Monday, April 28, 2008

Cheat Day

I am so obsessed with exercising and eating right that it is seriously sick. My dream Friday night was that I drank a YooHoo and it was 277 calories and I was seriously mad, almost to the point of tears! Thank goodness it was a dream. I am becoming a sick-0, AND I don't even like YooHoo.

So Sat. was my cheat day since I made plans to have a fondue night with the girls. The day began with the 1.5 hours it took me to shovel the driveway. 21inches of snow is a LOT harder to shovel than I thought. Now instead of thinking the people, who are shoveling while it is still snowing, are weird, I realize how DUMB I was in thinking oh it will stop soon, cause those ppl only had 3 inches to my 21 to shovel. So I am curious to see how many calories I burned shoveling that mess for that long. Well it made Saturday not even a cheat day. Snow shoveling for 1.5hrs burns 756 cal. 756!!!! Woo Hoo, glad I indulged in all that chocolate!

I must give a huge shout-out to my good friend Melisa (Me-Lisa, not muh-lissa) who watched the kids so I could take a 2 hour hiatus and have lunch with another good friend, Margaret. It was so awesome to think and talk like an adult for 2 SOLID hours w/o going, "No NO, stop, it's mommy's turn to talk, that's great!, eat your food, a napkin in your nose is sooo not cool, etc". So, THANK YOU!!!! Margaret and I ate at my fav place, Glacier Brewhouse. I had a VERY yummy Miso Salmon Sandwich. I must reiterate that the salmon at this place is to DIE for! I order 2 things off of the menu, (i know, I know, I am totally a creature of habit who is not into change at my fav rest. when the food is THIS good!) the miso salmon sandwich or the alder wood smoked salmon. I don't even want a menu. Others have tempted me with the halibut appetizer or the miso halibut sammie, but no. The salmon is JUST THAT GOOD!

Found out today that Kev passed his check ride for IP school!!!! YAY!!!! He will be home in 2 days, Lord willing. Wednesday can't get here fast enough.
My BFF just had her baby shower and I was so not there. Just say it, loser friend. I CAN NOT wait for those babies to get here.
My SIL is in Europe for her 5yr anniv. I am totally dying to know what is going on. This weekend can not get here any quicker either, cause I want to hear all the details!!!!
So much stuff going on.........................

Oh and if any of you have any ideas plz let me know. Here is my dilemma:
I need more protein. Like 10-12g more per day
I don't need ANY xtra carbs or fat
no more meat plz
and it has to be low in cals (20-60 cals)
So far these will not work: meat, beans, or dairy.

I have been working on my meal plans and this is the kicker for me. I am always low in the protein category. I have managed to stay within 1-8g of my total but some days I am WAY off. I am lifting 3days a week and I need to keep up the protein so my muscles don't die on me. Any ideas?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Powder

Kevin's car

From the edge of the garage

So, the weather forecast said rain. The meteorologist said light snow mixed with rain, no significant accumulation. AND still they are saying accumulation in the higher elavations, not in the city. HELLO, where do I live? I'll just let the pics do the rest of the talking. And in case you can't tell, that is 13in on the measuring tape, not including the width of the tape base. And it is STILL coming down.

Pic I took earlier this week. How cute!
The kids found a new fun thing to do tonight. They found the bottle of powder. They looked like two little Casper's while eating dinner. Also, Caleb's room got new white carpet in the process! Kinda matches the outside don't cha think? How ironic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Run, Climb, Mud, Slide, Dirt, and Pee

That title just about sums up our adventure to the playground today.

The weather here has been awesome! Bright shining sun, warm temps, and lots of energy to get out of the house and PLAY! So tonight a friend and I take our kids (totaling 4) for a wagon ride with a stop off at the playground. The kids are eating it up. Sliding, running, stomping the mud, throwing dirt, climbing all around! It's great. Caleb is so fearless he climbs to the highest point, cause he knows a slide will be up there waiting for him. He scoots up, shimmys his little booty around and goes flying down on his tummy! The more he went the more courage he worked up and soon he was going down face first on his tummy! WOW! He was flying.

