The Road Home

It has taken me months to get around to writing this post. In part because we have had so so many things going on and, in part because I was disappointed that our grand adventure ended sooner than we expected it to.

The quick recap of the story is there were some issues with work permits/visas and all that incredibly boring legal stuff that you have to figure out if you don’t want to be living in a country illegally! There may have been some ways to work around the issues, but none of them left us feeling comfortable enough to stay. This was all happening in late August, and we made the painful decision to pack the bags and fly back to the states. Other than knowing we would be back in Boulder we didn’t have a very detailed exit strategy!

Quinn - I love the pout on your face, I felt the same way about leaving!

Quinn – I love the pout on your face, I felt the same way about leaving!

Matt had driven our bags to the hotel, then he drove the car back to the house.  We took a few photos of the boys and walked to the bus stop, where it appropriately started to rain. We enjoyed our second to last double-decker bus ride into Dublin to get some dinner and ice cream before heading to the Bwelys Dublin Airport Hotel for our last night in Dublin.

Burr it's cold and wet and rainy in Ireland in the summer, but don't I look good with dads sweater over my head!

Burr it’s cold and wet and rainy in Ireland in the summer, but don’t I look good with dads sweater over my head!

After months of looking for good mexican food in Europe we found it in Dublin at Acapulco’s on South Great Georges Street in Dublin 2! If you are looking for lively, kid friendly Mexican food in Dublin this is the perfect spot. Quinn was the photographer at the restaurant, most of our pictures from there look like this:

Now that is a good looking picture, Thanks Q!

Now that is a good looking picture, Thanks Q!

Traveling with food allergies can limit us to where we eat, especially desserts.On the bright side, it also leads us to discover great places like Murphys Ice Cream. Ice cream that is handmade in Dingle of all natural/real ingredients it can be found across Ireland and most important the taste is melt in your mouth delicious.

IMG_6712

OK, you have to admit there is nothing more adorable then the boys on this little swing with flowers on the ropes at the ice cream store!

One last ride on a double-decker bus, I know if they had these everywhere they would become as boring as a trip in the car, but there is something about sitting in the front, on the top of a double-decker bus!

A few hours of sleep later we were up and at the Dublin Airport ready to board our flight to London then across the pond and back home. Just to keep things exciting, about 30 minutes into our flight from London the flight attendant came on and announced, “I’m sorry folks, we have detected a technical issue (LONG DRAMATIC PAUSE, giving me enough time to think yes this is it we are crashing for sure) then he continues on to say with the entertainment system! Total heart attack when I thought it was with the plane! Then a minute later I thought, Oh My God 9 hours on a plane with three kids and no entertainment system what are we going to do.A quick reboot of the system and we were all set. Entertainment for Everyone! I do love British Airways

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Quick Recap after coming back to the States.

1. A week in FL – greeted by Tropical Store Isaac and a trip to Disney World

2. Moved into our new house, boys went back to school

3. Boys playing hockey – Go Jaguars, had a great time at our Tournament in Vail and the Pond Hockey Tournament at Evergreen lake. If you are ever in Colorado during the winter a trip to Evergreen Lake is a must. Well, unless you are from Canada or Minnesota where skating on frozen ponds is not unusual at all! Up next a hockey tournament in Chicago – did you know you can skate at the top of the John Hancock Tower or at Wrigley Field, I don’t know what one sounds more exciting. Maybe we will get a chance to try them both!

4. LOVE being able to shop at Whole Foods again and know what I am buying 🙂

5. Hopefully planning a ski trip to Winter Park sometime this winter and something small for Spring Break….. tossing around the idea of another European Trip as soon as we can (next summer????) Where would you go?

P.S. If you made it to the end of this post you have a longer attention span then I do! I had to sit down three times just to finish writing this!

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Categories: Dublin, Expat Life, Family Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lazy Little Blogger

I”m thinking about changing the blog title, from The Lively Little Traveler to the Lazy Little Blogger 🙂 …. it’s nearly mid August and I think I have blogged once in about 6 weeks. I would like to say it’s because I am just too busy exploring Ireland with the boys, but I think it might have more to do with being “busy” watching the 2012 Olympics (and wishing we would have made the trip to the UK to soak up some of the Olympic atmosphere!) Ohhhh well, I am still planning on someday knowing someone who is an Olympic athlete who will have an extra ticket for me to go to the Opening ceremonies (hint hint, if you think you will be competing in the 2014 or 2016 or any subsequent olympic games let me know and I will become your new BFF – sorry to any of my current BFF’s that are reading this I still love you!)

