Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making smart women everywhere wish they were dead.

Please, please tell me she's not pushing for the White House in 2012. I don't know what I might do.

Anyhow, one of my all-time fave magazines, Vanity Fair. Combined with one of my all-time fave hobbies - copy editing other people's publications and then feeling a deep sense of satisfaction. I won't even get started on what I used to do to the local newspaper in Bellinham while I was in high school. People might start to get the impression that I was wierd or compulsive or...anyhow.

I can't really begin to express how much I love this. Please read it. All the way through. And then try to stop yourself from poking out your own eyes with a dinner fork in your distress over the state of American education and/or politics.

summer = photos. photos. and more photos.

Mostly, that's because I don't sit down long enough to write anything. Partly, it's because all three children are home all. day. long. and my brain is turning into radiator fluid from listening to them screech at each other all. day. long. Also, partly, it's because my 14-month old went from crawling to walking a few steps to practically running in about three point seven days. So if someone could invent a way for me to 1) take a shower and then 2) think my blog entries out in the shower (what? I never do that...barely ever.) and then 3) automatically beam them to a thought recognition device implanted in my laptop while simultaneously putting two children in time-out, keeping one small child from shoving her fingers in the (non-babyproofed) electric sockets, and resisting the urge to start drinking at 10 in the morning, let me know. Maybe you'll get more than pictures.

In the meantime, here are some pictures. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bust out the baby gates....

All hell is about to break loose.


Final Paris entry - Versailles.

It's Versailles. There's not a lot to say about it that hasn't been said. The palace was beautiful, extravagant, a bit sickening in its excess, when you think about the fact that it was built on the taxes and backs of a lot of wretched, poverty stricken people. The thousands of people filing through with us didn't seem to mind. I think luxury is like opium sometimes. It lulls you into thinking the rest of the world and it's suffering isn't right outside the door. That's the only explanation I can come up with, anyway.

Anyhow. Once we got out to the grounds, and could breathe again, I was amazed by the beauty and precision with which the experience had been manufactured. The sun was shining, the fountains were going, and even though there were literally thousands of people visiting the grounds that day, it didn't feel like it. My favorite part? Well, I loved Le Petit Trianon, and I adored La Hameau de la reine, but my favorite had to be the Grand Canal. We waited in line, left a drivers license, and hopped nimbly (read crawled awkwardly) into a real life rowboat. With real life giant oars. With which we were supposed to navigate the Grand Canal. It really was fun, once we got the hang of the rowing. And by we, I mean Shawn. I didn't row. I felt it was my civic responsibility to recreate a life like scene, so I simply reclined in the boat and allowed my husband the joy of rowing us around. For like an hour. Loved it.

The next day, we got up early, got on a plane, and headed back to reality. And trust me, reality moved right in and took a seat, in the form of two bratty french kids who kicked my seat for ELEVEN HOURS while their parents put on their sleeping masks and took a snooze.

But the beauty of a trip like this one is that we remembered something very important. We remembered why we decided to get married 10 years ago. (And the fact that both were content to eat our way across Paris is definitely in the top five reasons.) But probably pushing the number one spot is the fact that we have so much fun together. We like to just hang out and do stuff together. And although we love the new dynamic that a family of five has created, we remembered that we also once loved being a family of two.

from the train

even the coffee cups are cuter in paris...
hall of mirrors
hall of mirrors
marie antoinette's roses
temple of love
rowboats on the grand canal
my gondolier...
blue steel...
beautiful sky over versailles...
our post-row refreshment...
on the train...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Paris, day 3 & 4

Hi. It's me. I'm catching up. Paris seems like a lifetime ago, but it really wasn't. However, I do need to combine days or we'll be on this forever.

