Driving a Stick Shift - Wow, it's been a long time! Reminds me of the days when my sister, Angela, taught me to start our old Honda on a hill at the Cottonwood Mall (very scary). Now I have an audience of kids who think it is hilarious when I forget to push in the clutch before starting the car (except for the time Morgan was only half way in the car when it lurched forward--not quite as funny that time). I claimed to have only killed the car twice on the first day. Morgan thought it was more like four times. Glad it's a rental, I've been accused of riding a clutch before. Yesterday I found myself unknowingly going the wrong way on a very narrow one-way street (oops)! Thank goodness we got a printout of the road sign definitions today.
Speaking French - I can't speak more than two words of French. All those years of Jr. High Spanish have helped me get around Mexico in the past, but here I'm at a complete loss. I look at menus blankly. No idea what's being served. I really appreciate picture menus in resturant windows. The kids (and I) had a great time listening to a "learn to speak French" audio CD today as we drove in and out of Brussels (about 30 minutes each way). I was surprised at the kid's enthusiasim to learn the language (we repeated lesson one three times throughout the day). We hope to devote 30 minutes each day to French. After an hour and a half today we can ALMOST (sort of) say, "Excuse me, do you understand English? Do you understand French? Are you American. I speak a little French." This language is not coming easily!
Traveling with Kids - I love what entertains them. They played leap frog all day long over the posts that line the sidewalks of Brussels. An adult could walk by those posts a million times and never once think to make a game out of them. Last night they spent 30 minutes inventing a game jumping between some posts in a park. They would have played longer if I hadn't coerced them to continue on. And my darling boys, no surprise they loved the statue "Mannequin Pis" (or "Peeing Boy" he he he) and the story of "Which Statue Farted" in the town square Thanks Rick Steves Guidebook for that tid bit--it's sure to be their fondest memory from the trip.