Previous month:
June 2011
Next month:
August 2011

July 2011

What is wrong with me?

Cleaning Max's face today I realized that the pox marks that are left on his face (and body) are turning into pits and they don't look like they are going away. I am not expert but I used to work in skin care back in the day and skin care is something I know a little bit about and to me it looks like my son has pitting on his face that isn't going to go away.

And here I am very, very upset about this. I am in the midst of dealing with Alixe who now has the chicken pox. Her case is seemingly worse than Max's too. I am stressed beyond belief and bottom line TIRED of all this crap.

Yet, I can't let go of these feelings. I am so angry. Angry that I couldn't have prevented this. Angry that maybe I could have prevented this? Angry that Max didn't obey his parents when we told him over and over again not to pick his scabs. He admitted to picking the four huge scabs on his forehead at day camp last week because he said they bothered him when the sun touched them. It took all my might to control myself because he told me he knew he shouldn't have done it but he did anyway. Listen, obey, whatever you call it... This defiance by Max makes me rage inside. It is THE example of hiM not listening (obeying his parents) and now he will have permanent marks on his face and body as a reminder.

I must be a vain person to care so much about this. It makes me feel like shit but I still feel like this. Why? I can not let it go. And now I have to prevent my 20 month old from scratching her pox marks (there are over 200' I stopped counting bc there were so much more) and she is a scratcher. And she is too young to be able to control her impulses.

I can't even express my frustration properly. I am probably opening myself up for off hand comments but at this moment in time, I need the distraction because all I can think about are my two beautiful children with scars all over their face and body. And I feel horrible because I care so much.


I need some advice...

I'll give you a bit to back story here. Since Maximilien started school Julien and I noticed that he hasn't been a very good listener in the sense he doesn't obey or follow instructions from either of his parents. For things that are dangerous (ie. stopping at a cross walk, trying not to look out the window in our 6th floor apt, etc) he is pretty good about listening to us. But when it comes to the things at home like eating dinner, or playing with his food. Hitting or teasing his sister. BREAKING THINGS! It seems like he is incapable of listening to us. Or just defies us completely and does the opposite. Then outside of the home he doesn't listen to his teachers at school (a big problem he had this year) or his grandmother and he doesn't listen to Mama at the tea house.

The latter is what fueled this blog post because I am sort of at my wits end (doesn't happen often but it's that time of the month so I feel at my wits end) and need some perspective, advice, ideas, dialogue on this subject... something.

Today, I took Max with my to the tea house while I worked for two hours from noon to 2pm. Max is old enough now he can go to the bathroom alone and there are lots of fun things to do at the tea house to keep himself busy. I make sure he's got a lot of choices of things to do while I'm working. I like having him there, he loves being there and my customers really like seeing Max. And before someone says it because I know someone who doesn't really know me is going to say it, not bringing Max to the tea house is not an option. It's a part of our lives including his. Just wanted to clear that up before going into the today's story. So, I prepared Max before arriving to L'OisiveThé today by explaining to him that we were going to arrive to the tea house and have lunch together then he could have a dessert of his choice. I had brought lots of activities for him to play with including Legos, coloring books, movies on my iPad and not to mention all the books and toys that are already at L'OisiveThé. He agreed that he would play and understood that I had customers to take care of. That's how he sees me when I'm working, taking care of people. :) Upon arriving he did exactly THE OPPOSITE of what we had agreed on. He ran around yelling, did not eat his lunch, insisted on dessert, played loudly, bothered people and the list goes on... One rule I have set is he can't cross the gold line into the kitchen. There is a marker on the floor that designates the kitchen and the main room of the tea house. He has respected this rule since he was 18 months old. I have clear memories of him being Alixe's age pointing at the floor and not crossing into the kitchen showing me he understood the rule. But today it was like he didn't even care. And the two things that really got my upset was that I had told him at least 7 or 8 times not to push on the table with his feet. The tables at the tea house tip over if you push them a certain way. All the tables are like this, I can't get around it. Max has tipped the table over twice I can remember just buy pushing with his legs. I reminded him of this and he told me over and over again, "Ok, Mommy". But then within in seconds of telling me that I see him pushing the table again with his legs! Finally I pulled his chair out (mind you in the middle of lunch service) and turn it around and face him towards the window. I told him he is in time out (I hate this term) and he has to sit like this until he can explain to me why I am angry. Now, he is angry at me! He is pouting and he keeps turning around to see if I see he is pouting. After a minute or so I go to him and put my arm around him and we talk. I asked him why he is mad at me and he says he isn't mad at me but mad because he can't listen!

