Hotel Engle is open for business! Tom’s brother, Rob, arrived on Saturday morning: our first official guest. We were excited to see him and are looking forward to sharing our home-away-from-home with him over the next week. His first day here was a bit rainy which is perfect for an afternoon nap when you are jet-lagged. After an early evening meal, he and Tom set off in the rain to take in the first few hours of Nuit Blanche where Paris, along the Seine, is filled with activities from 7pm – 7am. The rain deterred many people and activities were few but they walked all the way to Notre Dame.
We have officially joined the American Cathedral as our church while we are in Paris. We were introduced to the church by the moms of a few girls on Elizabeth’s soccer team that were leaving practice a few minutes early each Wednesday for choir practice. So last Wednesday, all three kids had their first choir practice and Elizabeth & Julian started Sunday School today. The church is Episcopalian which is very, very much like a Catholic mass but just enough different to keep us on our toes! But let me tell you, the organist knows how to open up those pipes like nobody’s business; he can play! I love using a hymnal that writes the music in four parts (we don’t see much of that in the Catholic church). I know my Lutheran-raised, harmony-singing Dad is going to love it. Tom said today was one of his top five church services ever and even said the hymn after Communion was funeral-worthy (yes, we have these conversations, identifying what songs or readings we might want at our funeral. Don’t judge us!). The kids loved Sunday School. It’s during the service but they join us before Communion for the rest of the service. It’s a bit strange to be a member of a church outside the Catholic church, something I have been a part of my entire life. But it feels like the right place for us to be this year and even though it’s about as close to Catholic as you can be, it supports what we try to teach our kids that the similarities between denominations and religions are what is important, not the differences, and that every faith should be respected. Loving your neighbor is something everyone can understand regardless of how you celebrate your faith.
The rest of our Sunday was spent walking, exploring, and taking in new and old sites with Rob (his first trip to France). We walked from church up to the Champs-Elysees and did some window shopping along with many other Sunday shoppers. That led us through the Jardin de Tuileries to the entrance of the Louvre and then up Rue de Rivoli which is mostly filled with lots of tourist shops where the kids could peruse many trinkets. Our one stop in the middle of the afternoon was at Angelina’s. If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve probably been to Angelina’s or at least heard of it. Known for their hot chocolate, it is a beautiful tea room that serves brunch, tea and lots of desserts for your pleasure. The hot chocolate will spoil you forever. Rob and I shared a pot (you receive your own individual cup of whipped cream to use as you desire). Thick and dreamy creamy. Elizabeth had a huge concoction of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Sarah had something similar but with strawberry and raspberry sorbets. Julian had a very large breakfast roll, Rob had a strawberry eclair and Tom had iced hot chocolate and their speciality dessert of which we really couldn’t describe. We all shared, we all enjoyed, we all had a sugar high (I’ve had a few of those this week). The walk back home was good for us and we even stopped to lay on the grass near the Eiffel Tower because it was so nice out and just seemed like the right thing to do on a late Sunday afternoon. I took Chili for a walk/run when we got home, the kids prepared everything for school tomorrow and Tom made sure everything was perfect for our Sunday evening taco salad ritual. A chapter of Swiss Family Robinson put everyone except Sarah and I to sleep which says more about the day than about the story, I think.
And another week begins…