Last pictures from France

I have been home for almost a week… boy it is nice to be home.   I do miss France already and I want to share some “final” family vacation pictures.   I have already posted “typical” tourist pictures… and have saved “my kind of pictures” for this last post.  I hope you enjoy these unconventional vacation pictures.

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We took the TGV last Sunday to Paris the night before our flight home.   Isabelle’s sister and nephew took us to the train station and you can see them in this “selfie”… (is it still a selfie if there is a group?)

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I love the TGV and they have an interesting  advertisement campaign this year.   Here is an example of one of those advertisements.  Ben and I decided we could create one as well using a phone and Gwen.  (Ben’s sister… while she was sleeping)

 

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Sorry GWEN

 

 

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We love you…. Gwen… couldn’t resist… and had to post it twice…  (never gets old)

 

I have more advertisements…. I saw one for an Opera the first day I arrived in Strasbourg.  I am not much of an Opera guy… but if this publicity is anything close to the actual opera I really want to see it.

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I wonder if severed head “kissing” causes this opera to receive a Mature Audience rating

This was not the only “gore” based advertisement.  I saw another and at first I thought it had been “vandalized”… As I looked closer I realized that it had not been… it was designed this way.  (oh those edgy French)

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Kind of gross huh…

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Speaking of gross…  This is the toilet paper at my mother in laws house.   The “Soft & Saugstark” made me wonder… what is “saugstark”?   I decided to “google translate” this…

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I had assumed that “saugstark”  was German… but google tells me that it is Norwegian for “Juicy”.   I was using “SOFT and JUICY” toilet paper…  hmm   Gross.

Boy… I know this is random… and it is only going to get worse…

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This sign makes me laugh… “French but wild”…  Made me think of a new coffee table book title… “Where the wild things are… France”
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I drove by this tree in a small village… I thought it was paint at first… but it is actually wrapped in some kind of fabric
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Sam took this one for me…   Maybe just a bit too much detail?… I think I  we all get the idea…   the yellow part is not needed.
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In walking I noticed these ridged tiles every where… finally figured out they were for the blind… they show… (by texture) where to cross the street  and the nearest one shows where to catch the bus
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Do you every wonder where “delinquent” light poles hang out?
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SDF means “Homeless”… and this was on the front of a store.  Not sure I understand exactly what this all means… lots of “X”s… but the two that aren’t…  what do they mean… You can hug and charge batteries in their store?
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Bartholdi’s home town… Colmar.   Strange to see a model of the statue of liberty in the middle of the road.
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hmmm…. is this bad? or am I a bad person because I think it looks cool?
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Sometimes I wished I didn’t speak/read French… I would have assumed that this was a sign that didn’t allow mimes… or invisible walls constructed by mimes
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Ya… I can handle anger… but “rage’ scares me…
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This was in the front door of a store… I am not sure what it is suppose to do or be….there is something oddly suspicious about this fake dog
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Here is a frozen yogurt store… pretty cute… except the odd milk wavy thing in the middle…
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Here is a product called “eat me”…   do you think it is food?  Sure would be a horrible name if it was hand soap or worse rat poison!
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Everyone to the ice skating rink!   Babies included… Boy are they “customer greedy”… anything for a dollar… (don’t worry baby heads are soft… nothing bad can happen)
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This is a “PSYCHOGENEALOGISTE” office… I had never heard of this before.   I asked Isabelle if you went there and a “PSYCHIC” told you about your ancestors.   She says this was a “PSYCHAITRIST” who tells you which ancestor you can blame for all of your mental illnesses… (not sure which is worse)

This is all for France… Hope there was at least one picture that made you smile!

Strasbourg, France 2017

I would be amiss if I didn’t share some pictures of my wife’s home town… Strasbourg.   (Located in Alsace…  Just writing that makes me chuckle… pronounced “Al’s a**” ).  I am going to share some pictures taken while out walking.

