Monday, August 30, 2010

Celebrating Family!

Today is my mom and dad's 30th wedding anniversary! Congratulations to you!

As is fitting, we spent most of the weekend with our families. Celebrating my mother in law's birthday! Seeing our little nephew! Offering early anniversary congratulations! And answering lots of questions about our trip.

We even showed a little slide show of France to each set of families. (Shout out to my dad and grandpa for all the slide shows you've ever shown us - we're keeping the tradition alive!)

But for some reason it took about three times as long to make it through the slide show with my family compared to Mr. San Antonio's family.

I know you're thinking, "Oh Marissa... why were you surprised by that?"

Everyone knows that ..
His family sits quietly and asks polite questions about photos;

And, my family breaks into song any time a photo reminds them of any musical they've ever seen at any point in their life time.

His family will interject nice, related, and short stories about the picture on the screen - which displays their enthusiasm and understanding of our journey;

And, my family interjects with epic sagas that start with, "remember the time when..." and usually centers around the family road trip we took in a motor home wearing matching tye-die t-shirts.

His family lets us finish a sentence;

And, my family doesn't.

But again, this should in no way cause even a moment of confusion or surprise. It is completely expected.

After all, his family sent us to France with a hug and a kiss.

And my family sent us to France with a massaging neck pillow, that the German airline security got nervous about, and then after serious scrutiny announced loudly to everyone around, "Oooooh, vibrator!"

Oh family. It's a good thing we love you so much.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Requests

Before we left on our trip, we called the landlady with two simple requests:

1. Please replace our back door.
2. Please reattach the screen on our front window.

You must understand that these are very basic requests. Our back door has 3 different sets of locks on it. Each of which has been "replaced" with the next one lower down the door. Each one works less and less effectively, if at all. And by the time we were headed out of town, the door was so swollen with heat and humidity that it would not even close all the way - which made all the potential locking mechanisms completely useless.

You must also understand that the screen on the front window is on the second floor. There is no way for me to step outside and pop it back into place. Please also note, that yes I am the one who popped it out of place, but I barely touched it and I was just trying to clean it, which totally deserves brownie points.

Well, wouldn't-ya-know, but when we returned the door was not replaced; the screen is still hanging by a thread... and the kitchen sink is leaking.

But it's ok.

Because yesterday one of my co-workers cornered me and forced me to watch a five minute IPhone picture slide show. The pictures were of monkeys. Monkeys he encountered on his summer vacation in South America. He even proudly demonstrated the "monkey talk" he used to lure the monkeys to his camera. He said, "now listen really carefully, because this is real monkey talk." He was serious. Completely serious.

And two days ago Mr. San Antonio sent out his resume to a law firm and received this reply... "I took the liberty to remove the heart shaped bullet points from your resume."

Apparently the formatting on a MAC doesn't transcribe well onto a PC...

And fortunately the man knew Mr. San Antonio, and had seen his biceps, and knew that no one with biceps that big would have purposefully put heart shaped bullet points in his resume. And supposedly they're still going to call him for an interview.

Hopefully they won't ask him to use monkey talk.

So you see: having a broken door, a loose window screen, and a leaking faucet are totally no big deal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Early Thanksgiving

No one should ever frown when they are in Paris, France. Or when they are in Paris, Texas.

No joke - my college roommate is from Paris, Texas. The first time we talked on the phone to introduce ourselves as nervous 18 year-olds, I told her I was from California. She said, "Oh that's cool, I'm from Paris." I thought I had hit the jack pot.

Then I found out her town is really close to Oklahoma. And my enthusiasm abated. But then I met her. And I really did hit the jackpot. She was in my wedding. That's how awesome she is.

Anyway! No one should frown when in Paris, France. And yet, here is a picture of me frowning - in the middle of Paris - at the Rodin Museum in fact.


I wasn't always frowning that day. Oh no! There was a time when I was all smiles.


See! There I am! Smiling! Next to an amazing sculpture by Rodin called "The Burgers of Calais". It is fantastic. Each man with a uniquely expressive face showing all the range of emotions that could be felt while being handed over to the enemy in order to save your town.

And please note the awesome walking sandals of the tourist in the corner.

And yet... despite the beauty of the sculpture... only minutes later I looked like this:


Why you ask?

