Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

Cute Marianna with our bouche de Noel.

And the deeeeeeeliciousness of our Christmas meal:

Salmon over baguette and cheese, Cheesy potatoes, garlic green beans.

The gorgeous lake in Chambery and the mom and friend who had us over.
Skyping in grandma and grandpa Gregory for some present opening fun:
Christmas morning stocking excitement:

The family that had us over for Christmas (or us plus the mom and her son:)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Menu Plan

Been awhile since I made a menu plan! I've really struggled to figure out the best way to eat/shop/budget since here (in France). I've actually been menu-planning still for the most part, but haven't been posting it here. To make it even more complicated I am going grain/sugar free until the end of January (then to re-evaluate at that point). This is the first time I've significantly changed my diet that hasn't been for weight loss or pregnancy related. I've been struggling with a number of health issues that may or may not be related and thus far medical tests have been really really expensive and have yielded absolutely no answers. I am thinking it is related to my thyroid and/or something to do with adrenal fatigue. and have been reading some about how diet and lifestyle can really affect those.

So...I decided it really couldn't hurt (and really don't know what else to try at this point!) to try some drastic dietary changes.
Today is my second day of no caffeine, no sugar, and no grains. Yesterday I had MAJOR caffeine withdrawal headaches, but today has been much better. I need to work on some good breakfast options because although I love eggs...I like some variety too. Yesterday was also great timing in that our "family" Christmas present arrived: a brand new crockpot (from This will make things a lot easier when I start school (and yes, we decided finally that I would start in January rather than Daniel). So I have some delicious lentil soup in the crockpot right now!

Here is our menu plan, or at least what I have so far:

Thursday (tonight): Lentil ham soup (crockpot):

Friday: Cheeseburgers and Fries, cooked carrots (I'll just skip the buns)
Saturday: Ratatouille
Sunday: Stuffed Peppers in the crockpot (stuffed with onions, ground meat, tomatoes and topped with cheese

What's on your menu this week? Any good grain free recipes for me to try (especially breakfasts or snacks...I'm hungry!;)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Around the house

Too tired to post all the Christmas pictures tonight but wanted to get a few up for ya'll.

Louis is enthusiastic about getting in his 5 a day fruits and legumes (as they say here in France!)

A lot of the basic fruits and veggies are really reasonably priced here which is nice. Most things are NOT, so it is great that at least something healthy is affordable! We eat a huge cucumber, 4-5 carrots, 5+oranges, several bananas daily for snacks in addition to our veggies with meals. Yum!

Cute kids in the tub:

Daddy love. Here I was trying to get a video of Louis laughing at sis brushing her teeth, but it didn't work.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post-Chrismtas catch-up

We had a really nice Christmas and *almost* felt like we were with family since we were able to skype with family some throughout the weekend. We were blessed to have received a ton of toys, books and a few clothes even for the kiddos for free before Christmas so the kids were actually overwhelmed with things to open on the big day but we barely spent any money. We anticipate needing a number of things for the kiddos clothes-wise in the upcoming months so the money we don't tuck away into their savings will go to that (plus any school related expenses Marianna might have).

We also spent the entire day on Christmas day with a French family from our church here after the service. We enjoyed multiple courses of delicious food (first was a variety of breads with pate, salmon, and little meat/prune things on toothpicks with olives and nuts in dishes on the side, next were noodles that were like homemade, turkey in a delicious wine/truffle/broccoli sauce with bread, and then we enjoyed salad with a cheese platter. We then went on a walk with most of the family to the lakeside park. SO beautiful! We can't wait to take our families there when they visit. Really breathtaking. It was super cold though and the girls froze a little:). Then after our "digestion walk" we came back to the house for the bouche de noel log (a chocolate cake) that was A-MAZ-ING! and really strong coffee in tiny cups. After that the girls were gifted with a ton of hand-me-down kids' stuff that the family had been given from some other people (not sure who). Thankfully there were two English speakers (their son who has studied in New Zealand or Australia) and another single lady who spoke great English. We still tried to communicate with the hosts who didn't speak English as much as we could. I told Daniel that would be the way to learn French super fast (living with a French only speaking family for a few months)! We came home around 7:30pm exhausted. It was quite a blessing to be able to do that.

