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Paris photos

Part 3 of my "World Traveler" series. 

*Just in case it doesn't come through in print very well, I'd like to point out that the 'world traveler' title is very tongue-in-cheek. I'm a girl from the sticks. This was a HUGE adventure for me. I am not experienced in world travel and am just sharing all the things that fascinated me along the way. Well, a few of the things. Really, there were a thousand times more THINGS, but I don't want to bore you.

Moving on.


We rode through the chunnel to get from London to Paris. I was surprised at how similar the french countryside looked like Missouri (the flatter bits.) We grabbed fresh bread and an array of cheeses from a market and settled into our little flat. We had to climb 10 flights of ancient stairs to get there every night. This was our incredible view:

The first night there, we headed out for a walk. Oh, the beautiful walks!

I have no idea why we felt so completely safe on these walks at night. But there was nothing sinister about it. Just a beautiful place.

We crossed the Seine and headed toward Notre Dame.

The moon was covered in clouds at first, but then it peaked out and gave us a beautiful night sky.

It took 200 years to build this incredible cathedral, beginning in the year 1163.

The side view features fascinating drain spouts. Not something I'd want spitting on me!

The rear view features flying buttresses (obscured with trees in this photo) which I'd heard of, but never seen before.

The inside is even more incredible, but I'll share those pictures another day. 


Immediately upon leaving Paris, the changes began to make themselves known. Things I hadn't seen for a solid week began to creep in.

Brick House
First, was the scantily clad woman in the airport. She was an American, traveling home. She was boisterous and was "lettin' it all hang out". Parisians were rather well covered and it smacked me in the face as...trashy. I don't know that I would have noticed at all if I hadn't been surrounded by modesty for a week.

American airports are flat out gross compared with London, Munich, and Paris airports. Eww. But the bathroom in particular, upon landing in the States was an unpleasant surprise. In Paris, the toilets had buttons that you push to flush them. The buttons were in different shapes and locations, but they were all buttons. In my first U.S. bathroom, I was reminded of the American love of auto-flush toilets. And like always, they like to automatically flush while you are in the middle of using them. Twice. Wet rear end...twice. And then, when I actually was finished using it, the automatic flush didn't feel it was necessary to work anymore. Welcome home.

This was my first flying experience in 16 years. Hitting the TSA cattle sorting department was intimidating. It was not well lit and everyone was grumpy. There were a lot of people and it was hard to hear instructions. There were no signs to clearly tell me where to go or what to do. I tried watching the people in front of me to see what they were doing, but many were as confused as I was. I kept thinking of the mailroom in the movie Elf.
I was reeeeally dreading the security of Munich, London, and Paris. However, those airports were all a breeze. Everyone was extremely kind, details were clearly labeled, and I did not in any way feel demeaned or disrespected. I felt a thousand times safer because of the use of actual humanity.

Which brings me to....

Paris has a reputation of being rude. I may have had a unique experience with it, but I doubt it. I found it to be very friendly and the manners were impeccable. I well imagine though that they would be miffed when in contact with rude Americans. I can honestly see why WE have such obnoxious reputations with THEM. Not that the majority of Americans are rude, but it's there and you know how easy to stereotype.

In Paris, everyone greets you with "Bonjour!" If they bump you, they say, "Pardon!" When you step into a shop in America, it is assumed that some salesperson will greet you, but it is not required to answer back. They're just doing their job; trying to make a sale. We're not bonding into a new relationship together, so there isn't much effort at acknowledgement unless you require help looking for something. In Paris, the salesperson greets you because you have just entered their place of business. It is very likely THEIR place of business. They are welcoming you as if welcoming you into their home. Can you imagine sitting at home and having a guest walk in without acknowledging you or returning your 'hello'? Now, can you imagine why Parisians might stereotype Americans as rude?

On my return trip home, I had people thumping me in the head, pushing me into walls, and stepping on my feet without a "pardon" in sight. I sat in the back of a plane, surrounded by "good ol' boys" who didn't acknowledge me, but had loud conversations with one another about which was their favorite Tool Time Girl. I've never made much use of my headphones before, but I promptly found something else to listen to.

This one is just crazy to me. I don't know how they do it seems to be instinctively understood by Parisians, but somehow the noise level in Paris was at a general hum. At a restaurant at home, I was overwhelmed with sound. The television was blaring and everyone wanted to be heard above the din. Noise was everywhere. In London, I remember loving a noisy pub. It was all a general background noise. In Paris, it was peaceful. No television. No one checking a mobile phone. They just seemed more THERE. In the moment. The one place that I found noisy was Notre Dame, but that was because it was filled with tourists, busy ignoring the "Please Be Silent" notices.

