I am certainly not complaining, people. Because I am on a [mostly] free trip to Paris, and when will that ever happen again? But the first five days were not completely enjoyable. The business district we were in while Scott was working could have been any city really. Just skyscrapers and rushed businessmen and mediocre food.
And me alone with my toddler all day and sometimes at night if work required evening attention. In a place where people seemed both shocked and confused to see a small child. And yes that was every bit as fun as it sounds. Last night, when the work day was over, I was grabbing my coat and shoes and loading Jude in the stroller to get the hell out. We dined on the Champs-Elysees, and had the best food I’ve tasted in months just by stumbling on a random brasserie. How do the French do that? They’ve mastered food in a way we never will.
The reward of my few days alone in the business district is so worth it. Scott didn’t have to work today at all, but by mid-morning, we were packed up and headed out to our new location. The taxi ride felt like fresh air.
So here we are in what finally feels like The Real Paris, and I’m writing with a belly full of Salade Parisienne and the soundtrack of two napping boys in our hotel room. We have no plan for tonight which is perfectly good with me. Tuilerie Garden perhaps. Or somewhere equally as lazy and beautiful.
Plans for the next few days? Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay, the Marais, Centre Pompidou, maybe Montmartre. Just trying to soak it all in and enjoy some last travel moments as a family of three.
I’m realizing I’m pregnant on this trip, in the sense that I cannot really lift things or walk as fast as I’d like or whatever. I’m just past 22 weeks, so it’s where the physical limitations are sinking in a little. All in all, it’s not bad though. Just trying to calm my overly anxious American ways and enjoy the occasional french coffee or white cheese or sip of wine (gasp! My doctor even told me to.) and remember that millions of mothers around the world do the same thing and enjoy healthy pregnancies. In fact, when I look around and think about all of this, I’m realizing we are the unhealthy ones in so many ways.
Here it is bread at every meal. Pastries every morning. Sidewalks smelling of cigarette smoke all day long. But they are happy and relaxed and healthy both physically and psychologically in a way I think we will never be.
Oh travel, I love you so. You always show me things I’d never notice otherwise.
We’re here safely in Paris! The flight was delayed an hour or so, but Jude did pretty well. I, on the other hand, could not get comfortable. So I felt pretty tired when we landed here on Sunday morning. I joined Jude for an afternoon nap though (an idea I always thought was a sin against jet lag), and after a shower and a walk in some cool air, I was good.
I wasn’t quite sure how a two-year-old who is normally an early bird would deal with such late dinners here, but he’s adjusting like a champ. The late sunrise characteristic of Paris winter is helping him sleep late, and he’s indulging in some marathon naps as well. It’s making for a happy kid when he’s awake though, so I’m letting him sleep when he wants.
We are in the business district until later this week, and then we move to another hotel more central to the city. I start every day with coffee and a croissant and a birds-eye view of the ants walking busily to work outside my window.
This sea of black business suits and hurried pace is so incredibly different from the Paris I remember visiting years ago. No lazy lunches or quiet cafe conversation or iron balconies. It’s all stark and functional and busy. At least to this outsider it seems so.
We are strolling a bit and window shopping and enjoying the food but also spending more time in the hotel than I’d like – at least until Scott gets back in the early evenings. My inability to use the Ergo with a 33 pound toddler at this stage of pregnancy combined with the stairs sprinkled in every Metro station leave me confined to the walkable area outside the hotel. But in ways it’s a nice little vacation before our real vacation begins after the work week, I suppose. I get to read or knit or catch a nap while Jude sleeps in the room which is nice. I think I’m catching up on two years of missed sleep, and my nap-loving pregnant self is happy with that. We’re using the few toys I packed as well. The ziplock full of Legos and hot wheels were a good idea.
All in all, it feels good to breathe on the other side of the ocean for a little while, and I’m counting down the days until the work week ends and we explore some more. I’ll check in later with some more phone photos. We strolled to the Arc de Triomphe last night and ate dinner there. I could see the Eiffel Tower shimmering a little in the distance, but the phone camera didn’t do it justice, and my real camera cord is at home. C’est la vie. We’ll have to wait on the real pictures. I’ll write more soon, friends.
It’s 2012, y’all. When did that happen? It seems like the Y2K nonsense was a few years ago at the most, but I guess time is flying faster than I think. I’m not quite used to writing the date yet, but I’m excited for what the year brings. A new baby of course. And lots of other exciting moments that I can’t predict, I’m sure.
