Saturday, May 29, 2010

to get you through the week

Check out those fat baby legs! She might be messy, but I just want to gobble her up, um-num-num-num.
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A Very Bad Week

This week was rough- day one started out with this little disaster; Georgia had been busy pottering around the house so I jumped in the bath. I was happily soaking in the steamy lavender scented water, reading a new magazine, enjoying life when she came in and tried washing off her hand in the water. I looked at her fingers and saw that they were covered in sparkly powder. I immediately knew that she had gotten into my stash of glitter powder. I asked her, "Oh Georgia! What did you do?!" She babbled at me in baby for a minute, waving her hands around, and then she pointed to her feet, and shrugged her shoulders, like, 'What can you do?' I peeked over the edge of the tub and saw that she had obviously walked through the glitter as well, as her fat little toddler feet were all pink and sparkly as well. I knew it must be worse than I had originally imagined. I jumped out of the tub, dripping wet, and peaked around the door. The camera was on the table so I snapped a pic to remind me to never be so naive as to think that a 1-year-old means it when she nods 'yes' to your demand that she leave the craft cupboard alone. Even if she looks like she really really means it.

And basically that set the tone for the week. I'm just going to pretend like it all didn't happen and it was just a lovely week of spring in Paris. La-la-la.

Luckily, yesterday afternoon I had a friend in town and it was the perfect antidote to all the Horrible, and I am leaving on vacation optimistic that the black cloud has blown away. I really hate the curse of the expat- you find all these lovely people to be friends with, go through a spell when everything is fantastic and funny and then they move home and even when you don't exactly miss them anymore, its still sad and lonely. Sigh.

But in the good news, I think my hair karma may have turned around. I spend a ridiculous amount of money on a bottle of Leonor Greyl hair conditioner about two weeks ago because I am desperately trying to grow out my hair. This week, I have had three girlfriends on three separate occasions, tell me that my hair looks gorgeous and ask what I had done. That is what I call a good investment- especially after my Year of Horrible Haircuts.

Today we are all packed up and ready to fly off to Sardinia. I checked the weather this morning and unfortunately it doesn't look like they are having the big sunny skies that I was hoping for. Lets all cross our fingers together and wish it hotter. I want to come back brown from laying the sun, relaxed from daily massages in the spa, and fat from gourmet food, eaten in lovely restaurants while the kids play in the room with a babysitter. Wish me luck.

PS Finally, my Mother's Day present was a new camera. B went to one of the shops on Blvd Beaumarchais and the guy gave him lots of good advice. He ended up with the Nikon D5000, which is not the model I thought that I wanted but I will see how it goes. Just in case its a bit too much camera, I'm still packing my handy Powershot. Either way, I am sure that I will bore you with far too many pics when I get back.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is the cover of the program from the ballet- can you see how gorgeous the set was? This is the entrance of the prince Solor for the engagement party at the Rajah's palace. Ella refused to leave before we had seen the 'elephant', so what could I do but agree to sit through the second act?
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The ballet

Oh god, Wednesday was complete chaos- is it a coincidence that Georgia's 5 am wake-up call is always followed by an all round bad day?- around here but despite all that, I managed to make it to the ballet with Ella and it was so worth it. What an amazing show!

La Bayadere is a classic Russian ballet, which was first produced in Paris by Nureyev in 1992 (although he didn't dance in the show, since he was 54 at the time). It is set in India and is the love story of a temple dancer (la bayadere) who falls in love with a prince. The Grand Brahmin, who also loves la bayadere, is jealous and vows to have his vengence. The prince is forced to marry the Rajah's daughter but the Brahmin tries to ruin things by telling the Rajah about the prince's other love. Instead of breaking the fiancailles, the Rajah and his daughter decide to kill the bayadere and after she dances at the engagement party, she is bitten by a snake hidden in a basket of flowers. The Brahmin tries to save the bayadere but the bayadere refuses the antidote when she realizes that the prince will never leave his fiancee. She dies and then comes back to haunt the prince.

Ella loved the dancing and the sets and the costumes, although the story took quite a bit of explaining. I was smart enough to buy a program on our way in, but not smart enough to read the synopsis before the lights when down (oops) so I was forced to ad lib my way through the pantomiming that the dancers did to explain the story. I feel a bit bad for the people seated around us who must have been fed up with our whispering but Ella did make up for it, I think, through her enthusiastic and heartfelt clapping. She even shouted 'Bravo!' at one point, which was adorable.

I did say in one of my posts that we didn't have seats together, but I explained to the ushers that she was sitting with her grandmother and I had a seat apart. Then, once I had figured out which was the better seat, I told the usher that her grandmother hadn't arrived yet, and was it OK for me to sit Ella on my knees until the entracte when she could go with her grandmother? No problem! And in the end, even if I had managed to get seats side by side, she would have been on my knees so that I could explain things. So, alls well that ends well, but it is good to know for future reference that there is a way to get around things if I find myself in this situation again. Honestly, I very nearly gave away the tickets because I wasn't prepared to go all the way there, fight with ushers for 30 minutes, and find out that they were still going to be assholes about Ella sitting in her own seat.

