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Dakota

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In July, we got a dog. If you know me personally, you will realize this is a huge deal. I’m not an animal fan. I never wanted a pet. Ever.

Things changed for me a bit in France. Caleb had a lot of meltdowns but anytime he was around animals, he was (for the most part) calm and docile. This got me thinking about introducing a pet into our own home.

I started researching even while we were in France. I checked out humane society sites and researched good breeds for kids. When we got home, I took the kids to the humane society to look at some and I had been checking craigslist to see what came up.

One day, I read a post about a shih tzu mix (one of my preferred breeds) that needed a home. It wasn’t a new puppy (one of my requirements) and it was already house broken and came with a kennel and food. I called right away and within 20 minutes, we were over there meeting the dog. She was a little scruffy but warmed up to us immediately. I was cautiously optimistic that this dog would work out for us. Caleb was on the ground and this dog went right up to him, snuggled against his face and started licking him. I was sold. We packed her up and brought her home! Oh, and then I called Carl and told him we got a dog!

Dakota

I can’t believe how quickly we all fell in love with her (even Carl!!). She is such a sweet addition to our family. We decided to keep her name, Dakota.

Dakota

One thing that we did right away was set up an appointment with the groomer. That big mop had to be tamed!

Dakota

She came home a different dog! She was a little more hyper after that grooming as well. It was like half her body weight was removed.

We took her on our road trip to Oklahoma and she was the best traveling companion on the whole trip!
Dakota

I have no regrets at all getting this dog (like I thought I might). Caleb is always good to feed her (and so is Eva!) and he loves to cuddle with her. She’s so good with him. She lets him hold her and cuddles with him whenever he wants.

Dakota

Dakota

Dakota is here to stay.

Disneyland Paris

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Our last full day in France was spent at Disneyland Paris. Eva and I got up bright and early to meet the shuttle from our hotel. There was one other family riding with us. They were from Cyprus and it was really fun to talk with them. I’ve never met anyone from there before.

Eva and I decided to go to Hollywood Studios first because they close earlier than the Magic Kingdom. They also have most of the bigger rides that Eva likes to go on. One of the first things we saw when we got there was a very short line to meet Minnie Mouse.

Disneyland Paris

Eva also wanted a picture in front of the Hollywood sign since that is where Tori Vega goes to high school (from the Teen Nick show, Victorious).

Disneyland Paris

We spent a lot of time in Toy Story land. They had some really fun rides. The parachute drop was really fun. Here is our selfie while waiting for the ride to start.

Disneyland Paris

The scariest ride we rode all day was also in Toy Story land. It was the RC car coaster. It is an unassuming half loop where the RC car goes back and forth. But…it goes really fast and there is a slight curve at the top of each loop so it feels like you’re going to fall over. Eva was really scared but she said she was glad she rode it.

After Toy Story land we took some time to chill waiting in line for Crush’s Coaster. It’s a coaster in the dark that goes through the East Australian Current (Finding Nemo).

Disneyland Paris

The ride was fun but the line was a bit long. Eva took advantage of the sand and we pretended we were having a day at the beach.

Disneyland Paris

Here’s a cute shot of Eva on the Aladdin magic carpet ride.
Disneyland Paris

Our favorite ride of the day was Aerosmith’s Rock N’ Roller Coaster. After the RC car, I was worried Eva might not like it. But…SHE DID! She even wanted to go on it again! It was her first upside down coaster. When we were waiting in line I spotted the Sting memorabilia. This was the CD that Carl and I listened to ALL THE TIME when we were dating. In fact, When We Dance was the song we had played at our wedding reception as our song. So, I took a picture of it.

Disneyland Paris

After the Rock N’ Roller Coaster we headed over to the Magic Kingdom. The Paris parks are smaller and close together. I really like that.
Disneyland Paris

The castle is smaller but you can go up inside of it and it has some gorgeous stained glass and tells the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Disneyland Paris

Here’s a view of Fantasyland.

Disneyland Paris

We really didn’t spend too much time going on the smaller rides. Eva was concerned with getting on all the coasters. I think her favorite from the Magic Kingdom was Space Mountain. That one goes upside down at this park! She also kicked my butt on the Buzz Lightyear ride.

