Sunday, March 29, 2009

Much needed R&R!

Being home has been incredible and a little sad. I miss living in Europe. I never thought I would say that, but I do. I think it is just the excitement of living in another country and all the wonderful opportunities I was blessed with. It is hard to believe that I am here permanently and not going back anytime soon. I feel like I just woke up from one fantastic dream. I am reminded of the places I visited as I unpack boxes and see the things I purchased. What an opportunity!! It is so hard to believe that I did it...for 2 years, I lived in Europe. I did it. I made it.

This may sound really weird, but I was afraid to stay at my house the first night because that would make it real...I am home!

So, saying all of that, these past couple of week have been wild. I closed on my house on Friday, March 2oth! My friend, Pam, came to town and it was all about the house! On Saturday, I had my refrigerator delivered and all 18 window blinds installed. Tuesday, I had my storage shipment delivered. It is amazing the stuff you forget you have when you have not seen it for 2 years! Wednesday, my first shipment from Brussels was delivered. That shipment consisted of the bare essentials (bed, clothes, bathroom stuff, kitchen stuff, etc). It is nice to have these shipments arrive in phases so I can stay caught up on the unpacking and organizing without being completely overwhelmed. And, the best part about moving, MOVERS! They totally unpacked everything from my Brussels shipment and took away all the packing materials. That was such a HUGE benefit and help!

I also had my all of my utilities set up; cable installed; TVs bought, delivered and installed; Daddy repainted the master bedroom and bath; and a fence in the process of getting built. There is a lot to do! Whew....

So, tonight, I did this....And...oh, it felt so good!

And I treated myself to this...Yes, that is a TV installed in my bathroom! I love it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Farewell Brussels

Wow! I knew it was going to be a little crazy when I got home, so this is no surprise, but I am exhausted. I will update you all on the events of last week and this week, but I wanted to share quickly about my farewell dinner in Brussels.

The day arrived to say farewell to Brussels and good friends. We organized a dinner at my favorite restaurant in Brussels, Belga Queen! I love this place! It used to be a bank but is now renovated and a fabulous restaurant. There is even a club downstairs in the vault!
The food is always fantastic, but this night, it was all about the desserts! I had the most appropriate item on the menu...a Belgian Waffle!
Yeah, it was terrible. ;-)
I have talked a lot about my friend, Julie, quite a bit on this blog who lived up the street from me in Brussels. We did a lot of traveling and hanging out together. We also have a friend, Amirah, who is fabulous!. We realized we never had a picture of the 3 of us together. Close to 2 years of knowing each other, we never all 3 had a group shot!! What were we thinking!!??! So, we made up for it this evening! Amirah is in the middle and Julie is on the right! I LOVE these girls. They truly made my time in Brussels memorable!
I love this shot!
These are 2 of my favorite people. Laurence and JR. Gosh, I will miss them so much!
Love this girl!
Laurence and Vincent! Great couple!
Me and Carrie (JR's wife)
Jr and Vincent
This is my friend and co-worker, Jane. She lives and works in Chicago and happened to be in Brussels for my final night. Jane has been a dear friend for many years, so it was very fitting that she was in town for this special night!
Julie and Laurence...and me!
And, with a final drink of the bubbly....farewell Brussels, I will miss you!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Yes, it has been wild around here since I returned to the States! It is hard to really say what I have been doing lately, just general running around and working! I close on my house tomorrow at 11AM! I cannot wait to have those keys in my hand!

Also, my BFF from Brussels is coming to visit me! Pam (Zsa Zsa's mommy) will be arriving at 7:30AM in the morning and I am so excited! She has been in the States visiting her parents and is coming to spend the weekend with me!! Isn't she sweet!?!

Pam and I on our Mediterranean cruise!

I promise I will post more soon, especially about my wonderful farewell the night before leaving Brussels!

I hope you are all doing well!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm Home...and a Baby!

No, the baby is not mine!

This is so weird! I made it home safe and sound on Saturday afternoon/evening!!!! I really cannot express in words how it feels to know I am here permanently and do not have to cross the Big Pond in a week or so like I have for the past 2 years. Weird, is the only word that I can come up with to describe this feeling.

As expected, I visited my house for the first time as soon as I landed! I mean, did not stop anywhere between the airport and my house! Seriously!

