Our Week in France—Family Time

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Exploring Chateau Bussy-Rabutin

We visited Château de Bussy-Rabutin as a family day trip during our Burgundy trip. We enjoyed a cozy family lunch at a local cafe complete with local cheeses, meats, and wine from the region. We had packed a big picnic lunch, but forget half of it back at the gîte. Ooops. At least we were able to laugh about it and we made the cafe owner very happy with our visit.

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The chateau turned out to be a fun family activity. Exploring the interior and running around the grounds. The sun was shining, Flora was exploring with her cousins, and Thibault slept on Jaap most of the time. It was a successful family day trip.

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Our Week in France– Living my best life

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This summer has been quite the journey for me—and it’s not even finished! When we decided not to travel to the U.S. this summer, our original plan was to book a European beach vacation. Somewhere in Spain, Portugal, Italy or Greece. With the busyness of day to day life and my fear of not finding/booking the perfect family vacation, plus the idea of traveling some where super hot with a baby. I couldn’t decide what was best for us. I had set my summer vacation expectations too high. In the end we decided to stay in the Netherlands, plan a last minute trip somewhere and have some day trips around the area.

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First night at the gîte

When my in-laws found out we had no formal travel plans they invited us to France for the week. As a gift to us, they booked a gîte for the week. I was relieved that we had a summer holiday planned, but was still disappointed that we chose not to take advantage of a summer in Europe and have a beach vacation. As our trip approached, I was getting very excited, but being reasonable with my expectations of traveling with a baby and small child. 1.5 hour day trips everyday was not possible, wine tasting throughout the countryside will have to wait till next time!

When we arrived in France I thought—-we’re on summer holiday in France! How was I not more excited about this trip!!! Pinch me—I am living my best life. Exploring the Burdundy countryside, drinking French wine every night, exploring castles and abbeys, eating delicious food and French baguettes everyday, hearing French and listening to Flora trying to learn French, and spending time with our family. It truly was a fabulous week. I was so thankful to be on this trip and it made me think how fortunate I am to be living this life with my loved ones.

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Beautiful sunny day

Our Week in France

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DELICIOUS peaches—market in Reims

We have recently returned from our vacation in France. It was fantastic! Traveling with kids is not an easy feat, but I kept my travel expectations low and reasonable for these little ones and ended up having the greatest time. My (amazing) in-laws invited us for a week in Burgundy with them. In the end, my sister-in-law and nephews came and we had just a fabulous time.

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims

We spent one night in Reims en route to our gîte to break up the travel time. We wandered around the city, I let go of my dream of champagne tasting (next time!), and enjoyed the good food, architecture, and sunshine! Despite an AWFUL (!!!) night’s sleep, our vacation was off to a good start.

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Flora channeling Joan of Arc

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Location of our picnic lunch

Joy at the Zoo– Summer Fun

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Flora riding Safari

Saturday was the perfect family day at the zoo. Warm weather, sunny skies, and happy children. It was a day full of many joyful moments and I said to Jaap, “These are the days, Babe.” These are the days I wish we could freeze in time. When the stars align and our children are happy, we are not overly exhausted, and we are out and about living life.

We took a trip to the Gaia Zoo and had a fabulous day. Flora was excited to see the lions, but was most happy at the playgrounds. She’s a happy little climber. Thibault rode the carousel for the first time and despite being completely exhausted at this time of the day, he had a blast. Amen to drama free days!

 

The Elsa Cake

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On Friday we celebrated Flora’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe she is almost 4! To celebrate we had a small party with a few of her friends. Very small and simple….except the cake! Flora asked for an princess cake, so we started brainstorming. What could Mama actually create that wouldn’t turn out like a Cake Wreck?

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Great inspiration in this book!

As part of down time/ screen time, Flora and I sometimes watch baking channels on Youtube. It’s amazing what one can learn on Youtube! Her favourites to watch are of course Elsa cakes, but many of them are quite difficult. We found a video of a Princess Aurora cake that doesn’t require fondant and it was my inspiration for this cake.

I was so happy with the results and Flora was thrilled! I was so nervous this week leading up to this process. I was referencing this children’s cake book, various Youtube channels, cooking blogs, Pinterest, etc. This may sound ridiculous, but it was starting to stress me out a bit, but in an exciting way! I told Jaap my biggest fear was disappointing Flora because she thinks I can do anything. In the end it was a huge success. She loved it, it tasted great, and I felt so proud. Unfortunately, I believe I have now set the birthday cake bar pretty high for future birthdays. 🙂 Happy (early) birthday boo boo! We love you.

Our Youtube inspiration and recipes:

Princess Aurora Layer Cake from My Cupcake Addiction

Buttercream Frosting from Gemma Stafford

Vanilla Cake Recipe from The Joy of Baking

 

 

Nap Time/ Giving Myself Grace

 

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Babychino at Confetti– family cafe in Maastricht

It’s official— “school’s out for summer!” Yesterday was Flora’s last day of Preschool and today was the last dance class for the semester. Unstructured activities are officially over for the summer. Cue panic! The idea of our summer being wide open right now scares the crap out of me, but I am trying to give myself some grace, create space and awareness during challenging mommy moments, and schedule fun things for myself to look forward to.

So in the spirit of giving myself grace, Thibault’s afternoon nap time was a relaxing time. Flora watched Sofia the First on the iPad and I took some time for myself. I have decided that scheduling down time for myself in the day is essential now that I am with the children more this summer. I need this time to do nothing, rest, read, surf the internet, whatever. I used to read books, play games, do puzzles with Flora, prepare dinner, as well as give her some screen time, but I’ve decided to let my mom guilt of screen time relax up a little bit this summer.

A mother’s job is never finished. There is always something to clean, something to pack, something to cook, someone to help, prepare food for, clean up after, etc. The list goes on. I could work around the clock, if possible. So the afternoon Thibault nap time, is now also time for me to relax. A little bit of laundry and a lot of relax!

*We also visited Confetti yesterday. My new favorite kids place in Maastricht. Also— Mama can have a soy latte while Flora plays. Double win!

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Play area at Confetti

Mommy Reset

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Happy birthday to us! My husband and I had a 24+ hour getaway this weekend to celebrate our birthday togethers. This couldn’t have come at a better time.

I really struggled this week with the day to day life of being a mom. It was rough. It was filled with highs and lows. I love the days that we are together as a family of four. But on the days when I am alone with two kids, it can be a struggle. This week was one of those crazy weeks when the stars just did not align for me. This birthday getaway was my reset button.

I just needed to be alone with my husband and enjoy each others company and reconnect. It was exactly what we needed. So my amazing in-laws watched the kids for one night, Jaap and I escaped to this cute chateau in north Limburg, and had a fabulous time, complete with a delicious meal that I will never forget. Long conversations without interruptions, luxurious food and tasty wines, reading books on the tetras, sleeping in tip 8:45 (!!!) and spending quality time together. I feel like myself again. Amen.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, check out Aubergine. Absolutely amazing!