Alixe Feed

Eight and five and the opening of a new shop...

 

 

 

 I opened my shop seven years ago last week. Maximilien was just over a year old. Here he fresh new eight year old Max standing in front of L'Oisivethé today. The days that I used to bring Max to the shop in his stroller and let him crawl around the floor. Today, he knows his way around the shop like it's home. He has his markers and papers stashed away. He knows where to get his favorite juice and has his own table at the shop. 

IMG_5990

Shortly after having the shop two years, I became pregnant with Alixe and she was born at the end of 2009. Honestly the two years after she was born were a blur of sleepless nights and working hard. I don't remember much of what was going on. Luckily, I was still blogging then and I can go back and re-read about my life. Today, Alixe is well known at L'OisiveThé. She comes in every week before her English lessons and asks for a cookie before heading off to her lesson. She organizes the toys and knows exactly which ones are hers and which ones belong to her brother. 


IMG_5990

Seeing Alixe today on the front stoop of the shop, I realized how fast time has passed since those sleepy years after she was born. She is five years old now. Maximilien is eight. I see time speeding towards me yet I still feel young. 

No slowing down now so instead I am opening a new shop in a coupe weeks! As if I didn't have enough work on my plate I am hungry for more. I realized as my children keep hitting important milestones I have not been very good at taking notes. For the most things I have a good memory but there are the little things that I don't want to forget. I have decided to revive my blog again. I am sure no one is reading it anymore but that's alright with me... I will read it. I will be happy to have these entries to come back to later on. 


IMG_5990

So here's my cute little second shop.... we will soon be painting the facade. After posting a small vote online the outside of the shop will be a sunny yellow. You can see the swatches I made last week while it rained and the middle yellow is the color for my shop front. I want to have a happy, inviting color to catch people's attention. My beloved L'OisiveThé will not change. It will remain the cozy tea and yarn shop like it has been for the past seven years. This new shop which we are calling "L'Atelier" for now will be a knitting haberdashery shop and yarn shop. I will hold knitting and crochet classes here and there will be always time for you to come in and knit a few rows with me. I will be at this shop full time. The Atelier is only 300 meters from L'OisiveThé. We timed with with Alixe today and we can sing Do -Re-Mi from The sound of Music three times walked briskly from L'OisiveThé to the Atelier. :)

I'll post more progress photos as this week lots of things will be completed. Trips to Ikea and LeRoy Merlin are planned. We will starting building the inside of the shop so I can fill the shelves with yarn and neat knitterly thing. Once this shop is open, my orders of new haberdashy items will start to arrive. I can't tell you how excited I am to have little knitting notions to sell! 


What brings you back...

Seeing my last blog post from February really hits me that I have no time to blog these days. I really miss it and want to get back to it. So many little life things that I want to remember and I know that my tired Mama brain won't be able to remember it all. I revamped the design of my blog. Taking down the sidebar and the blog her ads. I don't know what happened to them but theyr disappeared. Probably due to the fact that I haven't blogged in five months. Five months! So much has happened in the last five months... Maximilien turned six, L'OisiveThé turned five, the yarn portion of my business has really taken off and my kids have finished another school year.

Last day of Grand Section & Petite Section

Alixe will be starting Moyenne Section and Maximilien will be in CP (first grade) this fall. My first born in first grade already! Time is just getting away from me. How do we make it slow down? 

It's been a super busy time at L'OisiveThé the last few months. Lots of yarn activities with the new classes that I started in the spring and collaborations with my friend, Cécile on crochet projects. I have started crocheting and find it very addicting. 

Love my Babette! Almost done! Babette!! #loisivethe #crochet @koigu1

The fact that there is only one stitch to manage at all times is very fun. I always find myself easily picking up where I left off where as in knitting it isn't always the case. My first project is The Babette Blanket by Kathryn Merrick. A twist on a classic granny square blanket. I never got tired of making the same square over and over again especially since I used 32 different colors of Koigu KPM and KPPPM. 

The kids have expressed intersted in learning to knit. I started Maximilien off with a French knitting doll. He loves it. He puts it down and comes back to it regularly and just this morning before leaving for day camp he asked to do a few rows. I love seeing my children being fascinated by new things even if it makes us late in the mornings it's worth it. 

Just a few more rows said my son before leaving for day camp. #knittingmamaisproud!

I always seemed to try to not talk about work too much on my blog. I don't even really remember why... but since my life is pretty much all about working and taking care of the kids I might as well blog about both instead of just trying to filter it out. Things at the tea house are going well. We are getting ready to close for the summer holidays and that will be a nice break of the routine. We will be re-doing the floors next week and after that I will be able to spend a couple weeks without thinking too much about tea house business. Maybe just a week without thinking about tea house business... fall is knitting season and I have to get things lined up for the Marie Claire show in November. Time as I mentioned before is going by fast... in every aspect of my life. 


It's a new year...

So let's talk about the end of 2012 for a bit...

Besides I'm sick and there isn't really anything interesting happening right now. We had a pretty mellow evening with friends and our kids. Ate a lot and slept in the next day. The rest of 2013 has been spent in our PJs and hibernating during the last days of the vacances scolaires before going back to regular life next week. 

In the midst of all the excitement for the end of 2012 I forgot to share Maximilien's letter to santa this year. He is particularly excited about Christmas this year. He truly believes in Santa and Julien and I are helping keep this belief alive. Who knows what will happen next year when he starts CP. 

Maximilien's letter to Santa.

He is learning cursive writing this year in grande section. He loves writing and takes every opportunity to write and practice his penmanship. He is pretty proud that he has the longest name in his class this year but is finding it hard to fit his entire name on the small lines they give to write on when he has to write his name on his class work. He definitely goes by Maximilien these days only his family can call him Max. 

We spent Christmas eve with Julien's mother in Nanterre. It was nice to see Julien's brothers again and the kids really enjoy their uncles though they are consistently mixing up their names, Benjamin and Lorin. After a while it was a huge joke and they were doing it on purpose. 

Nöel 2012

It really struck me this year how big Alixe is getting. Last year at Christmas we had put her to bed early because she was too tired to stay up late to open presents on Christmas Eve. But this year she was partying with us all the way until midnight and beyond...

Nöel 2012

I am realizing that there aren't any babies in my house anymore. I sort of find myself fantisizing about having another baby. There aren't any other children in Julien's family for the moment and when they come Alixe and Maximilien will be much older. I am grateful for friends who have kids the same age as Max and Alixe. I hope we will be able to get together more often this year. 

Nöel 2012

These two are so fun together and sometimes they are a real pain. They fight and they make up and in all honesty, I can't imagine it any other way. It's nice to hear from a friend that her kids act the same way. Alixe has really grown up a lot this year. She started talking up a storm once school started and it's really helped with her temperament. Maximilien is still my sweet boy. The after school assistants at school have told me that over the last three years they have seen a wonderful transistion from each school year and they think he's a joy to be around. Warms my heart. 

After spending Christmas eve and Christmas day in Paris we piled into my brother in law's car and drove to Pontarlier to visit Julien's father. We had a feast of oysters (which I don't eat) and foie gras and I went to bed with a full stomach and then got up and took the train back to Paris to work on something fun with a friend visiting from Montréal. I was sad to leave Julien and the kids but glad to be off working on my own on something other than tea house business for once. It's nice to change it up a little...

on the train in Paris

Julien snapped this through the window of the TGV from Frasne to Paris. Now that I have longer hair I can wear hats again! 

 


Three year olds party it up

Alixe's birthday party last week was really fun.  We kept it pretty low key and incorporated all the things she loves these days. Alixe is into princesses, trains and coloring. We had her party at L'OisiveThé on a saturday morning before the tea house opened for business. I prepared chocolate cupcakes for her with just a little bit of pink frosting as Alixe requested. She really isn't into frosting and it more into the the cake. We set up a coloring station, a train table, a little make shift grocery store so that she and her friends could play.  

Every year since Maximilien's 2nd birthday I've made sure to have balloons. I personally love balloons and find them a whimsical addition to any special occasion.  Give my kids a balloon and they are happy campers.

Here are a few of my favorite moment's from Alixe's birthday party:

The fabulous Gille family.

Mama and her three year old (!).

Love these two so much.

Silly Girl.

A little quiet time.

Happy Birthday to Alixe!

Happy Birthday!

I love balloons too.

Alixe

To the sweetest three year old I know... Alixe, you bring joy into my life everyday. I love you, my (little) big girl. 


Alixe, my almost three year old...

I can't believe that Alixe is going to turn three on Saturday. The last three years have gone by so fast in comparision to Maximilien's first years. What a joy Alixe has become as she grew out of her toddler years and now she is a mini school girl. In Petite Section this year she is the youngest in her class though she is one of the tallest. It's hard to notice any physical differences between her and her classmates. It's only when she starts to talk that you realize that she is a year younger than everyone else. Going to school has really changed her personality. Where she used to be sort of rough and tough girl now she is really attention detailed and into giving hugs and kisses to her brother and parents. Where it was always, "No!" as her first response. She now is always saying, "yes, yes, yes! and please and thank you. 

Alixe almost three

I feel like it happened literally a week ago while I was working the Marie Claire tradeshow. I literally didn't see Maximilien and Alixe the entire week then on Monday morning when she woke me up she was so sweet, rubbing my cheek, gently waking me up. Smile on her face and she told me how she missed me and was glad that I was home. Awwww... 

We spent Wednesday inside this week. It was cold outside and the kids were really just interested in lounging around playing Headbanz and watching tv. Alixe saw my camera on the table and asked me to take her photo. Who was I to deny her... I've been waiting for this moment to happen. She used to hide from he camera or I'd have to surprise her to get her to actually look at the lens but now she engages the camera and LOVES when I take her photo. 

Loving that she is the center of attention.

She loves the camera.

Now both my kids love the camera and I feel motivated to carry my big camera around with me again. Maximilien has always loved the camera and knows how to turn on his big smile when it matters. I love how these two are getting along lately. Thick as thieves... the other day I was tired and wanted to lay down and I ask them to go play house in their bedroom. They were so cute that I didn't actually manage to take a nap because I ended up listening to them play nicely together for nearly an hour. Ever so often they would fall into a fit of hysterical laughter with Alixe shooshing Max because they thought I was sleeping. It was music to my ears.

Alixe & Maximilien, November 2012


Summer was just a few months ago...

I've started compiling photos to make yearbooks for the kids. I plan to give them each a yearbook at Christmas this year with the activities we did over the year. Maximilien and Alixe absolutely love looking at photos of themselves. Seriously, if I want them to sit still for a little while I set up the slideshow on Flickr and I have peace and quiet while I make dinner. It's great. Tonight, I set up the slideshow to our summer vacation in Holland and Normandy. 

This summer was the first summer vacation where we did not go to Belle Ile en Mer. Belle Ile is a small island off the coast of Brittany. If you find Quiberon on the map and go a little farther out you'll see Belle Ile. Julien has been going to this island with his family for over thirty years. When we started dating the first summer we spent together he took me to Belle Ile. It is a magical place. The island is sparsly inhabited though Julien's grandmother lived there permantly after her retirement. Photos of past trips to Belle Ile can be seen here and here and here. Last Christmas was Our last trip to Belle Ile. I absolutely love this place during "hors saison". You would think going to the ocean in the winter time wouldn't be very fun but it's an amazing place. The island is empty and it's isn't cold at all. We enjoyed the beach in a different way, wearing our boots and rain coats. 

image from www.flickr.comBelle Ile, December 2011.