Seeing it in all its glory was so awesome and surreal! It is more gorgeous than the pictures I have been obsessing over for the past 2.5 months (I am a little biased!)! My family was there as well as a few friends, who promised me they were there to see me first, then the house! Ha, I am not so sure!!!! It felt so good to be home, see familiar faces, and give some hugs!!!

On to the baby....

Remember my BFF, Ginnie, who was pregnant and due at the end of the month and promised me she would not deliver before I made it home??!! Well, she keeps her promises!

I received an email from her while I was connecting in Amsterdam on Saturday morning. Her water broke and was in the hospital at 11:30PM Memphis time Friday night. Oh, I was excited!!!! I was expecting an email as soon as I touched down saying little Baby Girl had arrived. No, that did not happen. As soon as I arrived, I received a text message from her husband saying no baby yet, 17 hours of labor, and they were about to do a c-section.

So, at 4:49PM, beautiful Sarah Katherine was born....I landed almost at the exact time that she was born!!! I love that kid!

Isn't she delicious!?!!I had an incredible last night in Brussels that I will be telling you about soon. Thank you for all your prayers for a safe arrival! I'M HOME and it feels so good!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Au revoir Brussels

This sums up my emotional week.Au revoir Brussels, Belgium...I am going home!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Counting Down and Good-Bye

Two more days until I will be on a plane heading to Memphis. One of my BFFs, Jennie, has a countdown clock on her blog and it says (as I type this) that I have 2 days, 10 hours, 17 minutes and 45 seconds until I land in Memphis! Isn't that cool! I think she missed me while I have been away! What a great friend she is!!! I missed her too!

Things are winding down here today. Actually, today is the first day in a while I do not have much going on...and I am enjoying it! Sleeping in and staying in my PJs for a while this morning has been fantastic! I do have to go to the bank to close my account, get my car washed and cleaned out so I can turn it in tomorrow, finish packing up my stuff that is laying around in the floor, etc.

Did I tell you I forgot to pack socks? I packed up the things I am taking in my luggage last week before the movers arrived. I am staying at Dan and Pam's house since I have no bed at my apartment and brought all of my stuff over here last Sunday. On Monday morning as I was getting dressed, I noticed I did not pack any socks. Then, by the time I remembered, the movers had already packed that drawer! Uh! Oh well! It is just socks! Anyway, I asked Pam if I could borrow some of hers (and, of course, she said I could)...otherwise, I would have had very stinky feet come Saturday! ;-)

The good-byes started last night as I had dinner with my good friend, Beth. Beth works for FedEx and was the very first person I met over here while I was on my househunting trip. She and her family totally took me under their wing and were there for me throughout my entire time here. I have no doubt that she was someone God placed in front of me to tell me it was going to be ok when I was really not so sure. I always knew I could call her at any time for anything if I needed to. That means a lot when you are living alone in another country!

We had such a great time talking and reminiscing about our time over here. She, too, is an expat and from Colorado and will probably be here for another year or so! She travels to Memphis quite a bit, so I look forward to seeing her again SOON!

Beth and I in Berlin, Germany in November 2007.Thank you, Beth, for your friendship, support, laughs, and trips to McDonalds for an "American fix". Words could never express how grateful I am to you and your sweet family for being there for me and making sure I was ok! I cannot wait to see you in Memphis!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Almost Done!

First, please pray for my sweet friend, Robin, and her daughter. Stephie was 8 months pregnant and had to have an emergency c-section last night due to HELLP. At last word, the baby girl is doing well and weighed in around 4lbs. However, Stephie needs our prayers. Her kidneys are better but her blood pressure is really high. Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers.

The sea of boxes is almost out of my apartment as I am typing this! I am SO over it all and sooooooo ready to get home in 3 short days. Being displaced stinks!

This is what my apartment looked like a couple of days ago as they packing started!
And today! Moving everything out!
Can you sense that I am a little bored sitting around watching people pack my boxes??!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Montage de Fleurs (Again!!)

Remember when I did this? Last night, after the day of packing chaos ended for the day, Laurence and I went to another flower arranging class. I had so much fun at the last class (minus the wine bottle breaking) that I wanted to do another one before I left. The teacher made it possible, so last night was the night!

The theme was Easter. Since all of my stuff is in boxes right now, Laurence and her mom had to supply me with a vase. I decided to use a plate for my creation!

