The wrap up

I can't believe that the New Year is only a few days away.  I'm still not ready to let go of 2011, it has been such a great year, but 2012 holds nothing but promise.

We will begin the year as a family of four and there will hopefully be some other big changes for our family next year (keeping fingers crossed).

Here is a small recap of the best of January - September 2011...

1) January - March click here 2) April - May click here 3) June - September click here 


October


This month Nathan celebrated his very first ever American Halloween.  It was such a fun time and I'm so glad he didn't miss out on the opportunity to dress up and eat his weight in candy.  That is what childhood is all about, isn't it?



November:


In keeping with the spirit of things, this month we celebrated our very first American Thanksgiving as a family.  I love having such a great community of expats where we can get together and share little bits of home even from so far away.  Nathan loved it all, especially his chicken nuggets.


December:


This month brought the most blessings out of the entire year.  Not only did we get to celebrate Christmas with family from both Romania and the US, but Santa brought us a very special gift, our second son Noah exactly one week before Christmas.



I hope you all have an amazing weekend and a very Happy 2012!







Mama’s Losin’ It




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Feeling Grinch-y

There are very few words that can describe the love you feel for your child as a first time mother.  You wonder how your ever lived without that tiny little wonder in your life.

Everything is new and every smile or coo melts your entire heart.  You wonder how could you ever love anything as much as you love that tiny little baby.

This was me with our first son.  Every time I looked at him I swelled with pride and joy.  I loved watching him grow and learn new things.  His first words; his first steps...every milestone was properly recorded and embedded in my heart.

Then we found out we were pregnant with our second child, another boy.  I was ecstatic and then the doubt set in.

How am I ever going to love a second child as much as I love Nathan?  How could I possibly have all those feelings that I have now for Nathan?  Will I choose a favorite?

These worries plagued my pregnancy.  I couldn't help but wonder about how much our family, which seemed so perfect, would change so drastically.  Could I handle it?

I spent my entire pregnancy trying to enjoy all of the solo time I could with Nathan.  Making sure he knew that I loved him and that he was my entire heart.

Then Noah was born.  The moment I held him in my arms, I knew.   I finally understood what everyone had been telling me all along.  You don't stop loving one child less.  There is no competition.  Your heart literally grows and expands.  Not only do you make room for your new child but your love for your first child grows when you see him next to his brother- when you see the love that they will have for each other.

I wonder if this is how the Grinch felt when his heart grew?




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Merci, Santa

It has been a Christmas unlike any other.  In our little corner of France, we have family visiting from Romania and the United States.  It has been a mix of traditions old and new.  It has been filled with lots of great food and wine, and even more amazing memories.


Noah and I were lucky enough to be discharged just in time for Christmas and we were able to spend it at home enjoying the true magic of Christmas.  Last year Nathan was too small to really enjoy Christmas and spent more time enjoying playing with the wrapping paper.  Nothing could compare to the emotions he had this year running out into the living room and seeing the Christmas tree filled with presents that he got to open.  I admit that maybe we were more excited than he was.  Santa was good to us and we feel very blessed to have had such an amazing holiday.


Even with all of the family, the wonderful gifts and the precious moments.  Santa brought me one of the most precious gifts of all on Christmas Day...brotherly love for the very first time and 5 uninterrupted hours of sleep.  Who could ask for more?


And now, the tree has been taken down, but the magic of the holiday continues.


I hope you all had a magical Christmas filled with love and magic.
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Joyeux Noel and a Merry Christmas


I hope everyone has a great Christmas, Hanukah and everything in between!  My mom flies in today from the States and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law flew in last Tuesday from Romania.  We will be celebrating an amazing Christmas as a family this year!
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July - September: A summer to remember

Well, Noah and I are happily at home and adjusting to having to do things for ourselves.  No more hospital staff to make our lives easier!  Big brother is adapting and doesn't really know what to make of the crying baby except to tell him to stop crying.

Since being home I have been slacking on the comments, but I have read every single one and I promise that I will get back to you soon.  I mean, what else do I have to do when I'm up at 3 am, right?

But I wanted to make sure that I continued the countdown of our great 2011.