I wouldn't fit in long at all, but I did appreciate the peacefulness.

Don't get me wrong. I love my country. And I'm not a snob. I don't think. These aren't things I would have thought twice about before my trip. But they are things that I found interesting, so I wanted to share.

And of all the transitional differences I encountered, falling asleep in my own fabulous bed was the best. It is so good to be home!

World Traveler

My trip to Paris was insanely amazing. There truly are no words to describe how beautiful it is. It is overwhelming. I'm going to try sharing pics, but it hard to narrow them down. I took over 700! I'll attempt round one today.

We began with a couple days in London. London is beautiful in a gritty, full-of-character kind of way. I fell in love with the UK with my first Jane Austen novel and I knew I would love this leg of the journey. It doesn't compare in beauty with Paris, but it was still my favorite part of the trip, though I couldn't say why. It just felt like home.

First thing on the agenda? Find the Tardis!

Next, the changing of the guard:

A walk in Kensington Gardens:

A visit to Big Ben:

The British Museum:
This one was very special to me. This is a portion of an Assyrian wall plaque describing the bringing of the tribute from King Hezekiah. It's just one of many, many things that corroborate the Bible as a reliable history account. There were so many incredible things here, including the Rosetta Stone! I wish I could share ALL the pictures!

Final moment in London:

I loved riding the train all over the city. "Please mind the gap" became a catchphrase of the trip. I hated to leave it, but Paris soon eased the sadness. More to come....

Home again home again jiggity-jig

I'm home from the trip of a lifetime and I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos to share. I have lots of thoughts to share as well, but they don't number in the hundreds. At the moment, I'm still trying to remember how to sleep properly, so the thoughts won't run deep and the pictures will be scarce. But once I figure out how to form coherent thoughts, I have so much to share!

Safeguarding our kids on the internet

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My oldest is now driving and so he is now using a cell phone. He requested we get him a phone without
data plan so that he would not be tempted to view anything inappropriate with it. While I respect and admire his honesty and dedication, we were unable to give him a data-less plan at this time. Cell phones provide an opportunity to sneak things best left alone. Did you know that Chrome has an incognito setting that allows all of your internet activity to avoid being logged in your history or cache? 

Just as we were discussing this quandary, iParent TV contacted me for a review and to offer a giveaway for my readers. I don't like to bombarde you with too many reviews, but this is one I am thankful to see and I hope it is of interest to you. Please know that I speak from experience when I say that you should be on top of this topic long before you think they are capable of being tempted. Do not tell yourself you have plenty of time to invest in safety measures for your internet access.

So there's my bit, here is what iParent TV would like for me to share with you :
(be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!)

iParent TV offered to host a giveaway for a one year subscription ($49) to to one of my readers. The subscription includes a password and login to the site and access to articles, news, and information on what’s new in the world of tech and how it affects your family. There will be ratings, rankings on which platforms are safe for kids and age ranges so you know if a site is safe for very young children.

What is iParent.TV?
If your kids are awake, they’re likely on a smartphone, in front of a smart tv, downloading apps, or posting to social networks. And it's likely you have no idea what they’re doing. iParent.TV will be a yearly, subscription-based website for teaching and informing parents on all things tech, mobile, devices, websites, and apps for kids so that you WILL know.

The Problem.
Many parents don't have an inside track to tech or social media dangers, let alone how to safeguard their kids against them.
  • 58% of 10-12 year old kids believe they know how to hide their online activities from their parents. 
  • 46% of them said they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were paying attention. 
iParent.TV - keeping parents ahead of the tech curve.
We believe we have the opportunity to help parents understand, get involved and safeguard their children in the ever-evolving tech World. iParent.TV educates parents with all the latest trends via Websites - Social Media - Apps - Devices

The idea. 
It started with a group of dads who felt like their 9-year-olds knew more about tech than they did. They were right. But their idea will help change that forever for all parents. Once launched, iParent.TV will have 100s of videos and product reviews that are very current, cutting edge and trending, keeping parents who subscribe ahead of the tech curve. 

How it will work?
The iParent.TV website will be a subscription-based site costing $49 per year for parents to access all the videos, reviews, how-tos, and live chat support. It will be the largest site on the net helping parents understand what's safe and what’s not in the world of tech. - And we are offering it for only $29 on Indiegogo. What you get? Articles, videos, reviews, tips, tools and expert advice on EVERYTHING like… - Popular Apps - Social Network Sites - Major Websites - Top Devices To get started visit Indiegogo.

