Hallo..what?

Like I've mentioned before Halloween is not celebrated in France, at least not by most French.  You can find pumpkins in the grocery store, but usually pre-cut and pre-seeded ready for eating not carving.  Last year, I had good intentions to take Nathan to a small Halloween festival but that never worked out and so we have never really had an official initiation into this holiday.

My mom had bought all of these cute halloween t-shirts for Nathan after they had gone on sale last year. She gave them all to me in hopes that he might get to wear them somewhere.  I had them shoved in the back of the closet and honestly didn't think I would pull them out.

I decided that since Nathan is 1/2 American afterall, that he would celebrate Halloween, even if his teachers didn't understand (even though most people have heard of the holiday).  That is why, every day last week, Nathan wore one of his new t-shirts to school.  I was surprised that his teachers thought it was cute and funny and they looked forward to a new t-shirt everyday.

So, I guess, rather than trying to adapt our family to the French way of living that maybe they would also enjoy to see some of our traditions.  I think Nathan definitely had fun wearing spiders on his shirt!


So I hope that all of your back in the States have an amazing time trick or treating and that you all stay safe today.  We are celebrating a holiday here (Toussaint) and have the day off work.  We will be getting together with a few more American families and living it up (for the sake of the kids of course!).

Happy Halloween!

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I have what...?

Last week I was honored by Liene over at Femme au Foyer with the Stylish Blogger Award.  This is extra special since Liene is one of the few bloggers that I have actually met in real life.  We live in the same tiny French town and are both expatriates with the same company.  We are also both expecting our second children within a couple weeks of each other!

The rules of the award are that I have to share with you 7 style tips before passing on this prestigious award to other bloggers.

I will tell you that being pregnant does not make one feel really stylish.  I consider having a stylish day any day where I can still see my feet to determine whether or not my shoes match.  But nonetheless, I figured I would impart my maternity style non-wisdom to everyone.

1. Always wear a cute pair of shoes.  I only wear tennis shoes if I'm working out.  While the rest of me might look and feel like a cow, a good pair of shoes will always fit.  And even if the rest of me is looking/feeling frumpy at least my feet look cute.  I'm not always talking about high heels, I wear a lot of flats, but I always make an effort to at least have a cute pair on.

2.  Invest in some key pieces.  I am the first to tell you how much I despise maternity clothes.  It isn't the clothes so much that I despise - but the having to pay so much money for clothes I will only wear for 3 - 4 months.  I did spend a few hundred dollars in some key pieces - such as jeans and work pants and a nice dress to carry me through my pregnancy.  I loved items that fit that I could mix and match with my existing wardrobe.  The best part, I didn't feel guilty about spending a fortune.

3.  Make your existing wardrobe work for you.  I didn't realize how many pieces of my own wardrobe could still be worn while  7 months pregnant.  I pair cute stretch sweaters with an under tank, or those longer t-shirts with my maternity jeans.  What about those skirts with the elastic waistband that can be worn under the belly, or even those comfy dresses with a higher waistline.  Not only will you be comfortable, but you will also look great while rocking what you already own.

4.  Rock the bump.  If you've got it, flaunt it.  Is that how the saying goes?  I love to show off my bump (now that I have one), so I always try to wear clothes that dress it up, rather than cover it behind tons of materials.  It's a special time in your life that should be remembered and embraced.

5.  Get outside and move (unless you are on bed rest of course)!  I'm stealing this one from Liene!  French women are so cute and tiny while pregnant because they walk everywhere.  Even if you aren't power walking to lose weight, the fresh air and the sun on your face will do wonders for you and help accentuate that pregnancy glow!

6.  Get out of your PJ's. Trust me, there are days when all I want to do is wear sweatpants and t-shirts and sit on the couch.  It's amazing what just getting dressed (even in jeans and a t-shirt) can do for your state of mind.  So even if you don't plan on going anywhere, throw your hair up - change out of your hubby's clothes and go for a walk around the block.

7.  Embrace this time!  Your body is changing, your family is changing, everything is changing.  Embrace it.  And when you husband/partner is telling you that you are beautiful - believe it!  You are creating a life and that is beauty!

And now for the fun part...I get to pass this award on to other fabulous bloggers.  Please stop by and show them some love.

Marc from Our Simple Lives - because no one can rock a Santa outfit in October like he can
Katherine from Paid in China - because any girl who can wear a face mask and still look cute has some serious style!
Quiana from Harlem Love Birds - because she always looks so put together and her daughter Nia is just the cutest!
Sara from Our Breezy Beach Life because she always looks so gorgeous and put together even at 30+ weeks pregnant.

