Parenting Alone

When Sixtine was about 5 months we decided as a family that I and the baby would go to France for a few months so I could recharge my batteries and it was really needed. I did recharge them and felt better as soon as I landed but I missed my husband terribly after three months. He came for a two-week visit and wedid lots of sightseeing which was a lot of fun. He also had the opportunity to meet all my family, friends and see where I was from etc… I told him I never wanted to be apart again after being away for so long.

But again, Sixtine and I flew to France on the 27th of October and won’t be seeing him until the birth of the baby (unless he gets some time off for Christmas). Our future is pretty uncertain as he is starting a new job and doesn’t know what is in store for him yet.

I am exhausted ( I have said and written that a lot lately. Forgive me.) and raising Sissi by myself is pretty challenging. My husband is a very hands-on father, always willing to help. It feels like I have no break without him around. It is 24/7. I am definitely not your stay-at-home mother type of person and I am starting to wish I was going to work. I know it sounds horrible but I don’t think it is. I love my daughter to death. I just want to be my own person, not “just” a mum.

I miss him terribly and Skype hasn’t been doing a great job. It is always cutting up, and there is like a 8 hour time difference which means at midnight there it is 8 in the morning here.

To sum it up: Parenting alone su*ks! – especially when you have the most awesome husband in the world!

Random Short Story: People Who Make Your Heart Melt

A few months ago, as my husband and I were waiting to have our daughter get checked at the Public Health Center, I met a girl. She too,was in the waiting room with her husband and daughter. Her baby girl looked just a tiny older than ours but the reason they caught my attention is that she spoke French to her. French French. My kind of French. I had to find out why, how, where etc and started a conversation. I found out she was from France, and that her husband was an islander, just like mine and she had arrived to Canada the same way I had, with a Work Holiday Visa. She was really nice and talking French made me feel like home for a few minutes. We happened to bump into each other at the exact same day a few more times. And we became friends.

We were supposed to hang out this weekend but I had to phone and cancel because I was sick. She probably felt how awful I was feeling. And just like that, she offered to take Sixtine for a few hours so I could rest. It made me very emotional but mostly, I felt very grateful. We haven’t known each other that well but I value her friendship very much. They are people like that who make your heart melt.

She doesn’t even know I have a blog but I wanted to share this with you.

Edit: I would like to add that there are other people in my life that would deserve a random short story and have made my life much easier during this pregnancy. You know who you are! Love x

A Christening in Paris

We decided to baptize our daughter a while ago and thought it would be nice for our French family to do it in Paris, since they missed the wedding and the birth of the baby! The great thing was that I was able to celebrate in style with great French boutiques and shops! I was absolutely delighted by My little day and Chez Bogato! You can use all these for other type of celebrationszaQ

Absolutely amazing hopscotch Christening cake by Chez Bogato,  7 rue Liancourt, Paris 14eme.

You can ask them absolutely anything. Anais Olmer will get in touch with you and you can discuss your wants and needs. She is very nice to work with. They then surprise you with something beautiful! I want to add that the cake not only looked amazing, but it tasted really good. 

Vintage-inspired party favors for the kids by My little day, online boutique.

My little day is a beautiful site with great products to make wonderful parties for children. If you like pretty little things and are young at heart, you might go crazy and decide to buy everything. My little day will make any party planning, a piece of cake! Dorothee and Gabriella are really friendly and very helpful so go check out their shop and let me know what you think!

Moelleux au chocolat nuage and cupcakes stars by Chez Bogato as well. 

Delicious, pretty and cute. What else to say? Chez Bogato is a very small shop/bakery located near Montparnasse in Paris. They also sell sugar cookies, and almost anything edible can be customized. You will also find vintage items such as candies, and kitchen accessories. I am in love!

Recyclable party favor – flower seed kits by recycledideas, Etsy shop.

I really wanted to do something different than sugared almond. To me, they are dreadful. So I looked for something innovative and discovered those flower seed kits while searching on Etsy. I was immediately convinced that they would make great party favors for adults. They were really easy to put together, earth friendly, and I was able to pick the shape of the seeds (sheeps), the colors (ivory, white, and beige), and what I wanted on the little leaflet (name, date, etc…). I am really happy with my choice and I think my guests were pleasantly surprised as well! 

Balloons, glass milk, striped straw, place mat and napkins by My little day.

Did I say it was the best party boutique ever? In the world? 

