Love Feed

Goodbye, my friend.

 

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I lost a wonderful, dear friend to cancer this week. The shock still consumes me. My heart is broken.

Lisa Taylor Huff and I met virtually through our expat blogs. I had moved to France because I fell in love and married a Frenchman and then we decided to move to France. I spoke the language, had lived here before and it made sense. I thought that was hard.

Lisa quit her job and sold all her belongings and move to France where she didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language.  She made that look easy. That is true courage.  A true BOLD SOUL.

As expat bloggers living in Paris at the time it was wonderful to read each other’s perspectives on life. One day we met in person and hit it off. I met Lisa at a transitional time in my life. My mother had just passed away and I was pregnant with my first child. Lisa was in the process of making her dream come true: She was moving to Paris.

Lisa was my quintessential go to person for advice. We would meet for lunch and chat over boys, life, love and everything else in between. I remember fondly meals shared when she started dating Georges and how giggly and happy she was.  Lisa was the most positive person I knew. She always knew what to say for every problem I had. I have years and years of precious messages on my blog, choc full of advice and support. She was always there. Always writing.

Lisa (and Georges) was there when I found my cafe back in late 2007. It was the moment that my dream started to come true. By then Lisa had already made her Paris dream come true and the cerise on the gateau was that she had just met Georges. Lisa was my first customer the day I opened L'Oisivethé. She had a yogi chai tea, lunch and stayed and wrote for a few hours. The pink table by the window was her table at the teahouse.

Lisa was the first to come visit me at home after my babies were born. She was always the first to offer up help when needed.

Lisa was one of the most gracious and kind people I’ve ever met, she always made you feel like you were important. She cared about you. She was passionate about making life the most it could be. She fought for what she believed in. She cared about Paris so much that she got those damn Love Locks off of the Pont des Arts bridge.

Lisa was The Bold Soul. Her blog name reflected perfectly her personality. Though soft spoken, she had a wonderfully bold personality that was if anything remarkable.

I will miss you immensely, Lisa.  But I will take a page from your book and keep chasing after my dreams just like you did.

Some people talk about their dreams. Lisa, LIVED her dream.

Lisa inspired me in life and I will celebrate her everyday for the rest of mine.

Goodbye, my friend.

 


A color to make you smile

This is what my new shop front does to me. Julien painted the second coat yesterday and the yellow is rich and luscious. People are talking about the yellow shop that is opening on the rue Paulin Mery. It's nice to hear that it's catching their attention. This street is different than the rue de la Butte aux Cailles where L'OisiveThé is. It's a pedestrian street which is lovely feature for my shop because it's quiet. There is light all day which is bright and constant. There is a continual passage of people which will make people watching interesting from my counter inside. 

I showed my friends, Michele and Gyorgyi our progress and the shop front. I couldn't resist taking their photo today. Michele gave me a vintage tea set, complete with tea pot a full service of tea cup for me to use when I host my new weekly tricot-tea time. Gyorgyi is my sample knitter for L'OisiveThé. Both very good friends of mine who support me and my business every step of the way. People ask me how I do it alone? I tell them that I really dont. I have Julien who has been doing so much these last few weeks and in general with many back office things concerning L'Oisivethé. None of this would be possible without him. I have my friends who step up to help me in times of need and I have a great staff of girls working with me right now. 

I am lucky. I feel grateful. 

Soft opening of the shop should happen this weekend if all goes well... Orders have been made and they will start coming in this week. Haberdashery items, beads, notions, new yarns and knitterly objects to start with... I am one of those people who can't decide on what kind of display to have until I have everything in my hands. I have a feeling we will be building a lot of things from scratch to fit our space. The shop currently has one yarn shelf, a table and a comptoir de caisse that I had refurbished and I painted and waxed last week. 

Looking forward to showing you more but for now here is the yellow that makes me smile. I hope that it makes you smile too! 

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Maximilien & Alixe. 8 and 5 years old. 

 

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Mimi & Gyorgi in front of my new shop... name to be revealed soon. 


Two Boxes

From Hiro's blog: http://thehareandthecrow.tumblr.com/

Box photo 1

 

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Two boxes met upon the road,
Said one box unto the other,
“If I’m a box,
And you’re a box,
Then you must be my brother.
Our sides are thin,
We’re cavin’ in,
And we must get no thinner.”
And so two boxes, hand in hand,
Went home to have their dinner.

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” – Shel Silverstein

 

See my skein and how it's just a wee fat little thing. This photo was taken two days ago. Hiro has already started a another skein and knit through it and now here is that skein today:

 

Cosmicsister skeins

Mine is a just a bit smaller. Same skein. 

Conclusion: Hiro knits FAST. 

 

I tried on my sweater today! It looks so good and I am excited. we measured and it looks like I have 23 centimeters more to go before I start the pockets. 

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Since these photos were taken I have started a new skein... :)


Our Parisian summer vacation...

Quai de Tournelle

 

As many come to the city for their vacation this year we will be staying put. I'm a bit disapointed as things didn't work out as we had anticipated for our summer break. Lots of factors have played into the reason we are staying in Paris for the summer all of them not happy reasons to say the least but we are managing. We are all healthy and a summer in Paris won't drive us too crazy. As you know I grew up in Kansas and wide open spaces, nature and calmness were very common for me. I have always found city life intersting but I know my limits and I need a break. I wil try to find ways to find the calm I crave right here in the middle of this busy city I love. 

