He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Thursday, August 21, 2014

3 less obvious reasons for language learning

As I'm praying through how to throw the "language learning" plate up into the air this fall with all the other spinning plates I already have going, I've been thinking a lot about my motivation for doing so.  

Language learning is not a new thing for me.  Having lived overseas for over 12 years it's definitely something I've done, and done again  (and again and again and....).  You get the idea.  It's not a new concept and with some languages (like Arabic), it's really never done.  There is always something new you can learn.  I posted HERE several years ago about the humility required for learning a new language, especially as an adult.  All this to say, this is a block I've been around several times.  So many times in fact that I am often dizzy when I think of all the hours I've invested in language and how precious little I actually have to show for it!  Maybe someday soon that will change!

So this post is meant as a pep talk of sorts- to myself:  a reminder to look back on when I'm frustrated and just wanting to throw up my hands and give up,  and hopefully an encouragement to others who are also on the language learning journey.

Obviously, when you move to a foreign country with a different culture, there are plenty of obvious reasons for studying the language of your new home- getting directions, grocery shopping, knowing basic greetings to name a few.  Those aren't the reasons I want to focus on.  As I've prayed through jumping back into language learning, here are 3 less obvious reasons that God has impressed upon my heart.  These are somewhat personal to my situation, but I hope that principles from each can encourage others.  I know in the weeks and months ahead as I jump back into language learning, I will be coming back to this list to remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing!

1.  Learning language helps me to be me.  Huh?  One of the biggest challenges in studying a foreign language is that, for a season, you are hopelessly unable to truly express your heart in the language you are learning.  You truly go all the way back to preschool level.  This is one of the reasons I've heard many language learners with young kids say how much they love taking their kids to the playground.  You get to interact with people who you can sort of understand and can be encouraged when they can understand your very basic sentences:  what's your name?  go there.  give me that.  throw the ball.  come here.  It's a great place to start!  But it's simply a place to start.  Eventually you become frustrated again because as an adult language learner, well, you're not a preschooler and you have deeper things that you want to express, more important topics that you want to talk about.

When asked why I want to continue to study a language when I can already pretty well get myself around in that language and when so many people in the place where we live actually speak English, I've realized that it's because I want to be able to really be me in Arabic.  And right now I can't.  I can't joke around with people (well at least in a way that makes sense...), I can't talk about the deep heart level issues that really define me and more importantly, that define the people I am seeking to become friends with.  And yes, many of them can switch to English, but then, often the reverse becomes true for them.  Now THEY aren't truly being themselves and truly expressing their heart issues.  It's a constant lesson in humility for sure.

I've heard it said that it's hard for your true personality to come out in your second language and I'm finding that to be true.  In a situation where I might normally be empathetic or able to offer advice or simply be a good listener and cry with a friend, I'm often so busy trying to process what is being said that too much time passes and the moment is gone.  Or worse, I find myself nodding and agreeing with something because I think I'm understanding context clues and it turns out it's not actually something I would nod and agree with at all!  It's hardest, I think, in a group setting where I'd love to be talking and laughing and joking with a group of ladies and I'm mostly following their conversations, but not at a quick enough pace to join in and talk myself.  This is where I think the perceived personality change comes in.  You find yourself labeled as quiet or shy when that is not at all the case- your brain is just having to work too hard to process everything that's happening around you!

As language learners, we often face an identity crisis of sorts.  I don't think I realized, before I started studying a foreign language, how much of my identity, I wrapped up in my accomplishments whether professionally or simply as a wife and mother.  Countless times in the process of studying Arabic (and French for that matter), I've wanted to throw my arms up and say,  "I'm smart in English!  I know stuff!  I'm a registered nurse, I take care of sick moms and babies!  I organize my home and the activities of 4 active people and I teach them about life.  I'm smart!  I know stuff!"  So as I enter this season of Arabic study, I'm praying to get to the point in Arabic where when I speak, I'll be able to be myself and maybe, as an added bonus,  I'll sound like I know stuff, but, on the other hand, I'm also praying that I'll approach language learning with the knowledge that my only true identity can be found in Christ, not in how much I actually know.  It's a delicate balance.

