We've arrived...

We arrived in Quiberon early and were able to visit the beach for a quick dip of our feet into the ocean before our ferry to Belle Ile. Julien and Max were able to explore while Alixe and I stayed shaded from the sun. Alixe's skin is still fragil due to the chicken pox so we will be staying indoors for a few more days to be safe.

Plage de Quiberon

The boat ride from Quiberon to Le Palais was perfect. One of the best ones I can remember. The air was crisp but not too cold. The salt in the air refreshing. I must have been born on a boat in another life. There is nothing like being on a boat in the middle of the ocean with the sea air blowing in your face. I can't get enough of it.

On the boat to Belle Ile. I love the trip from Quiberon to Belle Ile because there is a moment when we are in between the continent and Belle Ile where you can't see land on either side. It's only for a couple minutes but it's so exhilarating the feeling of being out to sea. Nothing surrounding you but the big blue. All this coming from a Kansas girl. The ocean was hard to come by growing up.

Bye, bye Quiberon!
This is Maximilien's fourth visit to Belle Ile. I hope he will have vivid memories of our summer trips here.

On y est presque!
The view of Belle Ile as we approach the port city of Le Palais. The family house is over to the left near the tip of the island.


Belle Ile! Arriving to Le Palais is always exciting. Today we were lucky to have Julien's brother waiting for us at the port. Seeing people wave at you as the boat arrives is really fun. I enjoy spending early mornings at Le Palais having coffee and watching the boats arrive.


Arriving at Le Palais! Can you spot Ton Ton Lorin?
View of the ocean from Le Palais.
It was high tide when we arrived and the port was filled with boats. This impressed Alixe as she yelled, "bateau" at the sight of them.

We barbecued and put the kids to bed. The sounds of the sea crashing on the beach in the distance lulled them to sleep. I turned in early which is not very common for me but the pull of the ocean sounds was too strong. Now it's 3:44am and everyone is fast sleep. I am awake listening to the ocean and taking in the stars. The sky here is amazing. No city lights, no pollution and no sound but the ocean meeting the beach. I am amazed at how I have learned to tune out the city buzz after all these years living in Paris. The calm of Belle Ile reminds me of Kansas. This is probably why I love this place so much.

Keeping busy as we drive across France.



Roadtripping to the sea...#instagram #vacation #france
We're on our way to our beloved Belle Ile en Mer for a much needed break. A break from the chicken pox, the daily grind and the constant buzz of the City of Lights. Looking forward to spending lazy days on the beach, sleeping, eating crepe, barbecuing and catching up with good friends.

Crossing into La Bretagne, the air feels fresh and clean. I can't wait for that first dip in the sea!

What is wrong with me?

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

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

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

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

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


I need some advice...

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

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

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

Can you believe that?

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

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?



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

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

My girl and her many faces...

Laughter:

6 :: 12

Joy:

7 :: 12

Curiosity:

8 :: 12

Determination:

9 :: 12

Dou Dou:

10 :: 12

Love:

11 :: 12


ADORABLE:

12 :: 12

12 faces of Alixe. 12 faces I adore.


Alixe, 19 months old.

Figolu are good.

Alixe, 19 months.

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

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


Daily gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2, 3, 4 & 5

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

Here are shots my shots two through five:


2 :: 12

3::12

4::12

5::12

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


1 :: 12

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

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

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


Here is shot number one:


One of twelve


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

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


The end of school, the start of summer.

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

 

Butterfly by Maximilien, age 4.

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

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

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

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

Last  day of school!!

Check him out at the beginning of the school year:

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

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

She speaks...

Can you guess what she's saying here?

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

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

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

Julien and the bubs at Locmaria

Secret beach on the Côte Sauvage

End of day...

Crab!

Claiming napkin rings

Plate full of goodness

Mama and Alixe

Dou Dous Packed!

I wish we could leave tomorrow...


Stranger, Danger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


18 months in a blink of an eye

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


Alixe, this morning.


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

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


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


Oldie but a goodie: Alixe 5 days old.


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


A month for mother

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

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

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

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

The next photo I posted on Facebook was this one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Mama butterfly kisses. Photo taken by Julien.

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

I am proud to be a mama to these guys:

Mama & Max

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

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

Rounding out our family to a happy four:

Yes, we are silly.

