Jun 11, 2014

European Vacation Day 2: Breakfast in Versailles, Dinner in Normandy

Tuesday morning at 6:30 am we arrived (a little early) at Charles de Gaulle airport in France. A few minutes later Wes and Tami arrived to pick us up. They had driven from Germany and stayed the night in Paris.

From the airport we headed straight to see Palace of Versailles.

Since I left a still-nursing baby at home with my sister, I had to take frequent breaks to pump. (and dump.) While Tami and I sat in the car chatting (and one of us pumping), Wes and Doug wandered off to find us some breakfast to eat in line.
Delicious success! Pain au Chocolat
Some yummy meringue thingy
That morning at Versailles, we bought a six day Paris Museum pass.  This was a very good investment and allowed us to skip some long lines later on.

Peaking down a roped-off hall

 The palace was very cool to walk through.  It was also extraordinarily crowded.
Just a few thousand of our closest friends
Marie Antoinette and her two oldest children
I think this may have been the chapel. Pictures are wonky because
they were taken over the heads of the unwashed masses.
One of the ceilings.  The art was incredible.
After touring inside the palace, we left and found some sandwiches and fizzy drinks in the charming town outside the grounds.

Back to Versailles to visit Marie Antoinette's "Hamlet". The Hamlet is a small village built on the grounds where she went to escape the rigors of court life.  But it's not exactly right next door.  

It was a chilly day but we had enough layers to keep us warm.

 We walked down through the courtyard and then rented bikes!


The Hamlet was extremely charming and I'm glad we got to explore and enjoy it.  
Next stop, Normandy!!

After leaving Versailles, we drove straight to our Bed and Breakfast. At least that's what I think we did.  I immediately fell asleep and missed seeing the beautiful French countryside.  
(At least I think it's beautiful.  I was asleep.)

We made a quick stop (at Le Clos des Pommiers in Tracy-sur-Mer) to check-in and change for dinner, and then went out again. 
Beautiful view of the grounds
Our happy and cozy room!
We drove to nearby Bayeux for dinner and wandered around for awhile trying to find a place that could seat us.  It is such an amazingly quaint and beautiful little town--I couldn't stop taking pictures. 
All decked out for the 70th anniversary of D-day

Eventually we settled on a little Creperie and had our first dinner in France.  
And it was amazing!
May I humbly suggest that if you're ever in that neighborhood, go to the same restaurant, and go ahead and get what I got! And may I also suggest that if you ever have the opportunity to have something smothered in creme fraiche, you take it!

This was the first of many times Wes and Tami had to translate menus for us.  They were very good sports about it and gave us some excellent recommendations.
Sweetened coconut on my desert crepe! Why didn't I think of that?!?!

It was a pretty full and magical first day in France. 
If I had had to rush home the very next morning, it would have been worth the trip. 

European Vacation Day 1: Getting There

When we got out of the Air Force, many of our friends headed to Germany.  In fact, had we stayed in, our next assignment would have been in Germany. This makes me a little sad when I think about it so I try not to think about it.

Our friends Tami and Wes left Misawa a little before us and went first to Monterey, CA for 9-ish months and then to Argentina for one year.  We dreamed of visiting them in Argentina, but alas, the first year or two of starting a new business is not a great time to travel.  After Argentina, they went to Germany joining many of our other Misawa friends.  That is when Wes started planning our epic trip/reunion to Europe. Doug started planning it with Wes on a strictly hypothetical basis.

Sure, we'd been saving for a vacation for a looooong time, and sure we had frequent flyer miles for the tickets, but are those good enough reasons to flit a quarter-way around the world?
(The answer is yes.)
Wes got some other families on board and started the "Convince-Douglas-To-Come Campaign" in earnest.
(Are you wondering if I needed convincing? I didn't.)

Pretty soon plans were taking shape and a reunion was being planned and we actually had to commit.  

When we bought the plane tickets many months ago, I still couldn't actually believe we'd actually go. I wondered if Doug would back out.  

Evidently, just because you have money set aside in account labelled "vacation" doesn't mean you have to use it for a vacation.  Turns out you can use it to pay bills.  At least that's what I'm told.  
Fortunately, even Doug is susceptible to peer-pressure and soon we were all in--(if skeptical it would really happen.)
When we got on the plane in San Diego, early in the morning on May 26th, kid-free, I was still more anxious than excited.  (Could have been the sleep deprivation and angst at leaving Linky.)

When we got to Atlanta, it started to feel a little more real.  

