Friday, November 22, 2013

And it's ... Friday

Well, hello again. Yeah, it might seem like I didn't blog last night .. but in fact I did. Thing is, Leonora woke up as she likes to do. So, I went in to breast feed her and meanwhile I fell asleep.

Then today, Sabine's big day back to school. I asked her what she did today. She told me that she did betise. That means that she did naughty stuff. She wasn't even trying to hide it either, cuz had she not told me I certainly wouldn't have known because they sure the hell don't say anything as you leave. They insist on that damned kiss and goodbye charade, but rarely pass on anything of any importance. AND, as a bit of an update, Sabine still (mostly) does NOT talk to the adults there. Just. won't. do. it. She seems to like the other kids a great deal though and enjoys going so that is what matters. Oh and she is learning new songs which makes my little songbird very, very happy.

For today though, I probably should have done like my friend did, as her son returned today also due to the chicken pox. He only went a half day. Because when I picked her up to walk home, she was slogging along on her scooter and like a broken record said,"I am so tiiiiiiiired mama", "I need to rest" and "I can't keep going". Poor lil thing. It was too long of a day and the teacher said she refused to listen to direction. I can't even blame her. The last thing you want when you are super tired is someone telling you to do shit you don't wanna do.

Anyhoot, it is Friday and I am glad about that. A nice weekend to take it easy around the house. Get revved up for next week where a routine will resume and Leonora will eat and sleep well and Sabine will NOT ask me first thing in the morning if she can wear leggings to school and I will not do as I did today: watch an hour of movie trailers. Yeah, I did. I had 2 precious hours with no kids in the house, could have done anything and by that I mean organized, cleaned, cooked, folded, scrubbed, emailed, planned, called, stretched, read a book, danced, oh you get the picture. But what did I do? Yeah, I watched romcom movie trailers on youtube and then read all about "Where are they now celebrities?"  on TMZ.

I know I shouldn't feel guilty about it but the thing is, I do.

Okay, this is real time blogging here folks.

My wonderful husband JUST got home from work. Course, he is all sweaty from riding his bike home. But my first words to him were, "Did you buy wine?" and he says, "Yeah, can you find a movie to watch?"  Well, hells bells!  Why yes, yes I can. As a matter of fact I did research all day for this very moment.

Guilt gone!

Hey hey. Here is my husband on the metro with Leo in the baby carrier.



Who better to make a big decision than a 3.5 year old?

Oh hey, yeah in case you were wondering about the long gap between the photo book deadline and my next entry...

Well, that's because they extended the date! Ha. So that meant that on the last few days before it was due, I was once again pulling all nighters (give me a deadline and watch me get busy!) - going through hundreds of photos and memories to put into a form that we can revisit regardless of technological changes.

I gotta say, I am very happy with the outcome. I am not overjoyed, but happy nonetheless. It was so fun to look at the wonderful people we are so fortunate to have in our lives and the beautiful places we are so lucky to have visited! Below are a tiny smattering of some 600 pictures in the books.
Can't remember where this was. (Why a photobook is imperative!)

At our welcome back for a visit party in Durham, NC

In our rented RV.

Utah, the magnificent

The technical process itself sucked ass. Photoweb.fr is the crappiest piece of shit software to make a photo book ever and would not recommend this company to anyone. I have used easier programs and this was ridiculous.

And some of the pictures which had been graded as "ok" during the making of the book (there wasn't a good category in typical French fashion) were a bit fuzzy. I wonder how the photos which were in the acceptable catagory would have looked had I not edited them a bit making them "ok" again. The last option was unacceptable. It reminded me of my French driving class instructor who told me repeatedly that she would NOT give me any positive feedback on my quick and efficient maneuvers through the craziness or my whirlwind ways through the roundabouts. She said, and I quote, "if I DON'T say anything, then it was okay".

Anyway, I digress.

So, if you want to see my photobooks, and who doesn't right? Just send me an email and I will send you the link.

For my latest installment of SCMtFU:

Last night I asked her to look through the amazing Family Guide Italy book. Book link here (I am NOT promoting Amazon, btw, just to share the book info.) We are just itching to go there but damn, there are just so many choices and places to go - we often get stuck in the planning phase and just end up staying home.

So, I asked her to look at all the pages carefully and pick a place that she would like to go. Yeah, you read that right, since I can't decide, I thought why not pass the buck to someone who seems to know what she wants to the point of tears.

This is what she picked:


While I have no doubt, this is a fine carousal, it doesn't even hold a candle to some of the incredible French ones she has already ridden! For example check out one of my old blog entries http://transitionkitchen.blogspot.fr/2011/10/absolute-coolest-carousel-in-land-of.html. In all of the land of Italy - she wants to ride a carousel. Yeah, like I said, a girl who knows what she wants.

So, then I passed the book to Leo ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Glitter, chicken pox and SCMtFU

I am back and revitalizing my 21 day blogging challenge. Would have done it sooner but we had some chicken pox in the house and we went out of town and Leo was sick and and and and well whatev. 

Chicken pox are still here a bit yet, but well that's life and we have been keeping ourselves amused.

Paper mache makes the chicken pox blues go away!
Speaking of amused, I would like to start a new segment of the blog called, "Sabine cracks me the fuck up". Eventually, it will likely evolve into Sabine and Leo crack me the fuck up... that is not to say that Leo isn't already a hoot and a half but the segment will involve clever quips made by Sabine. Of course, she doesn't know she is being funny - and that is what makes it even funnier.



So, here it is SCMtFU #1.

