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To Shetland and back...

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I've just returned from a trip to Shetland with three of my best friends. We met 10 other new friends during our knitting week on the islands. Such a magical place with awe inspiring scenery and a calmness that is quite remarkable. I will take some time to sort through my photos this week and post a proper blog post about my trip. Pictured above is the Burrastow house where I stayed with 12 other ladies on my very first knit retreat. Just staying around the house was inspiring... you won't believe what the rest of the island looks like!


Goodbye, my friend.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye, my friend.

 


A color to make you smile

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

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

I am lucky. I feel grateful. 

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

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

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Maximilien & Alixe. 8 and 5 years old. 

 

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


Our Parisian summer vacation...

Quai de Tournelle

 

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

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

Map of our bike ride to the Eiffel Tower.

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

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

#namnam #alixeg #maximilieng #paris #latergram

Our wheels. #bike #familybike  #paris

Coloring on the quai. #maximilieng #alixeg #latergram

#alixeg #namnam #latergram

Who will wave back?

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

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

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

Last night after the rain shower. #latergram

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

 


17 days later...

I finished the first cycle of the 17 day diet yesterday. I had some good results after just five days of being on the diet. I lost 1.5kgs even cheating once on the fourth day which I warn anyone doing this diet is supposed to be the hard day because your body is really craving the sugar. I told myself I wouldn't weigh myself again until the end of the cycle which lasts 17 days. Right, the name of the diet... easy to follow along, right? I weighed myself this morning before eating breakfast and I was down 5kgs from my starting weight! 11 lbs... this is incredible weight loss for me considering I haven't done much to recover myself after having Maximilien and Alixe. 

Most of the weight came off my thighs and hips. My belly area has a lot of work ahead of itself... sooner or later I may have to reconcile myself that I will have a flabby belly forever. Two ten pound babies will do that to you, I guess. But the extra puffin top on my hips is gone! My jeans are loose and I sinched my belt one notch smaller today. 

Started Couch to 5k today...

To coincide with the beginning of Cycle 2, I decided to start the Couch to 5k program. A bunch of knitters I follow on Twitter are about two weeks ahead of me and it's been motivating to see their progress. Also some good friends of mine have been running for a while and I want to run with them too. But most importantly, I actually feel like I have enough energy to go out and run. The first cycle of this diet really help to energize my body. I have been sleeping better where as I would always wake up in the middle of the night for no reason and now I find myself sleeping all the way through the night. No more food coma feeling after dinner for the last two weeks either. 

The first day of the couch to 5k program consists of a five minute warm up which I did by briskly walking around the park and pumping my arms to get the blood circulating and then 9 sets of running for 90 seconds and then walking for 60 seconds. When the time was up I felt like I could keep going.  I thought I had a pretty decent pace of running 3.4kms in 7:34 seconds. Tomorrow is a rest day which is good because my legs are feeling pretty tired right now and I'll get out there Saturday morning for day two of C5K. 

New Haircut in Paris

Also, I got my hair cut today and it feels great. I went back to short hair again... it's just a better style for me and it really fits in with my personality. 

 


17 jours...

I think this is the first year since I've had this blog that I haven't written about my New Year's resolution. I just decided that I wouldn't pick one. Instead one kind just found it's way to me. Weeks ago, friends and I were chatting via Facebook about joining a virtual boot camp to get in shape. I don't take orders well from people in real life so taking orders from someone virtually sounded absurd and it also cost money. We were all shaking our heads and then somehow decided to create our own group and motivate each other. I gotta say it's been a really awesome thing. We are all around the same age and have the same problem... the extra pounds we carry around with us all the time. I threw out the idea of the 17 day diet. I had a close friend who has had some pretty significant success on this diet and it was super motivating to me. Turns out the other girls were on board too. Two clicks later we have our private group going and we cheer each other on everyday. I just ended day three and I have to say it's been a hard couple days. The first day was easy because I was all gun ho about it. I even skipped breakfast which kinda came back to bit me in the butt around 11am I was SO hungry. But I soldiered on and here I have ended day 3 of 17. No where am I even feeling like this is going to work for me. My sister (who is doing this diet with us) and I were skyping and I think we feel the same that we are pessimistic about the weight loss. Though one of the girls in the group posted that she lost 3kgs. That's amazing. I know if i lost just that my jeans would fit much better. Hearing her news motivates me... so I am keeping at it. 

