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February 2008

Firsts...

First word:


Max's first word: Hello from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

Please excuse the poor video quality. But the audio works great and near the end you hear Max say "hewro", his baby version of Hello a couple times. At force of seeing his mom and dad on the phone all the time he's picked up the telephone habit already at 11 months old. When the front door rings, he puts his hand up to his ear and says "hewro". When we knock on his door after a nap, I open the door and see him standing in his bed with his hand by his hear and he says, "hewro". This child is already acclimated to the telephone! How long is too young to have your first telephone?


30 Days : 22

30 Days :: 22

We do not have a bathtub in our apartment. I wish! We are still using the tub that Max used when he was a wee baby. We just fill it up to the top. He loves it. Every week we add more and more toys. The more toys the less chance there is he tries to stand up in the bathtub.


30 Days :: 21

30Days :: 21

We had errands that took us on the bus today. The buses in France have designated areas for strollers.  There is a little strapontin that folds out so that the handler of the stroller can have a seat too. I love sitting next to Maximilien and watching his face as he looks out the window.  His eyes aglow with wonderment. He also interacts with people on the bus now. Sometimes he reaches out and hold someone's hand who is standing close by or he will flirt with his little coquin smile. Today, he was in a very tranquil mood.   


30 Days :: 19

30 Days :: 19

Today was a beautiful day in Paris and we spent the majority of the day outside.  It's been a long time since we've done that!  We walked down to one of our favorites areas, Rue Mouffetard. I was caught by the sun as we walked towards the market and just pointed my camera and shot. I was always taught not to shoot into the sun.  I think I am in love with sun flares now.  For my first sun flare ever I am pretty happy with how it came out. I can't decide if I like the black and white version better than the color version


9, 10, 11 mois

Dear Maximilien,

This is a letter than spans over three months of your life.  Busy is not the right word to explain the lax in the letters. Life is what happened.  But I want to be dedicated to writing these letters for you, so here we go...

For month 9 you were so very sick. The sickest I've ever seen you. You had caught RSV somewhere and for a couple nights there I was up with you all night long as we fought through your high temperature.  All this happened while we were in the US, far, far away from home.  Once we got past the sickness, you got back to your normal, happy self. You explored every inch of your aunt's apt and met a cat for the first time in your life.  You were enchanted. Chooni, our 14 year old family cat, was not so much impressed by you.  Though, I must tell you that one day while you were at your sickest she did come and cuddle up next to you while you slept on the bed.  She laid her head on your shoulder as if she felt that you needed some extra loving to get through the next few days.

Checkin' Uncle William out

You got to meet your Uncle William for the first time and you were fascinated by his animated gestures and his low voice.  Christmas eve, I was up late sick with a stomach bug, throwing up everything I had eaten for dinner. You were crying wanting your mama so badly.  Everyone in the house was awake now. How could anyone sleep through my dry heaving and your screaming.  William broke out the guitar and sang you a tune and you actually fell asleep.

He cleans windows free of charge.

Ah, sleep... this was something that was missing from almost your entire 10th month of life, my son.  You decided one day that you were no longer going to sleep at night. 2 am, where ever we were in the world you were awake. In the US or in France or on the plane flying over the ocean, if it was 2 am, you were awake. Screaming. While we were visiting friends in Pennsylvania, you didn't sleep once through the night. You could have taken some pointers from Rowan, who I might point out is three months younger than you. And she slept through the night.

The great binky heist

And while we were visiting our friends you picked up a binky habit. Now you suck your thumb and a binky. Rowan was even nice enough to give you one of her binkies so that you'd stop stealing hers. Also, on this trip you met your first dog, Lucy. She licked your face on several occasions which made for a good laugh for your parents. I'm not sure if you really liked it but you learned that if you held your hand out, Lucy would come over and kiss it. And then you figured out if I hold my baby mum mums out to Lucy, she'd eat them too. Now, you hold your food out for everyone to taste. If I don't crunch your rice cakes you actually get mad and hold your arm out until I take a bite. You even take things out of your mouth and give them to me to eat. Sorry, buddy but that's gross and I throw those away. I already touch your poop, you can't expect me to eat your already chewed food.

