Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Progress report: my office

I was hoping my office would be done by the time I officially went back to work after maternity leave. Well, my official back-to-work date was April 24th, and my office is not done yet. Somehow it's even more difficult to work on the house with two little ones around instead of just one.

My mom stripped the wallpaper when she was here. Frederic finally had enough time the past few days to prime and paint the walls. We now need to decide whether one coat of paint is enough or not, and then he can lay the laminate flooring.

This is how my office looked when we moved in:

(Yes, that light fixture is like a wicker basket. It left with the previous owners although goodness only knows why you'd want to keep something that hideous. We will be looking for something more appropriate to hide my bare (but energy-saving!) lightbulb.)
And this is how it looks now:

Small as the room is (I'd guess about 8 x 12 feet), it already looks much bigger and brighter without that peach-y wallpaper and hideous border.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More first smiles

And I think this time you should be able to tell that they are smiles on the photos.
Aw, that's almost enough for him to be forgiven for his barely bearable screaming fits every evening. Almost.

We have had lovely sunny, warm weather all week, so we have been trying to enjoy it as much as possible. Frederic finished setting up Benjamin's swing set yesterday. 
Here it is.
And here is Benjamin saying, "No, no fween!" ("no, no swing").

And here I am trying to persuade him that it's really fun.

So far he remains unconvinced and prefers to stick with the slide. We're hoping that when we have friends over and their kids play on the swing set, he'll decide he wants to be in on the action, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Forgot to mention -

Noah's passport arrived Tuesday! It was a red-letter day - not only did he get his passport, so he's now ready for international travel, but we only turned in the application on Thursday, so it goes to show that not ALL government employees sit around doing nothing all day!

His passport is more high-tech than ours; it has "sensitive electronics" in it. His photo doesn't look much like him, because the flash was too bright so he looks blond, but in a few months it won't matter since it won't look like him anyway by then.

first smiles

are hard to capture on film. So you might just have to take my word for it, but this is one:

Not to worry, though, in a couple of years they'll be easier to spot, like this one:

Also, we've discovered that Benjamin has inherited the recessive Creole dancing genes.

Although his demonstration here looks a little more like "tectonique" than island dancing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Benjamin is going on Day 5

of being pacifier-free! The day we went to the Embassy, we let Benjamin have his pacifier and loveys (lovies?) in the car since we made him get up so early. The rule for quite some time has been that he only gets them in his bed, and on rare occasions, like Thursday, in the car.

But we noticed that day that he had chewed his pacifier to pieces, so we had to take it away. At home that night, when he went to bed, we offered the other (brand new) one instead, but he didn't want the orange one. He kept saying, "No orange! Blue? Blue? Blue?" over and over. Since he refused the orange one and the blue one was out of commission, he got to go to bed without one. We weren't sure how that would go, but he didn't cry at all and went straight to sleep.

The next night, I offered the orange one again, but he still didn't want it. "No orange!" He asked for his pacifier a few times ("Tuh-tut" in French), and then asked for Daddy (maybe he thought I was just being mean and he'd have a better chance with Daddy!), but went to sleep pretty quickly and with no crying.

I guess by then he realized it was orange or nothing... because the next night he asked for the orange one. But he waited too long, because we already knew that he could sleep just fine without one, so we told him no, that he is a big boy and doesn't need a pacifier anymore. He didn't argue much, so we'll see how long it takes him to stop bothering to ask for it at all.

You wouldn't think a former long-time finger-sucker and a former long-time thumb-sucker could be so heartless, would you? But then, fingers and thumbs don't get chewed off and have to be replaced, either. Benjamin got to switch to real cups months and months ago for the same reason, he kept chewing up his Nuby sippy cup spouts and it's hard to find replacements here, so we just put them away.

By the way - people at church were impressed he knows his colors already. Nothing like having your own personal preschool teacher (my mom) around for a month. Good job, Mom! He is also getting better at numbers - when we were driving to church Sunday, he saw airplanes. But he didn't say "Airplane," he said "Two airplanes!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

New swingset and slide

Benjamin is enjoying his slide that Frederic put together today. He loves it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the crack of dawn (or possibly earlier)

That is what time we got up today. Technically, the alarm clock said 5:30 a.m., so I think that was a bit before the crack of dawn.

We drove to the metro station at St Denis Université, near where we used to live. (For some reason, it took my mom to come up with that idea. We were hesitating between spending 3 hours or more in rush-hour Paris traffic or spending 50 euros to take the train to Paris, until my mom suggested we drive to a metro station and take the metro in instead. That we we spent only a little over an hour in the car, and only spent 6 euros. Much better on both counts. Thanks, Mom.) Taking the metro with a 2 year old, a stroller, and a baby in a baby carrier during rush hour is still not what I'd call easy or fun, but it sure beat listening to Frederic berate all the other French drivers for 3 hours while moving forward at a rate of 3 mph (we actually drove at that speed for part of our drive in this morning due to an accident).

