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October 2007
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December 2007

November 2007

The woman behind the yarn

I made it over to meet Debbie Bliss today. She is such a lovely lady! We talked for about a half and an hour if you can believe it. We stood in the middle of the mercerie at the Bon Marché while French women buzzed around us buying their buttons, yarn and ribbons. Most women were not aware that Debbie Bliss was there. Even one woman came and asked her if she'd write up a fiche de produit for her. I went over and introduced myself and she asked me to call her Debbie. I was a little star struck because I had been knitting with her  yarns for so long that her name had become a household knitting term for me. At any rate, it was very cool to meet her in person. She asked me what kind of knitter I was? If I knit for other people or kept what I knit for myself? She cooed to Maximilien and noticed that he was wearing a sweater knit in her Cashmerino Aran.  I asked her about her new books and she showed me her spring/summer book called Rialto.  I did not know this yarn, it's a superwash merino with an amazingly cushy spring to it. She pulled out a sweater that she had knit with her Rialto and insisted that I try it on. I was in love. I bought the book and found that it had several other sweaters I instantly fell in love with. Isabella will be the next sweater I knit for myself. 

I went on to try (upon her request) on some other sweaters she had brought with her. I was impressed. The construction was amazing and the fit was almost perfect. She had me try on sweaters she had knit in size 34 which isn't my size and they fit rather well. I jotted down notes to remember which size  to knit as she autographed two books to me. 

Before leaving, Debbie asked me to tell my regular knitting sales woman that the Bon Marché needs to bring her back every month to have a regular knitting session apparently she loves Paris and tries to come to visit as often as she can. She even said that she'd love to come to our knitting circle someday. Imagine that?   

Yes, I still knit...

Once upon a time I used to post blogs about knitting amongst the other random things on this blog. Then I had a baby and Maximilien hijacked my blog.

Well, here is a little knitting content for ya... I've actually finished some top secret Christmas presents! I can hardly believe that I did it. Photos will be posted later as I don't want to ruin the surprise. Secondly, this Friday I am going to go and meet Debbie Bliss.  I do enjoy her yarns very much. Cashmerino Aran has been a favorite of mine for a long time and I think I will go and buy her new baby knits book that she will be dedicating this Friday at Le Bon Marché. By the way, for you Paris knitters, she will be there from 11am-5:30pm. 

I think I will buy some of her new yarn, chunky cashmerino to make myself a hat. No pattern in mind yet but maybe Debbie Bliss* can give me some advice.

* I know I keep using her full name but to call her Miss Bliss just sounds too... you get what I mean. :)

This year is the off year.

We go home ever year but alternate each time of the year so that we spend Thanksgiving home one year and Christmas the next year. This year is a Christmas year.  Honestly, I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving until I opened up my bloglines and saw a few entires from friends who had posted what they are thankful for this year. I started thinking about what we should do for Thanksgiving. Usually my family gets together and we roast a huge 20lb turkey, eats copious amounts of mash potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce and don't forget the pumpkin pie!

This is Maximilien's first Thanksgiving. He won't remember it but I have been holding and kissing him all day telling him how happy and thankful I am for him coming into my life. I look forward to Julien coming home tonight so we can be together as a family.  As I type this entry, I just got a call from my father-in-law and it turns out he's in town for business and is free tonight and wants to take us to dinner. So, I guess we will be spending it with some extended family as well.  Maybe we'll go for some Korean tonight? Max's first Thanksgiving and he will try bulgogi and kimchi for the first time. Indeed, this is an off year for Thanksgiving chez nous.

Buy Handmade

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

I first learned about it here. Pledging to buy handmade things is not a hard things to do for me. I appreciate a nice handmade object. I am a knitter. I dream about being a sewer (this I am working on to improve myself everyday). After reading about call backs on children's toys because of lead or harmful chemicals, it made me sit down and go through all of Max's toys to double check that he didn't have any of the toys that were harmful to his health. Looking at each tag, I realized that almost every toy he has was made in China except his stacking tower which was made in Mexico and a stuffed elephant that was made in Italy.  Even all of his books were either printed in China or printed in Mexico.  I couldn't believe it. Most toys were clearly marked with something that said designed in the US but made in China. The made in China part in a much smaller font than the designed in the US part. I guess that's supposed to make me feel better about where Max's toys come from. Well, it doesn't.