Here is a lively little recap of the past few weeks:

We experienced our first big American Holiday as an Expat and had a quiet little 4th of July in Dublin, mixing the best of both worlds by making Nutella Brownies (My reasoning is that Nutella is Euro and Brownies American so it was the perfect way to mix a little of both worlds) and riding a double-decker bus

Ummmm….. mom you know it would be a lot faster if you just let me eat the Nutella straight out of the jar!

why yes, if you whip cream too long it does turn into butter… not quite what we were going for. Good thing the store was close by and we could send Matt out to buy ice cream to go with the brownies!

Red, White and Blueberries

I’m pretty sure that the boys have got their eyes on AVOCA on the right – they just don’t know yet how much they love the hand-woven vegetable died knit products, the fabulous cafe, or the anthropologie – like clothes, oh wait, it’s me that loves Avoca….. well the boys will come around eventually right?

It is just a coincidence that the last photo had a Avoca in it and this one there is a Bank sign right behind me…. or is it a sign, shop and Avoca and right down the street is a bank (ATM)……

Sometime after the 4th of July Zoli lost his first tooth – oh wait, I just checked the date on the photos, he actually lost the tooth before the 4th of July, but keeping in the spirit of lazy blogging the picture is still going to go after the 4th of July….. that’s ok right?

The tooth fairy paid in Euros, Zoli’s not sure he got the best deal with the exchange rate…..

We spent an afternoon at the Greenan Farm Maze & Museum in the heart of stunning Wicklow Ireland

The boys checking out what we decided is the “Irish Man -Cave”

I think we found Matt’s next bike….. not sure how it will handle the Mtn. Passes in Colorado, but the retro style points would make up for any loss in technical performance.

There may or may not have been a sign that said the maze should be walked slowly allowing space for mediation…. I think the boys meditate better at full speed. OK, the reality is they had to race to the center, little to no meditation involved.

On July 14th we got tickets to the Shamrock Bowl the championship game of the American Football League in Ireland, it was the Limerick Vikings vs. the Belfast Trojans and what a battle it was. The funniest thing was the announcer who explained each play to the fans, apparently American Football is not that popular here, but I will admit I learned a few things about the game! I still don’t know as much as my 4 year old about football, but at least I’m learning.

This view makes it look like any football game you would see in the US – men in tight pants… Ummmm… I mean a foot ball team lined up and ready to play.

and this view highlights some of the differences….. the players holding hands before the game starts, and for a championship game there sure was no problem getting tickets to the game – notice all the empty seats!

The boys are cute, but look behind them at the stunning view from the stadium! This country is beautiful!

I sure do love these boys!

Now the lazy little blogger is getting tired, so I will need to post pictures from the Leprechaun Museum (yup Dublin has a Leprechaun museum, how cool is that) and the Limerick vs. Manchester City football/soccer match in a later post.

However, we did have a fun week, so a quick recap of the last 7 days,

The sun finally came out, yes the rumors about how much rain Ireland gets is true! It rains ALL THE TIME, but for a brief few days the sun came out! The boys loved it and celebrated with a giant water balloon fight in the back yard with their new friends.

At one point I think there were 15 little boys in the back yard with water balloons….and Zoli’s girlfriend, that boy is a smooth operator, no matter where we are he seems to find a lady friend!

The owners of the company Matt works for are in Dublin for a little bit of work and a little bit of fun. On Thursday it was all fun when one of the partners and his wife renewed their vows in the constitution room of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin  – the vow renewal took place in the very same spot that the Irish Constitution was drafted in 1922 – of course I think I have a bit of dyslexia, when I was reading about the constitution room I thought it said the Irish Constitution was drafted in 1992…. ummmmm apparently I need to review my history just a little bit! The room was stunning, the dinner was fabulous (they so kindly catered to the picky vegetarian!) and it was amazing to have a baby sitter for the kids and be out in the “adult world” the first time since we left Boulder in May! The only downside, I felt totally underdressed! When I was packing months ago I didn’t know we would be out in the fancy grown up world! The best I could come up with was a slightly anthropology inspired dress and sparkly belt…. why didn’t I use it as an excuse to go shopping…..

I think maybe I will only dine here with waiters wearing white gloves from now on!