Invitations by Simply Stunning Stationery, Etsy Shop.

These invitations came all the way from Australia to France. I would have rather order from France for earth-friendly reasons but they were so beautiful that I couldn’t refrain myself and purchased them. Rachel is a lovely Australian lady and she was very nice! 

And last but not least, little Miss Sixtine, wearing her beautiful vintage baby bonnet by 4PennyGirl, Etsy shop.

[Paris 1] The Eiffel Tower: With and Sans Baby

Sixtine and Papa looking in the same direction – cruise on the river Seine, Paris.

Paris wouldn’t be Paris without the Eiffel Tower. I waited for my husband to arrive to visit it as we had promised each other to do it as a family. I always made sure to check things out on line before going anywhere, and oh no…:

“Access to the Eiffel Tower is currently very difficult due to a technical incident on a lift.Very few tickets are available through our online ticketing system. Waiting time to the ticket office of the monument is likely to be over 2 hours for visitors without a ticket. We regret this situation and apologize to all our visitors for this inconvenience.”

I was very upset to tell my husband that we wouldn’t be able to go inside as Sixtine would probably not deal well with a two-hour queue in the summer heat. He was disappointed but I promised him we’d go by ourselves and queue it all off  very soon.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We  actually started the day by cruising the Seine with Les Bateaux Parisiens and had a blast! Sixtine stared at the water the whole time and enjoyed the wind on her face, and my husband listened carefully to the history of all monuments and building we were passing by.

La Tour Eiffel is literally a few meters away from the boats dock so it is very convenient. We proceeded to get closer to it and bought crepes on the way. (If you go to Paris, you MUST have crepes. It is just the best thing since sliced bread!) We walked under the Eiffel Tower, checked out the huge queue and sat down on the grass nearby to enjoy our crepes. We had a great weather but it would have been a nightmare to just wait there in the sun so I am glad we took the decision not to go inside.

The following time, we went as a couple ready to queue for a long time. We had the right shoes, the right outfits, cameras, water, everything we needed to make it to the tickets desk. So we started waiting…after ten minutes, my husband decided to take a peek at the “stairs” queue and noticed how much smaller it was. There are over a 1000 steps to the second level. The trick was: we were able to purchase tickets that would take us to the top without queuing the crazy line up. It just took some exercising…a lot of exercising. I felt so out of shape. I had to stop every two flights of stairs to rest for a second (or two). I felt so proud at the end!

The view from the top is absolutely stunning and you can recognize many monuments from there. If you feel fabulous, there is a bar a champagne to celebrate (for about 10 euros if I remember well)! We personally didn’t do it but I think it could be a fun thing to do to mark the occasion. It is definitely worth visiting!

Ps: I didn’t remember the color of the Eiffel Tower. I thought it was grey-ish/green (and I have lived in France for about 24 years of my life…) but no, it’s bronze. Go figure!

Sticking Tongues Out On Mother’s Day

Oh la la, my baby daughter has realized she could do stuff with her tongue and stuck it out all day! It was too funny to watch!

The Little Red Farm Worldwide Cultural Exchange l Follow-up

 If  you haven’t read my previous post about the worldwide cultural exchange we have signed up for, you can do so here. We were “assigned” four other families located in: Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and France (but it is a Brazilian family). I decided to represent both France and Canada thinking it would be more fun ! I posted two care packages with Canadian goodies to the Brazilian and the British family this afternoon and I have just started working on the French goodies. It was a lot of fun to put together the first two packages and hope they will enjoy their packages ! 

Sign up here: Worldwide Cultural Exchange

Sneak-Peek:

homesick: adj : “longing for home and family while absent from them” (merriam-webster)

“Quand je te quitte un peu loin, ca ressemble au chagrin, ca fait un mal de chien.” M.Lavoine

I left my douce France in July 2010. Before leaving, I managed to see all the people I loved and cared for, and organized a Goodbye Party for myself. Yes, I did that. We celebrated with baguettes, wine, saucisson, fromage and everything oh-so-French ! I asked everyone to come dressed in either blue, white or red. Yes, I did that too. We listened to Edith Piaf and other classic French singers and we all had a great time.

I was sad to leave everyone but I was very excited to go to Canada, reunite with my now-husband. The future was promising, exciting, and foreign…Since then I have worked a couple jobs, I got married and had a baby. I couldn’t be happier with my life – I have the most wonderful husband and an amazing daughter. But something is still missing. Other than a career for myself, I miss home, terribly.