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Thursday we dropped off the rental car and started our walk home.   On the way home we ended up at Flam’s.   Isabelle does not feel like we have really visited “Alsace” until we have eaten some “Tarte Flambe”.  This is one of the little “traditions” we have adopted since she left her home to come live with me.  (With that said… I did build a brick oven in our backyard so we could make these at home. They are delicious)

We all have our little “habitudes” when we get here. (Habitude→ Habit, Custom, Way) One of my “habitudes” is walking… lots of walking.  Because I wanted to spend time with the kids and wife…and because I think everyone should be like me…  I asked, begged, bribed and shamed the rest of the family into going out and walking with me.   (Isabelle wasn’t hard… the rest… well…)

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Here is yesterdays’ walking… 26 km (16 miles) over 4 and 1/2 hours.  If you look closely there is a McDonald’s stop.   This happened to be one of my bribes.  We invited Uncle Jack, Mami(Isabelle’s mother), Cousin Josh and Jarod and the children walked to and from McDonald’s which is about 6 km.

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Ben is missing… playing in the back with his “new friends”… while Isabelle was telling everyone how many calories they were eating.  (She is not a big fan of McDonalds)… I usually wont eat there either but ended up eating a hotdog.  (Didn’t know they had hotdogs at McDonalds and it wasn’t bad… well for McDonalds)

 

 

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Sam and Gwen in front of the colza (rapeseed) fields.

The two older children… Sam and Gwen…  decided to stay with me after McDonald’s and walk along the canal de la Bruche.  This is definitely one of my favorite walks.   Beautiful for miles and away from the noise and pollution of the city.   It is also a very easy walk since it is  paved and almost completely flat.

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I take a picture of this farm every year. (bet it is already in this blog…)  This is my dream home and it is right next to the canal trail… hmm someday.
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I only took this picture while walking on along the canal… and it is just after the canal.   (11 km later).   I think I was busy trying to get the kids to stop looking at their telephones.

The canal trail connects to a trail along the “Ill” river which leads into Strasbourg.   This is also a fantastic walk… and it leads to one of the more “picturesque” parts of Strasbourg.   This trail also happened at a fortunate time since the kids were starting to be bored with “nature” and were asking for something more “urban”… with pastries.  (Gwen doesn’t like McDonald’s and hadn’t eaten yet).

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Crossing this bridge (on the roof…) and taking pictures is also an every year tradition.  The feature and the following picture are taking from the top of this bridge.
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You can take some amazing photos from this view point… especially panoramic shots.  I have this picture in my bathroom… hmm  not sure why it is in my bathroom.
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Pont Couvert…   pretty awesome… Just after this bridge is Petit France, Strasbourg… One of the first things I saw when Isabelle brought me to her home town… I took the children on the very path she took me and of course… the kids didn’t care… jesh
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Entering Petit France… in front is a small bridge that swivels to let the boats pass.  I often stop and take a picture on this bridge.
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Here is a picture from that bridge.   I am looking the opposite way of the feature picture.
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Looking the opposite direction I can see the “locks” opening and letting a tourist boat through.  I once watched one of the gates get jammed by a log…  (when you have nothing to do… anything can be exciting)
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This is looking towards the bridge and you can see that it has swiveled open to let the tourist boat pass.
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Some of you may not know this but Johannes Gutenberg lived a good portion of his life in Strasbourg.
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Here is the cathedral of Strasbourg…  This was blown up in beginning part of one of the Sherlock Holmes film
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Another view of the cathedral and also one of the oldest buildings in Strasbourg the Maison Kammerzell.   Isabelle and I ate here with some close friends…   (Choucroute of course)

Sam and Gwen were real “troopers” for this walk. (saying that makes me feel so old)  I am not sure they enjoyed it like I did but they didn’t complain and Gwen got her “pain au chocolat”.

