A Happy Little Weekend

This blog post was scheduled to go up on July 27th, and never posted. . .ahh technology! ;)

This weekend was busy and fun-filled. While my husband had to work all weekend (boo) I kept busy with friends and family. I went shopping with one of my girls friends and her adorable little two year old. . . IMG_7927

(That’s her showing me her “muscles”)

I met my parents and grandmother at Dave & Busters for a laughable time playing games with them. And my man was even able to make it for some extra fun after a long shift at the hospital. IMG_7933 IMG_7929

I told him he looks like an oxymoron here. . . in scrubs, shooting people :)

IMG_7930 I love the fact that I live close to my family. It makes a Sunday that would be spent alone on my couch so much better when I can go to church and lunch with my mother, spend some time with my grandmother, and just sit around their house instead of my own. While Rob again had a 12+ hour shift at the hospital I was able to enjoy my day. Even if I was missing him. . . IMG_7937 It makes me sad to think that next year when Rob begins his residency we will most likely be elsewhere. Then who’s house will I bum around on a Sunday afternoon? On Saturday when I went out shopping with my friend and her little girl, who calls me Ju-Ju (Love It), one of the sweetest moments happened. K wanted my phone while we were riding in the car so she could see “Mr. Rob”. I handed her my phone and she saw my background screen which is a picture of my grandfather. (Prefacing this saying, K is the most verbal 2 year old I have ever met)

K: “Ju-Ju, who’s that?” Me: ” That’s my Grandpa” K: “Oh your grandpa! Ju-Ju, what’s grandpa’s name?” Me: “His name is Poppy” K: (Talking to his picture on the phone) “Hi Poppy! How are you?” “Good?, I good too.” “What are you doing, Poppy?” “Oh! You’re with your friends? I in the car with mommy and Ju-Ju”

Then she proceeded to have a full on conversation in the car with him. It was completely ADORABLE and melted my heart. As we sat there in the car listening to this little two year old’s imaginary conversation with my Poppy, my eyes welled up with tears. Her mom leaned over and said, I think Poppy is trying to talk to you through her. And maybe she’s right. Maybe through the innocence of a little girl (who if you knew my Poppy it wouldn’t be a surprise that he used a little child) my Poppy was saying a little hello to me and letting me know he’s with his friends doing so very very well. Let me just say that when I retold the story to Rob later that day tears started streaming down my face. This picture was taken one year ago yesterday. . . I miss him . . .

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If that wasn’t enough of emotions to be running around this weekend, today is the day that my big brother leaves Miami and moves to Los Angeles, California. While I am so very excited for this next start for him I am sad that all of my family members will no longer be close. My parents, brother, sister, grandparents and I have lived within 30 minutes of each other for the past year. (More than that for everyone other than my sister) Every birthday, holiday, and family dinner we have we are all together. It will be weird to not have Tommy around anymore but I know he is excited for this new venture. I am so proud of you big bro. Enjoy the LA life! IMG_3564 IMG_5486 IMG_0206

Pasta, You’ll Love!

This week my dad has been coming each day and working in this ridiculously-awful heat fixing our backyard fence for us.

Our fence was in dire straights and needed some emergency help, pretty badly. It’s needed it for the past two years since we moved in, but we waited until the HOA said something about it. :)

Dad came to the rescue and nailed new fence boards in place of some that had rotted away or were warped from wear and age. He also bolted together places that seemed to be held up by nothing. Told you it was dire straits!

He but up all new boards on our gate and in the front of our fence so what the world sees is brand spanking new. Thank God for my dad. He has come through for us more times than I can count in my lifetime, twice in the past month, and I am so very thankful for all that he is and does. We keep him busy now that he is retired, wouldn’t want him to get bored too easily, right?

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Back to the point of the story. . . since Dad was here each evening this week, I tried to make some yummy dinners as a way to say “THANK YOU SO SO SO SO SO SO SO MUCH”. One that I cooked up was ridiculously good according to Dad and Rob.

I went through my pantry that afternoon before grocery shopping and found some goods that had been there for way too long and decided it would be a clean out your pantry night. The result was delicious, and healthy, too!

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Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat spaghetti
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Black olives
  • Grilled chicken
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Spinach-Basil pesto

I used this recipe from Beachbody.com for the pesto but added spinach along with it for added veggies!

