Saturday, February 26, 2011

To ski or not to ski

Don't get me wrong. I honestly don't hate people who happen to go skiing in the Alps for a week. (Maybe I'm secretly a little jealous of you!) It's just that to hear some French people talk, a skiing trip in late winter is a birthright. We have to watch report after report of people frolicking in the snow all winter. I just don't feel like hearing about your trip afterwards. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I don't want to know how great the weather was. That brilliant blue sky at three thousand feet and the fresh powdery snow. How you ate fondue outside on the balcony and even got a tan. More than likely I'll have been experiencing more of the monotonous grey weather I've become accustomed to down here at 0 feet elevation. No barbecue outside for us in late February. So, just keep it to yourselves, please.

2. I don't know the difference between all those different slopes and the color-coding and what not. I only know the bunny slope is probably the place I would start and never leave if I ever ski. Which more than likely won't happen because I'm an 11 on a Clumsy Scale of one to ten. Which brings me to reason #3.

3. Skiing is dangerous. Ok, so it's not really a reason, but my personal observation. I've heard quite a few stories about people who've broken their legs the first time out. And unfortunately there have been some tragic situations of children getting in accidents on the various ski machinery or bumping their heads during a fall. Please wear a helmet out there and make sure your backpack doesn't get stuck on the ski lift.

4. I don't know all the vocabulary to describe the above contraptions to transport your skis and you and whatever is necessary up there on the mountains. It's a nightmare when my students look at me questioningly for a translation of "tire-fesses", literally a "butt puller"?! In fact it's just another name for a ski lift, but look how you distracted me with that one.

5. Because it seems everybody and their brother goes skiing (and if they have children it must be in the school holidays), a number of shops and services close in my neighborhood. That's why this morning I had to go to a different doctor to get my fever-inducing cold looked at. Then backtrack (in the rain) to my regular pharmacy that luckily doesn't close till this evening at 6 for their own annual winter holidays week.

Sorry for that rant. I didn't mean to be hard on you powder-loving folks. As I said, maybe I kind of want to be you one day. But I'd opt for snow-shoeing instead of skiing and I'd probably go to one of the smaller family-friendly stations. And I wouldn't gloat about how energetic I felt afterwards (ok, not that much).

Friday, February 25, 2011

The most tolerant and annoying cat in the world


Annoying (but cute).

This is when, like all cats, he wants out, then immediately wants right back in. Note: this video is not from this season, for the plant buffs who are noticing the geraniums in the window boxes.

What charming and annoying qualities do your pets have?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Worry, chocolate and sunny days

Worry poisons my existence. I wish it didn't. And I've been wishing that for years. Sometimes I feel it eating away at my like a parasite in my stomach. No amount of fretting satisfies it. It keeps asking for more and more of my attention until I don't feel "right" if I haven't worried sufficiently about something. I read something interesting the other day. That sometimes spending twice as much time (or we could say worry) on something generally only adds 1% of value to the end result. That perfection is unattainable anyway so we should learn when something is "good enough". I'm gonna try and put that in to practice. But in the meantime, any remedies for kicking the worrying habit? Mine lately seems to be an obsessive need to read other people's blogs to see if any of them are experiencing the same life situations as me. It's more than my normal Internet addiction.

And when I'm nervous (or bored or breathing), I eat chocolate. Please tell me I'm not the only one. But the last two days as I took my Dove milk chocolate pieces (just two, thank you very much. Or three, or four.), I started to think the candymakers were mocking me. Because look what the inside wrapper said the last two times:

Didn't they know when they packed that bag that I would be experiencing two gray, foggy, blah days in a row? For the record we are now on day four sans sun. So definitely no basking in the glow for me. We had one gloriously sunny day last week and it was amazing how people just seemed to be in the best of moods. But these types of days are awfully rare in my region of France (the North-Pas de Calais). And I've got the stats to prove it. Lille, the main city in this region, is on the top (or bottom?) three of those cities with the lowest number of hours per year of sun. You can see southern cities like Marseille and Nice have at least a thousand more hours of sun per year compared to my region. This is why so many doctors prefer to set up practice in the south of France. And for the record, my own city in the US is right up there with 2600 or so hours per year (albeit with the humid, stifling heat sometimes). I'm starting to wonder how I've survived this long in my new nearly sunless climate!