The show was so good that rather than just leave at 8:30 like I had originally planned (it was a school night after all) I let Ella talk me into staying for the second act. It was the engagement party scene and instead of the exposition that made up most of the first act, there was mainly just dancing. The scene was a palace, all decorated in gold, with the domes lit up beautifully. The Prince came riding in on the back of an 'elephant'. There was a dance by a 'golden diety'. They had about a dozen children from the Opera Ecole de Danse participating in the dances. It was perfect for Ella.

If I can sort out my scanner, I'll post a few photos.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The sun was out this morning and rather than leave the curtains shut while we ate breakfast and wandered around in our pyjamas (remember that we have an enormous building full of fonctionaires/gov't workers across the street from us so everyone spends their day staring out the window and watching us like its some kind of low budget cable tv show), I pulled them wide open. I think that the girls were enjoying the sun as much as me because they dragged their toys over to a patch of sunlight and sat down to play. I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and taking a few shots. I love the way sun makes halos out of their hair.

I mentioned that my cameras are both getting a bit old and beat up so I went with B to look at buying a new on Saturday. Naturally, they didn't have the one that I had wanted to buy (the Nikon D3000) and they guy running the stand seemed to not know a whole lot more then me about the other models so I didn't get very far in making a decision. After about 20 minutes of picking up different models to try out in my hand, and studying the info cards, I was getting frustrated. I asked B if it wouldn't be just as easy to 'Eeny-Meeny- Miney-Mo' it. Even if I spent days researching the different cameras, is my decision actually going to be that much better than just choosing at random? I'm not convinced it would be. I definitely want to pick one out before we go on holiday but I don't know when I will get a chance. Thats really the problem I saw with walking out of the store with nothing- I don't have the time to be running back and forth to the shops. So, basically, if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear from you.

I had plans to go out to St Cloud this afternoon to see my SIL and her twin daughers who are a few months older than Georgia but I am putting it off a week. Georgia was up at 5 am, shouting on and off for more than an hour. I am praying that this is just her teeth coming in and not a return to her bad habits. I haven't mentioned it often enough here, but she has really sorted out her sleep schedule these last few weeks. Generally, she drops off to sleep at 8 pm and doesn't make a sound til 6 (barring any sleep talking that she sleeps through. Wish I could, but at the first squeak, my stomach knots up and my eyes fly open. Ah, mommy-insomnia. ). We've gotten quite cocky and started staying up past 10:30 and making plans to go out more than once a week. I know, crazy stuff, right? Well, I should have known it was too good to be true. Well, naps for everyone this afternoon, I guess.

Tonight I have tickets to the ballet to see La Bayadere and I am so excited but I hope that we all have enough energy. Wish me luck- on top of everything else, I don't have seats together for me and Ella so I am busy trying to figure out how I am going to work this out...
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Desperately avoiding my closet

I am desperately avoiding my closet for many reasons- right this moment, it is because my dressing is a complete disaster, with clothes piled everywhere, shoes kicked into all the corners, belts and scarves knotted up together on the floor, plus a box of summer clothes has exploded in right in the middle of everything. I have the mother of all clean-outs to do this afternoon and I am Unmotivated.

And suddenly I am inspired to blog! (Coincidence?)

The party on Friday night was fun and the chateau was just as beautiful as in the photos. The only bad surprise was arriving and finding half the guests dressed in jeans, including the birthday boy's wife. I wish someone would have written 'casual dress' on the invite because the 3 hours of standing in 4 inch heels for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres just about killed me. Thank goodness that I had plenty to drink so that I very quickly lost feeling in my feet. The dinner went on until 1 in the morning, and there was the expected river of champagne, so unsurprisingly, we both had massive hangovers and were not ready for our 9:30 am wake-up call. It was nice to not have the girls screaming us awake but it would have been nice to have been able to lounge around in bed for a bit longer. Sigh.

Of course, on top of a hangover, I realized that I probably should have been a bit more careful about what I ate. There were so many gorgeous things put out for hors d'oeuvres! Every 15 minutes, a waiter would come by with a new tray full of tiny little treats. So I tasted them all, some of them twice- thinking to hell with the diet for one night. I had been working hard so that I could indulge sometimes. But after weeks of eating low-fat/ low-cal my poor tummy wasn't used to rich foods. At all. Lets just say, I have learned a lesson that I won't forget...

