Thursday, July 31, 2008

Watch Out Martha Stewart

Crafty I may not be, but boy do I have a green thumb! Well, sorta. Ever since buying a home, I've been attempting gardening. I invested in a few books, borrowed some from friends and family, and took full advantage of my mother-in-law's fabulous gardening skills when she came out to visit. I labored extensively this summer, spending a lot of time and energy on three Crape Myrtles (one in the front and two in the back). When summer came and all the crape myrtles on the block began to bloom, I longingly looked at my own, praying that they too would flower. But they did not. The picture below is of the crape myrtle in the backyard that hadn't bloomed.
So, I invested in some crape myrtle fertilizer, cut all the leaves back (did you know crape myrtles like new growth?), and began also fertilizing it weekly with used coffee grinds (did you know they work as a fertilizer?). When Mr. Howard and I got back from Europe I raced out first thing in the morning to discover this:

I'm telling you...Martha better watch out! I'm going to be a triple threat: gardener, scrapbooker, home remodeler, and of course I have her beat on the fabulous wife front. :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're Home

Yay! We're home! While we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, it was nice to finally sleep in our own beds last night and wake up to a normal shower!! What follows is a few entries about all the different places we went, complete with real photos and videos.

The Howards

La Sainte-Chapelle

Out of all the churches I've been to in all my European travels, La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris was by far the most beautiful one I've ever seen. In the top chapel, there were floor to ceiling stained-glass windows.

video

Paris France

Below: Leaving on a Jet Plane...Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again...
Below: Our first trip to the Arc de Triumph and Champs-Elysee Below: We saw the Mona Lisa. It was my second time seeing it, but Mr. Howard said that it looked MUCH smaller than he thought it would. :-)
Below: Dad, Colin, and Lesli at Breakfast
Below: For our Anniversary in Paris we wore matching shirts that I had custom made, mine said "First Anniversary Je Taime Mon Cherie" and Mr. Howard's said "First Anniversary Je Taime Ma Cherie"
Below: Colin and Lesli
Below: Dad and Katie
Below: On the River Seine Boat Cruise on our Anniversary
Below: On top of the Arc De Triump with the Eiffel Tour in the background
Below: Luxembourg Garden
Below: Mr. Howard and Katie and Luxembourg Palace
Below: Mom and Katie fooling around at Versailles
Below: The Howards at Versailles

Florence, Italy

I LOVE Mr. Howard's commentaries on videos. He just cracks me up!!


video

Florence, Italy

Below: Our overnight train ride to Florence - Lesli, Colin, and the Howards
Below: Our apartment in Florence
Below: Mom, Dad, and Mr. Howard - watching a man play the violin
Below: The Howards - View of Florence
Below: Lesli and Katie weren't dressed in long pants and short sleeved shirts, so they made them wear these ensembles to go into the church!
Below: The family at the outdoor food market in Florence
Below: Snuggling husband and wife
Below: Dinner with the Family
Below: Waiting to get into the Palace
Below: The Howards on the Ponte Vecchio
Below: Mom and Dad at Dinner
Below: One night in Florence, my parents took us out for a black-tie dinner at an amazing restaurant. It was one of two opportunities for us all to get dressed up in suits and dresses!

Venice, Italy

Below: The Breathtaking City Views in Venice

Below: The City is like nothing you've ever seen

Below: Doesn't it look like Vegas? - It's just perfect!

Below: My sister and I on a boat taxi to Lido

Below: My Beautiful Little Sister

Below: The island of Lido (off the coast of Venice)

Below: My brother and I at the beach in Lido

Below: Again, the Beautiful Streets of Venice

Below: On our last night in Venice, we got all dressed up again and went to another black-tie dinner. It started to rain on our last night.

Below: Mom and The Howards at dinner

Below: Katie, Mom, and Dad in Piazzo San Marco

Below: The Howards on our last day in Venice



Train to Venice

On our train from Florence to Venice, I captured the minute Mr. Howard was able to see Venice for the first time. While, he doesn't get as excited as I do on the outside, I'm sure he was bursting at the seams. :-) Right, babe?


video

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bon Giorno From Florence, Italy

The trip from Paris to Florence was a little crazy, to say the least. First our train was delayed by over three hours (we were supposed to leave at 7 and didn't leave until 10pm), which meant that we were supposed to arrive at 7 in the morning an didn't arrive until 10am. We also had four people (Colin, Leslie, Mr. Howard, and I) in a six person train. At first we thought it would only be us, but alas two others boarded and it was quite uncomfortable.

