Mama Ramblings Feed

Maximilien likes: Les Cartes Pokémon

I can't tell you how many times a day I hear these words. Since the end of school my children have developed a true passion (obsession) for these cards. In June, Julien and I had picked up some used cards for Maximilien who had started talk about them pretty much everyday after school. As we are some of the youngest parents in the class the other kids have older siblings who have already passed down their wisdom of Pokemon cards to their younger siblings. Maximilien came home talking ot us about PV (HP), powers, strength, EX, X, evolution and so much more... my head started to spin as Alixe started to copy her brother and wanted her own set of cards as well. Luckily, I have a friend who had twin boys who are nearing the end of the Pokemon phase. They are 11 years old. Though she told me they still play sometimes and that I should never get rid of any cards until Maximilien decides it is time. I have been talking to other parents about this and some say the Pokemon card trend lasts a couple years starting at the end of grande section (kindergarden) and going all the way through the end of elementry school. Once the kids go off to collège (middle school), the Pokemon card trend ends. Sometimes...

My brother, William who was born in 1984 missed the trend of the Pokemon cards. I am not sure when it started though I do remember watching the Pokemon cartoon a few times at the University Kansas because some people were watching the cartoon on the floor's tv. I admit Pikachu is cute. 

So, it's been les cartes pokémon this and les carte pokémon that... "Can I have my pokemon cards on the bus?" "Can I have my pokemon cards at the dinner table?" "Can you bring my pokemon cards when you pick me up from school?" Beause they have been forbidden from school because of kids getting too worked up over trading cards and who has this card and that card. Maximilien actually had a rare EX card and didn't realize the value of the card and had a classmate trick him out of it. We were able to get the card back eventually and then Max had some lessons about Pokemon cards from my friend's sons and now he knows if he has an EX card. They stay at home.  

These cards have become an integral part of Max and Alixe's play lately. Maximilien and Alixe actually play pretty well together when they play Pokemon. Julien and I don't know the rules to the game as they change each time they play. I know alixe likes the cute cards like Pikachu which she has two cards and she is always looking at them and carrying them around with her. Maximilien is really into drawing the Pokemon characters which I love bcause I find that he is a very talented artist. He loves to draw and color and I prefer a millions time that he sit down to drawn than watch tv or play on his iPod. I do have to limit the card play because they will start fighting and we have periods of the day when the cards have to be put away. It is funny that I know so much about these cards but only other mothers of boys this age can relate. 

With Max's discovery of Pokemon cards he has gotten back into drawing again. This makes me so happy beacuse I really think he is a talented artist. I am really looking forward to see how his drawing skills evolve over the coming school year. I have found him a comic book drawing class where over the school year they will work on comic book drawing skills and story writing. At the end of the year they will publish their own bande desinée (comic book). 


My friend's sons gave Maximilien a huge stash of Korean Pokemon cards which Max is very proud to have because no one else at school has them. I've started to teach Max the Korean alphabet and as you can see he is starting to learn to write in Korean. It's going to be an interesting year language wise for us. 


What brings you back...

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

Last day of Grand Section & Petite Section

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's a new year...

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

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

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

Maximilien's letter to Santa.

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

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

Nöel 2012

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

Nöel 2012

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

Nöel 2012

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

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

on the train in Paris

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


One of 600

I was up late night and caught an article come across on the Huffington Post about a sweet knitting related initative to make 600 monsters for the students at Sandy Hook elementary school. Since I couldn't sleep I jumped on Ravelry to search for the group that started this idea.  I absolutely love the knitting community. Such great people. I found the guidelines for the monsers and cast on immediately...

WIP: one of 600 monsters for Connecticut

She's not quite finished yet as you can see. I was able to get her stuffed, sewn up and legs attached tonight at TricoThé, my weekly knitting group at my tea house.  Also, I have to decide on how to make her a mouth. :)

A few of the other knitters have joined in and we are going to send a small French army of monsters to show our support and love. Knitting has always been a big source of comfort for me in difficult time. I pretty much have been knitting nonstop for the last few weeks because of end of the year stress and now just to try to get my mind off things. It's been helpful to work on this monster knowing that it will find it's way to someone special very soon. 


Not coming back

After what happened to the kids in Sandy Hook,  I have been very introspective. I catch myself watching my kids doing the most mundane things like putting on their socks and even standing back and watching them bicker before stepping in. I keep thinking about those parents who lost so much that day. I can't believe what happened. I just can't wrap my mind around it. I haven't been watching the news. The last thing I caught on the news here in France was a clip of some news program where someone was saying that if the teachers had guns they could have defended themselves. What? The only things I see now are what friends are posting on Facebook and even that I am not really reading. I just can't. It's too painful. I can't stop thinking about those parents who lost so much. 

Maximilien caught me crying today while I was cleaning up the kitchen. He asked me why I was sad? He thought I was missing my mother as he knows that this time of the year is hard for me with the anniversary of her death just a few weeks ago and her birthday this week. But this time I told him that I was sad because of something terrible that happened in America. Keeping it very simple for him I just told him that many children had died and that Mommy was sad about it. Then he said to me, "They died and they are never coming back again. Their parents must be so very sad about that. If you died and never came back to me I would be sad too". His understanding of my sadness stunned me. It also reminded me that he was remembering a video we had watched a year ago about death. It was a clip from Sesame Street that I found to help explain where my mother was because he was asking a lot of questions and I needed to help explaining it to him. Apparently this video has gone viral since the tragedy in Connecticut. 

