Summer visitors

This week was a great week for visitors. One of my mission companions came by with her family on the way from Oregon to Disneyland. I haven’t seen them since we visited them in Portland on our way from Seattle to California. She was in the hospital after having her fifth child, who is now 3. It was great to catch up with them and see their family thriving and growing up. Our kids are getting so old!

IMG_2541 IMG_2542One of my great friends from study abroad in London stayed with us a couple nights this week. She was in town for a wedding. A few years ago, we also found out that she and Erik are third cousins. It was fun to catch up and have some time with her this week.

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Lots of goodbyes today :(

Today was the day that Brandon and Jameson Welch got to fly to Salt Lake. Tomorrow they will start their two weeks at Sky Mountain Ranch. It is fun to see these boys growing up and growing in confidence. It seemed quite normal to be taking them to the airport and sending them off together to board their plane and figure out all the travel on their own. They are 14 and 15 years old now. We will definitely miss them, but I wouldn’t have them go anywhere else or participate in anything better. They will have two weeks of hiking, working, playing, growing, learning, friendships, and fun. Brandon took his guitar with him on his back. They had their backpacks and gear. What great boys!
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Tonight was the send off for the Pearson family. They have been in Palo Alto for three years. I feel like they are members of our family. They are heading off to Colorado for more medical training. It is hard to say goodbye to so many great people. But I am excited for them in their new adventures. We had a bunch of families get together for dinner and goodbyes. Love these ladies!

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Happy Birthday Brandon!

We celebrated Brandon’s birthday in three places. First was in Paris, the night before we flew out. We picked up a cake that was really a Father’s Day cake, but it looked delicous, and shared it with the Flanigans before we flew home.

IMG_2491Then we had a birthday breakfast in his honor at the Westerlinds the morning after we got home. We had pancakes in Brandon’s honor.

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Then we celebrated at home with a few gifts. We love Brandon, and he is 15!

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Home from France and England!

We had to rise early to get to the airport for our flight. We took a taxi and it was raining a bit. We got there on time, and the flight was delayed. We ate some food and read and waited. It is Brandon’s birthday. We gave him a puzzle book and some treats.

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After we boarded we had our movies and food and sleep time. I was tired. I watched Lincoln and Pretty in Pink and slept. The kids had time for games and movies and a little sleep. This is Brandon’s longest birthday ever.

We arrived home around 4:30 and everyone wanted to go to sleep around 5:30 but we got Subway sandwiches and around 6:30 got ready for bed. The three youngest girls fell asleep on the couch reading around then. I went to bed just after 7. Brandon was at his friend’s house and went to bed the latest after watching the Giants game. Wish we could have celebrated more for him, but we were just too tired!

Last day in Paris! Louvre, Eiffel Tower

Our last full day in Paris! We did some of the biggies. We took the metro to the Louvre.IMG_2430We waited in a bit of a line to get into the Louvre, but it was in an underground mall, so it was tolerable. Then we just decided to head straight for the Mona Lisa and see that section of the Louvre. The building itself is massive and full of amazing art at every turn. The Mona Lisa was definitely a gathering place.

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IMG_0492 IMG_0510 IMG_0509 IMG_0507We went out to the Tuileries gardens for a stroll and to find pastries and lunch. Then we spent some time on the carousel and they even had a trampoline park!IMG_0517 IMG_0518

IMG_2435 IMG_2436 IMG_2439 IMG_2438 IMG_2448 IMG_2442 IMG_2441 IMG_2440 DSC_7258 DSC_7278 DSC_7276 DSC_7269 DSC_7267 DSC_7265We stopped by the place de la Concorde.

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There was some rain in the sky, so we had our umbrellas we had borrowed from the Flanigans. We headed over to the Eiffel Tower.IMG_2450 IMG_2466 IMG_2465 IMG_2460 IMG_2454 IMG_2452 IMG_2451IMG_0525 IMG_0521DSC_7302 DSC_7336 DSC_7328 DSC_7307

Robin, Maren, Brandon, and Erik walked up to the first level of the Eiffel Tower. It started to really rain, so Nicole, Camille and I sat underneath and found some souvenirs.