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

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


Weekend trip with my boy

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

Gotta catch a train!

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

Hi daddy!!

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

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

Checking out all the people getting off the train in Dijon

 

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

 

Meme pas tired!!!

 

Two minutes later he looked like this:

Passed out two minutes later...

 

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

 

We woke up the next day and had breakfast.

 

Just for fun....

 

and played under the table.

 

Face-off! Keeping Baika away from the Playmobil

 

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

 

Saturday cuddles

 

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

 

Centre ville

 

ice cream:

 

Walk through centre ville

 

Comté cheese:

 

Picking up some comté 18mos

 

Mmmmmm

 

Bunnies made of cheese!

 

and chocolate!

 

Paques

 

Could a Saturday afternoon get any better than that?

 

Hi!

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

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

 

Happy dou dou!

 

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

 

Au revoir! Photo by my father in law.

 

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

 

My FIL the iphoneographer.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Crisp day for the train

 

Fields of gold

 

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

 

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

 

Attitude

 

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

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


Life

My life is full. I am grateful to be able to type this and realize it at the same time. Last week, my husband's grandmother passed away after living a full life. I am grateful that my children were able to spend time with her in their way. Though Alixe will not remember her we will try our hardest to keep reminding Maximilien and Alixe about Mamé. It's nothing like losing someone you are close to to make you really stop and think about life. The same week that Mamé passed away a friend of Julien and I's was killed in car accident in Brazil. Hughes and his wife, Andrea, were lost in the accident and their 2 year old son is in serious condition and still in the hospital.  A blog post was written about him by one of his photography friends.  I've known Hughes almost as long as I have lived in Paris.  I remember a conversation we had the last time I saw him at my tea house. We were talking about photography and how in the moment the photo is taken that memory will stay with us for a lifetime. It's so very true. I don't ask myself why I am taking all these photos all the time. The happiness I feel looking at them days, months, years after the fact is reason enough.   I have these moments when I just need to grab my children, hold them close, nestle my nose into their necks and breathe them in. Remembering that moment. Trying my hardest to etch every emotion and feeling into my mind.

After all the loss we experienced then Maximilien's 4th birthday came. My baby is FOUR YEARS OLD. I still wonder how this has happened so fast. I can still feel him kicking me in my belly sometimes. Is that weird or normal? I look at baby photos of him...

Four years ago today I became a Mother.

Four years ago, he made me a mother. I remember it like it was just yesterday. And oh, how he has changed...

He really isn't into the camera these days...

 

He's such an inquisitive little guy. Very funny too.

He makes up stories and songs. He's very, very good at drawing and coloring. Budding artist? Perhaps.

Keeping busy

You can see that he is a happy, happy child. He has the joie de vivre for sure.

And Alixe chased after him...

Max is sweet and caring. He holds the door open for people in our building. He says thank you to the cars that stop for him so he can cross the street. All the teachers and administrators at school know who he is. He hugs his teacher every morning.

Something new that Max has been thinking about is me as his Mommy. He realizes that I have friends and relationships with other people other than just Daddy and Alixe. He asks me if when I'm at the tea house if I am still his Mommy? Or if after we have a fight and then make up he asks if I am still his Mommy when I am mad. Happy, sad, mad... no matter what I tell him, I will always be his Mommy. Forever. "Foreva?" he asks.  And I respond, "Yes, of course. FOREVER. He sticks out his pinky and asks me to pinky promise. We do and then he tells me that he loves me T H I S   M U C H and he holds his arms out as wide as he can. My heart swells to epic proportions.

These are the moments I never want to forget.

As much as Maximilien loves his Mommy, I think that he may love his sister more and vice versa. Alixe adores her brother.

She adores her brother

 

 

These two are a pure joy to see together.

 

Siblings

Alixe started walking shortly after the beginning of her 14th month. She just decided to get up and walk and boy, did she! No stumbling around to cruising for her.

Alixe's first walk at the park

As much as I find parenting a girl different than parenting a boy, I never thought for a second that such a little girl could teach me so much about myself. Alixe on a daily basis is a constant exercise of patience for me. She has a very strong personality. My father says it's the Osbourn in her. Maximilien is a mini Julien. Alixe is a mini me.

