My girls are overjoyed with each viewing.
It is pretty delightful.
I may have watched this roughly 40 times in the last 3 days.
My girls are overjoyed with each viewing.
It is pretty delightful.
What, pray you, does one do in Germany in the middle of winter?
Last month, we took a trip to explore southern Spain and Portugal. We weren’t expecting to love it as much as we did (not having anything in the area we desperately wanted to see) but it was a fabulous trip. I recommend Andalucia to all.
We flew into Granada, rented a car, and shortly realized several things:
The following day we stopped off in Ronda, which offered exquisite views. The city was fairly unremarkable, but yes, the scenery was astounding.
Next stop was Sevilla. While it wasn’t yet the season for bull-fighting, we still filled our days.
Flamenco dancing, walks through streets littered with fallen oranges, delicious Spanish wine, parks, churches, and many pharmacies in the hopes of combating my daughter's nasty stomach bug.
The cathedral in Sevilla was astounding. It is the largest in the world. And shocking in its size.
We then left Spain and made our way to Portugal, me asleep for the drive as usual.
Lagos was beautiful. We marched down to the coast—the nearly empty coast—and dipped our feet in the water. The water was easily 50 degrees. Very cold. We were the only fools with suits on.
Edward: I think I’m going to go in.
Me: Ha. Have fun.
Edward: I think we should go in.
Me: We? You want me to go in too?
Edward: We did come all this way.
Me: I must really love you.
It was shockingly cold, but strangely invigorating.
I really do love that man.
I wished we could have stayed longer, but our next stop did not disappoint.
Lisbon proved to be a fabulous city, and one of our new favorites. The food, the culture, the environment, the people. We visited the birth site of St. Anthony of Padua (who knew he wasn't Italian?), I pulled out Clare's very wiggly tooth at lunch, we enjoyed views of the waterfront, & even managed to squeeze in a soccer game one evening.
To close off the trip, we made a little pilgrimage up to Fatima. It felt different from the bustle of my initial visit ten years ago, but it was peaceful. We saw the church and stood before the tombs of the three children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia (although she lived to adulthood). I didn’t walk away with any profound impressions, but was thankful for the opportunity to return, and to pray for friends and family.
Our last night in Lisbon we found an incredible Mexican restaurant: Pistola y Corazon. This is actually notable because Germans don’t appear to do the Mexican food thing. So when we find one with good reviews while traveling, you better believe we are going.
I'm late, but every day is a good day to fight back against the evils of racism. I've shared this article before with many of you, but if you haven't read it, it is worth the time. It was one of the impacting pieces that helped me to finally see the reality of present-day racism and privilege.
And yes, I know it is long.
Bishop Braxton's "The Racial Divide in the United States"
"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man." -MLK Jr.
Reflecting back on 2016, I am astonished. An incredible amount has been packed into this year. Edward and I have made it a point to see as much as we can while we are here. So I thought it might be fun to re-cap the year, simply based on the trips I have loved best. This is no easy feat; the man is adventurous.
The Holy Land is special. Those places and scenes remain a part of my heart and prayer today. I’m so blessed to have seen it. I finally got to walk where Jesus walked. And it was beautiful.
I wrote an entire blog about it here if you want to peruse pictures and hear about the experience.
This one was such fun. Somehow, we managed to pull off 5 days WITHOUT RAIN. The locals were all outside, as shocked as we were. We spent most of our time skipping about the western side of the island. I would go back in a heartbeat. It was incredible. The people were friendly. And the beaches. Oh my word. More on that one here.
The Austrian Alps
This was the drive through the Alpine pass that I gushed over a few months ago. Seeing the Großglockner was one of my favorite things of 2016. It was glorious and grand and more.
We drove through Savoy (France/Switzerland), staying just outside Annecy. I ate my weight in cheese and watched my children frolic with goats and farm dogs. It was charming and beautiful. And extremely hot. You better believe I jumped into Lake Annecy.
Edward’s sister & family trekked out to the ole Europe and we gallivanted around together. We stood with gaping children in the back of a choral concert, took a carriage ride around the city, ate, drank, explored, and just fell in love.
This trip was absolutely charmed. I flew over with my good friend Alicia and the heavens apparently were smiling down on us. Even the church for Sunday mass turned out to be a whopping block from our hotel. It was so stinking fun. Harry Potter Studios, seeing The Beautiful Carole King, high tea at Kensington Gardens, and one happy restaurant that only served flank steaks.
