Saturday, August 25, 2012

An education

I am not writing this post out of anger or to rant, but to simply give some insight from my point of view.  What's my point of view? I am a childless Mormon.  Weird, I know, right?  I am always shocked about how often I encounter friends, family and even strangers who ask me "Why don't I have children yet?" or "Are you trying?" or "Are you and Luke planning on a family soon?"

I will admit that I am a very private person and sensitive soul.  This matter is between me, my husband and the Lord.  I have faith that God has an individual plan for each of His children.  My plan is different than your plan.  No matter how comfortable I am with that viewpoint, it is still incredibly awkward and sometimes painful when I encounter the baby inquiries.  I have tried responding to these questions or comments ranging from bitterly sarcastic to politely ambiguous.

I will give you an example of my latest encounter at a baby shower (where I was the only non-mother in attendance.)

Barely an acquaintance: "Are you guys planning on having kids any time soon?"

Me: "I guess it will happen when it is supposed to happen." (I went for ambiguous there, see?  Here is where I thought the conversation would end.  I was shocked when it continued!)

Acquaintance: "Oh, so does that mean you aren't preventing with birth control or anything?"

Me (dying of awkwardness) : "Wow that's a really private question..." (WHAT?!)

Acquaintance: "I just ask because like EVERYONE is pregnant right now."  (<----see how this might be hurtful and insensitive?)

I think people are well intentioned or they just want to make conversation and that is why I am writing this post. These questions can be incredibly insensitive and leave the childless feeling lonely, left out or upset.  I am a childless woman in her late twenties.  In many circles I am the only one who does not have a child to talk about or to chase after.  I sit through conversations about packing lunches, preschool problems and potty training, which is GREAT!  I love that my friends and family and ward have children!  Please continue to share!  But it can be difficult to engage in conversation in some situations.  I don't know the joys of sleep training yet, so I can't really participate in that.  I imagine it must be hard to not talk about mommy things so that's why I get a lot of questions about children.  But please don't.  You just don't know if she is dealing with infertility, miscarriage, financial reasons, schooling, etc.  Ask her if she's seen any good movies or read any good books instead.  She will thank you for being inclusive and friendly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paris- Episode 3: So much art!

While visiting Paris we made it to four art museums!!Four! And that's not even counting Italy! I can't believe I got Luke to be on board with that, but I think he secretly liked it. :)

Centre Pompidou

If you ever decide to go to Paris for a while and plan on hitting up some of the major touristy spots, I cannot recommend the Paris Museum Pass enough.  Imagine walking into the Louvre and seeing a huge line to buy tickets followed by another huge line to get through security...then you stroll up to the front of both lines, present your pass et voila!  You're in!  Yeah, that saved us so much time and was so worth it!!

The first museum we visited was the Centre Pompidou which was around the corner from our flat and the LDS church.  (We actually got to go to Sacrament meeting which they had a whole room dedicated to English translation of the cool!)  The building itself is a work of art!  Its a modern art museum, which I enjoy.  I like to see the creativity of other people's minds and the execution.  The views from the museum were my favorite in Paris.

Pondering the complexities of blue.

View from the Pompidou.

The Louvre is a MUST if you go to Paris.  It was my absolute favorite place we visited.  It is so big!  And full of so much good stuff!  Napoleon's apartment, the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, art from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, etc. etc.  I am partial to Greek sculpture and Luke has a soft spot for Michaelangelo.  Again, this place was PACKED with tourists!  Around celebrated works, they had signs posted warning us about pickpockets!  I was definitely hypervigilant about guarding my purse!

Luke at the Louvre.
She was one of my favorites!

Luke and his Michaelangelo.

 The Musée de L'Orangerie did not allow photos inside which was really a shame.  They had Monet's waterlilies which are very long paintings in a kind of circular shaped rooms.  They were gorgeous.  The way they were displayed with the lighting was gorgeous.

Rodin outside of the l'Orangerie.

Musée d'Orsay

The Musée D'Orsay didn't really allow photos inside either.  They had a large collection of Impressionist paintings.  They had an entire room dedicated to Van Gogh and a special exhibit on "Degas et le Nu."

Musée d'Orsay used to be a train station.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Paris- Episode 2: Champs-Élysées-Notre Dame

We took a day to wander down the Champs-Élysées, an avenue in Paris lined with fancy shops and cafes.  It runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.  While we were there I couldn't get this song out of my head thanks to my high school French teacher.  We stopped for lunch and I had a delicious salted caramel crepe for dessert.  We kept meaning to go back to the Arc de Triomphe to climb up the stairs, but we were always so tired from walking everywhere that we just didn't get to it.  The Champs-Élysées was very crowded as was all of Europe during our trip.  In Paris, they had these little "potty pods" as I call them.  Almost like porta potties, but they flush and some of them are self cleaning!  Some however, are very, very dirty.  If you ever go to Paris, make sure to bring hand sanitizer and some T.P. with you everywhere!  As gross as they could be, they were definitely a lifesaver while we were out exploring!

