Taking a day off

Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Wednesday night, my body felt like it was shutting down.  I had dreaded flu-like symptoms - chills, achy bones, fatigue and a horrible headache.  I was in bed by 9:00.  After a near-sleepless night (thanks mostly to a teething baby), I didn't feel much better yesterday morning, so I called for a day off.  I'm learning that being a mama doesn't really afford "days off" in the sense that I've always been used to, but I still managed to put rest at the top of my list for a day.  We stayed in bed as long as possible in the morning and finally found ourselves a bit of breakfast just after noon rolled around.  We played on the couch when we were awake, grabbed some fresh air on the front lawn for a few minutes and both went down for naps a little after lunch.  By about 4:00, I was feeling so much better.

Since having Avienne, I've been in this same situation more than once before.  Nursing mamas need to be rested, well-fed and well-hydrated - all things that sometimes seem impossible to accomplish.  At the beginning, I had no idea how important this was and a found myself at the doctor's office a couple of times to clear up a bout of mastitis.  I had been keeping it in the back of my mind that I needed to have a good meal, drink lots of water and make sure to take naps with Avienne - particularly on those days when I'm feeling rundown.  But, after a few months, when things started to come easier, my milk supply was well-established and we had somewhat of a routine down, I got a little lazy.  I'd been skipping breakfast and not thinking about lunch until the 3:00 hunger pangs struck.  I'd grab a water in the morning and forget about drinking anything again until lunch.  And any spare moment I've had to myself, I spent cleaning, getting online or working on some sort of project instead of napping.  So, it all caught up to me.

After calling it an early night again last night, I woke up this morning feeling almost back to myself again.  I still have a few lingering symptoms of a breast infection, but I'm hoping they'll go away by tomorrow.  Motherhood still feels like a huge experiment in trial and error for me.  After this last episode, I'm going to schedule a day or two off every week to rest up and reset so I don't end up in the same situation again.  I'm still learning how to be a good mama and take care of my baby, but I can't forget how to look after for myself in the process.

My sweet girl taking care of her mama.


Monday, February 25, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week in 2013"

Huit :: Teething, tired and sad that she can't play with mama's camera lens.

I hesitated choosing this picture for this week's portrait because who enjoys pictures of babies crying?  I don't.  And, although this isn't entirely representative of Avienne this week, it kind of is.  She has been teething (if you look hard enough, you can see that bottom tooth trying to come through here), and every so-often, she'll burst into tears out of nowhere.  It doesn't last long, thank goodness, and usually the best cure is a bit of nursing followed by a creative distraction.  Teething is not the funnest, but I'll be happy to see this photo in a year and have a real reminder of how she came to have her first tooth.  

Linking up with Jodi's 52 Project.

Favorites: Paris Parks

Paris has parks like no other city I've seen, and depending on what you want to do, there are certain parks that will be better suited to match your activity.  There are playground parks in just about every neighborhood where you can bring your kid to play or sit on a bench and take a load off, read a book or work on your laptop.  There are parks well-suited for picnics and large groups; parks that offer long, broad paths perfect for strolling; parks where people-watching is the favorite activity and parks where you can find both lunch and the perfect spot to eat.  Many of these parks serve as gardens for a much larger attraction, like a museum or zoo.

A bit ashamedly, I never spent much time going to parks when I lived in Paris.  I mean, I spent a fair share of time picnicking, meeting up with friends and hanging around grassy lawns, but I barely took advantage of all the places to discover there.  Now that I have a kid, I'm always wishing we had a convenient park or two around our house where we could pass the time - at least one one that isn't encircled by a road.  When we are in Paris in May, I plan on spending as much free time exploring our favorite parks and searching for new ones to take Avienne.

Here are the parks we're fond of and hoping to pop into on our visit, along with some old photos I dug up of some of these spots. I'm sure I'll be adding some future favorites to the list after we've spent some time in Paris with a baby. (I've heard the Jardin des Plantes and Jardin des Enfants are really fun for toddlers and older kids, so we might be checking them out, too).

1.  Parc des Buttes Chaumont : This place was always such a "grown-up" kind of park to me, probably because there are restaurants and a bar/dance club within the park grounds.  It's full of foliage in the summer and walking around is more reminiscent of traveling through a magical woodland than a city park.  The view of Paris can't be beat, either, and it makes you feel like you're on a cloud overlooking the city.  We never spent much time here since it was on the opposite side of town from chez nous, but I'm looking forward to checking out the lake and waterfall that I somehow missed those few times I did find my way here.

