Monthly Archives: March 2013

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out of gas

I hit the wall this week. I over did it, I suppose, and got sick. Walking the kilometre or so to take Louis to halte garderie made me feel like I’d been running (and I’m no runner). Getting up off the couch seemed impossible, though of course it wasn’t. It never is. (I once got out of a bath during the transition stage of labour. Therefore, it is always possible to get up off the couch. But it doesn’t always feel that way, am I right?)

Oddly, I could still write and edit. It may have helped my motivation that I was up to one of the steamier chapters of my book, but nonetheless, sitting at the computer was fine during the late morning, which is my best time of day. Late afternoon was horrible.

Anyway, I improved, gradually. But it did make me realise that here, far away from my family, we are a little short on back-up plans. If I’m sick but still technically able to look after the kids, Luuk is in a tricky spot. He can’t just take a sick day like in NZ. He has to provide a doctor’s certificate – even for a half day! Here in super-employee-friendly and self-labelled-socialist france, he can’t take a sick day without evidence it’s for real. Not even one. He can take a day without pay, sure, but unless he himself is sick, and can provide proof, it’s complicated. And costly.

If I’m the one who’s sick, too bad. Back in NZ there’d be a handful of people I could call on to help, but almost all my friends here have children of their own and I couldn’t bear passing along a cold/flu to them or their kids. Most of the time I don’t feel at all isolated here. I’ve got friends in writers group and french class and church. My diary is often cluttered with things. But I suppose this week I realised we’re a long way from home.

Nonetheless, I pulled through, and hopefully recover completely soon. We did go to a rugby came last night and froze our butts off (not quite literally but those cold seats tried their best). We got the tickets from one of the players and they were very good seats, nearly on the half way line and only twenty something rows back. It was by far the biggest stadium I’ve ever been to and we were supporting the home team which made for a great atmosphere.

Racing Metro vs Toulouse, in Paris

Unfortunately we didn’t win but it was nail-bitingly close. The Toulousians won by one point after the 80 minutes was up, converting a try they’d scored in the last seconds of the game. So close.

I will of course be drawing on the experience when I go back to editing my rugby player romance, ‘Icing on the Cake’ after I finish this draft of my newer novel.

 


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video updates

Category : Daily Life

Happy Easter! In NZ they’re technically allowed to crack open the chocolate any time now. But hopefully they’re sleeping. Here in France it’s a miserable Easter Saturday and we’re dreading going outside to freeze.

But we will because we have great seats (and free tickets) for the rugby tonight.

My Easter present to you all are videos of my adorable kids. I know, I know, they’re more interesting to me than anyone else (though the grandparents might be even more interested), but Easter’s all about love right? And also in these modern times, if we’re honest, it’s about cute things, like bunnies and chicks and fabulous chocolate sculptures.

So there’s a vague connection.

She claps!

He tries to make an angry face but I’m just too funny. Looking.

or something.

And the bloopers reel. In the first clip, watch Elena’s nose.


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Where to begin?

Category : Art , Daily Life

There are things I do every day. And then there are things I mean to do… and often don’t. And then there are the things I never do, but of which I would really like to form a habit.

Half the battle is in beginning. Without word from on high (ie. the calendar) it’s hard to feel like any given day has the clout to be the beginning of something great. It’s New Years, we make resolutions. It’s the start of a new school term or there’s a group all together planning on working hard, we’ll give it our all. We give up something for 40-or-so days and we start because it’s Ash Wednesday, and that’s what you do. Or at least, that’s what some people do.

But outside of a community or calendar date, or both, when do you start? And why that day? I find it helpful to choose a date on the calendar, in advance – that’s the day I’ll start project X. I’ll plan for it, put things aside, plan other things around it… all to make it easier to stick to project X. I’ll tell myself I’m not allowed to start before then, but I can plan what I’ll do that first day, and the second day, and the day after that.

A community helps if they’re doing something similar. A community helps even if they’re not. If I write on this blog that I’m going to journal every day, for a month, starting on Easter Monday (and I swear it’s not an April fools joke), then I’ll probably stick to it because I’d be embarrassed to give up. In fact I might just do that. April is the month I’ll journal – six times a week.

