Thursday, September 30, 2010

Portland, Portland, it's a wonderful town!

We can't believe it, but our little guy is now 18 months old. He is more fun than ever as he explores, discovers, and all in all causes a ruckus day after day. We have loved being in Portland so far (we've even had good weather!) and we look forward to many more fun adventures. Reece and I have zoo passes, children's museum passes, and a gym membership to keep us busy. And Paul has work to keep him busy. I'll let you decide who makes you more jealous.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, a bunch of videos of Reece as we explore Portland:

I finally got a video of Reece's adorable scrunchy face. He gives us this smile all the time, but then when you ask him to smile, he pinches his cheeks (not quite as cute). I sure do love this kid.

We spent a few hours at the Pirate Festival. Look closely and you just might see a dancing dragon, a running shark, and any number of swashbucklers (besides us). It was worth trudging through the rain to see this:

And then, of course, leave it to the pirate festival to answer the greatest of life's questions: Who wins the fight between a shark and a ninja?

Our first time at the Oregon Zoo. It's actually a pretty good zoo, with plenty of playgrounds and fountains for a toddler with a short attention span.

Here Reece shows off his amazing vowel vocabulary (he knows one letter, and he thinks it's his name):

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vive la France!!!

My goodness, have things changed. First of all, we now live in a different state. For anybody who knows our history, it's not surprising that our Labor Day weekend consisted of driving 12+ hours and moving to a new town. In our 4 1/2 year marriage we have lived in 8 different apartments in 4 different states. This was our biggest move to date, so needless to say we are tired of packing, unpacking, driving, and moving in general. (Is this a good time to mention that we're moving to San Diego next September?). But we have had some amazing experiences, met some incredible people, and we are so blessed to have consistent work, so we couldn't be happier.

It's also no surprise that we took advantage of our change of employment to go on another crazy vacation. Reece was actually super awesome most of the time,and we always had a cute photo subject. And thanks to a heavy baby/stroller combination, we didn't gain any weight, despite the combined efforts of delicious french bread, crepes with Nutella, glaces, and that delectable Swiss chocolate.

The best part of our entire trip, and in fact the whole reason we planned this vacation, was spending time with Ryan, Liz and Owen. It was SO SO SO SO wonderful being able to hang out with them and see their town and let Reece and Owen play together. Owen is such a good cousin and Reece learned a lot from him. He's now much better at eating hot dogs, really enjoys juice from a box and applesauce from a squeezable tube, and his language has really taken off since his Owen experience. Not his French, unfortunately. Actually, he's probably been speaking French all along and I just didn't realize it. The French people LOVED him, and Reece being fluent in French would definitely explain a lot. Anyway, it was also nice to talk to Liz, since I haven't had much of a chance since high school, really. Plus Paul and Ryan were constantly engaged in some boring conversation or another, so not only did Paul let off some conversational steam, but I had a fun person to talk to in the meantime.

We spent a few days in Paris, all of which we loved. As Paul said, "We kicked the trash out of Paris." We really did. We saw everything in all of our guide books, and then some. Then we spent two days in the Chateau de Cherveux, which I thought was in the Loire valley when I booked it, but apparently I was very wrong. Luckily Ryan and Liz were very nice about it, but we had a two hour + drive to get to and from the Loire valley castles. It ate up a good part of our day, but it gave us some quality time in the car. We drove through the Dordogne region on the way back to Toulouse and it was gorgeous. Then we forgot our camera as Ryan gave us a tour through Toulouse, and again when playing petanque in the park (two of my favorite things we did...mostly because I'm so amazingly awesome at petanque). We did get good pictures of our time on the beach and our great hike in the Pyrenees. Ryan and Liz were nice enough to drive across the border so I could say that I've been to Spain. We ate tapas at a bar there and they tasted terrible. But other than that Spain was nice. We uploaded all our photos to our Picasa page, so if the next twenty or so pics aren't enough, see the link on the right. Enjoy!

For any of you on the fence about visiting Ryan and Liz, I would definitely recommend it. We loved our time there and you can't ask for a more beautiful country or more fun hosts.

Posing on the Seine with Notre Dame in the background.

Our nightly hang-out. We were here until after 11 PM most nights, as we hadn't yet adjusted to the time change. Lots of people and beautiful views plus perfect weather. Even Reece kept saying "cool."

From the top of the Arc du Triomph. My, what handsome boys I have!

We hiked to the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower and yes, I was wearing flip-flops. It was totally worth the hike, as it was WAY cheaper than the elevators and WAY faster too.

Napoleon's tomb. It's huge. Like....huge. It's two levels down from where Paul is standing.

This was at Versailles. We were tired and tried to take a shortcut and it led us to this pit of death. I can't be sure but I think the bottom was full of poisonous snakes and sharks. And yes, those are sharp spikes on the opposite side. Renaissance death traps.

Gates of Versailles. Super elaborate and over the top. So naturally it was awesome to visit.

Getting in some family time.

The Chateau de Cherveux where we stayed for two nights for SUPER cheap. I'm talking like 45 euro a night. Staying in a castle was a dream come true for our family and we're excited to tell Reece about how cool we used to be.

This was at chateau Chenonceau. I was tempted to do the same thing.

Chateau Chambord was huge and looked fake, but it was my favorite castle of the day.

Reece survived on these chocolate cookies on this trip. At least we know where he got those chubby cheeks.

Looking over the Dordogne region. So beautiful. We were there for only a few hours but we fell in love. Some day we'll take a hot air balloon ride over this valley. In our dreams.

The boys spent a good portion of the beach day building these castles, which had connecting underground tunnels and a reflecting pool. The little boys then destroyed them while the big boys were snorkeling.

This picture makes me smile every time I see it. We miss you, Owen!

Our hike in the Pyrenees to Lac d'Oo. The water was so incredibly clear. The little boys threw rocks in the water and looked at the polywogs while Ryan ran around to the waterfall on the other side.
So beautiful. I mean the waterfall.

This was the last of a series of pictures in which Owen's head pops up from behind as a nice surprise.

We strategically placed ourselves right in front of the waterfall. Genius.

Then after a couple of nice, low-key days in Toulouse where I had so much fun I completely forgot to take pictures, and then 9 hours of train rides, we made it to the Matterhorn near Zermatt, Switzerland. After last year's vacation, Paul's been dreaming of visiting the Matterhorn. And honestly, he's been dreaming of it since he was 48 inches tall and started braving the abominable snowman and bobsleds at Disneyland. So the long train rides were totally worth it. The mountain was absolutely gorgeous and the four hours we spent at Zermatt made for the perfect vacation day. We took the gondola to the top, played in the snow, ate lots of chocolate, threw rocks off the mountain, and all in all reveled in this Swiss bliss.

Zermatt from the gondola.

A unique experience only parents can enjoy.

Behind us is where the Jet d'Eau is supposed to be. We saw it the first night in Geneva, but winds were too strong this day. Made for a nice walk out on the water, though.

The best of Geneva. This is what Reece does when you say "Put up your dukes!"

In the end the best part of all of this was having time to spend together as a family. It's totally worth the time and trudging and tuppence to do it.