Sherman by Agostino Von Hassel and Ed Breslin

Well, as you can tell, I wasn’t any more faithful writing in 2012 than I was in previous years, but boy was 2012 full of some fun and life-changing events. I began reading a blog written by a mom of three children, and each month she shares what books she reads. Let’s just say I have been amazed! I need to read more. I used to (like last week) feel very guilty reading anything other than devotional books or the Bible, because I figured if I had time to read, I ought to be reading the Bible. Well, that blog recently posted a great post about that very topic. There is a different kind of comprehension necessary when reading the Bible versus reading a biography, fiction novel, or non-fiction book. That’s when it hit me that I want to read more and a broader realm.

Last year, I read a decent amount of parenting books and birthing books, I mean I did have a baby, but this year I want to grow in general knowledge too. Will it be a New Year’s resolution that results in me completing one book and starting ten others (and never finishing them), maybe, but so far the book I have finished has been a good one that has encouraged me to keep going, and since I like getting free books to review, here is the most recent book I have finished.

Sherman by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin was a book documenting “The General,” William Tecumseh Sherman.  I picked this book months ago hoping to expand my reading genres. It has taken me some time to pick it up and actually read it. I started this book Friday and finished it in short order. It was surprisingly very easy to read. I didn’t even know that was possible for history books. I learned so much about the life of Sherman that I didn’t know. I mean I remember from history class about his fiery trek to the sea, but beyond that I couldn’t have told you anything. This book did a great overview of his life in 160ish pages. You learned everything from the fact that William was not his given name, why he got the name Tecumseh, and his lifelong struggles.

General Sherman moved around a lot during his life which was amazing in light of the lack of modern transportation. Steam engines were just entering the market and were responsible for many injuries and deaths for early passengers. So the fact he moved lived in Ohio, Florida, Maryland, New York, California, Louisiana, and I think a few other states was pretty impressive to me.

In this book, the author did a great job of highlighting the inner struggles he had with trying to make his own mark on society, providing for his family, and determining what his lifelong career should be. It’s not often I leave a non-fiction book with facts that I could share with someone, but the author presented the story of General Sherman’s life in such a way that it’s hard to forget his struggles and victories.

And, as a side note, it has to be a great book, because the Sutters of the Gold Rush were mentioned. Did you know General Sherman was who confirmed that there was a Gold Strike in California, and it was because of Gold found on Johann Augustus Sutter’s land? So, if you’re looking for a non-fiction read, I think this would be interesting. I had pretty much said I wouldn’t get another book like this one, but they have a series about many of the great Generals, and I’m more inclined now than I was to get another. I’ll be sure to let you know what I do.

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review
bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I
have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>
: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Final travel tips….

Image#7 – Always know where your train ticket is taking you – We purchased two tickets from Annecy to Switzerland. We realized in Annecy, that our train ticket wasn’t only a train ticket. We boarded a bus in Annecy. The attendant in Annecy told us that after a two hour bus ride, we would board a train. We attempted to spend the last of our Euros before heading to Switzerland because we figured we would need Francs instead. Well, the bus dropped us off on this steep hill in some Swiss city with no train station in site and no German dictionaries in site. We walked towards the metro tracks that we could see, and hoped to find our ways to the train station to get to Zurich. We found the map and determined which way we needed to go to get to the train station, so we started walking. We figured we could follow the tracks until we could find a place to get some money exchanged to ride the metro. We probably walked ½ a mile before exchanging our money, then we boarded the busiest tram ever. Thankfully, it took us to the right train station to finish our journey, but boy were we taken off guard.

#8 – If you’re flying Swiss Air, check in as soon as possible via the internet. Jon and I arrived at the airport a couple hours early to give us time to get through security. When we checked in, we were told we were on standby. I have flown a lot in the US, and standby means you may or not make your flight, so I pretty much went in panic mode when we were told we were on standby. After I finished freaking out on the inside, I went and asked the lady what the standby notation meant on our ticket. Basically, seats are assigned when you check in which you can do up to 24 hours before your flight, so she said we definitely had a seat on the plane, but that Jon and I might not be able to sit together. WHAT? A 10 hour flight by myself? Well, no need to panic, Jon and I were able to sit together, but I did have a momentary panic wondering if we would get home, and my meal was a lot better than the first flight.

