34 Weeks

34 weeks already?  That means I have just one more week left until I'm in the clear and this baby can make is his arrival.  I can't wait to finally feel that sense of relief.  I can feel myself getting bigger this week, although I'm sure the fact I ate my weight in food on Friday had something to do with it.

I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable especially since this baby has taken up residence in my ribs.  I'm getting both excited and nervous.  I guess the countdown can really begin now.  The next few weeks are jam packed with appointments with both doctors and lab work.

This week has been incredibly busy and hectic, with work and holiday decorating that I have completely forgotten to take pictures.  I took one this morning on my way to work, so needless to say I was not looking my best.

Shirt & Pants:  Motherhood maternity, Boots:  Kim Rogers (old)


pleated poppy

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Thanksgiving a la francaise

I have to admit that reading all of these posts about the long Thanksgiving weekend was making me a bit nostalgic and definitely craving the turkey with all of the fixin's (trying to make sure I don't forget my Southern ).

Luckily though, this year I didn't have to do without!  The American community in Clermont put on a huge Thanksgiving lunch on Sunday and for the first time we were there to celebrate.  There were over 120 people in attendance so it was quite the event, which was held at the local international school.

I was so excited since this would be Nathan's first Thanksgiving, definitely not traditional but first Thanksgiving nonetheless.

So while Cornel and I dined on this delicious feast.... 

Turkey with stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and mashed potatoes....

Nathan chowed down on chicken nuggets and frites (French Fries).  I guess he is more American than I realized.

At least he looked cute for the occasion right?  He did however make five separate trips to the dessert table.  He had his fill of madeleines (cookies) and picked off his fair share of strawberries from the various cakes and tarts.  There is truly no denying that he is my son!

Even though it was unconventional, it was amazing to spend an afternoon eating turkey and being thankful for my amazing family and our wonderful life in France!


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The Big Name Reveal....

When we found out that our first baby was going to be a boy, we had the had the hardest time on finding a name.  We were these people that had a girl name picked out before we were even married, but we never considered the possibility of a boy.  We went through all of the baby books, websites and we could not agree on a name.  It is even harder since we had to find a name that worked in all four of our household languages.

When we finally decided on the name Nathan, we felt such a sense of relief.  It was the perfect name that we both loved.  After our son was born, it was clear that the name was meant for him.

Then came the big ultrasound with this baby where we found out we were again having a boy.  What a twist of fate.  Again, we had to go back and find a name. You don't realize how much the language barriers come into play.  I loved the name Cole but in French it would have been "Allez Cole" (let's go Cole) which sounds exactly like "A l'ecole" (go to school)....so that name was out.

Cornel had his mind set on two names, neither of which I loved.  Isn't it funny, how having met someone previously with a similar name can ruin it for you?

But Cornel's heart was set, and I reluctantly gave in to one of the names.  We began calling the baby by that name, although in my heart I knew it wasn't perfect.  We shared our name choice with our families who all had an opinion.  My dad even sent me a list of over 20 names he loved over the name we had chosen, including Guiseuppe (we're not Italian) and Santi (as in Santiago without the "ago").  It seems we wouldn't be so lucky as we were with Nathan's name.

Time went by and when people would ask us if we had a name, we would say yes - but we didn't really share.  Luckily since it is bad luck in France to say the name of the baby before they are born we weren't really pressured too much to share.

Then, one day while at a doctor's appointment I was flipping through a magazine and saw it.  I turned to Cornel and asked him, what about this name.  I was shocked when he looked back at me and said he also liked it.  It also started with an "N", so we could be like those "matchy-matchy" families.

We took the name out for a test drive and it fit, and so we decided that our son's name would be:


While the name doesn't exist in French, Spanish or Romanian (it is spelled and pronounced NoĆ© in all 3 of those), we loved how spelling it American style would make it unique in the other 3 languages.  Although with the popularity of Yannick Noah (a French tennis player), the name is becoming quite popular in France.

As for the name Cornel had chosen to begin with...well that will be his middle name:  Noah Gabriel.  Who say's I can't compromise?

I love this name and even Nathan now refers to my belly by name - when he isn't calling him "brudder" of course.


As for these pictures, I found my inspiration on Pinterest and my wonderful husband was willing to be my photographer.  These are me & Noah at exactly 33 weeks pregnant.
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Thanksgiving's Past

Almost everyone I know will be celebrating Thanksgiving today and eating delicious turkeys with stuffing.
Growing up Thanksgiving wasn't such a big holiday in my house.  Sure we had the day off school and my mom would cook a turkey, but it was more for the act of having Thanksgiving than actually celebrating Thanksgiving.

