Saturday, September 30, 2006

Identify all the French women in this room. (10 points)

Yesterday morning, I arrived five minutes early for my step class so I could get a good spot in the front. I chatted a little bit with the friendly Norwegian blond who I had formerly thought was a proud French woman until she turned around and said hello to me in cheery English the day before. I had heard her chatting beautifully in French earlier in the week with the other regulars.

It was 9:30 am now and time for the class to start. The teacher had not arrived yet, but three other gym-goers did. We all started chatting and discovered what an international bunch we were. These were women whom I would have assumed were French because they spoke fluently with no accents. But one woman was from Spain (living in France for twelve years) and the other two were from Kazakhstan. Fortunately, I don't have much of an accent either, so I was pretty much able to fit in.

I'm one of the few lucky Americans in Paris without an accent. Probably because I'm a musician (I suppose we're better at distinguishing subtleties in sound) and because I'm a classical singer -- a requirement being able to sing perfectly in German, Italian, French, and English without necessarily being a fluent speaker in those languages.

So anyways, where were the French ladies? Late, of course. It's just a way of life here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goal: ten gym classes this week

Ooh, I'm thoroughly addicted to the gym. Last week I went to five classes. This week, I've already attended five. I'm having lots of fun, but I also want to get my money's worth. I didn't pay for a full year's membership because I wanted to see how motivated and disciplined I was first, so I paid 290 euros for three months, which sounds like a lot, but if I do an average of five classes a week, that's just under five euros per class.

Yesterday, my entire body was sore from my three new classes the day before. My first class was Thighs, Butt, and Abdominals which was really intensive, using these large rubber bands for resistance. Everyone was groaning or just stopping by the end. I kept going but started making funny faces finally. The next class was Chest, Arms, and Back. My triceps got really worked, and I also discovered some muscles in my chest that I never felt before. Ow. And when everyone else was giving up (okay, they were older women) I was still going strong. The last class was stretching which was much less strenuous, but I still came out with aching hamstrings.

I think I'm addicted to the feeling I get when I'm taking these classes. I'm feeling tough because I'm really pushing myself and not letting myself give up. I'm feeling powerful because what I'm doing requires a lot of strength. I feel really empowered and this empowerment is truly flowing into the other aspects of my life, which is great because before I felt like I was often taking a backseat to my life.

Sex ed for four year-olds

In the Virgin Megastore at La Defense's large shopping mall (just under the Grande Arche which faces the Arc de Triomphe from the other side of the Avenue Grande Armee), you'll find a large selection of books and multimedia. There's also a journals section which I like to visit to peruse the children's magazines, which are numerous and very good. Most of them are both educational and entertaining, with stories and games. I recently discovered a monthly CD-rom for ages 4-7 called Toboclic. Maylin already has some educational computer games at home, but I personally needed something new. In the latest Toboclic, I found an explanation of where babies come from. Maylin is fascinated by babies, and I was curious what the French take would be like.

Maylin and I tried the CD for the first time the other day with John looking over my shoulder. Keep in mind, the French culture is very thorough when educating their children -- not leaving anything out, even for the youngest of children. Explanation is everything. So the section on the origin of babies was very extensive, but also explicit, which would shock many more conservative Americans. First, there was a childlike drawing of a woman and a man with their sex organs. Then, a perfect cross section of the female and male bodies showing the internal parts necessary for baby-making. An arrow was drawn to show from where to where the sperm travels. Next, an animation of the sperm making their way to the ovaries, the final penetration of the egg, and just about everything that follows -- including the egg implantation in the uterus to the development of the fetus, the ultrasounds in the radiologist's office to the actual labor and delivery (Maylin's favorite part). The narration, done by a woman with a very warm, lilting voice, is comprehensive.

The whole sex education section was carried out quite tastefully, including the delivery, but you did see the mother's bare legs and butt. The baby comes out, is placed on the mother's chest, and begins to nurse! We even get to see Daddy cut the umbilical cord.

I learned a few things about delivering a baby in France. Three ultrasounds per pregnancy is typical (though I have a friend who has had one a month, which reveals how especially cautious some French doctors can be). In the clinic or hospital, the midwife, or "sage-femme," is responsible for the delivery and an obstetrican is only called in for complications. An epidural is the norm.

I think John, Maylin, and I got more than we bargained for, but I think we were all entertained and enlightened. Yesterday, Maylin wanted to "play the baby game" again and she clicked her way through it!

