Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SBL #12 aka Mama and Mommy's Trip To Paris!

This blog entry is going to be a photo-heavy, but PARIS.  I don't think an apology is really necessary. 

I have to admit, I cheated a little bit by including entry #12 on our Summer Bucket List.  This trip has been in the works for at least the past six months.  It's something that we knew for sure would be happening, but still, I felt like too big of a summer event not to include.

There is really so much I could say about this trip.  Paris is somewhere Jen and I have talked about going together before The Bean was even born.  Her 40th birthday is coming up next month, this coupled with having a job this past year that provided enough "extra" money to afford such a trip plus not having gone anywhere since before the kids were born and now having kids old enough to leave for a week meant that this was actually something we could make happen.

Making the effort to do something special with just the two of us also seemed like something that would be good for our relationship. It's very easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of family life. Spending time on us has taking a backseat to spending time on the family. It was a great opportunity to spend time together, have actual uninterrupted conversations, and just enjoy each other's company. 

Jen's parents agreed to watch the kids while we were gone. I don't think there's anyone else we would have asked or trusted for that amount of time. And even though we have every confidence in their ability to care for our kids, it was still hard. I have never been away from Sprout overnight. She still nurses. And even though he's much more independent, the longest I've been away from The Bean is under 24 hours. I managed to hold things together, but almost broke down when Jen's mom grabbed my shoulders and reassured me that "THEY ARE GOING TO BE JUST FINE!" as I warned her about reading labels to make sure foods she was giving The Bean didn't contain dairy.

(For the record, I did tear up when we got back and both kids gave me the biggest and best hugs, proclaiming "I love you, Mama!  I missed you! I'm so happy you're home!" It made missing them all week almost worthwhile in itself.) 

So, we drove down to PA on Friday, returned to Toronto on Saturday and then boarded our flight to gay Paris on Sunday. Quite a whirlwind. After climbing the ninety-one (yes, ninety-one!) stairs leading up to our fifth floor apartment, we stepped out onto the balcony to take in the view. Totally worth it.





We lay pretty low our first day there. After unpacking and a mid-day nap (!) we walked down the street to Notre Dame and for a bit of a neighbourhood exploration.







Tuesday we hit up the Arc de Triomphe. We opted not to walk up the stairs to the top and instead window shopped along the Champs-Elysee before heading over to a park to walk around some more.  







The Pompidou Centre was a stone's throw away from our apartment, and we walked by it most nights.  This piece of graffiti art was pretty awesome.  





After dinner on Tuesday we took a river cruise along the Seine.  It was beautiful, but too dark to capture most of the landmarks we passed.  



The next day we went to see the Eiffel Tower up-close. We walked through the Trocadaro Gardens, then up to La Tour Eiffel. After waiting in the line for the elevator for a ridiculously long time, with an even ridiculously longer wait ahead of us, we decided to take the stairs. After a much shorter wait we were headed up to the first level. We rewarded ourselves with gelato at the top. We walked through Champ de Mars on our way home.












That evening we walked up Rue de Rivoli to the Louvre. We didn't go in, but walked around the outside and watched the sun set as we headed towards the Tuileries to enjoy a bottle of wine. From the gardens we noticed that the Ferris Wheel wasn't so far away and decided to walk over. Turns out there was a whole fair set up, so walked through stopping at the fun house (Jen's choice) and for a crepe (my choice).  











Thursday, before heading towards the Opera House, we searched out the flower market. The market itself was a bit of a bust in that it was more houseplants than the beautiful cut flowers I had been envisioning, but it was nice walking along the Seine just the same. 







The Palais Garnier was probably the most surprising highlight of the trip. Jen, who loves The Phantom of the Opera, really wanted to see it. We did an iPad guided tour that was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling to Paris!





We then headed over to Sacre Coeur. After climbing the steps and deciding that the motto "City of Lights" should be changed to "City of Stairs" we enjoyed the spectacular view. Afterwards we roamed the streets of Montmartre before finding a Metro station and heading back to the apartment.



Friday was our art gallery day. I love impressionism and post-impressionism, so the D'Orsay was an easy choice. The gallery itself was gorgeous and there was just enough of the art that we were most interested in seeing to make it not so overwhelming yet still worthwhile. We actually left and then went back in because I realized we had missed all of the Toulouse-Lautrecs. 







After that we headed back towards "home" and the Picasso Museum. This, sadly, was one of the biggest disappointments of the trip. I adore Picasso's early works (particularly his rose period) and was really looking forward to seeing it. There was ONE painting from this period in the gallery. And one from his blue period, the next group of his works I was the most interested in seeing. I did find this gem, which made me think of our kiddos and smile, but miss them.



