Seth and I were able to attend the Marine Ball on Saturday. I was able to pull out my Oliver Tolentino gowns and even lent an Oliver gown to a pregnant friend (I used that when I was pregnant with Tiger). I found time to doll up, left the kids with a neighbor, and was an adult if only for four hours.
Our mandatory prom pose.
It was a great event and as usual the Marines did a fantastic job. My only question about the Marine Ball is: where was the cake? I have to witness the youngest and oldest Marine chow down on what looked like a very delicious birthday cake in red and gold. When my dessert came it was a plate of assorted desserts with no cake. I like fancy desserts but when I go to a birthday party I want cake. Even more delicious, cake cut with a sword. Future note to self: next birthday get sword to cut cake.
The awfulness didn't really begin today, it started two days ago. We came to pick up our daughter from an American friend's house. She didn't want to leave. This opened a door of homesickness and tantrums that are really not cute. It was missing friends, I hate wet hair, I don't want to wear pants, and it spiraled down from there.
At the end of all this three-day on/off screaming I needed some Advil. I had a pounding headache. I opened the bottle and Tiger thought it was candy. He knocked it out of my hand. As I clamoured to pick it up and told him "no" he somehow got a few and ate them. Who thought it was a good idea to coat Advil in sugar?
So I called poison control. FYI, for 30 lb children you can consume as many as fourteen 200 mg ibuprofens before you need your stomach pumped.
Luckily he only ate one or two. Still I am feeling like I should not polish my 'Mother of the Year' quite yet.
And so the tears began. I am tired, I am tired of being tired, I am tired of being foreign and not knowing what people are saying. I am tired of not being able to find things. I am tired of not being comfortable.
And then...an old foreign service friend called. They are in Finland so they get the different type of challenges that come with this amazing first world continent. It was a pretty casual chat but it helped. Helped so much. The fits have stopped. The kids are delightful and playing with our European neighbors. I am in love with Belgium again and Tiger seems to be just fine. I am going to be okay. We are all okay.
We did it. We managed to drive to Paris find a hotel to fit us all comfortably and actually have a good time.
There are a few things that are key to this formula. Most important:
Having a larger adult to children ratio is key to having a super fabulous time. However, even with an even or outnumered ratio a good time can be had by all.
This is how we did it.
Plan: we went this week mostly because my husband could get off work. It also turned out to be the week that Belgium takes off for Fall break. This made me worried that Disneyland would be crowded. Apparently the UK and France had school breaks that week as well but they were finished Thursday. This meant just us and the Belgians and the occasional short short Germans were at Disneyland (yes, in November). It was great. We were able to get on every ride we wanted and stayed from opening (10:00 am to close 7:00 pm).
We went home to a nice big place. We were able to find an inexpensive room at this timeshare. I suppose it was low-season. It was fantastic and there was enough room to play, sleep, eat. There was an indoor pool, nice playgrounds. Perfect for families with little ones. It could sleep six and had two bedrooms but because we love Seth's parents and we wanted them to continue to love us we got two rooms. Since we drove from Belgium we brought our own food and it was perfect.
We were able to take the train into downtown Paris and it dumped us out right at Arc du Triomphe. We took a nice walk from there to the Eiffel Tower. The weather was gorgeous and Fall was in full bloom. Tiger took an awesome nap at the Eiffel Tower.
At this point my mother-in-law took off her grandma hat and put on her superhero cape and then chased down some pick-pocketers at the Eiffel Tower. Theives beware when Seth's mom is around! Turns out they were doing a scam trying to get people to sign a petition and then swiping pockets as you sign. Beware.
From Eiffel Tower we took a cab to Cathedral of Notre Dame. It was gorgeous. Tiger had a hard time with the whole 'silent' concept. He struggles at our chapel at home so I don't know why I was ambitious that he would somehow be quiet in a Catholic cathedral. Even so, it was amazing and gorgeous. I loved the ceilings, the windows, and the devotion that had been put into Notre Dame. It was beautiful.
At this point we knew we were crazy to try to do more so we took the train home and left the grandparents. The kids loved the playgrounds and pools and it may have been their favorite part of the trip.
The next day we took it easy and went out the countryside until both Stell and Tiger let us know it was time to leave.
All in all, a great trip and I loved being able to see Paris with the people I love most.