Planning helps because it makes the whole thing more achievable. Planning takes a big formidable task and breaks it down into bite-size, realistic parts. I plan out WHAT I’m going to write so that when I sit down I already know what I’m doing. I have an outline or perhaps just a note on my calender, eg. ‘finish party scene, read over and edit conversation with K’. I also plan other things that affect my writing time. I plan what we’re going to eat for dinner (takeaways are not always a bad idea). I plan to do the laundry/cooking/tidying with the kids, or while they’re playing on their own, so that when they’re napping I’m free to write.

Expecting failure helps. I know, that doesn’t sound right in this culture (though god knows which culture I refer to: a New Zealander in France, living with a bunch of Dutchies, inundated with American media and a melting pot of stuff of other origins). What I’m trying to say is that I build in back-up plans. Rather than saying ‘every day’, I say five days a week, and then if I forget one I can catch up. My resolve remains unbroken.

But if you need to say ‘every day’ in order to set a fire under your butt and make things happen, then it’s important that you expect to fail. And expect to keep going anyway.

The problem with resolutions is that they’re so fragile. I break a resolution it’s broken – munted, rubbish, worthless, gone. What? No it’s not. It’s one bad day. If you do something six days a week, on average, are you failing every week? No you’re not. You’ve got a fantastic sustainable habit.

Every day counts, but every day is just one day. So chill out.

But don’t water it down, making it easier on yourself but poisoning your true intent. I will write SOMETHING REAL each day. Something might just be a couple of lines of a poem, or a bare-bones idea, or two sentences of a scene, or boring old editing. REAL means something other than my blog, or a shopping list, an email, or a journal entry – usually a glorified to-do list with a little whining thrown in.

Some days SOMETHING REAL is also something significant, but significance is not required. Usually I’ve got no idea how significant my writing is until weeks or months later. Some days it feels like a waste of time, my head and heart are miles away, I’m ticking the box. Some days it starts like that and the magic comes. I show up and ten minutes later so does the muse. Some days not.

For Lent this year I said I’d read a bit of the bible everyday. I’ve skipped a couple of days, by accident, and probably one with illness and one with laziness (there you go, the whole ugly truth), and I’d be tempted to quit but for the fact that Lent is such a short period. That’s my next hot tip, I guess:

Don’t resolve to do something every day forever. Resolve to do it for a month, or two, or three. Who can plan further ahead than that anyway? If you’ve stuck at something, more or less, for ten weeks, then you can probably keep on going without too much trouble, if you want to.

Starting is hard, but everything had to start at some point. Everyone was a beginner one day. Every master faltered, failed, and got up the next morning (or afternoon perhaps) and eventually tried again.

There’s a lot of smarts in this silly movie but this is top of the list:

“Suck with style. Embrace the suckiness.”

I love that I suck. Even more than that, I love that I don’t suck as much as I used to. And one day I’ll suck even less.

And now I’m going to stop saying ‘suck’.

 

 


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feasts and fiets

It will surprise absolutely NO ONE that we’ve been eating really very well. This weekend was book-ended by feasts. On Thursday I bought way too much food from the Greek Traitteur and so I impromptu-invited our friends to come share it. They brought their half-prepared dinner along and we extended our dining table, for the first time, for a fantastic fusion meal of beef stir fry, Bulgar wheat, aubergines, peppers, carrots, meat balls, Greek salad, pastries and baguette.

Walking home

Louis and his friend walking home from Halte Garderie… The friend whose family came for the evening. Love impromptu get-togethers.

But that was just the beginning. We had made plans earlier in the week to do friday night dinner (with the same friends in fact) of Raclette. This is when you set up a hot-plate of sorts in the center of the table, and do your meats and seasoned veggies on top, and then grill the raclette cheese beneath, for pouring over everything. Nomnomnom… and so very very over-indulgent. My powers of self-control were tested and found wanting. (Wanting more cheese.)

And last night we went to a feast in a much more traditional sense. The Seder is eaten the first night of Passover and begins with several readings and symbolic foods, in remembrance of the suffering and slavery of the Jewish people in Egypt, and other times in history, but also keeping in mind the ongoing and continual suffering and slavery of many people groups in the world today.

