Thursday, September 17, 2009

22 hours left!

My week:
-Monday- Meetings
-Tuesday- Longer meetings
-Wednesday- Even longer day of meetings
-Thursday- Like the energizer bunnies the meetings are still going.
-Friday- Picking Parents up from the airport!

T-minus 22 hours till Friday is here!

All to say… There will most likely be a blogging pause while I am with my parents touring around. Best of all we are headed to Italy for 10 days. The good news for all of you is that there will be fun blogging goodness when I return. The good news for me is after the longest week ever (work days from 8:00 am to 11:00 p.m. ) vacation has never arrived at such a perfect time.

Grosse Bizous!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Miss to Mrs.

Several years ago I was driving with my friend Meghan from the beach back to her house. She was dating on and off this guy named Maricio. Marico and Meghan were nothing serious but not due to the lack of effort on Maricios part. He was head of heals for Meghan. This day driving together I was asking Meghan questions about Maricio and helping her process why she wouldn’t want to be with such an amazing guy. I asked her why she wouldn’t commit and she sat there for a moment looking ahead while twirling her long golden blonde curly hair. After the pause she responded and said, “I don’t know… I just have this feeling that if I committed to him, I would end up marrying him, and right now I am not looking for something that serious.” Then she giggled thinking of how silly that might have sounded, I laughed with her but found her thoughts both interesting and possibly prophetic.

Looking back today, I know what Megan said that day, was true. Eventually, Marico won Meghan over and the two were “officially” a couple. Today Meghan will walk down the aisle, to become Mrs. Marico Mammoliti. I am so happy for both Meghan and Marico. I would rather be in no other place in the world right now than in Fallbrook, Ca helping Meghan get ready for the day she has always dreamed of. I would give the world to watch her become the loving wife to a magnificent man. I know it will be beautiful day and there will always be pictures to capture the moments. But nothing will ever do justice to hearing the silence in the crowd as Meghan today will make her first appearance as The Bride.

Congratulations to Maricio and Meghan! I love you both so much and am celebrating with you in my heart!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm getting up there

When flying I have many interesting and now so interesting conversations with the people I sit next to on planes. I just love free unsolicited advice from strangers. Don’t you?

To preface names given to my character names are chosen from what they bought from the on board duty free shop. Seriously… who buys from the on board duty free shop?

Mrs. Prada bag- We are headed back from watching our son’s championship fencing tournament.

Me- That's cool...

Mr. Armani glasses- Are you traveling alone?

Me- Yes. I am returning from a work trip.

Mr. Armani glasses- Oh well, you must be single then. With a look of concern.

Me- well… yes as in fact I am. But that’s okay.

Mr. Armani glasses- Well, don’t wait to long, you for a woman you only have a small window of opportunity- you have one or two years left, tops.

Me- uh, thanks. I am not worried, I just turned 25. I. Am. Okay.

Mr. Armani Glasses- Oh, I thought you were 33.

Me- nope. Just 25.

Mrs. Prada bag- Oh honey, that is not kind. That is not a compliment for a woman.

Mr. Armani Glasses (to wife)- I am just trying to help the girl.

Mrs. Prada bag- well, still- It’s not polite.

Mr. Armani Glasses (back to me)- Well it’s good that you are 25 and still young. But still, the sooner the better. 27. Maybe 28 tops.

Me- Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Only one hour till we land. Joy.

This is a promp for MamaKat's worshop- want to read more, go here.

Concidences... Probably not (part 2)

The whole reason I wrote yesterday’s post was because I actually wanted to write this, but couldn’t without first going on and on about my love and adoration for the family. Anyone who knows me personally is bound to hear me talk about the Stricklands at some point and time, I just can’t help it.

This morning I was reading 2nd Corinthians and thought what I read was perfect example to explain Jen journey and story. It says, “Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us, in all our affliction; so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort, with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2nd Corinthians 1: 3-4)

When Jen was younger, she was a model. She was a model here in Paris and all around Europe. Jen worked very hard at being perfect for all the right people at all the right times and that meant stuffing down all the internal emotions she had and being a perfect girl on the outside. Her body and face graced the pages of numerous campaign ads and the runways in Milan- yet Jen still searched for true happiness and meaning because the modeling industry continued to leave her hollow and empty.

