I could have danced all night

As the smells of dinner waft through the house and the sounds of love eminate from my iPad, I have to smile. Because Michael Buble singing “Fevermakes me smile. And melt a little. And sigh a lot.

And day dream.

Seriously sexy voice…

I’m sorry – where were we?

I walk to the sink with the intention of cleaning the dishes when he grabs me and spins me around into his arms. “Dance with me,” he whispers and so I do. You don’t say no to six foot two of pure brawn. Am I right?

Sorry.  I just had to take a moment to stop laughing at the pure brawn remark. Sometimes I really crack myself up. It’s terrible…

Seriously, though. I love it when he dances with me after dinner. And secretly, I think the three pairs of little eyes that watch us glide across the tile floor love it, too. I mean, I know they gag and roll their eyes and giggle uncontrollably, but mostly I know that they love to see him sweep me off my feet.

(I am refering to my husband when I say ‘he.’ You know that right? That was clear? Just wanted to make sure.)

“Dip her and kiss her,” the oldest and wisest usually yells and we are always willing to comply as they clap their hands over their eyes and squeal in mock horror.

“Dat’s soooooo gwoss!” the four year likes to yell just before he leaps off his chair and tries to steal me away from the man of my dreams by latching himself to my leg and grovelling for a dance. And what can I say…I agree. I’m a sucker for his freckles.

So I dance with Landon, and he gives me a twirl, then a dip and, if I’m lucky, a kiss.  I catch the eye of my first partner and an unspoken message crosses between us. This is kind of awesome.

Lee then grabs his one and only daughter and sets her on his toes and together they twirl – Cinderella and her Prince. I, being always in high demand (ahem), have a dance request from yet another partner, the dashing eight year old with eyes as blue as the ocean. We spin and dance to the soft music of Harry Connick Jr. crooning through the media, dinner cooling on the plates but joy warming our hearts.

And in a flash, Sloan spins me back in his arms. The arms of the one who swept me off my feet twelve years ago. The one I’ve been dancing with for more than a decade. The one who shares these small people with me. Together we dance as they watch.

They who are our love song.

And I look in his eyes and know that we have a lot of dancing left to do. May it be that we are still dancing fifty years from now, together and with them. And maybe there will be more young eyes watching?

I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather dance through life.

On Eve, Valentino and that Juicy Red Apple

The heat of the day made the walk pleasant, the sun lighting my face and quickening my step.  An unexpected blessing of a weekend, added to my list of gifts, made my steps light – my heart full.  Life, when looking through the glasses of thankfulness, is no more than a series of gifts strung together.  Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for helping me to better see and understand that.

I walked Rodeo Drive with wide eyes, unaccustomed to strolling amidst such wealth.  I came upon the Coach store and stepped inside, the girl in me clapping her hands with excitement.  I don’t even carry a purse – never have.  But I appreciate them and have convinced myself that I could learn to love it if the purse was made of spun gold, as I imagine the Coach purses to be.

I strolled and oohed and aahed.  I touched, but only with one finger.  There were no prices on the shimmery bags, a clear sign that I was out of my league.  But the looking was all I needed.  I lowered my ten doller sunglasses back down over my eyes and continued my walk.  I stepped into the Yves Saint Laurent shop and a sales person walked up to me with a smile.

“Can I help you find anything in particular?” she asked, her white California teeth glistening in the golden California sun.

“No,” I replied.  “I’m just here to dream.”  I didn’t ask her to tell me exactly how to pronounce the name of the store.  Didn’t want to seem that much of a country bumpkin.  Yez Saint Laurent? Y’ Vez Saint Laurent?  Vez Saint Laurent?  Is there a silent Y?  I JUST DON’TO KNOW!

And she smiled knowingly.  I think a lot of people come into these stores to dream, and maybe touch with one finger.

I moved on.  Gucci.  I found an outfit for Tia and texted Lee.  “For one month’s mortgage, I can get Tia a spectacular outfit at Gucci.  Whatcha think?  Huh?  Huh?”  I finished it with a good old fashioned smiley face emoticon so he wouldn’t know I was serious.  Didn’t want to send the poor man into panic mode thinking the glitz and glam of tinseltown had gone to my head.

