Thursday, May 29, 2014

Seeing Flowers, Strawberries, Play-doh, a bath, and stories

The monkey just discovered something the other day! Not that that's too surprising since he's not even 2 1/2 yet, but still. You know how when you rub your eyes you'll see the little lines, circles, and other random shapes/designs...yep he discovered those the other day. He had just woken up from his nap and I had gradually opened his shades so that he could acclimate to the bright sun shining in his eyes...he was laying on his changing table getting a clean diaper on and rubbing his eyes when this occurred.
Monkey: "Owen sees flowers!"
Me: "Where do you see flowers?"
Monkey: "In Owen's eyes!"
Me: "Oh, you see the black and white flowers in your eyes while you're rubbing them?"
Monkey: "YES!"
Me: "You have flowers IN your eyes!!"
Monkey: "Get them OUT!"
Me: "I don't think I can...they're in your eyes, I think they're going to have to stay there."
Monkey: "GET them OUT! Put them in water! Flowers be thirsty!"
Me: "These flowers don't want water...they have enough. It's okay to have flowers in your eyes."
Monkey: "No want flowers in eyes!"
Luckily I was able to distract him with going to look at his flowers in the living room and he never brought up the flowers in his eyes again. But it was really cute!

Recently we've had some not so good luck with strawberries, it's a little sad because they are in season and they look so good! But then when we bring them home they're just flavorless...so I've been skipping over them at the market because why pay for pretty but tasteless strawberries, but then yesterday at the grocery store they had some super cheap strawberries so I had to give them a try...when we brought them home and started eating them I wished we had bought more because they were really good! (And even though we're about a 5 min walk to the grocery store, getting the monkey back out was not happening.) But this is how good they were - if you turn your volume up you can hear him slurping while he eats his strawberry.
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Yep, they were pretty juicy strawberries...so juicy in fact he decided to do this - you know, so his hands would stay clean!
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Of course the natural thing to eat after strawberries are dates, right? So that's what he moved on to eating and then this occurred...
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He knows pretty much the whole "Sesame Street" theme song (we call it "The Sunny Day's Song") but he rarely watches Sesame Street (just not interested in it, even though he knows all the characters and the song!)...he hears it on Pandora (along with "Let it Go" from Frozen - which he's never seen, but he sings "Let it go, let it go...let it go, let it go..." and when he hears the song he says "Mommy! 'Let it Go' song!!")...But yes, he wore his Elvis sunglasses around for a little bit on the cloudy overcast day!
Yesterday I had attempted to take him to Brussels on the train, but by the time we got everything ready to go he decided he really did not want to go he wanted to stay home and play...those were his words "Owen no train, Owen stay home - play! Want Play-doh, paint, read books..." I didn't fight him since it was a dreary day out, so we played at home and since he mentioned Play-doh so many times we started with that (these pics and videos were from a couple days ago, but this is what it's like every time).
All Play-doh paraphernalia out
Attempt to remove Play-doh from container
Make sure mommy got all the Play-doh out!
Play!
Although really his "playing" consists of picking a color, getting the color completely out of container...maybe rolling it, cutting it with a knife/pastry cutter/cookie cutter, mashing it with a potato masher, or pulling pieces apart for approximately 3-5 min, before putting it back in the container to pick another color and do the whole thing again.
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After all of that fun, we still had time to take a bath and get nice and clean! (A lot of the time if we wait till later in the day it gets missed because we get sidetracked with other things.) Of course there are a couple "must-do's" when taking a bath...you must drink the bath water! Seriously. According to this kid, there are few things that he'd rather drink than bath water...it pretty much comes down to this - if I'm worried that he's not drinking enough liquid, all I have to do is put him in the bath and VOILA he's hydrated!
Play, play, play...have fun! The more water your squirt at "the mommy" and the more water you kick/splash out of the tub, the shorter the bath time is - but man is it fun!! Of course it's also a lot of fun/necessary to squirt bath water from your toys into mommy's mouth (or at least the vicinity).
Yeah, bath time is always a fun time of day! I think the only time he might have more fun is when he gets a hold of my iPad and takes selfies...I mean he is my kid - he loves taking pictures of himself and looking at the pictures and watching videos of himself!
