Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 1 in paris - Eiffel Tower, Award and River Seine Dinner Cruise

We landed at 8AM Paris time... 1AM at home! It took an hour by car to get to our wonderful hotel in the heart of Paris-Hotel Castille (directly next to the original Chanel Store in Paris!) Also, if you look down the street in this picture to the right, that is the Ritz and the famous revolving doors that Princess Diana came out of before she got in the car and was in the fatal accident. We went through that tunnel many times on our trip. ( In this picture, a motorcycle was going past Blake's window... they were everywhere in between lanes of traffic going 80 miles per hour!

Our Hotel is directly to the right of the Chanel Store with the beautiful purple flowers in the windows.

Our room was incredible, it was like a 2 story doll house. Everything was tiny but so cute. At least we had 2 bathrooms to get ready in!

We had an hour to take a quick shower, eat breakfast and meet the other winners from Blake's company in the hotel lobby to head to the Eiffel Tower for a private tour. We ate lunch on the first level of the Eiffel Tower at Altitude 95. I am learning that wine and champagne are served with every meal... I can get used to this! :) The tour of the Tower was filled with remarkable facts, like the first ever elevator was built for the Eiffel tower in 1902! We went all the way to the very tip top... Blake was not too happy about me making him stand next to the edge more than 100 stories up for a picture!

After the tour of the Eiffel, we were taken to the company headquarters in Paris, Blake's company was just bought a week ago and it is a Paris based company now. There, he was recognized by the CEO of the company and given a Mont Blanc pen, as an award... it was very nice.

These were the spectacular desserts that were served at the champagne hour afterwards... the white cone shaped one has chocolate pop rocks in it.... very cool and tasty!
Dinner tonight, in hindsight, was my favorite part of the entire trip to Paris. It was a dinner cruise on the River Seine.... oh my gosh, I can't possibly articulate how amazing it was. This was the view of the Eiffel Tower we had among every other famous and historical building in Paris. The boat was made of all glass and you could see all around.
This was it lite up behind us as we boarded the boat.

Day 2 in Paris - Car Tours, Museums and Lido Dinner Show

After going to sleep around midnight for the first time in nearly 46 hours, we slept until the alarm went off and we met the group for tours via private cars in antique "2CV's." We all felt like movie stars with people taking pictures of us (probably the cars) as we drove through the streets of Paris for 2 hours.

Sebastian was our driver, a 24-year old native Parisian who shared with us all kinds of fascinating facts about Paris including answering our questions about real estate. Get this... apartments with views of the Eiffel Tower are the most coveted in all the city and 600 square feet apartments go for around $4.75 million US dollars. WOW!!! This is Notre Dame..

We then had a very French lunch at a restaurant that was 100 years old and famous for all the mosaic tile detail that it has inside... it was amazing.

We then walked the streets of Paris and saw the famous Opera house where musicians such as Beethoven and Mozart have performed. This was on the steps of the Opera House.

Then it was off to the Louve, where on the way, we discovered all this "modern" art... this is an actual art piece in the gardens in front of the Louve... a shoe shining machine... strange, very strange what some consider art.

Mission accomplished.. we saw the Mona Lisa... sort of disappointing, she is very small but we had to see her. Blake and I decided while walking through the French painting section that French artists love naked women and Italian's love fat naked babies! Then we headed for the other great "Musee d'Orsay," which has a huge Picasso exhibit. We found that very very interesting... Picasso is stranger than we ever imagined.

We strolled back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and it had turned into the sunniest, most glorious day in Paris... from what we hear it is very rarely sunny with blue sky's... it was majestic!

For dinner, we got all dressed up and headed to the Champs Elysee to see a French "Broadway like show" - LIDO, complete with a nice dinner. We again were served duck foie gras... don't ask... a French delicacy. The show had hundreds of costume changes and the French women were truly beautiful! It ended with the stage turning into a mini ice skating rink and some amazing tricks that were done. Our favorite part were the 2 men painted gold that did the "strength show," similar to what we have seen at Cirque de Soleil shows here in the states!

Poor Blake has had a horrible cough now for nearly 3 weeks and now of course with our worldwide traveling and intense long days, it has gotten worse...but he hasn't complained once!

Day 3 in Paris - Versailles and Last Night Out

Wow, when the alarm went off this morning, we were both out cold and that was with an extra hour of sleep because it was "European Daylight Savings." We had our typical French breakfast, which included a divine chocolate chip croissant downstairs in the hotel before meeting up for the group to travel 45 min west of Paris to the Versailles Palace.