Sabine has just finished painting and glittering her paper mache dinosaur egg. After which she has been directed to clean off the table and vacuum the floor (both jobs she finds incredible amounts of joy in... for now anyway).

She comes in the kitchen with the wash cloth for me to rinse off, which I do and return to her to finish the table.

Dinosaur egg with couscous and glitter! (you read that right)
She starts to rub off her hands and is getting increasingly pissed off that she can't get each speck of glitter off her hand.

Her grumbles turn into whines, turns into demands and then tears that "it won't come off! "It won't come off!" hysterics ensue. "I can't get the glitter off my hands! Mama! Help me! The glitter is stuck!!!!!! tears, whines and drama queen in action.


I tell her how lovely it is to have a bit of glitter on her hands, like on halloween.

"Oh" she says, "can I have some more"?

____________________________________________________________________

bonus photo: toothy tooth teeth
Paper Mache instructions from this amazing blog:  Weefolkart 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

a picture perfect pause

To err... human. Yeah, that is me, to be sure. So - gonna have to pause this 21 day experiment. I just found our that the photo books I ordered online actually have an expiration date.

It is in less than 2 weeks. I have to go through thousands of photos and pull out the ones I want to use to make some baby books for the girls. I also have photos all around my computer as I tried different software until finally settling on Aperature.

Any and each spare moment I have will be used exporting pictures to this photobook website and then I have to, ahem, "get to" rearrange them and attempt to write some meaningful stuff too.

And in addition, the plan is for me to go out of town this weekend through Monday. We shall see.

Okay, til then (the last day to put my order in is the 13th...) so, don't be surprised if you don't see an entry til then, but didn't want to not post why I am not posting.

Yes, I work well under pressure. Sabine is almost 4. I have been saying I want to get her a photobook since she was born. How do I get motivated to do it? Pre-purchase the book with a deadline - it's the only way.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kid Friendly Quinoa Veggie Balls (baked) recipe


Leo will start her 3x a week mornings at Creche or daycare. We do the acclimation tomorrow, so we will go together for one hour and then the next day together and then the next day she will stay one hour alone and then 2 hours alone. We shall see. I may not have mentioned that Leo is not, nor has she ever been a particularly easy baby. She resists sleeping, has never accepted a bottle or a pacifier (which I would have liked when she had the colic for the first 3 months), only now can deal with her car seat (things improved when she was no longer rear facing), doesn't care for the wrap or the stroller much, hates having her diaper changed, doesn't like wearing a sun hat even when the sun is glaring in her eyes and generally is just a persnickity little bugger.

Food is similar, but improving. Sabine was easy peasy, would and still does eat anything you give her. Now, she may decide she doesn't like it (I think that has happened maybe twice) and not want to eat more. Leo is well, Leo. She has never tolerated bananas, avocados or any baby puree. She likes cucumbers, fresh figs, salmon and steamed broccoli the best. In my quest to help her eat more and thus (fingers crossed) to someday sleep through the night, I am always trying new finger foods for her because gods forbid should you try to feed her!

Since this blog is called Transition Kitchen and it promises to occasionally include recipes, I have decided to throw a couple in for you:) This recipe was a winner and Leo enjoyed it quite a lot and I will be making it again. The cool thing about it, is that you can change up the ingredients to keep it interesting but maintain the moist texture and finger-foodness about it. Enjoy!

Toddler Quinoa Veggie Rounds

2 cups shredded pumpkin
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup steamed peas
2 cups cooked quinoa (well strained)
3 eggs
1/2 cup-3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or whatever flour you like)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used chedder)

Sautee the pumpkin in the coconut oil til it becomes very mushy
mix everything up together
use your ice cream scooper to make perfectly sized/shaped balls on parchment paper
bake for about 20 minutes at 180 Celsius.

 These are a bit bland, but good for your toddler. You can add salt/pepper/curry/etc, pumpkin seeds, flax, shredded carrots, zucchini, peppers, garlic, spinach, etc.

We dipped ours into plain, full fat yogurt.

Monday, September 30, 2013

For better or for worse

Yeah, so when I said it was a 12 hour drive yesterday.... I understated this undertaking big time. More like 2.5 day to 3 day expedition involving driving an oversized, crikkity old van from middle of nowhere Morocco to a ferry to Spain to then drive through Spain to France and finally arrive at his parent's house near Belfort, France. WORSE!

So, now Hicham is probably going to take a big boat. How cool is that? Instead of all the hulla-ballo mentioned above, he and his mama (and the old van) will take a berth (with a cabin) direct from Morocco to France (36 hours) and then drive 6 hours to the house. Nice, simple and relaxing. Lucky guy. BETTER!

Meanwhile, I will be left to my own devices where my mind will inevitably wonder HOW in the hell single mothers do it ... every day and every night for years!

Sabine and Grandpere on his DIY swing in the house in Morocco
So, his trip will be probably pretty darn close to what one might call a vacation. But not the first time he has done this trip, hardly. Hicham and his family (parents and 4 siblings) made this road trip every single summer he was growing up. I asked him what the kids did in the car for all that time. He started out idyllically saying they read books, played games and looked out the window. Then I asked, "and bicker"? Yeah, he admitted, lots of that too.

I find it absolutely incredible that we have such very, very different backgrounds and yet we found each other in North Carolina and have been together now for nearly eight years. Also, that experience for Hicham, back and forth Morocco/France enabled him to become the person he is today. But being from France (and his fervent studying) gave him the agency to go to Duke to eventually meet his future wife. But his parents have deep roots there and they have worked hard to maintain them. For me, coming from the USA, it is much easier. America is everywhere. My culture is the one to which others are compared (for better or for worse).