I finished up my 2011 resolution with a few little sewn Christmas gifts that I stuffed in to bags and boxes at the last possible second without taking a real photo. I made yet another car cozy and a few of these little crayon rolls. I put one of the crayon rolls in Jude’s stocking, and now it resides in my purse where it’s already proven useful for entertainment in a tight spot. I think pairing it with a few coloring books is going to be my favorite gift for birthdays this year. So simple and so useful. I also knit these little booties for my cousin’s baby girl who should arrive this month.
Cue the “awwwwww” because they are so unbelievably tiny. And now I want to knit a million things for Norah. Baby projects are so fast, even for a slow knitter like me.
So this year will be nuts and as much as I love the fresh-start feeling of January first, I am not going to aim too high on the resolutions this year. It is not the year to reorganize my entire house or learn a new craft or do anything very time-consuming. I know for sure how overwhelmed I will feel at moments after our new arrival and the crazy task of taking care of two littles instead of only one.
There are so many things I’d like to do and change this year: I want an organized house that runs on a perfect schedule and never gets dirty. I want to simplify almost everything in my life. I want fresh laundry put away in its proper place each day. I want the time and energy to complete creative projects. I want to exercise every day. I want to always have fresh, healthy food on the table for myself and my family. I want to lose the pregnancy weight at a record speed and feel better than ever. I want a lot. And hopefully in the next 365 days, I will have shining moments on all of those feats and I’ll feel that I’m growing better and stronger. But I will soon have two kids under three years old, and I know enough to know that this year might be a time when I need to be gentle on myself.
So when I think about what’s important to me in this season of my life, so to speak, I know I want to focus on slowing down and seeing the good in every day, no matter how hectic or unexpected things become. I enjoyed my 365 project in many ways, and I’ve missed taking photographs. While it’s impossible to actually slow things down, feeling gratitude and stepping back from the moment for a minute are two really good ways to get started on that task. Plus I know I’ll want to take a million photos as the baby arrives anyhow, so my only resolution this year is to take a photo a day and hopefully learn my way around Lightroom a bit. I don’t really edit at all now, except for the occasional cropping. I’d love to know a little more about how to edit properly though.
I started on January first with a picture of Jude’s art desk during naptime when it was undisturbed. The house felt nice and quiet after such a busy couple of weeks, and it felt like a good place to start. It’s not overly symbolic. Just a quiet moment and as good a place to start as any.
I know some of the 300+ photographs will feel special and others won’t. It’s really just the daily practice I’d like to cultivate a bit, and it’s such a monumental year to document with photos. I can start off with a bang, too! In a few days, I’ll have lots to capture on camera.
We are heading to Paris in what will probably be the last tag-along trip for a while. The Husband has work to do there, so I’ll be entertaining myself and Jude for about five days, but then we are following it up with another few days of a real vacation. A last hoorah before life gets a lot busier. I know it’s not the ideal travel situation: I’m sporting a sizable belly, my son is two, and it’s winter. But really it’s an opportunity for [mostly] free travel, and I can’t say no. Croissants! And crepes! And the Eiffel Tower! And cheese! And cafes! Winter or not, pregnant or not, toddler or not, it’s still Paris and one of my absolute favorite places on the globe.
I hesitated a bit about saying something here because I am a little more paranoid these days about announcing when I’m out-of-town since my neighbor’s house was robbed while they were away. In reality though, my readers are mostly fellow thoughtful mamas who don’t know where I live at all or close friends of mine who know me well, so I’m coming clean instead of letting that paranoia dictate what I write about. Plus do you really think I’ll spend ten days there without checking in once or twice? I doubt it. So if you have stumbled across a random mommy blog and you now want to rob my house, be assured I have an alarm system, someone looking after my place frequently while I’m gone, and two very large dogs. And essentially nothing of value except a television with toddler finger prints all over it.
And to the rest of you, happy new year! I hope your 2012 will be full of countless happy moments and new adventures. I’ll check in soon. Au revoir!
I’m slow on the posting these days. It’s been a busy week.
Scott and I took a quick trip to New York for our anniversary this weekend. We left Jude at home with grandparents which was a big deal to me. I don’t know why it was, but it was. I’m perfectly aware that there are some families who do baby sleepovers as early as a few months, and I am also perfectly aware that some of you reading this might not spend nights away from your little ones until they are more like kindergarteners or older. Either way is fine, really. Different ideas work for different families, and for mine, two little nights right before the two-year-old mark seemed like a good fit.
