Monday, January 30, 2012

Sun Day

Austin has not disappointed us in the weather department lately. Winters are as mild as I remember them, and aside from the random thunderstorm or two, we’ve been spoiled with sunshine and warmth for most of the season. But, weekends are the only time Gui and I have to spend together in the gorgeous daylight since the sun sets by the time we both get home during the week. So, we try to make the most of our weekend days together and usually start them as early at 7:00 am.

This past Saturday, we spent time with friends during the day and caught a Master Pancake screening of Back to the Future at Alamo Drafthouse in the evening. Gui’s been dying to see the show, and grabbed tickets as soon as they went on sale. It was fun to get out and laugh along with a room full of 80s kids at one of the most influential films of my adolescence. I couldn’t believe how many funny bits and how much product placement I totally missed after watching it dozens of times over the years!

On Sunday, we made some breakfast, caught up on news and made a quick stop at the hardware store before lunching en terrasse. I got a craving for frozen yogurt (I miss Pinkberry!) and soon discovered how delighted the little bean in my belly was when I indulged in some. She wouldn’t stop bouncing around after every bite. She’s been so active lately that Gui’s been able to feel her elbowing around in my stomach, too – mostly in the evening, but every so-often she’ll get going after a good meal.

And, my belly is starting to show now, so I’m starting to get the double-takes from strangers who see me and wonder what to say. I haven’t really changed much about the way I dress, though and I’m lucky that I can still fit in most of my pre-pregnancy tops (although my bottoms called it quits many weeks ago). Having a friend my size who’s 4 months ahead of my due date has been such a blessing. Between her and my sister, maternity hand-me-downs have saved me from having to step foot in a maternity store.

Here are a few belly shots (not the kind that get you drunk) plus a bonus photo:
 







Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Maman vs. Mommy

Gui’s favorite Sunday routine includes catching up on the piles of Economist magazines which he seems to never have enough time to read anymore. When he comes across an interesting article – something related to my previous job, political gaffes or other ridiculousness – he dog-ears it for me to read later or pulls me out of my knitting coma to tell me about it. Lately, he’s been adding topics on parenting to his bookmark queue, and last weekend, he came across this article about the difference between French and American parenting styles.
 
We were in the middle of making breakfast, so after I read the article, we sat over eggs, bacon and coffee and discussed our personal critiques and compliments on the subject. It’s true, I’ve always wondered how French parents were able to feed their kids exactly what they were eating at exactly the same time everyone else ate – not a separate meal served earlier. And, I’ve always admired the way French mamans can look so great while pushing (and sometimes carrying) a stuffed stroller through the metro and onto buses. And, even though we always seemed to visit right around l’heure de dodo, I can’t ever recall seeing a parent struggle to put their kid down for a nap or bedtime.
 
But, those are just my observations. When Gui and I first found out we were expecting a baby, all sorts of questions started coming up – between us and from curious friends and family – about how we planned to raise our kids. Obviously, the language thing is a big deal. We want our little girl to be fluent in both French and English (among other languages), and it was never truly a question for us that we would speak to our child(ren) in our respective mother tongues. It wouldn’t feel natural for either of us, otherwise.
 
Regarding education, we are talking about moving back to Paris in time so our daughter can start school in France. There are pros and cons for us on both sides of the whole American versus French education discussion, so we aren’t limiting ourselves one way or the other. Frankly, it’ll mostly depend on where we want to be at that time. We’ve talked about the possibility of our moving around, to and from France and in and around Europe in the future, and we both agree that while stability is important, children aren’t so fragile that they can’t adapt to and even learn from living in different places.
 
Going back to the article, I think what Gui wanted me to appreciate the most from it was the way it described French parents as having the authority, period. We’ve talked about this before and I’ve always argued that I feel like parents here do have the authority; I don’t recall my mom ever making special meals for us either and when one of my parents told me I couldn’t have or do something, I knew better than to ask why or throw a fit. But, what the article so clearly described was the way American parents today seem to feel like they're expected to explain why mom says to stop being rowdy or why dad says go to bed, while French parents don’t go into explanations or sugarcoat their commands. It’s a difference I never really remarked before, but one that became so crystal clear to me after reading the quote made in the article of the apologetic-toned American parent asking the child if it’s ok to throw sand at someone. It just sounded so silly put into writing. Why would the parent be asking the child?
 
But, what I may find silly, someone else may find relevant, and as with most differences of opinion, that's what makes the world go round. The most wonderful and terrifying thing about becoming a parent for me, is knowing that I’m growing (both literally and figuratively) an entirely individual human being that will learn about life mostly from observing me and Gui. It’s what makes being a parent such a special responsibility, and it’s how we end up having so many colorful personalities and perspectives in our world. I don’t know yet if my parenting style will curve more toward the “American” or “French” method (it will likely be a bit of both), but I am eager to give my best at being my daughter’s mother and hopefully learn heaps about myself and Gui in the process.
 
I’m curious, though, what were your thoughts on the article?  If you've had any experience with French families with young children, how does their upbringing compare to yours?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today changes everything

Today, for the first time, Guillaume and I got a sneak peek of our little baby growing inside my expanding belly. Our petite fille seems to be doing well in there, all curled up with her ten fingers and ten toes and her big, beautiful round head full of brains. She weighs about twelve ounces right now, which is on track for my due date of June 16th.

Seeing her little skeleton for the first time and knowing that she is actually a “she” makes this pregnancy finally seem so real. I was lucky to have had a really calm (although exhausting) first trimester, and despite my bulging belly, I haven’t felt much movement yet. Having a visual of what’s causing all the fuss down there makes my heart beat with anticipation and swell with love. Now, it’s just a waiting game until we get to meet our sweet girl with whom we can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives calling her our very own.

Here she is ...

 A perfect profile.

 Two of the sweetest feet I've ever seen.

 Waving hello.

A brain, a nose and two eye sockets.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Paris wrap-up and a petite annoucement

We had such a fantastic time in Paris over the holidays.  Everyday was jam-packed with visits to see friends and family, and we were even able to get in a few pit-stops to some of our favorite hangouts and restaurants. As anticipated, I ate my weight in foie gras and probably did a little too much shoe shopping.

Paris was not nearly as cold this winter as the last (thank goodness!), and we even lucked out with quite a few days of sunshine.  Most of our time was spent in the city or surrounding suburbs, but we trekked out for a couple of days to Gui's grandfather's place in the almost-countryside and spent New Year's Eve with friends in Normandy.  The days flew by, though and before we knew it, we were back on a flight headed west with luggage filled to the brim and smiles on our very fatigued faces.

This visit was particularly special for Gui and me...we recently discovered that we'll be expecting our first petit bébé early this summer, so we won't be going back to Paris to visit for at least another year.  We are so unbelievably excited to add a new member to our family (and I can't wait to be a maman!), so it was such a treat to share in the excitement with Gui's family and most of our closest friends while we were in town.  Although, it's a little unreal to think that the next time we're back in that city, we'll be with a little one in tow.  C'est fou! 

As promised here are some pictures from our trip (including one with my new bump).