Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jardin des Tuileries

Last week, I took Maylin to the Jardin des Tuileries which is bound by the River Seine, the Place de la Concorde, shopping on Rue de Rivoli, and the Jardin du Carrousel which is right next to the Louvre. I knew Maylin would be excited to go there because I had promised the day before to take her to a merry-go-round but because I was too tired I wasn't able to take her. In July and August every summer, these gardens become part carnival, along the Rue de Rivoli side. Maylin first rode on a carousel, then had an Italian chocolate ice cream cone. We watched the frightful "Ejection Seat" ride which shot people straight up into the air about 20-30 feet at 6 Gs! The daredevils were seated in a steel-framed cage which was tied on either side to stronger-than-bungee-cord stretchy cables.

Maylin wanted to go on a ride that looked like an innocent merry-go-ride, but it was more like a roller coaster to her once she got on it. It had a couple of small hills which she took with no problem the first time around, but then the subsequent times produced fearful expressions on her face and finally a complete hiding of her face. Poor girl. She didn't cry though, so it wasn't that bad. She did cry when we tried to ride the ponies which give kids rides throughout the year. Maylin was fine getting strapped in, but the tethered group of three ponies and one donkey got led away before she was ready and she began clamoring to get off. Well, maybe next year.

She saw some little boys playing a kiddie carnival game and wanted to play, too. I forked over the 3,50 euros and let her use a stick to reign in five of many plastic ducks that swam by her. When she saw the boys get their prizes of inflated Nemos, she wanted to stop playing and get her prize, too. I quickly helped her get her three remaining ducks, and then she happily claimed her Nemo (which was real cheap because it had an invisible hole by evening).

We went to the little playground to play and eat a horribly flavored slush (it was supposed to be Coca-Cola flavored, but it tasted like old-fashioned medicine). As usual, she had the most fun when there a little boy around to chase or bigger girls to copy.

Maylin was in heaven when we went back to the carnival area and found a trampoline to jump on (2,50 euros for 5 minutes). She was doing fine in the beginning, but her real joy didn't show through until a little boy her age came along to jump next to her. She was constantly laughing and copying everything the boy did. What a joy to watch her! Parents came to pick up their kids, but for some reason, the guy running the trampoline didn't kick Maylin out like everyone else. She must have been there at least 20 minutes! It was nearly impossible to get Maylin away when her time was finally called. Bribery with a lollipop worked again.

She fell asleep on the metro ride home which meant I got to carry her up and down the stairs in the transfer station and from our final stop to the apartment. She's too heavy now! Using a stroller would have been ridiculous because there aren't very many escalators and no elevators on my lines. Actually, I still enjoyed carrying Maylin in my arms despite the discomfort. She's so cute, so beautiful -- I get distracted and have to kiss her sleepy head.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

First bite

The one afternoon her favorite teacher is not at daycare, Maylin gets bitten by a little girl. After school, I took Maylin to the park and showed my concern when I saw the red teeth marks in a neat little circle. She was so cute when she reassured me that it didn't hurt anymore. I think she said, "Mommy, it's okay." If it didn't bother her, it wasn't going to bother me.

Yesterday evening, I had an opera rehearsal at my place. Halfway through, we heard a scooter skid out on our street. We looked out the window and saw the cyclist get up onto his feet with no major injuries except for a scratched-up knee. Good thing he had a helmet. His scooter looked okay, too, except for a hubcap that fell off the wheel. A couple hours later or less, the city brought over some guys in a maintenance truck to spread around some dust on the street to soak up any spots of oil that could've caused the accident. It's amazing how quickly they arrived. I guess some things are efficiently done in France, especially when it comes to safety.

This morning, I successfully gave Maylin a haircut! The trick: have your kid sit on a tricycle in front of the television to watch morning cartoons. Maylin actually wanted me to cut her hair, except for her bangs.

After cajoling and bribing, she also let me trim her toenails! None of the bribing worked actually. No present, no lollipop, no popsicle was worth enough. But putting her in front of the TV solved the problem. She was so distracted, she didn't realize what was happening.

Tonight, we're going to a party to celebrate Bastille Day. Tomorrow is the actual Bastille Day, but the Paris suburbs do their fireworks the night before so as not to compete with the grand fireworks by the Eiffel Tower. I think we're going to another party tomorrow, too. We're not normally party animals, but maybe we're getting popular.

Sunday, Maylin goes to a birthday party of one of her buddies. I wonder what it will be like when I hand him his present and it turns out to be something that Maylin would want for herself?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I love living here!

