It snowed today! Now this is a fairly common occurrence in Utah but it was a big deal for our kiddos. When we came home from Timor for a few months to have Chloe we promised the kids there would be snow, and sledding and snowman building. Only it didn’t snow, ever. Um, sorry about that. It did snow once while we were in Paris but not enough to really play in it, just for it to look absolutely gorgeous at the Eiffel Tower. When the kids realized how much it had snowed you would think someone was about to light a stick of dynamite in our house and they had to get OUT. We don’t own proper bibs and gloves yet so I demanded that each child come over and get their outfit approved. Evie for instance had pretty dainty white sandals on because she “couldn’t find her boots ANNNNNYwhere”… they were in our shoe basket. Once I felt like they were layered enough out we went! For about 15 minutes they had great fun running through all the yards, jumping on the trampoline, building a snowman named Bob and bob jr. Chloe was not surprisingly the first to come in. As soon as I had peeled off her wet clothes and gotten a pot of water on to boil for hot chocolate Sawyer came in, then Evie then finally Finn. We followed up the brief romp with pancakes and hot chocolate and watched a Christmas Story, which they LOVED. Sawyer calls old movies “way back” movies and it cracks me up. Later in the afternoon we headed to DI to buy some bibs. I just can’t bring myself to shell out 100 bucks to outfit everyone for one winter. But I know for a fact there will be several “sledding with cousins” days and I am hoping their Aunt will teach the older ones to snowboard so we had to get something and I was able to find two suitable pairs which they are now all fighting over ha! I think tomorrow we are going to have a family project and make some bed warmers. It has gotten COLD here and I abhor sliding into a cold bed. A heating blanket may well be in our future as well ha! Do you think we are looking forward to the warmth of Sydney? You bet your bootie. But for now we are soaking up all the fun we can in the cold!
First I would like to say thank you so much for the kind comments on the last post. Man did it make my day!!! I am super happy to be back blogging again to! I had to share the family pictures we had done right before Chris headed off to Afghanistan. As I have said before Leah Miller is one of my favorite photographers. Our hubbies attended William and Mary Law school together but sadly WE didn’t connect until after. She kindly agreed to swap family sessions (poor girl she is getting the short end of the stick on that one for SURE). Oh my did she deliver. I absolutely love them! For the first time ever I made sure PHOTOGRAPHER Kelly was present. Fun, tickling, playing games, non-stop smiling Kelly. The kids actually had a BLAST which in and of itself is a huge success. Then when Leah sent me some sneak peaks I got all teary, It is something pretty magical to have how happy you are to be a family completely captured on film. The first one I already ordered in a MASSIVE canvas and the only of Chris and the kids will be next! Thank you Leah for sharing your talent and capturing our family in exactly the way I had hoped! Just in case you were wondering:
My hair and make up: The incredibly talented and kind Vivianne
On Sawyer: Shirt and pants Target though I added the suspenders, shoes Kenneth Cole
Hope you are getting as excited to send out holiday cards as I am!!
So, it has been almost six months since my last blog post. I actually would have restarted blogging again a long time ago but I was so overwhelmed with talking about why I stopped, what we have been doing since, how we are doing in Utah, how Chris is doing in Afghanistan…. on and on so I just didn’t blog. But I am tired of not blogging so someday I may write a blog post going over all those things, but for right now I am just going to start. I must warn you since Chris is gone and I am mainly doing this now to keep him in the loop it will be WAYYYY more journally which may annoy some of you. But c’est la Vie!
Today was Halloween. Our first holiday without Chris. It feels like a good, easy, hurdle to jump over at the beginning of this long year. He has been gone for four weeks and I feel like we are just getting our legs under us. The kiddos were off track for the first three weeks and oh my goodness, by the end of it I thought there was no way I was going to survive this year. But now that they are back we are finding a rythm. This helped and it also helped that Halloween is not a super sentimental holiday.We woke up bright and early with Evie announcing she no longer wanted to be the peacock that we purchased but Petit Chaperon Rouge instead. She wanted to wear the red dress, hood and cape I made her for her school back in France.
I guess at least she was requesting something I had already made? Instead of demanding I get up and sew something new? After pancakes with chocolate chip faces and whip cream we scrambled out the door to get the boys to school on time and bag a seat for the parade. I might mention when I returned that afternoon all the pancakes were still there with all the “accessories” missing. Nice. Breakfast of champions, chocolate chips and whip cream, like an omen of what was to follow ha! We were able to facetime with Chris during the morning school parade so he got to see the boys marching outside in the freezing wind. Don’t even get me started on how much modern technology floors me!
