I will no longer justify

Justify.

My son wanted to download a game but needed my credit card to do so, he started the process to justify to me why he wanted it. I stopped him. I said, “you do not need to justify the reason to me. If you have the money, Transfer it into my account and I will happily let you use my card.”

He replied, “Oh!” With that answer came happiness. Justifying your reasons make you feel attacked or unsupported in decisions. I make him justify when safety is an issue, but that’s my job.

As an adult, I don’t think I should have to justify my reasons for participating in events that bring me pleasure, especially if the event is legal, harmless and fun. Yet I find myself being asked CONSTANTLY why I am doing things like my copious amount of Disney trips.

Really? Why do you need to know why I want to go?Just because it is not your preference does not mean I should hate it too. You don’t hear me asking questions like, why do you have a lake lot you need to visit every weekend? Why do you go to Vegas all the time? How many times have you been to Europe? Did you know there are other places to go? Or what on EARTH do you want an RV for? That means you have to camp. Sitting in a campsite for a week is not my idea of a vacation, yet I do not say that to you. Instead I ask, “Did you have an amazing trip?”

I get that question a lot too. Do you know there are other places in the world to visit? Yes, I do know that actually. I have been blessed with parents who knew the gift of travel would be the best thing they could give me.

I have favorite cities (London – 3 times and Paris twice – I’m sure New York will be one when I get there)

I have favorite States (Washington  and Oregon, been to both 4 times)

I have Favorite Countries (Italy once and Canada – yes I am biased but Canada is amazing)

I have visited 15 countries, 23 different U.S States, 6 provinces and territories in Canada, and well over 280 cities and towns or places of interest.

Sure there are still places I can go but that costs major money. When I take my family to Europe for the summer, it is at major hit to my wallet. It takes time to save for trips like that. I need adventure and fun when I go on vacation. I do not want to sit and stare at trees or lay on the beach. I want to relive the happiness I felt as child, feel completely relaxed and laugh hard.

I am not guaranteed this will happen on a holiday to destinations unknown. Getting lost in a country when you do not speak the language is scary. There is a stress level when trying new things. I do push myself to try these things, but I do not want to do that sort of trip yearly.

So I plan Disney holidays. Telling me you went and hated it, tells me you didn’t research or plan anything. People ask me for tips and I am only too happy to share. This will enhance their trip. Who doesn’t want a great trip? The key to any trip being great is planning, know what you are getting into. Then you can be secure in your knowledge to take risks, try the new stuff, or get lost in the dark and find your way out.

I am about to go back to Disneyland. I am going with some girlfriends. I have planned this experience to amaze them because it is a first for both of them. This will make it fun for me. I love seeing things fresh through new eyes. Everytime I go there is something new to explore. Now I challenge you to take a risk. I do it all the time, so you don’t have to tell me I need to – I’ve got it covered thanks.

I have been to some of these places more than once and some I never want to see again. So the next time you hear I am off on a travel destination that isn’t a favorite or yours, keep that in mind – it is NOT YOUR trip, it is mine.

Dead or Alive, Who Would You Invite to Dinner?

I am home today dying from the plague. I am in good company. Due to the fact it is a pandemic, I have friends across the city who have it too. In fact, I have family in PEI who claim to have it. You know what they say, misery loves company.

There is something so restful about being home alone, with nothing to do but feel better. I love the fact that I have total control over the TV and watch stuff that my family would call BORING – I call it intellectual.

Yesterday my great friend Chicken Hawk posted this on my fb wall:

When I read this I actually snorted. It’s one off those “funny because it’s true” moments. But what does that really say about me? I have had all morning to ponder this.

It is not that I don’t play well with others, I think the reality is I don’t RELATE well to others. I try to be empathetic and kind, but not really understanding the situation – leaves me at a bit of a loss. I suppose I have a set of standards and file people into the 3 different categories.

  1. You and I see eye to eye, therefore we connect and I consider you a kindred spirit.
  2. What the hell are you thinking? I don’t get you. Therefore I will be polite and friendly, please do not expect more from me than that because you will be disappointed.
  3. I think I can persuade you into thinking like me. Let me explain…. Then I convince them the errors of their ways and suddenly they are in my camp.