On Saturday we hit the mall, Zoli has outgrown the pants I brought for him so the poor kid has been freezing in shorts all summer, yes you read that right, freezing in shorts in the summer, it has been cold here! Well, the people in Ireland don’t really think it’s cold, I think it’s cold! One day it was 65 degrees out and Matt went golfing that evening, he met someone on the golf course who said, wow it was such a scorcher today I couldn’t come out to golf until this evening! It’s so funny to hear 65 degrees talked about as a scorcher! I’m a little bit worried what winter will be like! We stopped at Gap and got him some pants then went to my absolute favorite little spot south of Dublin, in Graystones, Happy Pear. It is so cozy, has the most amazing food in the cafe and produce in the market, I wish I could just move right in! It was a wonderful day.

Sunday morning I got up and ran the Celbridge 5K, I had a great time running, but ran a little bit slower than I had wanted to 😦 Then Matt went golfing in the afternoon. We are trying to figure out our next “move” since we need to leave the country since we don’t have our visas yet and we are waiting on a few things to fall into place. The adventure continues!

here is a parting photo before I get back to tackling all the laundry….. and to be honest the laundry is no more exciting in Ireland then it was in Colorado!

strawberries picked fresh from the back garden

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Croagh Patrick

 

Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain, a place of ancient history. It was on the summit of this mountain in 441AD that St. Patrick, the holy saint of Ireland, fasted for 40 days. – lucky for the boys we only planned on hiking to the top and back down again…. not to mention the multiple snack breaks along the way!

The summit of Croagh Patrick from the parking lot – it didn’t look too bad from here……

Somewhere in the last few weeks the boys have found out just how much fun it is to give each other bunny ears…. not to mention the activity is portable and can be done anywhere….. even at the bottom of a sacred mountain!

Trying to give each other bunny ears just never gets old!

The hike was a rocky one…. which means one awesome thing, lots of rocks to smash against each other! Super Rock Factory all the way up the mountain!

Hey Mom, “This Rocks”!

Even though the boys snacked all the way up we still had to stop for an official “lunch break” If only the view was a little bit better 🙂

Half Way Up, boys still smiling – most of the time!

Yum, those are some delicious cheeks!

The final push up the mountain got a bit tough…. the boys started to lose their smiles, especially when we thought we were at the top, and it was a false peak….luckly it wasn’t much further and then we were at the top…. and what a view it was. I think the boys were all impressed with the view and with themselves for sticking with it and making it to the top! I know I was proud of them! It was quite a hike!

Yeah! The Top! – And Their Smiles Came Back!

 

Wow, look at that view of Clew Bay! Stunning!

Although it was a sunny day when we left when we made it to the top we were in a cloud!

Hey Mom! I’m In A Cloud!

 

My Love!

Quinn has proclaimed that if I’m not too old for him when he gets older he is going to marry me….. he likes to sneak into my arms anytime Matt and I are together 🙂 He’s a handsome kid so I don’t mind 🙂

Quinn likes to weasel his way in between Matt and I :)!

After admiring the views we headed down…. the kids spirits lifted on the way down and they started to get silly!

It’s A Lot Easier To Be Silly On The Way Down!

I have no idea what lead to this picture, but it cracks me up!

AHHHHH……

Matt, Shea and Quinn made it down before Zoli and I, so I only Z was blessed enough to get his picture taken with St. Patrick

Zoli on the way down

 

After we made it down the mountain we were all STARVING and headed into the adorable town of Westport (my new favorite town in Ireland) for dinner! The stars just kept aligning, we found a place that served Gluten Free Pizza! With a movie in the car, a hike and gluten-free pizza for dinner Zoli may have had his best day ever!

Despite all the fun we had, I think next weekend might have to be a little less physical activity!!! The boys were pretty exhausted from the hike! I think we will be looking for a swimming pool or amusement park for our next adventure!

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Hiking In Bray Ireland

Maybe I should change this from a travel blog to a photo blog…. I think this is going to be another photo heavy blog post :)! But the boys are just so cute, I can’t help myself!

We were able to spend some time in Bray Ireland, otherwise known as the gateway to the Garden Of Ireland. The beauty in this part of the world is stunning! I really don’t know if I have been anywhere this beautiful before. These pictures are from a hike I did with boys.

Here we are getting ready to start the hike.

And we are on our way up the “mountain” If you look hard you might be able to see the little gap between Zoli’s teeth…. he lost his first tooth the other day :)! The tooth fairy paid in Euros! There was talk he wanted a more stable currency… but he got Euros and promptly spent it on a foam sword.

Shea found himself a hiking stick…… I think it’s big enough, what do you think?

The boys found this great tree to climb on…. mommy is working hard on not being a nervous freak when they climb on things… not sure how good I am doing that, but I’m trying!

Me and my sweet little ones at the top of the mtn. I love that view in the background, stunning! (and you should see it on a clear sunny day!)

ahhhh the view

This was the cross at the top of the mountain that we hiked to.

