Posts Tagged 'travel'

Time to Hit Pause


Time to hit pause here at Shiny Brite — I hope (think!) it will be a short one, but I’ll have to see how things shake out here in the next little bit.

Mmm, hmmm.

We had an awesome month of December, so thanks for finding us and for reading! It makes me feel better to know you’re there.

Here’s a little something for you today: The Best Beaches for Families, via

More to come. Just don’t know when.

Keep an eye out!


— Melisa


Europe with Kids — France: One Thing I Loved Today

Palm Ray Plage

Palm Ray Plage in Carnon, France.

The “premiere ligne” at the Palm Ray on the beach in Carnon, France.

Leave it to the French to make beach-going more civilized.

Today we booked lounge chairs and a big umbrella on the “first line” — aka the front, closest to the water — at the beach in Carnon, on the Mediterranean. For a few Euros, we got our prime spots, plus lunch and a glass of wine delivered to our chairs — with access to bathrooms, a seaside library (!), and a waiter serving cocktails, San Pellegrino, and desserts — right next to the kids while they played in the sand and surf.

Heaven! (And all thanks to our fabulous hostess, Kim, who KNOWS about all of these wonderful things. Everyone should be so lucky as to have her at their side in the South of France.)

Glass of rosé and, in a while, a mojito? Don’t mind if I do, to both.

Does this exist in the U.S.? We gotta find out.

Palm Ray Plage

Life's a beach. Cheers!

Europe with Kids: It’s Not All Gelato (the Other Side of the Grand Tour)

Europe with kids


The blog, like Facebook, is the place where I show my best face. Happiest moments, optimism, wishful thinking. All reflecting only one side of the coin.

The truth is that as much fun as we are having, there are also moments of the ridiculous, despair, tantrums, cross words, the gamut. You know. Those moments of tension over directions, where to eat, schedules. The kid who has to go to the bathroom the second we leave someplace WITH a bathroom.  Not to mention two bee stings (Magnolia, me), a number of large spiders (and me with my phobia) and stinging bugs of every variety (Melisa’s worst fear).

Here’s a little taste of the dark side:

  • The kids’ favorite word of the trip is ARMPIT. Just saying it sends both into the giggles.

“I want ARMPIT gelato”

“How many ARMPITS does a deer have?”


  • Most car drives, like the one we made yesterday to Pisa, are characterized by the sillys. For instance: Magnolia coming up with surnames for Betty instead of Boop. You get the idea. Or singing a tuneful melody at the top of her lungs about Spiderman. Jasper punctuates both with random exploding noises. Melisa ignores everything, reading her guidebook, until she can’t. I chew gum like there’s no tomorrow, thinking  “find a happy place, find a happy place.” God bless the iPad. Without it there would be no silence.
  • Once we get to our destination, the complaints begin.

“Mom, when can we have lunch?”

“Mommy, can’t we get some gelato?”

“Momma, I can’t walk any further!”

“Mom, can we get a toy? Why nooooottttt?”

“I don’t want to see the leaning tower of Pisa, I want the pool!”

“Mommy, mommy, mommy…(pause) MOOOOOOOMMMY!”

Then: “Not you, OTHER mommy!”

Yesterday, Melisa and I laughed half-way home from Pisa. We were laughing over ARMPIT. It is kind of a funny word.


Chrissy, true to form, has been posting on how fabulous everything is. And, don’t get me wrong — it IS fabulous and we feel very lucky to be here, enjoying exceptional time away from the normal day-to-day of our lives in New York City. But, as you know, we’re a family traveling with young kids. If you’re reading these posts and hating us just a little bit, perk up here — it hasn’t all been great. Here’s what I mean….

Yes, we’ve been seeing beautiful cities and towns and villages in France and Italy, but at a snail’s pace — Magnolia slows EVERYTHING way down. Chrissy and Jasper walk ahead, as if they’re on their own — I have to stop every two seconds with Magnolia, while she gets a rock out of her shoe, scratches an itch, examines a bug bite, picks up something potentially interesting from the sidewalk, stops to smell a flower (yes, she actually does this), or pauses to reflect while asking a pressing question (can we have a picnic on the floor of our house tonight for dinner?). How SLOW can you go? I’m finding out.

Jasper has been giving us the major attitude. He chews with his mouth open, picks his nose (!), touches his sister’s bottom and then laughs uncontrollably, and asks every two seconds for gelato, a piece of Pez candy, chewing gum, or more movies on the iPad. When we ask him to dial it down a notch, he responds with: “Why don’t you quit telling me what to dOOOOOOO?!’ Dude, yeah, no. Get a grip. When you’re like 40, maybe.