He, shockingly, responded with, “Nyet.  No.” Oooohhh…No in two languages.  He was serious.  Maybe he didn’t understand my emoticon?  I moved on.  I came to Valentino and stopped, sucking in my breath.  The gowns in the window were stunning.  Really, really stunning.  I stared for a long time, my heart racing, before finally pulling myself away.  From there I walked to the GAP and bought a pair of shorts for 50% off.

That’s how I roll.

As Lee and I drove home from church yesterday, me in a zombie-like stupor from lack of sleep (the red eye flight home was not my friend), I mentioned my momentary affair with Valentino’s gowns.

“What is it about those gowns that makes them any different from a dress you could buy at Banana Republic or Dillards?” Lee asked.  And then I cried in shame.  Naw…I kid.  But I do think my eyes spaced out for a minute.  “As a girl, when I see those gowns I immediately begin to dream,” I answered all mooney.

“About what?” my manly man asked.

“What it must be like to even have an occasion for such a dress.  What it must feel like to be a princess for a night.  How it would feel to slip one of those gowns on and walk out the door.  I just…dream.”

“And the Coach bags?”  Lee asked.  “What is it about them that makes them any better than a purse from K-Mart?  Is the functionality any different?”


“No.  The functionality is not that different, except that maybe a Coach bag will last forever and a K-Mart bag will last six months.  But that’s not the point,” I answered.

“So what’s the point?”  I could sense his consternation.

“The point is, Coach bags are so preeeetty.” And then I sighed.  They are pretty.

We drove in silence for a few minutes before Lee spoke again.  “This is why the serpant went after Eve in the garden, you know,” he said with a grin.  “He held that shiney red apple up and Eve immediately felt her heart grow mushy.”

I wanted to deny it, but I couldn’t.  He’s right.  Shiney things make us girls act…like girls.

“And Adam is like every other guy who loves his girl in the world.  She held it up and told him she wanted it and he just nodded his head.  I would have said yes, by the way, if you called me up from LA and told me you wanted to buy a Coach bag.  Because I want you to have that princess feeling and I want you to have nice things that make you happy.”

Go ahead.  I know you want to say it.  Aaaaawwwww…

It’s amazing what power we as women can have over our husbands, isn’t it?  Knowing that they do want good things for us.  The Prince wants to take his Princess to the ball, to show her off.  My point here, of course, is not whether or not purchasing a Coach bag or a Valentino gown is right or wrong.  I don’t have any problem with people doing either one of those things.  For me, at this phase of life we’re in, such purchases would not be wise.  It would place unnecessary financial burden on us.  But maybe someday…

The point is this: My husband (and probably yours) would do whatever it takes to make me feel like a princess because he wants to give me the Garden. He wants me to have the best and if I’m not careful, I could manipulate him in such a way that I got all the pretty things I ever wanted.  But…at what price?

“I don’t expect those things from you,” I told him quietly.  “I wouldn’t be comfortable in a $1,500 dress anyway.  But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to dream every once in awhile.”

The truth is, I’m not sure the apple is always worth it.  It sure wasn’t in the garden.  The apple was beautiful, a vibrant red shining in the warm afternoon sun.  A diamond.  Eve touched – with just one finger?  Unfortunately she didn’t stop there.  She plunged her teeth into the center and I have no doubt that apple tasted as good as it looked.

But the price was far greater than she imagined.

It’s a loose analogy, but the point is this – we ladies have more power than we realize over our husbands.  Your man wants to be your Prince – what is the price he must pay to do that?

Image Credit

The gene that skipped me

I am good at many things.  I know this and I embrace it.  Sometimes I doubt it, but deep down, I know the things in which I excell and I chase after them, sometimes with great glee.  Sometimes with trepidation.

I also know, however, of a great many things that I do not do well.  Like sewing – can’t do it.  I can’t even sew a button on a shirt without it falling back off within a few days.

