Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paris Finale: Here’s to Clichés

On our final day in Paris we had just one goal... to get a picture of the Munchkin in front of the Eiffel Tower.

But I didn't want just any picture. I wanted an iconic picture. I didn't care how clichéd or staged, I wanted Madeline wearing a black and white stripped shirt and a beret.

We took about a MILLION pictures, but I think we definitely got some AWESOME shots!

And my personal favorite...

Pretty good, non?

After we finished our mini photo session, we made our way over to the Jardin du Luxembourg. A beautiful park in the middle of Paris, it was a great place to have a picnic lunch and watch the ducks swim around the fountain.

It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend!

So that was the end of our time in Paris, but not in Europe.

More on those adventures soon,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's 4:30 am.

My Dad will be in to wake me in about 15 minutes.

I've been awake for about 20 minutes now.

My body knows it's time to go, and just wants to get the whole thing over with.

Yes, I know I have not finished tellling the tales of Miss M and my adventures over here, but those will have to wait until I get home.

Cause today's the day.

God I hate departure day!

Even though I am excited to get home and see my hubby, who I miss and I know misses me terribly...

Even though I know it's definately not the last visit we'll make...

Even though I'm looking forward to getting back to our routine and my own bed...

Jeez, I hate departure day!

I start to dread it a couple days before.

My stomach starts to tie up in knots, cause I know the inevitable is coming.

It used to be hard to say goodbye, knowing I wouldn't see my parents until...

But now it's worse...

I have an international family.

We are spread all over kingdom come.

I've always kinda loved that.

All the potential vacation destinations!

But now...

I have a friend whose family lives in England, and she said something to me that has really started to sink in as departure day has drawn nearer.

We were talking about how after having children, you really start to miss your family more then ever.

You really start to wish they lived nearer so they could be there to be apart of all the fun and important stuff happening as your child grows.

But, the hardest part she told me were the goodbyes.

"As the children get older" she said, "They start to be aware of saying goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and then the whole thing just becomes harder."

Aw jeez, I've always hated departure days...

But if it's possible, I think I hate them even more now!!

Had a fantastic time, but the party's over.

Here's to web conferencing!!



Monday, October 11, 2010

Paris Part III – I Couldn’t Stop Smiling!

On my first trip to Paris our group visited Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, located at the summit of Montmartre. Of all the amazing sights I saw on my first trip to Europe, this spot definitely stuck in mind. It has got to be the most amazing European basilica I’ve ever seen. It sits atop the mountain and practically glows in the sunlight, offering breathtaking views of the city below, and an overwhelming feeling of magic and wonder.

Being over 10 years ago and seriously brief, as our teachers quickly redirected us to our next educational experience, I’ve always felt my first visit was somewhat lacking. So I really wanted to go back, see the cathedral again and explore the area properly.

After a morning filled with light and beauty at the Musee D’Orsay I was more then ready for an encore. So we jumped on the nearest Metro line and made our way to the base of Montmartre.

Miracle of miracles, we even managed not to get lost this time!

Exiting our train we found a stairway on our left and an elevator on our right. Now, although we had Madeline in her stroller, we had gotten really good at hefting her up and down the steep stairs, stroller and all, on our many trips through the Metro system (FYI to all my readers with small children, the Paris Metro system is NOT stroller friendly!)

So when faced with a choice between the stairs or having to wait in line for the elevator, we thought, “Ah, no problem, we’ve got this!” I guess more accurately I should say my parents took on the challenge, or at least that is what it turned into. With my Dad carrying the front and Michelle carrying the back we began to climb.

And climb and climb and climb…

This was one SERIOUS set of stairs. It just kept going and going in a never ending spiral. My Dad just kept saying, “One more flight… Ooops, okay… this is the last one… Or maybe not… We’re almost there… Errrrr, or… OKAY THIS IS THE LAST ONE…. oops….”