#9 – Travel as much as your budget will allow. Seeing the world has definitely been something Jon and I enjoy doing together. I know people look at us and think “they’re loaded” (i.e. Becki in case you’re reading that’s for you) J, but in reality, Jon and I try hard to budget in advance for trips like this. We try to go on a larger vacation every two years to allow for the ‘ol budget to catch back up, and for my Dave Ramsey readers, we NEVER take a vacation on a credit card. We may pay for a vacation with a credit card, but it never stays on the credit card past that billing period. If we don’t have the money, we don’t go. That’s why it’s nice to plan ahead for our trips. In addition, this trip was a culmination of three years of audit travel points. So, Jon and I spent a LOT of time apart to come up with enough points to pay for our hotel stays while we were gone, and if I can say so myself, but some of the rooms were AMAZING!

And now, for our final travel tip and probably our favorite.

Image#10 – Remember that some of the best things in life come from Switzerland. Jon’s Grandpa Sutter instilled in him a love for Switzerland, so we were really excited to get to experience it for ourselves. To commemorate our trip, we brought home LOTS of Swiss Chocolate and passed it out to family members and kept some for ourselves. There is still some Lindt chocolate in our cupboard which we periodically savor.

To our surprise though, we brought more than just chocolate home from Switzerland, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!!! Due to some uploading problems, you’ll have to wait until a future post to see what else we brought home. ;-)

 

European Travel Tips…Continued

#4 – Bring very good walking shoes. When we weren’t riding a bike we were walking. I bought a pair of Sketchers that I thought would be pretty good. I was aiming for somewhat stylish (i.e. not big shoes with white touristy socks) but still comfortable. I wanted something versatile that could match with all of my outfits since we were backpacking and extra shoes meant extra weight. I quickly found out that my shoes, while they matched with everything were not the best for walking in Europe.

One evening, we went to the Imperial War Museum (“IWM”). It was a free museum and was SO neat. It covered so many wars and some great displays. They even had a display about 007, and the real Spy network that Britain had. The IWM was not the only War related museum we visited. In London, right below where they played Volleyball during the Olympics, were the Winston Churchill War Rooms. Pretty amazing! They were the bomb shelters from World War II. They claim that at the end of WWII that they just closed up the War Rooms and never touched them again until someone came to preserve them. In the situation room there was a big map on the wall, and you could see a pencil drawing of Adolf Hitler. I’m not a history buff, but I did really like both of these museums. Made me wish I remembered more from my History classes so they could mean that much more.

Anyway, you might be asking what that has to do with shoes…I got side tracked. When we went to the Imperial War Museum, we had a great time, but unfortunately, we arrived an hour before closing, and the tram wasn’t too close. So we started walking towards London Bridge so we could see it. According to Google maps, it was a mile away, so you could imagine my disappointment when we got to London Bridge. See, I always sang the song as a kid “London Bridge is falling down, etc.” So I always thought the beautiful bridge in London was “London Bridge.” Well, no, that’s Tower Bridge. So then we went down by the Thames River to walk to Tower Bridge and maybe find some dinner. It was another mile to Tower Bridge. It was on this walk that we captured (“we” being the royal we since we were in Britain and all) some amazing pictures. We passed up all of the restaurants on that mile walk, crossed the bridge, and started coming back towards our hotel. Wouldn’t you know our hotel was another 2.2 miles! Our poor feet were so tired when we got back to our hotel, but it was such a beautiful evening, and on the way back, there were NO restaurants. We found a really nice Pub near our hotel. If you asked me to picture a British Pub, it was exactly as I would have imagined, and the food was incredible! I just started thinking that I may have to do a separate post about our favorite meals. Jon and I still randomly say, do you remember that meal….ah, the food was good!