The Happy Family

Once we returned to France, we still had sleep issues. I don't know why I did not put two and two together but I figured it out about two weeks ago that you were going through a major growth spurt. And you were suffering from growing pains! It seemed over night your legs got longer and your torso became leaner.  Your pants that were too long for you a couple weeks ago now fit. You were able to pop your head over the kitchen table and no longer needed to stand on your tippy toes to reach the chickens in the kitchen. I massaged your legs everyday and we did baby yoga and suddenly you started to sleep again. No more screaming. Just beautiful blissed out baby sleep.

Maximilien

Look at you, Max... you are such a big boy now. I hold you in my arms and I close my eyes and try to remember the little baby you once were. It's hard as everyday you change and learn something new.  Here is something cute you are doing right now, I knock on your door after I hear you wake up from your nap and when I open the door,  you pretend you have a telephone in your hand and you answer the phone.  Also right now you are trying to walk. You put one hand on the wall in the hallway and toddle down the hallway after me.  Today you are chasing after me but someday I will always be chasing after you.

Today, you are officially 11 months old. I left you with the baby sitter and you were ok.  I went out and all I could think about was getting home to see you again.  When you saw me walk in the door, your face lit up and such love emanated from my heart.  You reached your arms out to me and I cuddled you close. I felt the weight of your body fall into me and I thought to myself, this is heaven on earth.

Happy 11 (10, 9) month, Max.

Love,

Mama


30 Days :: 12

30Days :: 12

This string of chickens hangs from the doorway to our kitchen. The door is long gone but the hinges still remain. I use them to hang shirts to dry and recently to hang this strand of chickens I found while on vacation. 

Every time I walk into the kitchen I jingle the chicks, as I call them.  When I first put them up Maximilien could not reach them at all. He would sit on the floor and stare at them with curiosity. As he got better at pulling himself up I would often find him standing on his tippy, tippy toes trying to reach the chickens and every once in a while jingling the bell with one finger.

Today, he can reach them easily, flat footed while palming the bell at the end.  Our mornings always start out in the kitchen.  I walk ahead and ring the chickens and call Max's name. I hear the pitter patter of him crawling down the hallway floor and then see his little head pop around the corner of the doorway to see if I am looking for him. He pulls himself up to standing and reaches up and jingles the chickens. Now, our day can begin...


30 Days :: 10

30Days :: 10

Today was an exceptionally hard day because Maximilien is transitioning from two naps to one.  I know it seems small but nap time has always been a very integral part of our everyday life.  Along with the physical fatigue of trying to keep up  with an over tired baby, my heart was aching because I've been missing my mom a lot lately.  I really, really needed to call her and just simply tell her how hard today was and to hear her reassuring words. 

When I miss her the most, I curl up with the wedding afghan she knit for Julien and I and sit quietly and think about her.  I get lost in my thoughts remembering everyday conversations that we had. I focus in on her voice and intonation and it brings me comfort.  I study the stitch patterns of the afghan and  I can see her knitting. Her hands moving over the yarn and the click of her needles.  I grasp the wool of the afghan and I can feel her presence though not the physical presence I so desperately yearn for, I can feel her spiritual presence and this brings me peace.


A Slow Month: Day 8

Update time. We're pretty much exhausted all our fresh food.  The organic basket we received last week, lasted us a week. No basket this week so we'll see... the freezers have lots of food to eat.  Last night I made thai style rice and steamed up some leek and tofu mondu (korean potstickers) that I had made and frozen a few months ago.  I whipped up a sweet, garlicy  fish sauce to dip them in.   They were gone before I could take any pictures, that's how good they were. Our freezer is still over flowing with potential meals...

I've had a bag of blood oranges sitting in the basket for a week now. Unsure of what to do with them I let them sit and get nice and juicy until yesterday. I spent the better half of the day juicing, and separating the pulp to make fruit leather, then slicing the peels and boiling them (4 times!) to get the bitter taste out and then letting them simmer in a syrup bath (equal parts of water and sugar) until they became little candies.  I dipped half in chocolate and saved the other half for future baking endeavors. This morning, I made 6 mini loaves of orange-cranberry bread and I mixed in the candied peels with the cranberries.

