Belle Ile en Mer Feed

Summer was just a few months ago...

I've started compiling photos to make yearbooks for the kids. I plan to give them each a yearbook at Christmas this year with the activities we did over the year. Maximilien and Alixe absolutely love looking at photos of themselves. Seriously, if I want them to sit still for a little while I set up the slideshow on Flickr and I have peace and quiet while I make dinner. It's great. Tonight, I set up the slideshow to our summer vacation in Holland and Normandy. 

This summer was the first summer vacation where we did not go to Belle Ile en Mer. Belle Ile is a small island off the coast of Brittany. If you find Quiberon on the map and go a little farther out you'll see Belle Ile. Julien has been going to this island with his family for over thirty years. When we started dating the first summer we spent together he took me to Belle Ile. It is a magical place. The island is sparsly inhabited though Julien's grandmother lived there permantly after her retirement. Photos of past trips to Belle Ile can be seen here and here and here. Last Christmas was Our last trip to Belle Ile. I absolutely love this place during "hors saison". You would think going to the ocean in the winter time wouldn't be very fun but it's an amazing place. The island is empty and it's isn't cold at all. We enjoyed the beach in a different way, wearing our boots and rain coats. 

image from www.flickr.comBelle Ile, December 2011.

Since we didn't go to Belle Ile we decided we wanted to do something different. We rented an RV or in French it is called a camping car and decided to drive north!  It was fairly easy to procure said camping car and I have to say that I didn't pack very well for the trip. We ended up forgetting a lot of essential things and didn't realize it until we were nearly to Belgium. 

image from www.flickr.com

The kids loved that we had such a big "car" for our trip. The novelty of the RV never wore off for them though Julien and I were pretty much done with the RV at the end of our two week vacation. Luckily, we had good weather and found fun camp grounds to stay at so we tried to spend as much time outside of the camping car as possible. I loved that we could drive up to any random beach and stay for the entire day. Nap times were repected and meals were prepared so easily. And I have to say it's pretty handy to have a bed in your vehicule in case you felt like laying down to nap while say driving to Holland. After driving across Belgium we drove right up through Holland to Amsterdam to get my new cargo bike. Julien surprised me with a lovely gathering of my friends for my 35th birthday. They surprised me with a generous gift of a cargo bike! 

I had been obsessively looking for a new bike to replace our La Poste bike. Alixe had out grown the mini Bobike seat we were using and La Poste bike just wasn't strong enough to hold a grown adult and two heavy kids. La Poste bike was a good introduction to cargo bikes for me. It really got me back into cycling and I loved riding it to the post office to drop of orders from my online store

I love riding my La Poste #bike to drop off packages at the post office. I always get smiles when people see me in the bike with the basket full of packages. #velo #paris #loisivethe

This is the Wednesday night hand off of the kids. The bike has made thing so much easier for us.December, 2011. 

Getting ready to make some last minute purchases for our bike/camping vacation/adventure.

I had found the perfect family bike for us. The company that makes my bike is called Workcycles and they are located in Amsterdam. The owner is an American named Henry. He was super helpful over email answering my questions about the Fr8 and how it would work for us in Paris. He had cycled in Paris many times so he knew the restrictions we could encounter biking the narrow streets. I had intially thought about getting a bakfiets or box bike but after test driving one and talking to Henry about it I knew the Fr8 was the perfect bike for us. This bike is exactly what I wanted even down to the tire color and the orange racks. Instead of Alixe riding up front, she has now moved to the back to a Quibbel bike seat. It's very comfortable and she really likes it. It's so comfortable that several times on long bike rides she would just go to sleep. Maximilien moved up to the front saddle. The way the Fr8 is balanced I don't feel his weight at all. It's really great considering he weighs 25 kilos. 

image from www.flickr.com

Our trip to Holland was really fun. We parked the RV and took the bike everywhere. The camp ground we were staying at was about 11km outside of Amsterdam and right next to a huge forest. We spent the better half of a week exploring the forest and biking all around.  We visited the goat farm in the middle of the Amsterdam Bos (a must see with kids) and spent an entire day there. The forest was full of neat things to explore like a random wading pool we found in the middle of nowhere and spectacular bike trails that ran the entire length of the forest. 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

I think one day we biked just over 40km, each Julien and I with a child on the back of the bike. Needless to say, we slept like babies at night. The kids loved biking. Alixe took naps on the bike as did Maximilien. When we were tired we would stop and rest. We'd find lovely place to eat and picnic in the forest. Nothing stopped us as we knew the bike would be our only way to get around. Even biking in the rain was an adventure... We were prepared for the weather though we were lucky and it only rained two days while we were in Holland. 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