YIKES! Poor Michelle, she really had the hard part as she had to hold approximately 40 pounds slightly above her head for the entire climb. Good thing she is one fit lady!

FINALLY, we could hear the sounds of the street and see daylight and so with a sign of relief my parents finally put Miss M down and we made our way to the funicular (think cable car/mini railway up the mountain). I mean after climbing from the subway hauling the Munchkin and all her stuff, we had absolutely ZERO intention of climbing up the hundreds of steps to Sacré-Cœur.

Here are Madeline and I in the Funicular car,

She had a lot to “tell” me and point at as our car moved up the hill.

We exited the funicular, walked about 50 steps and TA DA!!

Was I right, or was I right? Every time I look at this picture I get goose bumps and it instantly takes my breath away. It’s just so darn beautiful!

We enjoyed the sights and sounds on the steps of the basilica, including getting a picture of Madeline and I in front of the beautiful view,

and then made our way around behind the church where the Artist’s market was. This is what I was REALLY looking forward to.

As I walked into the square, I wanted to jump up and down like a little kid on Christmas morning. Stationed around the square were about 50 artists displaying their original works. All different styles and colours schemes I felt like a kid in a candy store. I knew I wanted to buy something, but the prices were a bit scary, and there were so many choices it was overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting things to be cheap, after all these are pieces of art lovingly completed by passionate artists, but YIKES! I must have walked around the square three times before I sat down at one of the surrounding cafes to think things over.

While I pondered what I wanted to do I enjoyed a delicious glass of red wine. Here’s the whole fam, soaking up the ambiance.

Ready to get out there again, I got up and made a few more circuits. When I was finished this time I had narrowed it down to three choices, but I still felt undecided and unsure I could afford what I really wanted. Returning again to where Michelle, Dad and Madeline were camped out I sat down with a sigh. Michelle leaned over and asked me what I was thinking. I told her I still wasn’t sure. The paintings were more then I really wanted to spend, and I just couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I was willing to make that kind of investment on.

That’s when my parents dropped the biggest surprise of the whole weekend on me. An announcement that left me smiling for hours and days afterwards.

Michelle told me that she and my Dad had a choice for me. They could either give me some money for my birthday to spend however I wanted, or they would buy me a painting.

Ummm, hard decision right?!?!

So to commemorate the big 3-0 I have coming up Michelle helped me choose the most absolutely gorgeous painting ever.

Here is the man who painted it. His name is George.

Could he look any more like the stereotypical Parisian Artist? He was so sweet I just wanted to squeeze him. I felt shy about taking his picture, so Michelle came with me to ask :)

Here I am holding my treasure. All I wanted to do was sit there and stare at it, but I really had to keep it wrapped up to protect it til I got it home.

But, of course, I wouldn’t dream of closing this post without a picture so you can all enjoy its beauty to. So here it is,

My AWESOME painting of Montmartre.


I can hardly wait to get home and have it framed.

Feeling seriously spoiled!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paris Part II – Degas, Van Gough and Pissarro, Oh My!

Not to sound snooty, but this mini holiday was actually my third visit to the French capital.

I had my first taste of Paris when I was 17. I scrimped and saved and begged my relatives and friends to give me only money for every conceivable gift giving occasion. All this and some serious help from my parents and grandparents and I was able to go on a ten day March Break trip to Paris and Venice with my school’s travel club. It was a lot of fun and it officially kindled by devotion to all things Europe, but it was definitely a whirlwind trip. We saw all the important sights in record time and the result was I only sort of remembered the experience.

Then the summer I was 20, I was living with my family in Germany, and I met my now husband. At the end of our romantic summer courtship it was time for me to go back to complete my third year of university in Canada. Dreading the looming separation we decided to spend a long weekend in Paris. Again we saw a bunch of the important and interesting sights, while also adding a few neither of us had ever seen before. It was wonderful and romantic and full of laughter.

But at the end of it, there were still a few things I had never done, that I really wanted to do.

