did a LOT of it.  Whereas our hotel was super close to the train station, it wasn’t really close to any of the other activities that we had planned.  Instead of wearing my tennis shoes, like a sane person, I wore my boots, where were much cuter, but not really comfortable.  So by the end of our day, and after walking a total of fifteen miles, I was in pain.


But looking back over the pictures from our day, I’d have to say that all of those miles were worth it.  We got to see a lot of the city and it was pretty big.  In some ways it reminded me more of New York City, only a bit more European and with more very old things to see.


We walked our way all throughout the fashion districts of Milan.  Some of it was very fun and beautiful to see, but much of it was just odd.  Considering I’m not into fashion at all, I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as someone who loves fashion would.


Fashion aside, one of our main destinations of the day was to go and visit the Duomo, Milan’s Cathedral.  It was absolutely breathtaking to see.  The outside was so intricate and the inside was quite beautiful as well.  We ended up joining a line and got to go in as worshippers as opposed to tourists.  It mostly just meant that we didn’t have to wait in the super long line.  We did worship in our own respects and enjoyed seeing part of the service that was going on at the time.  When the choir sang, it echoed through the church in the most wonderful ways.


Outside of the church, there were a lot of people and a lot of pigeons.  For a price, you could pay to get your picture taken with them which I would have done if it weren’t for fear that one would leave a gross present on me.


After visiting the Duomo, we walked over to check out the church museum.  For only 3 Euro, we were able to enter the museum, another small cathedral and also had admission to the main Duomo.  For higher prices, you could go up on some of the terraces of the church, but we were content to save money and enjoy it from the ground.  I do have to say that the church museum was fascinating.


We really enjoy looking at and admiring religious art because it ties into God and the Bible in such beautiful ways.


This was a pretty interesting storeroom of various sculptures that were connected with the Duomo.


And finally, a huge kudos to whomever created this incredible wooden replica of the cathedral.  It was quite spectacular in itself.


Earlier in the day, we had secured tickets to see something Jeremy had always wanted to see.  But since our viewing time wasn’t until 7:45pm, we had quite a few hours to kill.


We ended up walking around and enjoying the views of Milan at night.  I am a tiny bit sad that our trip came up just a bit early for enjoying the beautiful Christmas markets that Europe has to offer.  But we did enjoy seeing many of the decorations that were up already.


We ended up entering some sort of Italian version of Macy’s.  We rode the escalator up about ten floors until we reached the coolest market st the very top filled with great food and all sorts of fun sweets.  We also got to check out a great outdoor restaurant with a beautiful view of the Cathedral.


By the time 7:45pm rolled around, we were ready.  Jeremy was so excited and I was so excited for him.  He had done his research earlier on and could not wait to check out the timeless piece that was just behind these doors.


And I have to admit that seeing The Last Supper with Jeremy was quite remarkable.  We got to learn some of the history of this incredible work of art and it was so fun to be able to see it in person.  I only wished it was as vibrant as it must have been when Davinci first created it.


Afterwards, we made the long walk back to our hotel and I have to be honest, there were times that I was really to give up because my feet were in such pain from my boots.  Thankfully I survived, and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening in our hotel.  And that pretty much wraps up our trip.  Tomorrow we will head out for an early train ride and then flight home and I could not be more excited.  I’m praying for an uneventful and safe flight and cannot wait to see our kids.  Thanks so much for joining our journey and sharing in the memories of our vacation.   It was fun and full and we were thrilled with all that we were able to see and do.


Cold November Rain

Today marked our first and only day of not-so-great weather which in my mind is pretty good for an eleven day trip.  So we slept in a bit and then enjoyed tea and espresso in our hotel’s awesome lounge area.  And after layering on our warmest clothing, we finally ventured out into Bern.


We walked through a few markets , taking in the vibrant sites and breathing in the warm smell of roasted chestnuts.  We tried them in Florence and we were not fans, but I do have to say that they always smell incredible and instantly make me think of Christmas thanks to that beloved old song.  We also stopped to take pictures along the way, Jeremy taking the artsy cool shots that will end up hanging in our home and me taking ones of him.


I will say that today was the only time that I regretted not packing my rain boots.  I couldn’t justify the space that they would have taken up which I’ll now use to get all the Swiss chocolate home that I bought.  That being said, we did eventually end up with wet shoes but did pretty well keeping mostly dry overall.


We had toyed with the idea of taking a train to Zurich today, but had a hard time justifying the cost for a day that was kind of just miserable out.  Jeremy decided to be fun and researched a closer adventure that ended up being completely free thanks to the bus vouchers that we got from our hotel.  We ended up by Gurten, Bern’s local mountain.  We took a cable car ride to the top and were  delighted by what we found.


