Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pull yourself together

Jeff started school today. We were all excited for him. Celine even told him he needed to wear something nice for his first day. Ha! He did look nice might I add.

Today I told the girls we were going to relax, sleep in, and rest our feet from all the walking around Paris we’ve been doing and finish up all of our library books because we will be returning most of them tomorrow. We did just that. We stayed in our pjs and read in blankets all day. You know where I’m going with this, right. Why is it that every time you decide to take a day to relax and look a mess that someone pays you a surprise visit! Yep, my neighbors came over to introduce themselves, and I looked, well, a mess. They couldn’t have come the other 6 days a week that I painstakingly get all my girls and myself ready (plus clean the apartment)! Of course not, because then I would never learn humility, right!? Ugh!!

The knock on the door came as a surprise. I scrambled to clean my very small apartment, take a glance in the mirror and cover Eva with a blanket (she took off her diaper and was running around naked…of course). Then, after a couple of minutes of scrambling I run to the door (let me add that we live in an apartment building and you can hear EVERYTHING that goes on in an apartment from outside the apartment. I also know from experience that when Eva blesses us with her HIGH pitched scream that you can hear her 3 floors down. Nice! So, I know they heard my scrambling.) I started to try and open the door, but I couldn’t figure it out. Jeff locked the door from the outside when he left for school and the only way for me to unlock “The Vault” was to find the key. Great! Where the heck is the key! “Ummm. HOLD ON…” I said while I went looking for the key (they’ve probably been waiting 2-3 minutes now). I finally found the key, and after all that I finally met my upstairs neighbor.

Monsieur Lenoire lives right above us, and he is the manager of the building. He is in his mid 60's and he has the sweetest demeanor ever. He works on French movie sets as a “sound man”. He is semi-retired and only does 1-2 movies a year, which means he’s gone for 2-4 months a year working and then has the rest of the time off. He came down to let me know that he would be traveling for work soon and would be gone. He said "I'm so sorry, but I will be traveling to movie set. I will be gone for 2 months. I only work one movie a year and this is time for me to work,” in is darling French accent. He told me that his wife would be home later tonight and he would like to introduce us.

That was so nice of him to stop by and I would love to meet his wife. I most definitely will clean up first!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lundi de Pâques (Easter Monday)

In France the Easter Holiday includes the Monday after Easter (or Lundi de Pâques). Children don't have school, and it is a day to spend with families. There are many different activities going on around Paris, so we decided to check some of them out.

The first event we went to was the Chocolate Festival (or the Celebration of Chocolate). It was held in this cute little shopping village on the Right Bank. They had free chocolate fondue and a free class for the kids where they "were taught about the joys of chocolate" (in reality, they just decorated chocolate, but still fun!). The girls had a great time, and Jeff and I loved checking out the shops in this little village.

Afterwards we went out to Parc Floral in Vincennes, which is a large park just to the east of Paris. They had a new attraction at this park that allowed the kids (and families) to walk amongst the trees on wooden bridges they built to connect the forest in a large network of "treehouses". So fun, except for the fact that we showed up too late to do this because we had so much fun at the chocolate festival. Still, the park was gorgeous and we're going to try and make it back another time.

This candy shop in Bercy Village was a little girl's heaven.

Chocolate dipped fruit

And if you look closely at my white (or not so white anymore) shirt, you'll see I have a nice big chocolate stain. Thanks Eva!

Eva and I hung out and took pictures while the girls were off decorating chocolate for an Easter activity with Dad. I loved the old brick walls and wooden doors in this village. Perfect backgrounds for a photo shoot!

Thanks to their Daddy they were supper happy all day. Turns out they needed to register for the decorating, but because Jeff is persistent and patient, he waited long enough for them to find an opening and allow all three girls to participate. They loved the chocolate decorating.

Mya was the smart one and took off her white cardigan so she didn't end up a chocolate mess like me. We then headed over to Parc Floral and we were amazed at how beautiful it was. I would love to go again before I leave Paris. Check out the Chateau Vincennes below!

Can you find all 4 girls?


We were excited to celebrate Easter this year in Paris. We had a great time going into all the shops and checking out all their Easter candy. Last year, much to the disappointment of the girls, I wrote the Easter Bunny a letter telling him we really didn't want candy or chocolate that year (I thought this was brilliant). So, the sweet Easter Bunny left money in the eggs instead of candy. Great! No cavities and the girls have money to save and spend. Right? Wrong! This year, the girls made it very clear that I was not to write the same letter again! They wanted candy and chocolate! Celine said "Mom, please don't write the Easter Bunny and tell him we don't want candy this year, BECAUSE WE DO." So, we had a chocolate/candy extravaganza...

I got some fun colored candy and ribbon at our neighborhood market. I was hoping to get some fabric and jars but Easter is on a budget this year, so we used whatever we had at the apartment.

