Click here for the week of 01/31/16.
Sun, 1/24/16. Don't eat the sticker.
Today I took Max to the Musee de la Monnaie, which I thought he'd love because he's obsessed with coins and money lately, but it turned out to be closed for reconstruction. We did get to see some of the coins through some windows though, including a 500 Euro gold coin. Max was quite intrigued. At home, after dinner we had fruit and Max was eating what was meant to be Gemma's portion so vigorously that he shoved this big piece of kiwi in his mouth with the sticker on it. I yelled at him to not eat the sticker and he frantically fished it out of his mouth and we all laughed.

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Sat, 1/23/16. Beer with Kale.
Today I had my first beer since I've been in Paris, and it was amazingly delicious. I went out with Kale, Auri's Dad, while Jean stayed with Max and Gems and while Auri and her sister and Mom were in Finland. The rest of the day Jean, Max, Gemma and I just hung out at home and tried to stay warm and healthy for a change. Jean and I keep talking about our theories about French people, about how the French women are all so serious, and how they dress up and put makeup on and everything just to drop their kids off at school, and how the fathers are the opposite, all casual and jovial all the time. Jean's friend said she feels that there are two types of guys in Paris, the optimists and the pessimists, and the optimists are always cheerful and joking around, while the pessimists are always brooding. I guess all the optimists got married and had kids, because in their school all the fathers are optimists and we haven't seen any brooders. The prevailing theory about French women seems to be that they feel the need to be serious and to distance themselves from their kids in order to keep some semblance of power and control over their lives as women rather than as mothers. Kale said in Finland it's much more like in the U.S., where when people have kids, the parents, especially the mothers, tend to maybe even go overboard catering to the kids and completely abandoning any identity they have other than parents. I wonder why Paris would be different. I talked to Kale a lot about European bureacracy too, and how he feels Paris has been much less bureaucratic than he expected, but it could be because his job has handled most things, including setting up his French bank account and EDF accounts. He said Auri loves the dance class she does with Max and Gemma, and has been saying for months now that she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up.

Fri, 1/22/16. Die Reisepassen!

I got their Austrian passports! Today Gems did her oral report on her blue frisbee. Here's what she practiced. "C'est mon frisbee. Il est bleu. Je l'ai achet'e a Diner. Je l'ai mis sur le sapin pour Noel." She said it went really well. A couple of people asked questions, like what it was made of and what shape it is, and she understood and answered them in French. For some reason Max's class didn't do the descriptions. Jean had coffee with Jackie, Sebastian's Mom, today, and Jackie said she's opening up a patisserie right near us with her boyfriend who's a chocolatier. I think we will be happy to try it out.

Thu, 1/21/16. Blue Day.

Today I got an email from the Austrian Consulate saying Max and Gemma's passports are in! I can't believe that whole process is over and it worked. I've learned so much about European bureaucracy the past couple years. Jean and I were talking today about what has been the hardest bureaucratic thing here. It's hard to tell. It's kinda like an 8-way tie or something. We've had 4 trips to the police to get Jean's residency and that's still brewing, with our next appointment in Feb. On one of the trips we had to wait in the waiting room for several hours before being helped. It took about 4 trips to the Pantheon to get the kids enrolled in school. I know I went down to Electricite De France 3 times to get enrolled and get a statement from them. Getting a phone and changing apartments were a bit of a process. The mail has been interesting here too. But I think clearly the hardest and most annoying bureaucratic thing has been opening a French bank account, and being told it would take a week and having it take 4 weeks for the account to really open and my funds to become available. I probably went to the bank 7 or 8 times to open that account. Anyway, we've been successful with everything we've tried to do so I can't complain. I'm tired of having this cold I've had all week and can't seem to completely shake. As a result I haven't done anything interesting. Just taking the kids to school and going to the market in this cold weather feels like exercise. Today was blue day at school. Max, Gems, and all their classmates dressed in blue and brought in blue objects. Max and Gemma brought in blue frisbees they got for free when we ate at HD Diner, the milkshake place. Tonight at home Gems drew the elephant above. She constantly wants Jean and me to tell her stories of when she and Max were babies and we are running out. Interestingly, Max, due his recent obsession with money, seems to be better than Gems at math now, or at least at counting, adding and subtracting. She's still better at Rubik's cube though.

Wed, 1/20/16. Gaufres.

Today I gave the kids gaufres for their weekly treat. They were delicious and a great way to warm up on a freezing cold day. We got to look at the pictures Gems has been making at school, thanks to her nice teacher, Madame Gentil. Gems made this picture of a policewoman above and the one next to it is an ogre. I asked Gems what it was and she said what sounded like "it's a log". It took me a while to realize she was saying "l'ogre". Today we played games including Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Tue, 1/19/16. Freezing!

Today and yesterday have been so cold, with highs like 1 or 2 degrees Celsius and lows around -4. It's so cold, our apartment doesn't get warm even if we leave the heat on. Today Max stayed home with me after school while Jean took Gems to ballet class. Gems calls Jean "Ma" now for some reason, and me "Da". Maybe it's too cold for the full word. The markets don't have a lot of fruit options these days. They have oranges, tangerines, apples, and kiwis, but that's about it. There are no melons of any kind, no more delicious pears and persimmons as they had in the Fall, and occasionally berries but rarely. Jean has delusions about Max and Gems being tall enough to ride Space Mountain before we leave Paris. You have to be 4 foot 4, which is the average height of an 8.5 year old boy. Max is currently 3 foot 11 and Gems is 3 foot 9 and a half, measuring with my 6 inch ruler, so it's probably plus or minus 1 or 2 inches. Above are pictures of a huge millefeuille from La Theiere and below is a picture from today of Gems imitating a mannequin in a store. Tonight Max played guitar while they watched the intro to Doc McStuffins, Jean and I applauded, and Gems said "Hey how come Max gets all the applaudience?"

Mon, 1/18/16. Appointment aschmointment.
Today Jean and I had our appointment with the police dept at noon to renew Jean's residency permit. Max was sick, so we called our babysitter Jayne who fortunately could watch him and Gems. However, when we went to the police station, after waiting about 20 min at the welcome desk with nobody there at all, the woman finally came and told us that although we had our appointment, there was nobody there who could see us, so we needed to make another one. She then paused and looked at me, I guess expecting me to say something, but what could I say? I just said "Ok." The French way must be to complain, and then she would say "sorry", and make another appointment for me, but I didn't feel like dancing that dance. I asked if we could wait and see someone later today, and got the following answer "Non." Anyway, I don't think anyone will be surprised about Paris bureaucracy at this point. Jean and I just went out to lunch at le theiere, which was great as always. On the way back we stopped at a beautiful little boutique shop called "boutique pour les filles" or something, and it was the most French store I've ever seen, with a complete mishmash of a few shoes, a few sweaters, jackets, and pants, and lots of different kinds of jewelry, all shoved in a store sbout the size of an average bathroom in the U.S.

Click here for the week of 01/17/16.
Click here for the Paris journal from 2015.