So when my Dad sent me an email, before Madeline and I arrived, asking if there was anywhere that I really wanted to go while I was in Europe, my mind kept coming around again and again to those missed opportunities in Paris.

So, it was thanks to my fantastic parents that I found myself in line to enter the Musee D’Orsay at 11:30 in the morning on our first full day. Here I am,

Not only did they make it possible for me to visit this temple of awesomeness, but they also took the Munchkin for some Grandparents Time so I could enjoy the work of the masters to the fullest without interruptions of “Mama? Mama? Mama?” every few minutes.

Parents of the year? I think so!!!!

So I’m waiting in line to enter the Musee. Here was the line,

Ummm, this wasn’t exactly part of the plan. In fact it was a line like this that had kept me from my artistic Mecca in the past. Remember my comment in “Paris Part I” about getting lost?

So, the plan was to get up and get to the museum when it opened at 9:30 am. I’d spend the morning soaking up the colour and brilliance. We’d meet for lunch and then head on to our next fun filled destination.

We started by waking up at 9:00 a.m. By the time we were washed, dressed and had some food in our bellies it was about 10:00 a.m. We were already behind the eight ball, but hey we were in Paris, so whatever, right?

Heading into Gare du Nord, I asked my parents if they knew which subway line we were going to take. “Yup!” my Dad replied, “Got it all mapped out!”


An hour and a half later… after carrying Madeline up and down various stairways… second guessing and stumbling along… consulting and re-consulting maps and signs… ending up on the right train, but going the wrong direction… then find ourselves sitting on the wrong platform, waiting to go the right direction… finally running to the right platform and missing our train by seconds… cursing quietly under our breath while trying to keep our smiles firmly fastened…. we made it to the Musee D’Orsay.

Leaving me in line with a time set to meet, my parents took Madeline off for some Parisian fun of their own.

Luckily for me the line moved really quickly and I was inside the museum in about 20 minutes. Photography and videography are strictly prohibited inside, so unfortunately I can not share the full beauty that is the Musee D’Orsay, but suffice to say that for as amazing as I imagined it would be… it was… and more.

On each of my previous visits to Paris, I’d been on a mission to see the works of my favorite artists. Van Gough, Degas, Monet. Also I was eager to experience the works of artists I had only heard in passing, Pissarro, Cezanne, Toulouse-Letrac. I have a serious love for impressionistic art. The colours, the imagination, the techniques, the genius! It was my assumption that such fabulous works would be housed in the Louvre, but after two visits without ever seeing the masters I was looking for, I figured out that I was looking in the wrong place. Although the Louvre is stuffed to overflowing with many phenomenal works, the pieces I was lusting after were housed elsewhere.

As I entered the museum I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. Housed in an old train station the Musee D’Orsay is GOURGEOUS! The domed ceiling is BREATHTAKING! After taking a few moments to appreciate the architecture, I made a beeline for the impressionist wing.

Not to sound like a teenager but… O.M.G.!!!

Standing inches from pure genius I was utterly giddy. I seriously could not wipe the smile from my face. So much of the brilliance and subtlety of these works just does not translate when you view photos and prints. The work done by Degas has not in the past been my favorite, but in person… I can not even describe the brilliance adequately. The majority of the pieces I saw were done with pastels. I had no idea that that kind of vivid richness could even be achieved using pastels. And the techniques he used?!?! The slightest of scribbles here, a bit of shading there, a combination of colours I would not even dream of to achieve a realism… in the end you have…. well… a masterpiece!

There was just so much to take in!

My three hours spent roaming through the great works was time I will always remember. Discovering new artists I was not previously familiar with. Sitting in front of a marble statue so perfectly carved that the folds of fabric look REAL. Soaking up the quiet beauty and culture, all I can say is that ultimately my long awaited trip to this Paris hotspot was good for my soul. I left feeling inspired, humbled and honestly wanting to take some art classes!