Last weekend, on an improptu notion to get out of the apartment my brother, William and I packed the kids up on the bikes and took them out for a ride down to the Seine. I really didn't have any other ideas in mind just wanted to see how easy it would be for my six year old to ride down on his own bike.  I was happy to see that it was very easy! In the 13th there are a lot of designated bike lanes so I rode with Maximilien on the inside of the lane while I rode next to him. When we came up to busy intersections we rode up on the sidewalk (children in France can ride on the sidewalk up to the age of 9 years old) and we'd cross at the crosswalk. We left from Place d'Italie and rode down Vincent Auriol towards the Seine. We arrived where the line 6 crosses the river and took the ramp down by the piscine Joséphine Baker onto the banks of the river. It is pretty bike friendly along this path all the way up to where we ended up stopping on the quai de Tournelle right across from Notre Dame.  

Map of our bike ride to the Eiffel Tower.

I was thrilled to find once I mapped our bike ride in Google Maps in their bike map which is in Beta that we had biked nearly 23km. Maximilien biked from Place d'Italie (Point A (and G)) to the Quai de Tournelle (point C) and kept up with my brother and I.

We arrived and decided to hang out a bit. We had a lovely vantage point of Notre Dame and prime seating to wave to tourists on the all the bateaux that were out on the Seine that evening. Maximilien sketched a bit. He captured the police boats driving at high speed on the river. He was very impressed. 

#namnam #alixeg #maximilieng #paris #latergram

Our wheels. #bike #familybike  #paris

Coloring on the quai. #maximilieng #alixeg #latergram

#alixeg #namnam #latergram

Who will wave back?

Julien joined us later and he brought along a picnic dinner. It was a lovely end of a moderately hot day in Paris. It seems we have broken away from the heatwave and returned to the low 20°C temperature. I am not complaining as I have highly enjoyed the evening thunderstorms we have had all this week. Reminds me of Kansas... 

We were fortunate enough to catch one of those evening storms at the end of our picnic. We were lazing about trying to decide on what to do when big fat rain drops fell from the sky. We hurried under the trees that lined the Quai de Tournelle and watched the brief thunderstorm. The sky was a mix of pink and purple and a bit of gray. It smelled like rain and it was magical watching the raindrops hit the Seine. 

It only rained for a few minutes just enough time to pull everyone away from the banks of the Seine. Just a couple teenagers left running around in the rain, I tried to spy a rainbow but captured this photo of Notre Dame instead.

Last night after the rain shower. #latergram

We quickly biked to the Eiffel Tower after  the rains stopped. We put Maximilien's bike in the basket of a Velib and we were off. We arrived at the Eiffel Tower just long enough to admire her in the golden hour of the day. The children started to yawn a bit so we knew it was time to head back. We rode straight back cutting through St. Germain, to Odeon to Boulevard de l'Hopital on our way back to Place d'Italie. One moment while riding past Les Deux Magots my brother turns back to me and says, "Look at the sky! It looks like Kansas!". And you know what? It really did...

 


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


Mollie Makes visits my tea house.

I recently friended a UK based American expat named Leigh who was visiting Paris on a extended trip. We hit it off from the start. She has a cute blog and an even cuter daugheter named Lois who Maximilien took a liking to immediately. Lois doesn't speak French but that didn't keep her from making fast friends with Max. You would never believe the conversations these two had a mismash of French and English and lots of laughing and wrestling. Lois can keep up with the boys for sure. No wonder Maximilien likes her so much. Leigh approached me about doing an article for a UK based magazine she contributes to. I was happy to let her come and snap photos of the shop and ask me a few questions about L'OisiveThé. This was weeks and weeks ago and I had forgotten about the photo shoot until right before Leigh's return to London she mentioned to me that her article about L'OisiveThé would be coming out in the May edition of Mollie Makes. I had no idea what to expect so when I was shocked when I received a tweet from a friend of a friend who lives in the UK about the article. Keris was so sweet and she scanned the FOUR page article about my shop! 

Shortly after, I recieved an email from Mollie Makes with the hi res scans of the article and I'd liket o share with you now:

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Thank you, Leigh for the wonderful write up and fabulous photos. The day the photos were taken it was a gray day and you would never believe it from the photos she took. Somehow she managed to get a good photo of me as well! I love all the little aspects of my shop she captured. I'm starting my fifth year owning L'OisiveThé and it's still as fun as it was the first day I opened. I love the new people I meet on a daily basis and am grateful that I am doing something I love. 


Ten

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.

Candles from our wedding 10 years ago. Today is our tenth wedding anniversary.  Candle lit dinner tonight in the midst of toys and laundry. This is our everyday life.

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...

Engagement Photo

 

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.


6 years ago...

Yesterday marks six years since my mother died. Typing the last three words is still so very hard. I hesitate every time but in the end I type it because it is what happened and I can't say it any other way.

Two years ago at this time I was preparing for the arrival of Alixe. With the passing of my mother I have learned one very important lesson: You have only one life. That means don't waste the time you have. I know with ever fiber of my being that my mother would be so proud of me right now because I haven't wasted time in the past six years. I had Maximilien, I opened L'OisiveThé, I had Alixe and now I consciously live my life with the thought that I only have this one life and I don't hesitate to make the big decisions. I would give up in a heart beat ...this confidence in my descision making to have my mother back but life is not like this and I can't live in a fantasy world. It's hard to think like this because I miss her so much. The pain in my heart is *still* there but now it's an expected emotion, my constant reminder to live my life. Move forward. Kiss my children and husband and tell them everyday how important they are to me. It reminds me to get out of bed and get moving because this is my life and I have to live. 

