Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Lovely Stop in Fairytale Colmar

I have always wanted to visit Colmar, France! So it was a joy when we looked at a map and realized we would literally drive right through it from our ski vacation in the Vosges Mountains down to the Swiss Alps!

We parked and walked without a plan....my favorite way to travel. The half-timbered architecture was gorgeous and storybook -- I couldn't stop taking pictures. The kids and I visited a used bookstore and we let them pick out postcards, which they love to do wherever we travel.

Soon we found the Eglise St. Martin, Colmar's medieval cathedral. It transports you for a few minutes to another time.
Directly across the street, we found a perfect restaurant with a view for moules and frites (mussels and french fries), then stopped in a bakery for a slice of Black Forest cake before we hopped back in the car.... I would love to come back a little later in the season to see all the flowers and canals. It was the perfect quick stop!
Black Forest Cake (or ForĂȘt Noire Gateau)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Charlie's 8!!

We celebrated Charlie's 8th birthday a week early since February 20 fell in the middle of the kids' Carnival Break from school. Talk about FUN! He invited his buddies from around the world to an American Football themed party (we had to clarify, otherwise everyone would assume it was a soccer party!). The Green Bay Packers took center stage. 

We started the day off with a bang, surprising Charlie with a brand new bike!

We used my eyeliner pencil for Eyeblack on the 13 boys as they walked in the door and colored different NFL team logos. Then Coach Rob explained the basics of football to this sweet international group of boys -- even some of the American kids have been out of the USA long enough that they enjoyed a refresher.
Excitedly waiting for guests to arrive! The first one pulls up!

Charlie, Madeline and I made fake American money out of green paper and passed it out to guests to buy hotdogs and chips at the "concession stand." We played hot potato (which we called Pass the Football), with the Sports Center theme song playing in the background, then dangling donuts and Pin the Football in the Field Goal.
This may be one of my all time favorite pictures!
Opening gifts....
Next, we cut the cake and sang Happy Birthday to our sweet boy! In Luxembourg, kids say, "Are 'ya 1? Are 'ya 2?" all the way up to the birthday boy's age, when they all yell, "Stop!"

Then Rob and I just looked at each other -- we still had an hour to fill with a houseful of rowdy (but super sweet) boys! So we told the kids it was scrimmage time. In the Luxembourg's wet February chill, the boys sprinted out the door and played without interruption for 45 minutes! It was amazing to listen to kids from kid from Iceland, Hungary and Japan form teams, work together, and use ADORABLE football terminology for the first time ever.
Every guest took home a stuffed American football -- an extremely rare find in Europe period, but I actually found them at IKEA?! Oh it was so fun!!

On Charlie's real birthday, we were in France's Vosges Mountains for a little ski vacation. Charlie woke up to homemade crepes, hot cocoa and Star Wars jello for breakfast. Bitsy sang him an adorable 2-year-old rendition of Happy Birthday all day (and for several weeks after). It was too rainy to ski that day, so Rob took the big kids on a birthday adventure into town for plastic bow and arrows that absolutely made their day. Charlie was so happy with all the birthday love he received from friends and family on email and FaceTime.

Oh Charlie! You are such a generous, sweet, kind, sensitive, creative and hilarious goofball. We adore your easygoing little personality and your HUGE sense of humor -- being your mom and dad is one of life's greatest blessings. I love watching you create games on the trampoline for hours, play soccer with kids who don't even speak english, and hold doors for strangers.

The way Charlie adores his siblings, using his own allowance to buy them gifts he knows they would enjoy, is such a treat. He even wanted to invite his lovely teacher, Mrs. Dackner, to his birthday party. We have loved watching you grow these eight years! Happy birthday, Charlie. We ALL love you so much!