Wednesday, December 24, 2008

a christmas eve story

Life has become quite different living back in the US and with the addition of two babies. Not sure how I'm coping though I don't really have much time to think about it. So much to be done around the house. Now instead of planning our next trip, it is more planning what needs to be done around the house... BLAH!!!

Anyway, our Christmas Eve went something like this-----

A miracle occurred. Every one of us got a shower/bath - that's never happened before (that we are all clean the same day). I get a shower two times a week, so this was a serious feat we pulled off. It only took all day to get it done. Took about 3 hours for me to make deviled eggs - unassisted - from start to finish. But the fun part was when we went to church. Mon petit fee was going to sing with the Cherub choir. The porcellino had taken him to Sunday School the last couple weeks just for this. We all pile in the car after trying to take a family photo by the Christmas tree - two are attached (can you see a difference between the two???). Mon petit fee and one baby were crying. Mon petit fee because he didn't get a nap so was a bit grouchy and baby, because, well, he was hungry, no surprise there. We get there and get a seat no problem. Service starts and mon petit fee has to go pee. Doesn't come back until the Cherub choir (the one he is supposed to be in) is singing their second song. I'm fiddling with the video camera as I'm nursing jumeau A, but can't see sitting down so we miss that part. About five minutes later, jumeau A poops his pants. So I take him and mon petit fee to find a bathroom or someplace to change him. He did not just poop, he exploded and poop was everywhere. On his cloths and diaper cover. So I have to totally undress him and put on another diaper (cloth) without a diaper cover and NO cloths. We get back and I just have jumeau A draped in a blanket. I normally bring an extra set of cloths, but this was only a 40 minute service, 5 minute drive each way, and we already had my backpack, sling, cameras, diaper bag, two babies and a toddler, so of course I didn't bring an extra set of cloths. We get back to the service and jumeau B wakes up and starts crying. The porcellino takes him out and it's just mon petit fee, jumeau A (who is back to nursing) and me sitting in the pew. I am not shy anymore about nursing in public - when babies are hungry, they've got to eat. But I am good about covering up, except I noticed that I was left a bit exposed out as jumeau A pulled off. Oops! The porcellino comes back with jumeau B asleep again (whew!) and then takes jumeau B and mon petit fee to the front to get their star for baby Jesus. Then we do the candle thing and are outta there. On leaving the parking lot, we pulled away and saw my shoe in the parking spot. It had fallen off when I was getting in the car. We managed to see a few Christmas lights on the way home and made it home with me only having to stick my finger in one baby's mouth - it's a five minute drive. But it was a good evening all in all, not too eventful, except that we missed YOU!

So, here's to a wonderful Christmas. I'll be thinking of you as we drink some (hopefully spiked!) eggnog, open presents, make pancakes, and change poopy diapers! JOY

Friday, November 14, 2008


I have a new definition of tired. Caring full time for twins and a three year old is very easy and very hard. The tasks are easy. Doing them all at the same time day after day after day after day, night after night after night after night - that's the hard part. The first week was really tough with a few sleepless nights. And by that I mean no sleep from 11:00 pm - 4:00 am. The second week was far easier, and by the end of it, we even made it 10 minutes down the road to the park. Our first outing we only got as far as the car. Jumeau gauche pooped on the way to the car, so while I changed him in the car the porcellino strapped the other two in. But when it came time to strap in jumeau gauche, I saw that the car seats were not installed properly, as les deux jumeaux were crying, so we went back inside. Take two and made out the next day.

