A year of lessons

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A lot can happen in a year, or in our case, six months. It’s hard to know where to begin, so how about the beginning?

When we set out to try living in Paris, we jumped head-first into it. The thing you should know about Gui and me is that we’re not really planners, we’re doers. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and Gui’s been a willing participant since we started our adventure together in 2006. There’s nothing I love and crave more than change, which is all good and well when you’re a young spring chicken - or a couple of young chickens - but, keeping up that same lifestyle when there’s a little one in the mix makes for a constant struggle of emotions - stay or go, settle or set-out. 

So, when we made the decision to move to Paris, it was done as it always had been done: on a whim. We gave ourselves two months, which was pushed back to five months and eventually happened seven months later. We only had one thing sorted out when we moved and that was Avienne’s school. We figured everything else would fall into place, and for the most part, it did. Gui started a job two months after he arrived, I was able to set up my business fairly easily, and Avienne was absolutely thriving at and loving her school. The problem? We couldn’t find a decent place to live. 

Some things

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The endless search for shelter and home has me feeling very neither-here-nor-there lately. It's a weird and embarrassing situation to be in a constant limbo - clueless about which direction we're headed and forever waiting-and-seeing. By the grace of a loving and generous family, we've been able to set up camp in an otherwise unused piece of property just outside of the city. It's not really "home," but we're happily making it our home base for now, while we wait for some decisions by summer's end. 

I do miss the buzz and conveniences of being in the city-proper, but I must admit it's been a nice, quiet retreat from the hubbub these past couple of weeks. And it doesn't hurt that there's a relatively massive kitchen that has been tempting me to make use of it. 

While Avienne is on summer break, and as we wait for our real vacation to start next week, I've been indulging in a few "homey" activities. It's been working to relieve some of the sting of still being "homeless" and has been providing a much needed distraction from all the other doubts, concerns and questions I'm currently juggling in my mind. It's so easy to get lost in the negative of our situation, and believe me, I've been losing it. But, I want to look back in a few years and remember how we persevered as a family, and how we made the most of our situation by focusing on the good and enjoying the little things. It's such a special time in Avienne's childhood, that the only thing I want to do is be present to create those special moments with her. 

So, here are some little things I've been enjoying over the past few weeks; the things that have made my heart feel full and my time feel well-spent. 

I have missed cooking. When Gui's co-worker gifted him the most gigantic squash and cucumbers from his home garden, I thought "what the heck am I supposed to cook with those?!" After my calabaza con pollo barely made a dent in one zucchini, I opted to bake some zucchini bread to go along with a cake salé I'd already been planning. It was so fun to be back in the kitchen with my little helper whose weekly baking sessions at school have definitely upped her baking game! Now, I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with that second zucchini.

 We had THE best time at the Jardin d'Acclimation a few weeks back. We spent the day running all around the park, carousel-hopping and mechanical horse-riding. Avienne loves carousels and definitely enjoyed the Dumbo ride (especially with her Papa), but we hands-down had the most laughs on our way out of the park while stopping through the crazy mirror trail. We could not stop cracking up at how funny we all looked in this one mirror. 

Give me good coffee and this beautiful floor and my life is complete. A favorite spot in the middle of the Palais gardens.

Edible gifts from summer holidays, and our favorite summer meal.
I never knew I would love being a mom to a girl so much, but I do. Avienne brings out the girly in me and it makes me so happy to do things like braid her hair and paint her toes. I hope she'll always let me indulge my often overlooked girly side with her. 

Chamonix avec les amis

Friday, July 10, 2015

So, we spent some time in the mountains a few weeks ago. Some of our best friends from Austin were visiting La France and hooked us up with a slightly extravagant chalet tucked away on a hill in the Alps. I'm not much of a mountain (or nature) girl, but it's hard not to feel the magic that radiates from being in a valley full of sunshine surrounded by colossal, snow-capped mountains. Our visit there definitely brought out my inner hippie.

Being the city folk that we are, we opted out of any major physical activities and settled on sightseeing from the lift's drop-off points (and eating all the traditional cheesy, meaty specialties in the area, of course). We explored a bit once we reached a good point on the mountain and couldn't stop watching all the brave paragliders jump off of the mountainside with only an oversized umbrella on their backs. Although I opted out, Guillaume, Avienne and the rest of the group put on their big-boy pants and took an open-air lift across one of the mountains to get a good look at the great Bossons Glacier. The pictures they took were beautiful, but after seeing the flimsy little chair lift, I'm definitely glad I sat that one out. 

Together again

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It occurred to me last week that I'd been pretty vague about what we've been up to lately and the plans we've been making & following through with over the past few months. Even to close friends and family, I hadn't been publicizing our plans because the truth is, we weren't really sure how or if they'd all unfold the way we wanted. 

