Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The voice of worry.

Once again, as part of Josie's writing workshop at Sleep is for the weak, I have chosen prompt #3: What have the voices in your head been telling you lately.

- So he wants to have her overnight, eh?

- I know but she keeps telling me she doesn't want to, she doesn't like going up there.

- She told him she wanted to.

- But she tells me the opposite.

- Who do you believe then?

- I believe her, I want to believe her.

- Why does he say that then?

- I don't know. Maybe she says that to him and the opposite to me?

- Maybe... So she's lying then?

- She is not lying. She's caught in the middle.

- So what are you going to do?

- I can only take her word for it. If she tells me she doesn't want to, I won't make her.

- You know what's going to happen then, don't you?

- I do, yes. Back to that dreaded place.

- That could swing his way. Like it has, most of the time.

- I know, but I don't want to force her to do something that will make her unhappy.

- What about asking the question, in front of him and let her answer what she really feels?

- That's an option, I don't want her to feel uncomfortable though. I don't want her to feel like she's being asked to chose.

- At the end of the day, it's about her not you and not him.

- I know. I would hate for her to say she does, but I would have to go with it.

- Did you talk to her?

- I did. I explained that, if she wanted to, I would ask in front of him.

- What did she say?

- She said she wanted me to do it and that she would be able to tell him then.

- Able to? Does she fear him?

- She might. I'm sure she remembers his temper.

- What if she says she wants to?

- If she does, I'll arrange it.

- Are you sure she's not going to say that she doesn't want to go because she doesn't want to hurt you?

- I told her many times that the only thing that matters to me, is for her to be happy.

- Is he going to accept if she says no?

- Probably not. If he doesn't, then it will prove that he is doing it for himself not for her.

- What are you going to say then?

- I'll tell him that I had thought about what he said the other day, and that the best way to know is to ask her because it's about her, not him, not me. She's the priority. Then ask her. If she says yes, then we can talk and arrange it. If she says no, then we'll have to see what his reaction is.

- He will say that you coached her to say it.
- He probably will. But I know in my heart, I didn't. If anything, I pushed her to say yes. I pushed her to tell us that she wanted to. That it wouldn't hurt us, or make us sad. Reassured her that if that was what she wanted then it would make us happy to see her happy. She hasn't budged though.

- Would she keep saying no if she wanted to say yes?

- I don't think she would. She doesn't know how to lie. I know her, she couldn't keep that up for that long.

- Is it the right solution though? Putting her on the spot?

- What do we have to lose? If she agrees with the idea and she is comfortable with it, why not?

- Are you sure you are not going about it the wrong way and creating some kind of psychological problem?

- I hope not. She says she wants to be asked. She says she misses us when she's up there. Is that not creating some problem, too?

- She's only 6. What would she know about what she wants?

- She is 6 but she knows her own mind. Why can't other people see that it is about her, not anybody else. Why do they keep saying she's too young to make up her mind? She isn't. In other countries, they would ask her even at that age.

- What about you? Are you comfortable with the idea?

- I am and I'm not. I am if it stops there and he accepts her saying no, if she says no. I'm not because I know he is not going to consider her opinion, he is not doing it for her, he is doing it for himself. Remember his words? When do I get to see her? I. Not when does she get to see me?

- Are you worried?

- I am. Of course I am. I want her to be able to say what she thinks, what she wants, how she feels and not worry about the consequences. She is a child. I don't want her to be forced into doing something she doesn't want to. She does already. But she understands that I can't do anything about it. The decision was made for us, and we can only go along with it. My stomach is in knots, I have that permanent ball in my throat, I can hardly eat or drink. My head is spinning. My brain is overheating. The house is warm and yet I'm cold inside. My heart is beating hard, not fast, just big thumps. It will all unravel tonight. But there are so many uncertainties. It is not the end, it will probably go on, go back to that place and risk it all again. I might have to make her do something she doesn't want to, just because some powerful person will say so. But we will cross that bridge when we get to it, if we get to it. In the meantime, it all rests on today, this afternoon, on what she says and then we'll see...

- Indeed we will see... And then we can start it all over again, when it happens again, because you know as well as I do, that it is not going to stop, not yet anyway...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seven things you never knew about me...

A meme is going around called 'My seven'. I haven't been tagged for it and I don't know if you're 'allowed' to do so but I decided to participate. I apologize if this is not the proper etiquette but it just appealed to me. But now that I am sitting down to write it, well, I have to say that I am struggling a bit.. Emmmm, let's think

1) I'm fluent in Spanish. I studied Spanish in school and college. One day, my parents and myself tried to figure out why I have such an ear for languages and we realized that when I was young, my great grand mother used to speak only german to me (she was german and, in hindsight, probably suffering from Alzheimer's or such). Now, I do not have a word of German, but she probably instilled that love of languages in me and gave me such an 'ear' that now people here don't believe me when I say I'm french.

2) I wear a size 3 shoes. I am small and my feet and hands are tiny. It's quite a struggle to find nice shoes to fit me. I'm not a big fan of the glittery runners and other types of shoes you can find in the kiddies sections. And the search for an engagement ring was quite funny, the look on the jeweller's face when I put my hand out was priceless.

