Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 2 & 3 in Aix!

Sunday morning we woke up and headed to Dom & Hil's place for egg casserole and croissants. Yum. (That's when I wrote the first post.)

Kelly, Jorie & Hil went to the market and bought fresh veggies for dinner later and baguettes and cheese and fruit for a picnic lunch. During that time the boys (Steve, Kevin & David) cleaned the bfast dishes at the apartment while Dom and I (Wendy) walked to get the car.

We then hopped in the car and headed to Cassis, a small town on the Mediterranean Sea. Pictured here is our trust steed, the Kia van from Dom's church we drove everywhere.

We parked at a rest stop and hiked the cliffs of the Calanques (or mountain inlets). The views were breathtaking.

Also during this time, most people enjoyed touching the water for the first time. Pictured below is Kelly, who got a little wet doing so! :)

We kept hiking a little further, finally stopping for a picnic lunch on the top of a cliff...absolutely amazing.

After we hiked back, we drove down into the town and enjoyed some gelatto. Yum Yum. (The lemon meringue flavor that David and I shared was seriously to die for.)

We then walked down the pier and enjoyed taking photos along the Mediterranean.

On the drive home, we stopped off at Alinea, a store similar to Ikea, just to look around and enjoy the ideas France has to offer.

For dinner, we came back and took the fresh veggies from the a.m. and added some rice and chicken to make a stir fry. A number of us cut them up to help, but Hilary and David did most of the cooking. (Stir fry is one of David's specialties! :))

Monday morning (which is today), we ate pastries in the car as we headed out to visit some more wineries. The purpose was to be able to buy some wine in "bulk" that we could bottle later at the apartment. We ended up at two wineries, and the second one was a great experience. Even though I was the only one who didn't wine taste, I enjoyed taking tons of photos and fell in love with the rustic feel of the tasting room and wine cave!

Back in Aix, we walked around and toured the city and took a ton of pictures. Below are a few, including two from a rooftop from the apartment Dom used to live in.

We also visited the French church where Dom and Hilary's church holds their English church service.

The guys headed back to the apartment at that point to walk the dog and relax with some X-box. The ladies did a little (successful) shopping and then spent some girl time chatting over tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and hookah (for Hilary).

Tonight, we're about to bottle the wine bought in bulk earlier before heading out for a later dinner!

Hope you've enjoyed the latest update... we may not have internet in Paris, which we leave for tomorrow after lunch, but we'll see!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bonjour d' Aix

Bonjour! It's Sunday morning here and we're at Dom & Hilary's apartment to eat breakfast. The six travelers (us, Jorie & Steve, & Kelly & Kevin) walked over this morning from our apartment. During the day, we can cut through a beautiful park. (pictured below, from this morning)

Yesterday, we woke up after a full night's rest (much needed!) and Hilary met us to walk us over to the center of Aix (where they live). It's about an 10-minute walk, and we arrived and went to a little cafe for breakfast. We ate pastries & jam and enjoyed a hot beverage. From there we walked through the market in Aix (open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays).

Dom went and retrieved the church van, which he's using to transport us around. We met up with their friends Tim & Apryl, Americans from Pennsylvania who have lived around the world the past 20 years and been in Aix the past 8 years. Tim led us on a tour of parts of the Southern wine region, where we gazed at the countryside and went in search of open wineries. We finally found one, and a number of folks in our group enjoyed some wine tasting. We stopped for lunch in Pertuis and found a cute little restaurant with a cave-like basement room and had a delicious lunch. Very French and tasty.

We then headed back towards Aix, stopped in one town to take photos that was built primarily in the 16th century but also featured buildings built by the Romans. Back in Aix (or just outside of it), we headed to Tim & Apryl's house and enjoyed an evening of Wii and fondue.

Today we hope to head down towards the Mediterranean to explore that region some. More later!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas (and Bon Voyage!)

Tomorrow marks Christmas -- and I have so much to share. My family has been here since Monday night, keeping things alive here in Blacksburg. We've had a wonderful time!