Reading another expat's blog tonight about her thoughts about the tragedy and her closing thoughts about raising her family in Australia, got me thinking about how recently I have really settled into my life here in France and that I can't imagine raising my kids anywhere else. My life was different when I left the US to move to France. I was a newly wed and children were not even a thought in our minds at that time. For the first years living in France I thought that I would move back to the US, back to all the things I tried to cram into my suitcase during that once a year visit to see my family. Gradually, I crammed less and less things into my suitcase each trip back. Then my mother passed away and things like health care and job security and having a baby really preoccupied my mind. I started my family and then providing the best life possible for these little people in my life became priority number one. Life in France became the only life I knew... I know how to be a mother in this country. It's intuitive here though to people who live outside France may find it strange or difficult. Learning about this tragedy in Connecticut makes me sick with worry for my friends back home. Friends who have kids my kid's age. How could this have happened? What is going to be done so it won't happen EVER again? No one is really talking about what happened in the US around me. I breifly talked to Julien about it and he is at a loss of words as much as I am. Only one person has mentioned it to me about that news and it was a customer at the tea house. He asked me what I thought and I was brief with my response as it got my very emotional and he said to me in a very matter of fact fashion that something like this would never happen in France. Not knowing the statistics or even the actual gun laws here in France, I agreed with him.  I just feel like this would never happen here.  In the ten years I have lived here I have never heard of tragedy like what happened in Sandy Hook. He was trying to comfort me by saying that because he knows Maximilien is the age of the victims but am I wrong to think that something like this would never happen in France? 

In any case, I find myself watching my babies sleep at night and I haven't been able ot get to sleep at a decent hour because I keep thinking about the parents who no longer have their babies. How could this have happened? 

Three year olds party it up

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

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

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

The fabulous Gille family.

Mama and her three year old (!).

Love these two so much.

Silly Girl.

A little quiet time.

Happy Birthday to Alixe!

Happy Birthday!

I love balloons too.


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

Alixe, my almost three year old...

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

Alixe almost three

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

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

Loving that she is the center of attention.

She loves the camera.

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

Alixe & Maximilien, November 2012

Solitary Mama

One thing that has always struck me hard since I moved to Paris is the sometimes overwhelming feeling of lonliness. I don't know what it is about this city but I often find myself feeling very alone. Nowadays, there are always people around me. I spend everyday working at the tea house surrounded by my customers and yet I feel very apart from everyone one of them. The only time I really don't feel alone is when I pick my kids up from school. Anytime I spend with my kids I never feel alone... I mean literally I can't go to the bathroom alone but just being around them and doing things for them makes me feel better. 

Anyway... today I spent the entire day working to prepare for my up coming tradeshow. I was feeling distracted all day and it was fine until two mothers that I know from my kid's school came into the tea house with their kids. The kids are the same age as Max and Alixe but in different classes. I knew both mothers seperately but didn't realize that they were friends themselves. I greeted them to get in a return a very cold, "bonjour". I wasn't sure if it was me misintpreting them until about 30 minutes after they arrived they asked me where my kids were? There was something in their eyes and the weird way they asked that made me feel, in that moment, very alone. I told them they were at the centre de loisir. The other mother asked with a sort of snotty tone why I would leave them at school if they could come and play at the tea house. I was taken aback and sort of caught speechless. This same mother and I had had this converstion about 6 months ago when she was alone and she had asked me (in a much nicer tone) where my kids were. I explained to her then that I can't work properly with my kids pulling for my attention at all times. Don't get me wrong, I love when Max and Alixe are at the tea house with me. They are there a lot but this week they are not because I have A LOT of work to do. But you know what? This woman doesn't care about that. I felt judged right then... and any explanation was going to be wasted on her judging regard. I snapped out of my silent stupor and looked at the clock and exclaimed with a smile, "Well, it's time to go get the kids now isn't it?". Grabbed my things, said goodbye to my employee who was closing for me and I rushed out the door. Good thing the cold air hit my face because I felt like I was going to burst into tears. 

Those two mothers have been equally nice to me on seperate occasions but together tonight they were rude to me. They kept looking at me over their shoulders when I worked and I wondered if they were talking about me. Now I know they were... 

What is with French mothers? Why do they do this me? This isn't the first time other parents in my kids classes have snobbed me. I over heard a father of a child in Max's class who never sees me except at the park tell his kid in French that he didn't want her talking to THAT MOTHER and he glanced at me just as I was looking at him. I don't think this man has ever heard me speak French. He only sees me after school with the kids at the park. I usually sit alone and only speak in English with my kids. He probably thought I didn't even speak French or something stupid like that... he was for sure speaking loud enough for me to hear him though. It's just so shitty. I hate this childish behavior coming from adults. 

Even taking Alixe to her first friend's birthday party where the parents and I have "known" each other for over two years because these were creche parents who kids now go to school with Alixe. I say "known" because they know who I am but they don't know anything about me.  I am La Maman Americaine. I am constantly referred to like that. I , on the other hand, don't know anything about them either because they never take the time to talk to me. If I make an effort to set up a playdate with the other kid it's usually their nanny that drops the kid off and picks them up. 

