Friday, July 18, 2008

Parc de la Tete d'Or... 07.17.08

It was Sam's first day at work and I was a little nervous. It had been a long time since I had been left alone ALL day with ALL three kids. No, sillies, I'm not afraid of my kids (well, okay, I'm not THAT afraid of 'em); it's just that Ryan is used to going to school all day long and I'm not sure I can entertain him in the fashion to which he has become accustomed. My plan was to take them to the parc (and I'll go ahead and excuse myself RIGHT NOW for the misspelling of the word "park" I can't help it and I've stopped trying) which has a zoo and a big rose garden and lots of huge greenhouses and a little trolly train and paddle boats and little pedalcarts and... and... well, you get the picture. But, one look out the windows at the thick blanket of clouds shrouding the city and I dug my teeth back into my nails. The one thing I know about Ryan is that letting him watch TV all day is like a ticking time bomb. He gets all giddy and weird and starts giggling maniacally. No, I only made that mistake once.

So, around 10am when the baby woke up, I decided, rain or no, we'd go to the parc since it's JUST across the street. If it started to rain, we'd hightail it home. I just crossed my fingers that we'd get some good grass time in before that happened.

I strapped the baby into my AWESOME BUCKLE TAI made by twomommasdesigns.com, put Lily in the umbrella stroller, checked the diaperbackpack for precious goldfish and sippycup of juice and headed out. You should have seen the look I got from the front desk attendant down stairs. It was like he smelled a toot or something.

When we stepped outside, I asked Ryan if he wanted to practice his French and he said, "Oui." So, he said, "What's the word for this and that," and I told him. When he saw a guy walking toward us, he said, "Bonjour." And there it was again, the toot-smelling look. Poor Ryan. He turned to me and said, "That guy doesn't understand French." I thought I'd pee my pants laughing. But then I had to explain that in France, many people don't talk to each other if they don't already know each other. I was mentally crossing my fingers hoping he wouldn't ask how people got to know each other in the first place.

Walking into the park was like taking a deep breath of fresh air. Like taking off--pardon me--a tight bra. Wide fields of green grass, huge trees, wide passages made for pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers and pedalcars but NOT automobiles. One of the first things we saw was a horse-drawn cart used to change the trashcans along the roadways. Lily SQUEALED, "Hor-seeeeeeeeeey!"

I saw what I thought to be the old rose gardens that Sam and I used to visit during the courting phase of our story and knowing how Lily loves flowers, I steered us in that direction. The path leading there cut across a wide field and seeing how my whole purpose was to run them to within an inch of their lives so they'd nap well, I let Lily out of the stroller (and gave my back a break by putting Laurel into is cuz even though I have an AWESOME BUCKLE TAI by twomommasdesigns.com, I have a FAT baby).

Big Trees...
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As Ryan and Lily took off down the path, they met four older folks. Ryan said, "Bonjour," I guess forgetting the discussion we had had earlier. I felt myself blush because I figured these older adults wondered why I couldn't reign in my rude little hellion, but instead, they said, "Bonjour" in return (albeit with much reserve). But, then, Lily waved at them and said, "Hi." One granny turned and said, "Well, aren't you the little sweeties." Then, seeing Laurel she said, "How about you? Are you going to say hi?" Laurel flashed that huge, full-body grin at her. I heard her gasp. "Those EYES! That SMILE! Aren't YOU gracious?" (I'll explain here that for some reason, French people must think that babies are allowed to be reserved and are allowed to hold back their demonstrative affection or something because every time a baby smiles or laughs or something, the adult feels like the baby has been "gracious" enough to share such a wonderful gift with them. Cool, huh?) I just stood there, blushing and giggling because I was SO caught off guard. Maybe people didn't talk to me when I lived here before because I looked like all the other young punks. Maybe now that I'm portly and have kids, I'm an equal? Or maybe I'm more valid? OR maybe I'm less paranoid? I don't get it. I'm not complaining, it's a nice change.

As soon as the older folks were gone, Lily and Ryan flirted with the border of the field. Like shyly wondering if they could handle the freedom it promised. "Go play, guys." I said, pushing the baby along in the stroller, getting my camera ready for some good kid-field shots. But they only stopped along the side and timidly tickled the dandelions. "No, seriously. GO PLAY!" Still nothin'. "Ryan, RUN!!!"

He shot me a look that said, "For real?" I choked up a little at that and could only nod. It sucks that so far where we've lived they haven't had a place they could just let completely loose and go crazy. "RUN!" I screamed. "Run, run, run!!!" And finally, they did! It was cool to see them as tiny people in that big huge field. They stopped only to pick up spent dandelions and blow the fuzziness into the breeze. When a group of little (and I mean Lily little) girls came out onto the field and started running with them, Ryan ran away from them because, as he said later, "they were chasing me!" Laurel sat calmly smiling, watching them patiently as if she knew that it would only be a few more months and she'd get to teeter around out there, too.

Field shots...
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After the initial turbo boost of pure freedom to run had been spent, they dallied, looking at little things in the grass. I waited patiently for them until they were sick of it and tried to steer them back toward the roses. Surprisingly, Lily was aloof. I guess she's not much into roses but prefers the more delicate flowers because she simply walked the rose rows (sorry) with her arms crossed. Ryan, liked them, however, but I think that had more to do with the rows being like a maze (and the naked statue didn't hurt--he was very curious as to what happened to her clothes--ahem and one of her arms, LOL).

