Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cruising Update

NOTE: The internet on the ship is $30 for an hour, so I apologize for not posting anything sooner, but that is just ridiculous! Saying that, this will be a quick update!

Let’s see, the last time I posted we were in Venice, Italy and my suitcase was soaked from being dropped in the Grand Canal! The hotel cleaned every piece of laundry and even ironed by panties (I KNOW, crazy, uh!). They had it all ready by the time we needed to leave for the ship…talk about customer service!

I LOVE CRUISING! This is a perfect way to travel. You unpack once and get all settled in, then you keep arriving at fantastic ports of call! I love it!

We have had so much fun! This is day 6 (Thursday) and we are in-route to Corfu, Greece. We have already visited Dubrovnik, Croatia; Ephesus, Turkey; and Santorini, Greece. The ship is really nice and I will never cruise without a balcony room! We have enjoyed our balcony so much!! It was definitely worth the extra money!

During the days we are at sea and not stopping at a port, the ship offers various classes. Pam and I took a napkin folding class and we are so excited to know how to fold napkins into neat little creations! We also went to some great shows that were held in the theater on board, had 2 formal dinners, met some great people, and just enjoyed all there is to do on the ship! We have laughed until we could not breathe and relaxed more that ever before! It has been a great week!

So, since my time on the internet is limited, here is 1 picture to hold you over until the internet is free!

This was the sunset we watched last night from our balcony as we were leaving Santorini! Remember the part in the movie, Forrest Gump, where Forrest said, "The sunset was so beautiful that you don't know where the earth ends and the sky begins." This was one of those moments!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 1 (Venice, Italy)

So, here we are in Venice, Italy. The flight was uneventful! The water taxi ride, well...there is a story there.

See, Venice is on an island and only accessible by boat. We took a water taxi from the airport to the hotel. This is when things started to go south.

We got to our stop and the water taxi driver dropped my suitcase into the water. Yep, that is what I said. DROPPED. MY. SUITCASE. INTO. THE. WATER. I mean, seriously people, the suitcase was bobbing up and down in the water when the guy grabbed it before it sank to the bottom! I am not sure what I would have done had the thing gone to the bottom…shopping spree, I suppose. I did not freak out or say bad words, but actually laughed and thought…this would only happen to me!

The driver only spoke Italian so we let the hotel negotiate with him while I proceeded to unpack my soaking wet suitcase, panties and all, in the hotel lobby.

Of course, I had to stop and take a picture, as I knew this would make the blog!
You see, water taxis are very expensive (95 euros to be exact or close to $130) and I refused to pay someone that much money for dropping my bag into a body of water. The driver did not see it that way and wanted his money. Finally, he walked out of the hotel after he got the picture that I was not going to pay him. The hotel offered to do all of my laundry, for free, if I would take care of the housekeeping lady who was staying late to take care of it for me. I absolutely agreed and will take good care of this sweet lady!

The hotel staff has been amazing, especially when they had nothing to do with what happened to me and took it upon themselves to do my laundry! We are staying at a really nice place and I would highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Venice. It is the Hotel a La Commedia.

So, after all of that excitement, Pam and I finally made it to our room! We then went out to dinner, had gelato, went on a gondola ride, and then had more gelato!


I am going on a cruise!!!!! Seriously, I am so excited I cannot stand it! Pam and I leave for Venice today where we will spend the night, then board the ship tomorrow...on my birthday! Talk about one fantastic gift to myself!! We are off on a 7 day adventure!

This is where we will be going... It is times like this where I seem to forget all of the completely random things that have happened to me over here and realized just how blessed I am to be able to do something like this! It just brings tears to my eyes and chills down my spine!

So, we are off! I will be taking my computer with me (work duties never end) so I will try to blog a little from the ship! No promises! Fun is the priority!

Have a fantastic week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blog Award

This fun blog award is from my dear friend, Cindy. I have known Cindy since college when we were both apart of a business organization, Phi Beta Lambda. She went to school in Oklahoma while I was at the University of Memphis, but we continued to stay in touch! We were even in the same sorority (just at different campuses!) We reconnected through Facebook and through this crazy blog-world and I am so happy about that! I have missed talking to her!

She says this award comes with strings attached, so I must answer some questions about me. I hope you are interested.

1. Where is your cell phone?
Right beside me. I am one of those crazy people who must have it beside me at all times, even when I am sleeping.

2. Where is your significant other?
What significant other?!

3. Your hair color?
I am a natural blond, just a little enhanced!

4. Where is your mother?
She is in Memphis, probably is 4:25am in Memphis right now.

5. Where is your father?
He is in Memphis, probably sleeping right now as well.

6. Your favorite thing?
Right now, my favorite thing is to travel around Europe! I only have 5 months left and a lot more ground to cover!

