Friday, November 30, 2012

France, Thanksgiving & Technology Issues...

Happy to be Connected...sort of..

Not sure how many of you have noticed but my blog has been pretty quiet for the past few weeks.  We have had some major technology issues at the house and we are still without phone, television and Internet.  I am presently doing this post from a Cafe in downtown Bordeaux. (Thank you Columbus Cafe - you have been wonderful!)

The short version of the story is almost 3 weeks ago, our Internet, cable and phone all of a sudden went down.  After one phone call with a technician on a Sunday evening (yes, that surprised me - Sunday's in France everything is normally closed ) and 3 technician visits to the house over the past couple of weeks - they have finally figured out that our underground line from our driveway to the pole on the street had been severed...and now it means re-routing and digging a new trench all of 12 feet to the pole - but it needs a permit from the mayor's office.  So we wait....

This has been a huge inconvenience for me, especially for on-line shopping for Christmas presents - Black Friday came and went, Cyber Monday and time marches on...I feel like we are living a bit in the dark ages.  It's amazing how dependent we have become on modern technology.  Thank goodness for smartphones and some data time on a 3G network.  Otherwise, I'm not sure where we would be...I have found some great apps to use on my phone when I can get on WiFi and cafes or friends houses.  So I suppose not all is lost.

In the weeks that we have been down, I had a friend visit for a week  - it was wonderful to tour her around the area - we even enjoyed a wonderful day in Saint Emilion (definitely needed some wine after all these tech issues).  Look for a posting soon on that town - BEAUTIFUL!

We also hosted Thanksgiving at our house - we introduced the holiday to some French friends and I had a lot of fun preparing our feast of Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce and of course apple pie for dessert!  Even made Lime jello with pears. Our butcher shop came through with a magnificient turkey - true to the American size.  It was delicious! My husband made some pumpkin filled crepes and a friend brought a tiramisu...I think we all could have rolled away from the table!  So fun.  It was interesting for me to use my phone to get my mom's stuffing recipe off email and look for a great apple pie recipe.  Definitely a different Thanksgiving in so many respects.

Wonderful win in Saint Emilion!

Fun time getting WiFi at Columbus Cafe in Bordeaux

Anyway, now the holiday season is upon us and top of my list is to be RECONNECTED!  We will see if Santa can bring this early!  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quick post- St. Emilion & no internet

Just a quick hello...we are on day 6 of no internet...will write more later.  At least I spent a lovely day in St Emilion. A little wine was very appreciated.

Just a reminder to vote every 24hrs for American Mom in Bordeaux -Top 25 European Moms - 2012 via @circleofmoms-Merci

I am very touched by all of you who have voted...we are currently at 30....need to move into top votes are wonderful!..

When I get full internet back on Monday, will post more. Just wanted to say hello.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Loire Valley, Villeny, & Thanksgiving Prep!

Fun with the girls!

Vacations are always fun...but I often feel like I spend the next few days or even a week in recovery.  All the stuff to put away, the laundry to catch up on, the clothes to unpack - all in a day's work.  Still adjusting to the French laundry - the time it takes to hang things to dry (really don't like the dryer) - it's a non-stop job for 3 days.

Thought I would take a quick break to upload some photos and capture some of our memories.

My oldest daughter had a lot of fun taking photos on this trip.  She took this photo of her sisters and me and I can't wait to see some of her other photos.  She has a great eye for composition.  One day I plan on posting some of her photos - always fun to watch your kids develop their own style.

I have to say, that's why it's really nice here in France that we have had 2 weeks of vacation.  This weekend - we can just hang out, relax and prepare ourselves for the routine to begin again. It's also nice to hang out as a family - as I mentioned in the previous post, my husband was off in Florence, Italy on a business trip - so great to have family time!  The kids are feeling more refreshed, they had a fun week traveling and during the first week - they saw their friends and relaxed at home.  When we were away - we rented a quaint old farmhouse in the country - in a small town called Villeny. The house was situated 2 km in the woods and had beautiful grounds to enjoy.  The kids had lots of fun outside.  There was a swing set and trampoline at the house, not to mention a pond and plenty of animals to enjoy!  The Fall foliage provided such a beautiful backdrop.  We also enjoyed the fire in the wood stove each day - like stepping back in time.

As I said in my last post, I will write up separate posts about each of the places we visited - It was such a great get away...We toured 3 castles and went the to Zoo Parc de Beauval during the 6 days were were away.  Here's a quick taste.



Chateau de Clos Luce - home of Leonardo DaVinci

At the Zoo Parc de Beauval - St. Aignan

My thoughts are now heading toward Thanksgiving preparation - Thanksgiving is not celebrated in France but since it's such a huge family holiday in the States - we will enjoy our own festivities here.  It is a bit tricky getting exactly what we need here - but through my resources, I think we will be able to manage quite nicely.
Last year, my kids were a bit disappointed as I went shopping a couple of days before our celebration and couldn't find a turkey...(we had chicken instead), Cranberries for cranberry sauce doesn't exist here either, or canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie, did find sweet potatoes...but it was definitely a unique Thanksgiving!  We are already doing much better this year on the food front - a little more planning and organizing.  Just got confirmation that the butcher shop can order a large turkey!  Yeah!

We won't be able to celebrate until the Saturday after the real holiday - as it's a normal work and school week here - but I already feel better that it will be a bit more traditional.  We have also invited some family friends to join us - always fun to share traditions with others!