I made an Octopus pillow in 7th grade.  I sewed it to my jeans…twice.  Ultimately it turned out pretty darn cute, what with its crooked eyes and all.  I haven’t sewn a single thing since then.

Ironing.  This is another skill that somehow passed on by me.  I can do it, of course.  It’s not rocket science, ironing a shirt.  But I’m not great at it.  I never know how to lay the shirts right on the table and I end up making more creases that need to be sprayed and ironed out and…

I felt a bit of shame over this one when we first got married.  I felt that ironing my husband’s shirts was a wifely duty that I needed to conquer in order to honor him.  I was certain that my initiatiation into Wifedom would not be solidified until I hung his shirts and pants, starched and pressed, in his closet.

I surrendered all of those feelings of failure a long time ago and, thankfully, I have a husband that doesn’t mind ironing his own clothes.  If he’s in a pinch and needs something – I am his gal!  But mostly, I don’t iron.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ironed.

And I don’t feel bad about that.

Decorating.  Ah, decorating.

I stink at it.

I don’t know if this pillow should go there or if that picture should hang here.  I don’t know how to arrange a book case to make it look cute and not cluttered.  I don’t know how to hang knick knacks on the wall in a way that is cute and doesn’t make my house looks like it’s inhabited by an eccentric old woman with 99 cats.

I don’t like to watch HGTV, because it makes me feel inadequate – and it bores me a little.  I actually just heard some of you gasp in horror. 

Picking out paint colors sends me nearly into shock and the decision to move our TV over the fireplace almost gave me a heart attack.  My husband has been wanting to do that for eight years.  I have resisted because I just couldn’t see it.

Then my neighbor came over.  My neighbor who had a table that she thought would look better as a bench so she sawed the legs off and painted it white and low and behold, she had herself a bench that looks like it walked out of Pottery BarnI would never have thought of something like that.  Ever.  If I didn’t know what to do with a table, I would get rid of it.  Or better yet, just sit and look at it for a decade and mutter repeatedly, “I hate that stupid table.”

Carol walked into our house on Sunday and in two hours the entire house was transformed.  Trans-flippin-formed!  Our front room, which has always been a bit of an eyesore has now morphed into a warm, cozy music room.  For eight years we’ve wondered what to do with that room and in one hour Carol fixed it.  We sold a desk, moved furniture and lamps around and voila’!  Transformation.


Then she tackled the rest of the house.  Like the foyer, which has felt like a cave for the past two years.  See the beautiful hutch in the above picture.  That bad boy was in our foyer.  And yes, for two years we have tripped over it, muttering under our breath and we were prepared to get rid of it.  Until…


And yes, she moved our TV over the fireplace, turned all the furniture toward it and by God if it doesn’t look like the room is twice as big.


Lee has been smugly strutting around the house all week.  Yes, dear.  You were right.  The TV looks great over the fireplace.  *eyeroll*

So now you know.  The decorating, designing, making cute from drab gene passed right on by me.  And it laughed as it raced by yelling “See ya, sucka!”  And I’m left with nothing to do but put this picture here and that painting there and then sit and wait for someone to come along and do it right.

I’ll try not to wait eight years this time.

Stones of Remembrance



This is a word that is following me around quite a bit lately.  I hear it, read it, think it and sleep it.  Intentional.  What does it mean to be intentional?

I went to Webster’s Dictionary to look for a clear defination of intentional.  Here’s what I learned: Webster’s Dictionary isn’t a lot of help.  Intentional is defined as “done by intention or design.”  Great.  Awesome.  Way to help. 

 So I looked up the word intend. 

“To direct the mind to.”

Much better.  This definition actually gave me something to think about.  Because to be intentional really does require thought.  It means I must direct my mind toward an action. It requires work and planning and it’s hard…

To live and live well, one must be intentional.  I forget that a lot.  Actually, it feels like I forget that every single day.  How often do I go to bed and run through the day and realize I went through the motions?  How often do I reflect on the day and see that I merely survived?

This is not intention.

Lee and I are blessed to have wonderful leaders and friends and supporters around us who are constantly encouraging us to be better.  Yesterday we spoke at length with many of these people about placing Stones of Remembrance out for our kids. 

