Saturday, September 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom!

I won't divulge my Mom's new age today, but here is a list, compiled by her children, of 50 reasons why we love her:

1. Funny
4.Great Cook
5. Caring
6. Faithful
7. Happy
8. Loving
9. Fruitful
11. Intelligent
12. Optimistic
13. Truthful
14. Hospitable
15. Fun to Be With
16. Capable
17. Lovable
18. Honorable
19. Feminine
20. Soft-Hearted
21. Gracious
22. Joyful
23. Giving
24. Kind
25. Diligent
26. Good Mentor
27. Creative
28. Motherly
29. Compassionate
30. Uplifting
31. Humble
32. Thoughtful
33. Encouraging
34. Godly
35. Patient
36. Gentle
37. Best Gravy Maker
38. Comforting
39. A Friend
40. Beautiful
41. Faithful Wife to Dad
42. Merciful
43. Resourceful
44. Best at Reading Aloud
45. Homemaker
46. Teacher
47. Creates Best Traditions
48. Loves Truth
49. Best Sock Knitter
In fact, we think that she is just about:
50. Perfect

Love ya, Mom!!
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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bordeaux, France: Days 7&8

Day 7 was Ashley's day to take Henrik to the park and I stayed home and filled my morning with leisurely things. The rain had left by now but the cool weather stayed, and this day was nothing short of delightful. After Henrik woke from his nap (always between 1:30 and 2) we left to go-guess where?-yes, back downtown. Today was different, though; I was going to apply one important lesson I had already learned. I hadn't been in France long, but I had already picked up on several important things. One was that the French dress. All French. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor. There is no such thing as running to the grocery store in your fitness clothes. Or even going to the playground in such casual attire. It was not uncommon to run into mothers at the park dressed in slacks and blouses, jeans and heels, dresses or skirts. The fathers always wore what we would term "business casual". This is what the people wear to shop in, run errands in, walk around town in. There wasn't any sloppy dressing, which was, in my opinion, very refreshing.* Anyway, all that to say that on this day I chose what I would wear a little more carefully. Instead of my "tourist attire" of pants and t-shirt, I chose a feminine, full white skirt with a cotton eyelet sweater, styled my hair (as much as you can style long curly hair) and stepped out of the house feeling very French. By the time the day was over, I was feeling anything but, returning home a mere shadow of what I started out in. Our second day out was nothing short of disastrous due to the fact that Ashley and I lost each other downtown. No cell phones that worked. Absolutely no way to get in touch. We found each other at last, but not before Ashley had taken the tram all the way back to Merignac to look for us and I had nearly taken the tram back there to just get Henrik home. It was not the greatest afternoon, to say the least. Well, not for me anyway. Ashley got to do some shopping while she was hunting us down, but I had Henrik the whole time and he was not inclined to go shopping. So we spent as much time as possible in McDonald's and on a bronze turtle in the adjoining plaza, then back to the Cathedrale St. Andre to wait for Ashley (which was our designated meeting place)... and wait... and wait... Turns out that Ashley first got the wrong McDonald's, then the wrong tram stop, and finally she got to us, and just in the nick of time, as I was very seriously thinking about two options: 1) finding a cafe and getting something to eat and relaxing or 2) boarding the next tram back to Merignac. Thankfully, I was spared that decision, and all ended well, although in conclusion, it was not my best day in France. And, to top it all off, the running to and fro, chasing Henrik and walking so much on dirty streets led to my skirt getting dirty, my feet hurting, my hair a disheveled mess and a sweaty face. By the end of the day I was back to looking very American.
Moral of the story: Don't be vain enough to think that you can blend in so effortlessly with a notoriously beautiful people group. Because you won't.
*I have many more thoughts on this, and especially the way women dress and their general behavior, all of which I will blog about later.

Day 8: My day to take Henrik to the park. We went through our routine of chasing ducks and geese, feeding swans and trying not to feed the nasty carp, those ugly fish that tried to take away the bread from the lovely swans. We then went to the playground so that Henrik could play and socialize a little with some children his age. This part always terrified me. I never knew what to say beyond my oft-practiced "Desolais" sentence should someone try to talk to me. Or what if one child beat up Henrik? What would I say to the French parents? What if Henrik beat up a child? What then? What if he fell off of the slide and cracked his head or broke his arm, then what? I couldn't even allow myself to think of the possibilities, it was just too nerve racking. Thankfully, there weren't too many people there that day. Henrik tried to hit one boy, but the boy's parents took care of that for me (you can count on the French to help you correct your child - very disconcerting at first, but kind've nice in the end when I realized that I, too, could correct other kids!) and then poor Henrik offered a leaf to a little girl and she ran away screaming. Then Henrik went up to their father and tried to break his paper. I could only mumble "desolais" as I chased Henrik around. Thankfully, the family left at last and Henrik and I only had to worry about the occasional grandparent bringing their grandchild to play. But most of the time, Henrik was chasing ducks, and I was chasing Henrik. I prevented his falling into the water many times. I walked him around the 5 km park trail and then we went home. This day was my first to go to the park alone, and although I got there okay, I couldn't remember the way home! I started down the correct way, but made a wrong turn, and then once I panicked, I couldn't recover my mistake. Thankfully, Merignac is not a big town and I just walked until I came to a street I recognized, and then I knew that the next street over was ours. Whew! I was so glad to hit that street and see the little house at the corner. Thankfully, I had left the park early "just in case" so we weren't behind schedule, even with my blundering.