So, at one point I had Noah on my right on this ledge. From the ledge he would grab the "fireman's pole" and slide down. He is just shy in height to grab the pole easily so a little mommy spot is all he needs. So, on my left I have Caleb going down the slide of propulsion - every time he goes down I HAVE to be there to catch him or he is going to shoot right out into a puddle of mud or take off in flight! He reminded me of some animated character being shot out of a cannon. The kids have their timing perfect. Noah was coming down the pole while Caleb was climbing up to the slide, and Caleb was sliding down while Noah was climbing up to get to the pole. Then the timing was interrupted by a potty break. However I did not know about this potty break. I turn around from watching Noah go down the pole, make 2 steps toward the slide where Caleb is about to shoot out. Then I here, "uh oh Ms Mary". I then turn around facing Noah (slide is now at my back) and see him standing there with his pants and undies at ankles and he has taken the fountain pose. (He has recently decided to start peeing standing up). Obviously, living in Alaska, the great outdoors and all, has really struck something inside my child that he feels that it is ok to now pee outside. As I am trying to corral the misguided, chaotic spraying fountain, I then hear, "giggle, giggle, whump". I then do an about face and see a mud covered face with a toboggan on top. I could not help but bust out in belly jiggling laughter. On my right is the fountain of chaos and on my left I have what looks to be a miniature army ranger returning from a field exercise!

After clothing was returned to its proper place and mud dusted from one's face we return to the wagon for a short stroll to a warm bath, bed, and laundered clothes.

Oh the joys of boys!

Monday, April 21, 2008

No TV for a week?

Of all weeks to be TV-Turnoff Week??!!! That's right someone out there decided this week, when all the good shows return after the writer's strike, would be the best week for a TV strike. Actually, I get this. We all spend too much time in front of the tube. Reality TV, watercooler shows, etc. are still must-have's to be in the know. I am a fellow addict. I am so there on Tues and Wed's for American Idol. Rock on Jason Castro! Anyway, so it's officially "turn off your TV week" and I am in the throws of major diet/eating lifestyle overhaul, so I really want to participate in this corny spin off of all the other "just give something up for a _________ ". So, I will compromise with my inner nagger, and I will turn off the TV on Mon, Fri, Sat, and Sun. I will partially compromise my Tues, Wed, Thurs. After all, Grey's is back on Thurs!!
As I type the last sentence I realize how pathetic to get so excited over, yep, the TV. The rectangle box that causes me to be sedentary and go against what I have trying to undo - lack of activity. But, baby steps right? Gotta love tivo!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Riding the high

Ok, so leaving off with the last post where the SS tried to destroy the supermodel inside me.....
I was told about this website called sparkpeople. For those of you who see a diet as what you eat everyday, not what you do to loose weight, this is the place for you. It offers lots of recipes that are for normal everyday people, cause let me tell you I ain't fixin' seabass rubbed with herbs with a spring mix of greens and lentils for dinner. For one, no thanks, and two, try to get 2 toddlers to eat that. It may suggest something along the lines of oriental rice, which it gives the recipe for, and 99% of the time I have all the stuff in my cupboard. No buying special items like flax seed oil. It has tons of recipes so you can make substitutions where you need to. For instance you have a banana and they are suggesting grapes. I love how it gives you a target range and not a target. So I can have a little flexibility if I want to go out to eat. It has taught me alot since I am on the stupid side of counting calories. Maybe not so much stupid, but more like ignorant. I am learning alot. Also, it suggests a fitness plan. Which oddly enough is coinciding quite nicely with the one I have. It just ramped it up a notch. And since I have a target date, which is way way away, I am seeing the results on paper which is helpful since I am not seeing them on my body, yet. So, if a SS has put a fire under your butt, please check this place out. Added bonus is, it is FREE! Oh and I went back to the Y today. No sign of the specific SS, so I worked out happily wrapped up in the workout version of Umbrella by Rhianna.