Through her journey over in Europe as a model, Jen eventually had found refuge in Christ and left the modeling industry. Thinking about Jen’s testimony, I think back to who Jen must have been at that time she left her career. Even with all the horrible situations she had been in and how much she hated what she had to be, I can’t imagine it being easy to leave, all that you had known to be.

When I first saw and met Jen, I thought she was beautiful but never knew she was a model. In fact, I believe it wasn’t until I had known Jen for over a year that it was ever brought up she worked in the industry- let alone how much actually went on during her career. Over the years I have watched Jen go from someone who didn’t want others to know her identity as a model, transform into someone who wants to share her story, of finding true beauty, with those who are looking for it today. Jen more than anyone, knows the quest of obtaining the perfect look and never being satisfied or enough. When at the peak of her career, she says it took the most to be seen as perfect, when inside she felt the most deprived inside.

I remember the day when I was sitting at Jen’s counter and she mentioned she would like to write a book about her story and reach out to young girls. The tone she used when she revealed this dream was soft, visionary, and hopeful. Over time, Jen’s dream of writing a book became a conviction of something she must do to share truth with this generation of girls. I was able witness the transformation of someone taking their pain and using it for something positive.

One year ago- Jen’s dream came true. I was able to walk into my local Barnes and Nobles and pick “Girl Perfect” up off the shelf just like all the other books carried in their stores. I bought the book with pride and joy already fully knowing each story that lied inside; but inspired by what this book represented. This wasn’t a book where I would be surprised by what was written but one that I would want to share with everyone.

I talked a lot yesterday about how the more and more I think of the special relationship I have been given with the Stricklands, I see there are too many coincidences for it to be incidental. I never EVER expected me to live in France. Ever. But here I am. I walk around Paris and often think of Jen. I think of how different her experience here, differs from mine (for one I get to eat all the yummy bread and cheese). I see Jen here in Paris. Not the Jen I know but all the girls who represent who Jen was, when she lived here. Each of the models identify with the story Jen tells today- each one of them runs around from one casting to the next- dreaming to reach the next level of commercial perfection.

When I see the models around Paris I smile knowing that I have the burden of proof that this is not where their identity lies. I carry Jen’s story with me, knowing the tales of who she was then and what it all was like for her and knowing the beautiful person she is today. When I know I am going in the area of the Champs Elysees, close to where Jen and many models live, I take a copy of Jen’s book with me. As I walk along the grand boulevard I look for an opportunity to leave behind one of Jen’s books. I walk away knowing that it’s just too perfect for me to have been sent to Paris a year after her book was published, for her story to not be shared here, where it started to take place. I know her book will be picked up by a girl who will see herself in the pages of Jen’s story. It will be some girl’s internal mirror, giving the reflection of pain while planting the seed of a realistic hope.

(For more information about Jen you can go to her website Here. Where you can also purchase her book “Girl Perfect,” and learn more about her journey and where she found true beauty comes from.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Concidences... Probably not

I turned 16 on a Thursday. I remember this because youth group was always held on Thursdays and when I arrived at church two of my friends “kidnapped” me from youth group and we hung out down at the beach instead. What we missed that night- was a gift that would keep on giving to me over the last 9 years. There was a panel of three couples on the stage: a dating couple, a married couple, and an engaged couple. I personally knew the married and dating couple- but when I looked at the engaged couple I thought “I have never seen them before, but I wish I knew them…” and then we headed out of the door.

Fast forward a year and I received a phone call. The woman was given my name to babysit from the church youth list. I had never babysat for anyone in the church previously and thought it was odd they were given my name. But the woman on the phone sounded friendly so I decided to go ahead and go. She was a first time mother working on her master’s degree and needed someone to be there while she worked on her thesis. When I arrived for our first “appointment,” I walked up to the door, rang the door bell, and when the woman answered, I stood there in disbelief and smiled. The woman’s introduced herself as Jen. She was the woman from the engaged couple on the panel from my sixteenth birthday, who I never saw again. Until this day, standing on her doorstep, to watch her baby girl.

Over the years, the relationship I have the Jen and her family has been one of the greatest treasures in my life. When I am in their company, my heart is filled with complete joy. When I first started watching their child Olivia, she was eight months old and had an extreme case of separation anxiety. There would be times that Olivia would cry through my entire time babysitting. One of the only ways I could get Olivia to stop crying was to allow their HUGE dog Zubba to jump all over me, essentially tackling me, with the end result of getting Olivia to laugh.

