Saturday, September 29, 2007

Love Bug is walking!

Yesterday evening, Love Bug took her first step and I was the only one to see it. (Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa have now all seen it as well.) These are the moments that I feel blessed to be a SAHM, because I get to help her grow, watch her develop, and witness the amazing person she is becoming. Seeing her walk, just 10 1/2 months after being born, was worth every penny I didn't earn at work, and so much more.
I'm part of a Mom's group and on our website, there was just a posted forum asking, "Is being a Stay-at-Home Mom a waste of your education?" I would say never. As a former educator, I miss my students, and miss seeing their "light bulb" moments, but there is only one person in the whole world that I'm worried about educating right now... and I'm home with her all day to make sure it's done just the way I want.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Click, click, click... and Me, The Trendsetter

There is a wonderful group of websites out there that only require a little daily click and you can do a whole lot of good for other people. I will post the other five below, but the one I know more about is the The Breast Cancer Site. Here is some more information from their site about the wonderful things they do!

"When you click, we display ads from our site sponsors. 100% of the money from these advertisers goes to our charity partners, who fund programs to provide mammograms to women in need. Our store gives a portion of every purchase to our charity partners."

"In 2006, visitor clicks funded 2,162 mammograms! Visitors who made a purchase at The Breast Cancer Site store funded an additional 2,955 mammograms for women in need! All in all, in 2006, your caring actions at The Breast Cancer Site funded a total of 5,567 mammograms!"

The rest of the sites, which you can also find on tabs at the top of any of the donation pages, are:
The Animal Rescue Site
The Child Health Site
The Hunger Site
The Literacy Site
The Rainforest Site

These are great programs and give a lot to people in need. All you have to do is stop by and click!

* * * * * *

In other news, I have a new look! I changed my blog earlier this week, to more of a fall, orange look, since I love fall so much! In fact, fall is my favorite season. So then, today I saw that Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer, has changed too. I don't really think she's been to my blog, but it seemed cool that we had the same thought.
I really want to start researching some pumpkin/fall festivals to take Love Bug to this year. We'll be at my Mom's in the Chicago area... anyone know of something good?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Living Out of a Suitcase

During our 3 month period as a nomad, we are going to be living out of a suitcase for almost half of that time (the other half we'll be at my Mom's and will unpack). I've finally developed a great method to deal with this and keep all our stuff straight. I flew over with the majority of our clothes and extra toiletry items in our big checked luggage. Then I took one of those small rolling suitcases and put it above our seats as a carry-on. It had a few changes of clothes and underwear (diapers and wipes for the Bug) and all our toiletries, except liquids. That way, everything we'll need the first few days, or if our luggage is lost, is in one place.
Now that we've been in the hotel for 6 days, I keep using the small roller to "change out" new outfits and replace toiletries if they run out, from the big suitcases. That way, I can keep our big suitcases put away in the closet and only get it out every 3 days. We do our dressing and grooming all out of the little suitcase. It's light, easy to move, and easy to store.
This can also work on car trips. We always pack a small bag with a change of clothes, PJs, and toiletries for our car trips. It works well for late night arrivals, so we can worry about luggage in the morning. Or if we stay in a hotel on the road. Why unpack all your luggage out of the back of the car if you can just take in one small bag?
I hope most of you won't have to live like this, but if you do, a small suitcase, while storing the big one, works for me. Need more great tips? Go visit Works-For-Me-Wednesday, hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bumps, Bruises, and Bewildered

Poor Love Bug... she is starting to get over jet lag, but is still overtired in the evening. I think when she gets so tired, she just doesn't have as much control over her body. She fell yesterday playing and got a little bump on her forehead. I was in the shower and heard her crying downstairs with B and his family but was shocked to see a bump. Now that's she trying to walk, she falls all the time, but has never really been hurt. After the ear infection Friday, I just want to protect her all the time!

B and I are also having a harder time than we thought. We feel out of place in our own country. I know it will get better soon, but right now, even the easy things seem difficult. I actually have spoken French a few times, which is ridiculous, because in France I craved chances to speak English. I don't know where this store is or that restaurant is... and these are places I regularly went when we lived here before our move to France. I need to get a map and just look around to get my bearings.

