July 4, 2014, Opio, France

This is probably our last 4th of July in the South of France so we decided to have a little party. It was fun. Only 4 families total, but once you add in kids, the amount of people quickly adds up. It was funny because we had two American families, one British family and one Scottish family.

It wasn’t anything fancy, just some American standby’s. The ever-popular deviled eggs, hot dogs and sliders and some BBQ chicken. We did have a fancy French cheese plate though which was lovely.

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IMG_7579I guess they thought it would be funny to bring us some “Gallo” wine that was made in California and some of these cookies and cream Nestle chocolate bars. The toothpicks really add to the gourmet-ness of it all, no?

It was a super fun 4th of July with our friends – one we will never forget for sure. The kids ran around the house like crazy, switching from the pool to the trampoline to the inside. Once the Pastis was poured and the Jell-o shots were all consumed, we lit off our piddly little fireworks. There wasn’t anything fancy, just a good handful of bottle rockets and roman candles. Just something to get the kids all excited.

We didn’t go to bed until 2 and I’m sure there were a few sore heads this morning, but it was a great 4th!

 

“School’s out for Summer!”

Yeah, I totally sung that today to the director of the school on the way out the pathway to the parking lot. 

He totally “got it”. 

He said “Alice Cooper is my favorite!” I went on and on about how Alice Cooper lives in Phoenix and he golfs all the time at the local golf courses and I’ve totally seen him there wearing all of his makeup (kidding) but I have been to his restaurant in Phoenix where they serve these ridiculously large hot dogs in honor of one of the local baseball players. 

I digress…

Brannan got his yellow belt in Judo this week!

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I’m not entirely sure he “gets” judo yet. But, it is a learning thing. 

He had a great time with one of his best friends. 

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Kinnerly had a great year too. We just had her end-of-year “gouter” (goo-tay) which is basically like a snack in the afternoon. It was fun. There was singing and dancing and lots of cakes and cookies and Kinnerly ate way too many sweets so she didn’t want dinner but she wanted dessert and had a little bit of a breakdown at bedtime but it was tolerable and this is a total run-on sentence…

She did just turn 4!!!!

She helped decorate her cupcakes and her cake. She had a great birthday party too. 

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Grandma and Pappy watched on FaceTime as she got her new 2-wheeler bike for her birthday. That was super fun.

Unfortunately I didn’t snap any pics at that moment. But she always says that she is so happy that she got her bike from Grammy and Pappy.

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(She had lots of pink cakes!!!!)

We miss all of our family and are so happy to be able to FaceTime when we can. I’m glad that the kids get to see everyone at least once a week for a few minutes, even if they are crazy tired and exhausted from the weekend.

Anyway, we are closing in on our last day of school tomorrow so we better get to bed and make it a good one!

 

 

 

June in bloom

It is only June 9th, but summer is definitely here. Literally only 2 days ago, the temperatures were in the mid-70′s and now they are in the high 80′s. With the humidity it feels a lot hotter!

The kids are super busy. We have had a birthday party to attend for the past 3 weekends. This past weekend there were 2 birthday parties! Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far and the kids were in the pool by 9am!

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Then, after a good day of swimming we were off to the Bois de Lutins for the party. The Bois de Lutins is a super fun place for kids, it is a huge outdoor park with zip lines, giant inflatable tires you can ride in like a hamster in a wheel, there are also big tree houses connected by slides and nets. Needless to say, kids get really tired after a trip to this place. 

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This is one of Kinnerly in one of the sky chair hammocks that they have hanging around. 

Brannan came out of the birthday party with some of the reddest cheeks ever. He is always trying to keep up with his friend, Thomas, who is a year older and WAAAAAAY more sporty than Brannan. This kid is amazing. He is long and lean and has 0% body fat I think. He jumps on everything and is always going 100 miles an hour. This kid sweats! He sweats doing everything! It’s crazy. But good for Brannan as it really pushes him harder at his own sportiness. 

Last weekend, after another birthday party, we decided to head to the beach for a Sunday beach day. Beach days are always so exhausting. With the sun and the sand and the water, it really drains you. But the kids really love it. It was a really nice day too, sitting in the shade of the umbrella. Although I got a little carried away in the sun and burned my décolletage area! Now i’m peeling. Great.

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We also had a great fundraising/luncheon this past Thursday for some good causes. I was asked to “donate” our house and I was happy to do so, even with all the anxiety that came along with it. I sort of stress about having people over to our house, but everyone was so kind and thankful and a lot of money was raised for a good cause. 

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We even had wine tasting by these lovely Italian vintners. They poured quite a bit of wine and sold quite a few bottles too! 60 bottles to be exact. That’s a lot of bottles! 