So, I am taking this pledge to buy handmade for this coming holiday season. Gifts. Toys. Household items.  I am excited to scavenger Etsy, my new favorite place on the web for gifts and inspiration. My recent favorites: StumpPondToy, Pookeh, Isofoto, and SuperCapacity.  More here. Taking this pledge has also motivated me to finish a few knit projects for loved ones as well. If you take the pledge, let me know! I would love to see what handmade treasures you have found.   

Inspired? Read more about here.

8 Mois

Dear Maximilien,

You are eight months old today.

Today, you are 8 months old.

I write that and pause to look at what I just typed and think, "Thank god we got through that month!". Needless to say, it's been a long month. Lots of things have happened over the past four weeks. Where shall I start? Your grandfather and Beck-ma came to visit you, you were baptized, you teethed all month and pushed through the biggest tooth I've ever seen in a baby's mouth. Now when you smile you look like you got in a fight and someone knocked out all your teeth. You started to creep and then crawl and now you are in crawling overdrive. It scares me. You pull yourself up to standing on everything. And I mean everything: your bed, my leg, our bed, dirty laundry baskets, clean laundry baskets, the washing machine, the toilet, the shower, the front door, the heaters, okay pretty much anything you can get your strong little mitts on you try to pull yourself up to standing.  and you know what this means? You fall down a lot. At first I was freaking out and following you all over the apartment staying within a few inches of you so I could catch you if you fell. But then my back went out and I thought he needs to bonk his head a few times and maybe that will teach him something.  Well, I've lost count of how many times you've fallen down and bonked your head. Now when it happens you act like nothing happened. You look at me like, "Stop, freaking out woman and pick me up so I can do it again." Yes, you give your mother the look your father gives me of, "I do whatever I want because I am French".  Like father, like son.

I tap my foot to the beat... this kid will be walking before he is one years old for sure!

Obviously, you want to walk. I get that. So, we got you a walker. And guess what, when we put you in it, you just stand there. And scream. Oh yeah, that is a new thing too, the screaming. It kind of sounds like you are saying, "Hey". But after 20 minutes of shrill baby heys it's not so endearing anymore. But we love you so much and a little (or a lot) of screaming won't ever change that.

Maximilien's Baptism

Your baptism was really fun. It was an extremely long day for you but you were gracious and smiled for everyone.  Nearly everyone on your Papa's side of the family came for your big day. You met your great grand parents, great uncles and aunts, cousins and more cousins.  Your uncle Benjamin is your godfather and your aunt Elizabeth is your godmother.   Both of your godparents love you very much and will always be there for you no matter what.  I know that your halomoni in heaven is very proud of you and was there in spirit supporting you for your big day.

Wondering what to do next?

As you become more adventurous you have become less sure of yourself. Your willingness to dare to try new things surprises me everyday  but as soon as you've pulled yourself up onto something new you look to me and cry because you not sure of what you've done.   You search for security in my arms and I am your mama and willing to give in to you. A mistake perhaps but you are my first born and with all firsts we learn the most important lessons.

So much love to give!

Happy 8th month!


2 years already...

November 12th was the two year anniversary of my mother's death. Is anniversary the right word? Don't you celebrate anniversaries? I don't know what other word I can use. The day was uneventful at best. Normal is a better word that uneventful. I struggled a little getting Max down to bed. Talked about future plans for projects with Julien. We ate dinner together while watching a movie. I knit a little. Julien went to bed early and I puttered around the kitchen doing last minute things before finally putting myself au lit. I layed down and closed my eyes and thought about my mother. That's usually what I do when I go to bed. I think about all the things I want to tell her and I tell her. Then I remembered! It has been two years since....

and I cried. Silent tears. Julien was fast asleep and so tired. I didn't want to wake him. I clutched my pillow to my chest and sobbed. Max stirred in his bed and I listened to him scoot around a bit. My heart hurt. It hadn't hurt like that in a months. The crushing pain you feel when you can't breath. Like someone is standing on your heart. I was a wreak the next day. I hadn't slept. I woke up when Julien got up to leave for work. Max had woken up for his morning snack before going back to sleep for a while. That while turned into hours. I woke up at noon and squinted at the clock. Rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I jolted out of bed and ran into Max's room to see if he was ok. He had gone back down from his morning snack at 7am. He stirred a bit and then turned his head at me like he always did and smiled his toothy smile. Reached his arms to me.  He knew.  He knew I was having a bad day. All day Tuesday, he was exceptionally calm. It was like he understood I need that.

