Monday, February 9, 2009

The top 5 questions since we've been home

Many people have asked us a lot about our life in France, For my benefit I am going to log a few of them.

#1 How was it? It was awesome! It was the best growing, learning experience we have ever had. The things we saw and learned there will be memories we talk about forever.

#2 Was it hard? YES- it was very hard and for the first 3 months I wondered what I was thinking and I must be the worst mother in the world to make my children endure this, but as time progressed it got easier and we were able to face each new challenge head on with our heads up. The children cried a lot about going to school but I knew it a success when they were crying the last day of school because it was over.
When I say hard, our life in America is just convenient, for instance: the grocery stores are open 24 hours and you can pull up and park right in front of them for free. Not the case in France, there are a few that don't shut down in the middle of the day, but 8p.m. is the latest and you need a lot of change for parking. Everything in France just takes a little more effort, a little more planning and a little more time. Once you adjust it's not that big of a deal, it just reminds you how easy we do have it in the USA.

#3 Did the children learn French? Yes they did. Many people told us that within a few months they would be fluent- if you are planning to do something similar to this prepare yourselves that it takes a little longer than that, more like 5-6 months. At that point they could understand almost everything and say nearly everything they needed to.
It was complete immersion for them, so I guess after sitting in a classroom for 6 hours each day it eventually sunk it. They were so happy when they could communicate with their friends and teachers.

#4 What will you miss the most? This is very difficult question to answer because I cannot narrow it down to just one thing. We will miss many things such as: The food, fresh baguettes and pain au chocolate, our dear friends, everyone was so kind and helpful, and all the family time we had together- that was priceless.

#5 Would you do it again? YES in a minute. If Mark gave me the word I could have us packed and ready to go in 24 hours.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jour de départ-Day of departure

July 9, 2008
The last night in our beds in France-I made sure I captured every ones last night of French sleep.
Coming and going we were full to the brim-14 large checked bags and 14 smaller carry ons.This will probably go down as one of the most bitter sweet days in Reed history. We were excited to be heading home-but so sad to be leaving this wonderful life we had created here.
I guess it was good to have some anticipation of going home, otherwise we may not have been able to pull them out of bed-everyone was a little sleepy.
The taxi arrived right on time. When I told him over the phone how many people and how many bags he assured me that we would all fit in one vehicle. I had my doubts-but Charles didn't let us down, everything fit.
Sophie looks happy here, but about 15 minutes later she needed a sick bag. The driver took us on the back roads to avoid the traffic, but they were windy and didn't agree with Sophie.

It was a good thing he had big side mirrors, he couldn't see a thing out the back.

Arriving at Charles de Gaulle.

Checking in. Mark is a Medallion member on Delta, so we hoped that might help us get a few extras with such a big group, but NO. Mark was actually on another flight and try as we might to get us all together it just was not meant to be. He was on the direct flight and we got to hang out in Houston for 8 hours.

When we were checking in we had 2 booster seats that we had brought with us, but because we flew Delta first and then Air France coming and just the reverse coming back Air France was not as easy to work with with the boosters. With Delta there is no charge -Air France there is an extra 200 euro each fee. They were not going to budge. Mark started running around the airport trying to figure out how to get them home for no charge, but time was running thin. I was waiting in line for security with the kids, but it was taking him a long time. The line started getting longer and longer, but still no Mark. Pretty soon you couldn't tell where the lines started (that would make perfect sense if you have ever been in a line in Europe, there is no such thing.)

Finally Mark arrived and had success somehow checking the boosters. Now all we had to do was get through security. A few security guards came to the crowd and told everyone to move out of line and that we would have to wait while they checked out a problem they were having. We were nervous we wouldn't make our flight. People were pushing and shoving at this point, but we were positioned well to get back in line. They started letting people with small children through the ropes one by one, but as soon as the rest of the crowd saw this they started jumping over the ropes and it was chaos like I have never seen. You just had to fend for yourself and forget any rules you have ever been taught about taking your turn. WOW- that was an experience. We made it and said good-bye to Mark and prepared to board the plane to the USA.
I felt lucky that they were such good travelers that it was not hard to be alone with them.
Our flight to Houston was picture perfect, each child had their own TV screen in front of them, so except for a few bathroom breaks it was quite peaceful.
I knew our layover in Houston was going to be quite long and so I had packed a few surprises to help keep the kids occupied.
The first things we did was find somewhere we could buy a smoothie. The kids were dying for one, lucky for us there was a kiosk in the airport and so we were able to satisfy every ones taste buds.Our body clocks are a little off and we were all getting pretty tired.
Everyone was so nice and patient through a very long day.
We made it- we are in Salt Lake City, Utah!
The sign behind them said, "Welcome to Salt Lake City" right before I snapped this photo (that's what I was going for.)
Annie and Jesse were so grateful they had packed their robes in the carry ons, they were freezing on the last flight.
What's more comfortable than being in Grandmas arms.
Yea!! Grandpa!
One last haul of a million bags.
Our darling neighbor made this great "Welcome home" sign for us- it was so fun to pull up and see our little house with the big sign.