Versailles was a Palace built by Kind Louis XIV in the late 1700's because the Louve was "too small" (crazy.)

We learned a great deal of interesting French history and now both want to learn more about that time including more about Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI. We explored her private residence that she retreated to to get away from living at Versailles under such close scrutiny at all times. We saw her "cave" she had built where she could be alone in the darkness. We saw her theatre she had built so she could put on shows for her servants. And finally and most strangely, the "town" she had built on the grounds so she could, in essence, "play commoner" and see what it was like to be a regular towns' person.

At lunch, we ate a a quaint restaurant on the grounds and had the best dessert of the trip! I noticed that all the thin French women, including our tour guides, ate everything on their plates and asked them how they stay so thin? They said it is because they walk so much and never snack between meals... EVER. It must work, it was very rare to see an overweight French person, yet they are always eating super RICH foods, bread and dessert at every meal.

The gardens at Versailles are simply spectacular, the shear magnitude is mind blowing!

On the way back to Paris late in the afternoon, we stopped at the perfect spot to take some Eiffel Tower pictures.

These were the 12 of us that traveled together. We met some great new friends from all over the nation, California, Detroit and Boston.

This was our last night out in Paris. Blake and I went down to the lobby early to enjoy a drink together before heading to George's, a super modern restaurant on the 6th floor of a museum with a spectacular view of Paris 360 degrees around, while we ate! A great ending to an amazing 3 days in Paris!

After 3 days of drinking wine and champagne at every meal, Blake did manage to find a Heineken!

Thank you Ya-Ya and Me-Me!

The kids were is great care while we were gone with Ya-Ya and Me-Me! They did a great job tag-teaming with the kids. Also.. Grandpa Joe and Aunt Erin were a big help....thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Carter got to go to the lake for a couple of days with Ya-Ya while Addie had alone time with Diane and went shopping for the day. Monday, Diane got to take Carter to the Zoo... what a great age for him to really start to enjoy the animals! Thanks to all for making our trip possible and stress free knowing our most important people were so safe and sound!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy 5 and 22 months!

Yesterday we sang Happy Birthday (22 months) to Carter and tomorrow will be Addie's big day turning 5 months old.

Here are some comparison pictures - the first one is Addison coming home from the hospital in the sweet outfit that Aunt Alli gave her. Notice the top was down past her knees back 13 pounds ago.

Then Carter... this was the picture taken last October and then today in the same hat. Not quite as noticeable of a difference a year later... but his face looks more mature and like a little boy! Time has flown!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thank you Mom!!!

Mom, thank you for being here the last 3 nights to help me out with the kids, packing for Paris and just keep me company. I have enjoyed out conversations and your support during these evenings and talking with me about frustrating things at work. I value your opinion and experience. Thank you for coming over tonight and bringing over a bottle of wine to celebrate my stressful work week being over! What fun it was! I love you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Message to dad in Scottsdale, AZ....

Dear Da-Da,

Addie and I wanted to send you a little note to tell you that we miss you even though you have only been gone 1 day! We had a great Columbus Day and stayed busy all day. We went on 2 long walks and played outside a ton! We played golf (but there was a bunch of ants and mom got bit all over her toes!), so we went out front with the basketball goal in the tree. We played with Avery and Emelia at the park and I practiced my "sharing!" Mom said I did great!

Addie was acting like "snake" again sticking her tongue out all night... it was kinda annoying when mom kept saying how cute she was! ;)

Mom watched all of "Nemo" with us and she said it is the cutest movie!

I only went to timeout one time today and it was at the end of the night when I was tired. I wouldn't stop hitting a toy on the coffee table.

I miss you da-da and only said your name a 100 times today. But I had a really good time with Addie and mom! Only a few more days until I get to see you. Work hard and I love you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday at the Pumpkin Patch!

We took Chewbacca and Princess Leia (a.k.a. Carter and Addison) to the Pumpkin patch this afternoon. It was great but a little warm!
Princess Leia had a smile but Chewbacca was very serious all afternoon!

Carter was literally trying to "bounce" the small pumpkins and was surprised when they didn't bounce back up when they hit the ground! That was a sight to see!
This is the pumpkins Carter picked out and we have it on the top of our mailbox!

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