The porcellino went back to work the third week so I was on my own. That wasn't so bad and now six weeks later, I have made it out on my own (with the three in tow of course) several times now. People are "amazed" and I can see why, but for me, this is a must for my sanity! I am not shy (but discrete) about breastfeeding in stores. It's a must if I am going to see something other than the inside of my home. Having nursed mon petit fee for 3 years and now these two, it's not so horrific for me to do so in public. I used to be so worried about what people would think and didn't want to offend anyone. But now it's all about feeding/taking care of the needs of my babies. I do my best to make it look like I'm just holding one so I don't garner attention, though with twins, I have come to realize that I will be getting so much (unwanted) attention for the rest of our lives! I know that I have seemed rude to a few people, but seriously, I was just tired and needed a little fresh air/time out of the house. I didn't feel like playing 20 questions. Just a few minutes without entertaining please!!! If you see a mother of twins and you want to strike up a conversation, offer her some food first! At least that's what I would prefer. The only things I can cook these days are crock pot recipes I can make in the morning, leftovers, freezer food, and pasta. And now that I am nursing two, I feel hungrier than when I was pregnant with them. Jumeau gauche gained three pounds in one month, and jumeau droite gained 1.5. Apparently one pound a month is good, so we're doing great! And now jumeau gauche who was the smaller twin at 6 lbs 4 ounces is now at six weeks, 11 pounds! Not sure how much jumeau droite weighs now - he was not weighed at the last visit. Actually jumeau gauche had an echocardiogram done because he had a heart murmur (all is normal, but they just wanted to be sure) so that's why we know how much he weighs.

Anyway, for the next few years I forsee lots of poo, pee and vomit I will be cleaning up. What a bright future! No, I am very happy to have my beautiful children. They are my joy, the meaning of my life, the absolute best part of me. And next blog maybe I'll have more info on going diaperless. Now we're using cloth diapers. More economical and better for the environment. But I am going to try to have les jumeaux out of diapers by 4 months. It's definitely possible. Think about how other cultures who don't have diapers do it. And what humans have done for centuries. What an adventure this will be! yeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

Ok, one tired mama is also hungry. It's bagel time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Well, we've been back for two months now and I still wonder when we are leaving for France. Of course it doesn't help that we still do not have our 51 boxes. I'm getting a bit impatient with that. It should have taken only 6-8 weeks and now it's been over 12. I'm 35 weeks with twins and when the boxes arrive, I will be 36 weeks. Not much time to unpack everything, but it could be worse.

I'm adjusting pretty well I think. I love the people in this area. Everyone is so friendly and very very nice! It's taken me a bit to open back up and remember that it's accepted to smile just for the sake of smiling.

The babies are doing great. I've met some friends and really fantastic neighbors, but I hesitate to tell people that I'm having a homebirth. I don't need someone else's stress. Both babies are head down, I eat very healthy (this has everything to do with a healthy pregnancy/delivery), and my midwives are fantastic. I did a short photo shoot for a friend of a friend and here is a photo from it - all 180 pounds or so of me:

It was for a project she was doing (non-profit). Check her out:

I know people think I am crazy for having a homebirth, at least the ones who don't know any better. And that's fine. I just really don't want a c-section, nor do I want to go to the hospital where someone is more likely to intervene and not let my body just go through the process of labor. I don't want any drugs. I don't want to be cut. This is a very private matter for me and I need to be in an environment where I feel safe, can move about freely and let my body do what it was designed to do, you know, like every other animal on the planet.

With twins, doctors would most likely intervene and find some reason to give me a c-section. This is not acceptable to me. Laboring women have 25% more chance of dying with a c-section, so regardless of what we're told, having a c-section is not the safer option. The real issue is that doctors feel that they need to do c-sections because it is best for them and their establishments. Who would "allow" me to labor for as long as I needed to with the shortage of nurses, the large volume of patients doctors have these days (they have to as some pay as much as $300 a day just for malpractice insurance), and the need for hospitals to turn beds over. Think about it - every other animal on the planet is expected/allowed to birth instinctually and without intervention, but womens bodies are not capable? I don't understand the logic of that.

