Mon, 8/3/15. Welcome to Paris.
I've decided to start chronicling our days in Paris, partly as a journal we can read years from now, and partly so we can remember what day it is. The 10 days or so before leaving, we put forth an enormous amount of effort into boxing and moving our stuff to get ready for this trip. It was ridiculous actually, with every day both Jean and me winding up completely sweaty and exhausted. My bad decision was to get a truck, hire people to load our stuff into and out of the truck, and use public storage in Colton, which was totally dirty and dusty so we ended up changing to public storage in Redlands. We needed two trips, the storage places closed much earlier than we expected and traffic was awful, and it ended up being an extremely stressful and exhausting thing. Even after moving most of our stuff out, we still had tons of last minute things to get rid of or store, and again packing them up in the last minute was really stressful and exhausting. We are pledging never to do anything like that again. We packed so much stuff, with 4 big suitcases, 4 little backpacks and 4 carry ons. Navigating through the airport was tricky. Max and Gemma were terrific on the plane, very happily watching movies but hardly sleeping. The flight was great and amazingly no one of us got sick. With all of our luggage and a ridiculous line for the RER, we made a good decision to take the bus to Paris, which was very convenient and nice, and then got two taxis to take us to our apartment where the landlady Madame Roset-Petit met us and was really nice and extremely classy. She helped us pay for one of our taxis who would only take cash and had no change. Then she showed us around the apartment which was fine, with a great location, high ceilings, sloped floors, and a beautiful glass elevator that Max and Gemma loved to play with. Before she left, she said there's a crazy man downstairs who always loves to talk and complain about noise, but just ignore him. Then she left around 1pm. While Jean crashed and took a nap, I walked around and had a delicious lunch with the kids, and then we napped, walked around a little, got a light dinner, and I got some groceries, and as we were getting ready for bed, sure enough the man downstairs, Jack, rang our bell and said the walls and floors in the old building are very thin and asked if we could keep it down.

Tue, 8/4/15. Jack.
We all got up around 6am and had breakfast in the apt. Around 7am Jack yelled at us to be quiet. We left and were out most of the day exploring around our neighborhood and trying to take advantage of the last day of the solde. We thought about getting stuff from ikea like kid beds and a dining table and chairs. We're currently using 2 chairs and a bed and a little round table to eat off of, and Max and Gemma are sharing a pullout couch. Instead though we walked to a department store called les Galeries Lafayette and I bought some pants and underwear. Max was hilarious, as I was asking workers there for help in French and Max turned to one and just started talking in jibberish. Also, in the streets when a car comes close to him as he is crossing the street Max sticks his hand out at the car and says ''stop''. Max and Gemma seem to really like Paris by the way, and Gemma said the city ''is so alive''. Here is Gemma's Paris picture of the Eiffel tower, the lock Esmerelda gives the hunchback of Notre Dame, l'Arc de Triomphe, herself loving Paris, and a heart symbolizing our red apartment. We spent a good amount of time in a very nice toy store there where Gemma really wanted a music box similar to one Jennifer has. Max and Gemma had their first crepe, both deciding on nutella only. It went over very well. When we got back home around 3:30, it only took til 4 for Jack to ring our bell and come over again. He invited me in to his place for a drink, and I came in though said I had to leave in a couple min. He kept trying to offer me a drink, and rambled on and on about all kinds of things like gossip about Hillary Swank living in this building and antisemitism in Paris, and how his friends are moving to Israel and stuff. I kept having to cut him off. He said the noise is terrible and this morning it was like living under a racetrack. I repeatedly told him, I think 3 times, that we would be quiet at night, like between 11pm and 630am, but otherwise could not guarantee we would not make noise. Every time, he would say ''Yes, that's fine, normal noise is fine,'' but then in the next breath he would say something crazy, indicating that we were extremely noisy, like ''Just don't treat the apartment like it's a racetrack.'' The weirdest part was that we felt we hadn't been making any noise yet. All we'd done was sleep basically. I left and went back to our place and we all took a nap. We ended up waking up at like 830pm, and just ate a small dinner in the apt. I went on a brief walk over the bridge with Max and Gemma and we looked at the lit up Eiffel Tower which they loved. Max also loves pushing the buttons to cross the street, even if we aren't crossing. We all went to sleep around 130am, and as we were putting the kids down and then just lying in bed talking about how crazy this Jack guy is, he started banging on his ceiling and yelling at us.