Day 3:
Up at a reasonable hour and headed out to Monmartre. Tried to have breakfast at Coquelicot, but somehow we ended up in the wrong line and got only take-away food, and NO COFFEE. It was crazy busy, full of french folks, which made us think it was probably excellent food. So that was kind of a bummer, but it was made up for when I bit into the hot pastry filled with blue cheese and olives. I wish I could offer you a photo, but, um, well, there wasn't really time. After being cursed by a gypsy and ducking into a church to evade a sudden downpour (and yes, I'm pretty sure those two things are connected) we ended up making our way to Rose Bakery. I had read a few reviews about this place, but it far exceeded expectations. (Also, we were wet and hungry and needed coffee.) This is, I believe, in my top two food locations for Paris. Shawn had the most beautiful fruit we saw in Paris and a crumbly delicious baked thing. I had beautiful scrambled eggs with a cheese scone and freshly made salsa, which was really just cherry tomatoes halved, mixed with cilantro and onion. Again, there was no opportunity (read: picture taking would have interrupted the steady movement of the fork from plate to mouth) to photograph it. Click here to read all about it, and then RUN - don't walk - to your local bookstore and buy Breakfast, Lunch, Tea - their cookbook. I looooove it.
shawn's apple blueberry rhubarb crumble. oh lordy.

Also managed to fit in some fabric shopping in Monmartre (yes, my husband is a saint) and a climb up to the tower of Sacre Coeur.
ribbon. silk ribbon. an entire wall of it.
you know what it is...don't you?
climbing sacre coeur
timeworn steps.

It was a beautiful day, capped off with a picnic dinner on our terrace. Oh yes, and a six-story stair climb at the end of a long day, due to the fact that when we returned to our hotel, all the power for the whole block was out. The stair climbing was a bummer since we were tired, but it was funny to watch all the locals out on their balconies, chatting about who had power (nobody) and who didn't (everybody), drinking coffee or wine, and eating their dinner (at 9 p.m.) by candlelight. Click here to see the whole set from day 3.

Day 4: (click here to see the set)
Oh, L'as du Fallafel. How I love thee. How did I live before I met thee? How could I have gone all these years, never knowing the love, the devotion, the sweet crunchy cabbage, the vinegar-ey bite of cucumbers, the hot, crispy deliciousness of the fallafel balls? (yes, I said fallafel balls. try to control yourself.)
see our happy faces? this was right after we ate fallafel.
We have a rule about where we eat on vacation. We try not to repeat, especially in a place like Paris, where amazing restaurants are literally stacked on top of each other. But. We made an exception for L'as du Fallafel. It. Was. So. Yummy. Tucked on a little street that is only open to foot traffic in Le Marais, this was one of those places that you will remember for the rest of your life. It's the whole experience - cobblestone streets busy with Sunday strollers, Orthodox Jews, skinny hipsters, tourists, locals, little old french ladies; tiny Jewish bakeries wafting scents you could never dream up in your BEST foodie dream ever; finding the line for L'as du Fallafel snaking around the window and down the street. It was almost comical and a teeny bit sad to watch the fallafel guy across the street. With no line. None at all. Not even for the free samples.

Anyhow. We spent Sunday morning at the Memorial de la Shoah - a beautiful, moving, haunting tribute to the experiences of Paris' Jewish community before, during and after the Holocaust. Click here for a good description. It was one of those places that just stays with you and makes you ponder, but I was impressed at the spirit of the place - it was actually a hopeful, peaceful vibe. We were able to walk through Le Marais, one of the only districts where everything is open and hopping on a Sunday, and just hang out. After our life-changing stop at L'as du Fallafel, we headed over to the Louvre and spent the rest of the day there. Way too much to list all we saw and loved. One of my favorite exhibits was a small group of photos detailing the fate of the Louvre and her incredible treasures during WWII. No photos were allowed, but click here and you can see a synopsis. I would have bought the book, but you know. It was all in French. Here are a few more of my favorites:

Winged Victory. I just love her. Read her story. It's awesome.
him + her.
under the pyramid.
etruscan wine jars. yes, please.
tired feet. resting at the Tuileries. even the park chairs are pretty in Paris.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to you.

To Shawn.

