Friday, May 31, 2013

Franco-Fridays: Travel and Arrival

For the sake of time, I originally planned to only blog through our anniversary trip, but the mission trip was an important prelude to our anniversary trip, and I like to linger over every detail.  It's a good way to remember and enjoy all over again.

Here's my original first post from the trip.

~ KJ passing out our Euros ~
~ Destination:  Paris! ~
~ Patchwork quilt around Detroit ~
~ Frost as we woke up flying over the UK ~

As we waited to board our flight in Birmingham, I felt so peaceful, easy, and free.  I think any mom would understand.  You automatically compare it in your mind to what it would be like going through security and trying to check baggage without losing your small children, and you can't help but feel extreme euphoria at having nothing to do but hold your bag, people-watch, and get to speak in complete sentences without being interrupted.  

Plus, my kids were comfortably installed in the back of B.P.'s truck eating milkshakes.  All was well.  (Thank you, Dad!!)

My second time flying across the ocean felt less surreal than the first time.  I looked with fondness down over Ireland and Wales as we flew over, and the English Channel was an amazingly brilliant blue from our heighth.

I was able to sleep a little more than on our flight to England, but still had the feeling of, I'm so tired, how am I going to make it through the day??  when the lights came on in the cabin.  Thankfully, we were landing around 11:30 local time, so there wasn't as much day to make it through as when we landed at 6 a.m. in London.  I think KJ was purposeful in planning that.  

 We immediately felt we were in a classier airport than most.
"The bathrooms are beautiful," Amy said.

We were met by Parker, Pastor Norman, and two other men from the church, Todd, and Jacques.  We loaded up to travel to the Paulhiac home, experiencing our first manually-shifted mini-van.

It's probable I'll misspell her name, but we were met by Annika Paulhiac, who graciously welcomed us to her home and served a beautiful lunch.  Paris showed off on our first day with sunny skies and the low 70s.

It was good to talk and get to know the pastor of Emmanuel, as well as breathe in the fresh air; it made the jet-lag much more bearable.  The trip was off to a very pleasant start.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Full Summer Day

I had a vague notion that I wanted our summer days to consist of outings in the morning (if any outings were to be had) followed by a lazy afternoon of naps, movies, and ceiling fans.  Yesterday was one of those days.  It began with a gathering of all the various items needed for an outing:  bags, books, drinks, extra clothes, towels, stroller, camera bag, etc.

It started with the public library (Oh, how I love the public library!) where I signed us all up for the summer reading program.  The man at the children's desk yesterday was so friendly and helpful as he explained all the programs going on through the summer.  Between the library and free summer movies we have a lot of fun (and free!) things to keep us busy.  Not even the first full week of summer, and I am loving it.  I almost just said, "Roll Tide!" to all those good things.  I am being sucked into the culture of this city at long last.

There are about 9 weeks of the summer reading program, so I pledged to read 55 books to James. (Oh, my!)  Ella pledged to read 29 books, and she thought 11 would be a good number for me.  

We found the first four Kit Kittredge, American Girl books yesterday, and she was thrilled, even waking me up from my nap to tell me she'd finished chapter 1.  I was thrilled for her, but I also tried to explain what constituted a good reason to wake Mommy up from a nap.

Upon leaving the library, we made our first visit to the River Walk splash pad.  Fun.

Then it was McDonalds and Wal-Mart, where I learned, AGAIN, that giving in to a child's incessant demands for a milkshake will end with, "I can't drink all of this, mama, or I get sick."  Forcing me to abandon my carefully constructed meal plan to finish his milkshake.  I just couldn't let half a milkshake go to waste...

We had our quiet afternoon, I cleaned the house while the kids played a new Wii game checked out from the library, we ate supper, and then they wanted to play kickball.  Those kids are pretty cute and hilarious.  I started out just rolling the ball but had to go inside for my camera once James started his full-out sprints across the yard.

I refrained from snapping pictures of James' tears of agony when he got out.  It didn't seem like the kind thing to do.

Bath time, Wii time, allergy medicine, bedtime.  A full day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Things I Like

Yesterday my mom gave me e-Pub files of the BBC's top 100 books.  My first impulse was to pledge to read them all this summer, even though that is a ridiculous and impossible goal.  I've already read a lot on the list, so my wise mother suggested a more modest goal of reading the ones I haven't read.  