"In the countries with the best maternal and infant outcomes - the Netherlands, Sweeden, and Denmark - women and babies benefit from lifelong universal healthcare, but that care is markedly different: obstetricians attend only high-risk pregnancies. The vast majority of laboring women get individual support from a midwife, are free to move about and birth in whatever position feels best, and are rarely induced, anesthetized, or cut. These countries have between a 14% and an 18% cesarean rate, and in the Netherlands some 20% - 30% of births happen at home with virtually no medical intervention at all. Their approach, opposite to that of the United States, is to support physiological birth, allowing labor to begin and progess in its own time, and intervening only when necessary." (Pushed by Jennifer Block). This makes sense to me and why a homebirth is the most logical thing to do. I do not want to be tied to a bed. When you are laying down, your pelvis contracts by up to 30%! In addition, on your back you are pushing the baby uphill, against gravity. How does this make sense?

When I went to interview doctors in France, they all pretty much laughed at me when I told them I wanted to deliver naturally. I asked if I could move about/not lay down and one of the doctors, said of course not. I had to lay down because how else would the doctor see to get the baby out? So it's all about what is best for the doctor and not the laboring woman and her baby? That's what it boils down to.

And for the argument "what if"... can be applied to a hosptial birth as well, but in my opinion there are more "what if's" to happen in a hospital seeing that more people are involved. What if whomever is in attendance is ill (can pass it to me/baby)? Or are at the end of their shift and what to hurry home? Or administered too much/too little whatever? Or misread a chart? Or had a bad day and it affected their work? etc... Fetal monitors do not work as we think they do. They are not accurate. We're so gadget reliant that we have lost touch with our instincts. I could go on, but that's all the time I have.

My two favorite books on the subject if you want more info:
Pushed by Jennifer Block
Active Birth by Janet Balaskas

dare to dream??? dare to follow your instincts... they are never wrong.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

le rentre - to miss and not to miss

So thrilled to be moving back to the US, I can't even tell you!!! Especially with two more on the way, it will be good to be in a land where people in general like children. I've compiled a list of things I will miss and things I won't. Here are a few:

What I will miss:
-outdoor cafes
-walking to my favorite organic store - 2 minute walk
-walking to my favorite Japanese restaurant - 2 minute walk
-having access to 4 different grocery stores within a 10 minute walking distance
- so many different types of glorious cheese, fois gras, escargot
- taking your time to eat (in restaurants)
-access to great travel opportunites
-not having to have a car
- walking EVERYWHERE!!!! (bank, pharmacy, grocery store, post office, restaurants, etc)
-the ease of the public transport - bus, metro, RER, tram, SNCF trains
-my work (teaching my string groups)
-playing in my orchestra - Ut5eme
-having tea/lunch at the Musee d'Orsay - one of my FAVORITE things to do!
-being around people all the time
-city life
-the parks
-bike riding in the bois de boulogne
-the politeness of people
-having priority on public transport and in grocery stores being pregnant and with an infant
-being able to cut in line at museums b/c I'm pregnant or with a small child
-the museums
-MESSAGE (support group for moms living in the Paris area who speak English)
-meeting people of all nationalities
-making (non-french) friends fast
-my guardien (he carried a box of groceries home for me! such a sweet man)
-my favorite libanese restaurant
-such easy access to fresh fruits and veggies (they have stands/markets here for fruit/veggies like they have fast food/convienence stores in the US)
-buying things (grocery) in small quantities
-the low cost medical care