Since we didn't go to Belle Ile we decided we wanted to do something different. We rented an RV or in French it is called a camping car and decided to drive north!  It was fairly easy to procure said camping car and I have to say that I didn't pack very well for the trip. We ended up forgetting a lot of essential things and didn't realize it until we were nearly to Belgium. 

image from www.flickr.com

The kids loved that we had such a big "car" for our trip. The novelty of the RV never wore off for them though Julien and I were pretty much done with the RV at the end of our two week vacation. Luckily, we had good weather and found fun camp grounds to stay at so we tried to spend as much time outside of the camping car as possible. I loved that we could drive up to any random beach and stay for the entire day. Nap times were repected and meals were prepared so easily. And I have to say it's pretty handy to have a bed in your vehicule in case you felt like laying down to nap while say driving to Holland. After driving across Belgium we drove right up through Holland to Amsterdam to get my new cargo bike. Julien surprised me with a lovely gathering of my friends for my 35th birthday. They surprised me with a generous gift of a cargo bike! 

I had been obsessively looking for a new bike to replace our La Poste bike. Alixe had out grown the mini Bobike seat we were using and La Poste bike just wasn't strong enough to hold a grown adult and two heavy kids. La Poste bike was a good introduction to cargo bikes for me. It really got me back into cycling and I loved riding it to the post office to drop of orders from my online store

I love riding my La Poste #bike to drop off packages at the post office. I always get smiles when people see me in the bike with the basket full of packages. #velo #paris #loisivethe

This is the Wednesday night hand off of the kids. The bike has made thing so much easier for us.December, 2011. 

Getting ready to make some last minute purchases for our bike/camping vacation/adventure.

I had found the perfect family bike for us. The company that makes my bike is called Workcycles and they are located in Amsterdam. The owner is an American named Henry. He was super helpful over email answering my questions about the Fr8 and how it would work for us in Paris. He had cycled in Paris many times so he knew the restrictions we could encounter biking the narrow streets. I had intially thought about getting a bakfiets or box bike but after test driving one and talking to Henry about it I knew the Fr8 was the perfect bike for us. This bike is exactly what I wanted even down to the tire color and the orange racks. Instead of Alixe riding up front, she has now moved to the back to a Quibbel bike seat. It's very comfortable and she really likes it. It's so comfortable that several times on long bike rides she would just go to sleep. Maximilien moved up to the front saddle. The way the Fr8 is balanced I don't feel his weight at all. It's really great considering he weighs 25 kilos. 

image from www.flickr.com

Our trip to Holland was really fun. We parked the RV and took the bike everywhere. The camp ground we were staying at was about 11km outside of Amsterdam and right next to a huge forest. We spent the better half of a week exploring the forest and biking all around.  We visited the goat farm in the middle of the Amsterdam Bos (a must see with kids) and spent an entire day there. The forest was full of neat things to explore like a random wading pool we found in the middle of nowhere and spectacular bike trails that ran the entire length of the forest. 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

I think one day we biked just over 40km, each Julien and I with a child on the back of the bike. Needless to say, we slept like babies at night. The kids loved biking. Alixe took naps on the bike as did Maximilien. When we were tired we would stop and rest. We'd find lovely place to eat and picnic in the forest. Nothing stopped us as we knew the bike would be our only way to get around. Even biking in the rain was an adventure... We were prepared for the weather though we were lucky and it only rained two days while we were in Holland. 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

#Maximilien & I on my new bike. There is a second saddle up front for him! School drop off and pick up is going to be fun this year.  #amsterdam #gillevacation2012 #bike #latergram

The ease of biking around Holland was really amazing. I was pleasently surprised at how the pedestrians gave way to the cyclists. Also the infrastructure for the bicycles all over Holland is really exceptional. The Dutch attitude towards cycling is commendable. Biking around Paris I often wish Paris was more bike friendly. The infrastructure could easily be set into place in many areas of the city. I am lucky that in the 13th where we live there are many bike lanes. We use the bike everyday to get the kids to school and back since they go to school over by the tea house. Around the Place d'Italie there are clearly marked bike lanes that are set apart from the sidewalks but still the Parisians walk in the bike lanes like they are sidewalks. It's frustrating and then they feel they have the right to yell at me when I ring my bell because they are in my way. Don't even get my started on what they say to me when they see me riding with both kids on the bike. They look at me like I have two heads... actaully if you looked at us as we ride by we look like a three headed cyclist. :) Oh well... it won't keep me from biking everywhere I go. One thing is for sure, biking is cheaper than the gym and my legs are looking great. 

It was nice looking back at our vacation photos and also seeing how much the kids had changed since August! Alixe is so much taller. I've had to lower the leg gaurds on her bike seat twice since we got the Fr8. She has such a funny personality and it was really great (and tiring) spending 24/7 with the kids on vacation.  Maximilien has lost a tooth since these photos were taking and grown an inch. The clothes he wore on vacation are way too small for him now. 

I think the yearbooks will be great for them because they willl be able to get q better grasp of time. Alixe is convinced that her birthday is tomorrow though it's the 1st of December. Maximilien is better at understanding the passage of time. But seeing these photos he told me tonight that this trip was "SOOOOOO long ago". :) 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com

As you can see from our photos it was rather chilly on our vacation which suited us just fine considering how much biking we did everyday. One thing this vacation did for me was define my love for biking. It's a lovely lifestyle that I hope that we can continue to do everyday. 


Left handed or right handed.

This week when I went to go pick Maximilien up from tennis practice, his tennis coach asked me if Maximilien was left handed or right handed. I responded right handed because that is the hand he writes with now. He told me he wasn't sure because he hits the tennis ball from both sides and that he doesn't with much ease that he suspects he could be ambidextrous. He went on to tell me that he'd teach him to hit back hand and forehand to Max on both sides. Having played tennis for many years I know how this can be an advantage. I thought about it as we walked home and actually Max throws with both hands and doesn't really favor one over the other.  I'm not sure when things like this iron themselves out for good. Maybe he's ambidextrous? :)

For his cousin, Appoline's baptism. #maximilieng

I also have witnessed him when he's in an intense coloring session he will switch hands when one hand gets tired and he colors pretty well with both hands. As we walked home he was so excited to tell me how he can hit the ball the same way with both hands and that he LOVES tennis. I am happy to see his tennis coach taking notice in him like this. I was afraid Max wasn't really having fun at tennis because he wouldn't really tell me much after his lessons last year except, "We ran. A LOT.". I'm glad I stuck with my choice for him to take tennis again this year. At least we will give it two years before we decide if he wants to do something else. Soccer has been a topic of conversation for a while but finding a team before the age of six can be hard. 

First day of dance class.

Alixe has started "danse" as she calls it. It's really a motorskills  and movement class but they can to dress up in ballet outfits so to her it's "danse". She says dance in english but with a cute little british accent. Not sure where she picked that up but it's cute all the same. Watching Alixe is very obvious she favors her right foot when doing movements and she uses her right hand almost exclusively for eating and coloring. Sometimes for fun we play let's swtich hands which whatever we are playing and she does it but then switches right back to using her right hand exclusively. This class has done wonders for her physically. Literally in the three weeks she has been going to class I have noticed she is much lighter on her feet as she walks. She recently learned how to walk on her toes and she does it all the time. So very cute. 

Dance class and tennis make up our activities for Wednesday. The kids don't have school this day and I have to say I enjoy spending the entire day with them. We have a more relaxed schedule this year without too much running around. Even have time to get Alixe down for a nap (which she still needs) while Max and I relax (which he needs) because he's much more tired this year in Grande Section than he was in Moyenne Section. I hand the kids off to Julien at 6pm and then head to the tea house to host knitting night. At least one thing is for sure I am pretty right handed when it comes to kniting. I have tried to knit with my left hand it's a disaster. 


Grande section, petite section.

This is the start of a new chapter in our lives. Maximilien and Alixe are both in school. I love the new routine as tiring as it is. I have to say when my head hits the pillow I am out like a light. 

First day of school for Alixe!!

It's hard to believe that my two and half year old is in school already. In the US she would be in pre-school except here in France instead of going half days and only a few days a week, Alixe goes to school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30am-6pm. There isn't school on Wednesdays in France. She also stays for the after school program because I need to bake in the afternoons. I thought it would be too much for her to stay at school that long but she gets a good two hour nap during the day from 12:30-2:30pm and honestly, she is just so happy to be at school.

When I come to pick her up she is a whirlwind of stories. Today she told me she had blé (wheat germ) for lunch and that she sang at school and that she got to have chocolate and oranges at gouter. Also that she got to play with Lily (her friend from the creche) and she saw Maximilien at recess. All in that order and all that in one  cute run on sentence. She has already grown up so much in the last two weeks.  Her vobaulary in French has really blossomed. Where she used to baby talk a lot, she is speaking more clearly now. 

First day of Grande Section & Petite Section. September 2012.

Maximilien is the king of his school. Being in Grand section he is exactly that. Grand. BIG. His first day was as expected, he walked into his classroom to learn that his best friend, Sebastie was in his class.  Those two walked off together and there was no looking back. Julien and I looked at each other, waved goodbye to Max who was engrossed in a book with Sebastie. He didn't even see us leave.

This year his teacher is Claude, le maitre. We had heard great things about Claude from other parents so we were thrilled to find out he was Max's teacher. I can tell that Max really likes him because everyday he tells me something new he's learned from his teacher and it's always Claude said this... and Claude said that... and Claude, Claude... Claude.  This means Max is impressed if he's talking about his teacher this much.  The interactions that I have witness between Claude and Max have been really sweet. Claude is firm with the children but gentle at the same time. I really appreciate that. It's just what Max's needs.  I am looking forward to see how this school year unfolds. 

First day of Grande Section & Petite Section.

Everyday I pick the kids up from the after school program and I try to sneak into the courtyard so I can spy on them a little. All this week, Maximilien and Alixe have been playing together so gently and sweetly that it takes my breath away. I have even seen some of Maximilien's classmates taking care of Alixe while they play.

As I walked up the hill today, Maximilien's best friend, Sebastie, ran to get Alixe when she saw me to tell her that I was there. I think I interest the other kids because I am always speaking in English with them. Last year I just stopped speaking in French to the other kids. I am always speaking in English with Max and Alixe and I found it tiring to swtich around to French. After a while, I just would talk to them in English. They don't really understand what I say but they copy me. They are fascinated and I know it makes me memorable.

Last year I would hear as I walked up the hill to the school, "Heeeeelllooooo Maman de Max !" "Maximilien, ta maman est là !" Now I hear, "Heeeeellloooo Maman de Max et Alixe !" "Max et Alixe, ta maman est LÀ !!!". I love it. It is something I look forward to everyday. 

 


Another school year comes to an end.