Once we arrived, we all rushed to take showers and eat and our trip in Florence has been much more enjoyable than it started out. We have done so much, it's hard to list it all.

We are sitting in an internet cafe right now and don't have much time, so we must go. We just didn't want you to think we fell off the face of the Earth or got eaten up by the Italian mafia. :-) We probably will not have internet access for the remainder of our trip and will blog when we get home!

Ciao!
The Howards

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our Last Full Day in Paris

Today we all separated again to spend our last day in Paris. Colin and Lesli went off on their own to rent bikes around Paris. Katie went with her friends, who were visiting from Germany, to tour Paris. And then we spent the day sightseeing with my parents.


First we went to the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. We then headed over to St. Eustache, Paris's second largest church. Finally, we went to Sainte-Chapelle, a breathtaking chapel that used to house Christ's Crown of Thorns (see picture of the iside of the Chapel).

At the end of the day the boys split off and went to find our train (so that we don't get all the way to the wrong train station with all our luggage tomorrow) and Mom and I headed back to the apartment to meet Colin and Leslie.
Tomorrow at this time in the evening, we will be on an overnight train heading to Florence, Italy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Day of Museums

Today, we spent the day broken up into three museums: The Musée Rodin, The Musée Picasso, and the Musée Dali. For the Dali Museum, we went back up to Montemartre (see picture) and were able to get in a few more good views of the beautiful city!

In the evening, Mr. Howard, Katie, and I went out for dinner and then we took Katie to see her friends (visiting from Germany) and their daughter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Versailles

Today we spent the day at Versailles (France's royal palace). We took an audio guided tour through the main palace, walked the 30 minute path to Marie Antionette's apartment, ate a delicious lunch in a beautiful garden, and came back to the apartment to plan out a casual dinner at home. This was the first time I was able to see Versailles (as it is a 30 minute train ride outside of town) and it has never been possible to fit it all in on past trips. We both were in absolute awe at how much of the palace has been preserved (pool tables, linens, couches, etc).

You may have noticed that we are not posting pictures we've taken. Unfortunately, our laptop has not worked here. We've been using my mom's computer and our battery (since her battery won't charge). I will have to upload photos when we return.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Day To Ourselves

Today, my sister, Mr. Howard, and I spent the day by ourselves. We began by climbing to the top of the Arc de Triumph, where we could see 360 degree views of the center of Paris. After lunch we went to the Conciergerie (pictured), where we were able to see Marie-Antoinette's cell (before she was taken off to be beheaded). Traveling from there, we walked to Notre-Dame (one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France). Finally we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg, spending about an hour hanging out in the garden, soaking in the beautiful ponds, standing in awe of the Luxembourg Palace, and even taking a look at the miniature Statue of Liberty.


We ended our day by ourselves with a delicious pizza dinner on the Champs-Elysees and ice cream cones at a little cart down the way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Paper Anniversary: First Anniversary

We're in Paris right now and I didn't know if we'd have internet access - so I future dated this entry (oh yes... the power of the blogging world)!

Happy One Year Wedding Anniversary, my love! In honor of the "paper anniversary," here is a very corny (but isn't that the stuff that makes anniversaries so romantic?), and very heartfelt poem.

It’s Our First Wedding Anniversary!

We've been together since high school,
and now married for an entire year!
To celebrate our first milestone,
Here are some of the reasons, for you I cheer!

First of all, you are gorgeous,
but you are not just a pretty face.
The real qualities that make me love you,
live inside of you, in some private place.

Hardworking, inspirational, courageous,
spontaneous and creative are you.
You are determined, confident and loving,
honest, romantic and funny, too!

You’re are fixing up our brand new house
with a committed sense of pride.
You love playing with our Harley and Jake,
and enjoy a good bike ride.

Working on cars, buying cars,
or just looking at ‘em you love to do.
The sound of a finely tuned motor,
is music to your ears, it is true!

You have an uncanny ability
to make me laugh like no one else can.
I am safe and secure ‘cause you look after me.
You are a very special man!

In Paris, on the first anniversary
of our blessed wedding day,
I still love you times infinity to the infinite power,
and will always love you that way!

With My Never-ending Love,
July 14, 2008

Louvre, Eiffel Tour, Montemartre

Yesterday we spent the morning on the Champs-Elysee, the day at the Louvre, and the evening at Montemartre (the Sacre-Coeur and the town). The highlight for us was definitely the beautiful views of Montemartre.


