Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Once in a lifetime ...

Eiffel Tower, check. Champs-Élysées, check. Notre Dame, Versailles, Moulin Rouge. Check, check, check.

What an amazing trip this has been. And what an amazing international traveler our not-so-little tax break turned out to be. Of course, I hope I'm not jinxing us. We do still have to get back to the U.S. with our sanity intact.

Yesterday, we braved Paris without our hosts and tour guides (my best friend and her husband). We took the RER into the city and hopped the Metro to the Louvre. It took some creativity to get the stroller out of the Metro station; the exit we ended up at wasn't wide enough, so we had to break it down and squeeze through the gate.

After a wonderful lunch of pasta, scallops, wine, beer, coffee and people-watching, we walked over to the Louvre and were surprised to see the Eiffel Tower again in the distance. We took in the scenery for quite a while, and when we were sure we were done marveling at the magnificent surroundings, we walked over to the museum entrance ... only to discover it's closed on Tuesdays.

So, we decided to check out the Moulin Rouge (one of my favorite movies) instead. We bought some gelato and asked for directions. Two trains later, we emerged to a scene that juxtaposed beautiful French buildings with seedy signs for sex shops. It looked like the right area, but I couldn't see the red windmill. We took a guess and walked down the parkway where it looked like lots of other people were going. Then we saw a street headed up a steep hill packed with tourists. I figured we must be getting close. When we got to the top of the street, instead of the cabaret, we saw a gorgeous church! We had stumbled instead upon the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur at Montmartre. The steep stairs were impossible with a stroller, but then we saw a lift ... and it took our Metro tickets. Voila!

After admiring the view, we rode back downhill, bought a Coke and asked for directions to the Moulin Rouge. First left and second right, he said. That put us back where we came from, just headed the opposite direction. So we bought a postcard and asked again. It turned out we had just gone the wrong direction when we emerged from the subway. I should have guessed when the sex shops faded out that we were getting colder!

We continued down the parkway, and sure enough, there it was. Just like the pictures. But real. By this time, we were tired and Miss M was hungry. So we sat at a bar and fed her.

Did I mention I've become a public nurser? Something about the anonymity of the big city makes me more comfortable nursing in public. I never thought I would be one of "those" women, but when you have no private place to go and your child is hungry, you do what you have to do! I always use a cover -- I finally splurged on one I really like, and I think that helps my comfort level, too. (Before I was using a hand-me-down.)

Armed with my Hooter Hider, I nursed Miss M on the Champs-Élysées, on a bridge overlooking the River Seine in view of Notre Dame, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, at the gardens of Versailles, in the Louvre, and outside a bar steps from the Moulin Rouge. Where we saw, she nursed.

Tomorrow we fly back to reality. I'm sad to leave my best friend and sad to end this exhilarating experience, but grateful to have had it.

Where in the world?

Miss M completed her first transatlantic flight this weekend. It was the first of a few travel milestones she would sleep through, including a tour of the Château de Fontainebleau yesterday and lunch on the Champs-Élysées today. She did wake up today in time for a few pictures in front of the Arc de Triomphe, the second half of our stroll down the Champs-Élysées and dessert at Haagen Das.

In other news, Miss M has started raising herself up on her hands and knees and creeping backwards!

More adventures ahead!

ETA: This was written May 12, but for some reason didn't post until the 18th. Sorry about that!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The right man

A quick shout-out to a wonderful man who knows how to make a woman feel loved. On my birthday, breakfast and personally delivered flowers. And last night, a special dinner and card (signed, Miss M and Daddy) to celebrate my first mother's day. I love him more than I am able to show him right now.


"Who needs sleep?" So asks the Barenaked Ladies in one of my favorite albums ever. As I sit here listining to the birds rise, that song keeps playing in my head. Miss M woke me up a quarter after 3, and I haven't been back to sleep. It's not her fault -- she nursed like a champ and went right back down. But my brain is racing with incoherent thoughts. I've got so much on my mind, one thought is interrupted by the next. It's making it very difficult to write. I guess that's partly why I've been so terrible about updating this blog. Work is a huge brain drain. Miss M is an emotional one. I adore her so much. By the end of the day, I've got nothing left. All the clever little thoughts and heartwarming observations I wanted to record are gone. My brain is a sieve.

A few thoughts that have not yet escaped:

On mobility: Miss M finally started rolling over right before Easter. (Was that a week ago? Or two weeks?) She started going from her back to belly, rolling to her left. Then she figured out how to reverse that roll. She also spins on her belly now, but that's about all. I'm grateful -- not ready for her to "travel" on her own yet!

On baby's first turd: It was shocking and funny at the same time. Chris mostly changes her diapers. Since she was born, it was something he volunteered to do, and what mom would complain about that? He was worried something was wrong. I might have been concerned if someone hadn't already posted about this on my WTE board. I love the September 2010 mommies!

On teeth: How could I forget about these? Miss M has two on the bottom. First the right, then the left. I fear she may be working on top ones now. Last night she woke up twice, which was the pattern for the first two. Of course, the night before, she slept all the way through, which was a wonderful birthday present.

On travel: Yes, we're getting ready to take a B.I.G. trip. This is keeping me awake. I know it will be wonderful and exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our non-jetsetting little family. But today, I feel nervous and unprepared. We are going to be that family you see on the plane and think, "Please don't sit by me." Ack!