Can you believe it that Maximilien's second year in Maternelle has come and now is ending in a week's time. And get this... Alixe starts petit section this fall! My baby girl is going to school in Septmeber 2012. 

Let me just think on this for a second....

whoa.

So, we are wrapping up Moyenne section this year,  I have to say that I am glad that this school year is over. I feel that Maximilien has learned a few pertinate things this year. The fundamentals for reading and writing. I have to admit that I don't think that Maximilien got enough play time in school. He technically is only in pre-school. He starts the equivilant of Kindergarten this fall. 

I struggle being a foreign mother.  I haven't written very much about it publically on my blog. It's hard for me because I get pretty worked up about things that I don't agree with.  I feel like I have to walk on egg shells sometimes around his teacher because if I am too openly displeased with something she will take out her displeasure on Maximilien in class. We experienced this last year with his Petite Section teacher after meeting with the director about soemthing that had happened in class to Maximilien and that the teacher neglected to tell me about. The day after we started getting notes about Maximilien from the teacher about how violent he was and that we needed private meetings to discuss things. Meetings that never happened because the teacher never commited to meeting with us. Insane, right? The ways of the public French school system still escape me though I have learned a few tricks on finding out what my son does at school all day long it still is not enough for me. I wish there were more parent/teacher conferences. I wish there was more transparency vis à vis the parents and the school. Maximilien tells me a lot more this year what he's been up to. I don't press him and it seems to come out by itself. Overall, he enjoyed going to school this year unlike last year when it was heart breaking to take him to school. He cried almost everyday until Christmas break. The change in teachers helped but frankly anyone would have been better than his petite section teacher. He improved from what I considered a bad teacher to a mediocre first year teacher this year who lacks communication skills and favored the girls students over the boy students. Yes, I am serious... very lame and frustrating. But Max being the loving and joyful child that he is, he soldiered on. Made new friends and learned important life skills. 

We got his grade card today. He has had a grade card starting from Petite Section. What do you grade children this young on? I asked myself this same question the first time we were given the Livret Scolaire. Lots of things that merit a seperate blog post, I'll post on that later... maybe. 

Grade cards are out for the second semester. Maximilien finishes Moyen Section.

Maximilien has acquired the required skills to move on to the next level. A few things like his zealous usage of glue have been permenantly noted in his preschool grade card and the fact that he has A LOT of energy that needs to be channelled. I agree that Maximilien has a lot of energy but he has yet to meet a teacher who can help him channel his energy. Instead the two teachers he has had take the route of punishing him and degrading him instead of helping him. And then in turn shaking their fingers at me everyday saying that I need to find a way for my son to channel his energy. But I stand there asking them you spend eight hours a day with my son what do you do to help him channel his energy? Because trust me lady, I help my kid channel his energy in the evenings and weekends. 

This year my son learned the word Nul at school from his teacher. I will never forget the day earlier this year when he told me he felt nul. I asked him why he was saying that? He told him that the maitresse said he was nul. Nul means zero, nothing. He felt like he was a zero. Trust me meetings have been had with principal and nothing ever really happens afterwards. Very frustrating and disappointing. 

I find solace in the fact that Julien and I are very hands on with our children's education. We feel confident that we will help Maximilien and Alixe through these years when they will have less than stellar teachers.  It happens to us all. I remember the teachers that I had in junior high and high school that just plain sucked and my parents got me tutors to help through those difficult semseters. I remember my father and mother sitting down with me after dinner and going over my homework with me for those problem classes and I made it through.  I hope and pray that next year Max will have a better teacher. We have heard good things about the Grande Section teachers and they are both very well loved by the parents and both have a good reputation. I am feeling confident that Maximilien will have a stellar Grande Section year.

As for Alixe starting school this fall I have no idea what to expect. She has been ready for school for four months now. Since she became fully potty trained she is ready to trade in her dou dou for her school bag. The second child does everything so much faster than the first and Alixe is no exception to this rule. Being the youngest in her class at the creche (some of the kids are a year older than she is) she was able to keep up just fine. Physically she is taller than some of the oldest kids in her class so it makes it look like on the outside she could easily be three or three and half years old. I know this can be problematic as well but one thing Alixe doesn't like is to be treated like a baby.  I actually fear a little for the teacher she has this fall because she is so strong willed. It will be interesting to see who Alixe gets for Petite Section. There is a very good chance she will get the same teacher that Maximilien had. If that happens, that teacher has no idea what she is in for. 

ID photos for #alixe. Little girl is going to school this fall!

One more week and school will be out. I look forward to summer break with the kids, a bit of traveling and some much needed alone time with Alixe while Max is away on vacation with his grandmother.  ID photos for next year have been taken and I have secured dance class and tennis lessons for the fall. Seems like everything is falling into place just need to get through July and we will be on vacation. And then I will have two kids in school! I can hardly believe it. 

 

 


Prolonged spring in Paris.

Maximilien was on break from school for two weeks in April. I worked one week and decided to close L'OisiveThé the second week so we could spend some quality time together. The creche doesn't close during the school breaks so Alixe was all business as usual. We kept her in the creche the two weeks because she was in the midst of full blown potty training!   She sort of initiated her potty training phase herself. She came home one day from the Creche asking for a culotte. Being  the youngest in her class, more than half of her class was already potty trained. 

Left over Ikea cabinet = Alixe's own personal bathroom. We start naps w/out diapers this weekend. During the day stuff she down like a little pro.

She is only two years and three months old so it really wasn't in my radar for her to start potty training right now. I figured we'd let her run around diaperless this summer and she'd figure it out before she starts petit section (!) this fall. I'm very happy to be coming out of this diaper phase because changing diapers is a pain as any parent will attest to but now it's abundantly clear that she's no longer a baby anymore. At the same time she started using the potty she started speaking in complete sentences! Double milestone. I am melancholy because we probably won't have any other children, so she's my last... typing that seems so final. May need to sit down and have another talk with Julien about this... I am on the fence. 

Max is full fledge five year old now. Five is for sure different than four. He is learning hard lessons right now such as the consequences to lying. He is testing us and his limits to see where it will take him. He is starting to learn he doesn't like where lying takes him. We've had a lovely week so far even though the weather in Paris has been overcast and rainy for nearly two weeks. Earlier this week we put out rain gear on and went to the Jardin d'Acclimatation. It was the first time visiting the park for our family. Despite the rain, we had a really great time. Maximilien rode his first roller coaster:

Maximilien's first roller coaster ride.

Alixe even tagged along. I don't think she was as impressed with the roller coaster as Maximilien was. She hid in the crook of my arm the entire duration of the ride. 

Jardin de Séoul at La Jardin d'Acclimatation.

You should have seen Maximilien face when I explained to him where knitting wool came from.

Since the school holidays the weather has been gray and rainy with random minutes during the day full of sunshine. A prolonged spring in Paris. The yellow rain coats have been getting a lot of use lately.It makes me reminescent of our last visit to Belle ile... 

Screen-capture

 


What happened to Alixe...

Last Monday I was preparing Maximilien's birthday party when the Creche called Julien to tell him that Alixe was running a fever. They gave her doliprane (baby tylonol) and asked us to pick her up after her nap. I finished early and left a message with the director to call me as soon as she was awake because I was nearby and could come and get her. When I went to get her they gave me her daily report of Tres bien manger, Tres bien dormi, etc... except they thought she was a bit off. She fell off a chair from sitting position which they found strange but she didn't cry. I carried her over to the tea house to finish up the last minute decorations before Maximilien's party at 4:30pm. It was nearly 3pm when we arrived to the tea house. Alixe asked immediately to lay down. She told me she was tired. I made her a little area to lay on by the toys in the tea house. She layed on the floor playing and singing to herself. Obviously, she wasn't feeling good. I offered her water to drink which she took but only took very small sips each time. I had brought more Doliprane with me because I knew her next dose was coming up at 4:30pm. We blew up ballons together. She was too tired to get excited about them. It was about 4:10pm and I started to set up the table for gouter. She immediately told me she was hungry and wanted to have a snack. I set her up at the table and she started in on her pomme potes and she was singing to herself. I turned my back to fill gift bags when I noticed she wasn't singing anymore. I turned around to check on her and saw her hunched over with her chin on the table. I asked her what she was doing and went over to her then immediately realized she was having a seizure. Trying not to panick, I gently scooped her up and layed her down on the floor. I realized quickly what was happening and I tried to make her comfortable but then I saw her face turning blue. She was still seizing and now she was choking. I tried to open her mouth but it was nearly impossible because she was in mid seizure. I waited for the seizure to pass all the while watching the clock. One minute passed. Two minutes passed and I had to get her breathing again! I crammed my fingers into her mouth to get the bread out and turned her on her side and wacked her back and the rest of the bread came flying out of her mouth. She inhaled loudly and then went on seizing. It was a nightmare right before my eyes. She was drooling profusely and it was like some scene off of TV except right before my eyes.  Now that she was breathing I picked her up, ran to the restaurant across the street and called for help. In that moment, I saw everyone on the packed terrasse take out their phones and call someone. Alixe by this time was still shaking. She had moments where her eyes were open but her eyes were rolled to the side and she was staring off into space. I called her name but she didn't respond. I was panicked and frantic. I could hear myself screaming.

The firemen were the first to arrive and swiftly took alixe from my arms and started to work on her. They reassured me that she was breathing and nothing was going to happen to her right now. I sobbed that my husband and son and his friends from school were arriving any minute and just as I finished my sentence I heard Maximilien's voice. Then I saw Julien and Max as they looked through the door way to see Alixe and I on the floor.  Julien had to get Max and his friends to the tea house away from the commotion and I had to leave with Alixe in the ambulance.  The separation was painful.

I felt the whole neighborhood stop in concern. These were the people who live and work around the tea house so they knew who I was. Shop owners from around the restaurant came over to see what was happening. Nanny and parents stood at the park gates right across the street from where the ambulance was parked. It was surreal.

We were rushed off to Necker, the children's specialized hospital in Paris. If you arrive to Necker in the ambulance you take priority over everyone else waiting to see a doctor. It was painful to see those parent's faces fall when they saw Alixe and I go ahead of them. I felt bad. I have been in that position where you're waiting and waiting to see a doctor.

Alixe was immediately stripped and given fluids to cool her down. The doctors came to check on her often and they throughly examned her to find out what had happened.

Here's what happened to Alixe

Alixe started to come around when we arrived to Necker. She started responding to m questions and looked me straight in the eye. This was a relief because I wasn't sure what had happened to her brain while she was out.

Here's what happened to Alixe

The doctor explained to me that Alixe had a convulsion hyperthermique or a febrile seizure. Her core body temperature had gotten too hot for her too fast and her body sort of shut down to deal with it. We have to be vigilant now when she gets fevers and continue fever treatments for a full 24 hours never waiting for her fever to manifest to giver her medication. 

Here's what happened to Alixe

They ran tests on her to make sure she didn't have infections in her urine and did a blood sugar test to make sure she wasn't hyperglycemic. After it was all over, she was so tired she slept for 12 hours straight. I kept her home for nearly a week to keep her close to me.