Once I got out into the "real world", Thanksgiving always seemed to fall off as a holiday of choice.  It was always too difficult to make the trip home just for a long weekend especially when I knew that I would be going home in a couple of weeks for Christmas.

I don't think I really started enjoying Thanksgivings until I moved to South Carolina.  It was definitely too far to go home for the holiday but since my best friends lived in Atlanta it was the perfect excuse to stay with them for four days and do our favorite things:  eat, drink and sleep.  Throw in some shopping and it was truly the best holiday out of my year.


We were all in our mid 20's so cooking the full meal for 2 - 3 people wasn't really an option.  Instead we would buy pre-made turkeys and only make the side dishes.  A fool proof Thanksgiving!


I was really depressed going into my first Thanksgiving in Europe knowing I wouldn't get to celebrate it.  But two of my closest friends flew out to Europe and we spent an entire week roaming the streets of Paris and Barcelona! 

  

We even threw in a day where we ate dinner with all the fixings!
It definitely wasn't the big American Thanksgiving.  It was a week spent with great friends doing what we love to do best.  I was so thankful that they flew out and that I got to spend time with them and expose my European husband to a semi-authentic Thanksgiving.  And afterall, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

I think that my first (and only) European Thanksgiving was one of the best I've ever had.  Although the one with naked guy on the coach and midnight shopping ranks a top second!

I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving celebrating with the people you love.  


Mama’s Losin’ It

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33 Weeks

I am definitely celebrating each week that comes without a baby.  I only need to make it 2 more weeks before I'm no longer considered at risk. Woo hoo!

We did do a mini-photo session for the big Baby #2 name reveal.  Be sure to come back Friday to see the pictures and most of all to see the name we've chosen!

I am definitely feeling more tired lately and it's becoming more uncomfortable to do simple things.  Luckily I can still see my feet so putting on my shoes and socks is still a manageable task.  It's all about the little things in life, right?

We've done a lot of baby related things this week.  I've started my hospital bag although I still have some things that I need to purchase in order to satisfy the long list of things the hospital gave us.  With Nathan I went crazy and bought all the things on the list and ended up using 2, so this year I'm only going to pack the things I know for sure I will need.  In France you are typically in the hospital for 5 days so there are a lot of things you need to pack, like 6 changes of clothes for the baby.

Cornel is also putting the finishing touches on the nursery letters, and all appointments with the anesthesiologist, etc. have been scheduled.  It's all starting to feel so real.

Other than that, there hasn't been too much going on.  I'm still trying to rest as much as possible, but with a toddler around it's easier said than done.


All non-maternity clothes.  Sweater:  Tommy Hilfiger, Jeans: Abercrombie, Boot Socks:  French boutique, Boots:  Zara



Sweater:  Old Navy (old), Pants:  Motherhood Maternity; Boots:  Macy's (old)

And because it is always fun to compare.  Here I am at 33 weeks with Nathan.



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Sleep Deprivation

My son was one of these perfect babies that started sleeping through the night at 3 months old.  We would lay him down at 8 pm and we wouldn't hear a peep until 7am.  We were those parents that others hated.  We knew we were lucky.  We also knew that our days were numbered.


It has been two glorious years of uninterrupted sleep and now, out of nowhere, this kid is refusing to sleep.  I blame it all on the dreaded DST (daylight savings time) which threw our schedule right out the window.  Now, every morning at 5:30 he is up and ready to start his day and I am not dealing well!

Last week I snapped and completely lost my mind.  I blame it on being 8 months pregnant and exhausted.

Five a.m. rolled around and Nathan ran into our room demanding milk.  I woke up, gave him milk and took him back to his room.  This is where things went wrong - terribly wrong.

He wanted nothing to do with his bed and started screaming at the top of his lungs.  I tried to calmly explain to him that it was still bed time and that he needed to go back to sleep.  He was not having it.  He wanted the lights turned on and he wanted to play.  I went back to bed, hoping he would get the idea.

The only idea he got - follow mommy into her room and scream into her face until she wakes up and plays with me.  I put the covers over my head and tried my best to ignore it all.

He cried for at least a half hour, and then sweet silence.  I thought I had won and he had gone back to bed and so I went back to sleep. I woke up so proud of myself, patting myself on the back for my parenting success when I see a glow from the living room and some "talking" going on.

In fact, my son had never gone back to bed but had proceeded to walk into the living room and turn on the TV.  He couldn't turn on the cable box, but he was reading and playing by the light of the illuminated screen.  I truly felt like the worse mother in the world.

