Parenting Pet Peeve

Growing up I used to misbehave ... a lot and I used to get punished ... a lot! 

Now that I'm a mother to a rebellious toddler I find myself struggling with this battle of discipline.  It sucks.  Trying to find the right balance and making sure my child learns wrong from right.  I think every parents struggles with finding "their way" to discipline their children.

I try not to judge when I see parents trying to discipline their children in public.  I have been there with the child screaming trying to reach for things that he shouldn't touch; or the child that just can't sit still.  While this type of behavior makes me want to crawl into a hold and hide, I try to deal with the situation in a calm manner (especially in public).

Then there are those parents who choose the path of wrath.  The parents who create a bigger scene than their children and begin screaming at the top of their lungs.  You know the ones.

The parents that won't stop until that poor child has been berated and humiliated.  The parents who at times resort to physical punishment in public to really "show the kid who is boss".  

I remember seeing a five year old boy at the grocery store last year, submissively following behind his father when he accidentally bumped into the aisle causing a jar of pickles to drop on the floor.  It was an accident.  In less than five seconds the father turned around and yelled at his son in such a way that I started crying.  He then continued to spank his child who was at this time crying uncontrollably.  Had I been able to master the language I would have told the man to back the 'eff up!  I would have hugged that little boy and told him accidents happen but he has to be more careful.

Now, there was one time when I mouthed off to my mother and she slapped me - I deserved it; but it drives me insane when people hit innocent children.

I might be naive to think that my child will respond to reason when I'm trying to discipline him.  And I have on occasion raised my voice in frustration, but I hope that I never humiliate or berate my children for the sake of discipline.

What is your take on public discipline?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
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WIWW heat wave

This week has bee H.O.T around here!  I have fought back all urges to go naked to work.  Well, maybe not naked, but it has been tempting to whip out the shorts and tank-tops.  Sadly, I don't think that really qualifies as "business casual".

Luckily, the heat wave didn't really get started until Monday so we got to enjoy a nice sunny weekend in the 80's.  We were able to get a lot done in one day.  Breakfast downtown, haircuts for the men, shopping for the woman {me} and a nice Sushi lunch on a shaded terrace.  The prefect day with me and my boys.

Dress:  H&M
Sweater:  Old Navy
Shoes:  Minelli

Even my boy got in on the fun.  

Shirt & Shorts:  Zara Baby
Hat:  C&A

pleated poppy
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You put what in that cake?

As I might have said before I have a love/hate relationship with vegetables.  I love them when I'm at the store and dream up all the ways that I'm going to use them when I cook and they hate me as the decompose in my refrigerator.

Well, I went crazy a couple of weeks ago and bought 1 kilo (2 pounds) of zucchini.  An ambitious purchase since I'm basically the only one in this household that likes zucchini (Nathan likes them, but let's face it, he's not eating a kilo of them).  So, when I needed to figure out what to use them for I knew exactly the recipe!

My friend Casney's Pineapple Zucchini Bread.  This recipe is so good that even my husband eats it and the man HATES zucchini!  The only problem with this recipe is that it makes 2 loaves.  And while I love zucchini bread, there is no way that we can have 2 loaves in this house.  We would devour them in a couple of days, so I decided to take the second loaf to work.

When I got to work, everyone looked in delight as I unwrapped the loaf from the foil.

"Qui a fait ca?" (who made this)
"C'est quoi l'occassion?" (what's the occasion)
"C'est de quoi le gateau?" (What's in the cake)

And you see that last question is where I lost them.  I never realized how strange it was to have zucchini in a sweet cake.  It always seemed kind of normal having zucchini bread. When I told my co-workers however what was in the cake, they were a little in shock and a little in disbelief.

"Courgettes?!" (Zucchini)

Their reaction was unbelievable to me.  They can eat andouillette (which smells and tastes like feces) but the idea of zucchini in a cake is apparently disgusting. 