I  want to come back to the two mothers who were in the tea house today silently judging me. Those two women were able to make me feel so utterly alone in that moment. I don't know how French mothers do that but they do... One thing that drives me crazy when these two mothers come to the tea house is that their kids make the biggest mess. They play with ALL the toys at the same time and really don't pick them up before they leave. It's appaulling the messes I have cleaned up after them... chocolate cake smeared all over my books in English. Toys stuffed in places in the book shelf where they don't belong. Toys broken...  The list goes on and on... Obviously, they know it's me cleaning up after them. Is that why they leave my tea house is such a mess? 

I have to say that all my Mama friends here in Paris are anglophone. I tried to think if I had any french women who were mothers that I would consider a friend. Other than a few of Julien's cousins who have kids around Max and Alixe's age but they live so far away that we never have a chance to see each other really... so the answer is no. I really have no French mama friends except for one but she's more American/Korean than French. We speak in English together and rarely speak French to one another. I have to admit that I am surprised that it bothers me so much. I guess I have always had friends when working in past jobs and now that I own my own business I find myself feeling very lonely. I am not friends with my employees. It's hard for someone who runs such a small business to be buddy-buddy with their employees. I am sure there are some people who do it, I just can not...

So, here I am trying to distract myself from what happened today... I have so much work to do and all I can do is feel sorry for myself for feeling so lonely. It makes me wonder if this is how my mother felt living in Kansas. Being a young mother and Korean to boot... I know she didn't do things like everyone else and I do remember one time finding my mother upset because of some stupid thing some mother at school said to her. I was too young to really understand it at the time but thinking back to that memory today,  I completely understand her sadness. 

Grande section, petite section.

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

First day of school for Alixe!!

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

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

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

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

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

First day of Grande Section & Petite Section.

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

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

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


Another school year comes to an end.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A Mother's day I will never forget.

Belle Ile

Photo from our last trip to Belle Ile, Dec 2011.  My little dreamer.


Maximilien pulled a fast one on us today. We packed up this afternoon to head to the Jardin des Plantes pour the plant festival this weekend. We planned to ride over on our bikes so we headed directly over to the bike locker. Though we didn't verbally say we were taking the bikes we walked in the opposite direction of the entrance/exit of our residence to get our bikes. Maximilien ran ahead of us like he does every  weekday because we use the bike to go to school/creche.  Lately, he's been playing a game of hiding in the doorways of the other building in our residence. Assuming that this is what he was doing we went about getting the bikes ready for our ride. My mother's instinct started to tingle (sort of like spidey sense) and I started to look around for Max. Julien told me he was hiding somewhere and not to worry. Another few seconds went by and I wasn't convinced he was hiding so I started calling his name. No response.

I started to walk around our residence and I couldn't see him. I ran back to Julien to say that I couldn't see him. We started calling his name. No response.

I immediately ran to gated entrance of our residence and ran outside. I saw a man in the street and asked him if he has seen a little boy with a Spiderman backpack. He did not. Panicked, I ran across two streets to get to the Parc de Choisy and started calling out Max's name. The park was packed with families. There were children everywhere. I called his name again and didn't get a response. I ran up towards the play structures and then I heard him crying out my name. In that moment I felt so many emotions. Fear, relief, sadness and anger. Anger was the emotion that took over and I ran to Max and grabbed him hard. I could see he was upset. He was scared because he couldn't find us. I was confused to why he was acting like this only because I was so focused on my anger he had left our apt complex ALONE. The return was dramatic. Julien and I both lost our tempers. Poor Max. He scared the shit out of his parents and we couldn't control ourselves and lost our tempers.  It was a nuclear meltdown of human emotions.  We went straight back to the apt to talk about what had just happened. 

Apparently, Maximilien didn't realize we were taking the bikes out though we had walked in the opposite direction of the door to the bike locker. He also thought that we had somehow run off ahead of him to the park and left him behind hence his panicked face when I found him at the park. Poor, poor Max. This was a scary situation for all of us. We talked about the importance of staying with Mommy and Daddy and that he should NEVER leave the residence without us. The residence where we live is gated and Maximilien can now reach the button to unlock the gate to the street. Inside the residence, he is safe to run around because there are no cars and only people who live in the residence and have the code can come and go. 

I rack my brain trying to understand my five year old's reasoning. My first reaction to him was why did he cross the street ALONE? He knows that this is not allowed. We have been repeating this rule to him since he stopped using the stroller. He knows to hold or hand crossing the street and he systematically waits for us when he arrives to the crosswalk. I have to believe that he honestly believe we had left him behind for him to cross the street alone and to come looking for us at the park. I can't believe he went all the way to the park alone. 

It took me two hours to calm down after we found Max. We layed in our bed talking about what happened, hugging each other and promising that we wouldn't never let this happen again. I reassured him to my best ability that I would never ever leave him behind. I can't believe he'd think that. He must have been so distracted in the moment.  

While we were laying together I thought about a story that my parents used to repeat to me over and over again when I was kid. I was younger than Max and we were in Korea for the summer visiting family. Apprently, I got bored and left the family residence and walked a long distance (for a four year old) to go to the park and play.  The way I remember my parents telling me the story they made it sound sort of funny. It was my Halahboji who knew exactly where I had run off to. I have to believe that my parents were probably feeling pretty panicked (me: hysterical) in the moment just like Julien and I were today. What a scare. Between Alixe with her recent seizure episode and Max disappearing too, these kids have really brought forth the extreames of parenting.

All this on Mother's day, as well. This will be a day I will never forget. 