Quinn has turned into a Mountain Goat and insisted on running full speed down the mountain! I kept thinking he would wipe out, but we all made it down scratch free! Yeah a hike with no one bleeding, now that is a success!

Natures Jungle Gym……..

I got spoiled with hikes this week, I took the boys on this hike and the next day, Matt gave me some time away and I did the Bray to Graystones Cliff Walk, amazing! If you are ever in Wicklow on a Trip Of A Lifetime, this walk needs to be on your to do list!

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A Photo Trip Through Maastricht

A few weeks ago we got to spend some time in the adorable University town of Maastricht Netherlands.

The boys spent some time playing tag (do you see a theme with these blog posts, every town we get to there is a game of tag!) in Vrijthof Square

Hey Kid – You Get Back Here!!

Across the square from our game of tag stood the impressive St. John’s Church – we have seen quite a few churches over the last few weeks, but this one stood out due to its striking red color.

The tower has not always been red, it started out white, then was painted yellow before being painted red in 1984 – do you think the color will be changed again?

At the far end of the square stood the Carnival Statues

I think I’m a little bit in love with this crazy face 🙂

Now that is a fun looking group!

After hanging out with the Carnival Statues for a while we walked toward the University Area, and came across this beautiful Alley Way near a stream and old water wheel. Shea took over the camera for a bit to take some pics of all of us

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After our impromptu photo shoot the boys couldn’t decide which way to go next.

We Could Go This Way…….

OR…. We Could Go That Way!

Traveling & accommodating all our crazy food needs (issues?) including 2 vegetarians, one Gluten Free Corn Free Diet, allergies to all melons, cucumber, walnuts and a semi picky 4-year-old can be challenging/exhausting or maybe just insane!!! For that reason when we find a restaurant that works for all of us, we tend to go back multiple times. In Maastricht we ate at The Loving Hut, a vegetarian restaurant three blocks away from the hotel, for 3 days in a row. By the third night, I started to feel pretty funny about going back! But the people who worked there were so kind and the food was great. One of the waitresses recommended that we drive to Valkenburg, a short little hop, skip and jump away from Maastricht,to hike in the forest there. It was great to get the kids out in the woods for a bit….. of course the first trail we took led us to a casino… not the hike we were looking for! We found a new trail from there and spent a great afternoon exploring the forest

Hey mom, check out this hiking stick…. if I could just get it out of my brothers hands… hmmmm…

It might look like Zoli is holding an ordinary stick, but nope, it is either a wand, a jedi light saber or a giant knife used to cut back bushes and brush along the side of the trail….. so many possibilities!

And we made a new friend along the way….

I’ve named him Gus… but I’m not sure why Matt made me leave my new friend behind. That wasn’t very nice of him!

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A Sunday Afternoon in Heidelberg

It started out like any other Sunday, we drove by the International School the boys would be shadowing at the next day…. oh wait, that is not how most Sundays start out……… in fact nothing the last few weeks has been like any other we have known! (both the good and the bad!)

To say everyday has been an adventure since we left Boulder 3 weeks ago would be a serious under statement! However, this specific Sunday started out with us driving by/getting lost on the campus of the international school the boys would be shadowing/interviewing at the next day and ended with a beautiful hike up the Crooked Lane to Philosophenweg in Heidelberg, but lets explain how one activity led to the next.

It has been an amazing opportunity to travel around and see so many different countries and cultures over the last few weeks, however, Matt and I (and the boys) are all feeling the pull to know where we are going to settle down, get a house and return to “normal”. All of us were excited to get into Frankfurt and know that this week we would look at schools in Frankfurt, Berlin and Freiburg. We like to drive by places to get a feel for them before we need to be there for “real”. On Sunday we drove around the campus, in Frankfurt, felt a bit deflated from our excitement, when the campus was not exactly what we thought it would be, but were still excited to see it “for real” the next day.

**and incase you were wondering how the school shadow visit went…. I should have picked up on the fact that graffiti was all over the campus and right near the primary building someone had spray painted fuck, was not a good sign.Then when we picked the boys up and Zoli said (in his scratchy little voice) “it was horrible” and Shea said, “it was so boring, the math class was working on things I did in 1st grade”(two years ago!) We knew it was not the right place for us!!**

Ok, back to Sunday, sorry to jump around so much. When we left  the campus, we saw a sign for Heidelberg and it was only 49K, (yup, I am so Euro now talking in kilometers, of course I have no idea how far a kilometer is…… ) Matt said, “I have heard Heidelberg is a cute town, want to go?” so we made a quick turn away from Frankfurt and headed toward Heidelberg. Kids singing in the backseat of the car. They love that I can video tape them on the iPad, and they try to out perform one another.

