Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome 2010!

Happy New Year!

We hope all of you enjoyed the holidays as much as we have this year, and that the New Year brings you joy, fulfillment, and good health.

Santa apparently received our change of address card, and was able to make it to Paris despite the fact that all our fireplaces are sealed shut. We left a landing zone in front of the window, and he AND the reindeer made it in to enjoy the cookies and veggie treats left for them.

After enjoying the obligatory Christmas treats (donut balls and egg casserole) the family enjoyed the unwrapping, and Mom and Dad were pleased to see among the boys the appearance and growth of that elusive phenomenon - the joy of giving... The day was capped off talking with family, zipping over to the nearby park on scooters to burn some of the excess calories, and watching a dance extravaganza put together by upcoming stars "The Fastest Turtle" (Eli), "Pop Style Penguin" (Lincoln), and MC Graham.

Following a weekend of intensive toy use Kristie (aka Pink Mama due to her new hot pink scooter) departed on her adventure of visiting friends in Cameroon, courageously leaving Dad in charge of three kids and two dogs. Day one was consumed with the creation of a ping-pong table (thank you Connolly family for the inspiration). The visit to the local Home Depot was a stark reminder that we are not in Kansas anymore - nor anywhere near the great U.S. of A. where cars are king and bigger is better. After a lot of asking for help and digging in bins we found two boards that could combine to be almost the right size. Lacking carts, these were large and heavy items were dragged by hand to the checkout, then out of the mall (yes mall), past the food court and down the elevators to the parking garage. Unloading was even more fun, double parking, dispatching children to open and hold the doors, unstrapping the lumber, dashing to the lobby to dump it, parking the car in the garage, recovering the children and lumber in the lobby, and hauling it up four floors (elevator is too small) to the apartment. Nonetheless, no effort would be too great for this project, as ping pong is on par with soccer at the boys school, and they have become very passionate about it.

Day two was consumed with a road trip to the commissary of a U.S. military base in Belgium, where we loaded the car to the gills with macaroni and cheese, pickles, peanut butter, ranch dressing and similar "essential" foodstuffs. Luckily, on day three a family visitor arrived, significantly raising the number of "eyes on target" for my most adventuresome charge (Lincoln), and encouraging the addition of food groups other than Pop Tarts to our diet.

To my own surprise there have not yet been any major mishaps - though I did have a fatherly failure when I tried to claim the identity of Optimus Prime - leader of the Autobots (from the Transformers movie - source of Lincolns favorite characters). We happened to be in the kitchen trying to cook dinner which was becoming harder as the bickering escalated - so I made a crass power grab hoping to get my youngest autobot to stand down a bit. Sadly, my claim was summarily rejected when he immediately shot back back "Dad, you're not Optimus Prime... Optimus Prime doesn't cook!"

In a later effort to convince him that cooking can be cool, we made a family treat formerly known as buckeyes - now rechristened "sugar bombs", probably because they are one part chocolate, one part peanut butter, one part regular butter, and two parts sugar... While the sugar and fat managed to convince him that cooking is a respectable activity Lincoln stopped halfway through, gave me a huge naughty grin and offered up a third name of "chocolate farts".

Despite these strong indications of my tenuous grip on parental authority we decided to enjoy New Years in style out on the town (graciously assisted by our incredibly patient house guests). In honor of its 120th anniversary, the Eiffel Tower has a special set of lights, so we joined a few thousand Parisians in watching a cool light show topped off with some fireworks, and then popping some bottles of bubbly (apple cider and the other kind) to mark the New Year. Other than a VERY crowded metro ride back home, it was a huge success and is making for a very calm and quiet New Years morning...

Again, we hope all of you had as much fun, and that the New Year is a great one for you.

Stay posted for the conclusion to the solo Dad series - because tomorrow I lose my backup, and will pack our (much smaller) car with three boys, two dogs and a sled and take a road trip to the alps in search of snow.

A few memories from the end of 2009

Christmas morning
Mom and Dad enjoying a Holiday dinner out

Brotherly love

Showtime (note the kneepads - and skid marks on the wood floors)

The Fastest Turtle getting down

Game on!

"Massage Train"

Ping Pong buddies

Too Cool for School

Dancing with the Doggies

Happy 2010!

Bottoms Up

Reinforcements Tom and Hilde

Autobots in the kitchen

all the best from the Swaney Boys

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Seasons Greetings

Happy Holidays everyone

We've been trying to make the best of the holiday season - Paris is gorgeous, and we've even had several small snow storms, (see below) - which made the kids and dogs VERY happy.

We have been slowed down a bit by what we think was the swine flu - plus some nasty secondary infections... but we think we are finally on the mend.

Anyhow - we hope all of you are well and wish you a blessed holiday season and wonderful 2010.

We had the luck to celebrate Thanksgiving with Kristie's family - and a trip to EuroDisney

Here are our mad hatters in their teacup

Lincoln riding the Metro with his friend Bud

Scene from a boatride on the Seine

EuroDisney with the Grandparents

We also had the great fortune and opportunity of attending the wedding of brother Dan and wife Viviana in Milan, Italy
Our stomachs are still full!

Bride and Groom

Our very own Eiffel Tower

Christmas Choir

Fun in the snow

First snowman in four years

Graham's birthday party - on the ferris wheel

Party Guests

Happy 11th birthday buddy!