Can you believe that?

I smile and told him I don't know what to say to that except I love you. I let him go back to coloring. He sat and colored for a good 15-20 minutes before he started to tip the table again with his feet.

Sigh.

I ask him to get up and go play on the floor because he can't listen to me about not tipping the table with his feet. He tells me that he will listen and that he wants to keep coloring. I let him stay in his seat and the tipping of the table stopped. Another ten minutes pass and I ask him if he wants a snack or something and he says he wants to watch Alice in Wonderland. I agree and let him use my iPad to watch the movie. I set up everything and told him not to touch the iPad on the table. He agrees. Five minutes into the movie he starts to tip the table AGAIN! I just looked at him from the kitchen (mind you I am like three feet away) and he sees that I see him tipping the table. He stops. (trying to get my attention? Totally) I go to serve the last customers their coffee. We are 5 minutes from leaving the tea house to go home and then I hear a crash. The table tips and my iPad and everything on the table goes flying onto the floor. There sits Max with a look of utter shame as everyone looks at him.

I am angry. I'm angry because he can't listen to me. He tells me that it's "plus fort que lui". It's stronger than he is.... what? The urge to not listen to me?

I can't talk to him in this moment. He sits still and watches as I pick up everything and pack our things to go. I tell him to put his boots on and get his coat. He does this without delay. We put the coat on and go outside. I ask him once we are away from the tea house if he knew why I was mad? He told me because he had dropped my iPad on the floor.

Then I feel rage. Rage because he doesn't understand at all. He doesn't understand that I am angry because he doesn't listen to me. I am not a material person things like breaking my iPad will make me mad but this anger I feel is different. It's like this hot, white frustration emanating from my core. I say nothing to him in this moment. Grab his hand and walk like a crazy mother dragging her kid behind her. Though I'm not dragging him he's just running a bit to keep up. I am not proud of this. I also happen to cross paths with three people I knew and they witnessed my crazy rage walk with Max. Gah, I feel ashamed.

After a few minutes he starts to talk to me and ask for ice cream (!). I look at him and tell him that I am angry and that he can't ask me for anything because the answer will be "NO!". He starts to sniffle a little and I stop and ask him if he knows why I am mad? He starts talking about the iPad again. I stop him and tell him that isn't the reason. I explain to him in a semi calm tone, stern but not yelling that I am angry because he doesn't listen to Mommy. I start to list the big points of the day where he hasn't listened namely THE TABLE. He shakes his head and says, "Je understand, Mommy". We walk in silence all the way home.

Once we arrive at home I tell him he is being punished for the rest of the afternoon. Grounding a four year old. Does that really work? I hate saying that he's in punishment but I don't know what other terms to use. Punishment in our house is quiet time in his bedroom. I told him he needed to go back to his room and think about why I was angry. I asked him yet again why and he responded because he didn't listen to Mommy. The point is across his brain now, I think. I told him no sleeping while you are in punishment because for me that isn't punishment and this kid LOVES sleeping. He told me he wouldn't sleep. I started this blog post and stopped mid way to check on him because it was WAY too quiet and he was asleep. Mean mommy woke him up and told him he can't sleep and that he has to stay out of his bed. I left him in the middle of his floor in his bedroom. I wonder if he's asleep...

