Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy tape project

I just saw this on Ohdeedoh and think that it would be a fantastic project for my Happy Tape. And how appropriate now that I am entering Birthday Season.

So the superhero capes are ordered and I'm just waiting to see what they are going to charge to put a rush on the order to get it here in time for the party. I am so mad at myself! I've been looking at them for about two weeks and trying to figure out with Ella how many kids we would have to the party but basically just procrastinating. Now I am literally going to pay for it. Sigh.

Off this afternoon with Georgia to brave the cold and find a Sam Sam book to use to make invites. Now that I have bought the capes there had better be a kid here to wear each one and the only way to do that is to get the invites out ASAP. Kids are so overbooked these days that I might even be cutting it close giving only 2 weeks notice.

Did I mention that I also bought capes for me and B to dress up as super Mommy and Daddy? This is going to be such a fun party.
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On Friday I found out that an old school friend of mine died. Its been turning around in my head for the last few days. He was 36 years old. He had two children and his wife was pregnant with their third. He coached soccer. He started a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged, neglected, and troubled youths in his community. He was a really good person. And not just on paper. I hadn't seen him in years, in fact, practically decades. But I don't expect that he changed much from the person he was at the age of 19, from what it sounds like.

He was from Nigeria and we met at my boarding school in New Mexico. He was one of those people who just feel really solid, very sure of themselves. And obviously he did know what he wanted to do in life because he had already accomplished so much- a successful business and a family. It makes me wonder what things he would have done if he had been given an entire life to live instead of half of one.

I knew that he had gone to university in California but was surprised that he hadn't gone back to Nigeria ever. I suppose his life was a bit like mine- you start on one path, thinking that it is just a bit of an adventure but somehow it meanders off in a direction entirely different than the one you had imagined, especially once you get married and have children. Also, he was so young that maybe it was part of the plan but he never had a chance to get back. He apparently died of a rare form of liver cancer after a very short battle.

Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal after spending the last week and a half watching the death toll mount in Haiti. Its true that the horrible images that you see on the television make you almost say that someone like Emeke was one of the lucky ones, to die cleanly- in a hospital with his family nearby, no doubt. But Haiti was a place where life was fragile. My brother had gone last year with a friend to give money to help set up a oil refinery. He described the places he had visited and the people he had seen and it made you wonder how anyone managed to stay alive- and this was before they suffered from a cataclysmic natural disaster.

Emeke, on the other hand, was solid. He was a big, strong athelete. His beliefs were set in stone. I can imagine thousands of people dying in Haiti. I can't imagine a disease big enough to take out my friend.

Maybe its just a very narcisstic thing. Emeke was part of my youth, my life. I feel like my life is still just getting started. I've not hardly started on the things that I am supposed to be doing. So how can a piece of me, of my life, already be dead? I suppose it makes me feel like the clock is ticking when I've been wasting my time saying, 'Life is long and there will be many different chapters to live so enjoy this one before the next one starts.'

Maybe I've got it all backwards.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I am sitting here watching Georgia busy playing. She pushed herself in her walker over to the entry where she found my purse on a low shelf. She is pulling items out, one by one, and examining each thing like it is the most extraordinary thing that she has ever seen. Its moments like this when you realize how life is just one big discovery for a baby. Everything is new.

She has just found a chapstick. She twisted it around and was a bit surprised when the top half, the cover, came off in her hand. She peered inside the top and then stuck her finger in there. Then she looked in the bottom and saw that there was something inside. She has taken her finger and poked it in, pulled her finger out to examine it, and now has stuck her finger in her mouth, to taste whatever she found. She smacks her lips, turns the tube around one more time to see all the writing. Bangs it on the tray a few times and then checks back inside the tube to see if anything falls out. She puts the whole tube in her mouth once, pulls it out, and looks at it very closely again. Finally, she tosses it on the floor and reaches in my bag for another item.

You try to put yourself in the place of a baby. Imagine finding a bag full of fascinating objects, things that you had never seen in your entire life. You had no idea what purpose they serve. I try to imagine how exciting it would be to touch these things and wonder about them.

After having a baby around for awhile, you stop noticing how every day is something new. But moments like this are magic, when it is quiet enough and calm enough that I can appreciate and even participate a bit in her giant Discovery of Life. Its really fuzzy and just barely flitting around the edges of my memory, but if I try hard enough, I can almost remember that feeling. Being little and being mesmerized by something New.

I remember being about 8 months old and being left alone on the floor near the cupboards at my Grandfather's house, the cupboards without the old-fashioned latches, the ones that had a button you had to press to pop the latch. They were shiny metal and worn smooth from years of use. They made a nice 'thunk' sound when the latch popped. I remember sitting there and being totally absorbed, touching the latch and trying to open it myself.

It makes me think about other memories from when I was really really young, and how they seem so disconnected. But maybe that is what a baby's mind is like- totally absorbed in one object or task and then an adult comes and scoops you up, and suddenly you find yourself somewhere else entirely, being handed some other object, and suddenly you are completely absorbed in this new item that has appeared. Sometimes when I see items that my mom had when I was a baby, I have strangly strong reactions. I glimpse a blanket in a stack on the shelf and I remember laying on the blanket and examining it, the way the yarn ties curl up and fuzz at the corner of each of the patchworks. I see a picture hanging at the end of the hall and I feel the ridges of its frame, bumping under my nails. I put Georgia in her pyjamas and, as I stand in my childhood bedroom with the pale green carpetting, I can feel my feet sweating against the rubbery bottoms of my footy pyjamas, the blue ones with the white plastic feet that matched my sister's red ones. I wander through the toy section trying to find Christmas presents for the girls, and the chemical smell of all the plastic reminds me of the gritty feel of the yellow plastic on the play shopping cart that I received for Christmas when I was two.

Its funny how these memories flash into my head, surprising me and at the same time feeling worn smooth, as if they had been touched every day for years. It makes my stomach tense up with excitement, thinking of all the other memories that must be lingering around the corner, just waiting for the right signal to jump out and say, 'Here I am.'

It makes me look at the girls every day and think, 'Will they remember this? How about this?' Which events from today are the ones that they will turn over and over again in their head as they fall to sleep, the ones that will come back to them when they are grown up and remembering. As I paste the pictures in their photo albums, I wonder if the photos will jog memories and they will remember how that day smelled. Or how the cake batter felt sticky on their faces. Or how the cold air pinched the insides of their noses.

And what I often ask myself is, why do I spend so much time printing out photos and carefully pasting them in the albums? Why is it so important to me to try and pin down all these moments, especially when I am constantly being impressed by how intense my childhood memories come back to me? Maybe its just the randomness of memory that worries me. It feels like I have no control over what disappears and what sticks. Maybe that is what the albums are for. Like this, I remember the girls' childhood exactly as I want to. I choose the pictures. I write the captions. The universe doesn't get to decide which day gets lost and which moment will haunt me.

Will it work?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Piggy flu?

I don't know what Georgia has picked up, but she is FINALLY taking a nap and I'm hoping that when she wakes up, she is feeling a bit better. She has had a fever of 39.5/103 since Wednesday, more or less. She has a bit of a runny nose and on Thursday her diapers were toxic* and she is a bit cranky but after some Doliprane, seems just fine. I can't bear the thought of going to sit in my pediatrician's waiting room for an entire afternoon, just to have him tell me, 'I don't know what she's got. Just keep giving her paracetamol, I guess.' So we'll wait this one out. Oh, how did I manage to suppress the horrible memories of ella's first year in daycare, when she caught every single bloody cold, cough, gastro, flu, and ski disease (foot and mouth disease was my favorite, if you're keeping track at home) that when around. Guess we are in for a few more months of fun until her immune system is a lean, mean fightin' machine. I'll just keep downing vitamin C and taking power naps so that I can keep up.

*This is a blog post in and of itself- she has started rejecting baby food and insisting on eating food off of our plates. Her poor little digestive system is having a rough time of it, I imagine. I'm going to need to see some sort of improvement soon or desperate measures will need to be employed (Declare her changing table a Superfund site? Buy a hazmat suit? ) I may need to look into that thing where you balance your infant on the toilet seat 25 times a day, until she figures it out and is potty-trained before she can walk. I actually know someone who did this successfully, with her two kids. And yes, I would qualify her as certifiably insane.

