Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “The adventures of Libby.”

Paris Part III: Churches and Walking

On Monday, May 22, we spent the day mostly walking. My mother wanted me to go to La Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse on Rue du Bac. So, we decided to make this day a more leisurely day and walk around Paris. We took the Metro to an area near Rue du Bac. It was obviously not a usual tourist spot. No big shops. Not many people.

We did come across a sock/stocking (la chaussette) shop. I bought a pair of beautiful socks and a pair of tights. They were knitted with amazing designs and colors. I am pretty sure the shop was Boutique Gerard.

We made it to the chapel. We only took one picture while in there. It was a very pretty chapel and we had arrived just as a mass was starting. I was given a shawl to cover my shoulders as my dress had spaghetti straps. This chapel has some interesting history. It is where the miraculous medal comes from that many Catholics wear. St. Catherine had visions of this medal and she was able to have them created. They are now found worldwide.

After the mass, we meandered around some the back streets on a path that led towards Notre Dame. We ate at a wonderful little pub, saw some charming stores, and officers on horseback. One of them posed for me.

The Bon Marche we had in our town was never so grand as this and did not have an armed guard at the door. We did not go in here.

Dinosaur graffiti. *love*

A centaur weapon creature.

A restaurant with a lot of vines.

After walking along the smaller streets, our first view of Notre Dame was a little awe-inspiring. Gabriel had been a little reluctant to visit the Cathedral, but he was glad that I had dragged him to it. It was much more impressive than he had imagined it to be.

Experiencing this beautiful building is something that needs to be done in person. I can post as many pictures as I please, but the artistry is somewhat lost in the pictures. I did my best:

After exploring Notre Dame, we wandered around the area before heading back to our hotel. We listened to a talented violinist and allowed a street vendor to talk us into having our caricatures drawn.

 

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Paris Part II: Le Louvre

I took most of my 700 pictures at Le Louvre. I have had a lot of trouble deciding how many and which ones to share. I love art museums and The Louvre has a special place in my heart. It not only displays artworks, but it is itself a work of art. We spent three days of our trip exploring the museum and we still didn’t see everything. So, this post is mostly just going to be a ton of pictures.

Day 1: Saturday May 20

We took a lot of time browsing through Greek statues and le Pavillon de l’Horloge.

 

Day 2: Sunday May 21

Sundays seem to be a day filled with music in Paris. There is always music, but there was a lot more music on Sunday than on the other days. We kept the window open in our hotel room while we slept and we were woken up by piano music. Music echoed throughout the Metro halls as we made our way to the museum. Once we got to le Louvre, there was a huge group of people dancing in a courtyard across from the museum. We bought crepes at a vendor and watched them dance. I got some pictures of them from one of the Louvre windows on the second floor.

This photo was taken a couple of hours after we had first seen them. There were about three times as many people when we had first gotten to this area.

There were also mimes at the Louvre when we got there. Fucking clowns.

The caffè was delicious, then we started on our second day.

Our third day at the Louvre was a few days after the first two. I decided to just put our Louvre visits on one post.

Day 3: Thursday May 25

A couple of days before, I had surprised Gabriel with a secret meetup with an old friend. Jessica had been to Paris many times, but had never gone to the Louvre. Or L’Arc de Triomphe. Or many other very touristy places. We had a lot of fun dragging her around with us.

Music on the Metro.

A young artist sketching. It made my heart happy to see this boy so involved in his artwork.

Probably my favorite selfie.

MySpace-style picture with an extremely antique mirror.

I have an obsession with teapots. I love them.

Marie Antoinette surrounded herself with very strange things. This dog was one of the items she kept in her rooms.

Obligatory viewing of the Mona Lisa.

 

These pictures were among my favorites. It was really difficult to figure out which ones to use. I have taken my time in going through them. It makes me happy to revisit this trip. I may have extended this blog post just because I really have enjoyed looking through these pictures over and over.

Paris Part I

Excited for our second honeymoon.

This is really just about our flight and arrival in Paris. Our trip took about 14 hours altogether. We had a quick flight to Seattle, then a layover for somewhere around four hours. The flight from Seattle to Paris was about 9.5 hours.

When we arrived in Seattle, we were just too exhausted to do much more than just sit and eat a small breakfast. Then we sat some more. An exciting beginning, I know.

Our flight was finally ready for boarding, so I put on my awesome face mask. My white blood cells had been so low the week before this trip, that my oncologist had me get two shots of Neulasta to get my WBC up to a more normal range. Or at least out of the very dangerous range I was in. My count went down due to a new treatment I had started. I will probably write about that in another post.