I've done another bit of shopping despite my self-imposed ban. But! But! But, it was for a vintage YSL black drapped skirt, with the tags still on! Who could walk away from that, right? I found it at a shop on rue Birague, just near place des Vosges, called Delphine Pariente. It looks like there is also a shop on rue Charonne. I'd loved to go see it but I am afraid that there will be too much temptation- besides clothes that had so many pretty necklaces and right now, I feeling like I need to find the perfect necklace, something a bit quirky and maybe a bit sparkly that I can just wear everyday. I think that this shop probably has just the thing, if I would let myself look a bit. Best off staying away, I think .

We saw the last episode of Season 1 of Mad Men on Sunday night and I am totally hooked. Obviously, we are going to have to download the next season from Itunes because there is no way that I am going to wait til French tv gets its act together and puts it on the schedule. I kind of hate all the men, and yet, its kind of sexy too the way that they are all so macho. Its fantastic the way you both love and dislike nearly all the characters in equal measure. Betty? Sweet but also sort of annoyingly so. Joan? Gorgeous, but also a little too slutty. Peggy? Crazy, but also the underdog. And also the male character, but you get the picture. And I LOVE how everyone is always smoking and drinking- in the office, in bed, while pregnant, the nurses in the hospital while walking in the halls. I sort of wanted to download the episodes to watch while on vacation but I don't know if I can wait 2 whole weeks.

I think that this post is just pointing out how much I need to work on my willpower.

On a more positive note, I found a great healthy salade for summer that B and I have just been loving. I originally started out making this recipe, but there were a few things about it that didn't work for me. I don't tend to like eating raw onions, first of all, and it calls for two different spice mixes that I imagine you can only buy in the States so even if I wanted to fall the recipe, it would be impossible. Still, I was inspired so this is what I came up with:

Quinoa Salade

1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped
8 fingerling radishes, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 bag prepared quinoa from Bjorg

1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp colza oil
2 tbsp pistachio oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp gomasio
1 tsp agave syrup
salt to taste
tabasco to taste

Mix the vegetables and slightly heated quinoa in a bowl. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir well. Chill and serve.

Its fantastic! I think that you could really play with the seasoning for the sauce and I might even try adding diced tomatoes one time to see how that works but personally, I think it is already perfect that way it is. And with the pre-cooked quinoa, you can throw this together in about 5 minutes.

So Ella had been begging me to let her invite two of her friends after school. With all the holidays its been difficult to arrange but we made up invites for her two friends (with my phone number, asking for them to phone me to arrange things) and the next day I brought them to school with me. It turns out that one girl was away on vacation for the week so we only gave the second girl the invite. She was staying after school for gouter, so I told her to be sure to give it to her parents when they came to pick her up. They never called. The little girl told me that she had given it to them and she chattered to me about coming to our house every day when I came to get Ella (so clearly she hasn't forgotten about the invite and must have talked to her parents about it) but I didn't see her parents to check that they got the card. The first little girl came back to school yesterday. I gave her the invite to give to her parents, and they called a few hours later to arrange a playdate for today. Easy as pie to sort that out. Which leaves me wondering about the first invite.

Now the question is, do I send ANOTHER invite home with the first girl and just assume that she never gave the card to her parents? Or do I drop it, assuming that they got the invite but don't want her to come to our house? I pass them occasionally in the neighborhood as they only live a few streets away but they don't really act very friendly- although they have never been outright rude. Sometimes, I think that there are parents that are worried that I only speak English since they see me at school only speaking English with the kids. People get nervous that I might make them speak English to me so they just sort of nod and run when they see me. B says drop it. Ella tells me that she and the little girl discuss the visit constantly at school so I feel a bit bad for the kids by not trying harder to sort this out, but I also just want to drop it because it is sort of a bother to have to entertain someone else's kid.

Hmm. To be decided.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another day of school holidays, another round of princess dresses... Today we did a princess picnic in the bedroom and all the dolls had their best dresses on and ate baby boudoir biscuits (thank goodness I finally found a way to use those cookies, now that Georgia has decided that they are poison). We have a trip to the Jardins des Plantes planned for this afternoon, maybe even a visit to the 'zoo' with some friends but I am a bit nervous whenever I look out the window. There is no way to get there by bus from our house so that means we have to do the entire 20 minute walk, in each direction, even if the rain starts pouring down on us.

What? you think that I should just bring an umbrella? Well, thanks to our favorite Disney movie, Mary Poppins, Ella has a phobia about umbrellas. As soon as the window blows, she starts screaming at everyone to throw down their umbrellas before we all get blown away. The first time I laughed til I cried, by the 4th or 5th time, I was forced to admit that it went beyond a childish misunderstanding and she was seriously freaked out. So this is one of the reasons that I don't venture out too far on a rainy day. I've made plans to meet a friend there so we sort of have to go out today; crossing everything and hoping it works out. The weather says it will clear up a bit this afternoon and there is no risk of rain, but this would not be the first time Meteo France has had it completely wrong.