I suggest you go try it. Rob has been looking forward to the leftovers since I made it on Tuesday but hasn’t had a chance to eat them yet. He woke up this morning saying “Don’t make dinner tonight, I want the pasta leftovers”. I would lean to that being a good sign.

Thank you again to the best dad in the entire world! I love you so very much and we appreciate all of your hard work!

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Now it’s time for me to get crackin’ on my part of the job and paint the “new” fence. Pray I don’t melt in this Florida heat!

Two Years and Counting. . .

Two years ago today I woke up the most anxious woman in the world. . .

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I didn’t sleep a wink the night before, going over in my head what the day would be like and reading over my vows again and again.

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Early that morning my sister crawled into bed with me talking excitedly of all that was to come and reading Facebook posts of congratulations from loved ones back home.

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We cried and laughed together, then pulled ourselves out of bed to start getting ready.

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We had so much fun. We laughed together and the room was full of so much joy as I was surrounded by my friends and closest loved ones.

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I remember how I kept looking through the window, hoping to get a glimpse of my groom and dreaming of what he was doing and how he was feeling at that exact moment. I was nervous, I was excited, I was bubbling with joy at the thought of what was still to come on this beautiful day.

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I was finally ready. Taking pictures with my mom and dad. Then Jeanna and I hopped into the car to meet Rob and our photographer for our “first look” inside of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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I walked up behind him, as his back was turned to me. He wasn’t allowed to look around until I touched his arm. I spoked to him as I walked up, telling him how much I loved him and how excited I was for the day that had finally come.

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I touched his arm and he turned around, scooping me up into his arms.

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I twirled for him and we laughed in disbelief that this day was finally here, we were actually getting married.

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We prayed together, we laughed together, and we cried together. There was joy, so much joy in all that we were blessed with.

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Our “first look” was the most intimate and special time of our wedding day. It was our time. Our photographer walking around us taking pictures at a distance was no where on our radar. It was just us. It was perfect.

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A couple of hours later, I was walking towards the man of my dreams, standing before our family and friends committing my life to his.

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I said “I Do” with the utmost certainty. With my whole entire heart, without a doubt anywhere in me. He was mine, I was his, for forever.

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After 8 years of dating this man and falling in love with him year after year, I was finally his wife.

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I was finally Mrs. Julia Allman.

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Two years ago today. I was blessed with becoming Rob’s wife. The greatest privilege that I have been given to date.

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I love being a wife. I love coming home to him each day, building a life with him, and sharing memories. I love cooking for him every night and packing his lunch every morning. I love him. I love the way he loves me, supports me, and guides me.

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This year has been one of the hardest years of my life with losing my grandfather and finishing up my masters degree.

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The patience and love that Rob has showed me through it all has been more than I could have imagined possible. He has cared for me, encouraged me, uplifted me, and loves me more deeply than I thought possible and he has showed me more and more each day.

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I only pray that our marriage continues to grow more deeply as it has every single day thus far.

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I am so blessed to be Mrs. Julia Allman.

Here is to 100 more years together!!

Married Allmans

The Last of Europe

Tuesday in Switzerland started out lazy and slow.

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At 7:45 mom was up and commenting on the beautiful market that was beginning to take place on the street right below our balcony. I crawled out of bed, got ready and ate a delicious apple strudel we had bought at a bakery the night before for breakfast. It was either that or my leftover pizza, decisions decisions.

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We got out the door and dropped our bags off at the train station lockers so we were free to sight see for the rest of the day.

We walked through the market, bought some deliciously juicy and fresh cherries, and walked the streets of Luzern to find a boat tour that would take us around the gigantic lake. The tour was phenomenal. The entire tour was an hour boat ride that road around the perimeter of Lake Luzern.

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We climbed up onto the top deck and snacked on our cherries as we slowly motored our way around the lake. These views were absolutely stunning.

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Fun fact: That castle up there that you see is a top wedding destination in Switzerland. It was hard to hear the tour guide but I know they do hundreds upon hundreds of weddings their a year. I can’t imagine how beautiful (or expensive) a wedding there would be!

These pictures can’t even give you a inkling as to how gigantic the Swiss Alps really are. There we were in the middle of this gigantic lake, surrounded by these enormous mountains. I felt like the smallest thing alive.