I thought this was a cute shot of Eva waiting in line at Thunder Mountain with her Minnie ears on.
Disneyland Paris

This was by far the most fun I had on our trip to France. I think it was mostly because I was only responsible for one child, we could be loud, everyone spoke English, and I was only responsible for one child (that bears repeating). We stayed until the last shuttle took us back to the hotel. Unfortunately, it was before the final fireworks show so we missed that. But, it was probably for the best since we got up early the next day to make the long trip back to Nebraska.

Caleb and Carl spent the day around the hotel. They swam, ate junk food, and went to the grocery store to get some last minute souvenirs and snacks. We all had a successful day and we all were ready to go home to the USA!

La Ferte St. Aubin

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We checked the map to see if there was anything we wanted to visit on our drive back to Paris. We consulted our book, Family Guide France (Eyewitness Travel Family Guide) (one of our best resources for traveling with kids in France), and saw that there was a family-friendly chateau near Orleans. We decided to check it out. I’m so glad we did. The kids had a really good time there, and by default, so did we!

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

This is a privately owned chateau. A family actually lives there. We were able to tour the public spaces and the grounds. Before we even got out of the parking lot, we had a bit of an adventure with the geese. The kids gave them some bread and the geese seemed to be very used to people and kept coming too close to them wanting more. It freaked the kids out (and me) so we sent dad out to distract the geese while we made our getaway towards the chateau.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

There weren’t too many tourists here but there were a few school groups. This place did seem to cater to the school-age crowd. Speaking of school, Eva took over being a teacher for a while and tried to tell Caleb what to do.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

My favorite room was the game room. It really was full of game and games.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

That dice game that Eva is playing in the foreground kept Caleb occupied for about 15 minutes. I had a lot of fun playing that one, too!

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

We went down to the kitchen and the kids wanted to pose in front of this boar. They are so silly!
La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

They were doing madeline demonstrations for the school groups and the one for the public was too late so we didn’t get to try any.

While visiting the powder room, I made sure to snap a picture of this informative drawing. It shows where to put beauty spots and what they mean. I naturally have a spot on my face on the one labeled the assassin. Watch out, people.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

After spending 5 weeks in France, I was in need of a good fainting couch.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

After my fainting spell, we went out to visit the grounds and saw some sheep.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

They weren’t real.

This was the kind of place I could get used to seeing on a daily basis. So beautiful.

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

La ferte st aubin near Orleans, France

After we left there we drove the rest of the way to Paris. I should have included this picture on yesterday’s post, but I forgot. We spent some time behind this guy on a tractor.

On the road to Paris

Looking back on these pictures now make our trip seem so surreal. I can’t believe all the amazing things we were able to see and do. I’m not quite ready to jump back in and do it again, but enough time has passed that I’m starting to forget the hard parts and remember the good.

On the Road in France

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After our last Saturday spent at Guedelon, we had a leisurely Sunday at church. Maybe not so leisurely. Carl gave a talk and I got to play the piano for the services since the regular pianist was out of town. It was a nice way to cap off our month with our new friends at the Bourges Branch. On Monday morning we got up bright and early to pack up and get out of the apartment.

I was a little concerned about losing our deposit. There was a folding door separating the two rooms in the apartment and Caleb broke it. Luckily for us, those doors are super flimsy and the manager said that all of them in the whole building were broken and not to worry about it. Phew. We were free to leave!

I think I’ve mentioned before that driving around the countryside was my favorite thing to do in France. Here are a few of the things we saw on our way back to Paris.

Roman aqueducts

More aqueducts.

Buffalo grill in france

This is a chain restaurant called Buffalo Grill. It has a playland and everything. It had a sign out front offering the “Sheriff” meal, which included steak and fries. We didn’t stop.

We stopped at a sporting goods store because Carl wanted a vest with a lot of pockets like all the old French guys wear. We also got him a French swimsuit so he could use the hotel pool. This was the ad for the store and it was places prominently throughout the parking lot and store.

