First races in the states

The last race my husband and I ran was a half marathon in Luxembourg last September. We were both eager to keep running a part of our new life in the states, but it took awhile to get back into the groove. Out first Boston summer was much hotter than we’re used to, making evening runs hard. And while we managed morning runs for awhile, once bébé Monkey starting sleeping “late” (past 6:30), we did too.

We finally decided on November races, which gave us plenty of time to prepare. I did a 5k at the beginning of the month, in an effort to work on speed before tackling a longer distance again. My husband has his sights set on a full marathon soon, so he did a half marathon this weekend at Red Apple Farm, about an hour away.

My 5k was at the local Y, so it was basically like a regular Saturday morning: Monkey and papa stayed at home while I went out for an hour or two. The half marathon got us all out of the house exploring. It started at 8, which meant getting up before 6 on a Saturday (much harder to do when you’ve only been able to sleep past 6 for the last few months!). The farm was having a harvest festival, so there was plenty for Monkey to see and do.

Blacksmith

Farm Animals

As much as we want to keep exploring New England, I think we’re getting to the point where we just want to chill out on weekends. Yesterday was probably the last of the warm weather (at least 60 degrees for the race). Winter weather has finally appeared and we’re going into hibernation like most people do. So it was nice to have a motivating event like the race to get us to visit somewhere we wouldn’t normally go. And now that we’ve been there, I think we’ll definitely try to get out there again next year!

BearRed Apple Farm
Farms are great places for toddlers, and we’ve already been to a few in the area. This one had everything though – cows, chickens (running free!), pigs, donkeys, sheep, goats, and huge bunnies. The store was absolutely adorable, and the outdoor grill was both entertaining for Monkey and delicious for us. I was the only one who found the blacksmith entertaining, but I grew up next door to one and have always loved it. For the festival there was music and additional booths with all sorts of fun holiday stuff. I think we’ll try to go during apple picking season next year to take full advantage of everything they offer.

Store2 Store1

Even if we didn’t pick them ourselves, we brought some apples home with us that  I can’t wait to bake into a pie for Thursday!

More French visitors

My husband’s uncle and aunt were on vacation in New York for la Toussaint school holidays, and they took a bus up to Boston for the weekend. It was also open house weekend at the International School of Boston, and since they’re both  school inspectors (“inspecteur pédagogique”) we thought they’d enjoy checking out a French school in the states.

That’s not all we did, of course, but it was nice to have their opinion on the school, since it’s their job and they thought to ask the questions we never would have. We haven’t decided if we want bébé* to start there next year or not. He’s had so many changes in the past year, and we’ll probably be moving to a cheaper apartment in the spring, so I kind of want him to have at least one constant in his life. Everyone loves him at daycare, he has friends there, and even the teachers at the French school said that if we’re speaking French at home, starting a year later won’t really make a big difference with his language skills. So we’ll see.

Lexington
Lexington

Since vacation shouldn’t involve too much work, my husband took them out on the Freedom Trail, which is his favorite thing to do with visitors. We also went to his other favorite, Lexington, and walked further along the path than we ever had in the past. Not all the way to Concord, but enough for bébé to tire himself out running so he’d nap well. I made his Halloween costume while he napped, but he unfortunately refuses to put it on, so I can only picture how cute it’d be.

spider costume

For reasons too complicated to explain here, my husband is a Seahawks fan, which is not an easy thing to be in Boston. There’s a bar on Boylston street where all the Seahawks fans go to watch the game, and he’d been talking about going for weeks. He finally went with his uncle this weekend, though I don’t think it was the jolly, animated afternoon he thought it’d be (they lost).

We also ate, drank, talked, and all the things that are great to do with family that my husband is really starting to miss a lot. Our recent explorations as a trio have been fun (see below), but I know he really needs that big, rowdy family atmosphere from time to time. We just bought tickets to visit in the spring, so there’s something to look forward to. And while we’re waiting, hopefully Thanksgiving at my sister’s (which will include her new baby twins and her mother-in-law visiting from Central Asia) will help fill that “rowdy family” void.

Fall colors in New England
Fall colors in New England
Shelburne Farm
Shelburne Farm
Middlesex Fells Reservation
Middlesex Fells Reservation

*I think I need to start calling him something else besides bébé, since he is definitely not a baby anymore! “Monkey” would be appropriate given how much he likes to climb everything lately – furniture, people, fences, whatever!