And how was Miss M fairing on her own “Adventures Francais” you might ask? Well…

A visit to a beautiful park in order to enjoy the great weather and pose with Grandpapa for a picture.

Then on to the Louvre for a little education in the classics,

with a quick stopover at the fountain for a little fun with Grandmaman.

Quickly followed by a light lunch, which she kindly shared with the local wildlife.

With a final stop at another beautiful, historic, and fun fountain.

The result, one serious wore out little girl.

The fact that she is sleeping in her stroller is a first and I'm told resulted in an exultant Grandparents high five once achieved.

Our first morning in Paris may have been a bit frustrating and chaotic, bit it was quickly overshadowed, and the evening to come replaced any memory of it completely!

I’ll tell you all about that bit of unbelievable next time, but suffice to say it pretty much ROCKED MY SOCKS!!!

Still dreaming dreams full of colour and beauty,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paris Part I – Frappé La Rue

Preface: When my Dad first got together with Michelle, he worked really hard at improving his French. Michelle is French Canadian and so Dad really wanted to improve for when he went home to meet her family. Through hard work and perseverance my Dad’s French improved dramatically, and now he is pretty darn good. However, when learning any language, there are times when a common phrase just doesn’t translate. The title of this post is born from just such an instance.

We were heading out on the long trip to Quebec to see Michelle’s family. Everyone had used the washroom, double checked that they had everything and was safely belted into the car. My Dad looked back at all us kids and said,

“Ready? Alright! Let’s frappé la rue!”

His declaration was met with blank stares and then a burst of laughter from the French speakers in the car. See, “frappé” could translate to “hit”, and “la rue” to “the road”. So my Dad thought he was saying, “Let’s hit the road!”…

Ever heard the saying “Lost in Translation”? Yup…

That day an inside joke was born. So that whenever we are about to embark on a trip as a family, someone will announce, “Alright, let’s frappé la rue!”

Therefore, it is only appropriate that I start this post with the same declaration. Because, “frappé la rue” is exactly what we did. On Friday at noon we picked Michelle up from work, made a quick stop at home and then hit the road, direction Paris.

See, the signs we whizzed by on the high speed European highways confirmed it…

All in all the drive went very smoothly. My pint sized travelling superstar did amazingly.

Four hours on the road, including a traffic-jam right at the end as we drove into the Paris city center, and still smiling! My Dad declared that Madeline was welcome to travel with him anytime. She didn’t start to fuss until the very end, when quite frankly, we were all ready to start whining and crying.

After fighting our way through the CRAZY Parisian traffic, I mean honestly the traffic was terrifying at times, we arrived at our hotel.

The New Hotel.

Umm…. I can’t say it was new, or really anything close to new, but the location was IDEAL. Here is the view from our room.

This is Gare du Nord. One of the main metro/train stations in Paris. So it was a piece of cake to get to our desired locations all weekend.

Well, mostly a piece of cake.

Oh, what the hell. I know my siblings are reading this and shaking their heads. You guys know full well we got lost more then once. It’s not a family vacation unless we get lost!

I’ll be sure to fill you in with the complete details of that adventure and our first day in Paris in my next post.

Enjoying every minute!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh, Oktoberfest? Um… JA!

When my Dad and Michelle sent me an email several weeks before our departure asking if I was interested in attending the large Oktoberfest celebration on the base I believe it took me about a nanosecond to say, “Um, JA!”

The first "Oktoberfest" was held on October 12, 1810, in Munich, Germany. Originally it was one big wedding reception, celebrating the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The event was so successful, that they decided to do it again and again and again. It has since become the largest festival in the world, with some 6 million visitors a year.

Although, the festivities on the base in Geilenkirchen are considerably more humble than the fanfare in Munich, the elements are still the same. Lots of traditional beer, lots of traditional food, lots of traditional music and lots of rip-roaring-foot-stomping-gut-busting good times.

