Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

More candy please. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cute toy, huh? I mean, its just little plastic figurines. Its not anything I would pick out for Ella, but she loves it because its "Deeee!". Still, I bought it at the grocery store this morning, and you want to know why? It was either that or go to jail.

OK, maybe not jail. But maybe. This is the closest I've ever been to getting arrested (while sober and able to remember all the details). I don't know, I kind of just rolled with it when the security guy said I would have to buy it. OK, this is what happened. I spent too long doing my hair this morning and by the time I got out of the house, there wasn't enough time to go grocery shopping before I had to pick up Ella from daycare. So I went to daycare first and figured Ella would be Ok while I shopped. Well, she wasn't. Finally I let her out of the cart and she was walking along side me when she spotted a rack of Dora toys. We went over and prayed to the gods of FisherPrice for awhile, and then I tried to pull her towards the elevator. She grabbed one of these tubes which was on the lowest shelf and happily came along with me. I decided that she could hold it for awile if it made shopping easier and then I would trade her a babybel for the toys at the cash register and leave it at the shop. Easy peasy.

So we do our shopping and ella drops the tube of toys before we even get a shopping cart. I, quite stupidly considering that my attention span is not much greater than the baby's, stuck it in the basket under the pousette to put back later. Of course I forgot about it. By the time we finished our shopping, Ella had ripped open no less than 4 packets of food, I was irrate because the woman ahead of me at the check-out was Chatty Kathy and WOULD NOT SHUT UP about the damn bath mat that she bought (it was thoroughly examined by the cashier and two delivery boys, plus her daughter and the woman at the next register over and declared very nice by all. Thank god or I might still be there.) , and I was starving for my lunch since it was already 1 o'clock. We ran upstairs, I pushed the stroller through the doors and BEEP BEEP BEEP. I had set off the alarms. For about 2 seconds I had no idea why and then it dawned on me- the stupid Dora toys.

The security guard came over, and I was not too fussed. I said, "Sorry about that. I know exactly what it is. The baby wanted these toys and I didn't want to buy them so I put them here and forgot to put it back. " I handed them back and turned to leave and he said, No no no; wait right here. Thats when I realized that basically, I had tried to steal them, as far as they could tell. I wasn't just a harried mother, but a thief. I had visions of being dragged to the managers office, while they called the police! And childrens services! And, the worst, my husband who would probably just tell them to haul me away because I was an absolute disaster and couldn't even be counted on to check the address of the restaurant when we go out to dinner. Good riddance. So, when the other security guy came and said, no problem- babies do this all the time, I was happy, nay, thrilled to cough up 7 euros (Ok, thrilled is not quite the word perhaps) to be done with it all.

And once we got home, Ella chucked the tube under the table and hasn't even glanced it again. Posted by Picasa

l'ecluse- no, the OTHER one

I found out last week that a friend of mine from uni was going to be in town for a week or so for work so we were playing phone tag trying to sort out a RdV. Finally, he sent me an email and invited me to a birthday party for his brother on Saturday night. I had met his brother before so it wasn't totally weird, so I said yes, and he sent me the details for the meet up.

Now B has a theory that I am a complete disaster when it comes to making dates with people- particulary when it is a complicated meeting, eg people are coming from a foreign country and don't know their way around. I tend to make a kind of vague plan for meeting up and then don't bother to get/give important info like cell phone numbers, addresses, door codes, etc. Like the time my poor cousin flew from Spain where she was an exchange student and I said that I would fly from Scotland and meet her at the airport. Of course, I gave her the wrong gate info and couldn't find her even though I spent an hour wandering all over the airport. Finally, she had to spend the night in a hostel and I had to call my mom, who called her mom, to give her my phone number and by that time she practically had to get back on her plane. Not a hugely successful weekend. But despite stuff like that, it never occurs to me that something might go wrong and we will need a back up plan. I just don't get that stressed out about meeting up for drinks. When I think back, B's a little bit right and maybe I should have learned my lesson by now. But I haven't and Saturday night was nearly a complete disaster due to my disaterous planning.

My friend Nick said that we should meet him at 8:30 at L'ecluse in the 8th. No problem. I get a babysitter and google the restaurant for the address. I was very proud of myself because I noted the address and phone number on a post-it and put it near the door so we wouldn't forget it and get lost on our way there. The gods were laughing at me...

We get to the restaurant on time, go in, and realize that not only is my friend not there but there is no way that this place could host a surprise party for 30 people. I ask the waiter and sure enough, there is no party scheduled. We check that the address is right. No problem there. I ask B to call Nick and see what is going on. Oops; he forgot his phone at home- I don't have Nick's number in my phone, I figured I didn't need it since B had it. So we think about trying to call the babysitter to have her search through his phone but figure it would be too complicated. I immediately decide that we should make the best of things and go find a resto with a free table, since it is still early enough that we might get in on the first seating somewhere. B is frantically trying to figure out how we can find out where they are and shouting at me about why I don't plan things better and there must be another resto by the same name in the 8th but how could we find it? How could I not have double checked in the yellowpages? Etc etc etc. But I figure that Nick feels twice as bad as we do about this so I can't see the point in freaking out. Either he'll call us or we'll just sort it out later.