I think only the sweet powers of chocolate can console me after learning all this. And if I don't get an appropriate message in the wrapper this time I might have to eat the whole bag.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The world according to Juju

I know I just wrote about my little one, but she's so darn funny lately. And alternately frustrating. Now that she's talking more, I'm getting an idea of what goes on in that toddler head of hers. And it's sometimes pure genius, sometimes pure insanity. Like how she only wants to wear the Pull-ups that have penguins on them. But there are also lizard ones in the bag so we often have "fights" getting her to wear those. I've taken to distracting her in any way I can so she'll let me put them on. Yes, she's still in diapers as the potty is not her thing. Sometimes when I ask her to sit on it she'll say, "no, gonna change you", but in fact she means "change me" (just change the diaper).

She gets very attached to things in general. I let her wear her kitty shirt under her sweaters a couple of days in a row (hey, it's not like she sweats that much) because she puts up a big fight when I try to take it off. Of course, bathtime is a good reason to change clothes anyway. She's very willing to get in the tub but getting out is another thing. I have to bodily lift her out most times and she squirms all the way till her feet touch the bathmat.

But on the more precious side there was that evening last week when she saw the moon rising and said in Frenglish, "Mommy, donne la moon." Mommy, give (me) the moon. Or when we're at a red light and she pushes her hands in front of her and says, "moob" (move) so insistently as if it could really work. And lately when she sees trikes in catalogs she nearly moves her leg to the paper and says in a near-whine, "get on!" Does she really think she can get on? I think the line between real and imaginary is quite fuzzy for toddlers. And it's going to be that way for a while, so I think I'll have to find yet more ways to distract her during those whiny moments.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Romance isn't dead

I've never been very big on Valentine's Day. This could be from my many years of being single. Or that I totally resent how the stores bombard us with red and pink hearts and cheaply printed cards. Or that roses jump up in price so outrageously just in time for this Hallmark holiday. Now that I am in a relationship I do try to honor the day by making Remi a meal and perhaps buying him chocolate. Before Baby (BB) we sometimes went out to a restaurant. And though I do get a bit miffed if my husband fails to do at least a small gesture for the day, I'd definitely fall into the camp of those who say Valentine's Day should be celebrated every day by the way you treat each other. As a sometimes nagging (or as I prefer to think of it: tell-it-like-it-is) wife, I probably am not living up to that idea either!

It's always struck me as odd that in France Valentine's Day is strictly for couples. You don't hear about schoolkids exchanging cards with all their little classmates or eating those insipid Sweet Heart candies. In the US you can send your mom a Valentine's Day card (heads up, mom, I didn't, but you know I love you bunches) or your sister or child, etc. Leave it to the French with their romantic reputation (true or not, I'll let you decide) to make V Day a purely romantic love day.

Perhaps I'm becoming more cynical with age and my swoony teenage years are growing dim in my memory. However I can still remember daydreaming as a teen of waltzing with some tall dark stranger or the bittersweet agony of Romeo and Juliet's final act. I suppose these things do still move me now, but I've gone a bit too practical.

Or have I? Lately I've been catching up (or should I say finally discovering) the warm and charming now cancelled TV show Pushing Daisies. Unfortunately we get it in French here but just a few scenes from the pilot that Remi found had me captivated. It's the story of a man who can wake the dead but must touch them again after one minute or something else will die in that person's place. It's complicated to explain, but anway, the show is deliciously quirky and the romance between the pie shop owner and his childhood sweetheart he brought back to life is well, swoony. Here's the trailer to give you a quick recap. It's filmed in a very Amélie type way, over-the-top imagery and luscious colors. Love the occasional singing numbers which don't make you feel too embarassed.

