Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Using the Force

Darth Vader got all burned. Need helmet on, mask on, suit on. Got all burned.

Kirk’s increasing obsession with Star Wars eased the transition to babysitter for us last night. Mr. b’s boss took us out to fancy dinner last night and we shared a babysitter. His kids are older than Kirk (Girl is 11 and probably could have handled them herself – next time) but they got along swimmingly. Boy just pulled out all his Star Wars action figures and plushies and by the time he unearthed the light sabers, Kirk was completely done being shy and hiding in my lap. We didn’t know if we would have to sneak out but he totally didn’t care when we left.

We’ve also been using Star Wars as a morality tale to try to get Kirk to knock off the hitting and naughtiness. Anakin was naughty and didn’t have any more friends when he turned into Darth Vader. Luke shouldn’t hit his Daddy Vader, even if he’s mad at him. I don’t know if it’s helping but it’s a lot of fun. You’ll get all burned and end up in a suit if you don’t hold hands while in the parking lot, if you throw food on the floor, if you hit the kitty, if you push your friends on the playground…

Friday, October 26, 2007

Compromised Position

Kirk has been strangely cooperatively lately. Oh, he still hits and pushes and is a very naughty two year old. But for the past week, if we calmly explain why something else has to occur first or why something can’t happen, we’re more likely to hear a resigned “OK” and a big sigh. Which is a vast improvement over, “No like it that one!” “No, Kirkie do it!” “No, Kirkie say it!” I’m not sure what’s up with the change. He’s had a cold but it started before then so it’s not just physical exhaustion. And the fights haven’t gone away completely. Getting dressed has been a major battle probably half of the mornings in the last couple weeks. Neither Mr. b or I will let him go to K’s in his pajamas and he no like it that one. Eating is often a struggle. We’ve had to become *those* parents, you know, the ones that won’t let you have the TV on during dinner. Which sucks for us because we like it. But Kirk will get too distracted and not actually eat. Which he often won’t do anyways. The starvation method helps: let him play until later than normal dinner hour and then he’s hungry enough to eat. But I’m usually too hungry right after work to go along with that! Strangely, going to bed generally isn’t a fight. Sometimes we’ll get a “Still playing” but then he’ll be ready after only a five or ten minute delay. There haven’t been any potty training fights yet because we’re totally chill about letting him go at his own pace. He gets praised effusively every time he does use the potty, which makes him just beam with pleasure. And we reward him with Potty Candy for anything actually in the pot, not just sitting down and trying. Potty Candy at home is two pieces of Smarties (one for each hand) and K said that she uses chocolate covered raisins. I can see the end of diapers, but it’s still just over the horizon. We’re definitely on our way though, which is nice.

Friday, October 12, 2007

30 September 2007

We both woke up exceedingly early and so slowly finished getting ready, packing, and cleaning. After check-out we caught the train to Antibes. The ticket machine was still broken so another free ride. I was concerned about finding our correct seats on the fast train but we did it right and five hours later, were back in Paris. We quick time harched to the Metro, thankful that we had the foresight last weekend to book a room at the same hotel so we knew exactly where to go. After ditching our luggage we tested my theory that the Metro tickets were good for all day – yep! So we did a little recon on our train to the airport tomorrow and then headed towards the Champs de Elysses. We slowly made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Hey, isn't that thing famous?

Occupied France
We took the stairs up to the first level and took in the view.

Hangin' Out
I was disconcerted and fighting vertigo the whole time

Hangin' On
so I went back down and [Mr. b] climbed to the second level. [I guess irrational fear must suit me because this is hands down the best picture of me in years.] Unfortunately they had stopped selling elevator tickets to the tippy top so he missed out on that. We Metro’d back after buying a gift for my mom (Dad was easy – got him a Marina Baie des Anges hat back at the complex when buying postcards) and started looking for a restaurant for dinner. I declared that I was too tired to think in French anymore so we ended up at a place with an English menu. It was a lot more expensive than we had anticipated – we got ripped off on the drinks for the fixed price menu – but good. Just two long-ass flights tomorrow and then we’ll be home, kissing Kirkie.

29 September 2007

Another frozen quiche for breakfast and then eventually made our way to the train platform. The ticket dispenser was out of order. [It was the weekend so the booth wasn't open and the automatic machine was the only option. We didn't know what to do if we got stopped by a conductor but there were quite a few of us on the platform so I figured we'd get it sorted.] It started raining when we got to Antibes; we stopped at a bar we had passed the previous two times we’d been there. A walk took us to the small bay

and then we explored the edge of the old walled city.

Old Antibes
[I was really mad at Mr. b when we got back to the apartment and I realized that I wasn't in a single one of the Antibes photos. It still bums me out a little.]