I also don't want to have too stressful of an afternoon because tonight, B and I have big plans to go to a birthday party outside Paris at a chateau. Oolala, right? We are even spending the night there and I am so looking forward to having a big comfy bed to collapse into at the end of what is likely to be a French party- ie a dinner with 7 or 8 courses, plus wine, plus enough champagne to float a boat. But a comfy bed means nothing if you need to get up at 7:30 in the a.m. to turn on a Disney film and prepare bowls of cereal for children who are bound and determined to wear 3/4 of that bowl. For the first time, we are leaving the girls with a sitter for the night. Hurrah! I feel like its my birthday we're celebrating. It doesn't worry me in the least, but it just means that tomorrow morning we won't be able to dawdle and try out the spa. Rats. B is desperate for a massage and I predict that I will have a monumental hangover since I've been on the (f*%?#-ing diet) wagon for so long. It would have been nice to have a massage to look forward to, as well.

I am a mess and I will only have a half hour to get ready between zoo and departure of the 'bus' so am a predicting a frantic witching hour at our house- which has only gotten worse since Georgia began to fight her second nap. Would have loved to have the afternoon to go and have my nails done and maybe a brushing at the salon since it looks to be a big fancy party but I organized badly and only asked the sitter to get here at 5. Double rats.

PS I am trying REALLY hard to clean up my language since Ella picked up the habit of saying 'Damn' when something went wrong. This goes back a ways- one day after I heard her use the word for about the third time I jumped up and shouted at her. It was such a shock, and she got into such trouble, that it really marked her. Only, she was so shocked that she couldn't remember if she was supposed to say 'damn' or supposed to NOT say 'damn'. Rats was one of the alternatives that I suggested. Its been a long road, but she has almost integrated 'rats' into her vocab. Which means, of course, that I have to integrate 'rats' into my vocabulary. We're getting mixed results, so far.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

what day is it again?

I have had to remind myself about 50 times today that it is NOT Saturday. I know that I am going to be confused until Monday comes around again. May messes me up with all the short weeks and obscure holidays that I can't entirely keep track of. Now, I'm sure today is something Catholic and I am actually a church-going girl, but I still couldn't tell you what it is to save my life- obviously this is a sign that I am becoming more and more French, and one of those Christmas-Weddings-and-Baptisms Catholics. Shhh- don't tell my mom and dad or they'll have me playing catch up this summer. I'm already worried because the other day ella said to me, 'Hold it- who is Jesus again?' Aiyiyi. My mother will murder me if Ella says something like that in front of her. And that will be the end of my 2-month-long vacations, free of charge.

Anyway, back to the real subject at hand- holidays. Well, in our house, we are celebrating Princess Day! If you have any experience with little girls, you know, when in doubt, dress up like princesses. I am so spoiled by full days at school and garderie that I die a thousand deaths when I have the girls all day long, all by myself. Plus, this shitty weather means that I can't take the girls anywhere other than the park on the corner, from fear of getting caught in a deluge. They are going crazy in the house and I cannot sit through another Disney movie. OK, it was kind of cute to see Georgia experiencing Baby Einstein Animals video this morning. They have nailed their target audience. Her mouth was round like donut for the entire video, she just kept up an uninterrupted string of 'Oooohs!', pointing and dancing to make sure that we were all aware of the awesomeness in front of us. I should have taken a video, it was fantastic.

But like I said, that tinkly music starts to grate on my nerves after awhile and I had to turn off the tv and find the kids something else to do. Princess dresses for everyone! Georgia was too cute with her fat baby belly filling out her dress. Ella demanded the same hairstyle as Cinderella, so back-combing her hair filled up a good 30 minutes of the afternoon. Actually, she has so much hair (a gift from her Mamie Micheline, a woman who does actually decline invitations on days when she needs to wash her hair) that it was sort of amazing to see just how big I could get her hair. Unfortunately, you can't see my awesome styling skills in this photo as she has her head tipped back; oh well, suffice it to say we are ready for Prom.

Thank goodness I had the foresight to ask the babysitter to stop by for an hour or so. I ran out of the house on some trumped up errand and got some air. I'm so in the habit of taking a nice big walk everyday, either on my own or with Georgia in the stroller, that I think I go a bit stir crazy when Ella is here all day and I can't put in a few kilometers. Plus, they must just chase in her circles the entire time that I am out of the house, because I laid them down for a small rest before dinner and they both passed out in like 10 minutes. Lovely.

I am listening to an old playlist on my Ipod and I forgot how much I like old Ray Charles. That song 'Night and Day' always makes me want to dance- and reminds me of that one episode of 'The Cosby Show' when they all sing for Claire. Oh- next song is 'Walking after Midnight' by Patsy Klein and then 'Lets Get Together' by Al Green. This mix is fantastic! I may never wake up the girls- I'll just break open a nice bottle of wine and kick back til B comes home from work.

