Weekend Hermit

Even though the gray skies are here to stay, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a great weekend.

The excitement started when we decided it was time for Nathan to get another haircut. This boy’s hair is {OUT OF CONTROL}. It has been less than a month and a half since his last haircut and we could no longer contain the madness. Since it seems that EVERYONE in France goes out on Saturdays, we decided to get up bright & early to try and get a walk-in appointment at the salon. Yes, my 15 month old son goes to a salon.

He was all smiles and giggles until we walked in the door. As soon as he saw the stylist he tried to make a mad dash towards the door. When he realized the door was blocked by his father he began crying and screaming desperately. I guess this is a sign that he goes to the salon too often. Sadly, unless he wants to wear a big flowered headband in his hair, the salon is a necessary evil.

He sat down in the cool car chair but the tears didn’t stop. He cried and reached out helplessly at me. His look said it all.

“Please mommy, don’t do this to me anymore. Help me.”

Even though he was in severe emotional distress, he didn’t move once. This made the task much easier and it was over within minutes. As soon as he was out of his chair he went back to giggles and smiles. Obviously the experience didn’t traumatize him too much.

Later that morning I transformed myself into a hermit. I took out my study books and laptop and claimed my comfy spot on the couch. I didn’t step back outside the rest of the weekend. My wonderful husband did all the cooking, grocery shopping and child rearing for the weekend.

Since Saturday afternoon was rainy he decided to take Nathan to the indoor pool. We hadn’t been in months and we thought it would be a good way to let Nathan wear down his energy. They were gone for nearly 2 hours and I was going crazy. The house was so quiet and empty. I missed my boys. Even though I couldn’t study with them in the house, I definitely couldn’t study with them out of the house either. Isn’t that how it always works out?

Sunday morning Cornel made coffee and we at a delicious breakfast of pains au chocolate and croissants. Sadly, I think Nathan is more French than I like to admit. He devoured his croissant in no time.

I then reclaimed my spot on the couch while the boys headed out to church.

I got to spend some cuddle time with Nathan before the weekend was over. I can’t wait until my test is over so that I can finally spend some much needed time with my boys.

I have to admit that I have an amazing husband who not only took on the role of both father & mother this weekend, but that also cooked me nutella crepes for dinner on Sunday. Could life get any better?
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Grey Cloud

I know that I haven't been writing lately.  It seems like a grey cloud has come over Clermont-Ferrand both figuratively and literally.

Last week the weather was amazing.  You would have hardly thought it was February.  This week, the clouds have come in and the weather has turned cold and grey.  It is just a sad reminder that winter is still here.  I am not a winter person and I long for sunshine, spring and sun.  I have come to the sad realization, however, that my son is a winter person.  In his short life he has known almost nothing but cold weather and grey skies.

The weather isn't the only things that has been grey lately.  You see my company is going through this "renovation phase".  They are in the process of tearing down old buildings which don't comply with safety standards and replacing them with new cushy buildings.  Sounds great, right?

Well, except that I was already in one of the new cushy buildings, but in order to make room for all the people that are now without an office, we moved.  We moved to a factory.  An old, very old building in a factory.  How is that for worker safety?

And what a building it is my friends.  The women's bathroom for one has no trash can.  So imagine what happens if it is "that week".  The men's bathroom has a nice window right behind the urinals so we can see the rear-end of all men who dare to pee.  Seriously.  It is comical.

I guess I'm just having one of those weeks where I'm wondering how in the world I ended up here?  Like all things, I'm sure I will adapt and it will all become normal, but for the time being I feel like complaining.

And while life has been a little grey around here lately it can only get better.  My test is in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  After which, I hope life can return to normal.  I will feel such a relief when it is all said and done and I can reclaim my weekends!
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Beds & Biscotti

After the insane week that I had last week, I'm so happy that a new week is {FINALLY} starting!  Seriously, I never thought I would be so happy to see a Monday.

Cornel made it home very late on Friday night.  Thank God.