The last time I saw my mother was in 2003 just after Julien and I had gotten married the second time. Such a long time ago but still so very fresh in my mind. I remember holding my mother's hand in the airport before saying goodbye. She took a photo of us before going through the gate to our plane. I snapped one back of  my parents waving good bye to us through the glass plate window at MCI. This moment forzen in time in a photo was the very last time I saw her... she was happy and waving to us like she always used to do when we'd leave for school.

Now I wave the exact same way every morning from our kitchen window as Julien, Maximilien and Alixe leave to start their day. I don't think I can ever put to words how this loss has come to shape me. I still don't understand how to deal with it sometimes. I've come to the realization that I may never fully understand or accept.  My children are the best remedy when it comes to my grief. I understand what the five of us brought to our parent's lives. When I don't know how to deal I find my children and hug them. 

I live a life with loss. I won't kid you and say it's totally doable. I sometimes find myself in a panic of grief in public because this epic feeling overcomes me.  Yesterday while having lunch with Julien we both saw a woman sitting across the way and she could have been Omma today.  She was dressed like my mom and the way she sat and ate with her hair styled around her face reminded both of us of her.  Entranced and engulfed by my grief, I let the feeling wash over me. It is still so very hard and I have taught myself that it will be hard for the rest of my life. 


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.


Daily gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2, 3, 4 & 5

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

Here are shots my shots two through five:


2 :: 12

3::12

4::12

5::12

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


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.


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.


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)


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*
 


It's coming...

Max's third birthday. I can hardly believe it.

Tonight after dinner we made invitations for his friends from the creche that he'd like to invite to his party. He decided on inviting four boys and two girls.

53/365 : It's coming...

As you can probably tell which invitations are for his copain and which one is for his copine. Each invitation was especially made for his friends. I learned that Noé still uses his stroller and that Clement does not and that Guillaume likes boats and cars and he chose hearts and flowers for Sébastie, his girlfriend in his class. He also invited Aude because she's the smallest and Max has become her protector against the other boys. Ah, the social happenings of three year olds.

In search of comfort

Jan 9 - In search of comfort

Maximilien was in a very melancholic mood tonight. He came back from spending the night at his Mamoo's house asleep in his stroller. That was a sign to me that he had not slept well at nap time today.

I transferred him from the stroller to our bed knowing very well that he'd wake up and want to be somewhere he felt safe. "Mommy et Daddy's lit" is probably one of the safest places for a little boy his age. He woke up in tears and clutched on to me for dear life. I just sat and held my baby and waited until he felt better.

Well, better didn't come and he started to cry and hold on to me. I decided that it was PJ and ice cream in bed time with Toy Story to keep us company. I fed Alixe put her in the swing and she fell asleep (for once!). And I had the rest of the evening to devote to my boy.

I've been transitioning myself into this role of mama to two. Frankly, I've been afraid to take care of both kids alone. Fatigue causing a lot of the fears inside me but tonight I just decided no rules, forget dinner and I asked myself what do we need? We needed ice cream, pjs, movies and hugs. Though, we did eat some broccoli before ice cream because Max loves broccoli like it's candy.

Taken from my Year in Photos at Flickr.


Hands

Jan 5 - Hands

Hands.

Maximilien is obsessed with holding my hand. I admit that I love it. I loving holding my son's hand as we walk together. He grasps my hand when we cross the street. In the apt, when he wants me to come and play with him, he grabs my hand and says, "Come Mommy, come with me...". When we sit together and read or watch tv he is always holding my hand. Since Alixe's arrival he's been having a hard sleeping at night. I think this maybe his way of saying to us that he needs a little more attention. Usually in the middle of the night he crawls into our bed and comes and cuddles close to me. He always takes my hands into his and says, "petite carresse, Mommy?". A little cuddle? I say yes and he gently caresses my hands and rubs them against his cheek like it's his favorite dou dou.

The funny thing is, I used to do this to my own mother's hand when I was little (and as a teenager and young adult, I admit). My mother's hands were the softest things in the world and always brought me comfort. When I'd lay with my mom, I'd always hold her hand and like Max, rub the back of her hand against my cheek.

I couldn't believe how quickly the emotions welled up last night. As Max fell asleep, I quietly weeped missing my mother. I miss her immensely but I especially miss the simple gestures like hugging her or holding her hand. Holding her hand was one of my most favorite things. And for this to be one of my son's favorite things to do brings me so much happiness and sadness at the same time.


Hibernating

Mama et Alixe

We've been home just over a week now and life is starting to take a familiar routine. The late nights have started as Alixe seems to be a night owl and I repeat to myself everyday, "when baby sleeps, Mama sleeps." As hard as that is because sometimes I just want to knit or have a bit of face time with my husband, I am reminded at midnight when the night feedings begin that I should have taken that nap in the early evening. It's all a new learning curve for me. I have let go of "Max did this when he was this age" type of thinking because all it does it frustrate me because I think it would be easier if Alixe just did what I knew. Talking with a girlfriend on the phone, we reminded ourselves that we have to let go of the comparisons even though they are innocent on our part.  Alixe is a whole different baby. She doesn't get colicky like Max (thank goodness) but she is much more awake and aware than Max was at this stage. (There I am comparing again...) I enjoy the awake time with her but sometimes I run of things to sing and do with her because she's awake for like 4 hours straight sometimes.  I've taken to swaddling her when I notice she's getting tired but fighting sleep. I am finally getting good use out of the Miracle Blanket I bought for Max which didn't work because he was  brut and he'd break out of it. But with Alixe, she likes it just fine. We call her the burrito baby now. 