___________________________________Next topic___________________________

Today we visited the "alternative school" or "Ecole Nouvelle" called La Source in a suburb of Paris. This is perhaps best left to be discussed in another post since I have quite a bit to say about our search for a school for Sabine (and eventually Leo). I am relieved and excited to say that this school is absolutely exactly what I want for my children. The director said that there are lots of bi-cultural kids there :)

She cannot start for another 2 years until she is six so in the meantime, we will be looking for our new apartment in earnest and saving up the moula. So, we are now entering home limbo land but happily there is no rush. Updates on this will be forthcoming.

So, that's all for tonight. time for some down time with Downton Abby!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Before the Kale Party

Missed yesterday, but well - hell, Hicham's dad was here. He arrived in the afternoon exhausted and weary both from illness and his travels. Poor guy comes in the door and his number one fan, Sabine, was raring to play and talk his ear off. So, Hicham took her to the park and I put Leo down for a nap and he napped on the couch

Living in a (nearly!) 800 sq. ft apartment was quite luxurious when it was just Hicham and I - but then one kid and then another one... now it is quaint. When someone comes to visit, we now recommend a hotel. But, since it was H's sick dad, obviously that is out of the question. So, on the couch he slept. But he didn't mind, in fact he said it was like in Morocco.

Kale
Okay, cool.  Later, we had dinner and put the girls to bed. It was then I was planning to blog, but then I remembered that it was the Kale Party in Paris. I mentioned it to Hicham and he suggested I go. By now, it was already 8:30 and it ended at 11pm. It was tempting though. So, I did all the research regarding metro times/walking door to door. I determined it would take about an hour. By the time I got dressed and so on and left, I would arrive realistically about 10. Then we discussed me driving. Yeah, me driving alone in Paris on a Saturday night. If you have been following this blog, you would know that I have spent thousands of hours and euros on doing just this. BUT NO.... I'm too scared. Pathetic. I have hitchhiked in bumfucknowhere, Guatemala. I have driven motorcycles in Kathmandu. I have I have swum in hightide in Thailand, nearly drowning. But, driving in Paris makes me shit my pants.


I decide it is time to break out of my comfort zone and live a little (more). Then I research the parking situation. Write down the address of the parking garage and the walk from the garage to the wine bar. Now it is already 9pm. But, I am going. Then lightbulb and then, "Hey Hicham, maybe you can come with me since your dad is here and the girls are asleep"?

His lovely, kind father insists on it.

Hicham agrees because I pressure him. Of course, HE has to redo the research and look for the parking garage locations cuz that is the guy that I married. He says he found one closer and 10 minutes later, we are in the car and I am behind the wheel.

This is exactly what I need, to do this drive with a supportive and loving husband at my side encouraging my every gear and lane change. HA! Regardless, it proves helpful as on occasion I am befuddled as to what the hell is going on around me. It all goes well and we drive to the garage. This turns out NOT to be close at all to the wine bar and we walk for what seems like forever up and down little cute streets, crossing giant 4 lane intersections, passing brasseries, bars and cafes. The breeze is light and the temp is fresh and we are two long legged people rushing down the street passing the cool, high heeled Parisiens smoking and strolling slowly. I am having the time of my life (no sarcasm either).

Yup, that is what having kids does to you. Just walking down the street without them feels like we are at a party. Listening to the environment around us seems as though we are in a strange, exotic land. Not carrying babies, carriers, bags, water, snacks, extra blankets, sun screen, toys, hats feels as though I am nearly naked.

We can't find the place .. almost. We arrive at the end of a loooong street at 10:45. Okay, so we have 15 minutes to have a glass of wine and eat something made with kale. That's cool. Our standards are so low now that taking turns at the beach to swim for 10 minutes each makes the entire packing hell worth it. Snippets of pleasure have become blog entry worth.

Of course, I had the wrong day. Yeah, place was closed and in fact it is next week. Hicham won't be here because he is going to Morocco to drive his mother back in his dad's car. That trip will involve a 6 hour ferry ride and 12 hour drive through Spain. I will be alone here with the girls. Not sure who is going to have a better time.

Anyhoot, after seeing the place was closed, Hicham suggested we stop and have a glass of wine somewhere else. Shoulda-coulda-woulda... but no, I said we better get home because Leo generally (YES STILL!) wakes up around midnight for a feeding (regardless of what I do, so don't think I am encouraging this).

For the return, we slow to Parisien pace and stroll back and enjoy the time, walking together just me and him. Him and me. It is really nice.


So, I didn't blog - I went for a 20 minute walk in Paris instead. Voila!


If, btw you are interested in going to the actual kale party on Oct 2, here is the link:

http://thekaleproject.com/2013/09/national-kale-day-verjus-giveaway/

Saturday, September 28, 2013

C'est la vie!

Oh me oh my did I drop the ball last night, or what?
Yup, a little self-love and compassion rolling in right about now...
Completely FORGOT about my blog last night.
There has been a bit of a whirl-wind lately.
Hicham's dad called Thursday morning (2 days ago) early in the morning.
Long story short he is coming here today from Morocco to go to the doctor.
He and Hicham's mother have been there for the last 4 months trying to deal with land disputes with siblings... a very complicated undertaking in any case, but in Morocco - well, even more complicated it would seem. But I don't know much about it and frankly, find the entire thing unfortunate.

Anyhoot ...

Sabine is now saying hello AND goodbye to her teacher now. The deal was made that if she did it, she could call the other parent not present and tell them about it. Yeah, that was the incentive, can you believe it? She loves talking on the phone that much.

