Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The littlest fashionista


Georgia has recently discovered a new game- she goes into Ella's room and grabs shirts out of her dresser, then she comes to me and holds them up, saying 'Huh? huh? huh?'until I slip them over her head. Then she sort of swans around the room, posing and checking to see if anyone is watching her. She kills me with the cuteness, sometimes. Today we managed to get on a record 4 shirts before she got bored with the game. Of course, now they are all scattered over the living room floor and all the hardwork that the cleaner did yesterday, refolding and rearranging Ella's dresser, was all for nought. But look at that little grin! It was clearly all worth it.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover

If only it was me celebrating and not my noisy neighbors. Called the police AGAIN. They were lovely to us, again. Told us again to not hesitate to call. They told us to keep writing the letters and then take the whole dossier, letters + police complaints + stuff from the syndic, to the mairie to do a process. I heard the crazy woman from downstairs saying to her husband that he needs to complain at teh next reunion of apartment owners about our complaints. Little does she know that I've already been doing my work in the hallways, gathering support for a strict amendment to our building regulations that while hand out fines to owners who disturb the quiet between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am.

I can't tell you what a state I was in while waiting for them. I honestly think that I need to get something from the doctor to calm me down because I was nearly hysterical. When you hear 20, 30 people arriving for a dinner. When they only start eating at 10:30. When the shouting and laughing is so loud at 10 that you can't hear the tv, then you know you are in for a bad night.

So I guess our spring holiday is officially off

After scouring the internet for an hour last night, B finally found an article on the bank robbery on BFM.com, some weird little news station. I think it is pretty strange that this info wasn't on any of the major French news sites. TF1 had their top article in the police/justice section about a robbery in a small casino on the French border, in a town that I had never even heard of and yet there was nothing about a major haul from a bank in the center of Paris, which included taking the security guard hostage and threatening his life and torching the place. Hmm. Very curious. That's the thing that makes us about 99% sure that everything in every box has been taken. If the bank has made this much effort to keep the thing out of the news, it must be A Very Bad Situation.



The only good thing about this is that I had lots of important papers that I came across as I was setting up the new desk area that I had wanted B to put in the safe. Thank goodness he didn't get around to it or this would have been an even bigger disaster. Lesson learned- I'll keep my valuables in my mattress rather then trust them to this particular bank.

Unfortunately, it looks like B's grandmother's jewelry was in a different safe deposit box belonging to his uncle. She had some really beautiful things (her father was an antiques dealer in between the wars, so you can imagine the type of things that he had collected) that don't look likely to be handed down to the great-granddaughters.

B must be coming to terms with things though. This morning, he told me that he was planning on taking the key to his safe deposit box and framing it; he figures it'll be a fun story to tell people, atleast. My goodness, has my cynical Frenchman decided to look for the silver lining? He has clearly been spending too much time with his American family. Next thing you know, he'll be wearing Crocs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

weekend in review

Well this weekend was all ups and downs. It was nice to have so many plans, but it is really exhausting! And if I had known about the time change, I think I would have been dreading this weekend. But finally, that was a breeze and the real problems were all the blame on the French.

I'll do the bad stuff first. I don't want be spreadin' B's bidness all around, but he has had a rough couple of days, poor guy. For the last few months, his business has been audited and they got the results on Friday. Now, it seems to me like this was pretty much the result that he had predicted but apparently he had harbored secret hopes that it would go differently. The auditor made some pretty far-fetched assumptions to come up with his valuations which means that the 'bill' to be paid is astronomical. So now, they need to hire a lawyer to appeal the 'bill' and all this will probably take a year or two. And since B is a pathological worrier, that means a year or two of worrying constantly about the result. Sigh.

The second problem that he had this weekend was a lot more exciting (really? you say. More exciting than discussing accounting errors? Oh Internets, I know it is hard to keep up with my thrilling life over here. But seriously, wait for it...) - his bank was robbed! Personally, the last word that I would use to describe the situation is 'shocking' but I'll let you judge. The bank office where we had our checking accounts and safe deposit box has been closed for renovations for the last few months. This branch is near B's office so I hadn't seen it until a few weeks ago when we drove by in the car. B pointed out the window and said 'Look at how safe they keep our money...' The front wall of the bank had been removed and was replaced by... plywood. You know, thin flimsy pressboard. Can be snapped in half by a hefty toddler jumping on it in the middle. Well, apparently, they had moved the front desk part to another location down the street and just weren't terribly worried about the safe deposit boxes so plywood was considered sufficient protection from the bad guys. Geez- I don't even think that plywood is sufficient protection from strong wind, but you know, thats just me. I asked him if had left anything in the safe and he said yes. I said that I hoped it wasn't anything important because personally, that wall of plywood didn't reassure me much. And I guess I was right because Sunday morning, B stopped by his office to pick up something and he saw firemen and police all over the bank- or I should say, former bank. There had been a fire. Set by the bank robbers, who broke into the safe. B called me right away and he was practically in hysterics because the police wouldn't tell him anything. Again, I can't say that I was at all shocked and I pointed out that if the fire was only caught at 8 or 9 on Sunday morning, it was probably only set a bit before (its right on avenue de l'opera and there are lots of people around even early on Sunday morning so it couldn't have burned for very long). That would mean that the robbers had probably been in the bank all night and had had plenty of time to get in all the safe deposit boxes. It was probably a safe bet that whatever he had in there was gone. Well, we spend the rest of the day, on practically on hourly basis, having this same discussion over and over and OVER again. He tried phoning up this morning and the staff at the replacement office didn't even know that there had been a break-in. Oh, French people and their great attitude of 'Whatever. Not my problem.'

At least I can't complain about not getting enough sleep this weekend. I'm not saying that I couldn't have slept for hours more each morning but atleast there were no noisy neighbors to wake me and the time change totally worked in our favor. Tonight will be the real test, but last night Georgia was in bed at 8:30 (a bit later than usual due to the time change and a late nap) and didn't wake until 6:45. I managed to settle her back to sleep til 7:15, when I gave her a bottle and when she was done and had woken us up by banging her bottle against the bars on her crib (honestly, she finally wakes up happy one day and do we get to hear her cooing in bed? No. Its like waking up to an episode of Prison Break.) Despite the noise, this is magical. People, seriously, a Full Nights Sleep. Even if she did wake me up at a very critical point in my dream about hanging out with Brad Pitt and our kids in the park ( we were exchanging very longing looks but I refused to kiss him because Angie would shoot daggers at me each morning before she left for the movie set and I was afraid of the paparazzi taking a photo of it. Don't know where B was during all this. Perhaps at the bank, sifting through safe deposit ashes? Anyways, best dream I've had in AGES. But also kind of random since the scraggy goatee Brad's rocking right now is actually pretty gross. )

I guess I'll just keep working backwards. Saturday night got sort of screwed up since I was supposed to go out with an old uni friend in town for the weekend but we got our wires crossed and I ended up with a babysitter and no place to go. I told B that after my hellish afternoon of hangover + kids birthday party (boy, kids sure like popping balloons, don't they?), I was bound and determined to ditch the kids for a few hours of quiet adult company. He made reservations at the Thai place at the Village St Paul and we had a lovely dinner, discussing a dream vacation inspired by my brother and his sailing adventure. We are going to fly to Panama, get on a sailboat and sail to the Galapagos Islands, where we can spend a week diving and hiking and visiting stuff. Can't wait. The nice thing about B is that once he gets an idea in his head, he won't let it drop (OK, full disclosure; this is also the most irritating thing about him. Funny how that works, isn't it?). I was teasing him this morning when he asked me to cross my fingers and say a pray for him, since he was off to the bank to see about things. I told him that I would be praying hard because if everything turned out fine, he would be so excited that I would be able to book an awesome vacation for May; but if he got bad news, I didn't have a snowball chance in hell of going anywhere til the fall because he would nix all my ideas simply on principal (the principal being that people who are robbed don't have money for vacation. Never mind that the stuff in the safe has nothing to do with our finances...)

Friday night, I had my weekly girls night out which was fab. I am sad all over again about my friend who moved home to the Netherlands. She is so lovely and I realize more and more that she was sort of the corner stone of our group of friends. You know how there is often the person who is the connection between different groups? And without that person, no one is the catalyst to get different people together? Its funny how it works out; I talk to all these people when I bump into them on the street or in the shops or at the school gate, but the only time that we go out is when Hestor is around. Hmm. So dinner was fun although we went to Chez Janou to eat. I don't know. Lots of people love that place but I think it is a pain. First of all, the no seating til your whole group arrives is ridiculous because the bar area is like a cattle pen from 8 til 8:30. The guy that runs the place is obnoxious, even though he sort of acts like its just his schtick. Ugh. The Rude French Waiter act is maybe funny for tourists, but I'm so over it. Just whatever, ignore me or bring my dinner but don't harrass me, please. Thank goodness that I was too drunk at the end of the meal to care about the tip. I think I paid 7 euro too much and I hope that one of my girlfriends too the change. It would kill me to think that I left it as a tip for that meal. The food was fine, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't great. Anyways, I think i like that place better in the summer when you can sit outside on the terrasse.

