10/3/12 - 10/5/12
balloonist, centre pomidou plaza
I hope to always take advantage of any bathroom opportunity on this trip. The need for one of the kids to use the bathroom does not slowly develop over a half hour or so. When the need is first expressed it is at full-throttle proportion. All must be immediately assessed - options, pros and ons of leaving where we are, etc. Kids never need a bathroom when we're eating in a restaurant (with a bathroom!) but, rather, wherever we happen to be 20 minutes later, after they've unequivocally declared they do not have to go. Part of me does not blame them, some of the bathrooms here are real puzzlers. Where's the flush mechanism? How do you turn the water on? Why is there no seat? Why is there no toilet paper (again)? What are those long white cloth towels people seem to be pulling out as if there is an endless roll of them in there to dry your hands? Most restaurants have co-ed sink areas. Fine by me, but the men's room seems so often very exposed to the sink area! We've also paid a fee a few times to use a bathroom, at a downtown mall, in a park. Sure, I'll pay a few cents to have a rim on my seat, toilet paper and soap!
I also profess to enjoy the city's street performers, who seem to come in all varieties of entertainment. Painters, sketch artists, jugglers, musicians galore. We remain in search of a mime, that we've yet to see one is very puzzling to Coco.
Today, we spent about 30 minutes with a very kind balloon artist, who made Coco a bouquet of flowers and Henry, for his 9th birthday tomorrow, a motorcycle. The balloonist (?!) frequently interrupted his craft to play little jokes on the kids, very silly stuff that we all enjoyed (and, thus, the 30 minutes for two balloons).
On Wednesday morning we went to St. Chappelle, a most delicate, sweet church very close to Notre Dame. The stained glass was amazing and seemed to envelop us. Ironically, you can get a discount ticket to see both Sainte Chappelle and La Conciergerie, which are next door to each other. Quite unlike the church, La Conciergerie was a jail, where people like Marie Antoinette were kept until their heads were lopped off. There were jails with life size prisoner dummies. Very strange.
inside view - Galaries Lafayette
We also went to Galleries Lafayette on Wednesday, a big fancy department store. We all had the salad bar, which had some welcomed lentils. We also went on the rooftop, which was great. Mostly cloudy but still the views were great and the building not so high as to freak me out! A big open space of hard plastic sofas and chairs, AstroTurf and pretty views of the grey sky, greyer buildings. It was pouring by the time left; we took the metro home the three stops.
We returned to the Holocaust memorial today, a day when its neighborhood, Le Marais, seemed packed with Orthodox Jews and stacks of challah in all the bakery windows. We went into some of the exhibit rooms, Henry with a thousand questions and Coco just wanting to get out. it is a beautiful memorial and all the emoticons I described last week came back. We searched the walls for last names that were familiar to us, looked at the little stones people left as offerings. More than 70,000 Jews were taken from France to camps between 1942 and 1944; only about 2500 of them survived.
We hit the books pretty solidly this week. Next week brings travel for us, a new city and country, and playmates for the kids (and me!). kids are doing well with homeschooling and take it pretty seriously. Except for morning stretching! We do morning stretching each day, rotating who leads the stretching. Coco would make us stretch for 45 minutes if she could. We have to remind her let us switch positions, and eventually to end the session. When Henry is the leader, he mostly wants to be on the floor (quel surprise!) and he puts as little effort into actually stretching as possible. I told him he was going to fail PE and he argued with me that stretching has nothing to do with PE! He just likes to roll around the floor!
Hotel du Sully, Place des Vosges
Tomorrow is Henry's birthday and this boy is about to burst. Before I go to bed tonight, I'll decorate with some garland and streamers (he's always the first up). We'll open presents at breakfast (so he does not indeed burst) and then have our little treasure hunt around the apartment. The rest of the day will depend on both the weather and Henry's wishes. Maybe we'll come across a mime.