Afternoon Hike: Fort St. Eynard

A couple of weekends ago, Matt and I went on an afternoon hike with some friends. The absolute best thing about living in/near Grenoble is that we are surrounded by three different mountain ranges, and therefore there are so many good hiking trails less than 20 minutes away from our house :)

Enjoy the photos!


Solo leading the way like the little shepherd he is ;)


Almost near the top


Since it’s an old fort, there were these old gates around the base. Solo was too afraid to explore them…


The view from the top (not overlooking Grenoble)


The beautiful Belledonne in the background.


The top, overlooking Grenoble


My two boys :)


Our little family <3


Another gorgeous view of the mountains


The city of Grenoble! It looked so small from up there.


Another picture of Grenoble


On the way down we passed by a herd of sheep! Look at the little lamb :)


Another picture of the lamb and it’s mother.


Seriously, so precious!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 2

thankfulness“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” [Ephesians 5:18-21]

Today I am thankful for new friends. This morning, Matt and I spent some time with an American couple who just moved here from California. They’re here for the next two years to help out with the student ministry we’re involved with, Remix, and we wanted to show them around Grenoble a little bit. We didn’t do anything special; we walked around the farmers’ market, went to FNAC, showed them one of our favorite (free) museums, and ate lunch together. But it was really nice for us to connect with them, and it turns out we have quite a few interests in common! Mainly some geeky things, like Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica…Meet the Robinsons (most underrated Disney movie in my opinion)! So, yeah, I’m thankful for making new friends :)

What are you thankful for today?

Autumn Landscapes

IMG_4314 I just love the mountains that surround our home. There’s a saying about Grenoble: Everytime you turn a corner you can see the mountains at the end of the street. Ok, that was a really bad paraphrase, but it’s true. We’re surrounded by three different mountain ranges: the Belledonne (pictured here), the Chartreuse, and the Vercors. Some people don’t like Grenoble because the mountains can make them feel closed in, but I completely disagree. Being from Florida, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing these gorgeous juts of rock every time I go outside. And now as the trees continue changing color, the mountains become prettier and prettier! They are definitely at their prettiest in the wintertime, but autumn is a nice view too :) The skies were clear and the magic hour lighting was perfect this afternoon so I just had to run outside to snap a few pictures to brag about show everyone. So far it has been a warm autumn, but the trees are making up for it by looking like this: IMG_4317 Hope your little corner of the world is looking beautiful, whether you’re enjoying the autumn or the springtime!

I am employed!

Hello readers! I have been keeping a “secret” from most of you…at least a secret from the online world. Last month I heard of an organization in France called Les Petits Bilingues, an English school for children of all ages. It’s independent from the normal school system, although it does correspond with the school year and vacation times, and they also provide small group and one-on-one tutoring. The great thing (for me) about this place is that they only hire native English speakers. The awesome thing about this place is that they recently opened a center 5 minutes from our apartment! When I found this out I contacted them right away asking if there were any job openings, and within an hour or two I had revamped and sent over my resumé/CV and got an interview scheduled for that week!

Ok, let me just state that I had never considered teaching as a career option, not even in English or English Lit (my major). Teaching children, especially teenagers, is scary. And I, being a doubter, always ask myself these questions, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer to?” “What if I can’t connect with them?” “What if…” What if, what if, what if. When I applied for this job, all those what if’s starting attacking me, but even though I had no experience in teaching English, I still stayed confident. I relied so much on summer daycare working experience I made in high school (seriously…never imagined having to put “Organized and oversaw snack time” on my resumé), and was incredibly relieved when the directrice asked me to come in a couple of days to shadow the different classes.

And I loved it! The first day I was with a group of about eight 4-6 year olds (my favorite!) and after the class ended I was in such high spirits and filled with the excitement of doing that everyday. The next day I was with a small group of 8-9 year olds, and there wasn’t much for me to do other than observe, but still, it was a good day. And after that, I talked with the directrice again, she drew up a contract for me (yay for French paperwork!), and just like that I got the job!

But because it is currently vacation time, I had a whole month off before starting and my official first day of teaching my own class is THIS coming Monday!!! Ready for the details?

