Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homebody vacation

First things first, a little holiday video for the Juju fans.

So it's Thursday and I've been dutifully ticking off things on my to-do list. Napping, check (though not every day). Baking, check, some sugar cookies with a super easy recipe from the Net. Light cleaning/organizing, check. A bit of the bookshelf and throwing out old magazines. Still not that energetic about complete apartment overhaul. Sleeping past six, er, not working out so well. Juliette seems to be an early bird, and has been for the past few months. We can't seem to sleep past six thirty around here. Is she conditioned to wake up knowing cartoons are on? Remind me to send hate mail to the TV channels. But, on the other hand, it does force me to get going. And generally I laze around eating breakfast, drinking tea and watching a bit of TV with Juju or checking my email. It's nice to look at the clock and realize I don't have anywhere to rush off to.

Remi's been working all week though getting some heating problems worked out at the greenhouse and taking advantage of the relatively mild weather to get ahead on things. Kind of a shame since this is my only week off till June. But to be honest it does give me time to get ahead on some home stuff and studying. And though I'm loving my time with Juju, who, incidentally, seems to be speaking more English this week, too much alone time makes me introspective. Only seeing the odd cashier or administrative person is not social enough for me. I've seen my Facebook checking increase sickeningly and my worries about school and life in general go up too. I guess it's normal that I'm taking stock of things half way into my studies. Luckily I'm doing ok grade-wise, but I find myself worrying about the future and finances, of course. And I think knowing my family is all together over in the US does kind of pull on me this time of year. Even though I've been able to vicariously live through their holiday plans via email and Skype, it's just not quite the same. Little sigh of homesickness!

Anyhoo, I'm sure I'll be wishing I could get back even the greyer moments of this week once I'm back in school and complaining of the workload! This break was needed, and I'm enjoying it.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I've been waiting for this date for so long! A whole week off, after nearly four intense months of school, punctuated by just two days off in November. The only thing is I'm afraid I won't take advantage of my time, that it will go by too fast, that I won't be rested enough for all that's to come after my break...

Whoah, there horsies... let's take a deep breath and try to enjoy this week instead of fretting about the post-break work. I'd like to be that care-free kind of person. The only thing is I know we've got an exam coming up the week we get back then two more in the weeks after that. I'll have to do some studying but I must vow not to go overboard. Maybe I should make a to-do list with fun and relaxing stuff that I also need to do. So, here we go:
  • take naps
  • bake cookies
  • play with Juliette
  • take walks
  • watch movies
  • sleep past six a.m.
  • get apartment organized (oops, that sounds a bit like work); let's change that to "light cleaning"
  • call family and catch up on their fun holiday plans...
Yep, it's gonna be hard for me this year compared to last when I spent a glorious three weeks state-side. I keep getting that flood of holiday memories of all the fun things we did last year, imagining the tastes and sights and sounds of America. I'm missing home and homeland something awful but I guess I've got plenty of distractions here with school. And it does get a little easier to spend Christmas in France now that Juliette is here.

She's much more aware of the holiday season this year. She still doesn't like Santa. Apparently she cried when he came to her school last week. And same reaction when we saw him at the supermarket giving out candy. When I ask her what she wants him to bring her, she just says, "no". When I tell her to look at the TV cause Santa's on, she says "no".

She hasn't been hastling us too much about opening presents but she occasionally asks about them. For now she's more into the box (typical!) that aunt Jessy's presents came in, and popping the bubble wrap.

Catki likes it, too. Ooh, scary cat eyes.

Here she is answering questions about the tree and decorations:

So, merry Christmas to you, dear readers, and let's all try to get some rest this holiday season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How NOT to make a gingerbread house

My first attempt at a gingerbread house was quickly abandoned as I realized the icing recipe I had used was way too liquidy. I didn't have much powdered sugar so I found a recipe that didn't call for much, and the result was not what I wanted.

I call it the Gingerbread Crack House. Remi calls it a bunker or ghetto.

So today I bought more powdered sugar and used a proper recipe:

320 g powdered sugar
2 egg whites
Mix till glossy.
Spoon into a ziploc and close. Cut small hole in a corner.

The results were better, but still not stellar. Even if all I had to get right was the icing since I was using some Speculoos gingerbread cookies that I'd bought. I ended up using a bit of a cardboard box to "glue" my cookies onto and make it more stable. Remi helped out and made a roof. Then it was the fun part, decorating and eating bits of icing and candy.

We have moved out of the ghetto and into a middle-class fixer-upper.

It is still nothing to compare to the stuff you can find on the Internet.

Like this version of the house from the animated film Up. That's amazing!

Martha Stewart I will never be. But I don't think she tried to make gingerbread houses with a three year-old and full-time studies. Maybe so, though, and she did run a successful business. Oh, and spend time in prison for insider trading. I guess I'll content myself with being me after all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sick day

I'm spending some unexpected quality time with my little one today. She woke up with high fever and as I knew Remi was supposed to be planting in a village all day, he couldn't take her to the doctor. So Juju and I were off to the GP, who ironically I'd tried to get an appointment with yesterday as her cold was lingering. But he was absent, as was the pediatrician. But we got seen quickly today and as it seems the cold has gone into what he calls a super-infection in her bronchial tubes, we left with a prescription for antibiotics in hand.

She fell asleep in my arms on the couch and stayed asleep as I shifted her on to the pillows. I couldn't resist taking a picture of my sleepy red-cheeked baby.

She hardly ate a thing for lunch and now she's sleeping again. I hope this fever goes down soon. I always feel so bad when her colds seem to have gone too far. It's such a fine line between trying to let her fight it off with her own defenses and needing a bit of help from meds. This was one case where she really needed it.

I was almost relieved to have a day at home with her though, relatively guilt-free because she obviously needed to stay home. As I said in my last post, it's hard for me to sit still lately, but I need to. And I enjoyed holding my feverish girl in my lap, even though I know she's feeling weak.

I guess sometimes I'm a bit like Hermione in Harry Potter, the girl in the class who has already started making notecards for the next exam and likes to respond to the teachers' questions. But, believe me, I don't know everything. Sometimes I'm downright slow. But I've got this study-bug tendency. It's hard for me to know when I've studied enough. Things will start slacking off soon though (only to crank back up again in January with mega exams!).

I keep wanting to go all out on Christmas decorations, despite my lack of time. I'm gonna start decorating next weekend and maybe even make a gingerbread house (how did yours turn out, Amber?). And decorate those plain stockings I got super cheap at Target last year when I was back home (mega sniff sniff that I'm not going back this year...). But I don't know if I'll have so much time. Maybe I just need to make time for those fun soul-filling activities.

Got Juliette an advent calendar that has a nativity scene on it to teach her a bit about the real meaning of Christmas. There are little chocolates behind each door. This morning she asked me: "Baby Jesus got chocolate?" Oh, dear. I guess these things get mixed up in a child's mind.

Bundle up out there and enoy some cocoa. Until next time...