Halloween Countdown

Daisypath Halloween tickers

Saturday, December 8, 2012

....the holidays approach

 The paper chain counting down the days is getting shorter....  Patrick has returned home from Istanbul ending his usual trip right before the holidays..... The kids are increasingly harder to wake up for school with each dark, cold morning...... I am feeling guilty (and giddy! *singing* "I don't have to walk the dogs!") about kenneling the dogs for almost 3 weeks.....
Cold mornings = hard to wake-up kids

Polar Bear Plunge 2011
Down to 10 DAYS!  Flying out on the morning of the 18th and hitting N.C. about 5:30 p.m. thanks to the time difference.  After a quick tour of all the things missed in N.C. (as best we can in a week!) we will head to Florida on Christmas day and stay until the New Year for the annual fondue New Year's Eve dinner and the Polar Bear Plunge with the Budds and Omi.

 Getting ready for New Year's Eve Fondue

We have been trying to get in the spirt by checking out the Christmas Markets around Paris.  The lights are up along the roadways in each little suburb making the evening and early mornings sparkly.  Some of the yummy things we have seen.....

Chocolate covered pears

Macarons and chocolates

Yep even BIO macarons
(although I think ALL macarons are gluten free.....)

These are filled with the softest marshmallow
with flavors like After Eight Mint and White Chocolate with Strawberry

And it's just not sweet treats, but some yummy savory things too.
Wood smoked salmon 
Sausages and peppers
(they suspend a large metal 'plate' over open fire
and grill 'em up)

Okay, so one of these pizzas is "Thon"which is tuna
......so maybe not so yummy to all tastebuds

We even had our first snow.  It was only about an inch, but it was a pretty scene and helped bring on the holiday spirt a little more.
From my living room window

Kids trying to catch snowflakes

We have a few more Christmas markets to check out here and pick up those last "parisian" presents.  The dogs have to be delivered to the kennel on the 17th and then vacation can start.  Needless to say, we are all ready to board the plane and return to the States; to take a break from work (Patrick), school (Max and Samantha) and walking those dogs (me!).  

(as always, click on a picture for a larger view)

Nothing says "Christmas"  like renting a Ferrari
for 70 Euro for 15 minutes

Happy Christmas, pigeons!
Chowing on spilled churros

Stretch Hummer cruising
the Champs Elysees

Lost in translation
This booth was selling hermit crabs.
INNOCUOUS. 1: producing no injury : harmless. 2: not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility.
I hope not!  They're freaking hermit crabs!

Last two items - what??

Monday, November 26, 2012

....a life in flux

Well we still don't know what's happening.  Do we stay or do we go ~ only time will tell and it's SO frustrating.  It seems that there is some debate as to whether the company will pay for a local (within Paris/suburbs) move or would rather buck up 3X the amount to send us back to the U.S.  We are supposed to have a definite answer by the time we leave for Christmas....we will see......

With all that is going on, I have not been very good at blogging, but it has been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so instead of trying to think of witty things to say and delaying a blog post even further, I have decided to post some pictures of our recent ventures.

Early October and time to celebrate
Max and Samantha's 12 birthday

American burgers and foo-foo smoothies!
October was VERY rainy
It did make everything really green though 

France really doesn't do much for Halloween, but we were happy to find pumpkins at a wonderful farm, Ferme de Gally, about a 25 minute ride from our house.
Samantha's pumpkin
Max's pumpkin
Lots of good choices

Nothing says Halloween like fluffy chickens (?)
Pete and Robin came for a visit at the end of October.  We had a great time visiting museums and took a road trip to Orleans to see where Joan of Arc started her campaign.
Musee des Arts et Metiers
Part of the museum is housed in an old church

Musee des Arts et Metiers

Yet another Lady Liberty in France

We waited until November to have the kids' birthday party.  There was a new facility opening close (20/25 minute drive) to the house that looked like it would be great for both kids (SpeedPark) and we are all for "killing two birds......".  Both kids had 7 guests each for a whopping total of 16 kids running around!  Everybody played laser tag, bowled and did the go-carts!  We had to split the karting into two runs, first the girls and then the boys.  Patrick and I have both decided NEITHER kid will be allowed to drive EVER!

The boys carting
(this is a very trusting employee....or crazy...standing on
the wall as the boys speed around the corner)
Girls cheering the boys on
Sam none too happy with that attempt
Max and some buds checking the scores
(Max is still the tallest.....)

As close as I could get the two of  them for a picture that day!

I also took a couple of cooking classes - one on making baguettes and one on traditional French breakfast pastries.  I do have to say that I now have a better understanding as to why a baguette costs about .50 cents and a croissant costs 3 times as much.  Those buggers take a lot of work!

So now we are on the countdown to the return to the U.S.A. and Christmas.  The paper chain has been made and Advent calendars started (we used them to count down the days until we leave because we won't be here to use them the traditional way).

It looks soooo long!
Can't wait to get back

The Christmas markets have sprung up around town and the weather is definitely colder......

Christmas Market on the Champs Elysees

So all in all, things are going good.  We are all excited to return to the U.S. for Christmas and the kids are ready for a break from school and homework.  So now the hard part.....waiting to go.....and finding out our fate regarding our stay (hopefully) before we fly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

...fromage is serious here in Paris

Six word Wednesday

Just one of the cheese isles

(Seriously, this isle is just cheese in various forms and kinds!  Then there's an area near the butcher with the really pricey (and usually smelly) stuff!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

......I will never understand traffic here

Six word Wednesday

Clearly the "little man" is red

Cross any where, even in traffic

We don't need no stinking crosswalk!

Blindly trusting the cars will stop. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

.....the home stretch?