(Rules:  Post your 7 and pass it on!)
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My Big 22...

I'm far from being 22, but as a woman in my early 30's there are definitely a lot of things I have done.  Some of these things I've been proud of, some things I'm embarrassed about but all of these things have made me who I am.

So...let me share 22 things that I have done:

22.  I have visited over 12 countries

21.  I have lived in 3 different foreign countries

20.  Speak three languages

19.  Kissed my husband on top of the Eiffel Tower


18. Was 2 credits shy of having a double major in college and didn't do it.

17.  Been to New York during Christmas time

16.  Enjoyed a 100 euro bottle of wine

15.  Lost over 60 pounds in one year

14. Owned a BMW and was too scared to drive it in traffic

13. Eaten rattlesnake

12. Eaten worms, ant eggs and grasshoppers while on a business trip to Mexico

11.  Driven cross country across the United States

10.  Moved out of my parent's home at the age of 17

9.  Worked my way through college as a waitress

8.  Have been to too many drag shows

7.  Traveled the world for free when I worked for an airline in Phoenix

6.  Seen Paul McCartney in concert while 6 months pregnant all while dancing in the rain

5.  Have walked into a living room while a naked man slept on the couch (funniest night ever)

4.  Cry at almost every girlie movie

3.  Have held grudges for years

2.  Have known most of my friends for over 15 years and I love them all

1.  Cried on both my wedding day and when the placed my son in my arms for the first time.




Mama’s Losin’ It

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29 Weeks

My last week in the 20's, it is crazy to think that the baby could be here in less than 7 weeks.  We are definitely not ready.

Physically, I'm doing very well, although there are days when I feel like a beached whale.  Even Cornel has noticed that my belly is much bigger now than it was with Nathan.  I still haven't had any cravings and my maternity clothes are still not fitting the way they are supposed to.  I haven't been sleeping very well, but I guess as they say this is my body's way of adjusting me to those sleepless nights, right?

We have been trying to spend as much time with Nathan before his "brudder" arrives.  Luckily the weather has been cooperating and we have been able to spend some time outside and let him get out to play.  There are still some preparations that have to be done, like getting our house in order.  But that will come soon enough.


Sweater:  Ann Taylor, Shirt:  Old Navy, Leggings:  Motherhood Maternity, Boots:  Zara

I really thought this outfit looked cute on, until I saw these pictures.  The big brown sweater only made me look fat.  I will not be wearing this again until after the baby is born!
Dress:  Prenatale, Tights & Boots:  Zara

Cornel made me buy this when we were in Verona because it was on sale for 3 euros.  I thought it was a shirt and thought, why not, I can always use a maternity shirt.  Turns out it's a dress and super cute.  I wish I hadn't waited to so long to wear it.

Sweater:  Tommy Hilfiger, Cords:  Motherhood Maternity

Here I am in all of my make-up less glory.  In my defense, I had the day off and didn't want to put on make-up just to wash dishes and roam around.  I did put on mascara though, does that count?




pleated poppy

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Making Traditions

Being a part of a multi-racial, international family isn't easy especially when you throw in living in a foreign country.  Being parents we've had to make the decisions about which traditions to impart on our kids.

We would love for them to embrace all traditions, Romanian, American and Mexican but that's not possible.  Then there are the French traditions, which although are not part of mine and Cornel's culture - they are a part of Nathan's.  The past two years we have been traveling blindly trying to determine what traditions are worth exposing Nathan to and which ones aren't important.

I have to admit that Cornel has been an amazing person and has let me take charge of most holidays (and making them more American). He knows how important they are too me, and while I know that Easter is about more than a bunny and Christmas is much more than Santa - he has more than willingly accepted this and has let us pass this on to Nathan.


But even with all of the compromises that we make, there are always those seasons which are harder; harder for me than for Nathan or even Cornel.  Fall is one of those seasons.  I see all of these amazing pictures of people with their kids at pumpkin patches and apple farms - but we don't have that choice.  I would love Nathan to do "fall activities" to enjoy the season, but it isn't an option for us.


Then there are all of the Halloween posts and costume pictures.  Again, another American holiday which isn't celebrated here.  I don't have any cute pictures of Nathan in a costume, no trick or treat stories to tell.    This year, however, we are bringing the American holiday across the ocean and throwing our own party;  because every child needs a day to play dress up and eat candy.

There will be no official Thanksgivings, no fourth of july barbecues - but there will always be family and there will always be love.  And those are some of the best traditions we can impart on our sons.


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So this is Fall?

I always used to joke that the only thing French people could talk about was food and the weather.  It is quite understandable now, since most days revolve around either eating or trying to figure out whether or not the "meteo" (weather report) is correct or not.