Today (for our anniversary) we spent the morning watching the Bastille Day Parade, the day at the Eiffel Tower and a River Boat tour down the Seine River, and ended our Anniversary celebration with a bath and dinner in bed!

I would love to write more, but only have a little battery and not a great converter! I will include ACTUAL pictures if ever I get a battery to fully charge. :-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We arrived safely and soundly, but very tired

We traveled, as you may remember from our itinerary, for a VERY long time. It is 8:30pm in the evening here (1:00pm in California) and we have not slept since 5am Saturday. We are all very tired and have had trouble truly soaking in Paris.


Of course it didn't help that we got off the plane and COULD NOT figure out how to get to the A Line (which is what we needed to take in order to get to our apartment). It took four very wonderfully helpful men attempting to assist mom and katie, four different trips to an automated ticket machine, and one trip to a ticket counter. Once we did figure it out, we still had seven people troupsing through the middle of Paris (near the Champs-Elysees - pictured above) with our 12 million suitcases (looking mighty silly).
Tomorrow we will start at the Louvre and hopefully will be able to catch a little bit of the beginning of the Bastille Day celebration (on July 14th).

Stay tuned!!
The Howards

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Notre Anniversaire à Paris, France

Laundry's done, we're all packed, the dog food and directions are out on the counter, the ipod is loaded up, the house is clean (minus the bed being made), the garden is weeded and ready, our house plants have been watered, and we're all ready to go. I'm heading to pick up some teacher supplies to keep me busy on my 12 hour flight (I need a new lesson plan book because I plan to lesson plan for the first two weeks of school) and Mr. Howard will be home really soon! Then we're off!!

I don't know if we'll be able to blog while we're gone (it all depends on internet availability), but if we aren't able - enjoy your next few weeks.

Voir-vous dans deux semaines!
Amour,
Les Howards

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our New Names

You may or may not have noticed that we have removed our first names from the blog. In the future, we will be referring to ourselves as Mr. Howard and Mrs. Howard, not because we are nostalgic about being married, but for protection. :-) I know you crazy internet psychopaths are out there, just waiting for us to blog.


So we had to make a decision - either take off our first names or our last and seeing as though the blog is called "The Howards," the decision was quite easy for us. It isn't that we have secrets to hide, but because we put such personal information on here (like pictures of our home, vacation schedules, details about our friends and family), it seemed in the interest of everyone - including us, we should make the switch. There may come a time in the near future, when we decide to go completely private with our blog (in which case you might receive an email asking you to register to see the blog). I hope that if that day comes (like say, when we have little one's we need to protect) you won't be too bothered with having to register. :-) But for now, enjoy!
Love,
The Howards

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Paris, Venice, Florence, Milan - Oh My!

We are getting all ready for the trip and wanted to send out our itinerary and contact information during the trip.

General Itinerary
Thursday, July 10th - travel to San Francisco, spend night at Airport Hotel
Friday, July 11th - Depart San Francisco at 9:30am, Arrive in Paris 9:40am on July 12th July 12 - 19th (7 nights) - Apartment in Paris, France
July 14 - Celebrate our One Year Wedding Anniversary In Paris, France
Sunday, July 19th - Overnight Train to Florence
July 20 - 24th - Apartment in Florence, Italy
Thursday, July 24th - Train to Venice
July 24 - 27th - Apartment in Venice
July 27th - Train to Milan, Stay overnight at Airport Hotel
Monday, July 28th - Depart Milan, Arrive in San Francisco 5:55pm

Time Conversion
To figure out what time it is in Paris and Italy, add 9 hours to the time in California and Washington and 7 hours to the time in Alabama.

For emergencies:
To reach us for emergencies only, we will have our cell phone's with us and will check messages periodically. We have activated our international phone service. When you call, it will charge us for the call.

Burglars
Burglars, beware! We not only have a brand new security system installed in our home (hey, it was a foreclosure...you can never be too careful), but we also have two different sets of neighbors watching our home and pets. One set of neighbors will be staying over for several nights. I have authorized them to shoot any stranger who enters our home. :-) Additionally, my sister's boyfriend has agreed to spend a few nights and days watching the pets. So, if miraculously you were able to penetrate the neighbor and boyfriend protection layer, you will never make it past the security system!

Look At Him Go

We weren't able to work on it yesterday, as Mr. Howard worked all day and came home late. So, today, when he got home at about 4:30 off we went. We only have about two more rows and then we'll be done with the laying of the floor. Of course, we still have all the edging to do (welcome to our lives).

We're so much closer to having an office!!!!!

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