Friday, April 23, 2010

Making progress

We are slowly making progress on the move back to the US.
  • We will be house/apartment hunting in Loveland the 1st week of June
  • The movers are coming to do a preliminary review of our stuff on May 19th
  • The movers will be back on the 24th and 25th of June to pack and move our stuff.
  • Our apartment is listed for rent

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Sablet Gîte

The house we stayed at in Sablet was right next door to a winery, Domaine de Piaugier. Not being into wine at all we can't comment on that, but the house was practically perfect. It was actually a converted barn, one half of the house still being used as a barn. It had three large bedrooms, full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, a great yard....everything a family with three small children could want. It was definitely one of the best places we've stayed in during our travels.

There are more pictures of the house and the rest of our trip up on Flickr.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Roman Ruins Overload

We were really excited about all the Roman ruins when we first got to Provence.

at La Villasse in Vaison la Romaine

At the Nîmes arena

Posing for Rowan in front of Pont du Gard

At the theatre in Orange

Outside the arena in Arles

Our excitement had definitely waned by the end of the trip. On our last day when we visited the arena in Arles, I think Pat and I both secretly echoed Ro's sentiments: "Another arena???"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Olive Tree Love


just outside of Sablet

view of Les Baux from an olive grove

Wonder if there's any way an olive tree could survive a Colorado winter?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Training Wheels!

For Rowan's 5th birthday last November, one of his gifts was a balance bike. We should have gotten him one sooner, as he was almost too big for it at that time.

He's used it off and on throughout the winter, but because of the cold weather didn't ride it very much until a month or so ago.

He's had a bike with training wheels for almost a year now, rarely rode it, but yesterday asked us to take the training wheels off of it. Within just a few minutes of getting outside on his newly two-wheeled bike he was riding without assistance. Those balance bikes really do work!

There was a little of this:

But mostly a lot of this:

He's so proud of himself!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cassis and Calanque Port-Pin

Sablet is in the Côtes du Rhône region of Provence, which was unfortunately an hour and forty-five minutes from my favorite place we visited. Cassis is a little village by the Mediterranean, which Rick Steves says is a poor man's St-Tropez (don't know anything about St-Tropez, but assuming it means not very glitzy), and popular with the French. I dragged Pat and the kids there to see the calanques. Calanques are inlets created by the steep sides of cliffs that line the shore of parts of the Mediterranean.

Our first stop upon arrival in Cassis was the Tourist Information Office to see if any of the three calanques were doable with three small children. Thankfully we were assured that the kids could make it to the second calanque, Port-Pin, with no problem (the first, Port-Miou, was just a dock for boats). The third calanque, Calanque d'En-Vau, would be too long (at two hours each way from Cassis) and too hard. It is supposed to be the most spectacular of the three, so I was a little disappointed, though not surprised.

Most of the way to Calanque Port-Pin was ridiculously easy, but about ten minutes or so before we reached it the path became very rocky. The rocks were extremely smooth and slippery, and Ro and Niamh both found it quite difficult.

It was well worth it though. Calanque Port-Pin was amazing (how I wish we could have gone on to d'En-Vau!). The photos I took didn't turn out so great and hardly capture the beauty of the clear, sparkling blue water. Maybe because we were there when the sun was directly overhead?

Niamh tripped in the water while wading, so we stripped her down to her skivvies and laid the wet clothes out in the sun to dry. Didn't work so well, and she had to hike back to Cassis in a wet dress.

Muriel and I on the way back to Cassis.

After we returned to Cassis, we stopped Plage du Bestouan, the beach across the street from where our car was parked, for much deserved ice-cream and some more play time. Rowan was in heaven playing in the waves.

Niamh and Muriel went down to the water for a bit, but were mostly happy to just sit and play in the sand/rocks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back to Morges

We arrived home in Morges yesterday afternoon after a windy, but uneventful drive home. Sunday was for sure the day with the strongest infamous mistral wind, and it must have followed us all the way to Morges as it's been quite windy here as well.