Hey, whatever it takes, right? At least it wasn't candy!

So, this is not my official entry for today, this is to make up for last night. Yeah, second chances baby. And maybe at this point, you are finding these entries a bit, well um... how to put it? Mundane, boring, run of the mill, average, mediocre, what have you. Well, C'est la vie (literally).

For me, I am really enjoying this and as I had hoped, am getting some satisfaction from writing. But, if for you - it has become something of a unenlightening diary, feel free to unsubscribe - it won't hurt my feelings. If, however, you are enjoying my lil entries - please do subscribe.

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My quirky silent kid

So, my sweet Sabine is causing trouble in school.

First of all, she is not listening to the teacher today. She ignored the teacher when told to stop running in the bathroom and ignored her when told to stop playing around during the meal.  I could tell when the teacher was telling me about it, she was pretty pissed.  And I get it, Sabine is crafty and I don't mean in that embroidery kind of way.  She has a strong will and she is persistent in a way that I both fear and admire. I know that French schools are known to be strict, but I am wondering what they can do as a consequence that will even phase her? Clearly her teacher's unhappiness seemed to matter very little in this case.

Second of all, she won't respond when the teacher talks to her. This is the child who never, ever, ever shuts the hell up has not yet said one. single. word in class yet.

It has been three weeks. While she will indeed talk a great deal to the other children on the playground, she simply refuses to talk to her teacher or her assistant. She won't even say Au revoir - a very big deal for kids to greet adults in France. She seemed to enjoy the prodding and the attention the first week, so I stopped mentioning it. I thought perhaps she was "just being shy" or just taking advantage of being pushed to do something that no one could really, in fact MAKE HER DO - so, I stopped mentioning it altogether.

Thing is, it is continuing.


I asked her later (again), why she doesn't talk in class she tells me it is because she "doesn't have to if I don't want to". And, well of course she is right. Tonight I went to a book signing event and there was a woman there I didn't particularly wish to speak to and so I didn't. Why should Sabine have to? Because she is 3? Because it is her teacher? Because it is polite?

Her silent treatment can extend to non-school folks too. As we were coming home, the lovely woman at the hair salon came out AGAIN to try to get Sabine to say a word to her. I mean, she pulled out all the stops, asked her tons of questions, got down on her level, smiled - I mean, damn, this lady was over the top trying to get her to respond. Nothing. She mildly nodded when confirming that she ate lunch at school today.

 Then, I get the question, "well, doesn't she speak French?" HA HA ha aha hahhhhaaaaa! If they only knew how well she speaks French.

Do I even care? Should I care?

I am perplexed as to, what, if anything I should do.

A couple of weeks ago, a new babysitter came over and Sabine took a shine to her immediately and talked, danced, played and expressed herself in all her enthusiastic self. So, it is not like she can't if she wants to. 

 Tonight Hicham asked Sabine why she didn't talk in school. She confirmed while she didn't like to talk during class, preferring to talk outside during the breaks. When pressed on, she said it was because she was a wolf.

um, okay. Here I thought it might be that she was introverted or sensitive - but nah, that isn't it.

Then she added, "C'est comme ca." (It's just like that).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blog Envy and warp speed toddler time (what?)

This entry is a mini-post mostly declaring my awe and wonder at bloggers who manage to blog daily with clever quips, stunning photos of their art projects they did with their multiple children, discussions of their home makeovers, social outings and very often outside the home (paid) jobs. This daily blogging is kicking my ass already and I am only on day 4-5 and I am exhausted!

Granted my little Leo is sick at present meaning that neither of us slept well last night thus I was scraping by energy wise today, but even still. Today, I didn't even get out of my pajamas,  my big project with Sabine today was making different textures with her toys in her play-dough and am about to go to bed with a dirty kitchen. The last thing I feel like doing is sitting here now, on my computer trying to sound literate.

So, this begs the question - HOW in the hell do these people do it? How does a person keep a garden, sew clothes, raise children, keep fit, make good meals, grocery shop, keep the right size clothes in the never ending shuffle of sizes, go out with friends, read books, stay current, have a sex life AND take stunning pics to go along with their blogs daily?

I am on a quest to find my time wasters. I rarely watch tv, haven't seen a full movie in a couple of years (though I do like watching trailers) and have a pile of books waiting to be read. Is it facebook? Is it the search for the new home? Is it naps? Is it huffpost? Where does all this precious, precious time GO? I am not tryingto be ambitious here, nor am I trying to be particularly busy. I know how to say no and I know when to take it easy.

You may remember, I  wrote an entry a while back saying I was taking a break from blogging to enjoy my baby. I am glad I did that, but I want to keep records of my children's life and I enjoy this medium. I also want to garden, read, do paper mache, go to bed with a clean kitchen and of course, spend as much time with my darling daughters as I can.

So, great segway here, today I was hearing Sabine in her room saying H, H, Q O, Q O, H, Q H, H, H etc etc. I peeked in to see what the heck and she was practicing her letters with an orange marker. She has already been" writing" for a very long time now - squiggles, lines, dots etc and then reading to me what they said. That was always interesting. But this time, she was actually writing the letters. I have no idea where she learned to do it, she said it was not in school. We have practiced her name, but Sabine does not contain H, O or Q so ...?

I was curious if she really knew what she was writing, so I asked her - what sound does an H make? She said, ha. I said was is a word that starts with H? She said, hot and hat. Well, I'll be! So, obviously, she didn't learn that in her French school. She was clearly proud of herself and kept on filling the page for about 20 more minutes. 