Snapshot: Wednesday Morning

So, the weather has turned quite cold in Paris. And in turn, we've been hibernating in our apt. Our bedroom has become command central of our apartment. I spend probably 85 percent of my day here, either laying in bed or sitting in the rocker by the heater and window.  Julien has stocked our frige and freezer full of food so that we wouldn't have to run out for anything (except fresh mlik) and we've had continuous pajama days at the Gille house. Maximilien is feeling much better. It turns out he had an ear infection on top of the lung congestion he was battling and was finally prescribed antibiotics for his ear. He is completely smitten with his sister. Everday after the Creche he comes home and immediately asks where Alixe is and goes to see her. We have a routine of him taking off his shoes, washign his hands and then kissing his sister. It's so very cute. Now instead of Mommy getting the first morning kiss, it's Alixe who gets kisses first. 

December 17th: SNOW!

We were teased all this week with low temperatures but no snow! What's the point of it being so cold if there's no snow?! Growing up in Kansas, we always had snow at this time of the year. Always had a white Christmas and probably much to the chagrin of our parents snow days from school! And snow always makes me think about my mother. She loved the snow. Today is her birthday and always for her birthday there was snow. I still have vivid memories of my mother bundling up with a homemade scarf wrapped around her standing at the door waving goodbye to us as the school bus would take us to school. Winter time always meant fires in the fire place, homemade cookies and pies and her birthday. I was down this morning when I woke up. I shuffled to the kitchen to get a drink without even looking out the window. I then came back to the bedroom, scooped up Alixe and walked over to the window and saw the snow. I immediately felt better because I felt like it was a little wink from Omma saying hello. 


30 of 30 - The Belly

30 of 30 - last belly shot 30 of 30 - last belly shot 2 

Well, there you have it! The Belly. I just measured it and it's at 49 inches. Two weeks before delivering Maximilien I was at 49 inches. So, perhaps BB will be a bit smaller than Max but still she's going to be a BIG girl. I'm packed and ready to go. I'm just sitting here busying myself until Julien and Max get home from the Creche. I'm going to spend a couple hours with Max and then have to go check into the maternité. I'm scheduled for a 7:45am operation. BB will be here before 8am Paris time Tuesday morning! 

The little elephant in the photo is Max's bébé elephant that he's been carrying around with for over a week now. We found him a big and little elephant that he's been calling Mommy elephant and bébé elephant. Lately, he has been into comparing everything as petit or gros. Especially Mommy's bidon (belly) and Max's bidon which is very svelthe and petit, he makes sure to point out to me every day. 

Max is about to become a Grand Frere to his Petite Soeur. Let the baby adventure begin....


29 of 30 - Perspective

Thanksgiving 2009 (69 of 79) 

Here I am taking a break while my belly digests a belated Thanksgiving meal. I'm grateful for all the friends I have made here in Paris. They have become my family away from home. Friends that share a lot of the same values as I do and people that I just have a lot of fun with! We joked about how this meal would be my "last supper" before BB's arrival. Technically I can eat lunch before I enter into the hospital but after the dinner I had tonight I highly doubt I will be hungry tomorrow at lunch time. In less than 24 hours I will be admitted into the hospital and will have to spend the night before being prepped for my AM operation. I can't believe we're almost there...

   Thanksgiving 2009 (49 of 79) 

If you asked Maximilien where his "petite soeur" is? He will respond, "Mommy's ventre". I then I ask him who is "grand frere" and he points to himself and says very proudly, "moi!". I can't believe that my first born baby is going to be a grand frere very, very soon. He still lets me hold him like a baby and he still nuzzles my neck in search of butterfly kisses and calin from Mommy. Two more days until our little girl will be here. Last night I was up until 3am baking pumpkin pies and up at 8am this morning ready to go. Sleep is the last thing on my mind thought I know I should get some rest before the big day but I am too excited to sleep. I was playing the Mamarazzi tonight at the party taking photos of everyone. I felt like a million bucks. The adrenaline was flowing and I can still feel it now. So, I guess I'll put it to good use and go do a few loads of laundry before bed tonight. 

 Two more days!!


23 of 30 - One more week....

I'm deviating away from my photo project for a moment. I'm not feel very motivated to pick up my camera. The battery is on charge and I'll just leave it like that for now. 

7 more days

Since last Weds, I've been pretty uncomfortable. Getting up and walking from the bathroom to my bedroom (13 meters) I can feel my uterus contract and I hunch over walking like quaisimodo at snails pace. The most comfortable positions for me are sitting down or laying on my side with pillows propped up around me. 

Listen to me. Aren't you tired of me complaining. I am tired of complaining. 

I can't believe that Tuesday of next week I'll have children. I remember talking with someone at the bakery right after Max was born and talking about "mon enfant" and how it sounded so weird to say that. Just as right after Julien and I had been married and me coming to work and talking about my husband. I was 25 and and talking about my husband to my colleagues. That kinda blew my mind back then...

