100th Post

This is an exciting and special day not only because it marks one year since my liver resection surgery, but also because this post number 100 on my blog! Double yippee!

What started out as a way to keep in touch when my husband and I moved to China has turned into a resource for cancer survivors and illness sufferers. Oh and in-between, I chronicled six months of living in France. What a ride!

To commemorate the moment, I wanted to share a few of my favorite and most popular posts. It was really fun to look back. I love how this blog has served as a history of my life.

Thank you for reading.  Here’s to the next 100!

Most popular posts:
Waiting for Hair: The Toll of Chemotherapy and Cancer
For me, losing my hair wasn’t hard — it was the waiting for it to grow back that has been the most challenging.  And for the hair update, click here.

img_1819

2014, 2015 & 2016

Living Universal Truths on My Cancerversy
September 1st is my cancerversy and the universe conspired for some incredible things to happen.

Testing My Confidence
My terrifying debut to the french language.

Belgium: More Than Beer and Chocolate
Christmas in Brussels, Bruges and Ghent.

My Night in a Brothel
Spending the night in a 24-hour Asian spa – sketchy or awesome? Both.

 

Favorite posts:

img_1337-2

At the End of the World on Cancer Survivor’s Day

The Ordinary World
My journey through cancer and to the Camino de Santiago.

Lessons Learned in Advocating
Your life depends on not letting your guard down for a moment. Here are some of the important advocating lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Why I’m Kicking Italy to the Curb
Where my obsession with the Camino de Santiago all began.  To read all my Camino posts, click here.

DSCN0381

Holly visits China

Hol(l)y Crap
When one of my best friends visited me in China.

The Adventures of Henri & Moi
Driving a manual car in a foreign country is terrifying.

 

Advertisements

Le Mariage Français

Yes, I know our french wedding was over year ago and that makes me the world’s biggest procrastinator. In my defense, I did not want to write about the wedding until I got pictures and I just got them. Okay, I got those a month ago. I’m a terrible liar. Here goes…

Basically, it was a blast and here are the highlights…

  • The ceremony in the church that holds decades of history almost didn’t happen. True story – the priest almost didn’t marry us. So, this wasn’t fun, but we can laugh about it now. Back in December 2011, when Fabien & I were both in France for Christmas, we went to see the Priest about our upcoming wedding. He knew that we would be apart for 6 months and explained that to be married in the catholic church, you typically need to undergo marriage counseling. We agreed and proceeded to ignore this requirement. Yes, we are horrible catholics. In my defense, these instructions were given before I spoke french. Plus, we were married already. So, a week before our wedding, we received an email from the Priest explaining that he was “furious” and “disappointed” that we were not taking our marriage and the catholic religion seriously and that he would like to see us the day before our wedding, when we arrive in France to discuss whether he will even preform our ceremony. And so, when we arrived in France, the day before our wedding, jet-lagged beyond belief, we put our tails between our legs and ran over to the church where he greeted us with a huge smile and explained how he was so excited for our wedding. Hmmm, okay.
  • “It’s like rain on your (2nd) wedding day…” The day of our first wedding was so beautiful that we couldn’t be greedy, but the weatherman was predicting a 90% chance of rain, thunderstorms and high winds at exactly the time of our ceremony. It was horrible, look at weather in the pics below:
As you can see, the weather was horrible.

As you can see, the weather was horrible.

And it only got worse throughout the day.

And it only got worse throughout the day.

Eventually, the rain, thunderstorm and high winds did come, but it was at 4am and, at that point, everyone (i.e., me) had too much champagne to care.

  • I was the Russian bride. Yes, my french has dramatically improved, but I’m still a little shakey. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to preform my vows, in french. This after we already agreed with the Priest, that he would read the vows and I would simply give a solid, “oui”. And so I said “oui”, everyone laughed and Fabien handed me a sheet with the vows. I gave it the old college try and did fine, but it sure did give everyone a nice giggle. Also, my friend, Janet, who so graciously agreed to be my witness had no idea (nor did I) that she would have to come to the pew in the church to also give testimony that I agreed to the marriage. At the signing, she and I laughed how she’s not so sure signing a contract, in a language you don’t understand, is a very good practice. She’s a laywer and a good sport.
DSCF0900

Me: “I have no idea what’s going on.” Janet: “Don’t worry, this won’t hold up in court anyway.”