2.  Language/cultural learning gives staying power  This relates a bit to the need to be able to really be myself.  In my experience and in talking to many folks who have lived overseas for a significant period of time,  it seems that those who are most successful and have the most positive experiences, are those who are fully invested in the cultures in which they live.  They have local friends that they can look to for emotional support, help in cultural problem solving and day to day living questions.  In this day and age, it is far too easy for the connectivity provided by social media to let friends who are thousands of miles away be our "go to" when life gets tough.  That's ok to an extent.  It's important to have folks we always know we can count on, but at the same time, I feel like it can be a crutch to actually digging in and fully investing in the communities where God has placed us.  One of my prayers for new friends coming overseas early on is always for a heart level local friend.  And yes, this takes a deeper level of language learning.

I feel like this concept is also true for families as a whole.  When kids see mom and dad fully connecting with life around them, they are much more likely to want to do the same.  Kids who are thriving in their second cultures seem to do so when they are most fulling experiencing that culture.  This can be hard for parents because sometimes it might require us to make decisions that just might break our own rules.  Called to homeschool?  Might have to sacrifice that for a season so kids can be in a school that exposes them to the language their family is learning..  8:00 PM bedtime?  Maybe not if the culture you live in comes alive at 10 PM.  So how does all this relate to language learning?  It's these decisions that we make as individuals or as families that effect our ability to fully absorb the language and culture around us that will truly make a different on the days when we're just ready to throw in the towel.  Remember God called you to this place (I'm preaching to myself here!) and is fully aware of your families needs and dynamics- trust Him with these details!  When things get tough, and we want to retreat into our comfort bubble and surround ourselves with what's safe and known, we're far less likely to want to jump on the next plane to the US if we have invested in the language and the culture around us, and our safe place involves local friends, those who we can converse with in their heart language so that our hearts are more fully understood.  It's far easier to not just survive but thrive in the place where you are called to serve, if you are able to connect on an emotional level with locals around you.  Complicated?  Definitely!  Worth the sacrifice?  Undoubtedly!

3.  Language learning enables me to be a better "stay home mom"  Again, huh?  Ok, so maybe it's better to say that language learning enables me to better fulfill my calling as a wife and mom.  It may seem a bit counterintuitive to say that language learning and being a "stay home mom"  can go hand in hand.  I think the two can co-exist but a season of sacrifice is definitely required.  To fully and effectively study the Arabic language, if you have small children, there will undoubtedly be a season of childcare, or house help or whatever the case may be for each family.  In our stint overseas, I've had to remind myself time and again, that God called us as a family and will therefore meet our families needs while enabling us to do the tasks He's called us to.  It was heart-wrenching to drop my 4 year old off day in and day out at a French school where she understood not a word and stubbornly refused to even try to make friends so that I could go to language classes.  Looking back was it worth it?  Yep, and I would even do it again.  Why?  Because God told me to do it and lovingly told me to trust Him with her.  Now, 10 years later, we all laugh about it, and she has a very solid foundation in French.  Of course, each family's situation is unique, however what I've learned is to look at things in seasons.  Yes, God has called me to be a stay home mom, to be the primary care-giver for my children, and yes, he's also called me to a life overseas where, to be most effective, I need to study the language and culture at a pretty in-depth level.  How do these 2 things coincide?  I must regularly trust Him with the details of that.  There may be a season where I am in class and my girls are in school and/or childcare.  For another season I might can study at home and juggle our other family needs around that.

For me, being a stay home mom means that I (along with Jason) am the primary caregiver for my girls and we are the primary sources for meeting their emotional, spiritual and developmental needs.  This is a precious calling and I don't take it lightly.  Planting our family overseas is also a calling and learning to communicate and function effectively in this culture is part of that calling.  Sometimes there is a tension between these two callings, but I think it's a healthy tension.  Teaching our girls to embrace other cultures and learn something beyond their comfort zone is so important in giving them a heart for the nations.  Being called to be their mom and being called to this life overseas, means that I must teach them by example how important language learning is.  If I want them to learn how to be "all in" in the place where God has placed us, what better way to do than by placing value on the ability to communicate at a heart level with those we live among.   Discipling them by making them a part of our ministry as a family;  explaining that mom is studying Arabic so that our family can more effectively fulfill our calling here in this place; choosing school situations that expose them to more language and culture and therefore putting in more hours at home to stay caught up in English; all of these things are things I can do as mom to teach the value of language learning.  In this season of my life, I am so amazingly thankful that God is showing me how language learning is something that helps me fulfill my role as mom.  Isn't that just like Him, to know just what my heart needs?!

" Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."  
Colossians 3:23

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mom scores!

 I'm sure you'd agree that road trips with all 4 kids across a foreign country would typically not be the ideal time for risk taking when it comes to accommodations.   So when 9 PM the night before we left for a drive across France found me having not even begun to pack, barely halfway through the wash and sitting in front of my computer with absolutely no idea where we would stay the next night,  I did what any sane person would do and reserved 2 rooms at the nearest Ibis (budget hotel in France) just off the interstate and that was that.

Or not..

I've always wanted to stay in some type of farm house in the French countryside, and I just couldn't let this opportunity pass up without seeing if there was something, anything out there that we might could take advantage of during this portion of our trip.  I started searching B&B sites and sent several inquiries to see if there was any availability.  I got several quick responses back reminding me that this was peak summer season and they were very sorry that they could not accommodate us.  However, there was one place that was available and not only available but actually cheaper than 2 hotel rooms and a meal for our clan and I just couldn't pass it up.  

My sweet husband was understandably skeptical.  In my eagerness to find "the perfect spot" in the past I may have led us astray a time or two.  The most memorable was after Jason's second surgery just after he was diagnosed with cancer.  My parents had agreed to come keep 15 month old Abbey, so Jason and I could get away for the weekend before his chemotherapy started.  We were heading to New Orleans and a friend that I worked with suggested a B&B "close to" the French Quarter that she described as "quaint and full of character".  I even refused an offer from my mom's sister who knows New Orleans very well to make us reservations at her favorite, quite reputable spot and went with the unknown B&B.  Umm, suffice it to say that her definition of "quant" was quite different than mine and although it was definitely "full of character" it was somewhere along the lines of The Shining meets Norman Bates in Psycho and was very much NOT the "character" we were looking for in our weekend get away.  We checked in, walked to our room, turned right back around and headed back to the "front desk" (which was anything but).  I totally played the "my husband has cancer card and this hotel is not at all what we had in mind", asked for our money back and we found a Quality Inn a few blocks over.  Alls well that ends well though (meaning we did not become the latest New Orleans murder stats in some weird, creepy old hotel), but this is why I tell you that Jason was somewhat skeptical....  

Anyway, I just had a gut feeling, woman's intuition if you will, that this was THE place.  New Orleans incident aside, my gut feelings are usually pretty spot on.  So anyway, I booked it and the next morning we hit the road.  

The farmhouse was northwest of Lyon about 30-45 minutes off the main road.  Unfortunately about the time we exited the autoroute, the rain started and it got amazingly foggy and we really couldn't see much around us.  We could see enough to know that the countryside was absolutely beautiful and full of more green than any of us had seen in a long time.  

I didn't get a lot of pictures of the outside due to the rain but here are a few....

The view was amazing.  It was so amazingly quiet and peaceful. 

Although the outside was beautiful, our room was definitely our favorite part as a family.  

It was a loft style room, that was perfect for us.

The upstairs was segmented into 2 "rooms".  You can barely see Jason and Anabelle in the background below playing with legos that were in a hand painted trunk and available for play.  There were also hand painted table and chairs and stuffed animals.

 So much character in this little space!

Our window opened out into the lovely countryside.  Perfect spot for a good read or sisterly chats....

The next morning we were treated by our hosts Nicole and Gerard to a traditional French farmhouse breakfast including butter and yogurt from a nearby farm, and fresh bread and homemade jams from the local produce.  

We had a few hours that morning to relax but all in all not near enough time!

I think we were all thrilled this time that I took a risk and went with the unknown...

We all hope that one day we'll have a chance to visit Aux 3 Sapins again!  As my girls said, "Mom you really scored with this one!"

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"NOT that you take them out..."

I've mentioned before that it sometimes takes me a bit to "get" something that God is impressing on my heart.  Sometimes I park on certain themes for months, even years to really learn the heart of what He is teaching me.  Other times even if the lesson comes somewhat quickly, it's something that He has to bring me back to time and again to remind me of the importance behind His instruction on whatever the issue may be.  One of these big monster issues for me, that I have a feeling God and I will be revisiting a lot probably for the rest of my life, is the importance of trusting Him with my girls, with my family.  

