Sunday, January 30, 2011

France trip

The plans for our France trip are more or less coming together. 
It may seem early, but we are actually a fair bit behind when it comes to book accommodations for the Tour de France. The tour typically visits teeny tiny towns throughout France in order to give these towns a "tourism infusion" and the best rooms in the towns are booked the very same day that the Tour route is announced. The legs of the tour that we are wanting to see are the most popular and so the pressure was on immediately to begin booking rooms. 

Day 1/2: Fly out of DC, via Iceland into Paris. 
Day 2: Land in Paris and immediately head to the south of France. 
Day 2-9: In Apt France. We hope to visit Arles, Avignon, Aix en Provence, Marseille,  and Nice. It won't be time wasted nor will there be any ugly pictures from these days. I am positive of it. We have booked an apartment through and since we are splitting the apartment with our travel partner's the Murphy's, it is incredibly affordable. We had also looked at villas and apartments on I think this is the way to book accommodations if your stay in any location worldwide is more than three days long. We do hope to still book a hotel for a one night get-away during this period. This way we won't be spending every night with the Murphy's and them us. 
I am getting a daily groupon email from several cities in this region hoping to score a cool deal for an experience in the region that we wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Fingers crossed! (It's also very fun to get a daily email-in French from Aix en Provence offering me a coupon for somewhere delicious to eat or get my haircut etc.) 
After our week in the south of France (I really like saying that):
Days 9-11: French Alps.
We have to get into the Alps several days before the pinnacle stage of Alp d-Huez. 
This year Alp d' Huez stage is not setting itself up to be quite as epic as in years past. In fact, the day BEFORE Alp d' Huez, many are predicting is supposed to be the breakout day of the Tour. So we will be quite happy to watch that in a local pub. 
For this stage, yhe streets get shut off for days prior to this stage while people with campers are on the mountain for up to a week prior. We thought about camping on the mountain and realized that we aren't quite that hardy. 
So we are set up in an apartment on Les Deux Alps which is about 30 minutes away. We will have to make some arrangements to make sure to be on the mountain on the day of the stage, but we are quite sure that we can do it. 
In the meantime, we will be in a resort that we can go glacier skiing, ride the gondola to the top of the mountain or rent bikes and actually ride Alp d'Huez should we be that adventurous. 
Day 11-14: Paris.
The morning after Alp d'Huez, there is an individual time trial in Grenoble and we have to catch a train there to get to Paris. So we will probably try to watch some of the time trial stage. Then we are off to Paris for three days! 
Day 11: Travel day
Day 12: Champ Elysees. The final stage of the 2011 Tour de France. I can not wait to see the riders approach this section of the race, drink champagne and ride on the cobblestones. It is going to be amazing. Once it is over, we will move on to the business of enjoying the rest of Paris. 
Day 13: Full day in Paris. Who knows! I am getting a daily Groupon from Paris and hoping for something amazing on daily basis. 
Day 14: Morning in Paris and we fly out in the afternoon. Au revoir France! 

But while in France, I plan to eat lots of:
These are DEEP bowls of olives.
Matt is going to have to develop a taste for these, but I will probably eat my body weight before it is all said and done. Provence is known it's olive production. Pure delish. 
Now that the itinerary is semi in place, the fun part can begin! 

Research research research. 
Lonely Planet. Rick Steves, etc. 
Anyone have a hot tip I need to know about? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Busy Is What We All Have

Busy is not an excuse but a reason that I have strayed from my blogging. I have kept up with my twitter account because-well that is easy.

This is not hard but I have relocated my computer so that I am not occupied by the screen all the time and instead can focus "some" of my time on my kid, husband, vacation planning and JOB.

My job has sort of taken over for the last few weeks out of necessity and hopefully things will slow back down soon.

But I wanted to let you all know that we are safe, kind, responsible type people that love you very much. And, you can expect to see and hear more about this upcoming trip to France very soon. Feast your eyes for a moment and drift away:

This is really why I am busy! Planning a trip to le Tour de France is hard work but the details are coming together and I will share them all with you this weekend!
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seeking Definition

"The farther I run away from the place where God dwells, the less I am able to hear the voice that calls me the Beloved, and the less I hear that voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world.

