August 2013Back Home Again: August 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meet My Little!

Before you head out of town for the weekend, I wanted to introduce you to my little, Elyse! 

Elyse blogs over at My Life With a Cherry on Top and I just wanted to tell you all how cool she is. The best part? Not only is she a fellow Hoosier, but she lives in my town! Can you say blate? :-)

Here are some facts about Elyse. 
  1. Are you originally from Evansville or are you a transplant? Born and raised!  Actually I lived in Boonville, went to grade school in Newburgh, and high school/college in Evansville. 

  2. What is your favorite food? I guess I'll find this one out on our blate! 
  3. What is your favorite Holiday?  Christmas!  I love the music, decorations, gift giving, shopping, wrapping, eating, drinking...I love everything about it!
  4. Do you have any hobbies?  Crafting, exercising, blogging
  5. What is your favorite season?  I LOVE summer.  No school, lots of cocktails, cookouts, warm weather, laying by the pool.  I can't get enough!  Although fall is quickly approaching, and I am finding myself longing for fall decorations and bonfires!
  6. Do you have any pets?  Nope!  My parents have two cats, Koby and Kali, and a dog, Dierks.  I love playing with all of them, but I like to give them back. 
  7. Do you have a best friend?  I have lots of best friends!  My younger sister, Lauren, Megan, who I met in a college math class), Emily (who lived in the same dorms as me freshman year of college), and of course my boyfriend, Kelly!
  8. Do you like sports? I say I like sports, but I feel like if I wasn't in a relationship with a boy who was obsessed with sports, then I wouldn't really care about sports.  It's more like I HAVE to have an interest in them or my life would be miserable.  I do, however, enjoy watch any type of sport in person.  I love watching games long as there's beer.  I also get obsessed with the Olympics (winter and summer) when that time rolls around.
  9. Coffee, yay or nay?  Yay!  It's what gets me out of bed in the morning.  I get up at 4:30 so that I can have plenty of time to drink my coffee and blog!
  10. Who are some of your favorite bloggers and why?  Jen @ Going the Distance.  I first was able to relate to her because we were in the EXACT same situation with roommates.  Megan @ Growing up is actually kind of fun!  I love her travel adventures and craft beer knowledge!  Jenn @ Party of One.  She is totally relatable!   Patricia @ Kisses and Croissants.  She's an American living in France and has such an interesting life!
You all need to go check her out. And check out this if you want to meet new bloggers and gain new insight into this crazy world:

Travel Thursday: Mer de Glace

Have you ever had one of those moments where you see something of such beauty that you are truly awed and speechless? I had one of these moments when I traveled to Chamonix, France and the Mer de Glace in the French Alps. 

This is part of one of my favorite trips when I studied abroad. I went to Geneva, Switzerland to visit my friend Mindy who was studying abroad there at the same time I was in England. But, I will save all of Geneva for another post :-) The weekend I came to visit, we took a day trip to Chamonix to go to the Mer de Glace and the ice cave. We took a train through the Alps and while I didn't get any pictures, it was so awesome to travel that way. I remember watching the cars fly by on the extremely high bridges in the snow and thinking that I was so glad we were on a train!

It was late November and when we got to Chamonix, the town was starting to be decorated for Christmas. The town itself was so cute, definitely something you'd expect to see in the Alps. I also remember someone asking us for directions, which made our day. To me, it's the ultimate compliment for someone to not realize you are a foreigner!

Chamonix sits in a valley and unfortunately when we were there, the mountains were covered in clouds so you couldn't see anything. We were both worried that we wouldn't be able to see anything at the glacier but we decided to go up anyway. Boy was I glad we did. Once we got above the cloud cover, it was BEAUTIFUL! My pictures honestly don't do it justice. 

The ice cave was closed for some reason, I don't remember why now, but it didn't matter. It was so great to just explore and take photos. I remember just staring at the beauty of it all. Being from Indiana, I had never seen anything like it. I have been to Colorado and up Pike's Peak, but the Alps are totally different. They are full of this pristine, jagged beauty whereas the Rockies seem more rugged to me.