5 random signs of homesickness:

  1. I heard a French girl talking while I was waiting for my baby to get her immunization needles and I couldn’t help it. I had to talk to her. It felt so good to speak French with a French person. She said “ca suffit” to her daughter and I thought that was so French. I loved it.
  2. I have been listening to French music a lot – including music I didn’t use to like.
  3. “Midnight in Paris” made me cry. When we left the movie theater, I was surprised to hear people speaking English. This movie made me travel.
  4. I watched Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain) three times and I am thinking of watching it again.
  5. I felt emotional when Jean Dujardin won the best actor award at the 84th annual academy awards. He’s French, we are family.

10 things I miss about home:

  1. My family and friends. I have three younger sisters and I haven’t seen them for so long it hurts.
  2. The food. I miss “boeuf bourguignon”, “tarte a l’oignon”, “raclette”, “fondue au fromage”, “creme brulee” and many other French delights.
  3. The streets of Paris; cafes and bars, bridges and museums, shops and tourists. Ses beaux quartiers, and bien sur, the Eiffel Tower.
  4. I miss the French language.
  5. The bakery downstairs.
  6. Watching the world go by sitting at a cafe terrace.
  7. The culture.
  8. London. (It is not home, but I have lived their long enough to miss it.)This city is very dear to me and so close to home.
  9. My hairdresser. She’s done my hair for over 10 years and I can’t believe I haven’t done anything to them since I arrived.
  10. Myself. I miss my old self.

Click here to listen to “Je ne veux pas travailler” (I don’t want to work) by Pink Martini. It is an American band but the song is in French. Sixtine and I have been listening to this song a lot lately.

I would love to hear how you cope with homesickness and what are the things you miss from home…Please share !

“The French Government Wants To Tone My Vagina” by Claire Lundberg

A French woman I know posted this article on Facebook and I had to share it. I was very eager to read this as it was about postnatal care in France through the eyes of a non-French person. It was funny to see how she felt about the whole ‘vagina work-out’ when I was myself very surprised to realize that I was left alone to do it. After the birth of my daughter, I was sent home with a brochure explaining how doing pelvic exercises was necessary and how it had to be done. To be honest, and I hope I am not going to regret it for the rest of my life, I didn’t work out as much as I probably should have. I was sent home, with my baby, could barely walk, or pee actually and I was exhausted. Lying down on the floor with bent knee and all that, was the last thing I felt like doing. I wish I had been given the opportunity to get those sessions. And because every French mother I know were coached to do it, I thought I would too. She talks about “organ descents”…Isn’t it a nice thing to think about !? I actually worked at a hospital when I was younger and remember the issue very well since I was working with elderly people. I wonder if that lady hadn’t done her exercises…

120214_FAM_vagina

A different kind of workout for new mothers
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.

Last week I began re-educating my vagina.

Let me explain: I live in France.

Shortly after my husband and I moved to Paris, I became pregnant, which was a relief, because I would get fat for a legitimate biological reason, not just because of all the pain au chocolat. When I gave birth to our daughter last November, my husband and I spent five government-sponsored days in the maternity ward at Clinique Leonardo Da Vinci, where we learned that French hospital meals come with a cheese course and that as part of my postpartum treatment I would be prescribed 10 to 20 sessions of la rééducation périnéale. This is a kind of physical therapy designed to retrain the muscles of the pelvic floor, including the vagina, and is one of the cornerstones of French postnatal care. Two months after our daughter was born, I summoned the courage to teach my vagina some new tricks.

Hmm, this is becoming the kind of story that uses the word vagina a lot. I know anatomical terminology can make people a little squeamish—as one of my guy friends pleaded when I was six months pregnant, “Could you please stop saying the word uterus?” But not to worry! I’ve Googled common euphemisms for vagina, and I’ll incorporate the gentler ones as we go along.

As you can imagine if you’ve ever watched a Gallic romantic comedy, the French are a little more blasé about the female body than Americans are. I realized this the first time I went to the gynecologist here. “Take off your pants and underwear,” he said in a bored voice, barely looking up from his computer. Wait, he’s not leaving the room? I thought. There’s no little paper gown? But then I realized just how stupid that little paper gown is, after all. Yes, just take off your pants and underwear. We’re all big kids here and we’ve seen it all before; no need to get into a lather about some exposed lady parts.

