Self-Righteous Mother

When Nathan was born I remember reading all of the books and being so "prepared".

I had my mind made up on an array of subjects:

     Pacifier use - absolutely not
     Co-sleeping - definitely not
     Swaddling - nope, my child needed to learn to soothe himself
     Sleep training- definitely, after 12 weeks

Not only did I have my very strong minded opinions, but I judged all of those other mothers who did things differently.

"What do you mean your baby doesn't sleep in his crib?"

"OMG look at the four year old with a pacifier!"

My judgements were endless.

Now, two months in to the newborn parenting thing again, I am no longer the same person.

     Pacifier use - Yes! If only to give me five minutes of free time before it ends up on the floor

     Sleeping in our room - yes, because who has the energy to walk to the nursery every two hours

     Bottle feeding- yes please. Especially if it means I can get out into the life of the living!

We all do what we can to survive and what is best for each child. I wish I could go back in time and slap myself.

I am no longer self-righteous and am kinder to myself and especially other mothers. We need all the help we can get!


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Twenty-five Words

My husband read the other day that by the age of two a toddler should be able to say at least 25 words.  If a child knows less than 25 words this is typically a warning sign that something could be wrong.

Of course this sent my husband in a tizzy and he began keeping track of all of Nathan's words.  What we discovered is that Nathan knows a lot more than 25 words but sadly his vocabulary is not something to be proud of.

Since we don't speak a word of French at home, all of his French vocabulary came from daycare.  This leads me to wonder what kind of joint they are running over there.

Some of the doozies of Nathan's vocabulary include:

Bouge les fesses - the french equivalent of "move your ass"

Tu est un coquin - you're a smart ass

Not this one - said whenever he disagrees with any of our choices be it dinner, choice of TV program or clothing

What happened? - usually said when a mystery occurs, like how did the stuffing of the throw pillows end up all over the floor?  What happened indeed!

Pleure pas bebe - "don't cry baby".  This is usually directed at his baby brother while throwing some sort of toy in his crib.

I help you - which really means "help me" in Nathan speak.  "mama help you brush teeth" means "mama please help me brush my teeth"

C'est chaude - It's hot.  Said whenever steam comes out of anything.  Also used to refer to my coffee cup.

La Seine - his favorite song at the moment sang by Mrs. Johnny Depp (aka Vanessa Paradis).  Who knew that I listened to the French radio that often.

Tatan (Nathan) okay - usually said after some sort of acrobatic maneuver off of the couch.

So while he definitely knows more than 25 words, we are going to have to work on the type of words he is allowed to say in public.
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Cake au Citron - {French Lemon Cake}

One of the best parts about living in France is the breads and pastries.  I'm very aware that one day we will have to move back to the US and I am going to go through some serious withdrawals.  

This has put me on a mission to try and learn as many french recipes as I can so that I can take a little piece of France back with me.

That is why I love, love this recipe.  Not only is it easy, but all of the ingredients are readily available in the States.

Since this is a French recipe it always comes in weights rather than measurements, so I did my best with my trusty scale to convert these into American measurements.  



I always combine my dry ingredients in a bowl first:  Flour, baking powder and salt.

Then I beat three eggs with the vanilla extract.

Then finally cream the sugar with the butter.



 Beat until you get a creamy mousse:


Then slowly beat in the egg mixture.  Once incorporated fold in the dry ingredients:


Lastly, add the zest and juice of 2 lemons and mix:


I put it in a lined loaf pan and bake in the oven  at 350 for 45 minutes.  You can always use a cake pan, but I love the look of a loaf.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups of flour (190 grams)
1 cup sugar (170 grams)
1 1/2 sticks of butter (170 grams) at room temperature 
1 tablespoon baking powder (6 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest and juice of 2 lemons

Pre-heat oven to 350℉ (180℃).  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to combine.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs with the vanilla and set aside.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until you obtain a mousse.  Slowly beat in the egg and vanilla mixture until incorporated.

Fold in the dry ingredients with a plastic spatula.  Once well incorporated add in the juice and zest of the two lemons.

Pour the batter into a lined loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out dry.
  