The next day, we stopped at the park after picking up Maximilien from school and the nannies and parents came to see me. They were so nice asking about Alixe and saying that they were praying for us. Then a couple parents mentioned that the same thing happened to them recently as well! It seems it can be pretty common but I've never heard anyone mention it before. All I know is, I hope that it never happens again because it was the scariest moment of my life. I believe my gardian angel was there in the tea house in that moment when I thought I may lose Alixe. I can't even imagine what would have happened if we were at home and she had this seizure in her bedroom and I was in the kitchen! I would not have heard a thing.

Here's what happened to Alixe

The timing of it all was really incredible but in the end if we had cancelled Max's party of I had gone home instead of being at the tea house, I think the outcome really would have been different. I really think I would have lost her that day.

Whatever higher power is working here I am grateful. I try to focus on the good in things but I can't help feeling absolutely helpless in a situation like this. I had no control and that is incredibly scary. I have to focus on moving forward all the while remembering what I learned here and I hope to God that it never happens again.


Keeping up with the Gille Family...

March has been a busy month for us. Honestly, it's been non stop busy-ness for us since the beginning of February. Where I was so tired at the end of February, now I am used to all this non stop action I don't think I can sit down and do nothing when I have free time. I had my first weekend off last weekend. The kids went to visit their grandmother while Julien was away over the weekend. An entire weekend to myself! I didn't even know what to do with myself. I got motivated to buy some new running shoes to try to get back into running again and while I was walking around the Parc de Bercy I decided to go see a movie. I actually really enjoy going to the movies alone. Not that I have time to talk to anyone during the movie I do miss not having someone to talk to about the movie afterwards. I saw The Hunger Games. I have to say that I really, really enjoyed it. I felt like it was true to the book. They left out some of the side story details that really didn't change anything from the main story line but I felt like the actors they chose for the main characters were spot on. Yes, even Woody Harrelson. If you're intrested in seeing this movie I recommend reading the book first and then going to see it. It's a short read and I put it away in two days.

After having the weekend to myself, I spent some time cleaning the apt and trying to sleep in but I was unsuccessful. I woke up everyday at 8am. Where I was once a champion at sleeping in now I can rarely sleep past 8:30am. Kids will do that to you... it's not so bad, I get a lot done before noon now. :)

I had time to edit some photos that I had taken of Alixe from our previous Monday together. I love spending time with just her. I can tell she needs one on one time with Julien and/or I. We spent a lovely Monday together even if it did include getting a vaccination which she didn't even cry about. Such a big girl.

She was willing to sit for the camera today...

Maximilien turned five this month. I can hardly believe it. It was such a sweet day to remember becoming a mother. Holding Max for the first time in my arms and feeling the joy I felt when he finally arrived. He made me a mother.

Aimee & Maximilien

Who has the best cheeks ever??

 

Happy birthday to you, Maximilien!

Maximilien loves Transformers and BeyBlade tops right now. He is into Miyazaki films especially Totoro and Ponyo. He thinks his new tennis shoes make him run fast but not as fast as his Iron Man shoes he got from his Halahboji. He loves to ride on the back of my bicycle and he now insists climbing onto the bike himself. He loves to draw and write. He is learning to read. He tells me that he will always love me and that he won't stop giving me kisses until he's at least 35 years old.  His words exact.  He loves to race and play tag.  He is a joy to be around. Oh, he is always singing...

Les Mysterieuse Cités d'Or by Maximilien from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

We had a lovely visit from my brother and his girfriend, Lauren right before Max's  birthday.  Not to put the pressure on the rest of my family but Max has been asking when everyone else is going to come visit. He especially loves sharing his daily life with his extended family. Looking forward to seeing more Osbourns this year.

Saying goodbye to Harrison and Lauren. Thanks for the visit! We will miss you. Cc: @laurendmeyer

Something happened to Alixe last week which I plan to write about in another post. It was rather serious and scary. It will take me some time to put to words all that happened. She is alright. She is back to normal, sassy self.

I started writing this post in March and today it's April 1st. Tomorrow will mark four years since I opened L'OisiveThé for business. I have been refleting on that all weekend and hope to find some time to write down my thoughts and goals for the future of L'OisiveThé.

 

 


In the midst...

February is a very busy time for our family. Lots of BIG projects going on for Julien and I. Potential life changes for Maximilien and Alixe. All very exciting and all still very much in the preliminary stages...

I just finished a huge trade-show and am exhausted beyond belief. I'll post about that later once I catch up a bit on some rest but I did capture a couple videos of Maximilien and Alixe last week that I wanted to share. They are growing up so fast and I feel like I need a little more than my memory to grasp onto these years they are so young. It seems to me everyday Maximilien comes home and he's learned a new song at school. Singing has become a real passion for him. You will hear him singing all the time. I know that my mother would have loved this because one of the fondest memories I have of Omma is her singing in the kitchen while she worked.

I'm starting a short series of videos of songs that the kids sing. I will try to take one or two every week and post them here. Max's repertoire of songs is impressive. As an adult, I can't even remember the words to one song I love. Max can easily sing ten different songs and knows the words by heart. And he has a milk mustache in this video that is epic!

Alixe is following right along in her brother's footsteps. She's at that age where she wants to do what her brother is doing. Honestly, she's been like that every since she was born. Doing things way faster than I remember Maximilien doing them. Her baby years have disappeared right before my eyes and she's acting like such a big girls these days. Alixe is shy in front of the camera and she has the hiccups. So very cute.

Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you my little stars:

Petite Citrouille sung by Maximilien from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

Les Petites Marionettes by Alixe from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

 

 


Alixe, Bicycles and #growingitout2012

I spent the morning with the kids while Julien did the bi-monthly run to Metro for L'OisiveThé. Maximilien has painting class on Saturday morning so while he's making art Alixe and I hang out and play. Since the weather has been cold and raining lately we have been staying inside and we read a lot of books.

Keeping busy while we wait for Maximilien.

I can't believe how grown up she looks.

Alixe loves books. Even ones without pictures. She loves turning the pages and it fascinated with how they are held together.  She has ripped out her fair share of pages and she is learning like every two year old does that one must take care of their books. Luckily, at the Centre d'Animation where Max's painting class is there's a whole load of books that are new to Alixe so they keep her busy.

She's really started to become a much more social toddler. She will go up to people and see what they are doing. Today, she went and sat next to another parent while they were reading so she could listen to the story too. She also spent a lot of time siting on my lap cuddling me. I love this. She recently figured out how to give kisses instead of these went open mouthed stamps she'd leave on your cheek. It's quite possible the cutest thing I've seen all year. And she loves to kiss her Mama. As we were walking home we admired the decorations that are up in our neighborhood for Chinese New Year. We haven't gone to the parade in past years because it's rather noisy/scary with all the firecrackers but I think this year we'll give it a go.

Chinese New Year is coming!

Preparing for the Chinese New Year.

I worked this afternoon at the tea house. The routine is Julien gets home from Metro and I usually run out the door to start my shift at 1pm. Lately, I've had rather heavy loads to take back and forth from home to the tea house. We've learned that our current bicycle isn't cutting it especially since most time we have a child strapped to the back.

Julien surprised me today with a new to me bicycle:

My new bike from my husband! Isn't she pretty!!

It's a bicycle the postmen use here in France. Apparently they retire them once they become too used. This one looks like an older model though the gear shifter looks brand new.  Compare her to one I saw last summer (also this one is electric):

Postman on his electric bike.

My bike had been refurbished and Julien found it on Le Bon Coin. This is the kind of bike I need. Something that can transport my precious cargo plus the extra stuff I tend to truck back and forth everyday. I have to say, it was love at first sight and how fitting that she's yellow.

Tea canister

She matches the yellow tea canisters at the tea house...

Love the yellow mailbox

and the yellow mail boxes here in France...

Love how tender they can be toward each other.

And my kid's yellow raincoats...

 

A bit of Madeline Tosh Pashmina around the neck is a good thing.

and my newly knitted cowl. I'm really into yellow right now.

 

Doesn't my new bike look perfect parked outside l'OisiveThé? Gosh, I love her. Thank you, my dear sweet husband.

Julien got me a new bike! I love her. It's a La Poste velo. Now I can carry some serious weight in the front and the back!  Cc: @merzol  <3

Here's my last Instagram of the day:

Gotta bobby pin the bangs. They are starting to get annoying. #growingitout2012

This is my first photo in my #growingitout2012 series with my glasses on. Looking forward to wearing them with long hair. The bobby pin has started making an appearance as my bangs are starting to get long and heavy. The thickness is coming back as my hair grows. I had forgotten how thick my hair is. Julien started making remarks that he has found my hair all over the apt. Oh, just you wait, Julien...


From France to the US and back: Pennsylvania

I'm finally starting to feel back to my tired self again. Jetlag was hard this time around. It didn't help that I had gastro twice in two weeks while on vacation. There is something about airplanes and me we just don't get along. It was a nice trip all the same. We spent the first leg of our trip landing in Philadelphia and then driving to to visit out friends in State College, PA.  We met Ronica and Jeff while they were living in Paris while Jeff was working on his post doc. Ronica and I hit it off and Julien and Jeff became fast friends.  We each continued on our paths along the way having kids at the same time.  I wish that we lived closer but it's visit like this that remind us that the distance doesn't matter because we just pick right up where we left off. The kids had a wonderful time and I look forward to our next visit. 

Max and Rowan

Fun with photo booth

Morning fun

Remarkable how four year olds figure each other out fast. There were moments of Maximilien speaking in French to Rowan and she would respond in English without hesitation. She'd give Max a hard time about speaking French to her and I loved hearing my son make an effort to speak in English. It was hard for him to switch gears the first few days but by the time we were on our way to Washington DC he was almost speaking to us exclusively in English. They spent their days chasing each other, coloring, watching Dinosaur Train and messing up the entire house. Rowan was a very gracious guest letting Max play with all her toys. Max has already asked when we are going back to Rowan's house? 

Reading

Fast buddies

Only 6 months apart

Bisous!

Only six months seperate Alixe and Anya. During our visit they followed each other around mostly parallel playing. They observed each other  a lot and liked to play the same games.   Not a lot of conversation between these two but they knew how to communicate with each other. I'd often find them looking at each other and though nothing was said they seemed to agree.  Their favorite activity together? Pushing their babies in the strollers around the staircase. 

Alixe thinking about what it is going to be like to be two years old.Alixe, three weeks short of turning two.

My boyMaximilien, my happy four year old.

 

Next up... Washington DC and Virginia. 

 


Holding on...

22 months old.

 

I have moments when I look at Alixe and I hold my breath because my little baby girl is growing up so fast. She's in the stage where she copies everything everyone does. The good and the bad things. Keeps us on our toes because Alixe is watching. This is especially hard for Maximilien who is very much a four year old who is very curious and likes to get into trouble sometimes. Nothing Julien and I can't handle but when you add Alixe who isn't even two yet and she's trying to climb higher than she should at the park... every parent's fear.

She wants to ride!

This past weekend we were graced with beautiful weather. The last warm days of fall, it was magical. The sun was good for us. We stayed out late playing on Sunday to get in as much of the good weather as we could.

October sun

I enjoyed a rare weekend off and took advantage of the time to knit and almost finish Alixe's birthday present: a sweater. Maximilien and Alixe went to play at Mamoo's house and had fun catching up with their grandmother. We had a leisurely lunch and played into the late afternoon before heading home.