Tomorrow, on their way back to Richmond, they drop us off in Roanoke at the airport to fly to FRANCE!!! We are going with some friends to visit some of our other friends who live in Aix en Provence (in the Southern part of France). We'll split our time between Aix and Paris, spending New Years Eve in Paris. We fly home January 5.

Can't wait to share our stories and pictures after the new year!

Blessings to all -- Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday baking and other items...

I know I have been absent lately. Things have just been so busy. I have so many things I want to share...

First, I'm typing this post at 1:36am because I am baking some treats for my co-workers, and tomorrow is that last day of school. That means that this little missy put it off until the last minute and is paying the price by staying up late. Ugh.

Tomorrow after the glorious last day of school for 2008 (the kids have been insane this week -- nothing has been accomplished academic-wise), David and I head to Richmond to officially celebrate my dad's 60th bday and see my grandparents. My dad turned 60 on December 10, and David and I actually drove to Richmond the night of Dec. 9 to surprise him. We got to Richmond about 8:45pm and had to leave at 4:00am to get to work on time, so we were only there less than 8 hours. But the 6.5 hours of driving were totally worth it to pull off that surprise. He, my mom, and my sis and nephews were all so surprised when we busted through the door! I took video and David took pictures, and maybe one day they'll make it up here. Did I mention we stopped at a restaurant to pick up some ribs for my dad on the way?

Last Wednesday, we celebrated "Christmas Together" as a homegroup and church. First, our bible study gathered here @ HOC for our annual white elephant gift exchange. Then, we all headed to our churchwide Christmas party. That was a lot of fun. The staff team had brainstormed this great idea to light sparklers and sing "Silent Night" but the sparklers created so much smoke everyone was coughing and laughing. We did sing, but it wasn't quite the serious moment we had hoped for. Oh well. We are a unique church... :)

Speaking of church, my talk on Proverbs 31 went well on Dec. 7, and it should be online now if you want to listen. My talk is 7 out of 7. (Well really 7 out of 8, but it says 7 out of 7).

On Monday night, a bunch of our women staff went Christmas shopping in Roanoke. There wasn't much I needed to buy, but the company was amazing. 7 ladies stuffed in a mini-van making the 45 minute trek to a better mall is always a blast. And I did find a great shirt at Ann Taylor Loft for under $10.

This Tuesday night, we had our annual church staff Christmas party, and that was a blast as usual. Good food. Amazing Tracy Pace desserts. And the white elephant exchange that features steals and husband/wife plotting and manipulating. It's everything a Christmas party should be.

Tonight was packing night for France. We leave in a week, but the next 7 days will be crazy. First, we head to Richmond 2 days. We return on Sunday and will be getting the house ready and in gear for my family to arrive Monday. My parents, sis, bro-in-law and 2 nephews are coming to spend Christmas here in Blacksburg. We are so excited to be hosting!!!!

We're literally hosting an informal Christmas Eve service at our house for NLCF folks who are around, and then, we have Christmas Day! We need to leave Blacksburg by around noon on Christmas so my family can drop David and I off in Roanoke at the airport. They'll go back to Richmond to see more family, and David and I are off to FRANCE!!!!!

I am so excited I am beside myself. I cannot wait to write about that once we return. We'll be gone 10 days and return January 5. We'll be spending Dec. 26-30 in Aix en Provence, where Dom & Hilary live. Then we'll head to Paris on Dec. 30 and spend the rest of our time there. That means New Year's Eve in Paris! We'll see how good my 4 years of French did...

Oh, and I'll be taking a ton of pictures, especially now that we got a surprise amazing Christmas present from my folks -- a digital SLR camera. They gave it to us early so we could practice before the big trip.

Anyway, I think my bread is about done, and it's almost 2:00am. That means I really need to get some sleep soon since my alarm will go off in about 3.5 hours.

Tonight was our

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tour of Homes

Also, I forgot to mention, mark Dec. 15 on your calendar and participate with me in BooMama's Christmas Tour 2008!


Click on the link above to find out details...but it should be a blast! I'll be participating.

The Proverbs 31 Woman...

I'm speaking this Sunday in church on the Proverbs 31 woman. We're finishing up a series on the Proverbs, and the pastors thought it would be a good week to have me speak.

