Readjusting

A week and a half has gone by since I moved back home and I’m still overjoyed to be back!

Since coming home, I’ve spent all of my time just indulging in lost family and friend time. The first full weekend I had my baby cousins the whole time and I didn’t let them out of my sight. I’m so happy just to be able to hug those beautiful babes again. 

    
 And I finally got to go on a movie date with my little bro again! He, I and his girlfriend spent the whole day at the movies and it was so nice to be able to hang out with him again. 

 I’ve eaten enough El Mags’ Mexican food to last me another year.. 

 And I dyed my hair again (finally!!).. Oh, and cut it.. 

 I spent a weekend in the city with one of my best friends, Liz.. I got to finally see her apartment and I loved it! Seriously, I want it. 

 Aaaand the world’s best roommate ever – Amy – drove an hour and a half to see me in KC for lunch. She’s actually the best.. I cannot wait to live with her again in less than two weeks!

Last but not least, I’m soooo happy to have a real kitchen back in my life. Yesterday, I made mini rainbow chocolate chip pancakes and they were a total hit in the house.

So, I guess you could say I’m happy to be home.. I miss Paris, definitely, but for now I’m just overjoyed to be back.

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An Ode to the Loire Valley

Pastels.

Flowers.

Castles.

Easter is full of happiness, thanksgiving, love and sunshine. Every year, I spend this weekend with my family and we have Easter egg hunts, all the chocolate we can choke down, Grandma’s yummy dirt pudding and lots of laughter. I love Easter weekend and cherish the memories I’ve had with family during these times over the years. I’ve never been away for Easter, until this year. Living in Paris, I’ve missed out on a lot of family time over the past seven months and sometimes I kick myself over it. I can’t bear the thought of missing out on my baby cousins growing up without me, being away during holidays and not getting to bear hug my Momma every day. Sometimes it’s really hard being a world away.

Other times, it’s only bearable because I have such a wonderful family here in Paris. When I moved, I moved completely away from all of my family and had none here. However, I quickly became close with the most wonderful group of ladies.. but they’re not my friends – they are my family. They are more than a friend could ever be; they’re who I run to when I can’t bear the stress of a Parisian life, they’re who I run to when I feel like I’m going to die if I’m away from my parents any longer, they’re who I run to when I feel all alone in this vast city – they are my family. And this weekend, I had a spectacular adventure with my French family.

So yeah, this year I missed Easter with my family. Honestly, it didn’t hit me until I was literally FaceTiming them during an egg hunt and all the babies and little ones were excitedly running about and screaming about their eggs. Being four inches tall and having to be passed around is quite convenient while I’m away but it still doesn’t compare to actually being there. As I was being shuffled about through the crowd of my family, I found myself holding back the tears with all that I had because I knew that if I lost it, my Mom & Dad would too and I wasn’t about to ruin such a beautiful day for everyone. So, I chatted and laughed with the family for a bit and saw the eggs and smiles and said my goodbyes and hung up. Then I found myself on the bathroom floor so upset over missing out on yet another great time in our family back home. A few seconds later, I heard a knock at the door and Gemma walked in to make me smile and hug me until I was cheered up and ready to go for the next day’s adventures. So, when I say that my girls here are my family, I truly mean it. I’d be lost without these magnificent women who make me laugh, smile and sing every day.

That being said, let’s move on from the sappiness and get to the princess-y castle-y part of the story. This Easter weekend, I spent my time in the beautiful Loire Valley of France. This is the area in France with the largest concentration of castles within the country. Seriously, while driving down the road to our next destination, we would see at least two castles just sitting on the hillside yearning for us to come inside. I’ve gotta say that this was one of the best weekends I’ve had in my life.

As our game plan, we each picked a castle we wanted to see the most and then set out on a journey to discover all that our choices had to offer. So, we each picked one and then we also all agreed on two others that were quite famous that we’d all like to go to as well.

Here are the picks:

They were all so beautiful and exotic and nothing like what I’ve seen before. Buuuuut, I gotta say that mine was my favorite. As we were driving through the quaint little village that rests at the bottom of the hill that Chaumont reigns upon, I knew I was going to fall in love instantly but I held in my excitement.. for as long as I could..

As soon as we began the trek up the hill to the castle, I started skipping and squealing in happiness. It was EXACTLY like all the castles that Disney showed me when I was growing up in a land of no castles. So you can imagine my excitement in viewing such a masterpiece. The castle itself was glorious and beautiful but the area it was in was the cherry on top. It’s situated right atop the Loire River and overlooks the village. It’s surrounded by a vast forest and fields and I couldn’t help but frolic everywhere; I was in awe to say the least. It even had a posh farmhouse and stables for the horses but even though it was fancy, it still looked exactly like something out of the 17th Century. Aaaand it’s 1,000 years old. Say whaaaaat?