Due to Mystery Illness #359, she didn't go to daycare on Wednesday, got kicked out early on Thursday, and we missed playgroup on Friday. So I did not get a lot done this week. I did finish up Ella's album, which feels like an enormous accomplishment. I ran out of picture corners though (I think I went through about 1000 on Ella. Yikes) so that threw up a roadblock for a few days. I did manage to get over to Bon Marche one morning to pick up some more and was bummed to see that they had all the picture frames marked down an extra 40%, making it a total of 64% off regular price! But since I hadn't had a chance to go through my stuff and figure out what I wanted framed and where I wanted to hang it, I couldn't take advantage. Rats.

I did go out and buy a new desk chair on Friday. I should have done this in December because there is the usual 8 week delivery delay, which sucks. And even though we had pretty much decided on the model back before Christmas, I only went to look through their fabric selection yesterday. The salesperson told me that they had like a thousand different fabrics to choose from so i had high hopes of getting exactly what I had been imagining in my head. Imagine my joy to find out that they actually had about 950 different types of linen, in different weaves of the same 35 colors. Arg. I chose this fabric, mainly because B was really excited about it, but I'm not that sure. I think the color is good for the living room, but my worry is that the chair will be sitting in front of curtains that are basically the same color, a little lighter. I think it might be a bit too blah. But it will also be sitting in front of a built in desk unit that is all dark wood, so a brown/beige would have been too dark, I think. And although I was fairly sure that I nice ivory would have been great, we have two small children (one of whom is Georgia...) so there is no way that a white chair would survive the year. I'm just hoping that I can easily sew up a slipcover for the chair, if it turns out to look all wrong. See, this is where I always wish that I had a very talented decorator girlfriend who could pop over to give me a bit of advice. I have lots of opinions about whether or not something looks right, but not enough experience to know ahead of time.

In any case, this chair is our test case since it isn't too expensive. We need two chairs for the ends of the dining table and I wanted to buy this one, but it costs a fortune. We decided to try out a cheaper chair to see if we could live with it before committing to the expensive Baker version. We already blew our budget when we got the Charm Chair by Studiovolto for the side chairs, so a little effort is required, unless I want to spend the next year serving buttered pasta to my children.

Speaking of expensive stuff, the only other thing that I accomplished this week was buying Ella's ski gear. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that she doesn't grow more than 2 inches in the next year (or two, that would be nice) so that it fits for more than 5 mintues. She looks so cute though! And to top it all off, I cracked for a pair of Moonboots. I don't remember them being this awesome when I was a kid. I think I kind of remember hating them because they seemed so big and heavy. She loves them because they make her about 5 cms taller. I love them because they make her little legs look like toothpicks. I wish I had a photo but it takes like 20 minutes to get her stuffed and zipped and buckled into everything, so you'll just have to wait til we get to the mountains.

I also sorted out my jacket situation. I tried on the Pyrenex jacket and, frankly, I looked stupid. I think its one of those things that you need to be a 6 ft tall model to wear without looking like a linebacker for the Bears. I ended up getting a really nice fleece and a vest with a fur hood (makes me feel like a snow bunny) from Narapujri. I looked at proper ski jackets but the ones I liked were over 300 euros, and lets face it, my ski skills do no merit 300 euros of gear. They probably ring up at around 1.50 to be honest. Ella is only doing half days at ski school so I will definitely only be doing half days of skiing, with the other half spent at the pool. Or reading. Or napping. Yeah, probably napping. I wonder if that vest makes a good pillow? Then I would definitely get my money's worth.

Hopefully by teh end of the weekend, I'll have my album all caught up on so I can (finally) cross that off my To Do list. I also need to start ordering stuff ASAP for Ella's birthday, which is in less than 3 weeks. She has decided to do a Sam Sam/superhero party, which I think sounds fun. I wanted to order personalized superhero capes for all the kids, but she will not stick to a guest list for more than 5 minutes. Sigh. 4 year-olds are fickle friends. What do you do in this situation? Do you just say, Suck it up. I'm making the guest list and you just have to try and stay friends with all these kids til the big day. Or do you sort of hold out til the last possible minute for invites. Hmmm. To be decided.

I've also got to figure out a way to build Sam Sam's spaceship, I've got my heart set on it. But I can't think of anything bigger than a salade bowl made of clear plastic that can serve as the lid. Any ideas? Also need to find a place where I can have t-shirts embroidered. If I have to, I'll have it done in the States and have them shipped here with the capes, but all those shipping problems just add an extra unwanted layer of stress. And I'm already at my limit, hoping that Benedicte and Orna stop insisting on being Barbie Mousequetaires at recre and play Tinker Fairies with Ella so that they can stay on the guest list.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ballet for kids

Yesterday Ella and I had the nicest Wednesday afternoon that we had in awhile. Way back in September, when Ella's dance class was cancelled and I decided not to sign her up for the more serious dance school, I went online and bought tickets for all kinds of special shows and concerts and spectacles. I figured that she could get just as much out of watching dance as she could by participating (or atleast, compared to the amount of dancing that she did in her old class. There was lots of giggling and making funny faces in the mirrors, but not much else...) I had forgotten about lots of the things and was a bit surprised when tickets arrived in the mail last week for a dance spectacle at the Opera Bastille.

I had bought two children's tickets so I had to quick get on the phone and find a friend to come with. Not wanting a repeat of last weeks ENDLESS playdate, I immediately ruled out any and all children with working parents, and we were only left with a few options. When I mentioned it to Ella, she begged me to ask Owen, a boy from our anglophone playgroup. I didn't know if he liked dance but his mom was really excited about and even decided to bring her younger daughter to see if they could find some scalped tickets at the last minute. Maybe I'm just an uncultured American but it never occurred to me that someone would try to scalp tickets a children's ballet show...

Our friends came over early to play and then we slogged our way through the puddles and rain to the opera house. My friend managed to buy two tickets at the desk as there were quite a few that had never been picked up. Its good to know that even when the Internet shows a sold out seance, there are generally ones like this to be had at the last minute, according to the person at the info desk. There wasn't much of a crowd and in the amphitheatre where they held the show, it was set up so that the kids could either sit on the floor right next to where the dancer was or in the first few rows of seats. They set it up to feel really intimate, which was so nice for a show aimed at kids 3-6 years old.

We saw this show and I loved it. Ella kept asking me when the dansers were coming; I think that she expected the ballet dancers like we saw last time. This was set to Japanese music, with a really beautiful light show, and movements that copied animals, isolated one part of the body, or were just a bit silly to make the kids laugh. I thought it was so clever. The only bad thing was that I wasn't sitting next to Ella and so I couldn't point out the interesting bits. I think that once she lost interest, she spaced out on the rest of the show.

Oh well. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Afterwards, we were all ready for a gouter and I remembered reading about a good patisserie near the Bastille where there were tables. By the way, if you haven't bought a copy of the guide book The Patisseries of Paris by Jamie Cahill, you really should run right out and fix that. Its such a nice way to visit Paris, if you don't know the city well. And when you live here, there is nothing better than knowing all the best places to find a treat. I don't even eat many sweets or cakes and I have gotten my money's worth from this book many times over.

Once again, the book's advice was spot on for the Cafe Francais and we had such a fantastic treat. I loved my millefeuille and the two little girls both got a chocolate mousse cake type of thing that was also a hit. You could tell because they were both covered in chocolate by the time we left.

There are only a few more spectacle this year in the Jeune Public program at the Opera de Paris, but I am definitely going to take Ella to as many as I can. Its obviously great for her but I realized that I love doing stuff like this and its a good way to share one of my passions with her. Maybe in time, it'll turn out that this isn't really her thing (when I was telling B about it last night over dinner, he said that he would have died of boredom if his mom had tried to force him to get cultured. He may have even mimed gagging at one point in my story... God, he's such a caveman sometimes. Let's hope my genes win on this one.) but until then, what a great was to fill up her day off of school.