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God’s beauty is astounding. How majestic is the nature that he painted across the land we live in? I am blown away by the beauty that I see here in Switzerland. This country is gorgeous. It is also ridiculously expensive, but you can’t have it all I guess. :)

Every other country that we have seen, has beautiful countryside. But what makes the country’s so pretty are it’s architecture that is all over the land. This country is beautiful without any buildings. The land is gorgeous.

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The locals take advantage of this beautiful weather and tremendous lake by sunbathing on whatever shore that they can find, and swimming through the waters. The waters are a beautiful blue. Who knows what from but it doesn’t look like it’s too polluted.

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That tour was relaxing and humbling to say the least. Everything around us was so grand, and I am this one little human in this gigantic world. I honestly cannot believe that I am able to be in this country seeing what I am. I am so blessed.

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We left Switzerland not too long after our boat ride. With Gelato in tow we hopped on our first train and took the long journey back to Weilerbach.

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Ashley had made dinner plans for us at the nices restaurant in town, called 21. The restaurant is located at the top of the city hall building on the 21st floor, Hence the name :) It was delicious. I have no idea really of what I ate, but everyone else has steak and we stuffed ourselves silly. It was that good, and the view of Kaiserlautern wasn’t too bad either.

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Our last meal in Germany was a great one with good company, good food, and a great location.

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It is so weird that we are leaving this beautiful country. Two weeks is a long time, but I have loved every minute of it. I am so thankful that I was able to go on this journey with a great friend and my mother by my side. I know that without my mom coming on the journey with me it wouldn’t have been half of what it was. Thank God for the resources and blessings of being able to do this. He is so good to us and so good to me for giving me the mother that he has. I never dreamed we would go on an adventure like this one, but we have made memories that will last a lifetime. The time together is something that I will cherish for always. I am so thankful for my mom and all that she is and does for me.

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Wednesday night we arrived back home to the United States. After a lazy morning in Weilerbach seeing the town, and doing a little food shopping for snacks on the plane we set out for the airport. With TONS of traffic on the roads it put us at the airport at 4:40pm. Our international flight to he U.S left at 5:45pm.

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We ran our butts through that HUGE airport as fast as we could. Mom of course got stopped in security and without a care in the world as she repeatedly told them her flight was boarding, they checked over every single item in her two carry on bags. Talk about frustrating. I felt so bad for her as she came running up to meet me at our gate (I ran ahead to make sure they wouldn’t close the doors without her) sweaty and panting. Luckily we made it and sat down for the 10 1/2 hour flight home with lots of entertainment in hand. Neither of us slept a wink and were exhausted by the time we arrived safely in dad’s car.

I am so happy to be home. I am also sad to be home. It’s the weirdest feeling, really. As my mother-in-law, Kelly text me this afternoon “Home is where the heart is” and that is so very true. I love being home, comfortable and relaxing. But I am missing the adventures and memory making with people that I enjoy being around.

One thing is for certain, nothing makes me more excited than to run into the arms of this handsome boy tomorrow afternoon. I have missed him more than I can imagine and cannot wait to spend time with him and celebrate the Fourth of July, and our second wedding anniversary together.

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Switzerland, Really?

Monday afternoon we arrived in Switzerland!

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Never have I dreamed that I would go to this beautiful country.
Seriously, it is BEAUTIFUL.
As soon as we crossed the border from Germany and rode through the countryside, my eyes couldn’t believe how majestic it was. The greenery, wide open hills, and the Alps, I mean, there are no words.

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But first, let’s take a step back. . .

Monday was a world-wind day full of traveling once again. Once we were home from Brussels on Sunday night we unpacked, repacked, and hit the hay.

Well most of the household did anyway. I for some extremely weird reason could not sleep and ended up getting only 2 hours. After a 4am night the night before, it really doesn’t make any sense to me.

We were at the train station bright and early at 6:30am. Mom was freezing sitting and waiting for the train in the 40 degree weather, it warms up to the 80’s so she had shorts on, and finally 50 minutes later it came and we were off.
Unfortunately, we ended up missing some connections on our train route and had to find some other ways around, but at 11:30am we stepped off in Murg, Germany.

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Murg is where my mother’s great grandmother grew up. Her last name was Schmidle and after some research by my mothers cousins we have found that it is also the last name of the current mayor of the town of Murg. Pretty cool, eh?