My girl has gone from a squiggle writer to a letter writer in a blink. I know that time is something we all reflect on at least occasionally, but when you have small children, you get to witness life in warp speed. As they are pulling you into their super-speed reality, you could wonder if you are stimulating enough as you try to do it all.

ON THE Other hand, Another way to look at my faux-self hate is to consider that had I been all up in her business doing projects or dragging her around outside the house, she wouldn't have had the space and quiet to work on her letters. So, I guess it all evens out in the end. But this weekend, we are going to be planting a garden while we do yoga while wearing handmade hemp overalls and I am gonna blog all about it!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lovely day to see Buffalos

The Arc (from the website)
About a month ago we finally visited Thoiry Zoo and Park, after talking about going for 4 years. It is about 45 minutes from Paris. I really loved it. I liked it so much in fact, we bought Sabine and I an annual membership to go during the week. So, we went again today - and the weather was perfect.

It has something for everyone. Botanical gardens, a ch√Ęteau, a labyrinth, African safari, kid's playground, petting zoo and of course tons of different animals in a huge, natural outdoor setting that you walk through.  They also offer "shows", which are more like college lectures (but hey this is France).

 The diversity of the animals is just breathtaking. For a bit of a glimpse, click here.
Thoiry Chateau and giggles


 The grounds: the trees, flowers, ponds, gardens - just gorgeous. I cannot wait to visit next spring when everything is in bloom.

Thoiry does something that I thought was incredibly unique, though maybe it isn't, but I had never seen this done before. For a few of the animals, they put the people in the cage (so to speak) and the lions were free to roam. There was a long (very thick) glass covered corridor which people walk through. The lions were laying on top of them when we were there. Their heads are enormous! (no pics this time, sorry).

The drive-through Safari is also cool. Animals strutting down the main road next to the car, very cool. I may have seen buffalo before, but have no recollection of their enormity. They really are beasts.


Here are just a few pics I took with my phone today of the Safari part. I was alone with Sabine and Leo, therefore couldn't really get into picture taking during the animal park part. That is one thing about being with small children, they really demand ALL of your attention (and some!). But in the car, they were strapped in their car seats...




bonus pic of my sweet Sabine <3
For more info on Thoiry Zoo and Park, check out their very nice website here:  http://www.thoiry.net/fr

Monday, September 23, 2013

a fishy tale

This post well, is not going to be written as I had imagined when I was cleaning the kitchen racking my brain for a topic for tonight's entry.

It is my goldfish tale.

About 2 months ago, a neighbor of mine threw away a goldfish bowl. Well, I was beyond delighted. It took about a month to get to the store and get a fish. We went on a Saturday, it was of course beyond chaotic and rushed. Not what I wanted for my girl's first pet experience. But well anyway... the guy at the store said that a goldfish needs an aquarium and a big one at that.

I guffawed. The hell they do - why when I was a kid, I had a bowl and my fish was fine. Of course, he was right. A one second glance at google and one learns quite quickly that indeed goldfish need space.

It seemed like a heck of a lot of work to get an aquarium. I always admired people who kept them, but I myself never thought of having one. I was a "dog person" and a "cat person", not an aquarium person. After getting the fish and learning the next time and money expense coming our way, Hicham suggested "getting rid of it". Of course, I said no. I was destined to become an aquarium person.

But, the fish would have to wait until I could get back to the store. Well, finally about a week ago, the girls and I went back. Leo wasn't really into it, she was discontent during most of the excursion. Sabine was, who knows where looking at who knows what, but kept checking back in while I got the low down on fish 101.

After spending a small fortune, with the aquarium in the stroller and the baby in my arms, we went home and I set up the fish's new home.

It was so fun to watch the fish swimming around happily. Sometimes it would hide behind the live plant. I realized just how much I loved having any pet. For me, animals in the home just make the home more cozy, more nurturing and more well homey.

Here is where my story was supposed to end. But about an hour ago, I went over to take a picture of the fish to share with you dear reader. Yes, riveting stuff here. And I noticed the fish seemed stuck at the bottom of the tank, I rushed to get a spoon to help it and it helplessly floated around. I wondered was it dead? Alas no, a quick google search would tell me it had "swim bladder" a condition caused by a variety of possible things.

I rushed to do all the advice given on the Internet, with much optimism as most said it wasn't that serious. During that time, the poor fish died.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My little coquine

We know our children are growing as their shoes start getting tighter and as they can reach things they couldn't before. But seeing that they are growing emotionally is not as obvious... usually.

Today Sabine had drawn all over her arms with her markers while putting Leo down for her morning nap. I was not impressed. She knew she was about to hear all about it, but acted preemptively. Here is what she told me, seemingly all in one breath:

"It's okay mama, it's no big deal. It will wash off. I can go right now into the bathtub and it will come right off with soap. Don't be mad with me. Go sit in the calming chair and take 3 deep breaths. You will feel better."

Um, yeah, okay. Thanks, THREE year old! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dodged a Bullet and a farm visit

Here we go, day 2 of the 21 day challenge.

So, long story short - there are some shady people on the planet. We have been off and on looking at new places to live for the last few years. We quite like our apartment, the location and the people who live in our community. And the simple fact that we have a neighborly community is something of a rarity in the Paris area.

But, once and a while I freak out and crave a yard or more space or more storage or a quieter area or or or whatever and we start looking at the internet for the ads for houses or apartments. Here in France, of course, things are done differently than in the USA. Buying a new residence brings those cultural differences up to a whole new level. More on that later, but suffice it to say we had been really close to me writing a blog entitled, "We are Moving!"

