Sunday, July 28, 2013

What My Family Learns in France

Every summer we pack up and head to a teensy tiny village in Normandy, France:
The 17th century houses are made of brick and flint, 
surrounded by beautiful rose bushes and vines
In the evenings we eat outside and grill fish, vegetables and fruit (have you ever tried grilled peaches? so delicious!) bought at local markets.
there is no internet. no television. no DVD player or xbox. 
Our family chats and jokes at dinner, plays dominos and then goes off to read or sleep. 
In a world with so much screen time, driving and traffic, we need this time to relax, walk and disconnect.
my son and I feed the mare & pony carrots every morning 
and then hit the beach 
We also work in time for culture
including the gothic Bayuex cathedral that is so elegant and massive and truly mind boggling.
As I've written about here traveling with my son who is Autistic can be difficult. 
But lately I've found that indulging his desires (beach time, visiting the horses, carousels, french fries with lunch!)  
makes him more willing the following day to indulge in our interests - cathedrals, tapestries, palaces. 
Before we enter a church (or abby or museum) I tell him "20 minutes" and we look at our watches and note the time. For the next 20 minutes my son knows its not time to be loud or disruptive, but to look around quietly at fascinating things. Sometimes he likes it and is eager to join me, other times he wants to pass the time alone on a church pew or museum bench. And sometimes it doesn't work. at all.

We've come very far with his ability to be flexible and do what mama & papa want to do! I'm hopeful that 20 minutes will turn into an hour over the next years and one day we scarcely won't need to look at our watches...
Our vacation in France is also a great opportunity to spend time with my mom. Mother-daughter relationships arent always carefree, but away from daily life and stress, we shop together, laugh and explore.

I feel so lucky to have this opportunity with my family each year as it's so vital to our mental health. I hope all of you have a chance to relax and enjoy time with your loved ones this summer.
xoxo BHB


  1. Your vacation looks beautiful (the village is a bit breathtaking) and so special-I like your idea of taking a break from screens and having quality time:)

  2. I visited the Bayuex tapestry and cathedral last year and loved it! glad to hear summer is going well. Susan

  3. Yes, Normandy is a great place to spend summer holidays. I went there last year with my family. This looks you too spend a nice time like me.

  4. What a beautiful post. it is so important to 'disconnect' from computer..screen..etc. I think it does a body good....and mind too.
    The little village looks charming.

    You look very much like your mother!

    Enjoy your vacation


  5. Hello !
    I found a great video at TED about a men who has autism and blindness and became pianist concert at the age of ten.
    check it at" Derek Paravicini and Adam Ockelford: In the key of genius".Wonderful.
    I miss your posts. Have a great sommer.

  6. I am planning on going to France some day myself - the pictures look lovely, very charming indeed.

  7. I can almost feel what it's like to be so unplugged for a while. It sounds glorious, even if you were to take a way the culture and the beach and the glamour of a French farmhouse.

    Reading this was a lovely diversion. Thank you for sharing it.


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