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14 of 30 - Change

14 of 30 - Change


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

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


Halloween in France

It really doesn't exist. Halloween is as my friend puts it "Good 'ole American fun" that the French really don't understand. Thought in the last few years I've seen more and more kids dressing up but have yet to have a trick or treater come to my door. I had big intentions this year to throw some kind of Halloween fete at the tea house but being at the end of of pregnancy my energy level has disappeared. Oh well, there's always next year... 

The Creche let us know that they would be doing some activities for Halloween this year and told us that dressing up for the occasion would be encouraged. I quickly made some tiger legs and tail for Max to go with his Tigger hoodie et voila! Tigrou!

Hey don't play with my tail!!

His Tigger tail was a big hit with all the kids. They took turns pulling it. And seeing Maximilien dressed up the other kids wanted to dress up too. The Creche had a costume box that they use at Carnival every year so quickly after Max's arrival the room was full of pirates and gypsies. It was all very cute. 

Luckily, I have a small group of expat friends here in Paris and our kids are nearly the same age. So, Max was invited to his first ever halloween party yesterday afternoon. After having a yummy gouter, my friend, Libby, had arranged with her neighbors and friends for a small trick or treating adventure for the kids. Needless to say that Maximilien caught on quickly. Knock on door, growl and get candy. He loved it. 

Trick or Treat

Even though Halloween isn't a mainstream holiday here in France I'll always look forward to celebrating it with my kids. I have fond memories of carving pumpkins with my parents and anxiously waiting for our dad to get home from work so we could go out and trick or treat. Hauling home pillow cases full of candy and pigging out until our tummies hurt. My brother and I were talking about the homemade costumes we had growing up and it made me smile because I'm doing the same thing my mom and dad did for us. 


He makes it all better

Still got a little baby curl 

As hard as it is to relive the minutes and hours after Maximilien's birth this little boy reminds me that it's all worth it.  I thought that if I didn't think about the experience it would just go away. And it did for a while I actually had forgotten but sitting in the doctor's office in the moment of dejavu finding out that BB was going to be a big girl all those emotions rushed back to me. But today for the first time in 2.5 years I actually feel okay about my birth experience. And I know I can type this and mean it because I am not  crying uncontrollably but instead I feel excitement for BB birth in 4 weeks time. 

I wonder in today's medical age of technology why it's so hard for us as women to get the birth that we want? There is a small part of me that wonders if I had decided to try to have Max naturally would it have gone alright? Would it have ended up in a cesarean anyways? I know women birth babies as big as Max naturally all the time. Heck, one of my readers did and I totally admire her for that! But I feel like when it was time to make the decision for Max I was slightly psyched out but all the technology and terms and medical jargon thrown at me that I was pretty much scared into choosing the cesarean. And now for BB, listening to the doctors explain to me the risks of induction with a baby so big and my uterus so stretched out and the scar and abnormally strong contractions and this and that... it makes my head spin and I just say, enough. Please, get me my baby and leave me the hell alone. 

Dozing in and out of consciousness this morning I wondered if I could change things with BB's birth. Part of me is like change doctors! get more opinions! But I like my doctor and I wouldn't change doctors for the world because I. trust. him. And then all of a sudden I feel tired. And in this moment as the fatigue washes over me, there is Max standing by my side of the bed waiting to give me my morning kiss and I am reminded that everything ends well. Here's my 2.5 year old who's in perfect health who is happy and excited about the imminent arrival of his petite soeur. And I realize that I have made my choice. And I am alright with it. 


The state of our union

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

Us

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

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

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

Love

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


Snapshot: Monday morning breakfast

Yesterday morning I awoke like clockwork at 7:30 am. My internal Mama clock telling me it's time to get up, play with Max and have breakfast with him. Except that yesterday morning he was at his grandfather's house sleeping in. And there I was laying awake unable to sleep again.

This morning, I awoke to Max snuggling next to me sucking his thumb waiting for me to wake up. He's learned to be gentle waking up Mama and Daddy in the mornings. I can tell he's getting impatient and wants me to get up. He starts giving me kisses on my belly (really zerberts) and that says to me no-more-sleeping-mama!!!

We trek downstairs and have breakfast at the kitchen table. Sitting together slurping our milk from our cereal bowls I realize that I wouldn't change anything in my life right at this moment. 


Snapshop: Monday Breakfast


As I type this blog entry, Max has fished out our old Lite Brite from the floor (whose light bulb has long burnt out) and has pulled out the pegs by color and announcing them to me as I type. In this moment he seems so big to me. As much as I wouldn't change this moment, time is sweeping our lives and changing us faster than we can see. 

Snapshot: Lite brite gets a second life

Max's first haircut

When Maximilien was born he had very little hair. Not even eye brows! As he grew older we could always tell what age the photo was taken based on how long his hair was. Right around 18 months old his hair started to really grow and out came the cutest baby curls. 

Since we've been in the US it's been very hot and Max longer hair was slightly unmanageable and always in his eyes. So, while getting ice cream at Baskin Robbins we decided to pop over the hair salon next door and get his first hair cut. 

We went in with our baby boy with bouncing curls and out came our Maximilien, I'm-not-a-baby-big boy now.

  

Max's first hair cut Undeniably cute but I regret cutting the baby curls


Maybe it's a little foolish of me to regret cutting off his baby curls but I do hope they will come back again. 

We're exhausted but at least we're on vacation...

We're arrived in St. Louis safe and sound and have done what we intended to do. Nothing. It feels good but at the same time a little wrong because just last week we had so. much. to. do. I almost feel guilty not doing so much. But I'll get over. So far we've had breakfast, slept in as much as we can and have gone shopping. Maximilien is enjoying himself very much. My father and his wife bought a really nice kiddie pool for the back patio and everyday at the crack of dawn we hear, "Pool? pool"? 


