One of the great things about France is the school vacation schedule. The French believe in following the "rhythm" of the year, which mean that kids have a two week break every six weeks. This means that they have a fall break, a Christmas break, a "ski" break, and a spring break. They don't get out of school until the end of June, but a shorter summer means that less learning is lost from year to year. Unfortunately, the American school (where Kevin teaches and Serena is a student) only takes one of the weeks in the fall and one of the weeks in February, so they can finish the year mid-June. But, hey - it's still a break every 6-7 weeks, which is pretty great! So, for the week off this February, we decided to stay in Paris and pretend to be tourists (it IS the top tourist destination in the world). A visit to the Louvre is a "must-do" if you visit Paris. Bonus: the French give priority admission to people with disabilities, pregnant women and people with babies. Thank you, Ian, for letting us skip the line! It was actually funny, because I had him in the Boba wrap instead of the stroller. The sign showing who gets priority has a picture of a mom with a stroller, and I think that's what the guards are used to, so they were very confused. They didn't know if they should let us skip the line, since we didn't have a stroller. I was like "hello?...BABY." So, if you're visiting Paris while pregnant or with a baby, DON'T wait in long lines...go right to the front.
I love Easter time, with all the pastel colors, the themes of new life and fresh starts, and the promise of spring. I must admit, we haven't really created any new traditions for our kids - we've stuck with the tried and true. I set up the cookie decorating, egg dying, Easter baskets and egg hunt just the same as my mom did it when I was a kid, and I love seeing my kids carrying on the traditions. We always leave the baskets and eggs (both hard-boiled and plastic) out the night before, and in the morning the baskets are filled, and the eggs are all hidden. The girls are getting a little too old (and too cool) to be really excited for all of it, but they play along. And now we get to start all over again with Ian! Holidays really are so much more fun with kids.
I just realized that I haven't posted anything in over a month. What can I say? Life is busy around here. It's hard to believe it's spring already! There are flowers in our yard, and the days are getting longer. It's amazing how fast time passes...right around this time last year, we found out that I was pregnant. Now I can't imagine life without little Ian. We're very lucky that the girls are so independent and that Ian is such a sweet, happy baby...it makes things a lot easier! As we head into spring, I took a look back at the end of winter. February can be a tough month, when everyone is tired of the gloomy days and longing for spring. Still, there are always opportunities for fun. Below are some pictures of a few things that helped brighten up our winter days.
After spending most of the last two and a half months in the house with Ian, last weekend I decided that I was finally ready to brave the outside world. This was our first Paris shopping trip with the baby, and it was certainly a different experience! We loaded Ian and the girls into the car and headed to the 15th arrondissement to check out a few shops. The day was cold and drizzly, but no one was letting that stop them from getting out in the city - there were people everywhere. After our first few stops, Ian needed to eat, and we discovered that Paris is not the easiest city for taking care of a baby's needs. We went into a McDonald's and bought some fries, thinking that I could sit down and feed him, but it ended up being standing room only. So, the girls wolfed down their fries and we moved on to plan B. We decided to stop at a cafe for some drinks. Paris cafes tend to jam in as many tables as they can possibly fit, so we had to bypass a couple before we found one that didn't seem too crowded. Even so, it was no easy feat to find a place for the stroller. We managed, though, and enjoyed some juice, beer and hot chocolate (but not mixed together...that would be weird). It was a good thing that Ian didn't poop, because finding a bathroom with a changing table would have been pretty unlikely (in this city, if you find one that has toilet paper and soap at the same time, you consider yourself lucky). It started drizzling on our way back to the car, but we made it without getting soaked. I joked that I might just stay home for the foreseeable future, but I think it's just one of those things that takes a little practice.
We've been having so much fun with baby Ian! It's crazy how fast the time goes. He's two and a half months, and it feels both as though he just arrived, and like he's been with us forever. Looking at him today, it's incredible to me how much he's changed from the wrinkly little guy that we brought home from the hospital. I already think of "when he was little" as a time that's in the past. Every day he seems just a tiny bit more grown up: smiling, holding his head up, studying a new toy. I'm trying to savor each of these precious moments, because I know that they, too, will soon be gone. Parenting is such a dichotomy of being excited to see who our children will grow up to be, while at the same time wishing that they would never have to grow up at all. I guess all we can do is cherish the time we have and enjoy it while it lasts. That, and take lots of pictures! Here are some pictures from the photo shoot I did when Ian was 10 days old.
Moving from America to France with two preteen girls, two dogs and a cat was an incredible adventure. After four years living just outside of Paris, the Family McLean is back in the U.S. (minus the cat, but with a new baby boy). There's always something new to discover, whether it's a family outing, a new recipe, or the next fun vacation.