Oh, yeah, summer vacation…

Sorry, I’ve been a *little* busy lately. So busy that I do remember uploading these pictures from the summer but then totally forgot that I didn’t post them. Ugh.

Well, let’s start then, before I forget!

We started off in beautiful Zermatt, Switzerland. The drive there was AMAZING! It is seriously one of the most beautiful drives. We went up through the top of Italy, by the Lago Maggiore and then over the pass where the border is located.

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It was quite rainy through the pass area, but it was still gorgeous.

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As soon as we got up over the pass, the clouds cleared and I had to have Byron stop so I could snap some pictures.

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Really pictures couldn’t do the drive justice. It was just amazing.

So, we finally got into Zermatt, found our camping spot and set up. It wasn’t the best weather when we got there, just drizzly enough that we needed to stay under cover.

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We played games and eventually put on our rain gear and went for a little walk to check out the tiny town and grab some dinner.

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We found an awesome restaurant and of course, ordered schnitzel! Gosh, the schnitzel in Switzerland and Austria is so dang good. I swear I think I had schnitzel almost every day while we were on holiday.

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Kinnerly really liked hers too.

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So did Brannan.

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To get to the town of Zermatt and to be able to see the Matterhorn, you are not allowed to drive in, you either have to take a “shuttle” like a van or you can take the train up the hill. The train is really cool, it allows dogs and bikes and luggage and skis and snowboards. It is really a great way to travel into a tiny mountain town. We camped right next to the train so we just walked over to the train station and hopped on. Byron had a brilliant idea to bike ride to the town – he saw lots of other people doing it – and somehow convinced Brannan to bike with him. I thought it would be all good, the person at the front desk at the campground said it was easily accessible by bike. Well, little did they mention that it was quite a big incline getting up there. Brannan had to walk his bike quite a long way as he didn’t have enough leg power to get up there.

Kinnerly rode in the train with me. My bike didn’t have enough gears to go uphill as I just brought my cruiser bike. Byron brought his mountain bike and Brannan had 6 speeds on his bike so it was a little easier for them.

Anyway, we got to the little village and walked around a bit to get our bearings.

The first day we took the train into Zermatt it was quite overcast and we knew that we weren’t going to see the Matterhorn. We walked around a bit and finally the drizzle got the best of us and we ducked into a restaurant for a late lunch. Then we headed back down the mountain to our camp.

We decided to extended our stay in Zermatt because I JUST HAD to see the Matterhorn! I mean, when will be the next time I’ll be able to drive to the Matterhorn??? So, we stayed another day because by the time we got back to camp on the first day, the weather cleared out, the sky was blue and I just knew the next day it was going to be clear and I could get a picture of that dang mountain!

So, we headed up the hill again on the train and the boys took their bikes. Brannan actually went up there the second day and he made it almost the whole way! He knew what to expect and I guess Byron encouraged him enough that he was able to make it up the hill. We were really happy for him and I think he was too.

The second day, however, was actually really beautiful. I just knew I was going to get a picture of that sucker! So we waited some more. And walked around the village. But there was just this ONE FRICKING CLOUD that stuck around the Matterhorn!

So, we waited…

And waited some more.

We looked at cute little Matterhorn chocolates…

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Bought some Toblerone…

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And took the kids to the outdoor zip line course…

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And waited and walked around some more and admired the cool signs on the rubbish bins…

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The day was gorgeous and blue skies but that dang Matterhorn was still shrouded in clouds!

I looked every minute up at that mountain. I had my DSLR in hand, waiting for the shot. I walked out of the zip line park to look at that Matterhorn, totally expecting clear blue skies, but that thing just really made me angry! There were some super sticky clouds that would not let go of that mountain, making it totally impossible for me to see it clearly.

And, I’m sad to say, I never got a clear view of the Matterhorn. I guess it is a great excuse to go back again. I got some very, very, close views, but never a whole view of the big mountain.

I was a little sad, but not so much, because it was super fun and we had some great food, the campground was good, and the kids had a good time.

We found some more amazing treats:

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But then we realized we had to get on our way.