I will post one more time before I leave France.  I am starting to pack and getting that anxious feeling I always have just before I leave.  I wonder why leaving for home always makes me stressed…   I have been saving up some of my more strange (or if you know me typical) vacation pictures for the last post…  keep in touch I hope they don’t disappoint.

Paris France 2017

I would like to share a day last week when our family visited Paris! I know I might roll some eyes  by saying this (should I have said make some eyes roll?)… HERE GOES… by the end of this day I was completely sick of Paris… I think if I could have blindfolded myself and made it back to our hotel safely… I would have.  At the end of the day I didn’t want to hear… see… smell… touch anything that had to do with Paris.  I had become the “Paris Grinch”…  Paris… Bah humbug… (I should have hash-tagged that)

I do not think I have every felt this way because it is an amazing place and in the past I have always wished I could spend more time visiting things.   I think the kids drained all of my energy and all of my enthusiasm…  ya… I am going to blame them.

I have been quite busy and a little bit lazy when it comes to “blogging”… think that is the kids fault as well… so I am going to just share some pictures with very little commentary.

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What visit to Paris doesn’t include some RER and Metro time…  This time I let the kids try to figure out where we had to get off.   (I didn’t let them miss guess…)
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This is down in the metro… had to share this picture because it reminded me of a “cheesy” family musical…   you can just imagine the kids with mom spontaneously starting to sing with a choreographed dance up the escalator…   plus I almost fell on my butt since I was standing backwards and I was at end of the escalator…   (I think that is why you see the smiles)

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First site… some old metal tower…   It is really hard to get a “close-up” picture of Tour Eiffel that looks good.

 

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We took the stairs since it had a shorter ticket line…   The kids enjoyed the “hike”
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and.. well we didn’t mind (at least that is what we told ourselves)…  it is quite the walk
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I think this picture of Ben shows everyone how we felt about the view… and this is only the first level.
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Next boat tour on the Seine…
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You are guaranteed to see some amazing sites… plus you are sitting for an hour and the kids are trapped in a small limited area…
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Notre Dame…   several years back a kid… a very mean child… Said I looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame.
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And yes… nearly naked Parisians…

 

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Maybe a better picture of the Tour Eiffel?

 

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The bridges are truly amazing… hmmm   maybe a coffee table book?… nah… too pedestrian
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I thought the lines were horrible at the Tour Eiffel… this is the line for Versailles… and this is after you have spent time in line for the tickets.  We decided we were going to “forgo” this must see place… Gwen, my daughter, is still mad at me.
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Here we are at Notre Dame.   Way back in the late 80s I would buy a gyro on a baguette topped with fries and eat it here.  I did this quite often.  I started to remember this wonderful time in my life losing myself in nostalgia. I tried to share this “dad back in the day moment”.   Guess what…  the kids didn’t care 😦
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I love the old metro stops…  look closely at the glass lamps… love the orange-crimson glass against the blue green metal
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Next the Louvre… but before we enter…
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The kids had to stop at… as embarrassing as this is to admit… McDonalds.  (I tried to get them to eat a gyro by Notre Dame)
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Louvre entrance under the glass pyramid
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Like the 1000s of other tourist we had to ignore all of the other amazing art so we could hurry and find the Mona Lisa…  (I think the only painting my kids knew)
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I prefer this statue (Winged Victory of Samothrace… really stupid name) over the “Venus de Milo”…   I don’t think my kids know about either one…

 

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Many of these painting I am sure you have seen in books… but seeing them in all of their grandeur is amazing… My kids ran past this (The Coronation of Napoleon) on their way to the Mona Lisa

 

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The Louvre is amazing floor to ceiling…

 

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Here is my favorite ceiling… and sad to say I can’t remember what is on the walls…

 

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We couldn’t leave without spending time in Isabelle’s favorite part… the Egyptian section…

umm… I think that is a lot of pictures… I hope you enjoyed them.   (I can’t post anymore… I am getting that sick of Paris feeling again… maybe I developed some strange phobia)

My recommendation… take at least a week to visit Paris… don’t try to cram everything into one day.