I am going to try and get her to some more classical ballet shows, like the Balanchine that we saw in November. She LOVED that. She tells people about it all the time, despite the fact that we had miserable seats and she could barely see (note to anyone booking the Baignoires, be sure to arrive extra extra early so you are in the front of the box and not in the back). I noticed that there is a ballet by Nureyev running in May that looks amazing, if a bit long. Thats the trick with the regular ballet shows- I need to buy seats good enough that Ella can see well, but not so expensive that I get upset if she gets bored and fidgetty and we need to leave early.

Still, it all ends up being less expensive than certain ballet classes that surprise you with astronomical bills for special tutus (are they special because they are made of gold?!!) for the end of the year recital, right?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A very unexpected hangover

Last night, I was sitting at the dining room table, busily pasting photos into Ella's album to take advantage of the time I had while sitter played with the girls, when the phone rang. B had just gotten a call from one of his Italian cousins who was with some friends and in town for work. Could we meet them for dinner? I quick checked with the sitter to see if she could stay late and got on the phone to find a nice French restaurant in the neighborhood where we could get a table for 6 at the last minute. Luckily, L'Atelier Maitre Albert said no problem. I ran into the bathroom and realized that I was lucky that I had two hours to get ready. I looked like I was ready to climb into bed (mainly due to a late afternoon change of clothes a result of Georgia's predeliction for 'sharing' her food). Ahhh, I remember back when I could walk out of the house at a moments notice to meet people. When I was young, unlined, and almost always had clean clothes on...

No, two hours was plenty of time to pull myself together and grab a bit of caffeine so that I could make it up past my 9:30 bedtime. B even talked me into wearing the Manolo's that had been sitting unworn in my closet since I bought them way back in November. Talk about a big night out. I had to laugh though- I am so unused to wearing very high heels that I was tottering around like a twelve-year-old who raided her mommy's closet. That drives home the fact that I have not been getting out enough. I used to be able to sprint down a cobbled street, chasing down taxis in heels higher than the ones I wore last night. Well, note to self- start wearing heeled boots when pushing Georgia in the stroller to get my calf muscles back into shape.

Dinner was really nice- I love that restaurant in the winter because the room is so cosy with the black walls and a massive old fireplace that is always lit. And I like that the menu is really simple but everything is done exceptionally well. I had artichoke soup with winter mushrooms for an entree and it was amazingly good. They put the sauteed mushrooms in the bowl and then once the plate is on the table, the waitress brings the giant bowl of soup, to spoon in the quantity that you want. The first bite, I could taste artichoke, but it seemed a bit flat, not very interesting. As we were talking, I was absent-mindedly stirring my soup, and when I took my next bite, all the flavors had melded together to make the soup something else entirely. Honestly, I would go back to the restaurant again tonight just to enjoy another bowl of that soup. It was just perfect.

The only problem with dinner was that the two Italian girls did not drink wine and the water bottle was nearly always empty (they were also closer to the fire so I think that the were a bit warm as well as thirsty). I have practically a tick and I can't sit at the table and not drink. Normally, when B and I go to dinner, I can polish off 1.5 liters of water all by myself. But since I couldn't keep my water glass filled last night, I ended up drinking wine. Too much wine. And then after dinner, B invited everyone back to our place for a digestif. Now, I know that I didn't have to have a digestif with everyone else. But I was too drunk from all the wine and didn't have the sense to say no. So, last night, I was actually happy when Georgia shouted at 4am for her tetine and drink of water because I woke up and realized that I needed a big drink of water myself and an aspirin (or three) if I wanted to feel human in the morning.

So there are two things that I have forgotten about while hibernating over the last few months with the baby- how to walk in heels and how to handle my liquor. Gosh, next thing you know, I'll be burping out loud and telling stories about medical interventions. I had thought about skipping the vernissage we were invited to on Thursday but I think in the interest of maintaining my social graces- or what few that remain- we better book the babysitter.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Design dilemma

This weekend, we decided that it was time to move the mattress to the lowest position in the crib as Georgia is likely to figure out any day now how to pull herself up while in her sleep sack. Atleast that is what B thinks. I think that she is a bit like a turtle when she is on her back. She cannot seem to figure out that all she has to do is roll on to her tummy and then she can sit up. Right now, she lays there yelling and tries to use her abs of steel to sit straight up. Maybe its not stupidity though. She seems to be ornery like her mommy so maybe its become a principle thing?

ANYHOO- when we put down the mattress, I was suddenly confronted with the dilemma, what do I do with the crib skirt? I had always planned to just hem it up at this point, but now, I think it looks really strange. On the otherhand, I also think that the bed looks strange with nothing. Due to the amount of sewing involved, I am leaning towards no bed skirt. What do you all think?

(PS: to see what the crib looked like before, go here.)
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The anti-organiser

While she did that, I did this:

which made me so happy that I didn't even mind having to spend 15 minutes sorting out her mess.

A very productive weekend

Despite having spent the weekend fighting off a cold, I actually got lots done. I suppose that it what happens when you are stuck in the house for hours on end and can't go out and waste time on pointless errands. Exactly what I needed.

Now, the number one task on the to-do list was the ski holiday. Booked! B extended an olive branch (after laughing heartily at my suggestion that I fly with the two girls to Phoenix , "15 hours on a plane? For fun? Sounds like a great vacation. Feel free to book the tickets." Ok, maybe that was such a brilliant idea after all...) and called his stepmom to see if she would babysit Georgia while we were skiing. She said that she would be glad to and that immediately made planning so much easier. Then B told me that he had spoken to his SIL who suggested La Clusaz as a really family friendly ski station. I actually trust her advice, so I looked on line, we found some really nice hotels that do demi-pension and had pools/spas, and B immediately phoned up to check for vacancies. In a half hour, it was sorted. Ahhh. Now all that remains is the small question of packing our bags- of course, I realized that Ella has no snow gear so this afternoon I am off to try and buy a ski suit. I don't have a jacket this year so I also have to do some hunting. I was thinking of one of these from Alex Mabille for Pyrenex, but I need to try one on before I can really decide. Despite being from a cold climate (or maybe because of it, I suppose) its hard for me to work up enthusiasm for snow sports and the clothing it involves. Now, bikini/sunhat/beach bag shopping, that is stuff I can get behind.

Only one hiccup- I realized, once we had it all sorted out that we would be gone on Georgia's first birthday. Does that make me a HORRIBLE mother or just a horrible mother? We are going to try and fix this somehow but as B pointed out, Georgia won't know the difference if we celebrate a day late. Good point. Why doesn't that make me feel better?

The next big job that I promised to do was the photo albums. Well, I made good progress, but there are ALOT of photos. Even more than I thought there were. I finished up album #4 and am well into album #5, but I still have a stack of photos 2 inches high that need to be stuck in the book. That can't be more than 75 photos, right? 100, tops. Slim possibility that it is actually 150 and I don't dare count or I may have to kill myself. And this is only for Ella. Then I have to do my album, which is much smaller project, and finally, get started on Georgia's. Dios Mio.

I did continue with my cupboard clean-up/out. I attacked my make-up bag. Small in size, big in irritation factor since everyday involves digging around and getting my hands covered in purple powder from that one time an eyeshadow lid came off. I swiped an organizer out of B's nightstand- it was supposed to be for electronics but he never used it and it looked just the right size for me. I wiped everything down and fit it in to the little compartments. Success! And can I just tell me what secret joy I get every morning when I pull it out of the cupboard, all the little pots arranged neatly in rows, the lipsticks ready to grab with my spotlessly clean hands. Ahhh. Its the small pleasures that make life worth living.

Meanwhile, Georgia makes sure that is one step forward, two steps back... Photos to follow.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Except, not especially, since I don't have a sitter on Saturday and B works and there is no daycare or school so Saturday is sort of the longest day of the week for me.