Apparently she is the bruiser in her class at the creche but someone finally fought back...

My father said something to me that struck true. I asked him if I was like Alixe when I was her age. Temper tantrums. Very clear about what she wants. LOUD. My father said to me that if I was like that my mother would never have stood for it. I know what he meant because I don't stand for this behavior.  Just tonight, Alixe and I had a face off, literally, I was in her face telling her to calm down and she just stopped, stared at me and wouldn't back down. And if anyone who knows me knows I can be stubborn, I wasn't going to give in to this little girl. We sat on the floor staring at each other until Alixe finally gave in, leaned in and fell into my arms for a hug. And in that moment all my frustrations melted away as my heart exploded with love.

I put my kids to bed tonight taking time to play and snuggle them. I hope that maybe they will remember these moments when they are older as I remember my mother coming in to check on me while I slept (or lay with my eyes closed). How she would cover me up and I would hear her say sleep well in Korean.  Her voice very clear in my mind even today.


Out and about

17::365 Out and about today. Business meeting then a bit of walking in search of running shoes on sale. I hardly leave my neighborhood anymore. Very Parisian to stay in one's neighborhood. Everything I need is with in a 4 block radius of my apartment. I enjoyed my outing today reminded me of times when I was younger before I had kids. I walked in front of a familiar cafe we used to frequent as a young married couple and hanging around Chatelet I was reminded of the very first knitting group I was apart of us. Seems like a dream ago but all the memories are still fresh in my mind. I've always liked this building. I know it was a sort of a controversy when it was first built. Some called it an eye sore. I don't agree. The Tour de Montparnasse is an eye sore and out of place. I like the juxtaposition of this modern building (though built 33 years ago!) amongst the classic Parisian architecture. I will never forget the first time I saw it, I was in high school on my very first trip to France. My French teacher compared the building to a public bathroom with it's plumbing on the outside of the building. Obvious, he did not like the building. It was a strange thing to say...but I remember clearly disagreeing with him (in my mind) and thinking the building was pretty amazing. Photo from my 365 photo project over on Tumblr.

Memory

9::365

 

I always walk by this laundromat on my way home from work on Sunday nights. It’s usually always empty and I always walk slowly looking at the bubbles on the windows and the yellow machines in a row in the background. A distinct memory of my mother always appears in my mind. It’s a memory of my mother and I in the laundromat in centre ville in Besançon, France. I was a working as a teacher and my parents had come to visit me for two weeks. We headed to the laundromat to do some washing. I was busy putting clothes in the washer while a French woman was muttering to herself in French and literally scratching her head because she didn’t know how to work the machine. My mother observed her for a few minutes. Then she got up, walked across the room to the woman and stood next to her. They did not speak but the woman made a gesture towards the machine like, “how do you make it work?”. My mother reached out and pushed the button to make the machine go. The button was marked “ON”. The French woman smiled and thanked her in French. My mother smiled and came back to sit next to me. She looked at me and smiled and said, “The machine is in English”. I looked at all the machines and they were ALL marked in English. It hadn’t occurred to me that they were not in French. I smiled at my mother as I could see she was so pleased she could help someone even doing something as simple as pushing the “on” button on the washing machine. This was the way she was. Always helping people out whenever and wherever she’d go.

I feel like sometimes I am forgetting her. It’s sometimes that feeling you have when you try to remember a dream you just had. Fleeting moments that come to me when I’m sleeping when I wake up I am so desperate to keep them close all the while my mind is pushing them away. I don’t know why this happens to me.

I am realizing that it is the little memories that tend to be the most precious to me. Sure there are the milestones and birthdays and firsts to remember. There will probably be photos of those moments for sure. I want to remember the moments in between hence my reason for doing a 365 photo project this year. And who knows… maybe I’ll just do it every year from now on…


365 Friday Recap

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

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

6::365

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

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

 

I also really like today's photo:

7::365

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

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


Flash back!

Cheeky Monkey

My flash wasn't calibrated correctly but whatever... sometimes I just don't have time to worry about things like that. I didn't want to miss this shot because it reminded so much of a shot I took of Max at this age. Either I have a good memory or my memory is shot because I only remember things by the photos I take?