Some people were more adventurous than others and they really enjoyed it.  Although, some other people were harder to convince.  By the end of the day most of the zucchini bread was gone, but not without a little lesson learned.

Let's BEE Friends
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That's Hot

And now I'm not trying to be like Paris Hilton, I'm literally talking about the temperature outside.  I know, I complained about how cold it was in June and now I'm going to complain about how hot it is in June.

I know it's strange to have me complain about the weather considering I have spent the better part of my life in Arizona (but it's a dry heat)! However, in all of the years that I lived in Arizona I was blessed to have access to one of modern technology's best inventions: Air Conditioning!

I never realized how much I took THAT for granted. My house had central air and even when it was over 100 outside my house was always a cool 72; I always had the air on in my car, ALWAYS, even as I rode to work at 6 am; and of course my office building had a great A/C that would force you to even think you were "chilly" in the middle of winter.

It seems that this marvel of modern technology, however, has yet to make its way across the ocean.  There are very few buildings in France that have any type of air conditioning system at all!  There is no escape from the heat.  Not the shopping mall, not the train stations, not the office buildings not even your own apartment building!  You could always go to the supermarket and stick your head in the freezer section, but they tend to frown on that.

With that said, there are very few days of the year where it gets hot enough to actually complain about it. And this is one of the very reasons that most people flee the country during the month of August.  But, on those few days when it is hot enough to complain...well  I like to indulge.

My office building today, which lucky for me is covered in windows for that true "oven" effect was over 90 degrees INSIDE!  Ah...the joys of mother nature. Nothing says "enjoyable work environment" than sweating next to your colleagues.

Luckily we don't have to suffer so much at home.  We have this little contraption set up in our apartment.

We call it an air conditioner, but really it's more like a glorified fan.  Isn't she attractive and discrete?  Of course, she only manages to cool the 5 square foot perimeter near her, so the rest of the house still feels like a sauna.

So while there are days that I love living and working abroad, today was one of those days where I wonder what the heck we are doing here?  One of those days where I long for sitting in a nice air-conditioned office sipping on a Starbucks Frappuccino!  A girl can dream can't she?

But in good news, since the sun finally came out, we enjoyed an entire Saturday outdoors and had the best time!  Especially Nathan, who was being a complete ham all day long.

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Ode To Sweden

When we first arrived in Europe I made a long list of all the places I wanted to visit.  Some of the countries we've started crossing off the list while others I knew were a pipe dream.

There is one country in particular though, that I have a strange attraction to - Sweden.  I don't know why but Sweden has always been a country that I've always wanted to visit.  I was so excited when I moved to Europe that I told Cornel we had to make sure to see Sweden and all of the Nordic countries, to which he responded "that's the last thing I want to vist".  What?!

I was dumbfounded.  DUMBFOUNDED!

I mean, how can he not want to visit the home land of Abba?

And the land of meatballs.....

And of course the home land of Ikea!!

{I had also wanted to see the wooden shoes and tulips before Cornel quickly pointed out that those were in Holland.  oops...but I thought I would include the picture anyway!}

And of course, take a nice tour of Stockholm!

I have started to work on my husband slowly each day in hopes that one day he would cave and say he was taking me to Sweden, but alas still no dice!  I don't think I will get a chance to visit before we leave Europe, but this will stay in the list of places that I need to visit in my lifetime!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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WIWW...back to reality

Well, it's another normal week here.  We're out of vacation brain and are back to work/daycare brain.  Ouch!  This is our first full work week in over a month and it's only Wednesday!  It's been rough to say the least!    Especially since our next holiday isn't until July 14th!

Luckily we had a Father's day thrown in there, so it seemed like we at least got a break from the mundane. I was really bad about taking pictures this week, so I only have 2!

Sadly, this is the best picture of me on Father's Day!  The ducks and baby are just a nice accessory.