In the meantime, I am starving so I drag B over to La Suite, which I wouldn't say is known for its fine cuisine but I like the music. I have to say that I think the crowd was mainly tourists and it seemed just a little bit embarrassing to be eating there, considering that we actually live in Paris. Like we should know about somewhere better to go, somewhere cooler. Maybe because of that, we got a great table straight away and actually have a great dinner. I ordered Satay Tuna and I LOVED it. After about 3 bites I knew it was my destiny to miss some crowded, mediocre bistro dinner because it was the best tuna that I had eaten in ages. I had called home to check with the babysitter to see if B's phone had been ringing and gave instructions for her to answer the phone and call us with a message if necessary but when my phone rang, it was Nick (who was apparently better prepared for disaster and had somehow got my phone number).

Turns out that there are TWO restaurants with the same name in the 8th and they were actually having the party at the second one near the Madeleine. Ooops. Should have checked the yellowpages. I said that we were already eating so we would just stop by after dinner to say hello. B didn't say anything, but he didn't have to. We've been married for 7 years so I know by the way that he was chewing that he was thinking "I told you so".

We went and met up with the party people and I ended up going out dancing with them at Doobies afterwards. It was so much fun because half the group had come up to Paris from somewhere in the South and were committed to making it a very big night out. I have been moaning about not having a big night out in ages and this was perfect- other than the fact that I came home so sweaty from the club- we had a table in the back room where the air had stopped working and it was like a sauna- that I had to take a shower before going to bed.

That reminds me, I have a mountain of clothes to take to the drycleaners. Since the fantasticly cheap place on rue St Paul closed in May I haven't found anywhere new and I am a bit nervous about experimenting with other cleaners. My last attempt ended with a 367 euro bill- note to the anglophones, "nettoyage de qualité" translates as "fucking expensive drycleaners"- and I kind of feel like I spent my entire dry-cleaning budget for the year. But seriously, the dress I wore on Saturday night is so filthy it is practically standing up on its own in my dressing. "Find a drycleaner" is definitely at the top of my to-do list today.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Should have just stayed home

Honestly, I had the worst night last night. I think that I go out so rarely these days that I expect really great things when I do finally manage to make plans. But last night was not just a disappointment but honestly a bad idea.

I was supposed to meet a friend for a drink and a chat. Thats easy, right? Pretty low-key. So how did it all go so tragically wrong? I don't want to get into details but let's just say that a good night out for me does not normally include getting licked (I guess, a good night in might include licking?). Whatever, I don't want to turn this into a debate about when licking your companion is appropriate but suffice it to say, I wound up at midnight sitting on the terrace of a cafe having a much needed last drink by myself. Luckily there was a Swiss optical equipment salesman (SOES) sitting next to me with nothing to talk about (surprise surprise), but who was totally willing to listen to me pour out the whole pathetic story.

Bad for you, however, my dear readers, because I have already got it out of my system and do not want to go through it again.

One funny thing though. When people ask me what I do, I've gotten into the habit of saying "Nothing". At first it was just to avoid saying "Housewife." because, really why not just say, "I'm boring. Go talk to someone else." Now I've realized that actually its the best answer. People get the idea that I am either an heiress or a kept woman. Awesome. This guy was totally running with it and since I will never see him again and was in the mood for at least a bit of fun before my carriage turned into a pumpkin and I had to go home, I did sort of egg him on. But its funny how easy it is to simply say true things in a way that gives a totally distorted version of reality. For example: he asks "So, what do you do for money?" answer "I get out my credit card." True, completely true. And yet, when accompanied by a quizzical look, it sort of suggests total detattachement from the everyday life of the poor working man. This is what I am reduced to. I am a bit ashamed of myself.

Still, when put in the context of the whole terrible night, I think my bad was nothing. The real question is, Why are boys so awful?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

T and F's wedding

If there is one thing that I have got to say about this wedding, its this: it seemed like everyone was young, rich, and beautiful. They must have a pretty strict screening process for their friends. And also, I am glad that I spent a silly amount of money on the clothes I wore, otherwise I think that I might have felt just a bit too selfconscious. I'm not sure that this group photo at the mairie does justice to what I just said (I have no idea who the guy is in the pale blue suit in the front row, doesn't seem quite hot enough to be an official invitee- I didn't seem him at the reception afterwards) but trust me. At the reception when everyone had changed into their party dresses, it would have been hard to pick the prettiest woman in the room. Well, no. I guess Fulya gets to be the prettiest. But the number 2 spot was very hotly contested.
The wedding was at the Press Club in the Sofitel just off the Champs Elysees and I had never even heard of it but the rooms where the party was were gorgeous. Typical fancy French stuff but so perfect for a wedding where half the guests were foreigners (Fulya is Turkish from Istanbul so all her friends and family flew in for the weekend). Also, not only were all the Turks good looking (and oddly, I thought, blonde) but they were almost all doctors. F is a psychiatrist and the others ran the gamut from dentist to cardiologist. Luckily for me, they all spoke English so I had a great time chatting. Very hot pharmacist was sitting on my right at dinner- but he was happily married so fun, harmless flirting was allowed. I like it much better when they are married because that way I don't have to deal with the vague disappointment of feeling like "But I didn't know that THIS was one of the options when I decided to get married as a fetus. Nobody told me that they also came in this model! No fair!!"
No, it was a nice dinner and the party was fun although I will admit straight away that we left at 2 am because the dancing had started and my feet were killing me and I just feared having to drag myself from bed at 7 with Ella and a hangover to keep me company. Also, I will admit, I HATE wedding dances. Hate them. I am never never never in the mood for dancing when I am at a wedding. Doesn't matter how open the bar is, I do not want to dance the chicken dance with my uncle or have my in-laws watch me bump-and-grind when my fav Sean Paul song is played. God, even thinking about it is getting me a bit creeped out. And I do feel bad because I think that everyone wants their wedding party to be this mad crazy rave, but I just can't do it, no matter how much I love the happy couple. I hate wedding dances.
So we left and crawled into bed at home and amazingly, Ella didn't wake us up until 10. God, sometimes I really love that kid.
Other great thing about the wedding is that I started to chat with a woman who came as the date of one of Thierry's friends and she asked me to send her my CV. She works in the oil business and her company might be hiring in my area. I hope she gives me a call because I quick look at her company's website got me very excited about the job.
And now that I have officially emptied my bank account, a job is even more necessary... Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wasn't Friday the 13th last week?