And, this was my inspiration made by our teacher...Laurence and her mom! Aren't they adorable!?!Then, it glares of where to begin!These are the flowers I had to work with. Since this was an Easter theme, the flowers were yellow. Laurence informed me that Belgium associates the color yellow with Easter. Although we use yellow around Easter in the States, we also use other springy colors. Laurence did not understand or like that bit of information! She also told me about a tradition of the bells which ring at Easter and that the Easter Bunny leaves chocolate eggs! Only in Belgium!! ;-)Laurence getting started with her creation!I decided to start with the mousse. (Remember Belgians call the green stuff mousse, yes, as in, chocolate!).Maybe a little grassy stuff would help inspire me!Then, Laurence thought the calla lily at the top would help. I think it did, so I added some roses, eggs, and the sunflower. Then we thought it looked too symmetrical...and like a face (notice the eggs as eyes and the sunflower as the mouth!). Totally did not plan that!It was time to call in the expert. He took the calla lily from the top and added it to the sides then added another one! Genius! Not to mention the little weeds, I leave, leaves curved over the arrangement!Now, Laurence needed to get back to her creation! She is so intense!And look what we did! Who would have thought 2 auditors would come up with something so pretty (with a little help!)?!?I am going to miss Laurence so much once I leave Belgium! Thanks for a fun time learning all about arranging flowers!!

By the way, the movers are still packing today...and I am still sitting on this couch sneezing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Packing Up

I cannot believe this day has come. At 8:45AM this morning, the movers arrived ready to pack me up and help me get ready for my next chapter! I have been very busy all weekend organizing, throwing out, sneezing (because of all the dust) that I am exhausted. I mean, seriously, exhausted.

But, now, as I sit here on my couch and listening to the packers wrap up my dishes, I am very happy that all I needed to do was organize and throw out!

It is a beautiful day here in Brussels, just like the day I moved in 2 years ago. I remember the sun shining and the temps in the 70s for about 24 days straight (a record for Belgium). Two years later, the sun is out again, although much cooler at 46* currently....we even had snow last night!

I am experiencing mixed emotions, but I cannot wait to get home!

I just realized that I have not posted pictures of my house in a while. It looks like I will be closing at the end of next week! Yippie! My household goods should be arriving in a few weeks!!! They put in the marble around the fireplace and the hardwood floors!
I am in love with my kitchen!
And, the master bath!
Maxie is on her way to pick me up! (Don't worry, she was not in the driver's seat long!). She knows she has another 5 days until her mommy arrives!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cairo, Egypt

Things are a little crazy and busy around here these days, but I wanted to finish telling you all about my trip to Egypt!

We spent the following day touring the city of Cairo. The main attraction of the day was the Cairo Museum. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the museum so I will have to tell you about the highlights.I must first remind you that I am not into museums at all (which probably goes with the fact that I was not into history). There are only a few museums that I have truly enjoyed visiting. This was one of them. The Egyptian Museum is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world and was built in 1901. It has 120,000 items...yeah, it is huge!

I really enjoyed the King Tut exhibit! Part of this exhibit also came to Memphis back in the 80s. King Tut died in mid-January 1343 BC. It is thought that an official murdered him because his skull was bashed in and only a person of great importance could get near enough to harm him. I believe he was only 18 years old when he died.

The majority of the world has come to know the tomb of King Tutankhamun better than any royal tombs because unlike the others, it was found mostly intact. Inside the tomb was a large collection of artifacts used throughout the King’s life. These artifacts range from a decorated chest, which was most likely used as a closet or suitcase, to ivory and gold bracelets, necklaces, and other decorative jewelry, to alabaster vases and flasks. The tomb is also home to many weapons and instruments used by the King. Although the tomb holds over 3,500 artifacts, it should be noted that this tomb was not found completely intact. In fact, there have been at least two robberies of the tomb, perhaps soon after Tutankhamun's burial.

The most well known artifact in King Tutankhamun’s tomb is the famous Gold Mask, which rests over the bandages that wrap around the King’s face. The mask weighs in at 24.5 pounds of solid gold, and is believed to represent what the King’s face really looked like. Many features of the mask the eyes, nose, lips and chin are all represented very well. If you Google King Tut, you can many of the artifacts that were on display in the museum.

