Monday, September 29, 2008


Well folks, we have finally moved into our place! After looking at 8 different apartments, we chose the first one we had seen. Our furniture arrived on Thursday with minimal damage (a few cracks) and nothing was lost. It is so wonderful to be able to sit on our own couch and sleep in our own bed after exactly 2 months of being homeless.
The apartment we ended up renting is really neat. It is part of an old mansion that has been broken into 6 seperate apartments. No one is certain of the exact age of our place, but it is over 100 years old. Our guest room on the first floor used to be for the horses , therefore has 4 old stone troughs, a brick ceiling and tile walls. Such a cool room. Guess you will have to come see it! The rest of our place supposedly was half for the servants, half for the rich people. It is 3 stories with lots of stairs (which will be interesting with a baby). We love it.

Prior to our stuff arriving, we had a brilliant idea to paint the bedrooms and bathrooms. We did not factor in to our home decorating excitement that neither of us really know how to paint. Shane hadn't painted since high school. I had helped my dad paint through the years (turns out, he did all the hard work) and did some painting with Habitat for Humanity. The project took WAY longer than we ever could have guessed (doesn't it always happen like that). After 5 trips to the local equivalent of Home Depot, we are done with the painting! SO, if you ever hear either of us say, "I think I want to paint half the house in one weekend," use whatever it takes to change our minds!

An added bonus to our new home is that another American family lives across the courtyard. Mark works with Shane at the Citadel while Kelsey stays home to take care of the baby. They have been a tremendous help in making everything here go semi- smoothly! AND Kelsey is an excellent source of info for all my baby questions. Lots of questions! They even threw an American BBQ this weekend so we could meet the rest of the neighbors. It was funny to see French people try to put together a hamburger- it proved to be a tricky task! We feel very blessed to have Mark and Kelsey so close.

Off our mini balcony- 33 weeks!

Our door is the one to the left and the second story is ours

Our fancy living room prior to our stuff arriving

Not the greatest pix, the horse trough room

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Last weekend we decided to escape Lille and head up to Brugge, Belgium for the night. It was a fantastic get away to an amazing, story book like town. We took the train - LOVE public transport and found ourselves a nice hotel right in the center of town. The first night we spent just exploring back allies and scoping out the sites. It was truly romantic, with bridges glowing in the dim light of the street lamps and the peacefulness of the canals before our eyes.

Saturday morning, our main goal was to find delicious waffles (our lives tend to center around food). The breakfast place served amazing Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and real chocolate melted to pour on top. I was in heaven- chocolate for breakfast, heck yes! We wandered the city a bit more, enjoying the aromas wafting out of of street corner waffles joints and chocolate shops.

This trip, we felt quite cultured, as we went to 2 museums- the Fry Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Let me tell you- fries come from Belgium originally and are incredible! Also, chocolate has been perfected in Belgium and it truly is life changing.

While I tend to go for sweet, Shane is drawn to the hundreds of varieties of Belgian beer. We had lunch at a place that served over 400 different brews. The menu was like a dictionary! Shane was in heaven, while I sipped on my coke. I think if we had time, he would have tried every single one of the beers. Instead, he settled on one and was in all his glory- a new beer discovered!

The whole weekend was wonderful. Its amazing how refreshed one can feel with just a night away. We will try to squeeze in as many times like this while in Europe.... now if we can just figure out how to do it with a baby - 6 more weeks!

The Chocolate Museum

Friday, September 12, 2008


This past weekend we had the awesome oppurtunity to go to Paris. Our friends,Kari and Josh, were on a European vacation, with a stop in Paris for a few days. We saw this as a perfect excuse to travel, see a new city and hang out with friends.

The whole weekend was amazing, with incredible food, long midnight walks,beautiful sites and just a great time hanging out with friends. I had to pinch myself multiple times to bring myself to the reality that I was actually in Paris, the City of Lights and Love.

Shane and I took the train down from Lille, which was an excellent experience. A smooth, nice quiet ride, arriving to Paris within an hour. It dropped us off a few blocks from our hotel and we were able to see our first sites of Paris. Our hotel was quite the budget lodging- bright yellow walls with painted green furniture. Yet, it was clean and we spent just enough time there to sleep and shower.

We met Kari and Josh at their hotel and then we hit the city! We walked in pouring rain to Notre Dame and realized we had arrived just in time for mass. Since none of us are Catholic, we decided to forego the massive line and come back another time. We also decided to buy cheap umbrellas to fight off the rain. Soon as those cheesy tourist umbrellas were in our hands, the rain stopped and we did not have a drop of wetness the rest of the weekend! From this point on, we wandered the back allies of Paris, taking in the sites and sounds of the beautiful city.

