home again, home again

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No destination compares with the luxuries of home. The ability to get a drink of water, food from the cupboard, use the bathroom or stretch out on your own white sheets. To place your toothbrush back in the same spot, find your shampoo waiting for you in the shower, pull a favorite book off the shelf and throw dirty clothes in the washing machine embodies the simplest of pleasures.

Still, we’re feeling pretty spoiled taking the family overseas to visit Ben’s mission. Everything pulled together– Erik had business in Italy, my extraordinary friend Melissa offered her home in Geneva and hired me to shoot a trailer for her new book Global Mom (so much more about that in another post), beautiful Noémi was able to meet up with us in Geneva.

I doubt we’ll ever take a big family trip like this again. We are in the age of transition– missions, college, marriage, careers- by next summer Ben will have a job he can’t leave. So, as I always say: the best time is when you have the time (same goes for transplanting roses, learning Spanish, cleaning the garage, visiting the lake, etc.).

And since I’m feeling like a traveling pro right now (read: made lots of mistakes) and several people have asked for advice on international travel with kids, I’ll be writing some informational posts. But for today, just the slimmest overview.

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Hostess extraordinaire, Melissa guided us through castles and vineyards and chocolatiers.

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 We feasted at her gorgeous Norwegian table,
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admired her dreamy garden

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and paddled Lake Geneva with our Audrey Hepburn look-alike. My kids adored Noémi and quickly forgot they’d never met in person before.

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Then, to Italy where we visited Ben’s old neighborhoods,

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met the people he taught,

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climbed thousands of stairs (Mary counted every one),

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gazed at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence,

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got lost in Venice,

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traipsed through the Gallery in Milan,

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visited dozens of churches,
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(including one with bone decor)

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 and drove through miles and miles of vineyards. Every hill has it’s own church and castle.

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We ate gelato twice a day, every day,

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found that bargain hotel was an ancient Tuscan winery.

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I dreamt of shopping in this store (not a chance when traveling with a pack of boys)

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and found Cinque Terre a dream come true.

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Rubbing the snout of this statue in Florence, supposedly ensures your return to this city of beauty. And one day, I’m sure we’ll make it back, but probably not together. Ben with his future wife, Xander with a school group, Gabe on his mission, etc. I’m glad we grabbed the brass ring and took this adventure of a lifetime. We won’t pass this way again.

p.s. Stefan was well aware he’d miss this trip, but is so happy in Russia he doesn’t care.

June 28, 2013



  1. Hot Hot JJ

    July 19, 2013

    Oh Michelle, this is DREAMY!

    I honeymooned in Italy and remember it so well. The only regret I have is that I didn’t blog about it much. I wish I blogged and blogged and blogged ever last single memory, because my blog is my favorite journal.

    I can hardly wait to see what’s to come!

  2. shannon

    July 19, 2013

    Welcome home! Although you don’t know me I have missed your stories and photographs.

  3. annie

    July 19, 2013

    Your trip looks so fabulous!

    In an unrelated note, I just watched a neat documentary about Russia, on Netflix. It’s called “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga”. I don’t think it’s the same part of Russia that your son is in, but its still super interesting, so I thought I’d pass along my recommendation!

  4. Jen@mysentimentaljamboree

    July 19, 2013

    Oh my goodness, what a holiday! Your pictures show such warmth. You have a beautiful family and I appreciate your sharing. So so lovely!!!

  5. Ang

    July 19, 2013

    Beautiful photos. Beautiful trip!

  6. Nana

    July 19, 2013

    I am always anxious that people appreciate “my” Italy. It looks like you surely did. We also took a once in a lifetime trip with the whole family to Italy eleven years ago. We stayed a month in a little villa by the sea. We definitely won’t be able to do that ever again. I am so glad that we took the opportunity when it presented itself. I am over-joyed that you were able to do so as well! Welcome home Lehnardts!

  7. Jeanelle

    July 19, 2013

    what GLORIOUS photos (the one of you and Mary is my favorite.) So happy you had this experience and shared it with us.

  8. Anne Marie

    July 19, 2013

    Wow! So very happy that you went on this magical trip! Those pictures are divine. Your family radiates so much love. Thank you for giving us glimpses of this. You inspire me as a mama.

  9. Kerri

    July 19, 2013

    I loved your pictures on Instagram, and I loved this post. I’m so thrilled you were able to have such a lovely trip.

    And I just finished Stefan’s letters. They are wonderful.

    Welcome back!

  10. Tracy

    July 21, 2013

    I’ve keeping up with you on Instagram. Have missed you. Seriously, incredible trip! xo

  11. Jen

    July 25, 2013

    I just stumbled upon your wonderful blog…not sure exactly how I ended up here–but I am so thankful I did!! Thank you for sharing your life!! I have enjoyed myself so much and made a few notes for my fridge! And, I looked through your wonderful photos and saw Melissa!! We were in Munich at the same time…such a wonderful happy sight!!!

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