It’s funny though that you are never really off the clock as a mother. No matter how far away you are, it creeps back in your head, wondering how he is or what he ate for lunch or if he’s been sleeping enough. Obsession over details seems like both a genetic tendency for me and also an occupational hazard that comes with this job.
If I’m being honest, it wasn’t the lush baby-free vacation of my dreams. I just don’t think I’m there yet in terms of really needing an extended break from him for my sanity’s sake, so I didn’t crave numerous days away from him like I crave a quick outing on my own. It was nice to get away and be a grown-up without crushed crackers and baby wipes in my purse though. I couldn’t help but think the city’s heat wave (heat indexes of something like 115!) was my fault. Like God sent a distraction for me so that I really didn’t have time or brain energy to worry too much about Jude. Friday was especially brutal, so we spent a lot of time at the Met to get out of the heat. Not a bad plan at all, really. Even with the droves of other tourists with the same idea, it was still the Met and still lovely. We also managed to see “War Horse” which was incredible and have a lovely dinner at Jean Georges which totaled something like three weeks of our usual grocery bill, but it might have been worth it. Saturday morning’s temperatures were a lot better, and we strolled Chinatown enjoying colorful shops and dim sum and hunting for taro bubble tea.
New York City is such fun for a short period of time for me, but it’s not a city that sings to me, so to speak. I think I’m too slow or something. I love Paris with its two-hour lunches and lazy riverside strolling, and I think I could live happily in some quaint little English town, but NYC is fun for me only because it is so far from my usual self, so different from what I really am.
Of course when we first got home, I was aching to see my little one, and he’s all, “Oh hey, mom. Didn’t realize you were gone that long. Can you pass me that graham cracker please?” Good thing I gave birth to you rather strenuously, fed you from my own body for sixteen months, wipe your ass numerous times a day, and tuck you in every night and now you hardly notice my absence.
But then we settled in for the night, and he wouldn’t stop doing that half-hugging, half-clobbering thing that toddler boys do and he asked me to lie down next to him as he fell asleep yesterday afternoon and then again today which hasn’t happened in ages. So maybe he missed me after all. Either way I am happy to be home to my cluttered house and million unfinished craft projects and messy dogs. Real life is calling with a lot of tasks this week, and it feels good for a change. Busy week ahead here. Catching up with friends three separate times this week and looking forward to it. My teacher friends head back to the classroom soon, so we are cramming in a few last get-togethers.
Spotify is also a tempting distraction for me these day, by the way. Have you seen it? It’s a free music streaming website, and I can get lost there for hours. It’s a fun way to share music with friends and discover new sounds. My current favorite playlist is full of songs I don’t entirely understand like this one and this one. So fun.
We’re home. We’ve been home for a couple of days actually, and I am still swimming in laundry and catch-up. Fourth of July and a movie date with girlfriends yesterday didn’t leave much time to recover from travel, but the fun was worth it. I feel like I’ve had a couple of weeks now without real life or boring details and responsibilities, and I am actually ready to get back on track with something normal again. That said, it’s been a good few weeks.
Vancouver is such a beautiful place, and we were positioned right on the harbor, so our morning walks gave me a beautiful scene. (You can click on these photos for a large view, by the way.)
The thing I always wonder when I am in such a beautiful place is if you ever get used to it. I see locals in grocery stores or running along the seaboard or having coffee in the park, and I have to wonder if it’s old hat to them or if they are still in awe of the place in which they live.
I think the thing I loved most about Vancouver was the contrast of natural beauty with these endless waters and snow-capped mountains set against an impressively beautiful city skyline. It’s the best of both worlds.
And the parks. OMG the parks, people. I can’t even begin to explain how lovely they are. And traveling with a toddler, we were there everyday.
And I could go on about so many other lovely things about this city. Charming older areas with cobblestone streets and an antique steam clock.
And a colorful Chinatown with some really beautiful gardens and delicious little bakeries.
We didn’t rush to see anything significant or check off a list of any kind. I just enjoyed the city with my little family, and it was such a lovely week.
Despite reading reviews and tips, I was seriously unimpressed with the food, and food is such a factor in my wanderlust, so I was pretty disappointed. We were also detained at the border for over two hours on the way back as we were “randomly selected” for a vehicle search, and we waited in line for an hour and a half before being seated. With a toddler. And a limited supply of goldfish crackers and only one obnoxious battery-operated toy. That put us pretty late getting into Seattle for the last night which pained me because it’s a city I love so much.