Alas, that is not what this entry will be titled. It will be "We dodged a bullet". The quick version is: we found a quaint apt with needed some work, but it bordered a lovely forest, a 7 min walk to the school I want Sabine to go to and seemed like a pleasant place to live. We had visited the apt four times, met people who were moving out, met people who were living there, went for a hike in the forest, took lots of pics of the apt, had 2 contractors visit, read all the apartment diagnostics, read the meeting minutes of the co-prop owners, did a trial walk to the school. We really were getting invested in this place.

We went again last night with a different contractor to talk again about the work that needed to be done. The evil agents had to leave after about 15 minutes, so we were left to stand and discuss the work in the hallway. A woman was returning home and my bold and fantastic friend who  also joined to give us her opinion on the place asked the woman something in French. Fast forward 15 minutes and we had heard enough from this woman who chose US to tell the real deal to exit the process. And there was some real shady shit going on. The entire group of co-property owners colluded to not include in the minutes of their meetings the major upcoming and very expensive repairs needed on the apt as they all quietly sold their apartments. Also, blatantly lied about the ability to (hard to believe I know) USE the lawn directly in front of the apartment. This was one of the most appealing things about the apt. It is very common, more common than not, that the grass in forbidden to walk, play or lay on all around France. But, we had been told by the agents that the lawn was ours to use.

The helpful neighbor of course asked that we not say anything. She included a lot of other tid-bits about the dramas and conflicts between the neighbors. But for me it was the grass. She said it was really not allowed.  To have a living room with 2 beautiful doors opening out to a large grassy area but never be allowed to walk on it, well fuck that.

Like my many other major life projects, getting a driver's license in France, having a baby in France,  - buying a new home will be highlighted here. And no doubt, the stories coming will be head shakers, eye brow raising and fist poundingly frustrating - but so it is in the land not known for efficiency or customer service!
Breastfeeding at the farm

Beyond that 2 very heartbreaking situations recently came to my attention. I include online petitions to sign to show your support for two very different aspects of being in touch with nature.  Even if you don't live in France, your name will make an impact.

The first one relates to a family's decision to have their baby at home, which France is trying to eliminate by making it nearly impossible for mid-wives to get insurance. Here is that petition:

 https://www.change.org/fr/p%C3%A9titions/au-gouvernement-fran%C3%A7ais-ne-rendez-pas-l-accouchement-%C3%A0-domicile-impossible



The second one is to protest the closing of an incredible resource here in France. A teaching farm which is really second to none in it's awesomeness. We happened to go there today and cannot believe that this is the first time we ever did as it is so close to our home. Here are just a couple of not-that-great pics taken with Hicham's phone. But the petition follows. Why they want to close it, is unclear to me. I hope to find out more.


Here is the petition:
http://www.mesopinions.com/petition/nature-environnement/sos-ferme-piqueur/9930

Please sign! :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

I am BACK and my standards have lowered

Hi y'all.
So, they say it takes 21 days to start making a new habit into a way of life. I am going to challenge myself to blog EVERYDAY for the next 21 days. And yup, gonna make a statement of my intention to do so.

It isn't that I haven't been blogging because there isn't much to write, au contraire, there is so much going on that I am neglecting to make time for it. This is a shame because this is where I keep many of my memories.

As I have stated before, I am keeping my blog "public" but I ultimately write the blog for myself. I do so enjoy reading old posts and remembering that time or that phase or that joy or that frustration.


Leonora

So, my little baby girl just turned ONE and I think it was 2 entries ago, I was sharing her birth story. That is pathetic.

Okay, well, she just woke up from her nap. So, I gotta go now. But I am posting this now and no, it isn't necessarily interesting or even thought-provoking. If you are looking for that on a consistent basis, you might want to unsubscribe now cuz it's getting real up in here.  Yeah, I am bringing in the nitty-gritty daily grind kinda updates. And more complaining. And more pictures. And more opinions that could change within a day or 2.

I will be writing when I am tired, I will be writing when I don't feel like it and I will be writing (as I am now) with a baby breastfeeding.  


So - now you know. I am back. And my standards are lower, ha!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Judging others and why it doesn't matter


I was reflecting on how hard it was growing up in Minnesota and feeling like a full on freak most of the time. Of course, I was a freak. I wanted to be one and I wanted to express myself. I was colorful, original and a real target for judgement.

At first though it was hard to understand why people were STARING at me. Here is the thing though, the older I got and the more funky I got and the less I cared what others thought. I basically got used to it and then judged right back. "They are jealous" was my go-to defense. Minnesota, or at least any where outside of the Twin Cities is a vapid, conformist state and I shudder at the thought of ever living there again. Now, I am a bit less funky (on the outside) but still get really thrilled when I see someone really looking original (much harder to find in France).

But the point I am getting to, well 2 points really:

1. You can really, truly be a complete lone wolf as a stay at home mama. You can easily
interact only with your children all day and everyday if you want. Play groups, mom's get togethers, hell even chat rooms are completely optional. If you are lucky like me and your husband actually goes out for the groceries while you stay home with the children, you don't even have to see other shoppers. Most of my other purchases are online too. Of course, I do in fact see friends and people often currently, but this may change as we are looking at moving into the sticks. But this is entirely optional. If I didn't want to see other adults, I would not have to. To that end, diminished judgment.

