Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jardin des Plantes

Today's agenda consisted of going to look at dinosaur bones.  We had a great time at the Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée (Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy) in the Jardin des Plantes.  We have frequented McDonald's more than we would like to admit since arriving in Paris, but one of the prizes was the Ice Age III movie. Amelie thinks this movie is hilarious. If you have seen this movie you can guess which exhibits were her favorite to see today.  She really enjoyed seeing the bones of the dinosaurs that Manny slid down and, of course, the wooly mammoth bones too.  We had a great time wandering through the museum, staying nice and warm, and learning as much as we could decipher through the french explanations.  Maybe it was because of our time at the beach, but seeing all of the whale bones were my favorite part.

Liam in front of a mouth of a whale...just chilling on the chain.  Once out of his stroller, he was in constant motion, even waving at some of the animals.  He is so silly.
Bobby and Liam posing next to the wooly mammoth bones.
Both kids loved seeing the dinosaur eggs.
The upper portion of the museum had shells all the way around as well as provided great views of the animals below.
What better way to end our time at the museum?  Well, with a snack at McDonald's of course!  It was right across the street and a little too convenient is our excuse. :)

Trip to the Doctor

Liam has been our more sickly child.  In Gulf Shores, we started a preventive breathing treatment to help with wheezing when he got colds.  This has seemed to work well as when he did get a cold it didn't go straight into his lungs.  We have a nebulizer machine that aspirates the medicine since he is still too young for an inhaler.  In the process of moving, the nebulizer will not work.  He has had a cold for two weeks now and we have been nervous not continuing with the preventive treatment.  This week we contacted a local pediatrician and had an appointment.  She spoke English and was very helpful.  The appointment ended up being an all day affair because nothing is around the corner from our apartment.  We found the office tucked away inside a courtyard of a fancy building.  Our doctor greeted us at the door and led us into her office which consisted of a large work station with multiple computers, an area with children's toys and table & chairs, and a bench for the examine with a few medical supplies.  The walls were lined with lots of medical books and random medical equipment. 

She listened to Liam's history and used picture diagrams to explain Liam's possible problem with being prone to wheezing.  She showed us an alternative method of a hand held tubing that we could use instead of the nebulizer which will be very helpful as we travel.  In examining Liam she noticed that the indentation at the bottom of his neck was going in when he was breathing.  To make a long story short, we ended up setting up an appointment for the next day at the Children's Hospital for a specialized pediatric doctor to take a closer look at what could be causing this abnormality. With the distance and it being at a hospital, we decided that Bobby should take Liam while I stayed with Amelie.  Upon arriving at the hospital, Bobby found out there was a miscommunication and the appointment was not until the following day.  Oh well, fun excursion with Liam, right?!  So the next morning he had to go through the same routine of getting out the door and to the hospital.  The doctor was very helpful and actually used a small video camera to look inside Liam's throat.  Liam is healthy and there is nothing wrong.  We were very relieved (and it was very cheap, surprisingly!) Both days, Liam and Bobby were able to enjoy lunch out together.
Liam asleep after the examination in front of the hospital.
Liam dipping his frites in ketchup.

Amelie was not to be left out in the process.  She and I made a trip to a nicer grocery store about a 10 minute walk away. I was proud of myself for navigating through our area (although the store I had wanted to go to wasn't the one we made it to but it was still nice) AND more importantly finding my way back home again. 
We love scarves!  My sister, Kim, gave me my beautiful scarf and I found a matching hat this week.
Once Bobby was home, he and Amelie decided to head to the American Library to check out some much needed books to have around the house.  Below are some of the pictures they took on their way to and from the library.
The fountains were not filled with water last week.  We are excited for when they will be actually turned on.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Routines

We have slowly been able to get in a good rhythm of daily life.  The most important aspect of life to get sorted out was our sleeping, as I cannot function very well on little sleep.  It took a couple of days to get our sleep schedule oriented around the new time zone, but we are all sleeping through the night now.  Amelie and Liam share a room.  Amelie has her own area of the room as it is up some stairs in a little cubby.  I was a little trepidatious about the arrangement at first but they have both done wonderfully and she loves her little nook.  It is actually the warmest room of the house being on the 3rd floor.
Amelie's cubby.
View of the kids bedroom.  You can see Liam's bed and the stairs leading to Amelie's nook.
After getting our sleep in order the next order of business was figuring out what our meals will be consisting of.  We are still working on that but we have adapted to city life in that we do not plan a weeks worth of meals at a time but rather plan a day or two.  We stop by the local grocery store on our way home to grab a couple of items every other day or so.  We have a little grocery bag on wheels that we use when we go to pick up more than just one or two items as the grocery store does not provide bags for you to carry home your goods.  It usually takes us awhile to figure out what to purchase as we are illiterate and are often guessing or looking at the pictures.  When we get home we have to translate the cooking directions.  In the States, we ate black beans and rice once a week.  We have yet to be able to find any black beans.  We have substituted red beans and that seems to work.  We eat a lot of ham, bread, and cheese in some variation.  We usually have a light picnic lunch while we are out and about and then come home for a warm dinner.   Bobby has cooked every single meal and I do the clean up.  I love his ability to jump right in to a new situation and adapt.  We would be starving if it wasn't for him! Food is definitely not the primary source of our attention, as I feel like it was in Athens.  This is probably good for Bobby and I to focus on other things than what goes into our bellies!

