Browsing Category: Travel

Ten Years in the Making

It has been a year! A decade even.

We started 2010 with the birth of our first child a month before…four years of waiting and wondering if anything we were putting ourselves through would result in being parents.

Ten years later…we have 5 kids. Didn’t see that one coming! Whenever anyone asked about how many children we would have (WHY DO PEOPLE ASK THOSE QUESTIONS?!) my response was “we will take them one at a time” *face palm* We know how that one turned out.

Ten years ago I was a VERY different person.

How could I have NOT changed in the past decade?! No matter what as time marches on things happen and we change with them. In all honesty, I don’t remember much of the past ten years, they’ve all blurred together in a wash, rinse, repeat cycle of babies and bills

I don’t remember what I was even like ten years ago. I was, in some ways still very full of hope and optimism for everything, despite having realized how hard life can hit us and how much it can hurt (hello…infertility and a husband that was sidelined for two years due to severe back pain, and then back surgery).

I still didn’t know what our family would look like, and didn’t really dare to dream. I still saw homeschooling in our future, and definitely not public school. Matthew was still working for my parents and there was nothing in our minds as to that ending.

If anything I have realized the importance of being able to stand on my own two feet. In someways I have become jaded and hardened about the world, and I don’t think of that as a bad thing. I have realized that while I want friends and family around me,  I need to be able to distance myself and do what needs to be done for myself, and not in a selfish way.

I have seen too much to be content to sit with my blinders on, unaware of what is going on around me. I have seen too many families pulled apart, women left scrabbling to provide for their children, too many women sacrificing themselves and who God created them to be, for the idealization of some image as a wife and mother.

For myself, I have made it a priority to grow, to distance myself from the relationships, ideas, and things that are harming me. It isn’t easy: People especially don’t like it when you refuse to play their game by their rules, and there have been a lot of players in my life.

What does the decade of 2020 look like for me?

I have not a clue. The past year has taught me that. I’m sure some would advise that I “vision cast” and write my “5 Year Plan”, but I can’t. All I can do is move forward on whatever path I choose at that moment.

Maybe I’ll finish my Master’s, maybe I won’t. Maybe we’ll move a few towns or states away, maybe we’ll stay right where we are. Maybe I’ll be working full time as a librarian, maybe I’ll be homeschooling a handful of my kids. 

Whatever pathway I’m on I can promise you this; there will be books, there will be quilts, there will be food, there will be my children growing up and out, there will be traveling, there will be making and meeting new {online} friends. There will be struggle, and heartache, and tears, but there will also be growth, and joy, and love.

In 10 years I will be almost 50…I can’t wrap my head around that.

For now though, I wish you all a wonderful New Year, and I will see you in 2020.

Au Revoir Paris – The Review You Won’t Read Anywhere Else

I’ve delayed writing this post, because I wasn’t sure just how to share about it. If you’re interested in all the pictures head over to Instagram. Paris was lovely…It was wonderful seeing all the buildings I’ve only read about, visiting the museums and standing before the works of Monet and Degas and VanGogh.

But there’s another side to Paris.

I still haven’t decided if my emotions have jaded the trip for me, coloring things more darkly than reality. The trip was a bit of a struggle. We stayed in an AirBnB in Montmartre, which ended up being an hour walk from the city center, and in a NOT very good neighborhood (we should not have been there).

The apartment was lovely and felt safe, but the neighborhood, and other neighborhoods outside of the city center…oy! There’s a reason why the movie Taken is in Paris. That said, I’m also hyper-aware of my environment, more so than most people (maybe I’m an enneagram 6) and perhaps that was part of it.

The food was surprisingly standard. We kept looking for good bread and pastries, but everything was meh. I did some google searches about where to get the best bread and croissants and was disappointed to find out that 80% of the city’s bread is commercially produced and the true artisan bakeries are few and far between. We did find one and the sandwich I ate was mind blowingly delicious (Maison Marache).

The city itself was rather dirty, and maybe that was because we weren’t in the touristy areas. There were a few moments when I felt I was in the movie, Ratatouille…we were eating dinner (curbside) one evening and saw a rat run across the street, and we had seen a dead rat walking along the Seine one afternoon. There was a lot of dog poop and a general smell of stale urine.

I’ve grown up visiting NYC regularly and know that it is not lauded for being the cleanest city in the world, especially the subways. So a “dirty” city doesn’t surprise me, Paris surprised me. It was significantly dirtier than NYC, than even the subway.

Several years ago Matthew and I had visited London on a long weekend trip, we had left Thursday night and returned Monday afternoon. We had felt that one more day would have been nice on this trip.

Paris we had left on Friday and returned on Thursday; it was way too long for a “weekend” trip. Unless you really love cities…a week in the city is not my idea of a grand time.

We had done one bus tour out of the city to the Normandy area to visit Monet’s home and gardens, as well as a jaunt to Versailles, and that was wonderful! I loved seeing the countryside and the other parts of France. It very much reminded me of home.

The language was not a barrier; I know for many that’s their biggest concern with visiting a foreign city. Most of the time when you’re talking to someone it is in a shop, so you can point and mumble your requests and figure it out. They want your money, you want what their selling: It’s in everyone’s interest to figure it out.

The big question everyone asks: Would you go back?

Yes, I would, but also knowing the things I would do differently. For me, the big thing with visiting a foreign city would be to pay the extra money and stay closer to the city center and tourist areas; not just for safety reasons, but also for convenience and not spending money on cabs/ubers. Also, to venture out of the city, I would definitely do more day tours or do an overnight bus tour.