Click here for the Paris journal from 2016.
Click here for the week of 08/30/15.
Sun, 8/23/15. La Defense.
They say la best Defense is Le good Offense. Today was the last day of a 6 week festival with dancing and yoga in front of la grand Arche de la Defense. There is also a big mall there and a merry go round, plus lots of games like badminton, solo tennis, huge chess boards, a huge fussball table, and other stuff. We had a really good time. Max and Gemma tried to play badminton but quickly got frustrated and instead Max tried to make it baseball and he would pitch the ball over the net to Gemma and she would try to hit it. Max turned to me and said "You be the vampire. You decide who gets a point." We move into our new place Wed and are quite excited to do so.

Sat, 8/22/15. Housecall.
We gave Max and Gemma a robot zombie and an Anna dress for their birthdays and they were very happy. Can you guess who got what? I realized I left a key to our current place in Saint Tropez and wrote the landlady in Saint Tropez who confirmed it. She's gonna mail the key to our new place here in Paris. After eating a delicious lunch in a cafe near la Tour Eiffel, we walked to the nearby American Library and contemplated getting a membership there, and then walked back along the Seine. Max saw the steel gates surrounding the trash cans along the Seine and said "That's a jail where you if you are very unlucky. You have to eat trash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner." Then he proceeded to explain how you also had to eat the key to the jail. There was a rock climbing wall set up near the Seine and Max and Gemma spent a lot of time climbing it. Max's throat was sore and very swollen so we called a doctor who did a housecall! He charged us 90 Euros which was totally worth it as he came within 20 min, took Max's temperature, checked out his ears, throat and nose, and gave us some prescriptions to get at a pharmacy. Max is already doing better now and it was reassuring to know the doctor thinks it's nothing bad.

Fri, 8/21/15. Buses, trains and automobiles.
We packed up, cleaned up, and tried to get back to Paris. The plan was to take the 11:10am bus to Frejus which is 30km away and the bus was scheduled online to get there at 12:45pm, then we'd have an hour to get to the train station which is 5 min walk away, and our train from Frejus would leave at 1:47pm, stop in Les Arcs Draguignan for an hour where we'd change trains, and then arrive in Paris. It all sounds reasonable, right? Just to reiterate, we were taking the 11:10am bus for 30km and had to get there in 2 and a half hours. The bus was on time when we got on, but there was so much traffic it took til 1:45 to make it to Frejus. 2 hours and 35 min. People on bicycles seemed to be speeding by us. People casually strolling on the beach seemed to be speeding by us. When we got there, we ran to the train station but were too late. We weren't sure what to do and asked at information and the woman told us to taxi to the next train stop which seemed crazy, so we ignored her and wisely took a taxi to Les Arcs Draguignan and made it there with plenty of time. We are now on the train to Paris, where the train stopped in the middle and the conductor explained that the train before us had an accident and we would be delayed at least an hour. He then said "Mesdames et messieurs, this is the conductor speaking. The conductor will be giving us information soon" which made everyone laugh. We started going backwards for about half an hour, which I didn't even know trains could do, and now are going forward at full speed again. We finally made it to our apartment in Paris at 10:40pm, meaning it took door to door almost exactly 12 hours. It feels a lot like you'd feel if it took 12 hours to go from LA to Mammoth. When we got home, Jean looked on her computer and noticed there had been a terrorist attack on a French train North of Paris. The attack was disrupted by two American marines and I don't think anyone died. They said many trains were delayed in the wake of the attack. I'm not sure if this is why our train was delayed, but maybe. It kinda makes me feel stupid for complaining about the delay.

Thu, 8/20/15. Jellyfish attack!
Today we went to Club 55 beach which was nice but not nearly as nice as Plage des Salins, surprisingly. We had heard this was where the billionaires go and was extremely exclusive, with the restaurant charging $100 per person minimum, so we thought it would be extremely ritzy, but it was just ok, very rocky and wavy and not calm and plush and sandy like Plage des Salins was. It was also quite crowded, though we found a spot away from the traffic and were nearly the only ones swimming. Margaret got stung by a jellyfish, and it started bubbling up on her wrist. We weren't sure if the rumored antidote was true or not, but Elijah peed on her wrist and immediately it went away, so I guess it is true after all. At night the kids watched Oliver and Company on the DVD while Tony gave us psychological personality tests involving asking us about our favorite animals and why we like them. Tomorrow we are back to Paris and the Elijahs are back to Ireland, but fortunately we will see them again next week when they come to Paris.