  • I work Monday-Saturday, 10am-12pm
  • …with a group of TEN 4 & 6 year olds!
  • It’s still a vacation week, so I’ll be teaching the same curriculum as the other class I shadowed last month
  • And after this week my hours will change again: I’ll do some more training before the offical “rentrée” (Back to School time!) at the end of September.

Sounds pretty great, right?? I am slightly nervous, especially after having a semi-nightmare last night that I showed up to work with NOTHING prepared and got scolded by my boss… BUT, God is good, and He blessed me with this job, so I know He’ll continue to help me with it :)

Oh, and my boss also asked if I could do a one-on-one tutoring session with a 15 year old boy (YIKES!) Monday-Friday afternoon this week as well. But I think that’ll go just fine…she told me to focus on things he likes (like sports), and basically just talk about a specific country (like America), and bring some videos, magazines, card games, etc. Not too bad! I’ll have to follow up on this after next week!

Updates, Updates, Updates!

I never posted about New Years Eve, even though I had written up nearly an entire post, but now it just seems too late to post it. HOWEVER, I have some exciting news: WE ARE MOVING! No, not back to the U.S. (not yet, at least). We’re moving to a bigger apartment in a nearby town called Saint Ismier.

We have been really blessed by our current apartment in La Tronche. Matt found it within a week of moving back to France. It was brand new, completely furnished, and in a really nice location. We are in tram or walking distance to everything we need, which was perfect before we had a car. And we live right along the river (plus for Solo) which has a gorgeous view of the mountains (plus for everyone!). Unfortunately, we feel we have outgrown this little studio apartment. While having a dog is a big part of that, I feel that even if it was just the two of us we would still feel the same. It has become a pain having to roll up and pull a cover over our bed every-single-day. It takes “making the bed” to a whole new level. And our new apartment has a small yard so no more having to get dressed and bundled up to take Solo to the park every morning (you can’t just walk out in pajamas here in France…).

So our new place! Here are all the details:

  • It has a kitchen, living/dining area, separate bedroom, hall closet, and an “American style” bathroom (I call it that because the shower and the toilet are together. Usually over here they are separate).
  • THERE IS A DISHWASHER! I hate washing dishes. Matt usually does them because he likes to, but if there are any dirty dishes hanging out in the kitchen I feel like the whole place is a disaster zone. So with a dishwasher I shouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.
  • As I already said, there is a small yard and a nice sized terrace, which is covered.
  • The apartment is completely brand new. They are still doing construction on the outside buildings, and they haven’t put the grass in the yards yet.
  • Although we will no longer live within walking distance of Grenoble/the trams, there are plenty of buses around.
  • There is a grocery store (and a boulangerie) just around the corner, and that’s even better than here because right now I have to walk/ride the tram for 30 minutes to get to the store.
  • We get the keys on February 20th! I know it’s pretty soon; we found out a few weeks ago but I am just now getting around to blogging and telling everyone about it.

And here are some pictures! The ones from the agency aren’t very good quality but you get the idea.

The kitchen! It comes with a stove/oven and a dishwasher (it’s the small “cabinet” on the far left). Matt’s parents are giving us their old refrigerator too, which will go against the wall on the left.

The front of the apartment. There’s the front door and the hallway, the bathroom door is on the far left, and then you can see most of the living/dining space.

Bedroom picture 1: it’s pretty big! About half the size of our current studio apartment.

Bedroom picture 2: the window…pretty self-explanatory.

Bedroom picture 3: featuring my adorable niece!

Bathroom! There is also a lot of space in front of where the toilet is, and I love the brown tiles (it’s one of our favorite colors).

photo (7)

Another bathroom picture, so you can see the sink area.

photo 3 (4)

A view of the living area and terrace. I am really excited about that door and the yard, and pretty much everything else here too!

A view of the back of the apartment from the yard. They have not yet put the grass in, probably because it’s winter. I’m hoping it will be there in the spring, though.

View of the left side of our yard. If you can make out that white thing near the bottom left of the picture, that’s about where the yard will end. They are going to install some dividing fences soon.