They headed off to class and I dashed to catch Finn’s poetry slam (Where they memorize poems and literally slam their poetry notebook onto the floor before reciting it) before I got to volunteer in Sawyers class make poofball monsters. He thought it was awesome and told all his friends “this will be good because my mom sews a lot. Like A LOT”. After the last poofball was made I loaded up Evie, Chloe and their cousin and we scarffed down some Cafe Rio. For those of you within frequenting distance of Cafe Rio I discovered today, that while ridiculously early for lunch, at 10:30 the tortillas are so fresh it is insane and the service is LIGHTENING fast! We raced back to school for Evie’s parade and afternoon kindergarten.
Chloe and I had an hour and a half to burn so we headed home so I could work on the kitchen table I am building us and Chloe could get a nap… only she didn’t she instead stood over me asking me questions about wood putty. Back to school we went to round up the kids who immediately started asking when we got to go to the Tillmann’s house to trick or treat. I knew their kiddos didn’t have early day like us on Friday (So totally dumb by the way) so I had to stall.
We headed to the library where I put the librarian in the awkward position of telling my kids why she didn’t have candy for them when I explicitly told them she would (“your treats are your books” did not go over well). We went to three grocery stores looking for Crio Brew which none of them had and even stopped by grandparents to pick up mail. Finally I put them out of their misery and we went to our friends house. After some playtime Wes and I took the kids out to trick or treat. I could not believe the number of leaf piles in their neighborhood! It was amazing!
Wes was a rapper, or white guy from the 90’s, which ever you like ha! I thought it was great!
Chloe got a sticky hand at the beginning and promptly made it a belt, chewing on it for the majority of the evening. She only wanted to do ten or so houses and then wanted to go back and help Miss “tisten” hand out candy. It is funny because Sawyer is usually my one who is super into things like this but he was out of sorts today. He mentioned it early on in the day. I am always so impressed on how well he can articulate his feelings. We had a great talk about why he might be feeling sad even though it is a holiday and how sometimes missing Dad manifests itself in different ways. Because of it though trick or treating went relatively quickly. Which is fantastic for me because heaven knows my kiddos do NOT need anymore candy.
They are crazy enough as it is! We had Lila spend the night which meant bouncing off the walls until 10:30 which I am hoping (but not that much) for a later wake up ha! We are all pretty happy to have our first holiday without Daddy behind us. I kept saying to the kids “This time next year Dad will be home!” After feeling like we were leading up to this separation FOREVER it is great to finally be checking off some mile stones! Now on to Thanksgiving!
Sometimes you want to get your moneys worth on you trip to Paris, or the prices on certain dates are just to good to pass up so you end up with an extra day or two on your hands (I know that sounds too good to be true but it happens). I have some suggestions on quick and easy trips you can make from Paris! These are not in any sort of preferential order nor by distance etc. there are just to many variables that could go into ordering them. They are all within three hours of Paris.
1. Ghent, Belgium: To me Ghent is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. I had never even heard of it before we arrived. At just under 3 hours you will get a lot of the beauty you would find in Amsterdam with out the long trip and higher prices. The city is littered with beautiful historic buildings all running along the gently flowing canals. During the spring and summer you can ride a boat through the canals while enjoying a big plate of warm pancakes or waffles (a personal favorite). Rent a bike and cruise along the cobblestone streets ducking into any of the little shops oozing with charm. To read about one of our trips to Ghent click HERE
2. Loire Valley, France: Loire Valley is in one word, magical. Stunning chateaus every few miles, wide open fields filled with wild flowers, tiny villages bursting with charm, it has it all. If you are on a time crunch and can only spend a day in Loire we recommend making Chenonceau and Chambord the priority. The outside of Chambord with knock your socks off and the inside of Chenonceau looks like it was staged by Restoration Hardware.
If you get to spend the night and are on your way from Loire to Mont Saint Michel and have dreamt of staying in an actual chateau we HIGHLY recommend staying in Chateau Challain. We stayed there on a recent trip and I can say with out hesitation it is the most amazing place I have ever stayed. The owner is American and absolutely darling. The inside is flawless and the breakfast incredible. I literally started laughing when we walked into our room because I could not believe we actually got to stay there. I have been a lot of places friends take it from me, this is a MUST stay.
3. Luxembourg: Who doesn’t love a good city state? Luxembourg packs a tiny punch. This little country has breathtaking mountains and castles and a down town to rival the most picturesque european city. We spent most of our time here walking around the downtown, driving through the lush mountains up to Chateau Vianden, and visiting the American Cemetery where Paton is buried. To read about our weekend in Luxembourg click HERE or HERE
4. Trouville, France: When you need to get away from the chateaus and museums visit our family’s favorite beach! The little shade tents alone were worth the drive for me. Add in a playground right there on the beach, kind life guards, clean bathrooms and you have me hooked. Only an hour and forty-five mins from Paris (on toll roads) and you find your toes in white sand. The kids love to collect shells which are plentiful and splash in the shallow water. Be sure to check on the tides as they have a HUGE impact of the type of beach day you will have. To read about one of our trips to Trouville click HERE. If you do not have children you may want to check our Deauville which is right next door. It is a more upscale beach known for horse racing and it’s film festival.
