2 year wedding anniversary

Today is our 2 year wedding anniversary, and we managed to get a little bit of time this weekend to celebrate. We dropped off bébé with my mother-in-law and headed to the thermal baths at Villa Pompéi for a massage and some relaxing (it’s only for adults, so it was nice and calm). Then we went for a fancy lunch, with wine! I have to be careful about timing drinks since I’m breastfeeding, so usually I just stick to water, but I had my pump in the car, so I went crazy and had 2 glasses! It was a little strange to be able to eat more than three bites of food without getting up to soothe a fussy baby, though I am reassured by friends that all babies seem to have that “mom and dad are eating” sensor and pick that exact moment to start crying.

In total, we had 6 hours of “us” time, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it felt like ages. I was a little surprised at myself for crying when we first left, and again randomly a bit later, but I relaxed as time went on. Bébé behaved very well for his mamie so I am less nervous about starting with the nanny this week. I have no idea yet what I’ll do for 6 hours on my own, but I have a feeling chocolate and Netflix will be involved . . .

Right around this time is also my 7 year anniversary of moving to France. I can never remember which day exactly without looking it up in my old blog, but it was sometime towards the end of September. I met my husband just a few weeks later, at a student party, when he stopped to say hello to a friend from class (my flatmate’s girlfriend) and introduced himself to the smiling blonde (me!) next to her.

We spent a lot of time Saturday playing the “what if” game: what if he hadn’t gone that night (he was mad at his friends and almost didn’t), what if he had walked along the side of the dace floor instead of the middle to get to the bar, what if I had left an hour earlier when some of my other friends had . . .

We laughed about how we both thought it would just be something fun for a few weeks. Obviously feelings changed pretty quickly, since here we are 7 years later, married for 2, with a little bébé and a largish cat.

I’ve lost a few computers since I’ve been here, so I don’t have many pictures from the very early days, but thanks to Facebook, I managed to find one from every year so far. There are three from the wedding since that’s what we’re celebrating today!

MeandHim

The central picture is the very first one I have of us from 2007. We look so much older in the picture next to it from our maternity shoot in May!

On the bottom (L to R): 2012 wedding, 2012 wedding, 2010 in Sarrebruck, 2011 in Berlin.

On the top (L to R): 2012 wedding, 2013 in London, 2008 in Metz, 2009 our PACS days in Metz.

(Both our wedding and maternity photos were shot by Aurélie who also did our gender reveal.)

Running again

In the past 3 weeks I’ve run 8 times. Well, actually it’s walk/jog intervals, because it’s been almost a year since I’ve seriously hit the pavement/gym. But it feels better to say I’m running again rather than say I’m jogging insanely slowly. And my goal in all this is to feel better, not to win any medals or set a new PR.

Still, I’m not someone who can be happy with just “feel better” as a goal (though that is the most important one after having a baby), and there’s a 10k race in November I want to finish, without having to walk if possible. It’s in the Burgundy wine region. The last time I ran a race along vineyards it was in Germany, and it was one of my slowest. But it was also one of the most beautiful, despite the hail(!!) and running slower just means you can appreciate it longer. Not to mention, the promise of good wine at the end can be very motivating.

Running is something I’ve always done for me, to feel connected to my body and proud of it. While for some, giving birth does that for them, it was kind of a surreal experience for me, and didn’t last that long. Yes it’s pretty cool that I made a little, squirmy, giggling person, but my head is too much in the present/future to really grasp how awesome it is the way others seem to. Running is more ongoing so I can feel what my body is capable of now, not what it did a few months ago that now has its own body. And all your family and friends can come watch you run, whereas giving birth tends to be a more private affair.

I go back to work in 3 weeks, and I have no idea what that will do to my training. But I figure that getting into the habit now will help me stick with it later. And while the gym is a 10 minute drive away from home, there’s one right across the street from my office, so that might actually make it a little easier.

Weight loss is definitely not the goal, and as long as I’m breastfeeding (= focusing on getting at least a minimum amount of calories rather than restricting myself to a maximum), these last few kilos will probably stick around awhile. Also, since my legs tend to gain muscle fairly quickly, the scale might even go up. But muscle is leaner, and fitting into all my work outfits again will definitely make me (and my wallet) feel better.

A final way running again has been making me feel better is that it’s that precious “me” time parents never seem to have enough of. This past Sunday was kind of perfect since I got to run and then when I got back, my husband rode his bike. We both had our one-on-one time with bébé, and also our stress-reducing workouts. Just the recipe for feeling better after a long week and recharging for the week to come.

Eight things I like about Thionville

When we moved to Thionville last September to be closer to our jobs Luxembourg, I was excited about getting more sleep and spending more time together in the evenings. That was about it. Metz was already super small by my East Coast American urban sprawl standards, and to go somewhere even smaller seemed like we were just asking for boredom. We’re not the kind of couple that goes out every night or are regulars at the bar down the street, but since we never really had the option, who’s to say we aren’t? And what’s the point of getting home early if there is nothing to do once we’re there??

So, in an effort to be fair to my new town, I started writing down the things I like about it. Plus my parents are here this week visiting and I was trying to think of things to do here. I wanted to find 10, since “Ten things I like about Thionville” seemed like a pretty nice title. But 8 will have to do, because if after almost a year here I didn’t find 10, I never will . . .

