I'm a boy mom

Last month I found myself uttering that phrase to my husband as if I had just joined some sort of support group.

I never pictured my day as a boy mom to be filled with so many bodily function noises and the laughter that follows.  I never pictured myself uttering the phrases,

"If you are going to jump off something, jump off the couch it's safer..."

"Don't you dare put that finger in your mouth..."

And I also could never have imagined the death defying tricks that could be done with regular household furniture.

I also never pictured my home in a constant state of chaos as if it just got hit by a tornado, filled with toy trucks and soccer balls.

I never imagined that jumping through a fountain and climbing on dirt piles or rummaging through the mud could be so much fun.

I'm a boy mom.  Which is why when I saw this going around I knew I had to join, the Mother of Boys Society!

Mothers of Boys

I'm Barbara and I have one son Nathan (21 months).  We are currently living in France which makes the entire motherhood adventure that much more exciting!

I'm finding out that regardless of the country we live in, the hugs are just as big, the kisses just as sloppy and the bond between a mother and her son just as strong.

I can't wait to meet more mom's of boys!  Welcome to my blog!

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Color me happy

Like I mentioned yesterday, Nathan and I are home for the entire week.  The daycare has closed for summer vacation which leaves Cornel and I taking time off work to stay home with Nathan.

I have to be completely honest and tell you that this idea terrified me.  I love my son and always wish I had more time to spend with him, but the idea of ALL day with him, whatever would we do.  The daycare has so many activities - an art room, a water room, a play room, a dress up room and even puppets.  Plenty of things for Nathan to do while we have limited resources at home.

While I contemplated sitting him in front of the TV all day, I knew that wouldn't keep him entertained - at least not ALL day!  And so, I had to come up with things for the two of us to do.

He loves to read and sing and dance, but after 10 minutes with his books he is over it and it's on to the next thing.

We've been working on colors and he loves to point out the colors that he knows, so I knew I had to do some art and color related activities.

I took out his crayons and some paper and we worked on letting Nathan explore his artistic abilities (which he hopefully inherited from his father).

He loves to line up all his colors before we begin and once he starts I always ask him to use on color in particular.  He'll usually repeat it, squeal in delight and clap if he gets it right and attack the paper on the desk.

We still struggle pronouncing orange and purple, but we're getting there.  Sadly, sometimes the color gets off the paper and ends up on the walls, the rugs or even the hardwood floors, but all for the sake of learning right?  I've also started cutting out animals that we read about and having him color those - yesterday was papillon {butterfly}!

While I still feel like a slacker mom, at least I have found something that keeps us occupied for at least a 1/2 hour!  If only I could trust him with the finger paints!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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WIWW...16 weeks

This week was supposed to be nice and relaxing with Nathan and I staying home for the week with no work and no daycare.  Sadly we've both been sick and the weather has been terrible - cold and rainy!  This has been anything but a fun week at home.

I consider the fact that I even got out of my PJ's this week a major accomplishment!  We did have a doctor's appointment on Monday to check on baby #2, which was nice since I was forced to actually get up and dressed in the morning.

I have gained 1kg (2.2 pounds) and for some reason that just seems like a lot to me at this stage of my pregnancy.  The baby seems to be doing healthy and I'm still not in maternity clothes.  I would love to hold off until for a couple more weeks, but we'll see.  I still haven't felt the baby move, but I didn't feel Nathan until week 20, so I have a few more weeks before I worry about that.

And here now are the pictures of me in week 16 in all of my sick and un-makeup glory.

shirt: H&M; sweater & Jeans: Old Navy; shoes:  Minelli

Top: H&M; Jeans:  Old Navy; Shoes:  Nine West: Sweater wrap:  Unknown

And just for fun here is the picture of my pregnant with Nathan at 16 weeks.  I feel like I was much bigger then even thought I was actually smaller..
And because my mom asked:  Able to hear what's going on outside the womb! Loud noises are startling, but classical music is soothing … She’s the size of an onion!

pleated poppy
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Susie Homemaker

While I love to cook and try new recipes rare are the days when I spend hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing meals for my family.