Due to the sometimes sensitive nature of topics regarding women and what the scripture says in church, please be praying for my message on Sunday.

We have 3 services -- 9:30 & 11:00 am and 7:07 pm. Prayers during all 3 would be greatly appreciated. The talk should be online by Monday or Tuesday on this site. As usual, you can click on it to listen online, or right click and save the .mp3 to your computer.

Speaking of links, I don't think I ever linked my last talk online... if not, it can be found here. (I was week 4 of 5.)

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers as I share on Sunday. It should be an exciting weekend with the ACC championship game tomorrow (GO HOKIES) as well as some friends (RACH & ANNIE) coming in from out of town!!!!

More later. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Each year, David and I travel to a different city for our "anniversary" NFL tradition. It started on our honeymoon when David suprised me with tickets to see the Falcons play the 49ers in San Francisco. It was my first NFL game and we had a great time. (In fact, the whole trip to San Fran was a surprise because I let him plan the honeymoon and had no idea where we were going until the 2nd leg of the plane trip!!! What fun!)

Anyway, the next year, for our first anniversary, I surprised David with tickets to Atlanta to see Chicago, our favorite team. We then realized we had a cool tradition going, and decided to keep it. So each fall we travel to the away team from the year before and catch another game and explore another city.

So far, we've been to:

Atlanta Falcons v. San Francisco 49ers (honeymoon)
Chicago Bears v. Atlanta Falcons (1st ann.)
Washington Redskins v. Chicago Bears (2nd ann.)
Cincinnati Bengals v. Washington Redskins (3rd ann.)
Indianapolis Colts v. Cincinnati Bengals (4th ann.)
Miami Dolphins v. Indianapolis Colts (5th ann.)
Baltimore Ravens v. Miami Dolphins (6th ann.)
Philadelphia Eagles v. Baltimore Ravens (7th ann.)

This means next year we'll travel to Philly to catch a new game and choose our new city based upon who the Eagles play.

But for now, here are a few pics from our weekend in Baltimore...

David drove us to Baltimore and as we got in the city, this is what we saw...

Yes, there was the Baltimore CHRISTMAS parade happening (and blocking the road) on November 22. So we waited in standstill traffic for about a half hour.

When we got to our hotel and went to our room, there was someone in the room assigned to us watching TV. It turned out to be the hotel manager, who was checked in to stay the night to help with a wedding at the hotel. Because of the mistake, he booked us in a corner room and sent us some goodies later.

After we got settled in the hotel room, we went out and grabbed some lunch at Pizzeria Uno's (Chicago Deep Dish!!!) and then walked around the Inner Harbor and up on Federal Hill. We had both seen Federal Hill park a bunch but never climbed up the hill to actually explore it. It was very windy and cold but we had fun walking around and chasing squirrels.

Saturday night we went to ESPNZone to watch VT play Duke on TV. We also ate dinner in the big recliners and played some games...

Sunday we went to the game... we had great lower level endzone seats (answered prayer on getting those tickets at face value 10 minutes before the game!). We saw a Philly kickoff return for touchdown and a Ravens' 108-yard INT return for touchdown (longest in NFL history).

After the game, we headed home after a great weekend in Baltimore. Next year, we'll blog about PHILLY!

2 hour delays and other things...

Today I am having a 2-hr. delay for the second day in a row. Its not really too snowy in Blacksburg, but it is cold, and it was probably snowing/icy in Giles when they made the call several hours ago!

I'm using the extra time to post a few things up here. I know its been a while since I've posted... during that time we did our annual NFL game weekend (this year was Baltimore) as well as Thanksgiving and the last Hokie home football game of the season against arch rival UVA. I have pictures to share of these events, and will try to get them up soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to post a website that you all need to check out if you haven't already:

The whole point of this is to refocus our minds as followers of Jesus back on what matters -- and that's Christ and sharing Christ's love to all. What better way to share the love of Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice, than for us to "sacrifice" our normal ways of celebrating in this capitalistic consumer culture and to instead give our time, money, and resources to help those in need?

Something to chew on during the holiday season...