Jeans:  Guess
Flats: Puma
Shirt: Local Store
Sweater:  Old Navy
Sunglasses:  Fendi

Tuesday = work!  It has been really cold in the mornings and super hot in the afternoons so I have to layer all my clothing.  I really wish that it would just be summer already!

Top:  H&M
Sweater:  Old Navy
Gray Slacks:  Express {old but comfy}
Wedges:  Mia
Necklace:  local shop
Watch:  Fossil

Hopefully this week ends quickly, so we can get our sunny weekend started!

pleated poppy
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Disney Recap

Since it has been well over a week since we've gotten back from our mini-vacation to Disney, I figured it was about time I wrote a post about it.

You see, last Friday, Cornel and I had an appointment in Paris and decided since we had to make the 3 hour trek up north that we would at least take advantage of the weekend {a holiday weekend at that!}.  We thought about all the things we could do: Versailles, Bourgogne, Chateau de la Loire and then Cornel suggested Disney.  Why, not?

We looked on the internet and were able to book a last minute deal at a Disney hotel with entrances to the park for 3 days!  Perfect.  We booked it!

We left Clermont on Thursday evening to be able to make it to our appointment on Friday morning {this appointment could mean BIG things for our household, but more on that later}.  We spent the night on the Champs-Elysees right next to my favorite store in the world {Lancel}!  But you see, a 3 star hotel in Paris is not what it is cracked up to be!

The room was actually pretty nice, but definitely just big enough for the 3 of us!  At least they had a nice baby bed for Nathan to spend the night!

We hopped in the car the next morning at around 10:30 and headed out towards Disney {about a 45 minute drive from Downtown Paris}.  It was cold and cloudy but the views of Paris are always so amazing!

We made it to Disney in time to see Mickey Mouse in the hotel lobby!  Nathan started pointing and screaming, so we decided to try and get a picture.  He was so overwhelmed to see "Ickey" in person!  His expression says it all!

We headed to the park for a 1/2 day of fun.  The weather was very cold and rainy but a great time was had by all and we couldn't leave without buying Nathan his first set of Mickey Ears!

We went back to the hotel to finish checking in and we couldn't believe the room {which is also 3 stars}!  It was huge, but I think I was jaded from the size of the first hotel room.  They also gave Nathan a beautiful crib for the night {which is much nicer than his real crib, I might add}.  In all of the excitement though, Nathan didn't get to bed until 11 that night!

We had reserved breakfast with the characters the next morning so we had to wake up early.  As soon as we took Nathan out of his crib he made it to the door (in full PJ's) and kept saying "au revoir".  He was ready to go and get the day started!  Apparently Disney made a great impression!

Breakfast with the characters was a great thing to do.  You get to eat a great meal all while seeing your favorite characters come by and greet you at your table.  We never had to wait in line to "see" or take pictures with any character like you would have to do at the park.  And even though Nathan was a little star struck, he had a great time!

We headed to the park before it was open and got to enjoy a couple hours of rides before the big crowds hit!  I was actually surprised to find out how many rides Nathan could go on!  I thought I would spend most of my time with Nathan and the stroller but happily that wasn't the case.  He even did great on the rides that I thought would be too scary, but he handled everything like a champ!  His favorite ride was Dumbo the Elephant and kept saying "umbo au revoir" each time he saw them taking off!

Later that evening we had booked tickets for "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show", which was a dinner show.  I was skeptical when Cornel booked the reservations because frankly I thought that it was way out of Nathan's age range.  I was proven wrong!  He LOVED it!  He loved the horses and the cows, he loved the show and clapping and banging on the tables!  It was the perfect activity for a toddler!  Even the sounds of the shooting was exciting for him.

I have to admit that after two full days I didn't know how much more Disney I could take.  But we woke up early the next morning and did it all over again.  It was clear that Nathan was also exhausted since he took his first nap of the day at 9:30 (he usually naps at noon).