Germans have been perfecting the art of throwing a good party for over 200 years and believe me when I tell you they are now full fledged “Masters of the Fete”.

Arriving as the doors opened on the big night, priority number one was to secure a table. Traditional Oktoberfest tables are long and skinny, with long benches on either side. The idea being that everyone, whether they know each other or not, sits side by side, drinks in hand, to laugh and toast and celebrate TOGETHER! Even if the person sitting next to you isn’t a friend, they will be by the time the night is over.

Settled into our seats and surrounded by current and soon to be friends, the next priority of the night was food, and of course, DRINKS! Traditional drink at Oktoberfest is a stein of beer, and when the German’s serve you a beer they don’t mess around! Here are Michelle and I ready to start the night right!

(In the spirit of full disclosure, this was not actually my beer. At the time of this picture I was actually drinking some REALLY excellent German red wine. But since I didn’t want to look like a wimp with a teeny tiny glass of wine, I posed with my Dad’s beer. I promise that later on I did consume TWO of these massive mugs of ale, and as you can imagine, I was feeling no pain by the end of the night!)

So… seats? CHECK. Drinks? CHECK. Now… FOOD!

When at Oktoberfest, I feel like there are only two acceptable food choices, regardless of what is on the menu. Bratwurst or Schweinshaxe, also known as Ham Hock or Pig’s Knuckle. Since I can get a bratwurst in most any place in the U.S., there was only one choice for me,

YUM!!! It’s like your own little delicious pork roast! Jeez, my mouth is watering right now just remembering the flavor and tenderness! Given the size of this mammoth meal, Michelle and I shared, and then when we couldn’t eat anymore Dad ate what was left.

With a full belly, and a drink in hand the rowdy merriment began!! Being that my parents rarely get to spoil their children who all live half way around the world from them, my money was no good on this night. So often you would find my Dad at the end of the table pantomiming to Michelle and I, trying to ask if we needed another drink. There was a lot of “Three words? Sounds like… I, you, us???” Quickly realizing that as a family we really suck at charades, I made this extremely effective sign in the attempt to make things clearer,


It worked like a charm, and for the rest of the night whenever my glass was empty I would simply hold up the sign and more beer would appear.

Yes, I am fully aware I am living a charmed life. Please let me enjoy it while I can!

As the drinks flowed the Band played louder and louder and the night moved into full swing. At every German festival such as this that I’ve been to, the Band plays a large part in directing the merriment. One popular custom by the Band is to lead the crowd in a toast. As a traditional Oompah-pah song would come to a close the band would yell “Zigga Zagga, Zigga Zagga, Oi, Oi, Oi!” and the crowd would join in. Raising their glasses and standing on benches, toasting to friends, family, country and GOOD TIMES!

Prone to being wallflowers, it took a little persuading, but eventually I got my parents up on the benches.

Enter sarcasm……... HERE! My parents are ANYTHING but wallflowers. They love a good party and can often be found leading the chant, song, dance, toast… WHATEVER!


CHECK!!! At one point, my Dad hauled me onto the dance floor for a traditional German ditty. A word of advice to you all, dancing to Oompah-pah in heels it HARD! I’ve never felt so uncoordinated in my life. But it was okay, cause later I felt pretty,

OH SO PRETTY!! But not as pretty as this guy,

They had these cones all over the base. Blocking off areas guest were not allowed to roam. Somehow this guy got a hold of one and decided it would make a fantastic headpiece. I blame the giant mugs of delicious beer.

Finally, one of our group received this,

This is called a Lebkuchenherzen. They are very popular at German festivals and gathering. They are gifts between friends and lovers in order to express their feeling for one another. After receiving this one we checked with the Germans we were sitting near to verify what it said. We were told it had two meanings,

#1: The name for a dog


#2: The word for someone who has perpetual, unmanageable, sticking up everywhere bed head.

Okay... how is that a term of endearment you want to give your loved ones???