A visit to Salem in the summer

My husband passed a financial exam last Saturday, after studying for the past six months. What better way to celebrate than with a trip to Salem, also known as Witch City? (There’s really no link between the two things, other than I am super proud of him for passing it so I wanted to mention it!)

I read there was a maritime festival happening last weekend, and since bébé loves boats, I thought it’d be a fun reason to check out Salem. It was a quick drive up 95, and as usual when traveling with bébé, we got there before 9 and there was tons of parking (frugal tip: street parking is often free on Sundays, so arriving early is always good!). We walked around the deserted streets, enjoying the old houses and pedestrian city center before getting (our second) breakfast.

Empty center
Empty center

I’m not sure what I expected, but it felt more European than I thought it would. I’ve heard people say Boston is a very European American city, but so far I don’t really see it. Parts of it are definitely old, and I like it, but it’s not the same feel. Maybe it’s just not like the parts of Europe I’ve been to.

Salem felt more like something familiar. There was a pedestrian center with shops and cafes on a square where you can sit outside. There are lots of old buildings, some are brick, others are First Period houses, and the newer ones blend in pretty well I think. I am not a fan of old mixed with new, I like when cities try to be harmonious. Think Paris, not London. Florence, not Rome. So I liked Salem a lot.

Salem architecture
Salem architecture

I’m not sure if I’ll like it as much in the fall, when the witches come out… There was a little taste of spookiness, which is easy to handle in the sunshine.

Salem

The maritime festival started later than I thought it would, so we didn’t see much. But we did get to see the boats in the harbor (does everyone in Salem get a boat when they buy a house?) and the canon. Bébé behaved beautifully, so we’re crossing out fingers that a slightly easier period is upon us after the screaming fits that plagued us last month.

There were a bunch of these near the museum all painted differently
There were a bunch of these near the museum all painted differently
Much calmer than in Salem's 18th century maritime heyday
Much calmer than in Salem’s 18th century maritime heyday
Sadly, they did not actually shoot the cannon
Sadly, they did not actually shoot the cannon

This weekend I was supposed to take bébé to Providence to visit a friend, to give my husband a break after all that studying. She was sick so we rescheduled, but I tried to at least give him Saturday morning free. So I took bébé to the same farm we visited a few months ago (Drumlin Farm) that’s only 2 dollars per person with a library pass. He liked it last time, but absolutely loved it this time, since he’s now completely obsessed with farm animals. I might have to look into a Mass Audubon membership so we can go as much as we want for free (and all the other wildlife sanctuaries in the state, plus other nifty benefits like member-only access to CSAs and campsites).

I wish I didn’t just post weekend updates, but we really don’t do much during the week! We did call the babysitter to go out for drinks one night last week, and my husband freaked out because he forgot his wallet and was worried about not being able to drink. But then we didn’t get carded, so I guess we’re officially old!

Exploring Boston for free

We discussed getting out of town for Memorial Day weekend, but in the end, we decided on a staycation and explore Boston more. And as an added bonus, nearly everything was free!

Saturday we headed to Castle Island, to the south. Parking is free, but fills up fast. We ended up parking closer to the long path that curves around the bay (Google maps tells me it’s called the Head Island Causeway), rather than in the lot right at the park.

Castle Island 1

It turned into a hot day, but the morning walk along the water was really nice. I really love the sounds and smells of the sea, but I’m not a fan of sand. So while there were beaches around the bay, being on the island was nice, since it was grassy and you could be by the water without getting sandy.

The island is a great place for kids, with a big playground and lots of green space for kids to run around. The tours of Fort Independence are only in the afternoon, so we didn’t stick around to do it. We have learned it’s just best for everyone to not skip nap time.

Castle Island 2

We brought some food to snack on, but will definitely try out Sullivan’s on our next trip. We also skipped the toll roads, and got a great view of the Boston skyline when driving back along 93.

View of Boston

 

So overall cost for the day was just gas, which, at about 15 miles away, probably comes to about a dollar and a half. Not to bad for a little morning trip to the sea.

