Thursday, January 22, 2015

A day trip to Montenvers.

In the Fall, when one of Dan's best friends from college was out to visit us, we decided to take a day trip to Chamonix and Mont Blanc, something that is not uncommon for us to do any given weekend day. However, we wanted to make it special and change things up a bit. We decided to do something that was new to us as well as our friend, allowing us to see one of our favorite towns in France in a new light. 

You may remember from a post a few months back when we were thwarted from taking the telecabine up to a popular hiking point on Mont Blanc, called Plan de l'Aiguille du Midi (2317 m.), because Oswin was too young. Someone suggested that next time we try to take the train up to a different point on the mountain, known as Montenvers (1913 m). Well, this is the story of that train ride. 

When we arrived at Chamonix we were amazed at the difference from when we had been there just two weeks before. On the occasion of that thwarted telecabine ride we found a surprisingly 70 degree day, one that far from had a shortage of sun or greenery. Fast forward to two weeks later when I almost slipped and fell getting of the car because of an icy patch. It was so so SO very cold. There was snow and ice in certain spots. It was fast becoming ski season in Chamonix, and all we were missing was a big pot of fondue to warm our bones.

After walking through the town a bit, we headed over to the train station to purchase our tickets and waited for our cogwheel ride. The journey took about 30 minutes, and the scenery was beautiful, though Oswin was far more interested in the people on the train than the surrounding Alps. 

We arrived at the end at the Montenvers station to see one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Just look at that peak! 

It took my breathe away. I hadn't researched anything about Montenvers before heading up, and its sheer beauty was a very welcome surprise. There are steps leading down to the glacier below, but as it was slippery and we were sans appropriate footwear (and avec enfant), we decided to wait to head down that path until things begin to thaw in the spring or early summer.

We stayed at the top for an hour or so, explored a crystal cave, took lots of pictures, and had a hot chocolate, before heading back down the mountain to the slightly warmer Chamonix. The sun was beginning to set, so after a little more wandering around this alpen ski town we headed back to the car to make the drive home.

If you're heading to Chamonix I highly recommend taking the trip up to Montenvers. There was no age minimum for kids, so it's nice to have a kid-friendly option for going a bit higher on the mountain. It's beauty is awe-inspiring, there are paths to be explored, and you might as well as see this beautiful glacier before they all become a thing of the past. I will say that if you're going with kids, leave the stroller at the bottom or in your hotel. We saw several people really struggling with their strollers, both in finding a way to fit on the cogwheel train with the other passengers, and trying to maneuver the icy paths. Carriers all the way for those babes, if you ask me.

A la prochaine friends...


Oh, and hey, speaking of carriers, don't forget that we've got our first giveaway going on right now for a Sakura Bloom ring sling! This giveaway will close at 11:59 EST on Friday the 23rd, so head on over to get those entries in now! You can enter once, or as many as eight times, depending on your social media following/liking/etc. preferences. Here's the link to enter!  Bon chance!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Giveaway: Sakura Bloom Ring Sling

We've reason to celebrate here at I'm an Outlaw, Not a Hero, and that reason is our upcoming 5 year Blog-a-versary! That's right friends, on the 25th of January we will have been on this little slice of the interwebs for a big five years, and what better time to announce our very first giveaway?

You guys may remember that last year both Dan and I were picked to be Sling Diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. It was a big time honor and we were really excited to be part of such an inspiring project with some really cool babywearing parents. I had followed along with the Sling Diaries long before Oswin was even a twinkle in our collective eyes, so to be chosen to be a part of it was a dream come true. We wrote on six different themes of parenting over a six month period and took pictures to accompany our entries, both of which we will always treasure. Sakura Bloom has been really good to us over the past year, not only through their amazing product that we swear by (I didn't even bring a stroller to the US for this two-week trip!), but also through their generosity and the community of babywearing parents that they have helped bring together through social media. Now they've given us the chance to be good to you too. We're giving away a Classic Linen ring sling in the color known as Acadia (seen in the picture below), courtesy of Sakura Bloom, to one lucky reader! 

Pic via here. 