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We stopped only for an hour or so to walk around, take some pictures, and get a bite to eat. I’m pretty sure the locals of this tiny itty bitty town thought that we were nuts. Two woman walking around and up and down the streets with their backpacks on. But it was a neat experience to feel a tie to a place you never dreamed of being in.

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Once we left Murg, we made our way to Switzerland.

This was my view after our day in the town of Luzern where I typed up this post on the balcony of our room.

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Not too shabby I would say.

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The Alps are absolutely breathtaking. Being  at Lake Luzern you are surrounded by them on every side. I can’t believe we were actually there, in Switzerland, looking at these wonderful views.

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We are took it easy in this city. Not going as hard or as fast as we currently have been everywhere else. We checked in at the hotel, dropped our bags, then walked the town to see what there was to see. You just gasp at every view you have. You can’t even help it, it’s so beautiful.

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We shopped around, Swiss watches are EVERYWHERE along with Swiss Army knives, saw the lion statue that seems to be on everything they sell here (that or a cow, which we are hoping means they actually sell and eat beef unlike every other European country) and wandered the streets. Then we found a delicious Italian place to eat dinner at near the river.

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I know what you are thinking. These girls are in Switzerland and they are eating Italian? I know, I know. . . But it looked and smelled REALLY good as we walked by and we just couldn’t help ourselves. We figured with us being so close to Italy it couldn’t be too bad. And we have seen and heard a ton of Italians around us, so we thought that was a good sign.

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Lucky for us, it was! The food was so delicious! We just kept on eating it, without even meaning to. I don’t know if it was really authentic or what but it was different that what we have every had back in the States. It makes me excited for one day going to Italy and tasting it all for real!

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After our scrumptious Italian meal, we walked around the city to digest and decided to grab a swiss chocolate bar to put it to the true test of Beligan vs. Swiss, which chocolate is better?

The consensus: While the Swiss dark chocolate bar was unlike any other dark chocolate bar that I have had. It was actually creamy and milky like milk chocolate, except dark. It could not live up to the Belgian chocolate that we ate all weekend long. Sorry Switzerland, step up your game.

Just kidding, If I hadn’t just stuffed my face with Belgian chocolate all weekend, I would think it was the best thing I have ever tasted. No judgements people, pick your favorite.

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We grabbed some wine, and sat out on our balcony watching the sun go down. What a relaxing, and gorgeous day. I am so glad that my mom and I get to experience this. It is a true blessing and I am so grateful for every moment of this trip with her and for every opportunity and experience we have been given. We are extremely blessed!

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Chocolate, Fries, and Waffles too!

What else is Belgium known for other than their fries (They are NOT French by the way), amazing chocolates, and their delicious waffles?!?

While in Belgium we stayed with some of Ashley’s family in the center of town. They had a lovely home that they opened their doors to and welcomed all of us into for the weekend. We woke up to a full fledged breakfast, great conversation, and laid out plans of touring us around the city for the day.

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We ventured out into the city and had a personal guided walking tour from our hosts. They took us down the city streets getting samples from the thousands of chocolatiers and taking us to try the best hot chocolate you will ever have in your life. They offered to take us there with “Do you like hot chocolate? Well good, than this will ruin all other hot chocolate forever.” That it did.

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The creamiest, most delicious hot chocolate ever. I HAD TO buy a container to bring home. I will be hoarding it and rationing portions so don’t get any ideas.

After our chocolate tour we ventured off to see “The Peeing Boy”. He has a different name in French, but it means the same thing so you get it. Legend has it that there was a boy who peed on the igniter of a bomb during one of the invasions or wars way back when and saved the entire city of Brussels. Therefore, they made a fountain of him. Can you guess where the water comes out?

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They dress him up every week or even more frequently than that. I truly cannot remember. If you Google the statue you will see it in all of it’s millions of outfits it goes through.

Then it was time for Fries! We were blessed to get the “HolyFries” (we deemed them that) since they were from the stand outside of the church. They have all different sauces that you can dip them into but it seems that the favorite of the Belgian is mayo. I hate mayo, but let me tell you, it’s good on those fries. We also tried samarai sauce, and some spicy sauce, as well as plain ol’ ketchup. For some reason, our hosts told us, Belgium cannot make things spicy. Their’ hot is our mild, or non existent spiciness.

