Wednesday, May 30, 2012

France Part 3

My favorite part of France was when we would take the train from Paris and travel to the countryside to visit Chateau's.  The chateau's were not my favorite, though opulent and beautiful, I loved seeing the green country, visiting the small villages that were close to the chateaus, and observing the incredible people.  To me, that is traveling.  Not just visiting museums, artwork and buildings, but to experience the entire culture is my idea of a great vacation.  
We took 3 day trips out of Paris.  We visited Chantilly, Versaille, and the LaWare Valley(?).  I'm sure not even close to the correct spelling.  
Chantilly was a hunting retreat for French Royalty.
The grounds were absolutely beautiful
They now use the Equine Stables for a Horse Show which is presented daily.  It was fun to see.

Versaille is as amazing.  The chateau itself is breath taking and the grounds and fountains are gorgeous. 

The grounds are so large and we were so tired that we rented this golf cart to travel around the area.

In the LaWare? Valley we visited 3 different areas.   It was the prettiest of all of our day trips.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

France Part 2

We spent 8 nights in Paris, the heart of France.  It is overwhelming to me to realize how old so many of the buildings are.  The architecture is massive and very ornate.
The first 3 nights we were with the tour that we went with and we stayed in an incredibly nice 4 star hotel.

 The museums are awesome.  I think you could spend weeks and not see all of the museums.
You've got to love Rodin's "The Thinker".
 The French love to have a monument for everything.  This shows the spot where underneath in a tunnel Princess Di was killed in a speeding car.
 One morning was spent in the laundromat washing our clothes.  I was impressed with how little we really packed to wear.  I think we were smart travelers this time and didn't take too many clothes.
This is a bridge where couples take a lock, place it on the gate and toss the key into the river.   It symbolizes that they are "locked together forever." A fun tradition but we did that "forever locked together" in the temple so we didn't put on a lock.
 We traveled all over Paris on the metro.  How amazing that Jeff and Cal could always find the correct route.  It is a true labyrinth underground.  We have been on many subways, but this is by far the most complex we have ever encountered.
One day we even did the "Hop On Hop Off" Bus to get around.  It was a fun change.
 The first 3 nights we were with the tour that we went with and we stayed in an incredibly nice 4 star hotel.

 The next 5 nights we were on our own and we downscaled a bit, OK quite a bit.  We stayed in another place, that was clean, (My first prerequisite) but absolutely NO frills or luxuries.  Our shower was so small that Jeff could barely fit.  He kept teasing that he couldn't even lift his arms up to wash himself.
 One nice thing about our second hotel is that it was located by the Eiffel Tower which is a fun place to be.  I LOVED the Eiffel Tower.  It was breath taking at night.
Down at the plaza by the Eiffel Tower there were many street vendors making Crepe's to order as you watched them make them.  We ate there several times!!
 It was really fun to stay in one place for so long.  We began to truly feel like we were beginning to understand the town and and its people.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

France Part 1

We had the privilege of spending eleven days in France so we were able to see many varied places in the country.  The first part of our France visit was spent in the Normandy area where the history is rich in WWII stories.  We visited the sites of the D-Day invasion; Utah Beach and Omaha Beach where thousands of American lives were lost to preserve freedom and liberty.  We had a dear gentleman on our tour who had actually landed on Utah Beach with his regiment on that fateful day June 6, 1944.  How touching it was to observe him as he visited the places again.
It's difficult to imagine how that war affected the many families in the United States, but it is almost impossible for me to imagine the lives of the families that lived where their homeland was actually being attacked.  Visiting these areas and listening to the stories told I came away with a new appreciation of how it must have of changed everyones lives in Europe.  The rich, the poor, the soldier as well as those at home, no one was exempt from trauma and sacrifice.  I know I didn't realize or appreciate the immensity of the devastation.
The American Cemetery was incredible.  To see the rows and rows of crosses representing all the U.S. soldiers who died in that campaign was so overwhelming.  It  is certainly hallowed ground.  How thankful I am for the brave men and women who fought for our freedom then, and I'm especially grateful for those who volunteer to fight today in the military to protect all of our rights and privileges that we enjoy in our country.
A German Bunker
Inside a bunker where the German Soldiers could fire at oncoming troops
The large holes in the ground were made by bombs landing
Utah Beach
Mr. Clark who landed on Utah Beach
Omaha Beach

The American Cemetery
Most of the markers had names but many were like this one- an unknown soldier

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

These were posters that the British Government printed during WW II to encourage the population of England to not despair.  They had been forgotten until the year 2000 and now it has been brought back and is found everywhere in Britain.  It is on book covers, posters, cups, coasters etc.
I found myself pondering the message while we were there and decided I really like it.  We are not literally in a physical war and being bombarded with bombs, but we are definitely in a war of sorts today.  We are being bombarded with evil, false gods, discouragement and lies.