Being a part of this group doing this diet together really makes me realize I love being with people even though I don't see these ladies everyday and we don't really live all that close together but the feeling of community is there. I've missed it and found it again and I am grateful for that. 

So, here is to me dropping some pounds in 2013... I don't have a fixed goal in mind. I'd like my jeans to fit more comfortably and my face to look less round. I'd like to keep my boobs but those tend to be the first things to go, right? Anyone else jumping on the 17 day diet bandwagon? Let me know, I'll come cheer you on. :)


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. 

 


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. 


Summer was just a few months ago...

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

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

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

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

image from www.flickr.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

image from www.flickr.com

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

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

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

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

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

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

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

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

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

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

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


Left handed or right handed.

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

For his cousin, Appoline's baptism. #maximilieng

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

First day of dance class.

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

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


Grande section, petite section.

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

First day of school for Alixe!!

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

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

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

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

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

First day of Grande Section & Petite Section.

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

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

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

 


Easy dinners chez nous: Pizza tricouleur.

It's a lot of juggling when you run your own business and your household at the same time. I am lucky to have a wonderful husband who helps me a lot. Lately though he's been working late on an important project so that means the evening routine is all me. Evening routine consists of me leaving the tea house between 5:30pm and 6:30pm to pick up the kids from school. It makes for a long day for the kids but the after school program is fun and they get to play with their friends, Max espcially he spends the afternoon with his two very best friends. Anyway, I bike over to the school and pick up the kids. If I get them early around 5:30pm we usually head to the park and play for 30-45 minutes before heading home. Tonight, it was raining so we came straight home. The kids had time to destroy play in their room while I prepared dinner. Tonight's dinner was homemade pizza or as my kids afffectionately call "Jenny's Pizza". We had this pizza for the first while visiting our friends, Jenny & Olivier in Normandy this summer. Lucky for me, she is the one who taught me how to make bagels too. :) Tonight's pizza was thrown together with ingredients I had left over from last week's market run. 

I didn't make my own crust. Remember this is an easy dinner so I use a premade pizza crust or pate à pizza. Herta is a really good brand. I like their pie crusts and their pizza crust is very tasty. I don't have a circular pan for circular crust so I buy their thick cut rectangular crust. I start by cooking the bacon bits  or lardons. While the bacon is cooking I unroll the crusts onto cookie sheets. You don't need to grease your pans the crust comes rolled in parchement paper that you just unroll onto the cookie sheet. Easy! I let the crust sit while I prepare the fixins for the pizza. At this time I start to make the pizza sauce. This is probably the most labor intensive part of making the pizza. I cut half an onion and press two cloves of garlic and sauté it all together in olive oil until the onions are slightly translucent. Really hard work that smells awesome and at this point the kids always run to the kitchen and tell me over and over again how hungry they are. Your house will smell like bacon, onions and garlic. Three of my favorite smells.

Easy pizza ingredients. #formyblog

Once the onions are translucent you will add the tomato sauce or coulis de tomates I really like the Panzani brand. It's really tasty and saves you time instead of reducing tomatoes down to make your own sauce. For two pizza you probably need 1/4 of a bottle. I used half a bottle because I make tomato sauce for another dinner later on this weekend. You let the coulis de tomates simmer with the onions, garlic and olive oil until it starts to reduce down. You will notice that it will get thicker and slightly lumpy. Season as you like. I use Knorr Secret d'arome which is a pretty handy mix of salt, pepper and herbs that taste lovely when mixed with tomato sauce. Again, remember this is easy tomato sauce. Easy is the name of the game here. I let it simmer for little while longer. Meanwhile, the bacon is probably done. I've been cooking for probably 15 minutes now. I turn off the heat off from the tomato sauce and remove the bacon from the burner.  At this time I pre-heat the oven to 220° C.