Cheese!

I hope to always find enough time to write down my thoughts even if they are just snippits of what is going on. I hope that my children someday will enjoy reading these blogs as much as I do today. I only have to go back to my archives and I often find myself laughing or crying over things I've written and I feel grateful that I have taken the time to remember.


Lazy Sunday

It rained all day in Paris today. We were up early because Alixe is an early riser. At four, Maximilien already appreciates the art of sleeping in. Julien goes to yoga on Sunday mornings now which leaves me time to hang out with the kids without having to rush to get everyone ready for school. We had cereal and colored a bit before heading back to our bedroom to watch tv.  Alixe brought in a stack of books she wanted to read.


A well loved book

We all hunkered in together and stayed au chaud.  I knit a few centimeters on Alixe's Tiny Tea Leaves sweater.

Everytime I try to #knit on this sweater she wants to try it on and have her photo taken. #knitting #tricot

Julien returned just before noon with lunch he picked up from the street market near Bastille. Poulet fermier avec pommes de terres, gratin de fruits de mer and organic yogurt and fruit for dessert. I had my yogurt with clover honey, a gift from a customer who visited the tea house last year. Delish.

Just had a fromage blanc with this delicious honey a customer from @loisivethe brought me as a gift.

I sense a Sunday routine settling in.

After lunch, we split up for naps and woke up in time for gouter all the while the skies remained grey and the rain unrelenting. I baked a nice airy chocolate cake for us. Nothing better than a warm chocolate cake and your family all around the table. All the while, we are all still in our PJs. Bliss.

Cake!

Dinner has been ordered. A true lazy Sunday so we opted for sushi. The kids are playing in their bedroom, I can hear Maximilien singing the theme song from Cité d'Or while I blog and Julien is relaxing in the other room.

A lazy, perfect Sunday.


A week of Alixe.

We returned from Belle Ile and had a few days before getting back to work and Maximilien packing up to fly to visit his Grandpa to prolong our vacation and enjoy the emptiness of Paris.



My heart explodes from the cuteness


We had lazy days of late breakfast at Breakfast in America and park play that took us right into naptime. It was bliss.


Walking her puppy. How very Parisian of her.

Then is was time for us to say goodbye to Max as he took the plane by himself for the first time to fly to Lyon to be picked up by his uncle and then a short road trip to his grandfather's house in Pontarlier.


My big four year old is on his way to fly alone to see his grandfather!


Alixe and Max love each other. This is an undisputed fact. They also fight as many parents can relate to. Maximilien is patient and lets his sister play with almost all his toys but sometimes he is just plain tired of sharing which I can understand because his little sister is very demanding. When she doesn't get her way she screams. It's this stringent, high pitch sound that make your ears feel like they are bleeding. We love you, Alixe, but the screaming has got to stop! I think the screaming reached it's maximum level just before Maximilien left for grandpa's house. Julien and I were at our wits end. Then her brother left and se wasn't sure why she was screaming anymore. She screamed a lot the first day he was gone. I think it was just residual screaming she had built up and needed to let out. After 24 hours of only being with Mamma and Daddy. She started to talk! I would say that 75% of the words are Alixe speak we were just relieved the screaming had stopped.



Alili & me.  #instagram


Though, she was happy to have us all to herself, I know she missed Max especially at bedtime. She didn't like sleeping alone. We enjoyed taking Alixe out to dinner and realized one child at a restaurant is much easier than two. I give major respect to my parents who took all five of us out to dinner. That must have been crazy town. Alixe loved having all of our attention and I realize that it's very important she gets this kind of attention too.

Mama's glasses are endless fun


Being super cute! She gets to be the only child while Max is away this week.


Trying to eat her rice with chopsticks...o

We spent a quiet week at home. Going to the park everyday, twice a day. Taking naps together and Alixe discovered Sesame Street and she loves it!


Alixe, 20 months.


I can't believe she is entering her last year at the Creche. She will be 21 months old tomorrow. I amazed at how fast these 20 months have gone by. I love this age. So much discovery. I can't wait to hear the stories she will tell me.

Here's a funny bit about Alixe. She's quiet the neat freak already. Her aunts Elizabeth and Erin will be thrilled to know she has the cleaning gene. She absolutely loves to clean. Pick up her toys. Do the dishes. Vaccum and mop. The apartment was exceptionally clean last week.


I kid you not, my daughter loves to put on her apron and mop the floor after dinner.

The return of Maximilien was dramatic. Alixe was so thrilled to see her brother that it was non stop hugs and kisses all evening. Alixe and Max even slept together in the same bed and for the first time in a week she slept until almost 9am when we had to wake her so she wouldn't be late for her first day back to the creche.


He sucks his thumb. She does not. #latergram


They are such a joy! I am so lucky. #latergram


Two peas in a pod...



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.


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.


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...


18 months in a blink of an eye

Alixe turned 18 months old yesterday. I can hardly believe it. I remember Maximilien turning 18 months old. I had just opened the tea house and was starting the wonderful adventure of owning my own business. But before I opened L'OisiveThé I was a stay at home mom. Everyday of my life was dedicated to Max. It seemed like ages between his first birthday and him turning 18 months old. With the birth of Alixe I was a full time working Mama. Juggling the tea house, Max, Alixe and everything else in-between I hardly have time to do anything else.


Alixe, this morning.


It's so hard not to have these feelings of missing out. I find that I fall into the same routine and before I know it it's weeks and weeks of the same 'ole same 'ole and my baby is no longer a baby but a toddler!

I look at baby photos of Alixe and luckily I remember so clearly those very early weeks.


My baby was all but two days old and now she's 18 months old!


Oldie but a goodie: Alixe 5 days old.


I took the time tonight to really pay attention to details while I put the babes to bed. Switched off auto-mama-pilot and cherished every second. It's a hard time going to bed these days. Alixe is wanting a big girl bed but she isn't really ready for one. She isn't disciplined enough to stay in bed once we put her there. Ideally, I'd love for both kids to sleep together. And I know neither Max nor Alixe would be against the idea. Unfortunately, they play more than sleep. It keeps them up way past their bedtime.


Tonight, I took Max's mattress off his mini loft and heaved it to the floor. Immediately Alixe and Max crawled into bed together. The next hour and half was less fun for me. I listened over the baby monitor as Alixe proceeded to get up,several times and try to open the door. Then she started emptying toy chests and turning chairs over. All the while her brother laughing infectiously which encouraged her more. A few more visits from Mama and stern commands to go to bed. Tears shed by both children as they both protested sleep all the while I can hear them yawning loudly over the baby monitor.


The evening ended with Alixe calling to me, "Mamamamamamamamamama". I gravitate to their room as the call of my youngest is the a sure bet to get me come in. Alixe is holding her arms to me as I open the door. She lays down and pats the bed telling me so clearly that she wants me there. I lay half off the twin mattress on the floor while both my kids cuddled close to me. Both of them touching me while they drifted off to sleep.


I lay there feeling so motherly. My presence alone was enough to comfort them. The importance of mother never ceases to amaze me.


Thinking that both of them had drifted to sleep, I slowly rose to leave. Max's little hand shoots out from under the blanket in his last half asleep attempt to keep me close. I smile weakly and lay back down. With his eyes closed he whispers, "calin, Mommy" and I fold him into my arms.

These everyday moments are the ones I treasure the most. There will come a time when they will nor longer need Mommy to fall asleep. I have long resolved with myself that time for Mama will come later. I don't want to miss these little moments like these because I am busy wishing I had more time to do other things. The time for me will come before I know it.

Got kids sharing a room? What are your tricks to getting them to bed together in a timely manner?


A month for mother

Living in France now I get to celebrate Mother's day twice. The date for Mother's Day in the US and France differ by two weeks. A few days ago a bunch of my friend's profile photos on Facebook started changing all of sudden to show photos of their mothers. I thought I'd play along too. It was comforting to dig into my hard drive on my computer and into my archives on Flickr to find photos of Omma. This fall will mark 6 years since she passed away. Needless to say, though I type it here... I miss her everyday.  I started by posting this photo of us taken in 2000 when she and my father came to visit me in France. At the time I was living there as a teaching assistant. I loved my life in France. Little did I know at the time that I'd be making my life here and someday marrying a Frenchman and having kids. I met Julien two days after this photo was taken. 

My Omma and I. Taken in November 2000 the week before I met my husband for the first time. I wearing the scarf she knit me. This photo fills my mind with wonderful memories of this trip.  I muss her everyday. Not a day goes by without thinking about her.

I love this photo of her. We were so happy on this trip. I loved showing her where I lived and her hearing me speak French. She was so proud of me and didn't stop telling me the entire time she was in France. 

I had scanned some photos of my mother and I when I was a baby. I scanned these photos way before Alixe was even a dream of ours. I had just had Max and we had just brought him back to the US for the first time. I found old photos of me as a baby and wanted to scan them to do comparisons of Maximilien and I. But I found that he looked NOTHING like me. He is the spitting image of his father. I kept these scans with distant hopes that I may someday have a daughter. And then I did...

The next photo I posted on Facebook was this one:

Omma and I. I think I must be a year old here maybe older. We are on the porch of our house on Concord Drive.

This was at my first birthday party. Look at how beautiful my mother was! I know for a fact that I did not feel and look as fresh as she does in this photo. My mother wore motherhood like it was in style everyday. I admire her for that and it reminds me to work to keep myself in shape. And there I am... one years old! Alixe is nearly the spitting image of me. ME!! Why did I ever doubt that she may not look like me. Same pouty mouth, the cheeks that you want to smoosh, the same little nose. I love seeing that she looks like me. It brings me unexplainable joy when I see her. Picking her up from a long day at the Créche and she holds her arms out to me and says in her cute little baby voice, "Ma Ma". I can't run to her fast enough to sweep her up into my arms. She is me. 

I looked around for a photo of myself near Alixe's age now. She's just turned 17 months old. The next photo I posted was this one:

I have such fond memories of this house. Everything stayed the same until we moved out. I remember the couch and the carpets changing. I'm just a bit younger than Alixe is right now. Boy, did I have a huge head. I don't know who that cat belongs to though

Look at my head! HUGE. I took Alixe to a wellness visit a couple weeks ago and the doctor says she growing very well but her head is off the charts! Ha ha. She's got the big Osbourn head. My friend, Sarah, even pointed out that Alixe sits exactly the way I am sitting in this photo and it's so true! And the lens cap in the hand! So classic. I have so many photos of Maximilien and Alixe with the lens cap in hand. 

I have such fond memories of this house. Everything stayed the same until we moved out I believe. I remember the couch changing and the carpets but that was just as we moved.

I love this photo of my mother. In my mind she remains unchanged. Forever young. It is incredibly epic how much I miss her but somehow I have learned to live with this feeling. Unsettling yet normal now...

Maximilien looks at this photo and says, "it's halmoni and Alixe!" it makes me smile as I am filled with bittersweet emotions as he knows her and yet will never have the chance to really know her. For now, Alixe and I look at these photos and she points and says, "bébé". 

Giving Mama butterfly kisses. Photo taken by Julien.