Wed, 8/5/15. Tuileries.
We got up around 630am, had another delicious breakfast in the apt, and walked around the Tuileries. There's some kind of carnival amusement park thing going on there, and Max and Gemma really enjoyed playing not only in the park but also on the rides. We had a very nice lunch at a Lebanese place, and also got an ice cream, with Max and Gemma disappointingly opting for the bright blue candy flavor instead of the other delicious gelati choices. We walked to Lodgis, where we met with very nice Manuela Falletta and told her we can't stay in our apartment and want to move somewhere else. She showed us a place in the 15th, and we told her about two we like in the 5th and 1st. She said she would look into them and also would talk to Mme Roset-Petit. We had emailed Mme Roset-Petit the day before, telling her we can't live like this with this crazy guy under us, and she told us to call the police, which we have no desire to do. Anyway, we felt it went well with Manuela Falletta and felt optimistic we could switch. Max and Gemma were exhausted after all the running in the playground and walking around in the heat, and fell completely asleep in the office of Lodgis! Otherwise they didn't nap though, and when we got back to our place at 730pm, Max conked out without dinner and Gemma, Jean and I just ate a tiny dinner and went to sleep too. Madame Roset wrote us that she texted Jack and hoped things would get better with him, and sure enough it seems he hasn't complained tonight, though Gemma just woke up crying at 2am and we are not sure but it sounds like he cranked up his tv in response.

Thu, 8/6/15. Luxembourg.
Today was pretty similar to yesterday. We got up around 730, ate breakfast, walked to the Tuileries and went on a couple rides. We had promised Max yesterday that we'd take him on the merry go round but ran out of time so we told him he could do it today, and he demanded that it be first thing in the morning, after breakfast but "before getting dressed". We didn't honor the latter request but did get to the ride right when it opened and Max had a blast on the motorcycle while Gemma sat on Bonjour Kitty. We were up early enough for Gemma to be the first one drawing chalk on the huge black chalkboard on Quai d'Anatole. They played at the Tuileries park again and Jean and I sat next to a couple of American women who had kids and were pregnant and were both living in Scotland the past few years and spending the month in Paris. One had a Southern accent and knew absolutely no French, and it was comical hearing her interact with a French man. She asked "How do y'all say 'what's your name'?" He answered "My name is Patrick" And she said "No, I mean, how do you ask someone what their name is?" and he took a while to get it. You can't blame him. It would've been hard for anyone living West of Mississippi to understand her. Jean and I were remembering a Saturday Night Live skit where these southern American women go to France and are in a restaurant and one says "Do y'all have 5 Alive?" and the other says "No, it's cinq. Do y'all have Cinq Alive?" The waiter then brings them wine, and they're happy. Anyway, after playing at the park we again walked to Lodgis, stopping at the lego store before talking to Manuela again about apartments. She set up a meeting with us and the owner of a place in the 5th on Rue St. Jacques, and we went there and saw the place and liked it a lot. It's smaller than our current one, but the area is wonderful and it did not seem to have a crazy man yelling at us. He said we can't move in til the 22nd or so though, which is fine. On the way back we got delicious ice creams at Amarino, which we remembered adoring last time we were here, and then went to the Jar Luxe where they have a HUGE kids play area where you pay like 2.50 to enter and there is just endless stuff to do. They have a circular zip line for kids 7 and older and Gemma really wanted to do it. Probably in a few months she can sneak on but we told her not today. We stopped on the way home into a cheese shop and boulangerie recommended by Jean's friend Ellen and ate them for dinner. The fuzzy aged chevre was unbelievably good. The kids conked out immediately at 8pm. Jack hasn't bothered us today, perhaps because Mme Roset has insisted that he leave us alone and stop harrassing us, and said if he wants to complain he should call her. And unless we are misreading her French, we think she said she is going to have him arrested on Aug 25. Apparently he did call her, saying we never sleep and are making noise all hours of the day. Whatever, crazy is crazy. It is nicer knowing we are moving out soon. The irony is we are actually getting over our jet lag amazingly well and quickly. We do have to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night occasionally, but man, I remember last time we were in Paris in 2004, and Jean and I for the first week were up from like 2-5am every day. This time we have been close to normal from the get go and I think by today already we're basically on a good schedule. By the way, we have eaten with the kids at like 4 restaurants or so, and are usually picking the most casual places possible, and thus far we have seen a grand total of zero children not named Max or Gemma at these restaurants.