Orchestrating moments in the kids lives that they can look back at and point to as a time when God was there. 

A time they remember. 

A time they felt loved.  

A time when they discovered who they were created to be.


When the Isrealites crossed the Jordan River into the promised land, Joshua commanded the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Isreal and said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder…Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you sall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord;  when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Isreal forever.”


I have to be intentional with my children.  I have to set out stones of remembrance for them.  Sometimes these things are easy – they naturally flow from the every day moments of life – as long as I’m paying attention, of course.  Like the day the tornado didn’t come through.  We were intentional in pointing Sloan to God’s answer that day.

But if I’m not planning ahead – if I’m not intentionally seeking ways to set up stones of remembrance – I will miss opportunities.

The same goes in every area of our lives.  Lee and I are being challenged in many different ways to be intentional in our giving.  We must intentionally stretch ourselves to give more.  We must be intentional in budgeting so that it is easier to make giving a priority.

We have to be intentional in our marriage.  We must be intentional in our careers, intentional in the way we spend our time, our moments.



Setting up stones of remembrance – this is my heart as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and sister.  As a child of the Lord Most High.  Because someday I will look back and point my children and, hopefully, grandchildren to those stones…those moments.  And I will be able to tell them, “Look.  Look what the Lord Most High did for you.”


2010: The Wrap Up

This year can only be described as blessed.  As we move into 2011, I find myself feeling filled with anticipation.  What will this year bring for our family?  What blessings?  What heartaches?  What new challenges and opportunities?  What joy and laughter?  How will the kids grow and develop?  How will Lee and I grow and develop?

In looking back on 2010, I have seen some definate areas in my own life that need improvement.  I enter 2011 aware of those and prayerfully seeking the strength and discipline to implement the necessary changes.  I look forward to a fresh start.

I also look forward to another 12 months of blogging and laughing with you all.  Because what fun is life if you can’t laugh…a lot!  So in order to look back at the fun this year has brought, I give you the official 2010 wrap up.  It’s been a hilarious ride!


The Minivan Mom Runs: Remember when I decided to take up running again?  And then I quit.  But then I decided to take it up again?  And then I quit.  This fall, I took it up again and I was actually doing quite well.  I was actually enjoying it.  Then I got pneumonia and the cold that wouldn’t end and haven’t been able to run in a month.  Good times…

Battoning Down the Hatches…or something like that: In which, like a modern day Ma Ingalls, I survive being snowed in alone with three kids.  This was during our Little House on the Prairie kick.


From his perspective aka A really bad idea: Lee decided we needed to change our life insurance policy, which meant a scary nurse lady came to our house and jabbed me with a needle.  I was too afraid to consider not having the children watch.  Sloan thought I was being put to sleep…

Sometimes sticking to your guns is hard:  The one where I had to defend my position on vaccinations in a very uncomfortable manner.  Ugh…


The Dance of the Little Bee: This post still makes me laugh.  This is my reminder that my son, already a Ladie’s Man, is growing up far too fast for my taste.

My Stud Muffin with his Stud Muffie: The video of my hot husband and my youngest child and their mad basketball skillz.  That’s right I said skillz!


The confidence to walk away: Sloan was bullied and my mother’s heart was broken into tiny pieces, rolled in broken glass, doused in alcohol, then lit on fire.  He’s emerged a stronger kid, though, and for that I am beyond proud.

Tia Tales: The Four Year Old Edition: I got my magic camera this month, and thus my pictures got so much better.  And Tia?  Well, there’s always a story to tell about my crazy middle child.

Girl Meets Boy: I began a series entirely dedicated to the love story I share with my husband of a decade.  It was so much fun walking down memory lane with him.  You can read the entire story here.


He had to be first: The month we experienced our first broken bone.  We just finished paying that sucker off.  Good times…

Disturbing: My son’s addiction to coloring on anything but paper freaked me out…a lot.  I threw that doll away, incidentally.