If you ever get the opportunity to travel to the Alps, do it! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August Cara Box

This month's Cara Box theme was Seasons of Life and we were paired up based on where we are in life. Since I'm in my 30's, married and have kids, I was paired with Megan and Ashley, who are also in their 30's, married and have kids. 

I think Megan and I were meant to be partners...she's originally from my hometown! She sent me all sorts of goodies and I loved it all. She didn't know this, but Vanilla Bean Noel is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE scent from Bath and Body Works. I stock up every fall to last me through the year :-)

A little something for my favorite holiday, Halloween!
She even threw something in for my cats!
I love that she put in a souvenir from where she's from.

There are a couple things that aren't pictured, chocolate, which didn't make it to be photographed and a really cute family frame. Unfortunately the glass shattered in the frame so I was afraid to unwrap it. She also threw in a bunch of Lifesavers in the envelope, one of my favorites!

Thanks so much Megan!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ten Months!

Cecily turned ten months old on Sunday. I cannot believe that in less than two months, my baby girl will be a year old!

While I have tons of ideas, I haven't allowed myself to actually plan anything for her birthday until September. Since that's less than a week away, I better get crackin'!

Mighty Handle Review

I received this product for free to review. The opinions below, however, are my own.

I don't know about you, but I despise making more than one trip to bring in my groceries from the car. When I lived in an apartment, it was because I wasn't always able to park close, so I had to hike in with my groceries, or at least it seemed. It got so much better when we bought a house, but as a mom juggling two kids with grocery shopping, it can definitely be challenging at times. So, I was very excited to try out the Mighty Handle, an ergonomic handle and anchor system that evenly distributes the weight of bags allowing you to carry up to 50 lbs.

As you can see, I have my hands full!
Probably my favorite thing about it is that it's 100% recyclable. The Mighty Handle also claims to prevent spills by twisting and locking the handles of your bags. I didn't try this out because I wasn't sure how that would work with cloth bags.

The Mighty Handle is currently listed on Walmart's Get On the Shelf Program, so hopefully it will be coming to a store near you soon. I received an extra, so if you're local and would like to try it out, let me know!

Kentucky State Fair 2013

This past weekend, we went with Alan's parents to the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. I know, we live in Indiana so why didn't we go to the Indiana State Fair? Well, it's in Indianapolis, which is three hours and a time zone away so that means getting a hotel for the weekend. The Kentucky State Fair is in Louisville and Alan's parents had free that works for us! 

Ewan still got to see animals...even though Cecily was quite perturbed.
That's better! Riding along in our yard sale sit and stand stroller that fits in my trunk!
 We each got to chose a favorite Christmas tree.

I got a chance to be silly with my kids.
And Ewan got his "drivers' licence"!
While all of us were a little grouchy at the end and in desperate need of naps, it was an overall good day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then

In light of some of the awesome things I learned at my local ICAN chapter's August meeting, I thought I would share a few things about labor and birth that I wish I had known when Ewan was born. 

1. Don't go to the hospital as soon as your water breaks. I was in early labor for about 4-5 hours before my water sprung a leak and we called the ob, who of course told us to come in. While I was super excited that Ewan was finally making his appearance, I never should've gone in that early. If you test positive for amniotic fluid, you're "on the clock" and most providers will strongly push a c-section if you reach 24 hours after your water breaks because of an increased risk of infection. Once I had a chance to think back on it, when did the ob tell me it was time for a c-section? Almost exactly 24 hours after I had arrived at the hospital. Even though I had been in early labor for a few hours, my body did not have enough time to build up contractions to get into active labor before pitocin and the cascade of interventions that came along with it, was started. 