What I will not miss:
-not being able to sit outside at the outdoor cafes b/c of all the cigarette smoke
-smelling everyone's cigarette smoke walking down the street
-such little options in the sushi department - they all offer the same thing and not much to select from.
-having to go to 2-3 different grocery stores b/c they are so small and carry different things
- having to make a special bus trip to get cheddar cheese
-can never get a quick (under an hour minimum) meal - very important when you have kids
- price of eating out!
-sitting at a restaurant with mon petit fee and them not giving him a freaking fork/place mat!
-lack of customer service!!!!! - there is no such thing here as "the customer is always right"
-dealing with the French bureaucracy
-having to renew my carte de sejour every year - going to the prefacture and them telling I am missing x, y, and z when they didn't tell me to begin with...
-the weather
-grumpy people
-living in a small apartment
-dog pee and poop on sidewalk!
-"ce n'est pas possible"
-not feeling like I belong
-knowing I don't belong
-people telling me what I should and shouldn't do
-always having to buy things (grocery) in small quantities
-having to wait until 7:00pm to eat out for dinner (most places don't open/serve before then)
-ordering wine and water in a restaurant and getting only one glass. Is it really that difficult to bring out another without having to always ask for one?


Monday, May 5, 2008

twelve day tour

Since we are leaving this neck of the woods for who knows how long, we decided to make our one last hurrah in Croatia and Venice. Never been to Croatia so this was one I was really looking forward to. The people were so amazing, though I think I say that everywhere we go when we leave France! They do love children and there were some great play areas for mon petit fee.

Our Croatia leg started after we picked up the rental car from Venice. I didn't do so well on the drive being pregnant (with twin boys)! I am so sorry to the car behind me. The sickness came so fast, all I could do was to roll down my window as there was no place to stop. Finally when we did reach a safe place to pull over so I could finish, it ended up being in front of someone's home. I AM SO SORRY! But it was either there where the rain would cleanse or in the car. That was the start of our journey!

Croatia is not a part of the European Union, so they have their own currency - the Kuna. The euro is much stronger so we were able to enjoy more on a smaller budget. We didn't go to Bosnia though I would have really liked to considering it was only 45 minutes away from where we were, though plan to go one day. Traveling while pregnant and with a toddler forces you to choose between sanity or seeing sights. Maybe if this had been our first trip, or if we would have come directly from the US, we would have felt differently.

Whenever we go someplace one of our favorite things to do is to sample the local cuisine. Of course because of its location, seafood is on the menu. One photo is a sampler platter of octupus and potatoes, sardines, anchovis, and something else I can't remember. The other is a local dish with octapus, potatoes, olives, etc. Sooooooo fresh!!!!

This photo to the right was taken during our drive along the coast from Split to Duborvnik. So many breathtaking views I didn't want to put the camera down!

We'd been to Venice six years earlier during the summer, but for some reason I don't remember it being so crowded as it was in April. All the tourists really bothered me. It seemed like a Disney spectacle, though I understand why. This city is utterly beautiful (take out the tourists). Probably one of the most beautiful I have ever been to. I had forgotten this as we have traveled so many places and seen some incredible sights.

During the time that we were there, at around 6pm the water started coming up over the edge of San Marco Square and up through the drain pipes. Of course it is a well known fact that this happens, but to actually see it is quite disheartening. To think that maybe one day all would be lost...

Supplies are brought in by boat, of course, since the roads are water ways!

One of my favorite dishes, spaghetti with mussles and clams. And of course the infamous Italian cappuccinos - sooooo scrumptions! Sorry but even flavored American coffee is no match.
And below is the Ponte Vecchio. One of the most famous bridges in Venice. It used to be the big fish market, but these days they sell all sorts of souvineers from the Murano glass to the famed Venician carnival masks.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

les jumeaux

Learned another new word today - les jumeaux. When I went to the doctor at my 13 week scan (also my first appointment - already knew I was pregnant and prefered to wait beyond the 12 week period because of the last time), she informed me that it was imperative I receive an ultrasound (echographie) immediately, this week. This was after listening to the heartbeat(s) about an inch apart. I remembered from my first time around that the doctor had a difficult time finding the heartbeat, the location had to be exact. But this time it was a bit curious to see that it could be heard in two places. I didn't think much of it at the time and my doctor only raised an eyebrow, didn't even mention the possibility...