That reminds me, while talking about restaurants. On Sunday afternoon, while strolling through the Marais with the girls, we decided to stop for a coffee. That whole area around rue Francs Bourgeois was just heaving, per the usual, so I decided that we should head up rue Turenne a bit to find somewhere less busy. We went into Le Cafe de Deux Musees and it was fantastic! I had been there ages ago and sort of forgot how nice it was. We ordered the apple tart (mainly because the waiter said that was all that they had left...) and it must have been just out of the oven as it was still warm. It was honestly just so gorgeous that it immediately went to the number one spot on my list of Best Tarts Ever. So yummy. The wait staff were all really nice and cheeky (take note, Chez Janou, there is a difference between cheeky and rude). The salle is nice and old-fashioned. And the regular menu looked nice and well-priced. We took the card and hopefully we'll remember to go there for one of our mid-week, low-key date nights. I am on a mission to find some new restos in our neighborhood because we have gotten into such a rut and then last week, it started raining as we wandered around looking for a place to eat and we ended up in a very sub-par place just off place St Catherine. Ok, it got is in and out of the rain which was our main goal at that point but the food was abysmal. Oh well. I guess that I've learned my lesson- never go out on a warm evening in March and expect to have all night to stroll around and find a nice place to eat. Unless you left the house with an umbrella.

I'm also going to try Au Petit Marche on rue Bearn. One of my girlfriends recommended it and its also close by so I'll post a review as soon as I get around to eating at all of these places. It shouldn't be too long. The warm weather, and Georgia's improved sleeping habits, have made me antsy to get out of the house more often. I think I might even need to go have a look through Craigslist to see if I can't find a nice American student looking to pick up a few hours of babysitting.

A have a few minutes before I need to go and get Georgia from garderie so I am going to make a real To Do list and try and be a bit productive this week. I am embarrassed at my lack of motivation lately. In fact, I am so embarrassed about it that I won't even go into the details. Lets just say that its amazing that I manage to leave the house fully dressed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You know what is the worst thing for a hangover? A children's party. UGH. I having nothing but regret about that second bottle of wine from dinner last night.

And it never fails that after weeks of quiet, all our friends descend on Paris at the same time so we are out again tonight. Full report to come. Right now, I have to wipe off my face paint, feed the kids and throw on some grown-ûp party clothes before the sitter gets here in a half hour.

I think I kind of liked it better when we were hermits.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday favorites:

Baby curls

Georgia woke up from her nap yesterday with a head full of sweaty baby curls. I could eat her up!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Turkey, 2008


"Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as as well be your own instead of someone elses."
-Billy Wilder.

Right now my instinct is to get the hell out of Dodge and go on vacation. Preferably on a boat. Where there is lots of sun and an endless supply of fruity cocktails. Maybe I should join these guys?

If only my instincts and my bank account could sit down together and figure out how to make this happen...

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shit. After going into the commisariat the other day and talking to the police, I swore that I would absolutely call them the next time the neighbors had a party and made any noise at all. Looks like they are having a dinner party right now. Am I going to have go through with my threat?

As soon as I heard the first burst of laughter, I got a gigantic knot in my stomache and it is only getting worse.


_____________________

Ok. Police came and the police are lovely. Of course, it took them 45 minutes to get here and we stood in the hallway talking for a few minutes so by the time they came into listen, the noise had mysteriously stopped. They told me that it is no problem for them to come by and just to call as soon as it starts up again. They will do a warning when they hear the noise and after that they can start giving amend. Honestly, they made me feel really positive about things because they were so ready to help out.

After they left, I realized that it probably didn't hurt that I was dressed in leggings and tissue T-shirt. And it was a bit breezy in the hall. (in my defense, I didn't actually expect them to come and chat with me. I thought I just needed to point out the door.)

peeps!!!



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peeps!!

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Peeps!

So, I have done two kitchen experiments to make Peeps, and my conclusion? How in God's name do people manage to eat this much sugar in one go and not kill themselves? I never even heard of Peeps until I was in my 20's, so beyond the point where I would be tempted to try to eat something that so closely ressembled a plastic chew toy for dogs, but I was intrigued by all the hoopla surrounding 'Peep season'. So after I'd had a few successful attempts at making marshmallows, I figured that I would give it a go. Especially since Ella was dying to make them on Saturday afternoon while Georgia napped. As far as kid friendly recipes, this is a winner. It only takes a few ingredients and it is sort of magic when you watch the fluff start to build up in the bowl. On the other hand, marshmallow fluff is amazingly sticky so be prepared to take your assistant directly from the kitchen to the bathtub. Thank goodness that I thought to stick a chef's hat on her head or things would have gotten a bit screamy when it came time for clean-up. Otherwise, it all cleans up instantly with hot water. Easy-peasy, as Ella says.

First of all, when I make marshmallows at Christmas for putting in hot chocolate, I prefer to use a recipe with egg whites because they turn out lighter and fluffier. However, when piping the marshmallow it seems like everyone tends to use a recipe without egg whites. The mixture is a bit thicker and it isn't as sticky. This is my recipe:

4 sheets of gelatin (approximately 7 grs)
1/3 cup water

Place the gelatin and the water in the bottom of a large mixing bowl and let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Put the ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat and stir until it comes to a boil. Put a thermometer in the mix and remove the syrup from heat when the temp reaches 114 degrees C. Pour the syrup over the gelatin and begin whipping with an electric mixer. Continue until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape when you lift the beaters, between 6 and 10 minutes. Bear in mind that the mix will thicken as it sits so it is best to stop mixing when the hold is slightly less than ideal.

For my first batch of Peeps, I used vanilla sugar. I don't think that you could taste the vanilla at all in the final product so this was a waste. In the second batch, I used about 2 tbsp of strawberry sugar (a treat that I bought Ella one day when shopping at the Grande Epicerie. I think that they have about a dozen different flavors available). This was perfect! The flavor wasn't overwhelming but you can definitely taste it. I would absolutely try this again with other flavors of sugar. I suppose as long as you are ingesting this much sugar, why be bothered about the artificial chemical flavoring, right?

Pipe the shapes onto a tray filled with sugar. Immediately after piping, spoon sugar over the top of the marshmallow, as well. For this, I used colored sugar that I had bought at G. Detou and ground up finely in my food processor. I tried to use the sugar directly from the bottle but it was too chunky and it literally hurt my teeth to eat it. I think that it is best when the crystals are nearly powdered.

I have a frosting gun from Pampered Chef that my mom gave me for Christmas and this worked great because it forced out the marshmallow even as it dried and got thicker. If you were using a pastry bag you would have to work really fast. It took me quite awhile to figure out how to do the ducks and even longer to figure out the bunnies (the trick? I needed a smaller nozzle for piping the ears. Good thing that I actually have two of those frosting guns) But it took me so long to figure out how to do the bunnies that half of my marshmallow mix ended up solidifying in the bowl before I could use it. Oh well. B and Ella still insisted that they couldn't identify any sort of animal in the piles of marshmallow on the tray so finally I put some melted chocolate in yet ANOTHER pastry bag and piped on eyes. They are slightly more convinced now but, honestly, since neither of them as ever seen an actual Peep, I'm not sure that they are experts on the subject.

It wasn't that hard of work and they are adorable. The only problem is, I still think it tastes like chewing on a sugar cube. B and Ella do not agree and would probably eat an entire plate of these insulin bombs in one go, if I let them. Now that they are a bit 'stale', I think they taste a bit better. I still don't dare take these to my in-laws for Easter or I am sure to hear a screed about why Americans are obese. As far as Peeps go, they might actually be right.

French moms have more fun

I think that they might. From what I can see, they spend less time freaking out about being a perfect mom and a bit more time out with their husband on date nights, out with their girlfriends for lunch, and on general maintenance (maybe this is the key to why French women age so gracefully? They never let things slip). I tend to feel a bit envious around my French girlfriends who seem to have mastered the balancing act and look great doing it. That doesn't happen all that often around my American girlfriends.

I noticed an interesting post on Slate this morning about the book Le Conflit, La Femme, La Mere written by Elisabeth Badinter (a french philosopher/auther). I hadn't heard of this book in France but apparently the English translation has caused a bit of a stir. The author argues that current ideas about what constitutes good mothering are a threat to women's liberation. Its true that while I pretty much accept as law the idea that it is better to breastfeed, make my own baby food, and use clothe diapers (whether or not I actually make the effort is another thing...), all these things mean that my presence at home is a necessity. So long, career. But she goes further to say that in order to raise perfect children, women are ready to put themselves in second place on every level. Is this really moving forward? I've never really looked at it in that way, but I have to admit that she might have a point.