2. You have a right to informed consent and informed refusal. That's right, not only do you have a right to be informed of the benefits AND risks of any intervention, but you also have the right to refuse them, even if they're "hospital policy." Wow, do I wish I had known this when I was in labor with Ewan. It was the hospital's policy to automatically hook you up to an iv during labor and not allow you out of bed, even to sit up, if your water has broken. Since I was stuck in bed, my contractions slowed way down and they gave me pitocin. I was basically told that this is what was needed to happen for him to be born and never told any of the risks associated with it. While I knew that I didn't want any of that, all of the learning I had done previously flew out of my head in the moment. Did you know that 33% of first time moms will have a c-section and if you're induced, which I basically was even though I had gone into labor on my own, the c-section rate rises to 50%. 

3. A doula is imperative. When I was pregnant, I had thought about a doula, but decided against one because I thought that Alan and I would be just fine on our own. I could never have been more wrong! As I previously stated, everything I had read about the risks of interventions flew out the window during labor. My husband was so concerned with the pain that I was in with two epidurals that didn't work on one side that he wasn't able to advocate for me. A doula is just the person to do so. They're experienced in birth and can act as the go-between you and the hospital staff and translate hospital-ese and let you know what is truly necessary and what is not. We had a doula with our daughter's birth and I will never have another child without one. 

4. Decline cervical checks. I know that we're all anxious to see if we've made progress, but every time a foreign object is inserted down there, the risk for infection goes up. It's no wonder infections start after 24 hours of your water being've probably been checked a bazillion times! At the very least, I would only allow the doctor to do checks to limit the exposure to foreign objects. I found out through reading my records that I likely had an infection when Ewan was born even though no one told me. While I knew not to allow cervical checks before labor, I never thought about it during and it was always the nurses doing the checking, not my doctor. That infection was definitely something that could've been avoided. 

5. Decline third trimester ultrasounds. Did you know that your chance of a c-section rises dramatically if you receive an ultrasound after 24 weeks? After I thought about it, this totally makes sense. If you start "measuring big" your doctor will almost certainly want to check baby's size. However, your due date could be off or you have a ton of fluid or that could just be your normal. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the "big baby" card is played on women, where their doctor tells them their baby is going to be huge and that they need to be induced early or even have a c-section because they won't fit through the pelvis. Unless you have uncontrolled gestational diabetes, this is almost completely untrue (true cephalopelvic disproportion occurs in only 1/250 pregnancies). Our bodies are made to give birth, I am proof. I was told that because my son was 8lbs8oz I would never be able to have a vaginal birth because he was too big, so no future baby would fit. Before I switched ob's at the end of my second pregnancy, my original ob kept ordering ultrasounds because I was measuring three weeks ahead. I personally knew Cecily was going to be big considering the size of Ewan and other family members when they were born. My last appointment with her before I switched she kept "cautioning" me over and over that trying for a vbac was a big mistake because Cecily was going to be huge and that she could die due to shoulder dystocia....You have no idea how much I would've loved to have seen her face when she found out I successfully vbac'd my 9lb8oz daughter! A baby isn't considered to be truly big unless they weigh over 9lbs15oz, Cecily was a full half pound below that. And, ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has stated that a big baby is not a reason to induce/cut. Oh yeah, my ob also told me that I have a "wonderful pelvis for birthing babies."

6. Baby's position matters, but it's how you respond to it during labor that matters the most. Ewan was posterior and asynclitic, basically meaning he was face up and wedged sideways in my pelvis. This type of labor is long and arduous and the best way to get baby out of this position is for mom to be moving around in different positions herself. So, if you're hooked up to all the monitors and whatnot or if you have an epidural, particularly an early epidural, you aren't able to move around like you should to help baby through the pelvis. Positions such as squatting and being on all fours do wonders to open up the pelvis for baby.

7. Birth Matters. It is not only about having a healthy baby. Of course we all want that, but how a mother feels about the birth experience matters just as much.

It's great that there are so many options for childbirth but it's unfortunate that many doctors out there don't inform their patients of the benefits and the risks of each and/or they induce/cut for their convenience. It's so sad that I have such a distrust for maternity care in this country. Hopefully you don't have the experience I did the first time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Christmas Already? A Call for Bloggers!