Last week we went from summer like temperatures (high 80's) to almost winter temperatures (32 degrees) overnight.  Talk about a hard adjustment!  It was nearly border line depressing, since we seemed to have skipped right over fall and jumped right into winter.

Luckily but Saturday, the weather found middle ground and we had the perfect mix of fall weather.  The sun was shining but the air was brisk.  We decided to take full advantage and took Nathan to the Parc de Montjoly in Chamalieres.

This park is our favorite, not only because it is right across the street from our house, but also because it is one of the few parks in France not completely covered in dog poop {bonus}!  It also has a great little playground area for the kids which is surrounded by beautiful flowers and fountains.

The leaves were on the ground and there were so many beautiful yellow trees.  It still pales in comparison to the falls of the Carolinas back home, but the magic of the day was enough to make it a perfect fall afternoon.

A little football {soccer}, some sunshine and sliding down the swing set.  What more can a person ask for?
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3 Little Monkeys

If you follow me on twitter then you've probably seen this beautiful photo below.  It is one of my favorite pictures, I mean really - any pictures with Monkeys has to be good.
In 2007 before heading on a cruise around the Caribbean we stayed with friends in Miami.  In their family room they had the most AWESOME monkey portraits.  Seriously!  We were so in love with the three monkey portraits that we even named them.  This one was Tallulah.  I could hardly leave Miami without taking a picture with her.  In an homage to her and her beautiful flowered headpiece, I had to try and recreate it.  We were at a lack of flowers - but not wax fruit, and so after a few moments I too was transformed into Tallulah!

I have searched high and low for a portrait like Tallulah, but sadly have had no luck and this is why I cherish this picture so. 

Let us not forget her two friends....
 

See aren't they awesome?  Wouldn't you love to have them in your living room?

We were so enamored by these monkeys that we tried to recreate their pictures the entire time we were on our cruise.

Tallulah will forever hold a special place in my heart.


Mama’s Losin’ It

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28 weeks

Another week, another dollar...is that how the saying goes?  Except in my case another week means another pound gained!

I feel like I'm growing exponentially lately and I'm so uncomfortable.  Sitting at a desk for over 10 hours a day I'm sure isn't helping the situation.  I remember the days during my first pregnancy when I could just lay on the couch and rest, but trying to chase a busy toddler with a huge belly is no easy task.  Luckily, I can count on my hands the number of weeks until my maternity leave.  In France you start your maternity leave 6 weeks before your due date, which means I only have 6 weeks left of work.  The day cannot come soon enough.

The weather here has been amazing lately, so I've been able to go out and enjoy the sunshine.  My maternity clothes are still iffy, however.  My pants don't fit and they fall down so often that it makes it look like I've crapped my pants.  Definitely not an attractive look for me.  But my maternity shirts, even though they are still too big, are so comfy and roomy that I love to wear them all the time.

Dress:  Ann Taylor (old); Scarf:  Florence street Vendor; Sunglasses:  Fendi; tights and boots Zara

On Sunday we went to a little town in the mountains, Murol to enjoy the fall scenery.  It was such a great day and such a great way to spend Sunday as a family.


Jeans & Cardigan:  Motherhood Maternity; Shirt:  H&M; Shoes:  Tod's




pleated poppy

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Breakdown

We've all done it.  We've all seen the mother/father with the screaming child and said a little prayer.

A little prayer for that poor parent trying to handle the situation.

A little prayer thanking God that for that moment that isn't us.

Maybe we judge, maybe we empathize - but we've all had an opinion.  We pretend we don't see, pretend we don't see - we walk by without making eye contact.

I know I've done it.  I've been the mother with the well behaved toddler who loved shopping.  The one who would sympathize with those other mothers all the while saying "thank God that's not me".

Then it happened.

Last month while shopping after work - complete toddler meltdown.  There was screaming - there were tears.  My perfect angel had turned into an uncontrollable little person.

I tried to calm him down.

I tried to bribe him.

I even tried a mini time out.

FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!

The screaming, crying and kicking only got worse as we got in the car.  As soon as we approached the front door he threw himself on the floor and screamed louder - those shrieking, piercing screams!

I broke.  I closed the door and try to compose myself.  The screaming baby on the other side of the door.

He began knocking and immediately my tears started flowing.

What had I done?  What kind of mother closes the door on her child.  I picked him up and held him tight even though he fought me every second.

I felt so much shame - staring into the eyes of my son.  I am supposed to be his rock - the one that protects him, the one that consoles him.  Not the one that shuts him out.

