Hey! We went to France! And we came back! In one day! I love the location of our city.
Saturday brought a visit to a delightful French town, Colmar, in the Alsace region. Absolutely charming. This place has half-timbered buildings, a petit-Venise district, scrumptious crepes, and the biggest jar of Nutella I have ever seen.
Every trip (with or without kids – but especially WITH kids) has its moments. Good and bad. Peaceful and horrific. Alert and asleep. We pushed the envelope a bit with this trip and learned a few things to share with you.
1. Know your (and your kids’) limits. Screech still takes two naps per day. It’s a blessing and a burden depending on how you look at it. And T-Rex almost always takes an afternoon nap. I know, my kids sleep more than most people’s. If you have a non-sleeper, I am so sorry. Peace and quiet in the afternoon is a glorious thing. Two boys who have not slept much all day can be more cantankerous than Grumpy Old Men.
Now that we have the Phil & Teds, we thought we’d be oh-so-clever and put Screech to sleep while T-Rex rode up top. Great, except we forgot one thing. It’s nearly impossible to keep your two year-old from kicking his brother when the opportunity is so plainly unavoidable. One very upset one year-old and two fuming parents later, we broke out the big pretzels to keep everyone on an even keel.
We normally try to be somewhere sleep-able (is that a word?) in the afternoon. I can live with T-Rex skipping a nap, but Screech…must…sleep… He is a total wreck without it. We happened to be on a train during the golden hour. Screech snoozed away on Doc Sci’s shoulder. Thankfully, that worked. For a while. Then he woke up. And screamed his lil’ head off. I should mention that Germans value quiet. It’s about on par with their beer. When it’s Screech v. Germany, everybody loses.
Next weekend, we are planning an even longer day trip. We will have to figure out a better way to allow both boys some rest. Or we – and our fellow countrymen – will pay the price. Can someone make me a sign that says (in German), Warning: loud Americans with babes in tow. Sit somewhere else or buy stock in Bose.
2. Bring food. LOTS of food. My boys could care less about cars, books, balls, balloons, etc. What they really want is popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, pixie sticks, and pie. I have found the best way to pacify my kids is with snacks. Now, don’t send me any hate mail about how I’m turning my boys into obese food addicts. I regularly get scolded by Germans to give my boys more food, not less. Apparently I don’t feed them enough. And they literally eat all. day. long. And no, I do not actually give them pixie sticks. I’m not sure I’ve seen those in a store since 1983.
3. Do your homework. Okay, I will tell you the truth. I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants traveler. Actually, I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person. At all. It really kinda stresses me out. I think you can (and often should) be whimsical once you get where you’re going. But the getting there and back really does need some prep work. Find out the exact train time and number of the train you plan to take. Then find out the time and number of the one before and the two after. Then repeat for the route home. Diaper explosions and lost bears DO happen, and connections are missed. Don’t let yourself get stranded. Unless you’re near a grocery store and have ample cash. Then you’re probably okay. Unless it’s a blizzard. In that case, I probably cannot help you no matter what.
4. Don’t do anything stupid. This is a note to self. I mentioned above that I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I’m also not really a risk taker. Yeah, I know, laugh it up. This is, after all, a blog about a mama taking her two kids to live in a country where she showed up without knowing a soul or any of the language beyond “please” and “thank you.” But seriously, I usually don’t like risk. I also am not big into skinny jeans (there’s a connection here, just roll with me). But, everyone here has them so they can wear boots over the jeans. So I’m thinking about a pair. Debating. And then I see some for 10 euro at a market. I think some more. I eat a crepe. And try as I might to resist it, I want to try those skinny jeans on. Not the brightest idea after a crepe or two or five.
So I leave Doc Sci with the boys in a park and walk back to see what I can see. The guy speaks English. Whew! That’s good – I speak NO French. Then he takes the jeans and the customer (that’s me) to a van. He opens the back, turns on the light, puts the jeans inside and tells me I can try them on there. In the back of a van. Before I know it, the door is closed. And I am totally and completely freaking out. What if the van starts up and pulls away and I never see my family again? Uh hello, no deal is worth that horror show. Goodbye skinny jeans and creepy man with a back-of-the-van dressing room.
5. Go off the beaten path. Look for things that your kids would think are cool. Every city has a playground. Okay some smarty pants can prove me wrong by finding a city without a playground but generally every city has something for the kiddos. And the residents. Finding those not-for-visitors places produces some of the best memories. And pictures.
Next stop, Switzerland. I think. If it doesn’t rain. Or snow. How was your weekend? Leave a comment – I love hearing readers’ adventures!