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Bloggers: Sign Up HERE

Who Doesn't Love Target?! Blogger Event!

Christmas is almost here!!

We are giving away

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Hooray it's Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! I don't know about you, but I am so glad for the weekend. It's the last weekend before the official end of summer! I know that to all of you who are teachers or have kids in school, summer is already over. But, for me, summer will always end after Labor Day.

LaborDay 017

Speaking of, I can't wait until next weekend! We're going to the lake for the holiday and I'm so excited to do a little swimming, hiking in the park, having a cookout with my family, shopping at the outlets and maybe even a little wine tasting at my favorite winery ;-)

LaborDay 022

But, this weekend we're going to the Kentucky State Fair. Alan missed out when I took Ewan when he was a baby and since his parents have free tickets again this year, there was no way he's missing it again! 

But, you will have to wait until next week to see what fun we have.

Have a great weekend everyone!

PS - Check me out on one of my favorite blogs today! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Travel Thursday: Paris Part III

I had mentioned previously that I spent some time exploring on my own while in Paris. I ventured to several places that weren't some of the more normal tourist places which was really nice because I didn't have gypsies or seagulls bothering me. We called the people that hound you to buy random stuff at places like the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame seagulls because they always flocked to the tourists haha!

I am such a planner, so much so that I had mapped out everywhere I was going to to and how much time I was allowed to spend there to be able to see everything I wanted that day. Issues much? :-) I went to the Musee National Picasso (which is apparently closed until the end of 2013!) first thing in the morning. I remember that it was in a part of the city that wasn't very touristy and it was really great to be able to see areas that weren't saturated with tourists and get a feel for the real Paris.

I then went to the National Museum of the Middle Ages, which outside of the Louvre was my favorite. I'm a medieval historian at heart and I was like a kid in a candy store here. Photos weren't allowed, but I got to see so many things I had studied, such as The Lady and the Unicorn and the original carvings located on Notre Dame.  The museum is housed in the Hotel de Cluny a 15th century mansion.

I also visited the Pantheon. Bet you thought Rome was the only city that has a Pantheon! It was constructed as a replacement for a previous church and it houses the tombs of many famous French citizens such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie.

Another place I visited was the Hotel des les Invalides, or as I called it, Napoleon's tomb. The Hotel is actually a building complex and Napoleon's tomb is located in the dome. I remember writing a paper on him in either middle or high school so it was really cool to be able to see where he is buried.

There you have it. My Paris trip in a nutshell. I went to a lot of really neat places, but there is still so much that I would love to see there. Maybe someday I'll get to go again. It's definitely on the travel list!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to Do About Passionfruit

In light of Passionfruit2K quickly approaching, I thought I would share what I have decided to do. I don't make a lot of money from my blog, therefore it doesn't make sense for me to continue to use Passionfruit if I have to pay for it. So, thanks to a fellow blogger, I found out about Adproval. While not as fancy as Passionfruit, it gets the job done, meaning I don't have to come up with a whole new way to provide sponsorships on my blog. 

And, as a bonus, if anyone that is currently sponsoring me just got another month free!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Know Your Rights!

I wanted to tell you about something that happened to me not too long ago. I was told to "put it away" because it's gross while nursing Cecily. I was shocked that this happened. I have heard of this happening in other areas, as evidenced by the viral video below, but never did I think it would happen to me. I have received dirty looks and adolescent boys staring at me, but never have I been told to cover up. My first thought was "Are they talking to me? Then I thought "Did this really just happen?!" I honestly couldn't believe that this had just happened to me. 

I have always had issues with myself nursing in public without a cover because of my own insecurities about my body, even though think it's awesome that other women out there have no issues with it. But, now I have no choice since Cecily won't nurse with one anymore. So, I have had to get over it.

One of my former coworkers gave me these little business cards stating Indiana law on breastfeeding:

IC 16-35-6-1
Right to breastfeed
Sec. 1. Notwithstanding any other law, a woman may breastfeed her child anywhere the woman has a right to be.