What happened to Alixe...

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what happened to Alixe

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

Here's what happened to Alixe

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

Here's what happened to Alixe

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

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

Here's what happened to Alixe

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

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

Keeping up with the Gille Family...

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

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

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

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

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

Aimee & Maximilien

Who has the best cheeks ever??


Happy birthday to you, Maximilien!

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

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

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

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

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

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



Alixe, Bicycles and #growingitout2012

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

Keeping busy while we wait for Maximilien.

I can't believe how grown up she looks.

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

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

Chinese New Year is coming!

Preparing for the Chinese New Year.

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

Julien surprised me today with a new to me bicycle:

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

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

Postman on his electric bike.

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

Tea canister

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

Love the yellow mailbox

and the yellow mail boxes here in France...

Love how tender they can be toward each other.

And my kid's yellow raincoats...


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

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


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

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

Here's my last Instagram of the day:

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

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

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012.

Another year comes to an end and in all honesty I haven't seen the year pass. Something about having kids makes time speed up for me. I am sure other parents can chime in here with their own experiences. I see time through my kids now. Everyday I see them changing and growing, some days it's more obvious than others. Alixe is two now and Maximilien is just a few months short of turning five. FIVE. Has it really been five years since I had my first baby? But that will have to be reflected in another blog post as I would like to reflect on what happened to me in 2011.

My work life in 2011:

The year 2011 was the my first FULL year back to work after Alixe's birth. I stopped working almost completely a month before she was born in 2009 and took a full nine months off after she was born. I started back to work at the end of 2010 but really got back into the swing of things in the start of 2011. Lots of new things started happening at the tea house in 2011. At the beginning of the year I was a vendor at Aiguille en Fete, an international crafting trade show. It was my official way to putting it out there that i sell yarn and beautiful, hand dyed yarns that you can find anywhere else ! It was a great boost for my business at the beginning of the 2011 that last all the way through the entire year.  Growing my business was my goal in 2011. We had reached maximum capacity where my shop is currently located and I wasn't in the market to purchase a second location. So instead,  I started working with a very savvy and patient web designer and we were on our way to expanding my business online! I took my beautiful yarns online to sell to all of France and Europe. This project took me through the spring and summer of 2011 and we launched in the fall of 2011. The shop was an instant success and this brought about a new dimension to my business.

Being a mama in 2011:

Maximilien ended his first year of pre-school and stated moyen section of  Maternelle. The year was rocky with lots of learning to be had for myself and Max. School was a different environment than the Creche but he adapted at his own pace and I learned how to interact with school administrators. I integrated myself into the parent/teacher association and befriended a few parents from Maximilien's class.  Our life really revolves around the neighborhood where Max's school is located because next door was Alixe's Creche. I can see Maximilien's school from the front step of the tea house. I tried to invest myself as much as I could and keeping a balance with work and my home life. I was lucky this year to have a full time employee who would close for me three nights a week so that I could do the after school pick up almost everyday of the week. This is something that will be changing for me in 2012.

Alixe is in her last year at the creche this year. it hasn't really hit me that my baby will be starting school in 2012. My babies are growing up. I am exiting that phase of changing diapers and pushing strollers to transitioning to becoming a mother to children who are more and more autonomous. I admit that I am excited for this phase. Just an example, traveling this year to the United States was SO MUCH easier than it was last year.  Maximilien flew alone to visit his grandfather and he said it was so easy.  Also earlier this year I finally came out of my depressive haze after Alixe's birth. This year has been a bonding year for Alixe and I. Things just stated to click between us. It's an incredible feeling when my daughter comes to me if I'm having a difficult moment and she says to me, "Viens... and she hugs and and kisses me". I can't imagine my life without her. Our family is complete.

Max's personality has really developed this year. He articulates himself in French so well. I am often impressed with his reflections on life (and death) and the life around him. He has become such an inquisitive and generous boy. Also, his English has improved a lot this year. It started over the summer while we were vacationing at Belle Ile with another Franco/American family. Something clicked for him and he started speaking more and more English with me. We went to the United States for Thanksgiving and it was just the extra exposure he needed to put him into English overdrive.

Julien and I are still growing as a couple. We will be married 10 years this spring. I can hardly believe it. He still makes me laugh all the time and even though we know how to drive each other crazy we also know how to make it all better. I have loved seeing my husband transition to being the most important person in my life to being the most important person to Max, Alixe and I. He shares himself with us completely and I realize that I am really, really lucky.

Me in 2011:

I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that I didn't take better care of myself until the end of this year. I use my work and being a mama an excuse not to do things. I have to stop doing this. It will be hard for me in 2012 because I am going to be even busier at the tea house but I must find the time and the way. I re-discovered my love for bicycles! I dusted off my bike from storage, strapped a bike seat for Alixe and rode. I saw immediate results as my jeans became once size too big and I just love feeling the Paris streets under my wheels as I ride.

I have reflected on what I'd like to accomplish in 2012 but that will be for tomorrow's blog post though...

Happy New Year and Bonne Année from our family to yours!


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.


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

Lazy Sunday

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

A well loved book

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

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

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

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

I sense a Sunday routine settling in.

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


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

A lazy, perfect Sunday.

A week of Alixe.

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

My heart explodes from the cuteness

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

Walking her puppy. How very Parisian of her.

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

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

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

Alili & me.  #instagram

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

Mama's glasses are endless fun

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

Trying to eat her rice with chopsticks...o

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

Alixe, 20 months.