Just call me MacGyver: In which I got creative with Kotex.  Don’t ask.  Just read…

Toy Story 3: Better Titled “Let’s Tear Mom’s Heart from Chest and Stomp on it.”: I took the kids to see Toy Story 3.  Then I bawled my eyes out.  For days.


Lemonade for Haiti: Sloan urged us to let him have a lemonade stand for Haiti, so we did.  And in the process, my son once again taught me a valuable lesson in giving.  Later that summer, he got to hand my uncle the envelope with $120 in it for Haiti relief.  He’s quite a kid.

The Photo Session: We spent three weeks in Florida last summer.  And I lived to tell the story.  I almost didn’t though.  Despite it being just a tad too much together time, we had fun.  And I managed to get some great pictures of my kids – with a few outtakes.


The Wedding:  My cousin Whitney got married and Sloan and Tia were her ring bearer and flowergirl.  The cuteness was over the top.

Ice Cream Surprise: We surprised our kids with an after bed ice cream treat.  It is a great memory and gave us a hilarious video.

This I Pray: I sent my son off to first grade.  We had our first experience with a full school day and I grew increasingly aware of the need to bathe him in prayer while he was gone.  It was good for me to re-read this post and be reminded of that again.

Phew. August was a fun blogging month.  I had a hard time narrowing it down.  That was the same month I admitted to not showering on a daily basis, I went to New Orleans to cover the Katrina memorial and I posted more than one random post filled with bizarre little tidbits. 


This is the month Lee and I took the trip of a lifetime through Switzerland, Austria and Italy.  We talk about this trip almost every day – sometimes multiple times a day.  It was that amazing.

Hallstatt – A Day in the Life of a Postcard Town: I still can’t believe we made it to Hallstatt.  It is truly the most beautiful place I have ever visited and was our favorite part of the trip.

Italy: Austria was by far our favorite country, but Italy wasn’t half bad either.  I mean…we weren’t complaining or anything.

A Different Kind of Mountaintop: We came home after ten days ready to be with our kids.  Rocking Landon to sleep the night we got home was a different kind of mountaintop experience.  Read with Kleenex…

The Day we Spent $127 on Soap: We made a very stupid American mistake in Hallstatt.  It’s funny now.  A little…


He is Dad: The one where I made my dad cry.  Then he made me cry back.  All mushy, mushy…

The day I questioned everything I know to be true: I cleaned out the back of our minivan.  In the process I doubted whether Minivans were actually Hot.  My faith has been restored in the hotness of minivans, just as long as I never go back there again!


Cry me a Freakin’ River: We took down the crib and in doing so tore a piece of my heart out.

How to go from Reverent to Irreverent without even really trying…: Sloan brings us to church when he prays.  Tia brings us back to reality.


The Brawl: I think this might be my favorite post of the year.

Celebrating Christmas: We started what I hope will become a great tradition for our family.

So there it is.  My 2010 list of favorites.  This is not an exhaustive list and these certainly aren’t all my best posts, but they represent my favorite moments of the year.  I’ve tried to keep it light and fun, but there have been some heavy moments too.  Thanks for sharing them with me.

As I thought about what my favorite photo was of the year, I had a really hard time narrowing it down.  I think I got it down to two…okay that’s not true.  I have 478 favorite photos from this past year.  But I’m just going to share two:

Me, my man and an Austrian mountaintop. Just an awesome moment...

Me, my man and an Austrian mountaintop. Just an awesome moment...

I love those faces.  And I lov ethis picture. It captures them perfectly...

I love those faces. And I love this picture. It captures them perfectly...


Happy New Year to all of you!

The day we spent $127 on soap

Alternately titled: I hope all the women in our lives like to smell good because you’re getting soap for Christmas…


We were in Hallstatt, Austria.  It was our second day there and the weather was spectacular.  Before heading up the mountain, we decided to walk through town and shop in the local shops.  The night before we had walked by a shop filled with the most beautiful soap I had ever seen.  It was all different colors and flavors and it smelled amazing.

“Let’s get some soap tomorrow to give our moms for Christmas,” I suggested.  I don’t know why I suggested this.  Who wants soap for Christmas?