No doubt that Max is having fun on his vacation

I'm coming to realize how much Max's nursury school tired him out! We're going to KC this weekend for a big family fête and when we return to St Louis I will be looking into some classes for Max at The Little Gym or Gymboree. He just needs to run and play hard. But just being here for a few days already, I have noticed Max using more English words. It's very interesting to hear the transition and it makes me grateful that he has this opportunity to speak the languages of his heritage. 

20 weeks

I'm at 20 weeks in this pregnancy and finally things are starting to take a turn for the better. I've only thrown up once this week. That's pretty good. I'm starting to sleep better now that Maximilien has decided that sleeping in his own bed is cool. And summer pretty much passed us by here in Paris so that means I'm pretty comfortable physically with this pregnancy. BB is really moving around a lot especially right after I've eaten something. I just downed a huge glass of chocolate milk (haven't had a glass of this since I was like in 6th grade) and it was so good. Other than the urge to drink lots of milk and eat yogurt all the time I haven't had any other cravings. In all honesty, my appetite has been pretty non-existent so far. I pretty much tell myself to eat a little through out the day because I want to keep my energy up. Speaking of energy, mine is back. And that means I can actually work again. For a couple months there I'd drag myself to the tea house to do the morning preparations and back and by the time noon came around (starting around 9am) I was dead tired. But now I find myself working away the morning and still wanting to stick around the tea house and work with my employees. I've had to hire a full time people to replace me during the week because it was not possible for me to keep working 65 hours a week and get through my first trimester. 

Lately, I've been listening to a podcast called Pregtastic. And have found it very entertaining and informative. Today, I listened to an episode about VBAC after cesarean. I am hoping to go this route with this baby. My doctor supports me on this and honestly, I feel that this baby is going to be a different size than Maximilien. You remember that Max was 4.945 kgs (10.9lbs) at birth. And at all stages of my pregnancy with Max I was just HUGE. So, the decision to go with a cesarean was made. Of course my doctor presented me with my options (which did include a vaginal birth) but being inexperienced and sort of naive about having a baby I decided on the cesarean. I don't regret my decision because Max came out perfect and everything worked out fine but I do feel like I deprived myself of my womanly right to have a baby as nature intended me to and I really want to experience that. While on vacation in the US, I plan on stocking up on books to educate myself about VBAC and preparing myself for a different kind of birth for BB. 

I leave you with an interesting thing that happened to me recently. Shortly after getting pregnant again, I started to wear my maternity/nursing tank tops again. They are just so comfy and underwire bras are evil when your breasts are huge. I was wearing one in the presence of Max and the latch for the bra portion happened to unclip. It makes a distinct clicking sound. Upon hearing this sound, Maximilien looks at me and exclaims, "Lolo?!" Lolo was the code word I used while I nursed him for breast feeding. I'd ask him if he wanted to Lolo or if he wanted to drink from the Lolo. I didn't want to be heard in public saying "do you want the boob? or Do you want to drink breast feed?" It worked well for us. No one knew the better. Until a few months ago, I had assumed that Max had forgotten completely about the Lolos. But I was wrong. Upon hearing the sound of my nursing tank top clip open, he immediately knew what that sound meant. Makes you wonder how far back he remembers at his young age? 

And finally my latest belly shot:



BB: 20 Weeks


20 weeks where I feel like I am more at 28 weeks. As of two weeks ago I hadn't gained any weight in this pregnancy but I feel that has changed now with all the chocolate milk and yogurt I've been eating lately. We'll see on Monday at my big 2nd echographie and get another good shot of our girl. 

 Here, Max is trying to drive his tractor on the baby just an older brother would do, right? 

My two year old takes care of me.

If my hair was longer...


If my hair was longer he would have been holding my hair back for me. I got sick again tonight and it caught me off guard. I was changing Max's poopy diaper and I guess it hit me harder than I thought. I rushed to change him and put him down on the floor and rushed to the other end of the apartment to the bathroom making it just in time for the sick to come up. I hear the pitter patter of my toddler's feet in the hallway and the faint calling, "Mommy?". There is worry in his voice. 

I am hunched over the toilet heaving and unable to move. My son comes and rubs my back and says to me, "Mommy malade?" "Mommy malade.". The first time a question and the second time an affirmation. He repeats it until I acknowledge that he's right that Mommy is sick. He stood there quietly with his hand on my back until I was done. I washed my face and rinsed my mouth and scooped up my little man. Without hesitation he swooped in for a big kiss and a hug and whispered, "Mommy malade".

He understands that there is a baby in my tummy. He doesn't understand that the baby is making mama sick. I haven't explained that to him and don't want him to associate the baby with Mama being sick. He's gone from his days of imitating me being sick to sympathizing with me now. I do appreciate that a lot. 

I am always in awe at how compassionate my son can be. He is always concerned when there is a child crying at the creche or the playground. When we watch the Tigger movie he always gets upset when Tigger is crying and comes close to me to cuddle and find comfort. And instead of him seeking out comfort in my arms he comes and gives it to me when I need it the most. I am grateful for this and know that he's going to be a great big brother to this new baby. 

Here I am staying up late when I should be trying to get some sleep. I should follow my son's advice he gave me when I put him to bed tonight. He leaned in and said to me, "Mommy est malade. Mommy fait dodo". Yes, Max... mama is going to bed now. 

.Us.

