Saturday, July 25, 2009

Since I still haven't grown eyes in the back of my head...

This could very well be my last blog entry. At least for a good six months. I'm figuring that now that Juliette has learned to crawl, and after that comes walking, she'll require constant supervision. I'm not even sure how I'm going to cook dinner when we get back to France.

The morning after we arrived here we set her down on my sister's carpeted office and away she went on those dimpled knees. I think she'd been pre-crawling for a while, but now it's official. I've been utterly spoiled here with so many willing babysitters to keep an eye on her for me if I want to eat in peace or nap or take a stroll without a stroller. Don't get me wrong, I still love spending time with my little darling, but nearly a year without a bit of help (weekday care with Tata Marie aside), and I'm grateful for a hand. Before we left I could count on her being calm in her playpen for part of the time if I needed to do the dishes or just leave the room for a moment. Those days are over. I doubt she'll go willingly to her playpen now that she's discovered all the floor has to offer.

In other news, she's celebrated her first birthday. She must have wondered, What are all these people staring and clapping at me?! She had a taste of icing and ice cream. And some more cute outfits to be photographed in, touchy feely books and stuffed animals to snuggle. We might be mailing some of that back as the airline does have a weight restriction on the suitcases! Anyway, a year has gone by so fast and she's changed so much, just as my own mom kept telling me she would. Now she'll pat Remi and say "papa" and knows what to do on each page of Pat the Bunny. She shakes her shoulders when she hears a rocky song and claps when she hears applause on TV. What a wondrous little muffin she has become! Happy 31st birthday to Remi, too, who enjoyed American style festivities like cheese cake and Mylar balloons.

Here's another new game she's developed, this time with Grandma the Great, who understands that you can have lots of fun with a few pieces of paper and a bouncy bed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Living it up in Wal Mart

We've been soaking up all things American and Alabamian. Of course, lovely summer veggies and fruits and those beloved Krispy Kreme doughnuts (fresh out of the frier!). Last night took a trip to Wal Mart which has indeed evolved. They've got canvas bags now that say "Paper or Plastic?" then below that "Neither." They're jumping on the ecology bandwagon, too. Juliette found a new game to play with grandma, as you can see in this video.

I'm trying to make the most of my precious time here, now less than two weeks (major sniff). But there's still that need to chronicle what's going on, so I may blog a bit. For now I'm going to enjoy a nice dinner of chili dogs. More later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Travel log

I have totally abandoned my dream of being one of those chic, well-dressed travelers who always seems to have non-shiny skin and wheels her Burberry suitcase around as if it were weightless. These travelers do exist and I'm always jealous of them as I lug my belongings around Charles de Gaulle Airport, getting my hair tangled up in my purse straps. In all fairness, another of my travel dreams was to be flying home with my husband and baby to show off to the folks back home. Travelling with a nearly one-year-old is totally incompatible with the perfectly-pressed traveler dream.

We survived the nine plus hour flight with our little darling, who at times is harder to keep still than a Tasmanian devil. I would like to personally apologize to any parents I may have encountered in the past and about whom I silently muttered, geez, their baby is NOT happy. I think I've always realized it must be hard to keep a young child quiet on flights, but it takes having your own to really understand the challenge. She was actually better behaved than I'd imagined, and slept a few times spread out in our laps. But there were a few cranky moments where we just couldn't calm her down. We linked all her toys to the seat belts since she's really into throwing her toys down.

And with our luck we were flying the last commercial jet not to have installed the personal in-flight entertainment systems. I honestly can't remember the last flight I took where I had to look at the screen attached to the cabin ceiling and couldn't pause the film to take a restroom break. Plus, we'd been counting on the cartoons to distract baby. Fortunately we were next to some other kids who entertained Juliette. An American woman who's married to a Moroccan man was travelling with her three little girls. The three-year-old chatted often to me in French and English, and her easy-going mom would look over and tell me I didn't have to listen.