At the top of the mountain, were incredible views and a pretty cool park to go along with it.  When we saw this luge toboggan run we assumed it was perhaps some sort of training site.


We learned later that it was intended for children.  Which would explain maybe why the Swiss bobsled team was so fiercely good (or at least it was in whatever year the movie “Cool Runnings” took place… and if you haven’t seen that movie, you totally should).


Back to the views.  Our only regrets were knowing that on a clear day we probably sould have seen more of the Alps.  But besides that, it was quite beautiful to be up in the clouds.


While enjoying the park, we stumbled upon this 80 some foot high tower.  Of course we climbed to the top, because why not?


I’ll be honest, it was a little treacherous and the winds were pretty strong at the top.  But it did create a memory and also reminded me that I probably need to get a little more cardio in when I get home.


The cable car ride down was fun when I wasn’t thinking of what would happen if the cable snapped (I’m guessing it would have been a bit like a terrifying rollercoaster ride).  Thankfully all was well and we arrived at the bottom safe and sound.


When we arrived back in Bern, we went to warm up in our hotel for a bit.  Then we finished off our night at the train station which is pretty close to our hotel, Because everything else in Bern closed around 5:00pm.


We enjoyed dinner and a little shopping.  For the record, francs are pretty.


And the grand finale of our night was when we finally checked out this beautiful Swiss chocolate shop with the intention of buying something  delicious.


Swiss chocolates are legendary and these ones were carefully hand crafted with love.  It was hard to chose because the selection was overwhelming, but in the end, I went with this mix of milk, dark, hazelnut and coconut.  And I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that they were the best chocolates I have ever eaten in my entire life. I can’t even imagine how many francs I’d spend or how much I’d weigh if we lived in Switzerland because these chocolates were just outstanding.


So that pretty much sums up our time in Switzerland.  Tomorrow morning we will head back to Milan and then on Monday will fly back home to New York.  It’s been an incredible journey that is for sure but we are definitely looking forward to getting home to our family and back to our awesome lives.

Sea to Shining Sea

So we woke up in Bern, Switzerland and came up with a plan for how we would spend our day.  We started out with free espresso and tea and then walked over to a market to get some breakfast.  One of the downsides of our hotel is that while there are free drinks, there is not free breakfast.  So we found fruit and pastries and even got two free Swiss chocolate bars on our way out (in honor of Black Friday, which many of the stores participate in).


After, we headed up to see the Bern Bear Park.  It was only a short walk from our hotel, and a very scenic one to enjoy.


When we arrived, we learned that the bears were all snug and warm and hiding, and un-viewable to tourists.  For the record, I didn’t blame them at all since it was a pretty chilly morning.


We did walk around the park a bit and also checked out the original Bear Pit.  Thankfully, the bears have a much larger and more natural space to roam these days.


The Bear Park did have the most spectacular views of Bern which we fully appreciated before walking to the train station.


At the station and after some research, we decided to take a train to Interlaken, a beautiful Swiss town nestled in the Swiss Alps between two lakes (hence it’s name… and hence my blog post title 🙂 ).  When we arrived, it was pretty cold.  But the views of the Alps were outstanding and we were definitely glad that we made the trip.


While walking around and taking in the sites, we stumbled upon a free Wildlife Park.  I joked with Jeremy that technically, we could say that we climbed the Swiss Alps since we had to hike up the mountain to check out this guy.  He was the highlight of the Wildlife Park and posed impressively for a few pictures.


Looking down from his enclosure, he had quite the views of Interlaken.


On a side note, Jeremy is not a fan of selfies.  And my poor iPhone is pretty bad at taking them.  But thankfully we do get a few in and each one makes me so happy since it captures memories of the man that I love most and the adventures that we get to share together.


After hiking down the mountain, we took a nice walk throughout the town of Interlaken. There were many beautiful sites to see along the way.


When we reached the west end of the town, we found a cute Cafe to sit in and enjoyed a bit of lunch.  We both had this delicious slice of quiche and shared a wrapped sausage as well.  The name of the Cafe was Michel and it instantly made me think of our Michael Einfeldt.  His mom posted a picture of him on Facebook and we are all praying that he will be able to come home soon.


We really enjoyed sitting and talking and taking in this view over lunch.  Though our vacation is coming to an end, I continue to be so very thankful knowing what a blessing it was that we were able to take this trip together.


The rest of the day consisted of walking, shopping and appreciating the beauty that was all around us.


Should you ever happen to find yourselves in Switzerland, Interlaken is definitely a fun place to visit.


We took a late train home and arrived back safe and sound.  We picked up some fruit, bread and cheese to take back to our hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner while winding down from our day.  We have one more day left to enjoy Switzerland before heading back to Milan and we look forward to tomorrow’s adventures.