And when we were actually in the air listening to announcements in French, I got very excited!
(and then I fell asleep again.)

Gabe The Babe is Growing Up!

Gabey turned SEVEN!

{He doesn't want to be called Gabey-Baby any more so KNOCK IT OFF or he'll get pretty whiny! We told him seven-year-olds are not allowed to whine and he looked at his big brothers and asked "Then how come THEY get to?!?" (Life isn't fair.  That's why.)}

He's a super cute and sweet boy but is also a poor, picked-on middle child, so we'll cut him some slack on the incessant whining.

He pretty much had a full week of non-stop celebrating.  On the actual day of his birthday, he requested crepes for breakfast, and pizza with root beer for dinner (at the pool, of course).

The following day he got to go camping over-night!  To make up for missing the Father/Son's campout the church has coming up, Doug took the four "big" boys camping to Camp Pendleton Marine Base right on the beach.  (He is still in the inactive reserves for a few more years and still has military I.D.)  Two other dads and kids went and they had a lot of fun.  I had a lot of fun staying home and watching HGTV.  (We just got cable for the first time! Yay HGTV and Cooking Channel!  Booooooooo ESPN!!!)

Then, Saturday, we took advantage of the school discount and went to LEGOLAND as a family.  It was blazing hot--right up until the boys went on a ride that got them all wet, and they it cooled right off and left them all shivering.  Fun day though, and we got to see the Lego Movie set

The boys love the ladies. 

Super fun to see the Lego Movie set!
Got soaking wet just in time for the sun to set.

Anyway, back to Gabe:
He is a cutie.
His love affair with Secret Agents is waning, but he still loves playing anything action-y.  Light saber battles are common.
He loves to color and write books.
He is newly obsessed with Pokemon. Sigh. (The neighbor kid gave him a whole bunch so at least we didn't have to buy the dumb things.)
He is happy, friendly, and outgoing and is constantly being invited over for play dates with classmates.
He loves life, his friends and playing outside.

And we sure love our Gabey-Boy!

Apr 7, 2014

A Hair-y Situation

I hate cutting hair.
(I hate hair)
So I generally put it off.
For months.
But when it's long enough to French braid, it's long enough.
Sure, I could take them all to the barber, but the last time I did that it cost me $80 and they got the same crappy haircut I could have given them.  
So, the bathtub it is... 
Two of the boys before:

And all of the boys (plus cousin and Grandma) after:
Much fun was had by...

Apr 5, 2014

Gray-Gray is FOUR

My sweet little Gray-Gray is growing up!  He was lucky enough to have Grandma W, Aunty Beth, Aunty Steph, and cousins Spence and Anna in town to help him celebrate his fourth birthday.

But first, he got to celebrate with his preschool class and got this awesome crown:

(Guess who was supposed to bring the class snack to preschool that day? Me.
Guess who forgot? Me. Totally out of the running for the Mother of the Year award--again.)

Oh his actual birthday, we had a party down at the pool with above named relatives, and our friends the L and T's.
Sweet cousin Anna
Gray picked this cake from Costco all by himself.
I was just thrilled I didn't have to make an "Olaf" cake.

Gray with Emily T.
(Gray loves Emily T. almost as much as he loves her little brother "Dabid")

Gray got some cool presents and had a great time.

A few things about Gray-Gray:

*He loves me the most and alternately bestows his love on other members of the family depending on what bribes they offer him. I.E. "Gray, I'll give you this piece of gum if you say I'm your favorite brother...!!!"

*Gray loves gum.

*He has the worst potty mouth of any of the boys (at the same age).  I blame having three older brothers.  He throws out "stupid" ("dupid") and "dumb" when he wants attention and usually gets it from his shocked older brothers. I try to act upset, and usually tell him to use nicer words, but with his little speech impediment it's just adorable. Oh, and he also curses you to go in "da hot laba" when he's really mad at you.

*Gray likes to play puppies.  Gray also wants to be a puppy when he grows up.

*Gray likes crepes and demands them for dinner all.the.time.

*He has a very sweet little giggle and gazes adoringly up at you and says "I love you very much!"

*When he is pretend hungry he pretend eats my ear.  He bites it just hard enough to make himself giggle but not hard enough to make me yelp.  Sometimes he walks up behind Doug and bites him on the bottom and we all laugh.  Except Doug.

*He loves riding on Daddy's back in the swimming pool and isn't afraid to do tricks.
Nice form Gray!!
*Gray is just an all-around awesome kid and we love him!

(See this post for some adorable baby pictures.  Too tired to copy and paste them tonight.)