My sister, brother-in-law and three nephews arrived today in Paris. It was so wonderful to see all of them though they certainly were not at their best and brightest. Who can blame them? After a 14 hour international flight I not only smell to high heaven but I also start hallucinating and can barely carry on a normal conversation. I cannot imagine how much more exhausting it must be when you have three children and a gigantic Marine for a husband, who has the attention span and patience level of your five-year-old, all crammed onto the same plane. Add on that faulty aircraft television screens, fans, and lighting and you're ripe for disaster. Considering all of this I was more than impressed that they all were in one piece and even more amazed that one of them hadn't been unceremoniously sucked out a window somewhere over the ocean.
My sister impressively picked a perfect apartment for them with washer, dryer, dishwasher, heating, two twin beds for the boys, a baby bed for the baby, and within walking distance to Bastille, Boulevard Richard Lenoir, and me!
Of course their first day comprised mostly of naps because even though they arrived early in the day jetlag certainly took its toll. And they have been suffering from it ever since. Yesterday I swung by their apartment at 10 am convinced that I was going to open the door to the children dressed and impatiently waiting to begin their Paris experience, but to say I was incorrect would be an understatement. The entire apartment was pitch black and the only noise to be heard were the ones squeezing in from outside. So I woke up the brood and they all started bustling and fussing and getting themselves ready for the day. Considering the ample size and minimal age of the group, this took longer than I was expecting and so we didn't leave the house until the afternoon.
When I took the time and the overall lack of energy of them all, I decided that doing anything too exciting would not only be a waste, but also an all out bad idea, and so we simple walked the Boulevard Richard Lenoir market, went to Jacques Genin for hot chocolate and dessert, and then spent a few moments on one of the many jungle gyms littering Richard Lenoir. This was fun for all involved because not only could each of the three children (aged eight, five, and one) enjoy it, but the adults were also more than entertained by the antics of the youngest Paulsen boy, Sam. Sam is a giant. He looks like a mixture between the Gerber baby and Winston Churchill and his size conjures up images of Baby Huey in everyone's head. His light blonde curly hair, twinkling blue eyes, and chubby cheeks, butt, legs, arms and belly make him a shoe-in for any cherub, putti, or cupid position. So if you consider all of this, it's pretty hard not to absolutely adore him.
While Kellen and Bode ran around the structure like too madmen (as young boys tend to do) Sam simple pounded his thick little legs, one after the other, around giggling and smiling as he did so. There were some other children at the park as well including a little girl who, though probably almost a year older than Sam, was the same size. Upon seeing this french fille, Sam became so enraptured that he stormed towards her, arms outstretch, mouth open wide in an innocent grin, and gave her a gigantic bear hug, pinning her arms to her sides. Since he's quite a beast and at moment has some move to him, he ended up body slamming her to the floor and stayed there, enjoying himself thoroughly. The little girl, however, was less than amused and let out a terrified cry. Todd, my brother-in-law, and I could not help but laugh hysterically. Luckily she was more than fine and though she continued to give Sam the stink-eye until we left, we all enjoyed ourselves and returned home for some dinner.
Today began just as yesterday in that I pressed my snooze button a few dozen times and rushed to their apartment expecting them to be waiting patiently for my arrival only to be greeted, yet again, by darkness and silence. So we went through the same hoops as before but I was confident that while they still had yet to adjust, they were on their way there and could handle a days outing. But to keep it light I decided that we would start at Deyrolle and then take a short stroll to Pont Neuf for a boat ride on the Seine. Nothing too vigorous, nothing too taxing.
Kellen, the oldest of my nephews at eight, was a bit weary about Deyrolle. It's hard to explain such a place to anyone and I realized only too late that using the word "dead animals" wasn't exactly the most appealing way to go about it. He was a bit depressed by the thought of it, much like how I had felt, and I had to give him a little explanation that if he just trusted me I was sure he would like it. Of course this then inspired complete fear in me that he may not, after all, enjoy it, and that could then lead to his lack of trust in all my tourism advice.
However, just like me, he absolutely adored Deyrolle, as did the rest of the family. Bode, the five year old, wanted to touch everything, and Todd was just as giddy and stoked as the children. He insists on returning and purchasing one of their gigantic beetles and hopes he can find one big enough and strange enough to impress all the friends and relatives back home.
From there we walked around a bit, found the boys something to eat for lunch, and then made our way to Pont Neuf for our boat ride. I knew this would be nice because we could all sit down and, at the very least, not walk any more which both of the boys appreciated. Sam, on the other hand, was thrilled to escape the prison of his stoller and bob up and down the boat freely, stretching out his little sausage legs and crawling around on the disgusting boat floor whenever our backs were turned. By the time we were done with our tour the sun had set and we were all ready for dinner.
Since finding something the boys would enjoy eating was slightly difficult at lunch, I knew that going someplace basic and good would be preferable and decided that Briciola for pizza would be the best idea. Since it was only 7:30pm the place was completely empty and we didn't have to wait a second for our table. The pizza went over well and the free ice cream cone for the boys went over even better.
Sure the day may have had some hiccups but overall I felt that it went quite well and I learned something very important. When you have a large group things tend to take longer. When you have three children in that group, things tend to take three times as long. So I will continue to keep our days limited to only one or two specific destinations so that we can take our time and enjoy ourselves and, most importantly, have plenty of time for break downs, tantrums, and scoldings. Let the games begin!