5. Brussels, Belgium: We’ve already talked about Ghent but we had to mention Brussels which may have arguably the most beautiful main square in Europe. It is 360 degrees of gothic architecture that will stop you in your tracks. Your kids will love the waffles and seeing Manneken Pis and you will love the manageable size of the city.
6. Mont Saint Michel, France: A castle that becomes surrounded by water when the tide is in?!? Yes please! Our first trip to Mont Saint Michel was an epic fail (here). It was insanely hot and so crowded we thought for sure we would lose a child. We paid an arm and a leg for ice cream on the tiny main thoroughfare then left. Thankfully we got to return for a second time to soak up the magic that is Mont St. Micheal. If you can manage it go in the off season. If you have your heart set on seeing it surrounded by water be sure to use the tide predictor on their website HERE.
7: Trier, Germany: My husband took one of his best friends here when he visited us in France. His best friend is German/American and always wanted to see Germany, so Chris took him to this beautiful city. It is one of the oldest Germany cities and has some amazing Roman ruins. The Porta Nigra is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and along with some large roman baths and the Trier Amphitheater, you can see what central Europe was like almost 2000 years ago. The Liebfrauenkirche (Our Dear Lady) and the Trier Cathedral are extraordinary. The city is very walkable and you can also see where Karl’s Marx’s was born. Another great bonus is that this city is on the border of Luxembourg and you can easily see the 2 in a nice weekend trip.
8: Brittany, France: About a week after the kids were out of school we were ready for a vacation. We didn’t want to go far since I would be going with out Chris and we didn’t want to shell out a bagillion dollars. Brittany is the perfect distance to feel like you are actually on a vacation with out making a HUGE trip out of it. France has an amazing network of “campsites”. I use this term loosely as they are way to nice to be considered campsites. Usually there is a sliding scale of accommodations, from staying in the chateau, a small modular home structure, a preset up tent or a pitch where you set up what you like. All of them at extremely reasonable prices and all include access to some pretty fun amenities. We found a cute chateau nestled in between two beaches and rented the top floor. It was a huge success! To see what Brittany has to offer you can click HERE. To read about our family vacation to Brittany click here for part 1 and here for part two.
9: Normandy, France: I don’t think I really need to say why you should go to Normandy. This year has been particularly amazing as it is the 70th anniversary of DDay. I didn’t realize how emotional I would become when we visited. Out of all our trips I believe our Normandy trip will have the deepest impact on the kids. At least one can hope! To find helpful info about sites, tickets etc. click HERE.
10. Bruges, Belgium: If you have ever dreamt of walking around a town square surrounded by gingerbread shaped ancient buildings, towering churches, and breathtaking canals, all while eating the best french fries you have ever tasted in your life, then Bruges is for you. While the weather is generally accepted by most Belgians as being awful (cold and damp even during the summer), the food and amazingly maintained architecture more then make up for it. A bike is a wonderful option for exploring the city, though you can easily walk to most attractions. Be prepared to be stuffed with fries, waffles and chocolate. Go ahead indulge, you’ll bike it all off anyway. To read about one of our trips to HERE.
BONUS TRIP Giverny, France: One of our families favorite places to go that is only 45 mins away from Paris. Monet’s home and garden in Giverny. It is a surreal feeling to go to a place and then walk into a museum and see the world famous painting and think: “I have stood there, right on that bridge, looking at those water lilies”. It is also an incredible thing to see a garden curated by an artist. The line can get rather long to get inside. If you can, purchase tickets ahead of time. If you are going as a family go down the side alley where it says: “group entrance” and they will let you in MUCH faster! Once you have visited his home and explored the gardens you HAVE to walk around the little town. It is no wonder Monet’s paintings were so gorgeous, this little town is the epitome of French charm. To see one of our many, many visits click HERE.
There you have it! Our 10 favorite quick trips within three hours of Paris. I think the close proximity of so many incredible places is my favorite thing about living in Europe. Once you are on the continent, Europe really is your Oyster and with discount airlines and hugh speed trains you can get pretty much anywhere your heart desires! Are there any little cities close to Paris you adore? I would love to hear!
Our family has seen a lot of castles over the past few years. The kids even begged to STOP seeing castles on our Ireland trip. But we just HAD to see Neuschwanstein castle when we found out it was so close to our spring break route. It is dubbed the Sleeping Beauty Castle (the second one given that nickname that we have been to) and it is tucked right into a mountain side just as it tapers off to a valley. We found it just as it was getting dark. The kids were all shrieking when they saw the bright white stone.
