Today Julien and I have been married ten years. Ten. years. It's incredible how I didn't see this milestone coming. I feel like it came just as fast as our wedding day did back in 2002. Julien proposed and a month later we were married. We were tired of the long distant thing and knew that we wanted to be with each other. I ask my mother and father if they would be our witnesses. We decided to get married at the justice of the peace at the court house in Olathe, Kansas. My home town. I remember asking my parents to be our witness. Julien and I had just drove over to their house after I got off work. My father was sitting in the living room and my mother was milling around the kitchen doing several things at once. I asked them like I was asking them permission like a high schooler would for Friday night date. They accepted cheerfully. Julien and I decided on March 6th because it would be a date we would both remember easily. Tomorrow is Julien's birthday. See what I mean?
Since I didn't have a lot of time to plan things between the proposal and the big day I asked off for only a half day from work. I was in the middle of a huge project at work and didn't want to be away an entire day. I remember going into my boss's cubical to ask her if I could have the half day off. She said sure without looking up and asked what I was going to do? I told her that I was going to get married. I remember she dropped her pen and looked at me with her mouth wide open, "What?". I then explained that we were getting married quickly so that Julien and I could stop doing the long distant thing because we were tired of it. She knew what I had been going through the last few months because she could hear me talking on the phone to Julien at work. The Friday we planned to get married came around. I dressed normally for work. Brown slacks and a lovely brown cardigane my mother had given me for Christmas the year before. Heels. Make up done up nicely. My hair straightened. It was long back then. We met at the court house after noon and waited for our turn. I remember my parents looking nice. They dressed up for the occasion. I always remember my mother's perfume she wore when she dressed up. Lauren by Ralph Lauren. My father and mother hugged us when it was our turn to go in front of the judge. I held Julien's hand and remember feeling the warmth in my hand and knowing that this was the right choice. I was so very happy.
I think back to all that we have accomplished in the past ten years and I would never change a thing. Moving to Paris was a very hard thing to do. The choice was easy but once I arrived here life wasn't all that I had dreamed it would be. After a while, I learned that life in Paris as a newlywed, uneployeed and friendless it just as hard as it would have been in Kansas. This is what life was like for Julien when we lived in Kansas. But we had each other. I think back to that first year living together and how excited I would be when he'd come home from work and I'd talk his ear off for an hour straight because I hadn't talked to anyone the entire day. He would listen to be intently. Thinking back to that I realize he was such a good sport listening to me talk about silly stuff happening on the internet because that was all that I had back then. Over the years our couple grew from being young couple without kids in Paris to young parents trying to juggle it all in Paris. I am sitting in the middle of our kitchen which is pretty messy right now. There are toys on the floor, laundry that needs to be folded and put away. I did the dishes though and have prepared a special dinner for us.
I dusted off our crystal candlestick holders that still have the candles in them we recieved as a gift from my Aunt Judy for our wedding. We light these candles on our anniversary every year. I think we missed a few years there when Max and Alixe were first born and we were in a perpetual fog of sleep deprivation. But they still have a lot of wick left to them and I look forward to lighting them for many more anniversaries to come. I wonder what they will look like in 20 years from now?
I'm just sitting here waiting for Julien to get home from his early birthday present I set up for him tonight. I have to work tomorrow night so we are celebrating everything tonight. Dinner is almost ready, champagne is chilling and candles ready to be lit...
These last 10 years have been so great, I am looking forward to the next 10 and then the next 10. And the next 10. Lots of love to my dear husband. Looking forward to this next chapter in our lives. I hope it's full of lots of new adventures.
Julien and I went to Ikea tonight. Got a babysitter and everything so we could go child free. Talk about an exciting date night. Actually, it was a work trip to Ikea because we are preparing for a huge tradeshow in February where I hope to sell lots of yummy yarn from my shop to French knitters.
We have to build our stand from scratch so off to Ikea we went to get inexpensive storage for the yarn.
We started to worry as we were in line to pay because we own the smallest car (not counting The Smart car) in France, The Twingo. And we didn't have the foresight to take the car seats out of our tiny vehicle. So here Julien was faced with a pretty complicated task. I just stood by and watched because deep down I knew he'd make it work. He always makes it work when it comes to packing the car except that one time he crushed my Nikon D200 and cracked the LCD screen when he packed my bag but I'm trying to forget that so let's get back to the story, shall we?
