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Outdoor decoration: this lights up at night and the bear's head moves from side to side. Blow-up winter decorations on people's yards are popular this year. Soo not French!

Outdoor decoration: this lights up at night and the bear’s head moves from side to side. Blow-up winter decorations on people’s yards are popular this year. Soo not French!

YIKES!! The new year is upon us and I haven’t kept up with the blog. So I will try to remember what (little) I’ve done this December.

Up close and personal with (Puff) the (Magic?) Dragon.

Up close and personal with (Puff) the (Magic?) Dragon.

While in Waterloo, Ontario, (but some day we’ll visit the Waterloo where the European battle took place) the kiddos and I visited “Wonders of Winter” in Waterloo Park. This festival of lights is clearly aimed at children, with recognizable icons as Santa and his reindeer, SpongeBob, Bob the Builder, and other characters scattered along a walking path while hearing Christmas tunes overhead on loudspeakers. (Read “commercialism.”) There was also a free trolley ride complete with big beautiful horses that toured through the Park. It’s not the City of Lights but my kids liked it. Who doesn’t like lights?!!

Suprisingly, I didn't lose the tree off the car roof but someone needed to give me lessons on tying it to the car. See how I tied twine to the car door (on both sides)? I had to get into/out of the car via the passenger front door AND buy take-out pizza, with kids locked in the car.

Suprisingly, I didn’t lose the tree off the car roof but someone needed to give me lessons on tying it to the car. See how I tied twine to the car door (on both sides)? I had to get into/out of the car via the passenger front door AND buy take-out pizza, with kids locked in the car.

We bought our first real Christmas tree, North American-style. Last year, we bought our first real Christmas tree in Paris, but those evergreen trees are stuck in a wooden base so that they don’t require watering and will last up to a month. Ingenious. Trees in Canada /USA are cut near the base of the trunk and then you have up to 6 hours to stick it in a stand with water and preservative /food before it “seals its wound” and drops all its needles (=dies). So I had to tie it to the roof of my rented car with kids in tow and drive like a senior with a hat on. BUT, *I felt very Canadian, with a Christmas tree on my car roof.* And it is still green and alive. Life is good.

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The large stockings returned to the fireplace this year so Santa had a heck of a time filling those suckers up. Last year in France, we placed all our shoes by the fireside. Père Noël had filled those up quickly with bonbons.

Another first was also building gingerbread houses [from a kit]. It’s a lot harder than it looks, especially with added playmates that kept eating all the sugary icing and sweet toppings during the construction. My daughter is still not finished her Halloween candy from October. The sugar high goes on, and on, and on… I won’t even mention the chocolate advent calendars.

Gingerbread houses: still standing but immediately fell over after I took the photo.

Gingerbread houses: still standing but immediately fell over after I took the photo.

We had our first big dump of snow by December 27th this year. The last winter storm in Toronto was in March, 2011. **I WAS STILL HERE!!** Arrghh. So I missed a mild Toronto winter last year while away in Paris. My kiddos however, are blissfully happy to make snowmen and go sledding after a year break. France must have been so hard for them…

Riding the free carrousel for the umpteenth time in front of Place de la Concorde (Tuileries entrance) on rainy New Year's Eve Day, 2011.

Riding the free carrousel for the umpteenth time in front of Place de la Concorde (Tuileries entrance) on rainy New Year’s Eve Day, 2011.

Oh come on, who am I kidding?! During the Christmas break, many of the carousels in Paris were FREE. Plus, there was outdoor skating in front of l’Hotel de Ville (with American disco playing loud on the speakers–woohoo!), the Trocadero and on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The French know how to make a scene: view the 360 degree panoramic on the link below.

http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen3/f51_eiffel-tower.html

Update: For winter 2012-13, one of my favourite buildings, Le Grand Palais is now an indoor skating venue, instead of an amusement park. Sheesh!! I miss the Palais… Go to this link and peruse the photo gallery.

http://www.legrandpalaisdesglaces.com/

Happy New Year 2013!!

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