Read more…

Would love to hear your thoughts on this !

Europe I love you : Traveling with baby

In a little over four months, baby, daddy and myself will be flying to France ! How exciting ! I am so looking forward to it. There are a million things I want to do with them ! I don’t think I will be able to stay in one place.

So far, the prices have been up and down but it is looking like we will be landing in Brussels, Belgium which will make it more affordable. My best friend lives there so it won’t be a problem at all – we will take the time to give her a visit, have some Belgian waffles and chocolate, and go for a walk around La Grand Place.

Then we will take the train to Paris, France and stay at my mother’s place for a few weeks. This is gonna be memorable ! None of my friends and family have met my daughter so I know it is going to be a very emotional time for everyone. I am so looking forward to walk the streets of Paris with them, and enjoy cafes, croissants, and all the little things I have been missing dearly.

I am definitely going to take a MILLION pictures !

I will also be visiting London, UK – it will probably be just me – and get a well-deserved shopping fix !

The only thing I worry about is traveling with baby. She will be about 8 months old then and there are no direct flights from where we live which is going to make it an endless trip. I hope she will be all right !

As for baby gear once I am “on site”, I am lucky to have a friend who offered to let me borrow some of her things so we should be good.

I would like to travel with her stroller and car seat. Is it realistic?

Please share you travel with baby tips with me ! Thank you !

When the Baby First Says Mama

I have been reading “How Smart Is Your Baby?, Develop and nurture your newborn’s full potential” by Glenn and Janet Doman and I wanted to share some of it with you. Right now, I am reading The Language Development Program from Birth to 12 Months chapter.

“Listening is key” ; “All sounds are language”; “When the baby knows you are listening, he will communicate as often possible.”; “It is vital for your baby to know that you know he is talking.”

Part V – Assigning Meaning To A Specific Sound

“Now consider the first word of a baby born in the United States. It is almost certain to be “Mama.” As it happens this is very easy specific sound to make. When a little American baby says “Mama.” for the first time  mother comes rushing over to him and smothers hm with kisses, “Yes, I am Mama!” she tells the baby. Every time the baby repeats the sound “Mama” the same thing happens. That night she proudly tells father, “The baby called me Mama today!”

“The truth is when the baby first says mama we do not have the ghost of an idea what the baby means. He may mean ‘mother’, he may mean ‘blanket’, or he may mean ‘food’.

Who knows?

Let’s assume this particular baby meant “blanket” but every time he says “Mama” he gets mother, not the blanket. At some point he says to himself, “Well, I am not getting my blanket with this but since I always seem to get mother I guess I’ll use this sound when I want mother and find some other way to say blanket.

If we ask a French mother, “What is the first word a baby says in France?”, she will say, “Why, Mama, of course!”

And when we ask “but what does that mean?” she will say, “It means me! It means mother.”

Again when we have no idea what the little French baby means when he first says “Mama” but our French mother also assumes he is talking about her and the baby quickly learns the effect that “Mama” has upon his mother.

If we go to Japan (feeling very confident now) we say to a Japanese mother, “Is Mama the first word that Japanese babies say?”

When she confirms that it is, we say, “And it means mother?”

She will stop us in our tracks and say, “No, Mama means food.”

Now we can propose that when a Japanese baby says “Mama” for the first time we don’t have a ghost of an idea what he means. He may mean “mother’, he may mean “blanket”, he may mean “food”. But every time the Japanese baby repeats the sound “Mama” he either gets a bottle to drink from or a breast to nurse from or a spoon full of food. He learns very quickly not to say “Mama” unless he is hungry.

In assuming that her baby wants food, the Japanese mother shows that she is a bit less egocentric than the rest of us. She is also probably closer to the truth.

(…)

The baby is looking at what works with mother and what does not work.

When he sees that she responds consistently, he will repeat the successful action.When the sound he makes does not produce a result, he abandons it.

If he makes sound and no one listens to him or responds to him, he will stop making sounds or will make them infrequently.”

I found this part of the book very interesting. I have noticed that my daughter always stares at my mouth when I am talking, moving her lips as she is trying to repeat after me. She is right now more interested in discovering parts of her body, playing with her hands and feet but she does enjoy having long conversation with me as well !

When did your baby say “Mama” for the first time and what was his/her first word? Bilingual families, which language came first?