I am of two minds. As it said in the post from the London Times that I put up last week, I do think that staying home with the girls is a luxury and I think that its a waste of time all around if I don't appreciate this opportunity. But Badinter has a good point; all the time I see women who are so invested in being the Perfect Mother that they are nothing else. First of all, I think this is a catch-22. The more you try to be the perfect mom, the more pressure there is on your kids to be the perfect children. At some point, they are bound to realize all the weight on their shoulders to justify having their mother dedicate her entire life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to their well being and success. Result? Kids that are even more fucked up than the average, and who probably turn around and blame the poor woman for all their problems for the rest of their lives. And in a way, I guess they would be justified in doing this. Its interesting to compare this to what is going on in Germany; here's a great article by a friend of mine, who is currently living in Paris and dealing with her own struggle, balancing her two jobs (journalist and mom).

There is also the curious link between the increased competition for spots in top universities and the time that women commit to their children- specifically ferrying them from activity to activity; helping with homework; etc. While all this time investment on the part of women maybe an 'over-investment', the simple truth is that is does seem to pay off when you look at Ivy League admissions and see what sort of profile that they demand from incoming Freshmen. Kids can't do all that stuff (be an athlete, a great musician, a volunteer, a well-travelled, well-read valedictorian) if the parents are supporting them all the way.

This year I've been a bit lazy and not even bothered to sign up Ella for a single activity. I've thought about getting Georgia into the baby music class at Gymboree but with a 9:45 start time on the other side of Paris, I figured it would be a waste of money (I would NEVER be on time). But one of the main reasons that I want to move back to the States is so that the girls can get in activities since I think the French way of non-stop studying for 10 years straight is pointless and ridiculous. So I suppose I should stop feeling guilty and accept that this is just a sign of my supremely liberated subconscious asserting itself, right?

I better get that subconscious in check because apparently, this "snowplow parenting" does work to a certain extent. I would love to see one of my girls graduating from Harvard, so I better sort out this conundrum, and quick.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Indestructible

Oh, today is just getting better and better. Georgia and I were playing at the coffee table with some paper and crayons, when she sort of stepped back and got that very funny look of concentration on her face that babies get when they are, you know, doing their business. If I had any doubts about what was going on, they were erased a moment later when a smell wafted over towards me... B and Ella got home just then and B took Georgia for a change while I chatted with Ella. Suddenly, B called out to me, with a frantic note in his voice, 'Nicole! Nicole, I think you better come in here and see this.' I thought that she maybe had a bit of diaper rash. Not even close.

She was sitting up and clearly there had been a bit of a poo-nami since the baby was stripped naked. Bruno pointed at her back, and I looked. At first I didn't notice anything odd, so B finally pointed his finger right at it, and said , 'Look at that!' Ladies and gentlemen, it was an orange crayon, probably 5 cm long.

I laughed, thinking Ella must have stuffed it down Georgia's pants, and we finished cleaning her up. I was carrying her into the bathroom for a bath when it suddenly dawned on me that Georgia had been wearing a onesie and that Ella couldn't have put the crayon in her diaper. I grabbed Ella and interrogated her but she denied all knowledge of the rogue crayon. (My suspicians increased when she started giggling, but I suppose, to a 5-year-old, there is nothing funnier than the scatological humor of your parents finding weird things in the baby's diaper. Man, this is going to be all over the cour de recré on Monday...)

I turned to B, and said, 'You don't think that she...' and he answered, 'I think she did.'

Now, Georgia is not big on putting weird things into her mouth but lately she has liked carrying around a crayon whenever Ella starts drawing. I've even seen her kind of gumming the big fat ones, but she's teething and I guess I figured, since they were non-toxic and so enormous, there was no worry about her swallowing them. But this was one of the skinnier crayons. And she does generally eat really well so I guess that I could imagine her trying to eat a crayon. Only, she hasn't been eating well the last few days which may have been due to a sore stomach- like maybe due to crayon indigestion. Oh geez, I can't tell if the pieces are falling into place or if I'm just taking myself into it. But this crayon seemed huge! How on Earth would she have managed to actually swallow it? But then, how on Earth would you explain this crayon in her diaper, otherwise?

I've just done the worst thing possible and googled 'baby swallow crayon diaper' and it confirms my fears that a baby could totally eat an entire crayon. I guess that I'll give the pediatrician a call tomorrow and see if I need to do anything else about this. I'm suddenly worried about what else she may have been ingesting on the sly.

Anyone know a hit man?

Currently hating on our downstairs neighbors after a HORRIFIC night of noise. That b&*#/! was cleaning her kitchen til 3:30 in the morning after they had their clearly drunken dinner guests shouting in the hallway at 2 am (after sitting around the dinner table screaming from midnight til 2 am). I can forgive the noisy party and the noisy guests. Maybe it was a special occasion and they haven't had one of these parties in a long time, so whatever. BUT I cannot deal with the fact that after we put up with that noise, they go so far as to move the furniture, drop their bottles in the recycling and reorganize the kitchen cupboards in the middle of the night- when they know perfectly well that we hear every crash and bang. I was so stressed out by the noise that I just got out of bed and turned on a movie, waiting for her to stop. 3 hours I sat on the sofa. Thank god that Bruno fell asleep at 2:30 and was able to take care of the girls this morning.
I am going to talk to the president of our copropriete tomorrow as well as the police. From now on, I don't care how special the occasionm, I'm calling the police at midnight if there is any noise at all from their flat.
And I'll be scanning the real estate websites in search of a new place. These people are going to kill me. Atleast the girls did their part on request and screamed like lunatics at 7am in the room above our neighbors bedroom. Was it terrible that I got out of bed at actually give the kids a tambourine and mini piano, to help their 'singing'?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter's on its way...

So the party was fun last night. Very girly. Just what I needed. We even called up my friend's plastic surgeon, who met us for a drink at the Fumoir, and told us all about botox. He had us all contorting our faces in ridiculous ways so he could show us just what he would be doing. We are going to do a Champagne and Botulism party in two weeks time- meet at his office for a group appointment. Apparently some of the girls are totally addicted. I thought about doing it just to see what it was like. I really hope that I don't get to the point where I can't do without. Hmmm- wonder if this is such a great idea. Oh, and the dress got a thumbs up from everyone (including my dear husband), they said that I looked very skinny wearing it, and I ask nothing more from my clothes. Also, the consensus was that my haircut was good and I should make another appointment with Barbara even though I had to pay such a ridiculous amount at my last appointment. The collective gasp when I announced how much I paid made me feel slightly better about how my own jaw hit the floor. It did me so much good to get out of the house and hang out with my girlfriends. I like my mommy friends who I see all the time at playgroups and the school pick-up but - and maybe it is just because the kids are around and its hard to let your hair down when technically we are all 'at work'- its just not fun enough. So lesson learned. Even if it means spending all day Friday in a sleep-deprived haze, I am going to try and make plans to go out, alone, every week. A mental health day, so to speak.

Easter is coming up and I need to start on our projects. So far, I have the stuff for the peeps, which we will try out tomorrow. I've scoped out the baskets at my 'supplier' over on rue des Ecoles (I don't know the name but this quincaillerie has just about any kind of woven basket you could need). Georgia needs a basket this year- and she definitely needs her own supply of treats. She is such a little monster. If Ella has any sort of food, Georgia thinks that she needs to have exactly the same thing. No matter that Georgia has only 2 teeth (and at this point, they are still only half teeth). I cannot imagine the battle that will break out on Easter Sunday if Ella comes waltzing in with a basket full of chocolate bunnies and I try and hand Georgia a teething biscuit. Still, I don't know what I can buy that will look like a chocolate bunny but actually be somewhat healthy for a 13-month-old baby to eat. I've already talked to the lady at the chocolate shop about setting stuff aside for me so I don't have to worry about her running out of stuff before I manage to get there. I'll have to see if she has any suggestions. Internets, can you help?!!

Anyways, baskets. After looking through the pics on Marthastewart, I've decided that I'll need to make one filled with flowers for my MIL. We are going to her house for Easter dinner and she never buys herself flowers so I think she'll like it. The photos I saw on the martha site were Gorgeous. If I can manage something half as nice, we are set. Maybe I could even take the basket over to my fav flower shop and have them do it for me?

I think it would be fun to dye eggs with Ella, but of course that means running around to every grocery store in town to try and find white eggs. Its so weird that the eggs they normally sell in the shops are brown. I have two weeks, so I should manage to stumble across them if I keep my eyes open. Now is one of the times when I wished that I had renewed my Message membership. The forums were great for hunting down things like white eggs. Oh well.