I'm more surprised with the new terms that I have to start using then the action of executing these terms. When I became a Wife, nothing really changed except that I had a husband to come home to and make dinner for and spend time with. But getting used to be introduced as someone's Wife made me blush. When I became an Expat, I just had to learn to live in a new country and find my little piece of home. But saying that I was an Expat took getting used to.  When I became a Mother, I just followed my instincts and everything worked out fine. But saying that I was a Mother after Max was born made me feel like I should have wisdom before my years. When I became a Business Owner, I again followed my instincts and try my hardest to be as responsible as I could. But the stress of knowing that I was Business Owner is something that I am still getting used to.  And now becoming Mother x 2, I assume that nothing else is going to change from the first time around. If anything, I feel more relaxed and prepared. But saying outloud to a friend on the phone today that I will have children. Made me giggle and pause because wow, I'm going to have CHILDREN. 

When I first got pregnant with BB, I used to wonder if I could love BB as much as I loved Max. I love Max with every fiber of my being. I can feel it when we're laying together talking to each other, playing, eating dinner or just looking at each other. I can feel that he feels it too. But as I type this, inside my heart, I know that I will have this for BB. It's just there waiting to burst out of me like it does for Max. This is why I can't wait until she's here. Not because I am physically drained from this pregnancy. I feel like my life has been on hold for the last few months waiting for it start again. Waiting for us to become a family of 4. Waiting for me to become the Mother to my Children. 

One more week to go, little girl. Your brother is anxious for your arrival. He asks when you'll be here and where you are every morning when he looks into your crib. I think he thinks that when he wakes up in the morning that you'll magically be there.  When you do arrive, it will sort of seem like that for him because I will be gone for a week in the maternity when I go off to have you, BB. But I think you and your brother, Max, are going to be best friends. Yesterday, I caught him singing the theme song to Max and Ruby and instead of singing Ruby he sang your name instead. THIS is why I can't wait for your arrival. Mama is waiting for you....


20 of 30 days - My little helper

20 of 30 - My little helper 

I can foresee that Max is going to be my big helper once BB arrives. Nearly every night for the last two weeks I've been baking in the last week or so he's shown interest in helping Mommy out. He pulls over his green Stokke chair and climbs up it like a ladder and asks what he can do "aide Mommy". His official job is to raise and lower the bowl to my mixer and he holds to it for dear life as it mixes and he alerts me when he thinks its done. I keep having these moments where I catch myself staring at Max and can't believe my eyes at how big he seems. His legs are so long. His face is looking less like a baby. How big his hands are. He articulates himself so well using new words everyday. It's impossible to grasp at all these moments but I'm trying my to do my best to get some of the good ones in photos in words.


18 of 30 - Comfort things

18 of 30 - Reblocking Lady E

I refreshed Lady Eleanor yesterday. This is a shawl/scarf I knit a few years ago right after my mom passed away. It was a large knitting project that helped to get my mind off things. At the time I was unemployed and just needed to be. Every year, I reblock her so she's nice and fresh for the fall/winter season. She brings me a lot of comfort when I wear her. There is a lovely feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with wearing your own handmade designs. This is something I learned from my mom from an early age. She always wore her own scarves she made and in turn I loved wearing them too. For now, I have her scarves and handknit treasures packed away safely in an air tight container. Saving them for the day that I can share them with my kids, mostly BB because they are very girly. I hope that BB will love them as much as I do. 


14 of 30 - Change

14 of 30 - Change


There's going to be so much change coming into this little boy's life very soon. We're preparing as much as we can but as much as we wish we could plan it all out, I think we'll just have to take each day at a time. As we approach BB's birthday, Maximilien continues to grow and change everyday. He's such a chatter box. Speaking up phrases in French and English. Mixing the two languages to the delight of both of his parents. 

This morning we went and got Max his haircut at the salon across the street from the tea house.  This is Stephane, my coiffieur extraordinaire, cutting my big boy's hair. It's funny how after each haircut Max seems so grown up yet I still see my little baby in his face. I know that when BB arrives there will be a moment when it hits me that Max really is a big boy. But I still have a few weeks to hang on to these special moments together. Just us. Me and my first born baby.


11 & 12 of 30 days - The 50mm is still on the kitchen counter.

Well, I got caught up in life and my camera was left at home. These days I can't carry much around with me because I'm carrying a 4kg+ baby in my belly. I've been caught up getting the tea house and my staff up to speed before I go off line and have my baby and will be absent for a week. It's still three weeks away but I gotta start now because that's just how I roll. 

We had a huge turn out for knitting last night at the tea house. It was very exciting to see so many knitters in one place. My little tea house was busting at it's seams we barely had enough chairs for everyone. I went and helped out with the dishes and watched everyone knitting around me and it warmed my heart. I watched my dream happening right before my eyes. I silently thanked Omma for her help because I know without her watching over me I wouldn't have been able to do it alone. 

With each turn in my life, I find myself looking up at the sky and thanking my mother for her guidance. I can't explain why I know she's right here with me I just know it. I feel it. I used to write that I would prefer that she be here physically. I think it's something that doesn't need to be said. Anyone who has lost a loved one would prefer that but this feeling of knowing that she is here with me spiritually is a powerful one. And it has helped me get through many difficult times in my life. 