July - September marked the beginning of our busy summer schedule.  France takes their national vacation in the month of August, so in keeping with tradition we got out and explored as much as we could.

July

This month we made the official announcement that there would be a new baby P joining us this year!  We were so excited to be adding to our family!

We also took advantage of the long holiday weekend (French Independence Day) and headed down to Italy.  The weather was amazing and Nathan expanded his culinary palette enjoying all different types of pastas and Gelattos. He also took advantage to go swimming in Portofino and took a small trip to visit Monaco!


August

With no daycare and no work to have to worry about, we decided to take a two week road-trip through Europe.

We stared in Turin, Italy and then continued out way to Milan and Verona - where Nathan grabbed his first boob.


We continued through Austria and Germany before coming back home through France.  We were exhausted but loved every minute of it!

We also found out that our second baby would be a boy!



September

September is always my favorite because it's my birthday month!


It was low key and I spent it with my two favorite men.  What else could a girl ask for?

Cornel and I also bought my car this month, Minnie.  She is an automatic car in France - a rare find!!  I love her and she has come in quite handy!



It was a great 3 months and little did I know how much better the last 3 would be!  Come back next Friday for the big finale!!





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Noah's Arrival

Thank you everyone for the amazing comments. I promise I will try to get back to all of you in-between naps!

Today, while I should have been posting my 37 week update instead I'm going to share Noah's birth story. I have to say that I am so relieved that he made it until 37 weeks and comparing him to my first son it is amazing the difference a couple of days can make!

I woke up on Sunday morning with contractions, but they were few and far between.  It had just started snowing for the first time this year and I didn't want to think about leaving the house.  When the contractions got 20 minutes apart and a bit more painful I figured I should start preparing for the hospital.

I did what any woman in labor would do:  took a shower, shaved my legs, did my hair and put on make-up.

Cornel, however, was  bit more panicked.  He didn't know whether to get himself ready, get Nathan ready, get the suitcases in the car.

At 10, I reassured him that we had plenty of time and that he should just take it easy. We called our friends to let them know we would be dropping off Nathan and everything was set.

We left the house at 11 and the contractions were still 10 - 15 minutes apart.  Plenty of time, considering that with Nathan they were right on top of each other and I still had two hours of labor before he arrived.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:20 and I was much more composed than I was the first time around.  I didn't drop to the floor in pain and I entered the obstetrics bloc collected and refreshed.

When the mid-wife on duty checked me, she exclaimed that I was at 7cm, and that I needed to be moved into the delivery room immediately if we had any chance of getting an epidural.  I told her we HAD to get the epidural no matter what.

When she checked me again 10 minutes later she said I was at 10cm and that I would not have time to get the epidural.   She got the anesthesiologist who tried to give me medication to make the contractions less intense. He warned that if it worked, it would take at least half an hour to take effect.  I didn't care - I NEEDED drugs!

The half hour came and went and there was absolutely no relief.  I had two options: start delivering and end the pain or wait and see.  At this point, Cornel's hand was purple from holding my hand and I just wanted everything over with.

The midwife broke my water at 12:35 and the baby crowned immediately.  The doctor on duty was great and gave me permission to curse in English; which I did. He tried to talk to me about things he had seen when he was in the US and was trying to keep my mind off the pain.

I will say that it was a completely different feeling giving birth with the epidural and with out.  I definitely think that I knew what my body wanted me to do without the drugs and could feel when I was supposed to push and when I wasn't, which I don't remember feeling with the epidural.  Well, except for the time the doctor told me to scream less and push more.  I thought I was doing both.

After 10 minutes of pushing Noah was out, and I was so relieved.  I was even more relieved that I didn't tear and required no stitches.

Sadly, we have no pictures of those magic first moments because Cornel forgot the camera in the car and had no time to go back and get it.  Oh well, c'est la vie!

We have this amazing little reminder....

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Welcome to the World

I had an entire post written and ready for today, but then this happened!


Our little bundle of joy, Noah Gabriel, arrived just in time for Christmas.

Born at 12:45 French time on Sunday, December 18th, 2011.
He weighed 2.9kgs (6 pounds 6 oz) and was 47 cm (18.5 inches) long

We are all doing well and adjusting to becoming a family of four!