Here's the thing I'm learning in baby steps along the way,  God doesn't want me to just trust Him in the circumstances that I choose with the parameters that I set- in my comfort zone, so to speak, He wants me to trust Him in the places where HE places me/us with conditions that may be and likely are very much out of my control.   No doubt, the fact that we have made the decision to raise our family overseas, definitely creates it's own set of issues and interesting situations- possibly far more situations that are out of our control when it comes to parenting,  but don't think for a minute that we can't create our own comfort zones right here in this very foreign culture.  Although we are physically removed from what is likely MOST comfortable, the world is at our fingertips, so comfort is often just a click away.  If I fully believe that God has called our entire family to this place, and I do, then I must trust Him with the details of what that means for our entire family.  I love the reminder in Acts 17:26 that God "determined the times set for them (mankind) and the exact places where they should live."  God knows exactly what our family needs, exactly in the place where He has called us.  He has shown me time and again how important it is to build our children in to the very fabric of what we are called to do in Christ.  Yes, there will be days when the mountain seems insurmountable, but I must trust that He will be my foothold, and will enable me to keep climbing.  

I posted a while back HERE on lessons learned about being entrusted with the lives of my girls.  That's kind of the easy part for me.  Yes, it's weighty- a huge responsibility.  But it's something I'm able to exert a certain amount of control over.  I make choices about the way I structure our days and our lives.  It's my responsibility to be faithful, or not, with the tasks God calls me to.  The bigger challenge for me is not that I've been ENTRUSTED with their precious little lives for this season, but that I must TRUST God with the outcome of those lives for the long haul, because when it comes down to it, those lives, though entrusted to me for now, are not mine at all.  They are His.  His to mold, His to instruct, His to lead.   During our fertility journey a few years ago, He gave me a very vivid picture of my girls lives being in His hands that I posted about HERE.  It's something I'm so thankful for, as He uses that picture of life being in His hands quite regularly to remind me to let go a little if I am holding on to something regarding my girls too tightly.  And I do have to ask myself regularly if I am making a decision for my family, my girls in a way that reflects my trust in His ability to care for them or am I trying to hold on a little bit too much because of my desire to be in control.  Why is it so hard of a lesson for a mom to learn that His care is so much more effective than hers?!

What's so amazingly comforting and well, just cool, for lack of a better word, about this journey is that I can look back over the last 14, (almost 15!!) years of parenting and see God's faithfulness and tender care along the way.  Circumstances and situations that may have seemed insurmountable at the time: putting my kids in a foreign preschool and having to walk away as they screamed, studying foreign languages when I wanted to be studying ABCs with toddlers, dragging the family out to a 10 PM visit when I just wanted to crash, worrying over my second grader not yet reading well in English because Arabic came first to name a few,  have been used by God as reminders that His care for my family is so much greater than mine can ever be.   Hard to imagine, but God did, after all, create the maternal instinct and is therefore far better at it than I ever could be! 

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."  Isaiah 49:15


"He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young."  Isaiah 40:11

My maternal instinct is to protect, shield and often remove my girls from things that might be unpleasant and difficult in their lives.  However as God teaches me about fully trusting Him as it relates to discipling my girls, He is showing me that that is not always His instinct.  When Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17 He said in verse 15, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.".  It really hit me recently that he prayed specifically to God, "NOT that you take them out...".  How often do I pray for my kids to be removed from a difficulty, or sometimes even remove them from it myself?  Wow.  I mean that requires a different level of trust entirely to actively and knowingly leave your kiddos in a difficult situation, of course praying for their protection from the evil one, but allowing them to struggle, to seek to gain a foothold themselves in a difficult situation!  God give me strength!!

So as I've been pondering all of this over a period of weeks, months even, God blessed me with an amazing visual reminder of exactly what He is trying to teach me.  And better yet, I got to experience it with my older 3 girls.  

In our travels this summer, we've had some amazing experiences including a beautiful morning hike in the Alps.   Abbey and Maddie charged quickly ahead while Naomi and I brought up the rear.  