I am pretty sure all people do this except for those enlightened beings like Mother Teresa, Budha, Chatterbox, Gandhi, and Yoda. Enlightened beings let go of ego and are kind, wise, compassionate and loving. I think the rest of us strive to be like that but strive is the best we are able to do at this moment in time.

While I was laying around dying from the plague, I watched Midnight in Paris. It was about a man who happened to be a writer who was not satisfied with his life and longed to live in the golden era of the 1920’s in Paris. He wanted to be a part of the the arts movement with the great masters of the 20th century. Seriously, who doesn’t want to hang out with Hemingway when he was young and brilliant? Or Picasso while he was exploring his talents? To be able to sit in a cafe in Paris and discuss interesting theories or talk about inspiration. This interested me greatly!

It had me thinking about who I would invite to dinner in a cafe in Paris. Here is my list:

  1. Pablo Picasso
  2. Henry Matisse
  3. Katherine Hepburn
  4. Charlie Chaplin
  5. George Harrison
  6. Winston Churchill
  7. Albert Einstein
  8. Martin Luther King
  9. Emily Murphy
  10. Warren Buffet
  11. Ernest Hemingway
  12. Steven Hawking

Interestingly enough these people, who are in my opinion,  were/are great genius or brilliant in their field. I bet you anything, the average person saw them as jerks or big inflated egos or failed to see their brilliance at first. All 12 of those people on my list had a passion or a vision. They knew they were right. They could clearly see what others could not. This is what is impressive. They were not held back by their co-worker or classmate saying “THAT will never work, what are you thinking?” On the contrary, they heard those voices trying to hold them back and still moved forward.

As I look around at the crazy people of the 21st Century, I wonder who will stand out in 100 years from now. It will be those people who are told they are crazy and their ideas won’t work. It will be those people who don’t conform to the norm and strive for something better than status quo. This has answered a question I had burning in my head for a while now.

I have the opportunity to work on a project that I have no passion for. It serves a purpose of legacy to the agency where I work and it suppose to bring great satisfaction to my work as a whole. It is doing none of those. It would be me working on something that is expected of me, or something that others are interested in. I need to find a project that carries my passion. Passion is what makes things fun and exciting for me. My kids were talking to me about their impending career paths. They told me what other expect of them. I told them to disregard other’s opinions. They main two reasons for a chosen career path must be passion and ethics. Are you passionate and believe in what you are doing? Does it excite you at the thought of doing it every day? Is it ethical? Does it play a part in the greater good by bringing joy, comfort or necessity out of life? Then do it. If it doesn’t, then find something else that will. That is the way you make a difference.

There, I answered my own question. I am not going to do that project. I have all the time in the world to find something that I feel passionate about and believe in.

So…Who is on your list for the dinner party of the 20th century?

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part III – Frontierland

When I was a kid, my brother and I we able to venture around Disneyland alone. Before you say a THING, it was a different time. We were given my mom’s watch and had to check into the Hub and see them every so often. The sense of freedom rocked my world. We would ride coasters endlessly. When we returned as older teens, we would ditch the oldies at night, and head into the park to ride coasters at night. SO FREAKING AWESOME! Our favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR) located in Frontierland.

Our early morning adventure in Paris was about to begin and we stood with the crowd waiting for the rope to drop at the entrance of Frontierland. I knew BTMRR was waiting for me. I knew it was vastly different from the other parks, I couldn’t wait to try it out!  As the cast members dropped the rope and allowed us to enter the land, I was taking in the detail of the the place. I had been to Walt Disney World in August when the Halloween Decorations went up. I found that to be fun and exciting. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of thematic  decorations placed all over Disneyland Paris. There were pumpkin people every where, I must admit, I loved the attention to detail! I was caught up in looking at all the amazing little things before I realized I was at Phantom Manor. It’s equivalent is Haunted Mansion in the sister parks in the states. Phantom Manor sat on the hill over looking Frontierland. It had an air about it not unlike the home next to the Bates Motel. It LOOKED spooky and creepy.

