Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help with Photobucket?

I just checked in and noticed that my Photobucket slideshow is not showing all the pictures I marked...there should be 50 photos! It's late here, so I'll try to fix it in the a.m. Anyone out there use Photobucket?

ETA: I deleted the Photobucket slideshow and uploaded the slide.com. This one let me upload a lot more photos...(see "Paris Photos Pronto! Not..." a couple posts down for Paris trip photos) Click on the slideshow for a better view!

Paris - *Hot Like Sushi!*

Warning: Long post…there was just so much to tell! Here’s the short version…really!

The drive to Paris was pretty uneventful. It was 30 minutes before we heard the first “are we almost there?” A rest stop, pictures of the ‘squatty potty’ and a few hours later, we needed food! We stopped for lunch at Mickey D’s (McDonalds). Everyone got their usual and as we headed back down the road, we heard Jonny say, “Mmm mmm! Those French sure can cook!” This was to be a running theme for the weekend…

We stayed about 30 minutes outside of Paris. It was really a campsite with a trailer park - I know. Trailer park...it was great! It was very clean, and small (you could make toast and shower at the same time) but we were hardly even there to notice. The first afternoon the kids swam in the pools. It seemed warm enough, at least until we made the kids get out when we noticed Evelyn's lips were purple...at this the kids commented that you can get hypothermia in any kind of weather (thanks AFN!)

We spent the evening planning the rest of the weekend, trying to narrow down the ‘want to see list’ to ‘if we never came back, where would you want to go?’ There were a lot of places crossed off right away…many of the museums, shopping and eating out (remember Mickey D’s?) mainly because of the location or we didn’t think the kids would enjoy it for more than 30 minutes.

So, the first day we went to Notre Dame. Actually, there was supposed to be an aquarium, but we couldn’t find it…we passed Notre Dame looking for it and decided to go back to the church! Several displays, a couple of confessionals and many candles later, the kids were ready to go. No flash photography, so not a lot of great photos (woohoo Photoshop!)

Then we ventured across town (it didn’t look that far on the map!) to Jardin des Plantes. It advertised a menagerie and a turtle exhibition. Surely this would be fun for the kids! So, we walked, and walked and walked until we finally reached the gate. It was the wrong gate! We had to walk even farther to another gate and then through the park to get to the entrance of the animal park. The kids weren’t happy. It was almost lunch and they were tired of walking. To top it off, neither of us had gotten extra euro and there were NO ATMs in sight!

That’s how we happened upon the lovely carousel by the ice cream stand. The kids and I ate ice cream (14 euros!) while we waited for Jesse to find an ATM…on foot, remember? About 20 minutes later, Jess shows up and no ATM. We asked around and no one could tell us more than ‘over that way’. So, we packed up the kids and went looking for an ATM. Finally, we see a line of people just standing around a wall and lo, and behold an ATM!

Now, we had to find a place to eat…I’m thinking of how lovely it would be to sit down and have lunch at a French CafĂ©…just as I think we have arrived we spot the menus.

Jonny says, “hey look! They have hotdogs!”

Evelyn pipes up, “Do they have hamburgers?”

Yeah. They did -- 6 euros for a hotdog, 12 for a hamburger. You’ve got to be kidding! So, we ate every meal out at the Golden Arches since we knew the kids would actually eat what they got. The first Mickey D’s we went to, Jess went to get the food and the girls and I went looking for the restroom. It was locked! Keypad with a code locked! We had to wait to get our receipt with the bathroom code on it before we could use the facilities! ( I wonder if there was a minimum purchase…)

(Side note: Restroom, WC…whatever you call them…here’s some info about the Paris variety…


If you’re going to Paris with kids…you may want to check out those links!)

After everyone was fed and washed up, we headed back over to Jardin des Plantes. It’s a large, lovely tree-lined park with garden exhibitions, the menagerie and (at this time) a turtle exhibition. I was very excited about the turtle exhibition since we didn’t make it to the aquarium! We wandered around looking at the displays and finally sought out the turtles. What a disappointment! The exhibition consisted of small displays and large video screens. After a few minutes, we traveled over to the menagerie.