And, embarrassingly, our kids are the loudest and the wildest wherever we go. Seriously. Name your nationality or number of kids in a family and we will take their asses down with EASE. We’re the mother-effing international STEAMROLLER of loud and wild.

And you know all those loooong posts from Chrissy you’ve been reading and enjoying? Well, she’s been commandeering the laptop and the kids have had the stronghold on the iPad while I COOK DINNER.

But, you know what? We are having the best time! I’m here with the people I love most in the world, and we are laughing a lot.


And it’s beautiful everywhere we go. Yes, yes. Beautiful.


What (This) Girl Wants: Il Dolce Far Niente

In Italian: the sweetness of doing nothing. In the words of Lucinda Williams: “Cool, quiet, and time to think.”*

For me, it’s lying like a cat in the sun at the pool, alternately watching the olive trees blow silver in the breeze, the kids creating a tent from towels and cushions, and reading.

For Magnolia, it’s sneaking off to the tree swing on the lawn beneath our house, or stalking the butterflys in the lavender.

Whatever works! And more of it.

*The great Lucinda also mentioned “pens that won’t run out of ink” and “passionate kisses” as must-haves. Those too, please.

Europe with Kids — Italy: One Thing I Loved Today


Seeing Bramasole, the house outside of Cortona, in Tuscany, that belongs to writer Frances Mayes

Like bazillions of others, I enjoyed Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes, so, so many years ago — a confection, a fantasy, light and sweet. Except it wasn’t entirely a fantasy — Mayes really did come to Italy at a time of rediscovery and reinvention, and she bought a house that transformed her life. What’s not to like about that?

Today we drove to Cortona, about an hour and a half away from where we’re staying, near Castellina in Chianti, to see the town and house. The town is lovely, with an appealing, lively vibe; the house and gardens grand and impressive. (After much hard work, of course — go, Frances!)

But what I loved was seeing, in person, a solid, physical manifestation of change, good fortune, happiness — set in a foreign land.

Bramasole was inspiring.

It reminded me that anything can happen.

And I love that.


The shrine on an exterior wall at Bramasole. Say a prayer (or whatever). See what happens.

More things I’m loving about Italy:

Breakfast four ways

Campari by the pool

Our waiter in San Bartolomeo al Mare

Europe with Kids: Anyone Homesick?

Europe with kids

We will have been gone two weeks tomorrow — I’m reluctant to type that, the time is flying by so quickly — and Chrissy and I have just started to hear a few fleeting mentions of missing home. (Really, I think to myself with wonder? Really?)

But from the kids it’s pretty sweet. Here’s who’s missing what (crucial stuff, people.)


What do you miss from home?

All of my toys. I miss my three best toys the most — my Spiderman, and my Hero and Thomas trains.

I miss our new TV. And our Scooby-Doo movie, “Abracadabra-Doo.”

My oatmeal for breakfast!

School — I miss Ms. Oram and Ms. P. and Ms. Plasencia and Ms. Bittner.

And all of my friends.


What do you miss?

My Barbies, my princesses, my castle and everything

Everything, even my own bed.

And I miss my dollies

I miss our cereal.

And our entire house.

I miss Quinn, Carl, Isadora, Abby — all my friends.


You fessed up to missing some things about home…. So, what are they?

Officially, “no comment.”

After having spent two full weeks of uninterrupted time with our children — morning, noon, and night — Chrissy notes that she does miss some things about home, but has declined to answer this question on the grounds that it may incriminate her (and would like for me to emphasize that she’s having a wonderful time and would not like to be anywhere else in the world.)


I love Brooklyn but, really, miss nothing — well, maybe our house, just a little — and am busy plotting how we can spend more time here more often. A year abroad, a la Design Mom? Can we figure out a way to make it happen?

There’s only one way to find out.

Europe with Kids — Italy: One Thing I Loved Today

breakfast in Tuscany

Breakfast four ways — and my pretty frittata

At home, I often find it annoying when everyone wants something different to eat — that typically means more work for me.

But on vacation — as with other things I’m noticing about our daily routines in a fresh, new setting — I find it less so.

This morning: zucchini frittata (with varying sides) for the moms, eggs sunny side up for Jasper, toast with honey for Miss Magnolia, and fruit all around.

Everybody gets what they want. Lovely.

zucchini frittata

More things I’ve been loving in Italy:

Campari by the pool

Our waiter at the hotel in San Bartolomeo al Mare


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