Saturday, January 30, 2010

And Then It Hit Me...

So, the other day we went to the Louvre.

We didn't want to take the kids too soon because we wanted to ease them into the idea that living in Paris is going to mean a lot of time in museums. They were excited to go and see the Mona Lisa, and I got a great book called Louvre Up Close that we brought with us that got them really excited. It's basically a big search and find book with some of the art work from the Louvre in it where they have to find pictures in the details. We spent an hour looking at it before we left, and I loved to see the boys recognize the works we saw from the book even before I did.
When we got there Max wanted to see the Mona Lisa first, and on our way up we had to pass my favorite work in the Louvre, the Winged Victory. It's at the end of this long hallway full of sculptures, and I was really excited for the boys to see it. As we walked up and I had my first glimpse of it, something strange happened.

I started crying.

I know, I know, anyone who knows me well knows I can cry at the drop of a hat, but this was that intense, hard-core crying that kind of sneaks up behind you and tackles you. I actually had to turn away so I could stop. Steve was shocked and asked me what was wrong, and I said, the best I could as I tried to compose myself, "I just can't believe that we're here."

It was right then that it hit me, even though I walk by the Eiffel Tower every day and I've been riding the Metro for almost three weeks and everybody speaks French: I live in Paris.

How amazing is that?

And to be here with my family, to share this with my kids, that was just overwhelming to me at that moment. Crazy.

But it's true, being able to just drop into one of the most famous art museums in the world whenever you want does make you think. One of the students here with us said it best the other day in a status update on Facebook:

"It's weird to think that when we got bored yesterday and had an hour to kill, we decided we might as well stop by the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is our back up plan..." -- Rich

That's the crazy part of living here that crept up and got me the other day at the Louvre, that we have all this art, architecture, culture and beauty at our fingertips. I just want to say, here and now, that I feel incredibly lucky.

Okay, enough sappiness from me, now onto the photos:

The boys with the Winged Victory, after I composed myself.

Amazing views wherever you turn.

The boys and Steve peacefully observing the art...

...well, at least for a few minutes until the whole thing degenerated into a poking fight.

I wouldn't be a red-blooded American tourist without taking a blurry photo of the Mona Lisa.

My two favorite shots of the day: the boys looking over the sculpture garden and a great combination of the art and the architecture.

Friday, January 29, 2010

J'Adore: (Real) Hand Scraped Wood Floors

Living in Paris is like living in a piece of art. Take our apartment for instance. I mean, who does molding like that anymore? Seriously.

But after living here for almost three weeks I'm noticing more. Just the other day I noticed these waves on the floor of our dining room.

At first I wondered what they were, and then I remembered this painting by Gustave Caillebotte:

After seeing this painting again I realized that these amazing herringbone wood floors are the real deal, hand scraped by real human beings, not some machine in a factory (and I have to admit, I definitely am not a fan the faux hand scraped wood floors that are all the rage these days. I guess I just have a problem with anything that pretends to be something it's not).

This picture could have been painted in our apartment, and I just imagine all those years ago people actually knelt on those hard floors to scrape them smooth. Or almost smooth.

Like so many things, the beauty is in the imperfection.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joyeux Septième Anniversaire Chere Max!

Today is Max's SEVENTH birthday. I can't believe it's been all those years since he was born. We started the day REALLY EARLY and opened his presents. He got what he loves most in the world: Bakugans.

For the past couple of weeks I have been asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday, but he never gave me any definite answers. But this morning when we told him he could decide what we wanted to do the whole day, here's the agenda he came up with:
  • Lunch at McDonald's (I know, I know, but it's his birthday! No comments from bossy French friends).
  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Have Macaroni & Cheese for dinner.
  • Play Games.
  • Have a Galette de Roi (King's Cake) after dinner.
So that's exactly what we did, and I have the pictures to prove it!

Lunch at McDonald's

I promise I'm going to cut them off when we get back home, but something familiar to them is so rare here, I can't take this one comfort from them. And it's cheap in a city where very little is.

Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower

We really had been trying to put this off until the weather warmed up more, but it's Max's birthday, and as he said, we were his slaves for a day.

Max is happy to be seven!

A birthday is pretty fun for the little brother too.

Waiting for the elevator to go up.

When we got to (almost the top) there were great views of Paris from everywhere we looked. We even found our apartment on this side of the tower (click the photo for a better look).

But Max couldn't help but look up to the top level, which was closed.
Maybe next time.
When it's warmer.
Play Games

We were so lucky to have five students stop by just to wish Max a happy birthday!

Brooklyn and Skye looked at all of Max's new Bakugans.

Then everyone played a few games of UNO and sang Happy Birthday to Max.

How lucky to be surrounded by cute college girls on your seventh birthday. Max looks like he's making eyes at Brooklyn and Skye already, but hopefully we have a few more years before we have to worry about that!

Thanks so much Rosalie, Brooklyn, Skye, Rich, and Mike for coming by!
It meant the world to Max!

Macaroni & Cheese for Dinner

Made with curly noodles and crême fraîche épaisse. Max said it was the best he ever had.
I have to admit, it was PRETTY GOOD.
(Notice how his Bakugans are never out of his sight.
I think he liked them. He has them in bed with him as I write this).