Eva held on to her cup with a death grip! I really didn't want her to eat any of it due to her just getting over being a bit sick and having a fever, but I let her eat some anyway.

Chocolate bunnies, chocolate gift pack and chocolate eggs. We ate a ton of chocolate!!! We were ALL surprised when the chocolate gift pack had a toy game hidden in the chocolate. Each girl got a different toy game and it kept us entertained for hours.

Can't go wrong with crepe's for breakfast... teacup style..

We had originally planned to have a picnic in Versailles, but with Eva just getting over being sick we decided to picnic around the corner from our apartment...at the Eiffel Tower. What could be better than beautiful weather and an Easter picnic at the Champs de Mars!

We ate sandwiches, chips, strawberries and bananas with Nutella (more chocolate).

Any spare time we've had lately has been spent reading. And reading at the park is one of our favorite pass times. They each have a book that they are reading and then I have a book I've been read to them (so fun to experience the book with them!). We are just finishing up Jennifer Murdley's Toad. Celeste, the librarian, (who is super helpful) picks out her favorite books for us to read. And so far we have been very pleased.

Yep, more candy. I'm sure she'll have a fever relapse tomorrow. But it's Easter... right!? And look at that smile. How could I resist! She almost had me fooled that she even had a fever at all.

We have watched Tangled so many times since we've been here that of course the girls would put flowers in their hair.

Fun day!
(PS...please, no comments about my white legs!)

Friday, April 22, 2011


I was chatting with my Mom this morning telling her that Eva hasn't been feeling very well and was running a low grade fever for the past couple of days. I was also mentioning that I was glad I brought my medicine cabinet from home so I didn't have to worry about running to the pharmacy to get her some medicine. My Mom listened to what I had to say and then cutely responded "Yes, sounds serious. I think you should bring her to me. I believe she is suffering from a small case of 'Paris-sites'. And the cure for having Paris-sites is Grammy!"

Of course my Mom would have something witty and cleaver to say. Love you Mom! You make me smile!

Sacre Coeur and Arch de Triumph

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All by myself

Well, I did it... I made the 1:10 minute trek out to Disneyland. I rode the Metro, switched to the train, made it in and out of security gates, and walked up and down stairs with 4 kids, a stroller and bags... ALL BY MYSELF! This seriously was a HUGE breakthrough for me because I tend to get very nervous and overanalyze everything. I was mostly unsure about taking all the correct trains and navigating the switches, but I was also nervous about all the stairs we had to go up and down with Eva in her stroller. We have been teaching our girls about Metro rules, safety, and protocols during our time here. Before we left I reiterated some of our discussions and made sure they knew that it would only be me this time on the trip and that they had to stay close. I also went over all the safely tips with the girls and how important it was that they did everything I asked...when I asked. Celine and Livia held on to each side of the stroller and Mya walked in front of me so I could keep an eye on her. Mya really is blossoming as a young lady, and she has been a huge help as of late. She not only helped me carry the stroller up and down stairs, but she was great with navigating the Metro stations and lines. Because she's done it with Jeff so many times she really feels like she has the hang of it. She would help me with the stroller and then turn around and help us figure out where we needed to go.

The girls were amazing, and I was especially grateful for Mya's help. I couldn't have done it without her muscles and her navigation skills. We met up with Jeff later that day and also the Halls (the family with the 3 girls the same ages as Mya, Celine, and Livia). It made it so much fun for the girls to have them there, and they knew the park so well that we just followed them everywhere...from ride to ride to ride. It was great!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Parisian Lifestyle

The more I learn about the culture in Paris (and in France really), the more I'm starting to fall in love with the Parisian lifestyle. In America we are always in such a rush to get to that next important thing. We pack our lunch and most of the time eat quickly at our desk so we can move on with the day. The Parisians think this is blasphemy, and it's really true that they shut down at meal times to enjoy their food, their family and friends, and the experience of eating. I love the line that the French use..."Americans view food as fuel to put in their machine to make it go. The French view meal time as an experience to be savored with good company." Our friend Mike was telling us that under no circumstances would he bring his lunch to work with him. He would be ridiculed and ostracized. Also, eating at your desk in Paris is out of the question! Instead, you take a break for lunch and eat with your coworkers. We do this in the states a bit too, right? Not like here. Here offices will often shut down for 2 hours for lunch (12-2pm) while the employees site outside at the cafes, enjoy the weather and their food, and watch people walk by. It is people watching at its best! Mike works in La Defense, which is the business sector of Paris with all the skyscrapers. He said 2 hour lunches are a bit rare there, but the average is about an hour or so for lunch with another 15-30 minutes for coffee afterwards (or hot chocolate if you're LDS). He also says that he mainly eats in the cafeteria and that the food is amazing.