I wake up this morning to beautiful sunshine streaming through the windows. It was beautiful. I roll over and the clock said 5:38AM! Yes, AM. Seriously. Do you feel me, Seriously!
Also, as previously mentioned, I strongly dislike light blocking roller shades. We bought them, broke them, took them back. So I have looked at everything and nothing is strong enough to be light blocking and affordable. I do not want to sink a ton of money into this cause this is a base house. We have to take them with us when we go, and seriously, I don't think I will be using them when we move to wherever else besides Alaska. So, as my friend Margaret said, I went and got the ghetto shades. Fed up with the light and the lack of an affordable solution, my light bulb went off. I head on down to the local JoAnns. If you don't know what JoAnns is, it is like Hobby Lobby, Michael's, AC Moore, craft store on crack. I go to the back where the 4.5ft bolts of fabric are located. I peruse and find exactly what will work. A blend of pleather, not plastic, not leather, soft and flexible, BLACK fabric. 6yds went home with me that day. I have pinned it to the inside of Caleb's window, and yes, it works nicely. Doesn't trap heat and keeps sun out. High-five to myself. Cover it with some cute curtains and no one is the wiser. Total cost $48, versus the cost of $240 for the cheapest light blocking shades that do not hinge on a roller. And before you go there, yes I found some cheaper on the internet, however, I live in Alaska where they charge you your first born child in shipping. So, I am happy with my ghetto shades, they work.
Noah and I have had some really mature conversations here lately. He is wanting new toys. I do not want MORE toys. So, we have thus began the compromise and the money plan. For every new toy he saves his money to buy, he has to donate/get rid of 2 toys at the house. To earn his money he has to do chores. We all have done them. He has chosen some that I would not suspect a 3.5yr old to do. Like, swiffer the kitchen and bathrooms, vacuum (with the hand held vacuum) while I sweep, and unload groceries. I am very proud of his attitude about this. One afternoon it took lots of coaxing to get him to pick up a zillion books he pulled out of his bookshelf. The next day Caleb decided they looked better in the floor. I hear Noah scolding Caleb, telling him that was not nice and he doesn't need to keep making messes. Hmmmm, wonder where he heard that? Anyway, Noah came back dwnstairs and tells me that he is angry with Caleb b/c he worked so hard putting those books away. So, I tell him I will pick them up since Caleb is not into picking up as a 15mo. old. Noah looks at me and says, "No mom, you will not pick them up cause I already did it". WOW! Hold the phone! You just did that all on your own??!! Well, ok. And yesterday after a visit to the grocery store I bring in the bags and Noah comes in the kitchen and asks, "Mom do you need some help?" The look on my face was enough cause he then asks, "Mom, why are you looking like that?" I don't get these days often, so to be blessed with 2 in one week! Should I prepare for toilets exploding next week?
Ok, as if this post isn't long enough.
Miss you hubby, love love love you.

Oh, and check this out when you get a chance.
http://whatiwore2day.blogspot.com/2008/04/wardrobe-swap-shop.html
I started lurking this site from Becky's blog. The gal is kinda cool.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Well, isn't that just great

So I finally make my way back to the gym today. The YMCA is very limited here, however, it is MY only choice for a gym. There is another option, The Alaska Club. But the Alaska Club runs $80/month, AND you have to pay for childcare ($30 for 10 visits). So the monthly bill is WAY more than I am willing to pay, making the Y the only choice. So I look at the schedule find a circuit class and get us all ready and make it to the gym on time. I put the kids in childwatch (the name of the provided childcare) and make my way to the locker room. I am really excited about getting in some weights and cardio, my body is in desperate need. I ask the guy at the front desk, "Where is the class?" He then directs me and I bee bop in. WOW! There are chairs, yes chairs, everywhere. I am a little confused until I see what, or I should say who, is sitting in the chairs. A whole class of senior citizens. So I think to myself, the name of the class is Silver Sneakers, and never once did it occur to me that the "silver" meant maybe for silver years, silver hair, silver etc. Please forgive me if I am offending any of my silver family reading this. I was a little bummed, but no I did not leave. I grabbed a chair in the back and spent the next 45min working out with the silver sneakers. Some of them were very excited that I even came in the class. Might as well check out all the facets of the gym right? So after my 45min warm up I take off and run 1.5 miles on the tread mill, sufficiently burn my triceps and biceps, and finish it off with a good ab burn. I then return to the locker room to get my things. I am feeling really good. I finally got to the gym, which always puts me in a good mood. The kids got some social time with other little tykes. I am finally starting my challenge of burning off this baby weight. I have 20-25lbs that I am tired of having. I am satisfied wearing my size 12 jeans, but it has been nagging me to get back to a 8 or 10. So, anyway, bee bopping back into the locker room I see a fellow silver sneaker and she asks if I liked the class, and I tell her yes, I had never been in a class like that before and I found it interesting. She invited me to swim with her and another fellow SS (silver sneaker). I tell her I just ran, yada yada yada, and I will see her next time. Then the bomb drops. This fellow SS asks, "Are you having a baby?" All of my "gym high" immediately left me. Talk about at that moment I did not feel satisfied with my size 12 jeans. After I scoop up what is left of my self esteem, joy, gym high insanity, I politely and quietly reply that no, this is what is left after 2 babies. I then sulk off to my locker where I almost shed a tear. However I did not. Crying over something like that is SOOO WAY OUT of character for me. Usually I find it a little funny and very ego manageable. So on the way home I start putting things in perspective and really what that SS did was put a fire in me that is unbelievably HOT! If she thinks I am prego, which I am not!!, then how are others seeing me and am I so comfortable that I am actually lettings things go? So I am going to start being dissatisfied with my size 12. I am not going to consider getting to a 10, I am going to be an 8. Seriously!
Oh and a tinge of this may have started yesterday when I was doing some volunteer work. They had a canoe in the bldg where I was working. Noah was quite content playing in the canoe, he was a pirate on the high seas. He asks me in his very loud and echoing voice, "MOM!! This boat is so BIG!! It is not little, so you can fit in here with me!" I just smile, sweet sweet Boys.
In all seriousness, I am happy with my workout today. I love the little things that have been presented before me giving me a choice to choose high road or low road. And most of you know that I always try to go the high road. Gotta love those SS's. They ain't gonna let ya get away with nutin'. Now if someone could deflate this tire I have around my waist............