  • Dinner half time shows. This certainly was unexpected. Between courses, Fabien’s friends and family put together little skits and shows. They were really great. There was a song about us, a sumo dance to “Living in America” and a great video slideshow which included a very, shall I say, revealing photo of my husband while on spring break in Spain during college. As Janet said, “That would not have gotten the same reaction in the US.” I laughed and agreed.

mariage fabien stacie 2012 090

mariage fabien stacie 2012 053

  • The all night and into the next day party. I came equipt with a couple 5 hour energy’s, but as it turns out, I didn’t need it. I just drank enough champagne for 5 hours, which gave me energy until about 4am. What I wasn’t equipt for was the all day festivities on Sunday where we ate and played games. I thought Sunday would allow for a proper hangover day where we would watch the french version of Real Housewives and eat fast food, but this is what a french hangover looks like:

mariage fabien stacie 2012 210

  • We literally blew in an out of town. We left on the 4th of July, arrived on the 5th, raced around town with last minute preparations, wedding on the 7th, on the 8th was the after wedding party (which was a total surprise to me) and then we left for Greece on the 9th. Yeah, by the time we got to Athens, we just needed to sleep for a day.

Ultimately, it was, again, the happiest day of my life. It was so great to have all of these friends and family travel from all over the world, who we’ve met on various adventures. To have them all in one spot will probably never happen again and I am forever grateful to them for traveling and continuing to make our story so fun. 2nd, my in-laws were so amazing to put the whole show together. I really did very little. But more than the beautiful wedding they to put together, I thank them most for bringing their amazing son into the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See you later, France

OMG – I can’t believe I’ve been in France for nearly 6 months. The first 5 flew by, but because I had no classes and no trips planned, May itself seemed like another 6 months. With homesickness kicking in, I was determined to keep myself busy. So, I spent my last weeks studying for my big exam and having last hurrahs with friends and family.

So, this exam – the DELF – diplôme d’études en langue française. I was going for Level B1, which indicates I am “an independent user of the French language.” The certification is internationally recognized and never expires.  Over 2 days, I would be evaluated on oral/written comprehension and oral/written expression.  The first day would be my individual evaluation where I would have to talk for about 15 minutes on various topics of the examiners choosing. It doesn’t sound difficult, but when your language abilities are limited, it is quite a challenge. Fortunately, I think I did good. Then the 2nd day consisted of oral/writing comprehension and writing expression. Again, I think I did well, but ran short on time considering there was only about 2 hours to write an essay, read 2 articles, listen to 3 texts and answer about 25 questions.

Regardless of the results, I am extremely happy with my level of french. I was quite naive to think I would come to France and leave in a fluent state 6 months later. This process has only made me realize that it will be a life long process. However, I can speak and understand well enough to get by independently. Goal achieved.

Once my exam was out of the way, it was time to bid farewell to my classmates, friends and family.  I spent my last two days in France with the American gals in my program. They were all staying a bit longer but were heading off to other places in Europe and this was the last time we would all be in the same city. So, the day of the exam, we had a cheese party in the park to celebrate the official end to learning in France. We ate and drank wonderful wine and cheese until they kicked us out of the park at sundown. Then the next day, we pretty much did the same thing along the Loire River. It was a fun time and a great farewell to them and France:

Wine & cheese party… “A girl should be two things – classy and fabulous” – Coco Chanel

Our last day on the Loire together. From left, Madeline (Clarkston, Michigan), Angela (Hawaii), Me, and Katie (Rochester, Michigan)

The end of the year party at school was in the beginning of May.  My group at the University was really nice and I am extremely grateful to them for making me feel so welcome. Most of them began in September and had a much higher level of french. However, they were always patient with me and part of the reason my level grew so quickly.

End of the year party at the University. From Left: Keziban (Turkey), Me, Emina & her daughter (Serbia), Alisa (Serbia) and Maria (Japan).

Also, on our last day of classes, our group went on a field trip to Chateau Chamerolles. We had a tour guide and I was pretty fired up when I understood 99% of what she was saying. It was also a great time spent with my classmates. Here are some pics:

Saied, from Russia

The adorable Kako, from Japan

Alisa (Serbia) messing with Memei (Japan)

And the whole A Team (minus Hala)

So, this chapter comes to a close. I will be forever grateful to my husband and his parents for making this opportunity/adventure possible. Corinne and Jean-Paul treated me like their own and I am so lucky to have in laws that I not only like, but love to be around.  They are so much fun and were so wonderful and patient with me.  Never, in a million years did I think I would live in France and learn to speak french and I can not thank them enough.

Now we are changing directions – from language learning mode to getting married (again) mode. Oh the blogs (or books) I could write about getting married in a country where you don’t understand the language, process and the rules of the Catholic church. But, until July, I’m headed back to the States for some much needed quality time with Fabien, Bear, Cally and my family in Michigan. Alors, à plus tard, France!