But never fear, he is Rusty's kid too! The other night about 10 min after I put him down he started fussing a lot. After about 30 min I gave in and went to check on him and see what was causing the ruckus. You know what it was?! He decided he didn't want his "Go Dog Go" blanket on and his monkey blanket beside him like he had told me when I put him in his bed...nope he had changed his mind and he couldn't sleep until it was fixed! Now he wanted his monkey blanket on and his "Go Dog Go" blanket next to him...as soon as I put the correct blankets where they were supposed to be he calmed down and immediately fell asleep! Yep...he gets that from Rusty. (This pic isn't from that night - but he has 3 blankets in bed - one on each side and then one on top of him...plus his 3 stuffed animals, and my 3 childhood stuffed animals.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Versailles

Getting ready to leave for my Mommy's day out (5:30am)
Last Thursday Rusty took a day off to stay home with the monkey while I went to Versailles - all.by.myself!
Okay, I wasn't by myself because I was going with a group from here, but still no monkey to entertain on a 4 hr bus ride (each way) or keep track of while wandering through the palace (and honestly he probably would've been trampled by the stampeding tours and people - I was almost trampled!)...and although he would've loved the gardens - the headache would not have been worth it! I was so looking forward to this trip - sure it was a self-guided tour but hey, I'd at least be able to learn a few things with the headset...oh wait, "self-guided" doesn't mean headset? Huh...it just means wandering through the palace with absolutely no information other than what I have to recall from my high school European AP History class? Well crap! And here I thought I'd at least get to go on some sort of a "tour" where I'd actually be able to focus on what was being said, rather than focusing on what my child was attempting to do. So yeah, I know nothing else about this beautiful ornate palace than you do...although in a weird way it was more impressive from the outside than from the inside. Now don't get me wrong the inside was ornate and had intricate detail all over the place...the ceilings and walls were covered in paintings, wall coverings, tapestries, and mirrors...marble statues stood guard in every room and hallway - but strangely to me it wasn't nearly as impressive as Catherine the Great's (Summer) Palace outside of St. Petersburg Russia...which might not seem strange to others but I always pictured Versailles as being completely over-the-top, and it wasn't. To me, the really impressive part came when I stepped out into the gardens (and I hate gardening) - that was when the thought of "over-the-top" came to mind, because the gardens are insanely huge. I'm sure if/when the flowers are blooming (210,000 are planted annually) it would be even more incredible, but merely the size of the trees (200,000 trees), the amount of land (800 hectares - which is almost 2,000 acres), the detailed landscaping in every little section (classic French garden style, duh), the fountains (there are 50), and the layout made me in awe of the place...and it also made me think "How many people were employed as gardeners in this place?!" (Oh and the above numbers I discovered on the internet - not something I learned/counted while walking through the gardens.) Unfortunately one of the biggest and most ornate water fountains was being worked on/cleaned when we were there so we saw pictures of what it looks like, but we didn't get to see it as it had been taken down and out of the gardens completely, while they were working. I guess that just means I'll have to go back - and take an actual tour of the place!
Outside the palace in Versailles
So there you go - those are some of my thoughts/ramblings...now for the fun part - the pictures! We arrived to Versailles and it was raining, and because we got there 5 minutes after our "tour time" (even though we weren't really doing a "tour") we were "rewarded" with standing in the line outside for 45 minutes...in the rain. Thankfully there were umbrellas for sale, which yes, I bought one, because with a 20% chance of rain I hadn't thought I'd need an umbrella or raincoat. We weren't the only people there (remember "stampeding tours"), there were also elementary kids there for field trips! (Seriously how cool is that?!) And I'm guessing we were 1 of at least 100 other buses there...it was a sea of tour buses!
We had to wait for our "leader" to get our tickets and find out where we needed to go (they hadn't done this trip in awhile, and it was very evident throughout the day)...but eventually we got off the bus and were able to go stand in line...in the rain!
Yes the gates are gold (well I don't think they're necessarily still gold gold, but at one point they were). I mean there's nothing that says "Welcome to my humble abode" quite like gold gates, am I right?!
Of course we didn't walk through those gold gates - those aren't opened to just anyone...nope we got the side door entrance! But hey, we were able to observe the entrance and the church next door for awhile, so really it was all worth it!
Of course if you weren't impressed with the gold gates outside, then maybe you'll be impressed with the entrance hall/reception room/whatever this place and thing were called. There was this "statue" and the "light fixture" above it, which made me think "Um...I thought I was going to see some amazing things in the place...I am in the palace right?! This is Versailles? Good gracious - no wonder they got their heads chopped off if this is how they spent their money!" I mean seriously people - VERSAILLES!
