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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Audrey Wray - Handcrafted Gemstone Jewelry

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I know, I know, I've promised you all Paris trip tales and I promise they are coming! I don't know if it's been the holiday craziness (started after Halloween) or what, but I have had trouble getting it together!

I’ve probably never mentioned it before but I have been making jewelry, for fun and sale, on and off for over 6 years. I started in the days before Etsy but, signed up a store back in 2008 (yikes!) and only now have officially opened it. My current signature piece is the gemstone and gold wrap bracelet like the amethyst one pictured above. The whole process of making these is very therapeutic so if you have a chance please check out my store!

www.etsy.com/shop/audreywray

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Halloween Pictures

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If you've read this post you know Conrad was a tiger for Halloween last year. Well this year guess what he wanted to be again? . . . Yes a tiger! So I convinced him to be a bit different when I found this white tiger costume. Basically the exact same costume as last year but in white. Still cute of course at least when Conrad wasn't trying to take off his head! Here he is in his Halloween white tiger costume . . .

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Monday, November 04, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Pictures

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Here are a few shots of Conrad and me at the pumpkin patch . . .

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Paris from Plane to Apartment

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While blogging about our plane ride to Paris I forgot to mention Conrad in the seat. This was our first time to travel without a carseat. I purchased this airplane toddler seatbelt by CARES. While reading mixed reviews I took the plunge thinking he'd need it, but sadly like a few other reviewers it didn't work for us. The middle strap ended up under his neck and even when I made it really tight behind the seat it slid down anyway. I took it off right after takeoff, cannot recommend and actually left it at the Paris apartment.

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Here's Conrad exhausted "enjoying" the Charles De Gaulle airport terminal train

Let's see, we last left off after getting off the plane without a stroller . . .

I carried our large carryon on and largish personal tote bag and Conrad had to take the pillow. He was exhausted and really wanted me to carry him which was impossible. After leaving the plane, realizing we wouldn't have a stroller I asked one of the flight attendants how far baggage claim was, she responded "not really far." Well maybe not really far for someone while thinks a mile isn't far! It wouldn't have been as bad without a 3 year old, but even for a normal couple I think they'd complain about the trek. We took two different terminal trains, which Conrad liked as it was a train. But once back to walking and dragging the pillow he was back to being unhappy.

We finally made it to customs and I really shed a few tears when I saw the line. We waited in line for about 10 minutes, Conrad trying to sleep on the floor. I felt helpless! I nice Frenchman quickly said "Parlez-vous français?" Before I could respond based on the two classes I had recently taken at the Alliance Française before leaving. He asked in English, "Do you speak French?" As if I didn't know what "Parlez-vous français?" meant but I was greatful he seemed to be trying to help us. I told him in English, only a little and he said I should get the attention of one of the airport workers and they could help me. Well I couldn't get their attention but I did see random people going into another shorter line at the airport workers assistance. At this point I didn't care and dragged Conrad under the rope to this other line. An airport worker grabbed my arm, I thought at first to get on to me, but nicely took us to the very front where we cut right in line in front of another frenchman who was very accommodating. We then waited a minute and were through customs!

I can't remember how far baggage claim was from this point but I was elated and Conrad seemed pleased to not be waiting anymore. When we finally made it to baggage I was relieved to find our two large bags and stroller on the carousel. I put Conrad in, loaded up our carry ons and pillow on the stroller and strapped together our two rolling suitcases and we were off! We found the driver we had set up with the apartment and got in the car. Conrad was very excited to see he had a car seat. No idea why but maybe because it was comforting to him.

We made it to our apartment in the St. Germain area both of us very excited although still exhausted. I had found the apartment through Paris Attitude which I definitely recommend. Although our apartment was our 3rd choice, the first two being unavailable, it was not fault of Paris Attitude, which is just the in between locator for owners and tenants. I feel Paris Attitude did a great job as the middle man and any issues people have would be because every owner is different. Yes it was frustrating for me that my first two choices weren't available, my thinking is why would they be up on the website. But if an owner wants to post it for perhaps future tenants then so be it I guess.