2.  Bois de Boulogne : It's definitely a travesty that we lived so close to this park and visited it no more than a few times.  There is so much to do here, including canoeing, biking and visiting the Jardin d'Acclimatation which hosts a zoo and a whole load of attractions.  I've heard some great things about all of the activities there, and now it seems I really have a good excuse to check it out.  I think Avienne might still be too young this time to enjoy all it has to offer, but it will likely become a future favorite once she is old enough.

3.  Jardin du Luxembourg : Always our go-to park, the Luxembourg gardens provided endless people-watching and prompted many a cat-nap on lazy summer afternoons.  It's also the park through which I would cut to go to and from my French classes, barely having enough time to enjoy the sound of gravel underfoot during my commute.  I don't think we'll bring Avienne here to picnic (it's usually pretty crowded and full of smokers), but I would love to stroll with her down the tree-lined colonnade and sit by the fountain to enjoy a bon moment of people-watching.  I feel like that's just what this park was made for.

4.  Jardin des Tuileries : I always feel so refined and classy whenever I'm in the Tuileries.  Even if I'm eating chips out of a bag and drinking from a water bottle.  It's such an elegant park with sculptures all around and just enough perfectly-hedged shrubbery to enjoy a bit of retreat from everyone else around. It's massive and spans the length of rue Rivoli from the Louvre to Place de la Concorde, which makes it the perfect park to pop into for a rest after wandering through the Louvre.

5.  Le Champs de Mars : The champs isn't so much a park as a big field of trimmed grass, but I'm listing it here anyway because it's technically a park and we will almost definitely make our way there for a picnic on a sunny day in May.  There might not be a better place to savor a baguette sandwich and drink from a plastic verre of wine in Paris than right in the shadow of La Tour Eiffel. Am I right?

Next up: Favorite places to cure a sweet tooth in Paris

A little progress report

Friday, February 22, 2013

So, it's been a while since I reported on any of Avienne's milestones around here, but honestly, there haven't been too many.  At 4 days shy of 8 months (mon dieu!), she seems to be taking her sweet little time doing things lots of other babies have done by now.  She is a pretty content little gal - usually wakes up with a smile on her face and goes to bed without any fuss.  She's super easy to read and never complains for too long (although, we're working on the beginning stages of separation anxiety).  She is truly the perfect little baby and I don't know if I'll ever be ready for her to be a toddler.  But, c'est la vie, as they say, and there has definitely been some growing-up going on over these past couple months.  Here are a few updates:

Moving : She enjoys tummytime quite a bit, but she's not quite ready to crawl, yet.  Typically, she'll push herself up as high as she can on her arms and then push herself backwards.  This doesn't usually get her very far, and she's found herself stuck under the bench in the livingroom more than once because her diaper-butt is too big to go any further.  It seems like she's always preferred having her legs locked and she'll be happy to stand up against something as long as you're there to catch her when she loses balance.  She doesn't much  enjoy rolling over, though, but we know she knows how because when she's really anxious to grab something, she will.  In general, if she's lying on her back or sitting down, she won't move until someone moves her.  And, I'm really OK with that.

Communicating :  Things are really clicking in her head these days.  She has mastered the concept of anticipation, partly thanks to the weekly swim lessons we're taking this month (more on that in a later post). When we count to 3, she knows something is about to happen (usually it's going under water or being lifted in the air, and occasionally, it's raspberries on the belly). 

After two days of repeatedly telling her no and removing her hand, she learned not to pull at the blinds near her changing table that she once ripped off; she's never touched them since.  When she's hungry, she grabs my face and bites kisses my chin. She's slowly but surely learning how to wave hello and goodbye to friends and strangers. When she's tired, she screams and whimpers and then laughs at the most mundane sound or sight.  And those laughs.  They are sometimes accompanied by a snort and are truly the sweetest sounds my ears have ever heard. Overall, we've established a really solid method of communication, so let's hope it continues!