Rome or bust... in 94 days.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fun meme and ear infections...

I found this meme on Jacquie's blog and it's my first one!

It's called "Discover Your Alias Names"...

1. Your Rock Star Name (made up of your 1st pet and your current car):
Carrie Highlander

2. Your Gangsta Name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie):
White Chocolate Chocolate Chip

3. Your Soap Opera Name (middle name, city where you were born):
Elizabeth Durham

4. Superhero name (THE favorite color, favorite drink):
The Purple Margarita

5. Nascar name (first names of your Grandfathers):
Richard James

6. Stripper name (name of your favorite perfume, favorite candy):
Happy Twizzlers

I think mine are particularly good, especially my Nascar name. I already knew my soap opera name and always loved that as well. I don't know how I feel about my Gangsta name, especially because it's not very PC, but it is what it is... (Oh, and sorry Carrie, but my first dog was named Carrie... by me.)

On another note, after being told by a doctor that Love Bug didn't have an ear infection on Wednesday, we were in the ER last night with an actual ear infection. They can come up very quickly and I don't think the 8 hour flight, jet lag, or a 6 hour time difference helped at all. This was all compounded by that fact that she fish-hooked herself with a plastic baby hanger at the store and now has a sore mouth as well (because luckily, I caught her in time to pull it out carefully with no cut or bleeding). So, poor Love Bug has had a heck of a few days. She is back to breastfeeding nicely and is not tugging on her ears so much, but I hope the slight swelling of her fish-hooked side will go down soon.

I almost had to laugh when the doctor referred to it as fish-hooking herself, since that's what a few Moms at playgroup called Love Bug. She had a hobby of going up to other babies and fish-hooking their cheeks with her newly acquired pincer grasp and couldn't live her violent reputation down. At the ER last night, it wasn't so funny. Now that she's healing, very funny.

With how jet-lagged I am, and how culturally confused I feel (I keep trying to speak French to everyone), I have to laugh about all this! I have to keep my sense of humor if I'm going to make it the next 3 months as a nomad.

Rome or bust... in 96 days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We're here!

Back in the USA! Love Bug was fantastic on the flight, only cried a few short moments, and we even got compliments on her behavior. We got a good 8 hours of sleep since she said asleep until 6:30 this morning. So, the trip went well and we are glad to be home. Now, if I can just get rid of my cold! We all have physicals Monday, so pray for good health all around.

We should get a new part for our computer tonight so I'll catch up with your blogs then!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Charitable Giving

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, it's time to think about charitable giving. I love giving to charities and I think it's one of the best things you can do. I wouldn't say that I'm anti-garage sale, but I definitely feel that those who are fortunate should share the gifts they've been given. God has been so good to me and I want to give back whenever I can. Here are some ways to make your Charitable Giving better for those who receive your gifts. I volunteered to sort items weekly during college and have some good advice to share...

1. If you are donating used items, please make sure they are clean. Many organizations don't have time to wash clothes or toys, and a little extra shine and cleanliness makes those receiving it feel as if it's almost "new".

2. Also make sure that toys, electronics, and kitchen items work and are in good shape.

3. Take a moment and find the instruction manuals and put in new batteries if you can. Add or find things that make the items complete.

4. If you are donating food, please don't only give your scraps: for example, cans of spinach that no one in your family liked. If they are asking for canned goods, go buy some of your favorites to mix in with the less craved items.

5. Don't forgot to look at boxed food, like macaroni and cheese or hamburger helper, canned goods get old.

6. Only give homemade foods when permissible and check expiration dates on your donated food to make sure it will be okay for a few months to come.

7. Don't ever take tags off. A woman who brought things to our church said she was embarrassed by all the clothes she hadn't worn, so she took the tags off. What she didn't know is that if we sell that items at a second hand shop, original tags (or packaging) increase the value and increase the gift to a charity or cause.