I would love to have the girls in matching Easter dresses so I might have to do a bit of shopping yet. My mom always got us pretty dresses for Easter and so its basically a family tradition; B can't argue with that :-)

Friday Favorites

How cute are these cookies? I found this pic via Ohdeedoh and clicked through to the website, I am Baker. I think that I can say that this is a new favorite website. Am totally inspired to head into the kitchen to give this a try.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sartorial question


I need your help, kids. I would love to do one of those cool style boards like Nicole does over at Making it Lovely, but Georgia is on the edge of waking up and I probably only have about 30 more seconds til she is screaming. I finally did go out this morning and buy that dress that I had been talking about. But now, which shoes? The ones that I am wearing with bare legs (navy suede from COS) are nice and low and comfortable but a bit boring. The red ones (red python from Georgina Goodman) are comfortable, but I don't know about the red. The last pair (navy suede with gold piping from Miu Miu) are really high but they are probably the nicest. I'll be wearing the dress with the blue velvet jacket from Dolce & Gabbana since it is a bit chilly today, same reason that I'll be wearing the tights. I'll just be wearing little gold earrings (to match the gold buttons on the cuff of the jacket) because I can't seem to find the coral earrings that I had planned on wearing.

So, what do you think?!!

(PS Bear in mind, that another option would be to ditch this dress as it is awfully summery. I haven't even cut off the tags yet. Now that I look at it, it really ressembles another dress from Forever 21 that I have in my closet. In fact, it might actually be a bit cooler than this one. Hmm? Need help here.)

(PSS I drained my camera battery trying to snap a decent photo but the light is too weird in my room and it was impossible. This is the best that I could do...)

Editted to Add: I decided to wear the most comfortable of the three because I didn't know how much I would be walking/standing and it ended up being the best choice. Although Sisters 1, 2, and 3 are going to have some explaining to do for not weighing in on time!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring has sprung


Wednesday is exhausting for all of us! Georgia just collapsed in bed for a nap before dinner and I am too exhausted to start dinner so I am going to take advantage of the quiet and play on the computer a bit. I never realize how much walking we've packed into the day until I get home and sit down and then never want to stand up again.

We actually got a lot done today, which is unusual for our Wednesdays. I suppose having to get up at 7 am with the girls gives me an extra hour or so that I never used to have... This morning, we did stay around the house so that Georgia could sleep. She didn't have a great night (as I predicted) and even though she didn't seem sick, I figured we must be just on the cusp of some new germ invasion. While Georgia snoozed, I wanted Ella to play something quiet, so she got out her writing paper. Its that special lined paper that we used to use for penmenship. She really likes practicing her letters and is actually getting really good at it, I think. We've started connected/cursive writing, but just practicing loops and things, not actual letters. I am always so surprised to see how well she can sit and work at something. Its frustrating to think about how much further along she would be in just about every area if she hadn't gotten stuck with this awful teacher who is just clocking in. Oh well. Atleast I have time to work on reading and writing with her.

After a lunch of my favorite broccoli and chedder soup that I whipped up, we dropped off Georgia at daycare. I couldn't believe how nice it was outside. It really truly is springtime. I even let Georgia walk most of the way there. It took us YEARS of course, but with such a lovely sunny sky and warm breeze, it wasn't any bother at all to dawdle on the sidewalk.

Ella was begging me to take her to the park, but I had one errand that I really wanted to do this afternoon. I am getting things together for Easter and I've decided that I want to make peeps. We had such good luck making the little ghosts for the Halloween party that I figured it shouldn't be too much trouble. The only thing is, I wanted to find a superfine sugar to sprinkle on them afterwards. I figured I would only be able to find this at G Detou and dragged Ella over with me this afternoon. Well, they don't have it. Worse, they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I'm not crazy, I know that there is such a thing. I ended up getting colored granulated sugar and I'll just try to grind it up in my food processor I guess. But you never have to worry about leaving a store like that empty handed. While standing in line to pay, I also spied tubes of Tahitian vanilla beans (God! Even through the packaging, the smell was so gorgeous that my mouth started watering), giant Italian capers (I can't remember which recipe I use these in, but I do remember that I absolutely needed them for something.... OK now I am officially turning into my mom) and walnut oil which I have been out of for months and my beet salade is just not the same with this.

Shopping done, I agreed to swing by the park at Chatelet, and we bumped into some friends of ours! Not very surprising, really. Who could bear to stay indoors on such a nice day. We caught up on news from our vacations while the kids rolled in the sand. They are waiting to hear if their son got into EABJM, one of the nice bilingual schools in Paris. Only downside is that the campus is buried somewhere in the deepest darkest corner of the 15th and its impossible to commute there from central Paris. If he gets in, they are going to move, which will be sad for us. Ella LOVES their little boy and I've been friends with the mom, meeting almostly weekly, since our oldest kids were born, 5 years. Anyways, once the kids had sand packed into every nook and cranny, it was time for a gouter. Ella and I went off to find some ice cream and on the way, I bumped into another old friend. This was a bit weird, as it was a guy that I knew before Ella was born and hadn't seen since. He was sitting on a terrasse and I caught him looking at me. I couldn't place him so we had this bizarre conversation (I don't think that he actually remembered my name, either) and it was only on my way home that it all clicked. Still can't remember his name though (did I mention that I think I'm really turning into my mother?)

I'm glad that the weather has finally decided to turn into spring. I have plans for tomorrow night- I'm supposed to meet a girlfriend at the Hotel Meurice for a defile of purses and shoes, which really means, we are going out for free champagne and canapes. I don't think that there will be a repeat of last week's pathetic attempt at reviving my social life. Between the warm days and the evening sunshine, I feel like getting out of this house and enjoying myself. I might even go out shopping tomorrow and have another look at that DVF dress. I need to finally hang up my all black wardrobe and start looking a bit springtime.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things that I am liking today

Despite the nice suuny sky, doesn't look like I am going out this afternoon as Georgia is acting a bit under the weather. Don't
quite know what she's got, but I have had a few good nights sleep in a row so I suppose that means I am due for an all-nighter. In order to get a post up, I will do a quick list of things that I am liking today:

*Soup
On Sunday afternoon, I cooked up a pot of Jamie Olivers' Tomato and Chickpea Soup (found in his cookbook Jamie's Dinners, which I picked up at The Little Red Wheelbarrow a few weeks ago; its turning out to be a great purchase), so yummy. I just ate two bowls of it for lunch and finished off the last of it. I LOVE this recipe- here is my version:

Saute 100 g finely chopped chorizo in a tbsp of oil. When the oils come out of the chorizo, add two sticks of chopped celery and a chopped onion; saute til cooked through. Stir in one clove of crushed garlic. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of crushed tomatoes (or chopped fresh tomatoes), a lg bag of spinach leaves and a can of drained chickpeas. Leave to simmer for 40 minutes. Puree about half the soup (I use those liquidizer wands). When ready to serve, top with sliced prosciutto, chopped boiled eggs and a drizzle of really good olive oil. Die and go to heaven. Voila.

I suspect that I could eat it this everyday for a good long while before I every got sick of it.
PS: notice the dish? So far, I'm happy with the change- food looks so good in these dishes!


*Fleur de Geisha Tea from Palais des Thes
I am also burning through my box of tea that I got as a present from our friends who stayed in our flat while we were away skiing.
I had smelled it while I was in the shop and thought that it smelled nice, but I like it even more than I thought I would. As I am still trying to watch what I eat, I have been drinking gallons of green tea every afternoon. It gets boring. But this tea has such a nice flowery smell that I would be drinking it even if it wasn't green tea.






*Tetines
And since Georgia is under the weather, she is allowed to hang on to her tetine all day long, even though it is normally limited to bed time. She is just cranky cranky cranky. I got her up from her nap because I heard her making noise and brought her in the kitchen for lunch. She refused everything that I offered her, even though I broke my own rule (normally, in this house, you eat what is offered or you go hungry to til the next meal. Doesn't matter how short you are...) and opened a second jar of baby food to try and tempt her to eat something. No luck. She kept squeaking until I just put her back in bed. She slept another 45 minutes and then I took her temp (nothing), gave her a Doliprane in case it was sore teeth, and now she is wandering around the house alternately playing with her toys and breaking into inconsolable sobs.


