Monday, February 27, 2006

Maylin's first report card

She's only three years-old and just got her first report card from school! I thought it was cute. Other moms I've spoken to think it's ridiculous.

Going to bed now, but will post the results and give my comments later.

Bonne journee!

Little Miss Inquisitive

Some phrases Maylin has been asking lately:

"What you do?" ("What are you doing?")
"What you try do?" ("What are you trying to do?")

Getting through books can be almost painful when I'm really tired because she wants to ask questions about every single picture. I will finish reading a page, try to turn it, and encounter Maylin stopping me while saying, "I have a question." But it's not one question. She'll point to each character on the page and ask, "What he do? What he do? What he do? What he do?" If she was listening to what I said, she probably wouldn't have to ask. The questions, of course, are really cute when I have the energy to enjoy them.

Routine, routine, routine

I've never liked imposing rigid schedules on myself, but now that I'm imposing them on Maylin for morning and bedtime rituals, it's saved so much time! I don't have to debate or bargain with her when it comes to taking a bath. Now she knows it's always her turn after I'm done. I don't even have to bribe her with candy anymore. She's forgotten the old deal of one gummy bear or one strawberry marshmallow candy per bath. And she doesn't mind when I blow-dry her hair now, too. Thank goodness, because it's been freezing outside. The past week and weekend we've had surprising little snow encounters. They'd be more pleasant if we weren't always caught off-guard.

Grown independent in the U.S.A.

When you can go to the bathroom unaided, that's independence. Maylin found her wings at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Thanks to this little, cushiony toddler potty seat I found at Target in Ohio last September that you simply plop on top of the seat of a regular-sized toilet, she's able to sit comfortably on any foreign toilet. (Unfortunately, I do have to carry it everywhere in my backpack.) She puts the seat on herself, moves the stepstool over to the toilet, climbs up, pulls her pants down, goes, wipes, pulls pants up, flushes, and removes the seat. She then washes her hands and turns off the bathroom light. This is amazing to me -- and liberating. And life-changing, for the both of us.

Leo saved us

I forgot that Leo did something that could've been remarkable or just a coincidence. He was whining at me, even though we had just walked him. His dishes were full of water and food. He seemed to want me to go into the kitchen. I went in and almost missed seeing that I had left the stove on! Nothing was burning fortunately, but I think the electric burner was on for a good 15 minutes unattended. Leo saved the day! Maybe he smelled something. Maybe he sensed something. Maybe he just wanted his tummy rubbed and I misunderstood his gestures. He saved us, nonetheless, from a possible disaster.

3, 4, 5, 6

This is the number of hours of sleep I've been getting in four successive nights. Reason: decalage horaire, a.k.a. jet lag. But it's not my jet lag entirely. It's mostly due to Maylin taking these long naps in the afternoon (impossible to wake her up), and as a result, not needing a full night's sleep of at least 8 hours, which I need to function in a normal manner. She wakes up and wants to eat right away. She begs me to get her something at first, but I just tell her to get it herself. My big girl has no difficulty going to the fridge to get out some yogurt or cheese, or to the counter to get a banana. I'm sooo glad she can feed herself.

Right now I feel like Mommy Zombie. After finishing my breakfast of smoothie, scrambled eggs, and Cheerios, I will take a short nap and then get a few groceries. I hope this week I'll get more sleep, and you'll get more interesting reading to do here soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

After a satisfying burger for breakfast...

There's nothing better than a juicy homemade burger with mayo, mustard, lettuce, and tomato, at 9:20 in the morning. I was craving it since yesterday, but when time ran out as I was getting ready to go out last night to see Puccini's Madame Butterfly at Opera Bastille with my former French teacher, I had to put the craving on hold. And the soonest available time was after dropping Maylin off at school and walking Leo in the wind and rain -- 9:05 am. This is quite a change from my usual breakfast of either nothing or a banana and orange juice.

Last night, I was a little bit late arriving at the opera house and had to scramble around to find my way around my totally new surroundings. The Opera Bastille is very modern in its architecture and decor, and very bad in its signage -- at least, from this petite person's point of view. First, one usher told me to go to the fourth floor. Another told me the second floor. And yet another voted for the fourth, so I decided to go with the majority. I found the fourth floor (only because another elevator occupant announced it for me -- there was no signage outside the elevator to make me believe that it was, indeed, the fourth floor). I got out and had no clue where to go from there. There was a large curving hall ahead of me and some double doors to the right. I took the doors, went along a narrow corridor, and came upon the first door on the right. I looked at my ticket. I needed "porte 10." But after asking another patron, I found it was "porte 12." I didn't see any signs anywhere so I don't know how she figured that out. She pointed to the door to the main hallway and told me to go around. I'm frantic at this moment because it's about 3 minutes before curtain. Egads! I head out the designated door, hang a right, and look for door 10. I'm starting to panic because I don't see any signs on any of the 10-foot high black metallic doors. I run to a staff member stationed at a little booth nearby and ask for door 10. She points to a door and says, "look at the signs," in a very patronizing manner. I finally see the signs, but they're about 4 feet above my head on the wall next to the door. I'd have to back up about 8 feet to see them properly. I don't get it. The French are not tall people. Some of the shortest men I've ever seen are French.