So, I don't know where to go from here. The not listening is really starting to take a toll on Julien and I. We don't know what to do. Julien suggested making a chart where if he listens we make a mark or put a sticker up with a reward if he listens. The chart would be for a month with a rewards at the end of each week. If he was able to go four weeks with good listening points a big rewards at the end of the month. Will this work? It's in essence bribing Max to listen, no?


Any advice, ideas... please? And please don't recommend that I don't bring Max to the tea house. The tea house is MY business it's my home too. Just as he needs to listen at home he has to listen to me at the tea house. Voila. He's going back to the tea house again with me tomorrow so we'll see what happens again. I am hoping that the events of today will still be fresh in his memory and he will try to correct what he did wrong today.

Right now I am going to leave you with a photo of him walking to the tea house today in the rain with his cool umbrella and new red boots. Then I'm going to go back and hug my boy and try to lift our moods with a board game.

Rainy day in Paris


Maximilien & the chicken pox

It's a rite of passage. Growing up I remember many of my friends getting the chicken pox. I remember getting the chicken pox.

I don't remember the chicken pox being like this.

Last Tuesday I was called by an assistant at Max's day camp to tell me that he had a temperature and asked if I could come and get him. I worked the lunch service at L'Oisivethé and ran over to get him in the early afternoon. Max was passed out in a feverish sleep in the dormitory. The assistant told me they found one spot on his belly that looked suspicious. I brought Max home and we hunkered down to rest.

The next day he was still feverish and two more spots appeared on his back. Small, blister like. I made an appointment to see the pediatrician that evening. She confirmed that Max did indeed have the chicken pox and she prescribed the usual creams and antibacterial wash to treat the chicken pox.

The next day we started the treatment. This was day 3 of the chicken pox:

Treatment

Treatment

Treatment

From the beginning of day three to the end of day three, Maximilien's chicken pox progressed fast:

Chicken pox progression

And then on to day four:

Day four of the chicken pox

Max started having problems with his left eye. There was a pox that came out right on the edge of his eye lid that had opened up and infected his eye. We scrambled to find an eye specialist on the Friday after Bastille Day that would see Max. We called 12 doctors. Note to self, getting sick the weekend around Bastille day is not a good idea. All doctors are on vacation!

I couldn't bring myself to photograph day five and six. Looking at Max was painful for me because Max was so miserable and all he wanted to do was stay in bed all day. The pox stopped appearing around the fifth day and he has quickly started to heal. Our daily mantra now is don't pick your scabs, Max! He's been doing a very good job. No scabs picked. Pretty tough for a curious four year, if I say so myself.

This is what Max looks like today:

Day six of the chicken pox.

Day six of the chicken pox

Day six of chicken pox

Today was the first we've ventured out of the apartment. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs. Now it's time to be careful not to get too much sun on his face and hope there aren't any scars. We stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some cream for Max's face and the pharmacist remarked, "dis donc, il était gâter votre fils". Max was spoiled by the chicken pox (ie. many spots on his face). The French always have a way of with words, don't they?



6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The last seven shots on my series of 12 shots of Alixe. Each one is so very Alixe. Her personality shines in every one of these shots. These were taken with my D200 with my 50mm f1.8 lens and my SB-600 lens. They are straight out of the camera.

My girl and her many faces...

Laughter:

6 :: 12

Joy:

7 :: 12

Curiosity:

8 :: 12

Determination:

9 :: 12

Dou Dou:

10 :: 12

Love:

11 :: 12


ADORABLE:

12 :: 12

12 faces of Alixe. 12 faces I adore.


Alixe, 19 months old.

Figolu are good.

Alixe, 19 months.

Looking more and more like a little girl and less the baby. She refers to herself as Ali and Maximilien as Ma. She is shoe crazy and loves to try new foods. When we have pizza for dinner, she waits patiently for us to serve her and then announces that the pieces on her plate are "à moi", mine. When Julien comes home from work she runs to the door and screams with joy reaching out for him to pick her up immediately. She gave me a kiss on the mouth for the first time recently. This came as a big surprise because usually when she kisses you it involves a head butt and a fat lip.