If this CD was available in the States, I'm almost sure they wouldn't show it until middle school or junior high. But in France, ages 4-7 is just fine.

Maylin's first dental checkup...at school!

Parents were pleasantly surprised to receive an evaluation of their children's dental health after school the other day. Maylin excitedly gave me the written report that said she had no cavities, that her teeth were well-positioned, and that her hygiene was "correcte." Wow, straight A's for her teeth! A Parisian association for children's health and the French union for dental health came together to provide a dentist to survey Maylin's class and to teach them how to better care for their teeth. Maylin proudly said, "I saw the dentist and I didn't cry," demonstrated with her finger on her teeth how to correctly brush -- up and down, versus side-to-side, and told me they weren't supposed to brush the "pink part." But what about the gumline? Anyways, I was impressed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Okay, not entirely healthy, but sleeping great!

Well, I'm happy, but I'm not completely healthy. I got a little cold last week (thanks to Maylin's school germs) which has turned into a minor sinus infection, by my own self-diagnosis. But I got some good nights of sleeping in finally which have helped me regain my energy. Today I feel pretty good!

I think I may have solved my sleeping problem, which I've been suffering from for over a year. I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. Kind friends have given me much advice, but I tried a little idea of my own which works! I first had to figure out why I kept waking up. It was my overactive brain, anticipating all the things I had to do the next day. If I woke up, my brain would automatically start putting together a to-do list. My idea was to have that to-do list already written out and completely finished before I went to bed. Now I write out my entire schedule for the next day in my calendar before my head hits the pillow. It's worked like a charm for the three nights I've tried it.

The phenomenon of step

Sorry for another posting on my athletic pursuits, but I just took my first step class today at the gym and it really surprised me. I didn't know what to expect because I didn't know anything about it -- just that it uses an elevated plastic platform, about one and a half by three and a half feet, which is the "step." Simple marching and tapping made its way into a complicated choreography of stepping up, stepping over, jumping, crossing legs, turning -- a real body twister. As I commented to a fellow newcomer, "C'est pour la tete" (it's for the head). Our brains were working even harder than our bodies, trying to get the routine right. And even though there was very little jumping and bouncing which I find uncomfortable (found in abundance in typical aerobics classes), I got an incredible workout. I could have gone on for another hour because I wasn't exhausted, but I was sweating like crazy. Very low impact so great for the joints.

Believe it or not, I'm actually going back to the gym in a little bit to take another BodyPump class. I hope this motivation continues. Remember last year when I was going to run regularly? It didn't happen. But I've been exercising for seven weeks now (six weeks without the gym, just on my own) so this is really good for me. Have I finally disciplined myself when it comes to taking care of my body?

I eat healthy and light, take my vitamins everyday, and drink lots of water. What a change from before. I think I do have to thank Maylin for all this. She's growing up, becoming more independent -- now I don't have to wait on her hand and foot. I can give myself a thought now. Mommies out there: don't forget to take care of yourself first...then your family. How can we be effective mothers if we're tired and unhappy? I'm finally getting this.

Monday, September 18, 2006

An official member

I now officially belong to the club of gym enthusiasts. Yesterday, I signed up for the gym I visited a couple of weekends ago. I started with a bang -- taking two classes in a row, BodyPump (weight-training) and BodyBalance (a slightly bizarre blend of pseudo-tai chi, pseudo-Pilates, pseudo-modern jazz dance, and pseudo-yoga). The weight-training class was exactly the same routine as last time with exactly the same music. Except it was a different teacher. He was very entertaining -- shaking his hips, singing along, whoop-whooping, adding very effeminate gestures that we women didn't feel that comfortable replicating. I loved him and found his teaching style very effective, particularly because he explained in a very detailed manner how to perform a movement to avoid hurting one's self before we actually started the exercise. We missed that last time.

The same instructor taught BodyBalance which I thought was going to be a breeze with some stretching and mild abdominal work. But it was quite strenuous, especially after an hour of weight-training. We did some yoga-like poses at the end, the cooling down period, and I must have not been doing them correctly because the teacher would say something to me which I wouldn't understand causing him to repeat himself. I would get it the second time. In gym class, there's a whole new set of vocabulary I'm not familiar with. But I'm sure I'll pick it up quickly because there's a lot of repetition. Contract, relax, bend, straighten, slow, fast, push, etc. There is one English word thrown into the mix, though. "Single" -- but you have to imagine that with a French accent. It sounds rather cute.