8. If you don't have anything to give, check with the charity to see if you can give your time or your money instead. Many organizations ask for food or clothing, because people are more willing to part with it, but almost every group can use help and can use monetary donations.

9. Get your kids involved! Here's why:

My family had a few times a year that we organized things for charitable purposes, beyond our normal offering at church. We always did the Giving Tree during the Christmas season (you pick a name of a needy child off the Christmas tree, receive a Santa List for that child, and buy them something on their list). My brother and I both got to pick a name, and we usually went for a child around the same age, same gender. My parents funded this at first, but as years went on, I found myself giving my own money to buy a few extra things on their list, beyond what my parents had planned. One year, I was about 13, I picked a girl my age and got her the first item on her list. A matching sweater and pants in the perfect size, straight from the store she mentioned. I also saw jewelry that I thought matched and bought it. After Christmas break, I was walking down the hall and saw a horrible bully wearing that outfit. I thought her parents' must have gotten her the same thing...
until I saw the earrings. I came home and cried and cried... for her, for me, and prayed that I would always look for the reasons people maybe were mean or angry. Trust me, knowing my church better and what they do, if she was on that tree, she had a tough life. Only my Mom and husband have heard this story until now. But I wanted you to know what a profound impact these things can have on your kids for the rest of their life.

10. I mentioned that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, but also find ways to donate your time or money year round. One favorite activity is the "Sweet" jar (think of it as my anti-swear jar idea). Every time your child does something sweet, give them a quarter to put in the jar. Once they fill the jar (start small), they get to pick the charity and either donate the money directly or buy something to help. It's a great way to get kids involved without the negative feeling of a 'swear" jar (or putting money in each time you say something bad or negative). The "sweets" part can also be used for little kids. They can take a small portion to buy something sweet for themselves, as they're learning about giving. But I think you'll find over time that they will not really want anything but to give ALL the money they earned away.

Want more great ideas? Visit Works-For-Me-Wednesdays, hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Where did this snazzy new sofa come from?

Love Bug is really interested in what is going on in our house these days. The boxes stacked up and the crazy French movers around our house... she can't believe the excitement! Tonight she finally had some space where she could explore and not be trampled, so we let her wander around in the maze of boxes...
Of course, she discovered one of the wheeled carts they brought up. Perfect for a baby to play on (and get hurt). Luckily she was quickly distracted by eating cardboard and tape pieces on the floor. She did manage to get one piece in her mouth before I caught her and fished it out with my finger... which she thought was oh so pleasant, between gags, of course.

We also have been given some temporary items to use, like a few dishes, 2 sets of towels, sheets, and an iron. They've also included a vacuum, mop, broom, and a bucket, amongst other cleaning items, which now confirms the dreaded cleaning I must do before we go! If Love Bug eating the the packing leftovers wasn't already a sign that I need to vacuum once the movers leave, then the delivery of cleaning items to my door was certainly a hint!

Also in our little delivery of temporary items was a crazy new sofa. B is sitting on it here. Have you ever seen colors like this? B and I saw it coming in the door and immediately started laughing. Even the two delivery men laughed and winked at me.

But I actually have a confession to make...

I kinda wish it was my sofa! It's crazy, colorful, and so unlike me. It would be a great conversation piece and it would make me seem very cool and snarky. I know it would be so impractical, but wow, the people who actually own this sofa must be really wild. But I realised that we actually do have something like this crazy pink sofa. We have a bright yellow bathroom at our house back in the US (a renter lives there now). I love yellow and think it is such a friendly color, but this is yellow with some kick! I even picked this shade for our bathroom because of the name, "Rubber Ducky Yellow".

Does anyone have some crazy areas of their house? A red wall, a foosball table for a kitchen table (like on "Friends"), or a wild tile pattern in your bathroom? Share, share, share... that's why I blog... to hear about your "crazy" lives and share mine.

Edited to add:
Also, thanks to Carrie to reminding me to tell you that we're going on Thursday. Please pray for us that we have a safe and "easy" flight. Love Bug is getting bigger, so it should be a challenge. Check out Carrie's blog, by the way, she just got some great awards and I can't think of anyone more deserving!