3) When I was 16, I was an extra in a film called 'Ma saison preferee'. I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine Deneuve, Daniel Auteuil, Philippe Noiret and Andre Techine, four legends of french cinema. The scene was cut in the end but I still have the payslip to prove it.

4) I am allergic to soap. From a very young age, I have had to use various potions and lotions. My dear grandmother took me on holidays once, when I was about 5, and refused to listen to my mum's advice when it came to washing my face. So she scrubbed with a big bar of soap (as hard as only a grandmother knows how to). When my skin was so dry that it started cracking and bleeding, I think she got the point that it might be true and not just some kind of tantrum. It looks like Noelie has inherited my skin condition too. Her skin is extremely dry and nothing short of diping her into the pot of cream all day long seems to relieve her dry skin.

5) I have 2 tattoos. One is a celtic symbol for eternity and the other one a chain of cherry blossoms. Mr Foodie has 4 himself and I decided to offer him another one for his birthday last year. So off we went to the tattoo artist. As there wasn't enough time for him to get the one he picked done, I got one instead. He is still waiting on his birthday present (ooops).

6) I talk in my sleep. To the point where I played Trivial Pursuit with my best friend while asleep, or asked my then boyfriend if he had seen a cow pass by. Apparently, my eyes were open too which makes it even spookier as I have no recollection of saying that whatsoever. I mean what would a cow be doing in my house? Oh and I managed to give out to Mr Foodie while asleep. Noelie has started babbling in her sleep too.

7) I have a phobia of lizards. They're wriggly and slimy and their tail grows back if it's cut off. That is not natural!!! I think I was traumatised by the series 'V' when I was younger. Mr Foodie was delighted that it made a come back last year but I put my foot down, not with me in the same room!!!

So there you are, seven things you didn't know about me. Feel free to gatecrash this meme if you want!

Foodie Mummy

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My 10 Favourite things

First and foremost, a big thank you to Working Mama at Last of the mojitos for the tag. I can't believe that less than a month ago I had never been tagged, and this is now my third one.

This meme reminds me of a book I used to have, one of the many books I had to leave behind and never recovered. It is a french book by Philippe Delerm, a collection of 35 short stories, of no more than 1 or 2 pages each, all about The small pleasures of life (incidentally this is the translated title of this book, when the original french version is called La premiere gorgee de biere et autres plaisirs minuscules. In other words, the first sip of beer and other small pleasures). It also reminds me of the beginning of the film 'Amelie' (another translated title, but then again who, in their right mind, would go and watch a french film called 'The fabulous destiny of Amelie Poulain'). I think that we (by we, I mean French people) are somewhat experts at this, little pleasures, I think it is in our nature and culture. The French are often portrayed as people who know how to enjoy life and its little things (amongst other stereotypes). I often reflect on the little things that make me happy. So here is my (non exhaustive and in no particular order) list.

1- Watching my girls playing together. Noelie has developed a fascination with her sister lately. She will do anything to get a laugh out of her. She also has started to sit up and Marie seems to be less afraid of playing with her (not to mention, that it is a lot more comfortable).

2- The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Not instant coffee (that smells more like some kind of dirty socks having brewed overnight, tastes like it too). We bought a monster of a coffee machine recently and it just makes the best coffee. And it fills the house with the most wonderful smell.

3- Sitting outside and feeling the sunshine on my face. It doesn't have to be for long, just a few minutes are enough to recharge my batteries.

4- Having a long hot bath, with a good book and a nice glass of wine and topping up with hot water after a while (candles optional). The most relaxing experience.

5- Watching a film with all the family. We tend to do this on rainy Sundays. Mr Foodie in his chair, Marie with me on the sofa under a nice cosy blanket. Mr Foodie and I are big film lovers and we want to pass this on to the girls.

6- A walk with the family on a nice, sunny, cold and crisp winter day. I already wrote about this in a previous post but there is nothing like wrapping everybody warm and heading out. And nothing better than coming back into the warmth of the house afterwards.

7- The smell of an old book. As a girl, I used to love reading (and still do) and I used to raid my grandmother's library anytime I got a chance. Some of her books were quite old, the pages yellowed by time. When opened, that smell would draft from them, musty, ink and old paper.

8- Getting into a nice warm bed on a cold night or alternatively, getting into a nice cold bed on a hot night (although it very rarely happens here that the nights are so hot that you can't bear to sleep with any covers on whatsoever).

9- Sitting at the terrasse of a french cafe, watching the world go by. One of my favourite pastimes. I could sit there for hours, sipping coffee.

10- Cooking and baking of course. The smells, the tastes, the textures and the sense of pride and pleasure that comes with seeing the plates emptying in silence. Not because we have nothing to say or are just to hungry to talk, but because it's so good that everybody is engrossed in just that, the taste, the smell, the textures...

And so many other favourite things that I haven't listed but are equally up there, little things that make life beautiful (and more bearable at times). I will now pass this meme onto the following great mummy (and daddy) bloggers:

Happy blogging everyone!


Foodie Mummy

Thank you...

This week, I chose the following prompt from Josie at Sleep is for the weak : Write something to say thank you to some who has made a difference to your life, whether from your past or present.