I usually do it on a whim and if I have the ingredients then I go for it, other than that, this family survives of pasta, rice and potatoes...oh and lots of bread and cheese!  Which is why this weekend was so unusual for me.

Maybe it's the pregnancy cravings; or hormones; or nesting or maybe it's just the fact that it has been so cold here lately that I find the warmth of the oven comforting.  Whatever the reason, I spent the entire weekend in the kitchen and we all lived to tell the tale.

Last weekend I emailed my mom because I was a craving for her delicious Albondigas Soup {Mexican Meatball Soup}!  Since the house was sick this weekend I decided to give it a go, and I was surprised how easy it was to make (recipe below)!

As if that wasn't enough, I woke up early Sunday morning and wanted to make something special for breakfast.  I usually make banana pancakes but without any bananas and lots of old stale bread I decided to make this for breakfast!

I didn't have any strawberries so I used frozen red berries instead and they were delicious!  This was a momentous occasion since this was the first time my husband had ever had french toast (which isn't French at all)!  It was so rich and decadent - perfect for a lazy Sunday.

And last but not least I found this great website for healthy foods for toddlers!  When I saw the recipe for these apple banana muffins with no processed sugar I knew I had to make them for Nathan.  And so, Sunday afternoon as the rain and wind pounded down, I set out to make muffins!  They are delicious and the honey makes them oh, so moist!  I can't wait to try some other recipes on this site!

I'm going to have a hard time outdoing myself next weekend.  We might just have to go back to pasta and cheese.  At least for one brief moment, one weekend, my family ate well!  Who knows when this wave will come again!

Albondigas Recipe:

1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg
2 tbs tomato paste
1 garlic clove
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 can peeled seeded tomatoes
1/2 bell pepper coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked rice
1 carrot diced
1 zucchini diced
2 cups water
4 cups broth (beef or vegetable)
Fresh parsely

Bring to a boil the water and the broth.  

In a blender mix half a can of the peeled tomatoes, the tomato paste, onion, garlic, bell pepper with a pinch of salt.  Add 1/2 cup of the blended mixture to the ground beef along with the egg and season with salt and pepper.  Mix it all together and form small meatballs and put gently into the boiling water.  Add the remainder of the blended mixture to the water and the remaining can of peeled tomatoes.

Lower to medium heat and throw in the carrots and zucchini.  Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the meatballs float to the top.  Add the cooked rice and warm through.

Serve and top with chopped parsely.  Enjoy!

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Seven Links ~ Flashback

I was graciously nominated by Jessica at Suitcases and Sippycups to participate in the amazing Tripbase's 7Links Blog Project!  This project is designed to go back and relive my long lost posts in 7 categories.  which should be fun considering I just recently celebrated 3 year blogiversary!  It has been fun to go back and not only revisit old trips but also old memories.

So without further ado...let the fun begin.

My most beautiful post

One of my most beautiful posts, at least in my opinion was where I wrote about the significance of home.  From moving across the ocean and starting our life in France to giving up all of the comforts of home.

My most popular post

This one is much more recent, but definitely the announcement of our second baby that is now on the way.  A trip down memory lane about when Nathan was born and the promise of what new adventures lie ahead with for our special delivery that will arrive in December 2011.

My most controversial post

This one was hard since I don't tend to write anything that is really controversial.  I do however, speak my mind, maybe more often than I should.  The first time that the creche {daycare} gave Nathan medicine without him being sick sent me over the top about when it is okay to medicate children; or my child specifically.  Luckily, the writing was rather comical so that I can look back at the situation and laugh!

My most helpful post

I don't tend to write a lot of helpful posts with tips or practical advice.  Even though I spend most of my life traveling with an infant across the globe I find that there is no substitute for experience.  While I can tell you that you need to take snacks and diapers, you don't really know how that will apply to you until you are crammed in a tiny bathroom trying to change a diaper with one hand.