Tonight I wanted to make cheezy crust with the pizza so I sprinkled a nice helping of gruyère on the crusts of the pizza. Then you spread the tomato sauce onto the crust. The key here is to only put enough on to thinly coat the crust. Two heaping soup spoons of sauce is enough. If you put too much sauce on there the pizza crust won't cook through in the middle. Then you add your fixins. Tonight I had on hand raw spinach and yellow tomatoes. I had left over grated mozzerella and I sprinkled that all over the place. Again, don't go too crazy on the cheese or else the middle of the pizza won't bake all the way through.  Once done your pizza will look like this:

Tricolor pizza tonight. Bacon, yellow tomatoes and spinach. Gruyere cheesy crust. #dinner

Bake the pizza for 13-15 minutes. My kitchen started to smell heavenly about five minutes in and the kids were back in the kitchen again asking when dinner was ready.

I think I baked my pizza about one minute too long but it still came out really well:

Bon appétit!

Check out that crust! It was amazing. Next time I will add more spinach! I wans't sure what the spinach was going to do in the oven as I had never baked spinach like this before. It baked beautifully and while I was eating dinner tonight I wished I had more spinach on the pizza. Alixe wasn't too keen on the spinach but Maximilien told me he wanted more spinach next time. 

During the school week the kids need to be in bed by 8pm or else they are a wreck in the morning. Dinner needs to be done by 7:30pm so that we have enough time to brush our teeth, read a book or two and go to bed. Getting the kids to bed by 8pm leaves me the evening to finish tea house work or blog and watch a movie which is what I'm doing tonight. Yes! 

If you live in France it will be easy for your find all ingredients at your local supermarket. What kind of easy pizza will you make? 

 


Getting back to things I love...

Things were pretty hectic there for a while. Being pregnant with Alixe and juggling the tea house and then trying to get through the post partum depression after Alixe's birth, I sort of let go of my blog. I sort of let go of everything I liked to do just so that I could get through the to the next day. Next thing I knew, Alixe is two years old and the fog has lifted. I look back through my blog archives over the last couple years and there are just a handful of blog posts about random things happening in my life. I am grateful for those snippits and it reminds me of a hectic time. I look at my life today and feel better that I am in better place with more energy and motivation. 

I see that a lot of my favorite bloggers have moved one to other projects but I don't feel ready to stop writing here. I've always enjoyed having an outlet to put down my thoughts and know that it will be important to me to share these thoughts with my kids someday. 

I've decided to do something with this blog... I may need to find some help with the design of my blog as I am looking for something new and fresh for PutYourFlareOn. Perhaps I will change the name of my blog... I don't know. I am sure there is a process for all this... I'll figure it out. In the meantime, I've rediscovered my kitchen. We recently (last year) had it renovated and I love working in it again. Not really working, just messing around with new recipes. I've been pinning like crazy at Pinterest recipes that I'd like to try. Lately, it's been bagels. The kids love them. Julien loves them and they are surprisingly very easy to make.  

My second try at bagels. I made whole wheat bagels this time and I am thrilled at how they came out. Bagels & Lox for dinner tonight!

Tonight we will have whole wheat bagels and lox for dinner. Looking forward to that! I love that I had my entire day today to spend with my brother, William who is visiting. We had time to go to lunch at my favorite pho restaurant in my neighborhood and then a little grocery shopping and housework and even time for baking before picking up the kids from school today. 

Kids as in Maximilien and ALIXE (!) are in school now. Blog post with photos coming for sure. This is another reason why I feel like things are falling back into a healthier routine for me. We have fallen back into our daily routine that I have grown to love very much. 

So, here's to la rentrée d'ecole for the kids and my own personal rentrée de vie where I find my way back to lost passions and the little things in life that make me smile. 


Another school year comes to an end.

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

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

whoa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Prolonged spring in Paris.

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

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

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

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

Maximilien's first roller coaster ride.

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

Jardin de Séoul at La Jardin d'Acclimatation.

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

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

Screen-capture

 


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.

 

 


Ten

Today Julien and I have been married ten years. Ten. years. It's incredible how I didn't see this milestone coming. I feel like it came just as fast as our wedding day did back in 2002. Julien proposed and a month later we were married. We were tired of the long distant thing and knew that we wanted to be with each other. I ask my mother and father if they would be our witnesses. We decided to get married at the justice of the peace at the court house in Olathe, Kansas. My home town. I remember asking my parents to be our witness. Julien and I had just drove over to their house after I got off work. My father was sitting in the living room and my mother was milling around the kitchen doing several things at once. I asked them like I was asking them permission like a high schooler would for Friday night date. They accepted cheerfully. Julien and I decided on March 6th because it would be a date we would both remember easily. Tomorrow is Julien's birthday. See what I mean?

