Joyeuse Halloween

Most kids today in the US will probably celebrate Halloween today in one way or another.  Maybe they'll get to wear a cute costume to school or even go trick or treating tonight.  Here in France though, it is just another day.

Other than our celebration a couple of weeks ago, this holiday will go unnoticed here. 

The supermarkets aren't overloaded with carving pumpkins (or any other kind really).

There aren't aisles and aisles of bite sized candy in decorative orange and black.

No aisles of costumes and masks lining every store you go into.

My boys have never experienced anything like this.

Nathan has been constantly saying "trick or treat".  He also keeps asking about the "party at the park", the one with the chocolates.  This is what he will remember about Halloween.

Instead of letting this depress me, as it has in the past, I decided to embrace this holiday in my own small way.


My very own Charlie Brown and his pumpkin.

Welcome to France - and Happy Halloween!  
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Viva Espana

Today it was -4 degree Celsius {aka as freaking cold}!

We had to pull out the down jackets and bundle up the boys before heading out this morning.  We definitely were not prepared for the weather to be this cold this soon.

It is crazy to think that less than two months ago we were baking underneath the sun in Spain.

Ah, now I feel better.

I just realized that I never wrote about our summer vacation.  Well, the beginning of winter is a good a time as any, right?

We are lucky that we have amazing friends scattered throughout Spain - friends that we never go and visit.  We stopped our procrastination and decided to go and visit everyone this summer.

Our trip started off in Cartagena in the port city of Cartagena. We have a great friend from there and she showed us incredible hospitality.  There were amazing home made dinners, walks down the port and lots and lots of sightseeing.

Did I mention the food?  We had paella, morcilla, jamon and lots and lots of tapas.  I adore Spain!

It was the perfect city for the boys.  It was filled with ships and fortresses - castles and ruins.

In between all of the sightseeing there were trips to the Sea side.  The water was warm and beautiful.  You could see the fish swimming at your feet, which Nathan loved.

But we couldn't just lounge around the beach all week and we had to kiss Cartagena goodbye.

How is the weather in your neck of the woods.  Has winter come to visit yet?  Hopefully all of you on the East Coast are staying safe.  This hurricane is insane!



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From Sunshine to Rain Drops

Happy Friday!  Another week is wrapping up here in our little corner of the world.

Has your week been as busy as ours?

This week Nathan had another field trip to a local French Market on Wednesday.  He was way more excited about getting to ride the tram than the actual market.  They let him try some of the local food including goat cheese. I love that the school is opening up his mind to so many different things.  I didn't try goat cheese until I was 25 and I hated it.

American grandma's second care package arrived with the accessories to the Halloween costume she sent last week..  It came a little too late for the big Halloween party - but the boys had fun dressing up just the same.


I'm really starting to think that Nathan will have a career in some sort of food service.  He loves to cook and help out in the kitchen.  Apparently this isn't only just something he does at home. This week he also made his own bread at school.  It tasted pretty good and he felt so proud and accomplished.  Maybe next week they'll teach him how to make wine.  It is France after all.


I don't think Noah will have a future career in the food service, unless he can find a job where eating is required.  This little guy stole the baguette I had left in the back seat.  I should have known something was up when it was so quiet back there.


There is nothing special about this picture, but just look at how much Noah loves his big brother.  He could stare at him all day long.  It melts my heart.




And now the weather has taken a turn.  They are calling for snow tomorrow.  I guess I need to welcome winter with open arms.  She's coming whether I want her to or not.

How was your week?

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Halloween a l'Americaine

We are getting into the holiday season and this is always the hardest time for me living in France.

I am constantly aware of all of the things that the kids and I are "missing" by being away from "home".

This is always kicked off by Halloween.  I am constantly bombarded with pictures of adorable kids and babies all dressed up and ready to go trick or treating {or other type of costume celebration}.

As a kid, I always adored Halloween and the thought that my boys would grow up without was always a bit heartbreaking.

Last year we had a small celebration with a couple of other American families.  There were games, candy and cute kids in costumes.  It was a small piece of home.

This year the talk began around mid-September with the same American families.  Then the word amongst the expats got out and everyone started joining in.  Thanks to the power of social media this event grew and before long there were over 35 expatriated families that wanted to take part.

There were activities for all ages:  Apple bobbing and egg races for the older kids, pinning the nose on the pumpkin and a coloring station for the younger kids.  There was a costume parade with prizes and of course snacks and candy galore.

At the end of the party the kids got to line up and go "trick or treating" - filling their sacks with candy.