About seven years ago I attended this festival for the first time with my hubby who was then my fiancé. Here we are,

I can’t get over how young we were!! Anyway, he gave me a Lebkuchenherzen, and for the life of me I don’t remember what it said. But now I am starting to wonder…

I hope it said “I love you” and not “I guess you’re alright… for now”.

Off to Paris this weekend in search of delicious edible treats instead of inedible cookies with bizarre messages on them.

Au Revoir,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

City Baby in Deutschland

Alrighty, so in my last post “And then…” you heard the nightmare trip we took to get over here. Well, despite our jetlag and exhaustion, the next day we jumped right in with both feet, eager and ready to start enjoying time with my parents.

My Dad and Michelle live in a cute little German village called Harzelt. It’s situated in what is known as the Tri-Border region. So named, it’s the area of Europe where Germany, Holland and Belgium all butt up against each other. It is not at all uncommon to drive around in this area and continually pop in and out of each country without even realizing it.

The village my parents live in is surrounded by multiple other little villages, which are ultimately clumped around the NATO Base where my Dad works. It’s a beautiful little area, which perfectly personifies what you would imagine European Country to be. Little red brick houses, quaint churches in the middle of village squares, twisting narrow cobble stoned streets and of course fields of animals and agriculture which have been tended by the same families for centuries.

In short, it’s like living in a postcard. Here are a few pics to give you an idea.

These were taken today, while Dad, Madeline and I were on a bike ride around the nearby villages. My parents are BIG TIME cycling enthusiasts and Dad couldn’t wait to get the Munchkin into an infant seat on his bike.

We got this one a few villages over in a larger city called Sittard, located in the Netherlands. It’s my Dad’s opinion that if you need anything to do with cycling, you go to Holland. He’s sure that the Dutch are born able to ride a bike. He often says first the bike comes out, then the baby.

Backing up a little, on our second day here we went for a walk around Harzelt, so Madeline could see all the local farm animals. I mean what is more exciting to a toddler then farm animals? Especially a City Baby like Madeline.

Although, Madeline saw lots of animals this year at the county fair, that experience could in no way compare with seeing cows and horses and ducks and chickens, and even emu in the fields. Running around, mooing and neighing and quacking and clucking and…. well… whatever emu do… Madeline was in heaven.

My Dad had a blast seeing her delight and reactions to the animals. She would point at the cows and exclaim, “Oooooooooo!”

This was both an utterance of awe, as well as what she believes a cow says. My daughter can manage to yell “MO!” at the top of her lungs, but when it comes to the sound a cow makes it’s “Ooooo”, not “Moo”. So, now whenever we are driving down the road and we see a bunch of cows (not a bunch, a herd… that’s just for you Dad), she squeals “Oooooo” until someone acknowledges, the cows. Needless to say, this happens quite frequently as cows are EVERYWHERE over here.

The day after our farm animal safari, it was time for my little City Baby to experience some real country playtime. Where better to have a little down and dirty fun then, in the dirt!

My Dad purposely left his garden unattended at the end of the summer, so that Madeline could have some fun playing and digging away to her heart’s content.

She dug…

And helped Grandpapa dig…

And looked at worms…

And eventually gave up on a shovel, cause her hands worked better.

Then she ran up and down the hill in Grandmaman and Grandpapa’s back yard.

Get a load of that dirt! I always thought I had a girly girl on my hands, but I guess she’s a little bit city and a little bit country.

And I think I like that…

I think I like that A LOT!

No better way to tell your kid had fun then this,

Good Times,


Monday, September 27, 2010

And then...

After days of next to no sleep, last night I finally got 10 straight blissful hours in dreamland. Between Miss M’s jetlag and my own, sleep has been hard to come by since we arrived. Throw in a night of Oktoberfest debauchery for good measure (the post on that one is on its way I promise), and you have one seriously exhausted me. Barely able to function let alone write intelligent and witty blog posts.

