Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baby's on the Move

We went to the Orangerie to see Monet's Waterlilies. It was fun to see Eric awake from his nap, look around, look again, and "get it". He really enjoyed it there, and when we put him down to walk around he raced around the room thrilled with what he saw.

OK, so it's a Clementine and not an Orange, but Eric's taken to eating them like apples, skin and all, so I thought that was cute enough to include a photo here.

He's been motoring around a lot more. We went to English playgroup and he was all over the place. Twice he was purposefully heading out of the room and I called out to him and he stopped. I asked him to come back in and he did. I was so surprised that 1) he understood me and 2) that he complied! Who knew I had that kind of power?

Thursday, January 26, 2012


We had our first family night at the Louvre last night. It was good fun. Eric slept for the first bit, which was good because it was a bizarre exposition by J. M. G. Le Clézio. We couldn't find a major theme to the exhibit and I'm gratified to learn that there was none, it was intended to be a throwback to the 'cabinet of curiosities'.

When we got upstairs to the French paintings there was a concert going on. It was an amazing soprano accompanied by a single guitar. I'm not one for opera-style music in general, but this was magical. She saw Eric and smiled and sang for him... he had awoken and couldn't take his eyes off her. Daddy and I settled in on a bench and enjoyed the rest of her singing. It appears that others were waiting for a turn, or perhaps they'd already performed. We moved on to the next gallery when this lady and her guitarist had finished their set.

In the next galleries Eric was enthralled by Tête de Lionne, laughing out loud several times while we were looking at it together. Then he wanted to walk. And walk. And walk. Good thing is, at the Louvre that's no problem! Mommy and Daddy eventually got tired so we let him just flop on the floor and pull himself up on the guard rails. That's when things got funny because some tourists thought he was more fun than the French Paintings and they started playing with him, taking his picture, etc. Eric had no fear whatsoever and was happy to have these strange women play with him and help him stand.

After our time at the museum we walked over to Pompidou to a creperie we like. It's simple and easy and child-friendly (though they don't have high chairs, no one does). Daddy got the menu with a crepe complet and a sugar crepe. I got the Brestoise, which had cheese, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. in it.

Then, thrill of all thrills, Daddy walked Eric home and let me take a Velib'! Oh it was glorious floating through Paris with the wind in my hair! I'm a mommy now, about to turn 35, but riding along alone some teenage boys called out to me from their car. This old lady was secretly thrilled...

It was a nice evening!

Monday, January 23, 2012


It was a tough weekend of adjustment, which is to be expected in the letdown after all the motion we've just been through. I want to remember this feeling though, a necessary part of our journey. Heck, even the time after Christmas without an international move can be a letdown! Still, it somehow feels magnified in Paris, perhaps because of how we think we ought to feel here.

The sunset from our living room windows.
This disconnect was often in the news during our last time in Paris. It's called Paris Syndrome and predominantly hits Japanese tourists, but I think many people feel it at one level or another. At least I'm not alone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting Our Bearings

We haven't written much because we're still just getting our bearings. Saturday Eric and I went to sleep at 6PM and slept straight through to 8AM! We awoke feeling like new people, but new people who still need a lot more sleep...

We finally have a bank account. Daddy went back to the bank with a real electric company statement saying we live at our address and have an account with them but since we just arrived they have not yet sent us a bill for the electricity we're just beginning to use. The electric company assured us that this was the legal equivalent of a bill. The bank said that isn't good enough, so in anger Daddy left and went next door to the luxury bank. We will pay 8 Euro a month to have an account but at least we'll have an account. He was sorry because he wanted to patronize the bank that sponsors the Tour de France but they just made it too hard on us.

Eric now has a nanny. She comes to the house, to make life easier for him, and they are getting to know each other this week. It's wonderful watching him watch her speak French, it's as if you see the wheels turning in his head. He's having a hard time adjusting to the time, the place, and the language, so I'm glad we're not adding another new place to all of this. Learning about childcare in France has been interesting. She will be declared, and that costs more (6 weeks paid vacation each year!) but we get 40-50% (reports differ) of her salary back as cash, and the rest is tax deductible. There is no need to plan ahead and create a flexible spending account or anything like that. It's just there for the asking.

On Monday we went to an expat playgroup I found through Message Paris. This is specifically a group for babies his age in our neighborhood. They defined parallel play, but all the same I felt that Eric was relieved to know that there were other English-speaking babies his age right down the street. We'll make a point of going every chance we get. They also helped me orient to the various opportunities here. It seems the most popular venue for outings with babies it the Aquarium, just across from the Eiffel Tower at Trocadéro.

Eric is practicing his French
OK, I am posting this photo because I know this entry isn't all that interesting. I hope to have a more exciting update soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Travellin' Grandpa

A pair of single guys ready to take Paris. Watch out ladies!
We picked up my Dad on our trip to the UK and he's been with us in Paris which has been wonderful. I don't think I would have had the stamina to finish the move without the cavalry having arrived. He's gotten some good bonding time with Eric so it really has been a win-win.