7. Your dream last night?
I do not think I had a dream last night, I was too exhausted to dream!

8. Your dream/goal?
Live life to the fullest and take advantage of the opportunities that, sometimes, fall right into your lap!

9. The room you’re in?
Oh boy, this is probably not good to type here, but I am in a conference room at work in a meeting. We are taking a little break so I am catching up on my blogging!

10. Your hobby?
Photography and scrapbooking.

11. Your fear?
Flying! I know, I know. How can it be!?

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
Ummm, good question. I am not one of those people who makes such long-term goals. I try to live day by day and not focus too much on the future. Is that bad?

13. Where were you last night?
Last night, I was at home working. Lots to get done before I leave tomorrow!

14. What you’re not?
I would like to focus on what I am, instead. I am a Jesus loving, photograph taking, international traveling, positive thinking, out-going, picky-eating, friend cherishing, family loving, dog obsessed, scrapbook-crazy, chocolate loving, non-French speaking American blogger girl! (I am sure I left out a few of my other traits and loves!)

15. One of your wish-list items?
I cannot wait to get a Mac when I move back home!

16. Where you grew up?
I am Mississippi girl!

17. The last thing you did?

18. What are you wearing?
Since it is a workday, I am in black slacks and a sweater! It is already cold in Belgium!

19. Your TV?
My TV is at home and on for Maxie and to deter any potential thieves! I have no idea what kind it is. I do know that it works in Europe and in the US!

20. Your pets?
Oh goodness, that would be My Maxie!!! Need I say more?!

21. Your computer?
Just my work computer. It is a Dell laptop.

22. Your mood?
Excited! I leave for my cruise tomorrow!!!!

23. Missing someone?
Always! I really miss my family and friends!

24. Your car?
European car provided by the company, Ford Fiesta! I love it! It is tiny enough to park in the tiniest places!!

25. Something you’re not wearing?
Jeans, maybe? What else do you want to know??

26. Favorite store?
I do not have a favorite store in Brussels; however, Target is definitely my favorite store in the US!

27. Your summer?
Filled with visitors! Yay!

28. Love someone?

29. Your favorite color?

30. When is the last time you laughed?
Last night!

31. Last time you cried?
Sunday, October 12th when my apartment was broken into.

Cindy says I'm supposed to tag some friends to join the fun. Check out their blogs. They have some good stuff.

Ginnie at Baby News
Sara at Gitzen Girl
Danielle at Well, that's just fabulous
T at Somewhere in the Middle
Robin at Robin's Weblog
Misty at Wind Beneath My Wings
Jennie at Jennie

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birthday Bash!

Honestly, I keep forgetting my birthday is this Saturday, October 25th! This is a first for me (I really love birthdays!)! Maybe it is because there has been so much going on the past couple of weeks that it keeps slipping my mind, maybe it is what you do when you start getting older, or maybe I am just excited about my cruise coming up (I leave on Satuday)! It is probably just a combination of all of the above!!

But, my colleagues did not forget and surprised JR and me with a little Birthday Bash this week at the office! JR and I have birthday falling only 5 days apart, so we celebrated together!
I am not sure how they managed to get 34 candles on my cake...but they did!
Blowing them out was a bit of a challenge...too many candles! I am getting old!!
Thanks Laurence, Baptiste, and JR for making this week so special!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Belgique-vs-Espagne Soccer Game

Last week, my senior management from Memphis was in town for a little work and a lot of fun! They even took us to my very first soccer game! I have never been to a soccer game nor have I ever watched one on TV. I know nothing about the game, rules, or any of the players. However, I have always heard it is a CRAZY atmosphere!

This is my Brussels audit team....JR, Baptiste, Me, and Laurence. I love these guys!Everything I heard about a professional soccer game was right was wild! Belgium was playing Spain and from my understanding, Belgium stinks and Spain is awesome. Laurence came prepared with face paint so we can paint the Belgium flag on our face and show our Belgium pride! To avoid traffic, we took the metro to the stadium and the fun started there. Spain fans were out in full force....and LOUD! They jumped on the metro and started the chanting, singing, yelling, jumping, and just getting crazy excited about the game! I loved it! They definitely were in the spirit. The Belgian fans were not quite as 'spirited' as the Spain fans!

Here are some of my Spanish friends I met on the metro!
More face painting went on once we got to the stadium. Go Belgium Red Devils!!
Love the hat, Baptiste!
Laurence was experiencing a little claustrophobia on the metro...
Laurence and I at the game!