BUT I am having that weekend feeling right now, despite it having started out as a fairly ordinary day. For no apparent reason, I was feeling a bit draggy after getting Ella home from school. Georgia let us have an uniterrupted night's sleep and when she did squeak for her bottle, B heard her first and Ididn't even wake-up until he was sliding back into bed. I took a nice long walk this afternoon as I am still trying to determine the whereabouts of the artisan who built us a gorgeous sidetable/buffet table a few years ago (Mr Lebrun from the shop Tramp, in the 3rd, formerly located on rue Rosiers. Possibly now in the 12th on faubourg St Antoine. Ring any bells for anyone???) and who I would like to find so that he can build us a matching table to go behind the sofa. Anyways, no luck today but it was a nice walk.

So I got home feeling sleepy and Ella said, "Mommy, I think you need to take a rest." And I thought, she's right. I do need a rest. So rather than sit down and attack that photo album (still spread all over the dining room table...) I slept for an hour, while Shirley played with the girls in Ella's room so that I couldn't hear them. When I woke up, I put together a lovely dinner from all the nice things I bought at the Italian traiteur up on rue Bretagne, one of the nicest in Paris, IMO. Then I poured myself a glass of wine and now I am very lazily updating my blog while the girls splash in the tub. Normally, I would have them out and dressed by now, but since I am feeling very weekend-ish, I'll leave them til B gets home so he can take half the work.

There he is. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ski holidays

We all seem to be more or less healthy again so now I have really got to get on top of this ski vacation and book something. Technically, I did tell B that I was done with being his personal travel agent after he changed the dates on me AGAIN. To borrow a line from Charlie Brown, I wanted to knock his block off. Honestly, he does this to me every single time. He tells me a date that he is free but doesn't write it on the calendar at work, so without fail, someone else books their holiday and then one day, as I am running through the details that I have sorted out, he casually mentions that the date I'm basing it all on is no longer any good for him. ARG.

When he did it to me two days ago, I flew off the handle and said to just forget about the entire vacation, in that case. I had spoken to my mom early in the day and she really wants us all to fly out to Phoenix in February or March and meet them. Now that they are practically retired, they are going to spend 6 weeks out in the sun and they are begging me to come and visit with the girls. How tempting. A bit of sun, a babysitter, Bravo tv... I told B that instead of starting all over with the stupid ski plans, I would just book airline tickets for a flight to Phoenix and be done with it.

But then I thought it over. If I think he is being such a jerk, what kind of punishment is it for me to save him money by not booking an expensive vacation, instead giving him two weeks of calm at home while I wrestle with two kids on an international flight? Basically, I would only be punishing myself. So, my new plan is to book the ski holiday outside of the vacance scolaire and maybe still take the trip to Phoenix with the girls while Ella is off school. Tickets are really cheap for February, although the flight is minimum 14 hours. Yikes.

Only, that means that I still have to find a hotel for a ski holiday....

Geez, I don't know why I am being such a baby about this. I just have to book a hotel. B, in a peace gesture, said that I could book anything I wanted, anywhere I wanted. I bumped into a good friend of mine yesterday who is Swiss and she suggested Villars-sur-Ollon as a great family ski station in Switzerland. It does look nice, but it also looks like it would be difficult for us to drive to. I found a really nice family hotel in Courcheval but I need to verify on the map where exactly Courcheval is (I have to admit that I am BAD at French geography). B suggested Avoriaz, but I think that is only because his brother said that we should go to Avoriaz.

And then I was thinking Meribel, because whenever we go to Tignes or Val d'Isere, we pass the turnoff for Meribel hours* before we reach our destination and each time, I think to myself, "Meribel is supposed to be nice. We should just stop here."

I just need to decide something. I promise, tomorrow, I will have this done.

In totally unrelated news, the sun was finally shining today, allowing me to escape the house for a few hours with Georgia. I don't know which of us needed it more. I walked all over as I had a few little errands that I had been putting off so long as the temp was in the negatives. I bought Georgia a pair of shoes. Aren't they cute? They are from the boutique Filament on rue de Lesdiguières in the 4th, just off the Bastille. They also sell fur liners to put inside, which turns them into the sweetest little winter boots but, unsurprisingly, Georgia's feet were too big to fit in the shoe with a liner so I ended up just getting the shoe. She already had a pair in Liberty print when she was tiny but I've always loved the ones in the metallic leather. After making the poor vendeuse empty the cupboard to show me all the colors they had in this size, I chose these in a color called mauve, although they look a bit more lavendar to me. If you are ever in the neighborhood, this is a shop worth stopping by. They have a great selection of kids toys and clothes. The dress-up costumes are amazing. The soft toys that they have are also incredibly unique. I just always find something here that I love.

On the way home, I dropped into Papier+ for another photo album for Ella. I have taken over the dining room table, spreading out all the photos in chronological order so it was rather irritating to realize that there were only 5 pages left in the last album. I refuse to pick up the mess, because once its out of sight, back in the boxes, I'm sure it will be months before I manage to get at it again. No, no. I just have to push through and get this done. Now that I have another album, it should be done by the end of the weekend. Once the girls are in bed, I can normally get a lot done. Now if only, I could find a nice album for Georgia... No matter how hard I try not to let things slip for baby number 2, I can see that I am not taking nearly as many photos as I did with Ella (which is frankly a good thing, no kid needs thousands of photos of themselves). Don't get me wrong, its not like her life has gone undocumented its just that my standards are a bit higher. She can't just sit there being cute, like Ella, she's got to actually do something. Thats setting the bar pretty high for a kid that can't even roll over yet... (Crazy but true. I've never seen her roll over, although I have found her in bed on her tummy once or twice, so I guess she can do it. But, on the other hand, she's almost walking on her own. )

I don't why I'm still typing. I've got a To Do list a mile long and no babysitter today. Lets see if I can actually make a decision and cross something of that list.

*Ok, well, not actually hours. But that last little bit of twisty turny driving really feels like takes as long as the autoroute part, Paris to Albertville.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How do you say in French 'Take your child back'?

Another hellish night. B got the gastro and cannot vomit without producing the most horrific howl, thereby waking up everyone within a three block radius. Do I need to point out that a certain baby who sleeps very lightly was awake for the whole show? And she stayed up an extra two hours just to be sure that there wasn't an encore. I don't know who I was most irritated with at 3 am last night, when I finally gave in and shoved a bottle in Georgia's mouth. Atleast it shut her up for three hours. Unfortunately, I was so stressed out by this point that I lay awake in bed for another hour trying to relax enough to fall back asleep.

I wouldn't have been so desperate last night if I hadn't made the mistake of inviting a friend of Ella's over for a playdate today. I sent a note home with her friend last week, since Ella had been begging me to let her have a friend over. The mother called while I was weak with the gastro and I guess I must have been half mad with fever. The mom is divorced and works. When I realized this, I asked her if it would be easier for the little girl to just come over after school one day (thinking it would take too much organization for her to organize with the sitters/daycare for a wednesday playdate). The mom said, 'no, no, no. Wednesday is fine.' OK, I agreed, Wednesday was probably nicer for us as well, it would help to fill up the day. She said she had to leave for work at 8, so she would drop of the little girl on her way but she wouldn't be able to pick her back up til about 6 pm, was that too late? GOOD GOD- 8?!! 8 AM?!!! What kind of lunatic drops off a kid for a playdate at 8 bloody o'clock in the morning. In shock, I assured her that 6 pm was no problem. (Well, it wasn't. 8 am was the problem). And she said, 'Great, see you Wednesday at 8 then.' Click.

So on top of sleeping a grand total of 6 hours last night, I get to babysit for free and with no hope of reciprocation for an extra kid today. Want to know what really bugs me? The little girl told me that they have a nanny on Wednesdays that comes to their house. So why oh why am I stuck in this horrible situation? I clearly need to look up 'playdate' in my French/English dictionary because it seems like maybe I accidentally told the other mom I was interested in adopting another child.

In all fairness, this child is a lovely, sweet little girl. I don't know why I am so bent out of shape about having her around, when clearly the child that needs to find a new home is Georgia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slowly working my way back to human

I think that Georgia may also have caught my gastro. Although she hasn't vomited, she was awake about every hour last night, yelling. If her stomach hurt half as much as mine, I understand. Luckily, B agreed to do 100% of baby duty last night, and with a pair of earplugs in, I managed to get a solid night's sleep. Unfortunately, she is still acting sick this morning. Plus she has some weird rash on her wrist, which looks like impetigo. PLUS her one eye was crusty when she woke up this morning and I think it looks like conjunctivitis. Honestly, I feel like explaining to her that its one thing to wake us up at night if she is super cute, but right now she is all crusty and gross and her popularity has taken a nose-dive.

