Monday, August 31, 2009

Award Winners!!!!


Two exciting announcements!!!! First, and most important, are the winners of my first Blog-Giveaway. My granddaughter wasn’t here when I needed to get the drawing done, so Scott and my youngest daughter volunteered. It was all quite exciting.

Remember when I mentioned that this was a very unscientific contest? Well, at the last minute, my sweet and generous husband said, “Let’s double it. Let’s choose FOUR winners instead of two.”

Don’tcha just love it???

So, in no particular order, the winners to my First Ever Blog Giveaway are…

Patricia

Dreaming With Pink Roses

Simply Colette

Kelly (the Kelly that posted a comment, not the Kelly that entered on Facebook, unless you are the same Kelly and I just don’t realize it!)

So, if you are one of these people, please send me your home address, and sometime in September, you will receive a postcard from Paris.

My email address is: reynolds9@mac.com

Do it quickly…I leave in ELEVEN days!!!

Thanks to all that entered! There will be a post and pics of the “mailing” when I get home from Paris. Keep a lookout…I plan to have more giveaways in the future, with little special surprises I will purchase on my trip, just for this reason.

Second announcement… I’ve been given a Blog Award!

I was given an award once before, but wasn't sure what to do with it, (thanks again Ruth @ The Beautiful Life...see sidebar). This new award was such a nice surprise! The award was from Colette, at Simply Colette (check her out on my sidebar and give her site a visit…she’s fun!). She instructed me to pass the award along (which I will announce in a later post) and list ‘Ten Things About Me.” So Colette…here they are:

Ten Things About Me…

1. I am a born-again Christian, and without Christ in my life, I would be utterly and completely lost.

2. I love Beth Moore Bible studies.

3. I majored in journalism in college, but married Scott after my junior year. I never returned to college and I have never regretted it.

4. Before I went to Paris back in 2006, I had some upgrades planned, that I thought were essential; a new car (BMW), granite countertops, and wood floors (this was before the economy bust). However, once I got home from the trip, I began to judge every purchase in relation to returning to Paris again someday. Consequently, three years later, I’m still driving my car (Saturn), I still have Formica countertops, and the carpet just keeps getting cleaned. I also managed to squeeze in a few more trips. My priorities have shifted. :)

5. I hate cold weather with a passion. I feel the world is against me when the temp dips below 60* (good thing I live in Florida). However, being in Paris below 60* is divine, and a reason to sport a new coat and scarf!

6. My favorite electronic gadget is TiVo, however, my new iTouch is a close second.

7. I love Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy. For a modern twist I love Rachel Zoe, Project Runway, and The Hills.

8. My biggest fear is that I’m not “really” a good mother, and my kids will go on Oprah or Dr. Phil someday, and tell the world all the ways I messed them up.

9. My favorite way to spend an evening is with Scott, at home, when the kids are out. I will give up almost any social invitation to do this.

10. I hate the telephone, but I love texting and email.

11. I talk too much, and give too much detail, as you can see from this list!

So, there you have it in a “nut”shell.

I plan to post more often up until my trip. Check back every 2 or 3 days.

Au revoir!

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Ever Blog Giveaway!


Dear Friends...


Hold onto your seats! I’m having my first ever Blog Giveaway!


I’ve struggled with this, because I don’t have a regular store, an online store, or even a job for that matter (lol) ... thus, what to give away?


I will be in Paris in September, and I plan to buy some fun little trinkets for future giveaways, but what to do now?


SO here’s my idea...


leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and you will be entered in a drawing. The contest will close down on Sunday night at 7:00. I will choose 2, yes 2 lucky winners, at random (possibly my granddaughter pulling the names out of a hat)! The odds are with you, as I only expect a few entries. I will post the winners on Monday, and you can send me your address through e-mail if you win.


Each of the winners will receive... DRUMROLL...





a postcard from Paris!