That afternoon I went out shopping. I took the tram to the mall at Meriadek first, then on to downtown from there. It seemed as though we were spending most of our time downtown, but it happened that it was really the best plcae to be when you don't have a car and are having to rely on public transportation. But it wasn't so bad as all of the good stores are downtown, the streets are always crowded, the shops at the time were busy (after all, it was soldes season!) and cafes are everywhere. Ahhh. I shopped with the masses and then rested my weary feet at a French Coffee Shop, sipping a cappuccino and watching all of the people, listening to the chatter and hum all around me of a beautiful, soothing language that I could barely understand. I strolled the streets and even found a quiet bookshop. Bookstores in France are nothing like they are here. They more resemble a library than what we Americans know as a bookstore. Absolutely quiet. Not even any soft background music. People either sitting very still at a table or standing somewhere selecting a book. The sections were easy to figure out, and I almost bought a favorite book in French, but didn't know where I was to pay. The only place that looked like it might be a cash register was a dark desk with a lamp and lots of papers on it close to the door. A computer was also perched on it, but I had no idea if this was a register or help desk, and I didn't feel too inclined to draw attention to myself in such a quiet setting by trying to find out. I went back out onto the cobblestoned street and spent the rest of my afternoon peering into shop windows, buying things and just strolling along, taking in as much as I could with my eyes and ears.
Finally, I headed to the tram stop bound for St. Augustin, Merignac; the end of the line for the tram, and for me, too.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bordeaux, France: Day 6

I am back at long last to continue my trip saga for those of you who have been nice enough (and patient enough) to read it...
Merignac and Bordeaux: Day 6
I wish I could say that all of those days were spent in more exciting ways than they actually were. My cousin and her husband left Wednesday morning for a much desired break in the beautiful Pyrenees, leaving us to watch their adorable 16 month old son. We took Henrik to the park in the morning so that he wouldn't see his parents leave (a very upsetting thing for one so young), and the hope was that when we returned, he would just not notice that his mom and dad were gone. The day started out very cloudy and a little chill was in the air when we set out for the park. By the time we were heading back to the house, a light drizzle had started. When we let Henrik out of his stroller, he went running around the house for a minute looking for his mom. We distracted him with some milk and play, then fed him lunch and put him down for a nap. Now it was raining and cold. I searched all over the house for a blanket and couldn't find one. I finally found some linens in my room, so grabbing a sheet and a baby blanket not in use, I wrapped up as best as I could. Who would've ever thought that I could be cold in July? I am ashamed to say that I am a weather wimp, and when we went out shopping later that day, I wore a long sleeved shirt under a cotton summer vest. Yes, it was strange, even for France. But I was comfortable all day...
We took the tram into downtown Bordeaux to do some shopping. Our first stop was the mall at Meriadek. A modern mall with something that our American malls never have: pastries. Delightful, delicious sweet pastries and a petite cafe creme at Brioche Doree - ooh la la! For Henrik we bought a mini pain au chocolat* (can you understand that without translation? That was one of my first French words to figure out and I salivated over them the rest of my visit). He didn't eat all of it so we kept the rest for bribery on the tram. We went into downtown from there to shop for things to take home. Walking up and down busy streets with a stroller wasn't easy and although we stopped at several places, we didn't buy much that day and ended up hurrying back to Merignac so that Henrik could get his dinner, bath and then to bed on schedule. From 7-11 o'clock pm Ashley and I had nothing but free time; reading, email correspondences, knitting, movies and just basking outside on a deck chair reveling in late evening breezes filled up this time. That is my idea of vacation!

*Chocolate bread!
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Monday, September 11, 2006

Lest We Forget...

It seems so incredible to me that five years have passed since that horrible day. It seems even more incredible that within the span of an hour on that day, this Nation, nay, even this world, could change so drastically. We will never be the same. We can't ever be the same.
Whatever could possibly be said on this anniversary has already been said by those who are far wiser than I. Therefore, I offer to you these links instead of my words. Read, hear and take comfort in what is said. Pray for the light of God's Word to penetrate the darkest corners of the world. Pray that His comfort will penetrate the hearts of all who still suffer and grieve today.

This is a letter published only hours after the attacks on 9/11. It's wisdom and gentle comfort still speaks strongly today.
This is a Q&A with John Piper, aired today in commemoration of 9/11.
This is a transcript of John Piper's sermon the Sunday following the attacks.
This is an article discussing Augustine and the wisdom he offers to us even today on how to live in an age of terrorism. (HT: Justin Taylor)

And of course, you can visit all of the major networks to get video transcripts, photos and the President's speeches from then and today. I didn't watch or read any.

I find that these words (only some of many such in the Bible) offer the greatest comfort and hope anyone can find:

"Who shall seperate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? As it is written,
'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:35-39

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's Time For...

*Cue TV game show music*
The Equestrian Quiz!

Our contestants today are Shelbi (aka ReforMaiden) and her brother, Parker (aka The Snake Hunter). On a recent afternoon they both took a ride on two different horses and here are the results for this audience to judge. Please look closely now and judge fairly between the two.
Now then, here is today's Equestrian Quiz Question for you, the audience, to answer:
Who is the better Horse Master?

Is it Parker:
Or Shelbi:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

*News Flash!*News Flash!*News Flash!*

I hereby interrupt international blogging to bring you this picture...
not snapped in France, England or North Carolina* but in Palo Pinto County, Texas. (Yes, you read right. Texas.) I have yet to see any goat in any foreign country I have visited (errr, not that I've been in any but 2) as cute as this fellow:

I never could figure out if he was a camera ham or just a curious goat... or maybe he was just feeling hungry and the camera looked tasty (goats who eat tarp will eat anything, so I would be surprised at nothing this goat would like to chew on) :-)

What do you think? Camera ham, Curious or Rapacious?

*(the sites of my summer journeying)