I love this girl more than I'd imagine I would. I relish in the small moments like rubbing Alixe's back while she listens to me sing or watching her laugh as her brother tickles her. Suddenly, something has clicked and I finally feel in sync with her. Before everything seemed like a massive struggle and now it feels natural. Is it possible that I have come out a depression after 19 months? All I can say is I feel light hearted and happy again when I'm with my kids and the feeling of stress, dread and anxiety are gone.


Daily gratitude

I love that my customers email me to ask if I'll be in the tea house on a certain day because they want to come to lunch and see me at the same time.

I love that every Tuesday the same customer comes to have lunch and if he can't make it he sends me a text to let me know. He also sends me texts when he's on vacation to tell me he misses L'Oisivethe and our weekly chats about current events.

I love being able to help customers find the perfect yarn for a project and seeing that they are genuinely satisfied and pleased with their purchase.

I love that I have customers who make it a part of their vacation to come to L'Oisivethé and have tea and spend time at my tea house.

I love that I have customers that return year after year to visit me since I open L'Oisivethé three years ago.

I love that all the shop owners on the block consider me one of them and greet me with bises everyday.

I love making my customers feel important by just bringing their orders to the table before they even have to ask.

I love my repeat yarn customers who keep coming back just to touch the yarn and talk knitting with me.

I love that my customers with babies feel confortable enough to let me cuddle their babies.

I love that parents bring their kids to L'Oisivethé to play while they sit and have tea.

I love that I feel gratitude everyday while I work. Boy, I am one lucky gal.


2, 3, 4 & 5

I took twelve shots of Alixe as part of my 12 Shot photo challenge. I used my D200 with my 50mm f1.8 lens and my SB-600 speed light. I did not edit these photos once I pulled them from the memory card. The only changes made to the image are the settings I had long ago set in my D200 for portraits. And you know what? I can't really remember what tweaks I made to my D200. I remember thinking that the images were a bit warm for my taste so I changed the temperature settings of the photos a bit.

Here are shots my shots two through five:


2 :: 12

3::12

4::12

5::12

The last photo is my favorite one out of this bunch. Such a genuine smile from Alixe. I remember I called out to her to get her attention. She was climbing down from her chair and I had stuck a photo sticker of herself to my speed light. As you can tell she was happy to see herself.


1 :: 12

A photo challenge has been set forth by a photographer I admire with the goal for us to be mindful photographers. The challenge is take photos as if you are limited to only two rolls of film. Easy right? In this age of digital photography we have a tendency to snap away and before we know we have 200 photos to sort through. I have been there and never want to be there again.

I remember shooting film back in college. It was expensive to get film developed so when I was eligible to take the fine arts photography class I jumped at the opportunity. We were never taught to be mindful of the photos we took, per se, but I suppose it was understood that we would mindful all the same. Usually we only had enough time in a class to develop one roll of film.

I chose Alixe as my first subject for my tweaked version of this photo challenge. I'm calling it my 12 Shot Challenge. I am limiting myself to only twelve shots. Remember those rolls of film with 12 photos on them? Well, as busy as I am these days I don't have time to take more than twelve photos at a time. Alixe is at a hard age to photograph. Unable to sit still for more than a few seconds and she wants to grab the camera from my hands ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has tried to photograph an 18 month old knows what I'm talking about. And anyone who knows me knows I love a good challenge...


Here is shot number one:


One of twelve


After dinner, bib still on. Window light + flash. No editing. SOOC. I used my D200 with my 50mm f1.8 lens and SB-600 speed light.

I'll post my next eleven shots in a few days. Anyone else want to play along?


The end of school, the start of summer.