It is an interesting contrast to my youth when I was forced to interact and mingle with people who thought mean thoughts about me because I was wearing 5 skirts, 3 shirts and combat boots. I really loved fashion and as usual I think in other circumstances, more supportive environment, I could have been the next big fashion designer. Well, my goal now is to actually PLUG my sewing machine in someday and whip up some cool and funky clothes for my girls. However, the impulse would be stronger if I lived in the States where most of the girls' clothes I saw were incredibly short, tight and sexualized. Here in France, girls still maintain their innocence. Until they are 15 when they all seem to stand on the sidewalk and smoke. But no judgment right? Wrong!

And that brings me to number 2:
Judgment.
Who cares about it?
It is funny as a stay at home mom, I get sucked into parenting articles, mom tips and mom rants online. As much as being a long wolf appeals to me, I also like to know there are other wolves in their dens howling at the nonsense occurring around them at any and all given moments when living with pups.

BUT then, there is the response of mom's who actually have opinions. Opinionated mama's are berated for being judgmental, for starting and perpetuating mom wars and basically acting like bad feminists. I would argue that it is through our so-called, “judging” of each other that we become more clear as to what is important to us.

There is a wonderful lil philosophy going around the internet at the moment. The first time I heard it, I felt my heart do a lil dance (thanks Joan Kelly as you posted it first several months ago on facebook). Of course it was originally said by the wonderful and wise Wayne Dyer:

This really opened me up in some new and exciting ways. In all honesty, it felt like I was given permission to judge. I doubt many would agree with that interpretation, but hear me out. When I saw this idiot woman wearing her stupid nearly full face veil in France, I judged her. But then, I pulled back a bit and said, no – my reaction to seeing this is not about her... at all. She doesn't care what I think about what she is wearing in the same way I didn't care at age 16. But my judgment of her is about my feelings of disgust when I see a woman feeling the need to cover herself for all the blah blah blah, religion religion religion, privacy, modesty, heaven, safety, who gives a crap. I think it is ridiculous and ????

And all those mamas out there, like me, who really do think breast is best and raise our eyebrows and ire at moms who choose to bottle feed. So what? We are judging, ooooh scary. We have ideas and criticisms about stuff. A bunch of moms were recently all bitchy about Giselle Bundchen's decision to pierce her daughter's ears. Who cares? Does Giselle? Highly doubt it. Other people might not like that I cut my girl's hair. I mean, there are religions who have rules about that. Does that matter one iota to me? Judge away. It helps clarify and define who ya are.

Judge that!

Oh and by the way: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/judgement-or-judgment/

And as a PSA, allow me to mention the horrific slaughterings of wolves currently happening in Minnesota.  There I go, judging again!
http://www.howlingforwolves.org/

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Curiosities and Questions

As I was trying to title this post, I reread it and discovered that most of the topics - though unrelated- do indeed revolve around Curiosities and Questions.
 
Well Alright! Baby Leo is nearing up to the BIG 0-9 month mark and crawling like a little glow worm, 6 teeth to call her own, eats a variety of foods and has just about the most delicious laugh you will ever hear from a baby. I think she is typical in that she likes to explore, but it seems that she is the most curious baby ever born! With her concentrated brow-furrow as she tries to do... well anything, she is just the coolest baby.


Sabine is a bike riding (with training wheels) dare devil with more bizarre and unexpected things rolling off her tongue on a daily basis. I should like to start a regular entry called, "Sabine actually said that". For example, like most kids she is interested in her private parts. But she is also intrigued by the idea that we ALL have them. I had to endure her listing every single person she knew and ensuring that they too had a "ZEE-ZEE". Does XX'x mama have a zee-zee? Does Monsieur XX have a zee-zee? Does so and so and so and so and so and so have a zee-zee??????  The cool thing is that in France, boys and girls both have them. So, there isn't the issue of difference yet.

A very sad thing happened tonight. Sabine got a little black baby doll for her 3rd birthday last January. Her name is Louise. She was the favorite doll for months. Tonight when I noticed Louise was not in her spot near Sabine's head for bedtime, I mentioned it. She said she didn't like Louise anymore. I asked her why. She responded that she is dirty. I looked closely at Louise and said I didn't see any. She repeated it and she even said, she wanted to return her to the Monsieur at the store! I asked her where she was dirty, she said "all over". I didn't want to make a big deal about it, because she likes to see my reaction when she tells me she ate meat at the creche (which she does not do). So, I just took Louise out and asked her if she wanted to sleep with me then. Louise said okay. I told Hicham about this painful conversation and he suggested that we give Louise a bath tomorrow and pretend that she was a bit dirty and then afterwards she will be nice and clean - ready for a snuggle.

UPDATE: Oh, how the adult mind functions. So, Sabine was all excited to give Louise a bath this morning. She took a gigantic bubble bath, washed her up, toweled her off and got her dressed and said, "there mama, all clean!". In my defense, I am cognizant of the studies done with little kids describing various dolls and attributing traits to them ... anyway.


This is a big year for our family, this September Sabine will be starting school, but not going everyday as I have decided she will stay home one day per week with Leo and I (for many reasons). Why should other people get to spend the bulk of the best time with my kid? I wish I could do this her entire childhood, but she might not agree. "But, mom! I want to go to school everyday!". The drawback is that this will be on her RECORD, says the directrice. Too bad I don't give two shits, she is only THREE.

Leo will start going 2 mornings a week to Creche... what will I do with myself? Oh... I sure can't wait to find out either! I was thinking it would be to take French classes, but honestly, I doubt it. I will probably surf the web and lay around drinking smoothies.

Which brings me to my latest daily drama. I am a green smoothie freak show. For real. Sadly, I have gone through many blenders and repair and replacement parts and new blenders in the last year that today I finally had ENOUGH when I found that my blender just stopped working again today. This was not a shitty generic blender either. Doesn't matter, these blenders are not made for the craziness that happens in my kitchen. They can't handle what I give them.

