Monday, May 25, 2015

Chateau de Chenonceau

The last time we were in the Loire Valley we had planned on visiting Chenonceau.  Unfortunately we got to the parking lot on our last day and we realized it was too cold and we were too tired so we left. We have heard so many great things about this chateau.  I also realized that we were at our last opportunity for an overnight visit here in France.  We have been on the go so much we weren't planning on any more trips, but I had to see if we could make just one more.  This was just a one night trip for us.  We got up Sunday morning and packed up the car.  Just over 2 hours later we were at Chenonceau.  We made our way through the grounds and we all agreed we were glad we came.  Here are some photos from our day.

The door to enter the castle.

In the entry room you can see how the color on the tiles has worn away over the years.

Details on a mantel in the chateau.

The view from one of the bedrooms. 

I love this gallery, the floors, the light fixtures.  It was all just amazing.

Sometimes I think the scale of these fireplaces is lost in photos.  That is Bennett standing next to the fireplace, he is almost 6.

A giant urn outside.

One of the courtyards.

The fresh flower arrangements in the chateau were just spectacular.

I love this one too.

This was a tiny little room, but every wall had a great arrangement on it.

I love how all of the flower arrangements were different.

This amazing arrangement was in the kitchen.

Outside Jon was with the kids while I finished drooling over the copper collection in the kitchen.  

Of course they found water to throw rocks into.

Then we moved on to the gardens.

More giant urns.

You can see just how big the gardens were with Malachi in the picture.

A family shot!  I love my remote for my camera.

I love that Garrett sat down and started digging in the sand.  

Bennett had a great big pose for me.

My big boys.

In the gardens I found this giant stack of pots.  What a beautiful way to store these little pots.

Our last stop were the donkeys.  They were looking for a snack, but they were willing to pose for a photo.

We also visited the maze, but I did not get any pictures there.  I would definitely recommend this chateau, especially if you are looking for a family friendly place.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

American Cemetery in Normandy, France

Have you ever gotten to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy?  Jon has been several times, but I had yet to make the trip.  We set aside a weekend in May to visit this area of France that has been so important to Americans and it did not disappoint.  The visitor's center at the cemetery is beautiful and well done.  There is a short introductory video when you first walk in and also a longer version (16 minutes) that you can watch as well.  Be ready when you watch these movies, they are well done and tragic. 
Garrett and Addie watching the first film.

I feel like there have been several movies and tv series done about D-Day so that I feel like I know a lot about the over all campaign.  I even feel like I have heard a lot of the more interesting stories.  This visitor's center brought to light many more amazing stories of bravery and courage.  I was inspired by this story of a female spy that was involved with D-Day.

And then it was time to visit the actual cemetery.

It is always challenging to visit places like this. 

Inside the chapel on the grounds.

From here we drove through Carentan and then on to Sainte-Mere-Eglise.  Sainte-Mere-Eglise is where about 20 paratroopers landed on the evening before DDay.  It is known as the first town liberated. We did not visit the museum there, but it did look like a good time.  We walked through the church, checked out a couple of Army/Navy surplus stores, got a snack and then headed out.  It was a nice place to stop and there are quite a few things to do there if you have the time.

Here are the kiddos enjoying their afternoon snack before we loaded back into the car.

Juno Beach

When I booked our house for this weekend in Normandy I chose Courselles Sur Mer.  I didn't know at the time that it was near Juno Beach, about 45 minutes from the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach.  At first I was frustrated with myself, but after seeing the house where we got to stay and enjoying a visit to Juno Beach I was pleasantly surprised.  We were able to walk from our Airbnb house to the beaches.  Malachi was pretty excited.

Addie and Ben were enjoying the fresh air.

We checked out a bunker and then headed to the beach.

There were lots of rocks to throw.

It was a wonderful evening.

I got lots of love.

I love this one of Malachi.

And finally the whole gang on top of a bunker.

From here we walked by the fresh seafood sellers and I bought fresh scallops and took them home and sautéed them for dinner.  It was a great night and the start of a wonderful weekend.

Our Favorite Day in Spain

We have traveled a lot with our kids.  We have taken them to cities, museums, and very significant cultural sights.  Their favorite place so far was an afternoon visit to the lake in Navacerrada.  The monkey bars started our visit off.  

The path through the forest was our next step.

Garrett was protecting something here.

He was very intent on making sure it was okay.

See that tiny little lady bug?

Jon got to carry the stroller over the mud patch.

Did I mention we were celebrating 8 years with this sweet girl?

Ah, the lake.

Malachi was ready to be out of the stroller and exploring with the big kids. 

They had so much fun climbing and exploring.

I love that Ben has been posing for me lately.

I love this man and all of our adventures!

This little guy loves being outside.

He is growing up so fast and thinks he can do anything the big kids can.

It really was a very beautiful spot.

I love the next 3 pictures.  Addie had jumped out to the smaller rock and Ben really wanted to try as well.

I love his arms raised in victory.

Another jumping shot.  Can you believe no one fell in?

Throwing rocks in the water is a favorite past time here.

I posted this picture last week and it got a lot of attention.  

Garrett managed to carry that big rock.

Malachi got his own rock too.  Can you believe this guy is just 18 months old?  

Speaking of growing up fast, this is girl 8 years old now.  She is such a joyful girl and we so blessed to have her in our life.  Can you believe she is on her first over night field trip this week?  Living in Europe 

We went home and had a yummy cake to celebrate how much we love Addison.  She is a loving daughter, an amazing big sister, and a great friend.  

Celebrating Addie was a great way to finish off our last big trip in Europe. 

Don't worry, we still have a couple of adventures while we are in France.  Less than 7 weeks until the move happens!