Noah was indifferent throughout the entire thing - but Nathan was in heaven.  He loved being a pirate and he loved getting candy.  It was a win-win in his eyes.

The day was gorgeous and I know {hope} that this will help create memories that will stay with them as they grow up.

Welcome to France, where we celebrate Halloween in mid October and can move straight into Christmas.


What are your plans for Halloween next week?


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Noah is 10 Months



Noah you are ten months now!  This is all craziness to me.  You are growing up way too fast.

This has been a very hard month for us.  Your bronchitis was back in full force and we had to take you back to the respiratory therapist for more sessions.  You still handle them like a champ, but I will be so grateful when we can finally stop going.

Both the doctor and the therapist told us that the big source of our problems was teething.  Instead of getting a few teeth a month you decided to get six all at once and at 10 months.  This has made you super cranky.  The good news is that two have broken through!  You are no longer toothless!

This teething adventure has also led to you refusing to drink your bottle {or take liquids from any sort of sippy cup or other baby safe drinking apparatus}.  Since I stopped nursing you - this has proven to be problematic.  You have no problem drinking liquids when it is giving to you in a cup that you can then proceed to lap up with your tongue.  This, however, cannot be the most effective method.  I'm hoping once these final teeth pop through we can get back to normal.

Your eating habits have also been affected.  You are through with the purees and you decide to spit them out as soon as they hit your tongue.  To add insult to injury you make gagging noises as if I was feeding your something rotten.  What you do love to eat is the food off everyone else's plate.  You devour your brother's dinner when he isn't looking and will beg for the food off our plates.  I guess we have moved passed the purees and proceeded into full fledged dinners?

This month hasn't been all bad though - and there have been plenty of laughs and giggles along the way.  You can maneouver your way around the entire house now and have figured out the ways to cause the most trouble in the minimal amount of time.  You love to pull on any clothes that we happen to have out and throw them all on the floor - this can be a small problem since we don't have a clothes dryer and usually lay out our clothes to dry.

You also love to make a mad dash for your brother's easel.  You love to get a hold of his crayons - although most of the time it is to taste them as opposed to draw with.

You are still not walking, but I think because you can get to places faster by crawling.

You are saying more and more "words" and this month you finally started calling me "mama".  It breaks my heart to admit it though, but your preferred word is "dada" and you say it all.the.time!

It is unbelievable to think that in two months you will be one year old!  This has all gone way too fast.

Stop by my FB Page to see Nathan vs. Noah at 10 months.  You'll have to tell me if you think they look the same.
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Bon Week-end

Things have been hectic around here to say the least - not bad hectic just hectic.  This Friday completely snuck up on me.

Truth be told I am crazy excited for this weekend because it is the big - Fete d'Halloween {Halloween Party}!  What started out as an event between a couple American families has completely exploded and now there are over 35 international families coming.  Who knew there were so many of us here missing this holiday?

Since it isn't a traditional holiday though, costumes are hard to come by and so we've had to make due with recycling (second baby syndrome).  Luckily American Grandma came through with an awesome care package with costumes.  Score!



As soon as it came we did a costume parade.  The kids were loving it!  We also found a pair of antlers left over from Christmas last year - just like retail America we are now getting into the Holiday spirit in mid-October.

Monday, was the big strike at the daycare.  The boys played together while I worked from home.  When the mom guilt started setting in about ignoring them all day - I decided to break out the aprons and bake!  It was some great quality time and Nathan is truly an amazing helper.  He makes a better taster - but he does help occasionally.



It was good practice since Wednesday Nathan had a field trip at daycare to a working flour mill.  He loved it and came home with a loaf of bread he had made himself.  He was so proud - and surprisingly enough it came out pretty good.

In other, less exciting news, we got new windows installed and now our fridge doesn't fit.  For the moment it is hanging out in the middle of the kitchen.  It doesn't bother me as it much it should, I guess the windows are working their magic on me.

How was your week?  Any big plans for the weekend?

Linking up with Life Rearranged
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Welcome to France...Apple Picking a la francais

When I was living in South Carolina I couldn't wait to have kids to take them apple picking!  All of my friends would tell me about the nearby farms - they would have amazing pictures of the fall colors; adorable kids picking apples.

When Nathan was about 11 months old I researched apple farms in the area.  To my chagrin - the closest apple farms where in Bretagne (about five to six hours away).  I had just given up that we would ever get to do anything like that while we were living here in France.

Then I heard through the grapevine that there was an apple festival in a nearby town.

Immediately my mind started picturing how much fun my boys would have running around surrounded by apples.