I plan to take the kids to the library tomorrow to sign up for their summer reading program, and Ella and I will make our pledges.  :)  Summer reading makes me excited.  Here's something I read this afternoon that made me smile from Ernest Hemingway's, A Moveable Feast, of his first encounter with F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I bought the book in Paris at the oldest English bookstore on the continent.  It gave me a sense of connection with another time.

"Until then I had felt that what a great writer I
was had been carefully kept secret between
myself and my wife and only those people
we knew well enough to speak to.  I was glad
Scott had come to the same happy conclusion 
as to this possible greatness, but I was also
glad he was beginning to run out of speech."


The only other Hemingway book I'd read was The Old Man and the Sea when I was 14 or 15 for 9th grade English.  I don't think I was old enough to appreciate anything much about it then.  But I really like his writing in this book.  He writes very truthfully about his experiences.  Sometimes his experiences make me feel sad, and sometimes they make me laugh, but they all resonate as true, which was the kind of writing he said at the beginning he aimed to do.

Oh, and How to be a Good Wife?  It's so great...and funny.  Imagine 1930s advice about marriage (which is really quite traditional and sound) written about with good British phraseology.  Stuff like this:

  • Don't get slovenly.  The necessity for keeping smart doesn't conclude with the signing of the marriage register.
  • Do learn to cultivate a spirit of humor.
  • Do let it be your constant endeavour to keep yourself in every way toned up.  Try at all times to maintain the freshness and sprightliness of the engagement days.
  • Don't forget that very true remark that, while face powder may catch a man, baking powder is the stuff to hold him.  
Yes, that book was worth every Euro.


It is hard to comprehend that summer is really here.  I guess it's not official until the Summer Solstice, but we're gonna just stick to summer starts when school's out.  It's easier.  So...summer!

Last week we finished up school, with a lot of extra help from KJ.  I've been looking forward to a break from school because it's hard to keep these two away from each other.  James distracts Ella when I'm attempting to teach her Math, and Ella gets distracted by any fun preschool activities I try to do with James.  I'm hoping some planning on my part and more growth and maturity in James over the summer will make that dynamic a little easier next year.

 Last Day of School
Everyone should wear their P.J.s the last day of school, right?

We celebrated on Friday with some outdoors time in the late afternoon.  That is one good thing about the south:  it's never too early to begin water activities.

I just think there's nothing cuter than that blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy in his baby blue swimming trunks.  

We also celebrated with a free movie rental from the Redbox, given to KJ for his anniversary.  We were so astounded, trying to figure out how Redbox knew it was our anniversary, when KJ read the e-mail a little closer.  It was the anniversary of his first Redbox rental.  Obviously that coincided with our anniversary.  I wonder what we rented 4 years ago on our 5th anniversary?  I can't remember.  I just remember I was pregnant.  2009 = Pregnant for me.

Yesterday we had a relaxing time with family at Jesse and Sandy's homestead, as KJ likes to call it.  It's a great place, and we enjoyed one another, great food, and pleasant weather, so thankful for our nation, and those who have died in her service.  Especially after our visit to the D-Day beaches two weeks ago, our minds have been on these things.

 Aren't Sandy's hydrangeas lovely?

The kids held an old-school Nintendo controller for the first time and enjoyed the front-porch swing.  Ella was really excited to figure out that the Habrials were part of our family.  I don't think she'd put that together before, but she's happy to claim them.

I meant to take a big family picture before my parents left, but I forgot.  But here's one of the girls...and James.

And our gracious hosts for the day:

 Silly Pack.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Echoes of Eden

This book came in the mail yesterday.  I really enjoy reading about this topic; it's something I've grown in paying attention to over the years.  It makes me happy that the arts are a good gift of God.  It makes me happy to see God's glory revealed in the arts.  All things are ours in Christ, and every good story belongs to Him.

This Week at Home

The first week back wasn't without its challenges.  The first couple of days I was pretty overwhelmed by trying to finish school, laundry and unpacked suitcases, and meeting all the daily needs of sweet children again.  A big thanks to my mother and mother-in-law for taking on all the responsibility for two weeks.  Especially when that responsibility turned into several doctor's visits and prescriptions for antibiotics.

But here we are!  It's the last day of school today, and KJ's home all day (automatically makes my day 50 times easier).  The suitcases are back in the attic, and the laundry is under control...though I do have a lot of ironing now.  Flowers have been planted, I've restocked the larder, we celebrated nine years of marriage, and got to go to a movie last night.  The kids had an awesome baby-sitter who built the biggest fort ever, which we left up for the kids' amusement today.  