(insert video)

We get off the highway at the ausfahrt (or exit ramp, but you can imagine how much the boys like any word that sounds like it ends in fart) and with in seconds Matt got a speeding ticket from the “lightning”a speed camera (sorry Matt, that I am sharing this story, but since you posted it on Facebook I assume it is public knowledge” and, the ticket relates to the rest of the story) Feeling pretty deflated from the crummy school, the rain, a speeding ticket etc… we parked and headed up to the main square. We were sitting on a bench while the boys played tag, (yup, most of my photos on the blog are of the boys playing tag in different public squares in Europe) and played around in the town square.

Na na na na na na you can’t catch me!

I just love this smile – even if he is probably scheming behind that cute face!

Hmmm… no matter how much I think about this, I can’t figure out why my parents are dragging me all over the world, can’t we just stay home!!

Ahh well, I guess if my parents dragged me all the way over here, I might as well be silly and have some fun!

As we sat watching the boys play tag, this kind women sitting near us started talking to us, she has three granddaughters who live in the US, and thought our boys were adorable. We got to talking and Matt brought up that he just got a ticket, and she pulled out a HUGE bottle of beer from her husbands backpack and gave to Matt to make his day brighter and when he refused to take it she insisted “in the name of her relatives that have passed on.” Her and her husband were originally from Romania, and she told us that there is a Romanian phrase that people say when they offer a gift to another is they are offering the gift in honor of fmaily that has passed on. It is considered a sign of great disrespect to refuse the gift. She also told us about the famous Crooked Lane that leads up to the Philosophers Way with beautiful views of the city and castle.

Matt’s thinking to himself…. it’s been a loooong morning, will anyone notice if I drink this now? 🙂

After hearing about the Crooked Lane & Philosophers Way, named for the University Professors and Philosophers that were said to walk along this path years ago, we headed across the bridge to check them out.

I bet all our friends in Boulder (where the weather is hot and sunny) are jealous of all our sweaters :)! Seriously will summer EVER come to Europe?

Hmmmm……I wonder how cold that water is???? And why has no one ever built a slide into it, now that could be fun….

Quinn’s thinking, “it’s great they built this bridge with peep-holes for someone my size”

The view of the Heidelberg Castle as we crossed the bridge:

The boys wonder, Mom, “how did the castle get bombed?” I wonder….. I wonder what the dresses looked like at any great events held in the castle…. just one of many differences between boys and girls 🙂

The view from the base of the Crooked Path that lead up the hillside to Philosophers Way

We started our walk up the crooked lane:

It felt like we were walking into a fairy tale!

The view of town from halfway up the Crooked Lane:

If only I could find a nice view around this place 🙂

The boys halfway up – one of the many benefits of having “Colorado kids” is that they don’t balk (too much) at having to climb hills!

Bunny Ears Have Been Very Popular This Trip, They Never Get Old……..

We reached the top of the Crooked Lane and were rewarded with this stunning view of the city, well Matt and I loved the view, I think the boys were more interested in attacking small bushes with sticks as we walked along Philosophers Way….. boys will be boys right???

Turns out that Heidelberg is a pretty great place to spend a Sunday afternoon! Matt, I’m glad you took us there for the day!

He’s been working on his smile (for pictures) it’s getting there! What a sweet kid 🙂

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Celebrating 10 Beautiful Years

**I was trying to keep these blog posts in chronological order…. somehow that idea got steamrolled and now they are all over the place (time wise). I think getting out-of-order had something to do with crappy “spotty” internet access and wanting to get Shea’s Harry Potter Birthday Post up right after his birthday and Zoli’s Eiffel Tower post up in time to share with his classmates before the end of the school year. Now that we are all out of chronological order, watch out things could get really crazy 🙂 and just for background information, our 10 year anniversary was on May 18th 2012**

You may now kiss the bride!

Wow, It really has been ten years since the “Great” Rent-A- Reverend, (AKA Revrend Love Joy) officially pronounced us husband and wife, at the beautiful Peaceful Valley Ranch and Chapel outside of Boulder Colorado. Over the last ten years we have survived the birth and first nine years of being parents to three handsome,most of the time well-behaved little men, as well as surviving at least 5 moves, and countless travel adventures together! ~Shea keeps saying to me, but mom can’t we spend a summer at home. I think there is a good possibility the boys may grow up to live in a quiet little suburb and never go further than their own drive way since we are dragging them all over the place. Or I guess they could grow up to all live in different countries around the world……but then I would miss them sooooo much I would have to follow them everywhere and their future wives/girlfriends would think wow, you have a crazy mom (AKA too much baggage, and I mean emotional baggage that the kids will have not, my bags filled with all my shoes)

Thanks my love for all the great memories thus far, I can’t wait to see what we do with the next ten years!

