Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest posting Today - Did you ever return to your hometown or home Country?

Vacation - What it's like to be home for a visit...
Bike Tour in Amsterdam
I'm in the process of working on several different posts.  I want to share our bike tour in Amsterdam, our quick visit & boat tour in Niagara Falls, our time in Rochester at the Museum of Play, and many other fun experiences we had over the past few weeks.  It's been a whirlwind tour - but so much fun!!
View of American & Bridal Falls from Boat
But, as with most people on vacation - the girls and I are enjoying our time seeing friends, exploring new & old areas and just plain all these posts are still in process.  Again, feel free to follow on facebook, Instagram or Twitter and you will see photos of what we are up to.  Here's just a small sample.
Museum of Play in Rochester
In the mean time, I wrote a piece for Multicultural Kids Blogs about our impressions as we returned home for the first time.  I found it interesting to get the kids opinions and also how they felt about visiting their old friends and town.  I expected many of their reactions but were surprised by others.
Hanging with cousins
Check it out - Here - Family Travel - Impressions and Perspectives

Kayaks & canoes - love our Adirondack hideaway!
More Cousin time - How many can we fit on a paddle boat?
 So I hope you enjoy a few photos here and follow our adventures through other social media and I promise you will hear all about our experiences shortly!! Are any of you on vacation - Have you ventured back toy our hometown or former town? What did you think?  Have a great end of the week!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Few things...Update from Bordeaux

The Summer begins....
Cathedral Saint Andre - Bordeaux - love this view!
I know it's been a while since my last new post.  Life has just gotten busy. Like many families  it's now summer vacation and the kids are home full-time.

This summer we are doing things a bit different - the girls and I will be leaving next week for the States to visit for almost a month.  It's our first time back "home" in almost 3 years.  I can't tell you how excited we all are.  Each night as I put the kids to bed, we end up talking about what we will be doing, who we will be seeing and just how fun it will be to be back visiting.  

Considering we are leaving next week, I have been busy preparing for our trip, continuing to work part-time, finding things to do with them here before we leave, and just trying to keep up with the normal mundane everyday stuff of a family!!  Not to mention we had US friends stop by last weekend for a quick visit!

All of this has cut into my blogging time and accounts for why there has not been a new post in a while.

Don't worry, I have plenty to share - and I have been working on several fun posts from the Wine Festival and other end of year fun!!  I look forward to sharing them soon.

Meanwhile a little update from our little corner here in Bordeaux:

This past week, we ran last minute errands in Bordeaux and around to get ready for our vacation.  This past Wednesday was fun for my older girls as they had the fun opportunity of feeling independent.  I was working in Bordeaux in the morning and we had made an appointment for haircuts in the afternoon.  My favorite hairdresser is located in Bordeaux and since it seemed silly for me to go all the way back to get them - we worked it out that they would bus in to meet me. 
Place de La Comedie - Bordeaux - early mornings are often quiet before the hustle/bustle of the day begins...
So my oldest figured it all out, when she had to leave the house, walk to the bus, where to get off in the city, walk to the tram station and take the right line to meet me at a stop that was new to her.  They even stopped for a sandwich on the way! It was the first time we allowed them both to meet me, involving transfers of transportation. In the past, my oldest has met me with just a direct ride involved. We found each other and they were thrilled to have accomplished this feat.  (Yes, my oldest had her cell phone and we were communicating a bit as they were on the way -but that sense of independence is a great thing!).  That's  what I love about this city - it's safe and manageable.  We had a great afternoon - all getting our hair to hang out with the girls in this way!!

On Friday afternoon, my younger daughters participated in a really neat workshop at the Musee des Beaux Arts (Art Museum).  For 2 hours, they joined other children for a tour of the museum and then a workshop where they got to make clay figurines.  A friend of mine and I both registered our kids, so they had friends there also.  We got to drop them off and then come back 2 hours later and pick them up. (A two hour break was heavenly after a week of all three of them home together!!)  Fun fact:  Perfect amount of time to enjoy a coffee with my friend and also run those last minute errands before we leave next week!!  Additionally this workshop was FREE!!  Take a look at the cute clay figures that they made. - If you are interested in reading more about their summer workshops - Read here - Musee des Beaux Arts

Loved this workshop or Atelier (in French) - great find!
Last night we enjoyed an impromptu barbecue at a friend's house.  It was nice that the kids could hang out with some of their friends before we leave.  In France, we have found that summer time is not always the best time to get together with friends. Kids here are off visiting or staying with family for weeks at a time, or their family is on vacation, or away at a summer home.  If they are around, it often means their parents are working and they are at day camp all day.  So it was definitely a treat to spend a little time with friends last evening!!