#5 – Know what you are ordering – After Paris, we boarded the train to some small French cities, Grenoble and Annecy. Grenoble is known for the French Alps and the Bastille which we were able to ride the gondolas to. It was a beautiful city and a small city. The farther we got from Paris, the less English people spoke which made me more nervous, but we managed. We sat down one day to lunch at a Pizza place. I was pretty much in charge of ordering our food because I would practice each evening how to order it. I ordered “une pizza margarita pour duex.” The man responded with a question in French to which Jon nodded emphatically and held up two of his fingers. I definitely didn’t understand. Don’t expect me to understand when you talk back to me unless you can speak slow enough for me to look up each word in my French dictionary. J I was ordering one pizza for Jon and me to share. Whatever the man asked was something different, so we ended up with two really big pizzas. Oops! We carried a big pizza pie around the rest of the day and ate the rest of it high above the city at the Bastille.

#6 – Don’t ask the lady to “cut the cheese.” – Okay, so I was just looking for a way to say “cut the cheese,” but after Grenoble, we boarded the train again and headed for Annecy. From what I understand, Annecy is the place the French vacation, our Florida maybe? Annecy was breathtaking! The little town is situated right next to Lac D’Annecy (Lake Annecy) which was surrounded by beautiful mountains. This was another great place for pictures. Just be sure you know what you are taking pictures of especially if you are using the nice zoom lens your husband bought you a couple years ago.

When you’re near water that photo tip is very important. You have to be very careful because the French definitely have a different modesty standard in relation to their birthday suits swimsuits. We zoomed in on a few pictures only to find that they had to be deleted. Oops! While in Annecy, we took advantage of the outdoor market that they had and bought our lunch. We felt very French since our lunch consisted of grapes, cheese, bread, and a fruit tart. Buying the cheese was funny, because Jon asked in a few different ways and a few different hand gestures for the lady to cut the cheese so that we could eat it right away. She cut one piece, and stared. Jon nodded, and asked for more. In the end, it was one of our favorite meals.

You’ll have to come back for our last three travel tips that relate mostly to our time in Jon’s motherland or is it grandfatherland since that’s the relation? See you next time…

Europe….beginning of the re-caps

Well, the readers (all two of them) have asked, and I will answer. Here is my update from our amazing trip from Europe. Depending on how much I write, it may turn into multiple posts.

 
So where to start….Jon and I spent the three weeks prior to our trip researching and booking hotels. We did not plan any activities for the actual trip itself. To avoid boring you or appearing as though I am bragging, I will try to share some fun experiences or funny stories from our trip…or maybe even some travel tips if you ever travel overseas. This was my first time travelling overseas, and seriously travelling “over a sea” made me quite nervous. It just felt like if we crashed in the water that no one would be able to get to us fast enough to save us. Yes, sadly, these thoughts went through my head, and they just suddenly popped into my head a week before the trip. We were blessed though. The Lord protected us at all turns, and I know it was because of our prayers and the prayers of many friends and family. We received many e-mails and notes saying that you were praying for us, and I want to publicly say thank you.

 
Travel Tip #1 – Do not book plane tickets or more importantly plane meals based on New Year’s Resolutions. If you remember (which you probably don’t because I checked, and I didn’t post it on the blog only on facebook), Jon surprised me on my birthday with a France Travel Guide on which he wrote “Jon and Ash’s Trip Guide.” It was his way of telling us we were going. So, once we got approval from our employers, we watched the plane tickets for a couple of weeks, and in February we booked our tickets. This was a month after the new year, and I was doing well at my goals. I was exercising AND eating right…maybe even back on my vegetarian kick. Have you figured out why this tip is important? Yes, I booked a vegetarian meal. On the first flight, that looked a little something like vegan curry that smelled HORRIBLE (and I don’t like any kind of Asian, so the smelly rice was not helping matters). My meal also came with a very stale role, a smelly vegetable side, and a very stale cookie. SO sad. Thankfully, Jon was able to sweet talk the flight attendant into giving me some pasta. I say sweet talk, because she was NOT friendly, but man was I happy that he was able to get me something else. She wouldn’t let me have anything other than pasta, so my sweet man shared some of his chocolate cake and fresh roll. The flight attendants on the Swiss flight home were MUCH friendlier, and they gave me a normal meal with all of the fixins.