On your birthday, you didn't sleep in. You got up and made breakfast for our kids, like you do most mornings. You hugged and kissed them (and me) like you do every single day, then you went into your office and worked. A lot. You called people, emailed people, put out fires, massaged egos, and made other people happy, all so you could earn a paycheck to pay for the breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Late in the day, you packed the car, strapped the boards on the roof, stopped at Starbucks so your wife could get a late afternoon latte, and drove a screaming baby, two children, one mother-in-law and one grandmother-in-law the hour and a half to the beach. Then you unstrapped the boards, unpacked the car, set out the chairs, put the grandma in a chair, put sunscreen on the boys, made sure everyone was taken care of, and finally paddled out to surf. That was all you wanted on your birthday. And even then, you came in 45 minutes later to paddle back out with your seven-year-old. That night, after dinner at the pub and an equally long drive home, you carried tired boys up the stairs, eased them into their pajamas, and tucked them into their beds before you dropped into ours.

I consider myself lucky. And thankful.

You are a good man. You are a great husband. You are an amazing father. Happy Birthday.

tiny toes love the sand...
for more photos from birthday beach day, click here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Things I'm loving today.

Some things I'm feelin' (and I mean that in the "I feel you, baby" sense) today.

Vive Sana
I've been getting lots of questions from friends about the new sunscreen we're using. Aidan has dealt with nasty exzcema since he was tiny, and all three of my kids have dealt with rashes brought on by sunscreen. However, after asking my pediatrician what I should do, he basically told me that my choices were A) sunburn/skin damage, but no rash or B) healthy skin, + rash. Awesome. He knows my kids are mostly red heads, right?

We've searched long and hard for a good, natural ingredient sunscreen that would satisfy our active, water-filled lifestyle. Luckily for me, my sister-in-law dropped the answer into our laps. We've been trying out Vive Sana since she became a sort of rep for them last year. We love it. Plain and simple - no sunburn, no rash - best of both worlds. Plus, they used my husband and my kid in the ad. How could I not love them?

This salad.

Oh. My. Gosh. So delicious. So simple. So easy to make, and eat, and enjoy, and then eat again for lunch the next day with a yummy piece of bread and some chopped, grilled chicken mixed in. We had it alongside grilled kababs, outside on the patio with family on a gorgeous, 80-degree summer night. Will be making this again. Soooon.

My new lens.
This was a bit of a splurge right before our trip, and I'm so glad I did it. The quality is great, the depth of field is perfect, and I just love the way it gives me a different point of view. Click here, here and here to see why I like it so much.

I haven't really blogged yet about our whole switch over to a mostly cloth diapering system. It was something I was turning over in my mind for a while, and when I started investigating, I kept running into gdiapers. They're not cloth - they are a cloth outer with velcro closures, a waterproof liner that snaps into the outer, and a flushable diaper insert that goes inside.

Without going into too much gory detail, they worked pretty well, looked cute on my daughter's tiny booty, and made me feel like I'd made a somewhat responsible choice, for about the same price as the 7th generation, chlorine free disposables we were buying. But then I realized - for this much work, I might as well be using cloth. Then, we're at least cutting cost as well. So I'm using the standard gerber prefolds inside the gdiapers pants when we're home, and the gdiaper inserts when we go out. (They can also be thrown in the trash, and will biodegrade in something like 30 days.) And yes, this is because as thrilled as I am to be doing something "earth friendly", I'm just not committed enough to carry around a stinky wet or worse cloth diaper in a bag until we get home. We all have our limits, people. So, I'm learning about wet cans and dry cans, and how to launder and whiten without fabric softener and bleach. But don't worry, I still shave my legs. Anyhow, I know that my one little switch isn't going to change the world. And I'm pretty sure no one's going to give me a Nobel Prize for being sooooo green. I mean, I still drive a GIANT SUV with a V8 engine. To the grocery store, .5 miles away. I live in a giant house which I air condition 3/4 of the year. I get it. But I do feel good doing this one thing - and that's enough reason for me.

bike about. (or, Paris, day 2)

Our second day in Paris started fairly early, as we were trying to get to Notre Dame before the crowds.


