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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Hawaii's Aquarium: Why Maui Ocean Center is Worth a Family Visit

If we lived on Maui, or visited frequently, an annual family pass to the Maui Ocean Center would definitely be on our wish list. Two years ago we visited the Newport Aquarium here in Oregon, and while it was fantastic to view creatures of the northern (colder) Pacific, it's a pleasantly different experience in Maui to admire the incredible creatures of the tropical Pacific.

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Family Must Do's on Maui: Our Favorite Hawaii Activities

Bonjour and Aloha! One month ago a acquaintance asked me, "So when can your family go to Hawaii this summer?" The only correct answer to that question is "Anytime!" Thanks to their offer of a place to stay, we've just gotten back from a week on Maui and a week on Molokai. The last time we visited Maui our baby was a year old, so it was a wonderful family experience to visit now with our 2 year old, 5 year old, and 8 year old. Here's what we loved during our week on Maui, and what I'd highly recommend you do if you get the opportunity to visit:

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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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ZooLights in Oregon: Why it's Better than Ever (plus a giveaway!)

Last week was our final week with a French friend--she had been living with us for three months, and without a visa to stay longer, her time in the U.S. was legally drawing to an end. As you can imagine, we had several activities that we wanted to squeeze in with her before she left. ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo was one of them. (I'm happy to give you a chance to win tickets too. Just keep reading!) Here's why I think ZooLights is better this year than ever before:

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Casual Conversation on A Meaningful Day

Hello and bonjour! My goodness, it has been a long time since you last heard from me, and for that I am sorry. I've had to make blogging less of a priority the past few months, while being more intentional about other activities (which I will share in a moment). In the meantime, today is presidential Election Day here in the USA. While seeing democracy in action is an awesome freedom, this particular Election Day feels a bit like watching lemmings plunge off a cliff: we knew it would come to this, but was this really how it needed to go down? In any case, we Oregonians vote by mail, so my husband (a history teacher) and I turned in our ballots last week and I expect we'll be praying and waiting patiently for today's outcomes. How do you feel about this election? Maybe you'd rather not talk about it. Ha!

These three H's have been my focus lately (oh, and my husband, who's always part of my focus--love you, honey!):

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Bastille Day 2016 in Oregon - Vive la France!

The biggest French national holiday is arguably Bastille Day, though the French don't call it that. En français, It's simply le 14 juillet. And for fourteen years now, the Alliance Française of Portland has organized a Bastille Day festival the weekend before July 14th. This year's fête was held outside the Portland Art Museum, with the usual mélange of colorful vendors' booths, live accordion music, a wine garden, and mouthwatering treats for gourmands of all ages.

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