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Week 30/52

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Family and friends, France, Travel | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of family life in 2016

Our stay here in France is winding down.  We are leaving Normandy today to spend a couple of days in Paris. It’s always bittersweet, this part of the trip. I’m looking forward to going back home but I’m always sad to leave France because I think there’s always something essential we leave behind when we go back to the US. I cannot necessarily pinpoint as to what it is — maybe we’re more carefree, maybe we just spend more time together as a family away from daily distractions and demands when we’re here? But whatever it is, I always leave Normandy feeling a little bit more clearer about where I stand in life and what my values are, just a tad bit surer in my footing.  Perhaps all vacations do that, maybe distancing yourself from the everyday gives you better perspective to see things for what they are.

Some photos of what we’ve been up to the last week…

…Our last visit to the beach in Deauville where it reached 95 degrees, rare for this part of France.

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…Long overdue visit to pianist Erik Satie’s house in Honfleur. Satie was born 150 years ago yet the music he composed and played remain modern and fresh today.

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…Just walking around Honfleur and admiring this quaint town.

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…Going to a horse race in Deauville where both girls won on horses they placed their bets on.

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Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Week 29/52

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in Family and friends, France, Travel | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of family life in 2016

We’re still in France.  It has been a rollercoaster of a week.  There was the high from being in Amsterdam and being reminded of how tolerance and diversity can work and the thrill of France going to the Euro Cup finals, which lifted the country’s spirit albeit for a short while.  Personally, I was happy to not play tourist at our house here, simply going to places we’ve known and just soaking in the beauty and history of everything.

Then, the carnage in Nice happened.  We were at my in-laws, getting ready for a family reunion that tends to take place around Bastille Day.  After watching the fireworks from the backyard, we got ready for bed.  Richard checked his phone one last time before retiring for the night and saw the news.  At the time, the news media reported only 20 dead. We knew that things will be bad whatever the final death count is. France, once again, has suffered another terrorist attack.

It’s exhausting to see what’s happening in France right now and read news from around the world, especially at home in the US where police killings are becoming more rampant. The world is on edge with another breaking news just moments away. The negativity that permeates our everyday lives is simply toxic and has reached alarming levels.

Something has got to change. I cannot control all the global stuff happening but I know that I want to go on — to live, to love, to experience and to travel. There’s a new world order we need to abide by. We can’t be as trusting as before, we need to be more vigilant, we need to take certain precautions. But we all still need to go on.

I came across these words by Anne Frank from our visit to our house a few weeks ago that’s helping me get by…

I know what I want,
I have a goal,
I have opinions,
a religion
and love.

— Anne Frank, April 11, 1944

Have a great week!

hotairballoon Hot air balloons behind our house

etretat Beautiful Etretat cliff

trouvillesunset Surreal Trouville sunset

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cousins.2 Cousin love

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Week 28/52

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in Family and friends, Travel | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of family life in 2016

We spent last week in Amsterdam. I was hesitant to go at first, partly because I wanted to minimize travel with fear of growing violence and terrorism everywhere in the world. It’s so easy to get caught with headlines of growing xenophobia and nationalism from the UK to the US. Reading the papers and news sites on the internet often leave me with the feeling of wanting to crawl under a big boulder and hide from the rest of the world, biding my time until things go back to normal. But what good will that do, right? Living in fear and giving up on some of our freedoms mean that the other side (whatever that means) has won.

Going to Amsterdam was a good idea because it was a quick plane ride from Paris and an easy city to navigate. Practically all the Dutch we met spoke English so language was not an issue. Amsterdam is also a city that is full of diversity, in terms of ethnicities and lifestyle, as well as history, from the Dutch mercantile past to the famed Anne Frank’s house.

Visiting the city puts many things in perspective for me because a few things came clearer at the end of our trip. First, whatever happens in the near future, things will be alright. Seeing Amsterdam’s long history of growth and decline as well as learning how it bounced back from WWII restore a bit of my faith in humankind, that goodness will always prevail over the bad. Second, seeing fellow travelers in Amsterdam also make me believe that no matter how extremists and xenophobes want us to be fearful of one another, there is a group of us who treasure and respect the differences in each other. We must not lose our openness, tolerance and love for one another no matter how different we may all be and how difficult circumstances can become.  Hating is the easy thing to do; loving and showing compassion, which can be more challenging, are so much more rewarding and lasting in the end.

Hoping for a better world for us and our children!

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Week 27/52

Posted by on Jul 3, 2016 in Family and friends, France, Interiors, Lifestyle, Travel | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of family life in 2016

Happy Fourth of July to everyone in the US! We’re here in France, enjoying a slower pace as well as rediscovering things that we’ve left behind at our house here about a year ago. It’s become a bit easier coming here over the years, especially now that the girls are older. There’s also a certain ease and calm in knowing our way around in this part of Normandy. Gone are the days when we felt like tourists, compelled to attend to must-see attractions and goings-on in town. This year, we just took it easy the first few days, did little house projects, tidied up — merely stopping to go out to go eat or check out a new store.

callalilies Flowers in our garden

One of the highlights of our stay here is going to the local marché, similar to farmer’s markets in the US except it’s year round here, and twice a week in our particular town. The marchés offer not only food but also clothes, livestock and chair repair (see second picture below). These local markets provide great communal experience for everyone to gather and see friends. You’ll often see people stop and give double kisses to someone they ran into so you have to be patient moving around at these markets as the person may just abruptly stop in front of you for no great reason than to give les bises to a neighbor or cousin.

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As we bought a few essentials at the marché, we also got a chance to wander off and poke our noses at random parts of the town center.

pontaudemerflowers Flowers by the bridge near the market

oldwalls  These old walls and structure

conservatory The local music school

We also went back to one of our favorite restaurants, Sadi Carnot, where they serve French/Norman classics with a twist. My indulgence for the night was a Norman specialty, boudin noir (pork blood sausage, I know, I know but it really is delicious) with caramelized onions and raisins and pureed pumpkin.

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We also discovered some new places near us, such as a home decor concept store with a cute eatery in the back called Le Pressoir and a cute restaurant in Deauville called Le 21.

lepressoir Le Pressoir Concept Store

lepressoir.2 Gotta love this little setup

lerestaurant21 Pre-pasta indulgence at Le 21

Have a great week everyone! We’re off to Amsterdam for a few days. I can’t wait to report back from that trip.

Week 26/52

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Family and friends, Travel | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of family life in 2016

School finally ended last week. We had a rush of different get togethers with friends from Friday to Sunday, a mixture of catching up and summer kick off. I love this part of the summer when school just ended and the entire season just stretches out before us with promise and possibilities. There’s also the feeling of freedom and lightness that come from breaking away from the usual routine and schedule.

Will we really be that changed come September? A part of me hopes so — that these next few months bring a slightly different perspective come fall. A wiser, calmer person? More fun-loving and adventurous? Hmmm, possibilities…

But in the next few weeks, I hope to be creatively stimulated, rested and re-calibrated in terms of who I am and what I stand for.  I am excited to go back to our house in France, to revisit old haunts and discover new places.

girlsofsummer C’s last hurrah with friends before starting a new school in the fall

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