The giveaway begins Wednesday and ends Sunday night. Be sure to enter below!

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Motivated Moms - A Review

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I'm a natural born slob. It is innate to my personality. I don't like this trait. In fact, clutter makes me feel stressed. I prefer a tidy, simple home. But my inner slob fights me every day. I have read scores of books and articles, all promising to help me conquer this natural instinct of mine. They didn't help. Most were written by tidy people who wanted to help misguided sloppy people. Admirable, but ineffective. Some were written by psychologists who were convinced they had discovered the root causes of sloppy natures. Everyone is so different, with different motivations and disciplines, that I don't know that any self-help book could really "fix" such a thing.

I have, through the years, discovered 3 things that have helped me stay afloat with housework:
  1. Digital Cameras
  2. The one-minute rule
  3. Motivated Moms
Digital Cameras
Digital cameras mean I can take pictures freely without having to worry about the cost of development. All day long,  I can snap pictures of my beautiful children. But when I go to upload them, I notice that behind the adorable shot of my two year old covered in flour, there is a pile of laundry, yesterday's dishes on the counter, and a floor that hasn't been swept in 3 days. I can't share that one on facebook! Shame can be a good motivator.

The One-Minute Rule
Things pile up quickly. Frighteningly fast, really. I can scrub the house spotless for company and within 2 days, it looks like a disaster. This happens because things don't get put away, they get left wherever they were last used. Little things that we don't notice begin piling up. Within an hour, all flat surfaces are magically covered in mail, half-finished cups of coffee, pencils, wrappings, hairpins, craft projects....all with good intentions to come pick up in a minute, right after I finish this (whatever this may be.)

The rule is: if you can do this job in less than one minute, it is worth doing and will not slow you down. It can only help. So do it. It's not an overnight fix, but through the years, it has improved my habits. Somewhat.

Motivated Moms
For nearly 2 decades, I've battled my messy nature and this is the only "program" that has worked. My nature is still messy and if I stopped using it, I'd likely still fail. But I've used it for years and I don't plan to stop using it. Motivated Moms is the handy little tool that has kept my husband sane and my house above water.

What is Motivated Moms? It's a nice, little checklist. The list gives you tasks for every day of the year. It breaks down the gross jobs so that you are never told to "clean the refrigerator". Instead, you are given a task like "Clean top shelf of refrigerator". It also lists the small things that we tend to forget, like "Clip children's fingernails". Admit it: how many times have you looked down in church and realized your child's hands looked like he was trying out for the role of Dr. Evil? (I don't know who Dr. Evil is, but it sounded fitting)
Motivated Moms Review

It's easy to use; baby steps all the way. Such tiny things, but they free you up and inspire you to tackle other things. Before you know it, everyone has drawers full of clean underwear and you can always find a coffee mug. As a friend aptly put it: It's a game changer. An $8 game changer.

Motivated Moms is easy to follow - just check off the list of daily assignments. Sometimes you'll get it all done and more. Sometimes you won't get half of the list. Your house will still be cleaner than it was without the list. Anything is an improvement over nothing.  
Motivated Moms Review
  • If you are in need of getting your act together, I'm telling you, I've tried every book on the market and out of print. THIS works. 
  • If you are NOT in need of getting your act together: A. You don't need this and 2. Don't tell me about it. I will concede right now that you rock. I rock in other ways. Housekeeping does not come naturally to me. Making pajama pants look good for 4 days comes very natural to me.
  • If you are a flylady dropout, like me, this might appeal to you. No clutter. No distractions. Just a list on the fridge.
I'm a true rebel at heart and I'm amazed that I was able to accept someone else's housekeeping list since I tend to try rewriting everything I find, but I haven't changed a thing with this list. It's one that my kids can look at and mark off with me. It breaks everything down nice and easy. 

This tool is available as a a printable download in various designs and as an app. I love the app because you can color code different recurring tasks. I put this on the ipad and let the kids choose a color for the week. Everyone was able to participate and know what was expected of them. 

Motivated Moms Review

In both formats, there is room provided to add in additional tasks that might not be on the list. Once added to the app, you can set it up to be a permanent addition so you won't have to enter it again. You can also delete tasks that aren't relevant to your needs. Because of that, I prefer the app to the PDF. I've had extra tasks that I wanted to add to the print-out, but didn't want to write in every day. I also didn't need all of the tasks on their list; we didn't always have a dog, so "feed pets" was superfluous.