 

 

 

 

Visit to the Paris, France Temple

One of the reasons we chose to visit France in April was to be able to visit the open house of the new Paris France Temple.   This is the first temple in France for my faith and in the past members would have to travel out of the country if they wanted to visit the temple… (i.e.   being married in the temple… this is the answer to many prayers here…).   I would like to share some pictures from our visit.

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The temple is located in Versailles actually right next to the castle of Versailles as you can see from the map.  The temple is very beautiful and I am not sure that my pictures can actually do it justice….   Here is a video I found on YouTube that shows the temple and it’s interior:

Is anyone else nervous when they take their children somewhere nice?  I was really nervous especially with Ben.   AND… well… Ben decided that he didn’t want to be with the rest of the family.   We called, pleaded, bribed but he moved to the front of the group… we were in the back (trying to not embarrass ourselves… we were in a VIP tour… and well we are not very “VIP”).  Ben oblivious to what others think insisted on standing as close to the guide as possible (sometimes embarrassingly close).  I kept waiting for him to do or say something out of place…but this is as far as his rebellion went. (fortunately… I had horrible visions of him breaking things or saying horribly inappropriate things during the tour).   At the end he gave the guide a huge hug… (kind of weird huh?… must get that from his mom)

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Here is a temple grounds map… I stole from another site.  The bottom of the map is the front… and the gardens are in the back.

I honestly loved this visit… (even with the “Ben stress”).  I have so many distraction in my life… it is nice to go somewhere that brings peace and enables me to take a step back and contemplate on what is really important… like my family and my personal spirituality.  The temple is always something very sacred and special to me… even if it is just touring a new one.

After the visit we took pictures around the temple in the gardens.  Interior pictures were not allowed (that is why I included the video).   In the visitors center there was a model of the temple that had the walls cut away.

I will share those pictures first:

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This is just inside of the gardens  looking at the side of the temple.  You can see one of my favorite parts… the spiral staircase under an incredibly beautiful stain glass ceiling.  (I think you can see this.. if not… the video does show it)
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If I remember correctly this is a view from the other side.  You can see the baptismal font at the bottom…  I think in the middle floor you are looking at the bridal room… and on the top you see the ordinance rooms.
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This is the from front of the temple.  You can see the main lobby.. (not sure that it is called that) and on the floor above the Celestial room.

I wished I could have taken pictures inside.   There are so many interesting details that make up this building… including details that serve as interesting religious metaphors.   A good example of this is found in the stain glass windows.   On the bottom floors the flowers are buds and as you move up towards the top floors they are in full bloom…  showing the potential of all men and women.   They also have two sets of doors when you enter the temple.   The outer doors are decorated with colorful stain glass depicting flowers while the inner doors have the same flowers but are in etched glass (white and clear)… this is meant to depict temporal and spiritual realms.  The stain glass is truly amazing and was done by an artist in Utah… (Isabelle has met him)

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This was taken from the visitors building… Don’t worry we are not breaking any rule here.
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Not a great picture but one that shows the “etched” glass… again this is in the visitors center.

Finally here are some of the garden pictures:

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That is all of my pictures…   If by chance you are in Paris… April 22 – May 13…  I would highly recommend a visit…. ( Public open house and you can reserve free tickets here ).  Once the temple is dedicated it will not be open to the general public.  (sorry)

Friday at the Écomusée d’Alsace

Today we visited a museum (Écomusée d’Alsace)…   the “largest living open-air museum in France” one that “shows an Alsatian village from the early 20th century. It illustrates what rural life was like in Alsace and invites visitors to find out about popular traditions and art of the region, including buildings and artefacts, craftsmen at work, temporary exhibitions, attractions and events both small and large.” —  I stole that from their site… (wanted to make sure all of you knew that all of a sudden I didn’t become a good writer)

I have wanted to visit this place for several years.   I love the idea of visiting the past and seeing how things were done when we were more “connected” to the world we live in.   My children were also changed by the visit… (I imagine the change wont last long… but at least for the moment they have a different view of the world)… Sam wants to be a farmer and a blacksmith, Gwen wants to be a potter, and Ben wants to be a basket weaver… (you always have one weird kid… I might have three)

If you ever visit Alsace this is a must see:   Here is a link

and…. Here are some pictures!