After circumnavigating the border we wandered the narrow streets, occasionally stopping at shops.

Bought Tintin figurines for [Mr. b] and a large plush Snowy for Kirk. Another round of rain brought us to a café for another break. Returning to Villeneuve-Loubet we went back to the shops so I could find a coat. There was a massive sale going on and it was madness. [Mr. b] went to McDonald’s while I shopped. Then back to the apartment to prepare for the first leg of our journey home. Snack at the grocery store. Then dinner at a cute little pasta place. Then I packed while [Mr. b] cleaned. Early wake-up tomorrow.

28 September 2007

We had every intention in going to Nimes. First we found out the check out procedures for our apartment, then went down to the bike rental place. The guy thought we were nuts for thinking of doing six hours of driving in one day but more importantly, it would have been 165 €. [I guess this was an example of our "Americanness". Sure, three hours one-way is a lot but it's totally doable. And we've both done it. Many times.] So we checked out the train option, stopping along the way to buy a hat I had found the day before. Three different trains to Nimes. So. An hour at the Clubhouse Marina, downloading iTunes TV and regrouping. Sex and then an unexpectedly leisurely lunch. We determined a while ago that tip is included. Today I realized that they don’t deserve it anyways. We walked down the seaside path all the way to Cagnes sur Mer, then cut back through part of the town on the way back.

[Check out the reflection of the Med in my sunglasses! Totally unintentional but very awesome.]

[Mr. b] estimates it was a good 5+ miles. We tried to do some more shopping back here but the stores were closing for the evening. I bought ingredients for chicken with cream of, rice, and veggies and it was OK. We wound down the night watching Eureka and playing random video games on the laptop in bed.

27 September 2007

Still beat from yesterday’s three country train tour, we legitimately slept in until nearly Noon. Leftover pizza and then the storms arrived. We sat up in bed reading, watching the rain, and drank and entire bottle of wine.

Now THIS is vacation!
[There's no WAY we'd be able to lay around, reading and drinking while at home with Kirk on hand. We really enjoyed the chance.]

The thunder and lightning let up but the rain kept coming – we went shopping anyways. Being soaked to the bone – again – put [Mr. b] in a foul mood and so we fought for a while. No restaurants were open for dinner yet so we came back to the apartment and made spaghetti and watched The Office on the laptop. What are the stages of culture shock? We’re both missing comforts of home. I want steak and potatoes and [Mr. b] wants the History Channel. While doing our regular evening internet check on the stairs (the only WiFi hotspot around)

Our Office
we were approached by some young dude who really unsettled me, though I think he was just trying to warn us about thieves. Back at the pad we took care of the credit card security business we had pending – they had called my folks on Tuesday but wanted to speak to us in person. I was shaken up after all that so we called [K] and talked to Kirk briefly. Now I’m in tears but it’s OK. I just miss him so much. Also, there are snails everywhere after all the rain.

Where's SpongeBob?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

26 September 2007

We actually got up and stayed up today. After a minor set back returning our bikes (we left them at the SeaDoo rental next door to the bike shop) we hopped on the train. The ride was lovely – the tracks are right on the coast most of the way. We saw a few surfers just west of Ventimiglia. No where else has had rough enough water for waves – hence the pebble beaches. It was raining in Ventimiglia so I bought an umbrella but [Mr. b] decided to ignore it. We stopped for some caffeine and then made our way down to some Roman ruins.

Which were closed. We took a convoluted path back, through winding apartments, and found a restaurant that had previously caught our eye. Delicious. Back on the train, stopped at Monaco. Really, incredibly cool city. Walked up and up and up on sidewalk stair cases.

Stairways in Monaco
Then down and down and down. Over to the palace – Rainer and Grace named everything. Old palace – built in 1533 – with a guard and it’s own old city.

Grace Kelly Slept Here

Palace city
Completely enchanting, stopped for a beverage and then back to the train station, this time via the marina level. Hard to capture the layers upon layers of buildings over time – ancient foundations still visible everywhere.

Train back “home”. Used rest of extra noodles (too many for tuna hot dish) with pesto for dinner. Cooking for ourselves is really nice.

25 September 2007

After getting up and having a delicious frozen quiche Lorraine for breakfast, we went back to bed. Until 1:30pm! Sex and leftover tuna noodle hot dish, then we rented bikes. We rode east for a while and explored into the village.

Bike Rental
[The bike paths were marked in green and were not just thin borders like in the States. The entire path was painted green in spots! It made it really easy to follow as long as it didn't stop randomly for traffic pattern changes, which certainly happened a few times in our exporation.]