I sat and watched Maximilien built his train track and for the first time today he figured out how to make the track into a circle without asking Mama for help. I was so impressed to watch as he tried out different pieces, turning them so they would fit taking out long straight ones to replace them with curved ones so that his train could run its course. 


Train track that he built himself

I snapped this shot of him right after he big accomplishment and inadvertently I caught my belly in the shot! As you can see our family is growing. As sad as I am that Max is growing out of his babyish ways I will have a new one this winter to fulfill those tiny shoes again. I can't wait. 

Heart

It's unavoidable that today I feel sad. I miss her. Terribly.

But it isn't really different from any other day of the year for me. 

One of my biggest fears is that Maximilien will have to endure the pain of losing his mother at a young age. I know that I can't control life. But how do you teach your child that sometimes life isn't fair? I don't know how to teach these life lessons.

But I do know how to love my baby. And he sure does know how to love his Mama.

Tonight before bed:

"Mama, calin?" and he threw himself into my arms for a big bear hug.

And then he stood back and said, "Mama, buh buh?" (kisses in Korean) and showers me with kisses on my cheeks.

My son. My hope. My heart.





Transitions

Bedtime for the last couple weeks has been hard. Maximilien insists on reading books and then falling asleep in our bed. In the beginning, we indulged him on this.  There really was no way to crawl into his crib and read him books in his room so it was our bed for the final step of his night routine.  He's a snuggler and likes to have a doudou or two and he hand picks out 6 or 7 books to read. And every time when I finish the last book he announces, "Do do, Mommy" and cuddles in for the night.  I've been so tired the past few months when Max's bedtime rolls around I am pretty much ready for bed too so there we are snuggling and falling asleep together. For the first week, we were able to scoop Max up and put him in his crib without him noticing. This last week, he minute we'd move him he's wake up and put his baby sleeper grip on our necks and wail, "No, Mommy... Nooooooo!". Of course, me being the softie I give in and  take him back to our bed. But then the sleepless nights for Julien and I started happening. Let's just say that Max is a pretty agitated sleeper. One moment he's sleeping soundly and then next you know he's sitting up (asleep) turning himself around and it's his feet in my back and his head in Julien's.

After three nights in a row of this we had had enough. We put him in his bed and let him cry it out. Parents to toddlers can agree with me on this that 2 year olds can cry for a freaking long time.

Two nights ago, out of desperation and obvious need of sleep for Julien, especially. I shut myself up in Max's room and held him like a baby and rocked him to sleep. As he was falling asleep, I asked Max why he didn't want to sleep in his bed. He pointed to it and said, "baby".  And I responded, "Max is a big boy and wants to sleep in a big bed like Mommy's?" And he said, "Oui". Ah, sweet communication and understanding.

Max's "new" bed

Julien took off the gate portion of his crib last night and for the first time in a long time Max slept in his own bed. Upon showing him his "new" bed, he crawled right in and laid down. He did fall out once last night. After a few minutes consoling him and lots of hugs he was ready to go back to sleep.  

Today, he napped like a champ, grabbing his father's pillow to take to his bed. And he did not fall out of his bed today. He woke up and played quietly for 30 minutes before calling for me to come and get him since he still hasn't figure out how to open the 70 year old door knob to his room. 

Tonight, I read to him in our bed, we snuggled and talked about the new baby, I sensed he was drifting so I asked him if he was ready to go to his bed and after contemplating the question a few seconds, he whispered, "oui, mommy".

My baby is becoming a big boy...


Two Years

Dear Max,

You are two years old today. Typing this out makes me pause for a moment and think back to your birth day. I remember not being about to sleep at all the night before. Knowing the day you were going to come into this world had been a comforting thought. I was excited for your arrival and sleep was the last thing on my mind. The end of my pregnancy wasn't the typical count down to your predicted due date instead it was like me being 6 years old again counting down the days until Christmas. You, of course, being the best gift I've ever received. I can remember clearly the day I brought you home. We hadn't bought a car seat for you yet so your Dad drove home my luggage and your bags while I walked you home from the clinic in the stroller. Looking down through the window in the canopy you looked so tiny. Today, you can turn and reach your hand up to mine and the days of being a stroller baby are rapidly coming to an end.

The day I brought you home, I remember riding up the elevator with you snuggled in my arms. You were awake and very alert. You were taking in all the new surroundings. I paused at our front door and told you, "welcome home, my son". Today, you know how to use the key to unlock the door to our building. You dash over to push the button to call the elevator. When we arrive at our door, instead of me being the one opening the door for you, it is you that demands to be the first one in.

Last night, I picked you up early from the Créche so we could go kick dirt together and chase pigeons in the park. "Bird" and "Tree" and "Woo woo!" (for dog) are a few of your favorite words. I stood back and watched you run, trip, pick yourself up and go again. My big baby is becoming a big boy. I ran after you so that I wouldn't miss a moment of our afternoon play date. Know that I will always be running after you, my son. We fell asleep in Mama and Daddy's bed tonight, you wrapped your little arms around me and hugged me. Patting my back and holding me tight as you fell asleep. The grip loosened and I snuggled you close.  I whispered in your ear that I'll always be here for you because I am your mother.

I try to remember my life before I became a mother and it's all starting to become a blur.  Being a mom to these past two years has really shown me that I have found my path in life. I am grateful for this gift you have given me, Max.


2 years of Maximilien from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

I made a little photo video for your birthday and it was such a pleasure because each photo took me back to the day each moment was captured. One photo for each month of your life. With Shel Silverstein singing one of my favorite poems of all times.

Maximilien, you are loved. Your father and I are so blessed to have you in our lives. Do you know that every night before we head to bed we go into your room and watch you sleep? Smiling, we watch you as you dream... the love we have for you washing over us ten fold.  Never in a million years would we have thought that we could love someone as much as we love you.  

