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Friday, March 4, 2011

....just some random thoughts

Random Thought #1:  I don't know if I have mentioned that Saint Cloud is HILLY!  When we want to go to the tram to get to Paris or points beyond, we take some stairs that are close to the apartment.  The stairs end right at the street we need to cross to get to the tram.  Nice, huh?

This is the first part of the stairway

This is the middle part

And these are at the end
Kinda pretty, huh?

Well, after you get done running your errands or going to visit places (which you have walked to and around) this is what the stairway turns into.......



Do they EVER end?!?!

Home stretch....breathing optional

That is why, after only a month, we call them the Stairs of Gloom!  Also, Patrick climbs these everyday coming home from work......in the dark.  OOOoooweeeeOOOoo!

Then you come down the street and turn the corner........
To the apartment building
....and have to climb up this hill (okay, halfway) to get to the entrance to our building!  I should be loosing weight by now, right?  Doesn't feel like it yet.....

Random Thought #2:  After we moved in, we received the word that domestic animals (yeah, you people with cats who live here...get your cat inside so it quits taunting my dogs!!) were no longer allowed in the park in the middle of the apartments!  Well that threw us for a loop.  One of the reasons we rented here was because we were told the dogs could go out there (the other reason was because the kids were supposed to be going to the American School down the road......but are now going to the British School...oh well!)  So now I walk the dogs about 4 times a day.  They are getting a routine and doing very well, except for the other morning they tried to chase a loose cat and I had to grab a parked car to stop!!  The place I take them to is down the street from the apartment on the way to the Stairs of Gloom.
From the top of the park I can see the Eiffel  Tower
Down on the left side is the end of
the street and the
Stairs of Gloom
 It is a nice walkway with green space so they can do their "business".  In France it seems no one cleans up the dog poop so there are lots of interesting smells for the girls (just be careful stepping into the grass!).  Beside the apartment building in the picture there is an area about 75 yards long and 40 yards wide where I let them wander and smell and eat grass and do what dogs do.....  They are always on the leash because there is a road right  on the other side of the grassy area, but they have learned quickly to do their "thing" with the leash on.  Einstein is terrified of cars and car noises, so she stays close if I decide to walk them on the sidewalk on the street side.  However Morgan, big dumb Lab that she is, tries to go up to MOVING cars!  Freaks me out!  My dog is going to get hit by a car while on her leash!  DUMMY!  So I usually just walk them up to the end of the park and turn them back to go down the other road because it is a dead end and has very little traffic.

Random Thought #3:  So often during the day when I walk the dogs I see this guy.  Pretty sure it's the same guy everyday.  It seems his job is to spend all day walking up and down the street and the Stairs of Gloom picking up trash.  He is definitely NOT picking up dog poop, though!  No one does!  The thing is, since the road is a dead end, there really isn't that much trash.  But yet, there he is everyday.....wandering around.
Guy in yellow....is that really your job?

Random Thought #4: It has been sunny here for the past 3 days and people are everywhere.  I have been going to one of the only major shopping malls I know how to get to because it is off the big Metro station.  The place is huge and every time I go I see stores I somehow missed last time.  To get from the Metro station to one of the wings of the mall, you have to go out and cross this enormous plaza by the Grand Arch.  The past couple of times I have been it has been around lunch time.  So the French are famous for their leisurely lunches and recently have also been soaking up the sun.
This is the Grand Arch (huge) and all the little black specks
are people sitting on the steps having some lunch

People everywhere

Random Thought #5:  As I go about my travels looking for things I need to set up house, I have noticed something you wouldn't dare see in the United States.  I guess because of all the nude statues and works of art here in Paris, the human body is not so taboo as it is in America.....it's either that or the model they used to make all the mannequins here in France was way cold when they cast her form because you can't pass a woman's clothing store without seeing..........
Someone please get this lady a coat!
She must be freezing!
That's all I've got for now.......  It's Friday and the weekend is here so I am sure I will have new things and adventures to report soon!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

.....Bus 360 hates me! I will never attempt to ride it somewhere I am not certain AGAIN!


So for the second time in a month I have attempted to take the bus that stops close to the apartment.  The first time I attempted to take it home from the grocery store.  I had Samantha with me and we saw that Bus 360 had a stop across the street from the store and decided to get on and let it take us home.  Well, we passed a couple of stops that we recognized and then the bus turned and kept going!  It dumped us out at LaDefense, the huge Metro station!  So a trip that should have taken and hour to an hour and half ended up taking about 3 hours.  And the whole time Max was home alone in the apartment expecting us back after a short while.  As a side note, Max was totally oblivious to how long we'd been gone when we got home!