Our goal was to see the Eiffel Tower at night. It was so windy by the time we got there, we could not go to the very top. Instead, we split a bottle of wine in the park while gazing at its twinkling lites. This was proceeded by a breathtaking walk home of all the monuments lit up at night. Truly was romantic!

Saturday we had our first go at the Paris Metro and ended up at the Arc de Triumphe. Another magnificent piece of French history. The climb to the top led to a panoramic gorgeous view of the whole city. We trekked about the city the rest of the day, stopping at cafes along the way to people watch and enjoy French cuisine. Also, to my delight, multiple Starbucks' lined the streets. You can guarantee I was at one each day! Yum! That night, we had a delicious greek dinner in the Latin quarter and then shared some wine in the glow of Notre Dame. Wonderful.

By the time Sunday rolled around, we were all so exhausted, we hit up a creperie for breakfast, Starbucks for a final coffee and then said our goodbyes. I can vouch for all of us that our legs were tired and that we were not used to being up so late at night. We are getting old! It was a fantastic weekend!

To top it all off, when we got home, we realized we could get NFL games through the internet. So thats exactly what Shane and I did- rested our worn out bodies in front of the computer to catch the first games of the season. Love it!

The opera with Kari and Josh

Under the Eiffel Tower at Night- Magical


Outside Notre Dame- it was COLD and windy

Arc de Triumphe

Defence Monument in background

On top of the Arc de Triumphe with Eiffel Tower in back and baby belly looking huge!

On the way to Notre Dame in the pouring rain

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pulled Over

Yesterday we were on our way to our OB appointment, attempting the drive to the hospital for the first time by ourselves. Shane was behind the wheel because the car we are borrowing is so monsterous, it can probably drive right over all the mini euro cars. I find this intimidating, and gladly let Shane take charge. We were feeling rather confident, armed with 2 maps and the GPS. There were signs for the hospital and we thought that going through the round about would be the shortest way.

Not so much.

As soon as we got on to the round about, we realized about 8 cars were pulled over with multiple cops milling about. Hmmm. Strange. In my head, I thought, Oh well, they will just let us go, we look innocent. Wrong again. The police signaled for us to pullover and asked for our license and registration. At this point, we realize that our international drivers licenses were safely at home and we have NO idea where the registration is in the car. I start to break a sweat while Shane sits calmly. We try to tell the cops we speak English but they just keep rattling away in French- not helpful! At this point in the story, I might add also that Shane was in his full army uniform, our car had the French government/ foreigner plates and we couldn't look more American if we tried. Still, no mercy.

Finally we find the registration and proudly (ok, frantically in my case) hand it to the cops. Turns out, from my basic understanding of French, that the lane we had been in was a red paved lane meant only for emergency vehicles. After this proclamation, they let us go on our merry way. All that trauma for that small tidbit of info! I was about to pull the pregnany/ baby card but luckily got away without taking the situation to that level.

The conclusion of the story...
1. Shane is much calmer in situations involving getting pulled over. Me, on the other hand, well, lets just say I pray hard and almost break out in hives.
2. Every one has to have a cop story when they are overseas! Now we have ours and hopefully no more will be added to the repitore.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Missing Starbucks

I love coffee. True confession. For those who know me, this is not a shock. I can tell you my favorite drink at every major coffee chain and which airports around the world house certain coffee shops. The obsession all started back in 10th grade while living in Sweden. Across from my high school was the perfect cafe called "Kanel". There, I was introduced to my first cappocino and my life has never been the same.

All that said, while being pregnant, my cravings for coffee have lessened, some days they are non- existent. Yet when the desire for coffee does hit, I need a piping hot mug in my hand ASAP.

Now throw moving to France in the picture. No flavored creamers in the stores (Shane and I are used to 4 in our fridge), little tiny shots of super strong coffee are the norm, and if you want a "grand cafe au lait, s'il vous plait", its going to cost you 4x as much as the standard. This large coffee is nothing that exquisite either- it is just in a bigger cup with a side of milk.

I am rambling, this I realize- but I do have some exciting information to share! Yesterday was a breakthrough day. I went to Cafe Meo with some friends and realized they had lattes with flavored syrups and other such novelties. AND they came in big to- go cups! Life will be ok in France! Ordering was a bit tricky though. Despite pointing at the item on the menu (After Eight- expresso, milk, mint and irish cream syrup, my mouth is watering now!), I received a very bewildered look from the barista when asking for decaf. Its sounds the same in French and English to me, so whats the confusion. He then nodded in understanding, or so I thought. When the order was brought to our table, my luscious beverage sat there steaming with a peculiar smaller cup of coffee on the side. What? My assumption is that he thought I wanted a side of decaf. Oh well. I poured it in to the After Eight, hoping that it was decaf and that I was not giving the poor baby 2 shots of espresso instead! She would go crazy! All that said, it was a wonderful delight on my tongue, just what was needed on another rainy day in Lille.