Anyway, my new mask is quite pretty. It does get warm, but it does not fog up my glasses like the paper ones do. It has an N99 rating, which means it should keep out 99% of contaminants. For those who are curious, it is a Cambridge Mask Company in the Austen style.

The Austen by Cambridge Masks

Side note: medical masks make people nervous on airplanes. Or at least a lot of people give you strange looks. Whatever. I am not getting your dirty germs today, bitches!

Our flight was 9 1/2 hours of sleeplessness. We did try to sleep, but the sick baby two rows behind and to the side of us was super miserable and let everyone know it. The poor guy had a terrible cough (I was super thankful for my mask) and he just cried for the entire flight. Which also caused all of babies in our area to wail for the entire flight. So no sleeping.

We were not near a window seat, but I did get a few outside pictures of Mount Rainier.

Otherwise, I had a selection of shows and movies to view. Which I didn’t. I spent my time playing silly games and reading The MagiciansI got up a few times to walk around. I watched our trip as we advanced over Canada, then Greenland, skimming past Iceland, going over Scotland and England, to finally arrive in Paris.

It was a relief to get off of the plane. However, our journey was not done yet. We took the train to a Metro station, the Metro to a stop near our hotel, then we walked with our suitcases to Hotel ATN. We got turned around while trying to find the correct Metro. We looked like obvious tourists, but a young man took pity on us and helped us find the one that would take us where we needed to go.

We were greeted at the hotel by cute statues and a really nice woman. The nice woman told us we could not check in yet. It was about 11 am and we needed to wait until at least 2 pm.

So, we wandered around and had lunch. We still aren’t sure what Gabriel had. It was mislabeled as Quiche. It was some sort of ham and grilled cheese sandwich with more cheese fried on the outside. I was still having a few issues with nausea, so I just had strawberries. While we were wandering around, I admired the buildings. Even the fast food places are fancy.

I had my first taste of all the random Paris art that can be found everywhere. The artwork became one of my favorite things about walking around Paris while we were there.

After a few hours, we went back to our hotel and checked in. The rooms are very chic and adorable. Our window looked down into a small square. I had images of women who might have washed and dried their laundry in this square with children running and playing around them. Everything is so old that this could be a possibility of the area’s past.

The ceiling

The courtyard.

We pretty much crashed after getting our luggage into the room. We did wake up a few hours later to eat dinner at the little bistro at the end of our block, Le Comptoire de l’Europe. It became our favorite place to eat. I always ate almost everything that was served to me. It was one of the first places that had me actually enjoying food again.

We went back to sleep after dinner. We had some big adventures planned for the morning.

The Gift

It all started on Christmas. Well, maybe before that. For me, it started on Christmas Eve at my in-laws. We had gone over to celebrate, have dinner, and exchange gifts. I was given a beautiful, small, gold box. The bow was perfect. Bobi really does the most wonderful bows on gifts. I like to use her bows as decorations on my tree. It means I get new decorations every year.

I opened the box and the first thing I see is a small card that says “I love Paris.” I started tearing up. I had an idea as to what might be under that card. It was two small airline tickets. My in-laws had given me their airline mileage to be able to visit Paris with my husband. I ugly cried.

I have wanted to travel to France with Gabriel for forever. I kept trying to save up for this trip, but, well, life happens. Along with the kindness of the tickets, both sets of in-laws made out a schedule for keeping my boys. We ultimately decided to go in May as the June flights were double the mileage cost (and double to triple the hotel costs). We also received a surprise gift of travel money from Gabriel’s coworkers. If any of them are reading this, thank you so very much. The money covered our hotel expenses and allowed us to buy gifts for the boys and enjoy the Parisian food and sights.

I spent five months working on DuoLingo to learn French or at least enough to get by. Turns out that I didn’t use it as much as I really kind of wanted to. I did use it a little and it was fun to be able to communicate a little better. I also understood someone who was talking about my mispronunciation of a place. I butchered Montmartre. I knew it and I practiced saying it while at breakfast. The woman across from us said something in French to her friend that basically translated to, “She needs to learn to speak correctly.” Yes, I know I do. Which I was trying to do. It amused me that I was able to pick up on what she was saying. I guess I had learned more than I thought I had.

I also ordered two months of News In Slow French. I’m actually considering just subscribing to that for a year. Or more. It has a lot more international news than my local news media outlets give me.