Once we arrived in Paris, on the Champs-Elysées, we first stopped at a photographer's studio to get Noah's passport photos. Getting acceptable passport photos of an infant is a challenge since the baby's eyes must be open and the photo must show both ears, and Noah doesn't have *that* much head control yet, but the photographer managed it and Frederic didn't even have to drape a sheet over his head this time like he did with Benjamin. He held Noah on his knee instead, against the white background. We went to the same studio for Benjamin's passport photos when he was only 3 weeks old. Noah is almost 6 weeks, so I guess we are a little behind.

Then we walked back to the Embassy, where we were grateful for the fact that having a baby and going in cold weather ensures a quicker entrance, as does the fact of being a US citizen. Did I mention just how cold and windy it was today? It was 32°F when we left the house this morning, and not much warmer in Paris, and very windy. Brrr!

We called a couple of weeks ago to make an appointment - the logic of that still eludes me since the "appointment" takes place at a window, not in an office or anything, and you still have to take a number before you go to the window. Perhaps French bureaucracy is rubbing off on them. We gave them our paperwork, showed our official documents (our passports, our US marriage certificate, and Noah's French birth certificate), and shelled out $150, and that was it. They gave us Noah's Consular Report of Birth Abroad today, and now we wait by the mailbox for his passport and social security card.

Other than to go to church, this is our first expedition into Paris since last July - and every time we go, we're reminded of why we are so happy to live far, far outside of Paris! I don't think we'll attempt another trip any time soon. Too many crowds, and the metro is definitely not Frederic's favorite thing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A little closer to summer

Frederic's dad power washed our patio yesterday. Today, we were finally able to find a plastic cover for our patio table to protect it from all the rain we get here (not to mention the many, many birds in our yard). AND today turned out to be pretty sunny. All of those circumstances taken together meant that we were finally able to prepare our patio for summertime!

This is where our outdoor table goes:

(The gigantic hedge has been removed since this photo was taken, opening up our view of the side yard, where we hope to put a swing set this summer for Benjamin. And that brick structure is our barbecue grill.)

Benjamin helped me wash the table and chairs:

And then Frederic and I oiled them. Now we are waiting for them to dry a little bit before we put them on the patio. We can't wait for spring/summer meals outside, and moving the outdoor furniture means we can reclaim the glassed-in part of the patio as well.

The outdoor furniture had been dwelling there all winter, cohabiting with our indoor patio furniture, the metal containers for the fireplace ashes, and various and sundry groceries, making the veranda crowded and unusable. Soon we will be able to put away the ash boxes and move the excess groceries to their summer home in the laundry room, and the patio will be entirely available to us again. The nice part of the indoor patio is that we can still feel like we are enjoying the yard and the weather even on those days when it's sunny but chilly outside.

* * * *

We haven't seen Noah sleeping often lately, which makes it that much more appreciable when he finally gives in! I've started reading up in my trusty sleep book (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child), but it seems Noah is still in the "up to 6 weeks, the fussiness may get worse before it gets better" stage.

We're hoping it will start getting better soon! He has gone from sleeping all night long the first week to waking up every 3 hours to eat. At the moment he can do a 4-6 hour stretch in the evening, but he also has his "witching hour" starting around 6-7 pm. We don't remember that with Benjamin, so this is new to us and not much fun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Noah is one month old today!

I can't believe it, I don't know where the time has gone! It doesn't look like he can believe it, either!

Monday, April 7, 2008

April updates

My mom is around for 2 1/2 more days before heading to Cambodia to join my dad. I still have all sorts of projects for her but most of them require nicer weather or work by other people first (like Frederic removing the baseboards in my office before we can prime & paint. Since he doesn't have time off until she is gone, I guess she is going to miss that fun).

I probably should know better by now than to post anything about Noah's sleep patterns, but against my better judgment, I'll tell you that he slept for 6-hour stretches between feedings the last 2 nights. That still has him waking up between 1-3 am, but if I can get 5+ hours of continuous sleep by going to bed at 7 or 8 pm, I'll do it!

It snowed a little last night & this morning, but didn't stick. It is cold again! So much for that warm sunny weather a few days ago. Today we have a fire in the fireplace again.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Yes, sunshine is such a rare event here that I have to blog about it every time it shows up. I think today was our first full day of sunshine in the past month. We took advantage of it for a mini-photo shoot of the boys in their adorable new shirts a friend sent us. Sunshine is such a rare commodity here, that when we were outside taking pictures, Benjamin said, "Off the light!" while covering his eyes. (To which we replied: "Ummm... we can't. That's the sun.")

One of the decent photos

And here are a couple of the "how do the photographers get kids to pose together nicely?" photos. (The second is an "off the light" photo.)
Frederic also took advantage of the nice weather to plant his tomato seeds and some herbs for this year's garden. With any luck, we'll have some more sunshine soon and enough non-rainy days so that he can mow the grass soon, too.

Since we're now working on updating my office (stripping wallpaper, painting, and laying laminate flooring), Benjamin's table has been moved out of my office into the hallway for the time being. He doesn't seem to mind.