#Maximilien & I on my new bike. There is a second saddle up front for him! School drop off and pick up is going to be fun this year.  #amsterdam #gillevacation2012 #bike #latergram

The ease of biking around Holland was really amazing. I was pleasently surprised at how the pedestrians gave way to the cyclists. Also the infrastructure for the bicycles all over Holland is really exceptional. The Dutch attitude towards cycling is commendable. Biking around Paris I often wish Paris was more bike friendly. The infrastructure could easily be set into place in many areas of the city. I am lucky that in the 13th where we live there are many bike lanes. We use the bike everyday to get the kids to school and back since they go to school over by the tea house. Around the Place d'Italie there are clearly marked bike lanes that are set apart from the sidewalks but still the Parisians walk in the bike lanes like they are sidewalks. It's frustrating and then they feel they have the right to yell at me when I ring my bell because they are in my way. Don't even get my started on what they say to me when they see me riding with both kids on the bike. They look at me like I have two heads... actaully if you looked at us as we ride by we look like a three headed cyclist. :) Oh well... it won't keep me from biking everywhere I go. One thing is for sure, biking is cheaper than the gym and my legs are looking great. 

It was nice looking back at our vacation photos and also seeing how much the kids had changed since August! Alixe is so much taller. I've had to lower the leg gaurds on her bike seat twice since we got the Fr8. She has such a funny personality and it was really great (and tiring) spending 24/7 with the kids on vacation.  Maximilien has lost a tooth since these photos were taking and grown an inch. The clothes he wore on vacation are way too small for him now. 

I think the yearbooks will be great for them because they willl be able to get q better grasp of time. Alixe is convinced that her birthday is tomorrow though it's the 1st of December. Maximilien is better at understanding the passage of time. But seeing these photos he told me tonight that this trip was "SOOOOOO long ago". :) 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com

As you can see from our photos it was rather chilly on our vacation which suited us just fine considering how much biking we did everyday. One thing this vacation did for me was define my love for biking. It's a lovely lifestyle that I hope that we can continue to do everyday. 


The end of school, the start of summer.

I always remember the last day of school being a big deal. Less so when I was in university but up until high school the excitement of being on summer break was incredible. Today was Maximilien's last day of petit section of maternelle. Bittersweet? Not really. More sweet than bitter. His first year was disappointing. Perhaps less for Max who at four rarely experiences disappointment except when his play mobil breaks or he has to go down the long slide when we play Chutes and ladders. But as for me a parent of my child starting his first year of school in France, I am disappointed. Without going into great detail about his teacher, I will tell you that seems that she may not be teaching next year and that she made this year feel like it was her year to just get through it. I learned this pretty quickly after the beginning of the year. I chose not to blog about it because I didn't want to perpetuate my disappointment. Instead, I talked to my father, who was a teacher, and asked him for advice. I decided where I felt Maximilien's teacher was lacking I would pick up the slack and then some. And to make it more interesting I only teach Maximilien in English. Apparently by the end of the petit section a child is supposed to be able to draw a detailed stick man. This is what we were told during the parent's meeting at the beginning of the year. Max could already draw a pretty detailed stick man at the BEGINNING of the school year. Last week, Maximilien's Friday teacher mentioned to me that Max really couldn't draw a stick man. I asked her if that meant he failed petit section? She laughed and said oh they don't grade the children at this age. But she did mention that he would need to work on it over the summer. We came home that night and I took out a piece of paper and asked Max to draw me a stick man and he drew a butterfly instead:

 

Butterfly by Maximilien, age 4.

I found this pretty impressive. The butterfly has a face and is multi-colored and it looks like a butterfly.  But then I asked him why he drew a butterfly instead of a stickman. He told me that he doesn't like being told what to draw. Then he took another piece of paper and drew me a stick man in three seconds flat with eyes, ears, shoes, shirt, hands and hair.

What Maximilien needs to work on over the summer is listening. Not drawing a stick man. His teacher telling me that he needs to work on drawing a stick man annoys me.

Talking about this with Julien he told me that he has the exact same problem at his age. The only teachers he excelled with were the ones who had "serrer la vise" (tighten the screws) with him. Maximilien needs an teacher who exudes authority. His two teachers this year did not do that.