I often think about the afterlife. More so now that my mom is gone. I believe. I have to because someday I need to see her again. She comes to me often in my dreams. I am grateful for that. And I  catch Max staring at her photo on my desk and I wonder if he somehow knows.  I let myself believe because it helps me to heal.

Two years gone and I it still feels like she's not really gone. I feel like she's on vacation or something. When Max does something awesome the first thing that comes to my mind is I want to call my mom to tell her about it. How long do these feelings last? A part of me does not want to let them go because I feel like I will forget her if I do. But part of me hurts so much holding on to these feelings that I feel so sick from sadness.

It is 3am. I should be sleeping but for some reason the words are just pouring out of me. But must get some sleep. I have a little man who depends on me to be 100% and I can hear my mom, as she did for so many years, telling me to go to bed. NOW. At least her voice is still strong and clear in my mind. I love you, Omma. And I can still hear her saying it back to me in her special way.

The strike affects me too.

As some of you know there is a rather large grève  going on in France right now.  Public transportation has been hit completely as the transport workers are trying to negotiate with our president, Sarkozy, not to take away their early retirement benefits. If that isn't enough, EDF et GDF (Electricity and Gas) de France have also gone on strike to support the transportation grievances.   And to top it off, the students are striking as well. In support for the transit workers and also to voice their opposition to privatizing their schools.

Since "my office" happens to be in the comfort of my home. The transportation strike hasn't really affected me much. Unlike the 2006 CPE strikes by the students that had me on the train to work for up to 4 hours a day and I would pass bombed out cars and see kids looting in the streets on my way to work. Today, I use heavily the line 14, the only completely automated line, in Paris and the buses. I usually take the 14 into the center and walk to wherever I need to go with Max in tow.

If EDF and GDF decide to start doing selective blackouts like they have threatened, maybe they will shut down power in my neighborhood. I'd light a candle and be okay, I think. It would get cold in our apt but we'd have a lot of cuddling going on and we have plenty of conserve (confit de canard, La Reveuse!) that we could crack into.

I am no longer a student. So, getting to class is not my main priority these days.  I have sentimental memories of the student strikes in 1995 and 1998 as I was a student in France during both of those periods. I remember my Fac being closed for two weeks straight in 1998. The doors barred and students blocking the way in. Everyday, my foreign friends and I would trek to school to have the French students tell us to go home because they were not going to let us in. I was worried about failing my semester that year but some how we made it through. I remember talking with my French classmates and being touched at how emotional they were about the student reforms. And thinking I've never even had to think about anything like this in my life. It really opened my eyes.

But as I type this I am home alone. My husband is staying at his mother's apartment which happens to be three RER stops from where he works on the opposite side of Paris.  To drive from our house to his office would take HOURS. Everyone is driving everywhere as there are NO TRAINS anywhere.  You can't imagine the traffic jams all over Paris.  This afternoon, I was in Chatelet-les-Halles, one of the biggest transport hubs in Paris, and it was eerie to be walking the halls ALONE. No one was there.  I know how stressful my husband job is and supporting us has brought on added stress, though he'd never admit it. To avoid hours of wasted time sardined on the trains,  I told him to go. Do what needs to be done and I will be alright.

So, here I am again eating dinner alone. Taking care of Maximilien alone and whispering my good nights to my husband on the telephone before heading to bed. The strike has come into my home, too. Some say this strike maybe as big as the strikes in 1995 which means it could last up to a month.  I find it a pity that the French have to resolve themselves to striking to be heard. Before I moved to France I had never seen so much of this. I hope that Sarko is willing to entertain serious negotiations with the workers so that life can go back to normal as soon as possible. But most importantly, I want my husband to be able to get home so he can be with us again.

Ever so often...

I find myself eating dinner alone. Julien's job sometimes requires him to stay late and if I wait for him I'll be eating dinner after 9pm. As much as I hate to eat alone I understand that this is how it is. We decided to form a family and I chose to stay home and take care of Max and Julien has become our sole breadwinner.  It's working for us but no one said it would be easy.