The only good thing about all this is that it is such an awesome diet; I'll have lost more weight in the past two days than I did in the past two months. I know, I know. There are plenty of people dying to tell me that it isn't real weight loss. I don't care. Its just the motivation I need to get back to the gym. Honestly, if I follow this up with a week of Bikram Yoga, I'll be at my goal weight by the end of the month- atleast for the half hour after I leave yoga (again, shut up! I know that its only water weight that you lose, but I am not fussy about how I get that magic number on the scale).

And since February ski vacation is just around the corner, I can follow up my pseudo-regime with some serious workouts soon enough. Thats if I manage to book the holiday. We cancelled our original plans because a good friend told me that they would be in town that week and now I've lost my momentum for the project. I keep thinking, 'Exactly how much fun is it going to be to leave freezing cold Paris for the freezing cold mountains, spending an entire day each way in the car, only to be trapped in an ugly ski station apartment where I have to do twice as much work as at home with absolutely no nights off to relax, since I won't have a sitter?!?" So I asked B if he wouldn't like to go alone with Ella and leave me and Georgia here in Paris. He wasn't too excited about that idea. So now, we are thinking of going to a hotel with a daycare center and doing demi-pension so that I don't have to worry about cooking/cleaning and we can leave the girls whenever we feel like it so that we can ski together and go out to eat alone together at night. Now, that sounds more like a vacation. However, the hardest part remains. Which ski station should we go to? I wanted to go to Switzerland this year but don't know anything about the Swiss ski stations. For the time being we are leaning towards Meribel, but it is so far away. And then I want to find a really nice hotel, but not so expensive that B shouts at me. Obviously, this is going to have to wait til I feel better. Even just explaining the problem has exhausted all my mental energy. Feel free to leave advice. I am hoping that there is a travel agent reading right now, who generously offers to organize the whole thing for me and all I have to do is pack our bags.

I'm heading back to bed for a nap while Georgia is quiet in her room. Normally blogging to resume soon, I hope.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Man down!

Ugh- I think that karma has done this to me. On Saturday night, after B and went out to dinner* and drank a bit too much wine, I really needed a goods night rest. I figured that I would get it since the girls have been sleeping so well. Naturally, they ended up tag-teaming us all night long. Georgia was no big surprise, its her normal schtick. Ella, on the other hand, was really getting me mad. She kept waking me up with her screaming and when I would go stumbling into her room, she would tell me that her belly was hot and she was going to puke. Now, in my defense, this is Ella's Go To excuse, whenever she doesn't want to do something. She does puke alot and so she knows that it gets me nervous when she says that, but in the middle of the night she often says this when she wakes up a bit hot. By the fourth time I got called into her room around 5, I was furious. I was exhausted and not up for any of her shenanigans so I told her that I didn't want to here one more peep out of her OR ELSE.

I was woken up at 7:45 to the sound of her puking out her guts.

About 7 pm that day, I started to have the most horrible stomach cramps and I've spent the entire day today bent in half and lingering around the toilet door, sure that I'm going to start vomiting everything I've eaten in 2010. So, is there a lesson in this? I'll tell you- once my dear husband walks in the door and relieves me. Naturally, he is about 30 minutes late getting home and, I promise you, this was not the day to make me watch the clock.

*We ended up heading over to our old 'hood, the 9th around avenue Trudaine, and just wandering til we found some place with a free table. Purely by accident, we passed in front of Table 28, the restuarant that everyone has been talking about. I figured since it has been talked up so much, there was no point in going just to have to deal with the snotty, too-cool-for-school attitude that you get in trendy restos. How shocking to find that they were totally the opposite. I've never been refused a table with so much warmth and charm! We will definitely go back, next time with a reservation and I hope that their food is half as nice as their service.

We ended up eating Le Table d'Anvers, which used to be a very very fancy place and since we moved, has been renovated and re-done to be more casual. The price was right and the entire place was empty, so we went in and had an excellent meal. By the time we left, there were people at probably 8 or 9 tables, but I was shocked that the place seemed so overlooked. The food was good quality and original, without being weird, the music was great, the waiter was lovely. If only B and I hadn't both forgotten our wallets (luckily, by scraping through our pockets for money we managed to cover the bill...) we would have had a perfect meal. As it was, we ended up making choices that matched our suddenly limited budget. I can tell, you don't regret having my student days behind me.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Greetings from the Great White North

I know that it isn't news, but Paris with snow is just too pretty. We woke up this morning to gray skies and a fresh coat of powdery white snow all over everything. There are still a few stray flakes falling and I might take the girls out later, bundled up like little Eskimo babies, to play for a bit. With all the cold weather that we've been having, the snow has stuck around for three or four days, but every single time that I go outside, I love it all over again. No wonder Ella keeps asking me if we are going to have Christmas again- it does feel like Christmas when it looks like this.

I've been out and about, braving the cold, because I had to do a bit of sale shopping for the girls. I'll admit it- I did crack and buy blouses for the girls from Chloe. They are sooo sweet that I couldn't resist. Give me some credit though, since I didn't buy the matching jeans, which was a real struggle. Everything is just so freaking cute when it is miniaturized like that!

Usually, my really big splurge in the sales is on lingerie. This year, I can't bear the idea of standing around naked in a drafty shop, trying to pick out bras. I suppose since the sales go for 5 weeks, there is a chance that the weather might improve (I'm not counting on it...) and I'll be re-motivated, but until then, I'll just stick to what I've got. And since our lovely cleaner organized my entire closet while I was away in Wisconsin, I can actually see what I've got. She arranged my lingerie drawers by color, with everything neatly folded up. Its like Victoria's Secret in there, if Victoria's Secret abandoned its love affair with neon colors and scratchy polyester lace. I admit that I've been spoiled by French lingerie and a husband willing to support my habit- I even worked with a lingerie designer for awhile, in my misspent youth ( job title: Muse. I can't believe I'm even admitting something so embarrassing). Anyways- the drawers had been a complete mess, and since I was pregnant and too fat to wear most of the things for about a year, I had sort of forgotten what all was there. Now, its up to me to do a bit of a clean out to actually make room for some new additions.

Actually, although I haven't made it to me closet yet, I've been a very busy bee this week, going through the girls toy boxes and cupboards. I had already started my clean-out when I read this blog post, but I was still inspired by the idea of oosouji. I get motivated every year in January to attack all the disorganization that starts to clutter up the corners and closets- out of sight but not out of my mind. I called it my Very Early Spring Cleaning. Glad to finally have a proper name for it. I even dragged the whole family out to Ikea last sunday so that we could try and find some new toy storage solution. We didn't really find anything, but couldn't bear having braved those crowds only to come home empty-handed so we now have an Expedit unit (dark finish) pushed in to the garbage chute closet out in the hallway; I think we would actually be happy if someone just stole it so we didn't have to deal with it. I'm sort of over flat-pack furniture and it does seem anti-oosouji, if I could coin a phrase, to be bringing cheap furniture into our house when I'm trying to empty out the place and streamline in every other sense.

I'll probably try and hang on to it for a few more weeks until our new living room media unit is installed and I have a better idea about how much extra storage we need. Although the computer images that the designer showed us were incredibly realistic looking, I can't wait to see it actually here. I asked for three big deep drawers across the front and I'm hoping that it will add lots of storage, but as I'm mentally making the list of what I'm going to shove in this unit, I realize that I might be overestimating the space available. Doesn't matter, because at the very least, it will finally give me a new desk where I can put the computer. Currently, we have it balanced on the corner of a bench, underneath the tele, so that we can hook it up for watching I-tunes downloads on the big screen, and I type while sitting in a child sized Phillipe Starck Ghost chair. Everytime Georgia comes toddling up to bang on all the keys she can reach before I neutralize her, I do the countdown in my head 'Only 28 more days til delivery, only 28 more days til delivery, ...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Happy Tape project

I think it was the blog Oh Happy Day that I first heard about Happy Tape, but since then I've seen it on a few blogs about crafting and I've been dying to buy some. I didn't want to pay for it to be shipped to France since I figured it would cost more than the tape was worth- especially if the package got caught in customs. So I sort of filed it away in my mind, for a rainy day.

