Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Day aka Labor Day

May first is the European equivalent of Labor Day and celebrates the law that was passed in 1919 for an 8 hour work day. I sure wish the 8 hour work day applied to Kellens job😉 

I have spent past Labor days at the beach, lake, or at the first college football game if the season. Usually enjoying sunshine, warm weather, and good food. Today was quite different. My mom, Maddie, and I had a lazy morning after staying up way too late watching our new addiction- Parenthood. Finally, we headed out into the rain at about 2pm. Our destination was about 20 minutes outside of Brussles and was the site of the Battle of Waterloo. 

The Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815  between the French with Napeolean as their leader and the "allies" which consisted of England, Belgium, Peursia. The "allies" were victorious and Napolean was sent into exile changing the course of European History and Politicas forever!

There is a small museum and two movies you can watch to learn about what happened there almost 200 years ago.
But the highlight was the massive hill that was built as a monument for this battle.
After climbing 260 steps we made it to the top! Where we were able to look out over the beautiful surrounding countryside.
We ate a picnic lunch next to the monument under a huge tree which protected us from the drizzling rain. 

Cold, rainy, weather, learning about history may not be how I picture a perfect Labor Day, but I would not trade today for anything! (Well except for having Kelen with us) I loving having my mom here to explore Belgium. And it melts my heart how sweet she is with my little girl! 
Happy May Day!!

Lazy Pool Days!

Maddie meets her cousin Priya for the first time. Maddie is 5 months and Priya is just over 1 month. 
Just getting some sun at the Stonegate pool.
Maddie loved swimming with her Grandma Alice!

Home Sweet Home

For weeks I have been anxious and nervous about taking Madison alone on the flight back to Arizona and then to Utah for my brother James's wedding. We were scheduled to leave Brussels on Thursday, April 10th and arrive in Phoenix about 20 hours later. Then to our suprise a miricale occurred as we were informed that Kellen would be assigned to a 3-4 week in Houston, TX! I know it is very ironic, we move all the way to Belgium to have Kellen be assigned a case back in Texas, but we felt so blessed that now Kellen could fly with me and come to the wedding! Thank you BCG. On Tuesday night before I had to leave we were able to book Kellen a ticket on my same flight. 
Madison spent her 5 month birthday sleeping on the floor of an airplane-I would recommend this to any parent flying with a baby on a long and very full international flight!

We finally arrived in Arizona, welcomed by excited grandparents and warm weather.
I love coming home to a place where the sky is always blue and the sun is always shinning! 

Nice, France. A baby at the Beach!

We spent the weekend of May 28-31 in the Cote D'Azur, France and truly fell in love with this area. We arrived in Nice at about 1100pm and jumped on the local bus to get to our hotel: the Le Meridien. 
Thanks to Kellen spending way to many nights in hotel rooms last year we were able to get a room upgrade which put us on the top floor of the hotel with an amazing view of the ocean and city! Nice is know as "The City of Lights" and at night it really lives up to this title. 
The weather forecast for the weekend was a high of 70 degrees and thunderstorms. I had planned for the worst, packing our rain coats and expecting a long weekend inside. Waking up to this view: blue sky, and sunshine, was more than I could have dreamed of! It was Thursday May 28th, Ascension Day, which is a holiday in Europe giving is a chance to take a long weekend getaway. We spent the morning running on the boardwalk of Avenue d'Anglais. 
We checked out the beach,
the harbor,
and the Cours Saleya Market which is an outdoor market open everyday in the old town of Nice. 
Those fruits you see are made of marzipan, one of my favorite treats!
The market has a very Italian influence as Nice is close to the Italian boarder.

We then spent the afternoon playing at the beach and relaxing on our patio. 
On the other side of the fence is the private beach where you can rent two beach chairs and an umbrella for about €50 a day, crazy!!
Nice reminds us a lot of Southern California: there are lots of Palm trees, the water is chilly and takes your breath away when you get in and the weather cools off in the morning and evening. Two differences are here the beaches are rocky and the water is a beautiful shade of teal blue instead of a duller green-brown. 
Here's a pic of Maddie as a European baby. I say this because in Europe they sell only bikini bottoms without a top until the age of three. It now totally makes sense why so many little girls run around with out a top here!!
But we brought a suit from the US making her look like an American baby!
Selfies on our deck!
As it started to cool off we got ready and headed out to find dinner in the old town.
There were charming little streets and outdoor resturants at every turn. The local food is predominantly Italian, so we had pizza and pesto gnocchi for dinner which was amazing! Kellen even ate olives for the first time in years and actually liked them!
After dinner we hiked and carried the stroller up lots of stairs to the top of Castle Hill. It is the location of an old crumbling castle which now provides gorgeous views of the city. 
We had a quick stop for gelato on our walk home and then bath time for our baby doll (and for mom too) to get ready for bed!
It was a much needed day of sun, beach, realaxation, and good food!! 

Vacation Day #2
Cannes and Monaco were our top priorities after our breakfast buffet. Breakfast was great- why not eat Nutella banana crepes and chocolate crossants while drinking hot chocolate for breakfast. Let's just say it was a breakfast for a chocoholic and I loved every bite!!
We headed towards the train station which is always a bit hectic- lots of tourists trying to figure out train ticket machines in French. After a half-hour train ride we arrived in Cannes, where the Cannes Film Festival is held each year. We actually just missed it as it was held just last week. We started our tour at the red carpet...
...then headed for the beach.
After the rock beach in Nice we were a bit surprised to find sand in Cannes. One thing I have always been excited for was to take my kids to the beach. It was so fun taking Maddie and playing with her in the sand, and of course all she wanted to do was eat it. A little sand never hurt anyone!
As all good things must come to an end, Maddie got tired so we headed for a walk on La Croisette Anvenue- a steet lined in Palm trees with the beach on one side and beautiful hotels and expensive shops on the other. 
After a successful Cannes afternoon, we went back to the train for an hour ride to Monaco. Monaco is famous for a few things: first, the Grand Prix race held there each year, where Formula 1 cars race through the streets. It took place on May 25th so the grand stands and barricades lining the sheets were still up. 
Second, the harbor containing some of the most beautiful yachts I have ever seen.
And third the stunning casino Monte Carlo.
Sadly we could only go into the lobby beause there are guards in tuxedos at the entrance keeping everyone wearing shorts, sandles, and with a baby out! From what we did see it was beautiful. For us, even more entertaining than the casino itself was the people and car watching. There were more Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royces then I have ever seen!
By about 6pm we were starving from our adventures and ate dinner at an outdoor cafe. Then we jumped back on the train to return to Nice. 
Vacation Day #3: Relaxation was our top priority. Starting with a quick morning jog by the harbor.
Then some time at the beach which was very quick because storm clouds stated to roll in. 
Then a rainy walk to the market for some really over priced treats! Then sadly, it was time to get back on the bus and head to the airport. All in all it was a perfect vacation and we decided Nice really is nice:) !