Fri, 8/7/15. La Tour Eiffel.
Today was a great day. In the morning we went to see another apartment, this one a more spacious place in the 1st, and then went to the Tuileries where Gemma started playing with two 7 year old twin sisters, Olivia and Emile, while I talked to their Dad, a journalist who was also named Frederic. Olivia looks a lot like Zoe, and as we were leaving I told Gemma, "Doesn't Olivia look like Zoe?" and Gemma responded "Yeah. I wish the real Zoe were here." There was a little well type thing in the park where you pump and water comes out, and Max and Gemma completely soaked themselves in the water, which was nice because it was sunny and hot, like 85 degrees. We looked for this creperie but it turned out to be closed. Actually a good number of the restaurants people have recommended to us are closed for August. After a nap, we walked toward La Tour Eiffel, eating at an incredibly delicious restaurant again recommended by Ellen, where Max and Gemma got complimented on their good behavior. It was a very adult place with very adult food, and Gems was not happy when her shrimp was served with "soap", which was really a delicious foam. For dessert they got the most delicious ile flotante and profitteroles, which went over very well. Gemma asked "Do I have chocolate on my face?" Then we went right up to La Tour Eiffel which they were both very excited to see up close, and we played in a little playground there. We decided we like the apartment in the 5th slightly more, even though it is smaller and not as nice inside, because we like the neighborhood more. By the way, we are up to like 7 restaurants now and in these restaurants we have seen zero children other than Max and Gemma, and 1 dog.

Sat, 8/8/15. Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait.
This was another very successful day. We decided on the apt in the 5th. In the morning Jean went to the Musee d'Orsay gift shop to get postcards so we could show them to the kids before we go to the museum and then they could look for those paintings when we get to the museum, probably sometime next week. Then we got a snack in a little coffee and pastry place, and Max and Gemma wanted a pain au chocolat and Jean said they could only have it if they ordered it in French. They were very shy about it but ended up ordering "Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait" after much practicing. The woman was very amused and gave them their order, which tasted extra sweet having worked for it. It was their first time really saying something in French here other than "merci" or "au revoir". As we sat outside and ate in the cafe, Gemma had a very existentialist experience, asking Max "Is it tomorrow, or yesterday?" We then took our first Metro, and wanting to do something off the beaten track while it's August and crowded, we went to the Lego exhibit at this museum in the 15th and it was pretty lame but the kids enjoyed it a lot. Max's favorite part was the video game in the gift shop. At night we walked on the quai Anatole again and listened to the street performers play guitar. The kids swung very bravely on the jungle gym and we played this French game kinda like Jenga where you try to remove sticks without having monkeys fall off. By the way, Gemma has a very loose tooth and my prediction is it's gonna fall out on her birthday, in 10 days.

Sun, 8/9/15. Champs Elysees.
Today we walked to the Obelisk and then almost all the way up the Champs Elysees. It was super crowded but very cool getting a close look at the Obelisk and a relatively close look at l'Arc de Triomphe. Jean told Gemma that the Obelisk is from Egypt and Gemma immediately asked if Moses is on any of the pictures on it. We stopped in a boulangerie and ate lunch followed by a delicious chocolate eclaire which Max called a chocolate hot dog, and Gemma got a big chocolate macaroon. I have noticed that a lot of times when trying to walk somewhere, say to the NorthEast, I will plan on taking one big street North, and then taking another big street East. On the way, I might see a small street going NorthEast and try to take it as a short cut, and about 90% of the time it turns out to be a mistake, as the small street ends or curves around and changes name and veers back toward one of the big streets, and thus was a longer route than if I'd just stayed on the big streets. Basically the shortest path between two points is complicated because the directions are uncertain and changing. Maybe this is why the French invented BOTH measure theory and probability. After dinner tonight we went to the Quai d'Anatole again and Max and Gemma played on these tetherball tennis things. Then we shared a couple crepes but they didn't have sweet ones so we got one with eggs and one with egg and mushroom but Max and Gems were not impressed. In ordering the crepes, they asked me for my name so they could call me when they were done, and I said Rick. After asking me a couple times, the guy wrote down Bregue. I think I need to go by Frederic here.

