Click here for the Paris journal from 2016.
Click here for the week of 12/31/15.
Sun, 12/27/15. Le mouvement sculpte.

Today we went to the Louvre where Max and Gems did a workshop for kids called "Le mouvement sculpte". To our surprise, Jean and I were not invited. It was for kids only and we couldn't even watch. It was also for ages 6 and up and all in French, but Max and Gems made it through. Apparently they went through the Louvre looking at statues, and making the poses the statues were making. Max and Gemma both described the main thing they noticed as "the bare weeners and bare booties". While they were doing the workshop, Jean and I had a great time leisurely looking around the Louvre and especially enjoyed a temporary exhibit they have called A Brief History of the Future, which was extremely pretentious but the art was really good and it was really unique to see super old art dating back 4000 years along with some really modern stuff. We realize we're getting jaded with Paris. The architecture is all just so beautiful it's getting hard to appreciate it. We showed Max and Gems photos of Versailles because we're going there this week, and Gemma said "I've seen that already." At the Louvre, we again left their trottinettes in what I'm calling my locker, namely the area below the lowest shelf of trinkets in the corner of the Louvre museum shop. Today Max and Gemma each opened one more present from Santa and they got checkers and cool book where you put strips of tape on the pictures, and they liked them just ok but seem to have noticed that the gift quality is going down.

Sat, 12/26/15. Nathan was right.

Tonight we hired a babysitter, for the first time since coming to Paris, and Jean and I saw Star Wars. It was great. Nathan was right about it being the "best movie ever". It brought back lots of memories of how excited we were about the original movies. Our babysitter, Jayne, an American from Florida living here for about the same time as us, was really nice and hit it off very well with Max and Gemma. Earlier today I took Max to the Pompidou while Gems and Jean rested as they were both pretty beat and maybe a little under the weather. Max loves trotinetting from the top of the hill overlooking the Pompidou and going at top speed until he almost crashes into the people in line, scaring them and me every time even though he never gets closer than about 10 feet to them. Inside the Pompidou we saw the two time world champion of sand castling, Dale Murdoch, reshaping his sand sculpture into some new shape, which was cool. Each day, Max and Gemma are opening one more Christmas present from Santa Claus, and today Gems got a dartboard where instead of darts you throw these balls that stick to the board, and Max got Monopoly which we played until it was clear it was gonna take forever. So Star Wars is still Star Wars, and Monopoly is still Monopoly. It's funny how even the name sounds like monotony. I don't get what makes the game interesting to people but somehow M and G were kinda into it, initially at least. They like playing with the fake money mostly. At one point both Jean and I were in jail, and Gemma said, very exasperated, "Both of our parents are in jail!" The properties are all different here, like Boulevard Saint Michel and Champs Elysees.

Fri, 12/25/15. It was nice knowin' ya.

Max and Gems got up early and opened their presents from Mima and Umpa and the Starks family. Mima and Umpa got them walkie talkie watches which they loved, as well as the thing they said they most wanted, these Disney bow and arrows with suction cups on the arrows. They were really happy, and even happier when they opened their gifts from the Starks and it was their own Kindles! They are already addicted to them and so Jean and I were saying "it was nice knowing them" as our days of them noticing us are probably over now. We gave Jean a Disney blanket and Jean and the kids got me a new Rubik's cube plus a 2 by 2 by 2 Rubik's cube which surprisingly is about as hard as the normal one. Gems also got an Ariel doll which she adores and Max got a connect the dot book, both from Santa. After the gift opening, we trotinetted into the 7th and looked around the Bon Marche, shown above in the last couple photos, where it was all decked out for Christmas. At night we skyped with the Starks family and with the Melanies, Marlenas and Mima and Umpa, and it was great seeing and talking to the family though Max and Gems were too tired for it and didn't really participate. Alex was talking a ton though and telling lots of great jokes, like 123456789...20. In talking to the family, Umpa told us how his homemade gift for Lucas was tennis lessons plus a history of his won tennis achievements from the 1950s. Kala told us she just got back from Disneyland in Anaheim so we compared notes. Kala's favorite was Thunder Mountain. I told them how It's a Small World here has interesting portrayals of France and the U.S., with America represented by a mule roasting a hotdog over a campfire. France was represented by 3 violinists playing music in front of the Eiffel Tower. Mila also just got back from Magic Mountain though we didn't hear which was her favorite ride. Based on my reaction to the Nemo ride at Disneyland though, I doubt I would like it!

Thu, 12/24/15. Christmas Eve.