Although we didn’t get a moment away from our three little men on our anniversary we did get to spend it in the English Countryside.

I woke up in our lovely stone cottage,

Of course it has one of the adorable half doors, it’s a stone cottage in the English Countryside!

to a bouquet of  beautiful spring flowers that Matt had purchased  at the neighboring Hartley Farm Shop & Cafe

Why Yes, I Do Have a Fabulous Husband

Of course I can’t pass up an opportunity to explore a farm shop before we headed into the town of Bath, Matt took us all back to the farm shop. While I ogled over the fresh produce the boys spent some time with Norbert & Jeremy  the guinea pigs.

But mom, why can’t I have a guinea pig for a pet?

and said ‘allo (trying to sound British while saying hello) to the horse

‘allo horse.

We may not look quite as good as we did in our wedding picture but, I wanted to have a photo of Matt and I together on our anniversary. Quinn was our photographer of the moment. I think for only being 4 years old he didn’t do too bad… or at least it is better than the other shot he took of us, from our waist to our knees…….

Oh, what a cute couple 🙂

Of course no ones tenth anniversary is complete with out a rousing game of mini golf with the kids. (Matt had a meeting for work so he had to head back to the cottage) Yup, mini golf is as “awesome” in England as it is in the US…. hmmm…. I wonder if mini golf in Holland has extra windmills on the course…..

The flag is a very important job in mini golf. Zoli is taking his position very seriously.

A hush falls over the crowd as Shea prepares for his final putt at the third hole.

Even though my mom hadn’t given me a bath in days she still thinks I look adorable in this pic 🙂

Then the boys and I checked out the traditional English phone booth, I mean really no trip to the UK is complete with out two things, riding a double-decker bus, (checked that off our list in London) and checking out the red phone booths. Of course first I had to explain to the kids what a phone booth is and why they have them when people could just use their cell phones to make a phone call, and were penny loafers really made so you could carry two dimes to make a phone call if you needed to? – OK, getting off topic, quick insert a picture and stop typing…..

hmmm… is this a time machine?

Our chauffeur for the day, oh, I’m sorry, I mean Matt, picked us up and we headed back to the cottage. Before I made dinner, with groceries from the farm store 🙂  I was able to got out for a run on this amazing country lane. It was distracting, every few minutes I had to stop and gaze at the beauty around me, stone fences covered in ivy and raspberry bushes, fields with sheep. Amazing!

This is my happy look how beautiful it is here pre run pose.

Wow, I sure do look blazing fast in this picture (yes this is dripping heavy with sarcasm)

So, there we go, a beautiful way to celebrate 10 beautiful years.

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Play Date At Pointe du Hoc

The boys running wild through Pointe du Hoc, up and down crater holes carved by the fierce bombardment from years ago, and in and out of what is left of the damaged German bunkers. The boys may always remember this as the greatest play date ever!

**A little history behind this play date, the boys go to school with two brothers, one in Zoli’s class, one is Shea’s class, and we seem to always be vacationing in or around the same area as their family, our travel plans so randomly cross paths that I think in a past life we must have traveled in a covered wagon caravan together across the great plains. Needless to say when I found out they were going to be in France not far from us, I was not all that surprised, very happy about it, but not totally surprised!**

This morning, we left our serene country cottage, or Gite as they say in here, in the heart of Frances Brittany Peninsula and drove up to Normandy where we would meet up with the Hanson Family.

All I can say is this place was Awesome!

First stop Pointe du Hoc. Of course in true Brady fashion we were late…. I would like to blame it on the kids, but I’m not really sure I can this time around! We easily found our friends, remember I told you we have this weird travel connection thing.

**Quick little history lesson, see how educational this blog is 🙂 , Pointe du Hoc is the location where the newly formed United States Army Ranger Group had to scale 100 feet cliffs in order to destroy the German guns that were in striking distance of both Omaha & Utah Beach, and would threaten the landing of allied forces on these beaches.**  

Of course much of this history was lost on the boys, but they loved running around with their friends. I think it was their best day of our trip/move so far!

I’ve got my eye on you, no funny business in there!