I will go to the Eiffel Tower, buy some postcards, write you a special message, and mail to you from the Eiffel Tower post office. They have a special postmark and everything! I will even post a pic of me putting it in the mailbox.


Just think...one day, among all the bills and junk mail, your heart skips a beat, as you see something unusual in the mail...


I know this is a tiny giveaway compared to most I’ve seen, but play along...won’t you?


Thanks!!!!


P.S. I know some of my friends struggle with leaving a comment. All you have to do, is click on “comment” type it in, and choose “Name/URL”. You only have to type in your first name...the URL is optional. If you can’t get it to work, I will accept a comment on Facebook or an old-fashioned e-mail!


I would love some of you to become followers as well. It’s easy!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What to do First?




So here we were, staring at each other, all alone in the apartment. My inner thoughts were so mixed. We were in the middle of Paris so to speak, and now I had no idea what to do first. For the first time since we left America, Scott took charge. He is forever organized and neat, so he began unpacking. It was the one thing he could do to have a feeling of normalcy and control.


I followed Scott’s lead, and began unpacking as well. There was a small dresser in one corner, so we filled that first. We looked around and found some small doors, about 3 ft. high, built into the hallway by the bathroom. These were the ‘closets’ so to speak. We hung our shirts and whatnot, and piled our shoes in the bottom. Now on to the bathroom. Although it was spacious, clean, and shiny, it wasn’t much on counter space. Just a pedestal sink and a tiny rolling glass table (?) about 12 inches square. So happy was I to find a hook on the door, as I had a hanging bag for my toiletries.



All this took about 15 minutes...now what?


Although my eyes were burning and I was beyond exhausted, I wanted to head out. According to the experts, you aren’t supposed to take a nap...you are supposed to jump into the time zone immediately. Scott just stared at me, and sprawled out on the bed. He said he needed a 20 minute power nap. He fell asleep in about 30 seconds.

I roamed around the apartment (which took about 15 seconds) checked out the tiny kitchen area, went out on the balcony, and contemplated the next 8 days. It was slightly overcast and cool. The thing that struck me most, was the peace and quiet. It seemed I was the only person in the entire building. So strange...



There was a laptop in the apartment, and I decided to send an email home, just to let family know we had arrived. This email was the beginning of something big. More on that later.


As Scott snored, (there went the peace and quiet), I finally decided to lie down a few minutes...Wow...the bed was incredible! I sank down into the mattress...heaven!


Three hours later, we woke up!


I jumped up from a sound sleep. I was so disoriented. Where was I? I shook Scott awake, and I was in a complete panic to get going. I felt precious time had been wasted.


It was about 2pm (14:00 on the bedside digital clock). We bundled up with jackets and scarves, a first for Scott, and a look he wasn’t too keen on. He is a man’s man after all. Always living in the south, and now in Florida, neither one of us had ever worn a scarf...ever. It felt like everyone would stare at us. We were so self-conscience. I was determined we would not look like tourists. I have to say, we looked pretty chic as we went down the elevator. Very unlike us!


We stepped out the front door, and onto the street. We literally didn’t know which way to turn, or where we planned to go. With guide book in hand, we decided to explore Montmatre, our neighborhood.


As I think back to that moment, I realize how green we were. At this point of the trip, we figured it would be like any other vacation, only further from home. We had no idea the transformation that was about to take place in our hearts, our relationship, our lives. It would take about 3 days for Paris to truly wrap her arms around us, and for us to embrace her back in the same way.


Once this happened...magic!





Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Poem for Leila




One lazy morning not long ago, I noticed the cartoon, Madeline, was on TV. As I watched it, I was reminded how much I've always loved that book series. I vowed then and there that I would introduce Madeline to my granddaughter Leila, who is 2 years old, the next time she came over to my house.


I googled the author of the series, Ludwig Bemelmans, and read all about him. His grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano has written a book about his grandfather entitled, "Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator." I rushed out later that day, and checked it out from the library.


