Tuesday, July 26, 2016

They Call Me a Francophile, At Least They Know I Know Where France Is

Our Paris trip earlier this summer is quickly fading into memory, and I didn't even write about it all that much.

I did not tell you about the joys of walking to the same patisserie each morning for a pan au chocolat and hot, strong coffee, and being recognized by the counter girls.

I did not tell you about making a new friend and walking the rainy cobbles of Montmartre.

I did not tell you about the sun setting oh-so-late, so you stop at a sidewalk cafe bustling with people long after dark for wine and chocolate mousse and revel in all being up late.

I did not tell you about champagne with Rosy in a square with fountains in the middle.

I did not tell you about the light on Notre Dame.

I did not tell you about the wonder in Patrick and Beatrix's eyes when they first saw Saint Chapelle, and the Orangerie.

I did not tell you about the mix of the old and the new with new art installations placed into Versailles. Or the Pont des Arts.

I did not tell you about a Seine boat ride in the pouring rain.

I did not tell you that the Bridge of Locks had been taken down, so locks spring up all over the city.

I did not tell you about the dog in the basket the night of our anniversary dinner.

I did not tell you about the dogs all walking perfectly with their people, not needing leashes.

I did not tell you about walking narrow streets, peering into courtyards.

I did not tell you about the shop filled with butterflies, and shells, and a stuffed yak.

I did not tell you about the exhibit at the Pompidou Center that we loved so much we went back to, twice in two days.

I did not tell you about Beatrix blowing bubbles off the top of the Eiffel Tower, or sailing a sailboat in the Jardins de Luxembourg.

I did not tell you about so much. But it is all in my memory.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Drawing Lesson

It's been a long time since I've spent much time drawing. Patrick has gotten into it recently, in a Sketchnote manner. But I've just put to off. SO I was supper excited to check out The Drawing Lesson.

I'm not a big graphic novel fan, so I had my doubts that this would work, but wanted to give it a try. And the truth is, I liked it. It was clear on drawing concepts and the reasons behind them. Did it inspire great creativity? No. But did it give me the motivation to pick up a pencil and paper again? Yes, to some extent. I'm excited to see what I might draw next.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paris Bedroom

We really had a great Paris trip. Beatrix in particular has been enamored of all things Paris since we got back.

And, as you can see, it was really time to do something about her room.

So, yesterday Patrick and I carved out some time, channeled our best HGTV personas, and really worked on it. We knew there were some embellishments we wanted to make, and that the new furniture was not working. We knew we wanted a Paris theme; I had picked up some items off a Buy/Sell/Trade board. Then, that morning, someone posted on a board that her daughter had just dismantled her Paris-themed room and wanted to give it to another girl. So we went right to work.

We created a book nook, as a cozy place to read (Beatrix had loved a similar place at the Bastille Day celebration we went to on Sunday). We also replaced a heavy wood bookcase with a metal one that was in the basement, spray painting it for a shabby chic look and adding a globe.

She has a new Paris bulletin board, I touched up her dresser (which used to belong to a friend of my mom's) with chalk paint, and she has room there for her Bratz chairs so they are no longer in the living room.

Here's the whole thing, with the new bed linens (and a skirt accent I made with tulle), some Paris decals, and Paris photos.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out! And Beatrix loves it! (maybe this will inspire her to keep it clean).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hurrah for the Red, White, and Blue

Because what better way to spend the 4th of July weekend than coloring poolside with an adult beverage?

I've worked with a string of fun coloring books lately, and this was no exception. Unlike other books, these do not all tie into each other and flow into a longer story; there are nine artists involved, so they are sufficiently varied. I liked this, because I liked the way each collaring page was a separate project. They also had a nice variation in complexity, with some pages very complex and others far simpler. It was a nice book to share with my 8-year-old daughter (who, truth be told, likes the more complex ones).

The best part, though, is that each collaring page has a facing page with a quote, hymn, or other history, so it's a good read as well — again, another nice thing to share with a history-fascinated young girl!

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review, but all views are my own).

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Museums of Paris

My friend Jane advised me to get a Paris Museum Pass. I had looked at the "Paris Pass," which included Metro for the week, and written it off as too much, but then she schooled me that there was a difference, and so we went ahead and got them for Patrick and myself (because France does it right, all museums, except for attractions like the Eiffel Tower, are free for kids under 18). To our delight, the Museum Pass allows line-skipping privileges (basically like a Disney FastPass for culture), which made it totally worth it.

So we got a Paris Museum Pass, and used the heck out of it.

The first two we hit are places that are very special to me — Saint Chapelle and the Orangerie (featuring the Monet water lilies). I love these spaces for their intimacy and the way that you can experience the work exactly as you should.  Having Patrick and Beatrix experience these places I love was wonderful.

The next day, we went to the Rodin Museum, which I love, especially the sculpture garden. After that, we went to the Orsay, another place that I love, but I wonder at this point if it's not a victim of its own success. It was SO crowded that you could barely see the work, and though so many paintings there are like old friends to me, Beatrix totally melted down. In the best of all worlds we would have headed back another day, but even a week in Paris is not enough!

Another day, we stayed mainly in the Marias, going to the Picasso Museum and Pompidou Center. The Picasso Museum is apparently very controversial for financial overages, but I found it fantastic, and a great explanation of his career. And we loved the Pompidou enough that we actually went back a second day; they had an incredibly engaging children's exhibit about the art of JR that we all really loved participating with.