The great thing about these slings is that you don't need to purchase various sizes as your child grows. Newborn to 25 lbs, they've got you covered with one universal sling. No inserts needed. No only using it until six months and having to buy a larger style. It's one piece of babywearing equipment, that is quite stylish, and can easily be rolled up into a diaper bag, used as a scarf, nursing cover, etc. Great for moms, dads, grandparents, babysitters, essentially anyone who is caring for a child. 

Not a parent? Have a friend who is expecting? Try to win it for them! Or enter and try to win it for your local babywearing lending library and help introduce someone new to the wonderful world of babywearing. 

This giveaway will close at 11:59 PM on Friday, January 23, 2015, at which time the winner will be randomly chosen. Bon chance! 

And hey, thanks for sticking around and listening to me ramble on for the last five years. I have so much love for all of you!

A la prochaine friends...

Here's how to enter: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lyon: The Christmas Market that wasn't.

We've been lucky for most of our past European Christmas Market excursions over the years to find that most exceed our expectations...but what about the ones that don't? Well, I hate to end the 2013 European Christmas Market tour on a bit of bummer, but Lyon, you're making me do it. 

Just a few days before Christmas we decided to squeeze in just one more Christmas Market, and as we hadn't returned to Lyon in almost 2 years, it seemed as good a reason as any to make a day trip to the gastronomic capital of France. We researched online that they hold quite a large Christmas Market, and it seemed like a great way to round out the year.

We stopped for a quick "taco" (which was actually more like a rectangular burrito with potatoes inside) at "Starting Coffee," mostly because they had Wi-Fi and we needed to access a map online. The "taco" was surprisingly good, even if it wasn't actually a taco, and the gentleman behind the counter was very nice. We told him we were going to the Christmas Market, and he warned us against it. "It's not very good. People have been very disappointed. There is a better one across town." 


We finished our "tacos" and decided to check the market out anyway, as we had made the trek to Lyon for that very reason. But oh was local wisdom ever correct. There was a tent with about 20 vendors, none selling anything Christmas related. Aside from a man selling some nice Jura wood toys (whom we bought a little car from), everything else fell along the lines of street market wares. In addition there was one vin chaud stand selling pretty horrible vin chaud, a few food stands, and a kind of petting area with farm animals and pony rides.

Yep. we drove an hour and half to see farm animals. Because we don't see enough cows, chickens, horses, goat and donkeys everyday.

(Who am I kidding, I can never see enough donkeys.)

The animals were the big attraction, and the three of us just kind of stood there looking at each other. 

So this was the Lyon Christmas Market. A bit of a bust.

Truth be told, the market was apparently spread throughout the city in small clusters like this, however we trekked a large part of that city and came across no other segments of the market. No signs directing you to find it. No lights up to spot from far away. We literally searched high and low (Lyon has many steps), and we found nothing. Even our burrito place was closed. Lyon was against us that day.

We didn't let the non-market scenario get us too down though. Lyon is really fun to walk around, and quite the exercise. We went to a children's book shop and picked up a few last minute Christmas presents for Oswin, and wandered around a used book shop and found a copy of "Frankenstein" in French for a friend back home. It made my heart so happy to see how bustling the children's book shop was. Parents were literally elbowing each other to get to books, grabbing piles of books and carefully reading through them before making purchases. Two days before Christmas and the love of reading was still alive and well in France. 

We walked around different parts of the city then we had two years ago, finding the main shopping area and plenty of festive lights...none of which were attached to a Christmas Market. Papa picked up some of Mama's favorite tea for Santa to put in her stocking, since Santa was pretty busy. Dan is such a good helper.

Oh Lyon, we love you so, but we will not be returning for your Christmas Market next year...wherever the rest of it was hiding. 

A la prochaine friends...


Also, keep an eye out for Tuesday's post, as I'll be hosting my first giveaway! Exciting right? And hint hint, it rhymes with "Bakura Sloom." Wink wink!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Over the ocean and through the fog

Phew. I feel as if I'm coming out of some sort of physically painful and mind numbing fog, that horrible fog known as jet lag. A jet lag made worse by the company of a toddler's jet lag. Which has been made more difficult by the fact that Dan is far away, and I'm lone she-wolf for the next week and a half. 