As I went through the pages, I was fascinated. It's an excellent peek into Ludwig's life and creativity. It was so inspiring. I began sketching pictures of Madeline and different monuments in Paris, when I decided to write a poem for Leila. Within about 10 minutes, I had a poem written, based on dreaming of taking Leila to Paris someday. I thought I would share it with you, along with some photos of her taken in a park near our home.


(Gigi is my grandma name, and Poppy is my husband's grandpa name).









A Poem for Leila

by: Gigi


Leila was a little girl,

The bottom of her hair, a curl.

She learned her letters everyday,

Her mom and dad would shout, “Hurray!”


As she grew, she dreamed of France.

“Gigi will take me,” she said with a dance.

The years went by, one by one.

“When we go to Paris, we'll have such fun!”


The day finally came when she turned sixteen.

At her party, she looked like a queen.

The last card she opened had a ticket inside.

“To Charles de Gualle airport, we shall fly!”


Poppy came too, he would not stay behind,

On those two, he must keep an eye.

To monument, to museum, to church, to café,

Leila knew she would never be the same.


Paris opened her eyes to the splendor of life.

She would not spend it in worry and strife.

The City of Lights was a part of her mind.

She knew she could go there, anytime.


“When life gets you down,” Gigi would say,

“Just close your eyes, and picture the Seine.

The art, the cheese, the café au lait,

Or an afternoon stroll on the Champs Elysees.”


"Paris now has a part of your heart,

And from it she will never depart.

May romance, elegance, beauty, and grace,

Be a part of your life, for the rest of your days.”





{I have not titled this poem yet....any suggestions?}







Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Apartment

Someone Calling Our Name...


Now for a little background.  For no reason in particular, other than me being frugal, I thought renting an apartment, rather than a hotel room, would be the way to go.  Remember, I had heard horror stories about how expensive it was to eat in Paris.  I envisioned me cooking dinner for us in the evenings... 


NOT!


I hate to cook, so what in the world was I thinking?  Also, from my couch in Florida, I pictured it being easy to run to a grocery store, and stock our tiny kitchen.  That was a pipe dream.  The grocery stores in Paris...well...more on that later.


So, an apartment it would be.  I found this apartment rental company on the Internet, quite by accident.  It ended up being the greatest find of my life (besides Scott~).





So...there we stood, in front of the building with our bags.  I knew the code to get in the big entry door, and that was about it.  We also knew someone was supposed to meet us that morning, to show us the ropes.  


There she appeared, as if out of the mist.  It was incredible.  The most gorgeous woman you’ve ever seen, calling out our name as she came up the street. 


 


How did she know?  I guess we were the only lost looking people with suitcases.



Her name was Isis.  She was beautiful, sweet, and  spoke impeccable English.  We went into the apartment building, through the entry, up the tiny elevator to the 4th floor, and into the apartment.  





The maid was still there, cleaning up, so Isis directed us to the balcony, where we sat looking out at the church, eating the croissants she had brought for us.  She also brought us a bottle of wine, and flowers in a vase for our tiny dining table.  How sweet!  How French!


For the next 30 minutes or so, Isis took us through a huge, heavy, 5 inch thick notebook.  She was talking a mile a minute.  I was trying to listen, but by now, we had been up over 24 hours, and I found it hard to concentrate.  It was about 9am Paris time.  She went over the metro, the buses, the train, the museums, restaurants, the laptop and Internet, the kitchen appliances, the washer/dryer, the phone, everything you ever wanted to know about Paris and the apartment in 30 minutes flat.  It was completely overwhelming, but at least we had the “notebook” for future reference.  


Now, she was leaving out our door, after a lengthy orientation about the keys, the locks, and the importance of not leaving the key in the door (it was all very confusing and complicated, although the words, “If we have to take the door down, it will cost you $350,” got my attention).  She gave us her cell phone number, but in my heart, I knew I wouldn’t call her and bother her.  We would have to muddle through on our own...


and muddle we did...every step of the way.


