Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mother's Day Part II

The kids gave me kisses and showed how well they know me.

Thanks, James!

Um, James?

Sounds like a good day to me, Julia.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Royal Wedding

Julia was pretty excited about a certain wedding today...

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mother's Day Part I

Julia's been complaining that it isn't fair that we never get to do all the “fun” things in San Francisco that tourists do (and apparently "The Boxcar Children" do), like ride cable cars. So after a stop at the Cable Car Barn to see the actual cables pulled on giant wheels, we proceed to catch the Van Ness - California Street line (highly recommended since we had the half the car to ourselves). There's nothing like holding onto the cable car with one hand and leaning out with your arm outstretched to make you feel like you're flying down the hills. The kids loved it.

And then we Ubered back to our car because the cable cars are a ridiculous $7 per person for a one way ticket. Next time we ride the cable cars, Julia, will be when you have something called a job.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


We spotted a skunk in our backyard this morning before school. The kids were excited until they realized that they would eventually have to go outside to get to the car. They kept concocting ridiculously elaborate plans to do so that would, in fact, expose them even more to the skunk. These ranged from Julia's ("We'll run to the end of the block and you pick us up there") to James's ("Do we have an axe? What about a really sharp knife? Don't worry - I'm not going to kill the skunk. I'll just go into the attic and make a hole in the roof and climb out to see where the skunk is. Then we'll take a ladder down to the car.")

Of course we got to the car just fine. And then Julia realized she forgot her library book so I had to go inside and get it. It would have been funny if the skunk had then shown up in the front yard while the kids were stuck in the car, but of course no skunk was spotted (just striped!).

In our backyard. If it's nested under the deck we'll just have to move.

Some choice quotes:
James: (In planning our exit) "Wait, where are the walkie talkies?"
Julia: (Once we all got in the car) "Quick! Lock the doors!"
Julia: "What if the skunk follows our car to school?"
When we got to school James joked that everything was okay, and there weren't any little pawprints left from a skunk hanging off the license plate. Julia went to check anyway.

And that was our excitement for the day.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Paris Epilogue

James waxes poetic on his final night of the trip about how his heart is being tugged in two by Paris. One wants to stay so he can run across the street and play in the rain, and the other wants to go home and play video games (notably “Stardew Valley”). He turns his thoughts into a poem. (James says he got the idea of his heart being tugged in two from a "Chicken Squad" book, but the illustrations are all James.)
(I considered cropping the poem about two-thirds down because I think the beginning is better. But sometimes it’s nice to have some insight into the mind of a 7-year-old, like about how he misses his favorite video game and his stuffed golden retrievers, Bowser and Goldie. “D. Dude” is what he calls the dalmatian “tattoo” on his arm. Also, if I cropped it early you’d miss out on the drawing of the smiling heart back together again at the end.)
James has said since the beginning of first grade that he wants to be a poet when he grows up. Despite my angsty high school days editing a literary magazine, I assure you I’ve never encouraged him in this direction. I think it’s because he likes rhyming words. This poem is the first he’s written where he didn’t.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 15: Au Revoir…

I’m determined to make an Eiffel Tower run the morning before we check out, so I wake early, hike to three bakeries to get pastries for breakfast (the first two are still closed from Bastille Day. The French are pretty loose about things like shop hours.), and pack three suitcases. Mark questions whether we’ll have enough time for the Tower, and I’m like, “After all this you’d better believe it!”

Julia reads a book to James on the ridiculously tacky chair in our Air BnBrothel.
After we Uber there we have at most 20 minutes. We don’t have enough time to go to the
Trocadero but we do walk around next to the Eiffel Tower and the nearby bridge crossing
the Seine.
Kathy, Mark, James, and Julia next to the Eiffel Tower and the Seine.
What usually happens when Julia and James stand next to each other for a picture.
We fly home and we all wake up between 3 and 4:30 a.m. because of jet lag. The next day we go to dinner at Burma Ruby, which we’ve been craving, and although the kids are awake when we arrive, they fall asleep before the entrees (James, before the appetizers), and we end up carrying them passed out to the car. It looks like we tranquilized them for date night. James has no memory of even being there.
Mark and Kathy in Charles de Gaulle Airport
In retrospect, going out to dinner a few hours before bedtime the first night back might not have been such a good idea.

Julia’s favorite thing of the day: Eiffel Tower, sleeping in own bed (she’s not a fan of sleeping with James)
James’s favorite: Eiffel Tower

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 14: Bastille Day, Schmastille Day

We’re in Paris for Bastille Day (and were in London for the Fourth of July), which sounds great except things don’t work out so well. We try to walk across the Pont Alexandre III, regarded as the most ornate bridge in the city, but it’s closed due to either the earlier military parade down the Champ Elysees (of course Trump was also there) or the fireworks that evening. Next we find out that the area by the Eiffel Tower is closed and so is Trocadero, the best picture taking spot. (No “squishing the Eiffel Tower” photos for us.) I had planned to go here the previous night after our tour but forgot about it once the tour was cancelled, so we never did get to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. I’ll just assume this qualifies as another “Curse you, Donald Trump!”
Julia and James run across some nets by the Seine.
The Eiffel Tower was at the end of the street where we had lunch. Sadly this is the closest we could get.
Kathy holds her model of the Eiffel Tower... or does she?
Kathy, James, Julia, and Mark in their requisite Eiffel Tower picture.
James and Julia liked sliding down this bike ramp.
Homeless Chewbacca has seen better days.
Since we can’t get close to the Eiffel Tower and we’re already in the neighborhood, I subject everyone to walking around to look at Art Nouveau architecture instead.
Art Nouveau building, 29 Rapp, from 1901. From my guidebook: "Art Nouveau to the extreme , with colourful glazed ceramic tiles and an extravagant doorway representing an inverted phallus inside a vulval arch." Of course.

Standing at the outside edge of the roundabout encircling the Arc du Triomphe, we are blocked by the unbroken, eight-lane stream of traffic with no apparent way to get across. Mark wants to try to run across and repeatedly suggests that we “just Frogger it.” (He later claims that he was joking.) Fortunately we eventually notice a staircase to a tunnel below the traffic and we take that instead.
Mark carries James around at the Arc de Triomphe.

We take Metro to Jacques Genin, a high end chocolatier for a chocolate snack. Julia is unhappy at first (as you all know by now, she hates chocolate), but then gets free pâtes de fruits from our server. We drink our third hot chocolate of the trip and finish our snack at 7 p.m. And dinner is still to come after 9 p.m. - such is our schedule in Paris.
Our dinner in Montmartre is a salad topped with fried potatoes, our restaurant’s specialty.
You got potatoes on my salad! You got salad on my potatoes! Mark isn’t as impressed
but I declare it the best meal in Paris. We walk all the way up to Sacre Coeur and
scramble to find a spot to see fireworks. We had heard this was a good place to watch,
and we had zero interest in the other suggested spot - camping out by the Eiffel Tower
in the mid-afternoon and waiting until 11 p.m. for the fireworks to start. We are baffled as
to why this is a popular firework watching spot since the fireworks are really far away
and we can’t even see the Eiffel Tower. We leave before they’re even over. Le letdown.

Julia’s favorite thing of the day: Eiffel Tower
James’s favorite: Winning Street Fighter game at Publicis Drugstore (It’s a drug store
we went inside to buy some water and discovered a Joel Robuchon restaurant and a
Pierre Herme macaron counter. What kind of crazy drug store IS this?)