Hello, Friends. How are you? You may have noticed I unintentionally took a week off. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

-All my kids are here! I already mentioned Ralph’s arrival on the 16th. Then Olive arrived on Saturday the 21st, and Maude arrived a week ago today. You should see me grinning just thinking about how wonderful it is to have my kiddos all in one place. I am in full mother-hen mode.

-Christmas! We had a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We spent both with local friends, and there was lots of singing and laughing and delicious food — plus a Secret Santa gift exchange with our dear friends, the Pereiras. My brother Josh and his wife Erin sent a big box of American groceries as a Christmas gift — like boxed Kraft mac & cheese, and packets of ranch dressing mix. Oh my goodness BEST GIFT.

-On Christmas Day in the afternoon, we went to see the new house — it was the first time for Maude and Olive to see it in person, and it was so fun to see their reactions.

-On Friday and Saturday after Christmas, we worked in the attic at the new house and completed a big section of ceiling insulation. It’s super exciting to see progress!

-Yesterday (Sunday), we drove to Brittany, which is the region just south and west of Normandy, and we are staying at a small castle for the next few days! (You can see it in the photo at the top.) It’s a great set-up for our family. There’s a big room that sleeps six, and then right next to it a small room for two. Finding accommodations for 8 of us is always tricky, so we love whenever we find an option like this.

-On the drive yesterday, I started reading The Power by Naomi Alderman and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it last night and have been looking up discussions and reviews about it today. Have you read it? Did you like it? If you have any particularly good writings about the book to recommend, I’d love the links, please.

-Today we visited the medieval town of Dinan and took Rick Steve’s self-guided walking tour through the town. Oh my goodness it was COLD. But we bundled up and went for it. It’s so crazy reading about the dates of the buildings and structures — this church is a thousand years old, that clock is 500 years old. My brain can barely fathom it.

-One of the things we’re craving is watching movies in a movie theater. And thankfully, there’s a biggish city called Rennes about 40 minutes away that offers lots of movies in “version originale” which means they are in English with French subtitles. This is something that is more unusual than you might expect. In France, dubbing is more popular than subtitles — they’ll show current movies, but the voices of the actors and actresses are dubbed over with voices of French speakers, and there are no subtitles on the screen. This means that familiar faces are on the screen — like George Clooney or Viola Davis — but their voices aren’t used. Anyway, we’re heading into Rennes tomorrow to see a movie (maybe two!). And we hear there’s a Uniqlo in town too, which is cause for celebration. Hah! I have missed having easy access to Uniqlo.

-Since Friday the 20th, after I hit publish on my blog post, I have been almost totally offline (not counting Netflix!). I’ve done a little bit of checking into Twitter, but mostly not. And I haven’t posted to Instagram at all — in fact I’m pretty sure I haven’t even opened Instagram. So far, I’ve never planned an intentional social media break, but this unintentional one has felt really good.

It might sound odd, but I think having my whole family here makes me want to post less. It’s like I’m feeling selfish and don’t want to share this precious time with my kids; I just want to soak it up and keep it for myself.

-I’m very much in denial that today is December 30th. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often a week of self-reflection for me, but I find I’m not feeling very introspective at the moment. And I find myself avoiding anything along the lines of a-look-back-at-the-year, or a-look-back-at-the-decade. At the same time, I’m bookmarking stuff like that, assuming I’ll go back to read them at some point.

I have a feeling like I’ll regret it if I don’t look back on the year. Maybe I’ll do something like that tomorrow. But right now, we are gathering for a family meeting with the kids — and maybe we’ll start a puzzle.

How about you? How was your week? Are you celebrating any holidays this month? Are you traveling? Spending time with family? Do you have work off? Or extra projects this week? Are you working on your resolutions? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Come back tomorrow for a home tour.