So now...she was gone.  We closed the door, and just stared at each other in silence.  We were totally alone, in a huge building, full of Parisians, not tourists.  There would be no one to ask if we had a question.  No front desk.  No room service.  No concierge.  We’ve stayed in some really nice hotels over the years, where they practically tuck you in at night.


This was going to be so different.  No mints on the pillow.  No turn down service.


It was me and Scott against the world...a world where we didn’t speak the language, understand the rules, or even know how to order a meal.  This was going to be good...or bad...it could go either way.  That thought was certainly looming in the back of our mind as we stood there.  We were sort of shell shocked from all we had been through since we landed.  We were overloaded with information, but at least we were here, in our apartment.  It was clean, pretty, cozy, romantic, the whole deal.  


SO, can you guess what we did first??????



Monday, August 17, 2009

Random Thoughts...

A quick post~


Coming soon...my first ever Blog Giveaway!  Not to worry, it will have a French flair to it.  A friend gave me a cute name for it...here’s a hint~

My trip counter on my computer tells me it’s twenty-five days until we leave for Paris. I am now willing to mark a few “to do’s” off my list.


1. Work on my French.

2. Lose 5 lbs.


Neither of these things have been accomplished, but the “lose 5 lbs.” thing gave me an idea.  I have decided to conduct a totally unscientific experiment.  


Most of you have heard of the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”  I own a copy, and I think she is on to something.  I’ve decided to do my own version of it called~ 


“American Women Don’t Get Fat...or do They?”


I am going to ~GASP~ give my weight on the day before I leave for Paris.  For 2 solid weeks, I will eat like a Parisian and live like a Parisian, and see what happens. Since I’ve been to Paris a few times before, here are the differences I know I will encounter...


In America...I watch what I eat only when my jeans get too tight.  I eat fast food once a week. I do not exercise...except for walking on the treadmill, which, if I'm honest, comes and goes in spurts. I drive everywhere and park as close to the door as humanly possible. I snack between meals every single day. I am a potato chip junkie. I eat Oreos on occasion, but almost never eat dessert.  I do not eat breakfast, only coffee.   French fries are my favorite food group.  I’ve never met a vegetable I like, but I do eat them. My portions here are huge, but I rarely clean my plate.



In Paris...I do not watch what I eat in any way, shape, or form.  I do not snack. I do not eat fast food. I walk everywhere. I eat a croissant every morning, and tons of bread with every meal.  French fries continue to be my favorite food group.  I have dessert every night. My portions at meals are small, because that’s how they serve it...I always clean my plate.



So, we will see together... if an American lives like a French woman, sort of, will she gain or lose weight?  For this to be a true experiment, I would have to take up smoking, but I’m not that committed.  


But wait...there’s something in France that mimics smoking... I just found it on the internet.  It’s called LeWhif.  


It’s a new product, a cigarette like contraption, and when you “smoke” it, it gives you a dash of chocolate powder.  It's supposed to be a way to enjoy chocolate without the calories. Sounds crazy, but I am going to buy one, and report back to you if it works.  It’s evidently a new craze.  Only in France!!


Check in tomorrow!

Au revoir




Friday, August 14, 2009

Saturday is a Special Day


Saturday will be special day around here...it’s our 28th wedding anniversary!  We are happier today than at any other moment in our lives...we are blessed.  


We have three beautiful children, an awesome son-in-law, and a granddaughter. It’s hasn’t been easy. For years, we both had head to the ground...Scott building his career, and me, at home, taking care of the kids and homemaking. We decided it would be this way, even before the ring was on my finger. It was never easy to be a one income family, but we made it work.


Twenty-five years later, roaming around Paris, without a blackberry, cell phones, children, relatives, friends, TV, or radio, we realized, that was THE KEY TO THE TRIP. It was a fascinating experience, to have absolutely no demands on us, and no interruptions for 10 days. We had no schedule.  There was no need to shop, the best things in Paris are free, or close to it.  




Our minds were at rest.  There was time to think...to dream.