Aaaaand done! (Not an entirely wine-related visit to the kitchen, the oven timer went off and I thought that it was the Universe telling me that wine was a good idea. Right?)

Actually, I did manage to squeeze out enough time today to make an all-homemade, all-awesome lasagna. And none of that healthy ricotta-and-spinach business. The real deal, with bechamel and bolognaise and lots of mozzarella. I just spooned up plates for the girls so that they would be cool by teh time I got them out of bed, and it looks so good I think that I could eat up the entire dish. Of course, I am still fighting the good fight with that bastard kilo that won't budge so I will be having a very small and reasonable portion to minimize the damage. Last night when I showed B the dress I had bought, I explained my dilemma about how I said I wouldn't shop til ALL the weight was gone but it wasn't and I had bought the dress anyways.... and at the point where he was supposed to say, 'Baby, you look so hot already you should just keep the dress and forget about the stupid diet.', he actually said, 'So, are you going to return it tomorrow?'

God! Doesn't he ever read the script?!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a lazy photo entry

I have been in a rotten mood all day which is no small part due to the fact that it is still gray outside. A quite large part is also due to an irritating email that I had last night. Of course, it showed up just as I was getting ready for bed and I read it and proceeded to dream angry dreams all night. I hate when that happens. Worst part is, I tried to do something nice but my 'friend' misunderstood my message and took it as a giant insult, which required a grovelling apology on my part because she went on and on about how bad things had been for her recently. Well, you know, things ain't a bed of roses around here either, sweetheart. I do understand that emails can be misconstrued if someone gets the wrong end of the stick- there is no 'tone' to help clear up ambiquities. But Christ almighty, I was trying to do something nice and I'm the bad buy? I just wonder, does she think that I took time out of my day to organize a bunch of stuff and then sit down to write her a message with the sole intent of being mean? Talk about raging narcissism. If I had that much time to waste, the first thing I would do is get a manicure, not dream up elaborate plans to ruin someone else's day.

Georgia only started screaming when I got the camera. 30 seconds before this shot, she was smiling and posing for me because I told her that she looked pretty with the flower in her hair. she has been so good lately about leaving clips and bands in her hair, I think because the fringe is getting long and hangs in her eyes otherwise. I don't know when or why she developed the sudden phobia for the camera. She better shake it off, because Momma is asking for a new camera for Mother's Day and there are going to be some serious photo shoots going on soon...

Here is a photo of Ella putting cherry chapstick on Georgia. I know- 90% of my photos of the girls together are taken in the bathtub but that is the only time when I have them corraled together. I think that this is so sweet with Georgia holding very very still and Ella concentrating hard on doing it just right.

And, finally, last night B and Ella went out and 'harvested' a few strawberries. Ella ate them without hardly chewing them and said, 'Next time, lets leave them to get bigger.' I'm not sure that I succeeded in teaching her anything about enjoying the fruits of your labor- literally or figuratively. And of course, this led to a 30 minute conversation on the different kinds of strawberries and the associated 'whys?' and 'how comes?' stretched us to limits of our knowledge on horticulture. So hard to patiently answer all those questions at 8 pm when all I want to do is throw them into bed and turn out the night.

Speaking of sleeping, after fighting her naps all day long, Georgia just fell asleep at 6:15 pm. If I don't let her nap, she'll be awake at 3 am because she is so over-tired. If I let her sleep for an hour, I might just get a teeny bit of lie-in tomorrow morning. Oh please please please Universe, let me get a bit of extra sleep on a vacation day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring cleaned my little heart out and now I can't find anything

It is another grey and rainy day in Paris and I wanted to go to a playgroup this afternoon but I can't find the raincover for Georgia's stroller. I had packed it away in the fall because I figured that between the hood and the foot muff, Georgia was fully protected from the elements. But where did I put it? It so big I don't see where I could have hidden it away. And I don't see how it could have gotten mistaken for a random piece of plastic and put in the trash, since it is so stiff and impossible to fold up. It has GOT to be somewhere. But where?!! There are not alot of hiding spots in our teeny tiny apartment.

And missing this playgroup is out of the question. Its been a battle to keep this group going. There was a nice group last spring, but I think three of the moms moved back to their home country and since they were three regulars, it really shook things up. Suddenly there were only two of us who went regularly. Then this fall, it seemed to pick up and then suddenly, there were quite a few moms who went back to work, which makes the group suddenly much smaller. Now, its spring again and with all the holidays and school breaks, its been impossible to get on a regular schedule. Before Georgia was born, I didn't know if I would be interested in joining a playgroup because I already had a group of mom friends, which had been my original goal when I joined after Ella's birth. But now I realize that it adds a bit of structure to my week and gets me out among people which sometimes doesn't happen when I am busy at the house, lost in the eternal struggle to get Georgia napping and fed. It bums me out when no one seems interested in hosting or meeting up. I don't take it personally, because I get it. Somedays, its just hard to get your shit together and even to commit to something fun. But I do wish that there were atleast a few people willing to make the effort.