Mon, 8/10/15. Patiner.
Today we went roller blading and roller skating at La Tour Eiffel. I actually didn't do it but Jean roller skated while Max and Gemma did rollerblades for their first time. They were surprisingly good at it, especially Gemma, who said she wants to get good at it so she can put on a show. She was referring to a roller blader who was doing a street performance near our apartment the other day. Our landlady went to the police today to put a cease and desist order on our neighbor. Although he's annoying, it shows what a tourist driven city Paris is that a guy could get in legal trouble just for bothering a family of Americans and complaining about noise. We've noticed some other "little differences", to quote Pulp Fiction. For example, the sign on our fridge with emergency phone numbers lists a coiffure. Does that refer to emergency haircuts? Also, a carton of eggs has 10 eggs in it here. I guess because of the metric system, again to quote Pulp Fiction. Max thinks the big decorative doorknocker things that are everywhere around la Seine are "handcuffs". We found a delicious cafe called Crepe Mamy off of Rue St. Dominique on the way to La Tour Eiffel and it was so good we went there twice today. Max was in a terrible mood on the way home but I think he was just hungry, as after lunch he was fine. In French class back home in LA, Max and Gemma's teacher Crystelle used to sing this song with them about "Un Elephant" and it goes like this , and it's funny because right outside our apartment is a big statue of an elephant. At night we walked along the Seine into the 5th and 6th arrondissements, had another delicious Amarino ice cream, and saw the school where they will probably go on Rue Saint Andre des Arts. Jean's favorite ice cream flavor so far is grapefruit, mine is hazelnut, Max's is strawberry, and Gemma's is nutella. Important stuff.

Tue, 8/11/15. Monkeys.
Today we went to the Quai d'Anatole and played the monkey game again, and then Max and Gemma played on these monkey bars that much bigger kids were playing on, and Jean said she thought it should be their goal to be able to go across the bars on their own by the end of the year. About 5 min later, Gemma went all the way across on her own! They also played solo tennis and ate more crepes. Is it our imagination or is the whole milk here 53 percent fat? Max and Gemma love watching videos from Mima and Umpa and making videos back for them, and especially watching their own silly videos to Mima and Umpa where they say things like "Happy Goodnightday to poop."

Wed, 8/12/15. 9.1 miles.
While it's warm, we've been trying to walk a lot and do outdoorsy things, but today was a bit extreme both in terms of how hot it was and how far we walked. It was 93 degrees and we walked 9.1 miles! In the morning we went to Parc Monceau, which was as picturesque as we'd heard, and there was a little playground there where the kids played for a while. In the first photo above, Max found a little stick he felt looked like a bow and arrow and was very excited about it. By the way, Max has some interesting proclivities. He has seen people smoking and said "I wish I could smoke," and he also wishes he could ride a motorcycle and shoot a gun. I'm not sure how we raised a redneck but it seems like we got one. Anyway, then we walked to the Champs Elysees and saw the movie "Le Petit Prince" completely en francais, and then walked home, had dinner, and then walked to the 6th for more ice cream at Amarino. Max had a bad moment when his ice cream fell, so we got him another one. We started implementing a system of just one dessert a day and if they get 5 whiny points they don't get the dessert. They cut it close today, with Gemma getting 3 whiny points by like 930am but then no more, and Max cutting it extremely close with 4 whiny points, all accrued at his hungriest moments. They get whiny points not just for whining but for general bad behavior like trying to not hold our hands when crossing the street or kicking the table or each other while eating. So, actually 3 points in a whole long, hot day is not bad. The food has been incredible everywhere so far, but I have to say the popcorn in the movie theater was the worst I've ever had, stale and oversalted. It's surprising, since I would have thought the French would have doted over each individual kernel.