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

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

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

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

He sucks his thumb. She does not. #latergram

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

Two peas in a pod...

What is wrong with me?

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

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

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

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

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

I need some advice...

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

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

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

Can you believe that?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainy day in Paris

Maximilien & the chicken pox

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

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

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

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

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




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

Chicken pox progression

And then on to day four:

Day four of the chicken pox

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

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

This is what Max looks like today:

Day six of the chicken pox.

Day six of the chicken pox

Day six of chicken pox

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

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

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

My girl and her many faces...


6 :: 12


7 :: 12


8 :: 12


9 :: 12

Dou Dou:

10 :: 12


11 :: 12


12 :: 12

12 faces of Alixe. 12 faces I adore.

Alixe, 19 months old.

Figolu are good.

Alixe, 19 months.

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

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

1 :: 12

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

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

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

Here is shot number one:

One of twelve

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

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

The end of school, the start of summer.

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


Butterfly by Maximilien, age 4.

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

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

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

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

Last  day of school!!

Check him out at the beginning of the school year:

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

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

She speaks...

Can you guess what she's saying here?

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

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

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

Julien and the bubs at Locmaria

Secret beach on the Côte Sauvage

End of day...


Claiming napkin rings

Plate full of goodness

Mama and Alixe

Dou Dous Packed!

I wish we could leave tomorrow...

Stranger, Danger.

I had a scare today. We were out playing with friends and Maximilien disappeared from my line of sight. He and I have an agreement that when we are playing outside that he must stay within my line of sight. If he can't see me that means I can't see him. This is a constant stress for me living in a city where we often are in the midst of large crowds.

This afternoon Maximilien was playing with a friend and he went around the corner of the building to chase after his paper airplane but then he did not re-appear right away. I waited three heart beats before going after him. I turned the corner and he wasn't there. Then I turned the next corner and there he was him talking to a stranger. A man who was crouched down near Max with his hand on his shoulder. I can't explain the feelings I felt in that moment before I knew I was yelling his name louder than I ever had. Everyone who happened to be around me within a 100 foot radius turned to look right at me. Maximilien ran over to me leaving the man behind.

The moment he reached me I was upset. Angry. Scared. We quickly packed up our things and left our friends to go home. On the way, we stopped and sat on a bench and talked about what happened. I asked Max if he understood why I was upset? He said it was because I couldn't see him. True in part and then I explained to him about talking to the stranger. I told him I was upset because I found him taking to a man that neither of us knew. A stranger. He asked me what I stranger was not knowing what this word was in English. I know that I didn't explain it very well. I told him that a stranger is someone that we don't know and that they could possibly hurt you. He is four and I wanted to keep it simple. In this case I used the example that a stranger can start talking to you and take you away from Mommy and Daddy so that he would never see us again. Saying this, he started to cry. It broke my heart. He collapsed into my arms and I held him why he cried. He pulled away from him and said in a tear filled voice that the man was nice and that he was just explaining that he was picking up the chewing gum off the boardwalk. And that it was actually he who approached the man and asked him what he was doing. Thinking back now to the moment now that I am calm I can see that he was some sort of janitor and I now see off to the side his cleaning buckets and broom. But still... janitors can be bad people too.

Maximilien is not afraid of strangers. He has always had a certain ease talking to anyone. And I admit that when he's with me we will strike up conversations with people on the bus or on the street if he's curious about something. This is with me. I am okay with this. But him alone, I am not ok with this.

I don't think I explained very well the whole stranger danger concept to Maximilien. Julien and I agree that he now has experienced the fear that strangers can cause. This is definitely something that Maximilien has never really experienced. This is not enough for him to really understand. I want to be able to talk to him openly about this but I am at a loss at how to tackle this subject.

Growing up in Olathe, Kansas, I feel like I never really encountered many strangers. Paris is so big and there are so many people. The walk from our apartment to Maximilien's school alone we pass many busy streets full of people. So many potential dangers but I don't want to fill my kids with utter fear of people in general.

Explaining what to do I understand but explaining the concept of strangers and the danger they can cause is what I am at a loss at. Even the fact that nice strangers, even janitors or the nice guy who lives on the first floor can be the most dangerous ones of all. How would you explain to your kids about strangers?

18 months in a blink of an eye

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

Alixe, this morning.

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

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

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

Oldie but a goodie: Alixe 5 days old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A month for mother

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

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

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

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

The next photo I posted on Facebook was this one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Mama butterfly kisses. Photo taken by Julien.

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

I am proud to be a mama to these guys:

Mama & Max

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

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

Rounding out our family to a happy four:

Yes, we are silly.

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

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

Weekend trip with my boy

Friday night we had a train to catch! I took Maximilien to Pontarlier to his grandfather's house. This was Max's second time taking the TGV. The first time he was 6 months old. This time around the excitement that max felt was almost physically tangible. I could feel the happy energy radiating off him as I picked him up from the centre de loisir last Friday. His excitement made him a handful for the assistants taking care of him that day. They said to me with perplexed looks as we were leaving that Max was difficile and that he didn't listen very well the entire day. I told them that he was going to take a TGV tonight to go see his "Grandpa" and that he's been excited the entire day. And just saying that made them all smile and say, Bah, Voila!  They wished us a happy weekend and we were on our way.

Gotta catch a train!