Well, it's simple really. There once was a family of birds. They decided to celebrate Thanksgiving early this year - in August in fact. Papa bird decided not to hold back and ate extra mashed potatoes and gravy. Then he waddled up to a comfy looking branch, and relieved himself. On me.

Yes, I cried. But Mr. San Antonio was such a wonderful husband! He didn't laugh at all. Well, at least until 30 minutes later. He just calmly told me not to move, and to not look at my shoulder. He found some tissues in my purse, and very methodically began cleaning up the massive remains of Thanksgiving that were now residing on my sweater and scarf.

A kind frenchman even came over and handed Mr. SA a wet wipe. Mr. SA used that to get it out of my hair. Yes. My hair.

I was pretty upset, and despite my best efforts tears were falling down my face. But Mr. SA insisted that he had cleaned it all up and that we were good to continue on with our day. But, I demanded proof.


This photo is the proof he used. Sweater and hair were all "clean"!

I sent these photos and story to my co-workers this morning. One replied, "Sounds like your husband is ready for kids. If he can do poop clean up and keep you calm about it, then he is ready for the big leagues."

I'll tell him Ms. Co-Worker.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We're home!

We got back into town late last night – and as wonderful as our trip was, it is good to be home.

I’m not sure if I should start with the story of how we spent an afternoon pulling up weeds in our host’s garden (after having eaten our weight in purple plums and meribelles which grow in the back yard)…

Or how we hiked up to the top of Mont Sainte-Victoire, and how I complained too much, and the hippie girls we met with their mangy dog, and the nice couple who gave us a lift, and the awesome view from the top…

Or how we spent two days with a couple of our missionary friends as they shared Christ with local French women and encouraged us in our faith…

Or how we ate an entire round of goat cheese and drank a whole bottle of wine while sitting under the Eiffel Tower waiting for it to light up…

Or about the conversations we had with Raymond, an 81 year old gentleman, who just wanted to talk about how “The Americans liberated us”, and share stories of WWII, and when we said goodbye to him after church he said, “Well, I look forward to seeing you again someday… in another place.”

Or about the lunch we had with Francoise, where she fed us so much food we took a two hour nap afterwards; and the stories she told us about how her Grandmother had stood up to the Nazi’s: One evening they were approaching her house to raid it (she was hiding deserters), and she put her hands on her hips and said, “Where are your manners? To enter, you must first ring the doorbell.” Then she proceeded to get them completely drunk so that they left before doing their intended search.

Or maybe I should tell you about the bike ride we took along the river into a German town where we watched a kayak race?

Or I could tell about the night when we crawled into bed, looked at each other, and said simultaneously, “You irritate me. You frustrate me. And sometimes you drive me crazy.” Then broke out into laughter – and proceeded to confess all the things to each other that were making us batty, and decided that people just aren’t meant to spend every waking hour with the same person for 24 days in a row.

We agree that this trip was wonderful, but also very hard. We learned a lot about each other, about ourselves, and about our marriage. We set goals for this coming year. We created new memories. We saw grace at work.

And we consumed all the cheese in France. Sorry. There’s none left for you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The joke's on us!

I was not expecting to post during our trip, but Mr. San Antonio insists that I need to record what happened yesterday so that if nothing else, he and I can always remember it.

We woke up on Thursday to the sound of mopeds whirring through the streets; with the sun breaking through the tiny slits in the dark green shutters, and illuminating the pink flowers that adorn the window sills throughout the apartment.

Once dressed we walked down to the train station to buy round trip tickets to Strasburg. From there I took off for a jog along the river, while Mr. San Antonio headed back to the apartment where he had promised the German landlord that he would mow the lawn. Side note: we think he was asked to mow the lawn, the landlord knows almost no French or English, and Mr. SA knows very little German.

After a shower and some breakfast we packed a backpack with a baguette, smoked ham, leftover cheese, and fresh plums from the tree in the garden. We wandered through the flower filled streets of Sarreguemines and chose to wait for the train by hanging out at the Archives building where Mr. San Antonio used to hang out when he lived here several years ago. We were greeted by the Archivist himself, who at 11:00am invited us to a private room to share a bottle of Pinot Gris and a bag of pretzels.   Evidently, it's never too early for wine in France. We chatted for awhile and then said our goodbyes at 11:30am so we could catch our 11:45am train.

