Thursday, November 25, 2010

Go to the top of your Eiffel Tower.

Josh and I at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France:

A few weeks ago, my husband and I stood at the very top of the Eiffel Tower.  It was a really special moment to share with him, one that I know I will cherish forever.  Interestingly enough, it wasn't my first time on the Eiffel Tower.  A few weeks after I graduated from high school, I took a trip with a few other French students to see the sights in Italy and France.  Unfortunately, the night that we made it to the Eiffel Tower, something happened with our scheduling and we couldn't go to the very top.  We had a dinner reservation that we had to make and, much to the dismay of the entire group, we left the Tower having never made it to the top.

Seriously, we were all pretty bummed about that.  But our tour guide, Sophie, reassured us by saying, "It's ok everyone, you will all come back some day and when you do, you can go to the top then."  My 18 year old self thought, "Well that certainly wasn't the point of the trip... to half see things and make plans to come back."  But being a part of a tour group has its disadvantages... not being able to do everything you want to do is one of them.

Five months later, a boy that was on the same trip with me died in a car accident.  He lost control of his truck and hit a tree and, last time I checked, there are still crosses on the side of the road.  It was a truly devastating experience and all I could think about is how he 

got to go 
to the top 
of the Eiffel Tower.

Two days ago, a young woman that went on that trip with me also passed away.  She was nannying and something happened (I haven't heard what, yet, though they suspect a brain aneurism?  As far as I know that is speculation) and just like that she is gone.  One of the brightest, happiest, joyful, God loving young women I know.  Gone.  and I know everyone says the nicest things about people who have passed away, but I really mean this about her.  She was so joyful.  She had found Jesus in the last couple of years and literally oozed His love and goodness out of her pores.  I'm serious.

and, she didn't get to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  and she really, really wanted to.  I didn't see her often, but when I did, we would talk about how my sister, Lindsay, is an au pere in Paris and I gave her the websites Lindsay went to and she dreamed with me about what it would be like to live there.  and the fact that she didn't get to do those things makes me terribly, awfully sad as I write this.

So, dear reader, whoever you are.  Please go to the top of your Eiffel Tower, whatever that may be.  I don't know what it is for you, but I'm sure you do.  and if someone says "no" or "maybe next time" or "that's for later in life" then I say, push them and their good intentions and expectations out of the way and run as fast as you can to the stairs and capture for yourself every moment that you want to live. and when you get there, take a deep breath and enjoy every second of being at the top.

Enjoying my time at the top!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I wanna grow old with you.

I found this picture online tonight and it kinda sorta made my heart get all mushy.

::sigh:: Is there anything any of us could ever want more than this? 

Hopefully, we are on our way!

P.S.  Josh and I made a formspring account tonight.  We are hoping that it will be a way for our teens and the people in our lives to ask us questions about life and God in an anonymous way.  We'll see how it works out!  (If you don't know what it is, it's a website that allows anyone to ask anything they want anonymously and we can answer back!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our journey came to a close on Saturday morning when we pulled into our driveway at 2:00am. Our travel time home was a cool 33 hours and we were very much exhausted when we crashed into bed our own home. Our trip home took us through the extremely unpleasant airport in Moscow, Russia. No need to go in to the details on here, just send me an email if you're ever planning on going through Moscow and I will tell you all of the reasons why I would discourage it! haha.

From Moscow, we had a 10 hour flight to JFK airport in New York City, and from there we had to take a train to Newark airport in New Jersey. Sounds simple, right? False! It was not simple. When we landed in New York, it was 4:00pm Eastern time, but according to our bodies, it was 1:00am. We made our way through customs, collected our luggage, and started the trek to Newark airport. First, we had to take the airtrain to the metro. Easy enough. Then we took the metro to the train. We were on the metro for at least 45 minutes and when we got out at our stop, we were really confused that the train station wasn't there. We finally decided that we must have to exit the metro stop to find the train station.