*pause for flashback scene*

When I was in first grade, we had our annual Christmas party.  As is tradition in every single elementary school since the very beginning of time itself, we drew names and had a Secret Santa giveaway in which we bought a small, inexpnsive present for someone in the class.

My name was drawn by a boy named Troy.  Apparently his mom did not have girls and did not know what to get a little girl…so while everyone else got cute little Hello Kitty trinkets and bracelet, I got a bar of soap.  The class played with their toys and I held my…soap.

Second grade, Christmas rolls around again.  My name is, yet again, drawn by a boy.  I don’t remember his name.  What’s another good ’80’s name we could give him?  How about Brandon.  Let’s go with that.

“Brandon” got me soap.  It was shaped like a Hippopotomos and it was pink.  I tried not to cry because dangit! I didn’t want soap.  My friend Leslie got Poochie stickers.  I got soap.

Third grade.  Mr. Stephens class.  My name drawn yet again by a boy.  I think it was David, but I’m not entirely sure.  And I’ll give you a second to guess what I got.

I know.  It’s almost unbelievable, but my mom will vouch for me.  I got soap.  SOAP!  It was a little red, Christmasy roller thing of soap.  Like a bar of deoderant…but soap.

I didn’t even try to hide my disappointment that year.  I burst into tears and my mom had to usher me out of the room. 

I never received soap again at a class party after that, thankfully.  But my faithful parents, being the loving, supportive people they are – they give me soap in my stocking every year.  Hardy har har.

So now you know my background with soap and Christmas. 

* End flashback. *

Which is why it is odd that I would choose to buy someone soap for Christmas.  But these little bars were so pretty and they were made in the most beautiful town on earth so it seemed like a good idea.

When we walked by the store, the overwhelming aroma took over us.  It was like drugs. And the prices seemed so…inviting.

“Hey,” Lee said.  “This stuff is cheap.  Let’s get some for everyone.”  At a Euro or two a bar, this felt like a steal so we grabbed a basket and started filling it.  Lemon Verbena, Chocolate, Lavendar, Honey Suckle….so many enticing flavors.  We grabbed something for everyone and danced to the register, our basket overflowing.

I handed the woman our basket and credit card.  I was adding up the soap in my head and figured we had about 35 Euros worth of soap.  Still a little much, but I figured it would cover several people for Christmas so no big deal.

She handed back my credit card and the receipt and pointed at my total.

96 Euro.

Let me say that again.

96 Euro.

That equals 127 dollars.  On soap.  SOAP!

And then it hit me.  We weren’t paying a Euro a bar…we were paying by the gram.  Sweet Mother of God!  We spent 127 dollars on soap.  I don’t even like soap.  And I certainly don’t like to give it for Christmas.

To the women in our lives…I hope you like soap.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving, right?!  Don’t take it personally.  We don’t think you stink.  We just can’t afford to buy you anything else.  Because we spent 127 dollars on soap.


Merry Christmas…er…


A Different Kind of Mountaintop


Roughly a week ago, I stood on the most beautiful mountaintop in Austria and for over an hour I took in God’s creation from the vantage point of a bird.  It was breathtaking.  I didn’t want the moment to end.  As Lee and I hiked to various points of Krippenstein Peak, we commented more than once how we wished the kids were there.  They would have loved it.  I probably would have enjoyed it slightly less, of course, because I would have been too busy envisioning one of them tumbling over the side…

Our vacation was absolutely perfect.  It was relaxing and adventurous.  We had ten days to talk and we didn’t spend all of our time talking about the kids, although we spent a good deal of time talking about them.  It was just the right amount of time.  Not too long, not too short.  It was wonderful in every way and I will forever be grateful that we had the opportunity to do that. 

But I was ready to come home.

Lee is my family.  But he isn’t my complete family.  And walking in our back door to the three little faces that make up our complete family was equally as thrilling as climbing Krippenstein Peak (or…you know…riding up the cable car.  I don’t climb mountains.)