Thu, 8/13/15. Robot zombie.
We went to Lodgis to try to get proof of our new residence we will have in a couple weeks so I can try to get the kids in preschool, but they wouldn't give me such a letter yet since the owner hasn't signed the contract yet, as he is out of town. We went to the nearby lego store and toy store, where Max saw a robot zombie he loved so we secretly got it for him for his birthday, and Jean snuck off to get Gems the Anna dress she wants. Maybe Max will be a policeman actually. In addition to cigarettes, guns and motorcycles, he also is very interested in handcuffs and coffee. Tomorrow we leave early for our 5 hour train to Saint Tropez to see Elijah and his family. We are very excited about the trip. It's raining tonight!

Fri, 8/14/15. Elijah!
We took a 5 hour train to Saint Raphael and then a 90 min bus to Saint Tropez, to spend a week with Elijah and his parents and grandparents. It's gonna be great. Saint Tropez is very picturesque and the house we're all sharing is so great, just a short walk from the center of town and super nice. Max and Gemma loved the train ride but didn't sleep at all. It was pretty stressful trying to make it to the train on time after getting up early and taking the metro in the rain with all our bags, and we made it and stepped on the train immediately before finding our seats, which turned out to be literally the very last seats all the way down the train, which meant we had to bump into countless strangers as we climbed down the crowded train. The Elijahs had a very similarly rough train experience. But, once we got to Saint Tropez it was really nice, and we had a nice crepe dinner with the Elijahs tonight and then ice cream and went to bed. It's Max and Gems's first slumber party as they and Elijah are all sleeping in bunkbeds tonight. The 2nd photo above is Gems's sippycup. We bought Darth Vader thermoses, but Gemma found hers too scary so she used stickers to make it into Dora Vader, which we joke would say things like "Come on, Luke! Vamanos to the dark side!" and "What can we use to get to the Death Star? Map!"

Sat, 8/15/15. Toothless in Saint Tropez.
Gemma's first tooth fell out today! She was eating strawberries and it just quietly, bloodlessly and painlessly fell out . She then put it in her room where le petit souris, the little mouse French equivalent of the tooth fairy, will grab it in the night and leave her a present. The last photo above is Gemma's note to le petit souris, stating her name and age. We had a fun day at the beach in Saint Tropez with Elijah and his family, and at night Tony and Margaret cooked a delicious feast of bruschetta, garlic bread, and pasta bolognese. There was a lot of What Time Is It Mr. Fox and Hide and Go Seek played as well, and the running knock knock joke is Knock Knock, Who's There, An Interrupting Shower, An Interrupting Shower Who?, On and you're all wet. If you don't get it, don't worry, neither do I. The house here is so great and Saint Tropez is very picturesque and a lot of fun so far. It's a little strange that they apparently don't believe in screen doors or windows, and you're supposed to leave your garbage in the middle of the street at night, so I'm not sure what the bug situation is here exactly but we haven't noticed many. Gemma was at one point feeling a little left out of the lovefest between Elijah and Max but it seems to have mellowed out. Saint Tropez reminds me a little of a combination of a Greek Island and Beverly Hills. There is a level of glitz and opulence that is kind of annoying, but it is also charming and beautiful and just exploring the town we came upon some really nice and fairly empty beaches where we had a great time.

Sun, 8/16/15. Pearl Beach.
Le petit souris left Gemma a note in french and a spirograph in exchange for her tooth. Gemma was very happy about the transaction. Today we found beautiful Pearl Beach and had a wonderful time there. Elijah had been not too crazy about the water yesterday but today was swimming and splashing around with Max and Gemma with full gusto. The water was really shallow for a long, long way so it was really easy to just let the kids play. We'd heard the water was 75 degrees here and that seems like an exaggeration as it is cold at first, though once you are in you get used to it immediately. We tried to make the kids nap yesterday but they didn't so as a punishment they didn't get any dessert. So today we told them they needed to nap in order to be able to get ice cream at night, and they did it very obediently and are eating their reward as I type.