Since I didn't have a lot of time to plan things between the proposal and the big day I asked off for only a half day from work. I was in the middle of a huge project at work and didn't want to be away an entire day. I remember going into my boss's cubical to ask her if I could have the half day off. She said sure without looking up and asked what I was going to do? I told her that I was going to get married. I remember she dropped her pen and looked at me with her mouth wide open, "What?". I then explained that we were getting married quickly so that Julien and I could stop doing the long distant thing because we were tired of it. She knew what I had been going through the last few months because she could hear me talking on the phone to Julien at work. The Friday we planned to get married came around. I dressed normally for work. Brown slacks and a lovely brown cardigane my mother had given me for Christmas the year before. Heels. Make up done up nicely. My hair straightened. It was long back then. We met at the court house after noon and waited for our turn. I remember my parents looking nice. They dressed up for the occasion. I always remember my mother's perfume she wore when she dressed up. Lauren by Ralph Lauren. My father and mother hugged us when it was our turn to go in front of the judge. I held Julien's hand and remember feeling the warmth in my hand and knowing that this was the right choice. I was so very happy.

I think back to all that we have accomplished in the past ten years and I would never change a thing. Moving to Paris was a very hard thing to do. The choice was easy but once I arrived here life wasn't all that I had dreamed it would be. After a while, I learned that life in Paris as a newlywed, uneployeed and friendless it just as hard as it would have been in Kansas. This is what life was like for Julien when we lived in Kansas. But we had each other. I think back to that first year living together and how excited I would be when he'd come home from work and I'd talk his ear off for an hour straight because I hadn't talked to anyone the entire day. He would listen to be intently. Thinking back to that I realize he was such a good sport listening to me talk about silly stuff happening on the internet because that was all that I had back then.  Over the years our couple grew from being young couple without kids in Paris to young parents trying to juggle it all in Paris. I am sitting in the middle of our kitchen which is pretty messy right now. There are toys on the floor, laundry that needs to be folded and put away. I did the dishes though and have prepared a special dinner for us.

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

I dusted off our crystal candlestick holders that still have the candles in them we recieved as a gift from my Aunt Judy for our wedding. We light these candles on our anniversary every year. I think we missed a few years there when Max and Alixe were first born and we were in a perpetual fog of sleep deprivation. But they still have a lot of wick left to them and I look forward to lighting them for many more anniversaries to come.  I wonder what they will look like in 20 years from now?

I'm just sitting here waiting for Julien to get home from his early birthday present I set up for him tonight. I have to work tomorrow night so we are celebrating everything tonight. Dinner is almost ready, champagne is chilling and candles ready to be lit...

Engagement Photo

 

These last 10 years have been so great, I am looking forward to the next 10 and then the next 10. And the next 10. Lots of love to my dear husband. Looking forward to this next chapter in our lives. I hope it's full of lots of new adventures.


In the midst...

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

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

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

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

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

Petite Citrouille sung by Maximilien from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

Les Petites Marionettes by Alixe from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.

 

 


Our on going kitchen project: the before photos.

If you've ever come to our apartment you will quickly notice that it is the biggest room in the apartment. The phrase life revolves around the kitchen is so very true in our house. We've been living in this apartment for 8 years now. It was supposed to be a temporary stay that turned into a permanent one. With all it's imperfections we grew to love this place. The room, the floor, the plumbing and the electricity is sure in this apartment. It's a more modern apartment building dating between 60-80 years old according to Julien.

The French love doors to all their rooms. Everything in this apartment could be closed of by a door. The first thing we did when we moved in was take the door off the kitchen. Then we finally felt the necessity after 6 years of living in this apartment to knock the wall down. Our family grew from two to four and the time spent in the kitchen pretty much was multiplied by the same number.

Just to give you an idea of the kitchen wall and doorway:


Maximilien, January 2009.

21/365 : Life revolves around the kitchen

Here's a shot from two years ago today. Baby Alixe!  We were mighty cramped when we had people staying with us.  Knocking down the wall we gained two meters in our kitchen. The flow of the room felt less congested and what was a dark and cold hallway now has natural light through out most of the day.