Are you catching the theme of Austria? Edward and I both studied abroad there, and it has forever won our hearts.
We took the rail up the mountain to hike around, the kids went to the zoo, and we caught up with an old college friend now working in the area. I think it only fitting to point out that my 3-year-old powered through many adult portions of sausage.
We have some fun ideas for 2017, but regardless, I am so thankful for all I have gotten to see and experience. It also goes to show why we still own that gross couch we bought the third year of marriage.
It has been several months, and I can finally breathe enough to think about sharing. I know I haven’t written about highly personal items in the past, but I think there is a time for everything.
My hope is that in speaking about this topic that is so often left in silence, I can help. And we can all grow and heal together in this messy world.
It was the end of September, and Edward was gone for work and out of communication. I made my way to the chapel for my weekly prayer time and cracked open my Bible to sit with the story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11). I often have no major insights, but that morning I came away with an unusual message.
“I want you to trust me when I open tombs in your life.
I want you to trust that I am doing it for life, and not death.”
I said a small prayer, asking for the grace and ability to do that—to trust when those dark times came—and went back to the life of children and meals and dishes and writing.
Later that night I began bleeding.
The next morning I sat in the ER, weeping as the doctor told me that my baby of nearly 12 weeks was dead. Everything was so wrong, and my whole person ached in pain.
And those words kept resounding though my mind, those words from the chapel. To somehow see life when He was opening tombs. This, this terrible and entirely abhorrent ordeal, was somehow a moment of life, a moment for life.
The following week was one of the most hellish I’ve ever experienced. I was unable to get ahold of Edward and had little information given to me by my German physicians on what would happen next. I birthed a tiny baby alone in my apartment bathroom, followed with a troubling amount of blood loss. I was given ultrasounds at the hospital every two days, and was instructed to remain on the uterus-contracting medication for over a week, making the time pass in painful tedium. I eventually needed surgery to remove all the excess junk in my womb because it refused to pass.
It felt like death and more death.
And slowly, ever so slowly, I found light. Do not misunderstand me. I am still grieving, and I am still hashing through my mess of emotional turmoil and crushed hopes, but through prayer and silence and openness I have realized something. And it is beautiful…
John died, but he is not gone, nor lost.
And lovely things did occur in me, in my family, in my community. My neighbors showed me such attentive love and compassion, friends sent cards, so many offered prayers, made meals, drove my kids to school, spoke kind words. I became more grateful for my girls, more open to the help of others, more compassionate. Edward and I have carried each other though this loss, and there is something so comforting in loving each other despite the difficulties. We buried John together, and daily we work to have new joys together.
If you have lost a child, please know my heart is with you. There is no pain comparable. I pray you will find consolation and healing. That we both can. And that we will both be deeper, more loving, and more compassionate because of this suffering.
I truly do believe that this does not just end in death. Christ allows suffering to bring life—to bring it abundantly, to bring it extravagantly.
December has been a month of preparing for Jesus' birth, ice skating, birthdays, dental disasters, family time, and one beloved Star Wars Lego Advent calendar. Christmas markets have been grand and the frost has recently turned the area into a white wonderland. Oh, and the local herd of lawn-mowing sheep (it's bizarre how common-place this has become to me!) had 3 Christmas births.
And of course, New Year’s Eve.
NYE in Germany is something else. In America, at least in my experience, fireworks are generally reserved for Independence Day, and even then families typically just go to public displays instead of purchasing their own.
Oh, but Germany.
We woke the kids shortly before midnight and dragged them out in snow pants to battle the chill.
There was heavy fog, but it wasn’t all cloud. Everywhere around us the air shattered with explosions and the night lit up with color. It was practically a breath away from lung disease.
And so, so fun.
Next year, I already have instructions to double the haul again. 'Twill be incredible.
I hope you all enjoy the last few days of Christmas! And happy New Year!
I have not posted in ages, but it seems like a fine time to plaster the internet with pictures of my adventures.
The last two months have been exceptionally difficult for my family, and as our girls were on the German fall break last week, we decided to leave our woes behind for a few days and travel. Which in truth is not a bad remedy, if however temporary.
Or maybe it was simply because Slovenia will forever be overshadowed by our later drive up the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.
The Grossglockner is Austria’s highest Alp, reaching 3,798m (12,460ft). We started out in Heiligenblut, paid the toll, and drove up the pass. This was the last week the road was open for the season, and I bemoan the fact I cannot drive this every day.