As you can tell, she was loving it...

It was a beautiful mountain path and we were high up there!

After about 20 minutes or so, the climb got pretty difficult.  Under normal circumstances, it probably wouldn't have been too bad, but it had been raining A LOT and the dirt trail was a muddy mess and was extremely slippery.  Understandably, I don't have any pics of the difficult part of the trek as I was quite literally pulling and pushing Naomi up the side of the mountain.   She had one pretty big fall where she slid about 3 feet in the mud and it just happened to be on a very narrow and steep part of the trial.  I knew she was not in any danger and I also knew that she was completely terrified in that moment.  We stopped and prayed and I showed her how we were going to continue on.

She wanted to quit, to turn back, but I wouldn't let her.  I know we were almost to the top, and I knew the view was going to be amazing.  I also knew she would be thrilled once she actually made it to the top.  There were lots of tears and a good 20 minute pause in our hike, but she eventually let me lead her quite literally footprint by footprint.  I would take my foot and put it on a root or rock or something secure, showing it that it wouldn't slip, and she would follow putting her foot right where mine had been.  As we hiked, I was saying all the things you could imagine about how this was like our walk with God, how he helps us stand on places where we couldn't' otherwise stand, how he makes our feet secure etc.  I honestly wasn't completely sure how much she was actually listening until we got to the top and she told her big sisters that she'd been pretending I was God and she was following...  Ok, maybe not what I was looking for but she was getting at least the idea!

She was SO proud when we did finally make it to the top.  

and more than a little dramatic with her sisters about what she had endured (they were way ahead of us!)

(and of course she had to fall again when we were almost back to the bottom and soak up more mud)

How often in the mountains we are climbing are we tempted to turn back and just give up?  Decide it's not worth it and call it a day.  Or especially in the mountain of parenthood, simply choose the easier path.  I am so thankful for this very visual lesson God gave the girls and I in fully trusting Him with placing our feet on the firm places where He will enable us to stand.  The path all around us may be slippery and often scary, but we can rest assured that His hands will steady us. 

 For Naomi, this was a lesson in pressing on, trusting her mom in a new kind of way and learning how that related to trusting God.  

For me, this was a very pointed reminder from my heavenly Father to trust Him with my girls in a way that allows Him to be their foothold.  As much as I want to, I cannot always provide them with a firm place to stand, but I can direct them to the One who can.  

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of the deer; he enables me to stand on the heights." 
Psalm 18: 32-33

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Caca à gauche!

Our family has the amazing privilege this summer of traveling with Jason around Europe.  We are seeing so amazing places and meeting some terrific people.  We are so thankful for these adventures together as a family.  

We started out in Paris.  I love this city so much.  We lived here 11 years ago when we first began our overseas adventures and were studying French.  It's been so much fun to return especially as our older girls are old enough to really appreciate the places we are able to see.  

There are A LOT of pictures in this post because there are LOTS of things we want to remember as a family, but also because I thought it would be fun for you to take a walk with us around the streets of France.  We've made some great memories along the way, laughed at each other and at ourselves and walked, well, a whole stinkin' lot!  (wish is a good thing because we have eaten more than our share of pain au chocolate- but I'll save all the food goodness for another post)...

When you are walking around France, the most important thing to remember is that there is dog poop EV-ER-Y-WHERE.  The French love their dogs who apparently love to take care of their business anywhere and everywhere.  Since so many people walk, I kid you not, POOP.  EVERYWHERE.  For this reason, Naomi declared herself to be the "poop patrol" during one of our first walks from metro station to bus station to home.  She would walk ahead and call out "poop on the right" or "watch out in the middle" etc.  At one point, Abbey chimed in "caca à gauche!"  (someone apparently DOES remember some of her French!)

We are trying to teach the girls the art of blending as we walk and not taking over the entire sidewalk with our loud, colorful American-ness.  We've gotten pretty good at that in the Middle East, but apparently not so much here.  (to be fair, I should say, Jason is actually trying to teach the rest of us this particular art, I seem to be erring on the side of oblivious tourist more often than not....).

In the below picture, we have lots of space, but try squashing our family of 6 in the Paris metro corridors and attempting to keep us together while keeping up with the kids, the stroller, the water bottles etc.  If he's said it once, he's said it 1000 times- "WALK TO THE RIGHT, PEOPLE"....  