Here are few shots of the kitchen wall before it went down the summer of 2010:

30 Days :: 3
Maximilien, February 2008.

View from the hallway

Bye bye wall!

As you will notice we did things in phases. We had to because it's expensive to renovate and we had to keep living in the apartment while we did it. We had the wall torn down while we were at Belle Ile on summer vacation two years ago.  It was nerve racking to say the least but my brother was supervising while we were gone and everything went fairly well.

And our first view of the wall upon returning to Paris:

The wall is gone!! There is more work to be done but we're moving toward something so very good.
Clearly baby Alixe was not too impressed with the missing wall. August 2010.

This was the beginning of our major renovations to the kitchen. Nothing happened from August 2010 until November 2011. We started to put money aside and planned carefully. We took our time planning because I am horrible at deciding on what I want. This worked out fine because we didn't have anymore vacation time to spend on working on the kitchen and we needed time to save up to make it happen.

I didn't take any photos of the kitchen right before we renovated in November 2011. Too bad. I dug through my Flickr archives and found some shots that will give you a good idea of what a poor lay out our kitchen was.

Here are a few views of the nook portion of our kitchen where our stove and our makeshift cabinets and majority of the storage was:

View from the kitchen door

And this one from the nook towards where the laundry and the kitchen sink was. A total hike when working in the kitchen to go from one side to the other but not surprising in Parisian kitchen layouts. We suspect that when the building recieved their gas lines they pretty much took the easy way to install things along the defunct chimney conduits thus placing the stove on the opposite side of the sink which was installed next to the bathroom. Both of these photos are quite dated having been taken in April 2006 but you get the idea...

30Days :: 7
A view towards the window in the nook where we've moved our sink.

This kid doesn't need toys. He has tupperware and empty boxes. And he loves it!
 
Baby Max is sitting right directly in front of the heater where the future dishwasher will go.

30 Days :: 20
Julien, February 2008.

And a shot of my fabulous husband with the glimpse of the sink and laundry area behind him.

Our plan for the kitchen renovations that took place in November 2011 was to move the kitchen sink from far end of the kitchen over to the nook and place it right under the window by the water heater. Then move the heater (cutting if from the gas line and moving it two feet to the adjacent wall) out of the nook to make space for the dishwasher which means we had to bring an evacuation and a water source over to the kitchen nook. Confused?

Here's a photo of the heater and we moved it from where it was in the nook to where the kitty grass is in this photo:

Directly behind the cook's counter

In the place of the heater we installed the evacuation for the dishwasher and at the same time we had an Ikea kitchen installed. I have to say it was very easy to pick the kitchen perfect for our needs using the Ikea kitchen planning tool online. We were in desperate need of storage and having a U-shaped nook now it was imporant to utilize the corners to the max. As you could see in the previous photos we had random shelving and cabinets installed. Nothing going all the way to the corner and if anything a HUGE waste of space! But that is now over and done with and we are left with a wonderful, functional kitchen nook and I will share photos of that with you later this week...

 

 


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...


Ikea and #growingitout2012

Julien and I went to Ikea tonight. Got a babysitter and everything so we could go child free. Talk about an exciting date night. Actually, it was a work trip to Ikea because we are preparing for a huge tradeshow in February where I hope to sell lots of yummy yarn from my shop to French knitters.

We have to build our stand from scratch so off to Ikea we went to get inexpensive storage for the yarn.

My husband says I look like a playmobil toy.

Here my husband said I look like a Playmobil toy. I didn't take offense to that. Not really.

We started to worry as we were in line to pay because we own the smallest car (not counting The Smart car) in France, The Twingo. And we didn't have the foresight to take the car seats out of our tiny vehicle. So here Julien was faced with a pretty complicated task. I just stood by and watched because deep down I knew he'd make it work. He always makes it work when it comes to packing the car except that one time he crushed my Nikon D200 and cracked the LCD screen when he packed my bag but I'm trying to forget that so let's get back to the story, shall we?

Can we get it all in?

He doesn't look worried at all, does he?

Tada!!

And 15 minutes later... the car was packed perfectly without forcing one single thing. Quite possibly the most impressive thing I've seen all year. Way to start the year off, huh? When we were in the elevator in our apartment Julien told me that my hair sorta looked like a helmet and that reminded me that I needed to post another #growingitout2012 photo.