Playing princess <3

Princess <3

Spring blooming within Chaumont's chapel <3

Spring blooming within Chaumont’s chapel <3

Chaumont; flowers and trees and sunshine abundant.

My Christmas in Paris

If you’d asked me at any other point in my life, I would have told you that I’d never spend a Christmas away from my family. It’s the best time of the year and I cherish this time that I get with my family around the tree, cuddled up in blankets, hugging mugs of hot peppermint cocoa watching Elf. I would have told you I’d never put myself through this season without them. That’s if you’d asked me before I moved to Paris.

With time, I’m falling more and more head over heels for this spectacular city. When I first moved here almost four months ago, I didn’t see it becoming home. But now I can feel myself becoming attached to all of the magic that Paris has to offer. I loved it when I came but not in a “home” way. I loved it in a vacation way but today I can proudly say that I call Paris my home.

So, during this Christmas season away from home, I find myself incredibly blessed. Yes, I’m away from my family and that hurts but if I’m going to be away for Christmas, what better place to be than in Paris? Amiright? I know I am. I’ve come to accept that I won’t be with my family and I’m surprising okay with it. This will be the only Christmas I won’t be home for and I am taking full advantage of all that this city has to offer that differs from America. “Like what?” you might ask? Well..

First of all, the Christmas markets. I went to my first Christmas market on the Champs Elysées right after Thanksgiving. It was like a carnival for adults. Everywhere there were trinkets, food, ice skating and “vin chaud,” which is literally hot wine. It’s spiced and delicious and I don’t know why I haven’t been drinking it every Christmas! It’s seriously wonderful. In addition to all of this, there’s a HUGE ferris wheel at the end of the market.View-from-Arc-de-triomphe-of-Champs-Élysées-avenue_17243426_xl-600x400

Second, every single street around me is decorated specifically for that street itself. For example, my street has a string of lights across the beginning of each end that reads, “Joyeux Fetes Rue Vignon,” which means, “Happy Holidays Vignon Street,” and then Christmas lights decorate the rest of the street in between. It’s beautiful and I love looking at them every time I come home every day. Also I live right by Galeries Lafayette and it’s all lit up as well with dancing lights that put on a show all day.

Third, I still get to spend a good amount of time with my family thanks to Skype. That’s right, we’ve been Skyping together quite often this past week to watch all of our Christmas movies and put up our tree and it’s made it so much easier for me to be away since I’m still able to see them and be a part of it as much as possible. Just last night we had a marathon with It’s a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story.

Fourth, my girls here in Paris are like family to me and have made this time so much fun. Last weekend we had our Secret Santa gift exchange and it was a blast. Speaking of, I need to hurry this post up so that I can go meet them for quiz night at the bar..

Last, my best friend is flying to Paris to spend Christmas with me and she arrives in just a little over 12 hours!! I can’t wait and can hardly contain my excitement! So, I will have a taste of home with me!

Even though I’m not at home with my family, I refuse to be sad because if I’m going to be away for Christmas, I might as well be in Paris.

IMG_5945

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM PARIS YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!

Memories to last a lifetime

I feel it’s time to follow that last sappy post up. With another sappy post. But in the opposite way. So, here goes.

I’ve been in Paris for seven weeks now. And I have to say that I’ve met some absolutely wonderful, beautiful, stunning and kind people. I have to start this post off with my first two friends in Paris and talk about how super duper cool they are.

Picture me, sitting in my apartment one night when I get a text from a random number addressing me by my first name and everything, asking me to lunch. I’d been in Paris for like two weeks at this point and hadn’t really met people yet so imagine my surprise and intrigue at this text. The person(s) sending said text were Aimi and Julia. These two ladies were best friends with the previous au pair to my family and had my number from her and decided to reach out to me and welcome me into the city.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, I text back and tell Julia that I love bagels and she proceeds to find a DELICIOUS bagel place called, “Bagels and Brownies,” that I’m just obsessed with now. We went to lunch at the Luxembourg Garden and ate on the grass and this chick made me feel so welcome in a city I was feeling so lonely in. She and Aimi reached out to me (quite creepily in an awesome and weird way, I might add) and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done already – listening to me complain, directing me throughout the city, calming me down during stuck-in-an-elevator-panic-attacks. They’re great. And I found out later on that before sending me that first text, they had debated it for a while and eventually decided on being creepy and not caring to send some random girl a random text out of the blue. And thank goodness that they did.