Monday, September 17, 2007

They're here!

The packers are here... putting things in boxes, molding plastic bubbles around our furniture. It's so strange that everything in our life now exists in a few suitcases in the closet.

They are coming back tomorrow to load the truck, because apparently the goal is to leave you in a house full of stuff, with nothing to do for at least one night. We have the laptop and that's about it. I will have access to a computer throughout the move, so you can still count on me to post every so often. That said, don't expect glorious, earth-shattering posts from me these next few days... oh, wait, my posts aren't that great to begin with!

My sweet Love Bug is not doing well with the move. Clearly the boxes everywhere, the tearful goodbyes, and the lack of her normal environment has been stressful. She is taking longer naps (yeah!) but also has an upset stomach (boo!). I'm hoping once we get to the US and have a normal routine for a week or two, she'll adjust. I wonder what she must be thinking about all this. I just hope that having her Mommy and Daddy right there with her is comforting!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The House Cooling was great!

The "House Cooling" was so much fun and we got to see so many great friends before we leave. It's been a hard few weeks of preparing and saying goodbye, but it's paying off. I feel organized and relaxed before our big week ahead. And almost all of our extra food, etc. is gone.

Oh, does anyone else have a weather girl on their sidebar, like I do? I don't know why I put it up there, but our weather girl dresses a little inappropriate at times. Her dress today is super cute, but some days I get a little tired of the miniskirt and midriff. Is there a way to change her clothes to more "Talbot's" and less "Victoria's Secret"? Maybe I'll just take her off... I don't even know why I have a "Weather Girl". More like a "Weather Floozy"!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Our street and the shortest street in Paris

I've been pulling all of you, my wonderful (but small number of) readers, into the middle of my sadness over leaving Paris. (If you don't know what I'm talking about... just read a few previous posts). I have to post about something better, so I'll share our last few fun experiences here in the city of lights. I've taken some great pictures of these moments and I thought I'd share them.
First, we went and took a picture of our family in front of our "street" sign. And no, it's not the street we live on. With my husband's French background, we do have a French last name and there is a street with our last name. We went and took the picture last weekend. I'm sure you're curious, but I blurred it. I think you all are great, but there are weirdos out there!

Just after that, we were driving home and stopped by to see one of the last things on my list of stuff to see before I go... the shortest street in Paris!

The street is called Rue des Degres, and it clearly had an inhabitant at one time, since you can see a faint outline of a door. Now it's just a set of stairs with no actual addresses... they've kept it as a street anyway, because I confirmed it's location on a recent map.

It's actually hard to get to and we were coming up a one-way just parallel to the street that I'm standing on here. We were on this street forever and were only moving inches! I finally got out, walked over, and took a picture, looked around a little, and then starting running back, in case B started moving more. I then saw the issue. Someone double parked (on a tiny one way) and never came back. It had been 30 minutes and they finally got the tow truck down a small side street and cars backed into alleys to let it by. I got to the car, told B, and fortunately, we were moving again within 10 minutes. Only in Paris!

We've also had (and are planning one more) fun events at our house, since we love to have people over. I had a baby shower for my friend Heather, and this is this spread!

I thought it turned out really nice. It's her first baby and she deserved a classy, fancy shower. I insisted on no kids, so B took Love Bug on a long walk and got a beer at a cafe. I think if you are about to embark on your own journey with a screaming, crying baby, you should be able to spend your last few weeks tear-free. (Except maybe the crazy hormone sobs that the Mom-to-be has!)

The "one more" event we are planning is for tomorrow night. We are having a "House Cooling", which is a family tradition for us. Rather than a house warming, where guests bring gifts to help you outfit your new house, our guests have to take something of yours home! We have given most of our stuff to a charity, but there are always leftovers. Stuff in English or with the wrong voltage (US 110 instead of European 220), gag gifts like lawn ornaments, and all our half used food. So our friends get to take this stuff. It's always a big hit. Our theme is "Fiesta" since we have leftover Mexican food stuffs and salsa.

