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September 2007
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November 2007

October 2007

I feel love, I feel life.

"Oh my love for the first time in my life,
My eyes are wide open..."

Walking today, enjoying the a beautiful, crisp fall day with my son I am overwhelmed with love for him as he turns his head as far as he can to look up at me from the Maclaren. He flashes me a half gummy, two toothed smile.  He reaches up to me. I grasp his hand. He laughs. My senses are flooded with so much love. 

I come home to find the power is back on in my apartment. It's been out all day. And I find an email from my husband timed just as the power was due to come on telling me that he loved me.

And I happened to open iTunes and randomly John Lennon's Oh My Love plays. Such a perfect song to explain what I feel. How beautifully Lennon phrases how simply life can be so full with just love.


Here and there and everywhere...

That's how my mind feels lately. I've got a lot of things going through my mind these days. Work planned for the apartment. International trips planned. Family and friends to see.  I'm thinking about future plans for our family. Ideas I'd like to execute.

So. many. things. All just waiting to be done.

As my mind wanders to projects I'd like to conquer I think to help me stay on task I will make myself a list. I was once a person who carried several Moleskins around with me in my handbag. Those Moleskins have been replaced by burp towels, toys and teething rings.

So tonight I dug up my Moleskin for lists and put it back in my handbag. List for end of October goes as follows:

List for October 28. 2007

Pretty simple list for now. There are other ideas floating around my head but for now it's just let's tackle a few things at once.


7 mois

Dear Maximilien,

I'm a little late with your 7 month letter. It's been a very busy month and the weekend you turned 7 months old was the same weekend your Grandfather whom you call Halahboji and Becky arrived for your baptism.  Very busy weekend indeed.  You were surrounded by all of your French family and friends.  Your uncle Benjamin was appointed your godfather and your Emo Elizabeth your godmother.  It was a very lovely mass and you impressed everyone with your happy demeanor and you did not cry when the priest poured holy water on your forehead.  Instead, you gave him a huge smile and lit up the entire hall. I could feel the happiness and love radiating from the spot we stood, you, your father and me.  I knew right at that moment your halamoni in heaven was smiling down at you sending you her blessings of joy and love.

Comparing their techniques on eating French bread.

Aside from the baptism this has been a very big month for you developmentally.  You've started moving. All by yourself. All that time we spend on your tummy has paid off because I can officially say that you can crawl. It started out as a pose. You would pull yourself up on all fours and sort of rock back and forth. Not sure how to get to where you wanted to go. A few days later it turned into a scoot. You looked like a little frog jumping across the floor. And then a few days later you figured out if you shifted your knees one by one you'd actually advance and get to where you wanted to go.  This usually is either under your bed or towards the power cords to the halogen lamp in your room.  We have to get that taken care of. I can't turn my back on your anymore and expect that you will be in the same spot when I turn around again. 

You've also been very talkative this month. Your father and I don't quite understand what you are saying yet. You babbled "Goy, goy, goy, goy" a lot. Still trying to figure that out out. You definitely say "ma ma ma" and "da da da" and you still say "Okay". It surprises everyone who hears you say it. Most time you repeat it after I say it.  And I've learned that I say it a lot.

You have been here 7 months now and I haven't see the time pass.  I remember when I was 7 months pregnant with you that was when we found out that you were going to be a big baby.  Your father and I were looking at your big melon on the sonogram monitor when the doctor predicted that you'd be over 4 kilos when you were born.  Today you weigh easily 9 kilos, my boy. I've stopped keeping track.  For my back's sake, I'd rather not know how heavy you are. I just try to keep up with you.

7 months old

I am very proud to be your mother, Max.  You have a wonderful disposition. You smile all the time.  Even when you are sick or in pain.  I have to believe that I am doing something right because you are so happy all the time.  But I want to tell you that you have taught your mother so much about life and love.  I never knew love like this existed and I am finally learning to be more patient.  You have your moments when you are difficult but you know what? I can't remember those moments because all the happiness you bring to my life out shines every single one of those difficult times.  Who would have thought that a being so small would be teaching an adult of 30 years lessons in life?  And to think that this relationship we have has just begun! Oh, the emotion is overwhelming to imagine what will come next.