There are a lot of people I could say thank you to, but then it would feel like an Oscar acceptance speech, thank you Mum, thank you Dad, thank you Brother, thank you JD the hamster (RIP), thank you the World in its entirety etc.. (although I have to say Marion Cotillard's one for La Vie en Rose was great!).
So here goes:

I barely knew you, yet I trusted you.
Work colleagues, were me and you.
Same company, different location.
Had never met you, but a friendly connection.

You listened to me pouring my heart out,
Telling you how I couldn't see a way out,
That I was trapped and I was scared,
That my little girl too was there.

Your kind and friendly words gave me strength,
I realized it couldn't go any more length.
The time had come to make a decision,
We had to get away from all of this poison.

And so I said: That is it!
Then you, or I, suggested we meet.
It was a sunny day and you waited for me,
sitting on a step, yet I could not see.

You were there when things turned violent,
And you became my shoulder to cry on.
And things just moved on from there,
Secretly at first, then out in the open air.

Marie took to you like a fish to water.
You accepted her as your own daughter.
Your bond is such she calls you Daddy now,
And, me? Well, I could not be more proud.

Then we found out we were pregnant.
I couldn't have received a better present.
Our little bundle of joy arrived,
And of love, she'll never be deprived.

I know, at times, I can be difficult and moody,
but it never lessened your love for me.
You, too, sometimes are a bit crazy.
I'm afraid to say some of your jokes are not so funny.

You are my knight in shiny armour,
My best friend, my companion, my lover.
We did go through a lot together,
Yet those hard times just made us stronger.

So for being there for us, then and now,
for the future and for the present,
for the support and strength you give me,
I really want to thank you, Mr Foodie.

Love always.
Foodie Mummy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I cry

Today I broke down, in tears not once but twice. Now, if you ask Mr Foodie, he will tell you I cry... a lot. That's probably one of the things I'm best at. I cry in front of anything, movies of course being one of the biggest triggers. I cried the morning after seeing 'Schindler's list', over breakfast, while telling my parents about the film. I cry reading books, I cry listening to music (Raglan Road used to get me crying my eyes out when I was pregnant with Noelie, just the first measures and I was gone). I just cry. Not the one tear that rolls down your cheek cry. The big crocodile tears cry, heaving and all. I can't help it. It starts as a heaviness in my chest, then moves its way up to my throat. And once it gets to the eyes that's it, I'm gone.

Today I cried twice. Once explaining to Marie about the Haiti earthquake and all the devastation it caused. I told her that I gave some money to help people of there, to help give them food, water, shelter, medical help, whatever the meagre amount I could give would provide. And if it saves only one life, at least I did something. She said that she would give the contents of her piggy bank too, that she doesn't need it. I was so proud of her, it made me cry. I was crying for the people over there and I was crying at the beauty of Marie's gesture. She is very sensitive and started crying too. In fact, she started crying first. Is she too young to understand? I don't think so. Should I have left her to her ignorance? I don't think either. I think it is a good thing to get our kids to understand that there are people worse off than we are, and that, if you are in a position to, you should help them. Using words they can understand, without too much drama. But explain it all and let them make their own decision as to whether they want to help or not. And I believe in leading by example.

You see, Marie and I, to our developed world standards, have been in a position where we lost everything. At some stage in my life, I decided that possessions were not as important as our safety and our happiness. And I took Marie, and whatever I could carry and left it all behind. But I was always able to provide us with a roof and food and heat and water. Yes, I lost my house and my car and countless material things, sentimental things and she lost her toys and was uprooted. But some immaterial things are paramount. Anyway, this is all behind us and we have rebuilt our lives, thanks to Mr Foodie and others.

I also cried this evening, watching the french news. I have to point out that it was the french news, and not the Irish ones as the angle at which they approach the whole Haiti disaster is completely different. A lot of French people adopt children in Haiti. At the moment, there are between 1200 and 1500 files for adoption in Haiti by french parents. Those people are struggling to find out the fate of their children and pleading with the government to fast track the adoption process, remove the red tape so they can be brought to their new homes in France. It seems that this is now going to happen. Tonight, on the news, they visited a devastated orphanage. A little boy , Jerry, 3 1/2 years old, had been pulled out of the wreckage. He had a head wound and a broken leg and was lying on the dusty ground with no medical assistance whatsoever. The director of the orphanage told the journalist that she was going to give him paracetamol to bring the fever down, that there was nothing else she could do. The reporter (a woman might I add) was very professional and still you could hear in her voice that this was hard on her. She told the woman that the poor child was going to die. The director looked at her with a emotionless look yet a sad look and said that this was all she could do. She had lost 53 children so far to the deadly shaky ground. By chance, a team of civil defense members arrived, sent by the french embassy. One of them was a doctor but they had only been sent to check what the needs were and didn't know that there were injured children, and they had no medical equipment, no ambulance, no escort. They tried to get an ambulance, to no avail and the poor little boy's condition was getting worse. So they took a decision that might land them in trouble, they took the reporter's car and drove Jerry to the hospital. It was touch and go. That was yesterday. Today, the reporter visited Jerry at the hospital and the doctors told her that he was going to be fine. She managed to get people to contact his adoptive parents in France and it was the first news they had managed to get. I had to leave the sitting room. I went into the kitchen and broke down. And Mr Foodie was here once more to pick up the pieces. I'm fine now.. Just about...But we have to help, no matter how little we can give, it will make a difference.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Recipe Friday: Childhood Memory

I realized today that I haven't talked about one of my favourite things in a good while: Food. So I have decided to reinstate Recipe Friday.