Our conversations were about art, history, architecture, and by day four, we spent time looking at apartment pics in real estate windows. How fun to dream...how fun to lay at night in the tiny apartment, and redecorate it together, telling each other what few items we would bring back with us, if we had to live in 400 sq. ft. I learned so much about Scott in those days. Even after 25 years, there was still so much I didn’t know.


I asked him the other day, that considering the present state of the economy, did he wish we had the money we’d spent on our trips to Paris in our bank account. He said, and I quote...


“I wouldn’t exchange those experiences for all the money in the world.”


This statement says a lot.  Scott was diagnosed with cancer after we returned from our second trip in 2007. Going through that experience certainly taught me to enjoy life now...don't keep waiting for the perfect time for everything...just do it!  We all know we aren't promised a tomorrow, but do we live like it?  I certainly don't throw caution to the wind in everything, but I'm learning to let go a little.  


By the way, Scott is fine now, and doing well.  His positive attitude was amazing.  


______________________________________________________________________________________


So Scott, here’s to you, the most generous husband I know in all the world. Thank you for falling in love with Paris, even more than I did.



Thank you that you see the importance of NOW, not wanting us to wait until we are old and gray to travel.


Thank you for working so hard to provide for myself and the kids, who at times, must seem like baby birds, looking up to you with mouths open. You meet all our needs with such a generous spirit.


Thank you for being such a Godly man. Your example has been excellent. Your steadfastness, a comfort.


And finally, thank you for always making me feel like I’m the only person in your universe.



Je t’aime.

Bon Anniversaire.

Teri



How will we spend our anniversary...dinner and a movie... "Julie and Julia" of course!!!!!!

What is that strange concoction in my glass??  Something so French...stay tuned.

The top photo was a beautiful sight we saw one afternoon at Place de la Concorde.  



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Taxi Ride


Finally, we were in the taxi, and on our way. I mentioned earlier, the driver staring at us, as I said the address over and over. As we drove, we realized this guy didn’t know the streets of Paris, at least not like he should have. He spent a majority of the time, with a book of Paris street maps, inches from of his face, as we changed lanes, and avoided the crazy motorcyclists. He was not only not French, but blind as well.


As we sped along, I chose to look out the side window. I decided if I was about to die, I didn’t want to see it coming. I saw many things looking out the window, and NONE of them looked Parisian. I was in shock. My surroundings were industrial and ugly...not old and romantic. We were on a freeway...not cobblestone streets. I was sure there had been some mistake. We were obviously headed in the wrong direction, the ugly direction...


Only murder or mayhem could ensue!


The taxi driver then began to talk on his cell phone, in Chinese, as he looked at the map, still in front of his face. I guess he called up a friend for help. I finally interrupted him, and told him the apartment was next to Sacre-Couer (a church) in Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement. Surprisingly, considering my southern accent, he understood, and screeched across four lanes of heavy traffic, and exited the freeway. Scott and I didn’t say one word to each other the entire ride. We were just too exhausted.


We drove along, slower now. Still looking out the side window, I noticed lots of riff-raff, but at least the signs were in French and the buildings were getting older. Everything I saw was fascinating, but still, not the Paris I had dreamed about. I was about to give up all hope, when, I saw it...


Sacre-Couer! Like a huge mountain, the beautiful church rose up out of the ground. Closer and closer the church came into view. I knew we were on the right track...I pointed it out to Scott silently, and his expression said, "We just won the lottery!"


breath...


After the taxi driver drove around and around in circles, he got so frustrated, that he halted us to a stop.  He was trying to enter the tiny street our building was on.  It was a one-way street, and try as he may, he couldn't seem to enter it from the right direction.   He looked back at us, said something in French/Chinese, and suddenly, we were backing straight up a hill, on the tiny street, with cars parked on both sides. Finally he stopped, we paid, and got out. As he unloaded our bags, he was telling us all kinds of things, obviously frustrated. I think the gist of it was...”Don’t call me for a ride back to the airport.”