Summer eating! - outside and relaxed!

Finally, we are spending this weekend - organizing, cleaning and packing as we leave Tuesday!!  Feel free to follow on instagram, facebook and twitter - I will be sharing some pieces of our travels as we head back!!

Our first stop will be in Amsterdam - we have an overnight layover so have enough time to enjoy the city a little bit!!  I have never visited the city (yes, over the years, I have gotten to know the airport very well - but we have never had time to tour the city!) and I look forward to getting a quick overview with a bike tour!!

So here's to Summer and some fun!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Repost-(from the Archives) - L' Accrobranche/Ropes Course - Le Porge/Lacaneau

Originally posted - 9/21/12 

Le Peuple Des Cimes  - 
Parc Accrobranche
 Awesome fun for kids of all ages!

A few years ago when we were vacationing in the Basque area of France, when my older 2 girls were 8 1/2 and 5 1/2, we stumbled on a rope's course designed for families.  The girls begged to try it and they had a ball.  I watched my middle daughter gain so much confidence in climbing, stepping and maneuvering the various stations on the course and my oldest was way up in the trees.  Since then, the girls have begged to try other Parks like that one - and more seem to be popping up all over France.

Now, I know rope's courses have been around in the States for a long time, but what's wonderful about these courses - called Parc Accrobranche in France - is that they have multiple levels and loops- often for as young as 3 years old.  It's so fun to find a place where all of my girls can have fun.  (Did you catch that - my girls, I choose to take the photos - thank you very much!).

So this past weekend - we headed off toward the ocean - toward Le Porge - just south of  Lacaneau to try out another park - Les Peuple Des Cimes.

Here are my oldest and youngest getting fit for their harnesses.  The staff at this park were very helpful and great with instructions and assistance.

All three of them get a safety lesson and instructions before they depart.  They are shown how to work their clips, where to attach at each station, and for my oldest - how to attach her own zip line slider.  (For the younger girls, the sliders are already attached on the course.)

The Park is set up with multiple loops at various levels - There's a course for under 5 year olds, another course for ages 6 to 12 and then a couple of adult loops.  Each loop increasingly longer, higher and more challenging.  This park is located in Porge Ocean - just a mere 2 Km from the beach - it's on the edge of a campground and they hope to continue to expand further into the trees.

For my youngest daughter who will be 5 very soon.  This is the second time she has done one of these courses. ( I wrote about her first time  - here ).  It was amazing to watch that this time she was more confident, willing to try more on her own and definitely was more relaxed.  Her course was about 4 feet off the ground.  High enough to help her feel like a big kid- but low enough that an adult could easily help their child.

At the end of her course was a small zip line where she attached her clips to a slider and then sits in her harness and slides.  I loved her face when she headed down the line!  She was actually having a great time - I know in the photo she looks somewhere between terror and excitement.

As she got closer to the end, she needed to lift her feet to catch against the padding on the tree.  It was neat to see her focus change from take off to concentration.  She loved this course. As we went in the Fall and there was no one else waiting to do her loop - she chose to redo it 3 times!  Each time she got more confident and had more fun!  So fun to she what she can accomplish at not quite 5 years old!

My middle daughter did the course designed for kids ages 6 to 12.  This course is about 6 feet off the ground.  You can see in the photo below - my husband, who is 6 feet standing below her.  

She had a lot of fun with each new challenge...

The swinging logs took a bit of concentration and time -
And then the wide steps which almost meant a split.....

And finally the zip line...taking it all in...
Looking a bit nervous.....
Talking it out with Papa....not too sure she's ready to sit and slide.
then decided it was better to have a little assistance ....
But then got to the last zip line......
and did it herself!
She was so proud of herself - completing the course, so then she does what every kid would want to do...she started again!

And this time - she did both the zip lines all by herself...such a confidence builder!!

And then there is my oldest daughter - the monkey!!  She's been a climber and daredevil all her life.  Even the first time she did a rope's course at 8 1/2 years old, she did a high one.  As I was helping the my 2 younger daughters, she was mostly on her own...but we did get some fun photos.

She enjoyed the part where she needed to swing into the net...

She actually missed catching the net a couple of times - so was giving the knotted rope to pull herself in with. As she said it's harder than it looks!