It was unreal. Every turn we went around I found myself laughing. It was beautiful and more.
Yes, there are higher mountains elsewhere, but there is something remarkable about the Alps. They hold a grandeur that I cannot express.
Jutting up from rounded green hillsides. Beside aqua lakes and rivers. The skies, the glory. Oh my.
If you ever get the opportunity, and happen to be in Austria during the right time of year, I highly encourage you to make the drive up the pass. You may or may not find me parked in a lounge chair by the side of the road, drinking it all in.
The last two months have been packed and more. Summer in Europe is hot (& without the relief of AC) and extends into mid-September. We managed to get in a little traveling (I’ll share a few pictures below) and this past Monday began the new German school year. It is fabulous to be getting back into a routine, and the girls are adjusting well. Plus, with a new year, I get to again see kids holding hands as they walk to school together, and that always melts my heart.
Also in August, we drove as a family to the German Ammergau Alps and stayed in Oberammergau. The town is small and known for their beautifully carved wooden statues as well as their once-a-decade performance of the Passion. We explored the area by taking a dip in one of the Ammergau lakes, attending mass at Ettal Monastery, and sampling cheese from a local French factory.
We also discovered & loved the Alpine Coaster. We clambered onto the lift up the mountain, and rode the individual coasters down. It was fun, although I admittedly slowed down Husband who was in the car behind mine. The Germans yelled, “Schneller!” (Faster!) as I pulled out. I like to pretend my speed was due to the 3-year-old in my car, and not the fact that I am an old woman inside.
The following weekend we drove to Annecy, France, stopping through Switzerland to visit Zurich and Lausanne. I strangely was unimpressed with Switzerland. Their mountains are breathtaking in so many places, but otherwise, I find the country bland. Plus, I have difficulty moving past how expensive everything there is. To each his own?
But France was fabulous. Annecy immediately captured my heart with its stunning lake and rising mountains. We rented a peddle boat and took turns hopping out to swim in what is said to be Europe’s cleanest lake. It was incredible—and such a relief because it was hot.
We stayed in Thônes, a little town about 45 minutes outside of Annecy. Our B&B was planted nearly on top of a mountain and offered incredible views, even if the door to our rooms was reminiscent of a hobbit hole. The girls swooned over the mess of dogs and cats and goats that roamed the place, and Husband and I were served many entrees composed nearly entirely of cheese. We drove through the striking French Alps and even made a brief little jaunt to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt to visit Peter Faber’s childhood chapel, marveling at the numerous saints who had arisen from that time period in Savoy.
The drive back to Germany was rough, but the trip was worth it. I fell in love with Savoy. It was beautiful, and chock full of cheese.
I don't feel adventurous about most things. I typically hate activities unless I have already done them 500 times and I know exactly what to expect. The thought of traveling alone with children sends me scrambling to hide in a dark closet. My husband is the one who gets my home-clinging soul out and about. I am boring. I know it.
All that gets thrown out the window when it comes to food. And most especially fruit. If it is weird or different, I immediately put it in the cart. It is too much fun to pass up.
This week, I found golden kiwis.
(I know, I know. I posted once about kiwi berries. But really, these are different.)
I sliced it up, awed by its lack of hairy skin, and popped a piece in my mouth. It was about twice as sweet as any kiwi I have ever eaten. It just tasted... golden. Even when I attempt to conjure up words to describe the flavor, I have none. It is a kiwi, but sweeter, and golden.
I've always wanted to visit Ireland. The green, the rolling hills, the cheery drinks, the deep sea blues, the rich Catholic heritage, the beautiful accents. And when my husband finally was given leave, he decided to sate my every whim. (You can read here about Jerusalem.)
We flew into Dublin, rented a car, and turned our toes west. Honestly, for the longest stretch I thought we were in Northern Virginia, just with extra notations in Gaelic to direct us. Things were green, spacious, open, and residential. It was not what I expected at all.
We used Galway as our base, but also trekked out to see more. I doubted Edward when he said we needed to drive several hours to get to this special beach... He always knows though. Every time.
I didn't think Ireland could look like this. I was floored. Renvyle Beach, if you are ever in the area.
Lastly, we spent a little time back in Dublin before flying out. Truthfully, I was not enamored with the city. It was big and bustling and lacking character. We had some good food and, notably, a drink at a bar named the Confession Box, but my heart yearned to be back west with the rising cliffs and mirroring lakes. I hope I can someday go back. It was a beautiful island.