Julia and Aimi introduced me to some of the most wonderful girls I’ve met in my life. Just tonight, some of us had a dinner party at Aimi’s with home cooked food (thanks Aimi and Gemma) and homemade desserts (even homemade crusts, thanks Julia). It was soooo good and the company was terrific. These girls are teaching me so much about the world and life and for instance about the fact that I’m apparently “incredibly American.” Whatever that means.. Just kidding, I know exactly what it means. These girls are from all over – Wales, England, Ireland, New Zealand, America. Just everywhere. I’m learning so much from them and I’m so grateful for this experience.

Also I love the way they talk.

I find myself speaking with a terrible, fake British accent after being around them for extended periods of time and they just deal with it. And for that I love them.

I’ve made so many memories already after this short time and can’t wait for the numerous more with them. This experience has already been life changing and though it gets tough at times, I wouldn’t change a thing about this choice I made and the year I’m spending in Paris. After all, I’m living out a dream.

Nobody said it’d be easy.

Well. I’m finally ready to admit it (although those close to me already hear this constantly). I miss home. Like reeeally bad. I knew it’d be a struggle to move an ocean away from everyone I love but I never imagined it’d be this hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris and don’t wish to change a thing – I just need to get a few things off my chest.

I think I’m going through the first wave of homesickness that I knew would come. And I’ve been going through it for quite a bit now. I constantly find myself thinking of home, questioning my reasoning for being here and missing my family.. Like A LOT.

I miss everyone so much.

Let’s start small. And by that I literally mean “small.” Right before I boarded my flight to France, my cousin Kourtni had her first baby. A precious little girl. I’m watching her grow her first year through Facebook and social media and that crushes me. Because anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE the three babies in my life. Like I’d give my life for them I love them so much. So you can understand why it kills me to be so far away for this little one’s first year of life. Especially considering that I was sick when we visited her in the hospital and I didn’t get to hold her but once before I left. And then there are my two babies. Not literally mine, I didn’t birth them, but I’d claim them as my own. Abagail and Aliveia have been the highlights of my life since Abagail was born 6.5 years ago. I try to FaceTime them as often as possible but it’s just not the same as real cuddles and kisses. It does help though that my Momma told me Aliveia (2) has been asking about me: “Where’s Megan?” “Megan come?” “Call Megan.” So obviously they do and it makes my day to see those little faces on my iPhone screen.IMG_4910

I also miss my best friends whom I talk to (almost) daily. I miss them so dang much. I miss having someone to regularly go on El Mags dates with. I miss having someone to tell me it’s okay to eat that ten pound second round plate of HuHot that I just brought back to the table. I miss having someone to sneak into movies with. I miss margaritas every Thursday. I miss all the little things. And texting just doesn’t do all of their awesomeness justice. Even though most of them tend to blow my phone up daily – it’s just not even nearly enough. And it pains me to say this but I can feel some slipping away from me and becoming distant and that honestly breaks my heart. It’s so hard to lose a relationship when you’re so far away. It’s heartbreaking, honestly.

But most of all I miss my parents and baby brother. Man, I honestly never thought I’d miss fighting with someone so annoying so much. But I miss all the little spats with my kid bro. And I miss our frequent sibling movie dates. And I miss having someone to rescue me when I need help in the middle of the night. That kid may drive me crazy but I love him to the ends of the earth and can’t wait to punch him again. And my Daddy. Our song came on my iTunes yesterday and usually it’s too sad and deep (I know, I know) for me to listen to so I skip it so I can stay peppy and happy. IMG_4663But yesterday I listened to the whole thing and just cried. That man is my superhero and I miss him so much. He must miss me too because he FINALLY got with it and bought himself a smartphone so that he could actually communicate with me while I’m here. Now we text and Skype regularly and it still makes me chuckle to see his big smiling face excitedly say, “Hey Sweetie!” literally every time that he answers. Warms my heart. And anyone who knows me knows that my Momma and I are inseparable. Like really. She is my rock and what gets me through every tough situation. I miss her more than words can describe and what breaks my heart the most about this is that I broke her heart by leaving. I know everyone will roll their eyes and be like, “It’s just one year, chill.” But this one year of separation between my Mom and I is like an eternity to anyone else. I hate the fact that I don’t get to go on Walmart trips with her. I hate the fact that I can’t surprise her at the front door with a visit. I hate that I don’t get to interrupt her work day with a visit. Honestly it’s all of the little things.

