Friday, June 29, 2012

Reflections on Paris......

To be honest, given the reviews from friends and family, I had pretty low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised!  People were very nice, and friendly and helpful.  In fact, people went out of there way to be kind.  There were a couple of instances where people were rude, but that can be found everywhere right?  I loved the Eiffel Tower.

 I didn't really 'get it' until I saw it.  I also loved the Metro, all of the interesting people.  I am embarrassed to say whenever I heard live music, I would burst into tears.  It was all so beautiful, and surreal.

Sadly, fabric shopping is never going to be the same again.  Paris, has amazing fabric stores.  We stayed in a nice area of Paris, with a definite Italian flair.  The kids loved the market, the metro and the parks.   And our date?  Well, it was kind of awesome.  We went out for drinks and then to the opera.  Very grown up of us:

So yes, Paris, I loved you, and it was fun, but it's over now.  I am just a simple country girl, not meant for the big city.    

Thursday, June 28, 2012

de nos jour.......

des pirates.........

n'oubliez pas bebe pirate!

regarde!  une carte!

 le X qui indique le tresor


 tout comme des veritables pirates!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guess where I was today.........

Someone special just turned two......

Happy Birthday Sweet Finn!
It was a special day!  A day filled with fun at the beach, presents, chocolate cake (the first one EVER that I didn't make), balloons and songs.  We sang Happy Birthday several times in French and English because Finn enjoyed it so much.  Where does the time go?  In someways it feels like he has been here forever and in other ways I feel like his birth was just a week ago.  Sometimes I look at the giant dangly part baby/part boy that he is, and wonder where my teeny tiny baby went, the one that couldn't make his crib jump across the room.

Ah my baby boy, what would we do without you?  Any thought I ever had of not having enough for a third baby went right out the window the minute you were born.  You are so very loved by your Mama and Dada and your big brothers.  You bring laughter and excitement and joy to us every day.  We love your 'stink eye', the way you call Daddy with what sounds like an English accent, how you already ask 'why?'.

A sample conversation with Finn:
Mama: Finn, please sit down on your chair.
Finn: Why?
Mama: So you won't fall and get hurt.
Finn: Oh.

We love your dance moves and the way you say 'YAY' when you are excited.  We love your perspective and your eagerness to explore and try new things.

I love you to bits!


Off to make more adventure.......

Friday, June 15, 2012


So sorry for the big break between posts!  We have been a bit busy.  France.  Is.  Awesome.  We go to the beach nearly every day during low tide and catch crabs, snails, shrimp and poke at anonime and other little sea creatures.  We have had help from some very generous locals who taught us about sea snails, and which ones are yummy.  So, snails for supper!  Yum! The snail inspectors:

We are en route to Paris via Mont  St. Michel, St. Malo and Normande.  We are tasting local delicacies:

and enjoying life by the sea.  Graeme is by far the most adventuresome in his food choices, choosing tres expensive escargot when we go out.  I have occasionally caught glimpses of who this little boy will be as an adult.  I see him with a big backpack, exploring the world.  After watching him sit silently through a mass at Mont St Michel, I can totally see him trekking on some sort of spiritual journey.  He better call his Maman!

It doesn't start getting dark until really late here, so we are going with the tides, and adjusting bedtimes accordingly.  It is cooler here than we expected, but as the day goes on it warms up nicely.  Still no eating outside though!  People have been super kind and patient with us.  We stopped for lunch today at a little creperie in a small village.  We were very much ignored by people, then Alexe recognized people as having a Quebecois accent.  We spoke to them, and by the end of lunch, the locals were teaching the kids magic tricks.  Tres cool.  

More frequent posts to come I promise.  Paris tomorrow!  Youpi! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Une petite probleme.......

Finnegan, does not like croissants. Gasp! More for the rest of us! We are settling in very nicely. Our house is very quaint, lots of stone, and wood, and is easy to maintain. We have a lovely garden for the kids to play in. It is relatively closed and private which in nice. The kids spend a lot of time collecting and trading snails based on their determined value (size). I think it might be the Plouhinec version of Pokemon! It is colder here than expected, but still nice. We have been to the beach a couple of times to collect shells, and found a crab during low tide. We went grocery shopping, which the kids enjoyed immensely. I cooked my first dinner in France, salad with a raspberry vinagrette and croutons, langoustine (Graeme chose live ones at the grocery store) with tomato sauce, bread and cheese and fruit. And wine! Oh my goodness, the wine is SO MUCH BETTER. Grocery shopping took a lot of concentration. It doesn't matter what country you are in, when you visit a new grocery store, it takes time. Not recognizing any brands or having the ability to read the packaging doesn't help! Plus, Alexe and I spent WAY too much time choosing mustard and cookies based on the adorable reusable containers they come in. J'aime Alexe. I was very worried that it would be uncomfortable and awkward the first week or so, but if feels like Alexe has always been here. It is very nice to have another girl in the house. The boys are so funny, being careful to be private and thoughtful. My French has already improved. Mind you, it wouldn't take much to improve on the little I had!

Some pictures of our backyard:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bon Voyage!

It is interesting to look forward to all we are about to experience, and, at the same time look back at all of the wonderful people and places we are about to leave. Leaving, has left me feeling thankful and rich with friends and family. I am thankful for friends who throw fabulous parties, friends who decorate our local pub with white linen table clothes and statues of the Eiffel tower. I am thankful for crepes in the front yard with neighbours and their awesome little people. I am thankful for friends who send me quirky and interesting links of things they think my kids might like. I am thankful for my friends thoughtful gestures, like kraft dinner (because you know we'll miss it), wine, books, and Canada swag. I am thankful for friends who babysit so I can clean before our house sitters arrive, and friends who offer daily encouragement (sometimes twice a day!). I feel like from whatever happens from this point on, is a bonus. I feel like I have already gained new perspective and see my world in a new light. Pretty good for a girl who hasn't actually left yet! So raise your Eiffel Tower to perspective! I'll share a not quite sober self portrait of me on the way from the pub:
Bon voyage mes amis! xoxo

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Who doesn't love getting mail!