I was going to write a post about my night out with theh knitting group, where I started my first scarf!!! But instead I am going to very quickly make a list of everything that has gone wrong so far today-
1. Ella woke up at 5:30 and yelled every twenty minutes until 7
2. B forgot to set his alarm (the man downstairs didn't and so just when Ella stopped yelling we were woken by his trio of car alarms that he uses in place of a normal alarm clock)
3. The cleaning lady called to cancel
4. B said his aunt and father would be coming to dinner tonight
5. Ella cut her finger on something at the florists and covered herself, her stroller, and the counter with blood before I could get it under control (with the help of two employees). Honestly, with the amount of blood there was, I thought she must be missing a finger. I call the doctor in a panic and finally get a good look at it, only to see that... she has a clean slice about a quarter inch long. Thats it.
6. She won't take a nap.
7. I am desperately tired since I think the stupid Starbucks people gave me regular coffee and not decaf and I slept really really badly last night.

And I still have to try and clean the house in the 20 minutes that remain before taking Ella to garderie.

I still have to go and get my hair cut, buy groceries, make dinner and find a card for the wedding tomorrow. Did I mention that I also found out that the bride and groom want everyone to write a letter that they can put in their wedding album.

Just a quick moan about this damn wedding- we didn't even get an invitation. I don't know if they didn't send them or what. Then, the scheduling is totally bizarre and it is a nightmare trying to figure out how to organize my hour long journey there and back with Ella when she will have to skip her nap, but apparently everyone is incredibly upset by the idea that I am considering missing part of the festivities in order to minimize tantrums and maximize my enjoyment of the day (which I assure will be minimal in any case). All this fuss despite the fact that this is supposedly the most low key wedding possible. And for all this grief I am missing my cousins wedding, to which I was invited 7 weeks ago. My grandfather seems to be near death and I have decided to stay here for B's sake (I know that he would be suffering from a constrant stream of abuse if I missed this wedding) and what for? I am so irritated right now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shopping spree

I just bought these shoes. I think I am going to be in big trouble with B because they cost a fortune but I love them so much. And I have been wanting a new pair of blue heels for ages. But they are so high I don't know if I would ever wear them. I am practicing walking from one end of the house to the other (but very very softly as to not wake the baby...) and I think I may be scuffing up the soles so much that they won't take them back anyways now.
Did I mention that I also bought a shirt to wear to the wedding on Saturday and it was a bit expensive. Its the same problem as always- I don't have enough time to properly shop around and find something I like for a good price so I just have to snatch up the first thing that catches my eye.
See, its just not my fault! (Do you think he'll buy that?) Posted by Picasa

the mysteries of the fruit stand

My fruit guy did a funny thing to me last night that I am still trying to decipher- after a bit of hesitating, I asked for some pears. He reached for one, then stopped and said "Is this for your daughter?" I said it was, and... he reached for a different pear. I thought, ???? Was he going to give me gross pears but then changed his mind when he realized an innocent child might have to eat them? Was there some sort of special child-friendly pear that I hadn't heard of? I had no idea and was a bit nervous about asking- I didn't want to get any of the finger-wagging, my day had already been long enough. Funny thing is, I cut it up today for her lunch and its no good. So, was he trying to give me better stuff for the baby and just screwed up or was he giving me less nice produce because she's a baby? A mystery.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Brushing her teeth

Ella has started seriously mimicking us. She loves to take my purse and prance around the house. She is obsessed with putting on our shoes. If anyone is cleaning anything, we have to give her a sponge or a papertowel so she can scrub alongside you. And the latest thing is brushing her teeth. After her bath, I put her on the stool so she can reach the sink and give her a pink toothbrush with special Dora Bubblegum-flavored Toothpaste. She sucks and sucks and occasionally brushes, then very enthusiastically spits in the sink. We have to do naked toothbrushing because only a small portion of her saliva is spit in the sink. Gallons of it end up running down her chin and on to her shirt, necessitating a complete outfit change. She is so absorbed with the toothbrushing that we even manage to blow-dry her hair. 'Cleanliness is next to cuteness' is the new motto in this house. Posted by Picasa

Big night out

On Friday afternoon, I asked B if he wanted to try and get a babysitter for sometime over the weekend. Lucky us, she was free Saturday night so we got on the phone and made plans for a big night out, meeting up with all the friends we haven't seen in so long, and... Thats what we SHOULD have done. Instead, neither thought of it again until B got home from work at 7:30 on Saturday night.