I would love to hear if you give this recipe a try!

(Recipe my own adaptation of an old St. Hubert Recipe)

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Bellflower Books

I am so honored because today I'm over at Bellflower Books sharing Nathan's Birth story on their blog.

Not only do I admire Heather and Kerry and their amazing company but also their product!

They make beautiful photo books which become valued family treasures.

I would love if you could stop by and read my post there today!  While you are there make sure to take a look at some of their beautiful creations.

Thank you again Kerry and Heather!  What an honor!
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A Mother's Guilt

I knew that the transition from one child to two children would be hard.  And it has been.  Very hard.

In two months, however, we've gotten into somewhat of a routine.  A chaotic routine, but a routine nonetheless where both baby and toddler can coexist.  Then the sickness took over our house.

Nathan had a fever, glassy eyes, runny nose and a cough that would not stop.  He was whiny and miserable and wanted nothing more but to be cuddled and loved.

In the past, I would have brought him endless glasses of juice while stroking his hair, kissing his cheeks and making sure his emotional and physical needs were met.

Then came Noah.

Yesterday Nathan needed his mommy and I wasn't there.  Sure I was in the house, next to him but I wasn't the mom he needed me to be.

He needed love and cuddles.  He constantly begged to be held and comforted and I had to turn him away.  I was either feeding Noah, changing the endless parade of diapers and dealing with life in general with two babies.

All of this while being sick myself.

I was a mess.  Nathan refused to eat, refused to drink.  He was constantly acting out.  Making a mess.  Complaining.  Crying.  Whining.

I lost my temper and raised my voice more than I should have.

There were time-outs.

By the time Cornel got home it was as if he entered a war-zone.  The two kids were screaming hysterically, one because of his medicine and the other because he was hungry and wanted out of his crib.

I failed.  I failed as a mother.  By the time the dust had settled and both kids were calm, I broke down.

I cried for not handling the day better; for not being the comfort that my sons needed from me.  The guilt of the day was eating me alive.

After I got Noah settled down for the night, I went to lay down with Nathan.  I hugged him and kissed him.  I sang songs with him and held him close until he fell asleep.

I needed him to know that I still loved him that I would always be that comfort, but how can I make that promise?

How can I be the same mother I used to be to him and how can I be the same type of mother for Noah.  How can I split myself in half to give them both the comfort they need while keeping my sanity?



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Noah is two months old




My sweet baby Noah, just like with your brother, time is going by too fast. I am trying my best to soak up all of your baby-ness before I blink and you are two years old.

This month you started breaking out of your newborn sleepiness and started spending more time awake and alert.  This was bittersweet since a lot of this alert time occurred at night, when you should have been sleeping.

In a couple of days we will take you into the doctor for your shots and I am not looking forward to that at all.  I wonder if you will hate the doctor as much as your big brother does.  Although, you have already proven that you are nothing like your big brother.

You love tummy time and your play mat.  You smiled at your daddy and I for the first time this month and your cooing can light up a room.

Your appetite is insatiable as is evident by your chubby cheeks!  Your 0-3 month clothing is already becoming too small but I refuse to put it away because I'm in denial that you are growing so fast.

You love to fall asleep in Mommy's arms, although you only burp for daddy.  You are sleeping in your crib more and more and I can't wait for that magic moment when you sleep through the night, if only once.


Age - 2 months 2 days

Eating - We have now made it through 2 months of breastfeeding, and although it is easier than last month, it is still a challenge between us.  I just don't think we've gotten into our rhythm yet, which everyone keeps telling me will come.  We have started to give you a bottle of expressed milk right before you go to bed.  We're hoping this will get you used to the bottle so that Mommy can go out into the world every once in a while, and also in hopes of getting you to sleep better at night.  So far you've been taking the bottle like a champ so we hope you can keep it up.

Sleeping - We have definitely gotten into more of a routine here.  You go to sleep around 8 PM like your brother and are usually up at 1 or 2 AM for another feeding.  This will usually keep you down until 7.  Hopefully we will be able to drop that early morning feeding in the near future.