So, with our two 50lb bags, a carry on, and two back packs we exited the station... to find that we were in downtown New York City at rush hour. We ascended the stairs and assessed our situation. I was a bit shocked when I realized what I was looking at was the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING and brilliantly asked Josh, "um... is that the Empire State Building?!?" Looking around, I concluded that we were on 34th street, just a couple of blocks away from Madison Square Garden looking also at the legendary downtown Macy's. THE Macy's, people! Completely disoriented, exhausted, and anxious about making our flight, we asked a couple of people on the street where the train was. It was two blocks away. So we dragged our luggage through downtown NYC, trampling toes and bumping shoulders with fellow commuters. We finally made it to the train (Josh had to carry our heavy luggage up many, many flights of stairs... he was a total rockstar. If I had had to carry anything other than my backpack and the little carry-on I really would have started crying which we can all agree would have been completely unproductive) On the final 30 minute train ride to Newark, we pulled out the ipod and listened to "Married Life" from the Up soundtrack. Listening to that song (the theme of the movie) turned our thinking around so that what had been a thoroughly unpleasant experience suddenly became a bit of an adventure.

Needless to say, we made it to our flight (with 25 minutes to spare before boarding) but will probably never, ever do that again haha. We saved A LOT of money by taking the long way home, but it was definitely a huge sacrifice of personal comfort and convenience. (Dave Ramsey would be proud!)

So anyway, I know this is a bit wordy but I thought it was interesting and it was the last step of our journey to share. I crashed on the last flight and was so happy that it was my Mama who was at the airport with a big sign and open arms. Nothing says I'm home like seeing my Mom!

Oh and just as a side note, I was quite pleased with myself upon our return home. The house was spotless! I mentally high-fived myself for my efforts before we left to get the house in order, knowing that when I walked in the door at 2:00am when we got back, I would appreciate it immensely... and I most definitely did! Do you ever do things with your future self in mind? My main thinking for thoroughly cleaning the house before we left was: "Future Leslie is going to really appreciate this!" It might be a little weird, I know, but it was motivating nonetheless.

So, thanks for being a part of our journey! I'm sure over the next few weeks, we'll be posting more pictures, experiences, and thoughts about the incredible trip we just took. Right now, we are simply enjoying the ease of being home and appreciating all of the family and friends that make this small town a place that we love so much.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Istanbul Part iki (Part Two)

 Inside the Hagia Sophia
 Old Hallway in the Hagia Sophia
 Of Course...with a Diet Coke
 The Grand Bazaar
 Very Labryinth like
 The colors and smells were incredible

 Carpet shop with Hesan
 Turkish Lamps

 Istanbul Streets
Egyptian Spice Bazaar

Friday, November 5, 2010

Istanbul Part "Bir" (that is turkish for "one")

 View from our Ferry to the Old Section of Istanbul
 My Bride

 Hagia Sophia- Built in the 500's as a Christian Cathedral, turned into a mosque in the 1400's and finally turned into a museum in 1935. 

Directly across from Hagia Sophia was the Blue Mosque.  Here is the Courtyard
 Blue Mosque Courtyard

 Inside Hagia Sophia
Muslim Men Washing before entering the Blue Mosque

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hi everyone!

Our departure from Paris and our arrival to Turkey went very smoothly.  We were picked up by friends who are living here and brought back to stay in their guest room in their apartment.  I was surprised to find that the apartment is quite spacious!  It feels like a small house, minus a backyard. Today was our first full day in Istanbul.  We don't have any pictures to share with you, but it was still a great day.  We woke up early and were able to have breakfast with the family and talk with them about what life is like here in Istanbul.

After lunch, we went out for a walk to the local weekly bazaar where there were all sort so delicious looking fresh fruits and vegetables, clothes, jewelry, tupperware, scarves.... anything and everything it seemed.  It was really interesting to see this completely foreign way of doing business.  I saw an old man selling things at his stand and was lost in the thought that he has lived many years without my knowledge of him... and then today... randomly... I saw him.  I wondered about his life and his family.  I wondered about who he loves and where he lives.