I went in for the ultrasound and when we looked on the screen, we saw two heads. This was interesting, and I wondered what kind of new technology they were using so you could see a mirror image. That's when I learned what "les jumeaux" means - twins. Holy shit! I've always wanted three kids, I already have one, so this was perfect. I love working/teaching orchestras but don't really have the option (internally) to work while my children are little. I tried the first year when mon petit fee was four months old, but I had such a hard time even though it was part time, I quit after eight months and haven't looked back. I still teach in the evening/after school one day a week so that keeps me satiated and my brain working. This has worried me a bit wondering how long I would not be working, so getting the two for one just couldn't have come at a better time. And especially after the miscarriage in October it is almost like I am getting my baby back. These two are due in October.

Anyway, I'm not sure what is recommended in the US, but here with twins, I have to visit the doctor every month and get a sonogram every month. Everything is on track, both babies are healthy and growing normally, or as normal as can be seeing as I'm carrying them! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

stand partner

I will have my first official concert this next week with my French orchestra. They are really a great group of musicians, and very different than many of the French people I have met. If I had been in this group when I first arrived, my impression of the French people would most likely be quite different. I have actually made friends from this group. This has been the most difficult challenge here, more difficult than the language. But I'm not sure if it's the music that brings us together, or the kind of people that play an instrument, specifically the cello, or if it's that they think I'm good and respect me (I'm sitting third chair!!!!!)???? At the first rehearsal my stand partner asked me if I was Russian. Russians are known for being virtostic and, well I did practice my part, was confident, and played quite strongly. But I wasn't sure of this compliment as I thought he was referring to my body odor. I sweat so badly when I'm nervous and it was a nerve racking day. I stunk so bad I didn't want to sit by me!

But as we have had several rehearsals together, I have had a chance to overcome my insecurity of talking with people and have had a few nice conversations. One cellist will be going to California this summer for three weeks. One guy had been to New York and Boston and someplace else on the East Coast. I think both of them speak English but I haven't heard them yet. Another girl is a fluent English speaker so we talk a mix of English and French. And my stand partner, I think he knows a little English, but we always talk in French. I think that he is nervous to speak English to me as I am nervous to speak French to him, but he is so nice and there is something about playing music together that you can get a sense of someone's soul. So we have made a convivial connection without many words. And ok, after last rehearsal, he is now my hero!

Just in the past few months they have started a new thing in Paris. The city provides bikes at certain locations, usually by metro stops. They are there to cut down on car/bus/metro usage and to promote an energy efficient mode of transport. And so you can rent a bike, though I think it's free if it's within a certain time, and ride from one location and drop it off at the next. Well, my stand partner did this - with a cello in a hard case ON HIS BACK while riding the bike!!!!! This is not easy as the cello itself is heavy, plus the weight of the hard case. And then on your back! The weight is tough, but also the coordination of it all. Though I guess he is pretty coordinated to play the cello, so guess this shouldn't be too big a deal. I don't know though. All analysis aside, it's still pretty cool. Now I need to find where my drop off location would be!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


These are my favorite flowers of all time. If anyone asks... They are called: renoncule.

I learned that today (after living here 4.5 years!) at the market. I love the flower man. He's always so jovial I wonder if he's really French. Maybe one day I will ask him. He gave mon petit fee a rose and then proceeded to tell me he was Rambo. Where that came from I don't know. "Where's my knive, where's my knife" he kept saying. Good golly. Definitely was a good laugh though, that's for sure. He was so kind to write down the name of this flower for me so I just had to take a photo of it. Even the color has to be my favorite, too. And at only six euro a bouquet, I can afford them weekly!

And I need all the cheer I can get as I am in need of a little sensual stimulus (not sexual - something to stimulate my senses, because Paris doesn't do it anymore - been there, done that, seen it. Ok that's not really accurate as there are many things I still enjoy, but the honeymoon is over). These days I leave the tea pot on for so long, all the water boils out of it. Or I put the tea pot on the stove and forget to turn the stove on. I had some raw milk that was going to expire the next day so I thought I'd be clever and make a delicious custard out of it only to forget that I had put it in the oven. "That's what timers are for" you say?!?! Well smarty pants, I did set the timer, listened to to it buzz and then just went about my evening like la de da. Is this mommy brain? I need another good long sniff of those flowers.

