Click here for the Paris journal from 2016.
Click here for the week of 12/27/15.
Sun, 12/20/15. Disney on Ice.

Today we went to Parc de la Villette with Gemma's friend Clara and her dad Julien, to see Disney on Ice. They basically acted out most of Toy Story 3, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and Frozen, with the characters skating to music in front of a crowd of about 3000 people. French people are so quiet, the performers seemed to be trying to get people to applaud but they weren't doing it, and I noticed they kind of added in some percussion on the music on the stereo right at the times of big jumps or other key times, to make it sound a little like applause. On the way to the show, we were talking about how much stuff there is to do in Paris, and Julien talked about how he knows so many people in their 40s who were so busy in their 20s and 30s traveling and doing all the fun things Paris has to offer that they forgot to have kids. Anyway, Max and Gemma liked the show despite initially not thinking they would. Afterwards we played at the park for a long time, and went down the dragon slide which is huge and fast, and is supposed to be for kids 8-14 yrs old.

Sat, 12/19/15. Carnival des animaux.

Today we took it really easy in the morning, though Maxie got up early and watched cartoons on tv, setting himself up to be sleepy and in a bad mood later. In the afternoon we went to this show at the Louvre called Carnival des Animaux where two pianists played music by Saint-Saens while a soprano sang songs and acted out various animals. Jean and I agreed it was the most French thing we've ever seen in our lives. The place was packed with about 100 kids or more, and their parents. However, it wasn't really all that kid friendly. It was basically a classical concert with a little bit of visuals and a few little periods of question and answer and taking requests. Nevertheless all the French kids quietly sat straight through it. At one point they took requests and one kid requested some folk song about buying good tobacco or something, and I recognized it as a song Mima sang to the kids when we were in Vienna. Gemma is getting very interested in religion. On on the way to the Louvre she said she liked learning about Jesus, looking at paintings of him, going into churches and that she wanted to put her finger in holy water, and she asked how she could become Catholic. Jean said Gemma would need to go to Catholic school and then get baptized in a bath. Gemma asked why and Jean said something way too sophisticated (something about being absolved of blasphemous misdeeds and renouncing former faiths...). Gemma thought about this for a long time and then said,"I don't understand what any of those words actually mean." It was really funny. When we got to the Louvre, they wouldn't let us take the trottinettes in, so I hid them in the gift shop under this bottom cabinet where nobody ever seems to be looking. This has happened to us before so I now call the space my "locker". Sure enough, they were right there when we left. On the way home, we passed by two violinists beautfiully playing Mozart under the arches of the Louvre, and Max and Gemma stopped scooting and loved it.

Fri, 12/18/15. Pizza party.

Today was Max and Gemma's last day of school in 2015. Jean and I had coffee with Jackie, another American in Paris with a 4 year old son in our same school, and we talked about French people and all their idiosyncracies. She's been here 8 years and has some interesting takes on things. One thing that occurred to me is that French men seem very jovial and they smile and joke around a lot, whereas French women we know seem serious most of the time and rarely smile or laugh. We have various theories on why this might be. Maybe Kala can weigh in as to what she thinks. Jackie thought it has to do with power. She says French people, esp women, think they are holding the upper hand if they are kind of mean and stern. Jean thinks it's that American women are being forced by society to smile all the time, whereas French women are just being honest when they aren't smiling and jovial all the time. I think it's that society is telling French women they are being good parents by being stern and strict all the time. Jackie had quite interesting and critical things to say about Bringing Up Bebe and French parenting in general. She said the norm here is to let babies cry it out at like 4-6 weeks old, and if you don't, then you are too permissive a parent. She also said they have a saying that in France, children should be seen but not heard, and preferably not seen either. Anyway, at night after some frisbee at the park with Maxie, we had our Finnish friends over for a pizza party. Auri and Gems were holding hands and hugging, Max played with Auri's 2 year old little sister Iiris most of the time, and the adults talked, mostly again about the idiosyncracies of the French. As much as we do talk about the French, we all agreed we are really lucky to have such a good school, and the people there are really nice. After Eva, Kale, Auri and Iiris left, I played basketball, but after 2 glasses of wine I played the worst I have in a long time, making I think 1 of 6 shots. My first 2 shots didn't even hit the rim. Speaking of bad basketball, Kobe Bryant is tied for 13th out of 121 qualified NBA players in number of field goals attempted, just a little behind Kevin Durant. And he is 121st out of 121 in percentage made. He is WAY behind number 120, Joe Johnson. He'd have to make his next 13 shots in a row just to catch Joe Johnson.