I'm always happy when Cornel gets back from a business trip, but I was ecstatic when he came home from Italy!  Why you ask?  Well because he came home bearing delicious gifts in the forms of chocolate biscotti, breadsticks and pasta!  He truly knows the way to my heart.

And so, I proceeded to spend the rest of my weekend eating biscotti and studying. There was a mini-breakdown when my computer stopped working, but we'll skip that part.

Today, however, was the day of all days.  The day when our pretty new bed arrived!  I feel like we have been waiting years for this bed, when in reality it has only been a couple of weeks.  Our old bed was needed some serious help.  It was actually Cornel's bed from his single bed which should be read as the cheapest bed he could find.  We needed to make the upgrade to a grown-up bed and finally decided that this was the year.

While Cornel tried to put the bed together my only "task" was to keep Nathan entertained.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong.  All he wanted was to be in there helping "dada".  I knew all those episodes of "Handy Manny" would come back to bite me.

He did do an AM.AZ.ING job of supervising daddy's work and would even "shout" out instructions as needed.

And so tonight, while I'm comfortably sleeping in my new bed I will be so grateful for a great week ahead.  If only because I finally have my husband home and a bag full of chocolate cookies with my name only!

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A Box Full of Love

I thought that yesterday was going to be "one of those days".  I was staying home with a sick baby, husband on a business trip and I was feeling blah.  My head was still reeling with the decisions that need to be taken about Nathan's health.

Then the doorball rang.  Odd, who would be coming to my house in the middle of a Wednesday morning? I was shocked when our lovely postman {who climbed four flights of stairs to our front door} had a lovely package in his hands for MOI!  

I could tell right away that it was from the states, whit the lovely blue & white USPS insignia.  I was so excited when I saw it was from Casney!  Probably my oldest friend in the world {meaning we've known each other the longest, not that she's old}.  A care package all the way from Arizona filled with some of my favorite things in the world!

There were Girl Scout Cookies, peanut butter, coffee creamer and chocolate cookies just for Nathan.  {Although, I did have to taste test just to make sure they were good.}

For a sick kid, he was sure loving the box full of goodies.  Especially the chocolate cookies.

It seriously made our day at home so much brighter!  I couldn't believe she went to the trouble of sending us all these things.  I wish I could be closer to home, but I'm so grateful for the friends I have.  They are my world!!  I only wish I could be as a great a friend to them as they are to me.  I aspire to it everyday.

And on a lighter note, this is what happens when you leave your child unattended in his highchair for 1 minute.  

Trucks in his bananas.  I love this boy!

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The Witch Doctor

Following the diagnosis of Nathan's 1000000th ear infection yesterday, the pediatrician again gave us the contact for an Ear Nose & Throat (or ORL as they like to call them here).  This isn't the first time he has suggested it but I'm in complete and utter denial about it.

It just seems so extreme to put a baby of 15 months through surgery.  There had to be another way.

Every time this happens my poor coworkers always get an earful (no pun intended) about how I just don't know what to do anymore.

On more than one occasion several people have suggested that we take Nathan to an "homeopath" which is a holistic doctor.  If you are anything like me, you just rolled your eyes as you read that sentence.

I thought they were insane.  They all swore that this miraculous process has not only healed but CURED their children of the chronic ear infections.

I'm sure you can imagine my skepticism.  I mean, these people have managed to find a CURE and yet the only thing modern medicine can offer me is Tylenol and Advil.  Surely if there was a magical cure the pediatricians would have been pushing this from the start, if only to avoid our weekly appointments.

But yesterday, faced with the real possibility of surgery, I caved.  We will be taking Nathan to see an homeopath.  I have to admit that I am still not 100% convinced that these people can do anything better but it doesn't hurt to try.

I am not really sure what to expect.  I imagine something of a witch doctor.  An office filled with lotions and potions.  Maybe she/he will smack Nathan in the face with sage, I don't know.