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.

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 .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mon, 8/24/15. le Buffet and la Mairie.
Today it rained and we looked for restaurants for lunch but kept finding ones that were closed, til we found a Maison Pradier with a delicious buffet and ate there. It was awesome. We gorged on their salad of cantalope, shrimp and broccoli and then ate 8 desserts, namely 2 chocolate eclairs, millefeuille, lemon tart, charlotte, chocolate cream cake, raspberry tart with marzipan, and chocoate tiramisu. Their lemon cake was the sourest thing we'd ever had. It was somehow more sour than just biting into a lemon. The whole shabang was pretty incredible. We're not sure they will let us back in there after the amount we ate. In the afternoon, I got dressed up in my best clothes, shaved and showered, and went to la Mairie, the town hall. I had heard they were rude and difficult, but the workers there were so nice. It is hard to imagine them being any more nice and helpful. They patiently waited for me to finish my slow French sentences, spoke slowly back to me in french, and were in general extremely helpful and considerate. I was all ready to get super mad, because when I called them in Spring, they said they could not accept documents from me by email or fax, and I had to come in person, and could do it in Aug when I arrived. However, now on their website it says school registration must be done by June 1. So I thought they'd just say "non" and I'd have to get mad, but instead they seemed to be ready to accept my application. They even were willing to accept photocopies of Max and Gemma's birth certificates in English, though I'd heard they sometimes need things translated in French and I fully expected them to want the original, certified copies. But they were super cool. The only problem was they need a utility bill from me verifying our new address. However, they even helped me figure out how to get such a bill from EDF, the electricity company here, and gave me directions there. So now I am much more optimistic that we will be able to get them into school here and be able to settle our visa issues, and I'm much more positive about France in general. Before this it seemed like everything was so difficult, and we were wondering if we were gonna be able to work things out, but now it seems like we will. In fact, it seems like a lot of American tourists here are kind of bratty, and while the French may at times be rude, they really can't be blamed. If you're a waiter in a nice cafe, it just is not part of your job description to give every American tourist who passes by polite directions to the Louvre or whatever, in English. If anything, I think Americans should be more respectful of French culture and not the other way around. The French also seem to really think about things. Like just the way their traffic works is kind of interesting. You can jaywalk if no cars or bikes are coming, but if cars come, you have to wait til it's green or get your butt out of the street. That's a great system, and it must be incredibly difficult to get a whole society to agree to it and pull it off, but the French do it. In general they seem like as a society they have often really thought about things that others just don't think about, and they remind me in that way of our friends Doug and John, which makes it all the more remarkable that Doug also finds the French rude. But, maybe he will change his mind. Or, maybe he's right and I just got lucky today with a nice Mairie worker.

Tue, 8/25/15. Rodin.
Today we were gonna go to the musee d'Orsay but it was too long a line so we went to the musee Rodin, which was not too crowded and very fun and nice. It was our first art museum here really. The main building was under construction but the whole outdoor grounds were available and we had a great time. Max and Gemma were a little rowdy at times but in general were very good and liked it. Max's favorite part seemed to be looking through the binocular thingies they had outside. Gemma liked taking photos of everything on Jean's camera, and sitting outside drawing. I had a step backward in my efforts to get Max and Gemma in school, as I went to EDF and tried to get some kind of bill or statement or contract and got nowhere with them. After I first started saying what I wanted, the woman I talked to said, "You can speak English if you'd like" and she spoke perfect English so I did. But now I think it was a trap. I feel like the word they are most comfortable saying in English is "no", but somehow when I speak French, they are a lot more constructive. They said I need a French bank with a IBAN number to set up an account, so I looked into opening a French bank account and online they all seem to require a utility bill, so it seems like we are in a Catch 22. Jean and I had heard of this problem before. Maybe France isn't so brilliant after all. I'm gonna go back to la Mairie and see if they can take some other kind of bill instead, or some other kind of verification that we live in our apartment. If that doesn't work, I'm thinking maybe we can keep the electricity bill in our landlord's name and add my name to the account, or something. Tomorrow we move into our new place, which may or may not have electricity, and also Elijah comes into town tonight and we will see him tomorrow at le Jardin Luxembourg.