So...there we stood...on a cobblestone street...all alone...not a soul in sight. I could see the church looming over us, so I knew from my research, that we were at least close to our building. The air was damp and cold, and there were no sounds, except a lone horn honking in the distance. We stood there for a few seconds, looking around, completely in awe, but feeling completely lost, (top photo...our apartment building).



Then, the most wonderful thing happened. The most exciting thing that had happened since we left Florida the night before...


...we heard a voice, calling our name...



Friday, August 7, 2009

French Girls/American Girls

Cultural Differences...


Last summer, we had the privilege of welcoming a French girl, Clara, into our home for 3 weeks.  It was an amazing experience, and we have since met and become fast friends with her family, and even stayed with them last fall in Marseille, a beautiful city right on the Mediterranean Sea.  


Don’t fret...blog posts coming soon!



Clara and my daughter Lexi are the same age, about the same size, and both love clothes and music.  However, after 3 weeks, we noticed many differences.  Here are just a few...


French girls at the beach...



American girls at the beach...


French girls hanging out...



American girls hanging out...




Yet, despite the differences, these girls love each other's countries.




French girls love America...


American girls love France...


How sweet is that???


Stop by next Tuesday for the continuing saga...Scott and Teri Meet Paris!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Number Four

In our last episode...


Scott and I were wandering around Charles de Gualle with no money and no hope.  I had just been told by a rather, okay...I’ll admit...snippy French woman, (who was tremendously stunning by the way), “Number four.”


As I walked back over to Scott, I was sick to my stomach.  How would I tell him that there was no answer to our dilemma?  As I walked across the way, I suddenly noticed something.  It was a huge number six, painted on the wall by a door to the outside.  If there was a number six, maybe, just maybe, there would be a number four!


With all confidence I told him we had to just keep walking until we saw a number four printed on the wall.  We walked and walked, and when we saw the number four, we felt like we had found Oz. As we approached, there it was, an ATM!  Eureka!


We got in the long line, behind people from many different countries.  Again, they all seemed to know the drill.  When it was finally our turn, we were so timid!  We gently inserted our card, and followed the directions as best we could.  Suddenly, I had a terrible thought!  Obviously, this machine would know we were using an American bankcard.  Wouldn’t the machine just “decide” that we wanted US dollars?  My mind was still not wrapped around the fact that we were on “french” turf.  


My stomach was in knots.  


As the machine clicked and hummed, it was like I was waiting on my first child to be born.  Much to my surprise and utter happiness, out came 500 EUROS!


The relief...the euphoria...I could’ve gotten back on the plane and come home, and really felt like I accomplished something.

Are you thinking I’m crazy yet?  This was only the beginning.  


We were the Ma and Pa Kettle of France!


By now we had been at the airport at least an hour.  With money in clinched fists, it was off to the taxis.  You don’t even want to know what my fear of taxi’s are...but of course I’m going to tell you anyway.


1. They are only out to over-charge you.

2. They are only out to take you to dark places, rob, and murder you.


I don’t know where I get this stuff, but it’s honestly what goes through my head.  I know it goes through your head too...admit it!


I had read in my guide book to make sure to get in the correct taxi line, that there are fake taxi’s sometimes at the airport. “Fake taxis?”  What kind of a country is this?  

     

We went to the “Taxi” exit, and even though none of the cars had official markings, we decided this had to be the official line.  Truth be told, we had/saw no other options.  We watched one by one, as taxis drove up, and whisked off the other tourists...






Finally, an ASAIN man drove up in a very small taxi, and asked us where we wanted to go, (call me crazy, but I expected him to be French).  We loaded our bags, and crawled into the backseat.  I gave him the address three times loudly, and he just kept staring. 


Snare!  


Just when we thought we would be leaving the airport....




P.S. Not really our taxi, and official taxis do have a light on top, just like in America.

All photos taken on the Champs-Elysees. 





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