At this poing I'm ready to try anything.  If it works, well honestly I have no idea what I will do if it works, but if it doesn't then there are always the tubes.  At least I can send my baby into surgery knowing that I ABSOLUTELY tried everything in my power before taking that decision.

I will be sure to follow-up after the appointment.  Stay tuned.

Has anyone ever tried "holistic" or "natural" medicine and remedies and have any tips to share?
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I should have known that something like this was going to happen.  As soon as Cornel told me that he had to go out of town this week I should have known.  Every single time that Cornel travels for work there is imminent doom.

I have to admit that this time I brought it on myself.  Saturday when Nathan woke up with a fever I was stupid enough to say...

"It's a good thing this happened on Saturday.  He should be great all week while you are out of town".

I cursed myself.  I should have known karma was waiting right around the corner ready to come and bite me.

It all happened this morning when Nathan woke up with yet another fever.  We gave him some Advil and got him ready for school.  I knew he wasn't doing well.  I knew we were going to get that call from daycare; but I sent him to school anyway.  From the minute I left him he was crying, and at 9:45 the call arrived.

It was a great coincidence that Nathan had his 15 month check-up today, so we decided to leave him in school until his appointment later that afternoon.

It is obvious that this kid has had way too many trips to the pediatrician since he started crying as soon as he opened up the door.  I think it might be time to change doctors until Nathan starts catching on again.

The diagnosis:  an ear infection...yet again.  He also has some sort of cold virus, but who doesn't with this weather.

He wasn't well enough to give him his vaccines so we'll try again next month.

With all of this, Cornel is at his wits end with the daycare and wants to put him with a private nanny.  I think he is overreacting.

I mean, if it isn't now it will be in a few years when he starts school, right?  This means he'll be a healthier child, right?

Aside from the health issues, Nathan is really flourishing at the daycare.  He is involved in activities.  He has friends.  I see him developing into this great human being.  Is it really fair to take him out?  Too many decisions for this week.

As for now, I have to work from home for the next couple days and hope the baby makes a speedy recovery.  Of course he'll be ALL better by the time his daddy gets home from Italy.  Isn't that how it always works out?
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Weekend Love

Could it be that another Valentine's Day is here?  They always seem to sneak up on me.  To be perfectly honest, it isn't a day that Cornel and I celebrate.  He grew up not celebrating it and as for me, well being that I was heavy, I never really had a happy Valentine's Day.

Now that we're married, it seems that forcing ourselves to celebrate Valentine's Day adds a lot of unnecessary stress.  Stress of finding a gift, stress of buying a card.  And all for what, because we feel we "have to" celebrate Valentine's Day.  As cliché as it sounds, I would much rather he do things like this out of the blue when I'm not expecting them.

But in any case, not to let the day go unnoticed we decided to have a nice dinner/lunch on Sunday.  The baby had been sick all weekend  so going to a restaurant was not an option.  I also wasn't going to come home after work today and try and cook a meal.  While I tended to the baby, my sweet husband made a 5 class meal:  scallop stuffed salmon, oven roasted potatoes and cauliflower gratin.  All with some delicious champagne.  LOVE!

Nathan certainly enjoyed it!

The rest of the day continued lazily.  Nathan wasn't at his best, so we cuddled on the couch while he watched movies and I tried to get some studying in.

And today, in honor of Valentine's Day, I had to dress Nathan in the cutest shirt ever.  He is Mommy's Little Heartbreaker. {He was obviously loving it!}

The best part, however, was that Cornel picked up a delicious cake from Maison Vacher.  It had fresh berries, whipped cream, macarons, layers of pistachio cake.  Delicious.  Heaven on a plate.

I guess celebrating Valentine's Day isn't so bad afterall!
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For the love of wine

My massage wasn't the only excitement of the weekend!

We were lucky enough to have tickets to the famous "Vinidome", the annual wine festival here in Clermont-Ferrand.  Although, it is hard to go anywhere in France without running into some sort of wine festival.

This was our first year, so we weren't sure exactly what to expect, but from what people told us - this thing was going to be fabulous!  And so, on Sunday after lunch we packed up the baby and headed out.

I have to admit that I felt like a bad mother taking my son to a drinking event.  I was reassured when I saw lots of other kids/babies all over the festival.  I couldn't believe how much wine people were walking out with.  I thought we would buy a bottle or two, but people were coming out moving dollies full of boxes.  This was some serious stuff.

Armed with our complimentary glasses we started making our way through the festival.  I have never been a wine connoisseur  and usually end up liking the cheap stuff more than the fancy expensive stuff.  My husband however, is very picky and only likes "certain" wines.

This made our trip easy.  I would stop at every other stand to "try" the wine while we listened to the people tell us about it's "flavor", yadda yadda while I gobbled it up.  Thank God I wasn't the one driving!

During all of this, Nathan was sitting in his stroller and started to get pretty antsy.  It didn't help the situation that someone had forgotten his sippy cup at home.  We made it to the food section just in time!  We gave him some of the sample cheeses and he couldn't get enough!  He might be a french baby after all.

Eventually, the two bottles we went to buy turned into 8, and we didn't have any place to put them.  So being the classy parents that we are, we took the baby {OUT} of the stroller so that we could put the wine {IN} the stroller!

I think Nathan got a kick out of it!

All in all, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.  I'm kind of sad we didn't take advantage of this the past two years that I've been living here.  We're not sure where life will take us next year, but if we are still in Clermont we are definitely going to try and make it back to "Vinidome".  Although maybe next time we'll trade the stroller for a moving dolly!

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French Massage: A lesson in modesty

Since having a baby my back has not been the same.  And since I don't like to suffer alone, I constantly tell my husband how much my back hurts, hoping he will feel so sorry for me and rub my back. 

Granted, if i was back in the US there would be no such conversation.  I would have simply booked a massage appointment and that would have been the end of it.  I used to {LOVE} getting massages and took advantage every chance I could!  It was a small luxury I could afford when I was still single.  Sadly, since moving to France, it is one luxury we just simply could not afford.  At least not on monthly basis.

Which is why last September for my birthday, Cornel knew {exactly}what to buy me; a gift certificate for a massage at a local spa.  And so on Saturday I headed out to get my massage that I had been looking foward to for months!

Now, I should say that I have gotten a massage at this place before so I knew what to expect, but there is really no way to prepare for this level of awkwardness.  Let me explain.

First the masseuse explained the process that is about to go down.  First she handed me a tiny little "slip", which was basically paper string thong.  The front part was white and bordered on see-through.

On the table there was one towel covering the massage table and another rolled up table on the end.  From what I understand in French, she told to take off my clothes put on the "slip" and get on the table.  She took off the rolled towel and left the room.  As I stood there in my "slip" and nothing else, I contemplated what to do.

From my prior experience I knew that I wasn't supposed to lay down under the towel already on the table.  That would just make the lady laugh at me again.  So I climbed on the table.  Talk about humiliating.  My head was towards the wall and my bare butt staring straight at the door.  Awesome.

The lady came back and then covered me up with the towel.  I'm not really sure why since five minutes into the massage the towel gets stripped off and so I'm just lying there with my ass in the air as this random stranger massages my back.  So not relaxing.

She did cover me up while she worked on the back of my legs.  Thank goodness for that.

Then came the "fun" part, the turning over.

Now, in a normal massage you would expect the girl to cover you discretely as you turn over.  Well, not here.  The towel was completely off as I awkwardly tried to turn over while not exposing all of my lady bits to the random stranger.

And there I laid.  Boobies in the air while she continued the massage.  At this point i began laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation.   I mean this lady was getting more action from me in an hour than my husband usually gets all week {ok, maybe not}.  She was DEFINITELY getting more action than anyone has without at least some wining and dining!

I guess in a country where topless beaches are everywhere and where you have to get naked in front of your doctor - this is nothing.  But for this obvious prudish American, it was all hysterically awkward.  I never considered myself a prude before, but after this...I definitely learned a lesson in modesty. Thank God I was at least given a "slip".

As for the massage, even though it was an uncomfortable process, my back felt amazing when we were all done.  So after it was all said and done, I would definitely go back and do it again.
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15 Months

A year 1/4 has already gone by in the blink of an eye. My tiny little baby boy is now a toddler and full of life.  His personality is shining through and he is quite the entertainer. 

At any given moment you can watch him and see the wheels turning in his head.  He is inquisitive and wants to investigate everything.  He is impossible to keep track of, and is always learning how to get into new things that are off limits (such as daddy's prized sound system) or the kitchen trash.

He has learned that when he gets in trouble {for getting into things that are off limits} a simple smile and a hug can usually get him back on our good side.  He is nothing if not cunning.  As I try to strictly tell him "No, stop banging on the laptop", he'll make his way over to me, throw his head on my lap and hug me while he looks up smiling.  I'm such a sucker.  I wonder how much longer he'll have me wrapped around his little finger like this!

This month was the month of all months!  He started walking full time!  Thank goodness.  I was starting to get a little worried. Although, it is very obvious that it is much easier getting him to walk when there is an incentive involved; food, toys or a cute girl.  Hey, whatever works!  The only problem is that he hasn't figured out how to maneuver around objects and so if there is anything in his path it will either 1) trip him up and make him have to start all over again or 2) he will take said object with him until the end of his desired trajectory.  This goes for anything; toys, furniture, people.  He has trampled his father on a few occasions and so we have nicknamed him our little "bulldozer".  I see a career in professional football in his future, or as his dad says a future "rugby" player - whatever that is!

Taking him to the park is such a joy now since we don't have to worry about him being trampled by the other children.  If only the weather was nicer so that we could go more often.  And while we are on the subject of the playground, Nathan went down the slide for the very first time in his life this past Saturday.  He squealed in delight and would laugh hysterically as he reached the bottom trying to wiggle off fast enough to make it back again.  There is something magical about a baby's laugh that can brigthen up any day!

He became a very picky eater this month, although I attribute it to the arrival of two new molars!  They just came out of nowhere.  One day he opened his mouth and there they were.  At first I thought he had put some sort of trash into his mouth before we realized they were teeth.  He wasn't as cranky as he usually is through teething and I was expecting much worse.  Hopefully the rest of the teeth are so easy.

This month he also became very verbal and is our very own parrot.  Although at times it is hard to figure out which language he is speaking to us in.  He loves to grab the phones, put them to his ear and say 'hola'.  When we get to our front door he says "quatre" (because we live on the forth floor).  And as cute as it is, he hasn't really figured out the timing of words.  He knows he has to say "thank you", although he doesn't realize when he has to say it.  He hands us his toy and very politely says "thank you".  Luckily we have some time to work on it.

It is amazing how much he can change from one month to the other now.  And even more amazing how much fun we can have together!

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Guilty Fear

Since going back to work last February, I started living in a state of perpetual fear.

Every single time my phone rings, my heart sinks down to the pit of my stomach.  I take a deep breath as  brace myself for what I am about to hear.  There is a moment of relief when I realize it is a business call and not the daycare telling me that there is something wrong.

The fear doesn't end with the phone.  Every evening as I make my way through the daycare to pick Nathan up, I fear for what they will tell me.

Monday, was one of these days.  There was no impending phone call of doom, but as soon as I started my way towards the classroom, I saw it.  Nathan was in the arms of one of his teachers and he was wearing nothing but a onesie.  That is never a good sign.  As  I got closer I saw his wet cheeks and red eyes; he had been crying.

As his teacher explained he had a fever of 38.5, my mind quickly raced.  Divide by 2, no wait multiply by 10...add 32.  What does that mean??!!  I smile politely grab his belongings and proceed to dress my child.  They must think I'm an idiot.

Sadly, since Nathan started daycare this is my life.  He is sick more often than not.  We constantly try to juggle our schedules because he misses more school than attends.  We see our pediatrician on a weekly basis.  And my motherly guilt just keeps getting worse.

In any case, we kept a close eye on Monday and he seemed fine.  Tuesday came and he woke up fever free.  A small cough, but we decided to send him to daycare.

I watched the phone all day work.  No daycare phone call.  I felt relieved.  Relieved that is until I made my way to pick him up.  There was no good news.  He had a cough that wouldn't stop.  He didn't eat all day.  He was not at 100%.  Here we go again.  Then we saw the add on the board.

"Due to an epidemic of bronchiole all kids with heavy breathing would be evicted from the daycare until it is under control".

Is this Nathan?

I became paranoid.  We decided that since he didn't have a fever and his breathing was forced that we would skip the trip to pediatrician until we were told otherwise.

This is where things went downhill.  While waiting for my phone call of doom.  My throat started swelling up.  I started sneezing and the runny nose began to flow.

Wouldn't you know it?

All this time I was so paranoid and afraid of Nathan getting sick that I was the one now sick.

Nathan ended up having a great week at daycare.  He wasn't sick.

As for me?  I'm still sick.  Trying my best to be supermom with a stuffy head and runny nose.

But this feeling of fear and guilt.  Does it ever go away?
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Best Holiday EVER

I know that most of you back in the States are celebrating groundhog day today.  Here there is no such thing.  Well, maybe there is but I just don't know about it.

In any case, today in France is Crêpe day!  Can you think of anything better than a holiday completely revolving around a dessert?  Only in France.

It is actually called the Candlemas or La Chandeleur {I have no idea how this is actually pronounced}.

[Cultural tidbit]

Candlemas is a feast to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus. [End Cultural tidbit].  Source

But more importantly, today is the "Jour des crêpes" the day of the crêpe!

I actually had no idea that such a holiday existed.  So imagine my sheer delight when I walk into the office today and find a plate piled to the top with crêpes!

There were ones filled with nutella.  Some filled with honey.  And others with just sugar.

I have a great co-worker who has, what I can only imagine, the best wife in the world.  Seriously.  I would marry her.

She is always sending treats our way.  Brownies.  Cake.  Cookies.  And today, crêpes!

They were so delicious.  I had 3 before lunch.  I'm also embarrassed to say that I had one after lunch for dessert!

What will ever become of me when I leave France?  I shudder to think.

So please, in honor of baby Jesus go out and stuff your face with crêpes!  I can't think of a better way to honor him!
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My other half

I don’t tend to give a lot of praise to my husband, at least not publicly for the world to see. It is always easier to write about things on a superficial level; the fun we have on vacation, weekends, etc. It is even easier to let out my frustrations and disagreements (sorry love). The truth is, that without my husband I would completely and utterly lost.

:.cue sappy music here.:

When we took the decision to live so far away from anything and everything familiar, I never realized the impact that this would have on our life. We have had to depend on each other probably more than a normal couple should. This has added a lot of stress to our marriage. Having a child multiplied that by 1000000. In the end, we have come out stronger because of it {although the road has not been at all easy}.

Through the years I have watched him transform from boyfriend to husband to father, and with each step growing into an amazing person. He can be selfless at times and tries to make sure that his family comes first and is always putting our needs ahead of his own. This balance is not always easy to find but he seems to manage with minimal complaining.

Now that I am facing the overwhelming challenge of attaining my professional certification {what was I thinking}, he has really stepped up. He takes Nathan to the park to make sure that I can get some much needed, uninterrupted, study time. {He also took pictures to make sure I didn't feel left out.  Tell me that is not amazing}.

He handles meals, laundry and dishes to make sure that I don’t have any distractions or excuses. He has taken over bath time, making sure to incorporate those teachable moments.

This man is the love of my life. He makes me try {although I hardly every succeed} to be a better person. I truly know that this man was meant for me. He is definitely my other BETTER half.
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