My hair looks like a helmet. That's what my husband said tonight at Ikea.

I'm not upset about the helmet comment because it really does look helmet-y. My hair is so thick so I am not surprised at all. I know when you are growing it out from this short of a length that trims are inevitable unless I am willing to sport a mullet which I am not okay with this. I think I can hold out a little longer before that first trim to help me on my way to #growingitout2012.

I found this cute little image on Pinterest via some Tumblr blog:

From a tumblr blog that I found via Pinterest.

I've got it on my lock screen on my iPhone and it's been a great motivator for me not to think about getting my hair cut. My ultimate goal is number 7. I am currently at number 1 but not nearly as cute. Sigh.


Back to our routine & #growingitout2012

It's been a busy time since the begining of the new year. I had complete turnover at the tea house that lasted from November to end of December. As you can image it's been a pretty stressful time for us. We decided to up my hours and only hire a part timer to replace my full time employee that left us at the end of December. It took me a couple weeks to get adjusted to the new hours and I feel like it's going to work for us. Before I had Wednesdays off to hang out with Max and take him to his various activities. In France for the younger children in school there isn't school on Wednesdays. It seems a little strange but it's a nice break for him and he is only four. Now on Wednesdays, I take Maximilien to his morning English class and he comes back to the tea house with me and hangs out while I prepare for the day. Usually I work the lunch service with someone so I have time to hang out, eat lunch with Max before getting to work at noon. Julien comes over on his lunch break to take Maximilien to his tennis lesson and he bikes over and hangs out at the tea house while Max is in class. For the moment this is working for us as long as Julien doeslun't have any nch meetings. Then in the afternoon, Max hangs out with me at the tea house while I work tea time. So far it's been pretty fun as the customers are used to seeing him at the tea house.  He helps out by clearing tea cups and giving menus to customers once they have been seated. He even helps me dry dishes. He has his own reserved table where he can come and go as he pleases and often Max is striking up conversation with the people who happen to sit next to him. I love that he is at ease talking with my customers and they just love talking to him too.

Some days it's quiet like it was this week:

Quiet day at the tea house.

Maximilien and I had time to have a post tennis rooibos tea together. And before I could finish my second cup of tea L'OisiveThé was full and I was busy serving tea to weary shoppers. This is the first week of Les Soldes in France. I was left with this after they left:

A storm of people came and had their gouter and now they are gone. All in under an hour...

Before I knew it was closing time and I needed to prepare to go get Alixe from the creche to make dinner for the kids.

Closing up the terrasse. Served a few brave tea drinkers outside today. @loisivethe

Wednesday nights will be dinner night at the tea house. We are going to try this out through the end of the school year to see how it works for us. This week we had oeuf à la coque which the kids love.

New routine! Weds night dinner at L'Oisivethé.  @loisivethe

I think this new weekly routine is going to work out well for us. I love having the kids at the tea house and now that Alixe is a bit older and more autonomous I know she will be alright if I have to serve a customer a tea while she plays in the toy corner.

Today was the first day of the weekend we were pretty much back to normal. We slept in late after a late night of getting everyone to sleep. Both kids are in the midst of vivid nightmares and wake up once or twice a night usually end up in our bed. Last night, we had both kids with us. When Alixe slept in until 10am this morning we were all very pleasently surprised and well rested. We got up and headed out to Breakfast in America for our regular late morning breakfast and park play.

SuperDad & SuperSquirt @ BIA

Milkshake. Four straws.

Mmmmm. Good.

Paris parc play

Sun glorious sun!

It was quite cold today in Paris but the sun was out which made the day a crisp cold which I like.  The light in Paris was gorgeous today. We were out at the park until after 5pm and the sun hadn't set yet. The days are getting longer...

I stopped in a couple times to the tea house today to make sure all was well. I can't imagine living far away from my business. I am lucky that I live and work all within a ten minute walk. A five minute bike ride. Even though I am not there my employees know they can call me and I can be there in five.

I end this post with the first photo I took today which was a photo of me right straight out of bed.

First thing this morning. #growingitout

And my last photo today:

End of the day hair. It's starting to get out of control. #growingitout2012

I have set the goal for my self to grow my hair out this year.  I have a some twitter friends playing along and we are using the hashtag #growingitout2012. Feel free to join us in the fun! Growing it out will be a difficult task for me as I am addicted to getting my hair cut and I love my fabulous hair stylist, Stephane.  I'm going on nearly two months without a hair cut...shaggy? Not yet.