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My kids knew exactly what all of this was…   One said… (can’t remember who) don’t you have those carders?

 

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Even the children enjoyed walking through the homes and seeing how things were

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One of our favorite treats from Alsace – Tarte Flambee

 

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Ben was not sure of his newly found friend… (this friend was hoping to find dropped crumbs to eat)

 

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Notice all of the roofs with storks nesting… It wouldn’t be Alsace without them… (very noisy birds by the way)

That is all for now… I have a treat for all of you tomorrow.  I am going to share a recipe we tasted, loved, and learned in one of the homes there.   Ben and I are going to make it… and it will be a real surprise… kind of a weird surprise!!!

Please check back tomorrow!

 

 

Bubbles, Bugs, Markets and Crotte!

One of the great things about vacations is that you can spend the entire day doing stupid or weird things.  I really like doing stupid and weird things and I spent a good moment just watching bubbles.   I will talk more about them in a moment but before I do I want to present you with some random stuff from my walking.

The kids and I went for a walk… one of those walks where you end up going no where and it takes you hours to get there.  (vacation walks)  I told them lady bugs were good luck (especially if you eat them…  ) so we were hunting lady bugs.

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Here is the first lady bug we found.   Sam took this picture with my camera… what a great picture.  I told him he could have my camera if he could get mom to buy me a new one.  (I know how to work the family system)
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Here is the next one… Gwen found this one and I think there is something wrong.  I have never seen a black lady bug with red spots!   Must be the result of toxic waste someone dumped… (hmmm… we were next to a cemetery)

Ok… Enough lady bug pictures… I am sure you are waiting for nice pictures of France.   Before I show you those I want to share another thing.

I have been “chronicling” Oberhausbergen’s (wife’s home town) struggles and various campaigns against dog poo.   Last year I had a blog post dedicated to their “lute contre la crotte”. (Sign with dogs bum taped up  … click if you are curious).  This year they are still vigorously working to eradicate poo pollution.

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This sign states that it isn’t magic… (difficult) just pick it up… My THOUGHTS… what good is magic if you can’t make poo disappear?

Enough poo…   hmm that brings to mind one more thing.   It is asparagus season in Alsace.   I love asparagus!!!  We were all having a spring scavenger hunt on “Isabelle’s Hill” and my asparagus craving got the best of me… so I took off for a brief moment.

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I walked over to a local farmer’s coop  called “Hop’la”.
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I purchased some asparagus….   this was a bit expensive but I like supporting local farmers.   Unfortunately I couldn’t get any of the kids to eat this… even with the promise of stinky pee…
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Here I am catching back up to the group…. who were busily searching out “spring” things for their hunt.   They all mocked me saying I looked like the “man in yellow” from curious George.  (Could have been worse they could have said I looked like the monkey)
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Walking back from our hunt… Gwen and  Ben were a bit disappointed that it was over already.
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Some of the others… like Sam… were ready to get home.   I kept having to call them and tell them to wait up.

Time for the bubbles!..   There are moments that I feel like I have the perfect idea for a “brillant” coffee table book…  Here is another idea…  Bubbles across Europe.

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This one looks like a ghost chasing after the children.

I watched a homeless man entertain many children and (my favorite part) annoy oblivious passing pedestrians with his bubble blowing.   The children loved this…  and so did I…especially since every now and again a bubble would escape and blow across the square hitting some un-expecting adult…  wished I had a picture of that!  (these bubbles left a nice soapy mark… it was awesome).  I spent almost an hour watching this. I was also eating a “mixte”.   This is one of my favorite lunches in France.   Most of the bakeries will have premade sandwiches.   A “mixte” is the name that “Paul” (if you want to see a picture click on the link) calls its ham, butter, and cheese sandwich on a baguette.   I promise it is fantastic.