Eventually he calmed down, went to bed, but as I found out toddlers are not so quick to forgive and forget.  I received the silent treatment - no hugs or kisses for a couple of days and then life resumed like normal - even though the emotions of that night will be with me for a long time to come.

Hopefully I will be less quick to judge.  Less quick to say those little prayers in the grocery store.  Less quick to let my emotions get the better of me.


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M.I.A

I have been a little absent lately and it seems that life finally caught up with me.  I have been incredibly busy at work and once I get home I am in birthday party overload.

I do this to myself every year.  I build up these expectations of what I want Nathan's party to be and then I realize that I am in way over my head.  And all for a 2 year old's birthday party.  Just call me insane.  I complain about it every year and then I get sucked into doing it all over again.  What is going to happen when I have 2 birthday parties to plan in one year?

As for this weekend, my mom was gracious enough to mail me a glue gun all the way from the US because I couldn't find one here in France.  I'm sure they exist - I just obviously wasn't hitting up the right stores.  Armed with a glue gun in hand I set out to make out these lovely accessories for Nathan's Mickey party.  It all seemed so simple - the directions seemed fool proof.  But I overestimated my ability with a glue gun.  I only managed to make 2 and they are filled with my blood sweat and tears - and oh yeah burnt skin!  It will all be worth it right?


I have also been up to my nose in subway art, cupcake toppers and my living room looks like the Mickey Clubhouse has exploded.

But all in all, this weekend was productive.  And Nathan even wanted to pick up some accessories while we went grocery shopping on Saturday.


But now, things seem to be getting back to normal, as normal as they can be around here and I will hopefully have more time to blog about all of the shenanigans going on around here.  Hopefully you will stick with me.
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27 weeks

The weather in Clermont has been crazy lately.  Summer heat one day and winter temperatures the next.  Where is the fall weather?  This has made getting dressed such a challenge this week because most of my maternity clothes are really only one season type items.  Not to mention that my maternity pants are still too big!!  I spend half of my day lifting them up or trying to roll them over to keep them from being around my waist by lunch time.  Such a sad dilema - too fat for regular clothes to small for maternity clothes.

The good news is, that so far this pregnancy is going great and the baby is moving constantly.  I have some back pain that has been lingering since my first pregnancy but luckily Cornel always comes to the rescue.  The best part, however, is that I get to get out of the heavy duty chores (not that I did them much before anyway).

Seeing as how this baby can make an appearance any week now, I've started going into panic mode.  So, I've started washing all of the newborn clothing and making sure things start getting ready.  Call me paranoid.

Nathan is still loving having conversations with his brother, although he still doesn't realize that he doesn't have a brother in his belly.  Oh well, he'll figure it out soon enough.  Here we are at exactly 27 weeks, getting ready to head off to work and daycare. 


Sweater:  Hollister, Tank: Old Navy; Jeans: Motherhood Maternity;Shoes: Puma

Pointing at our Belly's
 Nathan - Shirt: United Colors of Benetton; Pants:  Zara Baby, Shoes:  Gift from grandma

And here is a picture of me with Nathan at 27 weeks.  Is it my imagination or is my behind 10X bigger now than it was back then?  I look like a cow now compared to how I looked back then - which is sad considering I weigh less.  Oh, this is what happens when you get older....


pleated poppy

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23 months


I'm in denial that my sweet baby boy will be two in just a few short weeks.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I was bringing him home from the hospital and adjusting to those sleepless nights?

This month - Nathan has been in rare form - which leads me to believe that the terrible two's will be just that.  He is very inquisitive and loves to explore everything.  He is constantly talking although we can only understand about half of what he is saying and his languages are all over the place.  I have started making the mistake of giving him commands in French rather than English, which I really need to stop doing.  I really would love for him to make the separation between English at home and French at school, but I think the entire family is just too jumbled.

He loves to say "assis" (sit) whenever he wants to sit somewhere or whenever he is sitting somewhere and now his colors are starting to come in French.  While before they were all in English now they are coming in both - "rouge red" is red.  He also has a little trouble with his animals and loves to point at "les cows" rather than "les vaches", but it's cute.  I do love that his teachers make an effort to let him express himself in English when he needs to.  Which was a big fear of mine.

He has turned out to be quite the little helper, and every night before he goes to bed he puts away all of his books and all of his toys.  Now if only I could get him to clean my kitchen - we'd be in business!  He does love to take the broom and run it all over the house, and while he makes more of a mess I love that he tries to be helpful.

His appetite is growing and he is venturing out to try new things as opposed to the hot dogs and pasta last month.  He is now fully eating what we are eating and loves to eat with us.  The only problem is that he much rather eat off our plates than his own, but as long as he eating - who am I to complain (for the time being).

