Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tales of a Scattered Family Christmas [Day 3]

Happy Christmas Eve! Our family always had our big celebration and family program on Christmas Eve and so it really feels like Christmas to me! Joel got called in to work this morning, so Andrew and I are enjoying a relaxing morning in our cozy apartment, listening to all of our favorite Christmas songs. He has been so much fun to have around!

The days are going too quickly this Christmas week! Yesterday, after Joel went to work, Andrew and I got busy making a few of our favorite Christmas goodies.

We were very happy with how our bonbons looked and tasted! :) So was Joel! These are Andrew's favorites. 

Joel got unexpectedly called back in to work to do some consults in the afternoon, so Andrew and I met up with our friend Christian, and we went and explored the Christmas events in Rennes.

Christian took us to one of his favorite tea places, and I tried my hardest to convince Andrew that having a flavorful Christmas tea was all part of the French Christmas experience, but he opted for a coke. :)

Mom and  Lindsay, we really appreciated your thoughtful comment yesterday, and Andrew wanted to particularly express how much he missed each of you. He struck a pose for each family member...

"Show how much you miss Erika"

How much do you miss Lindsay?

And your Mama ? He was almost crying at this point! So much emotion.

What about Dad?

He had a change of countenance when thinking about his awesome Dad!

And Kyle? Well, Kyle, I really don't know what to say for this one... I asked Ando if he could describe it, and he goes, "it's one of those "oooooofs" you know?" Hmmm. I hope that communicates lots of bro-in-law love to you!

Oh man, that guy. He sure keeps us entertained. 

Joel joined us after he got off work for a tour around one of the Christmas markets

That evening, we invited two of our friends over for a typical French meal of raclette, and then a game of 7 Wonders, which we were gifted for our wedding and hadn't had a chance to play yet! 

Hope you all have a wonderful merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tales of a Scattered Family Christmas [days 1 + 2]

Our family is a bit scattered around the world, which has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages, is that it provides unique possibilities for Christmas vacation. You can read all about them on my Mom's blog if you are curious.

Joel and I have the privilege of hosting Andrew for a week, and we are thrilled. He arrived Monday evening, and I told both him and Joel that my goal was to blog every day that he was here, especially for our littlest sister and hubby in Kansas and the rest of the family in Niger. I am already a bit late, but that's ok.

Monday evening after he arrived, and after he reassured us that he knew how to get back to our apartment on his own, via metro and bus, we enjoyed dinner, lots of visiting and games. 

Along with a salmon broccoli quiche, we offered him some French cheese and bread to transition him to French culture... "Is this mold in the cheese, Joel?" "Oh no, don't worry. It's not mold. It's ash." You should've seen the look on his face! He tried some, said it wasn't his favorite, and had another kind. 

All 3 of us really enjoy playing board games, and we enjoyed teaching Andrew a new one we recently discovered, along with one of our favorites, called Lost Cities. We have a running score going, with Andrew currently in the lead.  

Tuesday, yesterday, the games and fun continued and it has been so wonderful just having time together. 

Thanks, Amy for the fun game!! :)

These two are hilarious. Lots of trash talk and friendly competition going on between the brother-in-laws! Kyle, they really miss you! Me too! And my little Shorty! 

We invited Joel's parents and sister to eat at a crêperie with us last night, and had a great time listening and telling stories, while eating some yummy traditional food! 

We have a big day planned for today, so check back later for updates! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

my little brother's birthday

Today my little and favorite brother has a birthday. It would have been so much fun to be with him in person, but I am SO thankful that he will be with family -- at least part of his family for his special day!

Andrew, Joel and I decided to celebrate your birthday, as if you were here. Less than a month before you're actually here with us!!! We can't wait!

So to celebrate you, we bought 2 yummy French pastries from our favorite boulangerie, lit a couple of candles, and used our special plate that Aunt Donna gave me for "very special occasions for very special people!"