Climb Every Mountain

“Climb every mountain, search high and low
Follow every byway, every path you know.”

-Oscar Hammerstein II

First off, wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  In a world full of brokenness and uncertainties and especially after a particularly rough year, what better thing can we do for ourselves than to focus on the good with gratitude?  And once you start, it doesn’t take long to realize that there is good.  There is always good.

We woke up early in Milan this morning and enjoyed a quick breakfast before catching a train to Central Milan.


The train station was huge and beautiful, by the way.  This was one area of many and it was where we caught our next train.  I will add that for the first time since we’ve been here, I was a little intimidated by not only the size of the station, but also by the vast number of people who were coming and going.


At the train station, we caught our next train which would take us a total of three hours to our next destination.  As we traveled through the mountains, I alternated between sleeping and peering out the windows to take in the marvelous sites.


We passed through many, many snow covered mountains and villages as we passed quickly through the Alps.  And it was just stunningly beautiful, even on a cloudy day.  And if you were wondering, our destination for our last few days in Europe would be Bern, Switzerland.  Our original trip included seven days in Tuscany, but since we were already traveling so far, we extended it through our travel agency so that we could enjoy Europe a bit more.  We had deliberated staying in Italy, or going back to France, but ended up deciding on Switzerland since it was a place that we hadn’t been and a dream of Jeremy’s to see.


Switzerland, for the record, is awesome but very expensive.  We booked the most inexpensive hotel we could find and were very pleased when we arrived and though it was simple it was nice and clean.


While in our hotel, we caught up with our kids on FaceTime.  They were doing well and happy to be spending Thanksgiving with Nana and Papa.  Christian enjoyed playing in our Youth Group’s Turkey Bowl and Ellee was having fun with Nana watching Christmas movies and helping her make food.  While we are enjoying ourselves, we are also getting to the point in our trip where we are getting excited to go back home.


Back to Bern.  Thus far, it’s awesome.  We did a bit of exploring and have realized that our hotel is in a great location.  There are lots of shops around us and it didn’t take me long to find my favorite natural cosmetic store, Lush.  I’ve found one in every major city we’ve seen so it was fun to see on here in Switzerland.  I did not get anything, mostly because their prices were about 30% higher than back home.


Jeremy and I enjoyed a nice walk to get our bearings.  We walk a lot on our vacations and it’s something that we love to do.  So far, we’ve put in about 70 miles of walking in the 8 days we’ve been here.  Which hopefully helps to balance out the gelato and the future Swiss chocolate that we’ll be enjoying.


Speaking of food, this was our Thanksgiving dinner.  A delicious bowl of chicken and rice goodness.  It was more expensive than we’re used to, but worth every Swiss Franc.  And while the food may be more expensive than Italy, the Coca-Cola’s were not so that was something else to be thankful for.


Towards the end of our night, we walked past the Parliament Building and noticed a large crowd had gathered.  There was the feeling of anticipation in the air, so we waited around with everyone to see what was going on.


And we were certainly glad that we did because we had the privilege of stumbling upon the Rendez-vous Bundesplatz Light Show.  Set to music, the Parliament house was lit up with the most artistic picture and video compilations you could imagine.  It was a bit reminiscent of how Disney projects a light show on Cinderella’s castle, only it was much more artsy and focused on celebrating Reformation leaders Luther, Zwinli and Calvin and their historical significance.


While we didn’t quite understand everything it was portraying, we did enjoy about 17 minutes of the 25 minute show and it was a very fun way to end our first night in Switzerland.  From climbing through the Swiss Alps to ending up in the capital city of Bern, all in all it was a very fun and full Thanksgiving and we are excited to see what the next few days have in store.


On the Road Again

“On the road again.  Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

“On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson

We spent a lot of time on the road today.  Because this morning, after Jeremy’s final Tuscan bike ride (he ended up climbing close to 15,000 feet on his bike through the mountains while we were here) we packed up our belongings and left Tuscany.  For the record, Jeremy was amazing, driving through Italy.  I could have and would have never been able to do what he did and am so proud of him.


Our final destination of the day was Milan, but we ended up doing an afternoon detour to Bologna.  We had read about this incredible city online and we were excited it was on the way.  Getting to it did require a bit of tricky navigation since we weren’t allowed to drive our car in the main city section, but through a little research we found a good parking garage and Jeremy parallel parked our tiny car into this spot like a pro.


Once we made our way into the city center part of Bologna we were delighted with what we saw.  Throughout the entire city, there was this unique blend of old, older and new and it made for a very fun sightseeing experience.


This fountain was incredible, and there were little bits of sculpture and art like this all throughout the city.


Someday I will do a study and research the reasons behind all of these awesome, but tragic statues.


