Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stranded in Newark!

Well, we made it to Utah, but not without a little adventure! Our flight left Paris close to two hours late making it impossible for us to catch our next flight. United automatically rebooked us for another flight 2 days later, which I was very upset about. You can imagine how distraught I was knowing that I #1 was dead tired, #2 no money on me beside SAR's, and not knowing if my debit card would work, #3 no working cell phone since we no longer have US numbers, #4 five suitcases, a huge double stroller, and 4 tired tired hungry kids. (Plus the night before our departure I ran out of baby formula, so Jon went on a wild hunt at midnight looking for baby formula, mind you that stores close around 7 pm in France. He finally found some at pharmacy that was open 24/7 somewhere in Paris, which Eden hated since he was not used to the taste. 
So Eden was pretty much starving the entire trip home!)
#5 2 days later, REALLY!!!!!!!

Luckily my amazing brother T who works for United saw my rebooked flight and re-rebooked it for the next morning. What a relief! I was able to borrow a cell phone from a very nice United attendant and called T to talk to him about the trip and make sure someone would be able to pick me up from the airport.

That nice United attendant also got us a room at the hotel along with food vouchers. 
So as soon as we got to the room I did not hesitate to call room service.
The kids did not mind eating in bed while watching cartoons!

Friday, July 4, 2014

France 2014

We were thrilled to head to France for a little family vaca this summer. We hadn't been since 2007. I was very excited to see and catch up with friends, and family.

Off we GO! 

Day1: Paris

After a long overnight flight we landed in Charles de Gaule airport around 10 am. We picked up our rental car (or our rental monstrously large van should I say) and headed into town. We didn't plan to stay in Paris so we decided to make a few pit stops in the city while we were here.
Our first stop was Le Sacree Coeur and Montmartre. This is one of my favorite spots in Paris. It is a beautiful area, and I love to walk around and see the artists sketching, painting, cutting.... They are so talented!

The boys were running up the steps while Jon and I struggled up the steep hill, pushing the stroller!

It was a pretty hot day so we cooled off with some sorbet!

Even Eden enjoyed some delicious black currant sorbet!

Coming down was easier than going up

Jon was such a trooper driving in downtown Paris. 
It is pretty crazy, but he did amazing!

One of the things the boys really wanted to do was go to the Eiffel Tower. 
But after driving around close to 1 hour trying to find a place to park Jon pulled up at the Trocadero roundabout and said "I found the perfect spot to park". Sadly we could not leave the car there it would have gotten towed. So we snapped a picture, grabbed a Eiffel Tower key chain for the boys and called it a day.

We were so glad my cousin Amandine was able to host us for the first night. We enjoyed spending time with them. It was fun to see Kiki and Eden getting along with their little cousins.

Day 2: Chartes Cathedral

We woke up early the next morning and headed to our next destination, Chartes. Jon had wanted to visit it since before our last trip here. He insisted in stopping there this time around, and I'm glad he did. The town was so cute, and quiet. The cobble stone streets,  stone walls, in contrast with the green   plants and shurbery overtaking houses, walls, and bridges was so inspiring. The Gothic Architecture of the cathedral itself was breathtaking.

Julien and Eden as happy as can be.

The stain glass was amazing!

Logan always trying to have fun!

Logan admiring the view from the cathedral terrace

We just had to take a family picture (preserving memories)

Simply Beautiful!

Daddy and his 2 youngest babies, enjoying the moment!

This handsome boy is growing up way to fast. In a little over a month he will be in the teens!
Crazy to think about!

After our visit in Chartes we headed to our B&B in Montignac.
This first B&B we stayed at was ... questionable! 
It was our first attempt at finding a B&B in the countryside. After getting lost because the address was wrong, we arrived at our... humble "charming" little B&B. We even upgraded to the nicest room!
They did have a pool which Julien, Logan and Kiki were more than happy to get into. These kids were crazy to get in. The water was FREEZING cold!
Kiki enjoyed watching the wild bunnies in the backyard.

Kiki being cute out on the balcony.

Julien and Logan were so brave swimming in the icy cold pool.