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thank You

I got this email and laughed out loud in a room by myself. Seriously, we have all gotten these emails a ba-zillion times. Hope you get a good laugh too!

***I just want to thank all of you for your educational emails over the past year.

-Thanks to you, I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.

-I can't use the remote in a hotel room because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

-I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

-I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pass-time while driving alone is picking your nose. (Although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot)

-Eating a Little Debbie sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

-I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom. Yuck!

-I must send my special thanks to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

-Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

-I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

-I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

-I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

-I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

-I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

-Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

-Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

-I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

-I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

-I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

-And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

-I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

-I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

-I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually
Al Qaeda in disguise.

-I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

-I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore and Uzbekistan .

-I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

-Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

-And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

-I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

-If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump.

I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...
Have a wonderful day...

Oh, by the way.....
A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coincidence?

Most of you know Krista. She has a link on my blog roll. If you don't, she is a good friend we met in Charleston that has decided to follow us to Alaska. Just kidding. She got a job flying airplanes for Alaska Airlines so she is moving here in a few weeks. She came into town on Sat night gave me a ring and we meet up to go to church together today. She dropped by the house this morning to ride in with us. When she walked in the door I about died. I quickly got past the "Hi how was your flight in" to "You are wearing the same pants I am!!" We could not have planned this if we had wanted to. Obviously she has good taste! HA! Even funnier is that we both said the place we bought them at the same time and yep, it was the same place. Luckily all my clothes are here AND unpacked so I could make the quick change and we didn't look totally goofy. Especially since this was her first time going to our church! HA! Oh, and for those of you who know her, ask her about Russ. Let's see if she remembers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1825 days

"I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go"
Song 3:4


One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days ago God put together you and me. It seems like it has only been a blink of an eye that all these days have past.

I could fill this whole blog with how much I love you.

Happy Anniversary Babe!
You are my beloved and you are my friend - Song 5:16
I hope we have many many more awesome years together.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hawaii


Here is the last installment on the travel blog. Thank you for watching and reading.

I don't have a lot of time to type. So one thing I must say is

GO, JUST GO TO HAWAII! I could write a thousand words and never get it all out about this place. SO GO!!!

SERIOUSLY

The title - My new overused phrase. As if you can't tell

5:30am - 10pm daylight sounds like fun if you don't have kids, or if you have kids that don't base bed time on when they can SEE it get dark OR WAKE UP when the light enters their room. Seriously not cool.

Roller shades, for lack of a better term, suck.

Keeping light from coming through the windows at 9pm is a seriously challenging task.

A little bit of advice - don't put a vacuum cleaner belt on your vacuum that isn't made for your vacuum. Ex. a bissell belt on a eureka vacuum. Your vacuum will sound like a screaming woman, melt the belt and all important pcs. on the bottom of the vacuum, seriously stink up your house and then die. Just take the wrong belt back and get the right one.

Never think to yourself that the snow/winter must be over. As soon as you do, it dumps 12 inches on you 2x in a 5 day period. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This is a little disturbing

I stopped watching Oprah a few years ago cause Dave Ramsey was her guest and she kept cutting him off in a sentence and it made me mad! This snipit from YouTube was emailed to me today. I am not sure about the church mentioned, I have not heard of this. But what O is saying about God and the way to God is sick and disturbing.

Would love to get some feedback on this.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA

Up and Running.....well almost

video

YAY!!!! I am so sad Kevin is not here to see this in person. I have been trying to get C to walk on the skype camera for him. Won't be long now till he will be running with big bro!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Urgent Prayer

Please pray for our nephew William, he just turned 2 and was hospitalized tonight for pneumonia. Also pray for his mama and daddy.