We made our way to one of the highlights of Bologna, the Basilica di San Petronio, a medieval catholic church that was filled with 22 different and beautiful side chapels.  It was absolutely stunning inside, though unfortunately pictures were not allowed.


We ended up wandering throughout a few other amazing churches including this one, where pictures were allowed.  Visiting beautiful churches is one of my favorite things to do when we travel to Europe and Bologna did not disappoint.


In between church visits, we wandered through Bologna’s streets which were filled with shops and restaurants to fit any and every need.


Had I had room and refrigeration in my luggage, I would have gladly taken home some parmigiano cheese from this shop.


While we didn’t stop to enjoy a full meal today, we did get our fill of sweet treats and cappuccinos.  And that was just as enjoyable as well.


Sadly, we did not take any bologna home from Bologna.  Seeing it did bring back fond memories of my elementary school lunches though.  And my guess is that this bologna probably tasted much better.


Towards the end of our time, we did walk by the Garisenda Tower, which is quiety famous because it too has quite a lean to it.  I researched a bit and learned that it’s actually more leaning than the famous tower of Pisa (it’s at 4 degrees vs Pisa’s 3.97) so there’s your Bologna fun fact of the night.


And after a good five or so hours in Bologna, we got back on the road again and safely arrived in Milan where we are staying at a hotel for the night.  Tomorrow, we start a new adventure to someplace we’ve never been so more on that to come.  But for tonight, it’s good to be off the road and getting a full night of rest.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone tomorrow!  The timing of this trip happened to mean that we would miss that delicious holiday, but for the most part we were okay with it.  We know our kids are in good hands with Nana and Papa and we plan on enjoying tomorrow and the next few days finishing up our time in Europe.  That being said, I do wish you a wonderful day filled with food and family and lots of reflection on the many blessings we have to give thanks for.


Chasing Down a Daydream

“All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur.”

“I See the Light” – Mandy Moore

Being in Italy for almost a week now has made me realize a few things.  The first being that it’s a bad idea to commit to using song lyrics for blog post titles when I don’t really listen to the mainstream radio all that much.  I do however listen to the Disney station on Pandora with Ellee, which is where I got tonight’s title (Thanks Rapunzel).  Secondly, I’ve realized that even though we are very much on vacation, it’s somewhat impossible to completely forget about real life things that still need to get done.  This is why after biking a good 3,000 feet uphill again, Jeremy spent some of the morning grading papers for the online class he teaches for Grace Bible College and I worked on planning out part of our Hangtime Children’s Christmas Celebration.


The final thing I learned is that when something is just so good, it’s not a bad thing to go back to it.  Which is why we decided to send the rest of our day in Florence again.  We had a few options to consider, but factoring in time and money (riding the train is a great way to get around, but depending on where you go, it can add up quickly) and desirability, we figured we couldn’t lose by spending another day in a city that we both loved.


Most of our day consisted of walking around and seeing a some memorable sites.  Like this nice, big, pile of art.  Granted, it looks kind of weird and I have no idea to this day what it is, but regardless, it’s a huge sculpture and quite artsy and when I pretend it’s a big pile of gelato, it’s a bit more appealing.


This time around, we revisited the beautiful church that we saw our first time around in Florence.  While we wandered through the plaza we enjoyed the sounds of a violinist whose perfect notes made us feel as though we were walking around with the background music of some romantic Italian movie.


Afterwards, we wandered down the “Hall of Heroes” as Jeremy’s dubbed the outdoor hall of famous statues outside of the Uffizi museum.


And at the end of the night, we found ourselves back at the Mercato Centrale.  We ate quite a few meals here and it became a quick favorite of ours.  They had clean and free restrooms and a huge floor of pretty much any food we could imagine.  We found our adventurous side this evening and first shared a plate of the most delicious gnocchi I’ve ever had.  And yes, it was technically the only plate of gnocchi I’ve had, but I’m pretty sure it will go down in history as the absolute best.


Afterwards, we shared a bowl of this mussel and clam soup.  The clams were tiny but oh so tender and the flavor was absolutely outstanding.


We topped off our mealtime fun with a cappuccino and chocolate croissant for Jeremy and a delicious little chocolate cake for me.


To be honest, we aren’t always the best at finding great food places in Italy.  It’s hard to find which restaurants are good and affordable (for us) and then hard to know how they will charge you (sometimes there are different prices for eating in or taking away).  Lots of times, we’ve just grabbed slices of pizza and called it a day.  But I am proud to say that we truly loved our food adventures at Mercato Centrale and if you’re even in Florence, it’s an absolute must.


And that about sums up our day.  Riding the train back to Montecatini, we both agreed that we were delighted to spend the day together again in Florence.  I continue to be so thankful to be on this vacation with Jeremy.  It was always our dream to be able to travel to Europe together, and I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to make it happen these past five years.