Love to my bébésaure,

Mamasaure (and Papasaure)
 


There is something to be said about French customer service...

Well, it just plain sucks. Most of the time...

You have to remember what I'm used to (though I have let myself forget now that I've been living in France for nearly 5 years) and that is good 'ole American customer service.  People actually try to sell you things and you when you shop and if you ask a question they are there to help you find the answer. 

It reminded me of when I spent a week in New York City in the summer of 2002, I was visiting a friend and we sent shopping in Soho and I was pretty much ignored when I tried to buy a pair of shoes. I had to go up and interrupt the sales person who was talking to another sales person to ask for my size. And then I was inadvertently spat upon when they sighed so loud because obviously I was a huge annoyance.  My sister who lived in NYC for years confirmed to me that this was typical behavior. Little 'ole Midwestern me was not used to that.  Little did I know a year later when I moved to France I'd experience the same thing every single  time I had to go buy something or needed to ask a salesperson for help. After a year or so of this customer service abuse and having to deal with Noos Internet and television on the phone on an almost daily basis, I grew a thick skin.  I figured out the things you have to say when you are interrupting a salesperson who is obviously ignoring you by looking at the ground or talking to another sales person: "Bonjour, Excusez-moi de vous deranger (fill in with your questions here)". This is a key phrase but also the tone of your voice has to be sweet almost Fun Dip candy sweet for them to get them to pay attention to you. Show attitude and you're in an uphill battle from there on out.

So, last weekend Julien and I were out strolling with Max near Les Gobelins. We picked up his new high chair and bought some bread and a delicious molleux au chocolat from the yummy Le Boulagner de Monge. We were heading back up Les Gobelins towards Place d'Italie when I spotted the Singer shop. Singer as in sewing machines.

++++++++++

Side story: When we did the huge overhaul of our apartment before Max was born I somehow misplaced the pedal to my sewing machine. We torn the apartment apart looking for it and had no luck. So, I had resolved myself to buying a new one. I had once before popped into the Singer store about a month ago and was literally vomited on by the sales woman's horrible attitude that a sugar coated greeting was not going get me anywhere. She obviously didn't want to help me. She was busy doing nothing. There wasn't another customer in the store. I turned on me heels and deemed that woman a witch and decided I would get my pedal somewhere else.

++++++++++

 

Anyway, Julien and I were doing a walk by on Saturday and I mentioned that the woman working in that store was an asshole. I never call women assholes unless they really are horrible. Julien knows this and he got a huge smile on his face.  He gave me his look of don't worry honey, I'm here. I like it when he does this because he always get what we need.  He goes in and gives the women his sugar coated Bonjour. And the very same sales lady was there, she greeted Julien with a huge smile. I was shocked but I kept it to myself. She looked at me and didn't say anything. Bitch! Julien explains the situation. The owner, an older woman, was smiling obviously entertained by my husband asking about sewing machine pedals as I'm almost positive they never have any male customers.  The older woman pulls out a pedal and offers this pedal for us to try. Try it at the price of 45 euros.  Julien and I looked at each other and I shook my head and said let's go. But then she said to try it and if it didn't work bring it back and we'll reimburse you.  What did we have to lose? Went home, tried the pedal. Didn't work. Damn. Searched around the house again in a mad fit to find the pedal and guess what? FOUND IT. Under the espresso machine in the corner behind the cocotte minute. Julien shook his head in disbelief. I was happy we found it.

Monday morning I go back to return the pedal. The shop is closed. Mais, bien sur!! Closed for inventory. The younger sales woman sees me and comes and opens the door to tell me what I could read on the sign. She lectures me on how they are closed on one Monday a month and that I shouldn't have come to return the pedal that day. And she invited me (rather rudely) to return the next day.  Like I was supposed to know they were closed that ONE MONDAY A MONTH. She twists her face up in a bitchy way and shuts the door on my face.