Then over the holidays while in Wisconsin, when I finished up my Christmas shopping, I decided it would be a good idea to give a thought to what I wanted to get the girls for their birthdays since lots of things are so much cheaper (and easier to find) in the States. Suddenly, I had the idea of ordering Happy Tape for Ella for her birthday since she LOVES using tape. She is in heaven when I let her have a roll of regular Scotch tape and will easily spend an entire morning taping things together- paper to paper, paper to wall, paper to finger, finger to finger- anyways, you get the idea. This is the perfect present, better than the box o' balls that I got her when she turned 2 (ie, I got a packing box and just filled it up with every kind of ball that I could find. She adored it!) or the box o'flashlights that she got when she was 3 (you can figure this one out I think...).

The tape turns out to be kind of pricey, but more so because its so hard to choose. I ended up ordering a big 10 pack of spring colors, a pink mix, a blue and red patterned pack, and a pack of 'neutrals'. The rolls actually seemed quite small when I finally received the package- I don't know how much is supposed to be on each roll, but I suppose that since this is masking tape, in my head, I had imagined masking tape sized rolls that you use for taping off when you paint walls. They are actually about a quarter of that size. But saying that, once I started using the tape, it seemed like it there was a lot on each roll and it will last a long time. 7

Because OF COURSE I couldn't wait til February 10th to crack open the tape. It was singing its siren song and finally I couldn't resist! Besides, I had the best project- I had gotten a little notebook for Christmas, one that I could carry around in my purse. I was happy with the leather cover, since I figure it will hold up to the assault that it will suffer getting banged around inside my purse. But it was a bit blah. Enter Happy Tape! OK, so maybe stripes is a bit obvious, but I think it turned out so awesome. The edges are a bit ragged and I think that I should cover it all in clear plastic to keep the tape from peeling up at the edges, but overall, it turned out prefectly.

I know that the majority of the tape I need to leave alone so that there is something to wrap up for Ella, but I can't stop thinking of all the neat things that you could do with it. I think it will be really neat to use for wrapping presents. I want to get a few rolls of plain white wrapping paper (PS Parisians- Bon Marche has 40% off all their wrapping supplies. I think it is a great time to stock up.) I was thinking it will be cool in photo albums for 'framing' photos. I also thought that it could be used on photo mats in frames. I'll be great for labeling jars and bins in the kitchen, since it is easy to write on. Ooo- I'm thinking it would be fun to order some of the wide tape to use on bins of toys in colors to match each of the girls rooms. I wish it were less expensive so that I could be really indulgent but like I said- it might go a lot farther than I think so I won't harp on that issue any more. And in the end, I'm sure Ella will have lots of great ideas of fun ways to use it, so I can hardly wait til her birthday next month (honestly, I'm wondering if there is time to have another order shipped to my mom so that she can ship it to me?)

One more idea for Happy Tape that I just put to use- use it to add a few stripes to a piece of plain card to make a really sophisticated and expensive looking thank you note. I had to write one to the delivery man at Monoprix. I ran to the grocery store after picking up Ella from school and only realized once I was at the checkout for deliveries that I didn't have my wallet, only a 100 euro bill. I apologized and asked what I could do. The cashier wanted me to put my cart on the side and come back once I had my wallet but the delivery guy said to just pass my things through. I didn't quite understand, til he pulled money out of his own wallet for me! He loaned me enough money to pay the bill and said to just give the money to whoever came to my house later with my groceries. How nice was that! Especially on a freezing cold day like today, when I really didn't feel like having to do the trip twice. Honestly, I might have to stop complaining about rude Parisians.
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Thursday, January 07, 2010


That was the sound of the toilet flushing all my efforts away. After basically abandoning our schedule and napping a mere 45 minutes yesterday, Georgia woke at 3:30am and shouted for an hour until both B and I were lying there wide awake, whisper-screaming at each other as we debated whether we should go in and quiet her down or let her CIO. We tried giving her water twice, going in and shushing her three times, and finally giving in and giving her her bottle at 4:30.

Once again, we are whipped.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Little girls in matching dresses

I used to think that I was a little bit mean, dressing my girls in matching outfits. I just couldn't help it- whenever I would find an cute outfit for one of the girls that had something similar in a size for the other, I would buy it. And it makes for nice photos.

All of which is demonstrated by the photos, accompanying this article. And since the article is in Vogue, clearly that is proof that kids in matching outfits is not naff, it is uber-cool. How nice to figure this out right before I start doing some serious sale shopping ;-)

Inspired idea- how awesome would it be to get a pic of the girls on a grey rainy day, in the park, wearing matching yellow raincoats?
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Why are the French crazy for the sales this year?

Just found a really good link and I can't wait to get the time to do some trolling through the archive. Lots of good advice to kick the New Year off right:


I am sneaking away from an urgent project because I just lost about 20 minutes worth of work and am tempted to kick my computer. Arg!! I'm desperately trying to put together my Christmas photo album on kodakgallery so that I can order it 25% off- offer ends tonight!- but twice now, the site has 'logged me out' while I was working and the screen suddenly goes to an error message, erasing everything I did since my last save. This is the reason why i like snapfish.com, you do the work on your home computer, not online, and only when done, do you go online to upload. But kodak is cheap. Sigh. If I didn't have to economize my pennies for the sales, I would be happily writing witty photo captions on Snapfish right now...

So yeah, the sales. I managed to drag myself to the shops for an hour or two this afternoon. I didn't want to have to go outside and deal with the freezing cold weather, but I figured I needed the exercise after giving into temptation last night and eating an entire (mini) Moelleux au Chocolat from Picard (B was home late or I would never have had the chance of eating the whole thing.) So I braved the cold, missed the bus, ended up jogging three bus stops because it was too bloody cold to just stand still and wait for the next bus to come. And when I got to Bon Marche, it was a mad scene. I have never, ever seen that place so insanely busy. What's up Parisians? Why the sudden consumer lust? I literally had to shuffle through the shop as the crowds were too thick to walk normally.

It was even more surprising to find no line at the JP Tod stand. Normally on the first day of sales, when no one is in the stores, you spend 10 minutes waiting your turn. I suppose it was because they were already sold out of everything. I bought a pair of shoes that I wanted in black and they only had in grey, because I refuse to pay full price for this brand and after all my efforts to get there, I couldn't very well go home empty handed. The nice thing about Bon Marche is that you can return sale items no problem so I'll give it a think tonight and take them back tomorrow if I change my mind.

I ran down to the kids section to see if I could see anything good for the girls. I ended up getting a few pair leggings at Bonpoint because I realized this morning, after emptying out her closet, that my little lumberjack has outgrown nearly every pair of winter pants that I have. Good thing I didn't have much cash on me because as I stood in line, I saw that they had Baby Chloe on 50% off. OMG. I love every single thing in that collection. And since 90% is totally useless for the lifestyle of your average baby (white scalloped linen dress with pale apricot colored cashmere and silk cardy?) I shouldn't buy any of it. But if it is still there tomorrow, I can't make any promises...

And this baby is messing with me- she slept from 8pm yesterday til 10 this morning, waking at 3:30 for some water (and about 30 minutes of half hearted squeaking) and 7:20 for her bottle. Now I may have all this good scheduling get flushed down the toilet, as garderie started up again this week. She only napped 45 minutes today as she was there in the afternoon and will need to be roused from bed early to go again tomorrow morning. Aiyiyi. I am crossing everything and hoping that it won't make any difference.

