I have been insanely busy the last few days, with all the Easter prep, so no time for blogging. I got it in my head that I wanted to do a bunch of crepe paper flowers for Ella's Easter basket and so naturally I was up to my elbows in glue and paper and ribbons for the last 48 hours. You can see in the photo that they turned out fairly well, but as B so helpfully pointed out to me, Ella probably didn't even notice. He's right. But I like it. Not sure what I will do with them all tomorrow, when Easter is over, but I imagine that I am going to have some very well wrapped gifts for the next few birthday parties we go to...
I probably would have happily spent all Saturday afternoon cutting out crepe paper flower petals but luckily one of my girlfriends called and insisted I come meet her for lunch and chocolate shopping (oh yeah, I had almost forgot about what to put on the inside of my gorgeous basket). It was such a beautiful day that I'm glad that I got out of the house. This whole weekend has been perfect spring weather- big blue skies, a fresh wind (to make you enjoy the sun all the more), and lots of Parisiens on vacation for the long holiday weekend, leaving the sidewalks oddly empty (-ish). We ended up heading over to A La Mere de Famille on Faubourg Montmatre. B and I used to live just down the street and so I had gone there a few times already. Its still one of my favorite chocolate shops just because it has such a great retro look. You can imagine that it looked exactly the same 50 years ago, with the glass bins full of chocolate fish and the tin canisters up on the shelves. I ended up buying B a giant chocolate egg filled with chocolates and for Ella a barquet of friture, a little chick made of almond paste, and some Jelly Belly jellybeans. I was so excited to find proper jelly beans, not an easy task in Paris, and yet what is an Easter basket without jelly beans? Of course that was far more chocolate than we needed but I ended up popping into another boutique in the Passage Verdeau and grabbing a bag of foil wrapped eggs and a little chocolate hen as well, thanks to Ella.
Ella had been quietly sitting in her stroller and while I kept pointing out the gorgeous window displays in all the chocolate shops, she didn't seem all that impressed. But at the Mere de Famille, I let her get up and look around while we waited for our turn and one of the salesmen reached into a chocolate egg on the comptoir and gave her a little chocolate fish to eat. All of a sudden it was like a light went on over her head- all this was actually chocolate! I don't think she had realized that before, and to be honest, lots of the chocolates are so big and elaborately decorated that I have a hard time believing it as well. Well, from that point forward, she was hysterical with excitement. "Maman, there there there! Look! Maman! Maman! Maman!" You get the picture. I managed to keep her calm by slowly rationing out a sac of little choco eggs but when we stopped in front of a shop that had some really unique chocolates (frogs under toadstools, smiley faced apples, mice with chocolate cheeses) she literally dragged me inside to have a closer look. And after five minutes of her high pierced squeals every time she spied something nice, I felt slightly obligated to buy. I think that those salesgirls have perfected their looks of patient suffering in order to push parents in to guilty-induced purchases. Anyways, their weary sighs and temple-rubbing got to me and I have no idea who is going to eat all this candy.
Easter morning, we woke up to another big blue sky which we were happy to see because I had organized with a few of the other moms from the garderie to meet at the park for another egg hunt. After warming up with some bubble chasing, Ella was ready to race around with the boys to grab eggs. The kids we were with this time were older, but Ella had the edge in that she had a bit of practice under her belt. Someone thought to bring a bottle of champagne and hors d'oeuvres so the parents managed to have a lovely picnic in the grass while the kids gobbled down their loot. I was thinking that we would be home by noon, but it was so nice and warm in the sun, and the kids were having such a good time running around re-hiding their eggs and re-finding them that we ended up staying for more than two hours. I always miss home loads on holidays since I know that they will be having a big party. This year, I had heard that there was an extra special lunch planned since two of my cousins had just gotten home from Japan (one was teaching English, the other is in the Navy) and I imagined all the fun that they would be having compared to me, with our pathetic little lunch at home being the highlight of the day. But the morning was so lovely and we had such a fantastic time that I almost forgot about missing home.
Having Ella has made holidays very bittersweet. On the one hand, holidays that we spend here in France are more of an event because we want to organize something special for her and make it a fun day to remember, even if she is still so young that most of the stuff she'll forget before she goes to bed. Before she was born, lots of holidays that we spent on our own were non-events. We didn't really do anything to celebrate. On the other hand, as she gets older I feel a bit worse about living far from my family and having them excluded from Ella's memories and the traditions that we are building on our own. My best memories from my childhood seem to revolve around big family parties with lots of cousins running around, tables groaning with food, and the endless meals that stretched out over the afternoon. It really makes me think that even though it might be difficult for us, I'm sure that someday we will move back to the US. I think that we are lucky to have close friends here in Paris with kids the same age as Ella that can make days like today so much fun but its not the same as building traditions with your family, people who you'll still be seeing in 20, 30 years time and reminiscing with.