On the drive back, we passed a park with a spray deck. I have no idea if these exist in France, or even in other cities. Probably. Hopefully. Because they are awesome. It’s literally just a bunch of sprinklers and shoots of water on a flat area for kids to run around in. Since it got up in the 90s on Saturday afternoon, I thought this would be a fun thing for bébé to try. And he definitely loved it. There are a bunch around that I can’t wait to try out this summer.

Sunday we checked out the Arnold Arboretum, in Jamaica Plain. I feel like pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s like, a very pretty, manicured forest, with super wide paths. Bébé went crazy running all over the place, and laying in the grass, and smelling flowers. Arnold Arboretum

Parking is also free, and harder to find as the day goes on, so at least there’s one advantage to having a toddler who wakes up before 6 most days! Again, gas was probably less than two dollars, maybe even less than one, since it’s only about 10 miles away.

Sunday afternoon I headed to Cambridge to pick up a dining room table I found on Craigslist. It was a new area of Cambridge for me, so that was fun to drive around looking at everything.

I found some chairs on Craigslist as well, and picked them up this morning down the street from the Museum of Fine Arts, which was free today. So bébé and I checked it out while my husband took the chairs home, thus saving me the 25 dollars in parking (though paying tolls twice, so 5 dollars plus gas). The museum was not quite as fun as the island or the arboretum, since bébé could’t touch anything. Still, there were a few pieces you could interact with, and he seemed interested in a few paintings and stained glass windows. Mostly though, he liked climbing on the benches and stairs.

And finally, this afternoon I went to a movie for the first time since Christmas. It was in Lexington, a super cute (and historically important) town only 5 miles away that I’m sure we’ll go visit again and again. There’s a bike trail and ice cream shop and all sorts of stuff for kids this summer. I totally have a crush on this town.  Of course the houses start at like, 1.2 million dollars, so it will have to stay a crush, sigh.

Overall, it was a great weekend getting to know the area a little better. Our exploring actually started last weekend with a visit to Walden Pond (free parking with a library pass!), which will be another nice place for bébé to play in the water this summer. The walk around the pond got us thinking about longer hikes we might try, now that he’s slowly getting used to being in the baby carrier on our backs. A good system seems to be to let him run around for a good half hour before putting him in it, so that he’s tired and doesn’t mind being carried.

I didn’t set out to make this a “no-spend” weekend, but having bought the car a little earlier than planned, it’s interesting to see that it’s actually easier to get to cool free stuff than before. So to help offset the higher transportation costs, I like the idea of sticking to cheap and free family activities on the weekends. And honestly, with bébé’s attention span the way it is, there’s no sense in dropping tons of money on doing something he’ll like for about three minutes.

Right now, what he most seems to enjoy is being outside, running around, chatting up strangers, and if possible, getting wet. There are plenty of cool places to do that for free in the area, and I’m happy we got to visit a few this weekend. At work when people mention things, I can finally start to say “Oh yeah, we’ve been there!” and begin adding things to my list of recommendations for visitors. First up is my parents in a few weeks!

 

 

Exploring Boston and meeting my twin

This week’s adventures included a friend visiting, which was a great excuse to explore Boston. I also met my name twin, which is probably not a big deal if your name is Sara Smith, but mine is a little more unusual. Only around 600 people born in the States in the past 35 years have my first name, according to Social Security data. For comparison, over 20,000 girls were named Emma in 2014. So this was kind of a big deal for me. Also, our last names are super similar, like Smith and Smithson. Add to that a few other weird similarities, like the fact she also just moved to Boston, and I made the joke that I shouldn’t bring bébé, lest he get confused about which of us is his real momma.

In the end, I didn’t bring him in order to have a girls-only afternoon, which included my first ever Thai food (yes I know it’s weird I’ve never had it before) and a walk along Newbury Street, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and the Boston Public Garden.

Newbury Street

The afternoon started off a bit dreary, but it ended up being just beautiful weather, perfect for strolling around a new city.