Next month will be filled with amazing milestones.  We will be taking our first trip as a family of four to Paris.  On this trip we will be getting your American Birth Certificate and passport.  While in Paris we decided to spend 3 days at EuroDisney.  It should be an exhausting trip but hopefully will be well worth it!


And for fun, here is Nathan vs. Noah at two months.  Sometimes when I look at them I think they are identical, but when I see these pictures side by side they look nothing alike.  What do you think?



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That was the day....

Working for a French company in the US meant that we constantly had visitors from France. Sometimes they would come to "work with us" for weeks at a time.

We hated when these people came over since we always took it as a sign that we were incapable of doing our jobs correctly.

One faithful day in September of 2006 we were expecting a visitor that would be with us for over four weeks.

This colleague came by early in the morning, and in typical French fashion came by to shake all of our hands. When I first saw this guy I was surprised.

He wasn't in his fifties like most of the people that went over, and he wasn't French. Plus he was looking quite sharp in a suit.

Being a single girl in my early twenties I also couldn't help but notice that he was quite handsome and sans wedding ring (isn't that the first thing we girls notice?).

He was also nice and sort of shy. I admit now that I was quite smitten. Not smitten enough, however, to invite him to my birthday celebration that night. He was still a visitor from France, who knows what kind of information he would be reporting back!

The month came and went and we hardly spoke other than the daily "bonjour", and he was soon back in France.

Never would I have imagined that on that faithful September day I was meeting the man that would become my husband. The man that would become the father to my boys. And the guy, that six years later, still looks amazing in a suit.



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What is Love?

To me, love is tiny baby feet


Love is early morning toddler hugs, kisses and cuddles


Love is an amazing husband who knows that the way to my heart is through anything covered in chocolate...

Love are cards that are made with lots of love and care for the most import an person in our lives....


Joyeuse Saint-Valentin!!

I hope you all have a day filled with love.  Don't forget to tell those you care for how important they are not just today but as often as you can.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur.  L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."






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Pinterest make me pretty

When Blogher asked me to write about the blog or youtube channel that I use more often for style and hair tips, I have to admit I was stuck.

Stuck because while I follow some fashion and style blogs there isn't one that I go to when I am looking for ideas.

In fact, when I am searching for ideas I usually turn to my trusted friend, Pinterest.  With just a quick search  I find myself browsing through so many amazing ideas.  I usually stumble upon some great bloggers with some great ideas that I would have never found otherwise.

I mean, check out some of these beauties that I've pinned and tried:

1.  Quick and easy up do, for when a ponytail is just too plain

2. The Sock Bun - because really where else other than Pinterest would I have ever learned to use a sock as a hair accessory?

Source:  Be different, act Normal Blog

3.  The Beach Wave Curl - because sometimes I need to use my flat iron for something else other than straightening my hair!


You can see why Pinterest is my go to place.  I would have never found any of these super cute blogs or tutorials on my own.

Of course there are some tutorials that are hit or miss, but that's the risk we take right?

What about you?  Please tell me some of your go to blogs or sites for hair ideas.  I would love to check some of them out!  And if you aren't doing so already, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

Also, be sure to stop by BlogHer and read some of the other great places that other bloggers turn to for ideas.  While you are there, be sure to check out their Life Well Lived Sweepstakes! 



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Valentine dessert and cocktail recipe

I can't believe that Valentine's Day is only a few days away! To be honest I have never really been into celebrating Valentine's Day. After having kids it just became too much of a hassle to try and find sitter simply to go to an overcrowded restaurant.

So, more and more, we have opted to celebrate at home after the kids have gone to bed.

This is why it is nice to try and find creative ways to make our Valentine menu not like any other dinner at home.  That is why this year I am stepping it up in the dessert and cocktail category.

Remember the crepe recipe I shared last week? Well, I started out with my basic crepe recipe.

To make them more festive I added just a couple of drops of food coloring to make them pink. Remember food coloring goes a long way so just a couple of drops will do.

After they were cooked I filled mine with Nutella but your favorite filling will do. I then folded them (they are typically served in quarters and not like burritos) and tried to not to eat them before decorating them.