So much to do and so much time

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Exploring Paris with a toddler is interesting. Avienne has a pretty hefty appetite for physical adventures and human interaction. She enjoys social settings so much, even if only to sit and observe others. Riding the métros, busses and trams all over the city with her by my side has been a much different experience than what I remember from my past solitary commutes. She treats everyone like someone she knows and it makes for a somewhat shocking experience for some Parisians. On our very first métro ride together, we sat across from a woman who made it known that she was very offended that I allowed my kid to sit across from her AND that I crossed my legs which she felt extended into her "territory." I couldn't help but laugh at the poor woman, but managed to keep my cool. Another woman sat down across from me who was extremely and abnormally kind to both me and Avienne, and I reminded myself that Paris is full of extreme personalities such as these. I mean, isn't the whole world somewhere between very kind and very rude? We've thankfully avoided other encounters with the rude since that last atrocious one, but I'm sure it won't be our last. 

Besides our adventures on public transportation (and there have been many), we've been bouncing around from café to café in hopes of finding our new coffeeshop hangout. Our weekend mostly consisted of discovering new-to-me restaurants and coffee shops and enjoying delicious meals and beautiful places in the process. We spent most of Saturday writing on walls and admiring the Jeff Koons exhibit at the Pompidou museum. We found a nice brasserie [not so] nearby for a very French lunch, followed by a long walk through the Tuileries with a sprinkling of a mini brass band concert and some fountain-side sailboat watching. According to my iPhone, we walked over 9 km (over 5.5 miles) that day, and boy, could I feel it!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Well, it's bedtime for me and I just erased a 6 paragraph entry about how we spent a lovely Monday around Paris. For the past 8ish years that I've blogged, that's never happened to me. Like ever. 

I don't even know how to begin rewriting it, so here's what I can remember in bullet points and pictures until I stop kicking myself and have the time to write about our next adventure.

  • We've been in Paris for a week now and it feels both like forever and just yesterday that we arrived.
  • I took Avienne to Cojean for lunch on Monday; she had pasta, I had risotta - it was as good as ever.
  • A few things she notices most while traveling around the city are cranes, berry bushes, bells, horns and sirens. And pigeons.
  • We spent hours going to and from Chateau de Vincennes to finish up a final few meetings for my shop.
  • I felt like we spent the whole day hopping from one mode of transport to another or walking around.
  • She made me carry her a few times, so I kind of feel like I'm working out again.
  • We tried to check out Coutume Lab, but it was closed, so ended up enjoying the warmth, smiles and people watching at Café Coutume instead. We will definitely be lingering around there often.
  • I had my first real coffee since being in Paris and Avienne had her first ever "babyccino".
  • We ended our 7 hour day with a hot bath, warm pasta and snuggled up reading in bed.
  • I'm looking forward to more Mondays.
...still kicking myself, though.

[2015] 2/52 + 3/52

Friday, January 30, 2015

Avienne with two of her favorite baristas.

Week 2: Avienne and Sam

Week 3: Avienne and Ryan

About two years ago, while grabbing tacos one day, we stumbled upon a cozy, little coffeeshop that we soon discovered offered comfy couch seating and made perfect cappuccinos. We eventually made it our second home and have begun the majority of our mornings ever since with a coffee and a smile at Houndstooth

It didn't take us long to realize that besides the promise of a cup of stellar coffee, seeing some really friendly and incredibly sweet faces every day was the real reason we kept going back. "Cossee shop" as Avienne calls our favorite coffee spot, is where we go to start our day, have a few moments of calm or to share a bit of news. It's our go-to when we need to regroup or meet up with loved ones. And it's a place we'll miss dearly when we're no longer a short (or long) drive away. These two faces (along with a few others) are already missed!

[2015] 1/52

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 was such a hazy year for me. So much changed, so many tears ran and frustrations sprouted; so many nights were filled with brutal thoughts and painful sobs - days filled with puffy eyes and coffee overdoses. I floated through most of last year, pushed through the days and sheltered myself from reality. 

If there's any resolution to be made for 2015, it's a hope to regain a bit of normalcy and calm. To gather my thoughts and reset my goals. To stay focused and aware. To find the silver lining of it all and take only the good from the bad. Let myself go, relax and enjoy my life and family and all the love that blooms there.

So, I'm hopping back in the saddle with one of my old favorites that went wayward when things turned upside down last year - my 52 Project. This year, I want to capture Avienne again, but not alone. I think she would love to look back some day to see portraits of herself with someone she appreciates, loves or admires. As much as she enjoys her independence, she is a fierce friend to those she has time to know and happily makes new friends wherever she goes. Plus, she's got a pretty large extended family who could fill a 52 project at least threefold. 

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1/52: Avienne with Papa | taken 1/3/15

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