So, moving on... Last day of school today! Yeah! Max was excited this morning. He wanted to wear all green to school:

Last  day of school!!

Check him out at the beginning of the school year:

Today, I asked him what he did at school just like I did every other day of  and he said the same response, "I don't know". I smiled at him and said, "ok".  A good friend told me at the beginning of the school year that I shouldn't stress Max about the details of what he does at school all day. I don't know why I have this very strong urge to KNOW what he is doing at school. I guess growing up with parents who were teachers made me curious about this.  Growing up we always talked about what we did at school. It was a dinner time ritual to go around the table and talk about out day. I really liked that.  Where in the US things are very transparent between the teachers and parents, in France it's all very closed door and hard to get any details about anything. This has been our experience so far. It's only the first year and next year is a new year and I am looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, Alixe is enjoying her days at the creche. She is the youngest in her class but you would think she was one of the oldest. She's taller than most of the kids in her class. What sets her apart is that she isn't talking yet. Just a few key words here and there. She says Mama, Ma (Max), Pee Pee, Lo Lo (for water and milk) and Julien confirms that she does not say Dada yet. And the key words she used a lot are "ça" (pronounced sa) and "la". This and that.

She speaks...

Can you guess what she's saying here?

I've got another school year to go before Alixe starts school. At La Rentrée 2012 she sill be just over 2.5 years old. I am confident she will be ready for school by then. Every morning, she goes with Julien to drop Maximilien off at school. She walks Max into his classroom and sits right down and start to color with the other kids. Apparently, it's a battle every morning getting her to leave to go next door to the creche. This summer, we will start working on potty training for little miss. She already tells us when she needs to go pee pee on the potty and she's pretty good at doing that. Potty trained by two. I am READY for this. :)

We just need to get through the month of July and then we'll be on vacation. We will be heading to our beloved island, Belle ile en Mer. I wish we could leave tomorrow...

A year ago, Alixe was just 8 months old and Maximilien was three.

Julien and the bubs at Locmaria

Secret beach on the Côte Sauvage

End of day...

Crab!

Claiming napkin rings

Plate full of goodness

Mama and Alixe

Dou Dous Packed!

I wish we could leave tomorrow...


We're back...

It's been a just over a week now since we returned from our summer vacation at Belle Il en Mer. Julien was off another three days before he had to go back to his office job so we we remained lazy another few days. Suitcases were not unpacked and instead we went out and enjoyed our empty city. Now seven days since we've come home the bag is still in the middle of the livingroom (ugh), I've been taking care of Max and Alixe for three full days worked a Saturday shift at the tea house (which kicked my butt) and I have to admit that I am exhausted. So much to write about too! Our first vacation as a family of four, Max's beach adventures, Alixe's commando weaning tactics WHILE ON VACATION, and so much more...

Epic bedhead this morning

 

But until I can find some time to put all my thoughts into blogs I'm slowly but surely uploading my photos of our trip to Flickr. I've given up getting them all in order as hard as it is for me. But if you have been following along the fun pictures will be uploaded hopefully this week.

As tired and wrecked as I feel after our vacation I have to admit that I trying to see the good side to it all that I get to spend all this time with both of my kids before they embark on their own adventrues this fall. Maximilien will be starting preschool next Thursday and Alixe will be starting the creche. And once they have both gotten acclimated to school and daycare I will be going back to work full time. It will be almost to the day one year that I have been on extended maternity leave. I can't believe how fast time has gotten away from me. Reminds me that I haven't blogged nearly as much as I wanted to.

So, here is a little snippit of the now:  while typing this blog my son has been standing on the back of my chair peeling my skin from my epic sun burn I got two days before we left Belle Ile.  (totally gross, I KNOW)  I should have learned my lesson years ago when I was canoeing in the Grand Canyon without a hat on but I forgot... but my son probably won't forget the lesson as he repeats to me everyday that we have to wear sunscreen when we go out in the sun and as he finds a "good one" to peel off he announces "beurk!!!!!" (Ewwwwwww). I don't think I'll EVER FORGET to put on suncreen again. Way to be mortified by a 3.5 year old.


This is my blog.

And I have neglected you for so long.

I see that I still get lots of hits everyday. I thank those of you for visiting. I hope you are enjoying my archives. I know I do from time to time. About a month ago it was time to renew my subscription with Typepad and my credit card information had expired. Then I got bogged down in email land with my inbox over flowing at 200+ emails and the email from Typepad got lost. Until now... So, I've fixed the problem and hopefully my blog is back to it's boring self again. Though I am getting spam comments and have no idea how to stop those.

