Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Saturday, January 31, 2015

a running list from Cincinnati --> Atlanta --> Paris --> Geneva (and BACK!)

This afternoon I kicked off a business trip to Europe. I'm going to Geneva to train some of the leaders of my company and making a one-day pit stop in Paris along the way. You know, because it's PARIS. While I was waiting to board my first flight from Cincinnati to a layover in Atlanta I read this quote:

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." -Archbishop Demond Tutu

I love that. 

I believe that.

I know that it's true. 

With all the bad and ugly happening in our world I believe that there is more good than bad. That there is everlasting hope. That love conquers all and that I am blessed through and through. 

I am thankful and I am humbled. 

Well, as humble as one can be sitting in the Delta lounge drinking a glass of cab while she's waiting for her first class flight to Paris. But yes, humble built on a mountain of gratitude and amazement that I even get a chance at such opportunities. 

Anyway, back to the quote. I am going to start a running list of "bits of good" that I witness on my journey from Cincinnati --> Atlanta --> Paris --> Geneva --> Paris --> Atlanta --> Cincinnati and I'll update throughout my trip and try to share every once in awhile- because something inside of me tells me it will be a beautiful list that is worth sharing. 

*1.31.2015 (Saturday)*

- Thankful for my mother-in-law who came to play with the kids for an hour when I had to leave for the airport before Dan arrived home from a meeting. She also brought berries with her b/c you know how the boys love their fruit. Papaw also showed up right before I left. I"m thankful that while I'm gone my babies have more than enough people to love them unconditionally while I'm away.  

-On the shuttle from the extended parking to the CVG terminal: the driver- he noticed my Purdue license plate which started a conversation about his son who had Purdue as his #1 choice for engineering school. I just loved listening to how proud he was of his son. And of course I love any chance to talk about Purdue. He was extra helpful with my bags and wished me a safe journey.  Kind words make a big difference when you're feeling fearful and sad about leaving your babies for a week. 

-On the plane from CVG to Atlanta- the stewardess- she was especially kind. She stopped by mid-flight and said she saw that I was going to Paris and wanted to hear about why I was going and what I was going to do when I got there. The man sitting next to me overheard us and said his company is based in Paris so he goes often and was just there last week. He spent the last 30 minutes of the flight giving me advice- he was quite a bit older than me so the advice included a lot of warnings about ignoring any gypsies, walking straight past anyone who asks me if I speak English, etc- he even gave me 2 leftover train tickets he had from his last trip. I love strangers looking out for strangers. That's pretty nice. 

-Right now as I write this in the lounge I can overhear a conversation behind me of 2 strangers. 2 men. The one man asked the other about his family and now the other man has been proudly babbling about his children for at least 5 minutes- pictures have been pulled out and they're exchanging stories of when their now pre-teens were babies. I mean, really. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, we're all the same. We all love our babies, we all our proud of them and welcome any chance to talk about them. 

*2.1.2015 (Sunday)*

-I don't have a lot of specific "bits of good" from Paris, but that was generally driven by me. I was careful to keep to myself as much as possible being an American woman exploring on her own, especially after the recent terrorist attack.  But, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that not one Parisian was rude or impatient with me, not one. Ever person I encountered was friendly and helpful. I'm relieved to say that I had zero moments of feeling unsafe or unwelcome. Zero. 


*2.2-2.5.2015 (Geneva)*

-My mom. She's been helping an extra amount this week with my sweet babies. She arrives super early so that Dan can leave for work on time which is hard when you're then taking care of 3 little people all day. On top of that, she always makes it extra special. On Sunday she came and picked up Jackson and Audrey for a few hours knowing that they might need a distraction as it was my first day away. She took them to visit Grandma Nanny (which they always love for the treats involved) and then went to a Superbowl Party and Aunt B's (treats also involved and lots of attention). On top of that she took them for a playdate on Wednesday with their best friends- Canaan, Ezra and Lainey. Nanna of the year, for sure. 

-The bits of good from Geneva have come mainly in the form of being made to feel at home by my many colleagues. In almost every session that I have led has included at least one of our senior leaders who I feel has taken on the role of somewhat protection- making sure I felt comfortable, giving me tips, ensuring I was taken care of during my time here, speaking up and supporting my points, etc. Thankful. 

