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Fave Moments in Normandy

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Family and friends, France, Travel | 2 comments

It feels like this summer is going super-fast. I can’t believe that August is just around the corner, which means slowly shifting gears to start thinking about school-related stuff. I really do not want to be in that mode yet. I know that come end of August and early September things will accelerate quite a bit, especially with Chiara entering fifth grade this year.

Instead of thinking of what’s ahead, I would rather just be in the moment. This is my first full week where the girls are at summer camp all day from 9 to 5. I like using the alone time getting things organized around the house and doing things that are not kid-centric. I also like using this time to hear myself without someone interrupting my thought process every few minutes or so. Trust me, I love my girls but sometimes I just need the space. Don’t we all?

The other thing that I have done this week is sift and edit photos that I have taken so far. I like looking at some of the ones I’ve taken here in Normandy as I think these photos capture simple everyday pleasures from our summer here. Here are some that I’d like to share with you.

There’s the farmer’s market that we like to go to for fresh produce and local goods..

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There’s the local Norman architecture around town that I will never get tired of…

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There’s the little housekeeping we need to do…

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There’s the regular crêpe bingeing…

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A trip to a local bookstore with lots of older paperbacks and French children’s classics..

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And lastly, there are the fruits and veggies that grow in our garden…

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Île de Ré – Part 2

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Family and friends, France | 2 comments

We are back in Normandy and slowly returning to our routine. The girls are in camp the next two weeks with local Norman kids. As much as I am always a little afraid of leaving them in camp where local slang and ways need some deciphering, I know that I will have two happy girls at pick up time today. Like last year, they will have lots of stories to tell me about kids they met and the activities they did during the day. Plus, they’ll probably see some of the kids who were with them in camp last year.

I know we are lucky to have such an extended vacation period. Most Americans only get a couple of weeks or so. But the last few weeks of solid family and couple time have been great for all of us. Sure, there’s been some meltdown and bickering as all families do when they spend lots of time together. However, there were lots of unscheduled and unrestricted time to simply let go of the usual and the expected and just do things we really want to do.

I will be alone with the girls in the next few of weeks at our house in Normandy. I always look forward to this time alone when I challenge myself to do what the locals do and not be intimidated by my less-than-perfect French. Like in years past, I know I will get by and come out from the time alone feeling a bit braver and calmer, restored.

Below are some of the last photos I took at Île de Ré last week. How’s your summer coming along so far?

untitled (70 of 126).1 Plage les Gollandieres

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Île de Ré for a Quick Getaway

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in France, Travel | 0 comments

As I mentioned in my last post, our girls are with my in-laws for a few days while we sneak away some time alone. We are in Île de Ré, a pretty island in the Southwestern part of France. It’s only a two and a half drive for my in-laws’ house but it feels like we are much further away.

Île de Ré can probably be compared to Cape Cod in the US. Unlike other beach resorts in France, especially those in the Riviera, the island is very understated in many ways. No crazy night clubs and glitzy cars, just lots of bike paths everywhere. The island is full of old, white-washed homes that complements the beautiful sunsets here, which is particularly stunning in the old port at the town’s main hub, Saint Martin de Ré.

The island was previously reachable only by ferry. However, ferry traffic and wait times got a little out of control so a bridge was built in 1987 to ease the bottleneck of the comings and goings on the island. The unfortunate side is that the island has become a lot more popular and real estate prices have skyrocketed. The good thing is that the island is pretty big so it never feels too crowded. There’s plenty of room to enjoy the endless beauty of the island.

Saint Martin de Ré

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A Back to Nature 14 Juillet (aka Bastille Day)

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Family and friends, France | 0 comments

The French equivalent of the American July 4th obviously is Bastille Day, which the French refer to as le 14 juillet.  Often, this day is when Richard’s family have their reunion. Given that there was a family wedding last week, his extended family decided not to have a reunion this year. Instead, we had a smaller get together at his parents’ house  where the girls will stay for a week with their cousin while we sneak away for some much-needed alone time.

We asked the girls not to bring their iPads or any electronic games during their stay with their grandparents.  I will most likely leave my old Kindle for them to read their books while we’re away. It’s amazing what the lack of iPad and gadgets can do.  The girls have already spent much time outdoors, re-discovering nature and fun in the simplest things.  There was a tiny little dead fish that Ines caught yesterday and a bigger alive one that Chiara got today.  There were lots of play time and art making with their little cousin.  There is a little lost bird that Chiara discovered today with her grandfather that she is trying to save from dying.  Lastly, there was some playground fun and bike riding at a local park.

They do not seem to suffer from “electronic withdrawal.”  We’ll see how they are by the end of the week.

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A Modern Day French Wedding

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Family and friends, France | 0 comments

Right after our side trip to Barcelona, we went to a family wedding in France. French weddings tend to be very modern these days with most conducted as civil ceremonies instead of church weddings. This particular wedding started with the official union at le mairie (town hall) outside Poitiers in the more central part of France. The ceremony was then followed by a reception at a domaine (a former vineyard, which the French also call a château).

Unlike American wedding receptions, French ones are lengthy affairs often lasting until the wee hours of the morning. In our case, the cocktail hour lasted for about two and half hours while the actual dinner and partying went on for about eight hours. Our family turned in around 2:30 in the morning while lots of people (including kids) stayed up until the very end, which was 4:30 in the morning.

This wedding was a breath of fresh air in terms of modernity in all the wedding details and candidness of speech by those close to the couple. Since the groom is a musician with a CD coming out soon, the theme was all around music. We had a trio ensemble that played during the cocktail hour, followed by a band that surprisingly sang a lot of songs in English including Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk and Lenny Kravitz.

In my opinion, the best part of weddings is seeing the look in the children’s eyes as they watch the couple exchange vows lovingly and how the adults move on the dance floor during the reception. In my mind, I am thinking that the children are deciphering the social codes around them and how they fit in these norms. I love how they react seeing cousins they have not seen in awhile and how they manage to find something to bond over. I hope that these moments will be a part of their already burgeoning childhood memories, which they’ll cherish and reminisce about one day.

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