I said that I hadn't made any plans and asked if he had done anything. He said that he thought about checking which movies were playing, but hadn't actually done it. So, since we had a half hour before the babysitter arrived, we got dressed and started throwing out ideas for dinner. We decided that since we had never actually eaten at Pershing Hall, we would try there. They gave us a reservation for 10 pm which was kind of late, but I really wanted to show B all the brochures for kitchens that I had picked up during the afternoon, so we said no problem.

As we drove over to the Champs, I rang up a friend to see if there was anything going on that night or if she wanted to meet us for a drink at some point. She ended up deciding to come and eat dinner with us. Lucky for us, when we arrived at 9:15 to go and have a drink in the bar, they offered us one of the super nice center tables if we wanted to eat immediately, since the table was reserved at 11. In the end, the other table didn't show and we ended up spending the whole night there, while my friend Mimi spilled out all her romantic adventures since the last time we were on the phone.

I didn't realize that Mimi's 35th birthday is coming up next week. When I met her, she was dating this fantastic American guy who was a few years younger than her. They seemed like they had a fantastic relationship, one of those couples that really seem like they are best friends. It looked like the kind of relationship tha you could be a bit jealous about. But in a good way. Anyways, Mimi is Tunisian and her American boyfriend was not Muslim but I didn't realize this was such a problem until she told me that her family had no idea that they lived together, in fact, no one in her family even knew that she had a boyfriend when they had been dating for nearly two years. So clearly things weren't as idyllic as they seemed from the outside. Then one day she was celebrating her 31st birthday and started talking to him about the fact that she would like to know that one day he would be interested in marrying her, even if it wasn't soon, just so that she knew that she wasn't investing all this time in a relationship that was going no where, especially since she was getting older, etc. He was a bit irritated at this and brought up the fact that she wasn't committed enough to even mention him to her family. Long story short, they broke up. Since then, I have seen her go from one disasterous relationship to another and its horrible to watch. Of all my girlfriends, she is probably the one that most wants to be have children. And she cannot meet the right guy.

Saturday she told me all the latest news and it wasn't good. She had met a few guys that seemed nice but in the end, one was too old, one was too ugly, and one called her "Cherie" on the second date. I can't really consider myself that much of an expert on dating, considering that I met my husband when I was 19, but I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her hard. The bottom line, each time, was that it wasn't exactly right. Its funny that when you are younger you accept all kind of faults in your partner because you figure it doesn't matter and as you get older you get so much more picky. Shouldn't it be the opposite? Shouldn't you, as you get older and wiser, realize that everyone has faults and nothing is perfect and the best you can hope for is 7 out of 10?

I didn't say anything like this, because I don't like giving people advice on their love life. You can never understand the whole situation and, so at best, any advice you give out is harmlessly misguided. And so many of my girlfriends are in the same situation, getting older and really wanting to meet someone, but dating the same guy over and over again, the type that hasn't worked out for the past decade and yet they keep banging their head against the same wall.

After dinner, Mimi was headed out to meet some friends for dancing. And sort of tossed around the idea of staying up til dawn but then I remembered that I had walked about 6 miles Saturday afternoon in my eternal quest to entertain Ella (and also attack the issue of my ever growing ass) so my feet were too tired to take another 4 hours of hard work. Of course, instead of going home to bed, we sat up with a nightcap and looked through kitchen brochures until 2:30 in the morning. We are worse than 5 year olds. If there is no one there to tell us to go to bed, we just don't. Finally, I looked at the clock and literally threw myself into bed to try and get atleast 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before dear Ella woke up.

Needless to say, 4 hours of sleep and a hangover does not bode well for an agenda full of exciting activities on Sunday. We did manage to run into BHV for some new sheets for our guest bed and the new Lost DVDs. Sunday was the last day of their 6 day sale, which, incidentally, started sometime in September. Is just my hangover, or does that seem odd?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The object of my WRATH (this week...)

I should have written this up last night when I was still spitting nails. It would have saved B from having to deal with fullblown Hurricane Nicole the minute he walked through the door, straight through til the end of dinner. The reason I was so mad? As part of the kitchen renovation project I went to look at kitchen cupboards yesterday afternoon and got KICKED OUT OF A STORE. I am not even kidding. Some stupid punkass kid doing his sales training on alternance (I assume because there is no way that he was actually hired as a salesman) actually told me he couldn't sell me a kitchen because he didn't think it was in my budget. I still want to rip his pimply little head off his spindly neck and shove it up his ass.

God, I am far too worked up over this, but mad is better than humiliated, which is what I felt when I walked out of the store. Worst part? This is not the first time something like this has happened to me (in France, I should specify. As if salespeople are this awful anywhere else in the known universe.)

Let me just back up and give you the full story (and also, in case anyone is googling Création Saint-Mandé 42-44, Bd du Temple 75011 to find out about the Linea Quattro line of kitchens). Basically, I went up to Blvd du Temple yesterday to visit the Schmidt store, which I had heard was a good brand. I liked what I saw on the internet and I had a few questions so I took Ella with me after her nap. I wasn't dressed up, but I wasn't looking like a hobo either. When I first went in the Schmidt shop, no one talked to me. One of the sales people sort of shouted at me across the store and to ask my question, I had to climb through about three displays, while trying to keep Ella in sight. Finally, she got up and came over to talk, which was nice of her. I explained that I was having a look and getting some general info of the brand. I asked if she had any brochures or litterature that I could look through. She said that they didn't have anything like that (which is totally false, since you can have 5 books plus a CD-Rom sent to you after leaving an address on their website. Liar) She seemed to know what she was talking about when answering my questions, but she didn't offer any info on her own. I have no idea why anyone would choose Schmidt over another brand. I saw a sign up mentioning their unique points and started asking about it and then she added a bit. In the end, not much of a salesperson but atleast she was nice.