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!

Us


From France to the US and back: Pennsylvania

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

Max and Rowan

Fun with photo booth

Morning fun

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

Reading

Fast buddies

Only 6 months apart

Bisous!

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

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

My boyMaximilien, my happy four year old.

 

Next up... Washington DC and Virginia. 

 


Holding on...

22 months old.

 

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

She wants to ride!

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

October sun

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

Cheese!

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


Lazy Sunday

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


A well loved book

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

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

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

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

I sense a Sunday routine settling in.

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

Cake!

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

A lazy, perfect Sunday.


Getting back to the things I love...

Pregnancy did amazing things for my skin. It changed drastically and seemed to not age. I completely stopped using all skin care products because they didn't work. Sadly after 9 months of not being used I had to throw out my beloved skin care products. They had expired. Miraculously, my skin maintained itself between pregnancies. I picked up a basic 1-2-3 skin care regime from Clinique and that was it. Now Alixe is almost two years old and I've noticed I've got a new face now. I see a few spots on my face that were once cute little freckles that have now turned to more suspiciously (slightly) dark spots. I also noticed more wrinkles around the eyes though those don't bother me much I have noticed that I am getting pimples again! Ack.

So, I'm back to using products again. I was honestly hesitant at first. It felt liberating to stop using all the product. Don't get me wrong, I love taking care of my skin but it was just that. The fact that I stopped using the skin care products, I actually stopped taking care of my skin. More often then I'd like to admit I went ot bed without washing my face. Granted I don't wear makeup, I still have Paris city on my face that wasn't washed off until the next morning. So here I am easing myself back into it because the market has changed so much in the last 4 years that I don't know what is the new technology these days.

Surfing around the net I found a few French bloggers talking about Jolie Box. Every month you are sent generous samples of new and up coming products in skin care and body care. The concept interested me immediately and I signed up for my year of Jolie boxes. One box a month for twelve months.

I got my first one today:

My October @jolibox has arrived! What's inside? :)

Already the packaging is amazingly pretty. I love all things pretty so this made a huge impression on me. Everything was delicately wrapped up inside. Upon opening the box I found that this months products were all from Kiehl's. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this brand It's crazy expensive in France but when I go home I always pick up a few comfort products like their lip balm that I love and their body lotion. And guess what goodies I received this month?

Kiehl's products in this month's @joliebox. One if my favorite skincare brands. Love their lip balm for obvious reasons and I'm excited to try the Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

Two of my favorite Kiehl's products! Also one that I am very interested in trying out, Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Included in the Jolie Box is a very large sampling of Kiehl's Amino Acid Shampoo and Ultra Face cream. Two products that I have never tried before.

I'll check back in with my thoughts on these goodies. Looking forward to next month's Jolie Box. †


A busy week at the tea house

I did not even see last week go by with all the activities going on at the tea house. I clocked a 60 hour work week. It's been a couple years since I've done that. I'm way out of practice and my body reminded me of this around the 50 hour mark. Thank goodness my husband was able to help me out with the evenings and picking up the kids from school/creche. Why so busy? We had several things going on last week, I hosted Ysolda Teague for two days as she did a book signing for her new book, Little Red in the City and stayed for knitting night on Wednesday night. Then Thursday she was back again to teach her masterclass on how to make the perfect sweater. If you ever have a chance to attend this class I recommend it. It really taught me a lot about yarn selection, the importance of swatching and how to measure oneself correctly to knit the right size!