And 15 minutes later... the car was packed perfectly without forcing one single thing. Quite possibly the most impressive thing I've seen all year. Way to start the year off, huh? When we were in the elevator in our apartment Julien told me that my hair sorta looked like a helmet and that reminded me that I needed to post another #growingitout2012 photo.
I'm not upset about the helmet comment because it really does look helmet-y. My hair is so thick so I am not surprised at all. I know when you are growing it out from this short of a length that trims are inevitable unless I am willing to sport a mullet which I am not okay with this. I think I can hold out a little longer before that first trim to help me on my way to #growingitout2012.
I found this cute little image on Pinterest via some Tumblr blog:
I've got it on my lock screen on my iPhone and it's been a great motivator for me not to think about getting my hair cut. My ultimate goal is number 7. I am currently at number 1 but not nearly as cute. Sigh.
We've been back in Paris for almost two weeks now and I still can't get over that summer is almost over already. So, instead of thinking about all the things I need to be doing I am going to post my favorite photos from this our trip to Belle Ile before the tan lines fade and the sun induced highlights from my hair disappear. :)
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 pregnant with Maximilien
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.
Meeting his great grandmother for the first time.
I look so young in this photo. Having two kids ages you...
Julien, my love.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
My husband always has these little tricks up his sleeve. Is it a mini pumpkin? Looks like it. It's clementine season and we have our daily dose of clementine after dinner. Good way to get some good vitamin C into Max. Tonight, Julien started cutting his clementine with a knife while Max and I peeled ours with our hands. Intrigued, Max watched wondering what his father was doing.
Apparently when Julien was young they didn't have easy access to pumpkins like we do today. His grandfather would make homemade jack-o-lanterns for the kids out of clementines.
This reminds me of when Julien I started dating eight (!) years ago and another trick he played with a match and an invisible string. I was impressed then and I'm still impressed now.
Such is life. We all know it. Sometimes hard to admit and sometimes hard to live. I've been inspired by some of my favorite blogs to embrace the imperfection in my life. Yes, I don't make my bed. I put dirty dishes in the sink and leave them there for a couple days.
Before I became a mother, I wondered if being a mother would be for me? I really didn't question myself much after Maximilien was born due to the sheer joy I felt every time I held my baby. I was a mama and being a mama was for me. And even now when he's 20 months old, I still feel the joy picking up my son or seeing him play, run and say his first words. And I know that this feeling will last well until my son is grown... even when he doesn't want mama's kisses anymore or I can't hold him because he will outweigh me.
I carried Maximilien home last night from dinner and I realized that I don't do that much anymore because he's walking everywhere now. I reminded myself to take advantage of the fact that I can still carry him now and that I should do it more often. Last night we read books before bed and snuggled and then Max says to me "kiss Mama, kiss Mama" and push his squishy cheek to my face. With his little baby hands, he pulled my face close again and again for more and more kisses. I could feel the love exploding from my heart and washing over us in fits of giggles. Moments like this is what it's all about...
Julien took this video of Max last weekend riding the line 14 on his way to his grandmother's house. I just wanted to share with you a bit of the joy of Maximilien. His wonderment is genuine. His smiles melt the heart. His words amaze me, though hard to understand right now. This is our life right now. And I'm so grateful for it.
There is so much going on in our lives right now. Funny how good things all come at once. What's the expression? I can't remember.
Today is our 6 year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been 6 years already. Our relationship is anything but static. Time speeds ahead making its presence noticeable at each birthday and milestone. But as time passes there is one constant in my life, my husband Julien. From the day we met it felt we had known each other forever. My hand fit within his. His arms fit around my shoulders. We each have a place in one another's neck where the sweetness is our own. As we embark on new adventures, I am glad to have him by my side. He is my partner in crime, my lover, my friend, my confidant. Here is to 6 years, my love...
This morning as I laid groggy in bed with Max crawling around me. Julien leaned down to kiss me goodbye and told me to be dressed when he got home. i.e. not in a tracksuit my usual mama uniform. I'm lucky if I get a shower during the day, such is my life now. He knew this and yet he asked me several times if I had anything planned and reminded me twice to be dressed when he got home. He left early this morning to come home early tonight. Something is up? Oh yes...
I guess I better shave my legs, huh?