Cheeky Monkey

And yes, that's orange crayon drool on Alixe's t-shirt. She smiled later and had it on her teeth like it was lipstick except bright orange! Made for interesting diapers later that day.


New beginnings...

I've been thinking about what to do about this blog. I have had some sort of blog under the name of PutYourFlareOn for nearly 8 years now. EIGHT YEARS. This blog has seen me through my move to Paris, the first years of my marriage to Julien, my first job in France, my mother passing away, the birth of my first child, the opening of my own business & the birth of my second child. With each passing event in my life I found that I blogged less and less. Every time I think about stopping I feel a tinge in my heart as to say "don't do it". I get a lot of pleasure reading old entries and remembering moments long forgotten. 

I intend to keep blogging. I'm just not sure in what capacity yet.

Alixe is one now. She had her birthday on December 1st. I can't even express the joy she brings to my life and how much she has made me realize how important a daughter is to a mother. Even at 12 months she teaches me things about myself that I didn't know. Through the good and bad I am grateful to have her in my life.

Happy New Year!

Part of the reason I haven't blogged much in 2010 is Alixe. The addition of the second child into our life wasn't as seamless as I thought it would be. I honestly didn't realize how difficult it would be juggling it all. Several things in my life were just put aside because it wasn't important. The first six months after Alixe was born I was in true survival mode. Surviving the waves of emotions I felt everyday, the depths of depression I felt every moment of the day while caring for a newborn and a toddler. I felt resentment, anger, sadness, grief and massive fatigue. Though I can't remember much of what went on the few months after Alixe was born I know that I wouldn't have been able to make it through unless Julien was there to help me. I reflect back to that time and it seems so long ago. The memories of that dark time are starting to fade and to be honest I am glad to let them go.

It is amazing to me still the difference between my children. First of all they look very different (which I love) and they act very different. Where Maximilien was brusing through toys, Alixe is gentle and very delicate in the way she plays. Alixe is already starting to talk when at this time Max was ready to walk. They eat differently.  Alixe cries a lot more than Maximilien ever did. Max slept (and still does very well) and Alixe just doesn't sleep.

The weeks leading up to Alixe's birth I had insomnia and would stay up late reading blogs from other mother's about their experience adding a second child. Some were positive, some were negative... in the end they painted a picture for me of how things could be for me. And now looking back I should have been knitting more instead of reading those blogs. 

Now that 2010 is over I feel a weight has been lifted. I feel excited for 2011 and the projects I have planned for our family and myself. This is going to be a different year for us. A new beginning. There are no new babies in our future instead lots of plans to nurture and play with our two lovely children. I have plans to expand the tea house business. I also have plans to travel this year. And finally I have plans to care for myself. I feel like I have been taking care of everyone else this past year and now its my turn to take care of myself.

Reflection

Let's not forget about this guy. My little guy. Carrying him home last night at 4 am, he felt so big. I smelled his neck as he nuzzled in close to me. He smelled of baby lotion the same that I used when he was baby.  Max will be 4 years old in March. FOUR. I look at this photo and still see his baby eyes looking at me.  Maximilien is in the midst of new beginnings as well. He started school in the fall of 2010. He's testing his boundaries and learning patience around his little sister. He has never once shown any jealousy towards her and this is a true testament to his loving and joyous nature.

Happy New Year!

Here's to 2011, a year of new beginnings... I hope the new year brings much happiness to you.


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.


The bubs

The older Alixe gets the more fun it becomes for Max. He is smitten for his petite soeur and Alixe adores her grand frère.I am surprised that my little three and half year old has the attention span to play with his little sister. The last few weeks Max as said to me on several occasions that he'd rather play in his room with his sister than go out to the park or the library. Max builds intricate train tracks and let his sister rip them apart. He doesn't get upset instead he just starts again so she can come destroy it again. He's always giving his sister calin and bisous. Holding her hand while we walk and she rides in the pousette. He is anxious for her to walk and often asks when she will have her own trotinette and they can go to the park and ride together.

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (6 of 7)
Soon, my son, soon... your sister will be chasing after you before you know it. Until then, these two find their own ways to have fun. While taking these photos they spent 10 minutes putting and pulling off a hat. Endless fun and giggles. They may not remember this moment in a few years from now but I know I will because it was here that I realized that our family is complete with the four of us.