Thu, 12/17/15. Diana.
Today at pickup we got to meet the famous Diana, the lunchlady and Max's favorite person in Paris. Max waved goodbye to her through a window and she blew a kiss to him. We also got Gemma's artwork which was great. The kids are very excited about Christmas and thoroughly enjoying their tree, saying good morning to it first thing in the morning and good night to it before they go to sleep. As we left school today, Joseph, the leader of the "bad team", was leaving, and I had some waffle cookies for Max and Gems so at my suggestion Max ran after Joseph and gave him a waffle cookie. Max thinks that will win him lots of points with Joseph tomorrow. By the way, tomorrow is the last day of school before Winter break. We only have 6 more months in Paris so we decided we need to take advantage of every day, and so Jean and I made plans for what we're gonna do during the break, including a pizza night tomorrow with Auri, a special thing at the Louvre on Sat, Disney Sur Glace at the Parc Villette on Sun, ice skating on Mon, Disneyland on Tue, seeing Christmas lights Wed, Christmas music concert on Thu, trying out our new babysitter Jayne on the 26th, a Louvre dance workshop on the 27th, Parc Villette on the 28th, La Tour Eiffel on the 29th, a Louvre art and animals workshop on the 30th, and Versailles on the 31st. We also planned a bunch of excursions, including the Canary Islands and Spain in late Feb, Giverny and Salzburg in late Apr, Provence and Amsterdam in the first 2 weeks of May, and Palermo and Dublin in Jul. I'm not sure we can do all of it but we will try.

Wed, 12/16/15. Christmas tree.

Today we got a Christmas tree and Max and Gems not only picked it out but decided to decorate it with straws and frisbees they got from the diner place where they got their much loved milkshakes. Yes, unbelieeeeevable as it may be, Max does love vanilla milkshakes. Max also brought home from school a fantastic painting of his today, shown above, and Gems's I guess is coming tomorrow. Gemma got a lot of compliments on her artwork in school from one of the dads and the teacher. In the evening we met with Jayne, an American babysitter here, who might do some babysitting for us, and she seems really nice.

Tue, 12/15/15. Emmanuel Roy and last dance.

Today I had lunch with Emmanuel Roy, a probabilist I last saw 12 years ago here in Paris. We went to a Japanese restaurant he picked in the 2nd, and it was the most French Japanese restaurant I'd ever seen, with authentic Japanese things on the menu like breaded chicken cutlets in rich mayonaisy sauce. Emmanuel's so nice, and we might work on some research together. Today was also Max and Gemma's last ballet class of the year, and the teacher let the parents stay and watch. The teacher made an announcement at the beginning which I thought was so French. She said, in French, "Please do not take any photos of the children dancing. After all, you wouldn't want someone taking photos of your child." Most of the parents, including us, were very disappointed by this, especially because we wouldn't mind at all if Max and Gems were in the background of someone else's photo. But whatev. We took photos afterwards, with Auri and Clara, and Auri's sister Iiris. Max was the only boy, of the 16 kids in the class, but he seemed to like it a lot and the class is great, with a very good piano player playing really good classical songs throughout.

Mon, 12/14/15. Mani mogo.
Gems went back to school today, and got a really warm welcome from her best friend here, the finnish girl Auri. So she had a good day. Basically whenever Auri plays with her she's happy. While they were in school, Jean and I went back to the Korean restaurant near us, Miam Miam, and it was delicious again. The waitress remembered us and asked where the kids were, and even remembered what we ordered last time. Is it because I gave her a nice tip last time? I tried out a little Korean on her, just kamsamnida and mani mogo, which she seemed to appreciate. We then went to Musee d'Orsay to see their new exhibit and also to check why we haven't received our year pass yet, as it's been 3 weeks since we bought it, but they were closed, so instead we shared a delicious patisserie, a rhubarb and pear pie. After getting the kids, we went briefly to Parc Cluny and had some relay races and played Quelle heure est il Monsieur Renard with Auri and her little sister Iris. Max loves relay races with us where he is on his trottinette and we are running. It's a close race. At night Jean made a fantastic ratatouille which did not go over too well with the kids but we liked it and coerced them to eat it.

Click here for the week of 12/13/15.