Happy, Happy Birthday my boy... 

Love,

Mama


Word storm

Max talking up a storm

It's started...the word storm. Everyday Maximilien uses new words to express himself.  Instead of grunts and pointing we have words!!!  Each morning for the past couple months there's an explosion of words coming out of his mouth so fast that our morning-tired adult brains can't understand.  It's so exciting. I can tell that Max is excited because finally he can express to us what he really wants.  There have been so many new words that I can't keep track how many new words he's used in the last week. Today, he asked for a cookie with a perfectly pronounced "Mommy, Cookie, please?".

Say "Cow"

Up until recently Maximilien would make the sounds of the animals he wanted to talk to us about. Moo, Bââ, click his tongue (for the horse), Mêêê (Fench goat), coin coin (French duck) and just last week during our trip I'd hear him say, "regard! Sheeeeeeep, Mama!" or "hooooooorse" or "gooooooo" (for goat) or "oiseau" (bird)! I then I realize that my son will someday speak better French than his mother and I think, I'm alright with that.  At 23 months, he impresses me with how well he processes the two languages so easily.   Everyday, I look forward to hearing the new words he's learned and the new things he can do. At the créche he is called the puzzle master (and dou dou master) by the assistants. Even still at 23 months old, I feel the amazing grip that motherhood has on me and am loving every minute of it.

 

My little dreamer...

My little dreamer...

Life is a bit busy right now for me and I have little time to even think or sleep let alone blog. I really want to but right now I leave you with this picture of Maximilien who is growing before my eyes into a little person who talks, runs and dreams. In a couple weeks, I am hoping that things will calm down a bit after our vacation to the sea. Yes, we are taking a much needed break from Paris to recharge and come back anew. Until then, I gaze at my son as he dreams and experiences life, all the while I live vicariously through him.


Holding on to those moments

Spending the last few days home with Maximilien while he's (and I have) been sick I've found that I have been thinking about my mother a lot and feeling the void. Moments when Max snuggles close to me while we are reading books. Nestling his head against my arm, eyes closed while sucking his thumb. Telling me that he is tired and that there is no where else he'd rather be. I close the book and lay down next to him. His cheek against mine. I hear him "hmmm" and sigh.  Pure love. I think this has to be what my mother felt holding me as a baby. I've never felt so much love in my life. I close my eyes and hold him close and tell myself to remember.

You have these moments in life when you tell yourself to remember. Graduation from junior high. I was taking a photo with my parents wearing a pretty silly looking hat and a dress that my mother made. I remember clicking my press on nails and pushing my glasses up and looking at both my parents and thinking. Remember this moment. Girl Scout camp. I remember the day that I left getting dressed pulling up my green knee high socks with tassels and lacing up my brand new Reebok high tops. My mother and father leading me out to our back porch and them taking a photo of me. Later, the drive to the camp leader's house with my father in his gray pick up truck and saying goodbye to my dad who was smiling at me wearing his tortoiseshell glasses. I remember telling myself remember this moment. Saying goodbye at the airport.  It was after our church wedding ceremony. Julien and I had spent the last three weeks in Kansas getting married, spending the Christmas holidays with my family and just having fun. My mother was wearing her Christmas sweater and my father his fleece jacket. My hair was long and in a pony tail. My mother had her camera in hand and snapped a photo of us passing through security. I remember saying goodbye to my parents, hugging them with all my might and feeling the tight pang of sorrow as I had to leave them to return to France. Little did I know this was the last time I saw my mother alive.

So many of these moments come back to me at random times. Not sure what triggers them but when they come I try to think hard and remember them. Just today, laying with Max listening to him sleep I remember the last phone call I had with Omma while she was in the hospital the night before she passed away. I remember clearly her voice and how happy she sounded. Her laugh.  We talked about Thanksgiving and what she was going to make for dinner. We talked about the doctors and how nice everyone had been to her and how she felt strong and better than earlier in the week.  Then we talked about my visit and how it had been nearly two years since we'd seen each other. And how much we missed each other. The tightness returning to my chest as I said those words to her.  We just chit chatted about other things and at the end she told me she was ready to be a grandmother. My mother, the frank one.  And I told her that I had gotten the message with a smile on my face, of course. We said our goodbyes and I told her that I loved her and that I'd call her tomorrow. 

As mothers, I don't know how we are supposed to prepare our children for a life without us. I guess we just love them as much as we can and hope for the best? I never got to have certain conversations with my mother. I ask myself what conversations did I miss out on? Motherhood for one.  And many others I'm sure...  I just feel like we should of had more conversations like we did on the phone that last night of her life. Maybe it's just like this when you lose a loved one. Seems so unfair to me still....

All I know is, I hope that my blog will someday be a window into my person for my children and loved ones after I am gone. That if they have unanswered questions or memories lost they will perhaps be able to find the answers here.


Somewhere along the way he learned to say Thank You...

Actually Merci. Just this week I've been hearing Max say, "Merci" when I give him things. I wasn't quite sure what he was saying as toddlerese can be hard to decipher at times. But yesterday, I gave him something and I said to him "thank you" and he responded with "Merci".

Though it sounds more like Ah-chi. And sometime he says it in English and it comes out as "Ah-choo". Very cute all the same. Sure does make this sick day much better hearing him say it to me all the time. Like after I wipe his nose for the millionth time.