That's right folks, for those of you who follow along on the ole Instagram account, Les Duggans made the trip across the ocean about five days ago: Dan to work at the lab in Chicago, and Oswin and I to visit my parent's at the beach in Southern New Jersey. We were really excited to make the trip, but there were moments at the beginning where I had just wished we had remained back in SwitzerFrance, to be completely honest. Despite the fact that I have my parent's to help me out here, there are times where Oswin only wants Mama, and other times where she is very definitely missing her Papa. She did a great job during the 9 hour flight, no crying, no fussing, and was a trooper for the two hour ride that followed from the airport, but this kind of travel can be hard when running the show solo. I honestly do not know how you single parent's do it, you amaze me and you are my heros.

But now the day is seeming brighter, mostly because I think Oswin and I are through the worst of the jet lag. We're actually going to leave the house today to walk down to the beach and see the ocean, and I'm even thinking about going for a run today or tomorrow on the boardwalk, which means I'm beginning to feel a little more like myself. We're missing the hell out of Dan, but this trip is flying past, so I know we'll see him soon. 

On that note, let me tell you a story. On Oswin's first trip to the United States, about a year ago when she was a wee 5 month old, Dan spent the majority of our trip working in North Jersey, and Oswin and I were with my parent's in South Jersey. The trip was beyond exhausting and I spent half of it in tears, between dealing with my own jet lag, the jet lag of my infant, and dealing with the rigours of keeping my nursing supply up to the level it needed to be. Dan had planned to come down and spend the weekend at my parent's house after those first five days of work, and I welcomed the idea with desperately open arms. I needed a break. I needed a hug. I needed some time to eat a meal and drink a cup of coffee without interruption. Dan pulled up in his rental car and we were all eagerly anticipating how excited Oswin would be to see her Papa, whom had never spent 5 days away from our little dragon. Dan walked in the door, Oswin took one look at him and WAILED. Wailed like a freaking banshee. She was so angry at him, you could almost hear her screaming the words "You bastard! Where have you been?!" through her infant screams. Anytime he came near her or held her she screamed at him, but if she was handed off to me she immediately stopped, and commenced scowling at him. Girlfriend was pissed. This continued for two solid hours. My mom cried, because she felt so bad for Dan. 

The following morning all was well and forgotten, and she was back to cooing and loving on her Papa like nothing had happened. Philadelphia is obviously very much in her blood: we need to yell, we need to get it out, we need you to know that we are pissed at you and here are all the reasons, and then we're cool. But man oh man, hell hath no fury like little Smaug's scorn. 

Which leads me to this interesting tidbit: when we meet up with Dan at the airport, we will not have seen him in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. We won't see him until the terminal. May God have mercy on his soul (and the souls of all those waiting to board our flight and hear our potentially screaming and pissed off toddler).

But that's worry for a week from now. Instead I'm going to concentrate on heading down to the beach with my little dragon, and finding some really great shells to collect. Maybe we can offer them as a peace offering to Dan once the yelling has subsided.

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, January 8, 2015

A very Philadelphia wedding.

Five years ago yesterday, Dan and I showed up at Philadelphia's City Hall, him in a suit, and I in a bright blue mini dress, with wedded bliss on our minds. Surrounded by our parents and my two cousins, we said our vows in judge's chambers. A steak dinner at Ruth's Chris followed, as well as some of the most fun pictures we've ever taken in our lives. My cousin Hayley acted as photographer, and my cousin Danny as photographer's assistant. We snapped shots at City Hall, Love Park and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the freezing Philadelphia cold. Rocky poses and laughter commenced. We raced the remaining sunlight to capture all the fun of that day, all while we hopped in and out of cabs, and Hayley lovingly yelled at us to run up the steps, to look at the camera, to look wistfully off in the distance, to flash the rings.

And now five years later here we sit, in our little home in SwitzerFrance, with our baby girl Oswin. We've traveled the world, suffered the loss of loved ones to illness, made friends, lost friends, and learned a lot about ourselves in the process. For all the uncertainty in life, we always know that we have each other, and knowing that is all I need to know.

A la prochaine friends...