During my parents' visit last week end, we ended up being snowed in (nothing new so far). So I spent a lot of my week end cooking for everybody (and to be honest trying to impress my mum with my cooking skills). On Sunday afternoon, after a snowball fight and the building a snowman, we decided to do a bit of baking for an afternoon snack. Marie and myself had baked some cookies on Saturday and had frozen 2 thirds of the dough for future use. So, in the oven, went the cookies. And in comes my mum. I have to say she is an expert at reusing leftovers and reinventing dishes. Although you might be eating the same ingredients two days in a row, it never feels like you are eating the same thing.

As the cookies are baking, she asks me: 'What are you going to do with that stale bread?'. Panic sets in: 'Emm, emm, I, emm, give it to the birds?'. Obviously, wrong answer. She says: 'Have you got some milk, one egg and some sugar?'. Staples, I mean, unless you're allergic who doesn't have milk, eggs and sugar?. 'Yes, I do'. 'Right, get out of the way, I'm going to make something you haven't had in years'. And how right was she. She produced in less than 10 minutes the most wonderful snack. She was right, I hadn't had it in years and why, oh why did I never make it before. It is so simple and tasty. And it brings back memories of winter Sundays afternoons, coming home after half freezing to death watching my dad play football. For a moment, after I took that first bite, I was 10 again. I only got to have one slice though, as Marie fell in love with it and ate the whole lot! The smell of vanilla, the crunch of the sugar on top, hummmm, so good I made some today, just for myself. And cheap as chips too. So here is my mum's recipe for making 'Pain perdu' (Lost Bread or French toast as it's called here). Well, I can tell you, it's not lost on us!!

- Slices of stale bread (a couple of days old)
- Some milk
- Some vanilla sugar (if you have some, normal sugar will do though)
- 1 egg.
(I am afraid my mum is as bad as I am with measures).

1) In a pot, heat up the milk and sugar.

2) In a large bowl, beat the egg.

3) Heat up a bit of butter in the pan.

4) Dip the bread in the warm milk (letting it soak up some of the milk but not too much or it will fall apart).

5) Dip it quickly in the egg.

6) Place on the pan.

7) Turn around when golden.

Sprinkle with some sugar before serving.

Eat hot or cold.

And there you are, Pain Perdu! Hope you get to try it, and love it as much as I and Marie do!


Foodie Mummy

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favourite photo meme

First off, a big thank you to the wonderful Working Mama at The Last of the Mojitos for tagging me for this meme!

People would probably expect a picture of myself or of my girls, or even the family but, not unlike Hot Cross Mum, as a rule, I do not want to put pictures of the girls on my blog (or even myself, wouldn't want to scare readers away now, would we!). The amount of pictures I have of the girls and the family would put Helmut Newton to shame (well at least in quantity, not so sure about the quality though).

My dad is photo mad. We are not talking mobile phone photo, we're talking proper photo, no digital cameras or automatic zooms or gizmos like these. Proper photo as in films (choose from colour or black and white), as in different lenses, as in coloured filters, as in around 1000 photos for a one week holiday in Italy. I remember some fair few years ago, when he used to turn the bathroom into his own dark room. You were either in from beginning till end or you were out from beginning till end. I remember him changing the light bulbs to those red ones, so that the pictures would develop correctly and blocking all light coming in from the window (funnily enough the only one in the whole house that doesn't have shutters). The equipment was put up. The his and hers sinks and the bidet (yes, we do have one of those, although never used for its intended purpose but rather to wash smelly feet and babies, not in the same water though), were filled with various chemicals. A line was put up over the bath to hang up the developed pictures. My mum had no interest and my brother was too small to stay around all those chemicals, so I would sometimes be allowed in to help (or get under his feet). I used to love that uninterrupted time I got to spend on my own with my dad, just watching him and discovering his beautiful pictures. As a child, it felt like such a long time without being able to open the door, in reality, I don't know how long it could have been. Maybe an hour or two at the most probably.

For his birthday last year, we offered him a gadget that allows him to transfer all of his negatives and slides (which are gathering dust in a press and get taken out just about once every 5 years) to his computer. He is retiring next year and this promises to be taking much of his time (that and playing golf of course). So I probably will have to wait for a similar meme to come around again sometime next year to pay a better tribute to his beautiful photographs.

In the meantime, this is the picture that graced my work computer for years. It is my mum and dad's back garden on a frosty morning. It reminds me of home and those childhood's winter mornings.

I would now like to pass the torch to another 5 fabulous bloggers and I can't wait to see what their favourite photo is:

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Foodie Mummy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I miss....

Right, I'm taking the plunge. I have been reading Josie's writing workshop at Sleep is for the weak through December when I discovered the world of Blogging. And I decided that I would start participating in January. So this is my first post based on one of her prompts: What do you miss?