Today I decided, once again, to take Bus 360 to the kid's bus stop to meet them after their first day of school.  Well, again I passed streets I recognized and then some I didn't but I was sure it would turn and go back toward the direction I needed.  I researched the line and saw that it stopped at the hospital and the kid's bus stop is right there.  Well guess what ~ it took me beyond our town of Saint Cloud and into the next one and their hospital!  Okay, I am supposed to meet the kids at their stop in about 10 minutes and know I am not going to make it!  I called Patrick to get him to call the school and perhaps call the driver and tell them I was about 15 minutes away but I was coming!!  Patrick attempted to call the Prefect's cell phone but it went straight to voicemail.  I jump off the bus at the stop I KNOW and trucked it down the hill to the hospital.  All the while I am hoping that the kids are okay and not too scared.  I was scared, so of course they would be, right?  WRONG!  I get down to the stop and they aren't there!!  I speed walk (and those who know me know I don't "speed" anything!) to the apartment and find their book bags outside the apartment door, but NO kids!  WHAT!?!

So off I go again....into the elevator....down to the lobby and I see Samantha!  Partial relief!  "Where's your brother",  I near about scream at her.  "He was following me, but I don't know where he is now", she tells me.  CRAP!  Back up the street and who do I see......MAX!  Okay, full relief!  They were happy and immediately started telling me all about school and how they "just walked home when they didn't see me at the bus stop"!!!!  After about 5 minutes of how cool the first day of school was they looked at me and said "I thought you were going to meet us".  Just a question, no worry, no fear, no anxiety!  WOW.  When did they grow up?  Today was the first day they had ever seen this bus stop and they had walked with Patrick JUST THIS MORNING and now they can find their way home!?!?!  I can't find my car in a parking lot ~

So all is well that ends well even if my blood pressure is still dangerously high and I will probably be sore tomorrow from the "power walking" up and down hills!  (Yep, St. Cloud is like Seattle or San Francisco - HILLY! Oh Joy!)  The kids even asked me, "can we just walk home everyday by ourselves or do we have to wait for you?".  Oh the shame.......  I promised myself tomorrow I am walking the way I know tomorrow and you can bet I will be there EARLY!
Samantha ready for first day of school!

Max refused to photographed!  We will try again later!

Monday, February 28, 2011

.....we explored

Sunday we decided to get on the bus and just take it 'til we saw something interesting.  While we saw lots of shops, most places aren't open on Sunday, so we took the bus to the end of the line and walked around.  Found a cafe and since the children were cranky and in need of the potty, we decided it was a good place for lunch.  Lucky us!  We actually had a waiter with a sense of humor!  He joked around with kids and generally made it a most pleasant lunch! 

After we finished, we walked down to the Carrousel and Tuileries Gardens.  There was a small playground there and we decided to stop and let the kids play.  Unfortunately, while climbing one of the structures, Max lost his new cell phone.  After a fruitless search, we walked on to the Musée du Louvre.
Looking straight up

Through the side
Since it was already 3:30 p.m. we just went into the common area under the glass pyramid.  We did find out that if the kids bring their passports, they get into the exhibits free!  Under 18 is free with proof of age and all others are 10 Euro.  Not too bad if you make a whole day of it and with the size of the Louvre you need about 365 days to get through it.  In the common area you can see some of reliefs that were on the buildings as well as access a shopping plaza.

After looking around for awhile, got on the Metro and came home.  

Today, Monday 2/28/11, the kids and I went in search of a Orange (one of the mobile services here) Store with a clerk who spoke English.  After two failed tries, boarded the Metro for a different shopping area and there found a clerk who spoke English! YEAH!  Got Max a new phone with temporary service for now.  

We then purchased some school supplies, since the kids start at the British School tomorrow.  I wasn't sure what they would need exactly, but didn't want to send them empty handed, so purchased notebooks for each as well as pencils, easers, highlighters, etc.  Samantha is raring to go!  Max is ready for school, but I think the idea of the uniform is still chaffing a little.  I will try and get a picture tomorrow, but may be unable as the fury of Max is not to messed with in the morning!  Patrick will walk them to the bus stop in the morning and then catch the train to work and I will meet them in the afternoon for the walk home......at least until they say "Oh Mom, really"!  Hard to believe they are getting to the age when I can embarass them just by being there!