The charity we gave most of our stuff to, by the way, is so great! They help homeless people get jobs and get back on their feet. We gave some really good kitchen stuff and clothes, so I hope it helps someone set up their new kitchen and provides clothes to wear for their new job. It's a new group for us... we needed one that did pick ups, since we no longer have the car. I'm going to write more about the old charity we used and donation guidelines on Works-For-Me-Wednesdays next week, since I have some experience sorting for a charity group. Keep an eye out for that... and more positive posts!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Did I forget that I'm leaving?

Yesterday, I went to my old job and went for dessert with the girl who took over my position. We had a really nice time, but then when we got back to the office, I realised that I would be seeing many of these people for the last time. I would have to say goodbye right then. What a horrible slap in the face! I should've seen it coming, I know, but I just forgot that I was running out of days to run over there "one last time". So, I said goodbye. and left feeling strange, wondering when I'd be back. Will it be 6 months? 3 years?

To add to this, we got our housing in Rome and it's not very good. Far away from B's work and we'll have no car for awhile. We're going to appeal the decision and try to get something closer. I know I shouldn't complain about living in Rome, but I want a good quality of life too. I don't want his commute to be an hour or more! And I don't want to cross under the beltway/ring road... whatever you call it... to get to any shopping or restaurants. I'm sure we'll be able to get the appeal for something better, but it's just hard to handle the what-ifs.

I've been praying for some perspective on this, and to worry about the more important things than where I live. I've also been praying for acceptance of this move, because I have to move. I do not want to, and that's really the issue behind my frustration over the new housing and everything else. I love my life in Paris and the four years here have been the best of my life. We've spent most of our married life here, made some great friends, had our beautiful daughter. The four years before, we lived in four different places, and never felt grounded. Now we do.

I know I'll be sad for awhile, but I'll be in Rome and loving it in no time. It is just hard sometimes to get your head around it all. I think I need to say it over and over, until it sinks in.

In a week, we won't live here anymore.

In a week, we won't live here anymore.

In a week, we won't live here anymore.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sad coincidence...

I was looking through pictures of my former students last night. I'm trying to put together a portfolio of my teaching career, from those first years as a public school music teacher, to this year, as I've been teaching a music class for infants/toddlers. Love Bug is my demonstration tool and does an excellent job.
So, as I was going through the pictures, so many faces made me smile and laugh. But one girl stuck out immediately and seeing her face made me very sad. I couldn't figure out why, because I liked her a lot. She didn't get into trouble and was very helpful, so why did seeing her make me feel so upset?
Today I remembered why. On September 11th, 2001, she was late to school. She was a member of the middle school chorus and we had rehearsal during first period. She walked in at about 10:00, when we were nearly finished. She told me that she had been outside listening to the radio because a plane had smashed into the World Trade Center in New York. At first I thought it was the typical excuse for being late, and that maybe she was confused about the news story. Oh, how I wish I had been right and she had been wrong.
Twenty minutes later, as class was about to let out, there was a knock and the principal handed me a letter that was "only for my eyes". I read the letter in disbelief and horror, and did my best to hide my shock at the attacks on our country. Once the students were out the door, I had a planning period, so I used the time to call my husband (fiance at this point) and fortunately, he was already on his way home. He started to cry when he heard my voice, and right then, I knew it was bad. I told him I'd get home as soon as I could, but they had explained in the letter that parents were being notified and should start coming to pick up their kids, but who knew when they'd all be picked up.
I took some second grade students so that their teachers could leave and go find their own children and husbands, and we spent almost 2 hours playing games and reading stories. Since we were supposed to let their parents tell them, I imagine that it was a very strange day for the kids... playing games, having fun with me, and then once they got in the car, seeing their parents faces crumble and trying to explain as simply as possible, what horrible things had happened.
The next few days were a blur. We had just gotten engaged, so when we got phone calls in panic saying, "are you okay?" We replied, "yes, and we're engaged." Not exactly a happy way to tell everyone.
We eventually turned off the TV... it was just so much... almost too much to handle. Although we were living just outside Washington, DC, we were fortunate to not know anyone who died in the Pentagon. But I knew of them, and cried for those people working just miles from me at that very moment. My heard still aches for their families.
Just six years later, I sit amazed at how much our world has changed and how unsafe it feels. And I'm sorry to say that I will always think of my student, the girl who was late on September 11th, with a little bit of sadness.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

We have to leave France...