We played on the train as we waited for it to depart from the platform. Max was on his knees looking out the window anxiously waiting for the train to move. He wanted to send a photo to his Daddy:

Hi daddy!!

We explored the train and visited the snack car and picked up a few goodies to enjoy. After a while it was nearing Max's bedtime and he wanted to relax and watch Toy Story.

And before we knew it we had arrived in Dijon and we watched half the train empty out onto the busy platform.

Checking out all the people getting off the train in Dijon


About 20 minutes later we arrived in Dole Ville where we needed to change trains. Max was really excited to see the small local train that would take us to Pontarlier. Just by looking at it he knew it wouldn't go very fast because he said the front of the train was not pointed like the TGV. After boarding the train, Max asked for his dou dou and I asked him if he was tired. It was nearly 10pm. He looked at me and said, "Même pas tired, Mommy!". "Not even a little bit?", I asked.


Meme pas tired!!!


Two minutes later he looked like this:

Passed out two minutes later...


We arrived in Pontarlier. Still asleep, I unloaded our bags to my father-in-law and carried a soundly sleeping Max to the car. He woke up enough to grumble about being tired and then articulated himself in perfect French to his Grandpa. I love how he speaks PERFECT french when he's in the sleepy gray area between being awake and asleep.


We woke up the next day and had breakfast.


Just for fun....


and played under the table.


Face-off! Keeping Baika away from the Playmobil


And cuddled while watching Raiponce (Tangled) all the while enjoying a lazy Saturday morning.


Saturday cuddles


We got dressed after lunch and then went out for a walk through centre ville Pontarlier in search of


Centre ville


ice cream:


Walk through centre ville


Comté cheese:


Picking up some comté 18mos




Bunnies made of cheese!


and chocolate!




Could a Saturday afternoon get any better than that?



Max was pleased as you can see! We came home and watched Raiponce once again. Ordered in pizza and tried to go to bed early (9pm this time!) because I had a train to catch at 7:58am the next morning. Max and I cuddled in together and we talked about how I was leaving tomorrow. He told me that was okay because he was going to have fun at Grandpa's house.

Before I knew it my alarm was ringing at 7am. Max got up with me but wanted to lay on the couch in the tv room and watch Raiponce yet again. Though he was half asleep and mostly sleeping than watching... I cuddled him and told him goodbye. It was time to go... He stood on the balcony on the upper floor and waved goodbye to me as we drove out of the courtyard. Not sure if he was crying or not, my father-in-law sent me this photo to reassure me that he was just fine when he got back from the train station:


Happy dou dou!


He snapped a shot of me on the Swiss train that would take me to Frasne where I'd get my TGV back to Paris.


Au revoir! Photo by my father in law.


And in return I snapped a shot of my father-in-law the iphoneographer:


My FIL the iphoneographer.


He was busy emailing me the photo he just took of me on the train!


All these old memories of traveling through europe on a shoestring and a euro rail pass flooded back to me. This early morning shot of the TGV coming into the station reminded me of many early morning trains my friends and I hopped heading south to our next destination.



I was too taken aback by the beauty of the French countryside to sleep on the train.


Crisp day for the train


Fields of gold


I had forgotten how much I loved traveling by train. But the prices of the tickets keeps us using our car to get places (and the convenience, of course). I no longer had that coveted 12-25 card, la douze vingt-cing! I won't be able to get a discount card again until I'm 60 years old! My father-in-law bragged that he'd be able to get one this year! I wonder if he'll use the train more now?


Back in Paris... I arrived at the Gare de Lyon and jumped on the metro line 14 four stops to Olympiades and back to our apt. I was home in time to feed Alixe and put her down for her nap. A bit difficult getting her down until I realized she wanted to sleep with me. Freshly showered, I hunkered down with my little girl and napped for hours before I had to wake us up to go work the afternoon to close at L'OisiveThé.




Here's Alixe giving me a bit of attitude as we strolled down out street. Not sure she agreed with me on leaving the apt again.

It's good to be back after a weekend of traveling. I feel energized yet tired at the same time. And I'd do it all again in a heart beat.


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.



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.

365 Friday Recap

I started a 365 photo project and instead of posting them here everyday I thought I'd just do a recap of the week every Friday. I'm going to post my favorite photo of the week and link back to my other photos if you're interested in seeing them. I'm using Tumblr to post my 365s and having a lot of fun blogging over there. It's a very young vibe but I prefer to keep my personal blog here on Typepad.

My favorite shot from this week is Thursday's photo 6/365:


When Max hears the familiar sounds of Skype he always pipes up, "Is it Halahboji?" or "Nam nam?" or "Hession?" or "Emo?" or "Kun Emo?". Yes, he goes through the list of my family members until Skype picks up and he sees who is calling. Tonight we Skyped with William aka. Nam Nam. Max misses his uncle. It was good to "hang out" with his uncle a bit.

And he got his hair cut super short! It's very cute. He looks so grown up.


I also really like today's photo:


Over the vacation I was lucky to have a lot of one on one time with Alixe. Max spent time with his uncles and his Mamou. When schools back in session it's a lot of sharing time with Mama between Alixe and Max. I can see it's hard for Max because it's a lot of him waiting for me to feed Alixe or waiting for me to bathe her and get her to bed, etc... I love our Wednesdays because we have the entire day together and I really let him do whatever he wants. He has English class in the morning (which he loves!) followed by intro to martial arts class which was hard for him in the beginning because he was the youngest and standing still and listening was a new concept for him to learn but now he's been going to class for a few months and his teacher tells me he's has really good coordination for a child of his age and he has become a very good listener. The reason why I love this photo is because on Friday nights we have a routine. I pick up the kids from school/creche we stroll home and make dinner. This is movie night for us so by the end of the week Max has been looking forward to this night of the week AND he gets to stay up an extra hour because there's no school the next day. 