There were a few other kitchen stores right nearby so, since I had the time, I decided to look in the windows to see if anything caught my eye. A few doors down, there was a shop for Linea Quattro and Leicht. I didn't really know much about these two brands but the model kitchens in the window were great so I went in. There were no other customers in the store but no one said bonjour when I walked in. I sort of hung around the first kitchen looking in drawers and cabinets until finally the woman in the back, who was the responsable of the magasin (I saw her pic on the website), shouted at me and asked if I had any questions. I said yes and started to try to talk to her but she waved this guy over to me.

So, he was clearly the junior but I didn't want any special info so I figured it was fine. I explained that I didn't know this brand of kitchen but I loved the look. He just nodded yes. Obviously I wasn't going to get any other info about this brand so I started in with my general questions. I said I sort of liked the model without handles. He didn't explain if there were other models like that or if I could have handles put on the model I liked. He could only answer about every other question I had anyways then he would have to go ask a collegue for the info. I saw a brochure lying out with all sorts of color samples on it and only after I asked did he explain that I could get any color I wanted for the kitchen I chose. I then asked about a lacquer finish on the doors while I happened to be touching a door with a flat finish. He took the matte door to his collegue to ask about the finish. Then he very condescendingly came back and told me that I had been looking at a door with a matte finish, and laquer is shiny. As if I had no idea. It was ridiculous how incompetent he was and I was ready to just leave, as he inspired no interest in the product. But I had one more question, so I asked what the delay for delivery was; he told me three weeks. All of a sudden I was incredibly interested. Often, there is an 8 to 10 week delay and since we will probably have the renovation work done in December, I need the kitchen to be delivered about the same time so it is finished before Ella and I come back from the States. This would be perfect and would definitely offset the downside of a higher price. But then he asked if he could check that info with his collegue. For the umpteenth time he left to talk to the responsable.

Here's where it gets interesting. He comes back and says "Sorry, I can't sell you a kitchen. We don't sell 'au detail' (retail/seperately)" I didn't think I understood. I asked if they only sold to professionals? No, he told me, it wasn't that. They only sold integrated kitchens. But still I didn't understand. I said that I was trying to re-do my entire kitchen. Surely that is what they sold, kitchens? He finally said, "I don't think that these kitchens are in your budget." And he sort of tilted his head to one side and gave me a squinchy, sad look. I looked him in the eye and said "I don't think I mentioned what my budget was." So he said, "What is your budget then. Our kitchens, on average are 15,000 euros." Frankly, I didn't have a budget. B is a bit funny about stuff like that. He has me pick out what I like and then afterwards he starts getting interested in what it costs. I hate that, but I know that if the quality is really good and he loves the look, he'll pay whatever it costs. If he hates how it looks, it doesn't matter if it is 5,000 or 50,000. I can't convince him to buy it. Besides that, we are looking at the total budget with carpentry, electrics, the marble, etc. The cabinets are only one part of this and if we spend a lot of money on them, we will probably adjust some of the other plans to compensate, atleast in part.

But that is not even the point. This jerk acted like I was wasting his time (did I mention that there was no other client in the store while I was there, the telephone didn't ring once, nothing. I was the only client for the three employees that I saw) with my silly questions. It was 5 o'clock and the store didn't close until 7, so that wasn't the issue either. I hate to be a bitch about this, but the purse I was carrying probably cost more than his monthly salary and that little shit was pushing me out of the store because he thought I was a bit too downmarket to be part of their target demographic? I did try to give him another chance. I said, "Maybe I didn't explain well, maybe it's my French. I think that this is exactly the type of thing that I am likely to buy." He just kept telling me that I should probably just find myself an artisan and that he really couldn't help me.

I went on the internet site for the store afterwards, and they say that they will sell an entire kitchen or just a few doors, if that is what is needed. They also said that, since this shop is part of a group, they have a special promotion right now and they are selling all the display kitchens for 60% off. If the guy thought that I was poor, he should have atleast mentioned that I could purchase the actual kitchen that I had been looking at. I mean, he was absolutely useless, on top of being rude. But on their website, I noticed that the woman he had been conferring with was the responsable of the magasin. I was totally ready to call the boss and complain about him, but then I saw that his boss saw everything that happened, and probably told him to just get rid of me.

If you know me, you know that this is not over. I also found the location of the headquarters for the group that owns the store. Not only am I sending them a letter, but I am visiting the shop on the premises this afternoon to have a proper discussion with a salesperson (and most likely I will mention what happened. I want EVERYONE to know about this). I will be posting about this on every site that I can find relating to the cuisinistes in Paris where people want advice (DO NOT visit CREATION ST MANDE PARIS 11EME.!!!) And I am telling everyone reading this. I hope that little shit gets canned. And then I hope he cries. And has to go home and live in his mother's basement.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I should rename this blog "8 million reasons why I was late ..." Today we started out good. Everyone was up at 8:30 and things were moving along nicely. But then B ran a bath for me and rather than take a shower as planned I sloshed around in the tub for 20 minutes and (you guessed it) arrived 20 minutes late for the show Ella and I were going to see. To be fair, I actually thought that there were continuous activities and it wasn't just one thirty minute show. But it was just one 30 minute show and so we ended up missing half of it. It was such a shame because the group was excellent.