My daily pick me up

Before I became a mother, I wondered if being a mother would be for me? I really didn't question myself much after Maximilien was born due to the sheer joy I felt every time I held my baby.  I was a mama and being a mama was for me.  And even now when he's 20 months old, I still feel the joy picking up my son or seeing him play, run and say his first words.  And I know that this feeling will last well until my son is grown... even when he doesn't want mama's kisses anymore or I can't hold him because he will outweigh me.

I carried Maximilien home last night from dinner and I realized that I don't do that much anymore because he's walking everywhere now. I reminded myself to take advantage of the fact that I can still carry him now and that I should do it more often. Last night we read books before bed and snuggled and then Max says to me "kiss Mama, kiss Mama" and push his squishy cheek to my face. With his little baby hands, he pulled my face close again and again for more and more kisses.  I could feel the love exploding from my heart and washing over us in fits of giggles.  Moments like this is what it's all about...

Julien took this video of Max last weekend riding the line 14 on his way to his grandmother's house. I just wanted to share with you a bit of the joy of Maximilien. His wonderment is genuine. His smiles melt the heart. His words amaze me, though hard to understand right now. This is our life right now. And I'm so grateful for it.



Maximilien prend le métro from jagerog on Vimeo.


First of many first...

So, today while sitting on the potty myself this morning, Max decided to pay me a visit in the bathroom which happens to be his favorite place to congregate with Mama and Papa.  So, there we were the two of us in out 2m2 bathroom when I asked Max where his potty was? He pointed to his green mini potty under the sink. I proceeded to pull off his diaper and asked him if he had to go "poo poo" on his potty. He shook his head "non" but grabbed his potty and sat down anyways. And next thing I knew there was a little tinkle in the potty and a strange expression on his face of uncertainty. I immediately smiled and clapped my hands, "Bravo" and his face lit up with joy and relief.

So, there you have it... first use of the potty. Hopefully we can keep up this self-initiated motivation of the potty. I had suspected that we were moving towards the potty for a few weeks now since the poop in the bathtub incident  Max has been telling us (and anyone else who will listen) when he's pooed or peed. And the creche has picked up on this too and they have been showing him to the potty periodically through out his day.

Just as he weaned himself from breastfeeding and now he wants to use the toilet like les grands I must say that I am thrilled and excited to see my son growing up and taking initiative. And that we're moving closer to day he'll be able to wipe his butt on his own. :)


A break from the norm...

I decided to close the tea house today to profit from the fact that Maximilien was home from the creche and Julien off from work because today is Armistice Day in France. And because I am the boss and I can do things like that. Still getting used to this concept but it's sinking in pretty easily. :)

We were treated to a nice morning of sleeping in until 8:30am (thank you, Maximilien!) and then lazily drank warm milk and read books in bed until about 9:15am when we decided we'd head out for breakfast at Breakfast in America. We met up with Julien's brother, Benjamin who is also Max's godfather for a lovely (and large) American style breakfast of pankcakes, eggs and bacon. Max almost put away one of BIA's HUGE pancakes all by himself. We found a nice park across the street from the diner and spend some time enjoying the crisp autumn weather.  I brought out my big camera in an effort to get away from using built in point and shoot in my cell phone. I am still having a hard time working out time for photos. I miss it terribly but I am working on getting back to it little by little.

Since the weather was so nice today I got some really lovely images of Max playing at the park with his father and two uncles. Julien surprised me by taking a really lovely shot of Max and I at the diner that I will cherish forever.

Mama et Maximilien

The rest of the photos from today can be found here.

Today, felt like the last days of fall... I wish I had taken some photos of the trees in the park. The lovely yellows, red and browns were so vibrant today. Well, it's just an excuse for me to get my camera out tomorrow for some more photos, right?


Today was a little better...

Drop off this morning went very well. Max slept in a bit this morning after waking up around 1am wanting to cuddle with me. I took him to our bed and let him "sleep" with us.  He wiggled around and nestled himself in the crook of my arm and drifted in and out of sleep until about 3am when my body said it needed uninterrupted sleep. I gently put Max back in his crib and he went right to sleep.  Morning routine went well without any tears. When it came time to put on his coat, I told him clearly that he was going to the creche and he said, "ok" and put his arm out to put his coat on. Then walked over and sat down to put his shoes on. Relief came over me... this is exactly what I had hoped would happen.  My suspicions were correct. He was reaching out to us saying that he needed more time with us. Needed help making the transition to the creche. We arrived at the creche and he was happy to get out of the stroller and walk up the stairs. He willingly walked into his classroom and went over to find a book to read with Celine, who was waiting to give him a "big calin" and I waved goodbye and he responded with au revoir and a smile.

For the first time in a couple weeks I walked to work with my heart feeling lighter with less worry.

We are still going to make an appointment to meet with the director to discuss our concerns. I also have made a doctor's apointment with Max's peditrician next week to discuss this kind of behavior and to ask what can be done. 

Thank you for all your kind words of advice... it has helped Julien and i get some perspective on this matter. It is a sensitive subject that we must deal with vert diplomatically. Unfortunately, changing creche is not possible. There are so little spots in the creches in Paris that us getting another spot is probably impossible. Also, if we go about this situation wrong with our current creche would could encounter troubles if we ever want to enroll our second child in the same creche. It is all politics and human relations. One (political) that I am not always very good at and the second I can handle. Fortunately, I am married to someone who can be very political(ly correct) in all the right moments.



Transitions

I feel like for the last three years my life has been full of major transitions. Moving to France was a the first major transition, it took me two years to really feel like I could live in France for the rest of my life. Making friends, finding a job, I finally felt like I was finding my place. Then my mother suddenly passed away and yet again my life was transitioning again. I had to find a new identity, new place in this world, a new me.  I became pregnant and there I found myself again going through major transition. Nine months of gestating a baby, watching and feeling my body becoming a vessel of life and then finally giving birth. Upon giving birth, I transitioned again from being a childless adult to a mother. The ups and downs, the hard and the easy there I was transitioning yet again...

