summer in the poconos

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kids

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We spent our summer vacation at our favorite local lake (and house)…it was our fourth year at Lake Naomi! I get emotional looking back at previous years – I seriously cannot believe Henry + Marie are five. I unplugged as much as possible, and rarely checked social media. That ‘s a tall order for most of us these days, but for me especially since it’s partly what I do for a living. The time off was so refreshing, and our days were filled with fun and memory making. Things I don’t want to forget about this year include (but are not limited to): watching the kids as they bravely navigated the pool during swim lessons, eating fresh blueberries on the beach, family kayaking, rainy day monopoly + movie night, sandy showers, bunny spotting, long lazy afternoons, and a lantern-lit date night. It was family quality time at it’s seasonal best.

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lake reflections

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I had a lot of time to reflect during our vacation, and had an epiphany (or two, or three). It’s amazing how much clarity can come from a digital detox – I highly recommend it. While I had amazing quality time with my husband and children, I also felt compelled to process some deeply emotional issues that I’ve been internalizing for years. Oddly enough, as much peace as I find at the lake, I also find pain….allow me to explain. I spent time every summer from birth until I was thirteen at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, with my extended family. As I was an only child, my Mom (very smartly) planned many family vacations and gatherings so that I would be close with my two cousins. We were very much like siblings – we fought like it, loved like it. I took my first steps holding their hands on the beach there. It was a sacred place for our entire (small) family, and where many of my most beautiful memories were made. I miss Lake Winnipesaukee, and I deeply miss that time of family unity. Much has changed since then, and it causes me a lot of pain at times.

I haven’t been there in twenty-four years (with the exception of a brief visit in 2006). And yet, my memories of it are as vivid as ever. I can still hear the sound of the water gently lapping onto the shore, the wailing of loons (one of the most hauntingly beautiful sounds in the world, in my opinion), and even the wobbly ceiling fan that I was sure would decapitate me every night as I slept. I can still feel the silky wet sand between my toes, smell the horses that were down the road on the walk to get ice cream, and see the storms that would move so quickly across the lake. Every detail about it is cemented into my mind, because it was always a place of peace for me during a time in my life that was ever-changing, challenging, and at times, destructive. I’ll refrain from digging deeper on that subject in this post, but let’s just say my childhood was like a roller coaster – with high highs, and low lows. The lake became an escape for me…a respite from the chaos.

We moved quite a bit for my father’s career (military and beyond), and there were only two places in the world that felt like home to me –  my grandparents home, and the lake. One was taken from me physically (when my grandfather passed and his house was sold), and the other metaphorically (I haven’t been invited, and have even been denied a stay, when I asked begged to visit after Henry and Marie were born). I wanted (and want) so badly to introduce my children to a place I hold so dear. It’s not mine, but it has ownership of my heart, as if it was. I’ve struggled with that greatly – to understand it’s hold on me, and also what “home” means to me. How can latitudes and longitudes carry so much weight? Without getting into complicated family details, I’ve become estranged with my extended family, partly due to the denied access. In fact, it’s quite possibly become tainted for me because of the turmoil…it’s hard to say for sure without visiting.

I discovered Lake Naomi (in the Poconos) thanks to my friend Chanee in 2013, and immediately felt an odd sense of familiarity there. While very different from Lake Winni, there are enough similarities to make me feel comfortable, and (mostly) at ease. This was our fourth year vacationing there (more on that soon), and we’ve made many treasured memories…I’m so grateful for it. It almost fills the void in my heart, and yet sadly, falls short. I feel like it will always be competing with my first love, and it will never quite live up to it. I’m hopeful that someday, the family will come back together. Someday, I might be able to share that important part of my past, with my husband and children. Until then, I will continue to reflect on the possibility of reconciliation—with my past, my family, and most importantly, with myself.

petit saint james | part un

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If you’re a devout Francophile like myself, chances are you’re smitten with Saint James. Their classic marinière (sailor) stripes are iconic French fashion. Made in France at their atelier near Mont-Saint-Michel, the brand’s history spans an impressive 128 years. I highly recommend reading their story, as well as this piece written by my friend Lindsey Tramuta. Needless to say, creating and sharing content on their behalf is an honor for me. I may have squealed a little bit seeing my children in their first Breton stripes – they wore them for Bastille Day and their fifth birthday, which happen to coincide! Henry is wearing the Minquiers T-Shirt + Marie is in the Coquillage dress…more photos below!

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the francophiles anniversary

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Time flies when you’re having fun – Bastille Day marked the one year anniversary of @thefrancophiles! I founded the Instagram community with the purpose of inspiring, informing and uniting Francophiles around the world. I’m so proud of how the community has grown in the past year…the response has been exciting and heartfelt. It’s “fleurishing” thanks to your support and participation. A huge MERCI to mes amies Lindsey Tramuta + Kirsten Alana, without whom this passion project may never have gotten off the ground. What does being a Francophile mean to you, and how and where do you get your “fix”? Wherever you are in the world, join the community (and have a chance to be featured), by tagging and/or hashtagging your French-inspired images #thefrancophiles. Stay tuned for some exciting new developments!

bastille day in nyc

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we surprised the kids with an early birthday trip to NYC (much like we did last year). They’ve been asking to go back, and we feel very fortunate to live within two hours driving distance! We packed a lot of activities into less than 48 hours, but our favorite and most-anticipated part of our stay was attending the FIAF Bastille Day Block Party. It’s the biggest Bastille Day event in New York – twenty years strong. And before you start to wonder – no, this is not sponsored by FIAF, but the kids do look très français thanks to Saint James (more on that soon).

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