I carry them in my wallet just in case. Never did I think I would have to use it though! 

Breastfeeding law varies by state. Do you know what your breastfeeding laws are in your state? 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog: Part 3

In lieu of Travel Thursday, I bring you:

Boys Behind The Blog

Here are Alan's answers for this month. I will admit that I am surprised by a few of these!

What would you do with $1 million?
 Cash it out in 100 million pennies and annoy everyone for the rest of my life. (My husband, the smart ass :-) )

What is your dream job?
 Can I be a vagabond, taking photos of cool buildings and selling random junk I find? (Not surprised in the least by this one - he loves modern architecture and auctions!)

Who is your celebrity crush?
Rachel Bilson (I was surprised by this one, with the way he goes on about Scarlett Johanssen, I was sure it was her!)

What is your favorite sports team?
 Carolina Panthers

What was your AOL/AIM screen name back in the day?  
No freaking clue! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Adventures in Canning: Salsa

A while back, I decided to try my hand at making and canning salsa since the pickles turned out well. 

I chopped five tomatoes, a jalapeno, an onion and two cloves of garlic, then mixed everything with lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

I then put the salsa in my canning jars, ran a knife around the sides to get air bubbles out, put my sterilized lids and rings on, then let them sit in the water bath for about 15 minutes. Finally, I took them out of the water and let them cool before storing. Here's a tip: don't use a hot pad to grab them out of scalding water! Either dump some of the water out before grabbing the jars with a hot pad or use tongs. You can buy special ones just for canning if you want. 

There's a debate on whether it's better to use a pressure cooker or a water bath. I use a water bath because I really don't have the money to go out and buy a pressure cooker right now. It works just fine but only for jams/jellies/preserves, pickles and other things with vinegar and tomatoes because of the high acidity. If you want to can green beans or other foods with low acidity, I would invest in a pressure cooker. I know it's the thing to hate on her at the moment, but Paula Deen knows her stuff.

That's it for today, have you tried canning? What all have you canned?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ewan Update

I told you all how Cecily is doing and I can't forget Ewan, so here goes!

With his buddy Stuart at the zoo last week.

Ewan turned 31 months on August 5. I cannot believe I am the mom to an almost three year old. Where did my baby boy go? He continues to amaze me every day with how smart he is. He knows his letters and will tell us letters he recognizes as we go about our day. He also knows some numbers and can count to 20. He sings songs all the time and just loves music in general. He also knows his colors and is constantly telling us what color something is. He talks ALL the time and I find out he knows a new word or phrase almost every day. He loves to go down slides and is fearless. He still likes Mickey and Spiderman, but loves SuperWhy and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. We let him have some Jake figures that we had bought for Christmas and he takes them everywhere - they eat with us, go to school, he puts them to bed every night - it's so cute!

Oh yeah, he's also 36.5 inches tall, which means he's now tall enough to ride the rides at Holiday World! I guess another trip may be in our future :-)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's Their Loss...Right?

I'm sorry if I'm a little down tonight. Something happened earlier that really hurt my feelings and I need to get it off my chest. 

I belong to a crunchy moms meet up group on Facebook and someone posted about wanting to set up a multi-family garage sale for September. Well, it so happens that we are having a multi-family yard sale in September, so I posted that she was more than welcome to join us. She seemed really excited about possibly joining our sale so I even private messaged her giving her the details. Did I get a response? Nope. I get an email notification from the thread tagging a bunch of other people saying that some other woman is going to host it and they should all put their stuff in. No response to my message saying hey, thanks but no thanks. Nothing. 

I have continued to receive notifications all day from others posting about wanting in because I had posted on the thread. I just think that it is so incredibly rude and disrespectful to just completely ignore that I said anything. I know that I shouldn't let it bother me so much, especially since I don't know the woman personally, but it does. It really does.

This incident has just made it so incredibly clear that I will never belong in the crunchy circles here in Evansville. I try to be active with what I can, yet I constantly feel like an outsider at everything I attend or comment on, etc. It's like it's a special clique here and if you don't happen to be friends with the right members, then you're shunned.