So here's to remembering the sweet, delicate moments in life, be they with your family or your other half. Who said romance had to be about skimpy lingerie and expensive meals. Maybe it's what you want it to be: appreciating the beauty of a foggy day or indulging in a decadent caramel chocolate with your eyes closed. And singing your heart out to cheesy love songs because it's good for you. Click on the link to hear one of the best!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Because even (Super)moms need sleep

So I'm not really a supermom and would never claim to be. Any mom who really believes she is must only wait for the next explosive diaper or grocery store toddler tantrum to prove her otherwise. But sometimes I wish someone would give me a Supermom cape when I do things like parallel park on the pediatrician's street at night. I think a group of people should always applaud me for parallel parking for that matter, considering it took me three times to get my French driving license. On this particular occasion I took Juliette out of her car seat and put the diaper bag on my arm only to notice that I'd parked in front of someone's driveway/garage. Oops. Back in the car seat and seat belt for me as we made our way down the street looking for another space. But there were none to be found and I did a sort of probably illegal U-turn in a widened turn lane to head back down the other side of the street. Found a space (regular style this time) and went marching toward the doctor's office again and arrived on time for our evening appointment.

Prescription in hand for Juju's conjunctivitis and cold, I headed to the on-call pharmacy. Even though it was only 7:30 p.m., most pharmacies close at 7 here. So before leaving for the doctor, I'd checked online to find out which pharmacy was open during the evening hours (yeah me for thinking ahead). Only that once I got to where I was persauded the pharmacy was supposed to be, I saw the lights were dimmed and the cleaning lady inside was shaking her head at me to say they were closed. Through the glass door I told her I thought it was the on-call one tonight but she said no. So Juliette and I went back to the car and I decided to keep driving on this road because perhaps there was another pharmacy I didn't know about further down. Sure enough, we found the real on-call pharmacy and got our meds. Juliette started yelling "Elephant!" as we waited at the register because her little child's eyes had spotted a Babar rocking toy. It took a lot of cajoling to get her to leave the pharmacy after that.

But because of her cold and coughing she woke us up a few nights and wasn't so easy to get back down to sleep. The worst night in particular she woke at 3, took a bit of juice and sort of settled down when I laid down beside her. Only to wake again at 5 and not go back to sleep at all! And I started at 8 that day so there was no chance to sleep in. I later caught a nap in the afternoon. In fact our little girl is just not a heavy sleeper (takes after me, I suppose) in general and it's not uncommon for her to wake every now and then. If only I had the superpower to make her sleep all the night through!

And now I seem to have gotten her cold and the scratchy throat, stuffy nose and dry mouth are keeping me up, too. No rest for the weary!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two and a half

Just saying these numbers evokes ideas like cute, huggable, energetic, oh, and tantrums. Juliette is all of that and so much more. It's always amazing to me how six months can bring about so many changes in a baby/toddler. She's talking so much more than at age 2. And a world of difference compared to a year ago! She's discovering so many new concepts, like matching when we play Memory. Or the use of all these household objects like her daddy's foot file thingey. I found her pulling down her socks trying to use it like she's seen him do so often. Things we don't think she'll remember, she does. Like the name of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket in America when she saw my tote bag from there. She's still obsessed with Elmo and Dora. She's starting to discover the other "Sesalee Street" characters like "Gro(b)er" and Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Also Oui-oui, otherwise known as Noddy for you Brits. And the Wonder Pets are still on heavy rotation as well as Winnie the Pooh.

But I'll let her do the talking and she'll show you what she knows.

Yes, we're starting on the letters and numbers and colors. It's still rather rough around the edges but she'll sometimes surprise us by spotting a T on the news. Language-wise there's still quite a lot of English at home. She's learning her phrasal verbs (all you English teachers will know what I mean), those verb preposition combinations like put on, take off, get up, get down. She'll often get them confused like asking me to take on her boots when she means take off.

Catki is still her best playmate and I wonder if they're starting to resemble each other. He likes lounging in the sun and so does she!

Both enjoy watching the washing machine spin.

I'll find her imitating things I've said about Catki as well. Like "crazy Catki" when he's meowing for food. Or "Catki came to see you" when he wanders into her room. Remi has noticed that she'll make a real kissy sound when she gives him a kiss whereas for us she just tilts her head in our direction and makes us do the kiss. Thank heavens for Catki!

But I did mention tantrums at the beginning. She still visits the corner or has time-out in her bedroom quite often. For all her charms she's quite vocal when she doesn't like something. We're trying to work through the "throwing myself on the floor trick when I'm not happy." She's gotta get over that by adulthood. Sooner if I can help it.

Despite those not-so-pleasant moments, two and a half is really a delightful age and I'm enjoying being able to communicate more and more with her. She's a bundle of unpredictable fun.