The older I get the more I truly realize that the Lord is in charge and as we listen to and act on His commands our lives will eventually turn out for the best.  We don't need to despair, we just need to trust in our Savior.  It is difficult to be calm when life isn't what we planned.  We begin to panic when we lose a job or we don't get the job we desired.  Maybe the Graduate program we have wanted did not want us.  We're not married or we can't have children or maybe we have too many children.  Our spouse doesn't want to be married anymore.  Our dream house was given to someone else.  Our children are making terrible self destructive choices.  Many of our elected leaders are deceitful and dishonest.  As devastating as many things in life are and as difficult as it is, I believe the best advice comes from this old British adage.  Keep Calm and Carry On.  Panic never helps, needless worry only causes health problems.  Making it through each day may be all that we can do, but if we can do it calmly and carrying on with our daily work then we have been successful and tomorrow hopefully we can do the same.  Soon we usually can see the Lord's hand in our lives and realize that everything will be OK.  He will never leave us alone.

Many people ask me how I seem happy and can continue living a full life with the choices that my son continues to make.  It isn't easy, and I have been depressed and discouraged but I realized it didn't help.   I  couldn't find the exact words to describe it until now, but I think this is the best advice I can give others.  Keep Calm and Carry On.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mother's Day Surprise

Last night I was surprised with the most wonderful Mother's Day present.  Late is Great!!  Jessi and Amy put together this collage of all seven of my grandkids.
It is just precious.  I guess Jessi emailed the letters to Carly and Carrie and had them make the letters and take the pics and email them back.  Isn't technology wonderful?  Each picture is just precious.  I love these kids so much and I am so thankful that they are being raised in the gospel.  Each of them are loved and taught by incrediblel parents.  These kids in this generation are going to have to be so strong to withstand the temptations that are going to be thrown at them.  Satan is stronger and more powerful than ever.
 I was just reading this morning a conference talk by Cheryl Esplin who is the 2nd Counselor in the Primary General Presidency.  It is awesome and needs to be read by all parents over and over.  One quote I loved especially is this:

Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts in a way that it becomes part of their very being and is reflected in their attitudes and behavior throughout their lives.

I truly believe this is the key to having our children and grandchildren remain strong.  I hope as a Grandma I can help teach them the doctrine.  If you want to read the entire article go here

Friday, May 18, 2012


Jeff and I were on a World War II History Tour for the first nine days of our vacation.  The first two days we were in London visiting the Cabinet War Rooms and War Museums.  We had some time to visit the other sites, but it was a quick whirl wind stop in Britain.  I loved it and hope someday to return and spend time exploring that great place.
Here are a few of the wonderful spots in London.

You've got to love the phone booths in London.

Of course, you need to eat fish and chips while there.  The green dish was called "Mushy Peas"??
                                                                             Our British M&M!!
 I love the subways where a voice reminds you at each stop to "mind the gap" as you step from the train.

 The second night of our stay we were abruptly awakened at 3:30 a.m. by an incredibly annoying and loud beeping noise.  We tried to turn off the alarm clock, answer the phone, try anything but the beeping would not stop.  When we were finally awake enough to think we realized it was most likely the fire alarm.  Of course we were on the 5th floor.  Everyone was evacuated outside while the fire department checked the building.  We found out the next morning that someone had been smoking in bed which set off the alarm.  It was so interesting to me to see what people took out of the hotel with them.  I learned a lot about myself as well as others.  We had a good laugh about it.  One lady that was on our tour, who was always immaculately dressed and put together made sure she brought her make up bag out.  Our friends who we traveled with came out in their pajamas but made sure they had their credit cards.  Someone else brought their scriptures with them.  Some of the people came out without coats or shoes and the hotel provided emergency blankets for them.  I made sure that I was fully dressed with shoes, socks, pants, shirt, sweater, coat, gloves and scarf.  I was not going to risk being cold if we were evacuated for a long time.  I also grabbed our passports and credit cards.  I was ready for anything.

It made for an eventful and memorable night.  We were soon let back into the building.  After ascending the five floors of stairs, we climbed back into bed to rest for a few minutes before we started another day.