I make it to my seat with a minute to spare. Phew! The orchestra sounded divine, playing the overture. The stage was set in a very modern, minimal manner, with a blank, simply lit background, and a raised floor of what looked like wheat fields (wheat fields in Japan?) with a dark, pebbled path winding through them. Most of the action was to take place on a smallish rectangle of wood floor. To match the minimal set, there were modern, minimal costumes and minimal, robotic, choreographed movements for the singers, which I thought sometimes worked but were other times just plain ridiculous.

To my delight, it was a musically flawless evening to my critical ears. I couldn't complain about a thing -- well, there was a moment when the chorus had to hum really softly but it just came out really flat, which I thought was really obvious because the orchestra was playing the same notes -- in tune, so the disparity was a bit jarring. But I certainly couldn't complain about the soloists! They blew me away! Especially Cio-Cio San, otherwise known as Butterfly. That evening, the title role was sung by Liping Zhang, this wee little thing with the most gorgeous, most resonant, and most effortless singing I had ever heard. I don't know I thing about her, but I'm going to start doing some research. So young and talented! Pinkerton, Butterfly's husband who abandons her, was sung by the powerful, barrel-chested, and not to mention, big-bellied, Marco Berti. Lovely singing -- and what an amazing dynamic range. He had a huge crescendo at one point that climaxed so loud that it made my ears ring. How did he do that?

Beautiful and dramatic music sung beautifully and dramatically. Not much more I can ask for.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I'm back!

Back from my two-week trip to the States. I will make a report of my relaxing, yet somewhat reverse culture-shocking experience very soon. Tune in for the next exciting episode of Caroline's Blog!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

No success in manipulating Mommy

The other day I sent Maylin to her room after she spoke to me in a very disrespectful fashion (yes, she's a three year-old teenager). She went in willingly and stayed in there with the door open, crying for a good fifteen minutes. During this time, she tried everything possible to get me to stay with her or to let her out, but I had told her she couldn't come out until she had calmed down and stopped crying. Her attempts are as follows in chronological order, which we found quite amusing:

1. Ouch, my leg is broken.
2. Don't let me die.
3. Hug me.
4. I want to sleep.
5. I don't feel good.
6. My face is cold.
7. I'm choking.
8. I want grape juice.
9. I want Oui-Oui (her "dou-dou," or favorite cuddling toy).
10. My foot...my leg is broken.
11. I need to pee-pee.

In fact, she did need to use the toilet, so we brought her portable potty into her room. She went, and still continued crying. Her dad went in a few minutes later to check on her and she finally calmed down. Mom 1, Maylin 0.

Maylin, the littlest art critic

Last Sunday, we took a family trip to Musee Maillol, in the seventh arrondissement, to see an exhibit of artists from Picasso to Basquiat. John and I both love modern art, and it seems, after this visit, that it's Maylin's favorite, too. She was fascinated by the sculptures, which was no surprise to us, but she was equally fascinated by the paintings. I helped her see figures and their actions or feelings in works by Picasso and others. She was quick to make a decision on a Jean Dubuffet painting which looked more like a relief with large, raised abstract forms of paint on the canvas in browns, coppers, and black. Maylin pointed to it and said, "That's not good." A Basquiat painting with a typically unpleasant-looking figure produced a "that's not nice -- I don't like that" from Maylin. Her favorite works in the museum were on the top floor, not part of the temporary exhibit we came for, but the permanent collection -- statues of female nudes by Aristide Maillol. I think she had the most fun when I showed her Maillol's small plaster studies for his statues. Several women looked like they were either observing their feet or doing pedicures, and one looked like she was sniffing her armpit. I got some good laughs out of Maylin.

This was my favorite exhibit in Paris so far, with the rawness and freshness of Basquiat (an American painter popular in the eighties who died of a heroine overdose at age 27), two delightful paintings by Picasso and Rothko on opposite sides of a small wall, with their very different styles but the same, very agreeable, serene palette of pale green, peach, and cream, and lastly, two Louis Soutter (a Swiss painter who went crazy) paintings, side-by-side, looking like abstract stained glass -- very beautiful and very unlike his other works to which I find little attraction.

I was also happily surprised by some Matisse drawings in the permanent collection upstairs. So much style in so few lines!

I highly recommend this exhibit to my Paris readers! It closes February 13!

More info:
http://museemaillol.com
(There is an English version, too!)