But this transitioning wasn't over yet.... I started my tea house adventure 10 months after Maximilien was born. And a month after he turned a year old I found myself the owner of a tea house in Paris. And there I was transitioning from being a stay-at-home mother to a full-time working mama.  Things have seemed to calm down a bit in the transitioning department for me.  I have to say that I am pretty glad to be getting to some stability in my life right now. I honestly ask myself sometimes how the heck I made this far?

But now I see my son going through some hard transitions himself.  And I question myself how will he get through it? The creche is hard for him.  Where I initially thought that things were going well it turns out that he is having a difficult time. Both Julien and I agree that we feel like he's changed a bit. He seems agitated when he's home and very temperamental. When before he was very easy going and happy, now Max is sometimes hard to please and often melancholy.  Morning drop offs at the creche for the last couple weeks have been difficult. We arrive and he immediately wants me to carry him. He refuses to take off his coat and when we walk up to his classroom I must coax him to enter. Upon arriving he is very hesitant to go play with his classmates and must have one hand on me at all times.  Tears are shed when it's time for me to go and I end up leaving him in a crying heap in the arms of one of the creche assistants.

I have my suspicions as to why Maximilien is all of sudden rejecting the creche.  My first suspicions is that he misses me. Less of a suspicion really... I am pretty sure he misses me because I miss him terribly.  I think it's sunk in now I'm not around all the time like I was before.  My second suspicion is that he's getting bitten at the creche and he just plain doesn't like it. And in response to this Max has bitten a couple other children. I say a couple children because there have been two incidents where Max has bitten a child but incidentally there have been more times where Max has been bitten than I can count on my two hands.  I am frankly shocked at this but apparently this is normal according to the creche director.  All I know is that since the biting has started Max has been different child. Is this a life transition that he must go through? I reluctantly tell myself that it is.

I picked up Max a bit early from the creche today so that we could spend some extra time together. We came home and did the evening routine, had a pajama party in our bed, reading books and playing with dou dous until we both fell asleep. Tomorrow, I will keep Max home from the creche and spend the day with him. The only thing I can do for him now is to help ease him through this new transition in his life. And somehow we'll get through it together.


I am the mom who forgets to pick up her kid at daycare...

Last Friday, I was busy working away at the tea house when my phone rang at 6:30pm. Directeur Crêche flashing on the screen of my phone. I start to panic a bit. I answer the phone and the director gently tells me that no one has come to pick up Maximilien and asks if I could come and get him. I was out the door before she hung up. I can see the crêche from the front steps of the tea house. I arrive to see that Max is the only child in his classroom. In my head, I was thinking, "oh, Julien must have gotten stuck on the RER". I start rattling off that my husband must be late and apologize for the misunderstanding. I dial my husband number as I walk back to the tea house and ask where he was? He calmly answers that he's on the train and that he'll be at the tea house to pick up Max by 7pm. Then it dawns on me that it's Friday and it's MY day to pick up Max.

I am the mother who forgets to pick up her kid from daycare.

The image of Max's face is etched into my brain. A mix of utter happiness to see me and relief that I had finally come to get him. The assistant told me that Max had been standing by the door for the last 20 minutes waiting for me to come.  I'm sure she said that just to make sure that it stuck in my brain that I had forgotten to pick up my son.

It is the end of Max's first official week at the crêche and I have already forgotten to pick him up.  And on top of that he was bitten 4 times and apparently bit another child. But I'll get to the biting story later for now I am off to go and watch my son sleep.  And remind myself that I am still a good mama.


The one who shares...

Like clockwork, he woke up at 7am, played a bit in his crib talking to his stuffed animals and driving his playmobile motorcycle. Around 7:30am, he called out to me. Mama! Mama! Julien and I stirred and slowly rolled out of bed. Julien off to prepare his morning bottle and I went to my boy standing in his crib with the biggest smile on his face. 

Today was Max's first day at the Crèche.

On our way to Max's first day at the creche!


We arrived just after 9am. I parked the stroller out back and we climbed the stairs to where his class would be. We were greeted by the director and lead to where Max's classmates were playing. Max was introduced one by one to his care takers, 4 in all. A bunch of sweet natured ladies who quickly put me at ease. Max stood by my side looking at the other kids. Each of them had stopped playing to check out the new kid in the class. Right away Maximilien was attracted to the stash of dou dous. Oooh-ing and Ahhh-ing he went right over to admire them. Not daring to touch any of them. A little girl came over and handed her dou dou to Max and as if she had given him permission he grabbed another dou dou and gave it to her in exchange. For the next 10 minutes, Max went around distributing dou dous to his classmates. Then another new classmate arrived. He was having a harder time at adapting to the new routine of the crèche. He was very sad to see his mother leave.  The new child went on to cry for a while and this upset Max very much. He stood in the distance watching the child cry. Looking for comfort he found me and laid his head on my lap and I pulled out his dou dous for him. He took both of them and went immediately over to the crying child and gave him one of his dou dous.  The child took the dou dou and there was some kind of silent acknowledgment that that made him feel better. Max spent the next 10 minutes bringing toys and other dou dous to the boy to make him feel better.

Once the boy was feeling better, I could tell that Max felt better. He went off to play and check out his new classroom. A little later on in the morning, the upset classmate went to go lay down in his bed. Max saw this and was curious. He went over and crawled into the bed with him, again offering his dou dou to the boy. Both of them laid together sucking their thumbs.The cutest thing I've ever seen.