Eating : Ouf!  This is my current affliction.  The girl will not eat solids.  She's just not interested.  We introduced her to solids at 6 months, and admittedly, we weren't very diligent about feeding her more than once everyday, even skipping a day every once in a while.  When we finally started getting into the habit, she was totally into it and eating really well - happily grubbing on the oatmeal, peas, squash, pears and carrots we introduced her to.  She even recently enjoyed gnawing on an apple core.  But, for the past couple of weeks, she does not want more than a bite of anything.  She'll maybe grab the spoon, but she turns her head the moment it's near her mouth.  Maybe it's because she's teething like crazy (yet, still not a tooth in sight), but after two months, I just wish she would show more interest in food.  Am I crazy?

Sleeping : Her sleeping habits have been pretty well established for months, now.  She naps three times a day around the same time everyday.  She's usually tired by 7, which is when we start winding her down (bath, pajamas and calm playtime), and we try to have her in bed by 8 most days.  On a good night, she'll wake me up around midnight and then around 6 a.m. to nurse, and then straight back to sleep.  On a bad night, she'll wake me up every two-and-a-half hours starting around 11 p.m.  Those nights suck, but luckily, they aren't typical.  

The major change I've noticed in her sleeping habits over the past month or so is that she's less inclined to put herself to sleep for naps.  She goes down without any objection at night, but during the day, she does not want me to leave the room.  I'm chalking it up to the separation anxiety phase she seems to have entered into, which means it may get worse before it gets better.  We shall see.

Her favorites : swinging, bathtime, mirrors, being outside, pulling grass, being sung to, naps in the car, riding face-out in the baby carrier

Her least favorites : her high chair, eating solids, hearing someone cough, shopping, doing anything sans mama or papa

Favorites: Paris restaurants

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

While we're planning for our trip to Paris, I thought I would come up with a few lists of the top spots we don't want to miss during our short stay.  This post will cover 5 of our favorite places to eat in the culinary capital that we hope to hit up again in May.  When we lived in Paris, we didn't eat out as much as we do now that we're living in Austin, but we had a few choice spots kept in regular rotation.  More than a handful of our favorite places to go involved getting our American food fix (particularly here and here), so, needless to say, we won't be including those in our eating program for this visit.

This is all wishful thinking, of course.  We'll likely have barely enough time to step into half of these places,  especially since Paris is full of new-to-me restaurants begging to be tried, but also, because I have no idea how eating out in Paris goes with an infant in tow. On verra. (Sidenote: if anyone has any tips or recommendations for visiting and eating around Paris with babies, I'd love to hear them!)

1.  A et M : This awesome restaurant will be a real treat for Gui and me.  We used to come here for special occasions (or when it seemed like it'd been too long since), and never found a place with better food for the price in all of Paris.  We're planning (hoping) to take advantage of all the family we'll have around to watch Avienne while we are spoiled by the always-impeccable service and beautiful food.  Best of all, it's in our old 'hood, so we can get all nostalgic and try to remember the good ol', simple days sans enfant.

2.  L'As du Fallafel : I can almost taste the warm-and-crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside-goodness already.  I'm not looking forward to the long wait we'll undoubtedly face at this favorite among both tourists and locals, but I won't much mind once we've sat down to grub on the most delectable fallafel I've ever known.

3.  Le Parc : A real, down-home bistro that Gui's dad introduced us to when we first moved to Paris, Le Parc is easily at the top of our list.  It's not the best brasserie in Paris - maybe not even close, but it's one of those places that reminds us of home and it can't be missed when we're so close.  We have no doubt we'll be visiting Le Parc at least once on our trip if not for its perfect steak au poivre and traditional profiteroles, then for its mascot cat who likes to traipse about like he owns the place (he kind of does).

4.  Cojean : This place.  I don't know if I could ever have eaten here too often.  It was my go-to for lunch everyday, but I craved it on the weekends, too.  Fresh, complicated salads that I'd never have the time (or audacity) to make at home, simple sandwiches on perfectly-baked bread, velvety soups and dessert for any craving - you just can't go wrong.  

5.  Le Barav : I remember having some really great tartines and charcuterie plates here when Gui and I would get the courage to make the multiple metro transfers to get to the 3rd arrondissement.  It's a tiny wine bar, which means that in all likelihood, our petite famille will have to forgo the trip there, but I'm keeping it on the list as a "just-in-case" for the off-chance that we can indulge ourselves a bit after Avienne's bedtime.  

Honorable mentions (and only if we're in the neighborhood): Table Russe, Pho 14, Crêperie Josselin.  Man! I wish I could visit them all!