The menagerie was fun! We walked around and tried to find all the animals; there’s a monkey house and a reptile house, yaks, animals resembling large rodents, birds, bush dogs (kids loved these critters!) and giant tortoises! It seems that every time we visit a zoo, we get to witness how some species perpetuates its kind…yeah. This time it was the giant tortoises…a little disturbing…the male makes a lot of noise! Who needs animal planet?! Anyhoo…

After a bit of debate, we decided to brave the Metro, called it a day and headed back.

The next day, went to see the Arc de Triomphe and then the Louvre. We rode the Metro and arrived with no problems. It was a beautiful day! From a distance, it doesn’t look like much, but when we got up close, you could see the great details! There is also a “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” located under the arch. We decided to not ride up to the top as the kids were hungry (again?!) and set out looking for a Mickey D’s.

Have I mentioned how much I {heart} my GPS?! We changed the settings to Pedestrian and then used it to find Jonny’s restaurant in no time at all! (Note: its a good idea to change it back to driving after you find Mickey D's, otherwise you could spend 30 minutes trying to get out of the city while your GPS tells you to go down one way streets and turn left when there isn't a left turn to be made...just a thought!) After a fill up, we headed back to the Metro and traveled to the Louvre. We window shopped a bit and then went topside to the garden area and rested for a bit, took pictures, of course, and then went in.

The main entrance was a bit crowded when we went in, so after we saw “Winged Victory” we saw an area off to the side and pulled the kids over. That’s where we discovered the alcove in the wall with nothing in it…picture op! We put the kids in the alcove and took pictures as they modeled! Highly recommended! People giggled and grinned and even offered help!

We didn’t take many pictures of the art and artifacts as we figured, we could find better pictures than what we could take (given no flash photography, glass and roped off areas) on the internet or in books. The girls fared pretty well during our visit to the Louvre. Not too much complaining or touching!

Jonny on the other hand…he made the 2.5 hour visit all the more memorable.

After about 30 minutes…
“Mom? Where are the happy pictures?”

After about an hour…
“Mom? There’s a lot of naked people in here!”

After 1.5 hours…
“Mom, when I have a lot of energy, I look like this (insert happy, smiling, standing tall, Jonny)

When I don’t, I look like this (insert frowning, puppy-eyed, shoulders slumped, Jonny)

Mom? Are you looking?!”

Insert the frowning Jonny.

After about 2 hours…

“Mom? WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO STOP TORTURING US?!" Really. He said that.

Lucky for Jonny (and us) it was almost closing time. A couple of years ago LEMS PTSA paid for an Egyptian unit for the school. Because of this the kids, Glory, especially, were excited to know that the Louvre had a large Egyptian collection; so we headed out going through it. It was amazing to see what was preserved. There were many sarcophagi and displays that were as tall as the room they were in.

We traveled through room after room, following the Sortie signs. After awhile, Jesse said, “Are we doing the Louvre or is the Louvre doing us?” It was like a maze. We kept following the signs, but it didn’t seem like we were going to be lead out – just into another room! Finally, we saw a room that we recognized and made our way back to the Metro, but not before I bought my postcard and had the gentleman in the Louvre Post Office, handstamp the Louvre’s post mark – he even stamped it twice!

So, that's about it...*there were lots of small side stories and incidents that happened during our trip, but they're the kind that you had to be there for!* Wish you could have been with us on this trip! Our final trip will be to Italy in 2009...wanna come along?!

Paris Photos Pronto! Not...

(ETA 12/04/2011: Slide.com will no longer be available after March 2012, so I've updated this post with a slideshow via Photobucket. Not as nice, but you still get to see the fun!)

Here are some photos from our Paris trip.

Oh.my.gosh. Finally got the pictures downloaded to the computer, uploaded to Photobucket and was almost finished with the slideshow 1.5 hours later and the power went out! So, now that it's finally back up, here's the abbreviated slideshow. We didn't take a lot of "Paris" photos, mostly family trip photos - those you'll look back on and say, "Oh, yeah! Do you remember this?!" and then a story follows. We let the kids have the cameras (yep...we had 4!) so a lot of the photos are "what's this? who took this photo? thank goodness it's digital!"

I was a little anxious about traveling all over Paris on foot, via the Metro with kids. We just planned it with the kids in mind and were able to really enjoy the family time! I'll get this posted and then tell about the weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Help, I've Fallen!

Okay, not really, but life has been a blur this last week. I think we are finally getting settled into our school routine for this year. Knock on wood. (oh. wait! the desk is sawdust and glue...does that count?! I'm doomed!)