They had wet hair and jammies on.  They smelled better than any flower from any part of the world.  They jumped up and down and yelled “Mommy!  Daddy!  Mommy!  Daddy!”  It sounded better than any mountaintop bird.  They leapt in our arms and squeezed tight…more than once.  It was better than any view from any peak of the world.

After a bit of play time and wrestle time we sat on the couch.  Sloan, my sweet, tender hearted seven year old looked around quietly, then burst into tears.  “I’m sad that you were gone so long,” he cried, big alligater tears glimmering in the corners of his eyes. 

And then my heart tore in two.

“We’re home now,” we assured him as he crawled into Lee’s lap. 

“I just missed you really a lot,” he said, wiping his nose on the back of his hand.  And we got to explain to him about how God has blessed our marriage and about how Mommy and Daddy took some time to just celebrate God’s blessings in our life.

“But you know what?” we told them.  “The biggest blessings of our marriage are you guys.  Sometimes Mommy and Daddy need to get away and be together just the two of us.  But we know that God gave us the greatest gifts of all when he gave you you guys and we are so thrilled to be back with you.”

After we got everyone calmed down and settled into bed, I dragged my weary, jet lagged body around the house and cleaned up a bit.  As I walked back to my bedroom and passed Landon’s open door I heard a tiny voice.

“Mommy?  Tan you tome hewe pwease?”

There is no amount of fatigue that could have stopped me from walking into that bedroom.  I scooped him up and we sat in the yellow rocking chair beside his bed.  He put his head on my shoulder, his little nose nestled into the fold of my neck.  And as I rocked, his tiny hands patted me on the back.

It was a different kind of mountaintop…and I think I liked it best of all.

Hallstatt – A Day in the Life of the Postcard Town

The morning view from out hotel window


Rise and Shine. The view from our hotel window and the morning sun glinting on the Hallstatter See.


The Protestant Church in the morning sun.

Despite our best efforts we never could find the town schmuck...

Despite our best efforts we never could find the town schmuck...


This picture wasn't lifted off the internet. I took it!

 This picture wasn’t lifted off the internet. I took it!

Taking the lift up to the salt mine where we would each lunch, explore, then hike back down the mountain.

After a bit of shopping and walking the streets, we took the rail up to the top of the mountain next to Hallstatt.


It’s just too bad it wasn’t pretty.  This was the view from our lunch table.  I KNOW, right?!

Too bad it wasn't pretty. This was the view from our lunch table. I KNOW, right?!

After lunch we hiked down the mountain.  Yes…after ten years of marriage we’ve learned a thing or two – one of them being, always hike down, never hike up! 
We were greeted by this swan at the bottom.

After our hour long hike back down the mountain we were greeted by this swan.

Despite the fact that we were exhausted and our legs were burning, we decided to take the cable car up the mountain on the other side of the lake. GREAT decision.

Despite the fact that we were exhausted and our legs were burning, we decided to take the cable car up the other side of the lake. GREAT decision.

We ended up at the very highest peak and could see for miles.

We ended up at the very highest peak and could see for miles.

We spent a good deal of time watching local paragliders take off. And I wished desperately one of them would take me along.

We spent a good deal of time watching local paragliders take off. And I wished desperately one of them would take me along.

Utter peace.

Utter peace.

We added rocks to a stack that had been started on the edge of the cliff. It was slightly precarious, but ‘sall good now so…


We then headed out to the Five Fingers platform which held you directly over the 2,000 km cliff wall.  It was exhilerating and terrifying all at once.


I don’t know how this view could ever get old.


Everyone should kiss on an Austrian mountaintop at least once in life. Just sayin’…


We ended the day watching the moon rise over the mountaintop.  Perfection.


Tomorrow – Tuscany!


The Hills Are Alive

Hello from beautiful Austria.  If I knew how to say hello in Austrian or German I would, but I don’t so…hey there!  Everytime someone says something to me in this country I answer in Russian.  My brain immediately switches to foreign language mode…unfortunately it’s just the wrong language. 

We are having the MOST amazing time.  It’s everything we hoped it would be and more.  How’s that for a smarmy Halmark line?  Cliche much?

