Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Normandy



Shane's parents came to visit and we were able to spend a long weekend in Normandy. We stayed at an amazing house tucked away next to a river and mill, reached only by a dirt road. The best part was that each night we were able to make a roaring fire. So cozy!

Our first day was spent visiting Mont Saint Michel, an old abbey over 1000 years old. It is on an island with only one road that twists and turns through the few store fronts. We were excited to try one of its famous fire roasted omelettes, until we saw that they were almost $50. CRAZY!!!




We all fell in love with the town Dinan, just over the border into Brittany. Perched high on a hill with cobble stone streets and half timbered house leading down to a river, we felt like we had walked into a fairy tale land.

The D Day beaches were a humbling experience. I kept gazing out over the sea, trying to invision the thousands of men riding in on the waves to fight for our freedom. Hard to imagine what our history would be like without the sacrifice.
Our pasties one morning from the local bakery


Omaha beach, American invasion point on D Day

American Cemetary at Omaha beach


Our cozy house

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slacking...

The last month and a half has been very busy and I have been a major slacker in updating this blog! So, in a nutshell, here is our life in pictures!!

Stonehenge- we spent a week in England while my parents watched Kayden. A whole week to ourselves! Marvelous!


Bath
Our Amazing Bed and Breakfast. The food was wonderful, proving that all British food is not inedible.


Oxford, such a beautiful city. We ate at the Eagle and Child where C.S. Lewis and Tolken would gather and discuss their thoughts.


London Tower Bridge


London outside of the government building. A whole week in Southern England and not a drop of rain. SO lucky!

Tampa Bay vs New England game at Wembley Stadium in London. 6 of us from Lille went to the game, including my dad. Everyone wore whatever team jersey they had, so each team was represented in the 84000 plus crowd.

Giving hugs to her bear with bed head. Can she get any cuter?? Oh she can!!


Signing "more" and loving her books.

Cuddley bunny for Halloween. We went to a Halloween party for a little and she was asleep before the trick or treaters arrived.


Helping "unpack" while in Germany for Shane's hernia surgery. He is doing great!

Kayden and her best friend Emilie playing. Kayden first started walking while trying to chase after her buddy.

Decorations at Kayden's party

My beautiful one year old! Where did this last year go?? She brings so much joy to each and every day. God has blessed us incredibly with such a wonderful little Peanut. She had a "Pretty in Pink" party. Everyone wore pink and we had pink food. Fun!


Day trip to Ghent in Belgium

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 Years


Last week Shane and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary. The last 2 years have definately been action packed- 3 moves, 3 jobs, living in France, a baby. In the midst of the craziness, I have fallen more in love with Shane and know that there are a lifetime of anniversaries to celebrate in our futute. Shane, thanks for being my best friend, the person who I want to hold hands with the rest of my life.

Shane made our anniversary wonderfully special. He arranged for our neighbors to watch Kayden over night (we owe them big time!). Since he was away on training, I took a train down to Paris to meet him. The town Shane was staying in was called Chantilly. It was tucked away in the forest surrounded by many walking trails and a castle. He took me to eat in a castle that was hidden down a long winding road, nestled among the trees. So romantic! The food was incredible, the atmosphere romantic and the company superb.
Path into town
Royalty?


Horce race track in the back ground

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The little things in life... make me smile

The other day Kayden dug a little too deep into her toy box. Of course before rescuing her, I had to record it!

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For her next trick, Kayden will be saying "hi" and waving.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Portugal


To celebrate the end of summer, we spent a week in Southern Portugal. We rented a house with our neighbors that had a wonderful pool and central location, close to beaches and fantastic little towns. The week was spent exploring different beaches, golfing, heading to the spa for beauty treatments, relaxing with wine poolside and just enjoying the last few days of summer.



The beaches were beautiful. To our surprise, Kayden was incredibly scared by the first beach we went to. I think the crashing of the waves threw her off guard. She became more relaxed with each beach we visited and loved eating sand. Yum?



We were lucky enough to trade off babysitting nights with our friends and were able to go on a few romantic date nights by ourselves. What a treat! There is nothing better than watching the sun set over the ocean while eating amazing fish with the love or your life.




A highlight was going to the "End of the World". We visited the most south western tip of Europe, which at one time was thought to be where the world ended. It was crazy to look out at the vast expanse of ocean and think that hundreds of years ago, people had no idea other continents existed.



The house we stayed in was an adventure in itself. Our friends beat us home one day and found the old housekeeper cleaning the patio in her bra. Yipes. Geckos would come into the kitchen at night. No toilet paper was supplied. We ran out of water for a few hours after the pool guy refilled the water in the pool.


Our last day we ventured into Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The city had little cable cars all over, conquering the steep, San Fransico like streets. Many of the buildings were completely covered in small colorful tiles, making for incredibly exteriors. We went to the fortress that overlooks the city. The view was amazing and the history of the place dated back hundreds of years. Such a neat place!



Despite some issues with the house, the trip was perfect and relaxing. We would highly recommend Southern Portugal to anyone who wants to just soak up the sun in hidden beach coves and escape from modern day life into the twisting petite streets of old Portuguese villages.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shhhh!


Tonight as I was singing Kayden to sleep, she pulled out her binkie and tried to put it in my mouth. Twice!! I can take a hint. I know I am off key, but isnt she too young to tell :) The whole time she did this, she had the biggest smile on her face, pretty proud of herself for "inventing" such a fantastic game. Actually, she was probably just happy to be prolonging bedtime. What a silly peanut!

Friday, August 14, 2009

For the Grandparents

Here are just a few video clips of the Peanut. Consider it a tiny glimpse into everyday life. She is too funny and getting to be such a good crawler!