Ok, back to the saltmines. The sitter is leaving and I have to get on that photo project.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Entering the temple of fashion

So, I made my decision in record time- I traded in my Classic Jumbo for a Small 2.55 Revisited. The minute I saw the 2.55, I LOVED it and my decision was made. I love the straps, even though they don't have the classic leather and chain look that I automatically associate with Chanel bags. The leather is also purposely aged, which I think looks so much better than the shiny Classic. And there isn't the CC logo, just a very discret 'Chanel' engraved under the latch. It is 100% me. And its a really good size too- I can use if for day when I am running around but its not too big for taking out at night. The Jumbo, if you can tell from the photo, is kind of enormous. The shop on rue Cambon was completely sold out of the middle size so I don't know if that would have been better but I don't care. I am in love with my purse, which has already had its first outing (supermarket, natch. Ah, the glamorous life that I lead...).

And any guesses as to what I wore for my maiden visit to the temple of Chanel? Let me take you out of your suspense. My mom jeans, my Geox, and underneath my jacket, my nice warm cardy from Comptoir des Cotoniers. I almost laughed out loud when I was on the bus, on my way, and I realized that i had worn exactly what I had originally planned to avoid. In my defense, it was about -10 degrees yesterday and since I ended up having to take Georgia with me, I need to take the bus, which means that I needed to walk quite a bit and I don't know. I have no imagination, I suppose. Despite being a Northwoods girl, the cold freezes my brain and all I can think about is warmth and comfort. Of course, with little Gigi charming the pants off the staff, no one gave me a second glance.

Ooo- speaking of which. There is a pretty weird crowd hanging out at Chanel. There was one woman with what looked like a grey nose, slightly bandaged- possibly in recovery from a nose job. Super creepy. Then another woman had something like burn marks over half her face, I wonder if it was a chemical peel? Then the Asian girls dressed in 7 or 8 layers of designer clothing, difficult to tell if this was to combat the cold or maximize their fashion cred by wearing every piece of expensive clothing they owned at one time. There were, of course, several ropey old women stumbling around in high-heeled boots and fur coats and sunglasses. And one staff member who was clearly dressed head to toe in Chanel, but since she was only about 5 feet tall and had curves (ie, had pretty much the opposite of the figure these clothes were designed for) she looked like she belonged in the Munchkin Village in the Wizard of Oz- strong ressemblence to the Mayor-with flaming red hair to boot! Even my best efforts to dress the part would have left me severely lacking so I think its best that I just went au naturelle.

And just for those keeping track, Georgia once again managed an almost full night of sleep, waking at 4:50, when I gave her some water, and then squeaking again at 5:20, when I gave her a bottle. Internets, I have another question: after summer vacay when she regressed to demanding 2 bottles a night, I made a resolution to not give her a bottle before 6 am, reasoning that she was eating plenty and didn't need any food before then. So I would get up numerous times between 4 and 6 trying to lull her back to sleep with various techniques, only giving her a bottle (which would generally put her back to sleep) when the magic number appeared on the clock. Since we are still slighlty jetlagged, I've allowed this rule to slide for the time being, but would it be wiser to just give in and let her have her bottle at whatever time she first wakes-up? Or am I creating a monster? I just want to crack this nut before she turns one.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

She might not have figured out the sleep thing, but boy can this kid eat. She is currently hanging at my arm and begging for another sip of my green tea. As I tend to do, I let her taste it- expecting that she will immediately spit out her mouthful, when she realizes how bitter and upappetizing it is. No such luck. She smacked her lips and said, 'Yummmm!' Same thing for red wine sucked off my finger; a pickle; an olive; gingerbread cookies; fois gras; etc Last night, I decided to let her sit with us at the table as we ate and feed her at the same time since she has taken to eating two plates of food at each meal- her own, specially prepared baby meal followed by everything she begs off of me, her sister and her dad as we try to eat our meal. She is a bottomless pit, I tell you, which is clear by her rather pot-like shape. So cute though.
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The It Bag

I don't know if I dare report it here, in case that will jinx everything, but here goes. Lets live dangerously in 2010. Georgia slept from 8:30 last night til 9 this morning, with only a bit of squeaking at 5:45 for her morning bottle. For me, that qualifies last night as a raging success as far as my efforts to get her on a liveable sleep schedule. Now, lets see if we can turn this into a pattern. Even if I only get one night a week of normal sleep I'll be happy, so with those kind of low expectations, I should come out of this a winner, I think.

Since I slept so well, I'm going to attack the biggest item on my To Do list this morning- exchange one of my Christmas presents. This is actually a more daunting task than it would first appear- the present in question is a Chanel purse which will necessitate a visit to the boutique on rue Cambon. Remember yesterday when I mentioned that, sartorially-speaking, I've let things slide a bit. That means that I can't just grab the receipt and walk out the door, I've got to prepare myself. I've got to look like a person who ought to be carrying a Chanel bag. I've been laying awake at night for the past week or so thinking about this and I think that I can approach this in one of two ways:

a. une dame du 16eme, brushing impec, manicure, heels, crisp white shirt peeking out from under my cashmere coat, fresh from the pressing. Possibly holding a small yippy dog on a leash? or

b. Cool, street style, as featured in this week's edition of Voici (I knew that my subscription would come in handy one day!) and illustrated with photos of Vanessa Paradis, Clemence Poesy, Lindsay Lohan, and Sarah JP with their sacs Chanel, accessorized by skinny black jeans, baggy t-shirt hanging from their boney shoulders, and long expensively messy hair.

a. Hair salon and pressing are closed for the day and I have no time for a manicure. Despise yippy dogs.

b. Do not weigh 40 kilos and probably never will, therefore look mostly sausage-like rather than svelte in similar outfit. Also, due to bad haircuts Jan-Oct 2009, hair is about 18 inches shorter than necessary for this look.

What to do, internet? And this is not even the hardest question. The BIG question is, which sac do I get? Must admit to not being terribly on top of the whole Chanelmania thing. All I know is that I absolutely hate those stupid bags that Lily Allen is holding in all the ads, the ones that look like duffel coats, folded in half. Am thinking that if I want to know what is the coolest bag to have, with such limited time for research, I'll just do a search of Ebay. Whichever model has the most fakes being sent from Hong Kong is the one I need to buy.

Of course, if you have any advice, post ASAP in the comments. I'll be busy for the next few hours, standing in my underwear in my closet, rejecting one piece of clothing after another...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2009 in photos

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2009 recap

I know I have been absent for ages and ages but I have a good excuse(s). I think the best way to catch up on things is to do a 2009 recap, so here goes:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Did night diving, travelled alone on a transatlantic flight with two small children, knit a sweater that someone could actually wear.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can’t remember what they were but I am sure that it was something to do with trying to live in the moment and not waste time stressing out about what might happen. I guess I kind of managed that, but it is a ongoing battle.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes! Me! And my sister and it seems like about half of my high school class. Seriously, this was the Year of the Baby which is great because it is so much easier to hang out with friends when they are in exactly the same place, family-wise. No more explaining why I have to bail out and head home at midnight, while everyone else whoops it up.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but now that I have two kids, it feels like I personally had a brush with death when I hear about someone young, with kids, who has died. When I heard about a mom in my mother’s group who died after giving birth, I don’t think I stopped hugging my kids all day long.

5. What places did you visit? We went to Crete- a horrible vacation that ended a week early for me, when Georgia (3months) came down with the chicken pox. I spent the entire summer in Wisconsin, which was lovely. And this fall, we managed to sneak away alone for TWO (2!) whole weeks, visiting friends in Hong Kong and spending a week in Phuket, in the most luxurious 5 star hotel. It was exactly what I needed to recover from 8 months of sleep deprivation.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Sleep. Time at the gym. Nights out with my girlfriends.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? February 20th, since that was the day Georgia was born.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Making such a smooth, stress-free transition to two children.

9. What was your biggest failure? I didn’t manage to lose all the pregnancy weight. Once I fit back in my clothes, I sort of lost enthusiasm for all the deprivation and crankiness that goes along with weight loss. And since I could never manage to get to my 8am yoga class, preferring sleep, I didn’t have much chance of changing the situation.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Well, when the epidural didn’t work right and they had to turn it off, the birth became quite a bit more… intense than I was prepared for. Although, technically, I wouldn’t classify it as an injury, I suppose it might fall under this category since Georgia was born while I screamed at the top of my lungs, ‘Help me! Someone, please, help me!’