So here goes nothing:

There are a couple of things I miss. I miss my family, being an expat is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world. It is great that you can move somewhere and be utterly and completely yourself and shed any stereotypes (I come from a small village and you get labelled practically at birth) and expectations. People might say I didn't have to move that far. But I did and do not regret it at all. However, it does not prevent me from missing my family. Up to a couple of years ago, I would have said quite easily that I do not miss my family, well not that much. But life took a different turn and being in turmoil meant more regular contact with them and a few open hearted conversations. And it has warmed up the relationship, we went from one phone call a week to a phone call a day (sometimes more). And now I can openly say, I miss them. I miss my mum's cooking, I miss my dad's witty comments, I miss my brother's awkwardness. I miss them all the more these past few days because they were here but not long enough. I miss the fact that I can't just pop in for a coffee and a chat, I miss the fact that we can't go out to lunch somewhere at the drop of a hat, I miss the fact that they can't pop in anytime they want and see the girls. I miss them all, even though I am used to not seeing them.

On a more practical note, I miss some things about France. I miss the slower pace, the 2 hours lunch, the 35 hours week (although I never experienced it myself). I miss the school system that allows you to have a full time job without making you feel like you are missing out on your children. I miss the choice of activities that are available for kids and families. I miss the supermarkets and the variety of foods (although things have much improved here since I moved over). And most of all, I miss the weather.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Role reversal

It was too short. 2 little days but we made the most of it and really enjoyed the visit. It took me more time to get the house sorted before my parents arrived than the length of their stay. But it was worth it and I think they enjoyed it too.

Apart from people pointing out that I was the image of my mother, I have noticed that I am, undeniably, her daughter. When I was growing up, my mum was always on the go, always something to do, cleaning and washing and cooking as well as working full time. Everything had to be not only done, but done her way and to her standard. A lot of pressure she put (without realizing I think) on herself and on other people (ie: my dad, my brother and myself). Whenever we tried to help (voluntarily or not), there, most of the time, was something wrong with what we had done. Most of the time, she would refrain from saying anything. But you could hear the sigh of disapproval, if you hadn't hung the sweater properly, or if you'd missed a spot while hoovering or feel the dark eyes looking at you and whatever you had done disapprovingly. Now don't get me wrong, she is not a tyrant that insists on hanging the washing on the line with same colour pegs. She just likes things neat and tidy and clean, just her high standards of neat and tidy and clean.

I could never understand growing up the need to hoover the sitting room everyday or the rule that forbid anybody to eat in the living room (although I have to say I often broke that one, and yes, Mum, the crumbs under the couch were mine, and yes I had breakfast in front of the television everyday when I was on holidays and old enough to stay on my own). Growing up, I never understood what was so important about making sure my socks were not in a ball before they went into the washing machine, or even why I had to take my dirty clothes out of the bedroom and put them in the washing basket. I never understood why you were giving out about 'what are we going to have for dinner, and why doesn't anybody come up with ideas?', about why you were getting annoyed whenever we were in the kitchen when you were cooking, looking into the pots and pans. I never understood the reason why we had to wipe the sink after ourselves, or wash the suds out after our bath, Or put the towels back on the rack instead of a pile in the corner of the bathroom or all those rules and regulations that we had to go by or else face the wrath of your eyes, telling us: it's not good enough, you didn't follow the rules. I have to say, you ran a tight ship.

But these past few years and this past year in particular, you have relaxed... a lot. Maybe it's the fact that you were immobilised for the best part of a year with back problems and hence discovered the joy of a cleaning lady coming regularly. Maybe it's the fact that all the little birdies have flown the nest and things are not getting as messy as they were. Maybe it's just wisdom. Whatever it is, it has done you good and you don't get as frustrated or annoyed as you were. You take things in your stride a lot more than before, with less stress, a lot more philosophically as Dad would say. This week end, you didn't have to worry about cooking or cleaning or anything else, all of it was done for you. I didn't want the two of you to have to miss a minute of whatever short little precious time you could spend with your grand daughters. And I think I did you proud (although it didn't stop you from hoovering once or doing the dishes). But that person is still there lurking sometimes and you did give out to Dad for getting under your feet while you were baking a treat for all of us.

And I realized today, that I am getting like you (like it or not). I have realized that I expect things to be done to my standards hence sometimes dismissing good intentions. If that's any excuse, I am tired today and I probably got up on the wrong side of the bed too (although that's not possible since one side of the bed is against the wall). My patientometer (my own little meter that measures, as a meter does, patience levels) was way down today. Mr Foodie, in another unrecognized attempt to help, started taking the washing out. I found myself hushing him out of the way, so I could do it because I knew that I would get it done faster (it's the practice you see). I also found myself taking down whatever he had put up, so I could put it my way (it will take less time to dry, you know.) I got frustrated at him for being in my way in the kitchen while I was cooking (although to his credit he was starting on the dishes) and at Marie too because she stirred the flour too hard and spilt some, by an accident as she would say. I got frustrated at the jumper that would not sit neatly on the rad, where I was trying to hang it, in an effort to get it dry faster. I also got frustrated at that stupid car that didn't start today and gave Marie another unexpected day off school. I had no sense of humour and took jokes the wrong way. I also got frustrated tonight at Noelie for trying to grab the spoon and the bowl (and managing it too) and for exercising her vocal cords while I was trying to watch the french news. And I pushed Mr Foodie out of the way while he was trying to change a particularly bad leaky nappy (not his favourite activity though).

