Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's the best time of the year!

Reims puts up a Christmas village every year. It's pretty neat. They have a big pedestrian zone in the city where they have set up long rows of Christmas cottages that sell anything and everything. There are specialty cheeses, meats, dried fruit, and treats. There are also all sorts of little trinkets, ornaments, handiwork, etc. to look at. Vendors sell roasted chestnuts and hot wine (we are in France). The streets are decked out with all sorts of lights. Even though there isn't snow, the lights make it seem like Christmas anyway.

They have little scenes set up of moving toys, Santas, etc. My favorite is the nativity scene. It was very educational.

Check out Joseph. I had no idea he was a Chinese warrior guy with a sword. I may be a little afraid for baby Jesus right now.

I thought the Christmas village was pretty crowded for my tastes, especially pushing a stroller in the crowd, but look at the contrast. This is one of the many Paris Christmas villages on Avenue des Champs Elysees (just down from the Arch of Triumph). I don’t think I have ever been surrounded by so many people- not even in the Sao Paulo subways! I think I’ll stick to the small-ish town festivals from now on.

We bought a small Christmas tree and some other small decorations to make our home "Christmas-y" It is starting to feel that way too. We have made sugar cookies and have enjoyed lots of chocolate from our advent calendar and watched lots of Christmas movies. Even then, holidays without family around can seem pretty empty and we miss everyone at home, especially during this time. We did wake up to a small skiff of snow this morning, so it may be Christmas time after all!

Very excited about all the decorations!

Helping Dad put them on the tree

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

You just gotta lick the beaters!

Enjoying the cookies first thing in the morning!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We've already been here a month?

What? Where did the time go? We have been loving it here and loving being together as a family again. Life seems pretty much "normal" again. Life is definitely different here, but it seems more and more normal as each day passes. We are adjusting to the public transportation system. Although we both really miss having a car (to see the surrounding countryside and to make errands A LOT easier), it doesn't make sense to buy one for such a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately :(
Calem is a trooper on the tram and the bus. He always wants his own seat and sometimes we aren't allowed to sit next to him. Obviously, he's all grown up! Some trips are very long and we make use of a small mp3/video player while he is in his stroller. It turns a lot of heads and it is not unusual to have a few kids (and adults) next to Calem trying to watch Toy Story, or Bug's Life while surviving their ride. We also get a few disgusted looks because we are ruining/spoiling our child by letting him watch movies while on the go. To tell you the truth, it has been the best money we have spent- it gives us a little peace :).
We use the transportation system everyday. We usually have a tram and a bus transfer to get anywhere from the grocery store, to other stores, to church, and Colby's school. Calem and I always look like we are homeless. I am pushing a stroller and carrying bags of groceries, household items, etc while trying to cram on the bus with other passengers. And we have to do that almost everyday. We have a small fridge but it doesn't have a freezer compartment, so we have to buy meat in small quantities and that means shopping more. Heaven forbid we have a meal without meat :)! I just have to laugh sometimes because it is pretty ridiculous. So thankful for cars!

We live in a town called Reims. If you take the high speed train, you can get to Paris in 40 min. I think it's about the distance from Logan to SLC. And although we are so close, we haven't been able to visit yet. When we talk to ward members, they say this town in really small (especially those who have moved here from elsewhere). To us, it's really big. There is about 240,000 people- so, plenty for our taste.

Our apartment is quite small. It has quite a big living room and one bedroom. We are slowly collecting furniture and we just got a washer! No more laundromat trips for me! The bedroom has become Calem's bedroom and Colby and I sleep in the "living room." It is nice to be able to put Calem to bed and have some time to just veg while watching a show or reading or studying French. I think I would go crazy if there wasn't that bedroom. Our kitchen is small but bigger than the one we had in Logan. We have a bathroom with a sink and a tub and then a separate room with just a toilet in it. It's weird. Also, I think we have a chain-smoking ghost that lives in there because every night it smells so bad of stale cigarette smoke. Awful! The ventilation system must be really messed up. We'll leave here with lung cancer or something. Add Image

Right outside our front door, there is a tram station. Calem loves the trains that stop there. Probably 20 times a day, I see him like this. He screams (yes really screams) when the trains come. He loves it
Mom and Calem hanging out on the tram.Waiting at the bus stop.