La Pause à Paris: Hanging Out at the (Updated) Eiffel Tower

When we last visited Paris three years ago, we chose not to go up the Eiffel Tower because our children were content to see it from below and we knew there would be hundreds of tourists in line. But this visit, it was important to our 6- and 9-year-olds to ascend the tower, so we made it a priority on our last day in Paris. Here's what we learned:

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Giverny and Monet's Garden: the Beauty of Spring

May has arrived and Mother's Day is around the corner, but I'm still thinking of April . . . as in April one year ago! I was visiting Paris to run my first marathon and I squeezed in a side trip to Giverny, the site of Monet's family home and garden. My French friends were unsure as to whether there would be many blooms there so early in the season, but I made the half-day trip anyhow and I am still dreaming of the timeless beauty I saw there.

(You might also enjoy the garden stamps we've been inspired to use this spring! I share them at the bottom of this post.)

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Marathon de Paris 2017: Sweat & Joie de Vivre

Twelve days ago I sat cross-legged in the middle of the Champs Elysées, feeling strangely calm as the sun warmed the cobblestones and I waited for the start of my first marathon. I regarded the sea of running shoes and bare legs--many of the 52,000 marathon runners had chosen to wear shorts because of the predicted warmth. A friend who'd run this marathon years earlier had warned me about the low number of porta-potties here at the start, and now I was grateful not to need to join the ranks of worried-looking runners currently queuing at significant lengths from the occasional toilet.

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Approaching the Paris Marathon: from Oregon Snow to Sunday Sunshine

Signing up for a marathon is an act of faith: you hope for good weather, ever-increasing health, and adequate time to complete your training. From my standpoint last fall, the 2017 Marathon de Paris seemed possible: my toddler would be weaned (hopefully), our year-long homebuilding project would be finished, and although my husband wouldn't be able to travel with me, my mother and sister could help watch my children while I was away.

In reality, unforeseen training hurdles piled up like snowdrifts over the past few months.

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Transforming Children's Lives: My Family's Simple Story of Compassion

When I was fourteen, my dad decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International, an organization that aims to release children from poverty and to enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. Actually, my dad chose to sponsor three children so that my two sisters and I could each be paired with a child, writing letters to update and encourage each other every few months. My child--a girl from the Philippines--I and corresponded through my college years and into my early married years until she grew up. Now I sponsor another Filipina girl, Angielyn, and it's been a delight to watch her grow through annual photos and bi-monthly letters.

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Running on Empty

Last March I completed my first half-marathon. It was simple, thankfully—a fresh morning race alongside the Columbia River with ample wildlife and enough other runners to keep it interesting. The next day I pinpointed a few other upcoming races to keep me motivated to stay fit, but to my great disappointment, I haven’t run since that half-marathon. Not once.

It’s not because I don’t enjoy running. Distance running has always been an enjoyable challenge for me, and even more so now that I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks along the way. Learning AND getting time alone? My INTJ brain type thrives on this!

But . . .

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