The queue was particularly well themed with nifty little details that rocked my world. My family was walking fast up the hill while I was quickly snapping photos along the way. We were in a time crunch and wanted to see everything, but how I WISH I could have lingered just a bit longer to take in the surroundings!  As we entered the Manor, the spiel was given to us about not getting out alive, just like the other parks. Only it was in two languages, quite comfortable really for Canadians who are use to everything being duel languages, it felt oddly home like.  Away we were whisked to the Doom Buggies and on our first Disneyland Paris Adventure! The ride did not disappoint! The order was different from the American Parks but the story was very similar, Madame Leota’s voice was french and didn’t not sound even remotely the same, but I loved it just the same.

After the ride we wandered down the path to the cemetery to take in the hilarity of the tombstones. A very western theme was present. It gave the impression that America is all about the wild west. The views from the cemetery were really spectacular, showing off the sights and sounds of the Mark Twain. We took a bit of time to soak it all in, when we should have been hightailing it to BTMRR!! It was a Saturday with the first sunshine Paris had seen in a while, the park was getting busy! So we made our way to BTMRR and looked at the stand-by time, 10 minutes! YAY! That is barely a wait at all. My general rule of thumb is if it is longer than 20 minutes stand-by then get a fastpass! So away we went! Within moments we realized the Stand-by LIED! It LIED to my face! We ended up waiting about 30 minutes, not cool Stand-by!  Did it really matter? it did a little, it took away from other rides in the afternoon. But in the big picture, BTMRR was super fun! It was mor intense than it’s sister coasters. Traveling under the water to get to the island was a fun experience. Didi I like the ride itself? You Betcha! It did disappoint me to see all the garbage in the queue and the way people would just toss stuff on the props as if it was a landfill. Use the Garbage People! Disney provides one every 20 feet for your OWN personal use! Take advantage of it please!!!

 

Next Stop, Adventureland!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part II – Main Street

Here I was, Disneyland Paris. Park #3 on my bucket list.

Walking up to the hotel was very exciting. The Entrance to Disneyland in Paris looks nothing like it’s sister parks in the United States. The big reveal takes a while. Through the ticket booth, up to the turnstile and across an open walkway and finally you are at the tunnel. The Tunnel is in the sister parks too. The train travels over head. In the other parks I went to there is only two choices, left tunnel or right tunnel with a sign over hear that reads : Here you leave today and enter a world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. I looked for a similar sign and could find it. It must have one. That was the first thing I noticed was different, that and THREE tunnels to choose from.When we travel to the parks, we take turns deciding which tunnel to go through. I prefer entering the park on the right and leaving on the left. Here in Paris, we threw caution to the wind and went in the center tunnel! Crazy and shocking, I know! Thrilling none the same.

My fist glimpse of Main Street, There was a gazebo where the American Flag stands in the States. I understand why the flag was not there. The Gazebo was charming all dolled up for Halloween. I looked for the Fire Hall… To my extreme disappointment, there was a store in it’s place. There was no apartment overhead, no light in the window, no sign of Walt Disney. Maybe that is why the spark was not the same. I sent the muppets off to get photos with Characters before the rope drop (park opening), while I went to City Hall to make dinner reservations. By the time I found them, they were disheveled and flustered because here in Paris, guests do not queue up for pictures and autographs. They channel their inner hockey players, hoist their elbows up and force their way to the front. For a couple of Canadian muppets, this concept felt rude and unappealing. No autographs this trip. Secretly I was relieved, this meant more time for rides and details! YAY! Score one for the mom!