I love being a mother. I always knew it was to be one of my roles in my life. Perhaps the most important role in my life. I can't imagine my life any different as it is today. Maximilien made me a mother. He taught me that there is so much more to my life. Then Alixe came along and she taught me that the love a mother has can be multiplied exponentially. I didn't know I could love these two kids as much as I do. And I believe I finally realize (in portion) what my Omma, a mother to five children, felt raising us. The joys, the frustrations, the pride, the hardships and THE LOVE. The love is the one thing I didn't really understand until I became a mother myself. 

I am proud to be a mama to these guys:

Mama & Max

Mama & Alixe. She really didn't want to take a picture with me. Oh well!!

And I couldn't have gotten where I am today without the love and support of my husband, Julien. Behind this Mama is a great Papa or as we say in our house, Daddy. 

Rounding out our family to a happy four:

Yes, we are silly.

3 out of 4 of us looking at the camera is not bad...

Happy Mother's Day to all the great Mamas celebrating in the US! 


Life

My life is full. I am grateful to be able to type this and realize it at the same time. Last week, my husband's grandmother passed away after living a full life. I am grateful that my children were able to spend time with her in their way. Though Alixe will not remember her we will try our hardest to keep reminding Maximilien and Alixe about Mamé. It's nothing like losing someone you are close to to make you really stop and think about life. The same week that Mamé passed away a friend of Julien and I's was killed in car accident in Brazil. Hughes and his wife, Andrea, were lost in the accident and their 2 year old son is in serious condition and still in the hospital.  A blog post was written about him by one of his photography friends.  I've known Hughes almost as long as I have lived in Paris.  I remember a conversation we had the last time I saw him at my tea house. We were talking about photography and how in the moment the photo is taken that memory will stay with us for a lifetime. It's so very true. I don't ask myself why I am taking all these photos all the time. The happiness I feel looking at them days, months, years after the fact is reason enough.   I have these moments when I just need to grab my children, hold them close, nestle my nose into their necks and breathe them in. Remembering that moment. Trying my hardest to etch every emotion and feeling into my mind.

After all the loss we experienced then Maximilien's 4th birthday came. My baby is FOUR YEARS OLD. I still wonder how this has happened so fast. I can still feel him kicking me in my belly sometimes. Is that weird or normal? I look at baby photos of him...

Four years ago today I became a Mother.

Four years ago, he made me a mother. I remember it like it was just yesterday. And oh, how he has changed...

He really isn't into the camera these days...

 

He's such an inquisitive little guy. Very funny too.

He makes up stories and songs. He's very, very good at drawing and coloring. Budding artist? Perhaps.

Keeping busy

You can see that he is a happy, happy child. He has the joie de vivre for sure.

And Alixe chased after him...

Max is sweet and caring. He holds the door open for people in our building. He says thank you to the cars that stop for him so he can cross the street. All the teachers and administrators at school know who he is. He hugs his teacher every morning.

Something new that Max has been thinking about is me as his Mommy. He realizes that I have friends and relationships with other people other than just Daddy and Alixe. He asks me if when I'm at the tea house if I am still his Mommy? Or if after we have a fight and then make up he asks if I am still his Mommy when I am mad. Happy, sad, mad... no matter what I tell him, I will always be his Mommy. Forever. "Foreva?" he asks.  And I respond, "Yes, of course. FOREVER. He sticks out his pinky and asks me to pinky promise. We do and then he tells me that he loves me T H I S   M U C H and he holds his arms out as wide as he can. My heart swells to epic proportions.

These are the moments I never want to forget.

As much as Maximilien loves his Mommy, I think that he may love his sister more and vice versa. Alixe adores her brother.

She adores her brother

 

 

These two are a pure joy to see together.

 

Siblings

Alixe started walking shortly after the beginning of her 14th month. She just decided to get up and walk and boy, did she! No stumbling around to cruising for her.

Alixe's first walk at the park

As much as I find parenting a girl different than parenting a boy, I never thought for a second that such a little girl could teach me so much about myself. Alixe on a daily basis is a constant exercise of patience for me. She has a very strong personality. My father says it's the Osbourn in her. Maximilien is a mini Julien. Alixe is a mini me.

Apparently she is the bruiser in her class at the creche but someone finally fought back...

My father said something to me that struck true. I asked him if I was like Alixe when I was her age. Temper tantrums. Very clear about what she wants. LOUD. My father said to me that if I was like that my mother would never have stood for it. I know what he meant because I don't stand for this behavior.  Just tonight, Alixe and I had a face off, literally, I was in her face telling her to calm down and she just stopped, stared at me and wouldn't back down. And if anyone who knows me knows I can be stubborn, I wasn't going to give in to this little girl. We sat on the floor staring at each other until Alixe finally gave in, leaned in and fell into my arms for a hug. And in that moment all my frustrations melted away as my heart exploded with love.

I put my kids to bed tonight taking time to play and snuggle them. I hope that maybe they will remember these moments when they are older as I remember my mother coming in to check on me while I slept (or lay with my eyes closed). How she would cover me up and I would hear her say sleep well in Korean.  Her voice very clear in my mind even today.


Flash back!

Cheeky Monkey

My flash wasn't calibrated correctly but whatever... sometimes I just don't have time to worry about things like that. I didn't want to miss this shot because it reminded so much of a shot I took of Max at this age. Either I have a good memory or my memory is shot because I only remember things by the photos I take?

Cheeky Monkey

And yes, that's orange crayon drool on Alixe's t-shirt. She smiled later and had it on her teeth like it was lipstick except bright orange! Made for interesting diapers later that day.


New beginnings...

I've been thinking about what to do about this blog. I have had some sort of blog under the name of PutYourFlareOn for nearly 8 years now. EIGHT YEARS. This blog has seen me through my move to Paris, the first years of my marriage to Julien, my first job in France, my mother passing away, the birth of my first child, the opening of my own business & the birth of my second child. With each passing event in my life I found that I blogged less and less. Every time I think about stopping I feel a tinge in my heart as to say "don't do it". I get a lot of pleasure reading old entries and remembering moments long forgotten. 

I intend to keep blogging. I'm just not sure in what capacity yet.

Alixe is one now. She had her birthday on December 1st. I can't even express the joy she brings to my life and how much she has made me realize how important a daughter is to a mother. Even at 12 months she teaches me things about myself that I didn't know. Through the good and bad I am grateful to have her in my life.

Happy New Year!

Part of the reason I haven't blogged much in 2010 is Alixe. The addition of the second child into our life wasn't as seamless as I thought it would be. I honestly didn't realize how difficult it would be juggling it all. Several things in my life were just put aside because it wasn't important. The first six months after Alixe was born I was in true survival mode. Surviving the waves of emotions I felt everyday, the depths of depression I felt every moment of the day while caring for a newborn and a toddler. I felt resentment, anger, sadness, grief and massive fatigue. Though I can't remember much of what went on the few months after Alixe was born I know that I wouldn't have been able to make it through unless Julien was there to help me. I reflect back to that time and it seems so long ago. The memories of that dark time are starting to fade and to be honest I am glad to let them go.

It is amazing to me still the difference between my children. First of all they look very different (which I love) and they act very different. Where Maximilien was brusing through toys, Alixe is gentle and very delicate in the way she plays. Alixe is already starting to talk when at this time Max was ready to walk. They eat differently.  Alixe cries a lot more than Maximilien ever did. Max slept (and still does very well) and Alixe just doesn't sleep.

The weeks leading up to Alixe's birth I had insomnia and would stay up late reading blogs from other mother's about their experience adding a second child. Some were positive, some were negative... in the end they painted a picture for me of how things could be for me. And now looking back I should have been knitting more instead of reading those blogs. 

Now that 2010 is over I feel a weight has been lifted. I feel excited for 2011 and the projects I have planned for our family and myself. This is going to be a different year for us. A new beginning. There are no new babies in our future instead lots of plans to nurture and play with our two lovely children. I have plans to expand the tea house business. I also have plans to travel this year. And finally I have plans to care for myself. I feel like I have been taking care of everyone else this past year and now its my turn to take care of myself.

Reflection

Let's not forget about this guy. My little guy. Carrying him home last night at 4 am, he felt so big. I smelled his neck as he nuzzled in close to me. He smelled of baby lotion the same that I used when he was baby.  Max will be 4 years old in March. FOUR. I look at this photo and still see his baby eyes looking at me.  Maximilien is in the midst of new beginnings as well. He started school in the fall of 2010. He's testing his boundaries and learning patience around his little sister. He has never once shown any jealousy towards her and this is a true testament to his loving and joyous nature.

Happy New Year!

Here's to 2011, a year of new beginnings... I hope the new year brings much happiness to you.


Adaptation

Needless to say that having kids your life becomes one huge periode d'adaptation. With every age new milestones, behaviors, likes and dislikes rear themselves. One child may do things one way and another child inevitable does it completely different. This has been the story of my life with Maximilien and Alixe. I've come to terms months ago that Alixe will never cease to surprise me. Sure, I feel more comfortable with KNOWING what is going to happen. Aren't we all? With Max, he was a textbook baby. Like many of the parenting handbooks we find ourselves reading I felt like they had written that book about Max. Alixe broke the mold, so to speak. But it makes for not a dull moment in our lives. I love her just the same. I was saying to Julien the other night that I love both kids so much yet differently. Not in terms of loving one more than the other but when I think about each child the love I feel manifests itself differently inside me. I consider myself lucky to be able to feel these different shades of love.

Max3.5BelleIle

Max left today for his third day at school today. A little difficult getting him out the door. If you can believe it at three and half he already knows how to procrastinate. But just got the call from my husband that there were tears and the dou dou came out of the bag but he willing went to his classroom. It's taking time for my social little guy to get used to school. I don't remember what I felt when i started Montessori at his age but I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be for him. But with each day he's adapting. And so am I... a friend gave me some advice that worked like a charm. Don't stress about the details of what they do all day at Maternelle. When he's ready he'll tell you all about it... and he did just that. About an hour after I picked him up on Friday, he stopped playing in the bac à sable and ran over to tell me that he drew a bonhomme and he had eyes and hands. Even Mama is learning to adapt...

Alixe8.5MosBelleIle

Today, Alixe starts her adaptation week at the Creche. I'm nervous and happy for her. I see her at the park with other kids and she's just over the moon to be with them. I sense she is ready for collectivité. I hope I am ready too. As much as I want to go back to work and be at L'OisiveThé I feel a bit torn being away from my baby. Familiar feelings I had with Max started going to TaTa's and then the Creche. But I firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and that the more interactions a child has with his peers and adults the more ready he will be for the next step in life. But back to this torn feeling... I think that as Mothers we feel this feeling because we have a duty to raise our children. And as I take this duty very seriously I have to admit that I need help for my own sanity and the life of my family. I have fond memories of visiting relatives and spending significant time with them growing up and I know that time spent with other adults other than my parents helped to shape the person I am today.

9:20am and I gotta get moving... Alixe is in the middle of her morning nap. Gotta get her up and out to door to get to the Creche by 10am. No more lazy mornings for Mama... and I have to admit that I am looking forward to being a different kind of busy again.