So other news - This blog has been nominated at Circle of Moms for a Top European blog award.  However, we need votes to qualify.  Please click on the Circle of Moms link on my page (located just above my bio) and vote if you enjoy reading this blog.  Also, share with your friends!  Voting is only until November 21st.  Thank you. - (or click on the link below)  You can vote once every 24 hours.

Circle of Moms - Top European Blog 2012

So I end this post with the peaceful view on the property where we stayed -
Just a visual reminder of how relaxing our time was there - and when things get crazy again - I know where to come back and look.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Loire Valley, Florence & Modern Technology

Leonardo DaVinci, France & Italy..

So this is the second week of Toussaint break in France - my husband unfortunately had a work conference in Florence, Italy - and it was just too complicated to try to take the whole family - but the girls and I, along with some friends are enjoying the Loire Valley.

We had a bit of fun skyping with my husband yesterday - he had an opportunity to tour the city before his conference officially started so shared amazing photos with us via Skype and email.  We returned the favor - and laughed at the irony that Leonardo DaVinci was famous in both places!  Yesterday was our tour of Chateau de Clos Luce, his home in France.  I will be doing more write ups about our trip later - but wanted to share some nice photos of yesterday, both from Leonardo's home here in France and of Florence!

The Cathedral in Florence, Italy...sorry I'm not there so can't tell you the official name - but can tell you it's beautiful and stunning!  Apparently, it has one of the first domes built in Europe.  Very ornate - definitely a different style than that of Notre Dame in Paris.

Of, course the statue of David - 

A unique feature - houses built across the bridges....this was apparently done long time ago in many European cities, but were removed by many cities to clean up the appearance of the bridges and open up the space and view.

Now, back in France - This is Chateau de Clos Luce - Leonardo's home in France.  A great place to walk around and most impressive were all the inventions that he envisioned.  Such the Renaissance man and a true visionary!

Below is his idea for the first tank....this model in the garden allowed the kids to spin it from the inside.

One more little taste, the idea for a water pump...

All I can say, with WiFi, Skype and instant email - it's so great to stay connected and enjoy our unique experiences!  I look forward to doing more detailed write ups on each of our tours this we are off to Chambord.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween in France & All Saint's Day

Happy Halloween Everyone!

So today we celebrated Halloween.  Yes, this is an American Holiday.  One may be able to move the American girls to France and have them enjoy all that is French....but it's hard to take American Halloween away!

Last year, as we had just arrived and I'm sure we were still recovering from jet lag....Halloween came and went with not so much as a treat, costume or candy corn.  My girls were  very unhappy to miss trick or treating and dressing this year I decided we would do our best to enjoy it the best we could in France.

You see Halloween is an American holiday that is not traditionally celebrated in France.  I understand that at various times different efforts have been made to explain the holiday to the French - and encourage kids to go out "trick or treating" - and people to hand out candy.  For whatever reason, this concept has not been embraced.  What has been embraced is kids dressing up, families having small parties and lots of candy being eaten.  It's also nice that Halloween seems to fall perfectly during the Toussaint school break with All Saint's Day on November 1st.  This allows for more flexibility with parties and get together.

We were fortunate enough this year to be invited to parties.  The first one being a week ago - and the second being today on Halloween. Even though, the kids were a bit disappointed to not be able to go trick or treating - they certainly enjoyed choosing their costumes, dressing up and partaking of all the cookies and candies.  Party games were also lots of fun.  After having several conversations with French mothers, the idea of having Halloween parties are fully embraced and dressing up is always fun!  In that way, the French do seem to enjoy Halloween and all its glory.  There is apparently a little trick or treating that happens in some areas - but it's almost like one needs a map to know whose house to ring or not to ring!  

Fun Halloween decorations

Candy estimation game....Can you guess how many candy eggs are in the container?
 Yummy Cupcakes...
 Loved the treat bags from the hostess...
And then there were the party games....  Twister was a huge hit!

 I think they were laughing the whole time...

I loved the French spinner!

 No party is complete without a pinata..

and then after the bat pinata had been beat numerous times with a finally revealed it's treasures...more candy of course.

Overall, I would say the girls enjoyed their Halloween.  Definitely different than in the States...but fun none the less.  It had to be better than last year anyway!  Happy Halloween - I hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Few Photos...Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Weekend in October & 
Jardin des Plantes, Paris

It's the weekend - actually the beginning of Toussaint break for my kids.  We are hoping for a nice break weather-wise - hopefully step away from the rain and wind of the past few weeks.  It's time for some sunshine!  The kids are excited to have the next 2 weeks off (yes, my US friends, I did say 2 weeks - The French school calendar is made up of several 2 week breaks).  It's actually nice to have a bit of a break from school - we are planning to hang out around here for the first week and then we are headed North with some friends.

So in hoping for some sunshine...I wanted to share some photos from the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.  When I was up there earlier this month, I had the luxury of enjoying a nice walk around this park.

Even though it was early October, there were still plenty of flowers in bloom.  So welcoming and colorful.  I can only imagine how vibrant and beautiful it looks in the Spring and Summer.

The Museum of Natural History is located on the property, along with many tree-lined walking paths, restaurants a great playground and even a small zoo.  I can see why this part is often a site used for many photo shoots and enjoyed by lots of people.

Would love to bring the kids to this park - the museum, the zoo and of course a playground - so many fun things to do!

I love the expressions on these statues....

 The Museum of Natural History...

 The setting sun gave a beautiful reflection into the windows of the greenhouses.

The gazebo, a great place to sit and look out on the park.  I can also see whey Parisians and tourists alike and get lost in their thoughts in this park - it's a perfect place to walk around and relax.

So off on break we go....looking forward to doing more exploring and adventuring....

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