 
Travel Tip #2 – Ride as many bikes as possible. Riding bikes is VERY European. They are everywhere, and I wish the trend would make it to the states. We got off of the plane and headed to our hotel. It was 6am London time, but we figured we would check to see if we could check in early or at least drop our gear. We were able to leave all of our luggage and begin our exploration to find some free internet. We thankfully found a Starbucks. While enjoying some hot chocolate and coffee, we decided to peruse www.tripadvisor.com to figure out something to do. For some reason, #6 caught our eye. The Fat Tire Bike Tour of London (they have since moved to #4) intrigued us because they also had a tour in Paris, so we figured if it was good, then we would check out the tour in Paris. Well, it was beyond good. The tour covered 8-10 miles of London and oriented us to the city. It was SO beneficial when we went around that afternoon and the other days when we were exploring. So, we ended up doing the Paris tour as well. Our tour guide was a guy from Kansas City who had minored in French and knew a LOT about the area and the buildings. The Paris tour was a bit scarier since we spent most of our time on the busy Paris streets, but it was still amazing and very helpful to orienting us to the city.

 
Travel Tip #3 – Always know the last stop on the subway line that you need. Those of you that ride subways, metros, or trams might already know that, but I don’t ride any of those frequently, if ever. When I have been on subways, I was not in charge of where I’m going, so I have never paid attention nor worried about it. London was VERY easy to navigate…something about the fact it was all in English. The moment I stepped foot into France was a bit different. I felt my blood pressure rise, and just the thought of ordering food made me not want to eat. I didn’t know a lick of French, and I was afraid I would let that fear minimize the beauty around me. We arrived in France late one evening. I asked the ticket agent at the metro in some feeble French for a ticket to St. Michel (Pronounced “Michelle”), Notre Dame stop. We made it…once I figured out Travel Trip #3 and figured out the last stop on that line. I realized I didn’t take too many subway pictures. I guess that was for fear of being robbed and just too busy making sure we were getting on the right train. We only got on the wrong subway direction twice, but we were never going somewhere in a hurry, so it all worked out!  

Random memory….Once we exited the metro in Paris on our first night, we found our way to the hotel tucked away in a small area about a ½ mile from Notre Dame. In French, I told the lady that I had a reservation. She sweetly asked in English if I was more comfortable speaking English. I did not take that as an insult to my French. I knew I was awful, and I felt good for at least trying. After working with my firm for three years and never spending any of my hotel points, this hotel was well worth all of that saving. The sweet lady said, “Mrs. Sutter, we thank you for being a Platinum member of the Priority Club.  Due to your status we have upgraded you to a room with an Eiffel Tower view.” My knees buckled. I had not even seen the Eiffel Tower yet. The two pictures below were from the balcony of our room.

 
The view from the room was beyond amazing. Just the thought of standing with Jon in awe of our view brings a little twinkle to my eyes. As we went to sleep one night, Jon said “I don’t want to close my eyes because I’m afraid I will wake up in Greenville.” Thankfully, we got to enjoy that night for three nights.

 
I do have more travel tips, but this post is getting too long. Stay tuned for some more. I will not be posting all of the pictures or sadly, even a fraction, but some highlights are posted on facebook if you have access. I also have SO much to tell of things that have happened since that great trip, but I am a bit back-logged.

Hermie: A Common Caterpillar

So, as you remember, I periodically do book reviews, so here is another. I requested Hermie: a common caterpillar, because it can never hurt to have kids books around, and Max Lucado was sure to be a good read with quality content.

I was not disappointed. The book is about Hermie, a caterpillar and his friend Wormie who seem ugly and inadequate when compared to their other worm friends and to animals like the butterfly, ants, snails, and ladybugs. Each time the worms are discouraged, they pray to God, and God responds “Don’t worry. I love you both. And I’m not finished with you yet.” The book concludes with Hermie taking a very long nap in his cocoon and emerging as a beautiful butterfly, and Hermie encouraging his friend that God is not finished with him as Wormie falls asleep in his own cocoon.

Even as an adult, I thought the book was an excellent reminder that the circumstances that we are currently experiencing are not all there is to life. God is using those circumstances to mold me and shape me. It was also a good reminder that having godly friends can help you through the hard times to focus on God and His truths. I am currently going through another study called the Truth Project, and he compares his spiritual breakthroughs to going into the cocoon.  It was a perfect reminder that we will not stay in the cocoon forever. God is not finished with me yet!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

U.S. History….The Constitution State.