Friday, February 1, 2008

too long

You know you've been living outside the US too long when....
a family member has cancer and you send a sprout tray and broccoli seeds for sprouting.

But hey, there's good reason for that. Check it out:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

back to normal

This season the weather has been so fantastic I have forgotten what city I am living in. Blue skies and no rain puts anyone in a good mood. Maybe that's why I am feeling so well. But the last couple of days, it has gone back to normalicy for this time of year. Yucky, gray skies, rain, toe freezing weather. Today was no exception. Mon petit fee and I went to the jardin des poetes just to get out of our three room apartment. (Three rooms meaning, one living area, one dining area, one bedroom - literally, three rooms). Of course it was drizzling, so the playground was wet. But they have these beautiful greenhouses, one of which we entered. There we found another American expat! She had three kids and we had such a nice time chatting while the kids played together and watched the fish in the little ponds. With them an hour went by faster than a minute alone and all too soon it was time to say goodbye.

We were to take the bus home and ended up waiting a good ten minutes for it, standing out in the light rain. I stopped carrying an umbrella as it is just one more thing to carry and ok, really, it is just so much effort to carry it open while pushing the stroller. They need to make a stroller with an attachable umbrella for mommy. How on earth am I supposed to push the thing with just one hand over cobble stone/rocks/bumpy pavement with the full weight of mom petit fee and a load of groceries??? Come on entrepeneurs, here's and easy one for you. Donc voila, I did have the stroller with a bag and some odds and ends I purchased at the store just before going to the playground/greenhouse. School had just gotten out - it's only half days on Wednesdays - so there were about 20 kids waiting at the bus stop. They all got on and I stood there looking at a bus full of people, ready to get on. The driver took one look at me and informed me that I would have to fold up my stroller as the bus was full. I understand the bus driver does have this right, and legally the passengers are required to oblige the driver. But it was raining, I had a lot of loose things in the stroller of which what was I to do with? It's not like there wasn't ANY room for us. People would just have had to move back a little. But it's this mentality that "pfff, oh la la, c'est trop difficile..." So I just told him never mind and walked in the rain with mon petit fee the rest of the way home. It was only about a 15 minute walk the way I walk (you know, one foot in front of the other), but did I mention that it was raining, I was cold, and mon petit fee was hungry??? Guess there are worse things though so I shouldn't complain. I do have feet to walk with in the first place. Good grief Charlile Brown. Where have you done and gone?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wow, been a while. Been busy. l got a very nice compliment today. A man said l had a "little" accent, l was from there? He was surprised l was American, and he said he loved my accent! Wow, ok. That was much needed for me today.

l actually went to a cafe and had a glass of wine. Normally l would not do this as most cafes are often very smokey. But the ban on smoking in cafes was put into effect, so now l can go. And l can take mon petit fee with me, too (if necessary)!

This holiday season, we didn't go home and l really felt it. Tickets are so expensive and we don't have a money tree. lt would be thousands of dollars that we don't have. lt was quite lonely without the chaos of my family. Living here is great, so many things l like about it, but l really need a bigger and more regular dose of the nest l flew from.

Next week l begin playing in a real French orchestra. The first three l played in before were French, but many of the players were other nationalities. One conductor was American, one British, and one Spanish. This one will be almost all Frenchies and the director, French. Good for my language acquisition.

l miss the US. Especially now when history is being written - the first African-American president! They talk about it over here - is America ready or not? l am making sure that we are registered to vote for this one, though l have done so for, gee, every election since l was 18.

Allors bonne sante a tout cette annee 2008.