Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brittany, France - Part 1, Carnac and the Beach

We are on some kind of travel high these days - even bigger than our baseline pace - given the ticking clock counting down our time in Europe. As such the pressure is on to see and do everything remaining on our list. It seems we left the most ambitious road trips to tackle last. Two weeks ago for our weekend getaway we drove to Brittany, France. Not that it is one of the top tourist spots in France. But hey we traveled to every single other French region so we couldn't possibly leave this beach scene out!

We drove horizontally across France to the west coast and on the way we made an all out push to make it to the Caen Memorial Museum. Alas, we just missed entry by mere minutes. It is the best WWII museum in France - and also the priciest. So we saved our euros and snapped this photo outside with the cotton candy clouds.
We kept up our car's momentum and crossed over from Normandy to Brittany as the winter sun set over fields of snow. When I see shots like this one I always hear Cat Stevens singing his "Moonshadow" song in my head.
The Saturday started bright and early as we drove from Dinan to Carnac in the far southwest part of Brittany. This coastal town is home to hundreds of huge stones in the "Field of Megaliths" that date from Neolithic times.
Carnac was a kind of French Stonehenge. There are 2,732 of these stones and much debate to their original purpose: astronomical or religious significance? burial sites?
Whatever their purpose we found them interesting. Connor enjoyed checking them all out.

Football field after football field of boulders lined in three neat rows...
Connor and Kirk discovered a "house"
This photo below reminds me so of stereotypical Brittany. The hint of purple and the harsh, stout vegetation...with the feel and scent of beach in the air.

Connor found this palm to sit in. Couldn't help humming "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and "He's Got the Little Bitty Babies in His Hands" as she found her sweet spot.

Next the port town and white sands of Quiberon...
The beach was deep and wide and we hopped all around in the sand. I can only imagine how loved this sand strip is during the warm weather.

Need I say more? Our beach bum had a ball and kept asking for sunscreen while calling out "Hey Dudes! Let's go Dudes!" I have no idea where the "Dude" phrase and context came from. It caught us by surprise. Connor keeps us laughing - this time in Brittany!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine's Projects

This is why we must, must, must get out and about every single day - no matter the weather. If we stay in there is no telling what will happen! I was doing some computer work and turned around to see this...
Someone had fun with Mommy's Post Its! Ironically Connor seemed to have just as much fun picking up all the paper squares as she did spreading them throughout the apartment.
Also this day Connor created artwork. She shocked me by announcing she was going to draw circles and then doing precisely that!

My budding artist!

Thankfully sweet Karen planned a Valentines get together. We were grateful for the activity and the dear friendship of Karen and Brady.
We made Valentines cookies. Note in the photo above how possessive Connor is of Brady's Ernie and Grover dolls. She would not let them go. Brady was kind and generously shared them with her.
We made traditional sugar cookies with heart sprinkles but also tried out "painting" food coloring on the cookies. They turned out pretty well.

While the cookies baked the kiddos laughed and laughed til all our tummies were sore. They loved playing with balloons and popping them into the air!

We crafted heart wreaths and indulged in the cookies.
Karen made this super cool cookie with the middle cut out and filled with melted hard candy.
It was a fun Valentine-y afternoon with friends we love!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow, Show and Joe!

Before Valentines weekend we had our own Brussels Blizzard. I had been planning a morning trip to the public indoor pool, but when I looked outside - surprise!
No swimming today! I wasn't about to leave the apartment in this!
I think our window snowflakes worked this year! We hear it is a rarity for Brussels to get snow.
We put our swimsuits away and snuggled in tight. Playing with toys, we were cozy warm. The snow was hard to ignore. We spent a lot of time with our noses pressed against the windowpanes gawking at the unexpected storm.

Connor has really started taking to her drawing easel. I love her focus! I am seeing more of it and longer lasting concentration these days. She is still our whirling dervish, but I feel the corner turning.

This particular afternoon Joe came over for a Thai takeout lunch while Connor napped. The snow slowed and the pad thai was yummy. Connor and I convinced Joe to join us for a puppet show at the Musee du Jouets (Joe was a good sport!). The show was all in French and Connor tuned in and out. I think she got more out of watching the other children in the audience laugh, clap, ooh, and aah. She was a good lil mimic!

After the show we ventured out to the museum to PLAY! I love the toy museum. Even adults become childlike when surrounded by toys.

Oh Joe!!! You are funny!

There are plenty of antique toys behind glass, but thankfully it is a hands on play place too!

Connor found her favorite baby and carried it all over the museum. She was an attentive and caring mother to her baby doll.

The best for Joe and me was seeing all our own favorites - from our kid days. Golden oldies, for sure. The Little People collection made us smile and laugh. I think between the two of us we had almost every one of these old toys.

The wooden double ramp is a fabulous marble a Plinko kind of way.

And of course we had to let Connor cook for us. Think she had enough kitchens!?!

Click here for full album photos of the Snow and the Toy Museum