Since Maximilien's arrival it hasn't always been that easy for Julien. In the beginning, Max only wanted me. He wanted me to hold him. He would only sleep in my arms. It was beautiful and exhausting. For me. Julien waited patiently for his son to "take to him". Around when Max was 6 weeks old, Julien took him paternity leave from work and we went on a mini vacation to see Julien's grandmother. Max had his father's full attention for two weeks straight. I got to sleep. Things started to change after that. Max started to fall asleep in his father's arms. He started to recognize Julien's face though he already knew his voice long before. It was shortly after this that Max started to sleep through the night.
We started a new routine that in the mornings when Max would stir Julien would go and get him, change his diaper and bring him to our bed so I could nurse him. All three of us would lay together until Julien's alarm would go off and he had to get up to start his day. This morning moment is one I enjoy so much as I often watch my husband sleep while holding Max's little hand. Max is the blood link between Julien and I.
Another new routine we've started recently is that Max is put to bed by his father. As you may have remembered Max isn't having it when Mama puts him to bed for the night. Since Max is currently taking three naps a day (crazy!) with his last one starting around 5pm and he wakes around 6pm we've pushed Max's bedtime an hour at night so that Julien can come home and have that time with him. By 8pm, Max is bathed, fed and sleeping. Julien has gotten so good at putting Max down that he doesn't even cry anymore and welcomes sleep. It is truly amazing. Every night there are high fives of appreciation given as Julien and I know that this parenting thing is something we were both meant to do.
As easily as things are coming along for us now the thought of having a second child is being talked about again. Though Julien has been talking about it since Max was two weeks old, I've only been verbalizing my feelings seriously about it for the last few days. Thanks for all your thoughts on the matter in my last entry. I really appreciate all of you taking time to write to me and it has given me some perspective. I have decided to just listen to my body and my body says it's not ready. I was physically stronger when I became pregnant with Max and today I don't feel like that. And I would like to spend some one on one time with Max before a sibling is born to make sure he's ready too. He's my first. My special boy. I know having a second baby will be amazing but it is going to be different.
It is sweet that my husband is ready for another child. It warms my heart to know that he wants a large (maybe even larger) family like I do. I still sometimes see my husband as that young guy I met in English class 7 years ago. Carefree. Raving it up guy. And yet he impresses me with his natural parenting skills everyday. Babe, I hope you're reading this today... you're the best. I love you.
I don't do it.
While picnicking with a friend today she invited me over to visit her at her apartment next week. I thought to myself that this could be a good opportunity for me to drive there with Max. She lives in the suburbs of Paris and it wouldn't be considered actual Paris driving.
I mentioned this to my husband and he thought it would be a great idea. Any mention of me driving is a great idea to my husband, he's been trying to get me to drive since we got our Twingo right before Maximilien was born. But the thing is Paris drivers are crazy. It seems like complete anarchy the way they drive. There are no lane markers and what is this crazy priorité a droite? But having a small baby and living in the city sometimes the public transportation just isn't possible. And every time we go on our big road trip to Belle Ile en Mer Julien is always the one to drive.
So, tonight after mentioning that I might take the car out to see my friend who lives in the suburbs Julien offers to go out with me TONIGHT to drive a little. He is that excited about me driving. I looked at him and saw visions of him being one of those front seat drivers yelling , "Non, par la, PAR LA!! and cringing at every move I'd make. He's done it before a long, long time ago when he was trying to teach me how to drive stick. Anyway... I pushed that image out of my head and told him that we'd do it another time. So the conversation ended like this:
Note: Julien and I speak to each other in two different languages. Me English, him French. Always has been like this. Totally throws everyone off but it works perfectly for us.
Julien (eyes aglow) : Ne t'inquiete pas, Je vais m'asseoir derrière avec Maximilien et regarderai Smallville sur ma PSP. Ce sera comme si je n'étais pas là. - Don't worry, I'll sit in the back seat with Maximilien and bring my PSP and watch Smallville. It will be like I'm not even there.
Me: "Yeah, right!! I know you, you'll be watching my every move. If I don't turn properly I'll hear it right away"
Julien: "Non, ma cherie....je serrerai les fesses si tu fais une betise. - I'll just squeeze my butt cheeks if I see you doing something wrong.
Yeah, yeah... so we'll see. In August all the Parisian are gone on vacation so I think we'll be doing some night driving to practice and Julien will have buns of steel from all the squeezing.