As promised in my last post, I have some fun pictures to share of our evening with the Ericson family. Mr. Ericson (who I have been instructed to call Geof, but does anyone else find it really hard calling your former teachers by their first names?) taught me sophomore history which was U.S. History. For anyone that knows me, I really enjoy learning history, but I am really not that great at retaining it. Like I admitted to Mr. Ericson, really the only thing I remember is that Connecticut is the Constitution State.

I have tried to keep up with the teachers from my high school years that made a difference in my life, and Mr. Ericson and his wife are definitely some of those people. As a high schooler, and let’s face it, still to this day, I was a suck-up….or maybe rather, I just like helping people. I think it’s the latter, but those around me in highschool would definitely disagree. :-) Anyway, I would always alphabetize all of the test and quizzes for Mr. Ericson because I knew it would make life easier come time to enter grades (and it might be remembered when I finished the semester with an 89.4 or something like that). Or before mock trial practice would start (which was held in his classroom), I would enter grades into the computer. He jokingly referred to me as his secretary, and even the card his family gave me at our wedding indicated his sadness about losing his secretary to Jon.

As you can see from the pictures, it’s been a long time since I had Mr. Ericson as a teacher simply because there have been three additions to his family since I was in his class. We try to be creative when we get together with them, because I know taking kids to a restaurant can be difficult and stressful for the parents and boring for the kids, so we do fun things. One time we all went to Chuck E Cheeses, or another, we took dinner to their house and had some fun games of fooseball. This time we brought pizza to a park and played and then went to Brewsters for ice cream. Jon and their oldest son started throwing acorns at each other, and Ginger (the mom) quickly joined in. Their only daughter would collect “ammunition” for everyone, and she wasn’t really partial to either side when distributing that ammunition. I think the funniest part though was when Jon accidentally pelted some random girl with an acorn intended for their oldest son. OOPS. :-) The poor literally had no clue what hit her.

 

The youngest was content just chilling around. He had the greatest smile (well, all of them have super precious smiles). I love watching Jon interact with kids because sometimes I forget how great he is with them. Even that night, I was a bit worried Jon would feel like I was dragging him along or that I was going to have to encourage him to get involved with the kiddos, but he jumped right in and I think had a great time! He even took some time to swing with the youngest son. Although, that may have just been because he was tired, but either way, I really enjoyed getting to see the Ericsons and spend some time with them. I was extremely blessed that my dad made the decision to move to SC way back when so that I could go to Bob Jones. I know many have their opinions about the school, but there are truly people there that care about you. As with any institution, there are going to be “bad apples,” but thankfully, I didn’t run into any of them. I was left with great memories of many of my teachers, and I look forward to each interaction with them.

Well, I know many of you are looking for an update on the Europe trip. I will be working to organize the pictures and write-up some entries from my journal. I’ll share this little secret, IT WAS AMAZING!

Travels

This summer I have had the privilege of traveling for work. I say privilege because due to the locations I have gotten to spend some time with some very special people in our lives. I got to go to New York to meet my newest niece Colette. I wanted to share some pics of her sweet family and my time up there. Also, I have gotten to see Grandma Sutter and Uncle John twice now this year. That has to be some sort of a record for us. I have even get to see Aunt Ruthie and some of her daughters each time. I realized I didn’t get a picture with MaraBeth and Rebecca last time, but I guess that means I just need to go back again, right? Grandma is always so sweet and generous when I visit. She knows that I carry my luggage on the plane, so she carefully picks out items that she knows I can take home. While there on my most recent trip, I got to try some of her famous Cucumber Salad and as is the custom, I got to see some deer right in her backyard. She said the most she has seen at one time is TWELVE!

I went to visit Sam, Ashley and Colette and excitingly, Ashley’s sister was delivering a new baby that weekend. So I got to meet the newest member on their side of the family. Baby Charlotte was so tiny and precious, and she had a proud big brother, Aunt, and Grandma all there to welcome her arrival.

Next time, you’ll get to hear all about our dinner and playtime with the Ericsons. Man, do I have a cute picture to share with you….guess, you’ll just have to come back to check it out. Hope you have an awesome week!