This time instead of spending all day at Disneyland Park, we headed to Walt Disney Studios.  We decided to head to a show called "Playhouse Disney Live".  We didn't know what to expect, but Nathan loves Playhouse Disney so we figured we would give it a go.  Plus it was a show, which meant we could sit down, PARENT BONUS!

Little did we realize that Nathan was going to be in heaven at this show and have a tiny toddler heart attack.  He was screaming, he was clapping and at one point threw himself down on the floor and did summersaults.  There was a minute there when we thought he was going to bum-rush the stage and take down Mickey and Handy Manny!  Luckily he didn't, but we kicked ourselves for not having done it earlier in the trip.

As our last hoorah, we had decided to have lunch at the Blue Lagoon Restaurant {the one inside the Pirate's of the Caribbean attraction}.  We had made reservations  so we were able to head right into our table.  The setting was beautiful and the food was delicious.  Here is what made me love Disney all the more, all children under 3 years old eat free at any sit down restaurant!  FREE!  He got a tomato and mozzarella salad, steamed veggies, spinach tortellini and  fruit salad for FREE!  I heart your Disney!  It made us wish we had tried out more restaurants.

We had intended to stay the entire day at Disney before heading home, but after lunch we were all too exhausted to continue.  We piled into the car and headed straight home to Clermont-Ferrand.  It took us at least 3 days to recover from the vacation but we couldn't believe how wonderful the vacation was.  As a family it was definitely one of the best trips we've taken.  It made it even more special that it was something the 3 of us could share.  We already started talking about a return trip next year, but it's "just talk"!
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Breakfast in Bed

The weekend is over and we are still recovering from an amazing Father's Day Weekend!

Last year, Nathan was only  7 month's old so needless to say that Father's Day was a little lackluster.  This year, however, he was a willing participant in all of the surprises we had in store for Cornel!

I heard Nathan woke up around 7:45 and I told Cornel to stay in bed that I would take care of the baby.  I had to of course, since I had been hiding his gift in Nathan's toy chest and needed to go in and recover it.  While I gave Nathan some juice, I prepared a tray to take into Cornel in bed.

Coffee, orange juice, fresh baguettes with butter and jam and of course pain au chocolate.  While I was getting all of this ready, Nathan kept pointing at our bedroom saying "dada est la-bas" (Daddy is over there).  I gave Nathan the gift and told him to go in and give it to "daddy".  He grabbed the bag and stormed into our bedroom while I walked in with the tray full of food!  Cornel was definitely surprised.

Nathan gave his Daddy a brand new watch so he will always be on time.  {I have been given explicit instructions to not post pictures of the hubs in the morning, so we only get this cropped shot of the watch.}

After our delicious breakfast we were able to spend time together as a family before I had to get started on preparing a delicious Father's Day lunch.  While lunch was nothing spectacular, the dessert was the "piece de resistance".  A raspberry tiramisu cake from Maison Vacher.  {I'm still looking for a way for the Vacher's to adopt Nathan!}

After Nathan's nap, the sun was shining {which it hasn't done in quite a while} so we decided to go on a little outing.  We had always talked about taking Nathan to the lake, but hadn't found the weekend with the right kind of weather.  We piled in the car and headed out to Lac d'Aydat.

Nathan was in heaven.  The sand, the water and spending time with his dad.

This was also the first time that Nathan got to see real ducks {he has a sheltered childhood I know}!  He was so excited to be near them and to be able to feed them!

It was such a great weekend!
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My Inspirations

To my amazing husband who encourages me everyday to become a better person and a better parent.  For all of the love and time he gives our son and for teaching him to be a great a man as he is!  I love you more than words can say!  Happy Father's Day!

And to my amazing father, who has always strived to teach me right from wrong and who has stood by me no matter what! I love you!

I hope everyone has a great and amazing Father's Day!
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19 Months

I wanted to write about our very first trip to Disney, but firs I needed to stop being such a bad mother and get Nathan's 19 month update written!