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These cupcakes were donated too by one of our mutual friends. The lemon ones were so good! They had a layer of lemon curd in them. OMG, YUM!

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It got pretty warm that day, I think that was the beginning of summer!

It was great though, to have a luncheon to raise money for a non-profit. 

Today is another holiday – not sure which one it is, but the kids are off of school again. Tomorrow is Brannan’s big show. Kinnerly had her show on Friday and unfortunately i didn’t get one good picture of her because we were told “no flashes” but people were using flashes all over the place and the room was really dark and I totally forgot to set up my camera for the dark. More shows in the future I guess. Tomorrow I’ll be prepared because at least Brannan can tell me which parts he is in and I’ll have my camera ready. 

We are just hanging out at the pool again today. Gonna get the BBQ going for dinner. 

This week should be exciting. We get another trip to the Perfecture’s office. I dread this time of year. The Perfecture is like going to the DMV on steroids and in another language. Ick. 

Have a good week!

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The new house

Our new house is pretty nice. We are right on the 9th hole of the little Opio golf course. The view out over the pool and the garden is just spectacular. 

We are still trying to find places for things here. It seems like the storage is a bit lacking here. Or maybe we had too much storage at the last place? Not sure, but it seems like I’m still trying to find places for things around the house. 

The garden is really nice. There are climbing roses everywhere. There are also long-stem roses. Our gardener picked this bouquet for me last week when he was here: 

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They really are magnificent. The photos don’t really do them justice. 

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The pool is great and the kids were even swimming on Wednesday. It was sunny and kind of warm, but not really swimming weather. They started innocently enough, just dipping toys in the pool, watering plants and the grass, then Brannan started dumping water on himself  making his sister laugh uncontrollably. I didn’t have the heart to stop him. Her laugh was just so awesome. She doesn’t laugh that hard very often, so it was like music to my ears to hear her laugh heartily while watching Brannan drench himself. 

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And that bathing suit? I finally had to pitch it. She wore it and afterward I put it in the wash where it was completely destroyed. i really loved that swimsuit. It is so hard for me to get rid of all of her baby clothes. It is just admitting to myself that I’ll never have a little one again. It is really sad. I should’ve started having kids earlier… eh, a subject for another time. 

Anyway, the house has two levels and Kinnerly pretty much has her own wing. The house is really laid out quite strangely, but it is fun and I’m always up for a new change. 

This is looking into the back of the house. The vines have exploded and grown a ton over the past month. 

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I even went out and got some tomato plants to put in the planters. 

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It is a rough life these days. 

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Camping in the Côtes du Rhône region

Spring is here in the south of France. There is always someone out on hole 9 (we can see it from our backyard) and the vide greniers have been making a comeback. In fact I went this morning and scored a bunch of fun things! I got a couple of nice summer dresses for Kinnerly, a huge stash of chapter books for Brannan, some cool water glasses for me and an even cooler copper pot!

I haven’t written in ages and it seems like so much has happened. We have moved into our new house, we went on holiday down to Umbria, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast with our Colorado friends (that post is to follow, I have a TON of pictures that I need to sort out), then the next week we went on a camping trip to the Côtes du Rhône region of France. It seems like Instagram and Facebook are so much easier than this blogging thing but I know I will regret not having this blog when we are back in the states for years and years and I’ve forgotten what we did here in France. 

I’ll backtrack a little to our little camping trip to the Côtes du Rhône region. 

It was SUPER windy the whole time we were there! I mean like fierce crazy winds. Like people had to post signs on their doors to be careful because the winds will slam the doors shut. We cooked at our camp one night and we all had to sit and eat in the tiny vestibule of our tent or else everything would’ve blown off the table. It was really nice though. We went to the Sablet region, the Gigondas region and the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. We sampled quite a bit of wine and the kids got some special chocolates to appease them through all of the wine tasting stops. 

 

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I was quite timid going into the tasting areas. Although I know enough French to get me through a tasting, I am definitely NOT a connoisseur of wine, so I didn’t want to look like an idiot. I was sick for the days before we left and I think my taste buds were quite off, but I still tried my best and actually did find a couple of wines that I liked. Byron is more of a wine drinker than I am, and he actually liked quite a few of them. One of the last vineyards we visited was in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region and it was a small vineyard off the main road. It was literally someone’s house with a basement full of wine. The proprietor was so nice and she spoke perfect English. We came to find out that she lived in Oregon for a little bit and had visited Napa and most of California tasting their wines, of course. She schooled us on the different varietals (yeah, see, I’m getting there!) and which wines are good for which situation. She also gave us a free wine opener which was even cooler so in the end we bought about 7 bottles from her! Ha! 