Doctor appointments, dental appointments...Evelyn had both of her's - only have to redo a couple of sealants. Whew! I was worried. She's the only one of my kids to have a cavity before she started school! I blame the non-fluoridated water...it couldn't be because we traveled with sippy cups full of juicy juice...or that toddler + long car ride x naps (with mouth full of teeth covered in sticky substance!)=cavity... The rest of the kids go next week...

Mine was today - 15 minutes, once I was in, and a soon to be scheduled appointment for sealant on a wear spot on my tooth. Mmm. Hate that blue light and the tech always seems to get that stuff they paint on the teeth on my gums...I mean c'mon! My mouth isn't that small -- ask my husband! ha.

Speaking of...he's in Arizona. Where it's warm. Where there's a Target. A Michael's. Fast food. SUPER-sized Wendy's Frosties...uh huh. I like ice cream in winter. It lasts longer - hello!

Okay, enough of the rambling! I do have a few cards that my lovely children have made and I will proudly share when I get around to uploading those pictures tonight. And no, I didn't forget the Paris pics. They are now on my computer. Trying to decide where to upload them to: Picasa or Photobucket for a slide show...any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Morning!

This picture was taken at the end of the first day of school for K, J, and G. 'mom said you better smile!'

(I LOVE musicals...when I sat down at my computer this morning, a song from Singing in the Rain was playing in my head...click the title of this blog and see how I feel today!)

I'm back! Finally getting over the strep throat and the bronchitis. Yep, you read that right! I spent part of my Paris trip and my first week of school - with no kids at home - sick!

Last week Jess was in the Netherlands and I was so busy with the kids and fighting total exhaustion, I really didn't even get to contemplate that I'm moving into another season of my life! Then this weekend (after the antibiotics kicked in) I was sitting in the MAD (Mom and Dad) room with Jess and it hit me - I had missed my kids while they were gone to school!

The usually noisy house was silent.
No one interrupting me asking "When are we going to eat?!"
No one sitting in my lap while I typed.
No one to play video games with.
No one to color with.

Thank Goodness I got over that, too! :]

So, this morning I got the kids out of the house and (barely!) onto the school bus, then as I was driving up the hill, I started getting this giddy feeling and I felt this smile break over my face...

I'm home alone!!!

No dirty dishes on the table.
If I clean a mess, it STAYS clean!
Uninterrupted computer time.
I don't have to take turns watching TV. heehee
No more unflushed toilets (at least during the day...I know...tmi (too much info), but see what I see?!)

Woohoo! I have to say that I am most excited about 2 things: the cleaner house and the fact that I will get some 'me' time every day without feeling guilty or as if I am taking it away from the kids or my husband. That has been the hardest part of being a mom of 4 and a wife of a military husband for me - not knowing how to balance it all. (I know for some of you gals, that you handle this better than I have...I've seen your house and kids! *wink, wink*) Me, I prefer an all or nothing approach - I struggle and work on this in all aspects of my life!

Almost 17 years later...I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it! haha! The kids are mostly independent and now gone for most of the day, so that helps a bit. I do like to stay busy and involved with my kids, so I'm already volunteering at the schools, the Landstuhl Library and other places.

All the kids are in school, Jesse is home for a few days, then off again, but for now...

Life is Good!
(We took over 600 photos while in Paris! Will post soon!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still Kickin'

Hi, Everyone! Thanks to those of you who've left comments on my blog lately! It's nice to hear from those that stop by.

I'm still around, just sick as a dog, but with 4 busy kids and a husband that's TDY there's no rest for the weary! lol *cough, cough* So, no time for photos today, just a quick update!

Went to Paris over Labor Day weekend. Will get pictures up soon.

My classes started, but I just picked up my books on Tuesday, so I have a bit of catching up to do.

Also went to Paper Junkies on Tuesday (hey, I'm committed to my craft! ; ] ) If you're in the Ramstein area, you should come! (email me, if you need the deets!) I love the projects that I come home with. This month we made 3x3 (inch) cards and envelopes. Even better - we made a lovely little box to keep them in. We also made a box that looks like a tiny magazine holder. The original designer made it to keep 3x3 cards in, but we used it as a gift box! Andrea always gives us directions with pictures, so we can make more at home, too.

Okay, better get the homework done. Pictures soon!