After breakfast we bundled the kids as best we could (I was not prepared for how cold we would be on this trip) and headed up to the castle.
In all the excitement we somehow let the kids talk us into buying all of them swords. Not the best of ideas. Not necessarily the purchase itself but the timing of said purchase. We should have waited until the return trip for soooo many reasons.
A friend of ours told us to absolutely get a carriage ride up. While the hike would have been a gorgeous one I know for a fact our kids would have been weeping and wailing after the first 30 minutes. The poor people in the carriage were pretty nervous when they saw the four kids armed with wooden swords hop up into the carriage and eventually the swords were confiscated but over all the ride up was really fun and absolutely gorgeous scenery wise.
Once we reached the “top” the kids unloaded and we finished the small hike to the front gate of the castle. Chloe was being a HUGE momma’s girl this day. Which honestly I don’t mind, except when it means the second I put her down to take a picture she erupts into a full blown tantrum.
When we reached the bottom we were about to start our journey to Vienna when we spotted a super fun playground. We decided to let the kids play and were surprised when we found there was also a big “slide” that pulled you way up the mountain on a toboggan then you slid down.
We took turns going down with the younger kids. Sawyer felt like big man on campus being able to go down by himself and I loved how he acted so brave but then made sure to come down the mountain at a nice safe speed.
Finn on the other hand was so mad at the little boy in front of us, who we quickly caught up to, for putting the breaks on pretty much the entire ride down. We still had fun though!
It is time! Time for me to inundate you with our travel pictures from Spring break. I have been DYING to go through these and start posting them. I feel like I have this back log of pictures that is just going to make my computer explode if I don’t do something about it ha! When Chris and I started planning this HUGE spring break trip we knew we were going to have to base it around fun kids stuff if we wanted it to be successful. We were planning on seeing 6 countries in two weeks… and we were driving to boot. This may sound like torture but we had the best time! We started out our Spring break by driving to Basel Switzerland. We stayed the night in a Marriott (this one) that had a HUGE water park attached. We wanted to make sure for every “adult” thing we expected our children to do there was an equally fun kid activity to make up for it. Six hours straight driving? Adult thing. Huge water park where even the littlest cutie could go down the slide? Kid thing. Of course I didn’t bring the big camera to the water park but I did sneak a phone pic before putting it in the locker.
After several hours of swimming and sliding we loaded the kids up and headed to the second country of the trip Liechtenstein. Driving through Switzerland I was reminded how insanely gorgeous that country is (our first trip HERE cemented it as one of my fav euro countries.) Just look at that green!
Our destination for the day was Liechtenstein. To be totally honest the only thing I “knew” about Liechtenstein is that Heath Ledgers character in A knigths Tale pretended to be from there. Pretty embarrassing right? Chris was completely intrigued by this tiny country. At the time he was devouring a book about the French and British monarchy’s and how closely they were intertwined for a long time. Turns out the monarchy of Liechtenstein are the legitimate heirs to the british Monarchy but they had been chased out. (There is obviously a lot more to this story which chris or wikipedia can fill you in on ha!). The family still lives in the castle here (I was shocked) so we could only admire it from a distance.
We sat in the shade of the castle to have lunch. For some reason I only grabbed one picture with any of us in it while there. Cute little Chloe chillin waiting for her schnitzel and slush puppie.
I have been neglecting this blog. I actually think about it every single day. I miss blogging our adventures and am so so so far behind. This sewing competition has killed me. But it has also made me prioritize. I may be a neglectful blogger but that has kept me from being a neglectful mother. And honestly I am pretty darn okay with that. Cause these four:
They are the world to me. I love sharing our world and documenting our adventures but I have finally gotten to the point where I won’t do it at the cost of actually enjoying those moments, whether it be actually being there instead of on the computer or just being there mentally on a full nights sleep ha! I think I am getting old ha! In any event I can’t wait to start family blogging again next week when this whole competition is over. For now I hope you are having a fantastic spring where ever you are!
This round was really tricky for me. I am a HUGE fan of flowers and even floral print, but I have never ever even purchased myself something floral print let alone made something. My mind always does battle with sizes of prints, colors and cuts. So, when I saw that this weeks theme was flower power I sort of panicked. Luckily I had a wonderful friend visiting who calmed me down and reassured me when I finally did make a decision (I wish we could all have a friend like that around all the time!). I decided to base my look on one of my favorite places in France, Monet’s Garden.
More pictures at:
Over on Sewing in No Mans Lands: I am so excited to share my first look from this season’s Project Sewn! If you love it and could click on over to Project Sewn and vote for my look I would be ever so grateful! The prompt was leading ladies you can read more about why I picked Jo from Funny Face over on Project Sewn.
Pattern for the week May 2nd