So I think my mum is turning into the old me and I am turning into the old her. I recognize it and I want to apologize publicly to everybody in the Foodie household for my shortness of patience today and for not recognizing they were only trying to help (sorry Mr Foodie), or develop their skills (sorry Marie and Noelie). And I promise that tomorrow, I will make an effort and try not to turn into my mother (well at least the old one)!

Friday, January 8, 2010

They have landed (not on the moon but close enough)

They're here!! My mum and dad have arrived for the week end. Well, nearly..They just landed.

And what a journey! The South of France was under heavy snow. Considering that they live 2 hours away from the airport, they decided to set off early and so did I. I was up at 6 this morning, just to be able to check the french news on the french channel. Heavy snow all night.. Right. No major announcement of airports being closed. Sigh of relief. First phone call at 6h41 to check with them, motorway seems OK, airport not open yet. Fine. They set off at about 8h00 to make sure they didn't get caught in traffic.

8h00: Checked Dublin airport website. Checked Ryan Air website. Checked french airport's website. Checked East Midlands airport website.. Yes East Midlands. the first flight that was due to land in Carcassonne left from there. Another sigh of relief, it had departed.

8h15: More Internet checks. Oh no, due to the weather conditions, Carcassonne airport will be closed this morning. All flights to and from will be cancelled this morning. Glimmer of hope, their flight doesn't leave until 1pm. Technically, it's the afternoon. Frantically, check the Dublin airport website for the flight due to leave for Carcassonne at 9h30. If that one is cancelled, they will not make it here today or this weekend even.

8h30: Check Ryan Air website. Due to weather conditions, we are sorry to announce that Carcassonne airport is closed (amongst others). Oh no....Please find below the list of flights that we regret to have to cancel.. Scroll down frantically... Wait, flights to and from Carcassonne do not show up as cancelled. Sigh of something (relief or hope, I don't really know).

9h00: Phone call. They are at the airport but it's closed. I update them from my end. Flight out does not show up as cancelled on either Ryan Air or Dublin Airport's websites.

9h15: Dublin airport's website will not load up for me.. I curse everybody under the sun, Dublin airport, Ryan Air, the weather... I get a phone call from Mr Foodie with his own weather update, it's snowing in Bray and working its way up. Please, please, please let Dublin airport be OK.

9h20: Update from their end, the flight from East Midlands has been rerouted to Perpignan airport, some 200 kms away from Carcassonne. Update from my end, flight out still doesn't show up as cancelled on either website.

9h30: Plane from Dublin due to take off now, website not updated.. Arrrgghhhh......

9h40: Update from their end, they are putting passengers due out of Carcassonne and travelling to East Midlands on buses so they can get the plane in Perpignan rather than Carcassonne. The airport will be closed until 2pm.

I couldn't move away from the computer for more than 5 minutes at a time, refreshing website after website, wishing that plane to take off. If it leaves, they will be over. If it's cancelled, they won't.

10h30: Update from their end. They're having lunch (great, I still haven't had breakfast and they're eating!!!!). They will keep me updated.

10h40: Update from their end: they are still having lunch but announcement was made that the airport will not open. The airport people are saying that they don't know if the flight from Dublin will be cancelled or not, Ryan Air is checking to see if they can get all their flights to land in Perpignan for the day.

10h45: Tried to explain to Marie what was going on. That Papi et Mamie were at the airport but that it is closed. That another plane landed in another airport instead of theirs and that maybe they will be able to get a plane from that airport instead. She replied in a very pragmatic way: 'Why don't they do that then!'. Tried to explain that it was not their choice but the airplane people's. Not sure if she got it.

11h00: No updates on websites. I thought they were supposed to be LIVE updates! Really need to get in the shower while Noelie is having her nap. But keep getting in and out of the bathroom, my head is up in the clouds (unlike that stupid plane!). Finally managed to get in the shower.

11h15: Website is updated!! It has departed. Frantic phone call to them, it's gone. They still haven't heard anything from their end. Frantic phone call to Mr Foodie. It doesn't matter that I am only wearing one sock, that my hair is soaking wet and that my jeans are not buttonned yet.

11h30: Finally get to have something to eat. Have a massive headache from all that trying to stay positive and wishing I was Superwoman and I could get that plane to take off just by thinking about it.

12h00: Update from their end: they are being shipped over to Perpignan by bus and will get their plane from there, it's official.

13h00: Feed Noelie (not for the first time today, I was worried but not completely unable to function), give her a bath, get her ready for her hospital appointment.

14h15: Nearly at the hospital. Phone call to check with my mum to see if they're at the other airport yet. Just getting there. Need to turn off my phone when in the hospital. Told her to give me a text when they board the plane. It's not over till the fat lady sings as they say!

15h30: Out of the hospital. Noelie's kidneys have not been affected by the infection.. Another sigh of relief (much bigger one than all the other ones today). Another call, they're in the plane about to take off.

18h00: They landed. Received a text: We're here (in french obviously). To which, Mr Foodie replies: 'Which airport?'.. 'Cork'...Only a joke...

18h45: They are now on the M50, on their way over.