Saturday, our last day in Paris, was reserved for Versailles.  We took the RER out of the city and found the palace without any issue at all. It'd be pretty hard to miss. Opulent is the word that comes to mind when thinking of Versaille. The size! The furniture! The art! The gardens! It really is something to see!  Unfortunately the insanely large crowds made touring the actual palace quite unenjoyable and we ended up leaving before going through the whole thing.








Our last evening in Paris we went out for a nice dinner in Marais and were treated to the most beautiful sunset from our balcony after arriving back home. The last photo I took was inadvertently almost identical to the first photo I took. 





We started dreaming about our next trip before this one was even over...

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UPDATED: The Two Moms to Be Summer Bucket List for 2015
1. Check out new parks and go back to old favourites.
2. Swim in Lake Ontario. 
3. Visit animals at the zoo.
4. Spend time in nature. Look for new "nature spots" in the city.
5. Donate books to the book bank.
6. Smell flowers at botanical gardens.
7. Go to the Toronto Islands.
8. Make popsicles.
9. Meet up with local bloggers.
10. Paint rocks that we find at the beach.
11. Go to a fair.  
12. Take a moms-only trip. 
13. Eat things that we have grown and/or picked ourselves.

Friday, July 31, 2015

SBL #1, 3, 8 and 9

Okay, time for another Summer Bucket List Update!  

I've been putting off crossing a few of these items off, because I haven't taken as many photos as I would have liked too.  Even though it's not even August, I feel like the summer is flying by and I should be crossing off more items though!  So, with not quite as many photos as I would have liked...

We've been doing a pretty good job of getting around to different parks this summer. I like variety, so I don't mind driving out of our area to check out someplace new. There are SO many parks in the city. Some are beautiful with trees and gardens and great play equipment and others... meh. I discovered that a small local pool that I went to as a teen has been totally revamped into a much nicer pool and completely amazing splash pad. I also discovered that another fairly nearby park was redone at some point over the past year and has amazing new equipment and even some "natural playground" elements. We also found a couple of playgrounds that have skate parks (The Bean's new obsession). Of course, we've continued to make visits to the park with the giant mud pit and our favourite nature preserve in the middle of the city and gone back to some favourites that we don't get to quite as often (Hello castle playground!  I'm talking about you!!).

 








 



We have also been to the zoo several times this summer. I usually bring the camera, but two kids at the zoo can be a bit of a handful, so it's rarely taken out of my bag. That is to say, there are very few zoo photos. The kids love the splash pad at the zoo and the "Kids Zoo" area which has a big slide and a sandbox alongside some small animal exhibits. (Sprout loves the bunnies.) Last time we went we paid a visit to the pandas as well as checked out the butterfly house for what may have been the first time. There were a lot of people, which wasn't ideal, but on a less busy day it'd be pretty amazing.  I tell the kids if they're cooperative that they can ride the merry-go-round when we're leaving. This (mostly) keeps them on their best behaviour. We still need to make it to the city farm as we haven't been since the spring, but there is still plenty of time for that... right?!  












It has been SO hot this past week.  It was also the first week that they had locally grown peaches for sale at the grocery store. I bought a basket full and we used some of them to make smoothie popsicles. Sprout got brain freeze on her first bite, but that didn't stop her from polishing off the rest of her pop!   








Regrettably I took NO photos, but we had a very nice get together with some other bloggers last Saturday. The kids alternated eating snacks and climbing all over the massive wooden castle climber while we chatted. It was nice to finally meet some of the moms and moms-to-be in person and spend time with others who we've met before.  Looking forward to more blogger meet ups before the summer is over!   

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After completing this post, I realized I have taken a lot more photos that I thought!  Ha!

--- UPDATED: The Two Moms to Be Summer Bucket List for 2015
1. Check out new parks and go back to old favourites.
2. Swim in Lake Ontario. 
3. Visit animals at the zoo.
4. Spend time in nature. Look for new "nature spots" in the city.
5. Donate books to the book bank.
6. Smell flowers at botanical gardens.
7. Go to the Toronto Islands.
8. Make popsicles.
9. Meet up with local bloggers.
10. Paint rocks that we find at the beach.
11. Go to a fair.  
12. Take a moms-only trip. 
13. Eat things that we have grown and/or picked ourselves.

---
Update on #13: We grew beans!  They are delicious!