Also on display were about 11 Egyptian mummies. This was probably the most bizarre, weirdest and scariest, things I have ever seen. I am surprised I have not had nightmares about these mummies. I was not prepared to see faces and heads (some with actual hair), feet and hands of actual people who lived over 3000 years ago. Wow. I really do not want to post pictures of these mummies, but if you are interested, I am sure you can look them up. I always thought mummies were wrapped from head to toe with linen. I suppose when they were found they had to unwrap the heads to identify them, but yikes.

One of the mummies on display was Ramesses II. He was born around 1303 BC and at age fourteen, Ramesses was appointed Prince Regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his early 20s and to have ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC for a total of 66 years and 2 months. He was once said to have lived to be 99 years old, but it is more likely that he died in his 90th or 91st year. On his death, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings; his body was later moved to a royal cache where it was discovered in 1881.

Up next was The Saladin Citadel of Cairo (Arabic: قلعة صلاح الدين Qalaʿat Salāḥ ad-Dīn). The location, part of the Muqattam hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city, and was fortified by the Ayyubid ruler Salah al-Din (Saladin) between 1176 and 1183 AD, to protect it from the Crusaders.

Only a few years after defeating the Fatimid Caliphate, Saladin set out to build a wall that would surround both Cairo and Fustat. Saladin is recorded as saying, "With a wall I will make the two [cities of Cairo and Fustat] into a unique whole, so that one army may defend them both; and I believe it good to encircle them with a single wall from the bank of the Nile to the bank of the Nile." The Citadel would be the centerpiece of the wall. Built on a promontory beneath the Muqattam Hills, a setting that made it difficult to attack, the efficacy of the Citadel's location is further demonstrated by the fact that it remained the heart of Egyptian government until the nineteenth century. The Citadel stopped being the seat of government when Egypt's ruler, Khedive Ismail, moved to his newly built Abdin Palace in the Ismailiya neighborhood in the 1860s.

While the Citadel was completed in 1183-1184, the wall Saladin had envisioned was still under construction in 1238, long after his death. The Citadel is sometimes referred to as Mohamed Ali Citadel because it contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali (or Muhammad Ali Pasha).

This mosque reminded me a lot of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The view from the wall. Inside the dome.Up next was the Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church also known as the Hanging Church (El Muallaqa) is one of the oldest churches in Egypt and the history of a church on this site dates to the 3rd century AD. The Hanging (The Suspended) Church is named for its location above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, the Roman fortress in Old Cairo; its nave is suspended over a passage.

The church is approached by 29 steps; early travelers to Cairo dubbed it "the Staircase Church." The land surface has risen by some 6 meters since the Roman period so that the Roman tower is mostly buried below ground, reducing the visual impact of the church's elevated position. The entrance from the street is through iron gates under a pointed stone arch. The nineteenth century facade with twin bell towers is then seen beyond a narrow courtyard decorated with modern art biblical designs. Next, we visited the Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, also known as Abu Serga. It is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt, dating back to the 4th century AD. This church is believed to have been built on the spot where the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus, rested at the end of their journey into Egypt. They may have lived here for 6 months while Joseph worked at the fortress.

"An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise, take the young child and His mother, flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.' " (Matthew 2:13)

After the death of Herod the Great, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, to tell him that it was now safe to return to the land of Israel. Joseph accordingly took Mark and Jesus and settled in Nazareth.

This is the crypt (no visitors we allowed to go down).Seriously, how cool is that?!

Next, we visited the Ben Ezra Synagogue. According to local tradition, it is located on the site of where baby Moses was found. It is so weird standing on such sacred ground! No pictures were allowed in the Synagogue, but I will tell you it was a beautiful place.Finally, we shopped in the Cairo Market, the most important shopping areas in all of Cairo and also very touristy. This was the place that 3 days before we arrived was bombed. Yes, I said bombed. Did you hear about it? Needless to say, I was very nervous. However, I do believe that security is a lot better after an incident. We were only there for about an hour...but an hour too long in my book. When I walked out to wait on our van to pick up us, I took out my Blackberry to check a couple of emails. I saw on that an American was attacked the day before (yes, just the day before I was to be walking around this same area) and was stabbed in the face. So, as you can imagine, I was so over that place and seriously ready to get out!