Another day we started at the Museum of Arts Decoratifs, where we actually ran into Paul Mitchell in the Barbie exhibit (a very nice man whose wife is exactly like a living Barbie). The exhibits in the main part of the museum, including beautiful Art Deco period rooms, were fascinating. Later that day, we headed to the Louvre and spent several hours there deliberated NOT seeing famous things (except the Venus de Milo). We stayed mainly in the Egyptian and Greek areas — Beatrix especially liked the Greek statues, because she had just studied ancient Greece in school. It was amazing how much more alive that made it for her. Later that day, we walked all the way to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (I am Out.Of.Shape), which was an incredible view.

We spent ALL DAY at Versailles on our anniversary. I had visited the palace before, but not the gardens, the Petit Trianon, Marie Antionette's play village, or the Grand Trianon. Those places made the whole thing so much more alive; as Patrick said, while it was hard to imagine anyone living in the elaborate palace, you could almost hear a teenage Marie Antionette and her ladies in waiting running through the paths of the village, laughing and playing.

Our last day, we went to the Cluny, where we enjoyed the medieval art, including the Roman baths and the mysterious unicorn tapestries. We also visited the Concergerie, which does a wonderfully evocative job of showing the prison where Marie Antionette was held.

We went to a few non-pass attractions, like the Eiffel Tower and the Seine boats (though we had coupons). And we visited Sacre Cour and Notre Dame, which are free in general (though you have more access through the pass). But we loved the freedom and flexibility, and I love that Beatrix thinks it's an awesome vacation to go through multiple museums with her parents. Truly the best way to spend a vacation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Rest of Paris

Longer, more detailed posts later, but for now dying to remember all we did!

Day 4:
Our 10th anniversary!

Got a late start due to a grumpy kid, but made it on the train to Versailles.

Long wait in line, but got in and walked through. Incredibly ornate, though the Hall of Mirrors was as amazing as I remembered. I usually like big and fancy, but this was a bit much even for me.

L-o-n-g hike through the gardens only to discover no place was really still serving lunch.

Walked to the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's village, the theatre, the gardens, and the Grand Trianon. While the Petit Trianon was a bit twee and the gardens extensive, the Grand Trianon was my absolute favorite.

Finally caught a late lunch. Then the crowded rain back.

Wanted to go to Le Coup Chou for a romantic dinner, but was afraid it would not be B's thing. Ate across the street at Le Petit Prince, which was chambering (and even a dog in a basket).

Dessert at Gustine's on the way back (B's first chocolate mousse in Paris - but not her last!)


Day 5:

Another late start due to the late night before.

Abandoned plans for the morning at the Louvre, and went to Les Arts Decora:

tifs instead. Enjoyed the Barbie show with Beatrix (Paul Mitchell was there! And his Barbie-like wife!). Gordoeus Art Deco rooms.

Met Giulia for lunch at L'Imperial Bistro on Rue de Rivoli. She was even more charming in person.

The Louvre (much calmer in the afternoon). No, did not see the Mona Lisa, too over-rated. A couple of hours in the Greeks, Egyptians, and Medieval rooms. Did see the Venus de Milo, and B got a good shot.

Pompidou Center, which turned out to be a great call. Fantastic kids exhibit with photos on buildings. Up the escalator for the great views. Enjoyed several pieces, mainly cubist pieces.

Another round of chocolate mousse at Gustine's (different location).

Went to l'Arc de Triomphe. Did not mean to ascend it (elevator broken) but ended up doing so anyway. Exhausting, but INCREDIBLE view. Beatrix witnessed her first pickpocketing attempt, which made quite an impression.

Kind of meh dinner in St. Michel.


Day 6:

Gardens de Luxembourg, to sail a boat in the pond. B's was Canada.

Picasso Museum (in the Marais). Glad to get there, because it closed early. Later learned it's been fairly controversial, but we found it lovely.

Flunch for lunch. Less good than I remembered. But, wine.

Back to Pompidou for longer at the kids exhibit.

Up to Montmatre to meet Giulia's family. Coffee and cake with her mom while the girls got to know each other.

Walked around, up to Sacre Couer, enjoyed general tourism.

Ate incredible dinner at a tropical French restaurant. Totally treated like VIPs. Late night Metro ride home (get the theme here?)


Day 7:

Catch up day. Finally tried the merengue at the patisserie. So unusual.

Musee de Cluny. Loved the tapestries.

Touristy but good moles frites for lunch.

Walked around and shopped and such in the Latin Quarter.

The Concergerie to see where Marie Antoinette was jailed.

Met Rosy for champagne and a light dinner and walking around.

Went home and packed.

Walked up to the cafe on St. Germain for one more round of mousse and wine. Then up to the river to see Notre Dame lit up.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nurses' Strike

For anyone wondering why I am standing with the nurses during the current strike (the short version):
In Saint Paul, you are generally either a Regions family or a United family. We're United, and during the many times my mom was admitted there during her cancer, she had incredible nurses.
All the times but one.
In her last admission inDecember, 2016, I had gotten to her room a little late that morning because I was setting up a meeting with hospice staff. I figured I had missed the nurse's round and not had a chance to meet him. Mom and I talked for awhile, and both dozed off. When I woke up, I realized I had still not seen a nurse, and buzzed for someone. It took awhile, but her nurse on duty (a "traveler," so not that different than Allina's current "replacement staff") finally came in, took her vitals, and immediately called fro all the emergency staff (including the chaplain).
He had not "gotten around" to checking her room on the last 2 sets of rounds and in just that time, she had developed the pneumonia that killed her ten days later. He admitted he was not trained in cases like hers.
He was sent away immediately afterwards.
The rest of the nurses worked incredibly to make my mom's stay, and her eventual passing, as good as it could be.
But if they had had the support, if Allina had not been so understaffed and had to bring in travelers, if, if, if...she might have at least lived to know she had a granddaughter on the way.
Nurses are incredible people, and Allina has some of the best. They deserve fair working conditions. We, as patients, deserve not to be put in a position where they are not supported.