*the new brochure from the Opera de Paris
Yesterday in the mail, I got the calendar for the 2010/2011 season of operas and ballets and the paperwork to pre-order tickets. Since I've been taking Ella to see shows this year, I've realized that even though tickets are expensive, they are a worthwhile expense. I really really enjoy going and I just don't know why I always put off buying tickets when it was just for B and I. Ella adores going to see the ballet and, as I've said before, I think that it is just as worthwhile as sending her to ballet class. She probably gets more out of it; as well. I have been pouring over the book and trying to decide which ballets I want to get tickets. Then I mentioned to B that they also had some great operas scheduled for next year (Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Les Noces de Figaro) and maybe we should think about getting tickets for that as well. I was really surprised when he told me to go right ahead and book them, if I wanted. I think I will!
The only downside is that when you buy all these tickets at one time, the total bill is pretty impressive. I don't think B quiet realizes just how much this is all going to cost. On the positive side, I think that I can probably go down a category and still have good seats since the pre-order tickets get the best places.

That reminds me- I did manage to get tickets last week for the Nureyev ballet Le Bayadere. Because I was in such a tizzy Monday morning from the unexpected arrival of the painters, I totally forgot to go online for the tickets until I was sitting down for lunch. I logged on and the website was completely blocked due to high traffic and I ended up getting pretty much the last tickets available. I have 2 seats in category 3, which is good. But they are not any where near each other, so taht is kind of bad. Well, its really bad since I had planned on taking Ella. Hmm. I don't quiet know what I'm going to do abou this, but I figure no point worrying til it gets a bit closer. At worst, I have B or a girlfriend go with me, and take Ella to see something else. Or I could just show up with Ella and hope that someone switches places, or that they just let us sit together anyways.

*My brother's blog
My little brother has taken a sabbatical from work to go an A Big Adventure. He has a buddy who bought a boat and they sailed it through the Panama Canal. Now they are getting the boat ready and will be sailing out of Panama City today or tomorrow for the Galapagos Islands. From there, they will go on to the French Marquesas (I'm trying to talk B into flying out there to meet them). Wow. Maybe this is something that has to go on my Life List. It sounds like an amazing thing to do- a bit scary, but the most worthwhile things tend to be the ones that push you to your limits, right?

Monday, March 15, 2010

A generation of women bred to work

I just wanted to post the link to this article from the Sunday Times of London. I think it is such an excellent discussion of how the work/home balance for women really operates. And it makes the excellent point about the fact that previously women considered freedom the ability to have career and work outside the home. I love this line, 'Our mothers hoped that we would be more independent from men — but they equated independence entirely with money. So while we no longer rely on men for cash, now that we are working, we need them in so many more ways than before.' So true.

Something that I often remind myself of, especially on those days when I feel like I am 'missing out' by staying home with the girls, is that this lifestyle is a huge luxury- the luxury of time at home with my children. Quite frankly, this is probably what annoys me most about French people (read: fonctionnaires. I got caught in the middle of ANOTHER manifestation on Friday afternoon and had to walk home 3 km because there were no buses running. Arg.) who complain about their underpaid, under-appreciated work. When you have a 35 hour work week and upwards of 5 weeks paid vacation a year, you are in a very enviable positon. They work so very little that they actually have the luxury of time with their family, time to do other things, and yet they completely do not appreciate it.

The article also makes the excellent point that modern families have so devalued the skills that our grandmothers took for granted that we've lost all those skills. We now sit rapt before our televisions to watch programs that teach us how to cook, clean, and raise children.

I think that the most interesting point that the author brings up is 'now what?' What do we teach our children? I'm glad that I have daughters but they do make you have to think that much harder about what you want to teach them about a subject like this. I kind of flipped out over Ella's 'Princesse Parfaite' book about coquetterie the other day because she was so enamoured with the idea of being a little princesse who only wore pink dresses and never rolled in the mud, playing with the boys, or went out with messy hair. But then, where is the line between what I want her to be and what she wants to be? I suppose, the best answer is that anything she wants to be is cool. If I want her to be something else, then I should be that way first- I think children definitely definitely turn to their parents example first when they are trying to make-up their mind about things- and if my example is convincing enough, she will be that way. I don't have to say anything. So the question is not, how do I make Ella and Georgia into awesome women? but how do I make myself into a really awesome woman that they can look up to and aspire to be?

Just a normal weekend full of fun...

We had a nice weekend- but it just seemed like it flew by! Its getting to the point that I long for Monday mornings, which is a sad state of affairs.

Saturday, especially, was a complete whirlwind. I made an appointment for Ella to get her hair cut at that kids place up in the the 11th, Mum & Babe. I think I've mentioned it here before. Well, we got off to a bad start when we left late and I couldn't find a plan de Paris to throw in my purse. Then I thought, 'Well, I've been there before two or three times. I'm sure that I can find it without a map.' Yeah, famous last words. As soon as we got on the bus, I knew that I was in trouble. I couldn't remember which stop. I was watching out the window for something familiar but no luck so finally we just jumped off when I knew that it couldn't be any further along. We wandered around, asking people if they knew where the street was but no one did. On the other hand, it might have been because of my bad pronunciation- Keller, is one of those stupid names that looks English to me and so I don't know how to pronounce it in French. Arg. I couldn't find a kiosk to buy a map so I ended up having to go into a Monoprix and search for one. When I finally looked up the street, I realized that I hadn't a clue of where I was headed so atleast it was money well spent. Despite all that, we ended up only being a few minutes late. You would have thought it was an hour, by the reception we got. They were HORRIBLE to us, even though there was only one other person in the whole salon, and she was downstairs getting a facial. They barely acknowledged us when we walked in. They didn't offer to take our coats or the pousette. They didn't ask the kids names. There was no chatting while we were in the chairs. I was going to party so I wanted a brushing that was a little more 'going out' and she said 'no, your hair is far too short. I'll just blow it straight.' And the one who cut Ella's hair didn't even look at me when I was trying to explain to her what I wanted done. When they were done, no one came with us to the coat closet or the front desk so I had to stand around with two antsy kids while all the staff stood around in the back chatting. They acted a bit nicer to the people who came in after us, since clearly they knew them better. I used to always tell people to take their kids there for a haircut but I don't know if I would do that anymore. It is nice that Ella's cut only cost 12 euro (and I'll admit, that it turned out very nice, which is better than the Camille Albane downstairs does for 25 euro) and that the baby can go in the playroom, but still. This was French customer service at its nadir. And this time when I didn't tip, I did not feel the least little bit guilty.

After all that, we still had to get lunch in a restaurant (MacDo, which was a first for Georgia and after she spied the Chicken McNuggets and fries, there was no question in her mind about eating pureed baby food.), go to a first birthday party, go shopping for a PACS present for B's friends, and buy/order a big bed for Miss Ella. I was running so behind schedule that the babysitter was at the house before us. Thank goodness, actually. She ended up feeding our over-excited monkeys while we threw our party clothes on and hustled back out the door. Good thing there was a big glass of chilled champagne waiting for us on the other end of that car ride or I don't think that we would have made it!

Once we got to the party, I discovered that I was not the only person there who had no idea what the deal was with the Pacs. We did bring a present and weren't the only ones but they ran the gamut from a bouquet of freesia to an engraved silver picture frame from Christofle (I'll let you guess which one we gave...) I'd say that the bigger mistake was dressing up in high heels. There were far too many people in a very small living room, so I spent all but 15 minutes standing. I still have sore feet! To think, I used to be able to spend an entire day dashing around Paris in a pair of heels twice as high. Now, I am so used to my ballet flats and Geox that I can't even make it through an evening without needing to pull out my crutches and heating pad the next day.

I am an old old woman.

On Sunday, we were shattered despite the fact that we were home and in bed at 12:30. The people downstairs went away for the weekend so, per the usual, their son had his friends over. At 3:30 in the morning. I got woken up when they came in but drifted off again. By 4:30 I had had enough, as they were only getting louder and I banged on the floor. They quieted down, but then a girl in heels starting walking around their living room and the tap!tap!tap! of her heels on the floor woke up Georgia. Who woke up the upstairs neighbors and Ella. So then at 5 am I had to go down and ring the door bell to ask if the noisy girl could possibly remove her shoes since she had inadvertently woken up another 4 people. This kid was clearly horrified (by the fact that he woke us or the looks of me? Hard to say. I didn't dare glance in a mirror before going downstairs and I can only guess how scary I looked...) and apologized profusely. But I HATE having to ask them to be quiet since Georgia is a such a noisemaker.

That kid, honestly. If she is not screaming at 5 am because she was woken by a bad dream or a sudden noise, she is screaming for her bottle. Or screaming to get out of bed. Or screaming for Ella to come and play. Or screaming at some food that she spied on the counter and would very much like to eat, if you don't mind. There is no volume control on her. Yesterday afternoon, we all laid down for a nap after our turbulent night and I ended up getting up first when I heard Georgia waking. But she wasn't actually ready to get up yet, it seemed. EVERYTHING was making her mad. And so, her natural response was to scream at me. No! I don't want water! NO! Nothing to eat!! NO!!!! I do not want to look at a book! or my toys! or a movie! or your stupid face! Finally, because I wanted to let Ella have a bit of nap, I ended up clamping my hand over Georgia's mouth and hauling her out on the balcony. She calmed down almost immediately. I'm hoping that I have found a magic cure for this problem but I worry that it is only temporary. I put her out there 2 more times before Ella was good and woken up. So you can see why I feel like the last person in the world with any right no complain about noisy neighbors. I just pray that she outgrows this. Some kids are just noisy though. Am starting to wonder if we are going to be forced out of apartment dwelling and into the suburbs because we never manage to shut her up. And she was such a calm baby.