Although the apartment is smaller than any apartment we have stayed in yet, it does not feel small at all.  The ceilings are huge and the open floor plan allow for plenty of running.  We are fortunate to have a dishwasher, but don't have a microwave.  Bobby likes not having a microwave but I miss it.  We have a small washing machine, but no dryer.  This has not been inconvenient, so far, as we do a load a day and hang the clothes above the bathtub on a drying rack that is on pulleys to be pulled to the ceiling out of the way.  I would have probably had to wash frequently anyways as we did not bring lots of clothes options with us. :)

We love setting off and exploring the city each day.  We have a monthly Metro pass that allows us to travel as much as we would like.  Liam usually takes his afternoon nap on the ride home each day.  It has been cold the last couple of days, but we bundle up and visit places indoors so we can warm up.  We are currently working on an excel sheet to help us plan our days a little better and be more intentional about the places we visit.  We have seen a lot but not much to actually write about as we have just been exploring.

Today we did try a local church, Hillsong, and had an interesting experience with the language barrier.  Amelie stayed in the children's church, Bobby went into the service, and I stayed with Liam.  There was a room for 0-2 year olds in which the mothers stayed and watched the service on a television while taking care of their baby.  However, the sound was not working on the t.v. so I couldn't hear anything.  I also couldn't understand any of the conversation between the mothers as I do not speak French.  On the way home, we stopped by a Starbucks and all had a treat (coffee for the parents and hot chocolate for the kids).  We watched the snow fall on the busy city street while we enjoyed the warmth.

If you have specific questions about daily life or our apartment, please ask!

Below are a couple of pictures from the last week or so to give you an idea of what we have been up to.  My goal is to update the blog more frequently so I can remember what we have done and the funny things that happen as there are many each day.  As you can see, we stop by lots of parks around the city.   
At the park near our house.  We walked here our first day.
Playground right under the Eiffel Tower.  We enjoyed our lunch snack here and played for awhile.
Inside the Chateau de Vincennes walls.  This is about a 10 minute walk from our house and we arrived right at closing time. 
Running around Jardin des Plantes.  We had hoped to go to the Museum national d'Histoire Naturelle to see the dinosaur bones, but we went on the only day they were closed (Tuesday).  We enjoyed the beautiful weather and walked the gardens and played on the playground instead.  Once Liam is free of the stroller, he runs and does not look back! 

I love seeing the Eiffel Tower around corners as we walk through the city.  This was taken after we went to the American Library so that we could have more than 3 children books around the house!
Bobby and Amelie went off on an adventure in the snow to find a chocolatier on rue Montorgueil near Les Halles.
Quick pick in front of Tour St Jaques.  There was a playground underneath that the kids played on for awhile too.
While walking to the Louvre, Amelie posed for a picture in front of Church of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois.
Family picture in front of Fontaine du Palmier.
Amelie not enjoying the Paris Dance by Matisse at the Modern Art Museum.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Amelie's 4th Birthday

Amelie had two big birthday celebrations this year.  The first was at Chuck E. Cheese's with family and friends in attendance.  The second was a day of play in Paris on her actual birthday.  We loved celebrating our Amelie!  She is energetic, funny, smart, social, caring, adventurous, and so much more.  We are thankful for the family and friends who have invested in her life and are supporting us in the journey of parenthood.  We are so glad that we were able to see many of these people the day before we left for Paris playing at Chuck E. Cheese's.  We are thankful for everyone who made the drive out to Jimmy Carter to spend a couple hours making some wonderful memories with Amelie (and us).
Mitchell and Evan were determined to have fun on this slow spinning teacup ride so they livened things up with hands in the air.
Amelie loved the royal treatment!
Amelie was not too far away from Bella throughout the day.  She loves her friends!
Amelie and Farrah giggling on the roller coaster simulation.
The adults made sure to get in some ski ball action as well.