Day 3: Lascaux II

The next morning much like most morning, we stopped at the boulangerie for some fresh pastries. This was a time we all very much looked forward to.

Our little princess!

On the bridge overlooking the town and river. Montignac was such a beautiful little town. We just had to stop and take a few pictures. We loved the way this town was wedged between the river and the mountainside. We would have really liked to stay a little longer to explore, but unfortunately we had other stops to make.

Lascaux was very very cool. I had been as a small child but did not remember how amazing it was. The Paleolithic paintings date back about 17300 years. 
I was really excited for Julien and Logan because stone age/cavemen/paleolithic area is part of the school curriculum for social studies, and it makes their learning so much more exciting and meaningful.

It was amazing to see how good and how much detail was in the drawing.

Logan and Kiki enjoy dispensing some of their energy after our visit.

Julien and Logan

After our visit at Lascaux we went back into town for some lunch by the river. 
It was such a cute little spot!

Jon, Julien, and Logan prepared everybody's sandwiches.

This cute girl like to go down to the river bank and pick some flowers.
What a cutie!

Our next stop was Le Thot. Le Thot is a museum geared toward children to help them better understand how pre historic people lived. They have animals, hands on activities, life-size diorama, plays, movies... It was very interesting, fun, and educational.

Sizing us up

I love this picture of Jon. He is so funny imitating the bear's posture. 

Le Thot also had a petting zoo. The kids loved feeding she sheep, goats, and donkey.

Kiki was afraid of the donkey at first but warmed up to him eventually.

The great Mammoth!

 Beautiful view

Julien and Logan in front of a pre historic dwelling.

Life sized mannequins reenacting cavemen daily tasks.

During our stay we took daily trips to the grocery store and boulangeries so we could eat good and stay on budget.
I just loved eating out of the cooler!
Pain au chocolat, pain au raisin... for breakfast, fresh baguettes, amazing cheeses, and cured meats for lunch, and whatever else for dinner. 
YUM! What a treat!

We finally arrived at my cousin's Mathieu and Camille's house. My parents and Alex were waiting for us there. Kiki had fun with her little cousin, and best friend, Liam. Those two became inseparable during our stay in Bordeaux. Julien, Logan, and Alex had a blast kicking the soccer ball with Gabriel and Tom. Jon, my dad, and Mathieu even got in on the soccer game. It was great to see how much fun they had together and how well they got along.

Eden loving his Papi

Having a blast in the pool at 9:30 PM!

One of my absolute favorites; baguette with merguez sausages! YUM!

Eden loved his cousins too!
Tom was so sweet to him playing peekaboo!

Day 4: Day at the beach!

The boys were being so silly on the way to Biscarrosse beach, but not for long...

I must say that it was kind of cold that day. I did not dare get in the water, but Jon, Julien, Logan and the rest of the crew did. Kiki was not afraid to get wet either.

I love this picture of Jon and Eden, it is very sweet.



Logan proving my point that the water was COLD!!!

Tom (don't be fooled by his angel face, 
Tom grabbed a bucket full of water and dumped it on kiki! lol!)
This kid is a cutie!

Run Kiki! Run!

Kiki loved that her cool uncle Alex turned her into a mermaid!
A dream come true!

Before heading home we made a quick stop to McDonalds to grab some dinner. Although Jon and I love hamburgers, McDonalds is usually a last resort sort of thing. But since majority ruled we headed out to McDo. And it was actually nice not to have to make dinner so late. 
Dinner with 12 people, 7 of which were children was quite a circus. Kids running around, throwing things, screaming, yelling.... But all in all we had a great time together!

Day 5: Family Reunion

My mom organized a little get together with my aunt and cousins from her side of the family spending the day at the Bassin d'Arcachon. I went there quite a bit with my family when I was younger. 

I was so happy to see my aunt Francoise, and my cousins, Frederique, with her beautiful little girl Amelie, and meet her boyfriend, Claire Adeline, and her husband, as well as my cousin Orianne and her children.

We enjoyed a nice lunch, than headed to the beach for some fun in the water.