I remember when I was in the operating room having Max and that feeling of panic and dread came over me.  I was panicking and speaking in English and no one in the operation room could understand me. I swear there was a moment when I heard my mother's voice saying to me in Korean that it was okay. over and over again. And right at that moment my doctor leaned over the partition and said to me in French, that it was ok and showed me my pink, chubby baby. Panic and dread faded away and I drifted off into unconsciousness. 

Last night I couldn't sleep. I would close my eyes and have these mini dramas in my mind and be forced to wake up. Talking with my brother today he told me that last night he had slept terribly as well. It was 4 years ago today that my mother passed away. I hadn't been keeping track of the day but somehow my subconscious was. It is inevitable that I think about my mother at this time in my life. I'm about to give birth to my second child and taking that trip of becoming a mother to a newborn again. I think as mothers we inevitable think about our own moms. I remind myself that life is cyclical and that this is all part of my cycle of life. As hard as it is I have to keep on going. I feel her hand on my back guiding me along the way and I know it's going to be okay. 


5 of 30 - Everyday Julien

5 of 30 - Everyday Julien

You guys remember this guy, right? Here we are at Ikea. I think we've been to this place 4 times in one month. We're bad at making lists and always find that we need something else once we get home. There are several Ikeas that are not that far from our house so we can go pretty easily but it's not always easy for Julien and I to go together because Ikea stresses us out. I think it's the fact there's just too much stuff offered and we get overloaded. We used to fight all the time when we'd go but recently we've both decided it's not worth it and we go, get in and get out. And eat donuts and smoothies while we're there because they are mighty tasty. 

But looking at my husband in this photo fills my heart with love because this is my everyday husband. Not the one who gets up and shaves and puts on a suit to look like all the other business types in Paris. Sure, he looks hot when he does that but this is the Julien I prefer. Unshaven. Rough around the edges. My everyday man. 

I am hard on him and I know I haven't been a walk in the park this pregnancy because I haven't felt all that good but I look forward to moving forward once the baby is here and being a better wife. 


4 of 30 - The Fall before the baby

4 of 30 - The Fall before the baby

34 weeks in the only pair of shoes that fit me now. 


Walking home from the La Poste a lone tree in the Parc de Choisy caught my attention. It reminded me of home and how the trees between Olathe and Lawrence would turn yellow, red and orange and make the hillsides look like they were on fire from a distance. 

This is the last fall season before I have two children. I am still trying to get my head around that. We'll go from a family of three to a family of four. And this time next year, BB will be crawling and Max for sure will be jumping his way through the leaves on his way to school. 


The state of our union

I start my maternity leave tomorrow. And I have to say that I need it. This pregnancy has been very exhausting. Even though my life circumstances are different now, I'm working full time and have a toddler to chase after, physically this pregnancy has been much harder on me. The all day sickness I suffered the first three months lasted more like five months and then while traveling to the US I developed a blood clot in my upper extremity. A lot to deal with and all the while juggling being a mama, a wife, an entrepreneur, and trying not to get lost in it all. I welcome maternity leave tomorrow. I need it. 

Us

We had our third trimester scan on Monday and BB is scanning in as big as Max at this time. Based on the length of her leg bones and the circumference of her head she's weight in at 2.1kgs (4.6 lbs) already. I found out that I tested negative for gestational diabetes which was a huge relief since I had a sinking feeling I had it. But not because of the medication I have to take everyday until the end of the pregnancy I must go in every 10 days for blood work to monitor my platelets level. Want to know the best way to cure your fear for needles, well there you have it. One thing that I am glad for is I haven't gained much weight this pregnancy. I think I've gained 6lbs the entire pregnancy which is a record for me. It also makes me worry that something is wrong because I know my body and I just don't do this. 

Something new that has occurred lately is this unnerving sense of doom I feel all the time which turns to utter complete stress for me. I keep feeling like something is going to happen to my business while I'm not there. A fire or we'll be burgled. I keep telling my husband that we need to change the car seat in my MIL's car for Max because I don't feel like it's safe enough for him and i have these dreams that he's in a car accident and something terrible happens. I am sure these feeling of unease are due to the pregnancy and stress of running my own business but I don't know what to do to really deal with them. Therapy? Well, that's what I use my blog for...

On to more cheery subjects, Maximilien is doing great these days. We've transitioned him to a full size twin bed and he loves it. Where as in his make shift toddler bed he looked so big in the full size bed he looks so small. But he's not a baby anymore. He's talking in complete sentences in French and in English. He jumping and climbing higher than Mama would like. He's affectionate and as obedient as a two year old can be. And he's very excited about the baby in Mama's bidon. Everyday he says, bonjour to his sister and calls her by her name (yes, we've found the perfect name!!). And he pays close attention to Mama's bidon so that I won't get too many bobos on it. I medicine I must take for the blood clot is an injection that I administer to my love handles and often they leave bruises. This worries Max and he checks everyday to make sure there aren't any new bobos on Mama's bidon. 

Love

I am preparing myself for the arrival of BB and I know that I won't believe I'm having another baby until she's here. Every night I go and check on Max before going to bed and so the same thing I've done since the day he was born. I stroke his head and tell him that I love him. Kiss his hands and cheeks and smell his baby scent. Soon, I will have two...


Perfectly imperfect

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.

  Perfectly imperfect 

 As I type this entry there is a pile of laundry that's been on the kitchen table for a day or so and I keep neglecting to fold it because I'd rather do things like blog. Gasp. :) And you know what else? My husband and I fight. We're not perfect and us fighting shows me that we aren't. And I think I can admit out-loud that I am okay with that. But vow to make us better by working on my little imperfections. 