It goes somewhat like this: I am not so sure anymore that I have a safe home, and I observe other people who seem to be better off than I. I wonder how I can get to where they are. I try hard to please, to achieve success, to be recognized. When I fail, I feel jealous or resentful of others. When I succeed, I worry that others will be jealous or resentful of me. I become suspicious or defensie and increasingly afraid that I won't get what I o much desire or will lose what I already have. Caught in this tangle of needs and wants, I no longer know my own motivations. I feel victimized by my surroundings and distrustful of what others are doing or saying. always on my guards, I lose my inner freedom and start dividing my world into those who are for me and those who are against me. I wonder if anyone really cares. I start looking for validations of my distrust. And wherever I go, I see them, and I say: "No one can be trusted." And then I wonder whether anyone really loved me. The world around me becomes dark. My heart grows heavy. My body is filled with sorrows. My life loses meaning. I have become a lost soul."
Henri Nouwen
-Return of the Prodigal
p. 47

Typically for me, this is when I get grabby hands. 
Looking for anything and everything that will satisfy.
Wanting to shove down the feelings of loneliness and the ache within and instead rush towards busyness and noise and distractions-just so I don't notice the lack of clarity and meaning within and the heaviness of my heart.
As soon as I do notice, I linger a bit.
Not for the pain, but because admitting I was astray in a place I never meant to be is never a fun activity. So I stay on a little longer but it doesn't get better. 
I start to do inventory and realize the voice of the Beloved is waiting with open arms and there is a feast of goodness if all I will do is return. 

Why not start back immediately? 
Why do I go after life that will not lead me to His table? 

Henri Nouwen summarizes it best again:
"Often, I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of it waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning show that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me." (p. 42)

My friends Drew and Ellie Holcomb have covered the song "Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley and I heard it yesterday and it made my soul go "POP!" when I heard it. 
The song has not been released, but Indie Arie did a great version of it as well and this YouTube video has the lyrics written within it which I think are so powerful. 

Even if I'm not loved anymore by others, it is still about forgiveness. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Awful Sad

How sad is it  when you see these decals on cars that are smashed up on the back of tow trucks?
Why is it that all of the sudden I find my mind wandering to wanting to know ALL of the gory details about their wreck and if they are okay and if the kids are okay and the dog and cat are taken care of...and then I hear the ......thwaaccckkk thwacckkkkkkk of the guard thingy that lets you know you are heading into the guard rail and are close to being on the back of one of those tow trucks if you don't get your mind together.

I hate these decals.
Please refrain from using them on your car.
My public service announcement to you.

While we're at it:

Can we all agree that these decals IN PARTICULAR are a bad idea?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Promises Promises

Not to be morbid AND critical, but I was on Facebook (like you do) and I saw that someone from my high school died. I clicked on the link to the obituary and they used the persons high school graduation picture.

Now, I definitely don't know this person anymore.
But it is really hard to believe that there was not one single picture that anyone could use in the last 12 years that more clearly defined them than one they took in July when they were 18.

I need you all to promise that whenever I die, whether it is tomorrow or 40 years from will not use my high school graduation picture in my obit.
Are we cool?
I said, ARE WE COOL?


Saturday, January 1, 2011


Now that it is 2011, many people spend the day writing blog posts about the year gone by and the year to come. 
In looking forward to 2011, I have dubbed it the Year of the Marriage. 
This is the 10th year that I will have been married.
Last year was one for the record books, probably most definitely due to me. 
I struggled with my own self-concept, my life roles changing and how to adapt as a wife, mother and friend to those around me. 
It left me frustrated, angry and joyful, hopeful and fearful all simultaneously. 
I put on as best a face going forward as I could.

But it made me-quite honestly...a mess-especially as a spouse.

Don't get me wrong. 
We had a great year! A spectacular year! 
But I was inwardly frustrated by the process of enjoying it. 
Does anyone else besides me go through this?
Thankfully, I have a cowboy who walks through me and can stand me even when he is the object of my wrath. 
Look how cute he is. 

So this year, instead of being frustrated by the process.
I hope to actively pursue healthiness in the midst of it. 
Matt and I started going to a great class at our church last semester.
Which really HELPED my mind get wrapped around my heart. 
And this Spring we are going to a week long marriage retreat (if we nail down the whole childcare bit). 
And then Matt is going to be off of work for three months this summer.
And we are planning a trip to France-just him and me. 
For two whole weeks. 
Who knows what the rest of the summer is going to hold. 
I can tell you one thing its going to mean-a LOT of time together. 
It's probably going to be a lot of work but with a man who can shake it like a polaroid picture next to me, 
and has been my best friend for 12 years...I am really hopeful for some amazing stories this time next year. 

2011. The year of the marriage. 
Do anything to make it better. 
Stop making it bad. 
Stop being mean. 
Love more.
Serve more. 
Laugh more.