My trip was huge and I want to document as much as I can, so I am writing a separate post for each day with lots of pictures. I won’t be able to actually post all of them. I took over 700 pictures. A good number of photos will be in each post.

 

Holy Crap. Or my second trainer experience.

On Monday, I met with my trainer for my first actual session. The other first session was just an orientation. He got me working. Hard. I could hardly walk down the stairs for two days. So, I went jogging today. You know, just to add to the sensation.

He had me doing planks, step-ups, farmer walks, bends, and leg lifts. I was sweating a ton by the time I was done. The actual pain didn’t hit until the next day. It was all good for me. And I feel good about doing it. I had trouble with the leg lifts. My abs are really in sorry condition. So, now I have a goal – to be able to do lifts.

Today, I did Week 1 Day 1 of C25K again. And I was able to do all of the running parts. All joking aside on the pain, my legs do feel a lot better now. It was really encouraging. I am really looking forward to my next jog.

Week One. Completed.

I decided to join the Gold’s Gym 12 Week Challenge. And I am using my Couch 2 5K training alongside the challenge. The C25K training (for those who do not know) is a nine week-long training session that should prepare a person for running a full 30 minutes without stopping.

I had my measurements done last Monday. And was pretty disappointed in myself on how out of shape I have allowed myself to get. This past year has been a hard one, and I really let myself just eat and lay about. So, this week was challenging in that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not allowed to have this or that. I didn’t totally take out treats, but I have definitely done better about keeping treats in their place. Treats are treats. Not a replacement for a meal or a snack.

Inadvertently, I also managed to eat strictly vegetarian Monday – Friday. With beans, quinoa, and dairy, I still managed to make sure my protein intake was really good (yay for FitnessPal!). It was really good for me. I try to eat more veggies, but I know I don’t eat enough, so a vegetarian menu really helped with that problem. However, I did have some issue with my sodium intake being a bit too much. Probably because I do use canned beans. Gonna have to try to use more dried. I don’t really add very much salt to my food, so that is where I believe the sodium levels are coming from. I will have to start adding recipes again. I made a 3 Bean Chili that was fantastic. Especially added to cauliflower tortillas (low carb, low-fat, high in vitamin C). I also experimented with a chickpea salad sandwich (think of the texture of egg or chicken salad with a more hummus-like taste) that I found on it doesn’t taste like chicken. That blog is pretty awesome if you need some easy vegan recipes.

On Week One of C25K: I did alright. I will actually be doing Day 3 tonight as I was not able to do it yesterday or Friday.

Overall, I am already feeling more energetic and I have already lost a few pounds. Not sure if I will win the 12 Week Challenge, but getting myself into it was definitely something good for me.

Tummy Troubles

I am totally ready for my tummy to be back to normal. Thursday at about 4:30 am, I started yakking up uncontrollably. TMI. It sucked. I was also up at that time with baby and didn’t have time to put him down and run to the bathroom. So I held him while I hugged the porcelain god. Thankfully, the hubby woke up and took him from me. It was a miserable day. Water wouldn’t even stay down. I was starving and super thirsty by the time I could finally get a few sips to stay down.

It is now Saturday night and I still have very little appetite and the tummy is still twisting ominously. I made Chex mix in hopes that might spark something. It is one of my favorite snacks… But no. The smell totally turns me off right now.

And, before you ask, I am not pregnant. I’m actually pretty sure this is food poisoning. Yay!

The Ultimate Dryer Buying Experience or Why Best Buy Will Never See Me Again.

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A few weeks ago our dryer died. Just died. Kaput. Done. Finished. So, we went off in search of a replacement. My mom had given me a few savings bonds she had found stashed away and just asked us to use the money to get a new dryer instead of a used one.

So, we went from store to store. Comparing prices and various dryer functions and brands. Ultimately extraordinarily boring and draining. We were done by the time we made it to Best Buy.

The prices were all essentially the same at every store on the style I had decided on. It wasn’t anything special. I decided I wanted to have variable temp controls and a dryness sensor was an added bonus. So, we decided to just stop with Best Buy and get the dryer from them. They told us that model would take a few weeks as they had sold out of it during their Labor Day sale. That was fine with us. We had already been hang-drying our laundry for a little over a week and figured a couple more would be ok.

We even splurged part of our credit rating and got the in-store credit card as it gave us a bit of a discount. I was told I just needed to give them a couple of days to get me in the system before I paid it off.

So, the purchase and even the credit card all made for a pretty normal sale.

