Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eiffel Tower Turns 111, a good family vacation spot?

A couple of years ago, my brother visited Paris, France. As soon as I found out he was going there, I asked if he would bring me back a miniature Eiffel Tower. I didn't care what it was made of or how big it was, I just wanted it to come from a real Eiffel Tower vendor. Somehow, a piece that had actually set beneath the real deal authenticated itself before reaching my shelf far far away.

Wednesday, actually, is the Eiffel Tower's "birthday".  Final construction was completed March 31, 1889. Although I have had three years of French instruction, and can read it un peu (a little), I've never traveled to France. I do plan to someday, ideally with my family. That got me to thinking. We hear of Paris as the "City of Lights", the destination of young lovers and pinnacle of fashion. Is Paris really a destination for family vacation? You bet it is!

I started checking around the internet and found there have been a lot of families from all over the world who have made Paris their family destination. There are a ton of sights to see, street festivals, even the Plage de Paris, or Paris Beach. It is a man made beach set right up on the Seine River, complete with sand castles and beach balls.

The Eiffel Tower itself is somewhat whimsical. As you rise to the observation deck, there are "dummy" construction workers set up like they are working and fun facts about the tower's history posted along the way. Check out this article for tips on how to make the Eiffel Tower tour an optimal experience.

There are definite travel dates for Paris. Each month is ideal for travel for different reasons, with the exception of August. Most residents in Paris vacation in August, so you may find more than a few shops and businesses closed for the month. If you like to ski, February is peak. May brings warmer temperatures and fewer crowds, as the tourists haven't invaded yet. September is still warm and comfortable, but with less traffic. And Christmas in Paris promises absolute delight on many levels, with shopping, street festivities, magical decorations and ice skating.

The Eiffel Tower turns 111 today. I'm thinking I just might set a goal to have our family there to celebrate its 115th!   Et vous?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Is Reading Month: My Picks

March is Reading Month.  I'm not sure how it was designated as reading month but think it must most certainly have to do with Dr. Seuss's Birthday falling on March 2nd. 

If you have young kids in school, then you already know March is reading month because your calendar just got a lot more packed with school activites and events.  I know mine did.  One thing I absolutely love about elementary schools is their ability to still foster major enthusiasm for reading books.  K-4th graders still love books as gifts, can't wait to settle into a story.  Unfortunately for some kids, the passionate flame for reading starts to dim as they get older (that's a whole other blog!).

Anyway,  I wanted to throw out some of my favorite titles for the younger set, both picture books and early reader chapter books.

Kiss Goodnight Sam by Amy Hest
Such a sweet and snuggly, yet brief story that was a favorite bedtime story in my house for years.  It's warm and glowy, about a bear cub who develops a cough on a soon to be snowy night, and how motherbear cares for him until morning...of course the cub feels much better in the morning...just in time to play in the snow. 

Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
Can't say enough about these two.  Parents will definitely relate as well when Trixie becomes separated from her beloved stuffed bunny.  Touching and suspenseful for the very young and hilarious for parents.

Lost in the Storm series by Holly Webb
These are adorable chapter books for early readers about cute and cuddly kittens and puppies who end up in all kinds of suspenseful adventures including snowstorms and getting lost on the farm.  Very sweet, not frightening.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel
This book is just ridiculously accurate and hilarious.  It reads more like a manual then a story, but kids stick with it from beginning to end.  Lots of wacky facts and fun.

Enjoy your March is Reading Month!