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We walked the city streets, took a clear elevator up to the top of a building, then took the metro to the city arches. They are made after the Arch de Triumph in Paris.
Attached to the arches was a superbly cool history museum. They had all types of things from WWII and other military paraphernalia. They even had a giant hangar full of planes, helicopters, and fighter jets. They stuffed it full with everything you can imagine. It was like the Air and Space Museum in D.C.

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We walked up 19 flights of stairs (all spiral) to the top of the arches and looked over the city of Brussels. What a cool day.

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The two pictures below show a house that is right around the corner from where we stayed. On the  ground in front of the door is a golden plate. An artist in Europe goes around finding the history of different Jewish people and researching their stories. The woman whose name is on the plate was living in this house during the holocaust, hiding. She was found, and ended up dying in Auschwitz. The artist does this around Europe, telling people’s stories who would have other wise never been told. It was pretty heavy on the heart to walk past this place. Can you even imagine? What an awesome artist.

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We headed back to the house after that to freshen up and rest up for a full night ahead. Friends of our hosts were hosting a barbecue at their house outside of the city and invited all of us to attend. All in attendance were American. We took the Metro to the end of the line and the gracious hosts came to pick us up. Unfortunately we had 7 people to fit into a car made for 5 so two of us had to volunteer to climb into the trunk. Yep, yours truly was one of them!
It was a very cramped and bumpy ride. I hit my head on the ceiling and glass window multiple times over bumps and I am pretty sure that I lost all feeling in my left side for a little while. Ha! It was an adventure!

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When we arrived at the party I thought that we had stepped into Home and Garden magazine. The house, lawn, and decorations were beautiful. IT was all decorated for the fourth of July so it felt like we were celebrating a week early. Just without the fireworks.

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The night was lovely, fun, and delicious. Everyone was extremely welcoming to us and so very kind. We felt right at home and relaxingly comfortable. We even roasted S’mores in the fire outside. How very American of us!

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After dinner and conversation we jumped back into the car (not in the trunk this time) back to the metro and made our way through downtown. We stopped at a local hot spot bar that was in the Guinness Book of World Records some time ago for having 2004 beers on tap. Holy cow! This place, Delirium, was bumpin’. You could completely tell that the legal drinking age was only 16 as everyone around us seemed to look like little siblings to me.

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We geared up back at the house after that, sent mom to bed (Where I TRULY wanted to be) talked to my husband for five minutes over FaceTime (whom I am missing, terribly!)  before my phone call was sabotaged, and then headed back out to get a taste of the night life in Brussels.

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We danced the night away at one place where the music and people watching were truly hilarious. Every song was a 90’s American song (I wanna dance with somebody, Queen, Bon Jovi, and even Ghostbusters) that every single local in the place knew the words to. It made for an extremely good time. Another fun thing about Europeans is that they could care less what they look like to anyone else around them. They dance their heart out and love every minute of it. I loved it. I did not love it anymore when it was 3:30, my feet and hands were swollen like I was 9 months pregnant, and I was dripping in sweat from no air conditioning. I gladly crawled into bed at 4:30am (This was torture) and I didn’t wake up until 10:30am the next morning.

Sunday was full of another wonderful breakfast. These American really know how to host.
All the party goers from the night before were pooped out and not having any kind of action for the day. I got ready to head out and Mom, Jennie our host, and I ventured through the city streets again in search of Belgian chocolates to bring home to our loved ones.

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I am so happy that we ventured out. We were able to see the local street festival that had started that morning and see the bustling business of the city. People were everywhere. There were tents set up with arts and crafts for kids, games to play, things to buy, and everything else that you can imagine. Oh yes, balloons. There were a ton of balloons EVERYWHERE!

We went in and out of the shops sampling the worlds best chocolate. No, I have not been around the world, but this chocolate is on an entirely different level than anything else that I have experienced in my life. It melts in your mouth guys. Literally, it’s melting in your mouth chocolate. You have to experience this for yourselves!

After a couple of hours we decided to head back to the house. Then Jennie, our host, remembered we hadn’t tried a true Belgian waffle yet and told us to stuff it down our throats even if we weren’t hungry.

