I wondered how our kids would fare in the Louvre, did you? (Internal groan.) How long would they last? (Big sigh.) How could we possibly bribe them in order to see what we wanted to see? (Heart palpitations.) Would certain areas be closed for Michelle Obama and her daughters coming through? (Anxiety mounting.)
The first Sunday of every month, most museums in Paris are free. We had hoped to get two in today - the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay (famous impressionists like Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne) . . . but after the Louvre, a beyond-horrific diaper blowout, lack of sufficient wipes for said disaster, and impending rain caused us forgo the Orsay and head back to the apartment. I'm sure you understand.
We did take a scenic, unrushed walk back including some feeding and chasing of pigeons and ducks and watching the mini-sailboats in the Jardin de'Tuileries. None of us are bummed. Ryan got to watch the final two sets of the French open before taking a nap. McKay was already sacked out in the stroller but in need of a bath for the aforementioned reason. Morgan was soon napping after a bottle. Easton was only too happy to enjoy popcorn and hot chocolate with Ryan and myself before getting to play a game on Ryan's iphone, and I thought it was a nice break and a chance to collect my memories of this trip. The impressionists will have to be devoured on another trip. One museum a day is quite enough for us at this stage of the game!
Ryan and I each had a few things we really wanted to see and saw others on our audio tour. We opted for the "45 minute" Masterpieces tour plus some other side trips before, in the midst of, and after. In all, we spent three hours there. I feel pleased with what we accomplished but know we barely even scratched the surface of all there is to absorb. It pretty much parallels my feeling about most endeavors I have in this stage of young motherhood. So much in the world I'd love to absorb and learn, but now isn't exactly the right season.
Here's how we survived.
Containment of our wandering, chasing, climbing crew is paramount! This crash course of a couple hours in the world's largest museum on free Sunday just wasn't the right time to instill a love of the arts in my children. On a couple occasions I did point out some details to Easton who was semi-interested, like the massive "Napolean's Coronation by David." I would actually really enjoy detailed trips to the Louvre to study these masterpieces, without children.
We stuck the boys in the stroller, strapped Morgan to me in the BabyBjorn, picked up our audio guides, hit the bathrooms and finally after that 45 minutes, we were off!
We felt pretty good about our strategy and it worked well. Well, it worked well until we had to navigate this tricky spot around Winged Victory which is surrounded on all sides by sets of stairs and crowds of people on each landing. Ryan came up with a plan. He went and took his gander first while I entertained the children and then I got my turn - uninterrupted by needy little ones. Then we tackled the stairs and landings all together on our way to the next site which meant going past the "Winged Victory" and up to the next landing. Man was it warm in the Louvre today! ARGH!
When we have to do stairs, we have the boys hop out and Ryan hefts the back while I heft the front. Our dear double stroller is pretty heavily loaded down with our needs for the day - snacks; lunch; waters; umbrellas; jackets; sanitation essentials; Morgan's fare of bottles, cereal, and baby food; passports; extra clothes; travel guide; maps; first aid kit and drugs . . . no wonder it takes almost three hours from waking up to make it out the door! I'd do more the night before, but we never get in until midnight so we all just crash.
Back to my story. The boys followed us up the stairs to the WV landing and amongst the crowd and our load, Ryan and I both lost site of McKay for a moment. In horror, we realized McKay was climbing on the edge of the WV! We pull him off and are in the process of scolding him when we see Easton doing the same! This is why containment is necessary! I mistakenly directed us up to the wrong landing and we had to go by the WV once again - down and then up again. You can be sure we had eagle eyes on the boys and they knew it!
Thanks to my personal assistant, the cheapo, ugly but highly functional marathon Timex, I started them with a couple gummy letters every five minutes until Ryan and I just started handing them out on demand so we could finish the audio commentaries. I hate placating whiners, but we're talking survival instincts here, folks!
When all resources (candy and water) have been exhausted, we had to pull the movie card. Ryan promised the boys that if they behaved well on this trip he would take them to see the new 3D "UP" movie at the theater on base tomorrow. Easton has been real excited about this which means McKay thinks it's a pretty good thing too. I can remember at least twice when this card was played today which really isn't too bad in the large scheme of things.
We all survived and enjoyed the gardens afterward, especially the little sailboats in a big fountain.