Our last instructor was very funny with the English translations. My accompanying friend confessed that her French wasn't very good, so the teacher would translate a few things -- unfortunately, the least useful things. She translated "biceps" in French to "biceps" in English. "Triceps" in French was easily "transformed" into "triceps" in English. Funny how they sound the same.

After my workout, I chatted with a very friendly French woman, probably in her late 50s. She happened to be the only other person who made it through the two classes in succession (actually, the last five minutes, the poor woman just kind of collapsed on her belly as the rest of us continued the poses). But she was very nice, asking me about my experience since I looked like I knew what I was doing while performing the exercises. I explained that I had taken ballet before which helped a lot with my balance (I had no problems with that!) and that I was doing Pilates at home with a video. She gave me a really big self-esteem boost as we left the building after I said I wasn't working but had a nearly four year-old daughter. She looked at me disbelievingly after I confessed my age of thirty-two. "No way! You look like you're twenty-two!" How nice.

The work is paying off. People even ask if I've lost weight. Hope this inspires you to start exercising if you haven't started already!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Twelve snails invited to dinner

Last week I spotted some escargots in the freezer section of one of the neighborhood grocery stores. It was just Maylin and me for the evening and since I didn't feel like cooking, I bought a dozen of those slow-moving creatures. They come stuffed with butter, minced parsley, and garlic. Pop them in the oven for ten minutes and you've got a meal with your fresh baguette! Maylin even took a bite. I've had them in a restaurant before, and these were just as good. Only five euros for the dozen, too. I savored the meal, knowing it'd never be this easy or this delicious to have a snail dinner in the States.

In the groove

Life's a bit easier for the mommies when the little ones are in school. Now that Maylin's been in school for two weeks, I have settled into a nice, well-balanced routine that makes me feel happy and healthy. I blog two or three times a week, exercise six days a week, read one novel or memoir a week, do some French homework or listening almost everyday, and meet with friends regularly. Add to that some photography or acrylic painting, and I'm fully satisfied.

I get a little more exercise with nearly eight year-old Leo these days. Now that he has been diagnosed with arthritis in his right hip and is now on medication, I am determined to give Leo hour-long walks in the Bois de Boulogne at least twice a week to help him lose some weight and, therefore, put less pressure on his hip. It makes him so happy and he's never limping when he's active. There's lots of grass and trees to sniff, and dogs to meet. I learned from another dog owner that France is one of the few countries that doesn't require that their male dogs be fixed if they're not breeding dogs. As a result, male dog owners have to always be on guard as their dogs are usually the more aggressive ones. We, fixed dog owners, on the other hand, can let our dogs off-leash at the park without worry. I still leash Leo up though if I see another dog come by out of courtesy since Leo's size tends to scare many people and many dogs.

Do you see anything missing from my routine? I should be missing musical activity, but I'm not. This should shock some people, but I am completely content! No voice lessons, no opera group, and little music-making at home. I'm guessing that at some point I'll come back to it, but I don't feel the need at the moment. Is this because the artist-side of me is already fulfilled with the photography and painting?

Maylin’s language self-assessment

[Written Friday, September 15, offline while blogger was down]

I asked Maylin over dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant which language she preferred, French or English. She readily responded, “English.” I asked why. She replied, “Because it’s not French.”

When it’s time to read bedtime stories, she always requests to be read to in English – sometimes requiring me to translate from the original French. It’s usually not too bad for me, but there’s one French version of Toy Story 2 that is full of rarely used tenses and unrecognizable colloquialisms that cause me to give Maylin a real watered-down, hasty version of the story since we already know it from owning the DVD.

Maylin speaks French easily with her schoolmates, new playground buddies, and even her teacher. What a remarkable change from last year when she hardly breathed a word of French (or English) to her teachers. She’s a shy girl to begin with, so a new language made it more difficult to communicate with adults. But she has never had a problem talking with French children.

She does have a tendency to feign comprehension, which I do all the time, unfortunately, to avoid too much discomfort on my part. For example, at the park yesterday, Maylin’s schoolmate’s very cute big brother was explaining to her the rules for his simple game. She gave a resounding “oui” with a big smile, but when it came time to play, it was clear she hadn’t understood. Like me, Maylin doesn’t like to admit when she doesn’t understand something. I had no idea these complexes could be inherited.