I am really sorry this post is very random…

Last thing… Markets… I love the markets in France…  Here are a couple of the markets we have visited.

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I promise to update you soon on this trip!… I will post more pictures but I can’t promise that those pictures will be more interesting than bugs or poo…  I am tired of the bubbles… so no more bubbles (promise)

 

 

Family Vacation in France

I didn’t write in this blog or do anything weird this weekend.   This weekend we all got on a plane and flew to France. (Our annual family vacation to France.)   Even though the kids have flown often, I still worry about keeping them entertained.   In an attempt to have Ben do something other than iPad or video watching I asked him to draw a picture of me.   He took this very seriously.  He began by holding up a pencil while closing an eye.  He earnestly studied my very handsome masculine face… and then he began to commit  what he was seeing to paper. That is at least what I thought he was doing.  (Drawing me… what could go wrong?)

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I saw this…umm…  I was ready to tell him just to go back to video watching.   (One eyeball is not even on my head… and what is with the rat teeth).   I then quickly thought that I can’t have Isabelle see this… she will probably hang it somewhere prominent.  Mom’s can be a bit “blind” to these kind of things… not realizing that this would only show how untalented our son is… or worse how weird he thinks his father appears. I was thinking about “accidently” spilling my coke on it… and then realized there was a much better way…   I asked him to draw mom!

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It turned out better than I could have imagined.   I was hoping to play her vanity against her motherly pride… but now I had a picture that put in to question her loving and patient parenting skills.  (I may look “goofy” in mine.. but at least I don’t look “mean”)  Most people that know her would laugh… but it is still perfect since I could always follow up with… you never know what happens behind closed doors.   This picture was so good that instead of keeping it as a counter argument for not showing mine…  I have decided to post them both here knowing mine will be forgotten once you see hers.

Ok… back to our travels….

The plane flight went very well and in Paris we honestly “flew” through passport control and customs . (I am not sure I can say “honestly flew”… since we were “actually” walking really fast) I seem to always stress when it comes to connections especially where there is a short time.  We had what I thought would be not enough time between landing in Paris and  leaving on our train for Strasbourg…. but I was completely wrong.    This time even with the “I have to go to the bathroom” delays…  made it with perfect timing.   We didn’t miss our connection, have to run or pee our pants… and we didn’t have to sit for 6 hours waiting for the next train

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If you ever fly into Charles de Gaule airport and need to take a train it is very convenient since the train station is located at the airport.   I am sure that many Americans do not think about taking a train but I enjoy them… especially the TGV and sitting in first class.   In the picture above you see the children on the train playing Uno and they look surprisingly awake.

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When I travel I always look at google timeline and see where I have been and how much time and distance I travelled between places.  It can be eerily accurate as you can see by our 417 km train ride that took 2 hours and 2 minutes (Paris to Strasbourg on the TGV).  It can also be completely off… like our 6.6 km airplane ride that took 3 hours and 29 minutes. (worlds slowest airplane). hmmm…   In reading this back… I realize that this might have been the most boring paragraph I have ever written for this blog.

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Speaking of boring, my children soon became bored with Uno.  I am a caring father so I searched the train for entertainment.  In between cars  I found a sign showing some new game for children.  The game had no written instructions only a picture and I knew exactly what this meant…  this game is appropriate for all ages. (even those who are not old enough to read)   This would be perfect for all of my children and I named it the “Yellow Hand” game. (based upon the picture)  I went and got them but not one of them wanted play.  They all demonstrated a complete lack of adventure.   I tried to coerce them by explaining that there was very little effort needed on their part… all they had to do was hold their hand in the door as it closed.   So disappointing…   and I am left wondering would a hand really turn yellow? Oh… ya…   I have one other quick question for those of you who are more “grammatically” gifted… is it correct to have punctuation (“!”) if you don’t have words? (hmmm… and should I have assumed a certain age based upon the presence of punctuation?)