The show, called Toda (miracle in hungarian children's language) was at the Hungarian Institute over in the 6th. The group had a show based around Hungarian folk music and soft building blocks/shapes that could be attached and detattached from each other to transform into different things as the story progressed. There was a carpeted area with pillows where the kids could roll around and play and a man accompanying the actors with a guitar. Ella loved it. She probably was the most excited kid there, once she got over her nervousness (since we walked in late everyone turned to stare, which she HATES. )

So after traveling for 20 minutes to get there, we were done after 15 minutes and had to find something else to do to make the trip worthwhile. Thank goodness it was an absolutely gorgeous day and so we walked over to Luxemburg Gardens and played. It is perfect fall weather- a little bit chilly outside but with a great big blue sky. The leaves are starting to fall so the air has that dry dusty smell but it hasn't been cold enough yet to kill the flowers and so the gardens around the fountains were full of blooms, bright red and purple. Ella kicked up leaves for awhile, handed me mounds of stones to keep in my pocket, and chased bubbles. I sometimes watch her on days like today and think what a charmed childhood she has. I wish I had my camera with me today so one day I could show her the photos from this morning and say, "This is how happy you were when you were a baby. " Maybe what I really mean is "This is how happy I was when you were a baby."

Its odd, but I don't mind having had such a miserable day on Wednesday because I think it made me appreciate even more the quiet perfectness of this morning in the Gardens.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

one of those days

Ella had us up at 6 am this morning which just seems sooo early now that it is still dark out and quiet. She came into bed with us after awhile and cuddled up to sleep with me, which is such a rarity. Normally she cuddles for about 30 seconds and spends the rest of the time playing with the alarm clock and pushing my head back and forth and squeezing my face, like some sort of human activity board. Today was all snuggling, with just a few kicks when I rolled too close. B's alarm woke us all up at 8:30 since he had the carpenter coming about the kitchen project. I tried to squeeze out a few more minutes in bed but no luck. Ella pushed up against my ear and kept stage-whispering "Maman! Maman!" Nothing to do but get up and get dressed.

Maybe that last 30 minutes of sleep makes all the difference. I don't know but I am beyond tired right now. Naturally Ella didn't want to take a nap so I finally had to just shut her door and mine so that we could both take a nap before she went to garderie. After dropping her at creche, I very nearly returned home to finish my nap, but since that is how I wasted Friday afternoon, I forced myself to go do my errands.

I had two hours in the shops- do you know what I came home with? Doliprane, contacts, footless tights, and face powder. That was the best effort I could make. I feel depressed just thinking about it. I think that I must be suffering from some sort of seasonal light disorder. I am so miserable and out of sorts. I know that there is absolutely no reason since everything is going really well, but I am just dragging myself through every single day.

I need to have a long chat with B when he gets home tonight and try and convince him that for my mental health, we need to plan a November trip to the beach to get some sun. Even just flipping through brochures would be fun. I suppose that might mean pushing back the kitchen renovation til spring but between laying on the beach in the Maldives for two weeks and eating microwave dinner off paper plates for two weeks, I know which one I would choose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Glitterbird playgroup

Today, playgroup met at the Mairie du 4eme. I think that it was a very good plan because we are in the habit of throwing the kids in a sand pit and while easy and effective in terms of entertainment, there are so many things going on in Paris, we really should take advantage more. At the mairie, they had a program called "Glitterbird, de l'art pour les bébés" which was supposed to be good and someone suggested we try so Ella and I scrambled around this morning and managed to get out of the house only 30 minutes behind schedule (which is excellent for us, sad to say). As I came into the courtyard, I got a bit nervous. There was a pile of plastic tubing painted primary colors, with papier mache dragon heads on the ends. Ella jumped out of her stroller and ran right over to stick her head in the closest dragon's mouth. I was a bit less enthusiastic and got out my phone to call one of the other mom's to see if they had all de-camped to the nearest park after a quick glance at the exhibit. There was no one in sight and I started worrying about not having brought my sand toys.

When I got another mom on the phone, she said that everyone was upstairs in the Salle de Fete and that I should definitely come up as all the kids were having a great time. I pulled Ella out of the dragon and into the elevator and was pleasantly surprised at the stuff we found.

Since all of the babies in our group are under 2, I wasn't sure that they would be allowed to do everything, but one of the organizers took me around to explain how it all worked (she had to go with the school group into another room) and she said it should all be appropriate for them. The first section had nature clips projected on a white box. Some films were birds flying, another showed swimming fish, another was the sea and crashing waves, I noticed one clip of a really fluffy own turning its head. There were scenes projected on the outside of the box and on the inside, where two sides were mirrored. It was really magical and the babies adored this.

The next section was about birds. There were feathers thickly strung from the ceiling and clear bulbs hanging, with nests and birds (fake) inside. In between all this were different sorts of objects which we realized were all different sorts of bird calls. It was so much fun showing the babies how to make the noise, less fun trying to explain the difference between pinatas and the decorations they were batting around.