I had a marvelous weekend, full of activity. On Saturday, I took Maylin and her favorite teacher from daycare to visit the Cite des Sciences (a science and industry museum) for the first time. We planned to visit the portion of the museum dedicated to children, called Cite des Enfants of which there are two sections, one for ages 3-5, and another for ages 5-12. There are three one and a half hour sessions a day with a limited number of children allowed per session. To get in, it costs 5 euros for each child or adult. It's such a deal! This is nothing like the San Francisco Exploratorium -- it's ten times better! She got to put on a kid-sized raincoat to play in the water area where she learned to control the path of a stream of water running downhill to make different colored wheels turn. Next to the water area was a cool machine made all out of wood, with levers, wheels, and pedals that kids activate in a certain order to make a ball go from one end of the machine to the other. Maylin showed us how strong and smart she was! After that, there were some animal sculptures for kids to climb into -- Maylin climbed into a kangaroo's pouch, a tortoise shell, and a giant scorpion. Then, there was a workshop where kids could learn how gears work and a kid-sized car to sit in or pretend to repair (Maylin took out the car battery and put it in the trunk -- she prefers the metro). Maylin was eager to sit in the driver's seat and buckle her seatbelt, which she insists on doing on her own these days. Next was a large metallic "roller coaster" for a heavy croquet-sized ball. There were always kids around it so I couldn't figure out what it was really all about. The grand finale of the visit required Maylin to put on a little hard hat and vest. She was off to work building (or demolishing) a large house! The two-story house was a steel skeleton composed of squares where kids could stack sturdy foam bricks to build walls. Maylin did some good construction work. There was an operable crane with two wheels to turn to control up/down and side/side movement. There was a track on which kids could push and pull carts of bricks from one area to another. There was also a large arm across the track that you could control with a lever in a little station. Maylin enjoyed pushing a red wagon to move around her bricks. I also helped her with the pully system to get bricks from the bottom floor to the top floor. This was all so elaborate -- and just for 3-5 year-olds! They are so lucky!

Today, we went to a free jazz concert in the beautiful Parc Floral in the Paris suburb of Vincennes. The day had started a little cool and definitely overcast, but cleared and warmed up just in time for the concert. I invited another family to join us and we had a great time sitting on the lawn, listening to Latin jazz (I wanted to stand up and salsa, but John wasn't up for it), playing ball with the kids, getting ice cream, watching the kids run down and roll down a grass-covered hill -- it was all so perfect. I even got to close my eyes for a little bit. John might have actually napped.

This concert is part of the Paris Jazz Festival which happens every summer, almost every weekend of June and July. We had to pay a minimal entrance fee to get into the park, but all the concerts are free! After the jazz festival is done, the free classical music concerts take over until mid-September. This is a great place!

Coming back, I saw a sign for Paris-Plage. I totally forgot about this huge event. I can't remember the details, but every summer, a portion of the Seine is transformed into a wonderland of sand and sun. They somehow line the river with beaches and have concerts and food! It's like a big beach party! We missed it last year, but I'd like to at least check it out this year.

There are so many fun, free activities, but so little time! I'm starting to think that all this stuff is to convince residents to stay in Paris for the summer. A quarter of the city has already gone on vacation. Parking is a lot easier now. August is the quietest month, with a lot of the local merchants completing shutting down their businesses for about four weeks! This would never fly in the States!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Something's baking in the oven

We are pregnant again! I had an early ultrasound Tuesday to see if there were any problems (I had some spotting), but everything came out normal, which is why I think it's safe to finally announce this to everybody! The little one looked really cute in his/her fetal sac. Nice, normal heartbeat, too.

I haven't been blogging for awhile because I've been feeling pretty tired lately, for obvious reasons. My body's using up a lot of energy right now making this baby. I have all the symptoms of early pregnancy -- fatigue, nausea, expanding waistline, some weight gain, nasal congestion in the mornings, growing breasts...

We're very excited about this. We've been trying (not very hard) for a few months to get pregnant -- it's nice to know everything's still working. Maylin's looking forward to a new baby brother or sister, who will probably come along at the end of February or early March.

I have registered to deliver at the British Hospital in Levallois (the suburb where John works), which is a 5 min. metro ride away, or about a 15-20 walk from our place. One of my friends told me that if I wanted to deliver there, I'd have to register as soon as I missed my period as they have very few spots (only 100 deliveries per month -- compare that to roughly 400 deliveries per month in Los Banos, California, and over 600 deliveries per month at the Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, where Maylin was born). Even though it is the British Hospital, there are few English-speaking staff there. At least my obstetrician is British, thank goodness. It's nice not to have to worry about language when your health and your baby's health is at stake.

Here's a little Maylin update:
- She's using the potty 1-2 times a day, and sometimes even goes poo-poo in there! We are very proud. She gets lots of hugs and high-fives afterwards.
- She's singing all the time. Usually, it's the Winnie-the-Pooh song, but sometimes it's "Happy Birthday" or the Alphabet song. When she hears music on TV, she hums along even if she doesn't know the song. Maylin's very versatile.
- Her favorite toys are the cheapest things -- plastic figures of dinosaurs, lizards, tigers, etc. She continues to organize her toys, and other items, into a line.
- Her favorite book at the moment is Lynd Ward's "The Biggest Bear," a classic from my childhood. Before we moved to France, I put together a library of classic children's books because I knew they'd be difficult to find in Paris. And it's nice to read to Maylin all the books that I enjoyed as a child. Such a nice cozy feeling.
- Her favorite characters are Babar, Scooby-Do, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Le Petit Ours Brun (the little brown bear).
- Getting her to take a bath is always a difficult task. I often give her the choice of "bath" or "medicine" because I know she won't go for the medicine. One time I bribed her with ice cream afterwards. Sometimes there's a choice of bath with Mommy or bath with Daddy. She'll usually choose the former, but I win either way.
- I still have to cut her toenails in the middle of the night.
- To do: cut her hair while she sits on her tricycle.
- Maylin's speaking more French! Today at school, she thanked her teacher with a "merci," and yesterday, when she was jumping on the couch over and over again, she would say, "encore, again, encore, encore."
- On Saturday, we are having an outing with Maylin's teacher to the "Cite des Sciences" which is the science museum.

Time to cook dinner! Hope to hear from all of you soon!