With that said, I think one of my most helpful posts, in a comical sense, will definitely be what to expect after you have a baby in France.  I'm sure most expats do not realize the amount of "work" that French women go through to get their bodies back in "shape" after childbirth.  I wish someone would have told me what to expect!

A post whose success was surprising

When I wrote about my mother and some of her crazy antics including missing college orientations to go sightseeing and sticking random food in her purse I never expected to get the responses that I received.  The irony of it all being that while she embarrassed me all throughout my childhood I now see the wisdom in her craziness.  Funny how that happens when we become parents ourselves.

A post without the attention it deserved

The story about my first day in France, complete with plane delays; missing luggage and asking for food without condoms {slight translation problem}.  This was only the second post of my blog, so not too many people other than my family had the chance to read the adventure that it was to arrive in a foreign country to live!

The post I am the most proud of

Since I blogged rather sporadically in the beginning, when I finally reached my 100th post it was a true milestone.  I considered it a true reflection of the turns and changes that had occurred throughout the years.  Now at over 300 posts I still look back at #100 and love the feeling that I had when I hit publish on that day.

And now it's my turn to nominate bloggers to share their wonderful 7 posts.

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Mini-Vacation Recap

Last weekend was Bastille Day, as in France's Independence Day. While we have stayed in France the past two years (here and here) since this year it fell on a Thursday we were "forced" to take off Friday and make it a 4 day weekend. It's rough I know.

The only problem with taking the pont*, as the French call it, is that no matter where we went in France it was sure to be crowded.  Wanting a stress-free mini-vacation we decided to head south, to Italy to be exact the sea-side town of Genova.

My brother in law Matteo made it simple and told us exactly what we needed to do to maximize our four days:  Aquarium (second largest in Europe), Portofino (nearby town) and of course eat authentic pesto from Genova.  Simple enough.

By early Thursday morning we were crossing the Alps into Italy.  By early Thursday afternoon we were eating gnocchi and checking into our (ridiculously inexpensive) five star hotel then we headed out on our fist adventure: The Genova Aquarium.

This being Nathan's first time in an aquarium I was filled with excitement as to what his reaction would be!  He loved the big tanks with the large animals, especially the sharks and he could have cared less about the tiny tropical fish.

We were all pretty beat after walking like seemed miles and needed something to "perk" up our spirits.  Enter dinner filled with bruschetta, pizza and pasta!  Have I told you how much I love Italy?

Day 2 promised more excitement:  La Citta dei Bambini.

Part of the Aquarium this is an interactive Children's Museum and the perfect place to turn loose a rambunctious 2 year old!  In spite of everything being in Italian; Nathan was squealing in delight!

After a quick gelatto stop, we continued our trek and tour of downtown Genova.  Including the home of Christopher Columbus and the obligatory Duomo.

Matteo told us that the basil in Genova is supposed to be the best in Italy and therefore the Pesto in this region is supposedly the best.  We definitely didn't hear an argument from Nathan.

After such a heavy dinner, we decided to have some fun on the pirate ship playground they had at the hotel.  Seriously - best hotel ever.

Day 3 we headed out to Portofino.  This port town is super cute and I mean super cute!  It is also super small, so 1/2 a day was the perfect amount of time.  We toured the port, ate some gelatto played in the water {some had more fun than others} and ate some more pasta.  Late afternoon we headed back down to Genova to try and get in some relax time at the hotel.

We headed to the roof top terrace which had 2 hot tubs and enjoyed the view and the warm water.  Nathan had a great time splashing around, which goes to show it doesn't take much to make this kid happy.

We also decided to have dinner in the rooftop restaurant - delicious.  Nathan even tried Cornel's black pasta (as in squid ink pasta) and loved it!  A boy after my own heart!