For the extra special touch I cut out a heart out of some scrap paper and used that as a template to sprinkle powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Voila, the perfect Valentine dessert.

We can't forget about a cocktail to go with these delicious crepes - enter the delicious Kir Royal.

The Kir is a typical aperitif (cocktail before the meal) here in France and it consists of white wine with a flavored liqueur.

A Kir Royal takes it a step above by using champagne in place of the white wine.


The recipe is also quite easy.  Fill the bottom of a champagne flute with your flavored liqueur of choice, I love to use Chambord but Creme de Cassis is also good.

Fill it about 1/4 of the way full and then top with chilled champagne and enjoy!

For that extra special touch you could add either a fresh or frozen raspberry in the flute.

I can't wait to have both of these next week!  Let me know if you try either of these!

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Hey Mr. Postman

I had only been living in France a week and I could only say "bonjour" and "au revoir".  I was "working from home" due to a small issue with my work visa so I didn't need to know much anyway.

While I was typing away at my computer, I heard it; the distinctive buzzing of the building's main door.

Since I didn't know anyone in France, I decided to ignore the buzzing in hopes that whoever it was would go away. The buzzing became more insistent and so I hesitantly answered the intercom with my confident "bonjour".

BIG MISTAKE!

Whoever it was started going off in French!

Excusez-moi!?

I buzzed this person in and opened the door to our apartment, waiting patiently. Except that after five minutes no one showed up.

Then the buzzing began AGAIN! What in the world was going on?

I closed the door and headed down the elevator to see who was actually ringing.

That's when I saw him. The postman with a registered letter. He started talking and talking; I just smiled and nodded. From his expression I gathered that he wanted some sort of response but I had nothing to offer. After what seemed like an eternity he finally handed the pen and clipboard over so that I could sign. And then I REALLY screwed up!

I signed where I should have printed my name!

Quelle horror!

The way the postman reacted you would have thought I killed his mother! He raised his voice, hands were flying and my eyes were welling up with tears.

I finally got it right, he handed me my letter and we were both on our way.

I was shaken up the entire afternoon . When Cornel finally came home, I started crying as I recounted my encounter with "La Poste".

It took months before I found the nerve to respond to the buzzer. I won't even tell you how long it took me to answer the phone!


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Wine Love

This past Sunday we went to the Annual "Vinidome" Festival here in Clermont-Ferrand.  Vineyards from all over France come to show off their wine and many people flock to stock up their caves.

We bought so much wine at last year's festival (remember how I had to kick Nathan out of his stroller), that we received a private invitation from one of the vineyards.


The bitter cold and snow wasn't going to keep us away.  We dropped off Nathan at our friends' home and headed out with Noah in tow. There is no better way to drink wine, than with the baby in the carrier.  I wish I could say I was the only one, but there were many women with the same brilliant idea.


And since Nathan wasn't with us, we had the stroller empty to bring home the cases of wine that we purchased! (That is Noah under all of those blankets).  Who knew strollers could be so multi-functional?


Is is too early to start making my wish list for next year?

"God made only water, but man made wine." - Victor Hugo, 1856



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Dear Nathan...



Dear Nathan,

What a month we've had together.  You were sick for most of the month thanks to a nasty virus that you picked up a daycare.  It is always hard when you are sick, I hate to see you hurting and not be able to take your pain away.  The only thing we could do was hold you and kiss away your "bo bo's".  We would hold you extra close at night waiting for that fever to go away.  And in almost 2 1/2 years, you still detest taking your medicine.

You have grown so much lately, and I don't know when it happened but your footie pajamas no longer fit. Your little toes are busting out at the seam and it breaks my heart to buy the next size up.  If only I could keep you my baby forever.  Even when we pick you up in our arms, it is clear that you are so much bigger than you were just a few weeks ago.

You have turned into quite the little monkey lately and love to climb on anything and everything you can.  It has certainly made keeping an eye on you very difficult.  There was the day I found you climbing on your toy car to get to the cheese in the fridge.  I wonder if the baby proofing can begin after two years?