I love this picture of my mom and Eden, it is beautiful!

My dad rented paddle boats for all the older kids. They had a very good time doing that.

"Riding the paddle boats was an amazing amount of fun. We road the paddle boats all around the lake. It was so fun!" -Julien 

Fun in the sand!

Family Picture

Bob is great! It was very useful during our trip.
 Jon loaded Bob up with all the kiddos who were to tired to walk back to the car.
Simon, and Kiki road in the front, while Eden and Eden road in the back.
(my cousin Orianne has a little boy named Eden as well)

My cousin Orianne follow us back to Mat and Camille's 
house to spend a little more time catching up with us.

Day 6: Sunday
Our last day in Bordeaux was Sunday. We went to my home ward in Talence were we got to see more friends. After the meeting we all got together for a pot luck. It was great to visit with my childhood friends.

My friend Julie actually served her mission in Jon's parents ward in Las Vegas. It was such a shock to  her and my in-laws when she saw a picture of Jon and I in their home and recognized me. 
What a small world!

Back on the road to our next destination!
Our next b&b was literally in the middle of nowhere! The GPS could not figure out how to get there. Finally we decided to take a very narrow one way street, driving against traffic with the huge 9 passenger van, (might i add) which opened up to the town square where our bead and breakfast was located at.

The b&b reminded me of my grandmother's house, old with antiques everywhere.
 It was quite charming.

Le Chai de Marguerite, our B&B!

Day 7: Carcassonne!

Good morning SLEEPY HEAD!

Eden snuggling up with Logan while enjoying his morning milk bottle!

The next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast out on the terrace. Our breakfast consisted of pastries, hand squeezed orange juice, fruits freshly picked from the owner's yard and garden, and cereal. It was very good. We all enjoyed eating outside. Puppies, kittens, hens, and turkeys roamed around the yard. Kiki had fun chasing a little black kitten during breakfast. The yard was so nicely landscaped I could have stayed for hours taking pictures.

Kiki playing with the kitten

The owner of the house had so many fruit trees including, loquat tree and a fig tree!

little hen

My little man!
This little guy is such a cutie. He is always so happy and smily.
We all love him so very much!

The garden was beautifully decorated with flowers, vines, trees, antique bicycles, and chairs.

One of the things I love about the south of France is the beautiful rows and rows of grape vines. 
It is such a beautiful scenery!


The city of Carcassonne is known for its medical fortress.
I believe that Carcassonne was first fortified around 100 BC by the Romans. 
That is a pretty old city!

Exploring the fortress!

Logan's photoshoot!
This kid is so sweet. 
He is so kind, helpful, and has a pretty great sense of humor. 

Cute girl!

Exploring the streets of Carcassonne!

Loving nutella crepes!

While in Carcassonne we assisted a fun medieval show.

Jon was called out to the stage and was knighted!
It was quite fun. They dressed him up in chainmail, helmet and was ordained knight! It was definitely the highlight to the show!

The kids loved seeing him up on stage. Jon is so great!

After the show we were able to visit different rooms where weapons and musical instruments of the region and era where displayed.

We were able to ask the performers questions, and learn more about the objects being displayed.

We could not go to Carcassonne and not try their famous cassoulet!
We tasted and enjoyed two kinds, their traditional duck cassoulet (my favorite), and a pork cassoulet! 
It was truly delicious! I can't wait to try making it myself.

We also tried another of the region's specialty, violet ice cream!

Jon, Julien, Logan in front of Carcassonne's traditional cassoulet recipe.

Exploring the castle

During our visit we ran into four sister missionaries. 
Three of which had been taught by my brother Raphael at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
They had nothing but nice things to say about him. He is a pretty great guy, and an amazing teacher.

Day 8: Vulcania

On our way to Vulcania, we drove through the valley of the river Tarn in the South East of France. We paid a 7 Euro tool to drive a unique Highway, A75, which included a journey across the Millau Viaduct bridge, which is 2.5 km long and 343 m. high. This massive suspension bridge connects two mountain summits, allowing 4 lanes of traffic to traverse the valley of the river Tarn 270 m bellow. The Viaduct de Millau has the 12th highest bridge deck in the world, and since it was situated between two mountain summits, driving across it felt like driving in the clouds. I was very excited about this long and elevated journey and marveled at this engineering masterpiece.



