Monday, 31 March 2014

It's All About the Attitude: My French Lesson at the Park

This is a funny little story about how the French perceive themselves (at least the way one French man perceives himself). We go to a play ground by our house just about everyday. It's two minutes away so there is no excuse, especially when it's your kid's favorite thing to do. Cosette has made friends with another little kid that frequents the park as well. The child's father was at the park the other day and gave me a French lesson since my French is pretty much non existent. He said that when learning French it is all about the attitude. You have to get the French attitude down and then the words. He said that Americans focus to much on the words and not on the attitude. Then he started making these funny faces demonstrating the French attitude. According to him to have the French attitude you must act stuck up, disagree with everything, and be very sure of yourself. Haha! It was the funniest thing I have ever heard or seen. I guess I will work on getting my French attitude down.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes

We visited the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes aka the zoo. It exceeded my expectations greatly. I was expecting it to be a small zoo since it was in a garden with a few number of animals. It was quite the opposite. For a garden zoo it was quite large (bigger than the Central Park Zoo). There was quite the variety of animals there too. There was a monkey house, a big cat house, a snake/amphibian house, and a reptile house plus all sorts of out door exhibits. I was impressed.
We thought the flamingos were pretty funny. They were making a racket while we were looking at them. They were pecking at each other and then as a flock would run to one corner of the exhibit for a few minutes and then run back to the other side. Cosette and I were wondering what they were doing. I asked her and she said she didn't know and we laughed and laughed about it because it was so funny to us that they were running from side to side. They were one of our favorites.
Since I am talking about birds this zoo had quite the collection of them. There were some really interesting ones that I had never seen before. I especially like their section on condors. They had about four or five different types on exhibit. There was one from Northern Africa which was quite interesting to look at. There was also the Indian Condor whose head was completely bald and close to a bright red color (I think that is what it was called. It was all in French and I saw the word Indian so I assume it is the Indian Condor). It was fascinating to see these birds for the first time.

She was mesmerized by the Blue Macaws. They are beautiful birds so it is understandable why she was entranced by them. We hung out by them for a while.

One of the African condors. So cool!

The snake house was another favorite. Cosette likes to watch her shows lying down and when she does that she calls it the snake position. Seeing the snakes was very interesting to her. We would look at each tank in the snake house and try to find them. The Gabon Viper was particularly active that day silthering around and looking straight at us. It was so neat to see it move. It scales were totally acting like feet! I explained to her how snakes smell with their tongues and about how they coil around branches, it was a fun teaching experience for me. There was one lizard that gave us a start. We were looking for it and of course it was right in front of our faces, its belly on the glass facing us. It was sticking its tongue in and out, so funny.

Cosette here with a GIANT mountain goat. I was surprised at how large this thing was. The picture does not do it justice. I promise it was large in stature. 
Bonjour from this guy. he walked right up to us and starred at us while we were looking at this exhibit. I guess if someone was starring at me I would do the same. On a side note, it's antlers are huge!

The next best thing to seeing birds in the zoo is chasing after pigeons. 

Spinning around in the monkey house. She is pretty good at it.

The orangutans were the coolest apes in the monkey/ape house. I like the one up top that was wrapped up in a blanket.

Before we left the monkey exhibits Cosette decided to show off like a monkey. 
Another favorite was seeing the kangaroos. Cosette is a Winnie the Pooh fan so she was happy to see "Kanga and Roo".

My favorite thing about the zoo was that they had a raccoon exhibit. I laughed so hard when I saw that. They are so common in the states and kind of treated like a pest sometimes. I know growing up the raccoons ate our cat's food all the time. We were on a camping trip and they stole the marshmallows for our s'mores out of the trunk of the van! Those masked creatures. I had to get a photo of them even though they were asleep and you cannot see them. It is documented that there are raccoons on exhibit in the Jardin des Plantes Zoo.

The zoo had a big cat house with three leopards, two snow leopards and a  that were out. The leopards were very active and came right up to the glass pacing back and forth and bearing their teeth but not long enough for a good picture. I was too slow. 
What would a zoo be with out animal sculptures? We found a few to play on while there. 
The tradition continues!

Glad we could visit the menagerie. The Jarding des Plantes has a lot more interesting things there. We will have to go back and explore some more before we leave. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

My Funny Girl

She likes to tell knock knock jokes. She does not quite get them. She stops at "Orange who?" and starts laughing hysterically.
Whenever she has a cup, she puts it up her face and talks in to it saying "Luke, I am your father". That one is all husband's doing. 
She is currently obsessed with Winnie the Pooh and will come up to us and say "Hello Rabbit!". We respond by saying "Hello Pooh. How about lunch and help yourself". She then replies "thank you Rabbit". It's a lot of fun.
As you can see in the photo she has a "carrot" nose we made out of play-doh. She was pretending to be Olaf from Frozen. I helped her put it on and we laughed cause she thought it was funny.
I am really liking this age. She does have her moments but they are pretty fleeting. Two has been a terrific age!