Despite what a lot of people say, I have to take my hat off to Ryan Air this time. They found an alternative for their passengers and got them to their destination, even if 4 hours later than planned.

More bad weather is announced for the rest of the weekend, schools are closed until Thursday. Will they be able to leave on Monday morning? I don't care!!! They're here and it's all that matters!!! I just hope they don't brake a leg on the icy driveway!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let it snow.

I realized today that this year is the first in many years that I actually get to enjoy the snow.

When I was still living in France, I used to go skying pretty much every year. I was lucky enough in the sense that the mountains were only a couple of hours away. Now when I say mountains, I mean MOUNTAINS, big ones with 3 months of snow a year if not more, and skying slopes and peaks. When somebody mentioned the Dublin Mountains to me, I remember thinking 'mountains?! What mountains?! these are only hills.' Which is exactly what my parents said to me when I mentioned to them the ''mountains''.

When it snowed last year, I didn't get to enjoy it. It lengthened my journey home from work and still I was one of the lucky ones making the 5 miles journey in about 1h30 (taking into account that I used to finish work at 18h00, I didn't really appreciate to get home that late). I was 4 months pregnant at the time and the 2nd half of the journey was spent wishing I could go to the toilet. Once I managed to get out of the car, I was terrified that I would slip and fall. We also were living in an apartment which meant no garden for Marie to play in, an underground car park with frozen ramps and a non existent management company to grit either the ramps or the paths around the block. The only fun we had was watching the cars trying to get up the hill onto which the apartment block was located.

This year however it is all different. I find snow quite hypnotic. While cleaning the spare bedroom in preparation for my parents' arrival tomorrow (fingers crossed, as there is a severe weather warning in the south of France tonight), I regularly stopped, just to stare out the window for minutes at a time, watching the flakes falling and accumulating on the ground. I didn't get to do everything I wanted to do but I worked doubly hard today and made up for it.

I really enjoy the whole ritual that comes with preparing for going out for a walk in the snow. I love wrapping the kids up warm, making sure that their coats are zipped up and that their scarf is well wrapped, not too tight but not too loose, that their hats are on right and that their gloves or mittens are well paired. What I enjoyed the most today was strapping Noelie in her buggy and piling up the blankets on her, to make sure she was nice and toasty for our stroll down the shops.

I enjoy that first breath of cold, brisk and seemingly cleaner air, well wrapped in my big jacket with my hat, scarf and gloves. I love the sounds that shoes make on the snow, either screeching or crunching, when all other sounds seem to be muffled, when life seems calmer and quieter. I love the purity of the colour, when houses look like they have also wrapped up and put a white hat on. I love the footprints left in the snow, reminders that people walk those paths everyday yet leave no trace of it. I love feeling the cold biting my nose.

But most of all, I love coming back into the warmth of the house, lighting a nice fire, making a nice cup of hot chocolate or soup, and warming ourselves up. Looking at Marie and Noelie's rosy cheeks, feeling my ears burning when they warm up, and looking out the window to the flakes falling, or to the kids chasing each other, throwing snowballs, building snowmen.

I think that snow brings out the child in adults as they walk and playfully throw snowballs at each other. It slows the world down, as well as the cars. But it also has its downsides and I can't help thinking about people that it isolates, or people that suffer from the cold.

This year, however, I do get to enjoy it and it brings back memories, those of a time when snow was only a couple of hours away.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mummy, it's snowing (AGAIN)

Wordless Wednesday.

This was taken on Sunday when we went for a stroll, and nearly broke a leg (or four).

And now there is even more!!

Wrap up warm everyone!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

High Five or my first ever meme post!

OMG! I only started this blogging thing last month and I have already been tagged for one of these 'meme' thingies (thank you so so much Hot Cross Mum)! OK, the subject is '5 highest points of 2009'.

Now, I am not usually one to dwell in the past. As one of my previous posts entitled 'I don't remember' suggests, my memory is not the greatest. My fiance likes to say that I have a short memory and I have to admit I do. Two pregnancies and a couple of 'anni horribiles' (declared by Queen Me, not the Queen of England) mean that I usually leave the past where it belongs and don't want to look back but rather get on with the Now and the Tomorrow. Useful in some situations (particularly the bad ones), but no so useful in others (particularly this one). A perfect example of how short a memory I've got happened no later than today. I remembered that tomorrow is bin day (if the poor binmen make it on the icy roads and that's a big if.). So bin day means bin tag here. So far so good. The paths being so treacherous, dear fiance suggested he pick up whatever we need in the shop on his way home. So I mentioned the bin tag, this morning... when I thought of it.... This afternoon, he calls me from the shop and asks me what do we need. And as you would have guessed, I forgot about the bin tag.. Sorry Mr Foodie...

So, I have been racking my brains all day (cleaning and tidying around leaves your brain free, unlike your hands) trying to come up with 5 high points to 2009. A couple is easy enough, more and I'm struggling. Not struggling to find some high points, there are a good few, but struggling to find some interesting ones, some significant ones, some that do not sound like I'm committing the ultimate act of plagiarism. Then I realized, the hell with it, it will probably taste like reheated food but they are my high points and as such are unique.