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April - June & a very Happy Birthday

I'm continuing the countdown of my amazing 2011 today with a small re-cap of what happened April through June, but first I have a very special announcement!

If you know Mark over at Our Simple Lives (and you should because he is hilarious) then you know about his four beautiful kids and Fred, who happens to be French.  So, I wanted to take the time to wish Fred a very happy Joyeux Anniversaire all the way from Auvergne.  Please join me in wishing him a very happy Birthday today and make his day, since Mark promised me he would read all comments today.  Here is wishing you a day filled with nothing but bonheur (happiness)!

Image du Blog lygane.centerblog.net
Source : lygane.centerblog.net sur centerblog.

Now back to the countdown...

April


This was a big month for me!  Did you know that I celebrated my 3 year blogiversary?  Crazy to think that I have been blogging for over 3 years now!

This month we also celebrated Easter.  It was so amazing to have a little walking toddler that could finally grasp some of the concepts of Easter.  He had a great time opening his Easter Bunny gifts and after church, his first egg hunt was a complete success, even if the basket was bigger than he was!


May


What a month this was! We took our first trip of the year to attend a wedding in Romania!  Nathan as always was the life of the party and rocked on until 3 am!


The hubs and I also took advantage to drop off the boy with his grandparents and head on a solo vacation to Cyprus.  I had forgotten what it was like to be just the 2 of us!


June


This was a whirlwind month.  Cornel and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary!

We also took our son to Disneyland Paris for the very first time!  He was in awe and it was so great to see his reaction to everything including his idol Mickey.  It was truly the most exhausting vacation I have ever taken!


It marked a great halfway point to the year!

What about you, did you have a great first half of 2011?

I'm linking up again with these fabulous women today, so go and check out their reviews of 2011 and don't forget to wish Fred a happy birthday!




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Home for the Holidays

Thank you to T-mobile for sponsoring my post today.

I made a comment the other day to Cornel where I said that this would only be the third Christmas I didn't spend with "my family".

I didn't realize when the words came out of my mouth how hurtful they sounded until Cornel turned and asked me,

"Aren't Nathan and I your family, don't we count?"

It is then that I realized what a terrible example I was setting for my son.  Here I am trying to instill some values of Christmas that have nothing to do with Santa and presents, and yet I was being so selfish!

My son doesn't realize that we are missing a Christmas in Arizona with his extended family.  All he wants and all he needs is to be with us, his parents.

He needs hugs and kisses, he needs cuddles on the couch, and bed time stories.  He needs boo boo's kissed and the occasional holiday cookie.  He is lucky enough that his grandmother and aunt and uncle will be here to celebrate with him, in his home.

In fact, Christmas is what I make for him.  Whether in France, Romania or Arizona.  It is being with family and not about gifts and Santa.

That is what it means to be home for the holidays.  To be somewhere that is surrounded with love, comfort and family.  So as long as the three (almost four) of us are together...we will always be home for the holidays.





Let's BEE Friends
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36 weeks

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be writing an update for 36 weeks, since by this time with my first he was already born!

We had yet another doctors appointment this week and apparently I've already made some progress, so my doctor is expecting this baby by this weekend.  I just think about all of the Christmas stuff I have to get done that I cannot think about having a baby right now!

Either way, the bags are packed and in the car and the house is all decked out for the holidays.  I'm actually feeling very well, and I've only gained 6 kgs this pregnancy (12 pounds) which is great.

I've been on maternity leave for a couple of days now, and it is amazing how much stuff I think I can get done that never gets done.  I thought the house would be spotless, the shopping done and my hair perfectly coiffed and colored.  So far, none of that has yet to happen, but I did manage to do laundry once this week, so that is success right?

I also only got one picture this week.  Sad, isn't it?  This is what happens when your husband goes to work before you are even out of your PJ's.  Although, I promise you - I have gotten out of my PJ's this week.

I did have maternity pictures taken, but more on that later.

Sweater Dress: Old Navy (old), tights: Zara

And of course there were some cheesey Christmas pictures to be taken...because you can't have a December baby without the obligatory Christmas tree pictures.