Yesterday we had our "family" Chrismtas and the girls opened their presents from the grandparents and had our special meal for lunch (smoked salmon on fresh bread, special cheese on roasted potatoes, garlic butter green beans and bouche de noel (before we knew we would be having one at the family's house) with bourbon vanilla flavored icecream. It was delicious and fun.

Today we are back to "normal" and figuring out how next week will work with one of us in school plus Marianna going for half days 4 days a week. I rode my bike to school/ the local thrift shop to see if I could find it (with Daniel's careful instructions...he takes good care of me!). It was a cold and long bike ride but I did it! Plus I got my Chrismtas present from Emmaus, the thrift shop...a french outfit! Boots, tapered/skinny type jeans, and a long sweater. I felt very accomplished surviving a hour plus bike ride and finding the school/thrift shop! Good to get out and get some sun/exercise too of course:)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More snow!

We enjoyed the snow while it lasted. I would have loved to take the girls out more, but I've found that the 30 minutes it sometimes takes to get everyone out the door is NOT worth the 15 minutes it takes for one of the three to get too cold, fall in the mud or have to go potty and then we are all back inside! So...we spent more time watching the snow from the inside than actually out in it.

We've been here over a month now (in France) and are learning a lot about life and language. We've had a lot of "firsts" (many embarrassing ones!). Today I rode our shared bike to pick up a few things from the store. Now I appreciate the convenience of having had a car all those years for quick trips! I am sure in a year I will be thinking back to our time here about the convenience of having a store like the one I went to to go to and how convenient that was! It is all perspective, that's for sure. I am learning to be more creative in certain things, especially when I can't make it to the store (or it is overwhelming to try to find what I need/want:). Today it sparked a little creativity in me (which is unusual...I am SO not creative). The results were homemade crayon wedges make from old crayons melted together and little make-up kits for the girls (with q-tips, make-up wipes, chapstick and nail files, all things I had extras of here already). Fun little stocking stuffers and all free! Looking forward to the girls opening their stockings in just a couple I know that it really is fun to be the one watching present opening and not just a kid getting everything!;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Around town

Our apt. building:

Pretty door covered in birds:

M w/ bakery bread:

Our favorite boulangerie (Bakery)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Family fun crawling with Louis


Yesterday we finally had some snow. It was beautiful! We only wish it would stay long enough to play in!

Update: its snowing again today...whoo hoo!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Whiplash giggles

The things you let your kids do when you get to number three!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Zoo and sick at home

The kids and I have been housebound for most of the week either due to illness or rain. I am ready to be healthy and for the rain to stop! Actually, I think we are at least on the upswing for sickness. Last night was the first night the kids weren't up multiple times coughing/crying/coughing in a LONG time. Louis got up only once to nurse, which is good for him (the little turkey!) Below is a new game we came up with in desperation for new play while stuck in the apartment. It is "zoo" and I told the girls to construct a zoo and houses for the animals (with foam blocks). They loved it! We've played "zoo" numerous times this week.

Even Louis digs it;)

Here's a sick Liv drinking her honey lemon drink. She has an especially hard time when sick-her typical night terrors take on epic proportions. One night I was up every 15 or so minutes calming her down until 1 or so in the morning. Needless to say I was super excited to get up only a couple times last night.

Below are some links I wanted to save.

Homemade Crayon Chunks

I've only been able to find a couple varieties of beans here...but if I find more I will be making this:
Gourmet Bean Soup
Our favorite cold weather "meal" here has become homemade soup (unlimited possibilities!) with a fresh loaf of bread from the boulangerie. Soup is generally cheap so the fresh whole grain bread with real butter is affordable in that context. And sooo good!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making homemade playdough

We made homemade playdough today! It was one of the fun Christmas activities I wanted to do with the girls (I know its not really a "Christmas" activity, but wanted to do it for fun while we're cooped up:)

Homemade Playdough

I am sure she tried to eat some, but it is very salty! The pink color and delicious smell came from pomegranate tea! Such a great idea from Tammy's recipes.

We also made the yummiest homemade chicken noodle soup. I used a smoked chicken carcass for the broth (along with my bag of veggie scraps from the freezer for the broth.) Delish!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A day in the life

Here is Louis pulling himself up on the tv. We do have a tv here and use it to watch French childrens' movies and french news to hopefully pick up pronunciation and vocab!

