The 3rd Six Months in France

July 24, 2013


By Gabrielle.

Here is the 3rd report (of five) in my Adventures in France mini-series (here’s number one and two). This covers February through July of 2012. The thing that stands out to me about this report is the Olive Us series. We started that project fairly casually during this time period, and had no idea what a life-changer it would become for us.

I hope you enjoy the report!

We celebrated Chandeleur (the French crepe-eating holiday that was replaced by Groundhog Day in the U.S.). Experienced a rare Normandy snow day. Survived a frozen-pipes-record-breaking-cold-spell.

We talked more about French parenting. We learned about La Petite Souris (a little mouse that comes to French children instead of the toothfairy). And we talked about how French kids eat everything.

I introduced Love the Place You Live and shared images of a chapel turned art space and gathering space.

We visited a lesser known WWII site called Mount Ormel. This is very close to where we lived and was the location of the last battle before the Allies marched down the Champs Élysées, freeing Paris.

We attended Nuit Blanche in Paris (the all-night art exhibit that ranges across the city).

We shared tips on prepping for a family photo shoot.

We shared more French Pharmacy Picks. Got advice from our favorite French pharmacist on how to care for Ben Blair’s beard. And talked about the oldest pharmacy in Florence.

Visit to Chartres03

We visited Chartres Cathedral.

We featured our favorite local antique shop (called a brocante). Attended the Mardi Gras parade at school. And attended a community philosophy lecture + dinner.

We grew nostalgic over some of our travels and remembered handmade shoes in Barcelona and charming bikes in Italy.

We made an Easter Tree. Marked Babar’s (the famous French elephant) 80th Anniversary. Gave a language learning report. And talked about the family car we drove in France.

We went to Stonehenge in England — just a short over-the-weekend trip.

Easter Egg Hunt at Eiffel Tower01

We had an Easter Egg Hunt at the Eiffel Tower. Full report + photos here. And we finally climbed to the top of the tower, too! Here are our 4 tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower with kids.

We went to Rome — arriving on Easter Sunday! We ate lots of gelato. Visited the Sistene Chapel. And saw all the sites. Here’s our post on Rome With Kids: 7 Don’t Miss Activities, where we report about our trip.

We dreamed up Ben Blair’s Fjordieth. Started shooting Olive Us. (This is epic!) Explored a local cider farm. Said goodbye to my sister when she moved home from Paris. Sad face.

We decided to stay in France one more year, or 2 1/2 years total. We gave lilies of the valley on May Day. I went to Miami for Mom 2.0.

We launched Olive Us! Here’s the post about the very first episode. As I mentioned above, this turned out to be a game changer for us. We ended up filming 41 episodes over our remaining time in France (we’ve shared 24 so far).

I went to Berlin, Germany where I was the Keynote Speaker at The Hive conference.

Deauville, France | Design Mom

My niece, Roxcy, stayed with us during March, April and May. To end her 3-months on a high note, we had an epic last weekend — we made a trip to the Loire Valley, took a special visit to the American Military Cemetery in Normandy for Memorial Day, and spent a day in Deauville and Honfleur.

We reported on a local Vide Grenier. And wrapped up our school year with another school report. We went nuts for the fields of poppies — and shared a tutorial on how to preserve them.

New lavender shrubs were planted at La Cressonnière. We shared our graham cracker substitute. Talked about stamped cookies. And what a visit to a French Bakery is like.

Then, we flew to America to spend the month of July! During our month in the U.S., we spent the 4th of July at a Blair Reunion. Took the kids to a Maynard Dixon exhibit.

The Story of Kish - A video by OliveUs.TV

We filmed 8 episodes of Olive Us all over Utah. A red rock car wash, an ancient desert epic, a ghost town tour by Zion National Park. Rock climbing in Rock Canyon, a pottery lesson in Central Utah. And a mountain picnic in Cache Valley — the very northernmost part of the State.

Then we went to Colorado, where we helped our cousins clean up a toilet-papering prank. And mourned with fellow-citizens in Aurora.

On July 30th, we flew back to France.

And that completes the 3rd six months we spent in France. These posts continue to be therapeutic for me. It’s so good to take time and remember what we did. And it reassures me we took full advantage of our time there.

Does anything from this report stand out to you?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Regina July 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

That picture of June running on the beach! I had to skip back to your first post to see just how much she grew! My little girl turns two in a couple of weeks and I am missing the baby months so much. I’ve taken to cradling her in my arms and asking her to pretend to be a “tiny baby”, which is basically her curling up and being still for about two seconds ;p

I was lucky enough to live in Spain (4 years) when I was young. We were looking at family albums last night and wow, all the places that we went to! It was one fun childhood, and your France round-up is inspiring me to give the same to my child. I may not currently have the means to go to Europe, but my husband and I were discussing just a couple of days ago that we should travel locally more often.

Thanks for continually inspiring!


2 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

Most of June’s life has been spent in France. Amazing to think about!


3 Leandra July 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I am surprised to find out my children and I have been watching your “Olive Us” episodes right from the beginning…and I’ve been sharing them with everyone I meet (virtually!). Love your clips, and your family.


4 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:24 am

Thank you so much, Leandra! That means a lot.


5 Clothilde July 25, 2013 at 3:56 am

Merci beaucoupagain for your post about my parents’ brocante. We’ve been reading your blog since you visited us.
Bon emménagement à Oakland !


6 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

It’s still one of my favorite spots! Once our cottage is in order, you can bet I’ll be visiting your parents brocante over and over again while we furnish the house. : )


7 Birdy& Bambi July 25, 2013 at 6:21 am

That looks so lovely. Especially the summer pictures.
Finally summer arrived in Germany as well:

Love from Germany,
Birdy and Bambi


8 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

Summer in Germany looks stunning!


9 Alison Chino July 25, 2013 at 7:09 am

I am LOVING these retrospectives. I have been following along the whole time and I love seeing how much you and your family managed to fit into 2 1/2 years!

We’re moving to Scotland for 3 yrs next month and I hope we will be able to have many, many adventures as well! Y’all have inspired us to get out and see as much as possible!

Also, The Chinos are BIG FANS of Olive Us! :)


10 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am

Three years in Scotland? How exciting!! So many adventures are headed your way. Wonderful!

(And thanks for being Olive Us fans!!)


11 This girl loves to talk July 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I’m tired just from reading the report! You guys are amazing.
At our family Christmas dinner we put up the photos from the year on the big screen randomly popping up. Its amazing how often the kids forget, ohhh and ahhh, and yell… oh mum remember that!!” We do it as a family tradition now just so they can remember they do have a great life, great family, and so they can learn to be grateful for all they have!


12 Design Mom July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am

What a genius idea! I think I must copy you.


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