So I have kinda neglected this blog.  While we did have great places to stay, thanks to AirBNB with internet connections and everything, I just couldn't bring myself to sit down at the end of the day and blog.  Germany and Austria were great and we had a fantastic time.   Good food, better beer and perfect weather.

Morgan says
"Are we home yet?"
We had two weeks left before school started once we got back, so we decided to do some local things and spend some days just relaxing.
Einstein on the way home, exhausted from her
stay at the kennel

We reconnected with friends we have made through the school last year.  They have had us to their house for dinners and an Easter Egg hunt and I have always felt bad that we couldn't return to the favor and have them over to our apartment because 4 people and 2 dogs pretty much fill the place already!  So when V suggested dinner, I said if she would provide the place, I would provide the food.  Since it was close to Labor Day, I decided to make classic American cheeseburgers on the grill and some macaroni salad.  I am happy to say it was a success.

After dinner, we planned to meet the next day at Parc Asterix, a huge theme park with rides and characters (like Disney, but on a Six Flags size/budget).  Asterix and his friend Obelix are characters based on a French comic.  The Asterix series is one of the most popular in the world, with the series being translated into over 100 languages, and it is popular in most European countries.  Patrick read them as a kid and introduced them to Max.  We had actually been as a family once already, but V, her husband Jack and daughter Silke had not been.  So my kids were excited to be able to "introduce" something to someone and not be "first-ies" as usual.
Move over Mickie, Max likes Asterix!

Silke and Sam posing

The next day we had purchased tickets for Rock En Seine, a huge annual rock concert held in the Parc de Saint Cloud.  One of Max's favorite bands, Green Day, was playing as the closing band on the last night otherwise I try to avoid HUGE crowds of rowdy, drinking people at all costs!  Not my scene!  But actually, even though crowded, it was very well done.  There were three main stages set apart from one another so the crowd wasn't all pressing to get into one space all day.  We staked our place while the warm up bands were playing, so we got a good view on the side up a little hill away from the masses.  Also, the fact that we walked to and from the park (only about a 20 minute walk) and didn't have to deal with parking helped a lot.
Rockin' out at Rock En Seine

School started on September 4 with an introduction day and full classes starting on September 5.  This year we have moved to the Senior School which is a different campus for the kids.  It is very close to the Junior School, but older.  In fact the administrative building was once the home of some big railroad magnet.  It is located on the Seine with beautiful views.

Just sitting in my car, waiting on the kids

The kids now have to get used to changing classes and not having one primary teacher.  So far, they are doing well, aside from loosing multiple locker keys and learning that they don't have to carry EVERYTHING in their backpacks (Max continues to carry about 40 lbs of stuff back and forth every day!).  Another big thing this year is the school has issued iPads to the kids.  Every kids in the school has been issued their own iPad, even the Junior School kids.  The kids are thrilled but there are some parents who are not as pleased.  I am sure that there will be bumps in the road, but I am on board with this new plan.  The class schedule and planner apps are great and hopefully will get both of them in the habit of recording what they are responsible for and following up on it.

Walking the streets of Croissy
on our way to celebrate the carrot 

The following weekend we were invited to a BBQ before attending the Fete de Carrote (yep, the Carrot Festival) by another lady I met through helping with play last year.  We and 5 other families met at her house first for some food and beverages and to let the kids burn off some energy.  Then we walked to a central meeting place in Croissy to begin the parade to the park for the fireworks.  Someone passed out lanterns for the kids who were all enamored with the fact that they had real candles and fire!  The crowd started out with about 40 people and we picked up marchers at different points as we walked to the park.  At one point we were joined by 4 drummers who accompanied us.  

Sara's husband donned a
found carrot hat

Once we arrived at the park, we found a place to sit and enjoyed a fireworks show set to Rock and Roll from the 80's.  The kids ran wild and watched the fireworks and then we all paraded (just our small party this time!) back to Sara's to collect our cars.

It seems that Croissy has been known as the "Carrot Capital" since the 19th century so hence, they still have a festival the second weekend of September.  They claim that Croissy is the "ancestral home" of the carrot, but whether or not that's true, they throw a great party for it!

The next day we met up with a couple (husband works for Schneider) who had just settled here for the beginning of their assignment.
  They have older children (in college) so they are living in the heart of Paris and so far are still in the "romance" stage.  They do have an advantage we don't in that he speaks French and actually has some extended family in France.  We did have some laughs about the amount of paperwork that is required to do or buy anything here and the whole "personable bubble" everyone seem to have around themselves here (no smiling, no friendly nods, basically acting like they are the only ones on the street/metro/bus).  After lunch we walked around the corner to see the Statue of Liberty (Île aux Cygnes) near the Grenelle Bridge.  We were fortunate that day as a swing music band had just begun to play on the island.  We stood for awhile watching the dancers and enjoying some English language music.

The Seine around the
Île aux Cygnes

So as we settle into this school year, the question remains, will this be our last year?  We should know that answer by Christmas.  We have requested that if we are moving back, we would like to do it in the summer so the kids can start school back in America with the rest of their class.  Since Patrick recently received a promotion (Yeah Patrick!) there could be the opportunity for us to stay here a little longer, but we have requested that if that is the case, we need to be moved to a house closer to the school. The dogs need a yard and being that we are a one car family, it would be more convenient for those days when the kids have after school activities.  Our feeling is that the company won't want to take on the expense of moving us locally and more than likely will decide that if they are going to pay for something, they will send us back to the U.S.  That way they actually save more money because they won't be paying for the kids' schooling and our apartment any more!  

So for now, we just carry on and wait.  School is gearing up and even though we are "low men" on the totem pole on this campus, the kids are starting their after school activities and excited about this grown-up venture of class changing and electives!    And perhaps with them occupied with school, I can try to better about blogging.....  only time will tell.....

Samantha, Max and Silke
at Parc Asterix