The first time I met the husband Shane, I had Olivia in the back yard sitting, while I practiced my cheer dances for her. I was completely humiliated when Shane walked through the back door and I was singing and dancing away. But this introduction is probably what started our relationship out as the fun one we share.

When watching their kids, I would generally arrive at the Strickland’s home 30 minutes before they left, babysit for the time they were gone, and then stay an hour or two after they returned. I would sit on their couch just talking and hanging out. Most babysitters leave when the parents return and I am sure they wanted me too, but it never felt that way. To me it always felt like instant family, a safe, fun, loving place to be. Eventually, the two hours of hanging out, turned into staying the night, which then turned into staying the weekend. One time in college I came down just to watch their kids for the evening. Two days later I was still at the Stricklands, my cell phone died and I went M.I.A. My roommate was worried about me and called my parents, who had no idea I was even in town, they then called the Stricklands just to ensure I was actually there. While everyone else worried I was perfectly fine and content in my own little world and spending as much time as I could with the Stricklands.

After graduating from college I moved back to San Diego. One of the only refuges I took in moving away from all of my college friends, was that I would now be closer to the Strickland family. Three weeks later the family moved. I wrote in my journal, “Now the Strickland’s are gone, I will no longer have access to the family and the great joy they bring me.” A few short months after that, through a series of events, I ended up moving into their home, house sitting until it sold. You don’t get more access to a family then living in their empty old home. Coincidence? Probably not. Or it is the same kind of coincidence, that of all kids to call in the youth group for babysitting, they were given my name.

I have and always will think of them as my mentors and family. I love every single person in that family with my whole heart. I adore Jen and Shane, their children Olivia and Zach are lights in my life, and both sets of their parents are incredible. I have spent lots of time with the Strickland’s through the years. We have both moved several times over the 9 years but our relationship grows stronger and the love I have for them continues to grow stronger.

The whole point of the post will come out tomorrow, today I was just thinking about them and loving who they are and so thankful that the Lord has placed them in my life and grown our relationship and bond over the years. I hope the Lord blesses everyone with someone like the Stricklands in their life, because without them I am often unsure of where I would be in this world. Just the thought of them makes me smile and knowing that no matter how long I go without seeing or speaking to them, their love and joy will always be there.

The Family

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cash Secured

Like all things in France, an ordinary thing like the bank, has turned into a new and interesting way to be flexible and learn to do things differently. I love all of these fun new and exciting opportunities. The bank is like my very own Oceans 11, the Italian Job and Mission Impossible all together, and I get to be the main character.

I don’t go to my bank often because I still use my American bank account and cards 99% of the time. In all reality, I only got a bank account so I could have the internet. Thus, every so often I must go to the bank to ensure that there is argent (money) whenever Orange (my service provider) decides to take what they are owed.

You might notice I said whenever Orange decides to do a withdrawal. For some strange reason after signing up in May, my bill never came, and a withdrawal was never taken. That is… until three months later when they took all of the charges in one fell swoop. BAM! I was hit, knocked out, and down for the count.

Today I made it back over to the Popular bank known as “Bank Popular,” to do a little deposit.

Now I do not know how your bank works, but mine is the States, works a bit like this. You have money (or a check); you put it in the envelope, fill in the corresponding information, and insert money into the teller. The same teller you can do a withdrawal from. Is that what you do too?

Here in France my deposit goes something like this:
1. Walk into bank with all my information encase something goes wrong (which inevitably it always does- because I am Katie hickey and I am good at having things go wrong)

2. Grab envelop to fill in the corresponding information to deposit cash.

3. Get to the amount of cash fill in section and realize I grabbed a Coin deposit bag not a Cash deposit bag.

4. Throw away coin deposit bag.

5. Grab cash deposit bag and repeat step 2.

6. Tear off the top sheet for my records.

7. Shoot! The top two sheets ripped off.

8. Repeat steps 4, 5, & 2.

9. Viola! Cash is now in the right bag, with the right information filled out, AND the right sheet torn off.

10. Time for the actual deposit. Now just as there are separate bags there are also separate machines depending on your purpose for visiting. There are four tellers to be exact.
a. Cash Deposits (that’s me!)
b. Coin Deposits
c. Check Deposits
d. Cash withdrawals

Note: Only three of the four machines are pictured here, I didn't want to get caught and in trouble for taking the picutre like I do in so many other areas, which are a lot less sketych to actually take pictures at. But I got this all for you... my lovely readers!