But looking past those two "welcoming whatevers" - I saw this statue...and then I knew I was in the right place! I mean who else but a KING (or actor, musician, artist...anyone in my family) would have a sculpture of themselves in this pose...And yes, I was tempted to "reenact" this pose for a picture myself, but I didn't have that bird creature, and really without that bird creature I'd just look silly.
Once we figured out which door to go through because nothing was marked (although I could've done what we did in China and just gone through all the exists) we then entered the Versailles I was picturing in my head. Well, really we entered the Hercules Drawing-room and the ceiling was breathtaking
There was a huge fireplace - the logs were about 6ft long...yeah, that's how big it was
From this drawing-room you walked through ornate doors into another room (no clue the name of that room, but it was were you could look into the royal chapel...
Besides the ornate door detail - the ceiling was another piece of work!
There were 2 statues in this room (every room had statues...but still I liked these ones).
But from this room you could look into the Royal Chapel (which was the church that we admired from the outside) I have no clue where the actual entrance was to the chapel (remember no signs), so we never got to walk inside it, so I was glad we at least got this small glimpse.
I tried to get a picture of the whole room and it wasn't till I got home that I realized the guy with the reflector lights!! Of course I don't think those protected him from the possible stampede...
Fortunately we went into this room before we found the small "palace map" (can't really say it was a map map - but it did have a list of 17 rooms you were going to walk through...of course since we didn't know which direction we were suppose to go, and there wasn't really a "flow" of people to follow we started going through it backwards - which meant we found the "Hall of Statues" (honestly I gave it that name because all there were were statues and little gift shop stands...but if we hadn't gone through this section when we did we would've never seen it because it wasn't listed as one of the 17 rooms).
The details on the statues were good...lace, maps, animals on their clothing...plus the poses were great!
When we realized we weren't allowed to go backwards through the palace we turned around and found the little "map" and went with the biggest "stampeding" crowd where dirty looks, nasty words, elbows, legs, hands, feet, children, and purses/umbrellas were used against anyone who stepped into certain people's way (not me, I tried to just meander with the flow...but other people who thought I was entering their "personal space" uninvited took it out on me and others around me. And let me just say, in this stampeding crowd there was NO personal space.) The next few rooms we went through went like this: Drawing-room of plenty, Venus Drawing-room, Diana Drawing-room, Mars Drawing-room, Mercury Drawing-room/Bedchamber, Apollo Drawing-room/Throne room, War Drawing-room...
Another beautiful ceiling...
When looking around the rooms - besides the crowds there were beautifully carved statues, amazing paintings, and windows to the picturesque gardens (where yes, it had stopped raining!!).
Every square inch of most of the rooms were covered...
The bedrooms had a little more "free space" on the walls...but they were still pretty busy. Although I do have to say I loved the feathers up at the top of the bed posts, I have absolutely no clue why they're there - but they added a little bit of pomp to an otherwise unused space!
Slowly we got closer to the "must see" section of the palace...the final room - before entering the "Hall of Mirrors"...
By this time, we were just following/caught up in the "stampeding crowd"...but hey, once you enter the Hall you can then see the stampede from all sides!
I will say that even in the crowd, when I looked up - I was able to ignore everyone and just enjoy the grandness of this hall (for at least a few seconds).
Like the other rooms - the Hall had statues everywhere - some clothed, some not, some of the unclothed were "modest", while other nudes stood proud.
I will say it was really impressive, and it definitely lived up to the "hype."
There were a few "private chambers" off the hall....this beautiful tapestry was found there. But unlike most tapestry's this one was on a screen divider...I mean you couldn't have a screen divider that wasn't fabulous.
The view out the bedchamber windows here was beautiful too! And of course, don't forget the feathers at the top of the bed...along with more gold!
This clock was in the "Council Study" (off the Hall) and it was still working, in fact it was chiming as we walked through!
But then it was back into the "Hall of Mirrors" - remember it is a hall so it does go on for some ways...
But like all other halls, it must eventually come to and end...at least this one came to an end close to the Queen's Bedchamber! Honestly, if you slept in a room like this you would definitely feel like royalty - there was gold everywhere, along with all the other "standard" things (paintings, statues, large chandeliers,...)
And yes she had the feathers on the top of her bed too, but I mean, she was the queen - why wouldn't she?!
From this ornate room there was still a beautiful and serene view of the garden.
But the Queen's Chamber wasn't the end of the palace, nope there were still a few more rooms - one of which showed what the table settings were like...
And more tapestries and paintings...and yes, that tapestry is huge...it was an entire wall!
