Sunday, February 9, 2014

The essence of celebration - A visit from Mom!

"I would like to specifically dedicate this to my mother who struggled in life so that I may succeed."
Those are the words I wrote to dedicate my dissertation to my mom.  My mother is my friend and number one fan.  She's been with me for all my firsts:  first tear, first smile, first laugh, first step, first word spoken, first words read, first boyfriend, college acceptance, college studies struggles, college graduation, breakups, move to Ohio, grad school struggles, meeting the true love of my life, engagement, doctoral graduation, marriage, deployment, and moving to a new country.

Oh, to be a mom and see all the growth, hardships, accomplishments, choices (good and bad), and places your children venture off to in the world.  What a journey.  I love my mom for always being there and never giving up on me; even when I was not as grateful as I should have been at times. 

I am so happy to be able to finally give something back to her after all that she sacrificed in life for me.  My mom never was able to visit Europe, and now she has a reason to explore this fine land! 

My 20th Birthday 

UGA graduation

Ph.D. graduation
Wedding day mother-daughter dance

One of the many times she visited me during deployment
Okay, enough with the sappy stuff.  Let's get down to how I really felt about her coming!  I wanted to shout to the skies "Hooray, my mom is coming!!!!!!"  It had been almost 5 months since I'd seen her (waaaayyy too long)!  She came during Christmas, and we had fun exploring so many wonderful places around Germany and France.  Join me on a whirlwind tour of her trip!

First stop:  Wiesbaden

She is the lucky first visitor of our tiny apartment and in true "mom" form she gushed about how she thought I did a great job with the space and how it wasn't tiny at all.  Gotta love mom's for always thinking positive!  We had fun eating Brats and drinking Glühwein at the Christmas Market!  We also found these amazing little balls of marshmallows dipped in various flavors of chocolate.  They were delicious!
First Gluwein ever!
Next stop:  Munich, Germany 

We drove to Munich the weekend before Christmas and stayed at a cute hotel right in walking distance to our main goal...Hofbäuhaus (HB)!  

You:  Why did you take your mom to a beer hall out of all the gorgeous locations in Germany?  
Me:  It was her idea people!  And there is waaaay more to Munich than Beer!

Her father was stationed in Munich in the late 1950's and would take her there as a little girl for her father-daughter time.  She was always told stories of how she would sit and talk German to everyone at the table.  It was a sentimental trip because her father passed away in her twenties.  I wasn't around yet to meet him, but I've always known the love my mother had for him and heard stories of his fairness and dedication / love for his family.  He had always promised to take the kids back one day and show them around Munich.  Well, we made it happen!  We smooshed in our 2-door coupe with Emma in tow and headed down to Bavaria!  It was neat to see her face when we were in the HB. We also explored Munich's Christmas Market, which is one of the biggest! 
Squished in the car with Emma.  She has a necklace problem.

She looked like a little girl with feelings of awe and surreal-ness, right?  
I heart her!
Emma joined in the fun.  Mom drank a Raddler:  1/2 Beer 1/2 Lemonade = yummy

We imagined grandpa writing his name in the tables.
Toasting grandpa!
The glockenspiel.  So cool!

More Gluwein!  Family photo.

Christmas market ornaments

Biggest Christmas tree ever!

St. Nicholas was walking around handing out presents to all the children.
The inside of one of the beautiful churches in town.

Up next:  Heidelberg, Germany

We took a day trip to visit Heidelberg castle.  Her first CASTLE!!!!  It was fun to do a short tour and see the magnificent view of the Rhine.  Then we lucked out and went to Mom's 3rd Christmas market (It was supposed to be closed)!

Castle grounds

Gorgeous view of the Rhine

Last stop:  Epernay, France 

I have to say, this was my FAVORITE stop.  It's a 3.5 hour drive from Wiesbaden and we had soooo much fun.  We toured the finest champagne caves, Moët & Chandon!  Their theme is "The essence of celebration," hence the name of this blog post.  We were told by many people that this is the only place you really need to tour the caves.  We followed useful tips from my friend's blog, here.  She also summarizes the tour on how the champagne is made.  It's such a cool process!  

Since we went in the winter, Moët & Chandon was closed on Saturday.  Our tour was at 2PM on Friday, so we drove down Thursday and stayed 2 nights.  After our tour, we walked around and sampled champagne at other Champagne houses.  The next day we woke up and shopped on their cute pedestrian zone.  It was one of my favorite trips and I highly recommend it!  

  1. Remember to stop before Saarbruken for the last Esso station to get gas in Germany.  
  2. Bring change for the toll roads in France.  One toll was 4.40 Euro and the other 12.20 Euro.  
  3. We did the Imperial tour at Moët & Chandon, but for only 4 more Euro you can taste the vintage. You're really only there once, so just splurge!  I regretted it after they talked so much about how the vintage had been sitting for 10 years.  
  4. Fun fact:  Moët is pronounced like mo-et, not like the painter Claude Monet.  
  5. Dogs are not allowed in the cave tours. :(
We made it to the land of champagne!

Napolean was here!

Bottles and bottles, oh my!

Riddling racks! If only I could fit one of these in our tiny apartment.

The bubbles are so tiny.

Can you tell we had fun? Of course we had to buy a few bottles to go!

My favorite all time picture.
It was sad to see my mom go, but we had a fantastic trip!  We lived every second of her time here.  When we weren't traveling, we cooked up a storm:  homemade ravioli, cute little tea cakes, and our family ham recipe.  It was fun to shop for Christmas presents and we ended her visit eating take out, watching TV, and sipping the Moet desert wine.  Mom's next visit is sure to be a blast, since it will be warmer weather!  I can't wait to explore more.  Love you, mom!


  1. Michelle, I love this post! That's so great that your mom came out and looks like you had so much fun! This made me really excited to see my family in May :)

  2. Thanks, we did have fun! I'm excited for you to go home and stop to smell the cannoli with your family!! Can't wait to hear about it!

  3. Aw, so sweet! You look soooo much like your mom!! The expressions y'all make are exactly the same! And I love that last picture- so glad she got to come visit. Y'all crammed a lot in and had some serious fun! :)


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