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.

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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!