What the heck? Billboard at sporting goods store in France

I have no idea what to think about this. What the heck are they doing? Who thought this picture was a good idea?

We made one stop on our way to Paris and I’ll blog about that tomorrow. Once we got settled into our hotel room (which was even bigger than the apartment we had just left!), I took a bath while Carl took the kids down to the pool. Carl tried on his new swimsuit and I was pretty impressed with how good he looked in it because most men don’t need to be wearing tight swim trunks…ever. I said, “That’s hot!”. Caleb immediately walked over to Carl, touched his swim trunks and said, “That IS hot.” We busted up laughing and Caleb, not understanding why, then proceeded to go around touching everything in the room saying “That is hot.”. Good times.

The kids are off on their first day of school. Caleb is starting 5th grade and Eva is in the 3rd.

Eva got up bright and early and was ready to go! She bought this outfit in France and as soon as she got it, she said she was going to wear it on her first day back to school.

First day of school 2013-2014

Caleb took some convincing to get up this morning. He had a nap yesterday so he got to bed late. The transportation office let us know the bus would arrive around 7:30am. At 7:16am, the bus was at our door. I sent Eva out to let them know Caleb would be 2 more minutes (he was still in the shower!!!). I helped Carl get Caleb out of the shower and got all his clothes laid out for him. Eva ran back in and told me the bus driver wanted to talk to me. I went out in a lovely outfit I threw together, my wild bed head, and no supportive undergarment. I chatted with them a bit about procedures, who would be home to get them off the bus, etc… and then Caleb came out! I snapped a quick picture and then they were off!

First day of school 2013-2014

I checked the time when I went back in the house and it was 7:25am. Not bad! Good thing Caleb ate breakfast before his shower this morning. We’ll be better prepared tomorrow, I hope.

I’m spending today getting back into a routine. I should be back to regular blogging again now that I have some quiet time each day. I’ll also dust off my Y clothes and get back to the gym. Not only is is quite necessary, I’m looking forward to it!

Guedelon

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We watched a show on TV a few months ago about some people in France building a medieval fortress and village from scratch using the same methods that were employed back then. I didn’t think about it again until I saw a brochure about it at the front desk in our apartment building and we realized that it was a short drive away from Bourges. We spent our last Saturday in France going to check it out.

Guedelon

The started the build back in the 70’s. They still have a lot of work left to do and they say that when it’s all said and done it will probably take them one hundred years.

Guedelon

The workmanship is amazing and we got to see them making some of the tiles, shingles, and other materials in the village. Everything is made on site.

Guedelon

Guedelon

When we were walking around the village, I noticed the dyers hut. I took quite a few pictures there.

Guedelon

You know, because of the yarn. Hard to resist!

Guedelon

Guedelon

Guedelon

The kids preferred hanging out with the animals. They have yet to share my appreciation of wool–unless it is still attached to the sheep.

Guedelon

Check out these asses! Couldn’t resist. Apologies.

Guedelon

We also taught the kids that time outs could be worse.

Guedelon

We told Caleb to put on his best sad face.

Guedelon

This outing was a little more hands-on than the rest. If you sign up, you can even work on the building for a day or more. I think Carl would love to go back and learn how to cut stone and I wouldn’t mind spending a day or two in the dyer’s hut.

French MacGyver

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Eva was kind of addicted to French TV. She couldn’t understand it but she wanted to watch it all of the time. We watched lots of cartoons in the mornings but once she found out that every afternoon MacGyver was on, she HAD to be there to watch it.

French macgyver

She loved to dance through the theme song. She always watched intently even though she couldn’t understand the words. It probably helps that we have the full series on DVD at home and she’s seen quite a few episodes with Carl (it makes him so happy that she loves this show).

Sancerre

In fact the day we were touring around the countryside and had just left this GORGEOUS city (Sancerre), we were asking the kids what they liked most about their day. All Eva had to say was, “I hope we didn’t miss MacGyver!”.