Which is why I cannot miss today. I have been harrassing the group with emails every week and now that someone else is hosting, I need to actually go, rain cover or no rain cover. I'll wrap the stroller in SaranWrap if I have to.

Hmm, I wonder if all this angst over a rain cover is not a sign that I am in more desperate need of that beach holiday than I originally suspected? Must keep doing the countdown in my head as we FINALLY have everything booked: On the 29th we leave for a week's holiday at this gorgeous hotel!

Last week was a rollercoaster trying to finish booking everything, and probably 50% of the reason that I need this break. I would find a hotel and be ready to book and then discover a reason why it was totally the wrong place for us or something else would go wrong with the booking. I even had to borrow my FIL credit card (I was like being 15 again! 'which hotel? are you sure its a real hotel and not a scam to get my credit card number? how much does it cost? Are you sure that it is a good price? what does it include?' and on and on.) due to a last minute snafu. BUT I think it will all be worth it- there is a Kids Club! and a nursery! and babysitters! and a heated pool! and a spa! and a family room so that we don't have to sleep next to both girls snuffling and flopping around all night! Which all means, this may actually be relaxing.

I'm not even going to do a quick comparison with last year's 'vacation' to Crete, organized by my dear clueless husband. I just want that experience to fade from my memory as quickly as possible. Booking the hotel this year nearly sent me into PTSD and I had to force myself to push through the panic and trust that no vacation could ever be as bad as that one. (For one, the girls cannot get the chicken pox a second time, right!)

So now all that I have to do is pack our bags. And pray that our favorite Icelandic volcano calms down- although I have already looked into the ferry routes to Sardinia because I am not kidding when I say that I am going on vacation come hell or high water.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First thing in the morning

Georgia loves when B gets home from dropping off Ella at school. He sits down with her and she gets her bottle and he drinks his coffee. She has developed this habit of kicking back in her chair and putting her feet up on the table and I can't get her to stop. Of course, now its a game and she does it just so that I'll come over and start tickling her feet. She puts her feet up, then she looks over at me and flicks up her right eyebrow while grinning, as if to say, 'Yeah, those are my feet on the table, whadda ya gonna do about it?' She generally starts giggling before I am even touching her.
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I cleaned up the balcony aboug two weeks ago when we were having gorgeous sunny normal spring weather. It was nice to see that everything seems to have survived the winter despite the horrible cold that we went through. The boxwood topiaries were looking pretty shaggy though and I had been putting off attacking the very big job of trimming them. And then? Once I started? I couldn't stop. I was out there every day with my clippers, 'Oh, I'm just going to even out this little bit over here...' and 45 minutes later I was sweeping up an entire bag of leaves. It is like an addiction. I even spent a happy hour on the internet researching garden implements to upgrade from my 5 euro grocery store clippers - in fact, they are probably closer to finger nail clippers than hedge trimmers but I wanted something to fit on the shelf with the plant fertilizer. The priorities of an apartment dweller... But I've decided to stick with the nail clippers. The last thing I need is encouragement from a pair of shiny new clippers to go out there yet again.

I even popped over to the flower shop for a few geraniums to brighten it up and got a few extra things like tomato and strawberry plants for Ella to take care of. I probably should have bought plants slightly smaller and less mature to make it a bit more exciting but she is only 5 and I figured that they would all be dead in a few weeks under her 'loving care' (which translates into watering the plants hourly or every time my back is turned, whichever comes first.) Despite that, and the miserable weather lately, everything seems to be doing well and look! we even have some ripe strawberries! B and I are trying to decide just how toxic Paris balcony fruit is before we let her pick them and eat them. But its ok because I found the phone number for French Poison Control last night.

Now, I would love to start sitting outside again with a cup of coffee to enjoy it. There were a few days that Georgia would go out with me and go from plant to plant touching the leaves and smelling them. She would sit on the little step and just look around at the pigeons and the boats going by on the river. Ok, just sitting there and screaming 'Regard! Regard! Regard!' until I looked up and made a comment on whatever had caught her eye. I don't think we'll forget what her first word was. We were really enjoying ourselves- before winter decided to have the last laugh. Another week, another cold grey Monday morning. When will it end?
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

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Shoe shopping

Yesterday, B surprised me and took off work for the afternoon to take me and Georgia to lunch- which we figured would be fine since Georgia was such a doll at brunch on Sunday. How much difference 48 hours can make! It was like being seated with a small wild animal. She twisted and turned and stood and sat and slid off the seat and shouted and tried to grab the 'neighbors' coat and bag and threw things and refused food and begged for food and was generally a pain in the tuckus. And then she sat down and leaned against me and started to fall asleep, looking like a sweet little dolly. As if that makes it all OK (well, it kind of does because she just kills us with the cuteness and through some weird biological process, the memory of the previous 45 minutes of Hell is erased. Oh evolution!)