11. Thankfully I get this one right every time and go straight to the cash deposit.

12. Enter Pin.

13. Rejected.

14. Mumble some bad French that my card isn’t working to lady behind front desk.

15. Lady at desk sighs and assues me it works, she the accompanies me, tries my card, and then believes me.

16. I am then told that before my card is activated I must do a withdrawal, to do my first deposit.
- note: it is not call a phone number to activate the card- but make a withdrawl.(Now, this is where my logic clicks in. If I am needing to deposit money, but I first need to withdrawal money, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of me depositing money in the first place? And aren’t you going off the assumption that I have money in my account to make the first withdrawal?)

17. Lady from desk uses her VIP card to swipe me in for my deposit.

18. Answer a series of questions –Pin, Deposit amount, Secret seven digit code deposit bag, Mother’s maiden name, High School Mascot, blood type, favorite cheese and wine combo. Okay the last four are bogus but the rest are true.

19. Secret slot opens- drop in the cash.

This is my favorite Part

20. Deposit made and secure.

Phew. Another new day, another new learning adventure. But the good news is, I have cash in the French bank! So the next time Orange decides to do another swoop for the payment- it’ll all be sitting there, waiting for them.

Mission accomplished the cash is secured.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

French Weekly

The number one question asked to me when talking to people at home is, "What are the French like? Are they rude? Are they all skinny? Do they all smoke? Do they eat a lot of cheese? Do they all wear the best fashions? Lots and lots of questions that all revolve around our stereotypes for what the French are like.

After strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens I found the perfect anwser to the question, "What are the French like," My response, “They're Just Like Us.”

They use training wheels to learn to ride a bike and wear helmets too

They run in the park

They re-apply their makeup

They get married and take photos of the big day

They fly down slides

They play ping pong

They Eat McDonalds

They climb jungle gyms

Last but not least, "They're just like us,"

They play with their iPhones

The Dent Story

This is Big Brother and me, this is his wedding day. As a child I never thought I would see the day when he would get married, because with the Big Brother I grew up with... who would!?! But he's grown up quite a bit. Following MamaKat's prompt this is a story of Big Brother and me... and what I was wrongfully blamed for! xoxo family :)

When I was a child my brother and I fought… A LOT! Not just the, oh you’re brother and sister fighting- more of the you are the only person I cannot stand in the world and I will do anything to take you out. Kind of fighting. Looking back I don’t know how my parents didn’t take the two of us out. Or at least my brother, that might have been nice, after all I was in innocent princess. Right?!

I tell this tale often, because I look back and find it ridiculously hilarious though that day… I. did. Not.

When I was around 7 or 8 my brother was five years older than me, making him 13 or 14. There is a pretty significant size difference between a 7 or 8 yr old girl and a young teenage boy. My brother played defense football and was really good (should have been my first clue) and had kindly asked me to play with him. I ignorantly, eagerly agreed and we played in our family room. A happy reunion me and my big brother playing football, a.k.a my brother now had permission to pummel me into the ground.

After a while I was tired of being the one sacked. I decided this time he would be taken down and while my brother was hiking the ball I grabbed my brothers ankles out from under him. Not quite so brilliant. Instantaneously, Big Brother was off of his face planted in the ground and had me by the ankles. He proceeded to swing me in a circle and release me into the living room wall. Kindly enough there was a couch to catch my fall.

I let out an earth shattering scream that only a little sister can do, but we all know light travels faster than sound and my brother was already gone. My parents came to the rescue and discovered there was a fresh new dent in the wall. I explained that Big Brother threw me into the wall, with as much detail my semi unconscious brain could recall. (oh he’s really gonna get it this time).

No, No, no, I should have known better than to instigate Big Brother and play football with him. I should have known that “something like this was going to happen.” Thus it quickly became my fault that my head made a dent in our family room wall. Abort, Abort, this is not going according to plan, maybe if I cried a bit harder they would have believed me. I am 100% positive I NEVER instigated my brother and that he NEVER was blammed for something I did rather than him... Regardless the story remains, my head and my dent are all too blame.