Day 4 - Back to France.  We decided however to take a small detour through Monte Carlo for 2 reasons.  1) I've never been and 2) I have a slight obsession with Princess Grace.  It was a cloudy day but we enjoyed a nice lunch near the Casino enjoying the beautiful view.  They still had all of the marriage flags and decorations from the Royal wedding a few weeks back.

We arrived back in France late on Sunday, and have spent the rest of the week recovering from our pasta induced coma's.  Now just counting the time until we get to go back!

*pont - bridge in French.  The term used when a holiday falls near a weekend and extra days are taken to bridge the holiday to the weekend.
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Simple Things

I was that typical little girl who always dreamed of having Barbie’s dream house in real life.  You know the hot pink mansion with the convertible out front a swimming pool in the back and a closet that stretched for miles.  If someone could have put that dream house on the beach then my dream could have been complete.

Then I grew up and things and my dreams started becoming a little more realistic.  The mansion would have been way too much to clean so how about just a 2700 square foot home and a BMW X3 instead of the convertible.  You know, for the kids.

The sad reality is that for a while I had all of these things.  I had the home and the BMW, and I was miserable.  I was in a love-less relationship in a city I hated and a car that I was too afraid to drive in traffic.

I look back at my 25 year old self and laugh.  All of those material possessions that I wanted, got my nowhere in my life.

Now, in my 30’s (*gasp*), I live in a small French town in a 2 bedroom apartment that is smaller than my first home’s downstairs area.  We have only one car and I find myself walking half of the time (okay maybe ¼ of the time), and you know something – I’m happy.

We have everything we could possibly be need to be happy.

Could we have bought a much bigger home – yes.  Could we have bought that second car – yes.  Could I have bought that Louis Vuitton that screamed my name in Italy – yes.  But all of those things wouldn’t have made me any happier.

It truly is about the simple things. 

A man who loves me and who takes amazing care of his family.

A son who always kisses me in the morning even if he is in a grumpy mood.

A roof over our heads and food on the table.

A happy home that is filled with laughter and love.

And a grocery store that now carries Philadelphia cream cheese and peanut butter.

And those things mean so much more to me than my BMW ever did.  It truly is just about the simple things in life.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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WIWW...Italy {15 weeks}

I'm slowly working my way up to writing the recap post about our vacation, and hopefully I can get it done before we leave in August.

For now, I'll share with you my 15 week bump all throughout Italy!  My bump isn't visible yet, and all of my normal clothes still fit, yet I find that wearing dresses is 100000x more comfortable than wearing pants; especially since it was so warm.

Day 1- Driving through the Alps

It was cold so jeans and a sweatshirt were in order.  Jeans - Abercrombie; Hoodie - Hollister

By the time we got to Italy the temperature had almost doubled, so a quick wardrobe change was made at the hotel!

Day 1 - Port, Genova Aquarium & Dinner

Dress:  C&A; Tank: Old Navy; Belt: H&M

Day 2 - Port, Citta de Bambini & Downtown Genova

Dress:  C&A, Sweater:  Old Navy; Sunglasses:  Fendi

Day 3 - Portofino

Dress:  Mango; Shoes:  Minelli; Sunglasses: Fendi; Clingy Toddler:  Handmade

Day 4:  Monte Carlo

Halter:  JCrew; Pants:  Ann Taylor Loft; Shoes:  Minelli; Sunglasses:  Fendi

As far as the pregnancy is concerned.  All is well.  My clothes still fit and I'm still sleeping well at night.  I still haven't had any weird pregnancy cravings and it seems that all is well!  In one month we will finally get to learn the gender of the baby so we're very excited!  I have to admit that it was hard to be on vacation in the land of coffee and wine and not be able to indulge.  There's always next year.

And just for fun, here is the picture of me pregnant with Nathan at 15 weeks.  Coincidentally, this picture was also taken in Italy; Rome to be exact.  I think it's funny that I ended up being in Italy at 15 weeks in both pregnancies!

pleated poppy
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Vlog: Italy

It is no secret that I love Italy, in fact I secretly wish that we lived there instead of France.  I'm not sure what it is, the country, the people, the food.  Whatever the reason, Cornel and I have somehow managed to go to Italy every year since we've been together.