I also wanted it to be things about the town itself, not stuff we could have gotten elsewhere like the shorter commute or a bigger apartment. Eight (or a hundred) things I don’t like is easy, but actively trying to see the positive in what was emotionally a very hard move was a good exercise in optimism for me. I think everyone, expat or not, can always see the bad things first about living somewhere when it wasn’t your first choice.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1) There is a very yummy Italian-style ice cream place. They let you pick an unlimited number of flavors and then turn it into a pretty flower design. Their hot chocolate is pretty good too.

2) You can get to the (surprisingly nice) mall and big-box store area on a bus. A big drawback in Metz was that to do any serious shopping, you needed a car. Though there are less buses here in general, there are two or three that can get you there from the center of town. Since we’ll probably go back to just one car in a few months, this is something I really really like.

3) There’s no cathedral, but the architecture and urbanism is still pretty cool. It’s the same late 19th/early 20th century German influence that you see in parts of Metz: revival style buildings (renaissance and baroque), pink sandstone, big boulevards on angles with fountains at the end. Since it’s on a smaller scale, I notice it and appreciate it more.

Thionville

4) There’s a Chinese takeout catering place where you pick and choose what you want. Early in my pregnancy I would stop there on the way home to get just one egg roll and three pounds of noodles and the guy acted like that was totally normal.

5) During the summer, the river quays are filled with chairs and tables and stands are set up to sell food and drinks. I like this much better than the tons of sand and big pool they put up around the plan d’eau in Metz. It’s only hot enough here for about three days every summer to use an outdoor pool, and it’s always crowded. Plus, I’m more of a river person than a lake person, and there is nothing more enjoyable than sipping a cool drink on a warm summer evening watching the boats and swans go by.

6) I’ve only ever spent a maximum of 30 minutes at the sous-préfecture here, compared to hours upon hours at the préfecture in Metz. This should maybe count as something that we could have found elsewhere, but the people I’ve dealt with have been pretty nice, so there are definitely points scored for having nicer than expected fonctionnaires.

7) Free trash bags. I don’t know if other towns do this (Metz certainly didn’t when we lived there), but when we went to go get our recycling bags when we first moved in, they also gave us trash bags. I realize this probably only saves us about 10€ a year, but hey, free stuff that you actually use is always cool.

8) The statue of a wild boar in one of the parks. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

boar

Two months

My second monthly letter to our baby garçon!

Dear bébé,

This month has certainly been much busier than the first one! Momma barely has time to eat most days, let alone blog . . .

Luckily, napping is starting to sort itself out. At the beginning of the month, every other day was a “bad” nap day, and now it’s maybe only two or three times a week. We’re having to walk and rock you less and less to get you to sleep, and the magic of “in bed sleepy but awake” is starting to work. We can never really predict how long you’ll nap, but mornings are usually better than afternoons, so there are lots of walks in the park and running errands around 3pm to have some down time in the stroller or scarf. Hanging out in the scarf while momma makes dinner also happens most days.

Sleeping at night is actually easier for you than during the day. We’ve started a bath and massage routine in the evenings that seems to work pretty well. And daddy gives you a bottle of momma’s milk between 10 and 11 so that she can sleep a little more to keep up with you during the day. Four hour stretches have become the norm, with an occasional five or six hour night. However, this week you must be having another growth spurt, because we’re back down to three hours!

Still, momma and daddy have hope that soon we can leave you with Mamie one night and go to a movie or a restaurant. You’ve already spent a few hours alone with her on a few different occasions, and you behaved yourself incredibly well. You’ve met lots of new people this month, and are always interested in them and never cry. We’re hoping that continues for a long time and that you’ll be a real social butterfly. It will certainly help when you start going to the nanny’s next month!

You’ve started to make little “singing” noises and your daily listening selection has expanded to include musicals like Notre Dame de Paris and Pirates of Penzance. You seem to like movie soundtracks too, though we’re trying not to worry too much that you “sing” loudest at the Darth Vader theme . . .

Smiling is starting to happen, however nothing in particular seems to set it off. We can make all the silly faces we want, and show you all your different toys, but your smiles come randomly when we’re just sitting around. You follow momma and daddy around with your eyes most of the time, but sometimes you still have that “far away” look that makes us wonder if you’re seeing things we can’t (daddy says angels, but momma thinks it’s ghosts!). You’re moving your arms more and still trying to grab at your toys, and will even hold onto them for a minute or so when we put them in your hand. You hold your head up great, so tummy time will definitely be more interesting from now on. You’ve rolled over three times accidentally (we don’t expect you to get serious about it for another few months).

Thanks to a few growth spurts, you are getting so big! You’ve gained another kilogram and grown 5 centimeters. You fit into most of your 3 months clothes already, though probably the cloth diapers help fill them out, since you’re not really a chubby baby. You haven’t lost much hair, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any lighter, so it will probably stay dark brown. Your eyes are still blue and you have lashes that could star in a Maybelline commercial.

A few tears this month when you got your shots (obviously) but also when momma and daddy tried to cut your nails. You got over both very quickly! The only thing the doctor seemed worried about is you like to keep your head to the right. You turn it pretty well when sleeping and playing, but if your “default” position doesn’t start evening out, we’ll have to make a visit back to the osteopath.

This next month will be very exciting, with visit a from grandma and grandpa, which means lots of exploring. You took the train to Luxembourg last week, so you’re an international traveller already!

“Life with baby” is starting to feel more like just “life.” We’re getting into a groove and figuring out what works best for everyone.

Bisous & kisses,

Your momma