Sorry for the over exposure, but here is a view of the other side of our yard. If you can make out those baby trees, that’s where the other divider fence will be. So it’s a nice little yard!!

And, lastly, here is a view from our building. Like I said they are still doing construction. Everything is brand new!

I will definitely be posting more pictures and apartment updates within the next few weeks, once we’re settled and all. We are so thankful for all that God has provided us with and we are really excited about moving!

Retreat Weekend in Bourg d’Oisans!!

Matt and I are blessed to be apart of a student ministry here in Grenoble called Remix. It’s similar to Chi Alpha (the student group we were apart of in the U.S.), but quite different at the same time because it’s in France. This past weekend we went on a leadership retreat about an hour away in Bourg d’Oisans where we began planning and discussing upcoming events. The most significant thing for me, however, was the time we took at the end of the retreat to encourage and pray for each other. It was moving and interesting because not everyone knows one another very well, but that didn’t keep us from lifting each other up.

During one of the women’s retreats I went to while I was in Chi Alpha we had a night of encouragement too, but there were around 25 of us total, so you can imagine the tear-fest we had!

While we were in Bourg d’Oisans we also got to PLAY IN THE SNOW! And there was tons of it. I’ve been skiing before but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much snow in my life. We’ve been so excited for Solo to be able to play in the snow, because we were absolutely certain that he would love it. And we were right! He played for hours and hours outside by himself, and the best part was that since he couldn’t dig or play in the bushes, he didn’t get dirty. The snow would stick to him in little balls, though, but he would lick them off of himself!

I was all excited about taking pictures but after the first 60 or so I realized that I had somehow set my picture size to SMALL. Like 640×360 pixels small. I was really upset because I had taken some nice photos, but I took a lot more later to make up for it :)

Here are some of the best pictures from this weekend, both small and large (I only took pictures outside):

This is what it looked like before we played in the snow.

This is what it looked like before we played in the snow.

His bright blue eyes make this picture perfect!

His bright blue eyes make this picture perfect!

Solo leading, like always. He actually wasn't too fond of people riding the sled. When Matt and I went together he ran behind us and barked the whole way.

Solo leading, like always. He actually wasn’t too fond of people riding the sled. When Matt and I went together he ran behind us and barked the whole way.

Bourg d'Oisans


Matt after he made a bunch of snow fall of a tree--onto himself ;)

Matt after he made a bunch of snow fall off a tree–onto himself ;)

Herbal Essences Commercial?

Herbal Essences Commercial?

Snow puppy!

Snow puppy!

This was Solo's stash of firewood...

This was Solo’s stash of firewood…

I love that you can see the curves of the mountains so perfectly!

I love that you can see the curves of the mountains so perfectly!

Beautiful drive home :)

Beautiful drive home :)

Thanksgiving Across the Pond

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! I know I’m a little late, but we’ve been pretty occupied over here. On Wednesday we were blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our closest friends in Grenoble (there were 11 of us total: 4 Americans, 6 French, and Matt, who is more Americanized). It was a fun experience to be able to share one of our country’s biggest holidays (and my personal favorite) with our French friends. We ate a delicious lunch! I’ve been missing all of those typical American dishes: green bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, and TURKEY! Plus pumpkin pie, which is VERY American.

Besides eating, which we did a lot of, we also talked about the meaning of Thanksgiving courtesy of Charlie Brown, read some thanksgiving scriptures, shared some things we all were thankful for, and PLAYED GAMES! We couldn’t watch the parade or football games because it was Wednesday and 6 hours ahead of EST time, but we did play “paper triangle” football (what is that even called?), which Matt won, a Thanksgiving matching game, and Pictionary which is hilarious when played in 2 different languages. All in all we had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

The hardest part of this past week was not being able to be home. Yesterday my mom threw a surprise 80th birthday party for my grandfather and EVERYONE (except me and one of my cousins) was there. The last time we were all together was for my wedding, but I was so busy before-hand I didn’t get to spend any time with my relatives. I wish I could have teleported to Maryland so badly! But my mom Facetimed me a few times so it was almost like I was there (technology is great, eh?)!