When the prompt was to do a slideshow about anything at all, I knew that it had to be about Italy.  Especially since we just got back Sunday night from yet another trip there.  I was hoping to have a different song than the one I used, but I couldn't find it anywhere; so instead you get a song sung by an Italian - Laura Pausini.  Enjoy.


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Pesto Baby

We just got back from 4 glorious day on the Italian Northern coast.  The weather was beautiful, the sights were amazing and our vacation ended way too quickly.

I still have hundreds of pictures to sort through and a more detailed post to write about our trip.  First, I wanted to quickly write about the food!

Nathan has always loved pasta so we knew he would enjoy Italy, we just didn't know how much!  The first night, he enjoyed a delicious plate of penne with prosciutto; a boy after my own heart.  While his daddy and I ate a delicious dinner of bruschetta and pizzas!

The restaurant we went to the second night didn't have any white sauced pizza, so we took a risk and ended up ordering a plate of "Pesto Baby" - penne with fresh pesto sauce.  I was nervous, I mean basil and olive oil don't necessarily scream "baby"!  I thought we were setting ourselves up for disaster - but he ended up LOVING IT!

He loved it so much that we ended up ordering it again for him the second night, with equal success!

I guess it's true what they say.  The best pesto in Italy is in Genova!  We made a short trip to Monte Carlo on our last day, and sadly there was no pesto for Nathan, so he decided to eat only bread.  At least it was whole wheat bread!

Overall, I think Nathan {and us} came back from Italy a little heavier than when we left!  Now I think I'm going to have to make some homemade pesto for Nathan!
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WIWW...14 weeks

Well you have by now seen my announcement that we are happily expecting baby #2!

I've heard that some women "pop" earlier in their second pregnancy so I was hoping that I wouldn't "pop" before I could make the official announcement, both in my personal life and on the internet.  I was lucky that with Nathan I didn't start showing until well until my 5th month and didn't need to buy/wear any maternity clothes until my 6th month.  I was hoping that the trend would continue with this baby.

For now, I'm still in my normal clothes and while they might be a little snug, I still haven't noticed a big change.

 Friday work: 14 weeks exactly
Top:  Kohl's {old}
Jeans: Abercrombie
Wedges: Mia

I didn't get any other pictures, other than my "before" picture for my haircut.  Sadly, later that evening I fell down with some sort of stomach virus.  You can definitely tell by my outfit choice and my expression that I was already not at 100%, so I will spare posting it again.

As for the pregnancy, all is well.  There have been no unusual cravings and no excessive weight gain.  The first trimester flew by and hopefully the second will as well.  

pleated poppy
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Hair Today...gone tomorrow

Before I got married, I used to have really long hair and I loved it!

And then the day after my wedding, I decided to chop it all off!  New life, new hair!

While I loved my new haircut, I had cutter's remorse.  I missed having my long hair and the versatility it allowed me.  And so I spent the next 3 years growing out my hair.

It was amazing while I was pregnant and taking prenatal vitamins.  My hair was growing fast and healthy.  Then my son was born and it felt as if I was going bald.  My hair would come out in fist-fulls and it would take over our house.  So, again I decided to chop it all off.

I made an appointment at 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon for 4 o'clock.  That would give me no time to back out!


I was very nervous since other than trims, I had never had my hair cut in France.  The language barrier was going to be tough, but I figured hand signals would always work.  When I walked in she said what do you want to do, and all I said was short.  Very short!  She looked at me puzzled and said are you sure?  Reassuring coming from your hairstylist.


She started cutting and did a great job!  She even thanked me since she said she rarely gets to do something so drastic.  I'm still getting used to it.

Will I regret it in a week or so, probably.  Will I spend the next 3 years trying to grow it back out.  More than likely.  But for one brief weekend it was liberating to go and get it all chopped off!
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