Although Belgium lost 2-1, it was an excellent game and so exciting. I thought it was very interesting that they literally separate the home team fans and the visitor team fans. There is a wall that keeps you on your respective side and you are not allowed to use the same parking lot, etc. The metro is the only time the fans actually meet. I heard stories about fans getting really violate after games...I think the UK teams especially.

I had such a great time...I just may go back to another soccer game!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Scene of the Crime

I am back into my apartment, unpacked from my trip to the States, and trying to get things back in order around here. Everyone has been so sweet and I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

A lot of people have asked about what happened, what was taken, etc, so I am going to try to explain what I know as best as I can.

I flew back from the States on Saturday, October 11th, and arrived into Brussels on October 12th. I left my car at the office (which is close to the airport) so I got my car and went to Pam's to pick up Maxie. Dan and Pam were supposed to be at a luncheon so I was not expecting them to be at home. I have a key to their house, so I went in, got Maxie, and left heading to my apartment. On the way, Pam called me and told me I should take Maxie back to her house. She is always talking about how she wants to keep Maxie forever, so I thought she was joking and just laughed and said, "No Pam, you cannot have Maxie!". She was not laughing.

She said, "We are at your apartment and it has been broken into." She did not want Maxie there because there was a lot of glass. Needless to say, I was speechless.

I was almost to my apartment when she called. I walked in and saw the damage and started asking questions. The police had already been there to take a report and the CSI Brussels (I am not kidding, there really is a CSI Brussels) came in and took fingerprints and blood samples while I was there. Yes, I said blood samples. Apparently, the glass must have cut one of the robbers so there was blood.

None of this makes any sense. I will try to explain it as best as I can.

The robbers came in through my backyard. Let me remind you that my backyard is surrounded by a brink wall. Meaning, in order to get into my backyard, they had to jump a wall (or several walls) to get in and out.

This is my backyard...notice the wall and how tall it is.
They came in through the window on the right, not the double doors. This is the window and door to my bedroom. They broke the window instead of the door, I assume, to not make as much noise. Also, I assume they wanted to be downstairs so to be secluded. They used this brick to bust the window. Happy they left that little gift for me.
This is how it was left...the window on the right broken and the door left open.
Maxie checking out the damage.
I thought this was funny. One of the garden gloves you see below (green glove) was stolen, I assume because they were bleeding and needed something to put on.
Some of the blood that was left on the curtains. And blood on the door knob...
All of the major damage was done to my bedroom and window and stuff thrown out of drawers in the guest bedroom. The upstairs was not really damaged but was definitely gone through. Since they had to jump over walls to get out they could not take TVs or anything big or heavy. They tried to take my new bike, but I suppose it was not easy to get over the wall. The items stolen were small in nature; however, very expensive. Items such as my professional camera and lenses, jewelry, bags/purses, laptop computer, and foreign currency. Since the items taken were small, it is hard to remember what I had and what is now missing. I am still working on the list.

So, the fun continues as I complete my list of stolen items and deal with the insurance company. It could have been a lot worse than it was, I realize that, but it still just plain sucks that it happened.

I came back to my apartment on Wednesday night and have been fairly comfortable....just leaving basically every light in the apartment on. Plus, I have my guard dogs...Maxie and Zsa Zsa! They will protect me!

By the way, yes, I took pictures for the insurance company...but also for the blog! Don't think I would miss an opportunity for a good posting!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update on Maxie

After a restless night sleep (Maxie could not get comfortable, nor could I), I took Maxie to the vet this morning and she has a sprained shoulder. The vet thinks she slid and stretched her shoulder too far and in a weird way. Anyway, he described it as being like a sprained ankle, but in the shoulder.

He gave her a shot of an anti-inflammatory and some other anti-inflammatory medicine. She seemed to feel better immediately and by the time we got home, she was walking normally. I am to limit her walking and jumping (that is going to be really hard) for the next week.

I had to leave for the office, so I am hoping all is well by the time I get home!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thank You

Thank you all for your sweet comments, phone calls, and emails. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than you know. Things are crazy around here as I try to get my apartment cleaned up and back in order, window fixed, list of items stolen made, and my sense of security and safety back.

I came back to the apartment on Wednesday night and I think I am ok. However, tonight when I got home, Maxie did something to her leg and is limping and my plumbing problem is back. I am about to pull my hair out. So, please pray for my little girl as I am worried to death about her and for me to not kill anyone in Belgium.

More to come later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Just when you thought I had experienced everything in Belgium....