The neighbor kids made this for our kids. It was very exciting
but at 1:30 in the morning we couldn't go tell them how much we loved it.
My dear sweet mother! A few weeks before we came home, she told me she was making rolls and I told her I could almost smell them over the phone and that was the one thing I couldn't wait to eat was one of her delicious rolls. Well because she does what she does, she had three beautiful pans ready to go in the oven- so, yes at 1:30 in the morning we were baking yummy homemade rolls.
It didn't take Jesse long to slip back into old ways- before we knew it she had on dress ups and was downing a creamie. The best part was what was written on her stick when she licked her last drop. It read "It doesn't get much better than this".
We still have the stick taped to our microwave, it will always be a reminder that at that moment our life couldn't possibly get any better!

Stay tuned-Spain could be next. See you in our next dream!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dire adieu-saying Goodbye

July 8, 2008

The worst part about leaving is saying Goodbye.
As you enter each town or village there is a sign with the name of the village on it, but when you leave there is also a sign with the name on it and a large red slash through letting you know you are no longer in that village. Even though we will no longer physically be in Bourron Marlotte, our hearts will never leave.

Our darling neighbors across the street. Famille Meynier, Virginie, Jean-Phillipe holding Elliott,
Clara and Louise.

We will miss you!! They were so kind and helpful to us.
Clara just loved Jesse and they made a cute connection.

Famille Nidriche-Many, many tears saying goodbye to this wonderful family.
We hope that our relationship will last forever.
How we loved our quaint little village. So many beautiful homes and things to see. I just couldn't take enough pictures of all the homes. I have posted pictures of these before, but I just couldn't resist my favorites again. These will be the ones I see in my dreams.

We let the children pick how they wanted to spend their last night in France. They all voted on the Bistro, the local restaurant right in Bourron Marlotte. The food is delicious and the people have always been so nice.

Sophie with her escargot. She put it in, chewed it gave it a "hmm good" and then spit it out.

The rest of us found it to be delicious.
Well, not quite all the rest of us.
Happy as a clam- oh, I mean snail.
The restaurant owner took the photo for us, and before she did she asked us several times if all the children were ours. We answered every time with a Oui-yes, and then she gives Mark the "Oh, la la".
Our mouths will forever water for the taste of the delicious French food we were so spoiled with.

I think that just means many return trips.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guédelon Chantier Médiéval

As our time winds down here, Annie wanted to be able to send off one more letter to Ally, so on our way we stopped at the post for one last letter drop.
Our neighbors had told us of a 13th Century castle being built today as if it were being built back then, using all the techniques form the 13th Century. The kids really wanted to see this so we found ourselves at Guédelon.
This is a work in progress. It began in 1997 and is scheduled to take 25 years. The idea is to be able to see the building of a castle in it's different stages. All the supplies they need-sand, rock, wood etc. are found right there on the site.
The quarry is quite impressive, with it's massive, colorful rocks.
We watched the stone cutters take those enormous rocks and begin to turn them into window arches, door headers and many other parts for the castle.
We decided to take a tour so we could learn as much as possible about the castle and the idea behind it. There was a big crowd for the tour, but when the tour guide came out and called for all the french speakers everyone left but us- so we had our own private tour with Simon. He was a student who wanted to try to improve his English and thought this would be a good way to practice, he was terrific.
A little lesson in geometry.
This was one of our favorite parts, Simon explained the science behind the doors and the secret locks. The big brace he is standing behind actually slides back into the wall of the castle so it is hidden and can be pulled as an extra security.
Everything they were working on was so interesting. Here we watched a man making shingles from logs.
I found this to be a very brilliant contraption. It is the "rain gutter".
We just knew if Grandpa T was here he would have asked if he could have a whack at this arch the woodcutter was creating.
We later saw our guide Simon, apprenticing with the blacksmith.
We are hoping to come back in a few years and see the progress of the castle.
Check out the website at
We took the Scenic route home and passed many other castles. We decided to take a peek inside this one.
Chateau de Ratilly. The path leading up to the castle was very impressive and very secluded.

Vive en France

The field adjacent to the chateau was irresistible.
Rooftops and old buildings on winding streets- I will miss this.

We saw many neat old castles, but look at this great house. I made Mark turn around so we could get some good photos. Isn't that just awesome.