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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

USA



We were able to spend 3 weeks in the wonderful USA this summer. While traveling between New York, Idaho, and Connecticut, we saw many family and friends. It was so fantastic being back on American soil, surrounded by nice English speaking people and to be back in a familiar culture. We will see you at Christmas! 4 more months!


Favorite ice cream in the world!!!
The Watertown crew- they just keep growing!
Ice Cream break with the cousins
On the boat after a "rough" day on the water

Hanging out with cousin Sydney and her diapers :)
4 beautiful generations
Kayden and Owie feed the ducks, cows and goats- or just hitch a free wagon ride
Baby shower for Turch and baby Lucas
Congrats to Jaman and Cristen!

Monday, August 10, 2009

One Year


A year ago today we moved to France for Shane to work with NATO. As I reflect back over our year, so much has happened!


The biggest event was the birth of Kayden, the joy of our lives. Neither of us could have ever imagined how amazing parenthood would be. Though there are many stressful days where we want to ship her overseas to grandparents, a morning smile or an evening cuddle erase all of those frustrations.... Large doses of coffee help too!


Over the last year we have...

.... learned to somewhat navigate the French health care system and realized that sign language gets you far when trying to communicate.

.... improved on speaking and understanding French. With lessons 2x a week I should hope so! We are making an exciting break through- learning past tense. Woohoo!!!

.... made friends that have helped us adjust to life in Lille, translated for us, listened to our concerns and fears, and laughed with us as we all together struggle to understand French culture.

.... traveled to over 8 European countries and hope to add many more to that list

.... eaten massive amounts of French pastries and baguettes. Yum!

.... realized French cheese and sausage, are, well, interesting. Perhaps they grow on you?

.... been blessed by friends and family visiting.

.... learned to play Mario Cart wirelessly with friends in the USA, making the distance seem like nothing (less at least)

.... learned to appreciate the silence of not having TV and a baby sleeping.

.... found a church to attend (only one English speaking one in Lille)

.... realized that Nutella can go on anything and make it better

.... grown as a couple, weathering the ups and downs of marriage, a new baby and a crosscultural experience.


Over the last year, I realize that Lille has somehow become home. How and when did that happen, I have yet to figure it out. I know God has placed us here for 3 years. I find strength in knowing that He sets a path before me and always is by my side. When Shane first called me to tell me that we were moving to Europe, this song was playing on the radio. It has since become an anthem for my life...



Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

Your perfect love is casting out fear

And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life

I won't turn back

I know you are near

And I will fear no evil

For my God is with me

And if my God is with me

Whom then shall I fear?Whom then shall I fear?


(Chorus:)Oh no, You never let go

Through the calm and through the storm

Oh no, You never let go

In every high and every low

Oh no, You never let go

Lord, You never let go of me


And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on

A glorious light beyond all compare

And there will be an end to these troubles

But until that day comes

We'll live to know You here on the earth


Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds onAnd there will be an end to these troublesBut until that day comesStill I will praise You, still I will praise You

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Crawling!

It has happened- Kayden is mobile! She has been doing a backwards type of crawl for over a month, but not really getting anywhere (obviously). While attempting to reach a toy, she would propel herself backwards, thus being further from her chosen destination. Needless to say, this led to many frustrating moments!
Over the last week, she has started to figure out the whole crawling fiasco. We left her in the living room during our French lesson the other day, only to hear something banging on the floor. She was attempting to lift my weights, which she had CRAWLED over to. It was in that moment we knew our lives had changed once again. Time to baby proof!!!
Her crawling is funny to watch. She has yet to master it- her right leg is still stuck underneath her bum. Too cute.
We are so in awe of God's gift to us in the form of Kayden. The moments of exhaustion fade away with her smile and giggles.
Here is a small taste of her crawling. I apologize for the poor camera work. It sure is hard getting an 8 month old to crawl on command.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Avoiding Reality

Back in France. Yep, that is where I am. After 3 weeks of traveling around in the States, I find myself back in France.
Coming back to my own house has been nicer than I thought. The quiet is definately welcome, as well as being surrounded by my own things and sleeping in my own bed. The piles of laundry and unpacking, however, are not a handosme sight... I will eventually get everything put away. Just give me one more day to recover from jet lag. How long can I use that excuse???

I have concluded that I am avoiding the reality of living in France. During the past few days of being home, I have done as little as possible to interact with the outside French world. If I dont see them, hear them, then I can still pretend that I am just living in an extension of the States. Oh, the glorious USA, how I miss thee. Today I ventured out to the military base an hour away to buy groceries.... We could only live on frozen corn, toast and couscous for so long. By choosing to buy my food at the American military grocer (commissary) I once again did not have to deal with any potential need to speak French.

How long can this last? Maybe tomorrow I will venture out, embrace the Frenchies and dive back into the reality that this is my home for 2 more years. Or maybe not. Denial will have to work for now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spain Pictures




Here is a photo journey of The Cousins Trip 2009 (hopefully the first annual). It started in France, took a detour into Belgium and ended in Spain.


Heading out to the market with Andrea and Kristen. It happened to pour on us... typical day in Lille

The Boys in front of the Citadel (Max, Shane, Brian, Mike)



Brugge


Gaudi's Park in Barcelona


Kayden's poopy pants on Brian's shirt.... too too funny. Our first tapa's restaurant in Barcelona. YUM


Gaudi's Apartment building roof top


Barcelona street


CANDY!!!! at the market in Barcelona... We let her have one of everything.


The view from the fort in Barcelona


Shane practicing his security guard moves



Look out world

Kayden and Brian enjoying appropriate sized beverages

Gorgeous fountains in Barcelona


The awesome fountain light show


The manny

Las Ramblas- one crazy street



La Sagrada Familia