We had a great night and tried some new foods. Louis’ meal consisted of Matzah bread and chocolate cake (unleavened). Elena, on the other hand, ate everything, including most of my portion of Liver… I just can’t hack that stuff. I know, I’m in the wrong country. The French are very cosy with innards but I baulk. Highlights of the meal were, for me, the soup with matzah balls (sort of like a dumpling) and the apple cinnamon mix, which is not a part of the most traditional seders but complimented the horseradish well. Its significance is to remind us that while things are sweet, we must remember the troubled times (horseradish – bitterness) and while things are going badly, we must keep hope and remember the good things.

And then there were four glasses of wine. It was a great evening!

In between all our feasting we went on two family bike rides. Fiets is the dutch word for bike – see what I did there with the title? On Saturday we took a very casual, leisurely playground-hop through Parc Heller – mainly because I had a headache and wasn’t feeling very energetic. And on Sunday we went as far as Parc de Sceaux (pron. ‘so’) for a slightly more challenging ride, and also to take a family photo with a vaguely Parisian backdrop.

Family Photo, attempt 1

 

First attempt… getting there.

Best of an average lot

 

This was the best, in the end. Not bad considering the kids’ ages, the camera on a tri-pod, perched on a bike satchel, and that we’d been cycling…

You see, we have been meaning to get a family photo for a while but had a special request from Luuk’s sister-in-law because she’s setting up a family tree mural on her kids’ bedroom wall. And then she went and had a new baby so we were driven to act at last. Welcome to the world Maurice Paulussen!

We had some fun at the park before biking home but the weather was a bit grey.

Soccer Mum

 

Kicked a ball (and cuddled a baby, all at the same time… for a while)

Bike ride to Parc de Sceaux

Nice spot to sit and rest. (Check out the size of the yachts on the pond!)

I’ve been deep in my novel recently and making lots of progress… and neglecting, ever so slightly, other things (blog, husband, diet) so hopefully the balancing act goes better this week.


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recipe for success (sometimes)

Well, Louis is eating some things, some evenings. It’s no quick fix this whole toddler food dealio… but I’m sure it doesn’t help that I haven’t read the book yet. I mean to, I do, but I’m reading two other good books at the moment (An Austen Spin-off and an Alien Invasion) and competition is rough.

Back to the food. We’ve been good: sitting down all together, trying not to make a big deal out of whether he eats (or not) and what he eats, how much and how exactly. Louis is 2 and tends to say no to new things, up front, but given ten minutes to look at it he gets curious.

At breakfast and lunch he has no problem. I’ve introduced a few new things, he’ll try fruit and nuts, even cheese on toast. But that gets a bit boring for me (and he’s most likely to be adventurous when I’m eating the same thing) so yesterday I treated myself to these marvels…

stuffed mushrooms of awesomeness!

Mushrooms stuffed with hummus, sundried tomatoes, spinach and cold, cooked chicken. All baked together with a bit of cheese on top. So very very good.

I offered them to Louis. He said ‘No merci’ and I said, ‘Ah well, more for me.’ And then something along the lines of ‘Nom nom nom.’

As to dinner, we’re having mixed results. Louis has tried rice quite a few times and last night finally ate a whole meal of it. He tried fish last night, but wasn’t a fan. Still, we’ll try it again. It was a first. He had spinach, but it was hidden in a pastry scroll thing with mozzarella and pesto… so possibly doesn’t count. Last night was actually a big success.

The night before however, he ate nothing for dinner. Not a thing. I try to put something in each course that appeals, something familiar, or a twist on something I know he loves. So first course was carrots, oranges and lettuce, in a salad of sorts. He adores oranges, but these were blood orange and looked slightly different. The carrots were soft and tossed in orange juice. He would have loved them… if he would just PUT ONE IN HIS MOUTH! But that didn’t happen.

And then main course was bœuf bourguignon, always a long shot, but on the side were chips made from sweet potato. He likes chips, so long as there’s tomato sauce. But he wouldn’t touch these weird orange chips. If he’d just try them, I’m sure he’d love them. So sweet and soft and good… but no.