Here is little video I captured of her one night singing a new song she learned at story time. Her little personality is shining in full force in this one.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday Afternoon in Toulouse

We ended our Andorra trip with a stop off in Toulouse and spent a few hours wondering around the city. It was kind of a must because when are we ever going to road trip through France again (hopefully it is in our future).

So Toulouse, the fourth largest city in France and the most important in the southwest. It was nice to see another French city other than Paris. We got a feel of what France is "really like". It was so laid back and quite compared to busy city life (and Paris is quieter than New York). It was very relaxing to walk the comparatively empty streets and be one of a few people out in some areas we ventured down.

We first visited St. Etienne Cathedral. This cathedral was one of the more beautiful cathedrals we have visited. Different parts of the cathedral were completed at different times. 


Toulouse is another Roman settlement and thus is a center of Romanesque art. One reason is that it is on the route to Santiago de Compostela (a route that many Christians in the middle ages took through France to get to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to visit the shrine of St. James). We visited the Musee des Augustins which because it was the first Sunday of the month was free (all museums in France are free on the first Sunday of the month). It has a 14th century cloisters which we enjoyed running around in. There was a flowering tree that was blooming. It made us all so happy to see the signs of spring. We are so sick of winter.

Spring is here in France! Hanging out in the cloisters at the Musee des Augustins. 
This museum has it all: paintsings, sculptures, cloisters. We got to see some French, Italian, and Flemish paintings that date back to the the 16th century. The museum is known for having paintings by Ingres, Delacrouix, Constant, and Laurents. There was a little coloring table set up for children. While Cosette was occupied coloring we were able to spent some extra time looking at the paintings in that room. Oh, it was a luxury to have a few extra minutes. Thank you Musee des Augustins!
These gargoyles normally are located horizontally close to the tops of cathedrals. These particular ones were drains. The water would flow out of their mouths. It is cool to see them up close. 
Plac du Capitole and Hotel de Ville. One of the grandest palaces left over from the Renaissance period. There is a large plaza in front with a lot of cafes and shops. It was a good place to take a break.


Lyndon wanted to stop off at Les Jacobins. It is a church that was built in the 1200s in the Gothic style. It has a palm vault ceiling and instead of having a nave with two side aisles it has two main aisles with no nave. It is also built out of brick instead of stone which makes it a very non traditional cathedral. Lyndon loves seeing different types of cathedrals. The photo above to the right you is Lyndon standing in front of Les Jacobins. There was construction being done on the facade so we could not get the best picture. Those building have to be kept up. 
The Garonne river.
Family photo in Toulouse. As you can see Cosette is eating a delicious pastry because we found a delicious boulangerie patisserie. Oh man, it was delicious! Best pan au chocolat ever! The food just enhances the experience. 

We were happy we stopped in Toulouse. Our time here is a once in a life time opportunity and we do not want to miss out on anything. I think we are doing a pretty good job . xoxo

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Madrid Part 2

Our Madrid adventure continues! We spent some time in the Puerta del Sol which is location of one of the original gates surrounding the city in the 1500s. Lyndon and Cosette are standing in front of the famous bear and madrone tree statue. It is the symbol that is on Madrid's coat of arms.
We spent a good chunk of the day at Parque del Buen Retiro. It is a huge park like Central Park which is probably why I liked it so much. I miss NYC a lot. It is so nice to have these similar places in other countries to remind me of what I have to look forward to back at home. And like Central Park you will find Madrilenos hanging out here and relaxing. It is the perfect place to do so. 

We rented a row boat and took the the lake. It reminds me so much of Central Park and the Bethesda Fountain area which made me love it even more.  
Happiest baby ever! He is always smiling.

Husband in his element. He has big dreams and one of them is to sail around the world. I have not agreed to it yet, but rowing around the lake was pretty fun. 
Me and my babies. Cosette loved being on the boat. Henry is always happy especially when Cosette is around. He adores his big sister.  
I took a turn trying to row the boat. I got the hang of it eventually.

In another part of the park. 
I was ready for this shot. Not! Love this Italian style garden. 
Puerto de Alacala is a stunning arch way right by Parque del Buen Retiro. It is pretty stunning and hard not to pass up taking a picture with it. 

Ingelsia de San Jeronimo de Real. It is the church that was favored by the Spanish royals. Some were even crowned here.


We spent a little bit of time at the Museo del Prado. It is the best art museum in Madrid. A lot of Valezquez is housed there which we made a be line for once inside. We saw a lot of his work but seeing the Las Meninas was the highlight of the Prado. It was beautiful. Cosette kept talking about all the "princesses" in the painting. We all enjoyed it. 

Cosette really liked Daddy's sunglasses so much that she wore them more than he did. 

Templo de Debod is an Egyptian temple that was sent block by block to Spain as a thank you gift from Egypt for helping to save other Egyptian monuments in a flood. 

Oh the architecture! This city is so beautiful!

Had to end with this picture. Husband is a beast! He was tired of bumping the stroller down the stairs and walking like this was an easier option. He is the best!

So long Madrid. We will be seeing you again.
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