I stroll home with Max mildly annoyed. And I hear Julien's voice in my head saying that I must play their game. Don't let them see you get upset.

I go back today to return the pedal. The door is unlocked and I am the only person in the shop. The bitchy saleswoman comes out and stands at the door with her hands on her hips. I say Bonjour dripping with sweet American sass and put the pedal on the counter. She take the receipt and mutters under her breath that she'll write me up a store credit.

Store credit?!

I object and tell her that that is not what you said to my husband and I when we were in the shop on Saturday. She tries to tell me that is exactly what she said.  You can't even imagine her tone of voice here. Bitchy, condescending and insulting. I wanted to slap her. But I kept my cool and responded before she even finished her sentence that she knew very well that we took the pedal that was not guaranteed to work for my sewing machine only  because we would be reimbursed if the pedal did not work. Period. No discussion.

Of course, I didn't say the last part. But I caught an image of myself turning my back to the woman as she tried to counter again and she couldn't because I cut her off with my body language. If you know me in real life, I don't do this. Joue le jeu, play the game, I could hear Julien's voice in my head....

She came back at me again saying that they ONLY did store credits. I threw back my same response again.  And again. And again. We went like this about three times. I couldn't believe how I kept repeating myself and my tone. I was assertive and strong but did not insult. I was not going to let this woman win. Finally after the third time repeating myself the sales lady called back to the older woman.

"Edith!"  She cawed. (pronounced Eeeh-deet)

Edith came out and gave me a genuine smile and greeting. She came over and shook Max's hand. The younger sale lady started to lose her patience. She mumbled quickly under her voice about how the pedal didn't work and that I was not smart enough to bring the reference and other silly remarks about me when Edith put her hand up and  asked me what he problem was. I calmly recapped what happened on Saturday and reminded her that she had said we'd be reimbursed for the pedal if it did not work. She nodded and said, indeed, that they had said that. Edith pulled open the till and drew out 45 euros and pushed it across the counter. I thanked her.  She called to me as I left saying sweetly that if I need anything other sewing products to come back. The other sales woman stomped off into the back. As I was leaving, I could hear Edith say to the young sales lady that she needed to be nicer to the customers (obviously she had been standing at the door unseen, listening to us) and that they had indeed said reimbursement. 

So, maybe in France there are a few people who do have some good customer service integrity. I don't run into them very often but when I do, I am sure to remember which store they work at and I return the favor with my faithful business.

And another thing to cross off my 30 things list: Be assertive.


 


Moving forward

It's a busy time around our house. Out of town travelers will be arriving this Friday but before that we have a quick trip to make up to Reims on Thursday in preparation for Maximilien's baptism on the 21st.  As much as I could just let myself be sad and let life pass me by I get up every morning sometimes 2-3 times in the wee hours to tend to my son. The grogginess fades away when I see his little face and his arms reaching out to me. My heart swells with love for this little human being. As hard as things are right now, I wouldn't change anything in this world for what I have today.

Life moves on like it or not... and I have to go with it. I just need to remember to go slow and not let myself get overwhelmed. And allow myself time to feel everything I need to feel. And in the meantime enjoy precious moments like this:


Max showing off his baby upward dog technique from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.


In our own ways we are all moving forward even if it's only one scoot at a time.


Incomplete

I jerk myself out of bed tonight to write down the words that are pouring from my brain. The are pulling me back to a place that I have chosen to forget about for a while now. I'm too happy being a mother to let myself live these sad feelings. But sometimes it's just stronger than I can withstand. The sad emotions come flooding out of me. Mostly at night when I lay down to go to sleep.

Words over come my brain as I try to sleep. Things I wish I could have said to her. Letters I should have written when I had then chance. 

I find old birthday cards with her delicate handwriting on them and I find myself 8 years old again watching her write notes to remind herself of new words she had learned.

After my mother died, I went through her desk just looking at her things. It was her new desk at the new house. A new desk with a new mac computer.  I never knew her there. I only remember the old desk at the old house. The old desk that had her old IBM laptop on it. The old desk that kept her bobbles and such. Her address books and pencils and note cards. I went through her new desk at the new house just hoping to find something she had perhaps written to me. Maybe a letter or a note. Just something telling me something I didn't know. I hoped to find the letter that would tell me everything I would ever need to know. But of course, this would never happen as my mother didn't know she was going to die. Letters like these are only written when you know...