Palais Jacques Couer

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Jacques Couer is all over Bourges. He was some important guy to some king a long, long time ago and brought a ton of money to the city. He built a big palace and one day we went to go check it out. Our manny wouldn’t stay alone with Caleb so we had Carl come home early one day so we could take turns going to visit it. I didn’t get too much out of the visit since I don’t speak French and couldn’t read a lot of the descriptions, but I took some pictures anyway. Before we left, the manny told us to look for the butt carved on the facade. Apparently, one of the masons didn’t get paid like he thought he should so he carved a bare bum on the building. We couldn’t find it. Bummer. *Pun intended*

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

This next pic is a replica of the tomb of the Duke of Berry. He had a little bear and you can see little bears all around town on buildings and little statues.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

I thought Carl would appreciate the inner workings of a chest lock. I was right.
Jacques couer palace in Bourges

This carving was so cool. It was above a door frame. It’s not a butt, but it was still pretty neat to see.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

I also thought Carl would appreciate this curvy ceiling. Right, again.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

I like the floor in this particular room.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

This is the ceiling in the chapel at the palace.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

And here is the courtyard.

Jacques couer palace in Bourges

Bourges Fair

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The fair was in town while we were there so we took some time to see what it had to offer. I’ve already posted a little bit about the food we ate there and the friends we were with when we visited the first night. Here are a few more pictures of the fun we had.

Bourges fair

Eva had fun on the rides. Caleb…not so much. He tolerated a few of them but he was most interested in winning a Mario doll from the claw machine. We only had to spend 3 Euros before we got this beauty out of there. I’d never won anything doing that before so we were super excited (and I was extremely grateful) when we got him.

Bourges fair

Eva’s favorite thing was the trampoline. She did that both nights in a row. She got really adept and doing back flips.

Bourges fair

My favorite part of the fair was looking at all the cool food and candy booths to see what they had.

Bourges fair

It was a fun time going to the fair and we made some really good memories there.

Sancerre

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We went to a gorgeous medieval city one Saturday when we were in France. It sits on a hill near the Loire and it is surrounded by vineyards and goat farms. None of my pictures really do it justice. You’ll just have to imagine it being 100X more beautiful than it seems from these images.

Sancerre

This is the view of the city from a distance. We were on top of another hill looking across the valley. The fields are also full of wildflowers. Poppies are the most common.

Sancerre

These next few pictures are the view of the valley from inside Sancerre.

Sancerre

Sancerre

Sancerre

There were a lot of bikers (with motors and without) that were riding around the area. We also saw a group of people driving Ferraris. A few of them even had driving gloves. I’m not a car person so maybe it’s important to have driving gloves? To me it just seems a bit pretentious. While we were there we were also part of some kind of prank. There was a guy running along being followed by a few vans full of guys yelling out something I couldn’t understand. The running guy was dressed in a nude unitard (so he looked naked) and had a hat and curls on his head like the Hasidic Jews wear. I have no idea what was going on but they all seemed to think it was quite amusing. Sadly, I have no pictures documenting any of these.

We had fun walking around the town but we were there at lunchtime so most of the shops were closed.

Sancerre

We walked up to see the tower. It is only open for a few hours a day but even if it had been open, this is probably as much as we would have done anyway.

Sancerre

Once we walked around for a bit, we decided to find a restaurant to have lunch. It was this really old building and it was cool just to be inside. I tried not to be a “silly tourist” and take pictures too much inside and now I’m regretting it. You can kind of see the stone walls in the background, and you can see the beams on the ceiling in this one.
Sancerre

I also realized that if I used the mirror behind myself and Caleb, we could kind of have a family picture all together at the table.

Sancerre

After eating, we drove down the hill to a small village with a goat farm. There were several along the way and I can’t remember why we stopped at this particular one. Anyway, we got to see the goats and then we bought some awesome goat cheese. They sell them in little crotins (small rounds) and you can get them fresh, young, or mature. We got a fresh and a mature one. The fresh one has very little taste but the texture is nice and creamy. The mature one tastes more like a typical goat cheese and is a little more crumbly. It was my favorite.

Chevrerie ( goat farm) near Sancerre

Our trip to Sancerre was a lot of fun and if anyone is ever in the area, I would totally recommend a visit.