But today I am feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager to begin documenting our adventures. In order to begin recounting our outs-and-abouts thus far, I must first recount the marathon it took to get here.

Our journey started out right on track. We arrived, checked in and were through security by 4:30 am, immediately followed by a much needed visit to Starbucks.

Had I only known what the travel gods had in store for me, I would have asked for a triple shot in my White Chocolate Mocha.

Our flight from PDX to Salt Lake City felt like a dream. Madeline’s eyes grew wide with wonder as our plane left the ground. Sitting on my lap in our window seat she babbled away excitedly as the cars and houses grew very small and the clouds flew past. In this age where travel by air is no longer the modern marvel it used to be, seeing her delight and awe was inspiring. Reminding me of a time when I used to find air travel exciting and new. Soon after we reached our cruising altitude, she grew very still on my lap. Our early start had finally gotten the better of her and she’d fallen fast asleep. She slept the remainder of the two hour flight.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of the idyllic, fairytale portion of this tale. Please prepare yourselves, cause from here on out things get messy!

Very shortly after arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport, all hell broke loose. While sitting happily at our gate, the one announcement most dreaded by all travelers was made. Our flight was delayed.

Having a connection time in Atlanta of a mere 50 minutes, this delay was a big BIG problem. After what felt like forever, but was actually only about 5 or 10 minutes we got the final verdict. Due to a hydraulic leak, our flight was cancelled.


Cue instant panic and pandemonium. As everyone around me wiped out cell phones and clamored to get in line, another announcement was made that headquarters would be automatically rebooking each passenger for a new flight. Oh, did I mention this was a full flight?

Yup… good times.

Following the desk attendant’s simple instructions, I walked across the concourse, scanned our old boarding pass and received two meal vouchers and a new itinerary. So much for the food vouchers, our new itinerary had us on a flight departing for Newark in about 3 minutes!

This is when Hollywood would cut to the scene of Madeline and I making a mad dash through the airport in order to make our flight, right?

Save it. I promise that scene will make an appearance later in this tale.

Thanks to a stroke of much needed luck the gate for our Newark flight was a mere twenty feet from where I stood, and Miss M and I were rapidly boarded. Five hours later we landed in Newark, a bit tired and seriously hungry, but all in all not too much the worse for wear.

According to our new itinerary we had two hours til our next flight to Charles De Gaulle, so priority number one was to find some food. Since I was travelling with a toddler, McDonalds was the order of the day. A piece of cake to locate in an airport, right?


What I really needed to keep the Munchkin fat and happy was some Chicken McNuggets, what I ended up with was some sort of weird cheesy flatbread thingy, with a sweet type of sauce on it that no self respecting almost 2 year old would deign to put in their mouth. I had packed a ton of nibbles that Miss M normally can’t get enough of, but of course wanted nothing to do with at this point. So…

Cue the mini Oreos.

Not the most nutritious lunch there ever was and maybe not the most brilliant choice when you are about to be stuck in a flying tin can for 6 hours, but hey sometimes you just gotta do, what you gotta do.

With my toddler once again sweet and happy, we made our way over to the gate to get our new boarding cards. We still had at least 20 minutes til our flight was scheduled to board, so I figured we had lots of time to have new cards issued. I mean our original cards only took about 5 minutes to issue, so this couldn’t be that much harder, right?


Because Madeline was travelling as a lap baby during this trip, she needed to have paper tickets issued. Of course the tickets we originally received in the mail several weeks before our journey began were now useless, so new tickets needed to be issued. Apparently infant tickets are NOT easy to issue.

So, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Eventually the plane was fully boarded, except for us. We were still waiting for the Munchkin’s new paper tickets. Luckily, our gate was right in front of where the planes take off. Miss M was pleased as punch to watch and announce with a point and a “Mama! Mama! Mama! Pane!” as each plane took to the skies.