Tonight, we watched Wall-E. I put the movie on while I feed, bathed and put Alixe to bed. Usually takes me about 45 minutes to get it all done. In the meantime, Max is with us watching a movie on my laptop. By the time I am ready to take Alixe back I have served Max his dinner. When I come back, his goal is to have half his dinner eaten.  He does most of the time. :) I have to say I feel like super mom on this night of the week because it's goes so much soother with the extra buffer hour before he has to go to bed. But what is even better is that we are hanging out together doing what we want to do. He loves to color and watch a movie. I love to knit and watch a movie. A typical Friday night at our house.

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.


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.


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


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


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

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


First of many...

Today is Max's first day of Maternelle. Comme d'hab, I was running late this morning after a long night with Alixe not sleeping well. I took some photos but as usual I was rushed and didn't take into consideration my own shadow in the photo. Oops. Maybe I'll post the photo later...

But like everyday when we leave the apt, Max loaded up his trusty trotinette and we were off!

Note the cartable that Max is sporting. I had intended to get him a classic backpack but he was against anything we found. He rejected 6 bags before we found this one he spotted in the window of Petite Bateau. Honestly, it's the perfect bag for him. Reflects his summer vacation a la mer and just enough room for his precious dou dou and a change of clothes.

We arrived just a little bit before 10h30 to meet a few of his other classmates. Happy coincidence one of his friends from the Crèche is in his class. We introduced ourselves to the Maitresse and went over to say our goodbyes. Maximilien immediate starting putting together puzzles and started talking to another boy in the class who he had just met. I bent over to tell him that I was leaving and he said to me, "Good bye, Mommy". Kissed me and ran off into the classroom without looking back.

My little boy is going to school. I called a friend and talking to her on the phone that it's always been harder on me the separation from Max than it has been for him. Even when he started the Crèche at 16 months he was toddling off on his own waving goodbye to me before we even entered the building.

Alixe starts the Crèche next week and it will be interesting to see how well she adapts. She's got a lot of separation anxiety going on right now but on verra... my kids never cease to amaze me.

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)

We're back...

It's been a just over a week now since we returned from our summer vacation at Belle Il en Mer. Julien was off another three days before he had to go back to his office job so we we remained lazy another few days. Suitcases were not unpacked and instead we went out and enjoyed our empty city. Now seven days since we've come home the bag is still in the middle of the livingroom (ugh), I've been taking care of Max and Alixe for three full days worked a Saturday shift at the tea house (which kicked my butt) and I have to admit that I am exhausted. So much to write about too! Our first vacation as a family of four, Max's beach adventures, Alixe's commando weaning tactics WHILE ON VACATION, and so much more...

Epic bedhead this morning


But until I can find some time to put all my thoughts into blogs I'm slowly but surely uploading my photos of our trip to Flickr. I've given up getting them all in order as hard as it is for me. But if you have been following along the fun pictures will be uploaded hopefully this week.

As tired and wrecked as I feel after our vacation I have to admit that I trying to see the good side to it all that I get to spend all this time with both of my kids before they embark on their own adventrues this fall. Maximilien will be starting preschool next Thursday and Alixe will be starting the creche. And once they have both gotten acclimated to school and daycare I will be going back to work full time. It will be almost to the day one year that I have been on extended maternity leave. I can't believe how fast time has gotten away from me. Reminds me that I haven't blogged nearly as much as I wanted to.

So, here is a little snippit of the now:  while typing this blog my son has been standing on the back of my chair peeling my skin from my epic sun burn I got two days before we left Belle Ile.  (totally gross, I KNOW)  I should have learned my lesson years ago when I was canoeing in the Grand Canyon without a hat on but I forgot... but my son probably won't forget the lesson as he repeats to me everyday that we have to wear sunscreen when we go out in the sun and as he finds a "good one" to peel off he announces "beurk!!!!!" (Ewwwwwww). I don't think I'll EVER FORGET to put on suncreen again. Way to be mortified by a 3.5 year old.

This is my blog.

And I have neglected you for so long.

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

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

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

Here are some of my favorite photos from past trips:

26 weeks

26 weeks pregnant with Maximilien

Port Coton - Belle Ile en Mer

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

Great Grandmother & Max

Meeting his great grandmother for the first time.

Mother and Son

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

The one I love...

Julien, my love.

Chasing seagulls

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

Contemplating the sea

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

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

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

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

Alixe et Mama

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

Agrandir le plan

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

Good night.

Oh hey...It's June.

Yeah, June. huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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...

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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.

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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. 