This is usual dinner conversation at our house. Hubby comes home from work, we discuss the days happenings and I usually ask, "What would you like for dinner, dear?" "Une Tartine, please!" he responds.
Quick, quick! Type in your dashboard widget to see what Tartine means in French!
Yeah, so he wants a slice of bread for dinner! A slice of bread!?
But in France, La tartine isn't just toast, my friends... A tartine for breakfast sounds good to me. Toast? Check! Nutella? CHECK! Yummy in my tummy? Mmmmhmmm. But my husband has taken me on a tartine adventure let me list off a few that come to mind: tartine de saumon et créme fraiche, tartine de filet de thon au muscadé, tartine tartar, tartine au thon et whisky, tartine chorizo et basilique, tartine beurrre au sel de guerande et confiture de maman, tartine au jambon et fromage, tartine a l'ail and the list goes on and on.... your little desk widget is getting a lot of use, non? :)
A couple nights ago, I had a hankering for some peanut butter. Good old Skippy creamy peanut butter to be exact. Be careful buying peanut butter here because the French version has no sugar and talk about serious tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth too! Anyway, I made myself a tartine au beurre de cacahuéte et bananes. Side note: I hadn't discovered peanut butter and banana sandwiches until one late night of studying my last year in college and I happened to see one of my residents in the scholarship hall making herself a PB&B sandwich. So, I toasted myself a few slices of Pain Polka and spread the peanut butter on the warm toast and sliced bananas. J was looking over my shoulder unsure of what I was doing? I asked if he'd like one and he shakes his hadnsome French head and said "non, merci" in a very dismissing way. The French are very much against the idea of peanut butter. As my husband says, they have Nutella, why do they need peanut butter, too? I took a few bites as my husbands curious look turned to I-wish-I-could-have-a-bite look. I offered it to him and he took a large bite and smiled and muttered mouth full of PB&B, "Pas mal!" Je vois que tu comprenne bien la concept de la tartine, ma cherie"
**To kiss or not to kiss
As you know the French kiss when they greet people they know and don't know. I'd say in the last year I can't remember the last time I shook hands with someone in France. When I was an exchange student in Besançon in '98 I hung out with a lot of exchange students from different European countries and some Asian countries. We never did les bises. We shook hands if we met someone new. I felt comfortable with this because this is common practice in the States. My second stint in France in 2000 (the year I met J) I started to hang out with more and more Frenchies and still instinctively held out my hand when I met people. I learned from J that handshaking really isn't done especially at our age. It used more when you greet older people for the first time or business contacts, colleagues, etc... Everyone our ages does les bises even good guy friends will instinctively gives kisses when they greet each other.
Tonight, we went to a apéritif dinatoîre* at our friend, Nath's apt, and comme d'hab* I was the only Anglo there. About an hour into the conversation or so someone realized that I had used a le instead of a la and a de instead of a du (because those of us who speak French or have studied know that this just happens sometimes). The guy I was talking to came to me while I was filling my champagne glass in the kitchen to ask me in a low voice if I were French? Mais non! I responded. He just stood back on his heels and look at me. We had that oh-so-familiar exchange of where I was from and Comment ca se fait que tu parle si bien le francais et patati et patata* and he stated that he thought all Americans only shook hands and were not comfortable kissing. This is exactly what he said. Well, of course I set him straight and said we love to kiss but it's just a question of habit that's all! We don't greet one another with kisses more often with handshakes or hugs, if we know the person well. I love little culture exchanges like this.
J said that I used to do the cutest thing I would stick my hand out to shake and pull the person towards me slightly to do les bises. It must of been in my transitional phase from hand shaking instinctively to doing les bises naturally.
*Apéritif Dînatoire - Before dinner drinks with heavy hors-d'oeuvres that take the place of dinner, very social setting and mobility for invitees to mingle, drink et manger!
*Comme d'hab- or Comme d'habitude, meaning like usual or usually.
*Patati et Patata- could be interpreted as how we'd use blah, blah, blah or and so on.
Love is when your husband comes to bed early because you want him to.
Love is when you're friend takes the day off to play with you on your birthday.
Love is when you cat gives you kitty kisses when you are sad.
Love is when your husband agrees to re-arrange the kitchen at 10pm and you change your mind a hour later and he doesn't get mad.
Love is when he tells you that you're beautiful first thing in the morning.
Love is the laughter amongst good girlfriends.