I walked over to him, his eyes still red and puffy from all of the crying, and gave him a big hug and kiss.  He then demanded milk and a banana.  Men!

So now, still completely sleep deprived I am at a loss about what to do.  Where did my sleeping child go, and how do I get him back?

Do you have problems with your toddlers sleeping through the night?


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La Truffade

I've mentioned before that I live in the Auvergne region of France.  It is literally smack dab in the middle of the country.

We actually live in the biggest city of the region, which isn't saying much since most of the region is farmland inhabited by cows and sheep.  The one amazing thing about this region though is the cheese.  Most of those delicious and smelly cheeses are produced right here.  You can go and visit local farmers and buy the cheese directly from them, or better yet take a tour and see how the cheese is made.  Yum!  Some bread, some wine and cheese.  Life isn't all bad in Auvergne.

What all of this means is that the regional cuisine is focused on cheese and those "countryside" meals.  One of my absolute favorites is Truffade - which is essentially potatoes with bacon and cheese and {DELICIOUS}!


It is typically served with sausage or ham; add a glass of hot spiced wine and it is heaven on a plate, and I decided to make it this weekend.

It is definitely not figure friendly, but so delicious and so easy to prepare!

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow onions diced
1 pound of potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped into pieces (I steamed mine in the microwave)
2 Tbs of butter
200 grams (7 oz) of bacon, diced into pieces
250 grams of a good melting cheese (9 oz) ( I used Cantal, which is a French cheese but any melting cheese will work).

In a large skillet (or pan) melt the butter and add onions.  Cook until translucent on medium heat (about 3 minutes).  Add the bacon until cooked and fat is released (an additional 3 minutes).

Reduce heat and dd the potatoes and brown them in the skillet with the butter and fat. We like ours crispy and even a little burned so I cooked mine longer.  After the potatoes are browned, turn off heat and add the cheese.  Toss until the cheese is melted and covers all of the potatoes.

You can serve this with smoked sausages or even a bratwurst, although we ate our plain with a side a salad.

It is the perfect dish for winter and some typical French comfort food.


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My 7 Wonders

I have seen a lot in my lifetime, but very few things can compare to the 7 wonders of my world.

7.  Fulfilling my dream of visiting Mont St. Michelle


6.  Visiting the Southernmost point in the US with amazing friends

5.  Falling in love with an amazing man in the most romantic places in the world

4. Seeing and hearing a heartbeat for the very first time

3.  Seeing a child take his first breath

2.  Be a part of a family being created

1.  To fall in love with another baby all over again



Mama’s Losin’ It


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32 weeks

Well hello 8th month, how are you doing?  We are definitely in the homestretch now, and soon this house will be turned upside down!  I'm both excited and terrified, I hope that is normal.

It has been a super exciting baby week.  Not really, it's actually been filled with what seems like hundreds of doctors appointments and ultrasounds.  I was actually very excited for the ultrasound so that we could take another look at the baby.  He was rather uncooperative and we left there having seen very little.  It also occurred to me that we have never been able to see the baby's face.  He is constantly hiding behind his hands.  With Nathan we always saw his little face and his little nose up in the air, but this baby wants to be an enigma until the very end!

I'm also up 5kgs so far (about 10 pounds) this entire pregnancy.  It's hard to believe since I feel so huge compared to when I was pregnant the first time around.  I guess the weight just likes to re-distribute itself in other areas, like my rear end.

In any case, my doctor is using the dreaded "P" word as in "pre-term".  He has forbidden me from doing anything other than going to and from work.  Luckily Cornel was there when he told me that at home I should be resting with my feet up and doing the bare minimum for the next 3 weeks.  He is also using the dreaded "C" word - as in c-section.  You know, because my pelvic bones are so small and there is no way that a full term baby would ever get passed them.  Luckily I don't have to re-do the scans that I did two years ago, we just have to keep monitoring the size of the baby, who is now weight around 2 kgs (4 pounds) according to the lovely ultrasound.  Nathan was born at 2.3 kgs and 36 weeks and I think this baby is going to be much bigger!

In non-baby news.  This was a long holiday weekend and we enjoyed every second of it outdoors.  It has been unseasonably warm, which has been amazing.

Jeans:  Motherhood Maternity, Top:  H&M (non maternity), Sweater:  Old Navy, sunglasses:  Fendi

Sweater dress: Ann Taylor, Flower Belt, tights & Boots:  Zara, t-shirt:  H&M



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Holiday Planning

I know that most of you are gearing up for Thanksgiving so you definitely don't want to hear about Christmas yet but Christmas has already arrived in France.  Especially since there is nothing in between to take our attention away.