... it's too expensive for all the stupid stuff we do.

Last week my husband got a ticket for running a red light. Before you think he's a bad person, let me just explain that, in France, many lights are:
1. in strange places where there may not even be an intersection
2. very low to the ground on a lamp post next to the street, so a parked car could easily block it.
Well, this light was both of those and he saw it turn red right as he drove past. We were right at the tail end of a group of cars and cars from the other direction didn't come charging past until 5 seconds later, so we thought, "no harm done."
No such luck!
We were pulled over by 3 policemen and 1 policewoman for over 20 minutes so they could charge us the equivalent of $120, tell my husband he was "a very dangerous" driver for driving like that with his wife and daughter in the car, and the final kicker was when they asked, "do you not have to stop for red lights in the United States?"
Needless to say, we were furious. B is a very safe driver and it would've been clear to anyone that he just made a mistake. We were all dressed well, in a nice car, and Love Bug was perfectly secured in the car seat, which they checked liked hawks, by the way. B has never had a ticket before and has also never been pulled over. I assured him that in the United States, it doesn't go like that at all. I got one speeding ticket about 7 years ago and the policeman was very professional. He even laughed at something I said and told me to be careful. He didn't treat me as a common criminal and insult my judgement. The French police have complained in the past about not getting respect, and I used to say I would agree with them.
Now, I'd have to say, "to get respect, you have to give respect."
Our French friends are mad for us and feel terrible that this happened, when we only have 2 weeks left here.
Then, to add insult to injury, I got a speeding ticket in the mail last week, from a stationary radar on the side of the road. It cost the equivalent of $60 and I'm sure you're dying to know at what dangerous speeds I was travelling...
I was going the equivalent of 43 on a small highway where the speed is marked as 40. The worst part, is that a policeman I know in the United States, said that radar guns have accuracy of +/- 5 miles per hour. This is why they would rarely pull someone over for only a few miles per hour over or under the speed limit, simply because there is a margin of error. Not here... don't you dare travel one mile over or you're in trouble! I'll probably get another letter saying how horrible I am and asking, "don't you have to follow speed limits in the United States?"

So, you won't believe my surprise at what I witnessed yesterday. I was sitting at a bus stop, since we have thankfully sold our car now. Right in front of the bus stop is a stoplight. Four cars ran the red light in a span of about 15 minutes. They clearly have a problem with this!

I just sat back and laughed, while the people around me stared at me like I was crazy.
But they're probably right. I am crazy, because I really do love it here. Despite, all the infuriating things that happen, I will miss our wonderful friends, our apartment, our life, and even France itself.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Prayers for two people...

I haven't had much to say lately. I'm busy getting ready for the movers and saying goodbye to our friends here in Paris.
I was somewhat of a "lurker" before I had a blog. I was just reading, not saying much, trying to figure out what everyone was doing. I found a few favorite blogs and read them often. I stopped by one the other day for an update and was sad to find out that "Amy" had just lost her sister and she is 8 months pregnant. She now feels such pressure, if that is the right word, and wants the birth of her baby to go well so that the family has something positive to focus on. I completely know where she's coming from. It reminded me of my feelings a little over a year ago, when my dad died during my pregnancy. You can't believe it happened and it reminds you how precious and fleeting life is. I worried about the baby so much and then worried that if something happened to me or the baby, it would just be more than the family could handle. Please pray for the baby, Amy, and her family- that this new, healthy life brings joy while they grieve a loss of another life.
Also, my good friend in Paris left suddenly last week after her sister had complications in childbirth. She had to have an emergency c-section and then a hysterectomy a few days later. This was her first child and I'm sure it's devastating for her that she can't carry any more children herself. I don't know Jen's sisters name, but I'm sure God will figure it out... please pray for her too.
And I will pray that I can have something more positive to post about next time! I'm going to put my chin up and try not to be so sad about moving and leaving my friends in Paris behind. I am visiting family and friends for 3 months, then moving to Rome... what's not to be thrilled about!