Blood orange goodies

I made all that with 8 blood oranges.  Pretty amazing, huh?

We have been buying our bread at the boulangerie.  And I am fine with that. What we usually do it buy a bunch of bread and cut it up and put it in the freezer and toast it as we want to eat. A little trick that I learned from my husband the first winter I lived in Paris with him. He said, "keep a loaf of bread in the freezer and you'll never be without."

We are using our last roll of toilet paper as I type this entry. I don't know what we will do. I will discuss with Julien tonight to see if he'll accept an alternative to toilet paper.  A few weeks ago, we installed a water nose with a spraying unit to the toilet. It has made cloth diapering even easier for us. For the stubborn poop that won't shake off we just squirt a little water on it and hop!, it's gone.  My husband has taken to using the spray for himself. We have a toilet/bidet now. The alternative to toilet paper would be to use reusable wipes. We already use those for Max so why not for us. Just throw them in the wash with max's diapers. But we'll see how he reacts when I propose this. 

Like I said earlier we are out of fresh vegetables. I froze a few to use next week but this week we are freezer diving for dinners.  I have to say that I am a bit sad about not having any fresh food on hand.

So, my slow month to me hasn't been as slow as I intended it to be. I was all gun-ho about not grocery shopping at all but I am realizing that is really hard to do because we eat a lot of fresh foods.  Max's cheese is  running out and I will have to go to the store this week to get some more. I think deciding to be slower this month has shown me what we really need each week.  Instead of shopping for a two weeks period. I am going to shop on a weekly basis.  And like my friend, Libby, I think I need to set myself a limit each week of how much I can spend instead of spending easily 200 euros ever other week for two adults and a baby! Can you believe that? 20 euros a week for fresh foods which include veggies, fruits, milk, cheese and yogurt. And supplement all the meals from our freezer and pantry.

What do you do when you're in the midst of a slow month and friends come into town and want to go out to eat? I would have hosted them for lunch at our house but there were too many of them and we don't have the space for big dinner parties like that. Hello? small Parisian apartment. So, we ended up going out to lunch and spending 44 euros.  44 euros I could have spent on fresh veggies for the rest of the month! For the first time in my life, I was really regretting that we spent that much at the restaurant. 

Euros spent so far this month: 53 euros.

I am off to make some breakfast bread with some ripe bananas and our tiny kiwis from the organic basket will become some more fruit leather. Use it all! That is what I keep telling myself. Use it all.



30 Days :: 7

30Days :: 7

I need a tripod and a remote. Stat.

When I'm in the kitchen cooking, Maximilien wants to be around me. He's curious about the stove and the dishwasher  and the refrigerator.  He is mesmerized when I chop vegetables.  Ever so often he comes and tugs on my leg and he hugs me.  My constant companion.  I must admit that I love having the company while I cook.


One Sweet Shot

Or two.

I was nominated twice at Shutter Sisters for two of my photos I've posted recently for my 30 Days of Everyday project.  Day 1 and Day 4.   I love everything about the Shutter Sister's photo blog. The community of sisters (and brothers!) taking photos and the open flow of creativity.  I am drawn to this website several times a day to read through the written word and marvel at their stunning images.

As an aspiring photographer, photo blogs like Shutter Sisters has really help me move away from the snap shots I used to take to trying to capture moments with a different eye.

For the double nomination, I am completely humbled by this honor. Thank you.

If you have not visited Shutter Sisters yet... go. go right now. You won't be disappointed.


30 Days :: 5

30 Days :: 5

We visited the Sainte Chapelle located within the Palais Justice. I am thrilled to introduce my son to the rich history that our city has to offer.  Lucky for us we were with my good friend, Karine, who is a history buff and she gave us an interesting lesson about the architecture of this 13th century chapel.

Maximilien enthusiasm for the chapel really made me stop and look up and take it all in.  The colors. The impressive architecture. The history. The importance of this place. Oh, to be able to read his thoughts....   