But despite those few little hiccups, my break from real life was perfect, and as usual, I’m sure the unkind things will fade from my memory to leave only the fuzzy sensory details and romanticized side of our destination. I think travel is like real life in that way. While I’m in the thick of it, some details seem really unpleasant, but then I look back later to think it was all roses. I love that.
We made it to Seattle, and yesterday afternoon had us driving to the Canadian border. We were in the car for three hours after a five-hour flight which usually would mean misery, but Jude was quiet and content, and the scenery was perfect. Evergreens as far as you can see.
And once we got in to Vancouver, the scenery is even better. My Georgia self is glad I brought a jacket, but the temperatures are a perfect relief from the heat we had at home.
Jude is happy to play and pretty much a satisfied kid as long as he can observe and inspect. That’s just about all we’ve done so far. He observes and I watch him watching other things. Not a bad life. Not at all.
I’m looking forward to seeing the photos on my real camera, but for now, Instagram is keeping me in touch with folks back home. [I’ve had it on my phone for ages, by the way, but I am just now figuring out how much fun it is. Anyone else? I’m listed as katie81.]
We’re looking forward to a fun week. The parks here are incredible, and we can head outside later than 10:00am which is a special treat in the summer. Until later…..
Super quick post today. We had a lovely Father’s Day weekend doing nothing much in particular, per Scott’s request.
These two boys make quite the pair, and they always make each other laugh. As much as I might try to be the fun one, I’m not. When Jude wants fun, he heads straight for Dad. And I’m okay with that.
I read an essay once complaining about how bloggers are so self-focused that they only talk about how their personal lives affect themselves and the reader never knows how anyone else in the home processes certain events as only the writer’s feelings are revealed. To that I say, how would I do this any other way? I don’t talk much about my husband’s relationship with his son in comparison to how much I babble on about motherhood, but obviously this is my head I’m living in, so I don’t really try to put words on someone else’s feelings. I will say, however, that I love seeing him grow as develop as a father, and it’s so rewarding to figure out the ropes on this whole parenthood thing with someone who somehow keeps a sense of humor while remaining solid and strong and dependable. And those are hard traits to find. We see eye-to-eye on so many things, but he’s still my yin when I am overwhelmed with yang. He shakes his head and rolls his eyes at my habits when I need someone to, but he also puts up with some crazy cloth-diapering, babywearing, organic-eating, cliche-abiding, granola-bordering ways I’ve developed. And any man who has hovered over the toilet spraying a diaper knows that’s no small task. Cheers to supportive and open-minded husbands, am I right, ladies?
This week is busy busy as I’m hosting people in and out all week for some playdates and dinners. (Love having my teacher friends home for the summer!) And we decided, somewhat impulsively, to tag along with Scott on his next trip, so I have lots of packing and list-making to do.
Hello, beautiful British Columbia with your 65 degree temperatures and harbour breezes. We fly in to Seattle and drive through some beautiful Pacific-Northwest territory, arriving in Vancouver to hang out there for a while and play nomadic family once again. I am crazy packing up a toddler, I know. But why not? My thermostat needs some relief from Atlanta heat and we’d love to see something new.
I’ll check back in soon with a June crafting round-up.
I love to travel. Love it. Seeing new places, eating new food, cramming clothes in a suitcase with plans in my head. For various reasons – namely money and real jobs – I am not as extensively traveled as some I know, but pre-Jude, Scott and I would take trips whenever we could, some not far from home, and some a little farther.
It’s so hard to try and imagine how your life will change after having a child. I think it’s actually pointless to predict it because parenting is something that, for me anyway, kind of evolves on its own. I expected to drop the baby off at Grandma’s house often for a night out or a longer trip away. I expected to want “me” time really frequently. I expected to feel a little trapped and overwhelmed in this role. But life surprises you sometimes and things don’t always progress the way you expect them to.
So when we first began to talk about a trip to celebrate my thirtieth birthday, I never even thought about leaving Jude at home. Not that couple time isn’t a good thing, of course. But he’s so young and so a part of us that I jumped in with both feet and dragged a toddler to Costa Rica.
I know everyone has varying opinions on this, but I love traveling with a baby. We took him to Seattle when he was nine months old, and things went well, so I wasn’t really thinking about any reasons not to take him this time. That said, as I began to plan the trip and share details with others, some people told me in not-so-confusing terms that they thought I was crazy or even unfair to my child to drag him along. I did it any way, and I’m so glad I did.