He is still the sweetest boy and greets us each morning with a hug and kiss.  He loves to cuddle with us on the couch and read books.  I am trying to soak up all of his innocence before it disappears one day and he is just 'too cool' for mommy.

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5000 Miles

"Why did you decide to marry me?", I remember asking once.

He looked surprise at such a question and then simply responded, "because I knew I had to marry the girl that flew over 5000 miles to be with me..."

I remember the day he asked me to go to Romania during the summer.  I had business trips all month with a one week break.  It would be exhausting to fly to Romania and then catch a flight directly after for Mexico City without any chance of recovering the jet lag.  However, I never gave it a second thought, if I didn't fly out in August - I wouldn't have seen him until Christmas.

I flew over 24 hours each way to spend five glorious days with him - it was important enough for him to ask so it was important enough to make it work.  That week he proposed.

Long distance relationships are never easy.  There are a lot of sacrifices that have to be done and there has to be a serious commitment to making it work.

 People always thought I was crazy to have a relationship with someone so far away - someone whose work schedule was worse than my own.  Very few people understood why I would even go through the hassle.  The late night phone calls, the trips back and forth, the hundreds of emails.

In my heart I knew - I knew that he was worth the effort.  I knew that he had a special place in my heart.  After 3 years of marriage and 1.5 kids later, there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right choice.




Mama’s Losin’ It


Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
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26 weeks

This is an exciting week since I'm officially in my 3rd trimester!  The finish line is near, quite near actually according to my doctor.  I had a visit on Tuesday and he is already stressing me out about the pre-term labor.  He will be a happy camper if I can make it to 36 weeks, which means that in 10 weeks our little bundle of joy might make his appearance.  Is it me, or does that just seem crazy soon?

Also, my iron is low - which is nothing new.  So I just have to keep taking supplements and hope that it makes a difference.  Darn you anemia!  I also gained another kilo (2 pounds) this month so now I'm up 3kgs this pregnancy (6 pounds) which is ironic because I feel like a cow.  I feel much bigger than I did with Nathan, but I guess I'm about the same.

This baby also loves to have dance parties, especially at night.  I guess he inherited that from me.  If this is any indication of what he will be like "on the outside", we are going to be in trouble.  I have a feeling that he will be our "wild child".  Only time will tell.

Shirt:  Hubby's undershirt refashioned by moi; maxi dress:  C&A; shoes:  Tod's

On Nathan-  Shirt & belt - Carter's (gift from grandma); Jeans & Shoes;  Baby Zara, Lovie (aka dou dou): Carter's

I thought I really loved this shirt, turns out it doesn't look so great on.  Oh well, you live you learn.  And Nathan does not want to miss an opportunity to take a bump pic either!

Shirt:  Motherhood Maternity (hand me down from my lovely friend Pilar); Pants: Motherhood Maternity; Shoes:  Nine West

And just because it's always fun to compare...here I am pregnant with Nathan at 26 weeks
Can you believe this picture of me at an airport Starbucks is the best pic I've got at 26 weeks?  Sad but true.





pleated poppy

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So not French

First I want to thank everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes last week.  I only wish that I could celebrate my birthday all month, but alas today is just another day.

Keeping in the spirit of "acceptance", I thought I would share with you all of the things I thought were French before moving here, that in reality are not French at all.

At first, I was so excited that I was moving to France since most of the things I used to buy in the US where French something or other...so I thought it would be fun to share the list of things that are French only in the States.

5.  French Toast -   Yup, this one made me sad.  Someone once told me that in France is called "pain perdu", but no French person I have ever asked has heard of it and I have yet to see it anywhere at breakfast time.

4.  French onion - They do make a delicious soupe a l'oignon (onion soup) but nothing else that claims to be French onion exists, including that delicious dip that I've been craving for six months.  Luckily my mother has started sending a small supply across the ocean to keep me going.

3. French manicure - Please feel free to read the story here about the time I went to get a "manicure francaise", which doesn't exist. Well actually it does exist but it's also called "french" in English.

2.  Le French Kiss - French love to "faire le bises" (give kisses) that's for sure.  I can spend half my morning giving kisses on both cheeks to anyone that walks by.  I have yet, however, seen the "french kissers" running rampant on the street.

1. French Vanilla - This one was actually the most depressing because I only drink my coffee with that yummy French Vanilla creamer.  In fact, there is no vanilla grown anywhere in France, so I'm not sure where this came from but I was so sad when I had to start drinking my coffee with regular milk.  Talk about false advertising.

Thankfully for me, there were a lot of things that I was expecting to make up for some of the culture shock.  I don't know what I would have done if there wouldn't have been any croissants in France!
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