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About a month before we left France The Husband and I decided we needed one last trip to a historical site in France.  We enjoyed le Mont-Saint-Michel so much that we knew our choice needed to be another church.  They just don’t make them in America like they did in Europe!  So, off we went to the town of Chartres, about an hour train ride from Paris that cost us all of €12 each.

The town itself is beautiful.  Full of winding streets paved by cobblestone and with churches on almost every corner, it is a quintessential stereotypical French town.  Now, I have to say that we had been told so so so much about Chartres, so we were expecting a lot.  And it didn’t disappoint!  But I will say that Chartres itself was not our favorite church in the town — that will come in the next post!

 

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Chartres

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Chartres

Things have been moving quickly in these parts.  I feel like ever since we’ve gotten back to the states we’ve been running non-stop.  We got back in June.  Since then we’ve been to Florida visiting family, Utah for a wedding, Illinois visiting family, then are moving into Chicago this weekend where The Husband and I are both working, and are going to California next weekend.  Between all of that visiting we found time to job hunt enough for me to currently have two jobs.  We’ve been blessed in more ways than I can count since returning to the States, but incredibly busy at the same time.

Currently we’re sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of our apartment until we get to move all our furniture that we haven’t seen in 2 years (!!!!!!) in this weekend.  We have no internet.  We have no light in our bedroom.  We have nothing to cook with.  We’re so busy that neither one of us gets home till 9 at night.  And we’re incredibly happy.  I miss Paris with all of my heart, but it was time for that chapter to end and this one to begin.  We’re just hoping this domestic chapter is a short one and that we start another international adventure again soon…  In the mean time, enjoy my sporadic blogging of pictures of Paris that make me swoon.  Once we get internet I’ll post some pictures of our new home, Chicago.

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Paris
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Paris

We split up our Chicago portion of the trip into two two day blocks (we bookended the trip to Florida with Chicago since it was cheaper to fly in and out of the city than Miami), so our visit felt even shorter than our time in Florida!

We jammed everything possible that we could into our four days — we started off with deep dish pizza at Lous, went to a Cubs game, spent some quality time at Costco and Target, a trip to Little Caesars, family photos, dinner with some of our closest friends from when we lived in the city, multiple doctors visits, and a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, where I volunteered with my father as a teenager.  And don’t forget getting to meet my brothers first child for the first time.

America, it was great.  Someday we’ll be back.  Until then we’ll have to make do with all the delicious foods we brought back to remind us of home!

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Chicago 2013
Chicago 2013


Chicago 2013
Chicago 2013
Chicago 2013
Cubs 2013
Katherine and Elijah 2013
Cubs 2013
Cubs 2013
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Grandpa and Elijah 2013
Cubs 2013

The Husband and I officially picked up our lives and moved to France (again) on September 1st, 2012, with the plan of staying here in Paris until May 2014.  Since I was giving up my full time job (The Husband was only working part time at that point and was able to keep his job after moving thanks to a pretty awesome boss) and we were both going back to school full time, we knew that money would be tight for the next year and a half, and we were fine with that.  The only thing that made us sad was the prospect of being away from our families for a complete 18 months.  Luckily we have great resources like Skype and Facetime to help us keep in touch, but something about talking to a computer just isn’t the same as being there in person, especially when it comes to niece and nephews.

Unexpectedly, The Husband’s little sister (he has two older and one younger) decided to serve a mission for our church, meaning that she would also be moving out of the country for 18 months, but unlike us wouldn’t be able to call, text, and e-mail whenever she wanted.  Lucky for her, she’s going to Japan and is super excited, but unlucky for her, she is leaving in October, meaning that we wouldn’t have seen her in person for approximately 3 years by the time she gets back, and who knows where we’re going to be then.

Although The Husband was overjoyed for Little Sister, he got really sad for a while because of the prospect of not seeing her for so long, prompting us to call The In-Laws and bargain with them.  Hence, the surprise was born.  We offered up what money we could afford, with them paying the difference, to fly us to Chicago, where my family lives.  From there, The Parental Units flew us down to Florida, where The In-Laws, Little Sister, Old(er) Sister, and Old(est) sister (along with her husband and kiddos) live, with our trip ending back in Chicago.  All of this in 10 days.  Four flights, 30+ hours in a plane, and 10 days in America to see off Little Sister, both of our families, and meet the first grandchild on my side of the family.  While exhausting, it was totally worth it!