I last blogged in June. July has come and gone. I can't even tell you about all the things I've been doing because there's just so much. But I will tell you this my extended maternity leave will be ending in mid September. I will be back at the tea house full time once Alixe is full acclimated at the creche. I look forward to going back to work. Thought I still worked a lot from home being at the tea house all day instead at home will be a welcomed change.

Ah, Alixe... my sweet girl who doesn't sleep. And that means I am not sleeping all that well. It's better than it was the first two month after we brought her home but just barely better. Lots to write about Alixe and I intend on doing that. ON VACATION!! Yes, we leave for our favorite island off the coast of France, Belle Ile en Mer.

Here are some of my favorite photos from past trips:

26 weeks

26 weeks pregnant with Maximilien

Port Coton - Belle Ile en Mer

Port Coton during a mild storm in February - I adore this island hors saison especially in February. It's practically deserted with only the locals living on the island. We're very lucky that the family house is on the island so we can go often.

Great Grandmother & Max

Meeting his great grandmother for the first time.

Mother and Son

I look so young in this photo. Having two kids ages you...

The one I love...

Julien, my love.

Chasing seagulls

Max's second visit to the island. We took him when he was just two months old.  But this visit was marvelous. Just watching him take his first steps on the beach will be forever etched in my memory.

Contemplating the sea

And another favorite that is on our refrigerator. This is what a toddler looks like the first time he see the wide, open sea.

A little photo bombing there to make me feel better for my lack of posting. I hope you have enjoyed them too.

So, I have lists. My lists have lists. But on my list is my blog. I am going to work on the template and perhaps have a professionally made banner done for just lil' ole me. I think I deserve it. :) And here's a recent photo just taken TODAY by my brother in our kitchen as the light was perfect. Alixe is very concerned with her uncle's hair.

She's a serious one... I'll tell you all about her very soon. Love her striped shirt. She's ready for Belle Ile!

Alixe et Mama

So, I'm pretty sure the house on Belle Ile hasn't been wired for internet so other than updating Twitter and Facebook via my iPhone that may be all the contact I may have with the outside world. And then again, I may not even do that much. Which sits pretty well with me because a good break from it all will be nice. I have knitting projects slated, books to read and am looking forward to taking my kids to the beach EVERYDAY.


Agrandir le plan

And now it's after 1:30am. Finishing up some business correspondence with the US and now I can finally go to bed... Apparently, Alixe has been sleeping well while I was away at TricoThé tonight. Typical.

Good night.


Off chasing seagulls...

Chasing seagulls

We're back from our week of rest at the sea. A week full of eating plentiful plates of seafood and crepes. Late night knitting and sleeping in until 10am. Chasing seagulls and sloshing around in our beach boots all the while the sea air washing away the wear of the big city on us. Time away always makes me realize how much the city wears on me but being away too long makes me miss my beloved City of Lights. It's good to be back...

Contemplating the sea

As upcoming projects are starting to unfold unravel... March will be a month of great things. A second birthday to celebrate, wedding anniversaries, family visits and a great new direction for the tea house.


We're off...

It's 11:37pm and Julien is asleep right now, try to catch a few zzz's before we get on the road to drive to Quiberon and then take the ferry to Belle Ile en Mer to see his grandmother.  This will be my first winter trip to the island.  Perhaps we'll be lucky and catch one of their magnificent winter tempete.  There will be knitting and crepe eating and maybe a little bowl of cider for this little pregnant lady. :)

We'll be back in a week or so... I hope that everyone's had a wonderful winter holiday.  May your days be filled with love, laughter and happiness.


Jean Seberg is going on vacation!

OK, my hair issues have disappeared for the moment because I'm going on vacation effective noon today!  I will be relaxing at the family house located in Brittany, to be more exact Belle Ile en Mer.  I will be absent from the Internet for an entire week, what will I do? They have satellite Internet access on the island so we'll have to see... I will be spending a week enjoying my favorite crepes, lounging on the beach (two steps from the house, literally!) and every night falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean.  I think that I will never get tired of seeing the ocean, having grown up in a land-lock state (Kansas). One of the reasons I love living in France is because the ocean is so accessible in practically any direction from Paris. 

Oh, and I'm going to try this thing called Thalasso, sea air and sea water is great for your skin!

I'm out! ^^