Our first day was filled with rain, rain and a little more rain.  It rained from the moment we pulled out of Milan’s airport until just outside of Landeck, Austria where we spent the night.  It was a little disappointing not to be able to see Lake Como or to really soak in the Swiss Alps, but I will say that the Swiss Alps are spectacular with or without rain (probably more so without, but I’m thrilled with what I saw).  Because it was so rainy and there was really no point in stopping and walking around, we hauled it all the way through Switzerland until our jet lagged brains turned our bodies numb.  We stopped, filled our bellies and passed out only to be awoken at 8:00 by a man warbling an Austrian folk song outside our hotel door.

It was awesome!

And off we went again.  We made it to Salzburg and spent four hours walking the city.  Today was a much more beautiful day.  In fact, it was a perfect day and Salzburg was gorgeous.  I resisted the urge all day to break out in song figuring that the locals would only expect a silly American to bust out with Do, Re, Mi.  Lee, however, did sing a few bars to a fellow group of Americans when asking them how we could find the steps where that song was filled. 

Incidentally, I should tell you that if you ever have the chance to travel with my husband, you should take it – particularly to a foreign country.  He will talk to anyone and is most comical when speaking to natives.  There are a lot of hand gestures involved. 

He’s just the best.

And then, after Salzburg, we headed south to…


If I could paint a picture with words, I would.  This town is spectacular.  It’s gorgeous in every sense of the word.  It’s picturesque and quaint, charming and baroque.  It’s riddled with history and is so quiet and peaceful.  Let me put it this way – we sat on an outdoor patio for dinner right nest to the lake.  Church bells chimed in the background, the moon rose up over the mountains and glimmered on the lake, in the distance the lights of a train roared through a mountain tunnel and five swans swam next to us as we ate. 


We love it so much here that we are going to talk with our hotel and see if we can stay an extra night.  I didn’t get many pictures today as it was almost dark when we arrived, but rest assured I will take no less than 762 pictures tomorrow.

I am posting a couple of pictures tonight then I must go to sleep.  It’s almost midnight here!  Seriously – if you ever have the opportunity to visit Hallstatt, Austria, you have to take it.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more beautiful place on Earth.  It’s that amazing here…


It may have been raining in Lake Como, but that didn’t stop us from pulling into a little cafe and having Espresso and Gelato for breakfast.


We stopped at the Triacca winery in northern Italy before crossing over into Switzerland.  Incidentally, did you know that crossing country borders over here is no different than crossing state borders at home?  I fully expected to be checked and interrogated at each country line.  We didn’t even cross customs stations at most of them.  It was a little disappointing – I was looking forward to the stamps in my passport. 🙂


Switzerland…in the rain…still amazing.


Tarasp Castle in Switzerland.  This was a fun little detour.  We saw it in the distance while we were driving and decided to track it down.  Turns out this is one of the places I saw on Google Earth when we were researching the trip (yay internet!) and really wanted to see.  So we parked and walked up to it.  The tour guide told us it was closed but gave us five minutes to explore.  There were gorgeous views from up top.

I had grand plans to post pictures of Salzburg too, but the connection is a little slow and my eyelids are a lot heavy.  So for now, Auf Weidersehen!

Girl and Boy Take Europe

Holy Moly this is really happening.  At 7:30 this morning we will board a flight that takes us to Washington DC where we will board another flight to New York where we will board our final flight to MILAN!  Deep breaths.

I got a little emotional last night tucking Landon in mostly because I don’t think he fully grasps that he’s not going to see us for ten days and that makes me sad.  But then I started packing and I had this moment where it all hit me.  WE ARE ACTUALLY GOING THROUGH WITH THIS!  It was actually up in the air as to whether we were going to go a couple of weeks ago and a little of the wind was taken out of my sails, so now that it is upon me…it feels surreal.

I’m going to Europe with my husband!  Yahoo!

We’ll have a computer.  If we have time and Wi-Fi and the desire we may post pictures now and then.  Or we may not.  We’ll just have to see.  Because for ten days I can do what I want when I want and how I want. 

So for now I will sign off with a big, fat CIAO!

See you in ten days!!