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It was raining and we went toward the metro to find dinner.IMG_2469 IMG_2472 IMG_2471We decided to go to the Champs Elysees and find a restaurant. We found a nice meal and then Nicole, Camille, and I did some shopping while the others headed home.IMG_2473 IMG_2476 IMG_2474DSC_7360 DSC_7368 DSC_7361We walked home and saw this sign calling us home.IMG_2489We had a cake with the Flanigans to say goodbye and celebrate Brandon’s birthday early.DSC_7372 DSC_7377 DSC_7374 DSC_7373We loved these kids and Jennifer and Rob have been so generous to let us stay with them. What a blessing to us! The kids are so cute and fun. And now to pack! Paris was enchanting and delicious and so interesting.

Church, Notre Dame, Amorino, Ste. Chappelle

This morning Maren woke up not feeling so well, so I stayed home from church with Maren and Robin. Erik took the other kids to church in the Paris ward. It was a very international ward with translation into Chinese, English, and of course it was in French. They saw the Mickelsens, the BYU study abroad group and the Handleys, and other people they knew.

After lunch we went to Notre Dame to meet the Handleys.IMG_2392 IMG_2398 IMG_2396 IMG_2395 IMG_2394

We walked around the church. Maren was feeling better enough to come along. After the church, we walked over to the see the amazing stain glass windows in Ste. Chappelle.IMG_2399DSC_7160 DSC_7194 DSC_7177 DSC_7175 DSC_7169 DSC_7167 DSC_7166 DSC_7164

Then some of us went up to see the gargoyles on top of Notre Dame, and others went over to the bridges over the Seine and got some crepes.

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We met back up and got some crepes for dinner followed by some ice cream at Amorinos. They make flowers with the ice cream out of different flavors.

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We walked down to the river to eat our ice cream and enjoyed the evening.

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We went over to the lock bridge where people put locks to commemorate their love.

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More views of the Notre Dame from that angle.

IMG_2419 IMG_2429 IMG_2428 We had another full day in Paris and headed back to the Flanigans. It was great to spend some of the day with our good friends.

 

 

 

Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur

We had our first full day in Paris. It is good to be here. The kids are a bit tired of going here, there, and everywhere, so we gave them the morning off. Erik, Nicole, and I headed over to Musee d’Orsay for the morning. It is always a feast for the eyes to be in the building and see all the Impressionist art. We had our first ride on the Metro.

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We enjoyed taking our time and seeing the art and building. We got home and packed the kids up to go to the park for a picnic with the Flanigans and the Halls. The Halls are members of the church, another American family. We ate sandwiches and played and talked.

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IMG_2380 IMG_2382 IMG_2383After lunch we decided to head down from the Flanigans to the Arc de Triomphe. We got tickets to hike to the top. Another dizzying spiral staircase to great heights. Makes me nervous. But the views from the top are fabulous.

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Camille could tell I was nervous and came down to the gift shop with me. We shopped a bit, and then got back on the metro to go to Sacre Coeur. We had dinner in the Montmartre section with some live singing and crowds of people in the background.

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Then we headed over to ride the tram to the top where the church is. Sacre Coeur is another amazing church and has great views of of the city. DSC_7099

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Then we headed down the long steps to a carousel below.

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Before we head back home on a bus, we had some crepes and stopped in a chocolate shop and saw chocolate sculptures and got some treats.

DSC_7155A fantastic day in Paris!

 

 

 

 

 

Mont St. Michel and Versailles

It was time to say goodbye to our retreat in the countryside. We packed up and closed down the house. We got on the road up to Mont St. Michel, a little city and abbey on an island off the coast. We didn’t have time to explore, just to see it and take pictures.

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We decided to try and get to Versailles by the end of the day. So we took off, found some food and gas, and then drove the 4 hours to Versailles. Just a couple wrong turns. And we came as most of the crowds were leaving. It was half price after 5:30, and we only had an hour to explore, but that was about the threshold of the youngest of the kids, and we were planning to explore the beautiful gardens for an hour or two.

We got in and headed to the Hall of Mirrors and the Kings and Queens chambers. This is quite a palace!

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When we went out to see the gardens, it was closed for a light and fountain show. We were so disappointed. Nicole was excited to take pictures, such a bummer! We regrouped with our disappointment and headed back into Paris.