Thursday, December 31, 2015

Au Revoir Paris!

Tonight we considered trying to see the fireworks on the Eiffel Tower, but hesitated for various reasons. The city ended up canceling the show, which helped make the decision easier. Alas, Happy New Years from the Vincents!

So just how do we sum up this trip of ours? I bet you're wondering if Secret Agent Huff-A-Lump 20 and Secret Agent Penguin managed to earn 100 points to qualify for becoming an SIA Special Agent. The best agents have a high level of something called "situational awareness," and these two agents proved themselves to be quick-witted agents who pay attention to their surroundings. In addition to collection intelligence from various sights, they found many carousels, street musicians and even dogs in restaurants! They practiced blending in by speaking French to the locals, with "Bonjour Madame" Or Bonjour Monsieur" and saying "Merci." Secret Agent Penguin even enthusiastically responded when a local said "Coo-Coo" to her (a cute way to say "hello" to little ones). They loved to practice identifying their colors and repeating random statements that sounded familiar to them. They even managed to keep their cover when it came to eating local food. When all was said and done, the two ended up with 111 points! Whoop! Whoop! I knew they had what it would take.

In all seriousness, I do not think the trip could have gone any better. It almost even boggles my mind at how well the girls traveled. Some of the expectations and worries I had prior to the trip simply were non-issues. For example...

We worried that Ellie and Addie would struggle to find anything to eat. And we all know what happens when one gets hungry - they get hangry too. Granted, really only went to a single restaurant, we got most of our food from super markets and street stands. However, they never failed to eat what was in front of them. And they did so without complaints. They didn't like the couscous but made up for it by eating all their ravioli (mushroom at that). All in all, food was a non-issue.

Combine the time change with lots and lots of walking, we were certain that the girls would be more tired than they have ever been before. Usually being tired is a sure sign of meltdowns, but none came. And trust me, we walked A LOT. Our days ranged from 14,000 steps (the day we "took it easy" because Michael got sick) to 29,000 steps (Disneyland) and never once do we remember the girls giving even the slightest complaint. Even after walking up the Notre Dame bell towers or Eiffel Tower, there were no complaints. When Mommy & Daddy would have likely turned down the opportunity because of being tired, they didn't hesitate at wanting to climbe the tower of Sacré-Cœur. Aside from a single statement of concern over Addie's legs shaking but not being cold (apparently sore tired muscles was a new sensation to her), I don't think we would have even suspected they were tired. Our own muscle soreness was the only indication.

When in a new place, every child repeats "I want..." or "Can I have..." over and over again, especially at Disneyland. Apparently every child except ours. How is it that we managed to go for 2 entire weeks (Disneyland included) without the girls asking for ANYTHING? The stuff we did buy was initiated by Mommy & Daddy and they were more than happy with the results. In the end, the only souvenirs the girls brought home were:
- Coconut Bear (Addie)
- Mitaines Kitten (Ellie)
- Hat & scarf (Addie)
- Paris T-Shirt IOU (Ellie - yes, it's an IOU. We have to order one online... how crazy is that?)
- Sparkling Eiffel Towers
- Toys from Kinder chocolate eggs

Seeing museum after museum (even if some of them were in pretty churches or castles) can be boring at times, let alone for a child. We were uncertain of how much "fun" being a tourist really would be for children the age of 6 and 8. Boy were we surprised! The girls seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves EVERYWHERE we went. Additionally, having been to Paris a few times before, Mommy & Daddy expected this trip to be nothing new. Oh how we were wrong. Sure, we repeated some of the places we've seen before, but we did so many things we've never done before too, including:
- Climbing the bell tower of Notre Dame
- La Cité des Enfants
- Roue de Paris
- Climbing the steps up to the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower
- Ice skating on the Eiffel Tower
- Pompidou Center
- Château de Chambord (interior)
- Château d'Amboise
- Château du Clos Lucé
- Walking along the Seine
- Disneyland
- Climbing the tower of Sacré-Cœur

Though Mommy & Daddy considered the trip to Paris, itself, to be the main event when it comes to Christmas gifts, we were also uncertain of how the girls would take this. Receiving fewer "gifts" could be difficult for a child to accept. However, this seems to have been a non-issue as well. Perhaps the most amazing part of the trip was that Ellie and Addie were always sincerely THANKFUL for the experience. And if you were to ask them what their favorite part of the trip was, included in their answer would be "being there with my family." Wow. How amazing is that? Perhaps this really can become a yearly family tradition of ours after all???

All in all, the girls could not have done any better. They really made for amazing travel buddies, who were simply THANKFUL for the opportunity. I am humbled and honored to be able to spend time with these two girls and to be able to call myself their mother.

In conclusion... BEST. TRIP. EVER!!!

P.S.  How could I forget the amazing ice cream???  It's an ice cream flower!  Fancy!  Best ice cream EVER.

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