Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas 2012 in Samoens

So while I'm stuffing my cheeks with chocolate truffles, I've decided to write a little post about last year's Christmas.  It's that time of year again, and with each coming year, I dread Christmas a little more.  It's become so twisted with the consumerism side of it, that it's quite distasteful to me.  We are now focusing on fewer presents (mostly books and good quality toys like lego), and "experiences" like a trip somewhere, or hand-made presents.  I am avoiding the stores like a plague; online ordering is fantastic.  And I have done most of the limited shopping I had to do in October, thank you very much....

One very nice thing that takes place before Christmas every year, is that Jakub's and my workplaces host a Christmas party event for the kids.  Last year we signed up the kids again, but unfortunately it was in the canteen restaurant and there was not quite enough space to accomodate all the kids and adults.  We had to fight our way through the crowds to get food and drinks and kids had to stand in huge line-ups to do activities.  This year it should be better as each workplace is now organising separate events.  I was surprised that Anna was patient enough to wait about 20 minutes for face painting... shows what girls are willing to do for beauty.

Anna and her friend Annabelle

French Santa (Pere Noel)

Christmas is not Christmas without baking...I made these cookies for the Christmas fundraiser in Tommy's school.

This particular year, we have reserved a stay at a ski resort in Samoens, Savoie, for a week long holiday during Christmas where we met up with my dad and his girlfriend.   Unfortunately, we were hit by THE stomach flu (this is the second time we had a really bad one).  Jakub managed to get through it before we left home, however, Tommy and I were lucky enough to get it just the day of departure.  Well, I spent 90% of the week in bed, unable to eat food and lost roughly 6 kilograms.  Poor Tommy was not doing well either.  He even couldn't hold in the Christmas eve dinner, and unwrapping presents was not so much fun in that state.  It was quite a shame that this hampered the Christmas spirit, but I think the remaining group members had a decent time on the mountain even though it rained a bit one day.

Christmas eve - looking quite pale.

My dad loves cooking (and eating!) so when he's around I have the luxury of not having to be in the kitchen.  This is traditional deep fried Carp that we have with potato salad.

Ready for dinner.

Being a very keen cook, my dad always likes to bring his own food supplies anywhere he travels.  So this time around among other things he brought carp, Czech beer, and even.....the Christmas tree (as I was instructed not to buy one).  However, I think he must have picked it out in the dark, because when we untied it, the thing was totally warped and pathetic looking.  On top of that, the tree stump on the bottom was super fat, so it did not fit into the tree stand he had with him and without an axe, it would take a day to shave it down using a knife...So my daddy improvised...  He used a bucket and filled it with full beer bottles, shoved the tree inside, and voila, there you have it, the worst looking thing, I have seen.  I was not very impressed, and when I was alone, I used some wrapping paper to cover up the beers, because the "tree stand" was sticking out like a sore thumb.

Our little deformed Christmas tree.   After adding decorations and shooting it from the right angle, it looks OK.

Lego friends!

My dad admiring the ham leg I brought him from Spain.

After our trip, we went back to Grenoble for the New Year's eve and spent the count down at our favourite viewing spot above the city.  We were expecting some nice fireworks, but it seemed like there was not too much going on.  

Happy New Year 2013!
Now that 2013 is almost over, I can say that it has been a fun year, but it did involve many injuries.  So I'm hoping 2014 will be full of healing and more fun trips around Europe :D


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Snow shoeing and skiing in one day - near Grenoble.

It would be easy do yet another facebook post but I'm not a huge fan of that.  It takes less effort and is not as personal, but I do it when I don't have time (seems to be more often lately).  I feel like when I write a blog post, it is looked at by people who are really interested.

Lately I've been consumed by the whirlwind of work and other miscellaneous tasks related to day to day routines such as homework with kids, cleaning the house, doing chores, etc. etc.  On top of that as some of you may know I have an ongoing shoulder injury (and so does Jakub), so the past climbing season was non-existant and I had to switch to "leg activities" such as hiking in the summer.  So when we finally had some snow in the mountains, Jakub and I got quite excited, because skiing is also a "leg sport" and as long as you don't fall badly (on your injured shoulder), should be OK, right?

So under this category we can list snow shoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, ski touring...and that's plenty to keep us busy this winter I hope.

Yesterday I have had enough of everything - work, the smog, the city, the traffic (jams), stress, routine, pre-Christmas crazy hoards of people in the stores, and on and on we can go....  I don't work on Wednesday mornings and usually I spend that time grocery shopping, and lately it was more like wandering around stores semi Christmas shopping (wasting time!!! YES!!!).  And so I had an idea.  I thought it would be really cool to just get away from all this, get out in the mountains by myself.  I thought why not, why not be just a little selfish?!  And so I made my little plan and then stuck to it.  And it was really great.

6:30 AM - wake up, get myself ready and get the kids ready for school

7:50 AM - drop off kids at school

8:30 AM - arrive at Lans en Vercors mountain base (La Sierre)

8:45 AM - hike up to one of the summits (roughly 320m elev.)

9:45 AM - hike down, and then slide down the rest on a garbage bag (fun part!)

10:15 AM - drive back to Grenoble and buy baguettes (note - this is a very important part of the day here in France :)

11:30 AM - pick up kids from school

Well hello there sunshine!  Nice to meet up with you at the top.

Looking down onto Grenoble, Belledonne mountains, and Mont Blanc.  Yes, that is smog down below.

I loved my little snow shoe hike.  It was so quiet up there, just the mountain and I, the crunching of the snow under my feet and a cool breeze in the air.  Really simple, yet so satisfying and peaceful.  I did not meet a sole until I got to the top.  This is where some ski touring people started getting there as well.

The day did not finish here though.  We had lunch, picked up Jakub and then drove to the Belledone mountains (opposite side of Grenoble) to the Les Sept Laux and did downhill skiing for the rest of the day!

There is a decent amount of snow up there but yes, we do need more.

The ski team at Les Sept Laux

On the chair lift.

Ski season is starting.

Vercors in the distance.

In motion.

Sun set over the Vercors range....this is where I was snow shoeing this morning!!

I had a great time today and really look forward to using my time more efficiently like this in the near future.  I hope this is an inspiration to some moms out there :)