After learning of a local train stop right near our complex, we headed back west. We took the train to Antibes and bought our return tickets to Paris for next weekend. Then we came right back and sat at an internet café for a while before hopping back on our bikes. We ended up riding all the way to Antibes! Adorable town; we both loved it. We wandered around on foot for nearly an hour, eventually discovering the old walled city, now filled with cute shops and countless restaurants. Back where our bikes were parked we had fabulous pizzas at La Toscana. That seems to be the name of every Italian place in the area. [Mr. b] biked back carrying the box with our leftovers. My ass is killing me from the hard bike seat. But we definitely got our money’s worth!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

24 September 2007

Today was the day I declared we would do nothing. And, as Peter says, “It was everything I always thought it could be.” [Mr. b] woke up and went out for a baguette and some more supplies while I stayed in bed. We ate breakfast and then returned to bed to read and nap for several more hours. About 1:30pm I got up and finalized the inventory paperwork for our apartment. I dropped that off and tried to pick up the groceries [Mr. b] had forgotten but the store was still on its afternoon break. After surfing the internet on the stairs to kill some time, [Mr. b] got up and we went down together.

Garden Party
Late lunch of baguette, cheese, wine, and strawberries, then down to the beach. The water was quite cool and there’s no sand – only rounded, flat rocks.

French Riviera
Boobies! [There were very few topless women around so I never bothered trying it out for myself. The vast majority of those topless were Baby Boomers and older, too! Leathery skin. Yikes.] We read some more then came home and [Mr. b] made tuna noodle casserole. The oven was difficult to figure out so the topping got slightly burnt but it was delicious. Winding down the evening watching Dr. Who on the laptop and drinking more red wine. My teeth will be stained by the time we get home.

23 September 2007

A restless night for both of us – I kept having dreams of weird math and [Mr. b] was up at 3am. He went down for coffee and cigarettes; I got up when he returned. Easy trip to train station thanks to prior recon. Sat in wrong car after thinking we did it right. Unexpected train stop in Aix en Provence. Train lunch of “Parisien” sandwiches – ham and white cheese, quite good. Yogurt came in crocks!

Cell Phone Ghost
[Mr. b was highly amused by the "sleeping ghost" posted all over the train. It took us far longer than we should admit before we realized it was the turn-off-your-cell-phone symbol. Bit like our amusement at the "No Blue" no parking signs when we first encountered them in England 10 years ago.]

Passed resort on way to Nice. Cab ride much more expensive than anticipated. Crabby door man at building and lady at check-in, first “French rudeness” encountered. Explored shops at resort complex, rested, had dinner, tried to call home. Grocery shopping – hope to start cooking meals instead of going out. Have to rent linen, bought dish soap, need scrubbie and paper towels.

22 September 2007

Mass confusion at Charles de Gaulle to find shuttle. Nice co-passenger from NYC to chat with on drive to hotel. Sex and long nap. Subway to recon – train station for tomorrow. Walk, walk, walk, amazing dinner, sweet waitress. [I ordered us both the cassoulet. We didn't know yet that it was too early for normal French dinner hour. The chef brought them out himself - simply astoundingly delicious. Ham, sausage, and leg of something that I think was duck but might have been rabbit, beans, and fabulous bread. It was also our first experience with a carafe of vin rouge. That would become my standard drink order.]

Cafe Scully in Paris
Walk, walk, walk, Notre Dame, Louvre, Duncan McLeod, back towards hotel.

The Seine
Winding down at corner pub outside hotel entrance.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


A3 only a few hours old

Well. There is nothing that makes your baby seem like a big boy quicker than seeing him next to his brand new baby cousin. A3 finally decided to join us the day before we left, so we did get to meet her when she was only a few hours old. Kirk seemed to handle our departure pretty well. He had some extended cuddles with each of us post-nap before my dad drove us to the airport. I cried while pulling away from the house. I had printed out a few pictures of us that my mom put on the fridge for him to play with about halfway through the vacation. While in France we recorded a short video message to him and posted that on YouTube which apparently was a big hit. He'd ask Papa to "see pictures" every time he heard the laptop start up. I uploaded pictures to my France folder while away so he also got to see what Mama and Daddy were doing. We called him once and though he didn't say much, it was enough for us to just hear his voice a little. Mom said that he really broke down the day before we were supposed to get home and that he had been talking about us more and more each day leading up to that point. Then he broke her heart by going on about how much he missed us. Needless to say, he was as excited about our return as we were.

I kept a brief travel journal every night that I'll transcribe into blog posts. But not right now. Kirk is napping and Mr. b is at the cafe and I'm enjoying being back in my own home.