I ask myself is this kind of behavior taught? or is it instinctual? Max is a child that has never once said "no" to me or anyone else for that matter. He's never gone over to another child and taken a toy away.  Toys have been taken away from him and instead of fighting for it back, he lets it go.  Today, he spent the entire morning giving his toys and dou dous to the other children. Tears tickling my eyes, I smiled. That's my boy, the compassionate one.

 


I


I am a selfish mom sometimes

Another Thursday with Max has come and gone. He's fast sleep in the next room. I am laying in bed getting subtle relief from the Advil I took for my migraine. Although I've had this migraine all day today, I didn't realize it was happening until after I put Max to bed. When I am with Max nothing else really matters. I miss phone calls. I forget to check the mail. I don't do the dishes. I am only with him.  Thursdays are the highlight of my week.

Today, Max had a quick visit to the doctors. Over the long weekend he had a fever for a few days but Julien and I just assumed he was teething. He had been drooling a lot over the weekend and his cheeks were red. Noting else seemed out of the ordinary so I didn't worry. But then on Monday a few spots showed up all over his body. Chicken pox? Maybe it was for real this time? But something about the way these bumps looked did not say chicken pox to me.  And the doctor confirmed that they were not but instead Max had the tail end of Roseola. The doctor reassured me there was nothing to worry about and that in a few days the spots would be completely gone.

After spending the afternoon riding trains, playing with friends, making a mess in a toy store and riding more trains we made it home. Dinner, bath and bed. I find myself trying to relaxing with a migraine.  I lay in bed right now thinking about today and remembered soemthing new Max did today. When I push the stroller I often talk to Max and explain to him things I see. Sometimes I sing silly songs I make up. Or we play a game where he repeats what I say.  If there is a moment when I haven't said anything, Max yells,  "Ma ma?!?" The last syllable of Ma ma raised as he saying,"are you there?" And I always respond, "Yes, Max... I am here." And our conversation starts again.

Another new thing he's started doing is when we're on the metro and I am sitting next to him he reaches over and grabs my hand and pulls it close to his face and cuddles it.  I tickle the soft baby skin of his neck and he smiles and rests his cheek against my palm. Warms my heart through and through....

We are waiting to hear if Max will have a place in the Creche this fall.  If he does get a spot then that  means he will be in day care full time and our Thursdays together will probably come to an end. I think I am secretly hoping that he won't get a spot but financially speaking it will be the best thing for our family. The nanny is expensive. I am still getting used to being a full time working mom.  I have moments when the guilt of being away from Max overwhelms me to the point that sometimes I come home from work and rush back to Max's room and scoop up his sleeping form and cuddle him in my arms.  Most nights I can refrain from doing that and just stand at the door and listen to him sleep. But sometimes it's just plus fort que moi...

I know this will get easier in time... I just need some more time.


Thursdays with Max

Today, we got up early and ended up having a mid morning nap and then headed to Ikea to pick up some things for the café. I was looking for a curtain for the door way of the café but ended up getting these great square mirrors for the wall by the bathroom. I can't wait to put those up tomorrow.  Picked up some pitchers for drinking water, broke one while unloading the car.  Found a cute little soap dispenser for the bathroom. And that's about it... Had Swedish meatballs for lunch as did Max. We had to keep him from shoving them in his mouth. His chipmunk cheeks sure do hold a lot of grub.

I am in the process of changing the tea cups we use today. But I have yet to find my style. I found a few pieces at Ikea that I liked but then I thought, "This is Ikea." and I remembered some of the bowls we have from Ikea at home and how easily they chip. So, I am looking into some nice-ish porcelain tea sets. Something that is durable and a bit more resistant to chipping that Ikea.

After we dropped off our shopping buddy, we headed to the café and dropped things off then straight home. Max was a good sport until I got the car parked and then it was screaming banshee time.  But we got home in the nick of time, kicked off our shoes and played on the floor in his bedroom. All was well.  We read books and laughed and threw the ball around.  Max is obsessed with balls these days. I layed on the floor watching Max collect the balls from his new toy as he's throw them again and again chasing after them. Endless entertainment.  I couldn't believe how big he looked. He'd see me laying on the floor watching him and he'd crawl over in turbo mode and plant a big wet kiss on my cheek. Cuddle with me and lay next to me for a few on the floor. And then off he'd go and play again...

I am grateful for this day in the week. As tired as I may feel right now the moments we share are priceless.  We played so hard today that after his bath, when he was freshly powdered and dressed he started to fall asleep in my arms. Sucking his thumb and snuggling in the nook of my neck. I can still smell his clean baby smell on my clothes and hands. I can already tell that memories of our Thursdays together will be of laughter and Baby Magic.


A new tooth popped out...

A new tooth popped out and I missed it.

and I missed it....

The separation from Max is a lot harder than I realized it would be. I kept reminding myself that this would be so good for Max. Good for him to be around other children. A wonderful growing experience.  During his first week, the adaptation week, I cried everyday after I dropped him off. Only one day was it so bad that I broke down in front of Tata.  Now Max has been going to Tata's for two weeks and he seems to really love it. I feel a tinge of jealousy when I drop him off, seeing Tata scoop him up and give him a hug.  I am standing at the door watching someone else take care of my child.  This is the price I pay to pursue my dream.

Do I sound bitter? I feel a little bit bitter. Are these feelings I have normal? I have to think that they are. I just don't know how to deal with them just yet. I think that if I can get my Thursdays organized and prioritized, I can make the most of this day with Max perhaps this bitterness will go away. 