And there is nothing left but to be thankful in all circumstances.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Year 9

Today KJ and I celebrate 9 years of marriage.  Last year I wrote down a few phrases that sum up our past years together.  When I woke up at 4:55 a.m. this morning (jet-lag anyone?) and thought about the date on the calendar, there is one thing that stands out to me above all when I look back over the past 9 years, and that is the way KJ Pugh has loved me.   

He has loved me with the same love God is using to change his heart, a love that has faithfully sought to know me and understand me, and do things that will serve me even when he doesn't understand the feminine mystique.  It's a love that has taken the form of cleaning the entire apartment and cooking dinner when I was working full-time.  Man, that spoke my love language.  

It's a love that, much against my will, forced me to sleep on the couch with earplugs so I couldn't hear Ella cry in the middle of the night, after 6 months of lost sleep.  I was losing my mind with exhaustion.

It's a love that, even in light of his own frugality, will say, "Why don't you go out and buy something?  It will make you feel better.(A little long-standing joke of ours.)

It's a love that looks for ways to make my load easier, give me freedom and solitude, and make me smile when I'm overwhelmed by all the things I want/need to do, and there are never enough hours in the day for them all.   

It's a love that peruses my Pinterest board and finds all the places I've marked in France on Google maps.  He plans out adventures because he knows I love them.  And I love him, and I'm thankful for the grace of 9 years, for the persevering love of Christ that makes us persevere in love every day, some days better than others.  The days keep turning into years, and it is good.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Back in the Saddle

It is the first Monday I've been home since April 29.  

We were greeted Saturday at 4 p.m. at the airport by KJ's dad and the faces of the sweetest children in the world.  Two weeks away from my everyday work and responsibilities was refreshing, and we laughed that at that the end of the day, even after walking 17,000 steps across Paris, I still had an excess of energy that I didn't have at the end of a long day of mothering.  It's the mental fatigue of parenting that gets you, I think.

So even as it was refreshing, by the time we arrived at Charles de Gaul Airport Saturday morning I was very anxious to make it home to my children.  I'm so grateful that we did.  It was the sweetest thing to see Ella's new toothless smile and hear James' description of what happened:  "She put her teeth under the pillow, and it turned into money! ....I want some dollars...".  

With church activities all day yesterday, we hit the ground running, and I am once again thankful that my day job is at home, because if you can imagine 4 overflowing suitcases spread across the house and a sink piled up with yesterday's dirty dishes, you can imagine my home this morning.  I haven't evaluated yet, but I'm hoping to finish Ella's school curriculum this week so we can officially welcome summer.

Last night our church gathered at the ranch of a family in our church for a time of fellowship and to give awards to the kids who participated in the Awana program this year.  

We had an encouraging time of fellowship; it was good to be back with our church family, and I was so proud of that little stinker getting a certificate for participating in Cubbies this year.  When you hear him belt out what was supposed to be, "All Scripture is given by God." as "All Scripture by God!it's the sweetest thing in the world.  As his Uncle Kameron ("Kammer" as James likes to call him, just like Ella called him at that age.) told him, "You know more than a lot of people, James."  Speaking of Kameron, we're excited that his travels during this month have brought his sweet little family to our neck of the woods for a few days.  I think France and family are a good way to kick off the summer.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday's Walk through Paris

Yesterday's journey into Paris began with lunch at an Italian restaurant where one of the guys Parker led to the Lord works.  The restaurant is owned by a couple from Italy, so we got genuine Italian pizza.  An entire pizza per person to be exact.  I wasn't expecting that, but it was delicious.

 I didn't manage to eat the entire pizza, but I gave it a valiant effort.  We then went out for coffee and hot chocolate with Parker's friend from the restaurant.  It was encouraging to hear his questions about how to share the gospel.  It's very exciting to see someone learning about the Christian faith for the first time.

Parker took us walking down the Rue Mouffetard in a light Paris rain.  We saw what looked like a French movie being filmed and briefly walked into the mosque.

We walked through the Garden of Plants, a beautiful place inside the city.

We left Parker at this point and walked back to the most well-known of the Paris landmarks to take some pictures for a timelapse video.  Reading out loud to KJ in front of the Eiffel Tower was so nice.  I'd like doing that everyday.

Afterwards we came back to Parker's where he kindly made us dinner, and that was our night.