My thirtieth birthday trip to Costa Rica was such a fun adventure. But I learned a few subtle lessons, too.
As we landed in Liberia and waited in line at customs, I saw two young couples arriving from the states as well. The women were complete from head to toe with beachwear on their backs, coordinated luggage, and glossy lipstick. Obviously four childless folks vacationing together with grand plans of piña coladas at the shore and deep tans to bring home as souvenirs. And as I looked at them with my toddler in the carrier on my back, I glanced at a shadow of my former self. One without worries of proper water safety and preserving the sacred nap time. One who remembered to wear lipstick and didn’t find my bra hanging out of a stained shirt after a four-hour flight with a busy kid.
And those travel days with fewer worries and more time? They were lovely. I’ve cruised the Seine at night with Paris illuminated before me. I’ve strolled Nantucket’s cobblestone streets with not a single concern in my mind. I’ve lingered far too long over a bottle of wine with friends in a restaurant that would never work with my child in tow. I’ve sipped tea leisurely in Grantchester Orchard with a stack of school books in my bag. I’ve walked the gulf sand with girlfriends and cold beer and silence punctuated with some of my life’s best conversations. And all of those moments were just as perfect as they sound, lasting stamps in my mind.
But here we are at a new place with some pretty beautiful moments as well.
Was every second of the trip perfection? I’d be lying if I said so. There were no fewer than three tantrums on the plane ride there. There was a rushed dinner that felt far too long because we traded off toddler-duty, walking rounds to satisfy a tired and cranky boy. There was the constant need for a pacifier so that he’d stop eating random, potentially dangerous things. Relaxing poolside is impossible when he’s vulnerable and can’t swim, and admittedly I relished the glorious hour of naptime when I lounged and read alone under the hot sun. Traveling with a child is not for the faint of heart. But then again, neither is motherhood. Just when the newborn haze wears off, you get the hang of things, and then the mobility begins and you wonder how you got here. You find a way to make it work though. Now I just look for a playground in walking distance from my relaxing beachside margarita.
Our first day in Costa Rica, we were poolside next to an older couple from Indiana. They commented on Jude’s cuteness, and we began talking. They spoke of grandchildren back home they missed, the ten-day tour of Costa Rica they were ending, and the beautiful sights they’d seen. And as we spoke, I realized something. Life moves on. And these stages, however easy or hard they may be, only last for a little while. Right now I have this wiggly daredevil who wants to run and scream and play, and it’s fun but exhausting. Soon I will have an active swimmer who won’t stress me out so much in the pool or make a scene in a restaurant, but I’m sure I’ll miss chubby little hands and feet. And later still, I hope to travel with a teenager who can hold his own in a conversation with me and understand the historical significance of some of the world’s greatest places. And much, much later, we’ll have those childless trips again, wandering city streets and seeing sights without worrying about taking care of someone else.
So I guess if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this few weeks of my thirtieth year it’s that this might be the end of certain parts of my life, but it’s only the beginning of a lot more. That and I love belonging to my little family, whether we are near or far.
We’re home. As are the mountains of laundry and loads of unanswered emails and jet-lagged toddler. Being home always feels good, but I do hate this few days of catch up after a trip.
So of course instead of working on all of those tasks, I am spending time uploading photos from my camera. And y’all, this place is BEAUTIFUL. If Costa Rica is not on your bucket list, I suggest you revise.
We only traveled with the Canon S90 rather than our Nikon DSLR which I know is a crime when there was so much to capture on film. The thought of a daunting camera in addition to all the gear that comes with a third little traveler seemed frightening and near impossible though. Even with the small camera, we managed to capture a lot of it.
I have a lot to say, and I really want to string together the details of the trip before they get lost in my mind. I hope to sit down sometime this week and do that. For now, I’ll say that as far as celebrations of 30 years of life go, it was pretty close to perfect. I’m so grateful to experience this world with my little family. More later, friends.
** And on a completely unrelated note, you’ll see an adorable new header designed by Jenna of QA Designs. LOVE it, Jenna… a huge thank you. ***
We’re here in Costa Rica, and we made it without any major mishaps. Some crying on the plane, but generally not too bad for our little traveler. When I awoke this morning, I had coffee with cream and a lovely view.
And I have so much more to say, but one little surfer dude is passed out next to me, and my eyes are heavy from such a full day.