This might just serve as my ongoing (for me - for you it will appear at once) of quirky or funny observations or happenings.
- In Iceland I was marveling at just how different everything is there. It was the first country and I was super jet-lagged so the thoughts weren't super deep. But as I walked by a coffee shop I looked inside and happened to see the computer screen of the guy sitting at the table near the window. He was shopping on Amazon.com. There's nothing new under the sun. But they probably don't have 2-day shipping to Iceland, huh?
-As we exited the elevator at the top of the Eiffel Tower we (almost) all experienced what could be equated to emotional endorphins. We had been holding in all our stress and pent up energy and despair over the wait and hunger and need to pee for FIVE HOURS in close-quarter lines with strangers from around the world. The only breaks from lines were climbing up over 700 steps to the elevator because...we are that cheap (and the lines to climb the stairs were shorter. Go figure. So when we burst forth from that elevator door with the stream of BO-having humanity we were all feeling on top of the world, not just on top of Paris. Cece, unfortunately, is afraid of heights so wasn't experiencing the same emotional release as the rest of us as we stepped out. "Thomas, today you're Joy and I'm Fear." Inside Out once again comes to the rescue in complicated emotional moments. How did I ever cope emotionally before that movie?
-How bout that time John said, "Merci Beaucoup" and I heard, "She has to poop."
-Or the time that we saved $200 by staying in a hotel that had large amounts of large Middle-East men roaming the halls in nothing but their boxers banging and shouting at each other through the doors until well after 11pm. At least they were boxers. If they'd been French they would have been speedos. And then the power to our rooms kept going out? And the only bathrooms were down the halls and I was having lady times with "supplies" that I was super unfamiliar with? TMI? Yup. It was an expensive savings. It cost many harsh words and some tears.
-Also, French people jogging. Hilarious. Keds with black socks and cut off black jeans. Or maybe holding your arms out to the side so far that it looks like you are taking off. But going so slowly that my three year old passed you walking backward? As John puts it: it's like jogging has never occurred to them before. They just woke up and thought, "you know what? I think I'll have a jog..." Very enjoyable.
And how about the shining moments? (I'm going to NOT write down the many uglier and less flattering moments. Not because I want to be "real" or honest but because my own bad moments are mine to share but not my children's or my husbands. You'll just have to take my word for it. I have to be on the lookout for these good moments - otherwise I will be overwhelmed by the weight of the bad ones. Raising a family is hard work and there are some very upsetting moments along the way.
-I was crying earlier because we got fined 135 Euros because we didn't put pictures on the bus passes. It was a mess. A very frustrating mess. I HATE wasting. Wasting time (thankYOU Eiffel Tower!), wasting money (Here's looking at you, London - who do you think you are, the Queen?), etc. I mean, I hate it. Like, break down in public crying for ten minutes hate it. The kids, and especially Thomas, were so so so sweet towards me while I was upset. He held my hand for a half hour (at eight he generally does not let me hold his hand - he's way above it) and rubbed my back on and off. He pushed the stroller so I could more easily hold the umbrella. He gave his coat to his sister when she was cold and tucked it in. He even instigated a picture in front of Notre Dame when I was so demoralized I couldn't care less. Usually I have the HARDEST times getting him to stand for a picture so I know for sure it was because he loves me and wanted to make me happy. I'm learning to feel so valued. My people love me. They want me to be happy and they care when I'm sad. How blessed am I to have 7 other people in Europe who want me to be happy and will even pose for a picture to help me bounce back? It is the very best, I tell ya.
-Strangers have been unfailingly helpful. And not grudgingly so but genuinely helpful. They see us struggling to get luggage up a flight of stairs, they help. They see me stuck in a bank because I can't even read enough French to understand that I need to push a green button to get out? They push the button. My card gets declined because...well, who the heck knows?! I don't know why this keeps happening! They patiently leave my groceries on the belt while I run down the street to the ATM (which by the way has an "Error", thank you Google Translate and that is why I get stuck in the bank, released and then finally find another ATM) and then ask if I need another bag (for free!). Or, when we are stuck behind some, apparently suspicious, looking people at Eiffel Tower Security a lady in the next line over waves us (all 8 of us!) in ahead of her. I'm telling, you. People are people and there are always a couple of grumps here and there but I can say that bringing a lot of kids to Europe hasn't been at all the intimidating in terms of judgementalism (yet!), these folks have been as kind to us as I could hope. Even when we clear them out of their morning supply of croissants.