We never really learned why the Châteauneuf-du-Pape moniker is so popular in the US, but she did tell us that she was treated like royalty when other winemakers learned where she was from. It is funny, it is a tiny little region in the South of France but EVERYONE knows the Châteauneuf-du-Pape name. It’s not the grape – it’s the region! 

Anyway, I learned a lot more than I was expecting to on that quick little trip. It was nice because there weren’t a ton of people out and about – I’m sure come summertime, it will get crazy there. Our campground was empty but there were just enough kids and activities to keep Brannan and Kinnerly occupied during the time we did spend there. 

These are our souvenirs: 

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Finally, we had lunch in the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and after a really good lunch, we had to order dessert. The ile flottante was the special dessert of the day and Byron said he really liked it and ordered it every now and then at work. I’ve never had it and honestly, never really had the desire to order it, but since Byron said he liked it and he was willing to share dessert with me, we ordered it. It was my first, and probably my last. I think I’d rather have creme brûlée! Sorry ile flottante!

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Cars

Today our car broke down. It was the first day back to school after a two week break. I was really excited to drop the kids off for a full day of school. I was out of the school doors by 8:30 and headed over to my favorite place – the nail salon! I was way overdue to get a pedicure and have my eyebrows waxed.

It was funny because I was thinking to myself this morning how I should probably bring my phone cord with me in the car because I only had about 50% power but then I figured I’d be home by 11am, so no problem, I have plenty of power to get me home.

So, I sat in the pedicure spa chair and listened to my Sirius radio, played Candy Crush and texted. I was getting down to 20% power so I decided to stop messing around with my phone and just put it away. I finished up at the salon and headed over to the grocery store to get a few items for dinner. I got out of the store by about 10:45 and was ready to head home. I climbed the little hill that leads to the children’s school and all of a sudden my car starts dinging loudly at me, I look at the dashboard and it says something in French that I couldn’t understand and didn’t have time to paste it into my Google Translate since I was driving and then, all of a sudden, the engine just dies.

I’m going quite fast at this point and then just start slowing down since I had no power. My power steering went out and people behind me started honking. I’m scanning the road, looking for a safe place to pull over and finally find a spot under the freeway but off the road. I pull out my phone to call Byron and it says I’m down to 7% power.

Crap.

He doesn’t know where I am so I can’t have him call the tow truck. I quickly get off with him and call the phone number for our insurance company. After pressing button after button I finally get someone who speaks English and frantically tell them where I am and I have no more power on my phone. Well, luckily, I stopped across the highway from an interior design strip-mall kind of place and head over there in hopes that someone has a charging cord for an iPhone 5.

Before I headed over there, I wrote down Byron’s number and my friend April’s number just in case I couldn’t find power.

Luckily they had a cord, the tow truck driver named “Fabulous” showed up. Seriously, he had it tattoed on his forearm! He said he is in the process of trying to move to Las Vegas to open a gym. Crazy.

He towed my car to a super sketchy garage somewhere near where I was and I called April to pick me up.

Moral of the story, bring your phone cord with you in the car…

Happy New Year!

2014

This is going to be a crazy year for us I think. We should technically be moving back to the states at some point this year. This seems like a daunting idea to me. But then I guess  moving here seem daunting as well. Also, Happy New Year a little late seeing as how it is already almost March! Everything is blooming here in the south of France – the Mimosa trees are bright yellow and the cherry trees already have blooms on them!

Unfortunately we have to move this week. As in Friday! I am so not prepared for this. I have packed about 5 boxes so far but I think starting today after I go pick up Brannan from his birthday party I am going to kick it into high gear. I did a ton of cleaning last week and everything is dusty again. How does all this dust accumulate so fast?

Well, things have been moving fast and slow at the same time. We got seasons passes to the local ski area – Geolieres – and it has been quite fun. I’ve gone up only twice so far on my own and hope to go a few more times but it is so dang warm I don’t know when I will be able to go back up there when it won’t be a sheet of ice!

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The kids are out on winter break – or spring break – I’m not sure what it is technically called – mid term break? Anyway, it is 2 weeks worth of break and, well, I just wish they would sleep in past 6:45. They are so used to waking up then, they just don’t sleep past 6:45! I really love sleeping but once I’m woken up, it is really hard for me to go back to sleep. Then I’m grumpy in the morning, which isn’t good when brother and sister like to push each other’s buttons.

We have a few playdates planned but we have to move Friday and hopefully after the weekend we will be settled and able to have more playtime.

Otherwise, I made a ton of cupcakes for both of the kids’ classes. Almost 50 of them!

IMG_0604I got rear-ended one day after school. It was interesting. The other people spoke super fast French, my car wasn’t damaged but I went to take pictures and all of a sudden they were in their cars and took off.

yay.

not.

IMG_0602 IMG_0605The sun is out and shining hard and I better go do some packing and cleaning…