I also managed to clear out our old dishes from our cupboards yesterday and put the new ones in their place. We decided our old orange Fiestaware had to go. I've been looking around for plain white round dishes but all I could find was stuff basically the equivalent of orange Fiestaware. Most importantly, I needed to be one hundred percent certain that it was dishwasher and microwave safe, since I've had a horrible experience with some mugs that I bought at IKEA.* Finally it dawned on me that I should just use my wedding china which was Louvre, by Bernardaud. We've had it for 11 year and use it fairly often, for nice dinners and parties, and not a single piece has chipped. Its not too fancy looking for every day, I figured, so we are going to give it a trial run of one month and see how things go. Then, if we decide to go for it, I'll think about getting another set of dishes for parties, something a bit fancier (maybe this , or this, or this, or this!) Anyways, I hesitated as put the dishes in the kitchen, thinking that it would be a shame to see them all getting chipped over time when I like them so much. But then I stopped myself. If you're lucky enough to own beautiful things, you shouldn't waste your good fortune by hiding it away in a cupboard. You should use them and enjoy them everyday. How it can it be anything but good to enjoy beautiful things, right? Right. So the dishes stay.

Which still leaves me with the conundrum of what to do with the Fiestaware which is in perfect condition, after I don't know how many years of use. Amazing. I suppose that I should try and Ebay it or sell it on Craigslist, but I suspect that B and I will be making a trip up to Emmaus this week to drop it off as a donation. We still have the dishes from our first apartment sitting down in our cave and we've never needed them so they will go as well. Thats one thing about apartment living - it teaches you not to get too sentimental about your stuff. If it isn't being used on a regular basis, its got to go. I'm sure someone else out there will enjoy having and using all this stuff, as well, so that it makes it even more stupid to box it up and store away for some imaginary future life of mine when I finally need it again. I've been thoroughly heartless lately and that Emmaus has been the lucky recipient of a mountain of stuff. Anyone out there looking to stock up a new apartment should definitely head over to Emmaus on boulevard Beaumarchais :-)

* I needed some coffee mugs and I just picked up some nice simple ones at Habitat one day, without checking that they could go in the dishwasher or microwave. After a few months, I started noticing that the handle on the mug was hot when it came out of the microwave- even when the contents were still barely warm. Then, one morning, I reached in to grab my mug of warm milk while Ella was running around underfoot, and the handle was scorching hot, so hot that I ended up with a blister over the entire surface of my thumb. I was just grateful that I didn't drop the mug of hot liquid on Ella when it happened and thats when I decided that I couldn't possibly use those mugs anymore, because they were too dangerous. Someone finally explained to me that when the pottery is not dishwasher safe, it can 'absorb' water. Then, when you put it in the microwave, this water heats up and if it gets too hot, can actually make the pottery explode!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday favorites


I tried to get a nice photo of Georgia when we were playing with bubbles the other day (she goes CRAZY if she spies a bottle of bubbles, all other activities must come to a screeching halt until I am woozy from lack of oxygen and she is covered with a fine layer of soap suds). Every shot, she had her tongue sticking out like this, or her eyes were shut like a little drunken geisha. She clearly takes after her father and therefore will never ever be elected Miss Photogenic. I've always thought that she was her father's daughter- from the chubby cheeks to the bottomless pit of an appetite, no worries about babies being switched in the nursery at the maternity clinic.

So after my lovely little nap yesterday, I was in a great mood. I ended up calling up a girlfriend to meet me at one of the galeries last night. Except I called the wrong girlfriend. The one who ALWAYS changes her plans at the last minute. So there I was, hair done, make-up on, undressed in front of my closet, trying to decide what to wear when I get an SMS. She had decided to go to different vernissage in the 8th off avenue Montaigne and wanted me to meet her there, after I saw my friends. I did really feel like a girls' night out and I should have just sucked it up, because we probably would have gone out afterwards and had a great time. BUT but but. I didn't have enough enthusiasm for the change of plans to get myself out the door on my own, on such a miserable night. I told B, when I came out of my room wearing my pyjamas, that if it had been a nice spring night, it would have been totally different. On a cold March night, I much preferred cuddling up with him on the sofa and watching TV. So that is what I did.

Which in the end was good, because Georgia had a bad night, after a fairly great week of sleep, and did her patented sleep torture move (I like to call it 'Going Guantanamo'). She woke at 5:30. We went in 3 times to give her her pacifier, start her music box, settle her down, til finally giving her a bottle just before 6. 10 minutes later she yelled hard, so I went in and saw that she had lost her pacifier. Again. Then she yelled again, every 10 minutes for another 40 minutes, til it was time for us to get up, more or less. That, my friends, is a hard night. She collapsed into bed at 10 a.m. for a morning nap and I imagine will sleep for 2 hours. Atleast I am getting good naps out of her on a regular basis. Thank god for small favors.
And now i wanted to post a photo of another beautiful bouquet from my favorite florist on rue St Antoine, Christian Collin, but I think my camera has died! It got knocked on the floor the other day and landed with an ominous 'thump'. It did turn on right afterwards, but now it's dead dead dead. Maybe I just need to charge the battery but I fear my little Canon has moved on to that big camera shop in the sky. I'll miss you.
Hmmm. Wonder if this means that B will let me get the Nikon D-3000 now?
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Irritations- in bullet points

* you know what is bad for a diet? Birthdays.

* I've finally convinced B that now is a good time to replace Ella's junior bed with a grown-up bed, but it turns out that finding a lit gigogne is going to be a bit of a pain. The big department stores don't have anything great and on the internet, I'm finding nice stuff but all the shops are on the other side of Paris, miles and miles apart. I was 'supposed' to go and look at things this morning. Honestly, I can't be bothered.

* I need to get my haircut, but I don't want to make another appointment at David Mallet after my last visit cost so much. Also, as my hair has grown out, I've realized that the girl who cut my hair just gave me the same haircut as her own. Except we look NOTHING alike. So she looks super cute and I look like an Afghan Hound. Torturous decision- do I give her a second chance (since she was also trying to repair a really horrible cut) or do I find someone new to cut my hair?

* I have a list of about 5 doctor's appointments that I need to make and there is nothing that I hate more than seeing doctors. Not because I am scared but because I consider it such an appalling waste of money. And time. And yet, my teeth won't clean themselves.

* My Outlook Express won't open and I hate looking at my email online.

* I desperately need to go to the grocery store. But it seems like I am at the bloody grocery store every damn day of the week. How is that even possible?!!

* B was really a PITA this morning. Since this is a giant letter of complaint, no point in sparing him (although I probably should...) 1st. He didn't clean up dinner dishes last night, although all he had to do was stick things in the dishwasher and start the machine. And instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour, he stayed up til midnight and had plenty of time to do this. So I had to do it this morning while he was tired and cranky on the living room sofa. 2nd: I asked him to make Georgia's bottle up before he went to bed. He didn't. So this morning I got up and, in the dark with no glasses on, I had to do it. I HATE this so much. I literally cannot see a thing and her shouts increase in volume with every breath so by the time I manage to pour a reasonable amount of milk in the bottle without spilling it all on the floor and then get the bottle safely capped and in the microwave, a good 5 minutes have passed, by which time Ella and our upstairs and downstairs neighbors are all up and slamming doors. 3rd: He took the computer this morning- interrupting my morning routing- while I was cleaning up last night's dishes, to look at the same computer sites that he was looking at til midnight last night. He KNOWS that this pisses me off. I did refrain from yelling because its not unreasonable for him to use the computer when I am not there, especially if he has something important to do before work where he doesn't really have a chance to sit at the computer (even if it did look like he was just dawdling). Still, on top of all the other things, I did feel like he was really trying to push my buttons this morning. And if he had just said something like, 'I'm sorry I am being such a slacker. I feel awful due to this cold/a bad nights sleep/work stress (or anything basically).', then I would have forgiven him immediately. But he has got that awful man habit of clamming up just when he most needs to explain stuff to me.

* Ugh- no babysitter for tonight and I have two vernissage that I would love to see. Rosy Lamb, who sculpted the bust of Ella, is opening her atelier tonight and the Felli Galerie is having a vernissage of Pietropoli- and I love both the galerie owner and the painter. If I was feeling up to it, I suppose I could try and dig up a girlfriend to do the rounds with me but its another one of these miserable cold days and I do not feel like spending my evening dragging myself around in a pair of heels in the dark.