B came to school with me to sit in on my English class with the kids, which he thought was hilarious. It is quite funny as they are all so enthusiastic but even Ella is pretty approximate in her prononciaton while singing. 'Hickory Dickory Dock' becomes 'Icky, Dicky, Dot.' They have their favorite parts in their favorite songs so they sing-shout those parts (they LOVE that the babies on the bus go Wah Wah Wah for example) and then 90% of the kids stare into space for the other verses. Anyways, its only 20 minutes and I like knowing all the kids and seeing how Ella acts when she is at school with her friends. Generally, French schools (in my experience) are so guarded about letting parents in to see what goes on that this is a great way to sneak over the 'gate' and have peek inside. And since I am in tight with all the teachers now, I don't have to worry about getting any flack about pulling Ella out of class whenever the mood strikes. Hope it works next year at her new school...

After we all got back home from school after a brief stop in the park that was just long enough to have us all longing for our winter hats and scarves (seriously, what is going on with the weather?!!), we decided to take Ella shopping for a pair of shoes. I had been trying to hold out for out trip to the States where I knew that I could get some summer sandals for next to nothing but finally I realized that we had quite a bit of warm weather to get through (well, in theory) and all ella had for shoes were knee high boots and an ENORMOUS pair of sneakers that didn't really look that awesome with skirts or when she was dressed up. I just can't believe how fast she outgrows stuff. Atleast I can comfort myself with the thought that all the good-as-new shoes that are too small will be in great shape for Georgia. Anyways, B was up for a trip over to Bon Marche since he had something else to buy and so we all jumped in the car.

I have to admit, that Bon Marche has a great kids shoes section. Its not very big or thorough and its expensive but every single pair of shoes is Adorable with a capital A. OMG. So I went through and picked out 5 pair that I thought were possibilities and asked for Ella's size. I would let Ella choose from those pairs. Well, one pair was sold out in her size. Eliminated. Another pair she didn't like. Eliminated. The other three were all nice and fit well and I walked away to browse while Ella tested them all a second time. When I turned back, B was at the cash register paying- for all three pair. I asked him what was going on and he said that since they all fit, he thought it was fine to pay. I explained that I didn't really think that she need THREE pair of new shoes but he said that he didn't want to be back in the shop in two months to do this all again so it was just easier to do it this way. Meanwhile, Ella was dancing in circles, singing a song about how much she loves her daddy. Did I mention that he cannot say 'no' to either of his daughters? That man is putty in their hands.

Oh, yes I know. There are four pairs of shoes in the photo- I figured that since he was being so generous there was no point in denying myself. I slipped in a pair of pink ballet slippers with a little pom-pom on the toe. So cute and so much cheaper than if I had bought them in the women's department. Word to the wise- if you wear a size smaller than a 38, head down to the kids shoe section. There are some really great summer sandals and flats. I have my eye on a pair of cobalt blue suede flats with a Pocahantas fringe around the ankle.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Photo albums

I am currently sitting at my computer waiting for yet another set of photos to upload to Mypix so that I can have them printed. This will be my third attempt to find a site that will print them since I have been having rotten luck today. I like to have the white borders on my photos and I swear that all the sites used to do this but today, I can't figure out how to do it. So frustrating and such a waste of time. This will also be my second order for Georgia's first year photo album, although you could call it the third order because when I did Ella's album, I ordered doubles of lots of shots... and then forgot. I started sorting the photos into chronological order and realized that I had two or three of some prints and was missing whole months. Seems that I also forgot that I had randomly transferred a bunch of photos off the C:/ drive when a movie download got blocked due to lack of space. I never sorted things out so I ended up spending an afternoon sorting through badly labelled files trying to find everything I needed. Hopefully, if all goes well, this will be it and I won't have to worry about it again for another year.

Don't get me wrong- I LOVE having photo albums. It reassures me that even if I have a computer meltdown, I have copies of my favorites photos. I always scoop up my doubles and send them off to appreciative grandparents and great-grandparents. I end up flipping through the books far more often than I look through my old back-up discs. Ella has started to take down the albums and flip through them on her own, which makes me feel like all the work was worth it. BUT it takes so long! And it is soooo expensive. The prints may only cost a few centimes each but when you print out 400 photos (several times over...) it adds up. And albums! Cripes, you would think that a 100 euro photo album was some thing more than black paper between two pieces of cardboard but nope- thats all it is. I finally remembered that there is a Swedish company called Ordning & Reda that does fairly well priced albums and they sell them out of the Bodum shop at Chatelet. I popped over one morning last week and scooped up 5 in a nice blue linen fabric for Georgia. They had such a great selection in some really nice colors that I hadn't seen anywhere else. I would definitely recommend stopping in and having a look. I think I might run back and get some more because the pages are actually quite small and I can tell that I am going to need quite a few. I hate the idea of having to by a new model every year so I prefer to just have 4 or 5 extra albums on the shelf for the years to come and then be done with it.