The third section was a water game. The object of the game was a bit obscure- there were two shallow tubs with a convex mirror inside and a sound captor. The babies were supposed to drop beads on the mirror and pour water from teapots and bowls. They also had red boots to wear. Obviously, this was the favorite game (for the babies).

After an eternity at the water games, they moved on to the last section which was something about bikes and the womb. I didn't quite get it, and when the director tried to explain it, I wasn't convinced that she understood entirely either. The babies sort of abandoned that quite quickly- 'wombs? been there, done that.' I guess-and monkeyed around on the steps up to the stage.

I felt quite lucky that Ella had no tantrums, only a minor crying jag after wiping out spectacularly when she was trying to run in stocking feet. Probably was only that bad because all the staff were standing around watching the babies play (today was the first day of the exhibit) and when she fell, she sort of spun in their direction. She was more embarrassed than anything else I think.

Afterwards, we let them loose in the courtyard, while us mommies tried to catch up with our news. Honestly, we must sound like the stereotypical bunch of hens "Brahck, brahck brahck..." We are all talking as fast as we can in the few seconds the babies leave us alone. Since no one works, our adult conversations are limited to grocery store cashiers and our poor husbands, atleast on the bad days. The babies are at that age where everyone is seeking reassurance that the horrible behavior we are suffering through is normal (absolutely, seems to be the answer). And then we all have to dash home at 12 for lunch and naps. Its a bit like Cinderella, but they don't turn into pumpkins, they turn into little rabid puppies if we get too late.

Today, I got home at the perfect time and flipped Ella into bed for a nice long nap. The house was spotless since the new cleaning lady had been busily scrubbing away all morning. I was even able to sneak down to the cave with some junk that had been laying around our place. All this cleaning lady chaos hit me at the worst moment. I absolutely need to have the house clean to feel like I have my thoughts well organized. Between the dirty floors and the endless philosophical queries thrown up by the interviews ("But WHY do you love studying statistics about gasoline?") I think my stress level has been through the roof. Hopefully this is the first sign that things are calming down. I have a mountain of projects I want to get a grip on (and about 50 mails I need to answer...) so I need all the presence of mind that I can muster.

Which makes me think- Christmas is just around the corner if I am at all interested in making homemade presents this year. I am a little bit tempted to get myself in a knitting class. I think my family would die laughing if I gave them all lumpy little scarves for Christmas. Don't know if a joke is worth that much effort, but maybe...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kitchen renovation

When we first visited our apartment, I loved the kitchen. It had these awesome yellow cupboards that were installed in the 50's and I thought that they looked so cool and retro- just like the stuff I had been lusting after in the windows of the the fancy Italian kitchen shops, but without the 50,000 euros price tag (obviously ignoring the crazy amount of money spent buying the apartment in which they were located...)

I loved them but even I had to admit that it wasn't totally practical, the way the kitchen was arranged, and by that, I mean that there wasn't a dishwasher or the room for one. We obviously had to do some work before moving in. B was in charge of buying the appliances so he decided on stainless steel everything, which made it look even more cool. I picked out some fancy sanded glass cabinets for hanging on the wall, which fit really nicely with the stuff that was already there. A bit of paint and a wooden back splash and the job was done.


So everything was great.

And then we had a baby.

At first I thought we had the situation in hand when I managed to find the cupboard space for all the bottles, and baby food, and bibs etc. But then she started to want to feed herself and our perfect kitchen didn't have any more room to spare so her high chair got parked in the middle of our living/dining room. I am sure that many people can commiserate with this next part. I don't think that Ella is unique among babies in that she has got an arm that most NBA pitchers would die for, an erratic list of likes and dislikes (I never know what she will stuff in her mouth and what will immediately get chucked at the sofa) and she takes a perverse pleasure in stomping on crumbs that I haven't immediately found and disposed of. So basically she needs to eat in a confined space- and quite possibly in a straight-jacket.

We had thought about knocking out a wall between the kitchen and the hall when we moved in but we weren't all the interested in eating in our kitchen so couldn't really be bothered. Now it is necessary and I am a bit scared about the size of the project. Not only will the wall be knocked out, but a bedroom door will need to be moved, the floor will need to be re-done, and all the cabinets need to be replaced. The problem is that the dimensions of the stuff we have right now is just a few centimeters off modern sizes and so we can't squish all the stuff in like we need to do. I am a bit sad about losing my atomic yellow kitchen but if that is the price to pay to avoid my nightly floor mopping routine, I guess I will bite the bullet.

So Saturday we threw ourselves into the new project. We went and looked at some kitchen cabinets first. I found a picture in a magazine that we both like so are going to use that as our model which means getting plain white units. Boring, but easy and probably cheap, and not a lot of room for B and I to argue. All round winner. Next we went to the marble wholesaler to try and pick out countertops. We wandered through the lot for about an hour and a half, looking at slabs but had a hard time choosing. Honestly, I LOVE going to this place. I first fell in love with a blackish stone with flecks of blue lapis lazuli (coincidentally almost the most expensive slab in the lot. My taste is impeccable!) Then I saw some red/brown onxy but it is apparently a bad choice for kitchens. Finally, we will probably choose a pale grey/blue-beige granite from Brazil, although I am having second thought and am leaning towards just a plain white Carrera marble. The walls and backsplash are going to be covered in white glass panels and I think that the carrera might really add to the luminosity. The appliances will all be the same and the floor will probably not change either. I think it might be perfect to contrast with all the strict white lines and hang a gorgeous elaborate crystal chandelier over the table. The only thing left to do is call the builders for an estimate and then we can start getting things ordered.