Wed, 8/19/15. La plage des salins.
Today all 9 of us crammed into a huge taxi and went to la plage des salins, about 15 min away, which is the northernmost of a famous strip of beaches near Saint Tropez. It was really beautiful and we had an incredible time at the beach. The water was really shallow, like waist high for an adult, for about 100 feet, and then dropped off suddenly and became deep. The sand was very crowded and mostly filled with adults who seemed to be staring at us and possibly frowning when we arrived and put our stuff down, but we were mostly in the water which was close to empty. Elijah's grandpa was talking about bananas at one point and asked Max if he liked bananas, and Max said yes and Elijah's grandpa said "Who wouldn't like bananas" and Max said "My Dad's brother doesn't like bananas." I thought it was a pretty good sentence. I didn't even realize Max knew Randy didn't like bananas but I guess so. Bank of America is making it hard for me to transfer money to our new landlord's account, which is a little worrisome but I think we will get it figured out with a little help from our friends and family.

Tue, 8/18/15. Happy birthday!
Max and Gemma turned 5 today! In the morning, Max looked at his hands and feet and said "Are my hands bigger? Are my legs longer?" The Kims were a little hung over from their late night out last night at a restaurant where Carl Lagerfeld was also eating. For their birthday, we took the Super 3 as they call themselves on the merry go round, then Jean took Gemma to the butterfly museum while the others went to the farmer's market, which was really more like a flea market, and then we had lunch and bought little birthday cakes. Jean and I wanted to cook fish but went to two supermarkets, neither of which had any fish, and when we asked, multiple people informed us that you can only buy fish in the morning here. So we got frozen shrimp and made a shrimp stir fry, which actually seemed to go over quite well, as did the delicious cakes. At night we watched some of Fantastic Four and played with Max and Gemma's new presents, including big pencil sets and cute shirts from the Kims as well as a cupcake set for Gemma from us and a weird stretchy toy and car for Max from us, where according to the instructions you are supposed to put the car together, then throw this rubbery guy at the car and brake it into pieces. Max loved it and he and Elijah fought over it. Walking around town today, Max did a little more of his Maxie language . It was a great birthday all in all, and before going to bed, Max and Gems both said they wanted to have a similar day tomorrow. More photos from Saint Tropez are here .

Mon, 8/17/15. Lazy day.
We went to Pearl Beach again, which today was sunny and windy, so windy that they didn't rent out umbrellas at all because it would be too dangerous. So we played in the sea and basked in the sun for a while and then took a nice long nap at home. At night, we just sat around watching tv, eating, and reading Mr. Jelly and the related books which Elijah had brought. I've been reading Harry Potter to the kids at night and before naptime. They really like it and I think understand it pretty well. Elijah's reading is amazing. He can read cursive graffiti on the buildings on the way to the beach. He can be stubborn though, like Gemma, and wild like Max, so Tony joked he's a combination of their worst qualities. It's not at all true though. He's a very sweet kid and he is getting along amazingly well with both M and G. It can be hard for 3 people of any age to all get along all the time, but these guys are coming about as close as you can get. One thing Elijah does not share with Max and Gemma is their love of food, and tv. Elijah is quite indifferent about both actually, and it was funny hearing him say "Let's turn the tv off now" and hearing Margaret urge him to "finish your cheerios!" You would just never hear either of those sentences in our family. But otherwise, in many ways he does seem just exactly like Max and Gemma, and the 3 of them spend a lot of time laughing together. In the water today we were playing Octopus, which is a game where you try to find some seaweed or something in the water and pretend it's an octopus and throw it at the other people. Then we played Fish Market, where I would say I need salmon, or cod, or whatever, and Jean would pick up one of the kids and throw him or her to me. The water is a strange temperature. They say it is 77 degrees but it seems really cold when you first get in, but then when you are in it feels warm somehow.
P.S. Jean says Fish Market is the greatest game ever invented.

Click here for the week of 08/16/15.