Before Max was born I often questioned myself why I even kept this blog anymore. It started out as something fun to pass the time. A journal of silly thoughts I had about living in France. But as the years have gone by (I have been at this for over 4 years now) I have found my blog to be a way for me to record my life.  There are so many little things I have forgotten. And now I hope that someday Maximilien and perhaps my other children will have a place to read my thoughts and dreams. And they won't be left wondering if I had left them the letter somewhere in my messy desk drawer.

I feel torn between two worlds right now. My present life and the life that stopped violently the day my mother died. Part of me feels like this is a vicious dream that will never end. I dig through the sheets trying to claw my way to the surface only to find that I am still asleep and unable to awaken myself. The other part of me is living the happy life that I am destine to live. Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister. I am these things. But underneath I am sad. Very sad. And incomplete.


Getting a little taste....

I am babysitting my son's buddy, Max, today.  It's giving me a little taste of what it would be like to have two little beings to care for. I often dreamt while I was pregnant with Maximilien that I was going to have twins. I felt like I was so big that there had to be two babies in there.

Right now both babies are sleeping. It was amazingly easy to get them down. I put my Maximilien down first. I nursed him while Max Marcel played on the play gym. I then took Max and put him the pack 'n play in our living room while I prepared his bottle.  I was wondering how he's take a bottle from me, someone other than his Mama. But he did pretty well. So far no tears. I put Max Marcel down and off to sleep he went.

While I blog this I'm making their lunch: sweet potatoes and organic apple compote. I have time to blog and then fold laundry. 

I prepared myself for today by saying that if one baby cries or both cry it's going to be okay. My Max cries and it doesn't necessarily mean he's sad, he's just expressing himself and I have learned that. So, with this attitude that crying is ok and I don't need to stress myself over it it turns out that neither babies have cried today. But the day has just started, we'll see how the afternoon goes. :)

So, I am sitting here thinking... two babies? Hell yeah! I can do it!  A sweet smile sneaks across my face as baby fever rises in me but Julien and I have a plan. Like I mentioned before, there are some things in the works. So for now, I will just enjoy having both babies in my presence.


An inspiring weekend

We're back from our long weekend in the south. We returned to Paris via TGV on Sunday. Julien was there waiting for us on the train platform. We saw him through the window as we started to make our way off the train. It was cinematic and romantic. Max and I squished ourselves up against the window as did Julien on the other side. Max let out one of his croaky laughs and we hurried off the train for cuddles from daddy. 

The weekend was long and lovely. I wish we could have stay longer. Just as we were getting ready to leave everything seemed to have fallen in place. Babies were on the same sleeping schedules. Mamas were working together to make the house run. Naps were being taken while the Mamas helped to watch kids.  If this is what communal living is like I am now very enchanted with the idea. Trips to the market were made. Play dates on the beach.  Lots of laughing and quiet moments to relax. Wonderful hearty meals made by our lovely host and every evening ended with insightful, open minded conversations that made me realize that I have finally found my people.

I have also realized that my life in France has evolved. I have talked about it before that I am planting roots and making a life here. With ever passing year it gets easier and easier. Having a baby has opened a new chapter in my life. It is a long and winding chapter that will be read until the end of my days. As in every life story there are vital characters that carry you through. Some stay with you through the end some move on in other directions.  And with every story where you do not know the end, surprises happen along the way. I've had some happy surprises in the last few days. Some I intend on sharing with you here very soon.

Inspiration is something I came away with from this past weekend.  Inspired to make things with my hands. Inspired to look at the world differently through the lens of my camera. Inspired to travel more. Inspired to give more. I need more weekends like this.

Anyhow... I am slowly posting photos of my weekend away. Mostly of the inspiring people I passed the time with and less of the picturesque background we visited. That's okay because we're already planning a trip back again very soon.