Wed, 8/26/15. Ecole and moving day.

Today I went back to la Mairie to try to beg them to let Max and Gemma into school without an EDF bill, and they agreed! So, we are in school. Elijah, Tony and Margaret came in to town last night, so while Margaret worked we met Elijah and Tony for lunch, and then while the kids napped I went to our new place on Rue St Jacques and got the keys, and in the evening we moved in. Max had to say goodbye to his beloved elevator but the new place seems to be going over well as they each have their own bed now. Max says his favorite things about Paris are the elevator and putting the ticket in the turnstile on the metro. To celebrate moving in, Max had a nutella crepe at our old crepe place from 11 years ago which is fortunately still here and still delicious, and Gemma had a crepe au nutella et banane . It feels great to move in and unpack. However, we won't have phone, internet, or tv service for another 7 to 10 days. In the meantime we have very limited internet signal from another apartment.

Thu, 8/27/15. d'Orsay.

Today we went to the Musee d'Orsay with Elijah and Tony. It was great. The kids had a lot of fun playing with the audio guides. Max said his favorite part was "the channel selected is unavailable" or something like that. Max said the last photo above was someone saying Help. I'm stuck in a block of cheese! In the afternoon we cleaned our old apt, skyped with Mima, the kids napped, and I set up an appointment for tomorrow with our school. At night we had another delicious meal with Elijah and Tony, at a delicious place Ellen recommended on Rue de Bellechasse. We had tried to go there before but it was closed all month. It was delicious, and not exactly kid friendly but there was one other kid there, for I think the first time ever in a restaurant in France, and it turned out to be an American family!

Fri, 8/28/15. Directeur.
Today we met the Directeur of the ecole maternelle, and he was really nice. He spoke only in French and tried a little French on Max and Gemma who did not understand at all, so we were a little worried he would deny them or something, but he said it was ok. He said twins are separated in school in France though, and he thinks it is good for their development and their learning of French, so Max and Gemma will be in separate classes, though they can play together at recess and have lunch together. Lunch is 2 hours by the way, from 1130 to 130. A lot of the discussion was about lunch actually, and I had to run to la mairie to set up an account to pay for lunch, after our meeting. Another thing we learned at the meeting was the new directrice, who will start Sep 7, has boy girl twins of her own, who are 20 years old! After I signed up for lunches for the kids, we raced off to meet Elijah, Margaret and Tony at a Korean restaurant and were about 20 min late due to my wonderful sense of direction, but they were ok with it and the lunch was delicious. Jean then cleaned the old Bellechasse apartment and then I met with the proprietress and gave her the keys, but only tonight did we realize we left some important allergy medicine of Jean's in her fridge, so hopefully we will be able to get it from her before she throws it out. The kids have been making up a lot of knock knock jokes on our trip, inspired by the movie Home which we saw on the plane here. So far the main one is
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting shower.
Interrupting show....
On. You're all wet.
Another is
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Auguste Rodin.
Auguste Ro....
Shh. I'm thinking.

Sat, 8/29/15. Medicaments and Jardin d'Acclimation.
Today we went early to our old apartment to try to track down the woman who runs the apartment and see if she would let us in to check on Jean's allergy medicines, and it worked. As soon as we got to the apartment building, I saw her and sprinted up to her, and she let us in and the medicines were still there. So we took em back home to our new apartment and felt very relieved, because they are very expensive and it is impossible to get them in France, we have heard. We then went with Elijah, Tony and Margaret to le Jardin d'Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne, and it was an amusement park to our surprise, with tons of rides and fun things to do. We went on roller coasters, boats, bumper cars, and all kinds of things. It was scorching hot today but we had a great time. Tonight Tony and Margaret are gonna babysit Max and Gemma while Jean and I have our first time away from the kids since we've been in France. We are gonna go to a souffle restaurant, La Cigale Recamier, which I think is my favorite restaurant in the world.

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