Maylin makes the same grammar mistakes as the other children. “C’est moi” is commonly used for “it’s mine,” when it really should be “c’est a moi.” “C’est moi” literally means, “it’s me.”

So she acknowledges that her English is better than her French. When I hear French kids her age speak, they speak as well as Maylin speaks her English. I know eventually her French will catch up. I’m not worried.

I’ve met a couple moms at the school who are dying to have their kids keep up their English because I guess they’re mostly speaking French at home and their kids have French fathers. We might end up starting a English-speaking playgroup for our preschoolers next week.

[Added today]

Yesterday, I tried some Chinese on Maylin. Specifically, "I love you." She instantly recognized the language.
"Stop talking Chinese! Only English and French!"
"Which one do you like better, Maylin? French or English?"
"French AND English."

But I think she likes Chinese, too. She frequently asks me to translate the Chinese children's songs she hears on CD.

Lovers sighted at 1400 hours

Last week, around two in the afternoon on two different days, I spotted three (!) couples at various neighborhood intersections giving each other farewell snuggles and kisses. Oh, these people really didn’t want to let go of each other, but alas, France only gives you two hours for “lunch.” Made me think about why the French lunch hour is so long. Is it really because people want to chat and enjoy their food? Or is it because it gives them just enough time to spend with their “petits amis”?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Casting call

I am already working hard, booking my weekends to take photos of friends and their families. This past weekend, I did two photo sessions and it was so much fun! And it's just as fun editing and selecting photos on the computer. I think I already have a few acceptable photos with which to start my portfolio. Anyone else interested in volunteering to be my model? Sorry -- for the moment, Parisians only.

Monday, September 11, 2006

First sore biceps

I had my first weight-training class ever on Saturday morning. This was a free trial class for a neighborhood gym. The club is just three blocks away. You walk through the main door, which is modern, go along a narrow corridor made of large stones which feels medieval, pass through a cobbled courtyard, and then finally enter the actual building where you can find the front desk and changing rooms on the ground floor, exercise equipment on the first floor (equivalent to second floor for Americans), ballet and martial arts on the second floor, and workout classes on the top floor.

The class was advertised as BodyPump which is one of several different choreographed workouts (BodyAttack, BodyCombat, BodyBalance) branded and sold in forty-five countries. I thought this was going to be an aerobics class since I was really looking forward to working up a sweat and burning lots of calories. But when I saw the regulars start picking up a plastic platform (like a step for aerobics) and a bar with some weights, I realized I had made a mistake. Oh well -- I'm up to new adventures. So I pretended I knew what I was doing (I'm very good at that) and followed suit.

Our instructor was incredibly strong, carrying at least eighteen pounds on each side of her dumbbell. It was a rather aerobic workout in the end since we did many repetitions, some of them being quite fast. I thought I had weak arms so I started out with one kilogram (2.2 pounds) on each side, changed to two kilograms, and finally progressed to three kilograms per side for the biceps and legs portions of the workout. I didn't realize I had so much strength myself. I was able to complete the entire workout, losing it in just the last few seconds. You could tell I was working really hard by the end because I was grunting and contorting my face like those super weight-lifters.

The BodyPump class is choreographed to specially selected music which I found very energizing. Perfect tempo, good beat. Mostly American popular songs. Even our teacher was singing along with her booming alto to the B-52s "Love Shack." That was a riot. For three months, they teach the exact same class -- same choreography, same music. I believe this week they will be beginning a new routine.

Lifting those weights to the great music and the encouraging words of the instructor made me feel unbelievable. Sweating a lot, pushing myself, not letting myself give up when it got too difficult. It was such an empowering experience. Made me feel like I could do anything. I imagined how great I'd look and feel if I joined the club and did all their classes. It's a bit pricey, but I think it's worth it! It's an investment towards my health and well-being.

And I still think it's worth it even though I could barely make it down three flights on the tight, circular staircase. My legs felt like they were trembling inside. Today's the first day they're not sore. My biceps are another story. Today's the first day I can straighten my arms without saying "ow." I might take it a little easier the next class.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Chez Clement

On Thursday evening, John, Maylin, and I had dinner together at Chez Clement, a popular, chain restaurant known for its seafood platters. We don't eat out often because of the high cost of dining in Paris and because we usually have to pay for a sitter, so this was a real treat outside of vacation time to be eating together at a restaurant as a family.