Tonight, I sat down at my computer with a nice plate of homemade carbonara and two DVDs I'd borrowed from a friend. I was trying to decide between Les Triplettes de Belleville and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when my Skype icon started to bounce in my dashboard. It was my brother William calling me.

I answer and hear "Crunch, crunch, crunch" and with his mouth full he asks me what I am doing?

Me: "Oh, just sitting here getting ready to eat dinner. alone"

William: (mouth full) "Oh, me too but I'm eating lunch."

Me: (chewing my dinner)

William : (Chewing his lunch)

Me: (Chewing my dinner and drinking water)

William: (Mouth full) "We're keeping each other company."

Thanks for the company, Billy. :) I needed it. 

What just happened?

The world must be off its axis or something because Maximilien just slept for 12 hours straight last night. And 8+ hours the last two nights.

And he napped twice yesterday OUTSIDE of his bed. He's NEVER done that.

I'm not going to let myself make the mistake of getting used to this because the fact that I am typing this on my blog may jinx us and we'll start the sleepless nights yet again.

Getting back to our normal routine

I think it's the same for everyone no matter where you live when out of town guest come to visit your daily life is put on hold. It can be disruptive especially for a baby who is used to his naps in his own bed and early dinners in a relatively quiet kitchen. But Maximilien did pretty well going out to dinner nearly every weekend. It helped a lot that my father brought with him an awesome portable high chair that we used while dining out. Paris restaurants won't always have seating for infants and Max is too mobile to sit on our laps anymore. The high chair folds down and we were able to strap it onto the MacLaren without it bothering the person pushing the stroller. Since we were constantly eating out I opted to feed Max jar food from the grocery store. I had visions before Max was born that I'd make all his food for him. Well, things didn't work out as I had planned. In the beginning, Max actually preferred jarred food over what I was making him. It perplexed me. But it turns out that he just wasn't really into solids yet. Now nearing the 7.5 month mark, he's really into solid foods. I no longer puree his foods. I just use my food processor or robot as the French say to mash up his food and he eats eagerly. Last night I made fish cakes for Julien and I and I used the potatoes, fish and green beans from the recipe for Max's dinner. I just cooked the fish in the leftover water from the pressure cooker and then threw everything in the robot. In case you're curious, I made Max perch. We'll try salmon soon. He absolutely adored the fish. Seafood lover like his Mama and Papa. Another new thing has been Quinoa and rice cakes have been good for fussy moments. They are entertaining and he enjoys trying to eat them. Though he mostly sucks on them and they dissolve in his mouth.

Breakfast this morning

I have also started him on rice cereal for breakfast.  Another quinoa and rice melange that I found at the new organic coop by my house. I have been using formula to make the cereal and like a true French child he drinks his breakfast from a bowl albeit Mama has to be the one to hold the bowl for him. For a few months now Max has refused to take a bottle of any sort. It sort of coincided with the moment we started solids and eliminated his extra bottle of breast milk at bed time. My stash of breast milk in the freezer has long been used and the breast pump returned.   Nearly 8 months into breast feeding I am starting feel ready to get my body back. I will keep it up until Maximilien is one  but I am preparing him for the transition to happen after his first birthday in March.  Getting him to take formula with his cereal has been a little mini victory for me because before he literally would spit the formula out all over the place.

I don't know why I was nervous about making the transition to solids but things just happen to work themselves out.  Max nurses less during the day but has been making up for it at night.  Textbook speaking, he is not sleeping through the night. He goes to bed around 7pm and sleeps until one am-ish. Then from there on out it's awake crying to nurse every two hours until around 5am and then he sleeps until around 8am.  I am tired but I don't feel it. I've gotten used to this sporadic sleep every night. I believe the teeth are really bothering him and he's gotten used to Mama's comfort in the middle of the night.  I don't want to take away the comfort I give him at night especially since his teeth are hurting him so much. But I don't know what else I can do.  I've decided to keep on keepin' on. I'm dedicated to breast feeding for the first year of Max's life. After that we'll have to make changes if need be. I am hoping after this second wave of teeth(top two) he (and I) might get a break.

Two weeks of family visiting was fun. Sad to say goodbye in the end.  It does makes me miss the US but I appreciate my life in France. I've finally found my way here. My routine.