We had to go meet Sully in Germany!!!

Oh, but first, we had these goats that grazed right above our campground – they are half black and half white, like black and white cookies, but they are only known in the Zermatt area – they were so cool! They  made me want to have a black and white cookie!

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Only in Switzerland!

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So, after Zermatt, we headed out towards Munich because we needed to meet Sully. We drove across a huge pass, I don’t know what it was called, but it was gorgeous!

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There was a glacier back behind that hotel, and on the other side of my camera as well, but I didn’t get any snaps of that. It was the end of summer and we were up with the glaciers! That’s my kind of camping! Well, we didn’t camp there, but it was super fun to pass through there.

We stopped at a couple of places in between and finally ended in Leutasch, right on the border of Austria and Germany. It is so beautiful at this campsite. We were at the same spot last year and I really wanted to go back. It was freezing a lot of the time, but there is a restaurant and a bar and a sauna and an indoor heated pool, so there is so much for the kids to do, you barely have to leave the campground. Plus, there is climbing around for Byron and we rode our bikes to the other village and got totally rained out on the way back home but it was funny and super cold and totally crazy that we will talk about it for the rest of our lives.

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We finally got Sully and took him around the area. We had time at the semi-heated pool, at the restaurant and in the surrounding areas.

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We went to Brechtesgarten, which is such a beautiful area in Austria. Unfortunately it was a little overcast and chilly, but we still made the boat ride out onto the lake.

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I do have to say, this was probably one of the most rainiest holidays I’ve had. We spent a lot (too much??) time in the tent unfortunately, but we did have a lot of fun, sunny days. It was even better to have Sully there to enjoy it with us.

Summer 2014

I finally just downloaded all of the photos from my “big” camera. There are some really good ones from our trips. The days flew by this summer. We started it off with Kinnerly’s birthday and ended with Brannan’s – with a lot in between.

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She had an amazing birthday. I think this year really “clicked” for her, in that it was “her” time, her special day.

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Well, school ended without a bang, the kids were ready to be done and have some new adventures. We went to some lavender fields for a weekend drive. It was gorgeous. I totally forgot about the pictures I took until I pulled them off my sim card today.

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After our quick trip to the lavender fields, we had a few playdates, some judo camp and then Grandma Patty came to visit!

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IMG_7589It was so great to have Grandma Beers for a visit. We were so happy to have her here at our house and so happy to have taken her to all of the usual spots in the South of France – Gourdon, Cannes, Valbonne…

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As soon as she left, we went on to our family vacation. That’s up next!

I’m alone at home. Finally getting a little peace and quiet. In 10 minutes though, I will have to put on some “nice” (not a beach dress) clothes and go get the kids at school.

But, being home alone gets me thinking a lot about the future. About our future as a family. I look in the mirror and see my gray hairs popping up way more frequently than I remember. I can’t pluck them like some other lucky people since I have such thin, fine hair that every one counts, even if they are gray. I see the wrinkles around my eyes and realize that I am going to be 40 in only a few more months. I can’t believe it. I took a silly quiz online a while ago asking your “emotional age”, turns out my emotional age is 23. That is how you feel on the inside, but the outside says something way different.

The kids are getting older and wiser and more “bicker-y”. Some days we all wake up, gather around the kitchen island for breakfast and the first thing the kids say to each other are verbal pokes, which leads to verbal whining and verbal tattle-taleing. I’m hoping this is just a phase. I know it is, I keep telling myself. I just keep plowing through the morning chores saying to myself that they will be separated in school within another 2 hours.

The boys are getting into “boy” things this year. Brannan has been upset that he isn’t very good at football (soccer) and he gets teased at school about it. I told Byron and said that he really needed to spend some time with him doing that sort of boy stuff, and lo and behold, after one Saturday morning, Brannan came home from school yesterday and said he almost scored a goal at school. It gave him just enough confidence to keep it up and not feel bad about being teased. Every day we come home and I play the new Taylor Swift song “Shake It Off” for him and tell him to just think of that song when people tease him about not being able to make a goal.