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

It probably seemed like I was super excited about moving Boston, and I was, but now that the initial move is over and things are starting to settle down, I have been feeling a bit more blah about it. Since we do live a bus/train ride away from the center, it’s not like we can get to everything really easily, and with a toddler, long bus rides aren’t that fun. While I am still happy to be mostly car-free for now, working around nap times and train schedules doesn’t make for the most spontaneous weekends. And it really is very different from the environment I’ve been in for the past 8 years, so being back in an American urban aesthetic will take some getting used to.
Boston Public Garden

But making the trip in this weekend and walking around in the sunshine definitely helped me start to like it a lot more. I kept thinking “this will be great to show my mother-in-law” when she visits this fall, since I want her to approve of where we live now more than I’ve ever wanted her approval on anything! I missed out on some of my husband’s initial explorations those few weeks I was working and he wasn’t, so it was nice to discover a few things he hadn’t seen yet and tell him about it (since Boston is small and he’s seen a lot, just Newbury and Thai food).Boston Public Garden

We still had time to explore together, mainly new restaurants in our town, since having friends visit is also a great excuse for exploring local dining options. Walking around with her also helped me feel like this is “my” town now. She’s visited us in every single one of our apartments, so now we just need to plan a trip out West to see her and start exploring the States with bébé!

August adventures

While we had originally thought about going to the states this summer, we weren’t sure if we’d both be able to get off work at the same time. We knew the nanny was taking three weeks (though technically we could have decided the dates for her, since we’re her only employer, but we’re cool like that) and my mother-in-law was leaving for two of those same weeks, so I asked for those weeks months ago. My husband recently changed teams, and only found out about a month ago that he’d be able to take a week. With just a week together and less than a month to plan, a visit to the states wasn’t looking likely.

It turned out really well though, and we managed to get in two trips, including one without bébé! MIL took him overnight for the first time ever while we went to the north of Luxembourg. Other than a major bath time freak out, bébé did great and we are excited to be able to roam a little freer on the weekends now. We still woke up at 6 out of habit, but then we got to go back to sleep until 8! It was amazing!

View of Vianden
View of Vianden

Before leaving, people at work told me “bonnes vacances, repose toi bien!” (have a nice vacation, rest up!), and I was like, uhhh, parents don’t get real vacations. But the weekend in Luxembourg really felt like one, thanks to all the unscheduled time we had. When people say having a kid means no time for yourself, I think what they really mean is, deciding freely what to do with your time is over. A few hours here and there every week is always possible, but 36 hours all at once is something different. We went to a few different castles, saw a photo exhibit, took a nice long apéro without having to say or do anything other than sit there and drink and people watch. It was the break we needed to get ready for the rest of the week.

The chairlift up to Vianden Castle
The chairlift up to Vianden Castle
Vianden Castle
Vianden Castle

And the rest of the week was spent in Annecy, where my husband’s uncle lives. While he goes pretty frequently, I’ve only been twice back in 2009. In the winter to go skiing and in the spring to do the half marathon around the lake with a friend. We didn’t have much planned, just hanging out with family and walking around town. Though they all kept telling me I was going paragliding, since my husband loved it so much when he did it a few years ago.

Lac d'Annecy
Lac d’Annecy
View from the balcony
View from the balcony

Unfortunately, the weather turned stormy right before I was supposed to head up the hill. But that morning, we had done a tandem bungee jump with a rolling sled, so we still got our thrills in. My parents always told me I could do crazy stuff like that (parachuting, bungee jumping, etc.) once I had given them grandchildren, thinking I would of course not want to do anything dangerous once I had a baby. And while normally their tactic would have worked, the jump had so many cables involved, it was probably safer than a paddleboat on the lake.

The jump
The jump
The weather an hour before I was supposed to go paragliding
The weather an hour before I was supposed to go paragliding
The weather during when I should have been paragliding
The weather during when I should have been paragliding

Bébé stayed at home for our jump, since we didn’t want to give him any ideas! This was different from past trips with him, since we could leave him with family and go out on our own to explore.

We did lots of fun stuff with him too, like going to the outdoor pool with a view of the lake. We also visited a few different playgrounds, definitely not your typical travel hotspot! But it was nice to explore areas we wouldn’t normally see, and as he gets more mobile (his first few steps were taken in Annecy!) I can see how our travelling will adapt in the future, and I’m pretty cool with how it looks. If we want to take a trip that’s really relaxing, then it’s best to leave him with mamie. And if we want to explore a new city, we can definitely take him, but it will be on his schedule, not ours.

We’ve used up our travel budget for the moment, so no more travelling for awhile, but we’re looking forward to more of both family and parents-only vacations in the years to come!

