Friday afternoon is usually a nice wind down for the week. Louis goes to nursery for nearly four hours and I can tidy up the house and have a little down time (if Elena is good enough to nap for ages). But this week, when I showed up to drop Louis off at nurser, the place looked deserted. The shutters were closed, lights off, and no one else was there to drop off their kids. And then one guy showed up and looked as confused as me…

Waiting in the rain… for nothing.

So I called my english-speaking friend whose kid goes to the same class at the same time. She’s all busy getting ready for the party, which starts at 2.30, somewhere else.


How did I miss that?

Well, probably because the notice was in french, if I got one, and it was handed to me at the same time as Louis jumped in my arms, along with his artwork (generally a lot of stickers stuck, or not, onto a picture of something seasonal).

Oops. Am I meant to bring anything? And where is it? I asked, frantically.

It’s okay, it starts in half an hour, only a couple hundred meters away, conveniently opposite the supermarket. So I bought my plate of food to share, including a festive paper plate to put it on, and a few other groceries, then went to the party.

It was great! It was also a bit difficult. I had to lock up the buggy outside (good thing I now carry a bike lock in the buggy at all times), put the rain cover on, and carry the kids and groceries upstairs to the party. Thank god for my friends who helped with the kids, and hallelujah for Louis being a placid child, standing among all the adults in the coat room, easily lost among all the people and scarves, waiting for me to find a coat hanger… it was chaos.

But then we found seats and Louis went up with all the little kids to sit on the mat. Elena and I sat at the back and watched the show: a shadow play! They used some of the kids’ doudous (cuddlies, or favourite toy companions they take with them to kindy) as the characters in the play. Elmo was one of the stars!

C’est Elmo!

All the doudous.

After the show the directrice told us what was happening next. I didn’t really follow. But I followed the crowd and got in the way just a little.

Then we had a fantastic spread of afternoon tea and Louis ate quite a few mandarins and mini kinder-surprise eggs (the ones that are too small to have a surprise in them).

Can I have another one?
Finish that one first, darling…

So it was a fabulous afternoon, but a bit of a surprise, and we got home around four, exhausted. We were having friends over for dinner that evening so I was juggling kids and dinner prep. Luuk, fortunately, came home early, and our friends arrived late – whew! But it all turned out lovely.

On Saturday I had three things on. There was the plan to shop Paris with my french friend, then my usual writers’ group and after that a Girls Night Out, which doubled as a farewell to one of the American expats I’ve gotten to know since we’ve been living in Paris.

I skipped writers group and still wore myself out.

Shopping Paris was in actual fact: having lunch at an arty restaurant in the 3rd arrondisement and then browsing the windows and displays at Galeries Lafayette.

The window displays at Galeries Lafayette: mechanical beasts and marionettes. Spectacular!

We were very self-controlled on the shopping front. I bought one christmas ornament and one present for Elena from the fabulous toy department.

Inside Galeries Lafayette, a six-storey christmas tree. Très brillant!

Up the top of the galleries there is a ‘panorama’ – which pretty much means the same thing in english and french from what I can tell, though I probably spelled it wrong in one or the other language. Anyway, lovely view of paris and lovely cup of coffee in the brisk breeze.
(The arrow is pointing to the arc de triomphe. I didn’t feel the need to point out any other landmarks.)

At breakfast I had been worrying how I’d get a christmassy thing in with the kids, for all my mad running about. Luuk was looking exhausted and far from enthusiastic about a day alone with the kiddies. But in the end the kids got two christmassy things!

Luuk took the kids to the mall and they saw Santa. In fact it sounds like they stalked him around the shops because unlike all the mall santas I’ve ever seen, he wasn’t sitting on his throne having children ushered onto his knee by an elf/photographer. This santa was wandering around the shop and if you caught him near his throne then he said something along the lines of, “Want a photo? Do you have a camera?”

So Luuk took the photos of the kids on Santa’s knee and it cost nothing. Not bad eh?
Though perhaps an elf/photographer might have had them looking at the camera &/or smiling…

They also did a little christmas shopping: the kids picked out presents for each other (or that’s how Luuk tells it, and given that someone is getting ANOTHER giraffe, I believe him).

I walked the scenic route home, so as to grab some bread, and I passed some kind of excitement going on in the square – lots of kids with lights and whatnot. So when I got home we bustled the kids out the door to see what was going on… and we ended up participating in a bit of a christmas parade. It would have been better had it not been raining, but the music was cool and someone was on stilts. So no complaints.

It ended at a park with a colossal downpour…

Pennies from heaven? Good thing we live nearby…

We left before the fireworks and got home drenched, and with no regrets about missing the fireworks at all. Crazy, crazy rain.

In the evening I went to my girls night out and had a lovely, not-too-late night.

Au Revoir, ma cherie!

Seafood pizza at Le Berny, Antony

live music in the background, good friends in the foreground (who even let me take photos – cheers!)

Lots of fun! I’m quite tired now though. With just over a week to Christmas I’m sure we’re not the only people overdoing it… but hopefully will be able to put our feet up and wrap presents or something for the next few evenings.