As we walked closer towards Main Street, I noticed the Castle drawing me in. She was beautiful and more spectacular than the other two castles I have loved before. It was hard for me to pull my eyes away and discover the details that surrounded me on Main Street. Windows on Main Street traditionally are painted with names of Disney builders, and imagineers, these windows did not disappoint. Except they are sparse in comparison. The street is wide and gives you that “walking down the red carpet” feeling Walt had wanted for the other two parks. By this time I was so excited to get to the castle I could barely contain myself! I wanted to see the Partners Statue and compare it to the others. We passed Casey’s Corner, and Gibson Girls Ice Cream Parlor, saw a shop that gave a nod to Lilly Disney – that thrilled me. All I could think was, I am walking right down Main Street in Paris with my family, Luck me!

Off we went to find the rope and join the masses for rope drop. We reached the “hub” and noticed no Partners Statue! WHAT THE…? It was later when I discovered it was at the Studios, a separate park – WRONG WRONG WRONG! But WHATEVER, it’s not my park, I understand you can put it wherever you like Michael Eisner, maybe that is why you don’t work there any more….poor decisions. The Castle up close and personal, amazed me with the scope and grandeur. I fell in love with my 3rd Castle. Although I think she is my favorite.

We had time to listen to the Main Street Loop music that is piped in. It really adds to the magical feeling in the park. Listening and singing while we waited in Frontierland for the rope to drop and our brand new Disney Adventure to begin!

 

 

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part I

The real reason I only spent one full day in Paris was… I wanted to go to DISNEYLAND! Spending all day in Paris was wonderful and I made the most of it, I really did! But for those of you who know me and those of you who don’t, I am a HUGE Disney fan, and I am talking HUGE! I have been to Disneyland in California well over 15 times. I have been to Walt Disney World Florida, twice. Now I have been to Disneyland Paris! 3 parks down, 2 more to go on the bucket list! The next series of posts will bore you if you are not a fan of the land of Disney. Sorry about that, but talking about the land of magical wishes is fun for me…so bear with me.

I understand there are people out there who don’t understand my Disney passion. I don’t expect you too. Just like I don’t get your need to go to Vegas every time you can, or pop off to London as often as it calls you. Nor do I get the need to go to Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver or THE LAKE.  I really don’t understand the need to go to Mexico every year, but you don’t have to listen to me say “Why do you do that?” with disdain on my face. You know why? Because I respect that you need to do things that make YOU feel fulfilled. It is YOUR mental break, not mine. My mental break is in the Land of all things Disney.

I love Disney Parks and here is why…

When I was 6 my parents drove from Edmonton to Los Angeles one summer. We were living in Yellowknife, North West Territories. So technically the trip was from the Arctic to California, with a giant rest stop in Sherwood Park to visit my grandparents and pick up my aunt ( who was 11 at the time). I knew we were going, but still han’t grasped the idea of what it meant. The trip itself was great, I remember traveling along the Oregon coast, seeing giant redwoods, the Pacific ocean for the first time, and I can remember vividly, oranges growing on a TREE! ON A TREE! This was the very first time I remember loving to travel. I loved seeing new things. I caught the bug. I was hooked. I was a traveler.

I remember small bits from my trip. Sitting on the corner of Main Street, in front of the Emporium, watching the Main Street Electrical Parade float by. I remember Robin Hood sitting in my brothers stroller and thinking I am in love! I remember how happy my dad was and how much fun he had. I remember my mom closing her eyes on every single ride because she was to scared to see what was going on. mostly I remember the feeling. The feeling of being swept away to a magical place, filled with details that will amaze you if you take the time to look for them.

Every trip after the first one was better than the last. The Land of all things Disney change. It never stays the same. The feeling is the same, details, rides and music change. This is reason one, why I like going back so often. I enjoy change. Hard to understand when I go to the same place as often as I can, but it is true. I love spotting the difference too. I love how small things change like tiny details such as light posts, or larger changes like rides who give nods to rides of the past that stood in their spot. It’s like belonging to an exclusive club where secrets are only given to members. If you plan to go for the first time and wish to know some of the secrets, I recommend you give Werner Weiss a visit at Yesterland. He will let you know what Disneyland use to look like. It’s a fun trip down memory lane for those who were there before.