* We have a party to go to on Saturday night to celebrate the PACS of a friend of B's. And I'm irritated that they didn't just get married because I don't know if I need to get them a gift or not and, as a final indication of my rotten mood, I am unreasonably irritated about this. Do they have a registry? B had no idea. Because if they do, I would just go and buy something off of it. But maybe they don't because they plan on getting actually married somewhere on down the line. Do I just get a card and stick money in it once I do a quick survey of the other guests who might have a better idea of what is going on? These are not my friends and I don't care, I just want to be nice. Why can't they help me out and do the normal thing and get married, which has a clear cut set of guidelines regarding the present giving. Christ, people irritate me.
And more irritatingly, B said that I can't go and buy that DVF dress that I spied last Friday- even though it would be the PERFECT thing for this party. He insists that I have something I can wear already hanging in my closet. NOT THE POINT.

* Oh- one more. Why are all the shows I download on some weird mid-winter hiatus? I keep checking my account, ready to sit down to an evening of mindless American television viewing, only to be disappointed by an empty screen.

(Editted to add: Hey guess what? I took an hour and a half nap and ate 5 (!) Milano cookies for my gouter and now I'm not cranky anymore. Hmm. I guess I might need a mommy around here to manage me because it never dawned on me that I might just need a bit more sleep. (Last night at 4:30 a.m. the upstairs neighbor fell down and I laid in bed for probably an hour, straining to hear what was going on upstairs. If you have read this blog long enough, you'll remember that our downstairs neighbor fell out of his bed the first year we were living here and yelled for help because he had broken his hip. But we didn't realize that he lived alone. So we did nothing. And he died. I think that I am understandably a teensy bit nervous about bumps in the night...) I am going to have to think of a pretty amazing treat for little Georgie-boo to thank her for collapsing in bed for 3 1/2 hours. )

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

color disaster?


The painter just left and, as expected, he did an excellent job. But I think I may have screwed up! The media unit has this bronze finished mirror on the drawer fronts and in the back of the niches. It looks really pinky beige next to the paint, all of a sudden. I does match the bronze color in the wallpaper perfectly and the paint on the baseboards and trim, so its not completely out of place. Only, only... maybe I should have used this opportunity to change the color of paint in the living room. I didn't want to because I felt like the color was fine before. It goes all the way into the kitchen and the kitchen cabinets are a slightly darker shade. The stone countertops relate to the wall color really well, also. And normally, I thought that the stone was the same color as the trim throughout this space. So we come full circle, as the trim is the same color as the bronze mirror door fronts.

So why does it look so odd to me???

Hopefully, once the tv is back in place and the tchackes are all back in the niches, it will be better. Cross your fingers.

_______________________

Editted: I just found my Farrow & Ball color chart and I started holding up samples. I was right- the Slipper Satin is too yellow, which is really noticeable on the media unit. I should have switched the wall color to Dimity, which has a slightly pinkish cast and this would have worked much much better with the bronze color in the wallpaper and in the mirrored glass. Am I going to have to live with this an entire year before we can repaint and fix things?!! Actually, the walls we repaint all the time, but I bet B will completely refuse to change the color if it means having to repaint these cabinets. Oh boy, I really messed this one up.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

total chaos



Our house is a complete disaster zone yet again today. The dining room was all finished yesterday and Ella's room should be finished today, but the living room will remain a work in progress through tomorrow. Ugh. I had to have the sitter stay an extra hour last night because there was no way I could manage keeping both girls out of trouble and occupied while also throwing together a quick dinner. The guy doing the work is actually fantastically neat and very polite so he won't so much as move a curtain without asking my permission or instructions. The walls that he has finished painting look amazing- which is really saying something, since B is a great painter and I thought the job he did two years ago was impressive. The new built-in unit should look great when he is done. If only I didn't have to try and keep Georgia occupied in the house while all this is going on.

Good lord, is it cold out! Normally, I would just pop her in the stroller and spend two or three hours walking around Paris- good for my ass and good for entertaining Georgia. I took her with me yesterday while I ran a quick errand and the poor kid was mute with misery. Her nose was streaming, her face was bright red, she even left her hands under the fleece muff (which she NEVER does) while she pushed her head into the seat to try and stay out of the wind. Clearly, a longer walk was out of the question. I let her run around in the halls of our building for a bit yesterday and she screamed her head off, she was so thrilled, so I won't abuse the kindness of my neighbors by doing that again today. Basically, we are forced to sit in her room all day. I don't mind, and certainly she has enough toys that we don't get too bored, but she has suddenly started to obsess over her favorite books. I think I read 'Petite Singe' (Little Monkey), oh about, 800 times yesterday. And tied for second place (that is, I only had to read each of these books around 400 times over the course of the afternoon...) were 'Les Petites des Animaux', 'Animaux Sauvages', and 'Ou est Mon Chaton?'. I am trying to be zen about it and consider it as a chance to perfect some of the problems I had with gender pronouns and les accords. I wonder why my old French teacher, Catherine, never suggested that we read aloud from Ella's library? So many opportunities for instruction. And, unfortunately, so much more in line with my abilities. My French library is rather sparse (and B's is quite frankly, non-existant) so we did readings from Beigbeder's 'L'egoiste romantique' which is a bit too (porno)graphic for a french lesson and then switched to 'L'elegance du herrison' by Murial Barbary which has too many long words susceptible to mispronounciation, which made our lessons a real bore. I actually should give ole Catherine a ring so I can show off my perfect pronunciation of 'la lapine and ses lapereux!' (I'll probably save the 'boinga boinga boinga sound effect for Georgia)

Its funny that I just noticed that all her favorite books are in French. Hmm. I suppose the actual text is not that significant and since she likes the baby books with things to touch and feel, I don't have many English language ones which take up too much space in the suitcase so I end up leaving them in the States. All the same, I should probably start paying more attention to my English. Ella is so bilingual (she switches between French and English during a conversation depending on whether she is speaking to me or B.) so I don't worry too much about being strictly English-speaking. As usual, Georgia is keeping me on my toes. She is clearly understanding English, since I can give her an instruction like 'Pick it up and put it on the table, please' and, with no gestures to help explain, and she will do it. She also understands 'Yucky! Spit it out!' and 'Come here and let me wipe your nose.' Although that last one either sends her running in the opposite direction or has her doing one of her full body wags to indicate a No, with a capital N. Speaking of which, I'm sure she'll be saying her first 'no' any day now. They grow up so fast.

I know that she is probably right in line with the average development for a baby her age, but God! I just find her so genius! I don't even want to look at my 'What to Expect' book because it is so much more fun being completely amazed by her. Its really one of the joys of being a parent, seeing a child actually develope each skill. You see them struggle and struggle and then finally the lightbulb goes off and they succeed at whatever they are doing and then- the best part- they look at you with this look of proud amazement. If I had a dozen kids, I think I would still find it mesmerizing to watch them learn things like how to put small toys in a jar, how to pick up a cheerio, how to use a crayon. The other day, I watched Georgia trying to put her shoe on. It was hilarious. She knew that you had to aim the toes towards the hole but after that it was all a bit vague. So she would turn turn turn the shoe in her hand til the hole was pointing down. Then she would need two or three tries to actually get her toes in the hole. Then she would try to balance the shoe on her foot as she slowly let go and eased away. And then it would fall off and she would let out a little grunt of frustration, before trying it all again. You also realize, when watching a baby learning, just how tenacious they are. I often think about how frustrated I get with a task after two or three failures. I mean, I get really really fed up with my computer when things are disappearing or not following commands like I expect. These little tasks, which are NOTHING compared with the struggle of learning to walk, for example. It is the ultimate lesson in patience.

Its a good lesson for me, right now. I've been spending time online, doing research into going back to work. I think that I need to go back to study, atleast for a bit, before trying to get back to the career that I would like to be doing. BUT finding the right program and applying and getting financing and then sorting out babysitting for the girls while I am doing a course. Its all so complicated. And its so easy to just to just sigh, and go all Scarlett O'Hara about things. ('I'll just think about it tomorrow...') Obviously, I need to commit myself to this and not let up until I've sorted things out. Its so easy to let things slide when you know that the problem is still rather far off in the future, just a vague cloud on the horizon. The best birthday present I could give myself is not a day at the spa but a list of '40 by 40'. I think I need to get serious about getting stuff done. Starting today.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Whiplash

Seems like the world should just back off a bit and let me ease myself back into normality rather than waking me up on the first Monday after Me Week with a hysterical painter leaning on the door bell to be buzzed in. 45 minutes before he was scheduled to arrive. Arg. SO despite having spent an entire week having my body buffed and polished from head to toe, I ended up throwing on a pair of saggy jeans and my glasses, quickly pulling my hair into a pony, and rushing out the door with Ella so that B could talk to the painters' boss while I dropped her at school. Then when I got home, I had to bundle up Georgia and haul her off to garderie. I NEVER do morning drop-off and I NEVER EVER leave the house looking like I did this a.m. so it was rather embarrassing to bump into just about every single person I know in the neighborhood looking like shit. Well, it was nice looking good while it lasted...