Traveling with a baby in Paris

Traveling with a baby in Paris was perhaps not the most relaxing way to spend a weekend, but it turned out really well. I knew any plans I made would depend on the weather and his mood, so I kept things very basic (= see stuff, eat stuff, take cute pictures.)  The main reason we went was so that my husband could take an exam, so I was my own on the train, since he went up Friday night, and for most of the day on Saturday.

I know Paris pretty well, having studied there for a summer in college (which included studying the history of the city, old street maps, and lots and lots of walking around), and we’ve been a few times together as a couple. There was no rush to see everything or disappointment when timing didn’t work out. While it would have been nice to make it into a museum or two, there will be other trips, both with and without bébé, that will be more culture-focused. This weekend was mainly about getting away and navigating a big city (and public transportation!) with a baby in tow.

Transportation

The TGV ride up went very well, though bébé was obviously very interested in everything about the train, so he didn’t fall asleep until we were halfway there. To get everything to the station in the morning meant putting him in the baby carrier, and our bags in the stroller. I picked a hotel close to the train station so we wouldn’t have to deal with bags + baby on the metro.

I didn’t want to attempt the metro on my own. After reading other posts about bringing babies to Paris, I tried the bus. I think before this weekend I’d taken the bus maybe twice in Paris, and I was a little nervous. But the routes are well indicated on the bus stops, and since I know the city pretty well, it was just a matter of finding one that went in the general direction of where I wanted to go.

1-paris1

For example, I had planned on meeting my husband at the Champs-Elysees metro station, and originally I was going to take the metro to Concorde and walk from there. But then I found a bus that went from the train station to the Louvre, and then walked through the Tuileries Garden instead. Much more enjoyable than hauling the stroller up and down a million stairs.

2-paris2

So bébé didn’t get his first metro ride until Sunday, when my husband took him in the baby carrier and I was on diaper bag duty. In general I prefer the carrier, but he’s just so curious now (and big!), I only use it on my own for short trips, when I won’t need a diaper bag. But with the two of us, it meant we could take the metro and explore a little easier and faster than I had the day before with the stroller.

3-paris3
Getting silly at the Grand Palais

 

Eating

I only breastfed in public once, in a café near the Musée d’Orsay, and no one said anything. I was a little more self-conscious than usual, since bébé was being so fussy and popping off every two seconds to whine, thus making me feel quite exposed and drawing attention to us. I also fed him on the train on the way home, but I had the window seat with my husband next to me so I was a little more comfortable.

Though some of the pictures are quite grey, Saturday afternoon turned out very nice, and bébé got some applesauce in a park. I don’t think he’s ever eaten outside like that, so yay for bébé’s first picnic! I even changed him on a park bench, which he just loved for some reason.

I originally wanted to eat at a Korean Barbecue place for lunch, but it was so tiny, and they just weren’t that friendly. So we left before we even sat down and went to Hippopotamus instead and got both excellent burgers and excellent service. They had a high chair and a coloring book (which he mostly just tore apart, still too little to color!) and waitresses who just loved him. He even got a kiss from one, he was being absolutely adorable.

I know we won’t be able to go to certain types of restaurants for awhile as a family, but I didn’t fully realize it until this weekend. At first since he was so small and slept so easily, we go almost anywhere. Now that he’s bigger, it’ll be more of a challenge finding places that will work for all of us together. Just another reason to look forward to our date nights – grown-up restaurants! But if everywhere can be as nice and welcoming as where we ate this weekend (with good food no less), then I don’t really see it as much of a sacrifice.

The café we went to Sunday morning had a high chair, though it would have been fine if they didn’t since we didn’t stay that long. Bébé managed to grab a croissant off the table when we weren’t looking and started gumming it to death, so this was a trip for firsts! First picnic, first croissant, first metro ride . . .

4-paris4

Thoughts

I always expect him to be cranky and difficult when we go out for long periods of time in public, but I think I am just anticipating toddler tantrums. Babies are easier I think, or at least ours is, since he loves anything that’s new. Nothing scares him, not loud noises, not dogs, nothing. The only times he cried or fussed was when he was tired. We’ve done a little too well in the “get baby to sleep in his own bed” area, and pretty much anywhere else is a play zone (including our bed, so even if we wanted to cosleep at this point, it would never work). He eventually napped in the baby carrier, and in the stroller, but for much shorter periods, and much later than usual, once he was totally exhausted. This made nighttime sleep a little harder, but not that much worse than usual.