-I happen to be staying at one of the nicest hotels in Geneva. I didn't know that it was when I booked it, I just knew that it was recommended to me by one of my leaders. It's directly across the street from Lake Geneva with the Alps in the background and every part of the hotel is luxurious. I've been here now since Monday morning and always feel a little less alone when the staff now recognizes me and asks how my day was, how I'm doing and ensuring I get to where I need to go each day. I especially loved tonight when I came in from the office and heard "welcome home, Miss Hoffman." (I still travel internationally under my maiden name since I've never had time to change my passport :). 

-Dan. He not only supports me when I'm away like this, but encourages me. He send me pictures and updates on the babies which I love, he calls and sends me messages to see how things are going, wishes me luck when he knows I have anxiety about the sessions I' leading. And last night, I was feeling somewhat down from missing my babies. I wrote him a note (because he was at work) and explained that I just don't think I can go on my mission trip next month to Ecuador- I just can't imagine right now leaving again so soon so asked him if I should just give up my spot. He reminded me that I would regret it if I didn't go, that this work is important to me and that it will be life-changing for sure. Like I said, encouragement in times of doubt.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

life's to dos.

life's to do list this week has included:

1. Put home up for sale.
2. Give 14 showings within 3 days for said house.
3. Get first offer on house (yay!) with more promised in coming days. 
4. Decide on house to buy. 
5. Spend lots of time at urgent care- the bear has strep throat. 
6. Go to DR- the bear has given mama said germs. 
7. Work. Lots of work.
8. Do all of this solo- Dan is out of town.
9. Start planning for trip to Paris & Geneva next week.
10. Stay semi-sane. TBD on success of #10. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

mr. mom and cinderella.

This moment right here is the story of Jackson and Audrey in this season of life. He is Mr. Mom- always helping me, cleaning up and organizing, teaching Audrey and the first to help with Jonah. And Audrey has forgotten how to walk- she dances every where she goes. All the time and always in a princess dress. Last weekend she went with Nanna and I to her first broadway show at the Aronoff to see Cinderella. She sat in her seat for the entire 2.5 hours with her princess shoes and tiara on in complete awe. My favorite moment of the night was during intermission. The man at concession stand asked her what her name was... she curtseyed and replied "Audrey Danielle." I do not know where she gets this stuff nor can I make it up.
Jackson cleaning up while Audrey perfects the arabesque. 


Life is... well, crazy. Crazy good, but crazy nonetheless. Between the two of us, Dan and I have 5+ trips over the next 2 months, we are trying to sell our home and buy a new one, we will be celebrating one little man turning ONE! and one turning FIVE!, I am trying to train for a half-marathon, trying to keep our heads above water at 2 full-time jobs and enjoy every possible moment with our 3 precious monsters. 

At this point I feel like my next full breath will come in April. Maybe. 

But, honestly, no complaints. Life is good and full of adventure and love and thankfully friends and family who are always here to help, especially my mom and Amy -both of whom we're so thankful for. 

My first business trip away from Jonah came this week with a quick trip to NYC. I often have these moments of wondering how I was ever chosen for the work I do. I'm convinced that the day will come when someone will look around the room and ask me to please leave because clearly I'm not smart enough to be there. Luckily, this did not happen during this trip but I'm still trying to figure out why. On Wednesday we spent the entire day at the New York Google headquarters followed by some time at the Facebook HQ on Thursday morning. 

In between meetings I was able to have dinner with one of my very best friends, Katrina, who lives in Manhattan, take a quick walk around Times Square and stop by the 9/11 Memorial on my way out of town. I'm always so humbled and thankful for these opportunities. I can't help but believe that God puts me in these places and with these people for great reasons and so I do my best to soak it all up to my core. 

Taking photos from the plane for JP. He is a details' man and loves seeing as much as possible from my trips.

The view from my Wednesday meetings. One Trade Center in back middle, Statue of Liberty in back/right (looks tiny!), the rest are the Chelsea and Tribeca neighborhoods of Manhattan. 

Late night stroll through Times Square. 

Sobering, humbling visit to the 9/11 memorial. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

the bear is 11 months.

Jonah bear turned 11 months this week... said another way, I have less than a month of being a mom to a baby. I will miss this baby stage. A lot. I love the cuddles that only babies can give. I love the babbles and the pace of learning that comes with that first year. I love the chubby cheeks and fingers and toes. I love the peace of rocking a baby in the middle of the night and while I won't miss the lost sleep I will miss the feeling of knowing you're the only person in the world who can calm those tears in the middle of the night when he just needs some extra cuddle time. Oh, Jonah. Lets face it, you'll always be my baby. As long as I don't take it to the extreme of you ending up in therapy one day I think we'll be just fine, so just play along, will you and pretend to always be my cuddly Jonah bear, just as you are today? 

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