On February 20th, we made a big breakfast of eggs, sausage, and mango juice.  We bundled up and headed to Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 49 acre park with SO many things to do.  If you are interested in looking at it's history visit this website.  We played on various playgrounds, rode the zipline, rode roller coasters, jumped on trampolines, and more.  After many hours of play, we were too hungry to continue so we will have to go back and explore the rest of the park.  We did not make it to the zoo area or the pony rides.  There is still more fun that awaits us at Jardin d'Acclimatation!  After trying a couple pâtisseries in the area and not having any luck with lunch options or payment options, we allowed Amelie to eat at McDonald's.  One of the prizes was an Ice Age III DVD.  On the walk home, we stopped by one of our neighborhood pâtisserie's and allowed Amelie to pick her birthday dessert.  She chose a large chocolate muffin.  When we arrived home we warmed up while watching Ice Age III.  Overall, I would say that it was a successful day of fun! 
Both Bobby and Amelie had lots of fun on the zipline!  Bobby stayed close to pick her up if she fell but he also rode a couple of times too.  So much for blending in...I did not see any French parents on the play equipment.

Bobby and Amelie on the Alice and Wonderland roller coaster.  The teacup spun as it went around the track.
Amelie and I on her first ever roller coaster ride.  She screamed and giggled the entire ride.

Amelie spent close to an hour jumping on a large trampoline.

Eating her delicious chocolate treat!

Getting from There to Here

Getting ready to go through security in the Atlanta Airport.
Every time I would think about traveling internationally with two small children, I would feel a little sick to my stomach.  I knew that once we reached our destination all of the troubles of getting there would diminish, but I was not looking forward to the actual traveling portion.  As the day for us to board the plane finally arrived, we met it with a mixture of emotions: apprehension over the many aspects of traveling that we knew would be out of our control, excitement for the fun things to come and how we would grow as a family and as individuals, sadness for the family and friends we would miss over the many months away, and these are just to name a few. 
We packed and pared down, repacked and pared down even more, and then repacked and pared down as much as we could in order to fit all that we thought we would need for the next year in 2 suitcases and a pack.   We arrived at the airport without much trouble and made it through security checks fairly easily.  After waiting for about 45 minutes at our terminal we were told that our airplane was struck by lightning upon landing and would not be flying again any time soon.  Thankfully, British Airways put us up in the Hilton with many food vouchers to hold us over until another flight left the next evening.  We (really Bobby) made sure we used every penny of allotted to us.  He ordered 4 dinners for our first night at Hilton but since me and the kids were exhausted (and rightfully so, it was midnight or later), he ended up grazing on his own. He even stocked up on nuts and snacks in the airport for our first week in Paris. He is definitely resourceful!
Since we were squeezed onto another flight, I did not get the promised cot for Liam, which was disappointing.  In all the waiting and changing planes and connecting flights and shuttles and taxi drives, our children were amazing and very adaptable.  They both slept when they needed to and didn’t complain for all the craziness of being “off” of their schedule.   I saw firsthand the importance of setting the mood for the kids.  If I remained calm and chill about the inconveniences then they did too.  I also learned it’s the little things that make it fun.  Having a dum-dum for take-offs was a highlight for both kids.  Allowing the freedom to run in the airport helped not having the urge to run when on the airplane.  Having 4 different outfits for Barbie keeps a little girl occupied for a LONG time.  I also learned that the actual traveling part was not as dismal as I imagined it could be. 
We missed our connecting flight in London so we had to sit around for a couple hours in the Heathrow Airport waiting to get to Paris.  When we arrived in Paris, we had planned to take the Metro to our apartment but we were both so exhausted that we decided to splurge on a taxi.  Wow, are we so glad that we did!  The combination of being rush hour, the many stairs to climb up and down with luggage and kids, and not being totally familiar with our route I think could have made for a miserable experience.  Our taxi ride on the other hand, was very smooth and easy and didn't cost all that much more than what it would have been to ride the Metro.  Sanda, the owner of the apartment we are renting, met us with hot chicken rice soup.  It was absolutely perfect as we were starving and did not have the energy to think about where we were going to get food. After our tour of the apartment we were excited to finally be able to rest.  
Liam waiting for the shuttle to the Hilton at midnight.
Liam napping in the airport while Bobby and I did school work.  Since we had to check out of our hotel at 1 p.m. but our flight didn't leave until 8:45 p.m., we had some time to kill.  Thank goodness for WiFi so we could stay caught up on our jobs! Amelie made herself a pallet of jackets and played for hours on her own.