We didn’t really expect it to work, but planned out a surprise for everyone on The Husband’s side — the In-Laws invited all the sisters (avec famille) over for a movie and then left part way through, saying that they needed to go pick up some ice cream at their favorite speciality shop about an hour away (a surprisingly common occurrence).  The got us at the airport, we cried and hugged and were generally happy, and then we walked in to the house without saying anything and hung out in the kitchen until everyone noticed.  There were an abnormal amount of tears and squeals, lots of hugs, and even one sister stating later that she thought she had fallen and hit her head and was hallucinating us.

It was a successful trip — most of the time (only 4 short days) spent snuggling on the couch (we actually did have a pretty epic tickle fight in bed), with a short get-a-way to the beach one morning to take in Florida.  Let me tell you, after a long summer of working non-stop on my thesis, a day at the beach was exactly what I needed.

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Andrew and Carter 2013
Andrew 2013

Carter 2013

Amanda 2013

Deerfield Beach
Carter 2013

Carter 2013

Carter 2013

Deerfield Beach
Toes on Deerfield Beach
Florida 2013

Deerfield Beach
Surprised Dodger
Angry Blanca

The dogs may have played part in the surprise as well — we came home from the store one day to see they had been outfitted with (cruelty-free) eyebrows and were surprised/angry to see us!

All of our Château visiting this year has brought me one invaluable bit on knowledge — where there is a Château, there will be swans, and where there are swans, there will inevitably  be baby swans.

I love baby swans.  Theres something about their gray fuzziness and their wings that are constantly flapping as they run about (although they’re much to tiny for their overly-large bodies still) that is just endearing.

So, during a week like this one (GRE, teaching, work, thesis-ing, and visa appointment -HOLLA!), I salute you tiny ugly swanlings.  You make my world happy, and that’s something that I am grateful for.


Versailles
Versailles
Versailles
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Versailles


Versailles

It’s been raining pretty non-stop here in Paris for the past month and a half, so when we saw that the day of my graduation was supposed to be sunny and semi-warm, I immediately knew that I wanted to do a picnic under the Eiffel Tower for my graduation meal rather than going out somewhere fancy.  Granted, we did buy a 30 euro pastry cake to eat as celebration (okay…  so maybe we could have gone out to eat…), but this was an experience that one can only have while living here, and I wanted to do something memorable and strictly Parisian.

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The food was incredible, the scenery breathtaking, and the company the best I could ask for.  I can’t think of any other way that would be better to celebrate my fake graduation!

The best part of the Château de Versailles definitely has to be the gardens.  Because the weather was so back and forth in the rain department, we decided that we didn’t want to spend the extra almost 40 euro to get us into the pay gardens when we knew the free ones are just as beautiful and often less crowded since most tourists are unaware that they exist.  We like to picnic in one specific area, so we took this opportunity to explore the rest of the gardens, specifically the ones with the animals and farmland that go along with the Petit Trianon.  As soon as we got in, The Father Unit decided that he had had enough and sat down on a bench to people watch for the duration of our walk, but our time there was beautiful all the same!  I didn’t take nearly enough pictures since we were enjoying talking far too much (that happens when you haven’t seen your family in person for nearly a year), but heres a sampling of what I did take!

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If I could marry any person from history, it would be Louis XIV.  No joke.  I mean, he was the main lover of high heels from his time as well as the driving force behind Versailles.  What’s not to love?

As The Parental Units and The Husband had never been to Versailles before, it was an absolute must for this time that The Parental Units were in town.  I obnoxiously kept my Father awake by kicking him through the whole train ride, we lost my Mother in the Château when she went to throw away some trash, and somehow we managed to work the day out so that it was only raining when we were on the train or in the Château, a pretty miraculous feat if you know what the weather in Paris has been like for the past couple of months.

Voilà.

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Louis XIV.   What a sexy beast.

Before it started raining on Friday (Paris has been under and endless rain bath for the past two months…) The Husband and I found time to hit up the Musée Rodin with The Parental Units.  For those of you who don’t know, the Rodin is one of my favorite museums for two reasons: the amazing gardens and the peeling and cracking walls inside the house.  Something about this Musée just speaks to me!

Thanks to the endless rain this season, the gardens were the greenest that I have ever seen them!  The only sad part?  We weren’t able to see Le Baiser, just the original casts of it, because of the renovations that were going on at the house.  Still worth it, though!  If you get the chance, hit it up — and feel free to call me to go with you!  I can’t get enough of this place!

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