Brannan got a new guitar for his birthday. Byron wants to take lessons with him.  Kinnerly just started a dance class at school. She looks super cute in her little ballet shoes and her little leotard spinning around on the wood floor. I really want to take a transcendental meditation course, but will have to wait until we are back in the states for that. Not sure that is a popular thing here in France, plus I wouldn’t want to spend the money on something like that and not understand it.

I’m getting geared up to download our pictures from our summer. Just haven’t had the push to do it. There are a few good ones I think but I don’t know why I am scared of taking them out of my camera. It’s like I don’t want to release the summer yet. Close the page on that time just yet. I know it was our last summer here. It was very very busy, had a few good times in there, but I really am going to be sad to leave France. Although there are some days when I drive around longing for the clean, neat streets of America. Without graffiti and trash and potholes and sheer cliffs without guardrails. Like today, in fact. Maybe I’m just thinking of our October holiday too much. Thinking of what I want to get done while we are there, of all the travel, of stressing out flying with the kids by myself. But then shifting to fun things like seeing my family and having the kids experience a “real” Halloween. They don’t even know what Halloween is really. It is sort of celebrated here, people dress up at school but there is no trick-or-treating. I think they will have a blast doing that.

Now I must go put on some “nicer” clothes, some makeup and go get the kids…

7 years

Oh, my dear, sweet, Lego-obsessed boy. Happy birthday to you!

Seven years ago today you were welcomed into our family, a sweet, smiling little baby boy. A calm, happy, little baby. Ready for the world. Ready for whatever was going to come.

Today, seven years later, you are still the sweetest boy. Although you aren’t so little any more. You are almost up to my shoulders. I cringe every fall when you put on last years’ pants and find that they are now high-waters. I tell you all the time to stop growing. You keep telling me that you are trying not to grow but that you can’t help it.

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You have lost 4 teeth already and you know how to read my texts and you know how to make your own breakfast and you finally know how to operate the television (to my dismay).

You can shoot your bow, you dream of going white water rafting with your dad, you have pretty much mastered riding a bike and you know how to make your sister really really angry.

You know how to apologize and feel remorse and sorrow and happiness. You can get dressed every morning on your own, tie your own shoes, brush your own teeth and turn on your own shower every night. You are just getting way too big for me.

You walk to class on your own, you negotiate crosswalks, you choose your own dinners. It really is amazing to witness all of these things happen in such a short (long?) time.

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You are my little buddy and you always look after your Mama.

I love when you call me Mama.

Happy birthday little buddy. I love you to the universe and back.

Love, Mama

July 25, 2014

Kinnerly is sitting on the big leather couch, her tanned little body all curled up in the corner. She is eating a sweet and sour piece of candy. You know, those ones covered in sugar and sour, more sweet than sour, but all over delicious? It is one of the multi-colored “rainbow candies” as we call it. It is like a flat piece of leather with 5 colors stuck together. She pulls each color apart and sucks the sugar off first and then eats the fruity candy part. She eats the last color and says “mommy, look, my hands are all covered in sugar!”

I say, “yep, they sure are! Run to the bathroom and wash them off please.”

She says, “but mommy, I like to lick the sugar off of them!”

I think about it for a few seconds and say “ok, go ahead, lick the sugar off and then go wash your hands, ok?”

She starts to clean her hands like a little kitty, making this noise that reminds me of when she was a teeny tiny infant, when I used to feed her bottles in the middle of the night in the dark of the living room. It’s hard to explain, but it is a little smacking noise, a little noise only I can really notice her making, almost in her throat after she licks the sugar off her hands. She keeps licking until all the little glittery specks of sugar are gone. She shows me both hands and says “look mommy! All gone!”

Then she says, “I just LOOOOOVVVVE those rainbow candies mommy, can I have another one?”

I can’t say no. It’s just a little candy.

These little guys are growing up so fast it is heartbreaking to watch. I took Brannan to a dentist appointment today for a cleaning and as we were walking to the car he said, “Mom, that teeth cleaning was so powerful I think it knocked my tastebugs right out of my mouth!” I laughed in my head and didn’t bother to correct him on that one. It was just too dang cute!

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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!