After the boys ran around for a while, we left Pointe du Hoc so that we could stop by the Omaha Beach Memorial Museum. Once again I am sure much of the significance of the museum was lost on the boys. However, they were pretty enamored by the “big guns” that they saw, I don’t know what it is about boys, we are certainly not a “gun loving” household and yet they are still in awe of tanks, and canyons and anything that blows up or causes a big boom. It’s possible I will just never understand this fascination.   I will admit that I thought the museum was really well put together and to be honest very moving. Reading the stories and reflecting on the sacrifices made by so many men, I couldn’t think about it too much or I would have been a crying mess. It is a place where it is easy to let your emotions overcome you!

WOW, that cannon is a LOT bigger then I am!

After the museum we took the boys down to Omaha Beach where they had a blast playing in the sand,the surf, building sand castles (that were being defended by plastic army guys, thanks museum gift shop) and they even had their first glimpse of “Naked Girl On French Beach”

Just having a play date in France

Why yes, this photo does show off my true photographic skills…. it showcases five boys that are all looking at the camera with smiles or near smiles on their faces. I am not sure this has ever before happened in all of the photographic world :)! ~Thanks boys for putting up with “just one more picture”

Much too quickly, our play date in Normandy had come to an end. Thanks so much Hanson Family, it was great to see you guys and get a little “taste of home”! Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Au Revoir Mes Amis

Categories: Family Travel, France | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zoli’s Travel Journal – The Eiffel Tower

*** mom’s note. In Kindergarten this year Zoli learned about the Eiffel tower. When we told the boys we were going to Europe, one of his first questions was, can we see the Eiffel Tower…. turns out it was as awesome as he hoped it would be. Here is Zoli’s version of our visit to the Eiffel Tower. ***

Ready To Explore Paris With My Mom & Brothers!

My first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower was from the train going across the Seine River, My brother Quinn was the first to spot it. I looked up and couldn’t believe it was really the real Eiffel Tower. WOW!

LOOK Mom! The Eiffel Tower!

The train stopped at the train station, we got off and followed the signs. There were guys trying to sell mini Eiffel Towers. These guys were talking really loud & fast. My mom told me and Shea and Quinn we had to wait until we were at the official Eiffel Tower gift shop. We kept walking and got closer and closer to the Eiffel Tower, The first thing I noticed was the arch was bigger then I thought it would be and that the color was different then I thought it would be. I thought it would be a darker black. At night it is all lit up, I didn’t see it lit up but I would like to go back at night so that I could.  Even the ground it was on was also bigger. I thought there was enough space to play a really big game of tag with my dad brothers and all my friends!

I was really excited to go to the top, the elevator line was super-duper long (2.5 hour wait) ! So we decided to climb the stairs to the second floor,  We walked to the second level and it was 669 steps! I was passing people, my mom called me and my brothers mountain goats!

669 Steps, No Problem For A Colorado Kid!

After we walked the stairs up to the second level, we got to take an elevator the rest of the way to the very top! The view from the top was really cool, the It people looked like little toy army men! My brother thought the boats on the river looked like the size of a ruler from the top of the Eiffel tower!

I’m At The Top Of The Eiffel Tower!

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Looking Down From The Eiffel Tower!

 

I thought there was going to be a pizza restaurant on the top, but I didn’t see one. but I did get to share some Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream with my brothers. Yum!

Yup, Ice Cream Does Taste Great On The Eiffel Tower!

Did you know in the winter they have an ice rink on the Eiffel Tower! Maybe I will go back around Christmas time and skate there!

Zoli has a friend going to Paris soon and I asked if he had any tips for his friend when they visit the Eiffel Tower, he said, “Bring a sweater is’s cold here, and try to get Ben & Jerry’s ice cream when you are visiting the Eiffel Tower – beg your mom for some if you have to”

Me & My Brothers At The Eiffel Tower!

 

Categories: Colorado, Expat Life, Family Travel, Paris | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Bleep Bleep @@$*&^@^ Bleep Bleep!

Yes, it was one of those kind of days…. Usually I love traveling with the kids and I take the bumps in stride, today the bumps kicked my A**! It started out smooth enough, we dropped our luggage off at St. Pancras, we had checked out of the hotel and would be taking the Eurostar from London to Paris at 7:01 PM and needed somewhere to leave our luggage. At the time the 8 pounds 50 (American Dollar equivalent would be around $13.50) per bag (we had 5 bags) seemed outrageous, if we had known at the time how the rest of the day would unfold I think I would have just sat with all my luggage at the train station until our train left, it would have saved a lot of trouble (and money)

It kept going smoothly, the boys and I walked across to Kings Cross station to see platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter would leave to catch the Hogwarts Express to school every fall.

