Sunday, October 14, 2001

Diary: 10/14/2001

Dear Friends and Family,

Sorry for the delay on this week's note. We're high atop Disneyland Paris right now, and had a hard time getting the computer stuff to work. Actually, most evenings we were just too tired to even thing about it.

Last week was actually week was pretty slow. We are still not sure whether we will move into the house in Morrens on the 12 or 19 (it depends on how fast the current tenants can get in a cleaning company), but we know that every day the temporary apartment seems smaller and smaller. As with last week, Debbie is making an effort to get out at least once a week and find something she has wanted to see - there is another US Mom who feels "terminally lost", and the two of them venture the wilds of Lausanne together.

Between that and school-based functions - each grade has a coffee morning for parents once a month, so that's two meetings a month right there - plus party planning, etc, and she is driving around quite a bit.

The girls are flourishing at school. Heather is conquering long division, has improved her penmanship (the teacher runs sessions on calligraphy, but only to the children with good writing), and is digesting French. Not much is coming out yet, but you can see it in there, processing. Isabelle is busy getting a jump on reading and writing, with a little math thrown in. She is also digesting French, but we are hearing more of it come out and our Swiss friends tell us that what she says, she says clearly and with a perfect accent. Both girls are maintaining the tradition (started by Heather) of nearly perfect scores on all spelling tests. They both also continue the tradition of NEVER using that skill when they actually write. Hmmmm.

Joram is also doing well. He's still not really walking, but we're getting steps in between crawls. And he is able to get up to a stand without pulling up. He is very proud of this accomplishment, and usually gets very excited, waves his hands, and falls flat on his tuchas again. This does not usually bother him though.

Leon's work has finally moved into the next phase of development, which is a relief. He had been stuck in the never-ending Quality Assurance test, but everything that was designed starting back in February has finally been approved, and now his group can start building a new team and designing the sequel.

So the week was slow, nothing much noteworthy. Then on Saturday morning we woke the kids at 6:00am, shuttled them off to the car, and drove an hour to Geneva. From there we parked the car at the airport (long term parking) and took a shuttle to the train station. From there we got onto a Thalys train. At this point, the kids were thoroughly confused about where we were going and what we were doing. Heather guessed we were flying to Florida to see Memah (who was herself visiting all the family down there). Isabelle guessed we were going to London (until we reminded her that was next month).

So we had to drop some hints. The first hint was that we packed their Pooh Ears. For those who haven't see them, these are the equivalent of Mickey Mouse ears but are much cuter and, well, Pooh!

The second hint were two large chocolate Mickeys. At this point the children were making the rest of the train car stare (they were screaming), so the chocolate was a good way to quiet them down. Except for Joram, who started screaming because he wanted the chocolate too.

No, we didn't.

Yes, we are evil. Anyone who would like to call 696-KIDS may do so, since we are safely out of the country.

We arrived at the Disneyland complex under sunny skies and 70 degree weather (good thing we brought our winter coats!). After checking into the hotel, we raced over to the park and got into the swing of things watching the parade down main street. For those who want to think that there is something wrong with this park, or that it somehow is deficient because it's in Europe, we want to tell you here and now that this is the real deal. And for those who would like to believe that this is somehow an island of the USA amid Parisian France, you are also wrong. The park is extremely international, with very little information strictly in English, and nearly everything translated into 5 languages. This is Disney, folks, with a capital "D". The buildings are all solid, everything has a pastel wash over it that makes it look hyper-real, all the employees are friendly, and you have to work very hard to find something out of place or sub-standard. You can say all you want about it as
a choice for a vacation - no it is not scuba diving in Australia, or walking through a village in northern China, or even eating Fondue in a chalet in Switzerland. But if you have 3 small kids, you are guaranteed to get more "parent points" for this trip than any of the others combined.

Now for those who want to complain that the entire thing is too close to Paris.... I can't help you. The only thing I can say is that Hitler couldn't tear down the city, chances are good that Disney won't either.

Our high points so far have been:
* Seeing the set of the Pooh show. The show closed on September 30, but the set is still up and the kids got to ran around the Hundred Acre Wood. Isabelle walked as if she was in a dream come true.
* Walking through the replica of the "Nautilus". Ditto Isabelle's reaction, but this time for Leon.
* Meeting Pooh. It had to happen sooner or later, and today we caught up with the big guy himself. Yes, pictures were taken. We will make many copies.
* Finding the dragon underneath the Enchanted castle. Very nice ambiance and a well done display. It didn't hurt that to get to it, you walked through the only shop selling replica swords. Which was another high point (no pun intended).

Since we still have a few more days to go, it's hard to describe all the experiences in summary. So I'm just going to run down a few other items that we've noticed so far:
* In the two times Leon has been to a Disney theme park, "It's a Small World" has been closed both times. We believe it is a sign from God. In Debbie's opinion, this is a bad sign and she really feels sorry for Leon. In Leon's opinion, it is a sign that, despite all his failings, God still has a blessing or two to send his way.
* It is possible to find affordable meals, and they are not charging $4.00 for a cup of Pepsi.
* After walking in the park all day, nobody cares what the hotel looks like, we all just collapse from exhaustion.

We'll check in next week and let you know how it all turned out. Our return is set for Friday night, and then we are just decompressing, doing laundry, shopping, and keeping quiet until the week after.

Take care, and we hope everyone is well.
Debbie, Leon, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram (and Mickey, Minnie, Pooh, and the rest of the Gang)

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