Have a Gallette de Roi After Dinner

If your not familiar with a French King's Cake, check out the link above. I hadn't heard of one until I spoke with one of the former director's wives who told me about this fun tradition. Each cake has a trinket baked into it, and whoever gets it is crowned king for the day.

Max blew out his candle and made his wish.

And if his wish was to get the trinket, it worked. He found it in his piece!
Such a great way to end his birthday!

King's cakes come with all different fillings, but ours was almond. It basically tasted like a huge almond croissant. Not bad at all, and Max even liked it!

It's good to be King, especially on your birthday!

When we were on the top of the Eiffel Tower, Max looked out over the view and said "This is the best birthday I've ever had."

I have to agree.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Le Parc Monceau With Guest Blogger Max

Since Max is in second grade, I'm home schooling him while we live in Paris. We do spelling, math, and most of all, writing. As part of his writing practice, Max is required to write an essay in his journal everyday. It's been a bit of a tedious process for both of us, and many days he takes over an hour to write one page. At first I assigned him what to write, but I figured if I let him decide what to write, things might go easier. Most often he writes about the things we've done the day before, so in the end he's going to end up with a great journal of his experiences when we're all done.

Today he wrote his best essay yet (and in only 40 minutes), so, to kill two birds with one stone, I decided to have him write the blog post today about our visit to Le Parc Monceau yesterday, so here's his essay and some photos to go along with it.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Postcards From Paris

The other day we were writing postcards to some of the boy's friends at home. When I asked Jack what he wanted to say on one of the postcards he cheerfully replied "Hi, I hope I miss you!" Needless to say I edited that part out.

I have to admit, I'm feeling kinda the same way about Paris. I sometimes miss my friends a lot and my kitchen a little bit, but otherwise I love everything about being here. So, if I was writing a postcard to home, it would say the same thing as Jack's. Hopefully my feelings will change before we go home.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Metro

This morning I woke up with a cold coming on. I didn't want to get up, but get up I did, got ready, Steve took off to teach class, and I started to work with the kids on their home schooling.

As they were working, I started to bake cookies for a get together with the students tonight, and my hand mixer broke. Since Max was going uber-slow on his writing and Jack had finished his work, I decided we would take the metro one stop to the closest store that sells hand mixers.

We loaded up, got onto the metro, and then realized we were heading the wrong direction. We went back out of the metro, tried to get on again, but our Navigo cards wouldn't work twice in the same station. So, we decided to walk since it's only one stop away.

We finally got to the store, and the boys were moaning that they were hungry. We finally found the mixer, got in line at the store, when an old French woman got in line behind me and asked me (in French) why my children were not in school. (In my very poor French), I told her that I am American and that I teach my children at home. And she proceeded to tell me my children should be in school, and luckily I plead ignorance and told her I didn't understand her. She didn't understand English so I started walking off, and she started telling the cashier that I should have my kids in school. A great example of when not knowing French works in your favor.

After the altercation with the French woman we headed out of the store and the boys were whining that they were still hungry so we went to McDonalds across the street. The cashier was SLOW, and when we finally got our food and went to sit down there were no tables available, so we took it to go and went to jump on the metro (since our cards would work now).

We jumped on and then found we were going the wrong direction (must be the cold that is making everything backwards for me today), so we jumped off and tried again. As we headed down the stairs I heard the train coming and as we hurried Jack tripped (luckily I was holding his hand so he didn't get hurt), and we just made the train.

When we finally got home and were eating our lunch Max said "A lot of things didn't go right today Mommy". I laughed and said that was true, and then I asked him what went right. Here's his list:

  1. It was supposed to rain today but instead it was sunny.
  2. We got to go on a nice walk.
  3. We got to get McDonalds for lunch (and a toy).
  4. When we got home we were right by the Metro exit that comes out by our front door.
  5. All these things that went wrong made us laugh.

I'm so glad I have a six year old around to help me keep things in perspective.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

J'adore: Wearing Black

Want to know another thing I love about Paris?

Everyone wears all black, all the time.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to wear black a little too much. I always have, and I'm sure I always will. Sometimes at home people look at me as if I am a bit out there for this adoration, and I'm sure I've been considered a bit odd by many and called a "goth" behind my back, but I don't care, I still love it.
When we moved to London way back when I felt like I had come home at last because I finally fit in with all the women wearing all black with just a touch of charcoal gray. And I'm having the same experience here in Paris. I found this great article about the love Parisian's have for black, and felt like they totally got me and I totally got them.

It was a beautiful moment.

So, I've been letting my inner black lover come out, and ever since I have I've had people ask me directions in French more times than I can count, which makes me feel like I must look the part.

I have to say, even though I don't speak the language, it's great to feel understood.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Picasso Conspiracy

No, this is not the title of another book by Dan Brown, but rather a little theory I'm developing. When Steve and I were here last year we went to see the Picasso Museum only to find it was closed for the winter for renovations, so today we were excited to finally visit this time around. Today was a rainy day and the kids were antsy, so I thought it would be a good little outing. The kids were troupers after we walked them in the rain around The Marais for what seemed like forever, we found it, and found out that NOW they are closed for renovations until 2012.

Which leads me to the question, "Which one of you out there doesn't want me to see the Picasso Museum?"

Just A Day In The Park