Well, no time to get my order in today. The photos are still uploading and I have to run off to do English with Ella's class. Honestly, this is turning into the most ridiculously drawn-out project. I seriously just want to be able to eat dinner at the table again one night before leaving for summer holidays.
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Georgia Eats

Here is a short photo essay to give you an idea of what happens at mealtimes in our house. The first photo is what happens when I offer to feed Georgia myself (you'll just have to imagine the screams. Maybe go and murder a pig if you lack imagination). The next photo is her first attempt. Look at that sweet baby, concentrating so hard. Third photo is about three/quarters of the way through the pot of yogurt. I tried to wipe her face, but Miss G wants to do that herself as well. Please notice that she has actually managed to wipe a small part of her cheek- and then transferred that yogurt to her right ear. Well, she gets an 'A' for effort. Also, she has not put down the spoon as she is a very cynical 14-month-old and she suspects me of using the paper towel as a ploy to steal the spoon back and feed her myself. (She is not entirely wrong. I do tend to take advantage of any moments of distraction in order to quickly shovel bites in her mouth...) Fourth photo, I had to step in before she plastered her head in yogurt and wiped off the face myself. She is attacking that pot to scrape out the last bits of yogurt clinging to the bottom. The bib will go straight to the wash but amazingly the child and her clothing are remarkably clean. We are making progress!

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

just a quick round-up

Two glasses of wine into the evening and I am chatty enough to try to get up a message before going to bed, but not quite eloquent enough for anything other than bullet points:

*LOVE that they are playing Mad Men in VO on Serie Club! I had been suffering through bad downloads, but this is much better. If only the kids had been in bed on time (or B had helped a bit more for the bedtime routine...) and I had seen the first episode.

*Went to Brunch Bazar over in the 10th this afternoon with the girls and had a great time. It is a bit too bobo for B, but I am definitely going back next month. Am glad that I planned ahead and dressed myself and the girls appropriately. Although, hopefully will have had my shopping spree by then as I had my only cool outfit on and would hate to do a repeat.

*We actually ate before we went over there because I was Starving and didn't want to trust my next meal to a bunch of hippies (well, its supposed to be all Bio and you never know just how seriously they will take that.) For the first time ever, Georgia sat nicely and Ella ate almost an entire meal without complaining so- dare I say it?- we had a nice family meal in a resto. A first!

*And although it isn't technically a first, Georgia did a full night last night. In bed at 8 and barring a weird shriek at 5 am, no noise until 6:30 this morning. Then quiet until 8:15. That, my friends, is magical. And the day before? She woke up at 4, I gave her some water, and she slept until 9!!! I feel almost human right now. Its lovely.

*I was surfing the web and came across this post which has got me craving waffles. I haven't had a good waffle since Christmas 2008. Why don't I have a waffle iron?!! I would totally make waffles... on occasion. I would ask for one for Mother's Day but I apparently I have a blank check (B said whatever Ella wants to get me goes, and I am prepared to brainwash/bribe/manipulate her to avoid any errors. I know, I'm shameless) and I'm not going to waste it on a waffle iron. But I'm tempted.

* So its decided - Sardinia will be our destination and I may have even found a hotel. Although I am really wondering if I wouldn't enjoy a stay at a really good agri-tourism farm? Nothing is officially booked so I will be mulling it over tonight but will be happy to just book things tomorrow. This looks nice, but I am not sure that they accept children...

Lets all cross our fingers and hope for a good night for Georgia. I could really use a nice start to the week. Ella is back at school, hurrah! It'll be nice to be back on a normal schedule.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Vacation plans

So, we may be stuck in Paris for the ENTIRE school holidays but B has finally agreed that a quick vacation is in order. Hopefully we'll book everything this weekend. But we can't decide where to go- Sicily or Sardinia. Anyone have an input?!! I am leaning towards Sicily because I seem to find nicer hotels (lots of agri-tourism farms which would be great with the girls, I think) but B prefers Sardinia for the scenery. The problem is, he is referring to the scenery around Porto Cervo/Porto Esmerelda which is the pricest area on the island.

We are (probably) taking the kids, so it has to be family friendly. I want to have a babysitter available so that it is not All Babies, All the Time. I suggested doing something like Club Med and that suggestion was met with a resounding 'No'. He wants a hotel that is small and chic with a great restaurant. In theory, I am in complete agreement. But did I mention that I don't want to be on duty 24/7?

Also, I looked into a highly recommended place called the Romazzino Hotel in Sardaigne, but it was over 1000 euro- a night! That is more than we would like to spend but we will only be on holiday for a week so we don't need to find a great deal either.

You would think, by this point, my travel agent skills would be honed to a fine point and yet I am stuck. Help