Pregnancy productivity

or I should say creativity. 


Something about being pregnant and working on a knit project just is a perfect match. The process of making something that I will wrap my baby in when she's born brings enormous comfort to me. I hope this blanket will do the same for her.  

I recently learned how to crochet. And I mean in the most basic form that I can make a chain and then do one technique over and over again. Thanks to a sweet gal who attends TricoThé every week she has taught me her wisdom of crochet and I have started this baby blanket for BB. Baby blanket detail
It's very similar to the granny squares that most of us know. I mean I'm sure each of our grandmothers had some version of a blanket like this draped over their couch. I decided to use some lovely Rowan hand knit cotton in an array of bright colors. Something soft and colorful for this our baby who will be born in the middle of winter. I've been averaging about two hexagons an evening before bed and hopefully over summer break I will make some progress on the blanket.

Anyone looking for an easy patch work style blanket to do I highly recommend making a crochet blanket. It's an easy project to keep as an ongoing project while working on other things as well, like baby sweaters.

My daily pick me up

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.



Maximilien prend le métro from jagerog on Vimeo.


Chooni, our family cat...

passed away yesterday. She was an old girl. 14 years old (maybe 15 we're still discussing when she was actually born) and quite possibly the best cat anyone could have asked for. Her passing is hard for me because it makes me think of my mom. She always reminds me of the many chat sessions we'd have and she'd tell me that Chooni was her lap and then she'd jump on the keyboard. Omma always said Chooni knew when she was talking to me. She was my mom's lap cat. My brother's girlfriend. My sister's roommate. A constant companion to each of us. Boozie. Snoozie. Chooni baby. We each had our nicknames for her. I just didn't think she's go this early.  A little selfish of me to hope that we'd get a few more years with her.

Last night, I layed down with Max and cuddled with him as he fell asleep. Thinking about Chooni and remembering when she was a kitten how she'd come into my room at night and slink across the room and with her kitty stelth-ness she jump into my bed and inch her way across to me. As a young kitty, she liked to sleep nestled by my head and some how later in the night I'd wake up up to her sleeping next to me a bundle of purring softness.  Even the last time I saw her, I had Maxmilien in tow. He was an exploring 9 month old often mesmerized by chooni. He'd coo at her and she'd keep her distance observing this little human who she did not recognize. Only at night when Max was sleeping would she come to sleep with me. She'd smell Max and come and find her spot on the other side of Max. Finally the last night we spent at my sister's apt did she come and cuddle next to Max. It was her way of saying to me that she'd accept this little human.

  Statuesque Chooni

I am feeling melancholy today. I will miss her. But I feel a bit of comfort knowing that Omma has her lap cat again.


Daily Linkage Love

I updated my Daily Link portion of my blog. I should call it something else instead of Daily link. I don't change it on a basis anymore. Anyway... on to the links: The first one is to an online friend named Cindy Pon. I have been reading her blog for as long as I can remember blogs being around. She is going to be a publish author and she deserves it. I can not wait to get her books and put them on my shelves at the tea house.  Check out her blog and her paint and prose blog as well. She's a beautifully talented Chinese brush artist as well.

Next is a design blog that I have been drawing a lot of inspiration from. It's called Decor8. As I am in the midst of redecorating the tea house with a huge overhaul happening in August, I am looking fresh new ideas and only have time to do it between customers and using only the Internet.

Finally, I wanted to show you a photographer that has captivated me for the last few months with her portraits with her children. She goes by InkyBlack on Flickr. I am going to be starting a new photography project soon and now you know where I found my inspiration for this project.

What links have you guys been into lately? Do share...

And there are hard days...

I dropped Max off at Tata's. He was quietly sitting in his stroller as we approached her door.  The hallway dark as I hadn't tripped the minuterie to light the way.  I stood for a second before turning on the light but then Tata opened the door and was waiting for us.  She greeted us with a warm smile and reached out to get Max out of the stroller. She glanced at me and her face changed. I guess I wasn't hiding my feelings very well. I was wearing my emotions like a huge billboard across my forehead. 

Just a few minutes before arriving to Tata's, Max and I strolled through the park by her apt and I saw a group of older women practicing Tai Chi.  The build of these women, the way they held their hands and the way they fixed their hair reminded me so much of my mother. One woman in particular was intrigued by my presence and she studied my face. A smiled appeared and she waved. I smiled back shyly and I felt the tears stinging my eyes. Any one of those women could have been my mother. I wished that she was one of them.

Tata motioned for me to come in and I went and sat down on the her couch as she filled me in on the day's activities. Max was going to be Tata's only charge for the day as the other two children were on vacation.  I hugged Max to begin the goodbye process and he grasped tightly to my coat.  Tata watched but mostly looking at me, studying my face.  I felt the tears rising. I quickly stood up and I said "bye bye" to Max and he waved and said, "Ba, ba, Ma Ma". Before I ever realized it I was crying. I rushed for the door because I did not want Tata to see me upset.  When I am missing my mother and someone asks me what's wrong, I can not lie and say it's something else. I tell them that my mother died and I miss her. But responses like this make people uncomfortable so I try to avoid them if I can.  She stood in the doorway, shielding Max with her shoulder. I stood in the dark hallway pressing the elevator button as sheets of tears streamed down my face.  As I turned to bid them goodbye,  Tata quickly mentioned that Max shouldn't see me upset because that would only upset him. But I looked back at Max with tears in my eyes and he smiled and reached out for me. Giving me a sympathetic smile. One I've seen so many times when I am sad and missing my mom.  I said, "bye bye" and let the elevator door close.

