Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonjour from Paris!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but we’ve been busy these last 11 days.

The weather has been near perfect most of our trip, the place is MUCH cleaner and friendlier that I remember, the food is absolutely amazing, bringing the nanny along with the BEST idea ever, and the wine – oh the wine -- I’m now completely addicted to 2005 Bordeaux’s.

Oh and I’ve mastered the entire French language: I speak English in a heavy French accent while occasionally throwing in a French word or two – when English speakers ask me for directions.

Anyhow, here’s a small sampling of what we’ve been up to:

Jardin du Luxembourg (guess what happens when you walk on the grass? They shoot you)
Chateau de Versailles (It's HUGE. No wonder why they hung him. Note to self when I become king - don't flaunt the money, hide it in a big hole instead)
Sacré Coeur de Montmartre (used my heavy French accent many times here)
Notre Dame (no Football team here or Irish people boxing)Picnic on Seine/Bike ride in Giverny (wine, cheese, and... chips)
Claude Monet's garden at Giverny (he actually planted the place himself... and dug the pond with an old spoon)
Musée d'Orsay (This was once an old train station...and roller skating disco for 3 months in 1979)
Musée de l'Orangeries (Monet's waterlillies on the wall and no they don't sell Oranges)
Musée des Egouts (aka "sewer tour" – our nanny and my daughter wanted to go. It stunk really, really, really bad down there. I still threaten to send my daughter down there when she isn't behaving)
Moulin Rouge (Magicians, jugglers, live snakes & ponies, and topless women)"The" Louvre (how do you keep a 3-year old entertained for 5 hours in the largest museum in the world...?)
Disneyland Paris (...you bribe her with a trip here. I'm convinced that's why they built it)
France Miniature (see all of France in 3 hours... built out of Lego's and cheese)

More to come later... à plus tard!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Survive Long Trips With a Preschooler Without Going Crazy

What does your kid do at 6AM? Mine has been walking into my room and yelling “ARE WE GOING TO PARIS TODAY!?”

And then when I say not today, she lets out a big sigh and then asks when is the Easter Bunny coming back because she’s out of candy.

Her excitement is contagious, but I worry about one thing: the 12-hour plane ride.

(Why did they have to build that Paris so far away…)

Our previous long airplane ride of 13 hours when my daughter was nearly 2 didn’t go well at all. We made the unintelligent decision of giving her Benadryl on that flight which had exactly the opposite effect we wanted. It made her irritable, extremely cranky, and borderline hyper for about 4 hours.
When we later told our pediatrician about the strange outcome of the miracle drug, we found out that giving a child Benadryl to make them sleep is a myth completely made up by people that don’t have kids but love giving out parenting advice because they watch a lot of TV and have cats.

Well, not really. I made the cat’s thing up. But wouldn’t be surprised if they did own them.

Some tips I’ve gathered so far on flying with kids:
  1. If they understand what money is, bribing works.
  2. Take new toys that they haven’t seen before. But make sure the toys don’t talk or make noise – especially if they have Dora or her live-in boyfriend San Diego.
  3. Bring a portable DVD player, or even better an iPhone with lots of movies and preschool apps.
  4. Take a redeye flight. But don’t tell them that it’s a redeye flight because they might think zombies are on the plane.
  5. Bring plenty of snacks, and use Souplantation packaging whenever possible.
  6. Create an Art kit – tape, crayons, stickers and activity books – all with Princesses feeding unicorns near a Christmas tree on them.
  7. Convince why cats are evil and why people should never own one. 12-hours should be more than enough time to have some affect.
  8. Talk about how great it is that there’s a KFC in Paris and that’s only a few blocks away from where we’re staying! (I swear I didn’t plan that- it just magically happened that way.)
  9. Introduce “Where’s Waldo” books on the plane. Make up other stuff to find that isn’t there.
  10. Bring a Nintendo DSi – not for her, but to keep me occupied.

So tell me -- what tricks do you do when taking your kids on long trips?

Friday, April 03, 2009

How to Celebrate a 10-Year Wedding Anniversary Without a Coupon

It’s hard to believe that it was 10 years ago today that the wife and I were married on a perfect spring day, among friends and family, on the cliffs of Palos Verdes overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I still remember just about every detail of that day right down to the feeling of seeing my wife-to-be walking down the aisle, to the decadent taste of the crushed chocolate peanut butter cup cake.
It all still seems like it was only yesterday, or maybe just a few years ago.

And how do you think we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary day? Maybe a candlelit dinner comes to mind? Or perhaps a Depeche Mode concert with a special intermission shout-out by Martin Gore yelling out “Happy Anniversary to ma’ mates!” pointing to us in the front row. Or maybe just a simple private jet ride to Catalina Island for an intimate dinner and a private movie screening of “Rambo” on the beach and then later parachuting back home softly tapping wine glasses while we float back down to earth landing on a freshly manicured lawn, near a bucket of KFC chicken.

If you guessed any of those you’d be wrong.

I had a tough day at work, as it was my boss’s last day with the company. My daughter picked up the pace of asking for an (evil) cat. My wife was sick and has 3 papers due next week (closer to that MBA.) So what do we do? We went to Souplantation -- my daughter’s favorite restaurant in the entire universe.
When I told the cashier it was our 10-year wedding anniversary she gave me a 15% discount. She said the AAA discount doesn’t work anymore, but she can still give it to friends and family (thank you Geneveva.)
On the upside, in addition to the discount, things weren’t all that bad. Souplantation wasn’t nearly as crazy as it usually is on a Friday night - no screaming babies, no kids running too fast through the buffet area, and no clam chowder with all of the clams fished out. And it’s ‘lemon month’ so the summer lemon salad and lemon cream pasta were both nothing to complain about.
In fact, if you replace Geneveva with Martin Gore, you can almost say it was like Martin gave me a 15% discount!

Or maybe not…

Oh well, it's my birthday Monday and I’m planning on paying a visit to KFC (my once every 6 weeks indulgence!) Oh yeah, and this will be our apartment’s view 2 weeks from today...

ce poulet est merveilleux!