*** Update ***
William is doing much better. After some IV fluids and antibiotics he is sitting up and drinking, eating, and playing around. Lord willing, he will get to go home tomorrow. So please keep him on your prayer list.

*** Latest **** 4/10/08
William is at home and recovering. As well as mamma and daddy. Thanks again for the prayers.

Rome

ok, so in my attempt to fix the slide show I somehow deleted what I wrote about rome. So I hope you read it cause it ain't getting retyped. Let me know if the pics are still all messed up, cause on my computer it is working fine.

*** Ok I give up! You will just have to use your imagination and come up with a good view of us in Rome based on the pics available. Grrrr!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Venice

This was my favorite place of all the cities we visited. The atmosphere is so laid back and there are no cars. The gondolier cheesing it up for the camera is the guy we hired for our midnight gondola ride. Along this ride we saw the house where Casanova lived. The pic of us at St Marks Square with St Marks behind us, we are fresh off the overnight train looking very unshowered! Yuck! We of course took in all the usual sites, St Marks Basilica, Doge's Palace, gelato, gelato, gelato, murano glass and just the great scenery. We grabbed sandwiches from "sandwich row" and sat at the waterside for our last dinner. It was very cool seeing the city light up and people watching.
St Mark's Square is unbelievably crowded. All of these vendors are selling corn to feed the flying rats (the nickname we gave the pigeons). I was so disgusted to see theses kids with these nasty birds all over them. I had to take a pic just to show you all.
Venice is a labyrinth so finding anything can take some time even with a good map. So we did not find the original authentic carnival mask makers. The pic of the Harry Potter Books had a price tag of 3000 euro, not dollars, euro. So, that is almost $5000. I also took a pic of the fish cause the European idea of refrigeration is very different than ours here in America. The big bridge is the San Rialto, it offers the best view of the city and the grand canal. I will definitely go back to Venice, and for those of you who think so, it doesn't stink.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Paris


We are back from all of our jet setting and I am now finding a few moments to catch up. I have lots to tell so posts per location are my way of sorting through it all. I am so skipping Hawaii right now, cause I am still on my Europe "high". So, I shall begin with Paris.
We got in Thursday morning and hit the ground running. Literally. Our plane was late taking off in Huntsville, so we landed in Atlanta at the departure time for our flight to Paris. So we ran 3 terminals in 7 min with 25lb packs strapped to our backs. I was sweating like a pig when we made it to the gate. Thank you God for listening to me, cause the whole way to Atlanta I was praying for a miracle to delay our Paris flight. We stumble to the Atlanta gate and see ppl boarding. The scanner was not able to read boarding passes so everyone had to get new ones reprinted. Seriously, thank God for answered prayers! After we arrived in Paris, it took us about 3 hours to get all the little details sorted away before we could drop our packs and see the sites. First we started with visiting the crepe stand and having dark chocolate and banana crepes. Talk about melt in your mouth. So fresh, he made the crepe, buys the chocolate across the street and the bananas next door. The pics of the little markets were in the neighborhood we stayed in. We stayed on Rue Cler (in English Cler Street). It is a pedestrian only street and you can take an hour stroll down this little lane to find chocolate shops, cheese and pastry shops, fresh food markets, flowers, cafes, etc. All the locals were trolling around their little shopping bacgs on wheels. Tres Parisian. After that we take a few self guided walks on the left bank, admired the Seine, and took lots of breaks to sample the local fare. Day 2, my 30th birthday!! We were going to hit all the awesome museums. However, all the museums decided to go on strike, so they were all closed! I was seriously like, "Seriously, are you telling me the truth?!" So instead we battle the rain and hit up the churches, Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, and St. Sulpice, The Arc, anything that was free and outside. The weather was great too. If you see the pic of Notre Dame, the sky is completely black. Not more than 20 seconds after I took that photo we get pummeled by pea size hail. Lovely. Thank goodness we brought most of our Alaska gear, so we stayed nice and dry despite the annoying pelting. We left Friday night for Venice and returned to Paris the following Thursday. The museums were off strike so we toured the Louvre, Orsay, Rodin, and Army museums. I could not put all my pics on this slideshow, so when you all take your visits you can see the scrapbook! I loved Paris. I think the neighborhood we stayed in made it great for me. It was such an awesome place, this is where you need to stay if in Paris. The people seemed very responsive to my feeble attempts of having a conversation and everyone knew enough English for us to get by. This is definitely on my list of places to return. Hope you enjoy this first installment. Oh, and check out Kevin's face while he is standing next to the huge painting dubbed, "The Birth of Venus". Too funny!