Off To Wizzarding School You Go!

Following Shea to Wizzarding School.

 

Then we easily found Chipotle for lunch, perfect for Shea and the other boys didn’t even moan and groan that much about food they don’t really like.

Sometimes you just need a taste of home!

 

We had a few hours to spend before we had to get back to the train station, so we started walking around looking for a way to pass the time. Apparently everything in London that we saw today cost a small fortune, so we walked for an hour then decided to just get a snack from a coffee shop, the boys started arguing about snacks….. not a big deal, that happens…… the real headache came when it was time to return to St Pancras to catch the train. We had to walk down many many flights of stairs to catch the tube, with the stroller that was PACKED with as much as we could to avoid checking it at the really expensive luggage storage place, so things were spilling out of the sides of the stroller, literally falling off the stroller as I am carrying it down these stairs, Also,it was rush hour and people were frantically pushing me and the boys out-of-the-way. We finally get to the train, get on no problem  and take it to our stop…. the stop that I thought had an underground walkway/connection to the St. Pancras station, turns out I was wrong, needed to switch trains to do that, so down more flights of stairs, spilling things out of the stroller along the way trying not to get to frustrated as the kids doubted my every move and questioned everything thing I did…. ahhh…. the joys of parenting…. so we get down to the new train platform, to take a train one stop. The train we needed is packed during rush hour, we couldn’t fit on the first train, waited another 4 minutes (there was a digital sign that displayed the timing of the trains… so I knew it was 4 minutes) train arrived absolutely no room on that train, waited another 4 minutes absolutely no room on that one…. and at this point in time it was 5;45, we were supposed to meet Matt at 5:30, after the boys and I had collected the luggage he would meet us, or at least that was the plan. So after 3 or 4 trains went by with no space for 4 people and a stroller I realized we were going to have to walk/run to St. Pancras if we wanted to meet Matt and catch our train to Paris (and by this time I was ready to leave London) So up many many levels of stairs with things falling out of the stroller and people pushing me and the kids out-of-the-way, apparently no one in London has ever had children, or children in London must walk much much faster then my do….. or maybe everyone was having a very very bad day…. hmmm… We get out of the station, run/walk a million blocks enter St. Pancras at the opposite end we need to be, run/walk all the way to the luggage area, where we find Matt in a near state of panic since we are SOOOOOO late, (sorry love!) We don’t have cellphones that work here so I couldn’t get in touch with him. We collect our bags, run/walk back across the train station to print out our tickets, easy self kiosk to print tickets, the kiosk wouldn’t read my credit card so then we had to wait in a LOOOOONGGGGG line, (only 30 min at this time until the train leaves) Finally get our tickets straightened out RUN (no more run/walkining, by now we are sprinting) back to the other end of the station where you board the train, go through security, empty the crazy full stroller etc…. get passports stamped, Quinn actually RUNS full speed past the passport control people! yikes!. EVERYONE has all ready boarded the train, the kids are in panic mode from Matt and I being in Panic mode, we are in the last train car so they just start running, get very far ahead of us, we get stopped by some train people trying to help, but we can’t even see the kids at this point… the train people put our luggage on car 16, we run luggage free to train 18, hop on as they close the doors behind us and start to pull out of the station, seriously any longer and we would have had to jump from the platform onto the train! Needless to say we are totally frazzled at this point, sit down and the kids are being totally loud, and for some reason we are in the quietest train car in the world so every noise the kids make we get all these evil (bad American Parents) stares from the people around us…yikes! What do I do in crummy super stressful situations, the only thing that makes sense, eat pounds and pounds of chocolate…. it didn’t make me feel any better but at least the stress was replaced by the slightly nauseous feeling in my stomach giving me something else to think about for a bit. Oh, and the cries from the children that they were starving, they made it sound like it had been days since they last ate, no time for dinner before we got on the train.  Lucky we had rice cakes and peanut butter in the corner of a backpack….. yum…… Not sure the kids felt there was any luck when I told them that was all we had to eat. When they finally resigned themselves to the rice cakes and peanut butter, and we  started a Harry Potter DVD for them the rest of the ride went totally smooth.

We LOVE when mom is so frazzled that we get to watch a movie!

 

Ahhhhh…. tomorrow the Eifel Tower then the French Countryside for a week!

First Steps In France!

PS. The Eurostar was an awesome way to get between London and Paris, other then our experience with getting there on time, the train was quick, quiet, clean and it wasn’t even weird to go through the Chunnel!

 

Categories: Family Travel, London, Sometimes Travel Sucks | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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