Having done a few projects with B, I know that this next part, between decision and actual action is a loooonnnnng drawn out process. I have learned from experience that I have to just forget about it all or I go crazy with impatience. However, I forgot that I had an ally in the house. B decided to feed Ella her dinner Sunday night and she was in fine form. By the time I took her off for her bath he was a sweaty mess, lying exhausted on the sofa. Just before I left the room, he weakly called out, "Could you remind me to call the builder tomorrow?" Finally, this kid is paying her way!


Ella has developed a new skill. When she was a baby, she never learned to blow raspberries. Her tongue was too attached and by the time that was fixed she had apparently missed the window of opportunity. I thought we were pretty lucky, considering the buckets of saliva that I would mop up everyday, that she didn't figure it out. I probably would have had to repaint the walls at some point. Or dress in a Hazmat suit everyday.

Perhaps Ella has been reflecting nostolgically on her babyhood, wanting to relive the best moments and experience thos things she missed out on. In any case, she is making up for lost time, in the spitting department. I had noticed her doing some sort of "sloppy breathing" for lack of a technical term. And once or twice she blew a raspberry at me, suddenly, for no reason and I thought she was just experimenting with noises and stuff. Then the other day, she was a bit over-tired and started to have a tantrum in the park so I put her in her stroller and told her that we were going straight home, the park was only for happy kids , if she wanted to roll around on the ground she could do it in her bedroom etc etc. She had stopped crying and yelling and I thought that she was just ignoring me. But then, she turned around, looked me straight in the eye, and blew a great big raspberry.

Now, at the time, I wanted to laugh because it was such a perfect response, if you lacked the ability to communicate in words. She is truly mastering non-verbal communication. But still, I convinced myself that she couldn't mean it like that, she's just a sweet little baby. Right?

Then yesterday I took her too the park and I saw that, in fact, yes. The raspberry is now her preferred means of communication. There weren't many kids there when we arrived so she had one of the climbing gyms to herself. When other kids started coming over to play, she freaked out. She stood at the top of the stairs and started yelling, "No! No, stop!" so I had to go over and have a little chat about sharing and convince her that she could still go down the slide. She played along, and then the other kid went down the slide while she watched with an evil eye. Then when he got to the bottom, she went over and spit at him (punctuated by loud "no"s) This was the first incident. Several others followed, before I dragged her home early.

But then we got home and she was as sweet as could be. B was building some new cupboards in our hall and she wanted to be right next to him helping out, carting stuff around for him. While I made dinner, she stood next to me on a stool and watched and handed me things and ate from the bowl of cut vegetables. She was, in a word, adorable. And that is what is so difficult with toddlers. The Jekell and Hyde Syndrome. It comes and goes with no warning and you are floundering around to figure out if you should be shouting or hugging at any particular moment because its not totally clear what exactly is going on.

Friday, October 06, 2006

world's best cook

Our fridge was practically empty once again and so after an exhausting interview, rather than the leisurely stroll through the shops that I had earned, I dashed off to Monoprix to get some groceries. I was just going to get enough for a few dinners but I am always afraid of arriving at the caisse and not having enough for a delivery so I ended up spending twice as much as I had planned. Since I knew B would be a bit irritated at the rapidity with which I am emptying my bank account this month, I decided to make a really nice supper. In between feeding baby and doing laundry (because once again, he forgot to tell me that he was out of underwear until the day after he wore the last pair so I had to get some washing done. This is beginning to be a real pet peeve...), I was whipping up a gorgeous lasagna with homemade pasta sauce. Finally got it in the oven just before putting Ella in her bath. The timer dinged as B was finishing up reading the baby her bedtime story so I even managed to set the table and pour out two glasses of wine before he came to sit down at the table. If it isn't abundantly clear, I was bursting with pride at my superior wifely accomplishments (especially since I have been not made much of an effort the last week or so due to all the other stuff going on).

B took a bite and chewed it thoughtfully. I gave him a pointed look and he said, "Yeah, its nice." After all the effort, I was a bit disappointed with 'nice' and said "That's it? Nice?" He chewed some more and looked a bit puzzled, "Well, it tastes like something... What did you put in this?" I did a quick run down of the ingredients but he interrupted me "No, its not that, no not that. It tastes like... (thoughtful chew)... dirt."

"Why that must by the tablespoon of potting soil that you are tasting. What- you don't like that?"

B stops chewing and gives me a blank look.

"For Christsake B. I didn't put dirt in the sauce. You can finish chewing."

"No. I mean, is there something like rosemary in this?"

"Yeah, rosemary and oregano."

"Aaaah. That must be it."

"I know marriage is a learning process, but next time your wife asks you how you like dinner, 'tastes like dirt' is the wrong answer. Of course, from now on 'tastes like rosemary' is also going to be suspect."

To be perfectly honest, I was in tears from laughing so hard. What kind of guy, apart from the hopelessly clueless, would look into his frazzled wife's hopeful face and tell her that her lasagna tastes like dirt? Hands off ladies, this clueless bastard is all mine. And what a lucky lucky lady I am.