Then she had to climb up the net, to the platform on top, and then go further up the ladder next to it...She did it - but boy, it was a good work out!!  So wish I did some of that when I was her age...oh, but then again, I have this thing with a herd of wild horses wouldn't have been able to drag me there to try it!  I really enjoy watching my kids do it though...and they so enjoy it!

So this was our adventure afternoon at Le Peuple Des Cimes (translates to the People of the treetops!) - In the summer they are open everyday in July and August.   In September they were open on weekends through mid-September - but after - by appointment or reservation. They are also open on school vacations. Check them out - we rate it as one of our favorite courses - especially since they had something for everyone!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Repost - Carcans Maubuisson - Great place in Southwestern France for some fun family time

As it's summer, and we will be headed to the States on Vacation next week - I will be sharing some older posts mixed in with fun times visiting home!!  Enjoy!

From the Archives - Originally posted - 7/30/13
Lac Carcans-Hourtin

Fun in the Sun - Afternoon on the Lake

The other afternoon we met friends of ours out at Carcans Maubuisson.  We chose this lake, located close to the Atlantic as a break from the strong crashing Ocean waves.  Carcans-Maubuisson is a township composed of 5 smaller villages - Carcans bourg, Le Pouch, Maubuisson, the area of Bombannes and Carcans Plage.  The town of Maubuisson sits on the edge of  Lac de Carcans-Hourtin.  This area is stunningly beautiful and its has been developed with families in mind.  At the end of the lake there is a wonderful gentle beach, where on can sunbathe and swim. There is also beautiful long tree-lined walking path all along the Southern Shore.   For the more active soul, there are rentals of windsurfers, catamarans, sailboats along with paddle boats. This area is highly prized among Europeans for sailing practice and learning!

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon.  It was already busy, but it was a Sunday.  Even though there were no spaces in the Public parking area next to the beach, we had no problem parking a couple blocks off the beach area, near the tennis club.  It wasn't more than a 5 minute walk to bring all of our gear to the beach.

The beach area at Maubuisson
We settled in and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon in and out of the water.  I loved this beach especially for my youngest as it gently increased in depth.  She could walk way out and still be able to touch.  The water was a great temperature - comfortable but refreshing.  It was fun to look around and see all the fun things we could do.
Many kinds of boats to rent



Catamarans - Great family recreation area

After the kids got tired of playing in the water and swimming, the fathers decided to rent a paddle boat and venture out into the lake.  I loved these paddle boats!  They all had a built in slide for playing in the water and plenty of room for up to 6 people!  Some of the boats even looked like cars!
The Dads take the older kids out in a paddle boat

This was a deluxe boat - room for 6 & a slide for water fun!
My youngest decided that she wanted just to watch the older kids play.  She was having her own fun time making friends and building sandcastles!

The youngest just enjoyed floating around

She also loved playing with new friends on the beach.

This particular afternoon was bittersweet as these good friends are headed back to the States and this was our last family outing with them.  My older two children have loved having "American" friends here in France and will miss them very much.  
Best Friends!!  So glad we live in the modern technology age, so these two can keep in  touch!
After we had our fill of the afternoon sun and sand, we headed into the town of Maubuisson to find a restaurant for dinner.  I love these adorable French towns with all their cafes, awnings and terraces.

Wandering around town, looking for the perfect restaurant - so many to choose from!
Sample menu - salads, lots of grilled choices & traditional fare
If one was staying in this area for more than a day, there are bikes to rent
Bikes for all sizes!
We finally settled on a lovely cafe with local fare and we all enjoyed salads, seafood and excellent desserts!

The other set of Best friends!!  We will miss you guys!!
After our meal, we headed back out to the beach area for an after dinner walk.  The tree lined path was so inviting.  It was a great way to take in the sunset and peacefulness of the evening.

Time for a walk - after dinner!
The lake was quiet, with all the boats moved onto the shore
Loved the quietness of the beach after sunset!

Paddle boats - all lined up - ready for the next day

Quiet and peaceful time


Even the moon added it's own characteristic
Finally, the adults were done with the water....but not the children!  They rolled up or took off their clothing and headed back into the water for one last time, before heading back home!  Nothing like a 10 pm swim!!
Yes, that would be my children...heading into DEEP water.  I laughed at their choice of  place on the beach - My adventurers!  They keep us on our toes!
(As my oldest pointed out, it's doesn't say No Swimming, it's just pointing out a drop off!)

I look forward to returning to this area, it's about an hour Northwest of Bordeaux and a great spot to just hang out and relax!!  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer - as the heatwave has settled here in France, we are certainly enjoying being so close to water!!

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