It seems that on day 7, the jetlag and super late nights finally caught up to Ellie because this was her ONE cranky day of the entire trip. She woke up very late (9am) and was in a fragile emotional state the entire day. After spilling her milk all over the table and freaking out over just about everything, we finally managed to get out the door for what was supposed to be a full day of fun activities. Our first stop was to tackle the crazy line at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Ellie really wanted to see the gargoyles up close and climb the tight, circular 400 stairs all the way to the top. She welcomed the challenge of getting to the tip without taking any "resting breaks." Unfortunately, this was also the rainiest day we had all week and I, doofus that I am, had forgotten my friend Agne's spare umbrella that she had left out for us. Additionally, I had also forgotten my lifeline, aka: Iphone, which essentially rendered me completely useless seeing as all the important info I needed was in that phone. The main reason for the panic with regard to the phone is that I had the address, phone number and gate security code for a family friend's house nearby that we were supposed to meet for lunch at 12:30pm sharp. And Agnes's phone number was also in my phone. None of which I had with me. I wasn't sure how I'd manage our lunch meeting but was hopeful my photographic memory would kick in from looking up my friend's location on the map last night and I would somehow find it later on when we needed to go there.
First things first. We got in the line which was wrapped around the corner just as it started to REALLY rain. I asked the people behind us if they could hold our spot while I ran across the street and bought us a hideous tourist-trap umbrella at the souvenir store. I bought the rickety umbrella and we ran back to our spots in line and stood there for an hour in the pouring rain (wondering why everyone was staying in line rather than finding a warm, dry cafe!?) and at that point I realized that there was NO WAY we would be done with the line in time to meet our family friend at 12:30pm. But, without my phone to call her, (without even access to her NUMBER no less), I was in a bit of a quandary. I didn't want to give up our hard earned one hour wait (and advancement in the line) after what we had endured to get to the point we were at.... Without my phone I couldn't call our friend, I couldn't call my beloved host/buddy/savior Agnes, I couldn't call anyone actually.... Sigh.
So, after a quick calculation, I ended up asking the folks behind and in front of us if they would be so kind as to once again hold our spot while I ran and tried to find a public telephone. By then we had been chatting over an hour in the rain so we had all bonded in a way you only can huddled under umbrellas as fellow tourists waiting for a special sight seeing experience. They graciously agreed to save our spot. Ellie and I took off tasmanian devil style in search of a phone. I found one a block away, and yes, I did the only thing I could do: I called my mom. Bear in mind, it was about 3 am USA time.... I knew she would freak out when the phone rang with a French number on it so the first words out of my mouth were WE ARE OK! Then I apologized! I told her I needed her to call her best friend, the friend we were going to see, to let her know we were going to be late due to the line and that I didn't have her pass code to get into her gated artists community. My mom cursed me (in a playful way) and then Ellie and I ran off to get back in line. My mom called Valerie who has been my mom's best friend for 35+ years and explained the predicament.
In the end we stood in line another 80 mn. Ellie was really a trooper throughout this, fortunately. Not thrilled but not complaining too much. We finally made it into the Notre Dame and got to climb the stairs and Ellie literally darted all the way to the top. I was huffing and puffing keeping up with her. She passed up several people who had taken breaks in the little enclaves, all of them laughing at me trying to keep up with my kiddo who is sprinting up 400 stairs without breaking a sweat.
By the time we got to the top the rain had stopped and the sun even came out. We had to wait at the top until it was our turn to go down and Ellie and I just soaked in the sun rays, reveling in the view. We then hauled our now-starving selves over to Valerie's house where she treated us to the most amazing asian-euro-inspired lunch and homemade desserts ever! SO YUMMY! Valerie is a very cool gal, an accomplished artist and a pleasure to be around so I really enjoyed seeing her Paris artist studio that she lives in. It's such an inspirational place to work and live in. Ellie, unfortunately, was getting grumpier by the minute for whatever reason and we decided to go take a walk and head to a playground. On our way there we stopped by some of the shoe stores in her neighborhood and Valerie ended up VERY generously buying me the most AMAZING, stylish, comfortable, high quality pair of sandals I have ever worn. I mean, really, these shoes are just fabulous and I am *crazy* in love with them. It's like walking on clouds, like soft, fluffy, puffy, heaven-sent loveliness and yet incredibly stylish. Yeah, I kinda love them.
At this point, Ellie's jealousy decided to rear its ugly head and she started crying because she didn't get any new pair of shoes, which, beyond being totally obnoxious and rude, is also just NOT OK. So, even though Valerie had fully intended on giving Ellie a special surprise, we both decided that after her little tantrum it would be best NOT to reinforce that kind of behavior by rewarding her with any kind of tangible item, which is what she was coveting I really appreciated Valerie backing me up on my discipline and not trying to convince me otherwise. Valerie is a mom and totally gets it. Besides, it's not like Ellie hadn't already been spoiled with little souvenirs, a new outfit, yummy treats and, HELLO, a trip to PARIS?!
Instead, we took a walk down to the Jardin de Luxembourg and enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings and another super fun playground. (See video at the end)
Them it was time to rush back to Agnes's house in order to get our little mini shoot done with her and her kiddos. So we scrambled back home as fast as we could after a hasty goodbye to Valerie. Unfortunately, when we got back to Agnes's house, the rain had come back in and the shoot had to be postponed to the next day. We did have a lovely evening at "home" with Agnes and her kids and by then whatever had been causing Ellie's unpleasant attitude had been flushed out of her system. Ellie and Manon had by this time become attached at the hip like little siamese twins with matching haircuts. These two were utterly and completely inseparable. Manon is by farther sweetest, most responsible, mature, caring and adorable teenaged girl have ever met. I can only hope that Ellie turns out half as good as Manon has! :)
I went to bed that night a little forlorn knowing that I only had two days left in Paris. It seemed to have flown by so ridiculously fast. I definitely was not remotely ready to go home. The only thing that shook me out of my fervent desire to stay was talking to Gavin on the phone and hearing his sweet, tender, loving little boy voice. I tried so hard to stay dignified but just a few minutes in I had tears rolling down my cheeks. And as much as I tried to disguise it in my voice for his sake, he still sensed it and asked me if I was OK? Argh. That boy is just too sweet for words. He was having lots of fun with his friends and grandma and so on but he definitely was ready to have mom come home. And Kooper? Goodness, that dog was full on SUFFERING with me gone. Apparently he would cry and whine all day and night and kept dragging my pillow into his crate to sleep with it. Seriously. He NEEDED me home! I'm not even sure it's healthy for a dog to love a human as much as that dog loves me! Ha! Regardless, I was going to make the most of enjoying the next two days with my friends and letting Ellie experience 48 more hours of Paris life. :)
Stay tuned for another chronicle in a few days. I'm currently working on editing a big client session and need to get caught up before I do any more chronicles!
REMINDER: THESE PHOTOS WERE ALL TAKEN WITH A POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA!!!!