 


The bubs

The older Alixe gets the more fun it becomes for Max. He is smitten for his petite soeur and Alixe adores her grand frère.I am surprised that my little three and half year old has the attention span to play with his little sister. The last few weeks Max as said to me on several occasions that he'd rather play in his room with his sister than go out to the park or the library. Max builds intricate train tracks and let his sister rip them apart. He doesn't get upset instead he just starts again so she can come destroy it again. He's always giving his sister calin and bisous. Holding her hand while we walk and she rides in the pousette. He is anxious for her to walk and often asks when she will have her own trotinette and they can go to the park and ride together.

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (6 of 7)
Soon, my son, soon... your sister will be chasing after you before you know it. Until then, these two find their own ways to have fun. While taking these photos they spent 10 minutes putting and pulling off a hat. Endless fun and giggles. They may not remember this moment in a few years from now but I know I will because it was here that I realized that our family is complete with the four of us.

 

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (2 of 7)

 

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (5 of 7)


Busier than ever and then everything stops...

Sunday I was busy getting the kids ready for an afternoon out. Julien was covering my shift at the tea house. Such a busy time in our lives right now. And while my mind was thinking about things to come later in the week I had one second of inattentativeness with Alixe and the next thing I knew she had catapulted herself off of her brother's 4.5 foot high loft bed and landed flat on her back and banged the back of her head. The sound still haunts me. I picked her up immediately. She didn't cry right away because the fall had knocked the wind from her but once she found her voice the cry was like nothing I had ever heard before. I rushed her to my bedroom and looked at her. She had stopped crying by the time I put her on the bed but her nose was bleeding profusely. The moments after that are sort of a blur, I remember grabbing some clothes from my dirty clothes basket and throwing them on and then throwing clothes at Max to put on as I rushed to put my shoes on. We live right across from our pediatrician's office so my first thought was to run over there and see Alixe's Ped. But it was Saturday afternon and they were closed! Carrying Alixe and holding Max's hand we walked back to the apt and I called Julien. He was home in 5 minutes. We called le quinze to see what we should do. By then it had been 15 minutes since Alixe fell. I had gotten her nose to stop bleeding and she was surprisingly acting completely normal. It freaked me out even more. We were strongly advised to head to the nearest pediatric hospital to have alixe checked out. And we were off and less than 30 minutes after the accident we were waiting in line to get Alixe checked in. The waiting room was filled with sick/injured children but suprisingly they took us in right away. Her fall apparently pushed her to the front of the waiting line. I felt bad for the parents we bypassed but also felt relief that we were going to be seen right away. At this moment, I was convinced that I had caused permenant brain damage to Alixe.

The doctor ran a few physical tests on Alixe and everything checked out well but head injuries in babies can manifest themselves differently so they wanted to keep Alixe for observation. They checked us into a private room and then watched her. The room had a window where the nurses and doctors could see Alixe while she sat and played. I was encouraged to feed her dinner and then try to put her to bed. Finally after 4 hours of trying to rocker to sleep, Alixe gave in and fell asleep on her own. So tired she slept practically sitting up. They hooked up monitors to her to watch her heart rate and breathing and to make sure she was getting enough oxygen to her brain. They told me that I should sleep because it was going to be a long night. Yeah, right... sleep?! I couldn't stop staring at the machine and her vital stats.

 

HospitalMonitor
I watched this machine for 6 hours. 3 of the hours Alixe slept. I learned that my daughter indeed can sleep deeply. This is something I highly doubted until now. I also learned she has moments of apnea when she sleeps (!) which kinda freaks me out but the doctor reassured me that it's normal. After 6 hours of monitoring they let us go home. Alixe has been her cheery self ever since and I am slowly letting go of the image of her falling out of my head.

I was talking with a friend about parenting and how it's all trial and error. You learn from your mistakes. At one point, I said to her kids are forgiving and if you make a mistake they will forgive you. Look what I did? I let my kid fall on her head and she still loves me. Ok, maybe that's a big extreame but I learned from all the tweets from my Mama friends that these things happen. Such is life. Time to move forward and not look back.

 

 

 

 


This is my blog.

And I have neglected you for so long.

I see that I still get lots of hits everyday. I thank those of you for visiting. I hope you are enjoying my archives. I know I do from time to time. About a month ago it was time to renew my subscription with Typepad and my credit card information had expired. Then I got bogged down in email land with my inbox over flowing at 200+ emails and the email from Typepad got lost. Until now... So, I've fixed the problem and hopefully my blog is back to it's boring self again. Though I am getting spam comments and have no idea how to stop those.

I last blogged in June. July has come and gone. I can't even tell you about all the things I've been doing because there's just so much. But I will tell you this my extended maternity leave will be ending in mid September. I will be back at the tea house full time once Alixe is full acclimated at the creche. I look forward to going back to work. Thought I still worked a lot from home being at the tea house all day instead at home will be a welcomed change.

Ah, Alixe... my sweet girl who doesn't sleep. And that means I am not sleeping all that well. It's better than it was the first two month after we brought her home but just barely better. Lots to write about Alixe and I intend on doing that. ON VACATION!! Yes, we leave for our favorite island off the coast of France, Belle Ile en Mer.

Here are some of my favorite photos from past trips:

26 weeks

26 weeks pregnant with Maximilien

Port Coton - Belle Ile en Mer

Port Coton during a mild storm in February - I adore this island hors saison especially in February. It's practically deserted with only the locals living on the island. We're very lucky that the family house is on the island so we can go often.

Great Grandmother & Max

Meeting his great grandmother for the first time.

Mother and Son

I look so young in this photo. Having two kids ages you...

The one I love...

Julien, my love.

Chasing seagulls

Max's second visit to the island. We took him when he was just two months old.  But this visit was marvelous. Just watching him take his first steps on the beach will be forever etched in my memory.

Contemplating the sea

And another favorite that is on our refrigerator. This is what a toddler looks like the first time he see the wide, open sea.

A little photo bombing there to make me feel better for my lack of posting. I hope you have enjoyed them too.

So, I have lists. My lists have lists. But on my list is my blog. I am going to work on the template and perhaps have a professionally made banner done for just lil' ole me. I think I deserve it. :) And here's a recent photo just taken TODAY by my brother in our kitchen as the light was perfect. Alixe is very concerned with her uncle's hair.

She's a serious one... I'll tell you all about her very soon. Love her striped shirt. She's ready for Belle Ile!

Alixe et Mama

So, I'm pretty sure the house on Belle Ile hasn't been wired for internet so other than updating Twitter and Facebook via my iPhone that may be all the contact I may have with the outside world. And then again, I may not even do that much. Which sits pretty well with me because a good break from it all will be nice. I have knitting projects slated, books to read and am looking forward to taking my kids to the beach EVERYDAY.


Agrandir le plan

And now it's after 1:30am. Finishing up some business correspondence with the US and now I can finally go to bed... Apparently, Alixe has been sleeping well while I was away at TricoThé tonight. Typical.

Good night.


Oh hey...It's June.

Yeah, June. huh?

As you can probably tell from my lack of blogs that life has pretty much taken over and much to my chagrin blogging and taking photos has waned. I think about my blog a lot these days. The feeling of an overhaul looms in my mind every time I look at my blog. It doesn't help that we are doing some major demenagement chez nous right now. The apt is in utter shambles but soon it will be a much better living space just in time for my personal organizer to come and help teach me how to keep my apt organized. 

So, I got a new camera today. I know. I know... I have a perfectly good camera. My D200. I intend to keep using it, can't part with it. Love it too much but I don't love how heavy it is. And now that I carry 3 year old treasures in my purse along with 6 months old diapers and baby things there's unfortunately no room for my heavy DSLR. Looking at my photo stream on Flickr it's littered with photos from my iPhone. Fun, yes. Good to print and make memories out of? No. So, I bought myself an Olympus Pen E-P2. It's a perfect compromise between a DSLR and a point and shoot camera. I couldn't bring myself to purchase a point and shoot. They were just TOO small for my hands. I like the feeling of looking through a viewfinder and holding my palm under the lens of the camera. I scoured Flickr for a solution and that when I found the group dedicated to the Pen I had found the solution. It arrived today and I have already shot a few photos. My models were very obliging today.

Here's Alixe sitting in Max's Stokke chair for the first time:

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

Hits me like a ton of bricks at how big she looks here. 6 months old. Her head is ginormous! She just started sitting up last week. The bumbo is obsolete now so we needed to find another solution for her. I casually asked Max yesterday what he thought about Alixe sitting in his chair like he did when he was a baby. He said she could have his chair! And today while I was preparing dinner for Alixe he told me that the green chair is Alixe's char now.  Sweet boy. Now I'm in search of a cool chair for Max. Something fun and colorful and not a Stokke. Any suggestions are welcome! 

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

So, the sweet boy... not so sweet lately. It pains me to write this because he's always been such a sweet, compassionate boy but lately he's been testing his boundaries. It's been now twice in one week he's spat on or towards his assistants at the creche. And today he also stuck out his tongue when the assistant asked him to calm down at lunch. I am simply surprised at all this spitting and sticking out of tongues. I, personally, have never seen Max do this to anyone, child or adult. And even playing he's never stuck out his tongue at me or his father. The only place I can think he learned this is at the creche seeing another child do it. Remember the biting incident when he first started at the creche, Max bit a child because he was being bit by everyone else! I chalk this up to him testing his limits to see what happens. He's very cause and effect these days. He will tell me things like I scare the pigeons and they fly away! Or I push the button and the light turns red so I can cross the street. I assume this is normal three year old behavior but it makes me sad after he goes to bed because I am being hard on him by punishing him by taking away his movie rights, game rights, dinosaur rights and balloon rights. I see how sad he is but I hope he will understand that he can't go around spitting on people. We're getting Mamoo (Julien's mother) in on the loop this weekend. He's supposed to go visit her and at her house will have the same limitations as home. I hope that by Sunday he will have retained this lesson and we won't have any spitting incidents next week. Typing that makes me feel so bad... 

So, a bit of an update. Don't be surprised if things change a bit here. I'd like to do more with my photos and baking recipes (just perfected my vanilla scone tonight) and recipes I am trying out like rhubarb syrup to make my own rhubarb soda!  Also, I have had to put a bit of lock down on how people comment on my blog because I was getting bombarded by spam. So, if the logging in and using a secret code word turns you off from commenting I completely understand. :)

Aaaaaand like clockwork... it's almost midnight and Alixe is waking up for her midnight drink of milk that's my cue to click publish! Good night!




Different

MaxAlixe5months

Look at these two faces! It's hard for me not to see the similarities because these are my children.  But so many people have commented on how Alixe and Maximilien really look different from each other. In each of their faces I see my mother's nose, my father's nose, my husband's hair line, my hair line, my husband's mouth, my mouth. One has blues eyes. The other has brown. Chatting with my father recently over Skype he mentioned that Alixe's foot looks like mine. It really does! It looks just like my mother's...

Genetics is an awesome thing. Almost awesome enough for me to want to have a third. Almost. 

I have been really enjoying looking back at Julien and I's baby photos to see who Alixe and Max look like the most.  Maximilien is pretty much a mini Julien and Alixe is turning out to be a mini me. I admit that I am thrilled. It seems perfect that Julien and I have a little version of us. Our family of four feels so very right to me.