So no dessert for Louis. Somehow he slept through the night. Must have been starving by breakfast.

A success earlier in the week was a variation on sushi or rice-balls. I made it up because I knew that putting the avocado in the middle of plain rice ball wouldn’t work. Louis would eat the rice and skip the green mushy bit. So I mixed the avocado with the rice, and some cream cheese as well, then Louis helped me ball them up (ie. made a huge sticky mess of the kitchen floor). But he ate them!

Rice balls

Louis and his rice balls.

Other than dreaming up delicious food for my toddler to refuse (though Elena is enjoying it ALL), I’ve basically been a social butterfly, or a studious writer this week. I’ve had visitors every day and more this afternoon, which is lovely. And then I’ve been writing, and wanting to do more writing.

Which is why I’m going to cut the blog post short today and just put some videos of the kids, which are mainly for my family on the other side of the world, who ask for stuff like this.

teaching elena essentials, like how to make a motorbike go, and not to touch her brother’s things.

and to play ball.

 


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To Fontainebleau We Go

(Fontainebleau, we discovered, is pronounced fon-ten-blow, or something like that. Definitely ‘blo’ not ‘bleu’ like the colour.)

There are about a gazillion castles/chateaux in France, and we’ve seen a few in our time here, but one of the bigger ones nearby, we hadn’t got to till yesterday. La forêt de Fontainebleau was recently featured in Castle, the TV show… perhaps that’s why it was in our heads. But we didn’t spend any time in the forest because it’s all dry sticks and rocks (remarkable but more fun in summer). Instead we went to the chateau.

chateau de fontainbleau

 We walked past the gates, appropriately awed, then (first things first) we found some lunch.

lunch in Fontainbleau

Yummy food, though Louis didn’t appreciate it much, nice wine, and Elena charmed everyone.

OMC on the tv in France

And what was playing in the background but OMC’s How Bizarre? A New Zealand band all the way over here? Bizarre indeed.

Anyway, back to the big fancy castle, eh?

panorama fontainbleau

Luuk used his phone’s panorama function, so that’s why the long picture is a bit distorted.

elena and me at FontainbleauI carried Elena around in our new sling, care of Marcelle Leo’o… not yet for public sale but watch this space.

Luuk looks at the ceiling

We spent quite a lot of our tour of the castle looking up. Some of the most remarkable decoration is on the ceilings.

Paintings on the ceilings

This was my favourite. If I was an angel I’d definitely use my powers to read more. And master a musical instrument, obviously.

Napoleon's throne, where kings once slept

This was Napoleon’s throne-room. His throne sits where the kings before him had their beds. Apparently this was because he didn’t dare sleep where the kings had… but putting your throne in the same place doesn’t scream humble to me. Perhaps Napoleon wasn’t going for humble then. Heh.

And there’s me, on the left in the picture above, listening to the audio guide. I was the lucky one, with Elena asleep in my pushchair (provided for us, free, at coat check! Awesome!) Louis preferred to push his buggy than sit in it. Needless to say I heard a lot more of the audio tour than Luuk who was shepherding Louis.

Josephine's bedThis bed was set up for Marie Antoinette but she never got a chance to sleep in it. So Josephine did. (And on a side note: the first time I ever heard of Napoleon and Josephine was when our neighbours named their cats after the pair.)

Jealous of this library

A definite highlight of the chateau – the library. Gorgeous, light, gallery-style room, but not very cosy for long reading sessions. Still, a few cushions in a corner and I’d hardly complain.

PS. must get us a globe like that.

giant ducks

After the castle, there was of course the grounds to explore. And we weren’t the only ones. The biggest ducks I’ve ever seen were enjoying the scenery too.

the park at fontainbleau

We enjoyed the fountains, the birds, the view of the chateau and formal gardens.

Louis enjoyed the rocks

Louis enjoyed scavenging rocks on the paths.

Louis, throwing rocks

And then throwing them into the pond. I swear, he wasn’t aiming for the birds.

family photo at fontainbleau

We tried to take a family photo, but the tripod was less a tripod and more my purse. As you can tell.