It is insane the amount that one child can change in one month.  I think it is safe to say that Nathan is no longer a baby but a full-on little boy.

This month he started talking in sentences and can respond to us when we ask him things.  The good thing is that he understands everything we ask him in English, the bad news is that he responds in French.  I'll take what I can get I guess.  Hearing him speak French is adorable and I can hardly believe my ears when certain things come out of his mouth.  The doozie this month was "oh la la"!  I didn't know whether to be in shock or cry.  He did save the best for last, and just recently said "I love you" in English.  It truly does just melt your heart when you hear your child say it for the first time!

He is also turning into quite the little parrot and he repeats everything he hears.  On Sunday mornings we let him watch the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and out of nowhere I hear Nathan say "oh toodles" {If you are not a parent and have watched this show you have no clue what I'm talking about".  I nearly burnt the pancakes when I heard him shout it out.

This month he got 2 more teeth so the final count is up to 14!  We have been so blessed that Nathan is a great teether.  Other than the molars he has never really complained about the teeth coming in.  {I hope I haven't just jinxed myself}.

The mealtime battles are over and Nathan is back to eating like a champ.  We haven't had to have another "talk" at the daycare about his eating habits so this is a small victory.  He is now eating 100% of the food that we eat which makes meal time planning so much easier.  There are those lazy days when he gets pre-made baby food, but those days are very rare.  This has made traveling so much easier since we can now go to a restaurant and know that we can find something for him to eat!

He truly is such a joy to be around and I love watching him grow.  If you would have told me a 17 months ago that parenting would become enjoyable I might not have believed you.  Now I'm finding that we have more and more fun everyday.
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Rocking the Bump

Today I'm going to share a picture of when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Nathan. Looking at it now, I realize I didn't look so bad, I had gained 18 pounds (9 kgs) during my pregnancy and felt like a cow! I should say however that I loved being pregnant and I was one of these lucky few who never had any morning sickness and felt great 98% of the time.

I'm also going to do a double whammy and share a story about this picture. You see, during my pregnancy my husband was in a very demanding position and had to work very late hours (as in past 9 pm). I didn't like it but I dealt with it. He always used to call around 8 pm and let me know he was still at work and what time he would be home, etc. etc.

On the night this particular picture was taken, my husband hadn't called me and it was past 8:30. Of course being the emotional pregnant mess that I was, I freaked out. I called both his office phone and his cell phone and got no answer. I didn't know whether I was more angry or upset. I was crying and kept hitting redial on my phone like it was my job!

Finally, at around 9:30 my sweet husband walked through the door not knowing what was waiting for him.

"Why didn't you answer, I was worried!"

"I was in a meeting"

"But what if I had gone into labor and I couldn't get a hold of you.  Why didn't you at least have your phone?"

"But you didn't go into labor" {This answer was always the kicker}

"But I COULD have!!"

Shortly after calming me down he suggested we go to a place called Luna Park, an amusement park.  The conversation then went something like this:

"It's 10 at night and I'm PREGNANT!!  What do you think I'm going to do at Luna Park!!! It's like you don't even love me at all!" 

I was never more irrational than when I was pregnant, particularly on this night!  In the irony of life, a few hours later I was in the hospital giving birth to Nathan.

I was very quick to point out to my husband that I WAS in labor that evening!  It's a wonder he didn't leave me stranded at the hospital!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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WIWW on Vacation

I still need to get the time and energy to write up a full post on our vacation, but with over 500 pictures to weed through it just seems like an overwhelming task.  I promise I will get it up soon.

I do have some teaser pics, however, to show off what we wore in Disney.  Let me tell you that even though it was mid-June, Paris was absolutely freezing!!  It was cloudy and rainy and we had to bundle up more than we should have for this time of year!  Luckily the magic of the vacation made up for it!