He made me a mother... she taught me the meaning of love...

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

They make my life amazing. Needless to say that my life is so much fuller with my children in it. Not to say I didn't have a good life before Maximilien and Alixe. But now I truly understand how my mother felt raising the five of us. The love she had for each of us. Different yet the same. How each child must have brought a new dimension to her life. I now understand that because each of my children bring me a different outlook on life and love.

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

Maximilien brought back a breath of fresh air into my life at a time when I needed it the most. Alixe is showing me that motherhood is a challenge I enjoy and LOVE. Both of my children are very different and I am grateful for that. The difference in their personalities keep me on my toes and keep everyday fresh. At three years old and 5 months old these two are as thick as thieves. Everyday I look forward to seeing them interact and am amazed at how they bring comfort to each other.

I know it's not Mother's Day in France but in the US it was yesterday. Lucky me I get to celebrate it twice in one month.  Mother's Day has obviously taken a new meaning for me since I became a mother but I still reflect upon the my Omma and how amazing she was in this role. I say it again as I say it to myself very often I appreciate my mother so much more now that I have little ones of my own. I wish I could have told her this but I know she's enjoying the show from a distance and speaking volumes to me through my very own children. 

image from farm1.static.flickr.com


Oh, hi there... I am still here.

My poor blog. I've neglected you so long. It isn't anything you did. It's me no, no... it's actually Alixe. We're still in the midst of poor sleep at our house. Going on nearly 5 months of it I have started to get used to the disoriented feeling I have every morning I wake up and the sort of hazy feeling I have all day long. That being said, life is kinda hard right now because we're supposed to sleep at night and as much as I try to get used to the idea of forgoing this my silly brain can't let go. So these days,  I focus on three things:  Alixe, Max and my business. Sorry, my dear husband... you're in a close fourth. I know, I KNOW.... what a sucky wife I have been lately.

It's really HORRIBLE what sleep deprivation does to one's life. I feel for those people who suffer from insomnia and wonder how anyone could function so long like this. Example of the fragmented sleep we get, last night Alixe went to bed at 8pm. I *should* have gone to bed but had some baking and sewing that HAD to get done. I went to bed at 11pm and she woke up. Baby radar? You betcha. I nursed her and put her back to bed. ONE HOUR LATER, she woke up again. Julien is a DEEP sleeper and did not stir at all. I waited 3 minutes just to see if he'd go to her but nothing happened so I got up. I can't handle Maximilien waking up too at midnight. I nursed her and put her back to bed. She woke up again at 2am, 4am and 6am. The 2, 4, 6 hours of the night must be her magic numbers because she does this ALL THE TIME. Drives me bonkers. I can't let her cry because she's in our room and it DRIVE ME BONKERS. Julien sleeps through it. Bless his heart, I have no idea how he does but can he teach me?? Then on top of all this, I am sick. So, sleep deprivation + sick + nerves raw = disaster. I woke up Julien at 6am and said, "HELP!". He took her into the kitchen and I got a whole 15 minutes of uninterrupted sleep until Max woke up and came for cuddles. As tired and cranky as I am I can't say no to my three year old's cuddles. He likes to draw pictures on my face with his finger when I am trying to sleep. I can't sleep when he does this but it makes me feel so loved so I sacrifice sleep to let him draw on my face. 

Then this morning Ooshop delivered at 7:45am. I had to be up for that. I came out of the bedroom to crying baby, my three year old asking me, "Why, mommy? why is the door ringing" and my husband dashing around getting ready to leave for the day. I stood and watched the scene and thought, "wow, this is my life".

So, things like my blog have been put off to the back burner so to speak... just no time. I had good intention to post a photo a day for a 365 photo book for 2010. Ah, there are a few days forgotten but some how I still manage to take at least one photo a day. *hugs her iPhone*

Photo family collage April 2010

Screen-capture-2

But in the midst of this sleepless madness at our house, Maximilien turned three, Alixe was baptized, we had lots of family come and visit, I got my hair cut (finally!) and ordered I some new exciting yarn for the tea house.

And during the time I typed this blog entry I have gotten up two times to sooth Alixe back to sleep again. She's been asleep a total of 30 minutes. Whoo. It's the little victories that count, right? *sigh*
 


Letting go

55/365 : Letting go

Something that is hard for me to do but very essential to be Alixe's Mama. I have to let go of my expectations of her and go at her pace. I have to let go of my control issues and just be. Letting go means that I stay up until 2 am most nights and just be with my daughter. It means that the laundry sits in the dryer an extra day or two. The dishes don't get washed and I miss a shower. Letting go means I let Maximilien come and sleep with me because he needs to feel reassurance from his Mama. Letting go means forgetting the little things your husband does that annoy you because you know what? It's just not worth getting into it.

I've been feeling better the last couple weeks because I've decided to let go of all these notions of what kind of mother I should be and instead just be me.

The assistants at the creche told me today they are so impressed with how Max has evolved lately. Potty trained quickly. He's calmed down a lot and is much more focused. I have been paying more attention to him lately and I notice he is much calmer. It really proves to me that if Mama isn't doing well then how can her children be well? The month of December was a hard one for us. I was in such a bad place. I am so glad to be out of that and moving forward.

57/365 : Out & About

I hold Alixe now and feel adoration for her. I say, now I feel adoration for her because just a month ago I did not. I felt resentment and anger. It was because I was holding on to too many expectations that I had set myself up for failure.  Today at the mother's meeting I host, we were talking about how no one talks about how sometimes being a new mom isn't all roses and perfection. And it was refreshing to meet some Mamas who like me felt the same dark feelings I felt the first month of Alixe's life. 

If I were to give advice to a new Mama I would say let go of any expectations you may have of your new baby. Just take each day, hour, minute as it comes. Forget the dishes, the laundry and putting make up on and instead just be with your baby.

56/365 : My little thumb suckers

I am okay with staying up until 2am. This past week I have woken up in the morning more refreshed after a few hours of sleep because I know I have nothing expected of me, especially from myself.


17/365 : My children

It still amazes me when I refer to Maximilien and Alixe as my children. Hearing myself say it in conversation makes me smile immediately.

I love love LOVE watching my children together. I love watching their simple interactions. Alixe is completely fascinated by Max as he is of his sister.

Today it was just the three of us and it was the first day where I didn't feel any anxiety taking care of both of my children. We lazily woke up this morning and stayed in our pjs all day long. Had pancakes and pizza for breakfast (since we woke up late). I played with Max and waited for Alixe to show me signs of a nap. I immediately put her down so that Max and I could curled up together in our bed for a nap. Unfortunately, Max work up after only an hour of sleeping (usually he naps for three hours!) and wanted to watch Toy Story. Since Alixe was still asleep and I wasn't ready to get up from my nap, I cuddled Max close and whispered stories in his ear until he fell asleep again. We snoozed for another hour until Alixe woke Max and I with her bleating goat sounds. We laughed so hard at how funny it sounded and I layed there in that moment cherishing it. 

Just hanging around...

Bisous

Little Rewards

14/365 : Little rewards

After the crazy night Alixe put us through last night (6 hours of no sleep from 10pm to 4am) we got this today:

A REAL SMILE. And a laugh!

As much as I am tired and want to throw in the towel these little milestones bring me so much happiness and I crave them.

Speaking of milestones, Maximilien is pretty much potty trained now. He only wants to wear his "culotte" and we have to talk him into wearing his pull up at night for bed. He has done poo and pee outside of the house without any problems. And he wakes up in the middle of the night when he needs to go to the bathroom. This has been the highlight of my week.

I went to see the doctor today and got a clean bill of health. He asked me when I'd be having baby three since the factory is ready to be in service again. I just kinda stared at him and shook my head and told him to ask me again in about 5 years.

I'm disappointed that I am so tired these days. I had intended after seeing my doctor and him giving me the green light on exercising to get started on working to getting myself in shape. I can get into my pre-pregnancy jeans already but need to lose another 20lbs to be where I want to be. I had intended to start tomorrow! But I am too tired. My arms and legs ache from the fatigue. I have migraines and my appetite is poor because of lack of sleep.  So, instead I have new vitamin regiment to follow (to keep me from getting depressed) and I will put off my workout plans for a while.

I'm not feeling too sorry for myself though... Alixe is smiling and laughing! And Max is using the potty ALL BY HIMSELF!! These are the things I will think about when and if I get to sleep tonight.


Alixe, One Month

Dear Alixe,

I'm a little late with your one month letter. You'll have to excuse me because I've been up very late every night for the past month partying with you. Yes, you... The baby who does not sleep. The baby we call Grunty McGrumpyPants. Or Vomita when you eat too much. You've had a very productive first month of life considering your lack of sleep. You met your brother, Maximilien, who is completely smitten with you. And you seem to be fascinated by your brother. You seems to really enjoy his stories he tells you after his long day at the creche. Often you are wearing your GrumpyPants and when he comes into the room and says, "Bonjour, Alixe!!!" your eyes open wide and stop eveything you are doing. 

Brown eyed girl

In all honestly, my biggest fear was that Maximilien wouldn't be prepared for your arrival. But in all reality, it was your Mama who wasn't prepared for your arrivial. I had in set in my silly Mama mind that you were going to be just like your brother. Big eater, big sleeper. You are a modest eater and do not sleep at all. Modest eater meaning that you don't pig out when I feed you like Max did. Though somehow you managed to gain 1.8 kgs and 4 cm in height. The doctor was shocked when I told her you were only a month old. Looking at you, you look like a four month old. But you act like a one month old in every way. Especially, when it comes to sleeping. But I'm learning to deal. I have come to terms that I won't get any sleep and not to count on getting any sleep if you are awake which is like most of the day. I try to busy myself by cleaning the apt and doing the endless laundry that you are happily contributing to. But sometimes I need sleep and these are the moments that are the hardest for me because this is when you want to be awake. We are trying a combination of co-sleeping, the five S's and lots of contact with Mama. And sometimes we get lucky (like right now!) you decide to sleep for a while. Everyone keeps telling me that this is a phase... let's just hope that is really is.

I am thrilled to say that you look a lot like me! I would hope so since you're my daughter and if you looked like your dad you'd be very, very hairy and I'm not sure that you'd be so happy about that. Your eyes are brown and you have a darker complexion than your brother. You have attributes that are very much yours but you also look a lot like your brother. Don't worry, your brother is a good looking kid...

Maximilien et Alixe

Maximilien (2007) and Alixe (2009), both 4 days old.

I am looking forward to the coming months of your development, Alixe. I am anxiously awaiting for your first REAL smile. Though, we've had a few smiles lately but they always precede a nice big fart so we can't officially say that you are smiling yet. But since you're so big for your age, you can easily hold your head up for several moments at a time. I put you on your stomach and you pick up your head with such ease. And often when when we hold you, you push up with your legs and stand a few moments with all your weight on your legs. One thing is for sure, you are one strong little girl. 

Jan 7 - I adore

So, lack of sleep aside... I'm so happy that you are here. I feel like our family is complete and know there are many beautiful (sleep filled) days ahead of us.