Luuk and Elena, overlooking the lake

We didn’t walk all the way down the larger lake because the kids were getting tired, but the view was great. Very grand. A little less to take in than the gardens at Versailles, but still more than we were up for with tired kids on a chilly day. Next time we’ll have to go out into the forest. Louis slept in the car on the way home. Elena chatted about the traffic (I’m guessing) and lost her cool in the carpark at the hardware store. Luuk had an errand to do. And then we went home and relaxed.

I do love to see the sights, kids in tow and all. But afterwards, putting up my feet feels very, very good.


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it’s a bird, it’s a plane

… nope, it’s a snowflake. It’s sunny and snowing. What is this?

We are all out of whack today. There’s no french class, but I’m feeling so lazy I don’t mind the lack of an excuse to go out.

But we went out anyway. The sun was so convincing at one point that I promised Louis we would go to the park after his nap. By the time we got out the door I’d glimpsed something and denied it could possibly be snow… but it was.

Fortunately it stopped snowing again. The sun shone, it was gorgeous. We even walked all the way to see the horses. We stopped at a second play ground. It was spring!

And then it started snowing again. What in the name of what-now? It’s sunny as I write this, not half an hour later.

yesterday, snow

 

The snow, day before yesterday. Thankfully the sky has been blue for two days now and most of that is gone. But not all.

It’s not just the weather that’s dysfunctional. I stopped my editing/revision/writing at a bad point yesterday and I haven’t quite gotten started again today. The problem? I stopped at a natural stopping point. I should know better!

I have a handful ideas of what will go next, in the gap, but they’re feeling very unformed. I might journal about them all this evening and hopefully spark something because tomorrow afternoon Louis goes to halte garderie for FOUR HOURS and that is GOLD WRITING TIME. He also has to nap earlier in the day, so I need to be ready to take advantage of ALL THAT WRITING TIME!

And then we have a visitor coming to stay for the weekend and I probably won’t do much writing at all till the middle of next week.

Confession: part of the reason I’m so useless is because I have become hooked to yet another pride and prejudice adaptation and the next episode is due out now and isn’t out yet and I’ve kinda been hanging out for it all day. Before I give you the name/link/etc. I should warn you all that there are 95 episodes of around 5 minutes each and if it happens to be your cup of tea then that is quite the time-suck.

Okay, here’s the essentials: it’s a modern, up to the minute in fact, interpretation via youtube clips, ‘video diaries’ in fact, of a mass communication student named ‘Lizzie Bennet’ who, would you believe, happens to have sisters named Jane and Lydia, a mother obsessed with grandbabies, and… you can guess the rest. Anyway, here’s that link I promised you: Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

My expectations were low, but I’m hooked. I do have some addictive tendencies when it comes to stories and television series are just the worst, with their long drawn out story arcs.

But this particular saga should wrap up soon. There is a canon for it to follow and at video 96 there aint much of the canon left.

While the weather is cold (which has been consistent despite the presence of both snow and sun) the best thing I can think of to do is to eat… mainly.

anniversary dinner

 

Our last minute anniversary dinner: steak and chips. But it was a really good steak.

Luuk and I have been trying to convince Louis of the fact and I’m happy to say we’re finally making progress! The wee man, at two and a bit, is in his ‘no’ stage, which is now his ‘no mercy’ stage. Because Luuk read a book about how French kids eat everything. I haven’t read it yet, so really shouldn’t comment, but Louis is trying new things for the first time in AGES.

What did we do? We started sitting up at the table, all together, to eat the same thing at the same time. Rocket science, I know. He gets offered a starter and main (not as flash as it sounds – the starter is usually just a little part of what would otherwise all be served together as a main course), and we encourage him to try something new but leave it up to him. If he doesn’t, no dessert, but either way no big deal.

He hasn’t had much dessert lately, but he has had some. And on the nights when baguette is part of the entrée or plat (mains), he’s not going to bed hungry. Other nights, he must be hungry, but he says, he’d rather go to bed than eat. And so he does.

Tonight I’m making…

entrée
baked potato with smoked salmon and lemon cream
(potato is leftovers, will toast in a little butter then serve with cold salmon and cream dollop)

plat
mushroom soup with pesto pastry scrolls

dessert
cinn-fully good apple spice scones, hot, with ice cream
(or greek yogurt if I look at a calorie count between now and then…)

baking spiced apple scones

Louis, helping to bake the spiced apple scones, this morning.