All incredibly fun and rewarding days at the tea house but before we go to the fun stuff we had to deal with some no so fun stuff like my toilets breaking or to be more precise someone breaking my toilet! On Sunday two weeks ago, someone broke my toilet. Talk about a major pain, we had a plumber come in pretty quickly. He tried to fix the toilet without replacing the whole thing but after an hour of working on the toilet he realized it had to be replaced. We had already gone two days without a toilet. Yeah, fun times explaining that one to my customers. Most were understanding and some were not. Ah, c'est la vie. Something I've learned owning my own business is that when one thing breaks two other things follow right along and do the same thing. The next thing to go was my coffee machine. Out of the blue it made all the fuses in the tea house blow in the middle of brunch service ON A SUNDAY. If you have ever been to the tea house on Sunday at brunch you know what I'm talking about. Tea house full with people waiting for their coffee, obviously. After 15 minutes of trying to figure out what the heck was the matter we realized the coffee machine plugged in AND turned off was still making the fuses blow. Bad sign. Coffee machine is off being repaired. We have been coffee-less for four days now. It's very sad because the coffee at the tea house is excellent and I can't bring myself to drink coffee anywhere else. So, what is next to break? Something important, right? My oven! The confection fan has decided to be a diva and will not turn when needed. Sometimes it turns and sometimes it doesn't. I don't know how to make cakes without the confection portion of my oven. Baking our savory tarts and puff pastry is okay without the confection fan but not the same. Looks like I will have to shell out some euros for a new oven soon. Something I just hadn't counted on... and it's the end of the trimester for us. if you own a small business you know what this means? Time to PAY! Taxes, rent, salaries, every thing the government likes to tax us on all falls at the same time in October. Why not add a new toilet, oven and espresso machine on top of it? And I have two beloved employees leaving us and must fine replacements... when it rains, it pours.

I still love being my own boss, though. :) 60 hours, a new toilet, coffee machine, oven, etc.. It's all for me to deal with but you tend to forget the tedious stuff like this when you get to have good days of making people happy. The two days Ysolda visited I was thrilled to have her. Not only because she's an inspiration to me but that I was able to bring this opportunity to my customers: the knitters. They were so pleased to have a chance to talk to her and ask her questions and just knit with her. The feeling is addicting. I love making people happy. I am so grateful that I get to do this everyday in my job.

So, instead of dwelling on the back office stuff going on at the tea house I'm going to share some photos from Ysolda's book signing and knitting night. Such a fun night to be able to spend time with someone who has really changed the face of knitting. Ysolda has accomplished so much at her young age and really is an expert. Listening to her talk about the importance of swatching and knitting maths, as she says, really changed my views about these two aspects of knitting that I sort of shy away from. And one more thing, Ysolda is the nicest person I've met in a long time!

Waiting for Ysolda to arrive...

Prepping for Ysolda's book signing

Tricothe: Sept 21, 2011

Tricothe: Sept 21, 2011

Trying on Ysolda's sweaters at her trunk show.

Tricothe: Sept 21, 2011

Love the mismatched buttons on the Laika

Tricothe: Sept 21, 2011

See more photos form Ysolda's visit here.


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...



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.

Sigh.

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:

Treatment

Treatment

Treatment

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?



Daily gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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! 


Back to work...

It's been a busy, busy time for us the last month and half. Maximilien started school. Alixe started going to the creche. And Mama went back to work. It's been a booming time at the tea house I feel that my customers are happy that I am back. En tout cas, I am super happy to be back. My body was sore and achy the first two weeks of working the lunch service again but I got my groove back pretty quickly. The yarn business has been on semi-hold the last year I've been on maternity leave. But now that I am back I threw a bit of elbow into the renovations at the tea house (of course with big help from Julien and my brother, William) and things are starting to take form.

Tricot Matin, Special Yarn On Stage @ L'OisiveThé

I've started hosting a Saturday morning knitting group at the tea house. A very good time slot for me since a) I'm already up! b) the tea house is closed in the mornings so it makes it a private time for JUST THE KNITTERS c) having two knitting sessions during the week is AWESOME.

Tricot Matin, Special Yarn On Stage @ L'OisiveThé

Today was a special edition of Tricot Matin to celebrate the launch of the Yarn On Stage yarn program. Knitters got up early this morning to come to be the first to get their hands on the 10 limited editions yarns from ten of today's most popular indie dyers. I had kept the box closed for three days, I have to say that I was pretty excited putting out the yarn this morning. Though I didn't have time to knit one stich for myself today (which is just fine by me because I have my Weds nights) I was so happy to serve breakfast to happy knitters and help them choose the right colors for their projects in mind. I can't tell you how happy it makes to sell yarn to happy knitters.

Hopefully you can get a feel for the cozy Tricot Matin we had today and if you're in Paris and you're looking for a place to knit come and join us!

 


Adaptation

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

Max3.5BelleIle

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

Alixe8.5MosBelleIle

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

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

 


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.


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.