The final room on "the tour", before exiting the palace had 3 enormous pictures hanging...but there was also a bit of space to breathe so I decided I would take a picture of the floor, why? Well honestly, why not?! Just think of all the people that have walked on these floors...all the history that has happened in these rooms...besides that the floors were a piece of artwork themselves! Of course, on the opposite side, the ceiling offered a glimpse of more amazing art!
These 2 paintings I'm sure you've seen in history books (I didn't get a picture of the 3rd painting), but let me just reiterate the size...ENORMOUS! They each took up a wall of a room in a palace...each figure in the painting was larger than the average person...yeah, huge.
After all of that it was time to head outside into the beautiful sunny day for a few minutes before we were suppose to meet up with the large group to go through Marie Antoinette's house - Petit Trianon.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to really enjoy the gardens at this point, because we discovered we had to walk the mile to the house in 8 minutes - so no pictures of the garden yet...but hey, we made it to her house and were able to do the walk-thru (otherwise called "self-guided tour")...I apologize for no picture from the outside of this house - we were rushing on the way there and when we left I didn't even think of it. Inside Marie Antoinette's house, which was much more "rustic", or as my grandma would say "very comfortable" - her initials were everywhere...on the staircase, on the fireplace grates...
This was one of my favorite rooms of the day...and no it's not the kitchen, although it might look like a kitchen to you or me...
but nope it was called the "Reheating Room" - finishing touches to the plates of food occurred in this room!
I think every house should have it...I mean this place was the "rustic farmhouse" and it had one!
But upon exiting the Reheating Room, I discovered the real reason I've hated yard work all these years...it's not because you're working in dirt among bugs and other crawly things, or picking up millions of little rocks, or hundreds of pine cones, or continuously tearing out the weeds that continually come back...nope, it's because I didn't have the right tools! Seriously people - look at these tools they used to do their gardening!! That's right ribbons, bows, colors...everything is delicate! Maybe if my parents had given me such nice gardening tools when I was a kid I would now love gardening...then again, I doubt it!
It was then time to go upstairs...
Remember to think "rustic"...
Once again, the floors were art...
The fireplaces intricate - although not as ornate as that Palace...definitely "more rustic"...
Of course when rusticating one can not be expected to give up music...and so one must have a music room
And honestly, if I had thought of this I would definitely request this of all houses I live it...that's right a "Boudoir with movable mirrors" - seriously, before you build your dream house you must include this!
And then the Queen's bedroom - which was much more relaxed than her chambers in the Palace, but still with all the detail that you come to expect.
And of course her view was calm and relaxing...peaceful.
The servants were well-dressed, as they should be...
after all, this is the woman they were serving...
There weren't many flowers in bloom in her garden, but there were a few roses...
It was then time to go and venture through the gardens of Versailles - the big enormous section of gardens...and yes, once again...the path...
Really the only word to describe it was breathtaking...everywhere you turned there were paths leading to more sections of the garden...you could get lost in the gardens, or at least spend a full day wandering through
And the day turned into the most beautiful afternoon you could ever ask for...
Since they were working on the grounds, you couldn't get a picture of the Palace without the yellow crane in the middle...but still an amazing sight.
Once again, sculptures, topiary's, and water fountains were strewn throughout the garden
None of the fountains we saw were turned on, but they still made for a beautiful sight (and yes the above picture is the close up of the fountain pictured below)
No one was allowed to walk on the grass...
These ducks obviously did not get the memo! And then there were lemon trees as we got closer to the Palace...there were also palm trees, who knew!
Looking back at the Palace - because it honestly was a beautiful sprawling place.
It was finally time to go...not "finally" like "I'm ready to leave, so glad we can go!" but more of the "wow, I could wander here longer and still not see everything!" So back through the gates, again though, they didn't open the gold gates to usher us out...I'm taking that as a good sign!
Apparently the weather wasn't too happy we were leaving either...those dark ominous clouds appeared out of nowhere! So I guess we left at the perfect time!
On the ride home we passed through the outskirts of Paris (hitting Paris traffic again), and then moving out into the country with the beautiful farm land...and windmills...
It was a long fun day where I met new friends and saw some beautiful sights...and had the craziest bus ride home ever...including almost being squished on the bus when the gentleman in front of me decided to recline his seat back (I think the seat was broken and reclined more that it was supposed to)...luckily there were free seats across the aisle - so I moved over...
Yep, that was a close call ;)

P.S. I realize I probably should've split this up into 2 posts, oh well.