We'll see if I'm still around to do a 37 week update!






pleated poppy

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Christmas in France

Usually during this time of year I am much too busy planning a trip back to the States to really pay attention to the festivities going on around here.  At this time last year, Nathan and I were already back in the States enjoying all things American like Starbucks and shopping.

The only other Christmas I spent in France was the one when Nathan was born, and I was much too sleep deprived to really notice anything around me.

But this year I really want to make an effort to get out and enjoy Christmas time in France.  Maybe it's the fact that I want to make happy Christmas memories for Nathan.  That even though his mom gets homesick, he should still be allowed to revel in the holiday magic.

So Cornel and I have decided (ok, I have decided) that we will go out and cram as much holiday cheer as we possibly can!

We've seen the tree downtown...

The tree at Place Jaude

We've been to the Christmas market by the Cathedral...and enjoyed the holiday food.

The Christmas market at Place de la Victoire with the Cathedral in the back

Aligot (mashed garlic cheesy potatoes) with saucisse and a hot wine

We've even take a tour of our little suburb (Chamalieres) in the evening to enjoy the lights and the Christmas tree.



the tree in downtown Chamalieres in front of the church

the lights at the Parc de Montjoly in Chamalieres

And what do we have to show for all of this wonderful holiday cheer that we are sharing with the boy?


A crying, screaming very unhappy toddler!  If that doesn't say Christmas cheer I don't know what does.

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Home is where the heart is...

I write a lot about going "home" for the holidays, but what does that mean really?

For the past 14 years I have been moving around so much because of school, work and love.  Each of the places I have lived has held such a special place in my heart and has helped shape me into the person I am today.  For me, my hometown isn't just the place I grew up, but also the place I grew wiser, grew independent and found myself.

I grew up in a small town in Southern Arizona near the Mexican border, and the town where my parents still live today.  I left shortly after turning 17 and moved to the "big city" over four hours away for college.  I learned to live on my own, join the "real world" before kissing it all goodbye 7 years later to follow my career and become a Southern Belle sort of.  Greenville, South Carolina proved to be a much needed culture shock and reality check.  The place where I met my now husband before following him across the ocean to France.

I consider them all my hometown for so many reasons.

Small town, Arizona

10.  This town will always be filled with memories old friends and memories of childhood.

9.  It is the place of homemade Mexican food, warm kitchens and Spanglish.

8.  It is the place of Christmas and large family celebrations.

Phoenix, Arizona

7.  The place of crazy memories with amazing friends that I now consider family.



6.  Christmases in t-shirts and light sweaters.



5.  The place I can always visit but will never call home again.

Greenville, South Carolina

4.  The place where I learned all about Southern hospitality and slowing down.

3.  The place filled with seasons, comfort and warmth.

2.  The place I wish to establish roots and call home again one day.

Clermont-Ferrand, France

1.  This is the place where my son was born, his only home.  The place where we became a family and for the moment, the place where my heart lives.


I'm linking up with Stasha for the very first time this week!


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2011...where have you gone?

I can't believe that 2012 is only a few weeks away.  It seems that every year I go through this epiphany that one year must end before another begins.

Like everyone else, there are those years that I'm so happy to get rid of - and those years that I wish would stay a little bit longer.

This year has been so wonderful for us and while I will be sad to let it go, 2011 is a year I will remember fondly.

January

The month after the holidays are rough.  The month after a holiday abroad are even harder, so much so that we let the party continue well into January by celebrating King's Day.


This January, Nathan also made me an incredibly proud mother by taking his very first steps.  It was emotional and I admit I may have cried.

February -


Love was definitely in the air this month - there is nothing better than spending a valentine's day cuddling with both your baby and your husband.  But love for each other wasn't the only love shared this month.  I also taught my son the importance of a love of wine!  Because really, who doesn't love wine? (yes, I may have bumped my son from his stroller to carry a case of wine, don't judge!)

March

Springtime arrived in France and it meant lots of time outdoors enjoying family.  This month I passed my CIA exam and had a huge relief lifted off my shoulders.

But probably the most exciting thing that happened this month, was that my son learned the proper way to eat a pig!


I will be reviewing June - December on Fridays...so please come back next week and see the chaos that ensued April - June!

I'm linking up with these fabulous women today, so go and check out their reviews of 2011!





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