The place was a MADHOUSE. We skipped climbing the tower, even though it was something I had really wanted to do. I do not believe in waiting for hours in line for stuff like that. I mean, I have a set amount of hours on the ground in Paris. I'm going to stand in line with a bunch of sweaty, irritable tourists for two hours? Non, merci. So we toured the inside of the church, which was also a madhouse, but lovely. I was struck more by the timeworn stones, soot-covered paint, and grooved stone floors than by the stained glass. Those things reminded me how many feet and hands have passed through that building in the last 900 years - lifting their eyes and hearts to worship...it was beautiful, in it's own unique way.

When we had seen enough, we wandered down the main streets of Ile de la Cite (the island in the Seine upon which Notre Dame sits) and the Ile Saint Louis, both of which are filled with old cobblestone streets, tiny shops, and just general all around charm. We bought lunch at a teeny boulangerie (I wish I could remember the name, but I was distracted by the plethora of pastries, breads, and general oozing, cheesey, tomato-ey goodness in the window) and walked down to sit by the river.

We also had to stop at the classic Berthillion for ice cream - I know there are other locations about the city, but I believe this is the original. And dear, sweet baby Jesus, it was worth it. Shawn had poire (pear) and ananas (pineapple) and I had chocolat and cappucino. And, um, if you're waiting for a photo of those little scoops of heaven, well....you'll have to go get your own. It somehow...uhhhh...disappeared before it could be photographed. Whoops. We followed up our glace with a stroll down to the Pont Neuf bridge, which was a beautiful place to sit and people watch.

The big activity for the day, however, was still to come. We signed up for a (cringe) bike tour. I know it's a totally nerdy, touristy thing to do, but it actually ended up being one of our favorites. It was a small tour with about 8 other people (a british couple who had to stop to smoke a ciggie every so often, a father/daughter from DC, a Norweigan guy....stop me if you've heard this one) and let me tell you, the French have bike-riding all right. Americans, we go out for a bike ride and we squeeze into our spandex pants, strap on our helmets, put on our mirrored shades and huff and puff up and down hills until we are either A) dead or B) wish we were dead. The French do it all differently. The bikes have no gears, because the city is mostly flat. There are no helmets, so your hair stays nice. You ride in traffic, and ding your bell if it seems you might collide with someone. They either move, or they curse you in French and you move. And two hours into your four hour tour, well, you pull over at a cafe and have yourself a little sit down, which includes coffee and pastry. THIS kind of bike riding, I could learn to love.

Finally, a late dinner at a bistro down the street from our hotel. And by late, I mean we went to dinner at 10:30. P.M. You can imagine what time we got home.
To see the entire set from day 2, click here!

Monday, July 6, 2009

eiffel + us. (or, Paris, day one.)

somewhere over the atlantic.

Finally. I know. But in the last two weeks while I was NOT blogging about Paris, I was well, you know, doing other stuff. Like learning about flickr. And deciding to love it. Completely. And a few other things as well. But anyhow. Without further ado, here goes.

After a very, very long time in transit (Portland - Seattle - Paris) we arrived around 8:30 a.m. At that point, I hadn't really slept in about 24 hours, since (OH YES) my daughter got the barfing flu the night before we left. So between packing and washing sheets and jammies, there wasn't much sleeping happening. After a very crowded bus ride from the airport, and a bit of a trek from the station, we arrived at our hotel around 10:30 a.m. to find that our room was ready along with a beautiful tray of coffee. I chugged the coffee, rode the tiny elevator up to our room, admired the view from our terrace, and promptly fell asleep for four hours. I'm so awesome.

Thankfully, Shawn woke me up with plenty of time for us to walk to the eiffel tower, then climb all 700 stairs to the second floor elevator instead of waiting in line down below for two hours. I. ALMOST. DIED. However, it was lovely up top. Once I could breathe again. 20 minutes later.

The night capped off with dinner at a cafe nearby, and a peaceful walk home. Then sleep, glorious sleep. To see the entire set from day 1, click here.


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