Realistically, the wee man will eat a little of the potato (hopefully), and maybe some pastry. If he actually does, then I’ve no doubt he’ll get his chance to wolf down a whole scone. Easy.

It’s a challenge this whole toddler diet deal, but at least I know it’s totally normal. Just a stage.

One day Louis will eat most things (even meat), I will write the next chapter of my novel, and summer will arrive!


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oopsy daisy

The phrase oopsy daisy always makes me think of this scene, from this film which I’ve seen an embarrassing number of times. And since this is my blog, there’s a glimpse into my clearly hugh-grant-addled-brain. Yesterday Luuk came home from work early (snow perks) and we put on Music and Lyrics, another hugh-grant-great. One that we agree on. Luuk doesn’t like Notting Hill.

But despite our differences in hugh-grant-film-preferences, Luuk and I have been married for six years. And on Monday, our anniversary, we both forgot. Fortunately, Luuk’s mother remembered and wished us a happy anniversary via facebook, and so I got woken up with the same greeting. And then I stopped by the butcher later in the day and bought amazing steaks for dinner.

And that was the sum total of our celebration. Yep. Oopsy Daisy. And ah well.

We did look at some photos, trying to remember what we’ve done in past years, to celebrate this auspicious day…

We married in 2007.

getting married

11 March, at St Andrews, Rangiruru, Christchurch.

And then in 2008 we spent a weekend at French Farm (the one opposite Akaroa, on Banks Peninsular, New Zealand… not in France at all. Little did we know.)

1st Anniversary, Hilltop

At Hilltop, on the drive over from Christchurch.

Akaroa Harbour Cruise

We went on a half-day cruise up Akaroa harbour, looking for (and finding) dolphins, seals, shags, etc. We also sampled quite a lot of Barry’s Bay cheese. And took a lot of photos.

In 2009 we probably did do something. But neither of us can remember and apparently took NO photos. Obviously our lives have changed somewhat. Now every minutiae gets photographed. Well, not every minutiae. But there you go. Smart phones have changed the game.

In 2010 we went to a Navigators Camp the weekend of our anniversary. Luuk was working for the organisation at the time, and it was a pretty fun weekend, though not overly romantic.

driving to camp

The drive out to camp… he looks pretty happy to me. I’ll take the credit, why not?

me, at campDon’t I look young and carefree? Little did we know, I was pregnant.

Which explains why the only photos from 2011’s anniversary… are of me and Louis. Breastfeeding. You don’t need to see that.

And then in 2012 we made up for the previous years’ lapses by doing something dramatic and romantic.

5th Anniversary, Eiffel Tower

We went up the Eiffel Tower!

With that in mind, I think we have a few years grace. Just so long as we think of something good in 2017.


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playing to our strengths

Rather than trying to be a super-person, brilliant at everything, they say it’s best to stick to your strengths and outsource the rest… or something like that.

One of my strengths is a middling amount of web-nous. Middling because there are people fluent in all those nifty languages that pop up when you right click on a web page and choose ‘view source’. And I’m not one of them, probably because I never set my mind to it. And there are other people who are just now viewing source code for the very first time.

I’m also middling on the housekeeping front. But, I’ve been working on a website for a housekeeping genius… and voilà, my house is tidy and there’s an increasingly functional/beautiful website in the works! On Friday, while I edited photos and fidgeted around with widgets, my lovely friend wiped, swept, washed and organised our apartment. An excellent trade off.

Speaking of strengths, Elena is 9 months old, and sleeping should be right up her alley… catch her at the right time of day, or most of the night, and it is. Babies and sleep… quite the contentious issue, I know. Elena is a little less eager to sleep anywhere and everywhere than her big brother was. We were spoiled with our first child.

sleeping on the floor

Louis asleep on the floor, at San Francisco Airport, July 2011

But yesterday Elena managed to fall asleep during her very first bike ride. And it was far from smooth sailing. The bit where she fell asleep was when we’d left the paved path behind and taken to the dirt track, with all the mud puddles and bumps and roots and bridges…

Elena asleep during first bike ride

Elena, asleep on her first bike ride. Bumpety-bumpety-bump.