My first clue as to how the day was going to go should have been the dark clouds that were lingering around town all morning.

Since the rain had held back all morning, we decided to head out to the apple festival anyway.

There were a lot of farmers/vendors selling their fresh apples; organic apple juices and ciders - but it definitely wasn't an apple picking.

They boys weren't too impressed.

That is until they found the free samples of juice.

Noah was a little disappointed he couldn't dig into the cider.  Maybe when he's older.

It wouldn't be a French festival without sausages and cheese.

We were only there for about 15 minutes before the heavens opened up and it started pouring on us.

I guess that's what we get for trying to go apple picking a la francais.

Welcome to France!
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Faux Amies

When I was first learning French, my teacher always stressed the importance of avoiding faux amis {false friends}.

She was referring to those words that sound exactly the same in French and English but mean completely different things.

Some of these like:

assist - which means to attend
attend - which means to wait
bless - which means hurt
bras - which means arms
preservative - which means condom {this wasn't part of my French class but consider this my PSA}

While learning all of this though, I never imagined how much these "Faux Amies" would permeate every aspect of my life.

Those times when you go to the grocery store and you buy what you think is lemonade only to find that it is really lemon concentrate. 

This became more evident after my boys were born.  Taking them to the park to play footbal doesn't involve going long or throwing the ball.


Footbal for us involves kicking and running.

I wonder what they will think when they finally see a "real" American football game.

They will probably confuse it with this other sport they love to play.  The one that is also played with an oval shaped ball.

But please don't call it football - because here in France {and especially in Auvergne} we refer to it as rugby.


This little baby has future ASM star written all over his face!  Who knows, maybe he'll want to grow up and play football or footbal even.



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Then & Now

This month will mark the 4 1/2 year mark since I made the big move to France.

It's funny because now my life is clearly divided into before France and after France - there is no in-between.  I never could have imagined how much my life would change just by deciding to live an adventure abroad - how much I would change.


Before France:

* Home was always where my parents were.  No matter how much I travelled or moved - I thought I had a concept of home.

* I considered any restaurant where I could order a salmon steak fancy.

* I had no idea that good wine didn't have to cost a fortune.

* I could go from a late night with friends to the airport/to the office without even feeling tired.

* I took for granted all of the advantages of living in the United States.

After France:

* I have experienced more languages and cultures than I could have ever imagined - friends come in every size, shape and color.

* I have learned that home is not only wherever my children and husband are, but that we don't need thousands of square feet to live comfortably.

* There is a joy in trying something you have never tried before.

* Intelligence doesn't just come from books and that knowing multiple languages opens up a world of possibilities.

* A country that is not my own will forever be home to my children and that they will carry a rich culture, not in their blood but in their hearts.






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Week-end already?

Is it Friday again?  Already.  This week just flew by, which is quite a change from some of the other weeks we've been having.

Things around here seem to be on the mend.  Noah is finally starting to feel better (I hope I didn't just jinx myself) and the weather has been mild.  Hello October!

Last week there were tons of cute tiny old French cars roaming around the city.  One was even parked in front of our house.  Nathan loved them all and kept wanting to go up and touch them - and of course take pictures with them.
When it is warm out - I always get this uncontrollable urge to shop.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Just me?  I really wanted to update my fall wardrobe so I dragged the fam with me to Galleries Lafayette (the equivalent of Macy's).  Even though I didn't end up buying a single thing, the boys had fun enjoying the view.

I finally realized one of my main goals in France - a baking class.  I learned to make all sorts of yummy things from scratch.  Things like croissants, pain au chocolate and brioche.  It's okay to be jealous.

The problem is that now I've been bitten by the cooking/baking bug andI've signed myself up for some other classes.  Maybe I can turn this into a future career?  Stay tuned for more...


I also made a trip up to Lyon this week! I had a friend that was in town from the US with her husband and I couldn't resist to making the trip. I mean come on - it's the big city out there. There was some yummy dinner and some even yummier wine. Although after getting to bed at nearly 2 and suffering nearly all week I came to the realization that I'm completely old.  Ah, but it was Lyon...


There was lots of brotherly love this week.  Which always melts my heart.  It is crazy how much they love each other.  This is more than I ever hoped for them.

And because France is France - the weather turned from one day to another and the hats came back out!  I can't complain too much though.  It was an amazing week!

Linking up with Life Rearranged



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Dear Nathan



Dear Nathan,

This month I looked at you in complete awe.  There were times when I would have to remind myself that you are only 2 (almost 3!).  Sometimes you speak like such an adult and it blows my mind.  In fact you love to talk and you talk all of the time.  We are at the stage where you are questioning everything and anything.  It would be annoying if it wasn't so darn cute.