Nope! My apartment was broken into while I was in the States. I really cannot talk about it right now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

You're used to living in Belgium when...

- your list of things to buy while you are home included less than 10 items;
- you walk out of Target only spending $98 for stuff to bring back (although I did spend about $100 at Walgreens);
- you are happy to only be spending $3.45 for a gallon of gas;
- you look at the receipt for a pedicure and ask if the amount is right....$28?! Nice!!
- you turn down the radio when the DJs start talking because you assume it is going to be in French;
- you feel like you are in English-overload and surprised you can understand what everyone is saying around you in stores; and
- you don't expect free refills at all restaurants.

The longer I am in Brussels, the harder it is to come home. I have found myself dreading the move back, I suppose, because I am not quite ready. Brussels is a safe get-away from the craziness of all things America (some things I miss, some things I certainly do not!). I realize more and more since I am home that my time in Brussels is coming to an end and I will be starting my life back here in Memphis. Sigh..... I am going to make myself appreciate everything about living in Europe over the next 6 months, I can guarantee that!

It has been a great trip home! Although I tried not to plan every minute while I was home, including every meal, I ended up doing it anyway. Somehow I knew I would. There are just too many people to see and I have loved every minute of it, and sad I have missed several people I wanted to see too! There are just not enough hours in a day!

I went back tonight and looked at some of the houses in the neighborhood where I want to build and just love it! The neighborhood is so quaint, so "Leave it to Beaver" kind of place! All the houses have such great character and charm! I am getting so excited about my new house and picking out all of the 'stuff'....but I am also dreading making all the decisions (I do not do well with many decisions like that). All this economy stuff is making me nervous, so I am glad I have 6 months left to ride out this situation.

So, I am back on a plane on Saturday night! It has been such a fantastic trip!!! Only 2 more months and I will be back for Christmas!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

My goodness it has been crazy since I've been home! Here is a little run down on what I have been up to so far. I arrived Friday night and my family met me at the airport!! I was so excited to see them! We went home and Daddy made his famous ribs! They were so yummy!!! Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about them!

On Saturday, after waking up at 1:45AM (I love jet-lag) and finally went back to sleep 2 hours later, we went to look at a neighborhood that I am hoping to build a house in when I move back home. More on that later.....I have a lot to think about and decide and I cannot even think about it right now!

After looking at houses, we went to see my grandmother. She is 80 years old and is still working (she will never stop!). She works at the Tunica Museum greeting all of the visitors that stop by. She is a talker, so she loves it.

Here is my sister, my grandmother, and me!
I have never been through the Tunica Museum, so we walked around a little. Come to find out, my mom is in the museum! Her high school senior portrait is there. I found it so funny that my mom is in a museum! We got a good laugh out of it!

Mom and her senior portrait!
On Sunday, I finally got a chance to meet my best friend's twins who were born in February!!! I met Teresa, Sean (her husband), Mackenzie (their 5 year old), and the twins, Maverick and Marley for lunch. Let me tell you, that was the best birth control anyone could ask for! My goodness! I LOVE these babies and treat them like they are my own, but my goodness, 2 babies are a lot!!! They are really good babies and have such a sweet personality, but wow! We went to their house after lunch and visited and caught up! It was so much fun and so good to see them! I had a great time. It has been too long! Also, my friend, Margo, and her little girl came by to see me! These kids are growing up too fast and making me feel really old!

Here are the babies...

Meet Maverick!
Maverick again...
Meet Marley...
Marley again...
Sweet babies!
I am working this week, so it has been a busy! I have lots more friends to see and things to do...I cannot wait!

On a side note, rumor has it that I was spotted at lunch on Sunday by a blog-reader! Jenni at Swift....I would have loved to meet you!!! :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

10 Months.....

That is how long it has been since I stepped foot on American soil, saw my friends, my grandmother, eaten Taco Bell, On the Border, a burger from Huey's, ribs from Corky's or Germantown Commissary, eaten a real Caesar salad, my Daddy's ribs and steaks (ok, I see it is all about the food I am missing!!).

My best friend had twins in February (who are now 8 months, another very special friend who was 6 months pregnant lost her baby in September, another special friend is pregnant, and I could go on and on.

I feel like I have missed out on so much since I have lived in Europe and since I was home last. While I have had the time of my life over here, there are so many special occasions I am missing at home, and it makes me sad. It will be nice to visit with everyone, eat at some of my favorite restaurants, and catch up!

I cannot wait! I am leaving for Memphis tomorrow through next Saturday (not long enough, but I will take it).

See you soon, Memphis!