Next up:  Favorite Paris parks

Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We booked our flights to Paris on Sunday.  I'm a tad bit nervous about travelling overseas with Avienne for the first time, but that's all trumped by my serious excitement about being in Paris this May!  We had originally planned to visit in June, but ticket prices are laughable anytime after mid-May, so early-May it had to be.  

As soon as we confirmed our seats, Gui set to work on a calendar - this will be Avienne's first time in France and she has lots of people to meet, so we've got some mega planning to do.  Not to mention, there's some prioritzing needed of the endless  places I want to introduce Avienne to - museums and bridges and parks, and so many old haunts I want to be sure we don't miss.  And, we aren't just staying in Paris this time.  We're also planning short side-trips to see friends in Normandy (our second favorite place in France) and family in Nice, which calls for a lot of extra planning for car rentals, carseats, train and plane tickets, etc.  

Then, there's the whole packing issue.  Lately, I have a hate-hate relationship with airports and flying in general, so in an effort to prevent any unnecessary stress, I promised Gui I would whittle down my wardrobe to one small suitcase shared with Avienne's clothes.  Think I can do it?  I'll be doing a trial run soon, so expect me to report back on that. 

We haven't been back to Paris in over a year, so as excited as I am, I know Gui must be twice as much so.  We were hoping to celebrate his or Avienne's birthday (both in June) while visiting, but it looks like we'll be celebrating mine instead.  I feel pretty lucky about that plus the fact that we'll be in Paris when there's no snow in sight and the weather will be demanding picnics and long walks.  Seriously.  Who doesn't love Paris in the spring?


Monday, February 18, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013."

Sept :: Crazy hands for the camera from my sweet Valentine.

Ack!  I'm a little late for this week's portrait, and my only excuse is that I was treating myself to an evening out last night and having too much fun all weekend to remember.  Honestly, I'm totally OK with that kind of excuse.  

I managed to get a lot of pictures of Avienne this weekend - with my real camera, even!  Holidays are always good times for photos and Valentine's Day this year was just that.  It was Avienne's first, and besides receiving the tiniest heart-shaped balloon from her papa and a box of chocolates from her friend, Saginaw (lucky for mama, she's still toothless), we didn't really mark the occasion for her with anything too crazy.  It is a "Hallmark" holiday, after all, isn't it?  Whatever that means.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 Project.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013."

Six :: Enjoying a sunny day in the grass.

Well, I haven't been so great about getting out the clunky camera lately, so this photo (like last week's) was taken with my handy iPhone.  The day I took this, we'd gone out to the park for a little swinging action, but as I was about to pack everything in the car and put Avienne in her carseat, she let out a little squeal of disagreement.  I knew she was trying tell me she wanted to stay out just a little longer to enjoy the weather.  This girl loves her some outside, and I wasn't going to deny her a little extra sunshine.  Thinking back about it now, I'm glad we spent those extra 10 minutes in the grass, pulling out leaves and enjoying each other's company on a beautiful day because the weekend brought nothing but rain and gloom.  

This coming week, I plan on getting out the big camera a little more, but I have to say, it's nice being able to capture sweet, impromptu moments like this one with a quick swipe of my phone.  One point for modern technology.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 project.


Monday, February 4, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013" 

Cinq :: A sweetly sleeping baby from earlier in the week.

This was quite the rare sight this week.  After Monday (when this picture was taken), Avienne kindly resisted her usual daytime naps in lieu of playing with the stuffies in her crib and talking to herself.  She did not, however, hesitate to catch a bit of shut-eye while in her carseat in between running errands, which left me sitting in the driveway or parking lot a few times (instead of eating lunch) while she slept.  Let me tell you, eating a cold lunch is so much more appetizing when there's a well-rested baby wandering about.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 Project.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

One day last week, seemingly out of nowhere, Avienne started to talk.  Babytalk, of course, but lots of it.  She's been goo-ing and gah-ing over the past couple months, even yelling back at us when we talk to her, but this was the first time she went on and on.  She carried on a conversation with herself for a full half-hour and didn't shy away when I pulled out the camera to record a few minutes of her chatter.

Hearing her go on and on made me daydream a bit about future us and how someday, we'll be riding in the car or catching the métro together, and she'll be talking my head off about everything under the sun.  I'm so looking forward to those days, but man, they're coming really fast.

PS:  I've been uploading a few videos on the Vine app.  It's kind of addictive. If you're on it, come find me as TexasSarah.
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