You can get these waffles covered in fruit, Nutella, whipped cream, and everything else. But Jennie told us that the very best way is to get it plain and savor every morsel because the true taste of a Belgian waffle needed nothing else to compliment it. She was right. Oh sweet heaven, these things are good.

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Forget any waffle you have had in your life. These things are moist, sweet, and delicious. I would eat them every day if I lived here. They are that good!

Go to Belgium guys. There is so much to look forward to on your trip!

S’il Vous Plait, Can We Stay?

Friday we woke up in Paris, I believe mom had to shake me awake quite hard to get me up. This past week has been exhausting, but oh so fun, and I think that it is finally starting to hit me.

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We took the subway to the Louvre. This is the best thing ever. When you get off of the metro you are in the underground mall that is connecting to the Louvre. From there you can walk right into the underground tundra where you buy your tickets and you are in the Louvre. This saves you copious amounts of time from standing outside in the hot sun up stairs waiting to get through the security medal detectors just to get downstairs and then you have to wait in the ticket line to go in. Just an FYI for all you fellow/future Paris visitors. Glad to help you out ;)

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The Louvre is awesome. Holy cannoli there is so much to see and do. Someone told us a statistic that if you spend 2 minutes at every little thing in the it would take you 2 years to get through it.

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We knew what we wanted to see and were in and out in 2 hours, much better than 2 years.

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We met a woman on the way, from Michigan and traveling on her own, who walked around with us. It’s funny how different your mind sets are when you are traveling as opposed to your every day life back home. You make friends so quickly out on the road. Also, a few people that we have met here that are Americans are here traveling Europe by themselves for 2 months or more. They are the friendliest, wanting and needing someone to talk to.

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We saw Mona Lisa, pretty cool to be able to say that I saw it. As well as Michelangelo’s sculptures and Napoleons jewels. Amazing, is all that I can rally give you to describe it. This place is overwhelming to say the least but in such a good and cool way. All that I kept thinking throughout it was how much Rob would enjoy it. Not that he loves art, but he LOVES history.

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Can I have just ONE of those diamonds, Uh…hello!

You can get lost In this ridiculously big building, we still did and we had maps to guide us. We learned that some of the Parisians are not the friendliest or most helpful. But We finally made our way out and were on our way to the Arc de Triomphe.

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I felt like I was in a movie. All of the cars whizzing by around the circle in every direction. I really don’t understand how there are not a billion accidents here every minute. There is no rhyme or reason to the driving around the circle. This would not make it very long in America. Ha!

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We ate along the Champs-Élysées, real French onion soup I might add. It’s very good in France, but the broth is also different than what we make in the U.S. Along with it, they gave us cumin infused bread to go along with it. It. Was. Gross. I told mom that I had the taste of chili in my mouth while I was chewing the bread. Really weird .
After lunch, we strolled up and down the street shopping. Let’s be real, we couldn’t afford anything on this street. Window shopping was done at least!

We grabbed a metro train back to the 3rd district where we had stayed the night and found some nice and affordable shops to get souvenirs at and then we were off to the train station to catch a ride to Brussels, Belgium.
When we got to the train station it was super strange. Everyone was standing around quieter than normal staring up at the boards. Every board is blank. As we weaved in and out of the crowds I kept saying to mom, something isn’t right. . . this is super strange. What in the world is happening?
Well it turns out, after witnessing and almost getting mauled, France doesn’t let you know the platform that your train will be on until 1 minute before it is scheduled to leave. Everyone stands and stares at the boards and as soon as it is put up, there is a stampede to the platform with suitcases flying everywhere and people getting pushed out of the way. It is crazy, and drove me nuts! Germany’ trains and their system are much more efficient and less stressful than France’s!

Lots of drama happened at the train station so our ride that was supposed to take only 2 hours instead took 5. We went all over the place, trains left late causing us to miss our next train and we FINALLY arrived in Brussels, Belgium at 10:30pm. I was over traveling.

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When we arrived in the center of downtown to meet Ashley and her friend Alex they informed us they had dinner reservations for us. Yes, the restaurants are hopping that late at night. We ate no other than. . . The Hard Rock Cafe! Guess what it was like?
You guessed it, like every other Hard Rock Cafe you have been to in your life.

Brussels was really pretty at night all lit up. This is the town square. People were everywhere drinking beer, wine, champagne, and having a picnic with games and food right there on the cobblestone street. Talk about a sore rear end!