One of my favorite parts about walking around in France (and this may seem silly...) is coming up out of the metro.  Maybe it's because of the stress of navigating the underground maze with stroller, kids etc., but I love emerging from the metro to the beauty of the blue sky, green trees and beautiful buildings...

And I mentioned colorful...  Europeans as a whole tend to dress in dark colors, or at least neutral ones.  One particular day we headed out to sight-see in Paris and I happened to glance around at our overall ensemble.  What a colorful bunch!

 As I said before, we've laughed at ourselves a lot!  The girls and I, for whatever reason have had our share of air headed moments....  

During our very cold, very wet day at Euro Disney we seemed to have lost a few brain cells along the way.   After spending literally hours in the downpour,  we were standing in line for a ride and thankfully were standing under a covered walkway.  Jason looked at Maddie still holding her umbrella over her head and says, "Maddie, you can put your umbrella up."  She stares back at home (looks a bit confused) and very innocently raises it up just a few inches higher....  (I guess she did put it UP!).  I also might have spent a few seconds longer than necessary banging on the wrong side of a public garbage can to throw something away instead of moving around to the other side where it was quite easy to deposit one's trash.  We'll blame it on the rain!  

Miss Anabelle has been such a trooper during our travels.  She is little miss independent and is loving every minute.  The first week or so she woke up every day asking, "I'm going to meet new friends today?!"  

She has once again perfected the art of stroller riding.  We really don't use it much where we live!

She's a huge fan of the metro and/or tram.  She loves to get out of her stroller and find her own seat.  Even if it's beside a total stranger...

She also loves to walk (as long as the stroller is a back-up option!) and hold big sisters hands...
...especially if they will play "1, 2, 3 wheeeee....."

Her absolute favorite mode of transportation would have to be the horse though.  Especially this variety... (there seems to be one of these everywhere we go!)

Naomi enjoyed it too!

AJ and Maddie are getting their fill of shopping!  Here they are browsing the streets of Paris....

And here in Marseille....

Naomi has been fascinated by all the street performers.  Music, pantomime, whatever- she loves it and wants to give everybody money!

We celebrated Maddie's 13th birthday in Paris and allowed her to choose a few things she wanted to do on her special day.  We started out going up to Sacre Coeur- one of my favorite places in Paris.  The church on the hill is beautiful (pictured above- the girls and I on the steps), but I knew she would particularly love the artists square around the corner from the church where artist's set up and paint and sell their work.  It's such a fun place to visit!

From there we walked down to the Seine River where we had booked a river boat tour of the city.  It was a beautiful day and a perfect way to get a first glimpse of Paris sites.

Naomi has been SO excited about seeing the Eifel Tower!

And what a great first way to see it!

This past week, we've made our way down to the south of France.  We've enjoyed visiting with friends in Marseille and this weekend we're in Montpellier.  Jason and I lived here 17 years ago (WHAT?!) when he was doing his internship for a French insurance company while doing his international MBA.  It's an amazing city and we've had a lot of fun coming back and showing the girls some of our favorite spots.  

Of course, there's been LOTS of walking.  (gotta work off all those French pastries somehow!).  But it's hard to mind walking in such beautiful scenery.  

The port at Marseille....

Say what you will about the French, but they do outdoor space very, VERY well.  I think I'm remembering now why it was such a rude awakening for me to move from France with green spaces and playgrounds on every corner, to the concrete jungle of Beirut! 

Here's where we walked around and enjoyed our baguette sandwiches today...

Look at this place!  It's just a public park right outside one of the malls!  Fountains, flowers, people enjoying the weekend with their families- beautiful!

Anabelle was fascinated by the playground.  Especially this thing....

(having one of my spacey moments- what would you call this?  The big girls would whisper to her in one end and she'd look so confused as she tried to talk back then figure out where they were...)

And no Saturday afternoon in France would be complete without a little fountain frolicking...

I hope you've enjoyed walking with us through some of our favorite places in France.  Remember, avoid the "caca", walk to the right, savor the beauty coming out of the subway, and don't be afraid to  kick off your shoes and dance in a fountain when you're given the chance!