I introduced my husband to the magic, he was hooked too. Although I suspect he puts up with my passion more than he loves it himself. The offspring were hooked. I’m sure my enthusiasm was part of the reason they loved it so much.  We felt we were ready to expand our horizons. We needed to move on to a larger space. Bring on Walt Disney World. The two places cannot be compared. Florida is as different from California as peanut butter and jelly. The two work together, but are very different. So please don’t ask me which I love more. Just like you can’t tell me which child you love more. You love them different but the same. Make sense?

Last spring my mom suggested we go and visit her, dad and Mrs. Stadler for a week while they were traveling around Europe. I thought this was a great opportunity for the offspring. I know Honey and I could not have been able to do this without their help and support, so thanks Mom and Dad! We spent hours looking a maps and a made a list of things we MUST do. Disneyland  Paris was on my list. I was willing to spend only a single day there. I am an experienced Disney Traveler. I know the other parks like the back of my hand, I understand the secrets only few know. I will not share all my knowledge but  dole it out as I think you could benefit from it. Therefore I was confident I could see Disneyland Paris in a single day. I could plan a day that would be memorable. I was ready. Life experience taught me what to ask, what I needed to know and where I would find the answers to my questions. Bring it…

Our last day in Paris, we had breakfast in the hotel with my parents. Kissed them good-bye, and walked to the Metro station 2 blocks away. We boarded the train heading in the opposite direction of every other commuter, who were heading into Paris proper. Two stops and we were there. Climbing out of the Metro and into, what would be known as the Esplanade in Disneyland, CA, we followed the hoards of Cast Members as we ready ourselves for rope drop. If there is one thing I know, be early for the opening or miss out on short lines. I was prepared. I couldn’t wait to start!

Around the corner, we saw the fist glimpse… The Disneyland Hotel which could only mean one thing, we were at the gate.

The Mom Who Drank Wine on the Champs Elysees

Ever since I saw Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, I wanted to sit on the Champs Elysees, drink wine in a quaint cafe and watch the world go by. In my mind it happened like that. In my mind I was dressed Hepburn-esq, in Givenchy head to toe, because that is all she ever wore since Givenchy designed her wardrobe for Sabrina in 1954. She always looked stunning. In my mind, so did I.

In reality I was chillaxing with the muppets at a pizza joint on the Champs Elysees. I hear you…ED, seriously? A PIZZA JOINT? French food is so freaking amazing and you eat pizza on the Champs Elysees. How disappointing! Agreed. It was disappointing if you look at it from that point of view. Let me explain…

As you know, our day started at Notre Dame, continued to the Louvre, then moved up the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was one of those “WOW” moments where you think about what you are seeing. It was the entrance to the worlds fair. Pablo Picasso looked out his window and could see it every day, the Nazi’s climbed to the top to fly their colours in a horrifying manner. The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel. It changed the way people built tall structures and bridges. It has stood in the same spot  since 1889. The iron lace work is beautiful. But it wasn’t the Champs Elysees.

We had seen more Paris tourist spots in one day then some people see in a week. By the time we walked halfway up the Champs Elysees, my feet were cranky. My shoulders were starting to get snarky with my neck and when my offspring are hungry they get crabby.  We were desperate for food. If anyone ever had muppets, you know how fussy they are when it comes to food.

Me: Look over there, a crepery!

Muppets: Ewww grosss!

Me:Look over there, a bistro!

Muppets: What’s Duck Comfit?

Me: Duck liver in fat.

Muppets: EEEEEWWWW GROSS!

Me: Look over there, a cute cafe!

Muppets: What’s Escargo?

Me: Snails in garlic butter.

Muppets: EEEEWWWWWW GROOOOOSSSS MOM NO WAY! Look its Pizza! I’m in!

Mom: eeww gross, FINE but I am drinking wine.

So, there is me drinking a glass of wine in an open air cafe/pizza joint, on the Champs Elysees, watching the world go by, imagining I am wearing Givenchy, pretending I had bags from all the shops we passed along the way Gucci, Prada, Channel,and Hermes.