Today we went to the Hotel de Ville and then the Champs Elysees to see the Christmas lights and decorations, some of which are shown above. Max and Gems sat on a bench and drew pictures of the lights and the Arc de Triomphe while Jean did some last minute Christmas shopping at the Disney store. We then went to the American Church for their musical services, which were great, and they sang Christmas songs and stuff. Max and Gems liked it but we didn't have time to eat dinner beforehand and so they had to leave halfway through. We then found this great little cafe where we ate salads and a delicious Christmas patisserie shown above called a bouchette, and they let Gems use the worker's bathroom which saved us, and then taxied home. The taxi driver got angry at Max for putting his shoe on the seat and called Max a baby which made Maxie cry, and before that the balloon he received from a guy on the Champs Elysees popped, so it was a tough night for the little guy. In the church, next to me was a father and two sons about 14-16 years old. Both boys were typing on their phones and talking to each other the whole time during the music, and the dad seemed ok with it. The dad was on his phone part of the time too. I'm not sure you can get more disrespectful than that. One other thing I'd like to bemoan is the occasional lack of respect people have for this great invention called the LINE. I did a little arithmetic while in line for Pinnochio yesterday. It said the line was about 30 min, and there were about 500 people ahead of me in line, so that means each person is about 4 sec. Calculated another way, each boat holds about 12-15 people, and they leave about once a min, so again, it's about 4 sec a person. So for someone to cut in front of Max, Gemma, and me, it would only save them an estimated 12 sec. The effort put into trying to cut in front of us, and the annoyance and discomfort to us by people breathing down our necks and giving us no personal space for 30 min is incredible. We just let a few people cut in front of us actually, both in Pinnochio and some other rides, and it was much nicer to just wait until an American was behind us. Anyway, that's my rant of the day. By the way, the music at the Church was really good, and to my surprise the songs they sang were exactly those our family typically sings, like Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, etc. It always surprises me when I've listened to Christmas music on the radio or in concerts it seems to always be other (and in my opinion much worse) stuff, like Oh Holy Night, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, Last Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Happy Christmas, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and All I want for Christmas is you, so I was really happy with the selection at the American Church here. They played pieces by Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi and others too, and a really beautiful one all on handbells. Merry Christmas!

Wed, 12/23/15. A wild ride at Disneyland.

I took M and G to Disneyland today, and we are all totally exhausted. We woke up at 630am to try to get there by 8am when it opens for us annual passholders, and ended up getting there at 815. The time til 10am, when it opens for the public, is called Extra Magic Hours, and they were amazing for us. We walked right up to Buzz Lightyear with no line at all, and had next to no lines for Peter Pan, Small World, Dumbo, Teacups, and of course Stroller Mountain. We then headed over to Disney Studios and got in line for Crush's Coaster around 945, but for some reason the magic was over and the line was 80 min long. We waited through it, and when we got to the front, the workers said Max and Gemma couldn't go on it without two adults because they are under 7. Of the million rules that were listed, this was not, but whatever. They gave us passes to go on Cars and Aladdin with no waiting, which we used immediately, and then we saw Cinemagique which was awesome and went back to Disneyland. Gemma wanted to try the Riverboat so we went there and it was closed. We then went to Autopia, but quickly realized they probably wouldn't let us ride that without two adults either, so we caught about half of this Princes and Princesses show, did Pirates, and got splashed on it by the way which we loved, and then got in line for Pinnochio, which after 30 min of waiting announced it was shutting down for technical repairs. So then we did nearby Snow White, saw the dragon's lair, did a quick ride on Lancelot's carousel, I got some Christmas gifts hurriedly while the kids were playing with other toys in the shop, and we left for home. It was just too crowded and too many things were going wrong. Basically the first couple hours were incredible and the next 5 hours were mediocre, so we called it a day.

Tue, 12/22/15. Silencio.

Jean asked the kids "Should we make a special dinner for Christmas? Should I make my cheese souffle?" and the kids were just silent, so Jean is taking it as a no. Today had a lot of changes of plans. We were gonna get up early and go to Disneyland, but Jean woke up not feeling well, and the kids had a long day yesterday, so we just decided to bag it. Instead, we slept in and then I took the kids to the Pompidou, which was closed, so we went to the Picasso museum, but then I discovered I didn't have our annual pass with me, so then we went to a nearby park and played there, and then played outside the Pompidou and went home. Max loved scooting really fast down the little hill that leads into the Pompidou, and Gems did that too but then switched to playing with the man who blows huge bubbles. Tomorrow I'm gonna take the kids to the Dis while Jean sleeps and hopefully gets over her cold. Tonight we played more Spot It and Max beat Jean like 3 or 4 times in a row. We've been talking a lot about the tv show The Voice and which are our favorite songs from it. Jean thinks my pick is boring, but Max thinks her pick is boring. Max picked this song called "Country Boy" and whenever we play it he can't help dancing to it.

Mon, 12/21/15. En haut de la Tour.

Today was a beautiful day, clear and warm for here, so after my morning meeting with Marc Hoffmann, who by the way is really interested in my idea and seems to be running with it bigtime, we went to la Tour Eiffel and took the elevator all the way to the top. The line took a long time, especially the line to take the elevator back down, but it was a lot of fun anyway. It was sooooo incredibly windy at the top. It was the windiest thing Max and Gemma had ever seen. Jean had fear of heights so didn't go with us, and she took Max and Gemma's trotinettes and walked all the way back home. I took the RER back home, where sitting across from us was a French woman knitting a scarf, and Max and Gems stared at her and were very intrigued. Then we stopped at Amorino for a 6 Euro hot chocolate I'd promised them, and it was delicious. Exhausted, the kids went straight to bed at like 745pm.

Click here for the week of 12/20/15.