And here’s a crazy French story for you all. Yesterday I went to get a haircut. It was my first time getting a haircut here. The last time my hair was cut was when I was home in May, so I really needed to go get it cut again. I was expecting it to be really nerve-racking because of the language barriers. I know and can comprehend a lot more French now, but I don’t know any hair cutting vocabulary! But Matt came with me and he didn’t even need to translate much. I showed the hair dresser a picture and told her what I wanted and that was that. She did a FANTASTIC job. Here’s a picture:

My new French haircut :)

But the real thing I wanted to share was what happened after the haircut. We went to pay and realized that Matt didn’t have his wallet, or anything for that matter (no permit, no ID, nothing). If only he had realized that at the start of the haircut he could have driven home and back (it’s about a 20-25 minute round trip drive)… We both felt HORRIBLE. But thankfully Matt’s mom has been going to that place for 15 years, and the hair dresser who cut my hair is the one who always cuts Matt’s mom hair. So they said they would put it on her tab and not to worry. It was no problem at all! Too bad they don’t understand the concept of tips here in France, because if that had happened in the U.S. I would have given her a really good one!

So overall I am thankful for grace! And my family and friends, too, of course! Happy Thanksgiving season everyone and Merry Christmas too!

Discovering Grenoble: An English Cafe in France!

A couple of months ago Matt and I passed by this cute looking cafe called The Bookworm Cafe. It was closed for the summer, like many French businesses are, so we decided to come back in September when it reopened. The other day we wanted to go somewhere to study Romans together, and we walked by the cafe to see if it was any good.

It. Was. Amazing. I felt like I had walked into London when I walked through the door, and I’ve never even been to London. Right away the lady working there greeted us in this lovely, stereotypical English accent and offered us tea, scones, carrot cake, and many other delicious things. Apparently the cafe is also a secondhand bookstore, and you can come to read or buy the books (90% of them are English…classics, fiction, crime and thriller, science fiction, children’s, reference, etc.), have tea time, and they also have monthly book clubs which I am looking forward to learning more about.

We spent about an hour and a half there and can’t wait to go back often. Not only were the employees very nice but the atmosphere was like a dream; very romantic and basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a cafe/bookstore.

An instagram collage of our visit to the Bookworm Cafe.

Adventures in Puppy-hood

We’ve had our Australian Shepherd puppy Solo for three months now and we’ve been wanting to sign him up for some puppy classes. We train him on our own but there are a few things, such as light biting, jumping on strangers, pulling on a leash, and not always obeying us, that we want help in improving.

In Grenoble they offer free lessons with a trainer who we went to see two weeks ago. The only thing they ask in return is for dog owners to help keep the city clean by picking up dog poop; easy enough since we already do that. From the moment we met the trainer I was already getting a weird vibe from him, and then I found out why. He’s an older man who believes in negative reinforcement when it comes to dog training. That’s not how we’ve been training Solo and I haven’t read anything encouraging owners to train that way. The only lesson we had was leash training, and his method was to walk with the dog and when he strays too far from you you yank the leash back until the dog is at your side. One time he did this too harshly with Solo and he yelped. I don’t see how that is good for the dog’s neck or how that’s supposed to encourage the dog to trust you or obey you when he’s not on the leash. Needless to say, we decided right when we left that we were not returning.

So this past week we contacted another trainer, who owns an Australian Shepherd herself and who uses clicker training coupled with positive reinforcement. She came over to our apartment to meet us and Solo and she gave us a lot of helpful information. Solo, like with every other living thing he encounters, liked the trainer right away, especially after she gave him lots of treats! We’ll be meeting with her once a week now and hopefully Solo will be able to do everything that the trainer’s own dogs do (the trainer’s website had demonstration videos with her Aussie walking at her side all over town, crossing the street when told instead of darting across, and even waiting outside by herself while the trainer was in the bank)!

She was impressed with Solo–mainly his size!–when she met him, since he already knows quite a few commands. He’s a smart dog and Aussies are a smart breed so we know he’ll benefit from puppy training a lot. One thing is for sure: owning a puppy requires a lot of patience! Having Solo is definitely helping us prepare for parenthood one day.

Our 5 month old Australian Shepherd puppy, Han Solo. We call him Solo for short.