First Day @ Disney:
Sweater:  Hollister
Jeans:  Abercrombie & Fitch
Scarf:  Florence street vendor

Day 2 @ Disney {and sadly the best pic of me not holding a toddler}
Sweater:  Mango
Shirt:  H&M
Scarf:  Florence Street Vendor
Jeans:  Abercrombie & Fitch

It got so cold at Disney that I had to buy one of the cheesy character themed sweatshirts!  It became my outfit for the almost the entire trip:

Day 3 {and last day} @ Disney:
Sweater:  Old Navy
Shirt:  H&M
Scarf:  Florence street vendor
Shoes:  Puma
Sunglasses:  Fendi
Mickey Ears & Sleeping Toddler = Awesome accessories

And just for fun...what I wore on our anniversary:
Dress:  BCBG {super old}
Shoes:  Minelli
pleated poppy
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Mandatory Vacations

I had every intention of doing a vlog where I would actually show myself and talk, but then life got in the way, so today you get another set of pictures of a summer tradition.

Our family is forced to take a vacation every August.  I say forced because everything closes in France including our office, so we must always take at least 3 weeks mandatory vacation.  While it is kind of a pain to be told when to have vacation, it has really forced us to get out and actually take a vacation. So below is a small montage of our August past and our Augusts yet to come.


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Anniversary Dinner

We finally got back from our mini-vacation and I have so many posts that I need to catch up on!

Last week was a whirlwind!  We started off by celebrating our third year anniversary!  Like we do every year, we went to dinner to the Hotel Radio, in Chamalieres.

While it is a fancy shmancy restaurant, it is actually rather symbolic.  The steps of the Hotel Radio are where Cornel and I shared our first kiss in 2006!  Since it is such a special place for us, we take advantage every year to go and celebrate our anniversary.  It has become such an amazing tradition for us, that we would like to take advantage while we still have the hotel in our own backyard {literally - since you can see if from our terrace}.

We tried to take a nice family picture of the three of us before taking Nathan to his Aunt Iliana's and Tio Pepe's house, but he was not having it!  Sadly this is the best picture we could get.

Then we were off to dinner!  The people there are so amazing and surprisingly they've all been there the past three years.  They made us this delicious marzipan plaque with the chocolate inscription that they presented us as soon as we sat down!

And then came the food....and more food....and yet some more food!

It was all delicious.  We started off with a cold Creson (Garden Cress) soup which was followed by a Ponte-Neuf de Foie Gras.  It was Foie Gras on a bed of Spice Bread sand and a rosemary-strawberry tartare.

It was then followed by a roasted langoustine served with mint quinoa and a mango mustard.  We were then served a Red Mullet filet with olive ravioli and a fennel and radish garnish with roasted mushrooms.

Then came the roasted pigeon...which you've heard me talk about here; followed by the cheese course!  Let me tell you that there is nothing better than French cheeses on warm fresh bread!!

Then came the dessert course.  Cornel and I were both given a pistachio bread that was topped with vanilla custard and strawberry's with a chocolate chip cleanse the pallet.  Since he had chosen the fresh fruit desserts and I had chosen the chocolate desserts, it was the last dessert we would get that was the same.

His first dessert was an Anise flavored ice cream that was served with a fennel cake and topped with gold leaf.  Mine was a chocolate shell that was topped with chocolate whipped cream and nuts.

Cornel's second dessert were wafers that were filled with rhubarb cream, a strawberry puree sorbet and candied rhubarb.  I was so jealous; my second dessert was a chocolate cylinder.  It was chocolate filled with sweet fresh cheese, chocolate ice cream and fresh strawberry's in the base.

And just in case we hadn't eaten enough, we were then brought this with our bill...

Fresh cherries with cherry macaroons and freshly made pistachio candies and a pain d'epice bread with a chocolate caramel cream.

The dinner was delicious and the celebration of our marriage was even better.  It was so magical to be able to spend the night with Cornel alone and dream about what the next 50 years will hold.
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