Sunday, August 30, 2009

vacation, had to get away...

Man, stuff is happening and I'm not taking the time to keep this caught up. Next thing you know, I'll be so backed up that it won't be worth updating, and I'm not ready to give up on this blog thing quite yet.

So YES, three weeks back in the States. I can say that for the first time, I experienced culture shock going back. Now there was an odd sensation! I think the worst was trying to find equivelent milk and food for Fry. I've been spoiled by UHT milk (which exists for baby milk as well) and baby food that actually tastes like what the label says. But, after a couple of days of adjustment and jet lag, Fry was raring to go.

We stayed with my grandmother, and let me tell you, watching Fry and Grandma fall in love with each other is something I'll hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life. She spoiled him rotten and he loved every minute of it! There were quite a few family gatherings while we were there, but the coolest thing was to see Fry and four of his third cousins - all boys! - gathered for pictures. We don't even have five boys in my generation, and here's five sitting all together with one more in Florida, one in Tennessee (I think?) and one more due to be born any minute now!

We spent a fun weekend in Greenville, SC, my old stomping grounds, where one of my BFFs threw us a fabulous party that turned into a college reunion (even my college advisor came!). People came from far and wide and it was amazing to see such good friends from *muffle muffle* years ago. Then we drove up to Asheville which, unfortunately, was kind of a bust, as Stéph had come down with some kind of migraine stomach thing and our hosts' granddaughter decided to come into the world at the other end of the state, so we didn't get to visit with them very much. There are quite a few people I wanted to hook up while we were in the mountains and it just didn't happen this trip (I do believe you know who you are and I'm awfully sorry!). That will be a high priority for the next trip!

After that it was just some more hanging out and chilling with family. A dear friend that I hadn't seen since high school came through town, and that was a short but very sweet visit, and we managed to get Fry out to the park to see some of the animals and have a nice walk around the lake, but other than that we just tried to beat the heat and relax.

And that, my friends, is what we did on our summer vacation!

Monday, August 24, 2009


(Before I go on with what we've been up to the last few weeks, I just want to highlight our last sightseeing trip from when my sister was here last month.)

I was very excited to make the pilgrimage to Verdun as the last bit of tourism with my sister before she headed back to the States. I hadn't been before and Stéph reckoned it had been 20 years or so since he'd been, so it was interesting for all of us. Verdun is also only about two hours away from us, making it a very reasonable day trip, though there is plenty to see if you wanted to stay overnight.

Of course, Verdun is best known for the battle that took place there during World War I. Clocking in at nearly one year, the battle was the longest of the war and saw the most carnage. Though many of the corpses were collected years later to be laid to rest at an ossuary, the truth is that the whole battlefield is really one huge cemetery itself. Though the trees have grown back, the land is pockmarked with the results of artillery fire everywhere you look.

Our first stop was to the Ossuary and the National Cemetery. We experienced a very odd cold snap, requiring jackets all around, which increased the somber feeling of the day.

Ossuary, Verdun

The building itself is extraordinary, the inside is incredibly moving, and the view into the actual ossuary is appropriately chilling. For some reason, I was moved to take pictures of all the coats of arms that are chiseled into the stone exterior, representing the towns around the world that donated money to have this extraordinary monument made. As far as I can tell, I'm only missing three.

coats of arms, Ossuary, Verdun

You can see the rest of the coats of arms by checking out my Verdun set here. I only realized after I started this post that I haven't uploaded all of the pictures from that day, which include two of the forts that were built underground that we visited. That will have to wait for another day, I'm afraid. Like I said before, there are plenty of things to visit in the area, including one or two villages that were completely obliterated, several chapels and there must be monuments to every single company that served at Verdun. I highly recommend it to anyone passing through Eastern France.

Friday, August 21, 2009


The Good: Whether I'm landing in America or France, I'm always going "home."

The Bad: I still cry every time I get on a plane to come back to France.

The Ugly: Jet lag is a terrible thing to do to a nine month old.

What I miss already

Watching my son and grandmother fall in love with each other
My friends, who will fly from Texas or drive down from DC to visit
My amazing, generous, adorable, hilarious family (especially those that lent us a car for three weeks!)
Stores that are open late / all night / on Sundays
The food (NC barbecue! Mexican! Country fried steak! FRIED OKRA AND HUSHPUPPIES)
Air conditioning

And why I'm glad to be home

A handful of great big projects that Stéph and I will be working on over the coming months (our new motto: Go BIG or go HOME).

More details to come as I get the sleep out of my eyes and get things put away...