The Archives are just up the corner from the train station, and as we rounded the hill I asked Mr. SA, "we have the tickets, right?" A look of panic filled his face. I grabbed the backpack, he took the keys, and while wearing his Texas cowboy boots - he ran as fast as he could back to the apartment. Meanwhile, I wandered over to the train station entrance, rubbed my fingers, stared at the ticking clock, and prayed for extra speed and agility for him, and extra patience for me.

At 11:41am Mr. SA crossed the square with tickets in hand. We exchanged high fives, tickets, and backpacks and made the train. A few minutes later as we sat down in our seats and began to watch the trees whir by, I asked Mr. SA, "you have the apartment keys, right?" Once again I saw that look of panic... He quickly checked his empty pants pockets. Then he tried retracing his steps in his mind. The only options he could think of were that either he left them sitting in the apartment, or he left them in the front door of the building - available for anyone to come, steal our host's car and raid the apartment of our travel sized toilettries.

I have to admit here that I got pretty frustrated. I knew that saying how I felt would not fix the situation, so I started to pray. "Lord, I need patience right now. I know that Mr. SA didn't forget the train tickets or the keys purposefully to frustrate me. I know he is not trying to be thoughtless. Please give us grace. Please give me patience. Help me to remember that we are a team and help me to not allow something like this to drive a wedge between us."

We arrived in Strasburg, and had a wonderful time. The city was beautiful and quaint. We went to the Museum of Alsace which we highly recommend if you are ever in the area; we sat in the Cathedral; and we wandered around town tasting cookies, sipping coffee and admiring the unique buildings that adorn the town (they have a very German feel).

Occasionally throughout the day I would think of the missing keys, and repeat the above prayer. Otherwise, God gave me grace and I was able to enjoy the day in peace without stressing over the lost keys.

When we returned to the apartment around 8pm, we first tried ringing the neighbors. No one was home. Next we wandered to the back. Mr. SA walked the fence line to determine the best way over. Eventually he decided to go through, and disassembled a portion of the chain link fence, bending it in so we could squeeze through the gap. Unfortunately, the back door was also locked. But a window into the basement was loose enough to push in. Mr. SA crawled through the spider webs and wandered through the basement to the basement door - which was also locked.

As he came crawling back out the window, I suggested using the ladder to climb into the landlord's balcony. From there, he could pull the ladder up to the balcony and use it to climb through our apartment window. We were pretty excited about this idea. However, the ladder was a teeny bit too short.  Mr. SA began climbing the ladder and was literally hanging from the balcony with his feet dangling in the air when we heard the distinct sound of our upstairs neighbor's 3 year old feet bouncing up the hall stairway. Mr. SA yelled, "go get the neighbors," but I couldn't leave Mr. SA literally hanging, so I held the ladder, while he made it back down a few steps and then I ran to the back door and started banging as loud as I could - hoping they were not already inside their apartment on the top floor.

After what felt like forever (but surely was only a few seconds) we hear a voice out the top window! They had heard us and were heading back down stairs to let us in. We were so grateful to see them and to be let into the building! We folded up the ladder, gathered up our things and wandered up the stairs, laughing with the neighbors about our harrowing adventure.

By the time we got inside, it was almost 9pm. We checked everywhere for the keys - the counter, the entrance table, the front door - they were no where. Once again we turned Mr. SA's pockets inside out. We took every scrap of paper and old gum wrapper out of my purse, flipped it upside down and shook it - nothing. Mr. SA went to get his backpack so we could get the leftover lunch out for dinner, and in his frustration he rechecked every pocket... including an inner pocket where at 11:41am, after having a glass of wine too early in the day, I had taken the keys from Mr. SA as he returned from getting the tickets - held them up to him and said "I'm going to put the keys in this inside pocket so we don't lose it, remember I'm putting them in this pocket!"

We stared at each other with big eyes. The keys had been with us the entire time. And after all my praying for patience that day, for asking God to remind me that we are a team... I had been part of the team alright. And in that moment instead of crying or being mad at myself, God did give me patience and a light heart and I laughed. And we opened a bottle of wine. And we laughed at ourselves, at each other, and at the image of God walking with us that day, looking at his watch, wanting this moment to come sooner so we could be in on the joke he already knew was taking place. The three of us laughed together all night.

We are definitely a team. For better or for worse.
With love,
The Pampered Bird and Mr. San Antonio

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