Check in was fine except Conrad was wanting to change clothes and play, while I wanted to sleep and the Paris Attitude guy needed to go over every detail of the apartment so there wasn't any question of damages. So while he was doing that Conrad and I got settled in. When the apartment guy left Conrad found a basket of toys left by the owners while I unpacked. Then we both crashed in bed and thank goodness we were both able to finally nap!

 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toddler plane ride to Paris or Fearing for my Sanity

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Note Conrad's super short haircut to last the 2 months in Paris

My first concern about going to Paris with a 3 year old was of course the plane ride. I had flown with Conrad alone on a trip to California and all went well. But 9 ½ hours with a busy boy stuck in the same seat was an entirely different story. I went back and forth with Air France trying to book an extra empty seat for you know, play room and to avoid bothering a stranger. It was booked over the phone, cancelled without telling me, I booked it again, and again Air France cancelled it without giving me notice and crazy enough that scenario happened again a third time! I should mention I wasn’t the crazy one, each time someone booked it they assured me it wouldn’t be cancelled. Yes, I really do need to file a complaint. Finally I was able to speak to someone that knew what was going on. Turns out you are not allowed to buy an empty seat unless you are a “high body mass” person. I even asked “what if I say I am?” The agent assured me I would lose my seat without refund upon arrival of me not being so. In short I spent at least 3 plus hours on the phone finally to find this out. The extra seat idea had helped my sanity but at this point I just wanted to book tickets that weren’t going to get cancelled!

I should also mention I never call and book or buy anything, I always do it online. So of course this irritated me further in that I could have booked online and chosen my seats. At this point I had tickets but no seats, so of course I was stressed. Delta who’s affiliated with Air France, says Air France doesn’t open seats until right before the flight. Randomly about a month or so before our flight I logged on and took the only 2 remaining economy seats. They were the very last two seats at the back left of the plane and even better there were just two so no one would be seated next to us! I later learned that you should never select these as the reclining is supposed to be limited. But ours weren’t, we had the same as the people in front of us. And for gosh sakes I am sitting in economy for 9 ½ hours, with a 3 year old . . . I am supposed to be uncomfortable!

So these seats turned out to be perfect for us and I would do it again. Of course I had horrible back pain but Conrad could yell, no one could hear us, we could get up and go to bathroom as we pleased, it was perfect! I had contemplated upgrading to the extra room economy but reviews said it wasn’t worth it so I didn’t. Yes I would have loved business class but I couldn’t fathom spending almost $9k of Paris shopping money for what was sure to be 9 hours of misery either way, again back to my fear of flying with my wild 3 year old.

But Conrad was amazing! I packed his backpack with new toys like Mr. Potato Head, a few Cars Movie cars, some crayons shaped like rocks, coloring and sticker books etc. And we had an IPad and Computer for movies. As soon as we boarded the plane he changed into pajamas and slippers. And even though we left at ideal napping time, Conrad did not nap, EVER on this flight! I definitely felt like I entertained him most of the time. I tried to get him to rest by laying him across his seat on a pillow, which we brought, scratching his back but I guess he was too excited to see the Eiffel Tower.

My BIG warning to parents about Charles De Gaulle, if you gate check your stroller it WILL NOT be at the gate when you get off the plane. I repeat it WILL NOT BE AT THE GATE! It ends up at the carousel with your luggage. There were a lot of displeased parents on this flight. So I am an only parent to an exhausted child who didn’t sleep on the plane, we have a large carry-on, Conrad’s back pack, a large personal bag and a pillow, all needed to get through customs and somehow to our luggage. I should also mention we took two different trams to get through the airport so no, we were not close to where we needed to be! Ugh!

Tune in soon for that nightmare story! But to summarize, Conrad was the best I could have hoped on the plane, not sleeping wasn’t too bad and the worst seats on the plane turned out to be the best for us!

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Here’s Conrad showing his Jess Brown doll named Oscar. While preparing for our trip we read a lot of great books. One of our favorites was Kiki and Coco in Paris about a girl named Kiki and her rag doll Coco exploring Paris together. The book inspired Conrad to ask for Oscar. What we liked best about the book was the beautiful photographs of Paris and for Conrad I think it was knowing he would soon be in the same places. He definitely asked where Kiki and Coco were when we arrived to Paris!

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