Dad showered in our new Parisian shower and reported:
"It reminded me of a bit of folklore: 'White man build big fire, sit way back. Indian build small fire and sit real close'. French showers are plenty warm so long as you get good and close!"
 He's right, it is warm and comforting, just a bit different from American showers. The towel warmers though - Europe wins for those.

Yesterday they went out to Champagne to tour the houses and taste some bubbles. Eric was an angel the whole time. I swear he's not that way all the time, but he does seem to sense when he needs to behave and when it's ok to fuss. Hopefully he'll continue that! I stayed home to work but got to experience it vicariously through their report. Grandpa was particularly taken with the Cathedral in Reims. They toured Taittinger and noted the prodigious output of a vineyard - 288.84 hectares of vineyards generates X million bottles of champagne. (will update when I confirm the actual quantity) Impressive! They also really enjoyed the Roman caves where the champagne is aged. I hope to get a photo from them to post here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Settling In

Photo taken as I composed this post, awkward framing to include both the view over Paris and draft post.

We are FINALLY in our apartment, and I can breathe easily again. What a long journey it was. Looking out my window from my desk here I see the rooftops of Paris and I think that with another week or two of sleep I'll start to think that all of this was worth it.

Eric has been a trouper through the whole ordeal. Yesterday he officially started really crawling, coordinated, on all fours. Perhaps he's been wanting to do that for a while and we were just moving too much for him to practice? Or perhaps he somehow knew that now he gets to finally be a baby? Either way he's everywhere now, exploring the world of this apartment. I am so happy knowing that he can, and safely.

It is a little thing, but now we have a washing machine in the apartment I can finally really use my stash of gDiapers. We brought ours over from the States, but the same idea is available in France as Hamac (but like everything, more expensive). I particularly like that we mostly just wash the cloth insert, not the entire cloth diaper. They dry, with the rest of our laundry, on the towel racks in the bathroom and kitchen. I feel so much more ecological not hauling home disposable diapers so often. Eric is off with Daddy to tour Champagne houses with Daddy and Daddy's friends today, so he's wearing disposables. We are not crazy! But while Eric's feet are getting bigger, his footprint just got a bit smaller.

On the other side, we're still trying to get a bank account. Daddy's got direct deposit from his work going there, and they have his first paycheck, so we can't just give up in frustration and walk away. Basically they keep demanding new paperwork and then waiting weeks to declare it isn't good enough. Daddy says he can see that they physically possess our Carte Bleue cards, but will not turn them over until he produces a power bill with our names on it. While frustrations with that tempted us to do something with Photoshop, in the end we were able to get a bill and he went to finally get our cards and access to the money, but guess what? January 9th is a bank holiday. We tried to work out what they were celebrating, Google tells me that "The Tokyo Stock Exchange is shut on Monday for the Coming of Age Day public holiday" or it is possible they are celebrating with the Philippines "The Feast of the Black Nazarene"? Oh well, we'll try again tomorrow.

A much more minor note but one I want to remember - why does French laundry detergent have so much fragrance? I've tried three varieties now (none that I've bought myself) and all are very heavily perfumed. I need to find some fragrance-free detergent somewhere.

To celebrate finally settling in, last night we had a goat cheese, pine nut, and fresh basil tourte, and crepes with homemade plum jam (a Christmas gift from our UK trip, thanks Avril!) and coconut yogurt. It was a celebration indeed. The recipe for the tourte is in French, and is from before I started keeping track of where I got them so I can't give it proper attribution (Elle À Table?). But here it is:

Tourte au chevrotin, au basilic, et aux pignons
4 pers.
Préparation: 20 minutes
Cuisson: 40 minutes

2 ouefs + 3 jaunes
10cl de lait entier
10cl de crème fraîche fluide
350g de chevrotin à 45% de MG
80g de pignons
12 feuilles de basilic (though I add more and have yet to find an upper limit)
Noix de muscade moulue (ideally fresh grated)
350g de pâte brisée
20g de beurre (forgot this last night, no problem)
Sel, poivre

Accord: Côtes-de-Provence rosé, servi de 8 à 10°C. (we had a nice white, it was good too)

Battre au fouet 2 oeufs et 2 jaunes avec le lait et la crème fraîche. Ajouter le fromage émietté, les pignons, et les feuilles de basilic finement ciselées.
Assaisonner de sel, de poivre, et de muscade.
Beurrer un moule à tourte. Étendre les deux tiers de la pâte et la disposer au fond du moule. Y verser la préparation au chevrotin et couvrir avec la reste de pâte. Dorer avec le jaune d'oeuf.
Entailler une petite ouverture au centre de la tourte puis enfourner à 180°C (th6) pour 40 minutes de cuisson.