Even though there are some trying times, the terrible two's haven't been so terrible.  We constantly stare at you in amazement.  Sometimes we are in awe of how much fun we are having with you.  You have such a pure heart and it shows with the amount of love that you give your brother.  You are constantly looking out for him; always rushing to him when he cries.  You are making an amazing big brother.

We love you more than you can imagine.




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Color my Heart Happy

The past couple of weeks have been rough around here.  Last week Nathan brought home a virus from daycare and graciously shared it with the rest of the household.  He is nothing if not generous.

This meant days of us staying at home trying to recover.  And let me tell you, recovering with a two year old suffering from cabin-fever and a newborn who needs constant attention sucks!

There was very little sleep; a lot of screaming (not all from me) and maybe some crying (again, not all from me).

I was desperate and needed a way to keep my two year old busy.

I am not much for indoor activities and I don't do well with arts and crafts (that is why I pay an arm and a leg for daycare, remember?).

In a fit of hysteria, I took out some red construction paper that I had left over and began cutting hearts.  I have to admit that I haven't cut paper hearts since I was in middle school.  Considering how much time has passed, I thought they looked pretty good.

When I used up the red construction paper, I took to the white printer paper and continued the heart madness.

I then set Nathan up at his table, gave him crayons and markers and let him go to town.  He recognizes the shape so he was so excited to see hearts, although he says it more like "haaarrrss".


He colored away for at least 20 minutes.  A lifetime in toddler time.



After he was done, I took out the tape and placed it on the back of the hearts.

He then had another good 15 minutes of arranging and rearranging them on the doors.

Cute right?

He quickly lost interest, but now these gorgeous hearts decorate our house for Valentine's Day.  What's more is that I got more than a half an hour of "mom" time.

It was a win-win!

Half of us are still suffering from the virus, but luckily Nathan went back to daycare where they occupy his time much better than with paper hearts!

How do you decorate for Valentine's Day?  Or better yet, how do you occupy your toddler when confined indoors?


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The Crepe Holiday

Today is "La Chanadaleur" in France, or Candlemas.  Like most holidays in France it is of course tied to religion.  Today is the "Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple."

The best part of "La Chandaleur", at least here in France, is that the day is celebrated with crepes!  Tradition is that the crepes have to be eaten after 8pm and if the person can flip the crepe in the pan, good luck with come to the family for the entire year.

And here is something interesting I learned in France, crepes are always sweet and for dessert; the savory ones with cheese and hams are called galettes.

Cute, right?

Well, I couldn't wait until the evening to celebrate such a delicious holiday and so I set out to make crepes early this morning.

Now, I have tried to make crepes from scrap.  The recipe is super simple but like with all simple recipes they never turn out right for me.  I think the problem is that I'm supposed to let the batter rest for about a half an hour in the fridge and I want instant gratification.  Who has time to let the batter set?

So while all of the French who read this will scoff, I use this beauty:


Crepe Mix!  I will never find a cake mix in France, but a crepe mix - no problem!  Add milk and butter and voila - Instant crepes.  No waiting!  But for you purists, I have included the traditional recipe below.

So in about fifteen minutes I had whipped up the crepes and all that was left was filling them and eating them (definitely the best part)!



My favorite is always Nutella, because well, Nutella goes with everything right?  But because I was making these for Nathan too, I added banana to the the Nutella because fruit is healthy.

I also filled them with confiture (jam) and cream cheese (because Nathan is obsessed with cream cheese).

After snacking on one (or three) I made a little plate for Nathan to enjoy.  I even added a little French flag for fun.



Needless to say, they were a hit!


And now as promised, the recipe!


Crepes


1 cup of flour
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
2 Tbs melted butter
1 pinch of salt
2 tsp of sugar (optional for sweeter crepes)

In a small bowl beat whisk the eggs.  Then add in the flour.

Slowly add the milk to the flour and egg mixture.

Finally add the butter and salt (and sugar if desired).  Mix until everything is incorporated.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least half an hour.

Heat a skillet and lightly butter.  Ladle some batter onto the hot skillet making sure to cover the bottom.  After a few minutes, flip the crepe until golden on both sides.

Fill with your desired fillings and enjoy!


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