I waited four business before I went in and paid most of our balance. I couldn’t remember the actual balance, so paid slightly under. I figured I would finish paying it when I got my statement. The clerk was also unable to look it up for me. He did try, but it came up as a 0 balance. He said I could go ahead and still make a payment and it would be adjusted once the sale showed up on my account.

That part was actually the only smooth part of this whole fiasco.

About a day after we bought the dryer (maybe two), I received a confirmation email stating my delivery and installation were set for Sept. 29. Cool. That was as I was told.

Well, last night (Thursday, September 26th), I checked my email for the first time in a few days and found one from Best Buy that had been sent to me on Tuesday, September 24th. Telling me that my order was back ordered and they had no date as to when it would be available. WTF? So I read it again. Sure enough, they had sent me an email to let me know that my dryer was in some limbo with no idea as to when it would appear. Oh, and if I did not respond to that email, then they would assume I agreed with that action. What if that email had not made it to me? Why wouldn’t they call someone about information like that??

So, I went into my local store as soon as my two older kids left with my in-laws. I immediately asked for a manager. The guy I spoke to said he was the manager. So, I explained to him about my purchase, the confirmation email, then the back ordered email. I told him this last email told me two very big truths about his company: 1. They lied. If they were not actually able to confirm my order, they never should have sent a confirmation email. 2. Their customer service sucks. For something like this, a customer should be contacted directly. To which he responded, “Oh. Ok.”

I then told him, “What I need you to do is stop my order and credit my bank account the amount I have already paid on the card, then pay the rest to the card.” He told me he would see what he could do. Then credited the entire amount back to the card. He credited a card I had already almost paid off. Then told me I would just have to wait until the credit card company sent me a check. I pretty much exploded at this time. I argued with him and two other schmucks for 30 minutes. I questioned him why I would have to wait for the credit card company to pay me when they were fully capable of taking the funds directly from my account. I also mentioned that for a store specializing in technology, they were sorely lacking in some technology. Bloody hell, I can refund someone through PayPal in a matter of seconds.

I requested they call someone higher up. They refused. I demanded they call the credit company and tell them they need to refund me immediately. They refused. I think it was at about this point that I started breastfeeding my baby. On the counter. He was hungry and it seemed like this was going to take longer. It made those three men very uncomfortable. One of them also started trying to help other customers (the guy who originally told me he was the manager – little snot). I told them I was not leaving until I had my money back. It was at this point that the guy who actually had a manager title on his name tag work hard to convince me that my money would appear in my mailbox in 3 – 4 days. Days. Still not acceptable. However, I was exhausted and sick of their bullshit. I told him I would leave when he called the credit company for me and they assured me my check would arrive in a few days. He took me to a phone away from the other customers and dialed the number for me…

The Best Buy credit line is by far the absolutely worst phone experience I have ever had. And I have had jobs that required me to call DMVs, insurance companies, and cell phone providers. The last straw was when I finally reached the actual customer service line only to be told that due to high call volume, they would need me to log onto their website. I said, “Screw this.” Hung up the phone and left the store. Then found a wonderful dryer at Sears (paid cash with what was left in my savings). It is already in my house, hooked up and ready to go.

So, maybe all of this happened because I was supposed to find that dryer at Sears. Only, I still feel like I have basically paid Best Buy to take back the dryer I never even saw. I also found out that Best Buy is failing as a company. Can’t say I am surprised.

Baby J’s First Plane Ride

So, I am at the airport, waiting for our flight. With my smallest guy. My two older ones are staying with my in-laws while we are gone. For which I am indescribably thankful. If any of you have had the pleasure of traveling with children… you will understand.

My husband and I don’t take a lot of vacations. So, when his work decided to send him to Boston for training, we jumped at the chance for a fun trip together. We were not able to afford tickets for the whole family, so were super pleased that the grandparents agreed to take the older guys. Baby J is still breastfeeding and he is a free flyer.

Now, just because a kid flies for free does not mean easy travel. So, this will be an experiment of sorts. It will be Baby J’s first really big trip. He could be an easy traveler, like big brother Sammi. Or he could be a screamer, like big brother Sol.

Things that leave my mouth because of my children.

Every parent should keep a log of these things. Seriously. That way you can look back on them when you are having a rough day and giggle at them. I may create a page just to link to these posts so I can find them easily again.

Just from the past two days:

“Sammi, the baby is not a pony. Get off of him.”

“Sammi, quit squishing the baby’s head with your head.”

Sammi loves to play with his baby brother…

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