I believe in the value of this program so much that I signed up to be an affiliate. If you are convinced it is worth trying, be sure to click on my purple MoMo square in the sidebar, which helps support my book addiction. 
Crew Disclaimer

Click to read Crew Reviews

How to be Rich (it's not what you think)

How to be Rich
by Andy Stanley
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I was intrigued the moment I saw the author. There are many name-it-claim-it religious movements and I dismissed the title until I caught the author's name. Andy Stanley? Surely not! For a moment, I worried he had joined the bandwagon of those insisting that you can be as rich as you want to be if you only have enough faith. However, How to Be Rich has a beautiful subtitle: It's Not What You Have, It's What You Do With What You Have. I'm happy to say Andy Stanley is as grounded as ever and sharing Biblical insight as always. 

I didn't want to read the book. I have quite a few books on my want-to-read-list and they are much easier on my toes. But God has been bringing this topic up with me quite a bit lately and putting this book in my lap was another attention-getter. I've lived on a tight budget my entire life and whenever there is extra, it doesn't feel like extra because there is always something on my "need" list for the extra to go towards. This book completely tosses that mindset on its head. 

My husband started the book as well, which surprised me. He enjoys reading, but it is an activity that he doesn't have much time for. His time is even more budgeted than our pockets at the moment, so a book has to be important to make the cut. A few pages in, he announced (without looking up): "He referenced Bryan Adams in the first page. I like it."

This is a short book that gets straight to the point. It isn't something you can read without changing your outlook on money, on life. It is a book that can change families, churches, communities. It's a book I highly recommend buying, and buying multiple copies to give to your pastor, your brother, your friend.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

52 in 52 for February

This month's movie watching was made especially exciting because we now own a television! It definitely made for a more comfortable viewing experience. 6 of us crowding on a bed to watch a computer monitor across the room can't compare to sprawling on couches to watch a large screen. 

The Lost Medallion

Lifeway had this at the checkout counter on sale for $5 and I couldn't resist. It is a Christian Family movie that was actually rather well done. It was incredibly cheesy, around the level of a made-for-tv cable children's network movie. Alex Kendrick, the actor from Courageous and Fireproof plays a small role of a storyteller. The rest of the movie is the story he is telling. It was aimed to elementary aged children, so our watching experience was peppered with teen boys giving commentary.

"Not just any pineapple, it's a pineapple that grows in a TREE! And OH LOOK! It's genetically modified to grow with coconuts!"

"And then they stumbled upon an ancient village made up entirely of women wearing t-shirts from Old Navy.

It was fun for all ages, if you allow some sneering from the teens. There are several deaths in the movie, caused by the bad guy dipping his nasty long fingernail into poison and then puncturing people in the neck with it. Gross. My girls are 8 & 10 and are a bit more able to tolerate scenes like that now. They would not have liked this when they were younger.

Meet Me in St. Louis 

This one was enjoyed by all. It wasn't anyone's favorite, but it was enjoyable. There is a young sister in the movie who is a macabre little thing and she kept us cracking up throughout the movie. There are some in our party who don't like musicals, so I was surprised this went over so well. In the end, I suppose there was no real plot. But it was pleasant and entertaining.

The Olympics

We didn't see nearly half of it, but we enjoyed what we saw. We even missed the opening and closing ceremonies. But we loved the figure skating and snowboarding and more. With the amount of time we spent watching the Olympics, there wasn't time for another movie and we greed this counts. I teared up when Shaun White fell. Dancing on ice was a brand new concept to my girls and they fell in love with it. Sarah was an Olympic fanatic all week long, but I'm pretty sure it was because she got to spend the entire time snuggled on daddy's lap.

The Strongest Man in the World

As cheesy as the other Kurt Russel Disney movie we watched last month, but still a fun evening. This one didn't feature much of Kurt Russel at all, just some at the beginning and end. We realized from this one that we have watched them completely out of order, though it is the order they came in on the 4-pack DVD set from Amazon. The order the Dexter Riley series should be watched (for anyone interested) is:
  1. The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit
  2. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
  3. Now You See Him, Now You Don't
  4. The Strongest Man in the World
It has been a busy month and I am so glad that we've had this goal to keep us purposefully setting aside a night where we all sit and laugh together. We didn't sneak in time for much evening reading or game playing, unfortunately, but we're still making family time a priority.

I'd love to hear about your weekly goals and what you're up to! Please share by linking below: