What I know

I am a self-proclaimed "know-it all" or as my husband likes to call me "stubborn".  I rarely admit when I am wrong and will argue until the death even when I know I'm wrong.

In-spite of this there are somethings that I know for sure:

1.  Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the best movies ever made

2.  There are very few things that chocolate can't cure

3.  While we are on the subject, there are very few things that a good glass of wine can't cure

4.  My husband is a living saint {really, he has to put up with me day in and day out}

5.  Family and friends are the most important things in life.  All other things are just details.

6.  But most importantly, no matter what kind of day I've had this smile and this face can make my entire day better!

These two men are the loves of my life and that is the only thing I really need to know for sure!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
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Work in progress

You might remember when I wrote that one of the things we wanted to get done this year was our bathroom renovation.

We moved into our house a month before Nathan was born and we have yet to do much with it.  In fact, the only room that is "done" is the nursery.

We still have piles of boxes and other items that we have yet to put away in 18 months.  So this year is the year.  The year we start attacking these little home improvement projects; hopefully tackling our bathroom situation.

The bathroom was the only room in our house that wasn't "finished" when we moved in.  We had big hopes for this bathroom, but sadly after all this time we have become complacent.  It isn't at all practical, and it sure isn't pretty!

The white tile is original to the house and it is in bad shape.  There are holes that have been covered up by previous owners and cracks due from aging.  I don't even want to talk about that crazy diamond border.  It was added later and it isn't even with the walls.  What's worse is that it is randomly placed and glued so there are chunks missing and in certain cases you can see the glue someone tried to stick them to the wall.  These will be the first to go!

Also, like in most French homes, showers are not standard.  So we have this gorgeous tub but no shower head.  This is a small problem for me because I hate baths.  Hopefully we will be installing a shower fixture to the original tub to finally give me a shower!

Here is another view of the crazy diamond tiles.

And the "piece de resistance" is the visible water heater.  It just hangs out in the bathroom for the world to see.

We also don't have a vanity or functional storage space.  In fact we just have a sink.  So there is nothing but room for improvement here!

Another small "challenge" is that this room also must serve as the laundry room since it is the only room with the water connection for the machine.  Somehow we must find a way to make the washing machine fit into the design and function of the room.

Hopefully we will be able to do most of the work ourselves aside from updating the pipes which will be done by a professional.

Hopefully by putting pictures on the blog we will be able to hold ourselves accountable for the changes in house!

Have you ever tackled any home improvements in your house?  Any advice you can give us on tackling this on our own?
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Weekend Gourmand

During the week I hardly ever get to spend any time in my kitchen.  After getting home from work and getting Nathan ready for the evening the last thing I want to do is cook a long and complicated meal.
This is why I love to cook during the weekends.  I love to try the new recipes that I have found during the week or whipping up an old favorite to reheat later.  Even though this weekend was gorgeous and sunny, I still found time to spend in my kitchen.

Friday night, I had very little motivation to cook anything heavy and so I resorted to my stand-by favorite:  Tapas and Wine!  Seriously you can't go wrong with this menu!

The lineup: puff pasty cups filled with roasted garlic and mushrooms & guacamole; mozzarella, tomato and green pepper salad with balsamic vinaigrette and of course a nice bottle of red wine.  Perfect for cuddling on the couch and watching a movie.

Sunday afternoon I decided to make this recipe for the family:  Sauteed Bacon, Mushrooms & Lentils.  
Photo credit:  Leites Culinaria

I love lentils and had been wanting to try this recipe all week.  I had to tweak the recipe of course, adding a little splash of white wine to the mushrooms before adding them to the lentils.  I also cooked turkey bacon separately and added it only to Cornel's plate {I am not a fan of bacon} so that the rest of the plates were vegetarian.  The final verdict:  SUCCESS!  This recipe has the Nathan seal of approval {which means a lot coming from a finicky 17 month old!}

Ahh, but the entire weekend can't be spent in the kitchen.  When you live in a country that prides itself on food, cooking and all things culinary - it is imperative to get out and immerse yourself in this culture.  So Saturday evening we did just that!

We went out to celebrate a dear friend's birthday and enjoyed all things sweet, delicious and French!

And how cute is that chocolate hedgehog?  

In case you are wondering he was also delicious!  He too received the Nathan seal of approval!  {And yes, this makes the second pastry animal he has tried this month}!

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Mommy's Model

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous!  The sun was shining and life was in full effect.  We took full advantage and spent almost 100% of our Saturday outside!

The best thing about Spring weather is that Nathan can wear all of his cute clothes.  It is so hard to try and make him look cute while he has layers upon layers and is then topped off with a down coat and hat.  

I think he was also loving being able to finally move around without toppling over from the weight of his clothes.  He was having a great time running around the plaza!  The camera loves this kid, or better yet this kid loves the camera.

Little girls get to dress up in skirts, dresses wearing hair bows and headbands.  It's a struggle trying to find cute and fashionable clothes for boys but I'm loving the challenge.  My favorite being his "summer scarf" {a gift from his Aunt Alina}!  I'm so glad I get to find more variety than just overalls and sneakers!

Now if only I could look this cute chasing pigeons!

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Friday Funny: Re-education

Disclaimer:  If you are a man you might not want to read this post AT ALL!  If you continue to keep reading, please note that you have been warned.

When I became pregnant in France, I knew no one.  There was nobody I could turn to and ask "is this normal"?  I simply went along with everything and anything the doctors and midwives told me.  I would constantly Google some of the craziness, but only American forums would appear reassuring me that everything that was happening during my pregnancy was {not normal} or should I say {not American}.

When I went to my OBGYN after Nathan was born I was given a prescription for something called "re-education".  I wasn't sure what it meant but being the good (and naïve) patient that I am, I asked very few questions.  From what I understood I was going to go to classes to "re-educate" my body.  Hmm, except that wasn't exactly the case.

I went to my first (out of 15) sessions completely ignorant as to what was about to go down.  I was called back to a room when a young woman came in and asked me take off my pants.  You think I would have been shocked, but seriously I have been naked so many times in front of random strangers that I thought it was par for the course.

I was {NOT} however prepared for what was about to happen next.

She explained that after women carry children, the perineum muscles lose their tone.  Apparently it is believed that tone to this muscle must be restored in order to be able to "resume" normal functions and of course carry future children.

Since these classes don't exist in the US, I'm assuming that all women in the US after birth are peeing on themselves or hold their future children inside their bodies.  At least that is almost how it was explained.

So after this lovely explanation she pulled out a white rod, which she then plugged into a computer.  This white rod looked almost like a vibrator and served a similar function.  I knew I was in trouble.

After it was in place, she started touching the keyboard on the computer screen.  She asked me to stop once I felt "something".  Really, lady?  Really?

It went from completely awkward to WTF is that?  When she said "feel" something she meant an electric shock!  These electrical shocks are meant to stimulate the muscles.  I was then asked to "squeeze" and "contract" while the computer tracked my movements!  Oh the humiliation.

Doing kegels in front of a random stranger  isn't bad enough, they have to be projected on the screen for my amusement!  And then it got fun, the computer screen turned into a series of pyramids and trapezoids while she asked me to "contract" with the shapes.

It reminded me of an old' school Atari game and even with my crotch I was doing great!

And so continued to the fifteen sessions.  I do have to admit that my stomach muscles afterwards went quickly back to normal, as for the effectiveness of the kegels I can't say.  I haven't peed on myself involuntarily so I'm assuming success.
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I'm starting to realize that we are not doing such a bad job at this parenting gig.  I think we finally know what we are doing, and best of all we have days like this!

There is no better sound in the entire world.  What did we do to deserve such a happy baby?  We must be doing something right!
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Hello Sunshine

As unbelievable as it sounds the sun has come out in Clermont-Ferrand!  This means that my sanity is slowly returning, and better yet, we are spending more time outside!  Sadly this means less time for blogging and other computer activities.  It doesn't hurt that the plug to our macbook just fried so I have to make 60% battery last until tomorrow morning {because I'm way too lazy to move over to the desktop}.

And so, with all of this craziness going on in our household this week.  I leave you with a picture from last Saturday.  This was after our breakfast at centre Jaude {downtown Clermont}.  The sun was shining and the fountains were on!  Nathan & his daddy had a great time feeling the water splashes.  I'm so ready for spring!

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I feel so honored

I'm a "good egg".  While normally being described as an egg wouldn't really flatter me, this time I feel so honored!

Sara from Our Breezy Beach Life bestowed this award to me.  Stop by and say hello to her, she has the cutest little girl and she shares her adventures of living in Florida.

As for the rules:

1.  Thank & link back to the person who gave me this award
2. Share 7 things about myself
3. Award other bloggers
4. Contact these blogs and tell them about the award

Now on to the fun part;  7 things about me:

1.  I'm fluent in 3 languages
2.  Olives are the one food I refuse to eat
3.  I have eaten worms, grasshoppers and ant eggs all while on a trip in Mexico
4.  Before having my son I would have classified myself as a "non-baby person"
5.  I love my son
6.  We were married in my husband's hometown of Alexandria, Romania
7.  I'm addicted to skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks

And now on to the tagging:

1.  Quiana over at Harlem Love Birds
2.  Katherine over at Paid in China
3.  Kristi over at Breathe ... Shine... Love

While we are on the subject of awards, Nathan & I received a very interesting award last week.  Keith over at A Taste of Garlic gave us the "Award for End to End Pig Eating" for our post Here Piggy Piggy Post!  Nathan's first award and it's for eating.

I wonder if this is the feeling that the competitive hot dog moms feel?  Who cares, that pig was delicious - tail and all!

I would like to thank Sara and Keith again for these two amazing honors!
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Friday Funny: Manicure

It has been brought to my attention that many of my "Friday Funny" posts involve me taking off my clothes.  This is completely unintentional, I assure you.  So, I have decided that today I would write a rather modest post about getting a manicure.  Don't worry though, next week I'll be back with a doozie which again involved having to get nekkid.

When I was still in the US I used to {LOVE} getting my nails done.  We're not talking some crazy fake nails, just an hour out of my week to go and get a manicure and pedicure.  For $25 I could pamper myself and have pretty nails to boot.

When I moved here, however, it was yet another luxury that got cut out.  I was simply too overwhelmed with the language barrier.  I mean could you imagine just sitting there for over an hour with someone and not being able to say a word?  I would be getting my nails done so it's not like hand gestures were an option.

Sadly, manicures where a "once I go home" type of event, that is until my birthday last year.  My wonderfully thoughtful husband bought me a gift card to a local nail "spa".  My birthday was in September and it took me until January to finally build up enough courage to call and make an appointment.

Just hours before I had to go to my appointment I was STRESSING!  How would I be able to tell the girl what I wanted?  How do I say manicure in french!?

So of course, I asked my husband, who is nothing if not manicure savvy.

Me:  How do I tell them that I want a manicure?  How do I say that in French?

Cornel:  Manicure is already a french word.  Just say "Je voudrais une manicure"

Me:  "je vooodrais oooone manicure"...OK.  But in the US I always got a French manicure, how do I say that?

Cornel:  I don't know.  You're in France, wouldn't it just be a manicure

Me:  Hm, well that makes sense, but I don't think that's right. 

Cornel:  Well then say "Je voudrais une manicure française"

Me:  Of course!  That's so stupid of me. 

And so off I went, full of confidence to get my "manicure française".  I proudly opened the door stated my name and waited to be called.

The girl came over and introduced herself and then asked what I would like done.

I felt so proud of myself.  I knew what she was asking and I was so ready to answer back.  I smiled and said:

"Je vooodrais une manicure française"

The girl looked back as if I was an alien. 

Hmm, maybe it was my accent I thought.  I need to "french" it up a bit more. 

"Je vooodraaais une manicure française"

She took a second.  Then laughed at me while saying:

"Ahhh une french manicure".

I wanted to die.  Literally.  Who would have thought, "french manicure" in French is "french manicure".

I went home mortified {albeit with beautiful nails} and schooled my husband on the basics of a manicure in France.  I'm sure he was thrilled!
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Hello Life, Welcome back

For the past three months my life has not been my own.  I have dedicated almost every waking moment to one of three things: work, Nathan and studying.

I'm extremely happy to report that I have taken my CIA exam and passed!  I feel this huge sense of accomplishment.  You see I have a long list of things that I set out to accomplish in life that I just never got around to doing.  

So even though I don't and probably won't work in my related field this certification was basically pointless  from a professional standpoint.  But personally, well, it was a major step forward.

Now the question becomes, what am I going to do with all of my newly found free time?  There are so many things I want to get accomplished: plant some herbs, decorate the house, start re-doing our bathroom, clean, play with Nathan.

I can't wait to reclaim my life and my spare time.  Now if only the weather would cooperate so I can actually get some of things done!

While we were in Lyon yesterday for my exam, we also stopped by and picked up Nathan's European birth certificate!  A {HUGE} item to mark off our to-do list.  As of that moment, the entire world opened up to him.  He is now free to roam through life as a citizen of the world.  Not a bad accomplishment for a 16 month old!

Do you have any things on your "list" that you hope to accomplish this year?

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World Cup 2030 ... watch out

Why is it that the weekdays are always sunny and the weekends are cold and rainy?  Sadly, this means that Nathan spends more time indoors than we would like.  There are only so many things you can do with a toddler indoors and only so many times that you can read the same book before it starts to get old.

This Sunday evening Cornel got inventive with Nathan and we had an indoor soccer {football} tournament with a stuffed soccer ball!

I know I'm his mother, and completely biased, but I think he is a natural!

The best part of the indoor tournament, that Nathan crashed right away!  It isn't exactly bonding time in the great outdoors, but when it is crappy outside you make due with what you have!

It definitely didn't seem like Nathan minded staying in.

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Walk in the Park

Now that Nathan is mobile it is so amazing to let him run around and use up his energy.

I only wish that it was warmer so that we could all enjoy the great parks that we have literally across the street!

Lucky for Nathan, his Daddy takes him any chance he can even when it's cold outside.  Not only does this help me study, but I love the bond that my boys have.  I can't wait for summer when we can do this more often.  Although, he sure does look cute in his little bear hoodie!

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Friday Funny: Work Doctor

In France, shortly after getting hired it is required that all people receive a physical from a doctor.  Usually this is a doctor that is picked by the company, a "medecin de travail".  Since our company is big they have an infirmary on site with their very own doctors and nurses, and so I scheduled  my appointment for my first week of work.

I had been told what to expect from colleagues, but I seriously thought that they were joking with me.  I mean the things they were telling me couldn't possibly happen during a "routine physical.

Since I had only been in France a short time I spoke ZERO French and of course the nurses spoke little to no English.  What else was new.  The physical was pretty standard:  vision test, hearing test a urine sample (I can only imagine what they were checking for).

Then I was taken to an exam room that had multiple doors.  The nurse explained that I was to go into one of these "rooms" take off all my clothes and wait for the doctor to come in and get me.  Excusez-moi?

Thinking that I was  a complete idiot, the nurse explained with hand gestures what I was supposed to do.  Lucky for me, since she motioned that I was to keep my bra and underwear on.  Whew.  That would have been awkward.

The room was the size of a closet and I could NOT believe that I was supposed to stand there in my underwear waiting for the doctor.  I looked for a robe but there wasn't one.  And so I undressed.  I was thankful that I didn't sport a thong that day (or my grammy panties for that matter).  At least they had magazines for me to read {in french of course} while I sat there awaiting total humiliation.

The doctor then opened the door and welcomed me into the room.  We both walked over to his desk where I was told to sit down while we began the Q & A.  Awesome.  He asked about my lifestyle, my personal life, whether I was a smoker, etc.  Little did I know it was about to get worse.

While he sat at his desk he motioned for me to stand.  I was the instructed to walk towards the window on the far end of the room and walk back.  Now I'm not a medical professional, nor do I have any sort of medical training but what can you possibly diagnose from a 1/2 naked person walking around the room? I was reassured when I found out later that the men have to do the same test, so at least I know the doctor is an equal opportunity perv.

After my sexy strut down the exam room, I was told to go towards the scale and weigh myself.  What?  He continued to sit behind his desk and asked me to call out my weight.  How is that for professional?  I wonder how many women actually tell the truth and not shave off a pound or two (or ten)?

He {FINALLY} came towards me and asked me to sit on the exam table.  We did the old school reflex tests, heart tests, etc.

When we were all done, he signed my release form and we were all done.  I put on my clothes and leaving my humility behind went back to my office.

The BEST thing is that since he is an office doctor, I occasionally see him at the cafeteria.  The sad thing is that when I have lunch with my husband there is more than one man in the room that has seen me in my underwear.

Lucky for all of us, we have to repeat this lovely procedure every two years!  LOVE!
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My car all packed up getting ready to leave South Carolina

In my entire life I can really only say that I moved 3 times.

When I was 17 I left my parent's house and headed off to college.  It wasn't a big move geographically but it marked the beginning of my independence.

For the next 8 years I lived the life of a nomad going from the freshman dorms, to a series of apartments and finally a house.  Regardless of my physical address, however, Phoenix was my home.  It was the place I thought I would put my roots.  I never pictured living anywhere else.

And then during one of the lowest points in my personal life, I needed out.  I needed something new, somewhere new.  I sent out resumes across the United States.  I didn't care where I went as long as it was out of Phoenix.  Then I got the call.  The perfect job opening in South Carolina.

Without a second thought, I accepted the job offer.  I had no place to live.  I knew no one.  I had no idea what I had in store.  Life was one big adventure.  Little did I know that moving to South Carolina was my destiny.

I was meant to live in the South Carolina.  It was the place where I found myself.  The place where I could be whoever I wanted and not what people expected me to be.  The place where I was free of toxic relationships.  The place I found myself.  I was able to reconnect with old friends and find myself; discover myself.

Then it happened, I met my soulmate and there was only one problem; he lived in France.  I was faced with the choice of having to move yet again and this time across an ocean.  Leaving myself behind and the life I had created the life I loved.  I had no idea what would be waiting for me on the other side if I chose to leave; but I knew he was the one.  I knew that owed myself the opportunity to be happy and so I gave away all of my personal belongings and left.

Moving was so easy.  I never worried about consequences or whether or not I would land on my feet.  There was nothing ever holding me back.  It was all about the journey and the adventure of it all.

But now we are faced with the possibility of moving again and it terrifies me.  We are no longer two carefree people but three.  We now have a tiny little person to think about.  The stakes are higher.  Life isn't bad, but it isn't home.  We are strangers here.  We are living in a culture that is not our own, and yet it is the only culture that our son knows.

So what would it take for us to move?

The answer is so simple and yet is complicated.  We need stability.  We need security.  We need to be able to find a place where we can grow as a family and put roots.  Maybe, South Carolina.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
Prompt 2.) What would it take for you to pick up and move?
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Grandma's care package

So last week I dedicated an entire post to the wonderful care package we received and this sparked a long series of messages with my mom as to why her packages never get a post.

The reason is very simple, grandma always sends practical items and my friends always send goodies (mostly goodies for me).  With that said, we just got a lovely care package from my mom filled with cough drops and cheerios (ok partly for me) and a couple of outfits for Nathan.

But the doozies of all doozies was this outfit!  There really are now words, pictures say it all.

Maybe the striped socks and winter boots were a little over the top.  Sadly, this outfit will never see the real world as it is the shirt is too small.  Darn.  I am very grateful for all the wonderful things that my mom takes the time to send to us all the way across the ocean.  And who doesn't love getting packages in the mail?
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Here Piggy Piggy

If I haven't said it already one of my favorite things about living here are the bakeries.  I'm such a sucker for fresh baked bread and pastries.  I can't get enough!  In fact I've become quite spoiled in terms of my baked goods.

In any case, every time I stand in line to buy bread I browse all of the delicious desserts that they have on display.  My favorite has always been a pink pig that appears to be made out of fondant.  It is seriously adorable and I always make a comment about the pig.

Well, this past Friday when Cornel went to buy bread he came back with a little treat for Nathan.  The pig!

I mean seriously, how cute is he?

I was so excited!  I mean check out his curly tail!  We decided that it was only fitting that Nathan have the first bite! But not before the proper introductions were made.

So what was this famous pig made out of?  It is actually a vanilla cream filled cupcake covered in marzipan.  In other words, heaven in your mouth.  We had to take the pig away from Nathan before he ate the entire thing!

The final verdict, my little piggy loved his little piggy!  

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16 months

I know I say this every month, but where is the time going?  I no longer have a baby, but a little boy.  It is amazing how independent he has become.  He no longer walks but runs everywhere he goes.  It makes it almost impossible to keep up with him, and the term "baby proofing" has taken on an entirely different meaning.  He has become our resident monkey and loves to climb on anything and everything he can, although I think his favorite part is coming down so that the cycle can begin all over again.

He has become quite the little parakeet and repeats almost every word he sees.  He is still mixing his languages but we're hoping he will get it all sorted out when the time comes.  He can now say "au revoir" instead of "bye bye" and says it as soon as we pick him up at daycare.  He also learned the word "dou dou" and while this sounds like poo, it actually is his lovey.  He carries his little dog lovey all over the place and now responds when you ask him to get his "dou dou".  I was dead-set against giving him one in the first place, but now I love to watch him play with the little stuffed dog.

He also has an incredible appetite!  I never truly understood the expression "eating us out of house and home" but he is.  He doesn't eat a lot at any one sitting but he is constantly asking us for food or "pa pa" as he likes to call it.  His favorite being bananas and petite suisse yogurts.  Although he is known to be partial to croissants, pasta and basically anything daddy has on his plate.  He ate his very first hot dog this weekend and he was hooked.  He has started to try and feed himself with the spoons and forks, but sadly hasn't quite mastered the art of getting the food to his mouth.  Hopefully this will come.

He has started giving kisses when asked and it is the sweetest thing.  There is no greater feeling than getting a great big hug and a sloppy toddler kiss.  He has also learned that when he puts on his shoes it usually means going outside.  This means that he is constantly asking us to put on his shoes so that he can go out and play.  If only it wasn't so cold outside where we could actually take him out more often.

I am so grateful that he is still sleeping through the night and even more grateful that he sleeps in on the weekends!  He is always so happy and smilie when we go in to get him that it can just make the entire morning! This is even more amazing since this month he started getting two more molars, bringing the teeth total to 12.  He has been such a trooper through it all.

I am starting to love this age and I'm looking forward to all of the fun that is yet to come.

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Friday Funny: Driving

I have come to realize that I never wrote about some of the most interesting things that have happened to me while living in France. So, I’m hoping to at least try and play catch up with some of the best stories which I have yet to share.

Some of them will be funny, some of them will be informational and all of them will be embarrassing for me.

The best story, in retrospect of course, is the story about why I can't and don't drive.  We will start at the beginning.

When Cornel bought our car I was still living in South Carolina.  I asked all the important questions like "what brand?", "what color", etc. I never thought of asking "what kind?” as in manual or automatic.

You see, I'm that typical American girl who does not know how to drive a manual car.  When Cornel went to buy the car he assumed that I knew how to drive manual cars I just preferred not to.

One afternoon we headed out to an empty parking lot and Cornel tried to teach me how to drive.  I wasn't in the car five minutes before he (and I as a result) panicked that I would "kill" the car.  We switched places and my first lesson ended just as soon as it begun.  To this day, he claims that the car just "doesn't drive the same". 

One day over dinner with the girls I was recounting my first driving lesson.  They all laughed of course at the "silly American". 

"Driving a manual car is soooo easy.  We could teach you".

Famous last words, as the expression goes.

Since my friend Sophie had an older car, a Renault 5, she said it would be no problem to teach me.  We set the date to meet at our office's parking lot on a Saturday afternoon for  my first lesson.

source: Wikipedia

I remember the anticipation leading up to that day.  I was so confident that I would leave a "driver" and we could put this nightmare behind us.

Cornel drove me to the parking lot in complete and utter disbelief that Sophie would be able to teach me what he could not.

As I sat in the car, Sophie went over the basics.

Gas, Break, Clutch...check!

First, second, third, fourth and fifth gears...check!

Reverse and Neutral....check!

Simultaneous coordination of clutch and gas...check!

What a piece of cake.  Did I mention I hadn't yet turned on the car?

Turn on the car...check!

As Sophie explained what I needed to do to put the car in first gear, I heard it.  {CRUNCH}! 

Sophie:  "Step on the gas"

Me:  "I am but it's not working"

All this was happening as the car was gently drifting backwards through the parking lot.  I could see Cornel laughing.  I stopped the car and we put on the parking break.  Sophie & I switched places so that she could turn the car back on.  Cornel casually joked, "the car should be moving forwards not backwards".

When Sophie got back into the car it wouldn't start.  There was nothing.  In less than ONE minute I had killed the car she has had for more than 15 years.  Dead.

I felt horrible.  Actually horrible can't even describe how I felt.  The tow truck was called and he immediately took the little Renault 5 to a garage.

I had apparently broken some sort of chain, cost of repair 300 euros.  It could have been worse.

I went home and cried for hours.

Sophie never again offered to teach me to drive and I have yet to try again.  I have since given up all hope of ever learning to drive a manual car.

Am I the only one that can't drive a manual car?
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A year ago

I still remember that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach; that feeling of absolute guilt.  I remember watching the clock count down the minutes thinking it would all be over soon enough.  It was a year ago that I went back to work, leaving my then 16 week old behind.
First day back to work

Those first few months of motherhood were hard.  I was sleep deprived and lacked human interaction.  I spent my days and nights only having a newborn to talk to planning my life around feeding and nap schedules.  I would stare at the nice clothes in my closet while my frumpy girl in PJ's stared back at me in the mirror.  I longed for the days that I would actually get dressed for a purpose.  The days when I could throw on the cute heels and skirts.  Those days when I would have adults to have actual conversations with.  And then the 16 weeks were over and I had to face the reality that I was not just going back to work but that I was leaving my child behind.

I remember those first few days where I would just stare blankly at the computer.  My mind and my heart where somewhere else.  I remember all of the mini-breakdowns in the bathroom where all I wanted to do was "go home"; some days where harder than others.

I was lucky that Nathan had an amazing person taking care of him.  It made the transition back much easier because I knew he was well taken care of.

Eventually I learned to deal with the fact that my going back to work was an evolution for both of us.  In order to be a better mother I needed to work and Nathan has flourished because of it.  He has been exposed to so much culture and life that I would have never been able to give him as a stay-at-home mother.  He is exposed to other children, and he gets to live and play in a different culture and environment.

That isn't to say that there are still days when I wonder if it is all worth it.  The days when I think that I could just give it all up and stay home.  Then I see his face light up at school.  The days I see what he has learned and know that this was the best decision for both of us.

Those first few weeks I don't think I could have seen the end of the tunnel. The day when the guilt would have subsided.  The day when I could just be OK with being a working mom.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
Prompt 3: What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?
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Day with a sick baby

Ready for the same old story?  The daycare called yesterday afternoon to tell us that Nathan was running a fever.  Same old story.  This morning when he woke up he still had a small fever so we decided to keep him home for the day, which meant I would be "working from home".  I use the term loosely since work is hard to do with a toddler in the house.

Since it always seems that Nathan is at his best when he's at home; not at all on his deathbed as the daycare would suggest.  I decided to try a little experiment and document our day in pictures.

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Pizza Pizza

We have been on a pizza kick lately.  Every Saturday now for the past few weeks we have been having pizza for lunch.  We have a very good pizza place literally around the corner from us, so it was always more convenient than having to cook for ourselves.  We became complacent and it sort of became a tradition.

Let me tell you that this tradition does not come cheap.  There is no such thing as the $5 pizza deal, oh no!  Here the pizzas are tiny (medium being an American XS) and very expensive (15 euros for one tiny medium pizza).  So needless to say this was definitely breaking the bank.

Then I got the {BRILLIANT} idea to make my own pizza dough and continue the tradition at a fraction of the price.  I found an "easy" recipe on my little packet of yeast and decided to give it a go.  Once I deciphered the french terms I didn't understand I started making dough.  Easy enough is right.  The dough sat in the refrigerator overnight until Saturday where all I would need to do was add my toppings, bake  & voila, PIZZA.  All for the very affordable price tag of around 4 euros.

While I was chopping mushrooms I asked Cornel to make the pizza sauce.  I had, what I believed to be a very easy recipe and so I let him loose in my kitchen.  I should have known we were in trouble when he asked what "tbs" meant.  I told him "tablespoon" and went about my business.  A few minutes later I heard him say.

"1 tablespoon of pepper..."

Me:  "What?  Are you sure?  Let me see the recipe?  1/4 teaspoon!!"

Him:  "I thought tbs and tsp were the same thing."

Me:  "So you put in one tablespoon of salt?" (as opposed to the 1 teaspoon in the recipe)

Him:  "Don't worry I can fish it out.  It's a good thing I didn't put in the pepper yet"

My husband the optimist.

We proceeded with the sauce, fishing experiment and all, and made our pizza.  It wasn't pretty by any means.  The sauce was, well, salty but not too bad.  It was definitely more prep work than I anticipated (chopping veggies and all), but it was worth it.  The crust was good and I'm sure with more practice it can only get better.  I hope to give it another try on Saturday and hopefully improve on our mistakes.  Maybe I can make this into another tradition.
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