I would love to type up a long description of my lovely birthday celebrations but the painter is using some sort of toxic chemical bomb in place of paint, I believe, and my eyes are actually burning right now. Good god, this can't be a normal paint smell? I know I am a bit out of the loop since we've only used Farrow and Ball in this apartment, which is low VOC and there is no smell at all. I don't know what I'm going to do with Georgia. She is due home from garderie in an hour and there is no way she can be in the house if it smells like this. Hopefully, since this paint is just the base coat on the cabinets, the smell will disappear at it dries. Its so cold out today, a nice long walk is out of the question.

I suppose I could always pop over to the Louvre and wheel her around for a few hours. I used to do that with Ella all the time in the winter when she was little. On Sunday, Bruno asked me what I wanted to do and I did propose a visit to the Louvre but since it was the first Sunday of the month, the line to get in was about 200 people long and he nixed that idea straight away. We ended up doing a bit of shopping and then getting a snack at the food court in the Carrousel du Louvre. When did they change all those restaurants?! I must have been there a year or so ago when I was still pregnant and it was the same as it had been for years but they've kicked out all the old stands and made it much more fancy. I like it but my fav thing about the place was that it was a fairly inexpensive place to grab lunch if you were touring around central Paris. I was always sending people there after a morning of museum-ing. I had forgotten to pack a treat for Georgia so while the rest of us had a hot drink, I needed a something for her. I ended up finding a little pot of applesauce at the French food stand (called Beauduvin. What does that even mean?!?) and it cost me 2.50 euro. People, there was not even a half a cup of compote in that cup. I don't know if I can extrapolate and assume that the entire food court is charging equally crazy prices but I'll definitely be thinking twice before sending friends there for a meal.

Oh- I do want to mention one funny thing that happened yesterday. I got Ella up and had her get dressed to go to Mass with me while B stayed home with Georgia, who was still napping. When we got outside, we were confronted with a hoard of sweaty people charging past our door. Apparently there was the Paris SemiMarathon yesterday. I hadn't heard a thing about it so we were taken a bit by surprise. Well, straight away, Ella started with the questions. "Where are all the peoples going, Mommy?" "Why do they want to go so fast?" "Why doesn't that guy have any pants on, Mommy? Isn't he cold?" "If I run to church, can I take my pants off? Ok-can I take my hat off?" "Why is that guy holding a flag? What does it say? What does that mean? But why does he hold the sign while he is running?" By the time we made it to the corner, I had depleted all my mental energy for the day. And after standing there for 5 minutes, I realized that there was no way that we could get across the street to go to church. The organizer manning the barricade said that he expected the road to be blocked for atleast another 30 minutes as there were over 27,000 people running that day! Oh well. I figured that we might as well go and get some bread and cheese for lunch, since the shops were atleast not blocked off. As we continued on our way, the questions kept coming, but the one that she asked me again and again was, "But mommy, why are they running???" I guess I didn't have a very good answer because finally she just gazed up the road as the hundreds of people sweated their way towards us and she sadly shook her head and sighed, "I just don't understand it."

Oh sweetie, I thought to myself, you are not the only one. And then we went off to buy ourselves a piece of cake.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Me Week

Its my birthday tomorrow! Hurrah, right? Except that I'm turning a number that I don't particularly like AND my babysitter is not free tomorrow night so that I can go out to dinner AND since B has been working every day of the week since we got back from vacay (and will continue to through next week) he won't have a present for me or have any special surprise planned. So what's a girl to do?

Well, I've declared it Me Week. Easier said than done, considering that Georgia is still possessed by demons. Currently, she is laying in her crib, screaming against the injustice of nap time with the fire of a thousand suns- despite the fact that she had been up since 5 am. I am wishing that I had put Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones on my wish list...

But I've become accustomed to all that and figure that this week, with no pressing project on the horizon, I should make of list of things to do just for me and organize my day to make it happen. So, Monday, I dashed off to Bikram Yoga and signed up for unlimited classes for the week. I did a class yesterday as well but it looks like there is no way to squeeze one in today. Even if I can get 2 more classes in this week, I'll be happy. Its so hard (although easier to get back into that I would have expected) but I feel so amazing afterwards. I've made it through both classes this week without even glancing at the clock, which is something, since the classes are 90 minutes long. That 90 minutes is a blessing and a curse. It is so long that there is time for even the most stressed out mom to feel the tension seep out of her knotted neck muscles. However, how many moms can carve 90 minutes + showering time + transport time out of their schedule on a regular basis? Must work on that conundrum some more, as I am feeling less stressed today than I have in ages.

Since I can't get to class today, but both girls are out of the house for a few hours this afternoon, I am thinking about getting a manicure. I have the worst nails you've ever seen- they are soft and break off if I so much as look at a pop can. They are flat, have ridges, and are generally awful to look at. But in the hands of a good manicurist, I can enjoy atleast 24 hours of lovely hands. Then I give the girls a bath or shove my hands in a bag and before you know it, they are chipped and broken again. But its Me Week, so its worth it.

Tomorrow, I have a really big treat planned, since its my actual birthday. I have a facial booked at the Fourseasons George V Spa. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this place. Probably about once a year, I manage to finagle a visit out of my dear husband. Its generally not so hard, since he is terrible at picking out presents or even organizing a dinner out; whenever I suggest that he replace whatever he had 'planned' with a complimentary visit to this fancy spa, he tends to jump at the offer. I only have a few hours in the morning while Georgia is a garderie, but I am going to dash out of here as early as I can manage in order to take advantage of the sauna and the buffet. There is a juice that they serve that is out of this world- its some secret mix of maybe green grapes and kiwi and cucumber and mint? I don't know exactly but I probably drink a liter of it every time I visit.
Friday, I'll try to get back to the yoga class. And sitter is coming that night so I'll have to try and make reservations somewhere nice for dinner.
Baby still screaming (clearly she didn't get the memo about it being my birthday...). If I don't post anything over the next few days, its because I am probably laying in the bath and drinking wine while reading a novel. Really.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Georgia's Polka dot Party


It was a great party and I had so much fun doing all the projects and decorating. We chose a polka-dot theme mainly because Georgia does not have a passion for much of anything and this seemed like an easy thing to do to give Ella lots of little projects that she could help me with- specifically the polka-dot garland. She helped me punch out all the circles and then glue them to the string. It looked really pretty. We also had lots of fun doing the polka-dot cookies. The cake turned out better than expected- I used the extra royal icing from the cookies to pipe dots on to tin-foil the day before the party. Because the cake was for the babies, I didn't want to use too much sugar and chose a mascarpone/whip cream frosting with fresh vanilla bean for flavor. Just before bringing it out, we took the dried dots and stuck them on the frosting. So pretty! And with my new printer, I was able to print off stickers with Georgia's photo for the hats and party favor bubbles. Georgia was in a rotten mood for most of the afternoon (not surprising since she had woken up at 5 am that morning but wouldn't lay down for a nap with so many people in the house.) so I wasn't able to really take many photos. Half the reason I went to such an effort for the party was so that I would have a few nice shots for Georgia's photo album which is a bit sparse compared to Ella's. So much for that plan...
I had also planned on getting a bunch of helium balloons that morning before the kids showed up. I remember that at Ella's first birthday, the kids LOVED the ballons. However, I got up that morning to hear the wind howling down the street and ominously grey clouds covered teh sky. I decided that it would be next to impossible to walk home from the shop with a bunch of balloons tied to the stroller so I had to abandon that plan, which was a big disappointment. I just feel like helium balloons make it such a party. I should have just coughed up the 50 euro for the mini helium tank that you take home to blow up balloons. Next time, I'll know not to take the risk on February weather!
But I did have one happy surprise at the party. I had chilled a bottle of nice champagne, after one of the mom's RSVP-ed by mentioning that she felt that the first birthday celebration was really for the mother- which I heartily agree with. I do feel like I need to celebrate my 'survival' of the first year of Georgia. After I served the cake, I opened the champagne and asked if anyone would like a glass. Every single mom took some! Yeah, drinking in the afternoon! These are my people :-) Now, I loved Ella's playgroup. I am still friends with most of the moms and we go out together and exchange houses for vacations. I like them. BUT they were not up for Cocktail Playgroups.
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