 

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (2 of 7)

 

MaxAlixeChairPortraits (5 of 7)


Busier than ever and then everything stops...

Sunday I was busy getting the kids ready for an afternoon out. Julien was covering my shift at the tea house. Such a busy time in our lives right now. And while my mind was thinking about things to come later in the week I had one second of inattentativeness with Alixe and the next thing I knew she had catapulted herself off of her brother's 4.5 foot high loft bed and landed flat on her back and banged the back of her head. The sound still haunts me. I picked her up immediately. She didn't cry right away because the fall had knocked the wind from her but once she found her voice the cry was like nothing I had ever heard before. I rushed her to my bedroom and looked at her. She had stopped crying by the time I put her on the bed but her nose was bleeding profusely. The moments after that are sort of a blur, I remember grabbing some clothes from my dirty clothes basket and throwing them on and then throwing clothes at Max to put on as I rushed to put my shoes on. We live right across from our pediatrician's office so my first thought was to run over there and see Alixe's Ped. But it was Saturday afternon and they were closed! Carrying Alixe and holding Max's hand we walked back to the apt and I called Julien. He was home in 5 minutes. We called le quinze to see what we should do. By then it had been 15 minutes since Alixe fell. I had gotten her nose to stop bleeding and she was surprisingly acting completely normal. It freaked me out even more. We were strongly advised to head to the nearest pediatric hospital to have alixe checked out. And we were off and less than 30 minutes after the accident we were waiting in line to get Alixe checked in. The waiting room was filled with sick/injured children but suprisingly they took us in right away. Her fall apparently pushed her to the front of the waiting line. I felt bad for the parents we bypassed but also felt relief that we were going to be seen right away. At this moment, I was convinced that I had caused permenant brain damage to Alixe.

The doctor ran a few physical tests on Alixe and everything checked out well but head injuries in babies can manifest themselves differently so they wanted to keep Alixe for observation. They checked us into a private room and then watched her. The room had a window where the nurses and doctors could see Alixe while she sat and played. I was encouraged to feed her dinner and then try to put her to bed. Finally after 4 hours of trying to rocker to sleep, Alixe gave in and fell asleep on her own. So tired she slept practically sitting up. They hooked up monitors to her to watch her heart rate and breathing and to make sure she was getting enough oxygen to her brain. They told me that I should sleep because it was going to be a long night. Yeah, right... sleep?! I couldn't stop staring at the machine and her vital stats.

 

HospitalMonitor
I watched this machine for 6 hours. 3 of the hours Alixe slept. I learned that my daughter indeed can sleep deeply. This is something I highly doubted until now. I also learned she has moments of apnea when she sleeps (!) which kinda freaks me out but the doctor reassured me that it's normal. After 6 hours of monitoring they let us go home. Alixe has been her cheery self ever since and I am slowly letting go of the image of her falling out of my head.

I was talking with a friend about parenting and how it's all trial and error. You learn from your mistakes. At one point, I said to her kids are forgiving and if you make a mistake they will forgive you. Look what I did? I let my kid fall on her head and she still loves me. Ok, maybe that's a big extreame but I learned from all the tweets from my Mama friends that these things happen. Such is life. Time to move forward and not look back.

 

 

 

 


We're back...

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

Epic bedhead this morning

 

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

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

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


This is my blog.

And I have neglected you for so long.

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

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

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

Here are some of my favorite photos from past trips:

26 weeks

26 weeks pregnant with Maximilien

Port Coton - Belle Ile en Mer

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

Great Grandmother & Max

Meeting his great grandmother for the first time.

Mother and Son

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

The one I love...

Julien, my love.

Chasing seagulls

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

Contemplating the sea

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

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

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

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

Alixe et Mama

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


Agrandir le plan

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

Good night.


Oh hey...It's June.

Yeah, June. huh?

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

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

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

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

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

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

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

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

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




Different

MaxAlixe5months

Look at these two faces! It's hard for me not to see the similarities because these are my children.  But so many people have commented on how Alixe and Maximilien really look different from each other. In each of their faces I see my mother's nose, my father's nose, my husband's hair line, my hair line, my husband's mouth, my mouth. One has blues eyes. The other has brown. Chatting with my father recently over Skype he mentioned that Alixe's foot looks like mine. It really does! It looks just like my mother's...