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Today's Toddler

Max iphone batman 3yr

Yesterday, Max and I were talking about dinosaurs and dragons. We talk about these things a lot lately and a new thing that Max is into is looking up photos of dinosaurs and dragons on the computer. We open up Google and I type in "Dinosaur", click images. Max navigates the computer using the finger pad and clicking on the photo he wants to look at. From an early age we've used the computer with Max. The television? Very rarely. We have a TV and I can count on one hand how many times I've turned it on since the beginning of the year. We do use the computer to watch videos on You Tube, lots of great Sesame Street clips and if you want to see trains of all sizes and from all over the world. I do let Maximilien watch some TV. I have downloaded from iTunes episodes of The Little Einstiens, Word World, Max and Ruby, Curious George (loves this show!), Madeline and Martha the talking dog.  He picks an chooses which show to watch. I save movies for him to watch with me on weekends. Lately, he's really been into Dinosaur (of course!) and Up. So, yes we do watch "tv".

The iPhone has been a neat learning tool for Max. The educational apps that are coming out these days are plentiful. Some are not as good as other. But some are just excellent and for .99 cts for the majority of them I have no problem investing in a few apps for Max.

Max apps1 MaxApps2
I am excited to see what technologies will come out that my son (and I) will get to experience. I can imagine an iPad being a very cool learning tool. As much as we're all about computers and internet I'm glad to read books and play with play doh and color with crayons. I also love that my son can sit for an hour straight and do puzzles and not get bored. As much as technology will be present in my children's lives I strive to keep a balance. I love that I can leave behind the easy access world (leave my iphone at home) and go outside to the Parc de Choisy and spend the afternoon looking for the perfect stick to chase pigeons and hunt dragons. Parenting today's toddler is all about finding the balance between technological parenting and hands on parenting.

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


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

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

Letting go

55/365 : Letting go

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

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

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

57/365 : Out & About

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

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

56/365 : My little thumb suckers

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

Max amazes Mama

So, as I write this I am STILL amazed that in just over two weeks time Max is completely potty trained.

Potty. trained.

Wearing underwear. Refusing the diaper.

Propre as they say in French. 

Not sure how it all happened. We had been trying to interest him in the potty by buying him one of those bells and whistle potties that sing and play music when you go poo or pee. Well, he played with it more than actually using it. Then Alixe came home and there was a click. She's a little baby. She wears a diaper. She poops and pees in her diaper. I'm a big boy and why am I still wearing a diaper? This is what I imagined Max thinking when he'd look at Alixe.

One day he came home from the Creche and said to me, "Mommy, je veux une culotte". I want undies. I broke out his Thomas undies that had been long piled under his PJs and off he went. That first week we had a few accidents because of timing on his part, busy playing and forgot he has to go pee. And then one day about three days into wearing his culotte at home he just started telling us on his own that he needed to go.

And boy did he go! All the time. All hours of the day. Middle of the night trips to the potty were hard but sometimes I was up with Alixe so it worked out alright. And then starting this week he started sleeping through the night without a drop of pee in his pull up. 

Last week, the assistants kept telling us that Max was peeing in his diaper at nap time. Which I found weird because  on the weekends when he'd nap for me I put him in his culotte and he'd either wake up int he middle of his nap to go pee or he'd wake up dry and go afterwards. Finally, Julien was able to get it out of one of the younger assistants that they were NOT LETTING HIM GO TO THE POTTY DURING NAP TIME. And they would tell him to go pee in his diaper! Coincidentally, that week they were doing this he took HORRIBLE naps at the creche and we had the hardest time getting him to sleep at bedtime because he was overtired. I mean, yeah... if I was told to pee my pants and then go take a nap I'd not sleep. And then at the end of the day report time when Julien would pick him up, Max always had notes in file saying that he was agitated in the afternoons. Hmmm... I wonder why?

So, I flipped out a bit. How completely counterproductive, right? Well, I was ready to take Max to the Creche the next day and let the assistant hear me out. But Julien calmed me down and said he'd deal with it. He's good at smoothing things out when it comes to Max. My mama bear-ness just comes out and it's a bit hard to control sometimes. Julien talked the assistants into letting Max go to the bathroom BY HIMSELF since apparently he's one of the few kids in the class that can actually flush the toilet. And since last week he's been getting up from his nap, going to the bathroom and coming back to sleep again all by himself. He even washes his hands by himself.

One of the assistants asked how we got Max potty trained so fast I just told her that we really didn't do anything but provide cute undies (Thomas the Tank Engine - which helped a lot to motivate him to wear them) and ask him periodically like when he's watching TV or playing intensely if he needed to go. And somewhere along the way he figured it out.

Max toy camera dinosaurs

As a reward, we took him to see the dinosaur exhibit at Le Palais de la Decouverte as his reward.  We went out all day without a diaper on him (Julien being the risk taker did not pack a change of clothes in case of accident) and Max used a public potty on his own. Apparently, it impressed him so much that he now uses our toilet without the toilet seat adapter. Not to humiliate my son later on in life I will not post a picture of him on the big potty but it's pretty funny. He's pretty much falling in but he makes it work.

All I gotta say is having one kid in diapers. Yes, yes, yes. thank you very much.

Mama Break

28/365 : Mama break

Churros, good  from my Year in Photos.

I packed up Alixe and went out for a mama's coffee break today. On the way home I found a great book shop that had a wonderful selection of children's books. Must remember to go back with Max.

And I really love texting. I helped a friend decide on a dress today via text and sometimes one word texts are so good because you know you're on the same page with that person you're writing to.

Being out most of the day just proved to me that I need to get out more. Today was gloomy but it felt great getting out and stretching my legs and seeing people. Bring on Spring. I am so over Winter now.

L'Herbe Rouge

1 bis rue d'Alésia

Paris 75014

17/365 : My children

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

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

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

Just hanging around...