After dinner, the muppets were satisfied and I got to walk father up the Champs Elysees and pass by Cartier. Everyone else was checking out The Arc de Triomphe and trying to figure out how the people crossed over to get to the top of the arch. There was me checking out Cartier and imagining I just bought myself a Laniers bracelet,  covered in diamonds. ($12600 if you must know).

Did I get to experience everything I had hoped I could? No, but I had the perfect back drop to my secret fantasy and I loved every minute. I am thrilled I was able to take the Muppets to the Champs Elysees!

And I drank wine…

 

 

 

 

 

One More Notch on my Bucket

I have seen 3 Eiffel Towers in my lifetime. Only one was the original structure.  The other two were the Eiffel Tower, France, EPCOT and the poor reproduction in Las Vegas. The original tower remains one of my most favorite visuals in all of Paris. The single day my family of Muppet’s spent in Paris was exhausting but amazing. We shared a Hop / Hop Off Boat pass with the other half of the Muppet Cast. This saved my life. Paris, for those of you not in the loop, is one huge sprawling city! We limited our adventures to a small section of the city but it still was quite the walk!

We floated down the Seine and the sight of the Eiffel Tower came into a larger frame of view. I took about 40 more pictures. I have no idea what came over me! I would stand in the same spot and take picture after picture of the same thing. Thoughts running through my mind were things like….Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne saw this too, this survived two world wars, why is it an ugly colour, and there are no skyscrapers in Paris! So I continued to snap away, luckily it is the age of digital and I didn’t go through a dozen rolls of film.

As we approached the boat launch for the Eiffel Tower, I could see Lady Liberty down stream in the distance. That vision coming into view took me back to when I was a child and my brother spotted her for the first time. I then thought to myself, I have seen the Statue of Liberty twice and have not been to Ellis Island once.  I MUST get there, it is becoming a like a magnet for me now. But I digress….

Earlier that week we received email from the Canadian Government. No I am not on Stephen Harper’s Christmas Card List, but we did register with the Government before leaving the country. It was one of those, “just in Case” moments because you never know what may happen. Well apparently there was a terrorist threat for Paris. I know, I know, there is ALWAYS a threat somewhere. If you let fear and common sense hold you back then you never get to see a THING!  The grounds of the Eiffel Tower were crawling with armed military guards and crazy hawkers trying to sell trinkets before the police arrest them. We climbed half of the steps to ground level when I stopped to admire the work of an artist on the steps. He approached me asking if I was American – Nope – Ahhhh Canadian…French? Nope, just a prairie girl with cereal box and hockey french. I laughed at my private joke and he looked at me quizzically. I explained to my son that this man was an artist and you would think I gave him the crown jewels. I purchased an acrylic on canvas of a french cafe and my son purchased an oil on canvas of the Eiffel tower. One of the greatest purchases I have ever made. I love to buy art of the different countries I visit. This was one country where I had planned to purchase art. I love it as much as I loved any of the Master’s work that I saw in The Louvre just hours previous. I am not sure why, but owning art from France is more meaningful to me then the other pieces I have collected. The Artist wrapped up my canvas and off we trudged up the rest of the stairs.

The amount of people who filled that area was once again, beyond any scope that I could previously envision. I know I must sound like a broken record, but THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE IN ONE SPACE IS MIND ALTERING! My Muppets were dawn towards the tower like a magnet. I was so important for Genetic offspring to stand beneath the tower in the center. So we did. I thought going to the top was important to me. The line up to reach the top had to exceed a two-hour wait. Apparently it wasn’t that important to me. Funny how just the day before it was a bucket list moment. Even now, I do not regret keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.

On advice from my Mom and my Sister, we crossed the bridge towards the Trocadero for “THE BEST VIEW IN PARIS” of the Eiffel tower. They were not wrong. It was a great view. It led us to New York Street and a carousel, and more hawkers selling crazy cheap trinkets. We sat for a moment beside the carousel just looking at the Eiffel Tower. It seamed surreal that I should be sitting there looking at this monument.

Now THAT was a bucket list moment.