We made a couple of stops on the way. One was a rest area for lunch, and a little bit of playing (too windy to stay out for very long). In the above photo Rowan is demonstrating his jumping skills. He was SO proud of himself for jumping off the third rung of the ladder. Perhaps it was less of a jump though, and more of a drop.

The other stop we made was just outside Montélimar at what appeared to be an aire (service station/rest area) centered completely around the sale of nougat. I wish I had thought to take a photo, it was tourism at it's finest. There were several restaurants, bathrooms, a play area (I think), and a gas station, all of which were obviously there to get people to stop in and shop at the nougat boutique.

Though I'm sure it wasn't Montélimar's best nougat (I'd imagine you have to go into town for the quality stuff), it was still fun to see all the different kinds, flavors, and brands. Most had nuts, which I do not at all like in sweet things, but I was able to find a small selection sans nuts. I got lavender honey, orange flower honey, licorice, raspberry, anise, mint, and lemon. And that's not even all the flavors that were available! Anyway, I found the last two paragraphs in this Wikipedia entry on Montélimar very interesting. The nougat aire makes more sense now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

To Provence!

On Monday we rented a car and drove down to Provence. The drive wasn't too bad at all, and took about four hours. I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing road signs pointing to exotic places.

Our journey down was definitely made easier by this fabulous rest area we stopped at along the way. I guess that's the benefit to all the toll roads!

We've been staying in a converted barn (a Gîte, actually) in a small village called Sablet, not too far from Vaison la Romaine.

Sablet is beautiful and looks exactly like a Provencal village out of a coffee table book. It's been a wonderful place to stay, and not too far from most of the places we've visited. We're headed home this morning sometime, so there will be much more on our time in Provence to come.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter (2010)!

We dyed fourteen eggs yesterday, though I'm not sure who is going to eat them but me (and I feel certain I cannot eat fourteen by myself, as much as I love them). Am contemplating seeing if Muriel is okay with them. She is fine with egg in baked goods, so she'd probably be fine with hard boiled eggs as well. But perhaps that's not a risk we want to take on a)a holiday and b)the day before we leave for Provence.

Pat arrived home last night, safe and sound and with lots of American Easter candy. I'm thinking that SweetTarts jelly beans are the best thing ever.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Passing the Time

We've just about made it through another one of Pat's business trips. Everyone is excited that he arrives home tonight, just in time for Easter. Things felt pretty dismal at the beginning. The kids are out of school for two weeks for Easter vacation, all of our friends are away, and rain was forecasted for the week. But it turned out not to be so bad. It did rain, but not constantly, so we were able to get outside a bit.

Our friends, the Girardins, who live in the Jura, needed to get some stuff done in Lausanne, and stopped by for an afternoon.

We also got together one morning with a new American family that has moved into our building. They have a 5 year old girl, a 3 year-old boy, and a 1 year old girl (sound familiar?). No photos from that morning, but the kids all had a great time together. The next day I overheard Niamh signing to herself part of a song I sometimes sing to her and Rowan before bed. But instead of Niamh/Rowan she inserted the eldest girls' name: I love you, Fiona, I love you Fiona, I love you Fiona....

Another thing that really helped the week go by was the Elko Toy Library. Our neighbors, the Elkos, were away this week, and they left us their keys so we could borrow their toys while they were gone. What a lifesaver! We went over almost every day and got new toys to play with.

Here is a picture Rowan drew, inspired by their castle set. The king is standing on top, and the castle is surrounded by water, with sailboats on each side.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I adore these Martine board books by Gilbert Delahaye and Marcel Marlier that Muriel is perusing! They feature a little girl named Martine, with guest appearances by various friends and animals. If I'm reading the copyright info correctly I think they were first printed in 1949, though Wikipedia says they were first published in 1954. The illustrations are very sweet and definitely look straight of of the fifties. I especially love the idyllic portrayal of European village life. I am not sure how many books there are in mes premiers Martine (my first Martine). The backs of each book list a different number of titles, from 18-28, on just the 8 or so books we own. According to Wikipedia there are over 50 Martine books, but I think it is including non-board books like this one, which look more like early readers to me. The Martine books can be found translated into English under the name Debbie. They are out of print now, but Alibris and AbeBooks carry a few titles.