They were VERY good! :)

As I was thinking of what to write about you, Andrew, there were a lot of things that came to mind... should I write about your funny voice impressions you do so well, or how much you have had to put up with, with having 3 sisters all these years -- you've done remarkably well! Or, should I write about how you and I played together hour after hour growing up -- we had so much fun together and have a lot of wonderful memories!

But then I got to thinking, that there are a lot of people besides me, who appreciate you so very much, and I I thought it would be fun to hear from them what 3 words they would use to describe you. I hope you'll be encouraged by how much you have (and still are!) been a great friend, and overall wonderful person to be around!

So here are some words that have been specifically selected to describe you...

reflective, unhurried, unworried
awesome, funny, quality man
big teddy bear! 

amazing French, good listener, fun, caring
compassionate, loyal, perseveres
genuine, hilarious, loyal

"posax" (posé et relax!), encouraging, engaging
thoughtful, hilarious, insightful
"temple of doom" (haha, from Pierre)

intentional, generous, courageous
easy-going, laughter, brojects
funny, thoughtful, generous

fun, caring, sweet
servant-hearted, observant, joyful 

We blew out your French candles for you! We love you so much and hope you have a really terrific day! I am so thankful you are a part of our family! I wouldn't trade you for anything! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

a day in the life of my hubby

My husband and I have been married for a little over 2 months, and we are having the best of times living together, laughing at each other's funny mannerisms, making a whole slew of memories as a Mr. and Mrs, and learning what our new routine and life is like. Joel is currently on a rotation where he works 2 weeks in the hospital, and then has one at home. The person in charge of him this week has been really great, and has allowed him to get off at noon every day of the week, to be able to come home and study.

He goes to work by bike, as the hospital is really close to where we live -- our latest big investment was getting mud tire guards, so he doesn't arrive to work with muddy water splashes on his back due to all the rain. Good, worthwhile investment.

After a nice break for lunch -- giving him a break between work at the hospital and studying all afternoon and evening, he gets himself a cup of coffee and diligently studies the rest of the afternoon and evening. Here is proof from one day this week. :)

The studying begins. Going chapter by chapter, taking notes on what is most important to remember. "The stuff underlined in red is the really important stuff" he informed me. Yellow highlight means it's REALLY important, "way more than the red underlined stuff". The orange highlight is the treatments... all the drugs. Green means bacteria or viruses.

Can you understand much in what he wrote...? 

Studying continues.

Still interesting stuff, and he enjoys what he's learning! He'll be such a great doctor!

Time for a little break... we started a puzzle a year ago, then rolled it up because we didn't have time to finish it, and got it out on our date night last week-end. I was working on the sky, and was very proud of the 3 pieces I managed to put in. Meanwhile, he had finished his whole section. And as you can see, came to my sky and pretty much finished it too. :)

Back to work, and motivated after completing Melissa's sky section! :)

Still studying, but getting a bit weary... 

Dinner is finally ready! After a nice little break, and some yummy food, it's back to studying again for several more hours. Repeat pictures 1-8! 

I am so proud of my husband and all of the hard hard work he does to becoming a doctor! This is on top of everything else he does to take such good care of me, and daily show me love! I am sure he'd appreciate your prayers as his exams are coming up mid-December! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

becoming Heidi in the Swiss Alps

We kept our French honeymoon destination a surprise from everyone before the wedding, minus about 3 people, just for the fun of it and having a secret adventure to go on after our big day! There are sooooo many places to visit here in Europe, and relatively speaking, quite easy to travel to. We chose a small, rustic cabin, nestled away in the Swiss Alps for our few days between our French wedding and starting back at work. It was wonderful, and so picturesque!

Our family grew up with a Mom who read chapter books out loud to us, which we loved, and left us most always begging for her to read "one more chapter, pleaaaasee!" One of those books was Heidi. The story of a girl who goes to live with her Grandfather in the Swiss Alps, in his little cabin.