11. What was the best thing you bought? Geox shoes. They are so old lady, but I had to throw in the towel and admit that high heeled boots, while sexy, are not terribly practical when running after two small children. My poor joints are finally recovering from the beating they had taken.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband is a saint. Also my midwife. And my parents who let me stay with them for months at a time and taking over their house and their lives by throwing an enormous party in their backyard and bullying them into renovating their kitchen.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I think that I am growing up because I don’t get too upset about other people’s bad behaviour, or more importantly, take it personally. However, the string of horrible haircutters that I had the pleasure of meeting this year nearly did me in. Good god! I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I had the most horrible haircut of my life this year, followed by truly the most horrible haircut of my life, followed by what has got to be the absolute worst haircut of my life. Three in a row- surely I get a prize for that?
Oh- I just remembered one person who seriously ticked me off this year. I had been looking for bedding for Georgia's room and couldn't find anything to match the wallpaper so I finally stumbled across the idea of having it all custom made by a woman that I found on Etsy. OMG, what an enormous mistake that was! Not only did she deliver the bedding 2 months late but it was so badly done that I had to rip apart every single piece and re-sew it myself, while the baby laid in a basket on the floor next to me. She lied and cheated me and just made me loose all confidence in mankind for awhile there. (FYI, Her name is Brenda at the Etsy shop koryskradle, if you are interested. Avoid her at all costs!) I guess alls well that ends well, though. The room, with the new bedding that I sewed, was one of the nominees on Ohdeedoh.com for best kids room. Now imagine how awesome that room would have been if I hadn't wasted all the time and energy on stupid Brenda?

14. Where did most of your money go? I think that between the baby’s room and my crazy hormone-related need to re-look the living room (and the very legitimate need to build some storage space), decorating sucked up a good chunk of change this year. Oh, and I almost forgot about the new car, since our much loved little Punto was not going to be able to handle one more kid and the additional baggage that would mean. Of course, B got quite a bit more car than I had expected, but I’ve slowly adapted to our cushy new ride. Its so weird to actually be able to hear the radio instead of just the rattling of the car as we speed down the highway… After that, I would have to say travel related expenses were pretty significant as well, since we have added another traveller.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My push present- a 4 carat diamond and a jewelry designer, to create the ring of my dreams. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it and never take it off. I’m still in the honeymoon faze and don’t wear any other jewelry. I feel like this ring is all the bling that I need.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Just before Georgia was born, I went on to I-tunes and decided to just download all the mellow songs that I found that I liked to make a really awesome maternity playlist. It was so worthwhile, even though I was too hysterical to actually listen to music while in the delivery room. Once I was back in my room with the baby, I played it non-stop. Same when we got home from the clinic. And the best part? People kept telling me what a great mix it was, so I didn’t even have to be embarrassed about my lousy taste in music. The first song on the list is ‘Angel’ by Jack Johnson and when I hear, it immediately takes me back to that first afternoon, sitting in my bed and examining my new baby girl.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I’m happier.Much much much happier. Last year, those horrible pregnancy hormones (which eventually led my sage-femme to tell me that it seemed like my body really really didn’t like being pregnant) had me in such a state, that no amount of meditation, massage, or molly-coddling could get me out of my depression.
b) thinner or fatter? How awesome to be able to say thinner- but that is merely in the strictest sense. In relation to everything else, I am fatter (than I want to be, than I was, than my stupid skinny friends, etc…)
c) richer or poorer? Hmm. I guess probably poorer since it seems like we spent a lot of money this year? I am sort of disconnected from our finances at the present time, being otherwise occupied. However, I do have big plans to either get back to work this year or put into effect plans to get back to work. I don’t know if that means going back to school or just applying or just figuring out what I want the next step in my life to look like but it will involve making money.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Spending time working out and hanging out with friends. I sort of cut myself off from all my socializing, but with limited free time, it just seemed more important to spend that time with my husband or relaxing, quietly.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Spending time on the internet. I wish that I had spent that time reading real books and magazines, even though it is sort of a question of economics.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2009? Same as usual, in Wisconsin, with my family but it just seemed extra nice, somehow. All my siblings had a long vacation at home and we all managed to be organized so there was none of that last minute rush to get things done that has made Christmas so stressful the last few years. Now, if Georgia had let me sleep 8 hours even one of the nights that I was home, I might have really enjoyed things. As it was, I do feel like I sort of sleepwalked through the week.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Absolutely. I fell completely in love with Georgia, and just love discovering her personality developing a little bit more each day. I also am a little bit in love with the new salon that I found, where I finally got a decent cut and color and began to feel like I was emerging from my post-natal slump.

22. What was your favorite TV program? How I Met Your Mother.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2009? Bruno and I went out to dinner (can’t for the life of me remember where…) and I had a really nice spa day but since Georgia was only two weeks, the big party had to wait....

24. What was the best book you read? Revolutionary Road

25. What did you want and get? I wanted a nice calm first few months with Georgia and convinced B to let me have a sitter come every single afternoon for three hours. It sounded like such a luxury when we were talking about it, but it made such a difference for us all. If I hadn’t slept well at night, I managed to sneak in a nap. I could go and get Ella from school and spend some time alone with her. I could go to the grocery store or run errands, alone, at my own pace (ie, either running through the shops as fast as I could or lolly-gagging and window shopping, two things impossible with the girls), without having to worry about keeping a small person entertained at the same time. I could cook a nice dinner every night, so that B and I could sit down and enjoy a meal together after the girls were in bed. What a difference from the first months with Ella which were so difficult. Shirley, our sitter, is an absolute angel and she is the person to whom I owe my sanity!
I also managed to pull together an amazing party for Georgia’s baptism. I never get to host parties for my family so it was such a special treat for me. It was really a highlight of my year.

26. What did you want and not get? I wanted to have settled into a good schedule with the girls but Georgia resists all my efforts. I’ve spent so much energy on this that I haven’t managed to do much else, it feels like. I wanted to have a nice vacation in the sun with my new family of four in the springtime, to give me an opportunity to relax and re-charge. Instead, I ended up stuck in a house alone with no help, no entertainment, and no calm plus an infant who was sick with the chicken pox. Horrible, horrible vacation and absolutely the opposite of what I had imagined.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I really liked the Benjamin Button film, which I saw days before I gave birth so I ended up crying buckets. On the airplane at Christmas, I managed to watch The Hangover and loved it!

28. Did you make some new friends this year? I did. I started going to a new playgroup with Georgia and although it doesn’t seem like it will be as great at the one I had with Ella, there are some really fantatic moms in the group and I really look forward to getting to know them better.

29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Learning how to deal with lack of sleep; more exercise.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Comfortable. I already admitted to my Geox shoes in place of high heel boots. The item of clothing that I wear most is a big grey cardigan from Comptoir des Cotoniers that I bought when I was pregnant, which I wear with my Trussardi jeans which are truly Mom Jeans- high waisted to avoid the muffin top? Check. Stretchy? Check. Slightly short due to overwashing- due to a daily assault of spit-up from the baby? Check. I have also held on to my expensive maternity tops from Isabella Oliver, mainly because they are long and I don’t have to worry about them sliding up and exposing my squishy belly, but also because they cost so damn much that I refuse to send them to storage in the hopes that one day I can pass them on to someone else. My lovely Ferragamo bag that I bought in the January sales is officially a diaper bag now- besides the fact that there is always a pacifier stuffed in there, along with wet wipes and a stain remover pen, I’ve discovered a suspicious white streak down the side, which resists all my attempts to clean it off. Good thing that I have that flashy diamond to distract people from my pathetic outfits.

31. What kept you sane? Shirley’s key in the door at 3 pm and the internet, keeping me linked to the outside world, even in the worst days of babymania.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I know, I know- he looks as dumb as a stump, but if Madonna is ever busy, I’ll be happy to babysit Jesus Luz for her.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? I was pretty apathetic this year when it came to the news. Sad but true.

34. Who did you miss? I wish I could see my friends’ babies more.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Seize the day. ***Editted. No, I'm changing my lesson to this one, stolen from BitchPhD, who quoted Robert Burns: The best laid plans gang aft agley. Very true + it takes me back to much loved time in Edinburgh.