And now we're settling into our cherished Alabama environment. We are still dealing with a little jetlag. But it's not quite as bad as on previous trips since we flew into Atlanta, thus cutting off the massive layovers we usually deal with when taking connecting flights. Baby has already had a nice introduction to her Alabama roots: fresh watermelon juice, real Alabama peach ice cream and lovely summer yellow squash in her baby food mix. I'm enjoying all those little things I'd forgotten, like the sound of crickets and cicadas, free drink refills and soft towels. Yes, I forgot the wonders of having a dryer. More on my American experience later...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

This cat’s life

Chat here again. Since I last wrote, I’m afraid things haven’t improved greatly. The new little human in the house still takes up most of my servant’s attention. Then there’s the yo-yo dieting that’s just not easy to take. For a while they only gave me food in the morning and before bed, over concerns about my “pear-shaped” figure. This being clearly unacceptable, I had to search for healthy snacks in between meals. I devised a method to open the kitchen door (sit on edge of couch, use paw to push door handle), then it was easy to knock over the trash can and hunt for goodies. Only the servant overreacted to my ingenuity and put a chair in front of the door (this idea came from grandpa servant who, by the way, made a nice pillow for me when he stayed here a while back). So now she seems to have finally seen the light and gives me a big bowl that I can graze on all day. I have heard that dirty word again, though, the one that starts with a “v”. I think they’ll be taking me to see that vet person soon regarding my curves.

I don’t even think they were that impressed with my supreme cat abilities (which I don’t charge them for, mind you). The other week when man servant had pulled a muscle in his leg, I put my nose right on the wounded part to use my healing purrs. Or when his throat was sore, I cleverly stretched out in their laps and put my paws where it hurt. But they only seem to have eyes for baby servant. Don’t come crying to me the next time you break a claw.

Can you blame me if I have to use other places than my royal box when nature calls? It’s a desperate cry for attention so they’ll remember I’m here and spend a bit more quality time with me. That's basic Psych 101, people. I suppose the only bright spot is that the baby servant has pretty good manners. She understands my need for tenderness and even if her paws are still small, she tries to pet (or grab) my silkiness. Never mind that she’s a bit too interested in my tail.

Chat out.

Your moment of baby zen

Some might say there's not much going on in this video. It starts out on its side, just bear with me. It just makes me smile to see how chattery she is and her interaction with Chat, whose fur makes a brief appearance. More about him later. He's really starting to become overweight. And what's with the peeing on the bathroom floor again?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summertime…and the living is (sort of) easy

We seem to have gone full force into summer now. Temps in the mid-80s and sunny days. I find myself thinking this would be a great place to live if it we could always go around in shirt-sleeves and cotton dresses. Oh, and if I were independently wealthy and could travel any time I wanted. But back to reality… In fact this heat wave is a bit tough to handle considering very few homes and apartment buildings in France have air conditioning. This means after about 1 in the afternoon it’s time for the big floor fan and I must “water” the balcony concrete slab to cool things off. And sleeping is next to impossible as the sound of our little fan keeps me up, so I must make do by dressing lightly and just using the sheet.

The number of classes I have is diminishing as people’s training courses end or vacation time arrives. Good and bad news as this has an effect on my paycheck. Meanwhile I’ve started the career counseling thingy (yes, that’s the official name ;). And as the lady gives me little tasks to do between sessions, that’s keeping me busy and a little stressed. But maybe it’s time someone shook me out of my routine a little; I don’t seem to know how to do it myself.

And summer has brought with it a few different TV programs. Back again is my reality TV favorite: L’amour est dans le prĂ© (Love is in the Prairie). An opportunity for Remi and me to analyze farmers’ attempts to woo eligible men and women. We generally come away from a typical episode glad that we’ve found each other in this big old world, despite our list of faults (mine are many!). Then there’s Desperate Housewives, this year available in English (thanks to our super-duper internet-cable system). We were both thrilled to hear the real voices and the real humor. Remi’s proud to understand it pretty well.

And soon we’ll be off to the US for three weeks, and our time is already nearly planned to the limit with visits. But it’s all good, we’re gonna try to enjoy every minute of it. And since mom keeps bugging me about what I want to do while I’m there, here’s my to-do list:

1. Eat some Krispy Kreme doughnuts (original glazed and chocolate glazed).
2. Eat at a Mexican restaurant, preferably when the mariachi band is playing, but not right next to my table, thank you.
3. Eat California rolls.
4. Check out how my local Wal-Mart has evolved.
5. Soak up the little things, like riding down the highway and seeing the signs for “rest stops” and the pine trees whiz past us.
6. Catch up on friends and family, of course!
That’s all for now, and hopefully I’ll get a post out before I leave.