After the bazaar, we walked down to the sea and enjoyed some time looking out on the water and talking.  It was really quite beautiful.  There were people walking their dogs, rollerblading, riding bikes... our friends said that in the summer the grass leading up to the waters edge is full of people who bring pillows, blankets, dishes, small grills, and relax by the water all day.  We walked a bit further and went to a little Turkish restaurant and got some delicious desserts!  It was interesting trying to order off a menu that left me completely clueless.  So naturally, I ended up getting something that had a picture on the menu.  It's been so weird to not be able to speak to anyone or read anything.... and by weird I mean frustrating.  I know I should ask, I think I'm just nervous about pronouncing things wrong, but I don't even know how to say "hello" "goodbye" "thank you" or "excuse me" if I bump in to someone.  It's very, very strange for me.

Once we were done with the desserts, it was time to pick the kids up from school.  It was so interesting to see the parents who were waiting for their kids at the school.  Very protective, very loving, waiting with anticipation for their child to come out from the school.  The school is in a great neighborhood, but the parents here, just like American parents, love their kids an awful lot and want the best for them.  It's amazing how life here really isn't that different.  Kids play in the playground, do their homework, fight with their siblings.  Parents work, talk to other parents about school, love their kids.  Even on the other side of the world, it's easy to see that at the core of being a human being, we are all quite similar.

When we got home, I called my mom and had a lovely chat with her.  We ate a delicious dinner (I'm getting the recipe!) and played the wii a bit and as I type, the kids are being put to bed (against their will, desiring glasses of water, of course) and we are getting ready to call it a night.  Istanbul is a great city, though.  I have felt very safe and have been surprised at how much it feels like any other big city.  The buildings and streets aren't quite as "nice" as other cities, but it has the same feel.  So far.  Tomorrow we are going to the historical section to check out a couple of the popular sites in Istanbul and I'm really excited for that.  I'm sure Josh will get some incredible pictures that we'll both be really excited to share with everyone!

Thanks for being a part of our journey!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Viva la Revolution

Views from the top!

View from Sacre-Coeur

Leslie and Sacre-Coeur

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Hold my hand... Paris is for lovers"

Today ends our second (and final) full day in Paris.  It has been such a fun journey to be on together!  Here is a list of what we've been up to the last couple of days :-)

Day One:
-We saw Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was truly awe-inspiring.  The best part was that we were there in the middle of a service and got to hear the magnificent organ playing as well as the choir singing.  It was beautiful!
-We walked along the Seine River.
-Ate a Nutella Crepe
-We walked outside of the Louvre
-We shopped on the Champs d'Elysees (Basically Paris' version of 5th Avenue in NYC)
-We took pictures in front of the Arch de Triomphe
-Walked along the parks up to and under the Eiffel Tower at night.
-Went and found a crepe shop when we got home for my second Nutella crepe of the day

Day Two:
-Went shopping for some new shoes.  (I made very, very poor choices in foot attire.  I had not anticipated the amount of walking we were actually going to do.  My goodness am I paying for it!)  The new shoes helped, but did not fix the problem.
-Ate a Nutella Crepe
-Went to the Eiffel Tower and took the elevator to the very top!  Kissed my husband at the summit and can now knock that right off of my bucket list :-)
-Attempted to go see the Catacombs, but failed.
-Successfully went and saw Sacre-Coeur cathedral
-Ate a Nutella Crepe
-and the Moulin Rouge.  Love the movie, hate the neighborhood it was in.  Oy.
-Went out to visit Lindsay at the home she is living in and met the lovely family she lives with.  The girls all bonded singing along to "High School Musical 3".
-We went out to dinner with Lindsay and Damien
-Went back to Damien's teeny tiny apartment

They were two very full days!  Josh has been taking a lot of pictures (aren't they amazing?!) and I am so thankful for his ability to capture things in such a profound way.  I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Out and about in Paris

Notre Dame

Inside during a service.

Stunning stained glass windows. The colors were unreal!

Good ol' headless John the Baptist

Seine River