Christmas is a big {HUGE} deal in my family.  The only time where we all get together and the event usually lasts 3 days.  There are aunts and cousins, and neighbors you have known for so long they are practically family.

In fact, in all of my 31 years I can count on hand the number of Christmases that I have not spent with my family.  So needless to say, it's very important to me.

This year, with the arrival of baby #2 so close to Christmas we will be spending the holidays in France.  We are very lucky that we have family that has decided to make the trip out to spend Christmas with us.

My mom has already begun planning her big dinner for Christmas Day and has been sending me daily emails with lists of things I need to have stocked in my kitchen.  The emails have become more like comic relief than anything else and I think my mom is in for a big surprise when she realizes she will have to make things from SCRATCH!

Some of the doozies on her list where:

Cream of Mushroom Soup - I have yet to see a can of soup let alone mushroom.  We do have powdered soup, but I hardly thing that this will have the same effect in some of those delicious holiday side dishes.

Boxed Stuffing - There is definitely no such thing as Stove Top here, and I doubt that the French have ever shoved moist bread up the rear end of any animal, let alone a turkey.  This one we will be making with some toasted baguettes.

Gravy Mix - Unless she wants to put on a hollandaise or sauce au poivre (pepper sauce) we will also be making this from scratch.  That or she will be packing some packets in her suitcase to bring with her.

I think that this Christmas dinner will be unlike any other we've ever had.  We're going to have to go gourmet on this meal.  I definitely think that this will be the first time since my grandparents were younger that there will be so much food made without the help of modern conveniences.  This should be an interesting meal.  

Hopefully I won't be at the hospital giving birth!

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Fall in France

It seems that in the region of France that we live in there are only two season that make living here worthwhile; Spring and Fall.  In the summer it is either too cold or too hot and the winters are alway too cold (for an Arizona girl that is).

Last fall we were plagued with sickness after sickness so we never got to go out and enjoy the beautiful Auvergne weather.  That is why this year we are more than making up for it.

While most people probably think that we live a glorious city life like in Paris, we actually live in the middle of France.  In a valley surrounded by volcanos.  Sounds exciting, right?  This is actually the region of France were most of the cheeses come from and the landscapes and surrounding areas are famous for their beauty.


We are in the middle of mountains that are perfect for hiking and lakes surround the area.  Sadly, I'm not an outdoor girl at all and all of this charm is lost on me. That doesn't mean that I won't take advantage to try and make it special for Nathan, and my husband of course since he loves all this stuff.

The most amazing thing is driving out into the mountains and to the lakes and enjoying the beautiful scenery and the ever changing colors.  They are nothing like the colors in South Carolina, but so beautiful nonetheless.  So I wanted to just share some pictures of Fall in my little region of France.

These were taken at Lac D'Aydat about 20 minutes from our house.  Nathan loves to go out and feed the ducks (les canards) and if the sun is shining it is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.


After an exhausting afternoon out on the lake of duck feeding and quality family time, there is only one thing left to do....sit out on a terrace in the crisp fall weather enjoying a chocolate chaude and gauffre au nutella (hot chocolate with a nutella waffle)!

Fall is everything that France is supposed to be!
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Kreativ Blogger

My tiny little blog has been honored with yet another award.  This time Quiana over at Harlem Love Birds awarded me with the Kreativ Blogger Award.  Quiana writes a great blog about living in NYC with her family and she has an adorable one year old...so go and check out her blog and say 'hi'!



I was completely shocked to receive this award since I don't consider myself Kreativ at all but I am extremely honored!

I'm supposed to share seven random things about me and pass on the award to other lucky bloggers.  Sounds like fun, right?

So, let's see...what 7 random things could I share that I haven't shared already.

1.  In my lifetime I've only lived in 2 states, but have lived in 3 different countries (4 if you count the 3 months I spent living in the UK).


2.  I speak 3 languages, but in our household don't be surprised if your hear four or five different ones at any given moment

3.  I don't know how to parallel park and the thought of it gives me a panic attack

4.  Of all the places I've visited in my lifetime Florence, Italy is my favorite

5.  I'm a self proclaimed foodie and love to spend hours experimenting in the kitchen

6.  My favorite part of the US is the South East and could see myself living there for the rest of our lives

7.  I lived in Arizona my entire life until I was 24 and never ever visited the Grand Canyon.  I still have not gone even though my entire family still lives in Arizona.