Genetics is an awesome thing. Almost awesome enough for me to want to have a third. Almost. 

I have been really enjoying looking back at Julien and I's baby photos to see who Alixe and Max look like the most.  Maximilien is pretty much a mini Julien and Alixe is turning out to be a mini me. I admit that I am thrilled. It seems perfect that Julien and I have a little version of us. Our family of four feels so very right to me.


He made me a mother... she taught me the meaning of love...

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

They make my life amazing. Needless to say that my life is so much fuller with my children in it. Not to say I didn't have a good life before Maximilien and Alixe. But now I truly understand how my mother felt raising the five of us. The love she had for each of us. Different yet the same. How each child must have brought a new dimension to her life. I now understand that because each of my children bring me a different outlook on life and love.

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

Maximilien brought back a breath of fresh air into my life at a time when I needed it the most. Alixe is showing me that motherhood is a challenge I enjoy and LOVE. Both of my children are very different and I am grateful for that. The difference in their personalities keep me on my toes and keep everyday fresh. At three years old and 5 months old these two are as thick as thieves. Everyday I look forward to seeing them interact and am amazed at how they bring comfort to each other.

I know it's not Mother's Day in France but in the US it was yesterday. Lucky me I get to celebrate it twice in one month.  Mother's Day has obviously taken a new meaning for me since I became a mother but I still reflect upon the my Omma and how amazing she was in this role. I say it again as I say it to myself very often I appreciate my mother so much more now that I have little ones of my own. I wish I could have told her this but I know she's enjoying the show from a distance and speaking volumes to me through my very own children. 

image from farm1.static.flickr.com


Today's Toddler

Max iphone batman 3yr

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

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

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

Oh, hi there... I am still here.

My poor blog. I've neglected you so long. It isn't anything you did. It's me no, no... it's actually Alixe. We're still in the midst of poor sleep at our house. Going on nearly 5 months of it I have started to get used to the disoriented feeling I have every morning I wake up and the sort of hazy feeling I have all day long. That being said, life is kinda hard right now because we're supposed to sleep at night and as much as I try to get used to the idea of forgoing this my silly brain can't let go. So these days,  I focus on three things:  Alixe, Max and my business. Sorry, my dear husband... you're in a close fourth. I know, I KNOW.... what a sucky wife I have been lately.

It's really HORRIBLE what sleep deprivation does to one's life. I feel for those people who suffer from insomnia and wonder how anyone could function so long like this. Example of the fragmented sleep we get, last night Alixe went to bed at 8pm. I *should* have gone to bed but had some baking and sewing that HAD to get done. I went to bed at 11pm and she woke up. Baby radar? You betcha. I nursed her and put her back to bed. ONE HOUR LATER, she woke up again. Julien is a DEEP sleeper and did not stir at all. I waited 3 minutes just to see if he'd go to her but nothing happened so I got up. I can't handle Maximilien waking up too at midnight. I nursed her and put her back to bed. She woke up again at 2am, 4am and 6am. The 2, 4, 6 hours of the night must be her magic numbers because she does this ALL THE TIME. Drives me bonkers. I can't let her cry because she's in our room and it DRIVE ME BONKERS. Julien sleeps through it. Bless his heart, I have no idea how he does but can he teach me?? Then on top of all this, I am sick. So, sleep deprivation + sick + nerves raw = disaster. I woke up Julien at 6am and said, "HELP!". He took her into the kitchen and I got a whole 15 minutes of uninterrupted sleep until Max woke up and came for cuddles. As tired and cranky as I am I can't say no to my three year old's cuddles. He likes to draw pictures on my face with his finger when I am trying to sleep. I can't sleep when he does this but it makes me feel so loved so I sacrifice sleep to let him draw on my face. 

Then this morning Ooshop delivered at 7:45am. I had to be up for that. I came out of the bedroom to crying baby, my three year old asking me, "Why, mommy? why is the door ringing" and my husband dashing around getting ready to leave for the day. I stood and watched the scene and thought, "wow, this is my life".

So, things like my blog have been put off to the back burner so to speak... just no time. I had good intention to post a photo a day for a 365 photo book for 2010. Ah, there are a few days forgotten but some how I still manage to take at least one photo a day. *hugs her iPhone*

Photo family collage April 2010

Screen-capture-2

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

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


Letting go

55/365 : Letting go

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

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

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

57/365 : Out & About

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

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

56/365 : My little thumb suckers

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


It's coming...