I always remember the last day of school being a big deal. Less so when I was in university but up until high school the excitement of being on summer break was incredible. Today was Maximilien's last day of petit section of maternelle. Bittersweet? Not really. More sweet than bitter. His first year was disappointing. Perhaps less for Max who at four rarely experiences disappointment except when his play mobil breaks or he has to go down the long slide when we play Chutes and ladders. But as for me a parent of my child starting his first year of school in France, I am disappointed. Without going into great detail about his teacher, I will tell you that seems that she may not be teaching next year and that she made this year feel like it was her year to just get through it. I learned this pretty quickly after the beginning of the year. I chose not to blog about it because I didn't want to perpetuate my disappointment. Instead, I talked to my father, who was a teacher, and asked him for advice. I decided where I felt Maximilien's teacher was lacking I would pick up the slack and then some. And to make it more interesting I only teach Maximilien in English. Apparently by the end of the petit section a child is supposed to be able to draw a detailed stick man. This is what we were told during the parent's meeting at the beginning of the year. Max could already draw a pretty detailed stick man at the BEGINNING of the school year. Last week, Maximilien's Friday teacher mentioned to me that Max really couldn't draw a stick man. I asked her if that meant he failed petit section? She laughed and said oh they don't grade the children at this age. But she did mention that he would need to work on it over the summer. We came home that night and I took out a piece of paper and asked Max to draw me a stick man and he drew a butterfly instead:

 

Butterfly by Maximilien, age 4.

I found this pretty impressive. The butterfly has a face and is multi-colored and it looks like a butterfly.  But then I asked him why he drew a butterfly instead of a stickman. He told me that he doesn't like being told what to draw. Then he took another piece of paper and drew me a stick man in three seconds flat with eyes, ears, shoes, shirt, hands and hair.

What Maximilien needs to work on over the summer is listening. Not drawing a stick man. His teacher telling me that he needs to work on drawing a stick man annoys me.

Talking about this with Julien he told me that he has the exact same problem at his age. The only teachers he excelled with were the ones who had "serrer la vise" (tighten the screws) with him. Maximilien needs an teacher who exudes authority. His two teachers this year did not do that.

So, moving on... Last day of school today! Yeah! Max was excited this morning. He wanted to wear all green to school:

Last  day of school!!

Check him out at the beginning of the school year:

Today, I asked him what he did at school just like I did every other day of  and he said the same response, "I don't know". I smiled at him and said, "ok".  A good friend told me at the beginning of the school year that I shouldn't stress Max about the details of what he does at school all day. I don't know why I have this very strong urge to KNOW what he is doing at school. I guess growing up with parents who were teachers made me curious about this.  Growing up we always talked about what we did at school. It was a dinner time ritual to go around the table and talk about out day. I really liked that.  Where in the US things are very transparent between the teachers and parents, in France it's all very closed door and hard to get any details about anything. This has been our experience so far. It's only the first year and next year is a new year and I am looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, Alixe is enjoying her days at the creche. She is the youngest in her class but you would think she was one of the oldest. She's taller than most of the kids in her class. What sets her apart is that she isn't talking yet. Just a few key words here and there. She says Mama, Ma (Max), Pee Pee, Lo Lo (for water and milk) and Julien confirms that she does not say Dada yet. And the key words she used a lot are "ça" (pronounced sa) and "la". This and that.

She speaks...

Can you guess what she's saying here?

I've got another school year to go before Alixe starts school. At La Rentrée 2012 she sill be just over 2.5 years old. I am confident she will be ready for school by then. Every morning, she goes with Julien to drop Maximilien off at school. She walks Max into his classroom and sits right down and start to color with the other kids. Apparently, it's a battle every morning getting her to leave to go next door to the creche. This summer, we will start working on potty training for little miss. She already tells us when she needs to go pee pee on the potty and she's pretty good at doing that. Potty trained by two. I am READY for this. :)

We just need to get through the month of July and then we'll be on vacation. We will be heading to our beloved island, Belle ile en Mer. I wish we could leave tomorrow...

A year ago, Alixe was just 8 months old and Maximilien was three.

Julien and the bubs at Locmaria

Secret beach on the Côte Sauvage

End of day...

Crab!

Claiming napkin rings

Plate full of goodness

Mama and Alixe

Dou Dous Packed!

I wish we could leave tomorrow...