I just love these snap shots. The kids were having so much fun going down the slide and then all of the sudden I hear loud joyful screams and laughter, the sight that followed was quite comical. Julien, than Logan, followed by Jon coming out of the slide within seconds of each otter. Jon decided to give them a little incentive to go down the slide faster.
It was pretty funny! What a fun dad!

Vulcania, is a European Park of Volcanism. It is an educational amusement park and museum with a volcano theme situated in Saint-Ours-les-Roches, Auvergne, France.
Vulcania has several attractions such as 3D and 4D films, rides, exhibitions, as well as a geyser, and life-size crater which simulates a volcanic eruption, and hands on activities, nature trails, and much much more.
They also offer a hot air ballon ride over the Puy De Dome, to see the beautiful view of the volcanos from the top, but the ride was unfortunately closed that day due to the wind condition. It would have been amazing though.


One of the attractions there was the Volcanbul. 
It is a GPS driver robot bus which gives tours of the area around Vulcania. 
It is a pretty cool bus.

The boys were pretty happy to put their hands on a meteorite, and touch something that dates back to 4.6 billion years.

The meteorite was cold and pretty smooth but I expected it to be rough like a rock, it is hard to believe I touched something that was once floating in space. Vulcania had a lot of 4D theaters, and roller coasters. We would have gone on a hot air balloon ride but it was to windy. I really like going to Vulcania.


Life-size volcanic crater

4D movie!

Zip lining during our nature walk

Kiki picked up pretty flowers during our walk

We loved Vulcania!

Day 9: BBQ with Cousins!

Finally back in Paris! I was so excited to be able to see my uncle Thierry, aunt Pamela, and my cousins. We always have so much fun when we get together. We celebrated with a BBQ. Kiki was delighted to play with her little cousin Lea (who is a few weeks apart from her in age), and her other little cousin Olivia. Kiki loved playing mommy with Olivia. The boys enjoyed spending more time with Alex. We all loved catching up, playing cards, and eating great BBQ!

Just love the smell of meat sizzling on the grill, or wheelbarrow!

Eden loving his Mami, and Mami loving her Eden!

Olivia drinking her bottle in style!

Cards Cards Cards!

Melissa, Pamela, and Zab!


My dad wanting to take the bike out for a ride.

Day 10: Park Asterix!

One of the most anticipated stops of the trip was Park Asterix! Even though the park was geared for and older audience, Kiki, Eden and I had fun watching Jon, Julien, and Logan go on scary rides. Sadly we did not get to go on more than half of the rides in the park due to lack of time, but it gives us a reason to go back for more fun!


Kiki thought that it was the funniest thing that Julien and Logan chose to sit in Obelix's butt! lol!

Cute Kiki posing while waiting for the boys to finish their ride!

Choo chop Train!

Eden and Jon enjoying a little boat ride!

Zeus' Thrunder!!! 
The boys favorite!

Time for some shade!

Kiki did get to do some "scary rides"

This ride was my favorite to watch! It looked so scary!

Kiki and I got to meet Getafix, the town's druid!

Daddy wanted everyone to have a little something to bring 
home to remember the fun we had at Park Asterix.

Julien wanted a comic

Kiki a pretty "Gauloise" dress

Logan wanted an Asterix costume!

Mr. Eden got an Asterix shirt.

Park Asterix was a blast! I loved seeing everybody ave so much fun. 
I can't wait for us to go back.
It was such a great way to end an amazing vacation!

Eden and Kiki dead tired after a long fun filled day in the sun!

This vacation was AMAZING! I am so grateful to have been able to spend so much time having fun as a family. We will cherish these memories forever.

The next morning we headed to Charles de Gaule airport where Jon flew to Dammam, and the kids and I flew to Utah for more summer fun! I wish Jon could have come with us but he needed to get back to work.