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

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

53/365 : It's coming...

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

Trying to catch up with time

I can hardly believe how big Maximilien seems to me these days. In the early days of Alixe's arrival he seemed like a giant next to little Alixe. It made the melancholy I felt in the early days magnify because it became so obvious to me that my first born wasn't really a baby anymore.

44/365 : Home sick and happy about it

Next month he will turn three. THREE. I can't believe three years ago I gave birth to my little stinker that I adore. I mean, I honestly am shocked at how fast time flies. Having children really accentuates how fast it really does pass. Ferris Bueller said it best, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it" My maternity leave ends this month and as much as I really want to go back to work I am realizing that maybe I'm not all that ready to do so. I have the opportunity and the means to stay home a bit longer and I am going to try to do that. Because it's such a short amount of time my kids are little like this and I don't want to miss it. I don't want 5 years to pass and for me to feel like I've missed out anything. I don't want to miss even the littlest things. Max has taken to singing a lot these days. Mostly Christmas carols he learned at the Creche and a few tunes he makes up on his own. His language improves everyday and more more he is losing his baby ways of talking. I know in just a few months time he will have made leaps and bounds of progress but I love trying to decipher his toodlerese for now.


Singing and counting and POURQUOI? from PutYourFlareOn on Vimeo.


Max amazes Mama

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

Potty. trained.

Wearing underwear. Refusing the diaper.

Propre as they say in French. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max toy camera dinosaurs

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

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


Mama Break

28/365 : Mama break

Churros, good  from my Year in Photos.

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

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

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


L'Herbe Rouge

1 bis rue d'Alésia

Paris 75014


In front of the camera

26/365 : in front of the camera

I really don't like to be in photos. Something about seeing all my imperfections doesn't appeal to me. Instead I take photos of my family and stay behind the camera as much as I can which you can clearly see from all the photos I post on my blog. :)

A part of the reason why I wanted to do this year in photo was to work on doing more self portraits of just me. Not me and my kids, though they are a big part of who I am today I have a lot of work to do on myself and I am hoping taking these photos will be a good way to motivate myself.

So, I've been inspired by a new blog to get myself back in front of the camera again. Maybe you'll play along too... if you do, let me know I want to see. :)


17/365 : My children

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

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

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

Just hanging around...

Bisous

Little Rewards

14/365 : Little rewards

After the crazy night Alixe put us through last night (6 hours of no sleep from 10pm to 4am) we got this today:

A REAL SMILE. And a laugh!

As much as I am tired and want to throw in the towel these little milestones bring me so much happiness and I crave them.

Speaking of milestones, Maximilien is pretty much potty trained now. He only wants to wear his "culotte" and we have to talk him into wearing his pull up at night for bed. He has done poo and pee outside of the house without any problems. And he wakes up in the middle of the night when he needs to go to the bathroom. This has been the highlight of my week.

I went to see the doctor today and got a clean bill of health. He asked me when I'd be having baby three since the factory is ready to be in service again. I just kinda stared at him and shook my head and told him to ask me again in about 5 years.

I'm disappointed that I am so tired these days. I had intended after seeing my doctor and him giving me the green light on exercising to get started on working to getting myself in shape. I can get into my pre-pregnancy jeans already but need to lose another 20lbs to be where I want to be. I had intended to start tomorrow! But I am too tired. My arms and legs ache from the fatigue. I have migraines and my appetite is poor because of lack of sleep.  So, instead I have new vitamin regiment to follow (to keep me from getting depressed) and I will put off my workout plans for a while.

I'm not feeling too sorry for myself though... Alixe is smiling and laughing! And Max is using the potty ALL BY HIMSELF!! These are the things I will think about when and if I get to sleep tonight.


Fatigue

12/365 - Fatigued

I think we are starting to figure things out with Alixe. It had been a long month and half since her arrival.

The time I spend in the shower is probably the most quiet time of my day.  And I don't get to take a shower everyday! I am sure the mamas out there can relate.

All I wanted to do today was go right back to bed after my shower this morning... wishful thinking from this tired mama.