** Sidenote, if you haven't ever read Heidi, it's a must read!! So good!

Anyway, I felt like I had stepped into the novel when we were there. The cabin belonged to some friends of Joel's parents, and it was tucked away, far off from the main roads, the closest village being about 20 minutes by car. We had to buy a special permit to drive on a "locals only" road to get to our humble abode.

The road, however, though it brought us closer, still left us with a 10 minute steep climb up to our cabin (pictured in the photo below).

A climb up a meadow, without a path, and carrying all of our supplies (food which we had bought in the last village), and anything else we needed for our time there.

The kitchen, living room/bedroom and cool room were in the little cabin with the Swiss flag. The bathroom was an outhouse, in the middle building, and the shower, well... there was a fresh mountain spring that had constant running water, at a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit. SO COLD!! 

But the scenery was incredible! We had a great time hiking around and breathing in the fresh, crisp mountain air. 

My husband's ears were quite cold on the way back down from the top of the mountain. He's so stylish!

Our trail...

Switzerland is absolutely beautiful. We really want to go back sometime -- and living in a rustic little cabin where our heat came from a wood burning stove that we had to make and maintain, as well as our cooking, made for some great, memories. Can you believe it's only 12 hours away from Rennes? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

october 30th, 2015

Greetings from beautiful Rennes! We, my husband (!!!!) and I have been enjoying the beautiful, multi-colored leafed trees right outside our balcony and office windows. Cooler air, more and more rainy days... fall has come to Rennes. I love summer, and always wish it would go on longer, but these fall days are so fun. Plus, it's so cozy to drink freshly brewed hot coffee in the morning, with the windows cracked just a bit, letting in some fresh air. Right, Mom? :) PLUS, it's not just any coffee we're drinking! For our France wedding, Joel's sister and brother-in-law asked all of the guests to bring a package of their favorite coffee, wrap it, and even include a little note. Such a great idea!! 

It has been such a treat opening a new package each time we need more coffee! 

We are feeling very settled in our little apartment. It took a while to find a place for all of belongings, especially as Joel moved all of his stuff over, and we brought a few things back from the states. A lot of sorting, getting rid of, giving away, etc. was done, and we finally feel like when things get messy around the house, or when we need to clean up a bit, there is a place for each belonging! A very good feeling! 

We're really feeling at home, and so thankful for our first home together

We're figuring out our new routines; Joel keeps very busy with his clinical rotations at the hospital and studying hours on end here at home, and my days and weeks stay very full with campus ministry. We're grateful for this brand new season of life and looking forward to the months ahead! 

Only 52 days until my brother comes for Christmas!!! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Worldwide Milk Day

All I needed was a good excuse to blog again! Today was the day. International Milk Day. Or so I heard. For several years, I have wanted to visit the Agrilait milk factory just outside of Rennes -- factory visits are so interesting!! This particular plant only gives tours once a year, and last year I missed it, and have been looking forward to their open house all year! Today was the day.

Joel and I were given disposable lab coats, booties and a shower cap and were ready to go.

It was super interesting! 7000 "bricks" of milk (1 liter each) are produced every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Amazing. 

One of the guys on the tour with us offered to take our picture in front of some of the machines. It's blurry, but look at our little shoe protectors! :)

Learning about all of the printing of the cartons (which they do at the same plant) was fascinating, as well as the sterilization process that gets them ready for their liter of milk.

At the end of the milk, cream and butter tour, they explained the process of how they make the cardboard milk boxes, with a bit of plastic and aluminum, and also how 100% of the cartons are recyclable, including the plastic lids. They even offered us free toilet paper, made from recycled milk cartons! I took one of course, (#goodmennonite) Joel thought the toilet paper felt a little rough. #hedidntgrowupinafrica

It was a fun lunch break date, and made me want to visit more factories in the area. It's so interesting seeing how everything works! We also were given a free liter of milk to take home with us! 

Maybe, just maybe I'll continue blogging again!