Love Bug is awake... I'll try to get back on later and comment when I have a chance.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Parks of Paris

We went to some interesting parks recently that we had never been to before. We live just a half block from a beautiful park, with lakes, gardens, and even a few restaurants, so we usually just go there. But we decided to branch out and here are some beautiful pictures of our experience.

Our first outing was to the Parc de Andre Citroen, named for the founder of the Citroen automobile. This is where their old factory was, but when they tore the factory down, they used the land to build a beautiful park. It's very modern with lots of geometric fountains, trees cut in exact shapes, and concert alcoves... very interesting.
Here I am holding Love Bug. This fountain just had water spouts coming up out of every paving stone along a part of the sidewalk. She loves the water and just was fascinated to look back at the water. We couldn't get too close... even there we were getting really wet!

Here, as in many of the concrete alcoves, they had wooden lounge chairs. This is my Mom, Love Bug, and me lounging.

This is a huge hot air balloon in the middle of the park to advertise something. You can see the huge square body of water...which was more like a moat around that center grassy area. You can also see the "square cut" trees in back.

Off next to Parc Buttes-Chamant. It was an old mine and they used the huge area cut of out of the land to make a peak with a big lake below. The only way to get down from the peak is a series of bridges and steep walkways... it's really neat.

This is a view of the huge peak with viewing tower in the center of the lake.

This is a view from the peak seen above, looking down at the park and buildings beyond.

This is my Mom with Love Bug on top of the hill, in front of some beautiful flower beds.

Another day, my Mom and I went to the Tuileries and they had an amusement park set up. They had a really cool Ferris wheel, but I couldn't get a good angle on it.

Here is the slide- it looked so fun and I secretly wanted to go. I was mad at myself that I didn't... why shouldn't we have fun in life? It taught me a lesson, so the other day at the pool, B held Love Bug so I could go down the slide there... and I loved it!

They had a Log Flume and it looked like people were getting really wet. You can see by my little weather girl on the right side bar, that's it's too cold for this!
It was wonderful to have so many new park experiences, right before we leave. And Mom, I know you read this, but never comment... so I have a few words for you...
"Gotta find me a carny man."

It's official- I've been in France too long!

My husband and I are huge football fans and every fall we follow college football religiously, especially the Big Ten. Today is the start of the season for many teams and it's an exciting day in our house. My Mom and I were talking today about how nice it will be when we're back in the US for a few months this fall so I can see the games in person too (my family has season tickets).
Then, she asked what game I was watching right then. I told her none, because Love Bug just watches TV obsessively if we turn it on, so we never watch TV now that's she's old enough to be interested. My Mom said that she understood, but that she planned to have the games on at home while we're there and hoped it was okay. I could hear my brother in the background, yelling something about " we have to have the games on!"
I told her it was fine because Love Bug goes to bed just after the games start, so she won't see that much anyway. My Mom sounded confused, but we just continued on with our conversation.
It took me about 10 minutes to figure out why my Mom sounded confused. Games start here at either 6 or 7 pm and continue all night... but we're 7 hours ahead of central time! So, actually, games start at 11 am or noon, and Love Bug will be up for almost all of the games when we're in the States!
I have lived here so long that I now believe football games start at 6 or 7 at night and continue into the wee hours of the morning (I have actually set my alarm at gotten up for the 2 am game- 7 pm in the US- because we are that crazy about football). After four years, maybe we will have a harder adjustment that I thought. I just read an article about it and how we need to prepare ourselves for a cultural shock. I thought it was ridiculous, because I have no problems when we visit. But maybe they're right. Stayed tuned for some funny mishaps if I'm not as well adjusted as I think!