30 Days :: 3

30 Days :: 3

This is the view from my desk. Everyday, I take a moment or few and watch my son play in the hallway which has become like a huge play pen for him.  Ever so often as I am working at my desk, he comes to me to say that he's hungry or wants to nurse or wants me to play with him.  I spend a lot of my day sitting on that hallway floor. When we moved into this apartment a few years ago I detested this hallway. I thought what a waste of space. But now it's perfect. A perfect place for Maximilien to play and practice walking and soon he will love running up and down this hallway. Good thing our downstairs neighbor is deaf.


Slow Month: Day 3

It's only day three but I thought I'd give a little update on how the Slow Month is going.  It's going pretty easy because we have a house full of fresh food right now. Let's see how the update is in a week or so.   Tonight for dinner I made a hearty vegtable soup, I puree'd a portion for Max and will save that for him to eat next week.  I am going to freeze a couple bowls for myself for quick lunches as well. 

Knowing that I can not go grocery shopping this month really makes me think about what ingredients I am going to use for each meal. I have realized that we eat a lot of onions and garlic. I will not have enough onions to get through the month.  I have chopped an onion and put it in the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind. Sort of... I started a list that is on the back of the pantry door keeping track of what is exactly in my freezers. Yes, I have two. One decent sized one attached to our refrigerator and a dorm sized fridge that really is all freezer. 

My goal this month is get through everything that in my freezers and to better understand how I need to start shopping for my family.  I have a lot of stuff that just doesn't make sense. But at the same time those things that seem to not match with anything else could come in handy when in one week I am going to have to really start improvising with my cooking. 

I am freezing tonight two chicken breasts to be eaten sometime at the end of the month.  My husband likes to eat meat as his meals and if I serve him too many vegetarian meals he complains that he turning into a rabbit and starts doing his Bugs Bunny imitation and I try to avoid that if I can as I find it highly annoying.

Total euros spent so far?  1, 10e. On a nice big pain campagne. It turns out that I did not have the right yeast to make bread. I have levure chimique but I need levure boulanger. A friend of mine said she might have some levure she could spare so maybe if I get lucky I may still get to  try my hand at making some bread this month.

Yogurt is another thing we will soon run out of. I have read articles on making your own yogurt and frankly I am a bit intimidated.  And I would feel bad if I made a batch and it came out bad. We don't have a lot of milk to spare either. 

But this act of slowing down and really thinking about what to make each day and getting the most out of everything has been highly therapeutic for me.   I know I will come away from this experience a better grocery shopper. A more efficient grocery shopper. Because I'd rather spend more time in the kitchen cooking than cruising up and down the aisle filling my basket with things that I don't need.

As for the other aspect of the Slow Month, eliminating the influx of stuff into our apt , I have figured out the best plan. I go out without my bank card. No cash. Nothing but my keys, phone, and identification. The biggest temptation for me to shop is when I'm on my walks with Max. I went out on a walk with a friend today and it felt good to have that weight lifted off me. The only thing I could think about was getting home and creating my vegetable soup from scratch.   


30 Days :: 1

30 Days:: 1

Every morning, Maximilien and I get up and go to the kitchen, have breakfast and play on the floor.  He has two shelves under the coffee machine where he keeps his treasures he loves to play with. Tupperware. Cups. Blocks. A wooden train. All things that entertain him endlessly. But his most prized treasure are my glasses.  He takes them off and crawls around the kitchen with them in his mouth and when he's done he puts them with his treasures in  the kitchen for me to find later.


I just realized we don't have any bread....

First day of my Slow Month and I realize that we don't have any bread!   I guess I'm going to try to make bread. *gulp*

I have some yeast. I have some flour. What else do I need?

Thank goodness for the internet.  While the boy naps,  I'm off to figure out the art of making bread.


*edit* Riana brought up a good point to me about making bread. It costs more to operate your oven than to go and buy a baguette (1 euro at our local boulangerie).  The little things like electricity consumption is something I never really pay attention to...until now. I may allow that we buy bread this month but I will still try to make a loaf myself. Just to see if I can do it....