Well, okay, maybe not bills, mais Oo La La! A new magazine? A letter from a friend? Email me your address, and I'll send you a post card!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Courage, my heart

With just a little over a month to go, we found out our beloved family cottage was destroyed by fire. We will continue to France as planned, however will add designing our new cottage before we leave so it can be built while we are away to the list of things to do. I have a VERY talented family. A lot of mementos lost, I suspect our new cottage is going to have a lot of French flavour. Hopefully shipping isn't too costly!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Excuse moi, parlez Francais?

The main reason we are going to France is so that I can learn French. My initial plan was to take classes in France, however, I tried to take some classes in Toronto, which was a total fail. The F man got strep throat, which I then got, and between the two of us being sick, I missed nearly half of the classes. I was thinking that Peter could be my teacher, but he only has three weeks off, leaving me without a partner, father for my children and French teacher. While I can't replace the partner/father part, we thought a French speaking Au Pair could be a helping hand and teacher. After putting the word out, a friend of ours got us in touch with her niece in Quebec City, et voila! An Au Pair! We are super excited to have Alexe join our family. We are also excited to think we might be able to have some regular date nights - at least for three weeks. We met Alexandra a couple of weeks ago while she was visiting family to celebrate the baptism of a very very loved baby. It went very well, the boys really liked her and thank goodness they were reasonably well behaved. It will be a transition for all of us, but I am sure we will settle into a routine within a week or so. Once we are on French soil, there will be no more English spoken, which is going to be an exercise in patience for me. I talk A LOT, and I have A LOT of French to learn before I can maintain any sort of conversation. Let's hope I am a quick study!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I love Paris in the Springtime......

Before we drop Peter off at the airport, we are spending a week in Paris. A whole week! The eiffel tower, the louvre, the food, l'amour! We were a little worried about taking the children to Paris, but it appears to be a very child friendly city with lots of activities suitable for families. Again, we are using a self catering apartment, because we are not interested in taking tired, cranky kids to restaurants. It is going to be great to have our AuPair A with us, taking turns with the kiddos. We have had a few reccomendations from friends, le Centre Pompidou, le Bateaux Mouche and the Paris Pass. It will be such a change for us, we have spent very little time in big cities, but always enjoy Montreal and Toronto when we do. I need to work a bit with the kids on street safety, the L man will talk to anyone who makes eye contact, and I have to stay on top of the G man to keep him off other peoples lawns and from walking into traffic. We'll go the in usual Tate style, keeping it simple and on the down low. I hear Paris has some incredible parks! We are meeting our AuPair A for the first time in person next weekend. We are all very excited to meet her!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How to Get Around

Just by eyeballing, it looks like about five Frances could cozy up into one Canada. That being said, we still need to get around, and one of the drawbacks about being in an area that is less expensive and less touristy, there is less public transportation. Renting a car in France is ridiculosly expensive, so we decided on a short term lease from ideamerge. Basically, you get a brand new vehicle, delivered to the airport for use. They then take it back, selling it as used, saving the very high new vehicle tax. It comes fully insured AND they clean it, making milk and cheerio spills okay. You don't need a international driver's license in France (although I have one), and the drive on the 'right' side of the road. Here is what we are getting:
C'est mignon, n'est pas?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Bucket List

While two months can seem like an eternity in this cold, Canadian climate, in reality, it's not that long! Our trip won't be of the 24/7 type, we intend to spend a lot of time hanging out with the kids close to home. That being said, there are certain things that we really want to do. Here is what is currently on our wish list.
Fields of lavender
Fete de Remparts (for the kids)
Drink a lot of really good wine
Go somewhere in Paris that involves a sexy dress and high heels and most importantly, a babysitter
Fabric shopping in Paris in Montmartre
French marché
Mont St. Michel
The L Man:
The Tour de France
The G Man:
As always, we are open to advice, suggestions and opinions! Is there something you loved? Something you miss?

Monday, March 12, 2012

La Mer

Although there was little discussion or thought about where we wanted to stay, there were a few requirements: not too touristy (coastal south), close to the sea and somewhere were we could create a home away from home. We decided on Bretagne (Brittany). European friends of ours reccomended this site, which led to this house. It is in a tiny fishing village, 200m from the sea. There is shrimp fishing, clam digging all just a short walk away. The G Man is going to be thrilled! What I loved most about this is when I looked at the property with google earth, there were big shaggy horses in the back yard - apparently the adjacent field is let out for the horses! It just sound so magical. I have to try to keep slightly realistic that while we will be in France, someone will invariably get an ear infection, throw up or both. That being said, check out the local sights:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Our One Wild and Precious Life

Bonjour! Bienvenue! Guess what? The Tates are going to France! The trip has been in the works for over a year now, here is how it started: I very much want to learn to speak French so that I can communicate with my very bilingual family, help the kids with their homework, and volunteer at the kids school. I think the fastest way for me to learn, is total immersion. Sink or swim! We are pulling the boys out of school for June, and will be travelling for two months. So yes, very daunting to think about travelling with our three boys ages seven, four and two, but I always think of this:
I can't wait for our next adventure. More to come soon! A bientôt!!