Finally, with paper ticket in hand, the attendants hustled us on board. The reward for our wait…

One pair of “Preference” seats. The most coveted, spacious, and awesome of all seats with the exception of Business and First Class. Our seats had a ton of leg room and were located on the plane’s bulkhead, meaning there was no one in front of us. Plus, the most amazing of all attendants on the planet, was sure to book our “preference” seat with an empty seat next to it. For the next 6 hours it was like Madeline and I were ensconced in our own little private space. Very nice.

The HUGE downside… because we waited so long to board, my stroller could not be gate checked and had to go in the hold with all the other luggage, to be collected at our final destination, Dusseldorf.

So when we arrived in Paris, I was without stroller. Of all the times throughout the whole trip when I REALLY needed my stroller, this airport was it! With Miss M. strapped onto my front in the Ergo Carrier and both our carry-on bags strapped to my back I walked as fast as I could, huffing and puffing to the transfer desk to get my final set of boarding passes. My connection time in Paris was extremely short, so in an effort to cut down on wasted time, I shoved the important tickets and things they had issued me in my back pocket, for easy access.

This move was almost my complete undoing.

I arrived at the transfer desk sweating like crazy, completely exhausted from the long flight and almost run from my arrival gate, carrying about 45 pounds, only to reach into my back pocket and find NOTHING! My tickets had fallen out.

Near to tears at this point I walked/ran back the way I had come scanning the ground for my tickets. About a ¼ of the way back the way I had already walked, I found the tickets. Walk/run again, back to the transfer desk to stand in line, to wait for my boarding passes.

And wait, and wait, and wait.

By this point I am near to hysterics. All I want is to make this flight. It’s the last one! A mere 55 minutes and I would be on the ground in Dusseldorf. My long day would be over!

FINALLY!! I got up to the desk; the attendant issued my boarding passes and told me my flight was boarding at 9:05. “What time is it now?” I kindly asked. “Oh My!” she responded, “It’s 9:05 now.” “How far do I have to my gate?” I asked. “Oh not far at all,” she responded.

Okay, I think maybe the European definition of “not that far” and the North American definition are TOTALLY different.

Cut to the “race through the airport” scene I promised above. I hustled as fast as I was physically possible with my load, through security checks, up escalators, down moving walkways, declaring “Excuse moi!” the whole way until at LONG last we arrived at our departure gate.

This is when we were told, the plane was delayed and to take a seat as they were not boarding yet.

Yup, the powers that be love me THAT much!

Should I also mention that we then boarded a bus that took us to our plane, that was located right back in the same location the plane I had just disembarked and run halfway across the airport from, was parked?


Approximately 55 minutes later, we landed in Dusseldorf. I think I could have kissed the tarmac. After a brief visit with the lost luggage department…

What? You actually thought after all of that my luggage would have made it with me? Ya, sure. Not likely.

Anyway, after visiting lost luggage we excited out into Germany were my Dad was waiting to greet us. He took this picture…

He made sure we were standing in front of the lost and found sign. After everything, it seemed entirely appropriate.

And now you know why it has taken this long to get my feet under me again.

Glad to be in Deutschland. Until next time,


Monday, September 20, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

Our flight leaves at o'dark and way to early tomorrow morning, so in an attempt to sleep just a little bit longer, my sweet husband called Delta Airlines to see if we could check in tonight. After a quick discussion we were assured that customers are welcome to check in up to 24 hours in advance of their flight.


Cue to us quickly scarfing dinner, loading our luggage and Miss M. into the car and hotfooting it to the airport. After parking, unloading and heading to the Delta desk, we were told that although Delta Airlines does welcome it's customers to take advantage of early check in, at Portland Airport they are not equipped to hold luggage overnight, so...


At least we are ready to go at 3:45 a.m... (no that is not a typo, you read that correctly) we are leaving the house at 3:45 A.M. tomorrow morning. Ugh!


You better meet me at our gate on Wednesday morning with a GIGANTIC cup of coffee.

Anyone know where I can buy a coffee I.V.?