Roses... (but not the ones where we used to do our wooing...update on that later)...
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Lily in the rose rows...
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Ryan and the statue...
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We turned a little and headed toward the animals (have I mentioned more than a thousand times that there's a zoo in the parc?). But before we could get to them, Ryan was distracted on one side by a carousel and Lily on the other by a pair of dogs. I have to stop here and explain that Lily is OBSESSED with dogs. She can't help herself. When she sees one, she starts barking as though she is speaking to them and no matter how much I yell at her, she won't stay away. She walked right up to these two dogs and, true to form, started yipping at them. Okay, usually--well, it has been my experience--French people are VERY particular about their dogs. You can admire from afar if you want, but don't dare talk to their dogs or heaven forbid, try to pet them. So, when I saw Lily head for the dogs with her hand out to pet them, I ran for her. It was like slow-mo, me yelling, "Liiiiilllllyyyyyyy, Nnnnnoooooooooooooo!" But it was too late. She was all up in those dogs' grills. But, thankfully, the owners were a pair of twenty-somethings who just giggled at her as she barked at the dogs. After a few minutes of me trying to move her away--and her FOLLOWING them--the guy said, "Okay, we'll take her with us," with a little laugh. I was so caught off guard by the humor from a STRANGER that I just stared blankly. I think he thought I thought he was serious because his smile faded and he said, "Bonne journee" (have a good day). I still stood there with that weird, uncomfortable smile on my face.

Instead of chasing after Lily, I tried the walkaway. I said, "Bye, Lily," which I know you're not supposed to do, but look, I got three kids, yo. I can't go chasin' after 'em all the time and I don't wanna tie 'em all down, so desperate times... well, you know. Anyway, usually, she comes running after me saying, "Nooooo," while I wait for her to catch up. This time, it didn't work. And it wasn't because of the dogs, either.

Lily has found a new obsession: Pigeons. Well, birds of any kind, I guess.

We followed this pair of pigeons down the road a ways before I hear Ryan say, "Ewwwwwww." He had stepped in the mud I had JUST told him not to go near. Feeling frazzled and let down a little bit by Ryan's apparent weakness for disobedience on even the smallest matter (look, the kid's only got one pair of shoes, for crying out loud... and me without a way to wash them), I started to steer us back toward the entrance near the hotel. That's when I looked up and saw our building. The one where we're going to live! Isn't that cool?

Our new apartment building... view from the parc:
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Ryan runs like a girl...
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Boats on the lake...
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My spirits lifted again (but still heading out of the park because it was finally starting to sprinkle), we stopped for just a minute so the kids could chase these ENORMOUS geese across this little field. I don't know if you know many geese, but most big honking (sorry) birds aren't very nice. I knew a swan that would chew the leather right off your shoe in an attempt to eat your foot. So, I was hesitant at first to let them wander in the field with these birds. No worries though. These geese must be used to kids because other than one gander turning to warn Lily to stay clear of his young'uns, none of them were in the least agressive.

Gone to the birds...
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Ryan pretending to be a goose...
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Birds at the entrance/exit of the parc...
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Statue...
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The walk home was long and slow. I had succeeded. They were tired. And judging by Laurel's SCREAMING once we got back to the room, they were hungry. I made a quick lunch of pasta with a creme fraiche/lardons/gruyere/fresh diced tomatoes sauce that was nice and light and let it simmer until Sam got there. Meanwhile, I shoved food into my little baby birds gaping mouth--not fast enough to curb her hunger as she had her hand in her mouth between bites.

After lunch, we had a THREE HOUR NAP!!! ALL of us!

I fed the baby again as Sam was an HOUR late coming home from work (as I sat there going over scenarios of what I'd do if he didn't come home... that's one of the last things I need, folks... to be suddenly widowed or abandoned here in this country). When he walked in, I handed him the baby and said, get her dressed, we're going shopping.

And we did. We stopped first to get kebabs and eat them in the car as the rain sprinkled down on us but then quickly made our way to the supermarket.

Okay, yes, I know what I've said about being a locavore and about buying things at the outdoor farmer's markets and all, but look folks, we don't have much of anything in the hotel room and I can't go shopping with all three of them and expect to get anything done. So, until we get into the apartment, I'm shopping at Carrefour, okay? Don't hate on me. I bought "bio" (organic) as much as I could.

No, but the exciting part was this... COUPONS!!! And I didn't even notice 'em. Sam did. Domestic Goddesses, there were blinky/tearpads all through the store. Yep, that's what I said, a tearpad with a blinking red light over it. And then, we found a coupon on one of the yogurt containers. Now that I see what they look like (and know they exist) I'm keeping my eyes peeled.

The only peanut butter I could find.... Says it's Mississippi Belle, but it's made in New Jersey (hey, I ain't knockin' Jersey, but um... it's peanut butter)...
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Coupons...
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There's more... As we were checking out, I could see Sam was talking to the cashier about our cloth bags we had brought. I thought she was giving him a hard time about them, wondering if they were from their store and about to call a manager (can you tell I'm a leeeetle bit jaded by this country?) but instead, she was asking him where she could get some. And she said, "I thought only Canada did that cloth bag thing. I could only dream of a France that used cloth bags." I stood there with a bottle of olive oil in one hand and a bag of "bio" flour in the other, my mouth agape. I think I might have even felt a tear spring up. WHAT? Appreciation? Huh? I was downright flabbergasted. "Yeah, and the way they fold up like that? Like the size of a post card? Genious, I tell you! You should talk to the company about those. Are they very expensive?" As she went on gushing about the bags, I had to look away and continue to put things up on the conveyer belt, trying hard to swallow the apple-sized lump in my throat.

Healing. I'm feeling it. Good, warm healing.

2 comments:

Erin said...

Bravo! Healing... I hope it continues like this for you (at least for a little while!) I LOVE reading your stories...you've always been an amazing story-teller. Love you!

Rachel said...

So glad things are going well. J, you sound happy! Love ya!