Biking the coulee vert, ParisGorgeous day for it. We are now fully equipped with two bikes, each with a baby seat on the front.

Actually, Elena’s greatest strength at the moment is charming people. She has mastered waving, she’s had smiling down for ages, and now she can even crawl across the room to meet you.

Elena charms em allAnd a gentle face-stroking gets them every time.

the kids playing

Meanwhile, the other kids were doing what they do best: play!

We had a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, as you can tell, hanging with friends and enjoying the sunshine… just in time too because the weather forecast is all bad news this week.

Other noteworthy events of the weekend: I watched rugby. I generally don’t watch sport, but enjoyed it more than expected. We have come to support ‘Racing Metro’, one of the two teams in the Ile de France, because I go along to French class with a bunch of the players’ wives. And Racing won, so that’s probably part of the reason I enjoyed the game. Plus, good company improves these things, and getting titbits of insider knowledge on the players spiced it up…

I missed the bit where the ref’s leg got snapped; I was upstairs feeding Elena at the time. So far I’ve managed to avoid Luuk showing me a clip of it on youtube. No thanks.

But I’ve gotten off track. I was talking about strengths, and I think there’s truth to that whole ‘play to your strengths’ idea, but it definitely has its limits. I don’t love web page design or construction but, at High School, I did much better in Computer Science than I ever did in English. If I’d loved computers I might have made quite the web-nut, but what I love is stories and language and teaching. I have to work a lot harder to write well than I ever did to succeed in maths or computers… but it’s what I love. It makes me happy.

So I say, play to your loves, considering your strengths. It’s not that I’m a bad writer, it’s just that I have to work at it. I need others’ help. But because I love it, I will work harder and eventually I will be a better writer than I could ever have been at creating websites.

(It’s Sunday evening, and our Chinese take-away delivery person must be lost, so forgive me if this post isn’t a good example of my improving writing skills…)


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crawling

Elena is crawling! She’s like a tiny sniper, slithering along the floor to capture strategic ground from where she can nab toys, annoying Louis with her faultless aim.

Louis’ stress levels must be going through the roof. But the lump appears to be gone, so hopefully he’ll survive Elena’s developmental milestones.Yesterday I had a brilliant moment (just the one, and I didn’t save it for my writing unfortunately) and fashioned a fort/tunnel out of chairs and a blanket. The kids wouldn’t sleep but they would play happily, and there in the tunnel, we were in the same room but they couldn’t see me, and I managed to get writing done WHILE they were awake! So I suppose, in a way, the brilliant moment was for my writing.

It’s been a slow (a crawling) start this week, on the writing front at least. We left for the netherlands at an unholy (or probably very holy) hour on friday morning, which means the house was a tip. Sunday night, when we got back, it was even worse. Monday morning I did the beginning of a tidy-up (ie. laundry and unpacking and clearing the hallway) and then went to french class. And I didn’t particularly want to come back and deal with the mess so we hung out with friends all afternoon and evening.

learning with friendsLearning with friends (French for the grown ups, and scooter-skills for the kids)

Tuesday the house got a proper do-over. I vacuumed (I generally don’t) and mopped (even rarer). I wrote a blogpost about the weekend. I went to the market for healthy fresh food (including ready-made Moussaka for dinner).

market day with the kidsJust back from the market, with the kids, and a very well-packed buggy. Quite the workout.

And the kids did their incredible tag-team-nap-time thing (one up, one down, rinse and repeat… and I’m not kidding about the rinse bit). Didn’t write a word till evening, which was only possible thanks to the ready-made moussaka.

Part of the problem was that, over the weekend, I had done notes and editing in longhand – on my hard copy draft and in a notebook… and it all felt like a big pile of paper chaos.

Yesterday I finally got to it. And today I will do the last little bit of integrating those notes and hopefully – hopefully! – get to the next scene, which I am switching over from one character’s perspective to another. And it’s a big scene. Very exciting.

But first, I have to re-build the tunnel.

fort slash tunnel