You still love to read and you beg us to read you a story every night (although now you've come to understand bargaining so sometimes you try to weasel in two or three extra stories).

You are so incredibly sweet and well-mannered (for a two year old).  Your heart is so full of love and it makes us so incredibly proud.  You are constantly helping with your little brother and you share everything you can with him (even if you are hesitant at times).

Your language skills are amazing and you are picking up more and more vocabulary both in English and in French.  Sometimes you get them mixed up but it is adorable.  We've even kept some of these "Nathanisms".  Your teachers at daycare are constantly going around asking "What you fait?"  It seems that you have rubbed off even on them.

Speaking of which, you have now become the "big man on campus".  A daycare campus but campus none the less.  All of the kids greet you by name when you enter even if they are not in your class.  I take that as a sign that you are a joy to be around even when you are not with us.

You are a complete cheeseball and you completely know it.  Who knows where you got your sense of humor but you love to laugh and be silly.  I hope you never lose this ability to laugh at life and to sometimes laugh at yourself.  It will come in handy.

You also love to pose for pictures.  You know when it is all about you and you soak up every second of it.

You are turning into such an incredible young man and we are so blessed to be your parents.

I can hardly believe that you will be 3 next month.  Please don't ever stop being my "baby", ok?



Coincidentally, this is my 500th published posts. I never thought I would get here when I started blogging four years ago. Wowza!
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Welcome to France - Les Greves

The French are known for their ability to strike.  It is part of their rights given to them by the government and boy do they love to take advantage.

Let us not forget when the National French Soccer Team went on strike during the World Cup in 2010.

While I completely respect their right to strike for whatever it is that they seem to be pissed off with at any given moment, it never ceases to be a pain in my derriere.


There was the wonderful time when a strike left me completely stranded with a 6 month old at an airport for over 10 hours! 

Then there was the time when my friends were stranded in Paris and couldn't get out.

The list could go on and on.

Even though they are known for their strikes, there actually hasn't been one in quite a while (at least none that have affected me, which is why it has probably gone unnoticed).

So imagine my surprise when I got an email this week for a Préavis de Grève - a strike warning.  A strike warning from the boys' daycare no less.


This of course sent me into a tizzy.  Cornel and I had to have the conversation about whose stuff was more important (he won) to see who could stay home with the boys. Vive la France!

In the end, the daycare ended up making accommodations for some children whose parents both work so Nathan and Noah will be going half a day. 

So while I respect their right to strike - I really wish it would stop being such a pain!  From what I hear the strike "season" is far from over so something tells me I'll be spending a lot more time at home.

Welcome to France.

Linking up with Shell
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Friday

Can I just come out and say how incredibly, ridiculously happy I am that it's Friday?
My husband set up this reminder on my phone.  Cute, no?

You too?

These past couple of weeks have been trying at best and I am finally starting to feel that sense of normalcy.  Sometimes I wonder if it is because things are starting to settle down or if because I am finally getting used to this new sense of chaos.

Noah has started feeling better and he's been fever free all week (as I knock on wood).  He has been off the antibiotic for a couple of days but I think it will take months to recover from the effects.  He has somehow morphed into a tiny tyrant ruling the house with an iron fist.  Well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but boy is he stubborn.  Since last Friday he has been refusing the bottle - refusing any type of liquid hydration system really.  We've tried it all short of an IV.  He doesn't seem bothered by it at all so I don't know why it eats at me like it does.  Le Sigh.  He is still doing his chest therapy and it seems to be working.


It has also been freakishly cold here in the mornings.  The afternoons are warming up but it usually means we leave the house looking like this.  Cute, no?  I'll admit that I might have gone overboard with the hat - but I just couldn't help myself.

There was some sort of hubbub going on in my office the other day.  There were cameras and crews filming this guy.  I have no clue who he is, but he must be important.

Also, Otilia wrote a beautiful post over at Romanian Mum with the question "what do I want?".

I want serenity.  Serenity in the form of a beautiful sunny weekend where I can enjoy my delicious coffee and pain au chocolate outdoors.  Is that too much to ask?

What about you?  What do you want?


Linking up for InstaFriday
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Welcome to France....le Potty




How is this for a fancy potty?  This was the bathroom at the restaurant where we went to dinner.

I'm not going to lie, it took me a good five minutes to figure out how to flush the thing.  I can't even imagine what my husband must have thought I was doing!

Welcome to France....

If your curious what my boys gave me for my birthday stop by my FB page.

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