Another important note about eating at restaurants here is that they don't gorge you with food. You get a healthy portion of food, and you savor and finish every bite. No take home bags here, and why in the world would you bring the food home anyway? You eat at the restaurant where the experience is! So interesting. I'm not sure if I've ever gone to a restaurant and not taken something home that I didn't finish. Tisk tisk on me.

In the business world here you are done between 5-6pm. You will be gently nudged home around 6pm if you haven't left yet, and you will be kicked out of the office by 8pm. Mike told us about a project one of his coworkers was working on. It was behind schedule and he wanted to stay late to work on it. He had to get special permission from his superiors to stay past 8pm, and they were insistent that they did not expect him to stay that late but that he could if he wanted to. So, you work AT work, and once you leave you're basically done. Sign me up!

I know different jobs require more or less for the individual, but I would love to adapt this culture into my life. I want to slow down and take time to enjoy life...and especially enjoy the food! Thank you Paris!!

Essential books while in Paris

I found a wonderful book today at The American Library in Paris called Paris in a Basket. This book was my favorite find at the library today. I'm seriously so excited about this book!!! Everything you need to know about the Parisian markets, food and the people. We've already been obsessed with all the markets while we've been here and we are on a search for our favorite market. I can't wait to go to the organic market in the 6th arrondissement.

Bloom Where You Are Planted is another fantastic book. Unfortunately you can't get it on line. I mentioned this book in my earlier post regarding Helpful Paris Information. It is published by the Women of the American Church in Paris. I am so glad Jeff went and picked this book up the first couple days we were hear in Paris. It has saved us on a number of occasions. For example... All the power went out in our apartment. I couldn't figure how to get it back on and we were just about to leave so I left a flashlight by the door and when we got home Jeff was smart enough to check the book and sure enough it told him exactly what to do. It was simple! If we didn't have the book we probably would have been out of power for a good while until someone came to help.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The American Library in Paris

My exciting find for the day...The American Library in Paris! I know what you are thinking... Why spend time in an American Library when you can be exploring Paris? Well, we have been doing a ton of exploring. Jeff has drug us everywhere and we (us girls) are getting tired. So we took the kids to the library today and I could see the smiles on the kids faces. It was a place of comfort for them. Celine had a huge grin on her face and when I asked her why she was smiling her reply was. "I'm just so happy to be here. They speak English and I can read all the books I want. I want to come back all the time."

The library is about a 10-15 minute walk from our apartment and we walk right past the Eiffel Tower to get there. I have a feeling we'll be at the library at least twice a week if not more.

Eva fell in the box of toys and couldn't get out.

Happy girls

Notre Dame

Here's a couple of pictures from our visit to the historic Notre Dame...

Thursday, April 14, 2011


This is a very old picture that I meant to post a long time ago. I thought about just deleting it, but I just had to post it because it makes me laugh every time I see it. Celine made a robot head for fun one day at the house. She was really excited about it...so much so that she started watching TV and forgot she had it on. When I walked in and noticed her staring at the TV, oblivious to the oatmeal box on her head, I just had to take a picture.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Disneyland Paris

For the girl's birthdays we decided to surprise them with Disneyland tickets. Our friend John Hall, who lives in Paris, introduced us to an awesome French website...vente-privee.com. They were having a special on Disneyland Paris annual passes just before we left, so we decided to buy them. We bought discounted annual passes for Jeff, Mya, and I, and with those passes Celine, Livia, and Eva got annual passes for free! What a great deal! We would have spent more going to Disneyland twice than we did on annual passes for the family! I don’t know who was more excited, me or the girls? Having season passes means less stress for me. I don’t have to worry about showing up when they open, making sure we hit every ride the girls want to go on, and staying until it closes. It takes us about an hour train ride to Disneyland, and the train lets out literally at the front doors of Disneyland. The girls don't mind the trip because they bring a book and read the entire time. Our passes arrived on Friday (that was the only bummer...we had to wait for them to arrive in the mail so we couldn't actually use them when we were staying out at Disneyland last week!), so we decided today was our day! We had a great time and we are planning on meeting the Halls out there again on Saturday (we love the Halls, and they have girls the same ages as Mya, Celine, and Livia so we're excited to hang out with them).

I decided not to be nauseous for the entire day, so no tea cups for me.

Note to self... Don't go in a maze if any of your children need to go the bathroom. We couldn't seem to find our way out. You should have seen poor little Celine's face every time we hit a dead end. We finally made it to the restroom with no accidents.

We stopped in to eat at Videopolis. They have a huge screen playing cartoons for the kids. It was nice to warm up, eat and watch a cartoon. Definitely entertained the the girls.

Another cool thing about the annual passes is that we get all sorts of discounts with them. For example, everywhere in the park we eat we get 10% off! Also, we can get day passes for friends for 10% off. So, which one of my friends is coming first!?!?