Should I let Max see me upset? Of course, he should see me upset.  If anything, Max has seen the entire array of emotions that I own.  I don't cry everyday but I do cry most days. I miss my mom and I tell Max that everyday. We look at her photo and I talk about her to him. He clutches the photo and gives it kisses. I honestly believe he  understands. 

In the afternoon, I went to pick up Max and he was so excited to see me. He held his arms out to me, letting me falls into them as I inhaled his sweet baby scent.  The melancholia of today just seemed to melt away in that moment.  Walking home in the rain as my Converse sloshed and my wool coat hung heavy on my shoulders, I felt better. I imagined my mom if I had the chance to tell her about the cafe and I could see her reaction. Her clap and little jump that she'd do when she was excited about something. And before I knew it I was imitating her. I was standing in front of Max in the stroller clapping and jumping and Max broke into a series of baby giggles and clapped himself. 

I will never hide my feelings from Max. Omma never hid hers from me and that is one of the strongest memories I keep of her.


6 years

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?


30 Days :: 30

30 Days :: 30

Today has been a rather long and surreal day. I had resolved myself to think one thing and at the end of the day it changed after finding out some news that will change our lives drastically. In a good way, of course. 

We celebrated. Just Julien and I. Max slept. We ate a homemade dinner and watched tv. Put raspberries in our champagne and looked at each other feeling the same thing. Relief.

This is the end of my 30 day photography project and it's quiet coincidental that on the last day of this project we got the news we've been waiting for.

I bet you're wondering what the heck is going on?

I'm feeling a bit tipsy after having one too many glasses of champagne to write the entire story here, right now. So on that note, I leave you but with a promise of a good story tomorrow.


I feel love, I feel life.

"Oh my love for the first time in my life,
My eyes are wide open..."

Walking today, enjoying the a beautiful, crisp fall day with my son I am overwhelmed with love for him as he turns his head as far as he can to look up at me from the Maclaren. He flashes me a half gummy, two toothed smile.  He reaches up to me. I grasp his hand. He laughs. My senses are flooded with so much love. 

I come home to find the power is back on in my apartment. It's been out all day. And I find an email from my husband timed just as the power was due to come on telling me that he loved me.

And I happened to open iTunes and randomly John Lennon's Oh My Love plays. Such a perfect song to explain what I feel. How beautifully Lennon phrases how simply life can be so full with just love.


Incomplete

I jerk myself out of bed tonight to write down the words that are pouring from my brain. The are pulling me back to a place that I have chosen to forget about for a while now. I'm too happy being a mother to let myself live these sad feelings. But sometimes it's just stronger than I can withstand. The sad emotions come flooding out of me. Mostly at night when I lay down to go to sleep.

Words over come my brain as I try to sleep. Things I wish I could have said to her. Letters I should have written when I had then chance. 

I find old birthday cards with her delicate handwriting on them and I find myself 8 years old again watching her write notes to remind herself of new words she had learned.

After my mother died, I went through her desk just looking at her things. It was her new desk at the new house. A new desk with a new mac computer.  I never knew her there. I only remember the old desk at the old house. The old desk that had her old IBM laptop on it. The old desk that kept her bobbles and such. Her address books and pencils and note cards. I went through her new desk at the new house just hoping to find something she had perhaps written to me. Maybe a letter or a note. Just something telling me something I didn't know. I hoped to find the letter that would tell me everything I would ever need to know. But of course, this would never happen as my mother didn't know she was going to die. Letters like these are only written when you know...

Before Max was born I often questioned myself why I even kept this blog anymore. It started out as something fun to pass the time. A journal of silly thoughts I had about living in France. But as the years have gone by (I have been at this for over 4 years now) I have found my blog to be a way for me to record my life.  There are so many little things I have forgotten. And now I hope that someday Maximilien and perhaps my other children will have a place to read my thoughts and dreams. And they won't be left wondering if I had left them the letter somewhere in my messy desk drawer.

I feel torn between two worlds right now. My present life and the life that stopped violently the day my mother died. Part of me feels like this is a vicious dream that will never end. I dig through the sheets trying to claw my way to the surface only to find that I am still asleep and unable to awaken myself. The other part of me is living the happy life that I am destine to live. Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister. I am these things. But underneath I am sad. Very sad. And incomplete.


Free Hugs

While taking a stroll near Hotel de Ville, this guy caught my attention. Actually, I spotted him from a distance taking this   lovely photo of the Hotel de Ville basking in the setting sun. We headed over to see what was going on. In the middle of the capharnaüm going on in front of the Hotel de Ville we see this guy peddling free hugs .  Most people pass him by without glancing at him. A few look confused asking, "Mais qu'est-ce que c'est un HUG??" and a couple   bystanders give in and go and get their free hug.  As did Julien and I... we were his first 2 1/2 person hug.  When asked why he was doing this he just said "Comme ca...J'aime bien donner des câlins"

I responded, Ca tombe bien, moi aussi... :)


Check out this video on Free Hugs. And an interview with the guy who started the Free Hug Movement.