Not Your Average Paint by Number, It was the Mona Lisa

It is no secret how I feel about Art. Great works of Art move me like no other. When I had the opportunity to stand in the presence of greatness, I JUMPED at the chance!

When my merry band of Muppets and myself were in Paris, we had ONE day. ONE DAY! I know people who had FIVE days and did not see everything that Paris has to offer. I had to think and plan very carefully about what was important to me. I polled the Muppets, and asked what was important to them. To Genetic Offspring, the architecture of Paris was key. The Eiffel Tower was such an important piece for him. The structure itself helped change the way bridges around the world were made. So Eiffel Tower – CHECK! Chatter Box was DYING to shop. Clearly she has my sister’s Shopping Gene. CHECK! Honey was excited to see PARIS! Check! The rest of the crew were happy to see what Paris had to offer so off we went!

After Notre Dame, we walked along the Seine to the Louvre. Just so you know, it isn’t all that close. Google Maps said it was less then 2Km. We didn’t follow THAT route, not us! We went the long way. The long way included the views of the Seine which were gorgeous.

When we arrived, my mom and I made arrangements to split the group. Those who did not wish to see the Louvre left for an afternoon of lunch and shops and would meet on the bridge covered in locks in TWO HOURS. My offspring did not have a choice. I imposed a ban on free choice. We were IN PARIS standing in front of THE LOUVRE. Leonardo De Vinci and Michelangelo had some of their pieces in that building! Although the Offspring may not appreciate it today, I knew years down the road they could say “I stood in front of the Mona Lisa and looked upon her with my own eyes”.

Two Hours, okay I could do it. I needed a plan and I needed to stay focused. Honey and I decided to stick to the Denon wing. That is where Mona hangs out. She is famous enough that my offspring knew who she was. We entered through the side through Cour Carree. It seemed like miles before we saw it. Through the arch way we saw the glass pyramid, the entrance. Famous in it’s own right but for those of you who saw The DaVinci Code, you could recognize it immediately. This thrilled Chatterbox because Tom Hanks was there! YAY Tom Hanks! He was Woody in Toy Story 1,2 &3! Already the Louvre was making connections with my offspring. We stood in the endless line out side, gazing at the architecture of the old palace where one of the Louis lived. Once we went through security, just like the airport, we were in! Down the long escalator into the crowds of tourists all wanting to visit Mona, just like us.

I grabbed a map, and off we went. Ten minutes into our visit, it became clear to me I needed a more detailed game plan. I made a list of the works of art that were MUST SEES for me, I told Genetic Offspring and handed him the map. He studied it for about five minutes. Then folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. “Follow me” he replied with tremendous confidence. Of course we followed, I couldn’t let him get lost!

He led us to several Leonardo pieces including Mona Lisa, Captive by Michelangelo, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon, Psyche and Cupid by Canova and Colossal Statue of Ramesses II. Of course we saw more along the way and wings were closed which made navigating difficult, but Genetic Offspring sees the map in ways others don’t. He knew how to get around unscheduled changes and find uncrowded secret pathways.

The most significant moment for me was to be able to stand before La Vierge a l’Enfant avec Sainte Anne by Leonardo De Vinci. I was 1 foot away. I could reach out and touch it if I wanted to be arrested. I stood in the SAME place the Master himself did as he skillfully maneuvered his brush and manipulated the paint. I could feel the emotion of the painting and witnessed the depth in the background. It was clear to me he was a genius. I witnessed it with my own eyes. His contemporaries all had halos around their subjects. De Vinci painted with knowledge and conviction. He painted for himself and not what others thought he should paint. This is what brought out the emotion and passion. I must admit, I cried.

The Mona Lisa was beautiful, but being famous doesn’t make you the best. She was under glass a surrounded by a million people. I could not feel the same emotion I experienced with Sainte Anne. I was stunned by the volume of people. I am pretty sure it was the same number as the entire population of Canada.

From there we travelled the rest of the Denon Salon, and saw other great works on canvas and stone. None moved me like Sainte Anne.

All of this and more in 2 hours.