So, I am going to try something called a Slow Month.

Our trip to the US has caught up with us, finacially speaking. In between the sleepless nights we spent our days going out to eat, seeing friends and shopping.  This always happens when we go home. Target, Walmart, shopping malls they all beckon to us... come and spend and spend a lot!  And with the Euro being so strong against the Dollar, everything was even cheaper for us.

But now my husband who is in charge of our finances comes to me at dinner tonight saying we need to be reasonable this month.  He says this to me after I went to the grocery store and had the half the store delivered to us. We needed a lot of things that we don't normally buy on a regular bases like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, Max's milk (which is freakin' expensive!) and in all honesty, we were pretty bare bones and I needed to stock up on the staples again. As we sat eating chili dinner ( I made 4 meals worth, three meals are in the freezer now) and talking money, I thought about my friend, Riana and her amazing life living a Slow Year. Read the right side module of her blog where she explains what a Slow Year is. She is not spending money on anything. Just a small amount to get staples like her baby's milk each week. Every thing else she either barters at her local market, zwaggles with her mama friends or makes it herself.  She inspires me so much. So, while my husband is  explaining our financial situation I was thinking about a recent post Riana wrote about where to start a Slow Year? Getting you started on living a slower life without so much consumerism.

Since I've met Riana I've been adding a little slowness to my life, bit by bit.  Max wears only cloth diapers now. We no longer use sponges or paper towels. We take recycling seriously. We are trying to buy locally grown veggies and fruits.  This is a small part but I'm thinking I'm ready to step it up a bit and do a slow month. A month of no shopping. No going out to eat. No grocery shopping. No extra spending. Of course, if we need to go to the doctor, we will.

Two nights ago, Julien and I went through a mad cleaning fit because of all the stuff we had laying around. We have so. much. freaking. stuff! And it just makes our apt look cluttered and tired.  We must stop the influx of stuff into our lives and purge the clutter that is engulfing our apartment.  I think I will have enough to keep me busy this month. A photo project. My personal project. A slow month. Maximilien. And losing Le Muffin Maximus.

If we can get through one month of slowness, I think it will really show us we can live without all this stuff and hopefully change us and the way we live everyday.


30 Days of Everyday

Starting tomorrow I am going to shoot 30 days of my everyday life. It's a photo project to push myself to take photos in a different way and to slow down and appreciate the little things that happen each and everyday.  My inspiration is coming from  SouleMama. She is in the midst of capturing 30 Days of Everyday.  Images like this really touch me. And it reminds me that I don't want to forget these everyday things I do.

In the midst of a very busy time in our lives this will be a wonderful photo diary to look back upon. As I see my son grow and change everyday, I realize how fast life can pass us by. I have the ability to capture it, to freeze time in a photo. To be able to savor it and look back on it later in life when forgotten memories will be a welcome key to my past.


And he's off...

Oh, I was just sitting in the kitchen talking to Julien. I hold my arms out to Max, who has been crusing around on whatever he can get his hands on. Usually he sits down and crawls to me. But this time he took two huge strides all by himself to my open arms.

Freaked me out completely. My heart is still racing.


After three days of semi-jogging, some yoga, lots of stretching and meals with cabbage in them...

My jeans feel loose. My rings spin freely. And I feel tired yet energized. 

Verdict: I think this working out and eating better thing is going to actually work.  Maybe for now it is only in my head but for me it's gotta be in the head first for it to work. And you know what else? My hair even feels longer but I don't think that has anything to do with working out. But it could quite possibly be the cabbage.


Ch-ch-change...

I'm tired with with my blog host. I want to do more and I think to do what I want to do means moving to a new blog home. I will keep posting here until I make my decision. It may happen fast or it may happen in July when my Typepad account expires.

Like the red template? Oh, I don't at all. Just something I put up tie me over until I make my move. It is so booooring.

I am pretty sure of what I want and my current blog provider can not give until I am willing to shell out the big bucks and I do not want to do that. So, changes are coming... hope you stick around for the ride. ;)

Baby is pullin' on my leg... must feed the monster now.