Les Aventures de la ville de Quebec & the best day I've ever had with my McFamily

This summer marked a new and memorable experience for us.  We took off for nearly a month and visited charming Montreal, Quebec City, and then various spots in New Hampshire and Maine.  The trip was a combination of vacay and "work" - meaning we were playing concerts as we went.  We hadn't had a trip quite like this where we went for so long and had the kids in tow.  We stayed in the beautiful town of Beaupre, Quebec which was about 35 miles outside of Quebec City.  Close enough that we could visit the "old town", but far enough away that many people were only French-speaking.  Our goal of going there was to have a family experience in a place that was very different than our own - different foods, different language, different vibe, etc.  This was an awesome way to do so as we could drive and stop to see family along the way and for me to practice my French.  Plus, Montreal was only 17  19  22 hours away.  (Insert MAJOR eye roll here at LOOOOONG car trips with children in 5-point harness car seats... I'm thankful, but you know...)
The first stop was Detroit.  We were only there for a few hours to pass through and get about 1700 kisses from my aunts and cousins.  This is the way that Syrian and Greek people are.  Eat, kiss, eat, kiss, talk, eat, kiss.  As you can see from the pic, the kids are only 5 hours into the trip and already glassy-eyed.  That or maybe their cheeks were fatigued from the multitude of kisses.
So, we left there and headed for Montreal.  I was so freakin' excited (pause to imagine this scene...)
to get to Montreal and immediately be greeted with French everything.  Exhibit A: my Reese's bar.  The McBabies were the ultimate baby road beasts.  They lugged their own suitcases around, totally went with the flow, and surprised me at how easily adaptable they were.  At least, I think so.  The trip was over a month ago and I can't remember what I ate for breakfast today...
See the McHusband on Father's Day.  Could this pic sum it up any better?  No one felt like walking anymore - Dad to the rescue.  Look carefully for everyone.  The streets were amazing.  Everything was quaint and even cooler than I anticipated... which of course meant that I came home wanting to immediately redecorate our entire house in this old world meets modern hodge podge.  They were the coolest and most ridiculously expensive shops ever.
One of the things I've always loved most about vacations is that you are forced to rub elbows with each other in a new way - in tiny spaces and arms brushing arms in the car.  You are stripped down to a week's worth of belongings and you somehow find that the space is enough, the 6 dishes in the timeshare are plenty, the 8 towels and tiny shampoo bottle seem plentiful.  I've posted on the beauty of family vacations before.  You can read that HERE.
After we painted the towns rouge and did all kinds of things that we'd never do back home:
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we left for New Hampshire.  We were going to be guest worship leaders for a couple of weeks at a wonderful church in Concord, New Hampshire. We were also going to play at His Mansion, a recovery/residential care facility.  This would be the kids' debut in singing on stage with us - an AWESOME evening.  We shared a meal with the residents and were so blessed to be do graciously welcomed into their community.

.  The home where we stayed was idyllic...

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and from this lovely home we headed to my favorite day that we've ever had as a family.  We visited the Atlantic Ocean together - the kids had never seen the ocean.  We tried lobster, visited a light house, had ice cream, and marveled at all that God had created in the rocks, shells, and waves.  And in the faces of those around our little table.
On this trip, we very quickly learned that it didn't matter if our kids spoke the same language as the other kids we met at playgrounds, waterfalls, or hotels along the way.  They spoke a universal language - the need for one another.  It seemed that the first thing they'd do with one another was to point out their little scrapes and bruises and bandaged spots.  Isn't it interesting how showing our broken spots immediately creates common ground?  We met families that we have remained in touch with all summer.  We pray for each other.  They were strangers mere months ago.  I think fondly back to a grandmother that kissed me on the cheek and said "I'll see you in Heaven, if not before", a family of 5 who we plan to meet up with again next year, children in NH who will become pen pals with our McBabies.
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When it's all said and done, I'm amazed at how many rich experiences were had on this trip.  I'm amazed at all the broken places that were shared, joyous occasions that were celebrated, times around the table that we bonded with folks.  How richly blessed we are to have had this experience together.
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