The views expressed in this blog are personal and not representative of the U.S. Government, etc etc etc.
Read at your own risk.

Sunday, January 15, 2023


When my aunt and Uncle visited Uzbekistan last April, I took the three oldest children with for an overnight trip to Khiva with our visitors.  They were old enough to be interested in what we saw and hardy enough to spend all day walking without complaining about sore feet.  It turned out to be a fabulous trip and I had a wonderful time with my three oldest without the distraction of having to manage smaller children. 

I decided quickly that I needed to spend more time traveling with my older children.  Being part of a big family has lots of advantages, but there are also disadvantages.  The whole family moves at the tolerance level of the smaller children, which makes some types of vacations (really, anything but beach vacations) not very feasible.  Also, it's quite expensive to take nine people anywhere, so we travel less than we would if we had fewer children.  

But I don't want my older children to miss out on some fun opportunities because of their younger siblings.  It can be hard to be older in a large family because there are many responsibilities that the older ones have to take on.  I rely a lot on Kathleen, Sophia, and Edwin so I thought it fitting that they should also enjoy some privileges as a result of their increased responsibilities.  

We have friends that live in Paris, so I decided to make that our first trip together.  We have known these friends since the earliest days when Brandon and I were first married and living as students in Cairo.  They visited us in Dushanbe and I spent some quality time with them during my many medevacs to London.  So when I asked Janyece if we could come visit, she was overjoyed to have us come and stay with them.

Luckily for me, Brandon doesn't really care for travel, and so he was fairly easily persuaded to stay home and watch the smaller children.  If we had had reliable childcare, we would have left them here in Kazakhstan, be we don't and so he heroically stayed behind.  I didn't ask too much about what went on while we were gone ,and nobody volunteered much information, and all parties were just fine with that.

The timing worked out for us to go over New Years, so for Christmas we gave the oldest children plane tickets.  It was really fun to have Christmas and then leave for Paris three days later.  Before covid, there was a direct flight to Paris from Astana, but sadly we had to fly through Frankfurt, about a twelve-hour journey.  But when you're used to over twenty-four hours of travel time and a twelve hour time difference, twelve hours and a five hour time difference is almost nothing.  Plus, traveling with children aged thirteen and over hardly counts as difficult.  It's a vacation all by itself, having nothing to do but eat food, watch movies, and read a book.  

We, of course, had an amazing time in Paris.  Once upon a time, I never would have considered going to Europe in December because it would be cold.  But when you live in the second-coldest capitol in the world, almost anywhere in Europe is warmer.  And Paris was considerably warmer - about 45 degrees warmer.  It was amazing to see green grass and trees and no snow, and everyone appreciated being able to walk around all day in nothing but a jacket.  Even though it was mostly cloudy and there was some rain, it was still so much nicer than the frozen steppe.

Our friends also homeschool their children and are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so the teenagers immediately started bonding almost as soon as we walked through the door of their apartment.  Their two older sons came with us as we walked all over Paris and the children played so, so many games together every evening, enjoying the raucously hilarious sociality that is so special to young adult years.  

Over three days and twenty-four miles of walking, we managed to see the Arc de Triomphe, Place de Concorde, Champs Elysees, Petit Palace, Tuilleries, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Sewer Museum, the Seine, Concierge, Notre Dame, Roman ruins in front of Notre Dame, several churches, Sacre Coeur, a Christmas market, Versailles, Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and the Versailles gardens.  Everyone's feet were aching by the end of each day, but nobody complained.  I enjoyed just walking around and being in Paris, especially with stops for pastries.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the Paris temple.  The children were not able to attend the temple this summer, as we were not able to return to the US.  So one evening we went with our friends to perform vicarious ordinances for those who had passed on and give them the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Gospel.  It was a beautiful evening and a reminder of the most important things that we can have.  I hadn't been able to serve in the temple with my children before, and so it was special for me to see them together in a sacred place.  I hope that we can spend many more such times in many more years to come.

In the end, however, we had to come home from our endless partying and sight-seeing and resume normal life in the frozen steppe.  As we landed and snow once again coated the landscape, I sighed to myself, knowing that longing for more would be fruitless. But it was amazing fun while it lasted, and I'm already making plans for our next trip together.  

1 comment:

Patti said...

This post (and your trip) makes me so happy!!! Brilliant!!!