I was too happy that evening to be derailed by the less than pretty events that happened at this establishment which was highly recommended by my restaurant guide (anyone want it? I think I'm going to throw it away now). The host was very nice and welcomed us in with a smile. Our server seemed very friendly and full of smiles, too, which felt rather odd and out of place in Paris. I think they have to cater to all the tourists and all the conference attendees, often foreign, who flock there from the Palais des Congress (convention center/concert venue/shopping) across the street. So they smile, smile, smile so they can get a big tip from an ignorant American (fifty centimes per person as a token is the norm as tip is generally included in the price of your meal).

They heard us speaking English when we were being seated so we were given the English menus to our dismay. Translations from French to English are often barely passable, and I know seafood better in French than in English now after our trip to Brittany where we ate sea creatures I had never seen or heard of before. The guidebook recommended the rotisserie and mashed potatoes, but I wasn't in the mood for a heavy meal of meat and taters, especially since my stomach had adjusted to our low-fat diet at home. We decided to splurge on the largest seafood platter, at twenty-five euros per person. (Don't worry, this was actually a free dinner in the end, since we redeemed the meal coupons which John gets trimesterly at work -- a nice, little subsidy for food from the French government.)

Before we ordered, Maylin got a nice placemat with a maze, a wordfind, and other games, but no crayons. Not even a pencil. I usually carry a pen with me, but I switched bags last minute before leaving the apartment, and you know how that goes, ladies. We asked the server if she could find one for us and she said she'd try but didn't sound very optimistic. Ten minutes later, nothing. Maylin was insistent on getting a pen so I asked again, and the server, who smiled so sweetly before, actually snapped at me and said she hadn't found one yet. Sheesh. Okay, I know she was busy but there's no need to get testy. I had to forgive her later because she had our non-smoking section and the outdoor section to service with no other help. At the table next to us, there was a very kind man, very likely a teacher, who offered Maylin a choice from an array of writing implements -- a mechanical pencil, a classy pen, a red ballpoint, some out of his pocket protector...but Maylin was too shy and refused all. Oh well.

The seafood platter looked quite impressive when it first arrived. It was the size of two large pizzas, with the seafood nicely arranged on a slightly too-tall bed of crushed ice, decorated with beautifully large scallop shells on the edge. It sat there on a metal stand, hovering a foot above the table. Underneath, a red wine vinegar and scallion mixture, mayonnaise, mustard, bread, and butter. In addition to our knife and fork, we received a tiny fork, a long, narrow, flat metal rod with a forked end, and a two and a half inch heavy-guaged wire with a looped end for handling.

I took the small, whole crab off the platter and proceeded to take it apart on my plate for easier distribution. I was sad to realize that it wasn't cooked that day. The coloring was off. It tasted okay, but if it hadn't, I certainly would have sent it back. The dozen shell and head-on shrimp were yummy, but a little over-cooked -- mine are better. There were about eighteen glistening oysters which were delicious (even though out of season) with the juice I squeezed from the fresh lemons (how oysters are always served in France). The dozen bulots, or sea snails, were our favorites, as they usually are. I believe they are boiled in heavily peppered water. The tiny sea snails (what's the proper word?) were a little spicy, but unintriguing, requiring the use of those looped pins for extraction. Lastly, there were the smallest shrimp ever -- overcooked and in their shells. Those weren't worth fussing over.

Maylin ordered an almost seven euro chocolate cupcake (!) for dessert, when I should have ordered the kids' menu for almost the same price which included a dessert but she had eaten her dinner already before we got to the restaurant for our relatively late dinner by American standards, 8 pm. Right on time for France, though, and right after work for John.

At around 9:30, Maylin was ready to leave so John took her out while I attempted to get the bill, but the server was not easy to signal. She rushed in and out of our section several times to serve other tables but avoided looking my way. After I realized she would never look at me, I knew I had to call out to her. One time, I was just a split-second too late with my "excusez-moi, Madame" and I could feel the shock of some of the customers as she ignored me. Was she mad at me for asking for that pen a second time? Or did she realize when we ordered in French that we wouldn't be paying a big American tip?