Sleepy, sleepy!
We meandered down to the Tuileries Gardens, which was one of my favorite places in Paris.  Its a public garden full of statues and fountains.  There are hundreds of green chairs that people just sit in, read in, make out in and sleep in.  In fact, we parked it in front of this statue and took a nap.

We nicknamed her "The Goddess of Fertility."

For the rest of our trip, we stayed in a flat in the 3rd arrondissement.  Our first night there we took a stroll down to Notre Dame.  It started raining and we only had one umbrella between the two of us, so we were getting pretty wet.  We stopped in the cathedral right before closing and they were having Mass.  It amazed me that the tourists were allowed to just wander the halls while Mass was going on.  It was kind of neat to experience that.  Next year, Notre Dame will be 850 years old.  Can you imagine how many people have worshiped there in that time?  It blows my mind!

  We stopped at a "Mexican" joint near the Sorbonne for burritos before walking back.  On our way home, we escaped the rain again for a bit in a really nice cafe for more crepes and hot chocolate.  In attempts to try as many different types of crepes as I could, I ordered a Creme de Marron (Chestnut Cream.)  A poor decision.  I was hoping it would be similar to hazelnut, but it was pretty gross.  Oh well, you live and learn!

Obviously, I haven't tasted it yet.

Paris- Episode 1: Eiffel Tower

I don't really know exactly when I became a francophile.  I know it was before the 6th grade, because I insisted on doing my 6th grade country report on France.  My mom made mini cups of chocolate mousse for my class and I learned a few french phrases to use in my presentation.  But by then, I was already in love.

When high school came around, I signed up for French without even considering taking Spanish!  Our class would plan vacations in Paris or sing French songs.  I was VP of the International Club (I'm a big deal, ok?)  I continued taking French classes in college and lived at the FLSR (Foreign Language Student Residence) at BYU which has to be one the best times of my life!  So basically my whole life has been just waiting for an opportunity to actually go to France.  And that time finally came in 2012!

Our nonstop flight from LAX to CDG was pretty miserable.  I think Air France has the tiniest seats I've ever sat in.  MY knees were hitting the seat in front of me which might give you an idea of how miserable my 6'5" husband was.  Not to mention it was about 1000 degrees inside the cabin.  But we made it there in one piece with all of our luggage so I was pretty happy.  If you know me, then you know I am an obsessive planner which really comes in handy when trying to navigate foreign countries.  I'm so glad I researched how to get through the airport to our correct train because it was a seamless operation despite our sleep deprived brains.

We had to change trains and we were mostly underground so I was getting anxious for my first view of the city.  I will never forget the moment when we came up and I saw all the buildings and an accordion started playing the typical romantic was SO enchanting!  When we came home, people naturally asked us "How was Paris?"  I am still stumped on how to articulate the experience of visiting that city.  I think "enchanting" is the best I can do.  There is just something about it I cannot describe. I think having an understanding of French culture really added to my experience.

We stayed at the Hotel Beaugrenelle for the first 2 nights which was just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.  Everything in Europe is much smaller than the US.  Portion sizes, people, elevators, showers!  Oh how I wish we had gotten a photo of a [clothed] Luke trying to squeeze into our shower!!  I could barely fit through the doors!  And our hairdryer was circa 1980s, but they did provide a great breakfast to us every morning which Luke was very sad to leave.

Jet lag got the best of us that day.  So we managed only to get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower (and the huge line) and get a hot dog baguette.  Ok, I don't really eat hotdogs, but these came highly recommended from one of Luke's co-workers. Whoever she is, I think she's either a liar or on crack.  Hotdogs do not taste any better in a baguette than in a bun.  Oh well, I salvaged my dinner with a phenomenal nutella banana crepe hot off the griddle.  SO GOOD!
Being an adult means you can have chocolate waffles and soda for lunch!

We crashed at about 5pm Paris time and woke up at about 10pm Paris time.  I looked at the clock thinking it was 10am and said, "Oh no! We've missed free breakfast!"  Luke then informed me I was off by 12 hours.    Dang that jet leg!  It DOES exist, even if you try to pretend it doesn't.

Aerial view of the queue

We set out early to get to the Eiffel Tower before it opened to try to avoid the "queue." Despite being early, we still had to wait for about 90 minutes which was better than the 3 hours we heard from other travelers.  One of the lifts was broken this summer which made for very long lines.  I loved visiting the Eiffel Tower!  I truly did.  I loved picnicking around it and I love the light show at night and how it glitters over the city.  The view from the top was a little underwhelming for me.  We were up so high that everything was so tiny.  I much preferred other views we encountered on our trip.  But it is something you simply must do in Paris, so we did and it was still wonderful!

On the lift...I'm not a huge fan of heights.

View from the Eiffel Tower...can you see the Arc de Triomphe?