I thought I would try to give you a glimpse into our days here. There is not really a "typical" day yet since we aren't in school. When we start school we will have a typical day to some degree, but I'll give you an idea what we are doing now. Partially because if I were you, I would wonder what in the world we are doing every day in France!

~5:30am: Daniel up
~6:00-6:30: Marianna our morning girl usually wakes up and wakes the rest of the house up. We try to work with her on that, but so far it hasn't been successful;)
~6:30: girls start their "morning routine" while mommy makes breakfast. One of us has to help Olivia through the morning routine (she can do parts of it independently such as putting her bedding away and brushing her teeth, but needs help going potty, getting a new diaper on etc.
7:00 eat breakfast together and do catechisms, memory work, pray etc.
After this the timeline is kind of loose.
~Clean up from breakfast and finish morning routine
~Girls watch 15 minutes of a sermon online(we often use this is practice for sitting still in church/other times we need them to sit still!
~Daniel and I take turns getting ready for the day and I nurse Louis somewhere in here
~Girls color/play playdough at table
~Family cleanup time! We usually do some sort of laundry task(we do 2 loads a day and then all need to be hung up to dry), general pick up, sweeping, and vaccuming during this time
~Girls have free play time or trip to the store/playground until lunch. This would be a time I might sneak in some studying (flashcards, some short videos on french basics) Daniel is often gone to study at this time and returns later in the afternoon unless we have a tutoring session.
11:00-noon: lunch prep and eat lunch (usually leftovers or sandwiches)
noon-1pm: free play/possible cartoon in French
1:00pm start winding down for naps. All three take a rest during this time, generally all sleep at least 45 minutes, even Marianna. Some days we have tutoring for 2 hours during this time.
~When Marianna and Louis wake up (usually by 2:30) Marianna has started some "School time" I'm excited because she's able to do some independently on the computer now. ~We go to "" and she is able to do it mostly by herself after a little introduction to how to use our laptops touchpad.
~4:00pm or so I usually start getting geared up for dinner, we do a pre dinner cleanup and sometimes Daniel takes some/all of the kids out for a walk/to the playground. If this isn't possible I might have them walk a french cartoon or go play in their room. Louis is often taking his third nap of the day (if anyone has any sweet tips for how to lengthen naps instead of having to do three, I'd be grateful! My other two did this naturally but Louis is a very different little one when it comes to sleep!)
~5:00pm or so is dinner, dinnertime devotions and cleanup. Sometime the girls help with dishes and sweeping.
~After dinner is usually just trying to get things ready for the next day, cleaning up and maybe a french video. Sometimes we read books, but often it is unstructured and usually unproductive time for Mommy and daddy! Usually Olivia and Louis are grumpy by this time and take a LOT of attention. So although we'd love to study and get projects done, it just doesn't happen! And since the kiddos have been sick a lot lately and Louis still gets up once or so a night we try to be in bed ourselves by 9:00pm or so (8:00pm is the kids' bedtime). We try to study after they go to bed as we can.

When classes start the kids' schedule will stay the same for the most part except that Marianna may be attending morning classes at a local school as well. The dynamics of having just Louis and Liv at home will be interesting! Hope that gave you an idea of what the children and I do, and of course some days are drastically different such as when we go to the store, bank, or library since we typically have to walk at least 15 minutes to get where we want to go.

Proverbs 31:30

Livvie puts a whole new spin on the "beauty is vain" part of the verse with her nutella covered mouth and little "frohawk".

We work on some verse memory and some catechisms every morning (such as "who is the FIRST and BEST of beings"? : God!) Its amazing what the kiddos retain and hopefully this will help them to be able to discern whether something is truth or not as they get older.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Big kids on the playground

The kids had fun on the "big kids" playground in our apartment complex with daddy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More tree trimming fun

Today we received a fun package from the states from Grandma and Grandpa Gregory! It was full of Christmas fun! We decorated the tree and the girls had a blast "trimming" the apartment. We'll be making Christmas cookies with the M&M's and snowman cookie cutters soon. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Louis Standing

And...the awesomeness that happened afterward:

Rough night for the boy

Louis, like my other children, never stops moving. Except he's SO strong. And so skinny and wiggly. He routinely does the above at night, getting out of his jammies. Tomorrow hopefully I'll be able to post the video we took of his newest trick:)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

City Pictures

Pictures from the downtown area of Chambery.