Last night, Max woke up crying and he only wanted his father.  I went to him first because  I hadn't seen him the entire day. When he saw me he cried even harder and moaned for "da da". Julien came and scooped him up and he stopped crying.  Is this his way of telling me he having a hard time adjusting? Two hours later, he finally let me hold him. I was on the brink of tears because I so desperately needed to hold my baby.  He collapsed into my arms and let me rock him while he sucked his thumb. Does he forgive me for leaving him during the day?

I am worn and ragged around the edges and I'm just starting this adventure. No one said it would be easy this dream of mine...Like I really asked around but this is my naive self talkin' here who didn't realize what it'd feel like to miss my son's new tooth. I guess I better prepare myself for other firsts I am bound to miss... but dang it, I hope that I catch a few on my days off with Max.


12 mois

Dear Maximilien,

Today, you are one years old. A year ago at this moment I sat in my hospital room looking at you sleeping in my arms feeling scared. Today, I feel comfortable in my new role and embrace it full everyday.  Last night after you went to bed, your father and I sat and talked about about how it's been a year already since you were born. We both couldn't believe how fast the 12 months had passed.  I can't explain to you the happiness that you've graced me with your existence, Max. It is so much bigger than anything I could ever dream of. 

 

Mmmm, bread.  ..Peek..

The last few months you've really been showing off your personality. You are to me the happiest baby I know. You are always smiling even when you're sad. You are like your mother in that you change your mood at the drop of  a hat.  One moment you're happy the next, you are frustrated. Then you will be sad and then very zen. You'll make a face and then you will be affectionate.

8  11
3

Though you can not speak yet, your expressions speak loud and clear.  You can express yourself verbally. You say, "hello" and "ba ba" for goodbye. You say "door" when we are getting read to go out.  Of course, you say "Ma Ma" and "Da Da". And I think today you said "shooo" as I put on my converse today. You amaze me everyday. Just today, you did something you've never done before. We went to get you your first pair of shoes. You will be walking soon and your nanny has requested that you have proper walking shoes. She intends on getting you up and going on those two legs of yours. We went to the store and tried on two pairs of shoes.

Oh, show me the attitude...   I am pretending that you are not taking my photo, Mama.

The first pair didn't bother you at all. The second pair caused you to throw yourself down on the floor and kick and scream in a manner that I had never seen before. As I sat stunned on the couch I didn't know what to do? Either to get my camera and take a photo (it was almost comedic the way you were acting) or start worring.  But this just shows me that you have a strong personality, Max. And naturally, I am intrigued. Will this be a preview of your second year of life? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I type this letter with a slightly heavy heart. Starting April 1 you will spend 4 days a week with your nanny. I will go back to work. I am at the same time excited to start this new adventure in running my own cafe and scared to leave you.  I have so cherished this last year because it was our special time together.  But I feel in my heart that you are ready to go on your own adventure as well. When I see you around other children there is a light in your eyes that I don't see when we're home together. Sure, you are excited to see me after each nap and when we play you squeal with delight. But when you play with other kids I see you suddenly in a different light. I see you starting to stretch your independence. And I know that I must let you go a little...

So many adventures we've shared in the last year... this new year of life will be even more exciting.

Happy Birthday to my spring baby.

Love,
Mama


 

Firsts...

First word:


Max's first word: Hello from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

Please excuse the poor video quality. But the audio works great and near the end you hear Max say "hewro", his baby version of Hello a couple times. At force of seeing his mom and dad on the phone all the time he's picked up the telephone habit already at 11 months old. When the front door rings, he puts his hand up to his ear and says "hewro". When we knock on his door after a nap, I open the door and see him standing in his bed with his hand by his hear and he says, "hewro". This child is already acclimated to the telephone! How long is too young to have your first telephone?


30 Days : 22

30 Days :: 22

We do not have a bathtub in our apartment. I wish! We are still using the tub that Max used when he was a wee baby. We just fill it up to the top. He loves it. Every week we add more and more toys. The more toys the less chance there is he tries to stand up in the bathtub.


30 Days :: 21

30Days :: 21

We had errands that took us on the bus today. The buses in France have designated areas for strollers.  There is a little strapontin that folds out so that the handler of the stroller can have a seat too. I love sitting next to Maximilien and watching his face as he looks out the window.  His eyes aglow with wonderment. He also interacts with people on the bus now. Sometimes he reaches out and hold someone's hand who is standing close by or he will flirt with his little coquin smile. Today, he was in a very tranquil mood.   


30 Days :: 5

30 Days :: 5

We visited the Sainte Chapelle located within the Palais Justice. I am thrilled to introduce my son to the rich history that our city has to offer.  Lucky for us we were with my good friend, Karine, who is a history buff and she gave us an interesting lesson about the architecture of this 13th century chapel.

Maximilien enthusiasm for the chapel really made me stop and look up and take it all in.  The colors. The impressive architecture. The history. The importance of this place. Oh, to be able to read his thoughts....   


30 Days :: 1

30 Days:: 1

Every morning, Maximilien and I get up and go to the kitchen, have breakfast and play on the floor.  He has two shelves under the coffee machine where he keeps his treasures he loves to play with. Tupperware. Cups. Blocks. A wooden train. All things that entertain him endlessly. But his most prized treasure are my glasses.  He takes them off and crawls around the kitchen with them in his mouth and when he's done he puts them with his treasures in  the kitchen for me to find later.


And he's off...

Oh, I was just sitting in the kitchen talking to Julien. I hold my arms out to Max, who has been crusing around on whatever he can get his hands on. Usually he sits down and crawls to me. But this time he took two huge strides all by himself to my open arms.

Freaked me out completely. My heart is still racing.