My feelings are so incredibly hurt right now. Especially because I feel like I have consistently put myself out there only to be shot down, whereas one of my good friends is more accepted for some reason (I know the person in question will read this, so please don't take it as something against you, I'm just making an observation!). Yes, I'm more of an introvert a lot of the time, but I don't think I come across as completely unapproachable.

I just don't get it and it's incredibly frustrating. I actually wound up leaving the group because seeing anything from it was just upsetting me more. I have some to realize lately that there is enough in my life that upsets me that I can't change right now so I need to eliminate the things that upset me that I can change. Trim the fat, that's my new motto.

I know this is a lot of rambling, but I'm just typing my thoughts as they come. Tomorrow is a new day and it'll be better, right?

Here's a pic of my kitties chillin' on our balcony in PA. Cute kitties always make you feel better :-)


Friday, August 9, 2013

Nine Months!

Cecily actually turned nine months old on July 25, but I thought I would wait until her doctor's appointment before I posted an update. She's 16 lbs 6 oz and 28 inches. Her pediatrician is concerned that her weight has leveled off and she only gained 3 oz in three months, but I'm not really concerned. As long as she's meeting milestones and is having enough diapers, then she's fine.

She has finally cut one of her top teeth and three more are coming in the near future. Because of this, she hasn't been sleeping well AT ALL. Between her going back to a newborn sleep schedule and Ewan pulling his sleep shenanigans, let's just say that the parents in this house are just a wee bit exhausted!

Cecily has started pulling up, usually to her knees unless she sees something she really wants. On Wednesday she did this.

We are in so much trouble!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Two posts in one day! What's the world coming to?! :-)

I made this last night and it's just too good not to post. We have been getting blackberries almost every week from our CSA and I have been wanting to do something with them other than just eating handfuls at a time. Then I got an email from Betty Crocker full of, you guessed it, blackberry recipes! This is the recipe I used, with a few alterations.

Blackberry Filling

1 1/4 cups frozen (thawed and well drained) blackberries
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I don't like pecans so I left this out)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Coffee Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 container (8 ounces) sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons water (I used more like 5-6)
I had some frozen blackberry puree that I thawed out and used to make it a blackberry glaze

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and side of 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan with shortening; lightly flour.

In small bowl, mix all Blackberry Filling ingredients; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour mixture alternately with sour cream on low speed.

Spread one-third of the batter in pan; sprinkle with half of the filling. Spoon another one-third of the batter by tablespoonfuls over filling; sprinkle with remaining filling. Spoon remaining batter over filling; spread evenly.

Bake coffee cake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes. (Our oven is a little wonky so it only took 45 minutes)

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir all Powdered Sugar Glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over cooled coffee cake.

This is a hit in our house. Even my blackberry hating husband loves it!

Travel Thursday: Paris Part II

In last week's installment, I mentioned that I spent two days at the Louvre because only certain sections are open each day. That's right, it is that big. 

The first day I went, I was with several friends and the main thing we wanted to see was the Mona Lisa. We did eventually see it, but after fighting the large crowds. I remember being surprised at how small the painting really is. One thing that still blows my mind is that not only were you allowed to take photographs, but you could also use flash. What?! Using flash is not good for artwork. At all.

Pardon the image taken from my scrapbook!
We also wondered around and saw various other works of art, but I was really disappointed because the sections I wanted to see, Greek, Roman and Ancient Near East Antiquities, were closed that day. So, what else is an art and history nerd to do, but come back when those sections are open! I was by myself this day so I was able to spend as much time as I wanted looking at everything. I don't speak French, but I know Spanish and some Latin, which was enough for me to be able to pretty much figure out what the captions said. I had taken some archaeology and art history classes the semester before I studied abroad, so I was in heaven seeing so much of what I had studied. 

The Venus de Milo
Hammurabi's Code
Stay tuned for Part III of my Paris adventure next Thursday!
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