I think the only thing I would have done differently is not taken our portable cot. It’s not that heavy, but it’s larger than an average suitcase so getting it on the train was a little awkward. The hotel had one, but I was worried about safety and hygiene. But we can always bring out own sheets, and I don’t have any good reason to think the hotel’s cots are less safe than ours, since I’ve never tried one before.

So our first trip to Paris as a family of three can definitely be called a success. I’m happy he seems to enjoy exploring France as much as his parents (trips to Beaune and Strasbourg also went well), and it will be exciting to see how he reacts to each new place we take him.

Luxembourg is a foreign country

I attended a workshop last week at the Abbaye de Neumünster, which is in the Grund area of Luxembourg city. It’s a really lovely area, down in the Petrusse valley, and a short walk from my office.  It’s hard to capture in pictures just how cool it is to be down there, standing in front of a 17th century building, walking around the winding streets, looking up at a sheer cliff face, trying to imagine what it looked like back then.  grund4 grund3 grund1

grund2

For some reason, while riding the bus back up after the workshop (walking down is easy, but getting back up is quite a hike!), I was suddenly struck by how very foreign Luxembourg still feels to me, even after working there for almost two and a half years. I only ever really see the little stretch of streets between my office and the train station, and I only go to the city center occasionally (the last time was with my parents in September). So it’s easy to forget where I am most days, when working in a building built less than 20 years ago, surrounded by McDonald’s and Sephora.

Luxembourg in general still seems like a foreign country, despite going there every other week for the past seven years to get gas (my mother-in-law lives a kilometer from the border). The colorful houses, the supermarkets, the bus stops . . . I just can’t seem to get used to it. The roadsigns are even a little different. It’s very unsettling to live so close to a country, to work there every weekday, and yet still be surprised by the foreignness of it.

Maybe part of it is the language. Hearing Luxembourgish instead of French while pumping gas means I can’t chalk up the unusual architecture or funny street names to a regional difference, the way I can when visiting the rest of France. Once when I was lost, I could not find anyone who spoke French to help me. So not understanding/being understood certainly adds to the overall foreign experience.

To have such beautiful and historic sites so close by, yet to never have the time visit them, is one of the sad realities of living abroad long-term. Once warmer weather arrives, I’ll be able to explore more during my lunch breaks. And maybe for one of our date nights we can go out in the city center. My mother-in-law took a trip to the northern part of the country and said it was really gorgeous, so that would be nice for a weekend away. I don’t know if Luxembourg will ever stop feeling totally foreign, but hopefully seeing more of it will help (and maybe cracking open one of the many “learn Luxembourgish” books we have lying around . . .)

Bébé’s first château and citrouille

My return to work last week went well, and since I started on a Wednesday, I barely had time to sort through my emails before the week was over! This was probably the last warm and sunny weekend until Spring, so we took full advantage of it. Saturday I went to a nearby château with bébé while my husband took a nap (he’s starting to understand what the past three months have been like for me! Well, minus recovering from labor and breastfeeding) and Sunday all three of us went to a local farm to get a pumpkin.

The Château de La Grange is actually really close to our end of town, and it only took about 25 minutes on foot to get there. I might have to add it to my list of things I like about Thionville, except it’s technically in Manom . . . I only paid for the gardens, since it was too nice of a day to spend inside. I particularly liked the moat. Bébé seemed unimpressed overall, though he did perk up a bit when looking at the different flowers.

 

ChateauxCitrouilles

We used to go to the Cueillette de Peltre (pick-your-own farm) almost every weekend when we lived in Metz, but I think this is the first time we’ve been since we moved away. Going out to a farm to get a pumpkin in October is a terribly American thing to do, so of course we had to start the tradition with bébé. There were lots of different types of pumpkins: Jack O’ Lantern (that’s what they called it!), citrouille, potimarron, and a few others I can’t remember. Again, he didn’t seem very into visiting a new place, until I showed him more flowers.

While it’s not always possible to stick to what we planned to do, having something to look forward to all week really helps make the days go by faster. And now I have tons of cute pictures  to look at while at work.

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.)