And now for the fun part, handing off this award!



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31 weeks

I seriously cannot believe how time is flying by around here.  I have been ridiculously busy with work and life that it seems like this baby situation is just flying by!

I was so on track a couple of weeks ago.  We had the bed set up, the baby clothes washed and now I've hit a wall and have done nothing.  I am so unprepared for this baby's arrival.  We did finally fill out all of the hospital paper work and have that ready to go and the name has also been chosen (stay tuned for a reveal soon).

I still have yet to prepare a hospital bag even after repeated warning from my doctor to be prepared.  Maybe it's the language barrier, but I always seem to think that his advice is "optional" to as where he believes it is mandatory.  It is a good thing he has a good sense of humor.

As far as the actual pregnancy goes, this week has been the worst.  I have been working late nights and by the time I get home my entire body is exhausted and in pain.  I'm hoping once I get back to my regular routine I will start feeling better.  There are still no unusual cravings and I've tried to keep away from all of the sweets that are always surrounding me.

Tomorrow we have our final ultrasound (echographie) and I'm excited to see the baby.  I definitely feel like I've given this one a lot less attention and priority than I did with Nathan as far as obsessing over every detail, so the ultrasound will be a nice reminder that he is okay and well.

And with that I leave you with my 31 week picture.  I love fall, and boots and the ability to wear warm clothes now.  I don't think I would have made a good summer pregnant woman.
Dress:  Prenatale (Italian boutique), Jeans:  Abercrombie, Necklace:  French boutique, Boots:  Zara
It is super dark in the mornings when we go to work so I apologize for these pictures being so dark.  You've got to love DST!
Just for fun, here I am at 31 weeks with Nathan....




pleated poppy

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The Big Mickey Party

The problem with living abroad these days is your wide access to the Internet which lets you know what everyone "back home" is doing.  This can lead to some serious problems, when you realize that there is no way you can do the same things where you are.
Last year, I wanted to throw Nathan the best first birthday party ever.  I scoured the internet for ideas (this was pre- Pinterst folks) and recipes and had the perfect party planned on paper.  I slaved for hours making homemade rolls (since I couldn't find them in France), spent an entire evening making cakes, cupcakes and buttercream from SCRATCH because heavan forbid they sell a Betty Crocker mix for under 10 euros!
This year, however, I decided that I would "french it up".  I was determined to keep things simple (as simple as I can make things) and prepare things that were readily available in France.  There were some panic stricken phone calls to my mom who did mail me some dip mixes and candy melts (is that cheating) - but all in all I stuck to my mission statement.
So, you can all now call me Marie Stewart {as in Martha but French}.

We decided to have  Mickey Mouse birthday, since my son is obsessed with all things Mickey {I think he might have even said Mickey before he said "mom" but I won't admit to that on the internet}.  I wanted to make the menu extra "Disney-ish" and so we had the following: (if you would like me to post any of the recipes let me know)
Food & Snacks:
Chip & Dale's Chips & Dip
Pete's Pasta Salad
Clarabelle's Croissants au Jambon (Ham & Cheese Croissants)
Donald's Cheese & Quackers
Daisy's Delicious Dip (Spinach Dip)
Pluto's Hot Diggity Dogs (Pigs in a Blanket)
we also had a Baked Brie (frenching it up, remember), vegetable crudite and smoked sausages and hams without the cute names
Sweets & Desserts:
Mickey Mouse au Chocolate (chocolate mousse)
Minnie's Mouska Cookies (my pinterest inspiration)
Clubhouse Chocolate Cupcakes (my mom's homemade recipe) + chocolate cake for Nathan

As for the decorations they were all store bought - except for the wreath that greeted people at the door that was handmade with lots of love.  We also displayed his photo banner.  I think everyone got a kick to see how much Nathan evolved from 13 - 23 months.  Everyone also got a homemade pair of Mickey ears to wear during the party.  While they didn't come out as pretty as I thought they would, they were the perfect party favor and much nicer than just the pre-made cone hats.  

I also made the printables thanks to the help of my friend Nicole and used Nathan's stuffed Mickey dolls along with some pictures with Mickey as decoration throughout the party.

I bought Nathan's shirt from Etsy and it was hit!  Everyone at the party commented how nice it was.  We ended up washing it that night and he wore it to school on Monday.  All of his teachers ooh'ed and ahh'd since you don't see this kind of thing very often around here.

Nathan got a lot of gifts even from across the ocean and he spent most of his day laughing and playing.  I don't know if he will remember this day, but he will always have the pictures to remind him of what a special day it was!

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