I know my parents will be crazy upset after reading this post but I just had to  finally get it all off my chest. And now that I have, I feel loads better. And I do have to say that this experience has taught me that I can never live halfway across the world from everyone ever again. I don’t plan to live in Missouri again, but I do plan to live my life in the US.

Although I miss home tremendously, I love this dazzling life that I’m living in Paris. It’s beautiful and filled with awe and it’s truly an adventure I never thought I’d actually get to go on when I started dreaming about it in 6th grade. I’m cherishing every moment and living out a dream. I’ve made new lifelong friends, explored weird places and eaten such fattening food. OH! And drank lots of wine. It’s safe to say that I love my life. You just gotta let some things off your chest sometimes. And now that I have..IMG_4887

OH LOOK. The mom just brought me home a baguette. I’ve been hoping for one for two days this week now. And now that I finally have one, all is right with the world. And you bet your booty that I’m about to eat the entire thing. With butter. Go ahead, judge.

An American Girl in Paris

Last I left you, I was moving to Africa. Well, that changed and as of today, I’ve moved my booty to Paris, France and will be spending the next year of my life as an au pair. Not gonna lie, I was terrified about the prospect of things going awry and up until 12 hours ago my anxiety was through the roof over it.

But that all changed when I walked through the gate exit after my flight into Paris. As I’m rolling my overstuffed suitcase and duffel bag through the doors, the first thing I see is a little blonde haired boy holding up a sign reading, “Megan Suddarth,” in the middle of a sea of people all by himself. I immediately become ecstatic over realizing this is my little A and start to scream. The next thing I know, the rest of the family is jumping up from their seats off to the side on a bench and rushing toward me. I’m immediately engulfed in smiles and hugs and kisses and at that moment I knew everything would be okay. The S family welcomed me in with open arms the instant their eyes landed on me and I’ve felt loved all day.

After leaving the airport, we spent the rest of the day getting me settled, eating and exploring. Hours walking down the Seine and seeing the beauty of Paris all over again was wonderful. I’ve had the most perfect first day back in France and know that I’ve made the right decision about what I’m doing in my life at this moment. I can’t wait to see what this next year brings and look forward to taking advantage of all of the opportunities that God has already blessed me with.

So, as I lay in bed, eyes half closed, I can’t help but smile over how wonderful this next year will be for this American girl living in Paris.

I don’t know where I’m going but I’m finding my way

Yes, I definitely titled this post with One Direction lyrics. What of it.

Anyway, as you may know, I recently went on an Alternative Breaks trip for Spring Break. I decided to spend my last break in college doing something good and helping others. It was a wonderful and life changing experience that I will forever hold dear to my heart. I met some fantastic people whom I now consider family and I couldn’t have ended my college career in any better way.

I spent my week playing with adorable little kiddos on the Fort Campbell military post who were a part of the Armed Services YMCA camp and they changed me for the better. I fell in love with each of those sweet faces and it was heartbreaking to leave them.photo-4

The Sunday after returning, I was sitting in church and all of a sudden it hit me. I love to travel and I want to help people. Right then I knew, I was being called to something bigger than myself. Right then and there, I decided to take a year to spread God’s love throughout this beautiful world that we live in through a volunteer abroad program.

So, six weeks before I graduate and had been planning to go into the career field, I completely changed my life plan and decided to volunteer instead. I have no idea where and no idea how, but I know that it’ll all work out and I trust this plan that God has for my life.

I’m terrified, don’t get me wrong. Going abroad to a country in which I’ve never been, helping people whose culture differs greatly from my own and just trusting that it will somehow be taken care of financially? Not to mention the fact that I have no idea where to go or what organization is best or anything like that. Yeah, I’m probably crazy. But all I know is that I want to go to a country where I’m needed and help children. Not only by loving them, but also in the long run by teaching them so that they can go out into the world and change it. I want to spread God’s love and I want to promote diversity and multiculturalism in this gorgeous planet that God created for us.

Like I said, I know nothing about how to go about doing this. So, any input would be greatly appreciated. So far, I’ve looked into: Love Volunteers, WWF, Peace Corps, Go Corps, Mercy Ships and The World Race. I’d love any help on turning this plan into action so if you or anyone you know has any information for me, I’d be ecstatic!

I knew that going on an alternative break would impact me but I never thought in a million years that it would change me so much that I would drop everything and alter my life. I owe this decision to those wonderful, smiling little faces at the ASYMCA and know that whatever happens, I’ll be in God’s hands.