So, we are going in. Making it happen. No hold back. Making the investment in my health. Etc, etc. blah blah blah, VITAMIX! If you don't know about this amazing tool, google it now! Now we just have to figure out the best way to get one in my kitchen: buy abroad ($500) and have it shipped and pay the taxes/fees/shipping ($200), have a friend ship it unboxed (anyone?) or just suck it up and pay the European price ($1000). Damn! It is expensive here (except wine and well, except wine only). I will keep you posted. See, questions abound!

Shiny red boat, just yes!
Beyond that, went to The Netherlands about 2 weeks ago. Hardly took any photos while in Amsterdam, but there were a few things I did manage to be impressed enough by to take out the camera.



Here are some of my favorite pictures of Amsterdam bikes:

I just adore the tiny seat in the front compared to the child seat in the back, seems impossibly small!
Wooden box to tote tots.




I found that metal holder incredibly intriguing, it is probably obvious to most what it is for, but it is just this kind of thing that makes my imagination soar. Wine, flours, umbrella, newspaper? The possibilities are rather endless! 

Not often one sees a 2 colored eye cat, next to a boat... in Amsterdam. Rather curious I would say.

Yes, I love Amsterdam. And am eager to go back and explore much more. I took more pics of the other places we visited on this 5 days excursion (tulips galore!). For the next entry ...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My baby is a baby.

Okay, so the most recent entry was OCT. 29th... which was written more than a month after the one before that.  It highlighted my disappointment in myself for not keeping up with my French (study or practice or even listening to French radio) and my desire to be more "efficient" with my time.

Well, yeah, that was my intention as I was basically under-slept, over-stressed with lil miss colic (that has long since passed, to the point where I cannot even remember she ever cried in agony for long bouts) and not really in-sync with my toddler.  That is putting it nicely, a hem.
drying laundry

I guess I thought that if I had more control over time, you know with calendars, plans, agendas and more orderly drawers and crock pot dinners that I would feel less anxious and overwhelmed.  Well, there was some truth to it and also some getting my priorities straightened out.

I know that this entry is so incredibly cliche... but I haven't ever written about it and so it is original to me.

I did get some new tools and resources to help bring some order to my mental space. I got a new smartphone - which I actually do use to keep me more organized. I got the huge Galaxy Note 2.  I basically read too much greedy greedy about apple to continue to want to support them, even though I use an imac. But I am really satisfied with my phone and the huge screen (and the pen super useful in the kitchen to scroll a recipe w/o touching the screen).

What I use daily to keep my head from spinning is basically Astrid and Digical. How I use them to help me with parenting is when I find an activity I want to do with Sabine online (and omg, there are so many, many, many amazing blogs/sites/ideas - infinite really) I attach the link or page with Astrid's super handy webclipper online and make it a task with a deadline and post it to my calendar so each day I spend with Sabine we already have at least one thing planned. Kudos & thanks to all those moms who share their brilliance with the world. As a side note, the ones I don't use immediately but want to in the future are stored in Springpad (another great webclipper/bookmarking tool for us visual people).

making a fort.
I have also signed up for this really cool play challenge and recommend anyone who has kids to do it as well. I wish I could say we have done them all each day as is the intention of taking on the challenge. Hell, I haven't even opened up all the emails - but that will be addressed in part 2 of this entry entitled: My baby is a baby!  So, check it out and be inspired!  You can find it on this INCREDIBLE blog: http://handsonaswegrow.com/

We did the fort as one of the challenges suggests a couple of weeks ago. We brought flashlights and toys in and Sabine still talks about it.

Part 2: My baby is a baby!

the "reading chair"
A few weeks ago, Sabine hurt herself and I went in to pick her up and saw our reflection in the mirrors on the door of the armoire.  Because I am usually hauling Leo around and because Sabine is usually busy I don't often really pick her up.  I mean, we snuggle and stuff, but that is on the bed or in the "reading chair" (our obnoxiously huge 80's lazy boy hogging up half the living room, but providing some of my most favorite mama memories).



I feel this whimpering, damp child in my arms but what I SEE is this long-legged, big kid clinging on to me and I wonder (as all parents do), "Where is my baby?".  It all does happen so quickly, I know you have heard it all before. And so too have I. But it is when you have the epiphany yourself do you wish you had understood when someone tells you to "enjoy it because it goes by so quick". You're like, yeah yeah. I got all chocked up and after putting a calmer Sabine down, I rushed into the bedroom to see little, tiny baby Leo still tiny and I cried tears of gratitude right then and there.



So precious each moment.

So precious this time.

So, yeah, I am not studying French. I am studying my small children.

I am not powerwalking with Leo in the jogging stroller, I am holding her in my arms as we swing with the lullabies in the background.

I am not talking with as many friends as I think of and love and miss immensely, as I am deepening my bond with my baby and toddler.

I am not keeping my house that clean. Instead we hired someone to help so that I can spend time with my treasures without feeling pressure to scrub the toilet.

I am not watching movies. I am reading books with the 2 most important people in my life.

Except for a bit of volunteering, I am not enriching myself with much outside of basking in baby.

This time is fleeting, I can never get it back.  I cannot pick it up later like sewing or start over like French.  It is now, these little ones growing into big ones who shriek, "I CAN DO IT!  And she can do it, I know.  And I get to be apart of it.  So precious this time, so fleeting.

So, if you haven't seen many blog entries lately, that is why.  No apologies, no regrets.  This blog will always be here.  My baby is a baby will not.  Happy Valentine's Day.