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We arrived at “mami’s” house (Isabelle’s mother) and the weather was beautifully warm and sunny.  I love springtime especially when it isn’t raining and I am not home doing yard work.  When we arrived, even the children noted how beautiful everything was especially the magnolia tree next to the house.   One of them… (can’t remember which one… they were very noisy) asked if we could bring some seeds back home from the tree.  I said  we already had “lots”…  but in Utah they look different… and are called sage brush.   (only a “white lie”.   I am not sure they would grow in Utah… plus you should see the ground… what a mess)

I have not yet used my “good” camera.  These photos were taken with my phone and the magnolia picture… well google decided to apply some “effects”…  not sure why google randomly does this.  I personally think it is messing with me.

I forgot to mention the fact that Isabelle did not come with us from the train station to her mother’s.  She unfortunately had to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s father.  She left directly from the train station while her sister drove the kids and I to her mother’s home.   Yes… I selflessly stayed with the children (actually I got stuck with them…).  

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We quickly ran to Super U (weird name for a grocery store… huh…) so I could make them something for dinner.   We bought my children’s idea of “French dietary staples”:

  • coquillette (elbow macaroni)
  • des lardon (American bacon cut up into little pieces)
  • pommes noisettes (little mashed potato balls that are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle)
  • ketchup
  • une baguette (you know… the bread you always see in movies about France)
  • Orangina  (orange soda… with real orange pulp… at least I think it is real… if it isn’t… I wonder what it is made of… )

As you see in the picture above  I also patiently (or lazily) taught them to make their own dinner.  (So I lied when I wrote “so I could make them dinner”… but again it is just a little white lie since they need to learn how to be self-sufficient)France 09

I also wanted to add my idea of “french dietary staples”.   Here are the items I bought for myself.

France 10

I consider these items “gateway” food to real french cuisine (with the exception of the mauricette).   Let me explain the mauricette.   This is a delicious pretzel like roll found in Alsace and you can not go wrong when serving these to Americans…  actually you can go wrong if you argue with your wife that they are “P”retzels not “B”retzels.

l’Ortolan:   (french cheese gateway for Americans)

This is a baby step towards real french cheese.   It is a delicious… almost butter flavored cheese that feels and looks like camembert.   It is so mild, delicious, and really easy to like.  I have met very few Americans who don’t love it.  If you are unfamiliar with and nervous about trying french cheese (especially the stinky, or runny ones) this is definitely a good starting place.  One “pro” tip… (I have seen this done… so don’t laugh) don’t cut off the white mold… you eat it.   Once you have had this… you can try anything… maybe Roquefort… and when you spit it out in disgust… you can remember that you have eaten at least one french cheese that you liked.  (I love roquefort as well… but you may not)

Rillettes:  (pâté and fois gras gateway for Americans)

I know that there are some french readers out there who will be rolling their eyes with this one… but from the view point of an American trust me.  French like to eat meat that looks like it belongs in a can of cat food. WORSE… It is often made of liver and sometimes liver from mistreated geese or ducks.   Rillettes is the best introduction to this cat food eating culture.   First of all the texture feels more like meat should feel.   Second it is shredded pork and has a nice pork almost bacon-y taste.   Once you have become accustom to eating cat food (think of the money you could save)… you will be ready to try pate and even fois gras.   Here is another pro tip… don’t put ketchup on the fois gras it really bothers the french… trust me.

Oh… I had best tell you that I don’t mix the cheese and the meat… I made two mauricettes… one with l’ortolan and the other with the rillettes.. (don’t want you to think I am “weird”)

Stay tuned… I will be sharing my vacation over the next several weeks… maybe there will be some more “Pro” tips.