So without further a do, here are MY 5 high points of 2009:

1. The birth of baby number 2, Noelie. Indisputably, the highest point of my year. After Marie being 5 weeks premature, we were the most prepared parents I had ever met. But it's funny how it still all takes you by surprise. She came on the day I started maternity leave and I didn't even know I was in labour when we got to the hospital. A pain free labour, a pain free delivery (she was breached so I had to have a C section) and a beautiful baby at the end of it all. Isn't life just wonderful.

2. Being made redundant. Or rather, being told I was to be made redundant. It is still not yet finalized, and I am officially on annual leave. It should all unravel in the next few weeks. So I will keep you posted. After the initial panic, I realized it was a blessing in disguise so that I could spend more time with my girls.

3. Visiting and visits from my family. I have never had so many visitors as this year. My parents came over for a week after Noelie was born to help me out after the section. We went to visit them for 2 weeks a couple of months later. My brother came to visit for the 2nd time in 11 years (he is a busy busy bee, between work and extra curricular activities, it is hard to find time to travel!). And my cousin also came for a couple of weeks. This year I reconnected with them all and I am so glad.

4. My fiance's new found love for cooking. He cooked his first meal by himself the day I found out I was pregnant. And his skills have improved tremendously during the pregnancy and subsequent months. So thank you Mr Foodie for all your help and efforts on that front!

5. Discovering blogging (and loving it). Once again thanks to Mummy Mania and Hot Cross Mum for being so enthusiastic about it on the show. It was obviously contagious!! I intend to keep up with it and received a beautiful Creative Writing box set from Mr Foodie at Christmas, so who knows, I might have a book in my head too, I just need the tools to let it out!!

So here we are, my 5 high points of last year. Hopefully, I will have loads more high points this year.

I believe you are supposed to pass this on to 5 people, so the nominees are:

- The last of the mojitos
- Northside Mum
- Celtic Mamma Chatter
- Mummy Mania
- Mumtalk

So I hope you enjoy the exercise as much as I do.
Foodie Mummy

Monday, January 4, 2010

Business as usual

That's it, it's over.. Christmas is finished..And dare I say, I'm glad it is. I am looking forward to things returning to normal.

Today, we took down the tree and decorations. I think you're supposed to wait till the 6th to do so but I just could not wait to take everything down and be able to tidy up properly (and find places for new ornaments and things we received as presents). Christmas was good, food, rest and lovely presents. Marie was spoiled, Noelie too. She is still too young to understand but that being said, she knew, on the day, that something was going on and was very excited with all the bright papers and boxes.

My mum and dad had decided to go away for Christmas this year since the house would have been empty (we visit for Christmas every second year and my only brother moved out during the summer). So we had organized to put the webcam on for them to see the girls opening their presents. We got up before the girls and started up the computer. We sent them a text to let them know we were up and waited for them to log on. Marie got up (at 9h30, thank god for the french tradition of a late dinner on Christmas Eve!), all excited that Santa had arrived. But we told her that she had to wait for a bit until Papi and Mamie came online to see her opening her presents. She was very patient and did not complain at all. We sent a couple more texts. Eventually, we gave up and decided to video it instead. It was a very wise decision. 3 hours later, we finally received a call. They had retreated to a lovely hotel (where they were the only guests) in a lovely little village nested in a lovely valley, which, translated from estate agents lingo (no offence to any estate agent, Diney ;-) ) meant they had no signal on their mobile phones, not to mention anything remotely comparable to an Internet connection.

The rest of the time was spent visiting and receiving visitors, eating and relaxing watching movies and generally having a good time. We spent New Year's Eve at home, just us. We watched the snow fall for a bit. On New Year's day, we were supposed to go and visit family but the state of the roads prevented us from doing so. Instead, we went out to play in the snow but retreated fairly quickly, my complete lack of gloves and Marie's woolen gloves were no match for the bitter cold of the snow. We also played Pictureka that Marie received from Santa and all enjoyed really ourselves.

I really love snow and cold wintery weather. We took a few strolls and missed breaking a few legs as the paths were very very icy (and still are).

Things are nearly all back to normal now. We have a busy week ahead. Marie will be back in school by the end of the week. Noelie needs to repeat her hearing check on Wednesday and get tests done on her kidneys on Friday. She took her first hearing test just before Christmas and 'failed' it or rather, refused to turn around, to her left, as she knew fairly well that that toy the nurse was hiding under her hands had to come out at some point in time (isn't that what we teach them when we play peekaboo???). I was worried at first that there might be something wrong with her left ear and that we hadn't noticed but we conducted our own test and we are satisfied that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her left ear (or her right one for that matter). More a case of stubborness (mmmh wonder who she gets that from!).
She was admitted to hospital in October for a very bad kidney infection and has been on antibiotics since. So on Friday, we need to go back there for more tests to make sure that no lasting damage has been done. My mum and dad are also coming over, on Friday, for a couple of days (please weather fairies, let the airport be ok). My mum being a bit of a cleaning maniac, I need to make sure that the house is spotless (got a head start on the sitting room today, yippeee) but I am now faced with that pile of clean clothes, presents etc.. that has gathered in the spare bedroom. Oh and I need to get food in too...

So, it does look like it's business as usual in the Foodie household. Happy New Year to you all!

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