The host, with nothing to do perhaps, came over to clear off the table so I was at least able to ask him. Some other staff member had to come out of the woodwork to bring me the check. I was almost a leper by the time I left the restaurant. What do I think of Chez Clement? Never again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Expected chaos on the first day of school

Monday morning, after 8:20 am, John, Maylin, and I arrived at the ecole maternelle for the first day of Maylin's second of three years of preschool in France. There was next to nobody at the main entrance which I thought was very odd. I saw some people going from that entrance to the side entrance so I followed them. We met with the directrice (principal) at the door who explained that No, we're starting in the afternoon, Madame. It's posted on the bulletin board, Madame. You didn't see it? It's there, Madame. So we sheepishly went back to the main entrance, pressed the doorbell (I pressed the right one this time -- when I first arrived, I kept pressing the intercom button instead), and went in to see the bulletin board which I had just barely glanced last Friday to check which class Maylin was in. I looked all over and couldn't see it. I expected it to be in a prominent place on the wall, but it was almost hidden behind an easel. Later, I learned that other parents who took their kids out before the final week of school last year made the same mistake because we didn't receive the notice (and the school didn't mail anything).

I took Maylin back in the afternoon to find three tables set up in the all-purpose room with parents and kids swarming around them. I had to visit each table until I found the right one. I was the very last person to check Maylin's information/emergency card and sign her up for the cantine (cafeteria).

Maylin's classroom was tricky to find (the other lost parents were proof) -- down the corridor, up the stairs one flight, through an open, unmarked door, through a small, dark passageway, then towards the light to a mess of parents taking photos, crying kids, and the sweetest, prettiest teacher ever. I encountered a few kids and parents from Maylin's class last year, and got to speak English to two parents, one of them being my Australian friend. I was wondering then if our three kids were going to become an English-speaking clique. I don't think so now, because after asking who she's been playing with on the playground during recess, Maylin's given me names of both English-speaking and native French children.

The process of picking Maylin up in the afternoon was evidence of more misinformation. Earlier, they clearly told us to pick up the kids at the main entrance, but now there was a sign on the door directing some of us to the side. Goodness!

Parents waited in the courtyard a moment to see classes of little children quietly led down the stairs by their teachers, like mother hen and her chicks. Maylin spotted me even before she stepped out of the building, ran to me, and gave me a big squeeze. I love being a mom. On the way to the park, Maylin reported her day excitedly. I have a feeling she'll have a good year.

Thanks for tuning in!

Yay! 5,000 hits since I put up my hit counter last year! I'm glad to know you're checking in on how we're doing, even if you're not leaving comments to let me know you've visited. I'm happy you're here!

I think because of my blog, I haven't been e-mailing as much, so I'm sorry to my e-mailing friends. I will try to be better now that I have more free time with Maylin back in school. Wait until I find my routine again.

Thanks again!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Caroline Armitage, Caroline Jou, Caroline Jou Armitage

I've probably only checked my hit counter site two or three times this year, but it's always interesting. I can find out a few things about who's reading my blog. There's the general info -- how many people are reading, where are they from. But it can get pretty specific, too. For example, I can see what webpage a particular person was on right before they came over to my blog. It feels kind of sneaky to me, but to satisfy my curiosity, sometimes I click on these pages. The latest one that led to a surprise in the end was a Google search for Caroline Jou. Jou is my maiden name, and I went by this name until the end of 2001 so if I lost touch with anyone I knew before then, they do not know that I changed my name to Caroline Jou Armitage after I got married. And people I've met in Paris know me as Caroline Armitage because that's my name officially in France since I made Jou my middle name to make things more convenient.

Anyway, the results of the Google search was very nice -- a full page of accomplishments, so I patted myself on the back for all the work I did in my past life. But then, I noticed a Zoominfo.com listing with my name in it! I clicked it immediately because I was freaked out for the moment. In this first visit to Zoominfo, I found a page on myself, which was automatically generated through their computers that surf the internet for public information on everybody. Scary. I was looking at an incomplete resume that names me a current employee of a school. That was true at one point -- but before Maylin was even born.

Zoominfo gives you the option to update your info, and I was thinking of doing it, but...well, I'm still thinking about it. Yes, the whole world already has access to many details of my life (and now photos), but does the whole world need to know my entire work history?

From another Google search, I discovered that there is another Caroline Armitage, who is a professional photographer. It might be hard to make a name for myself in photography since someone's already done it. What do you think?

Even more photos!

The weather has been wonderful the last few days so Maylin and I have been doing lots of outdoor activities and I've been taking lots of pictures. You can see some selected photos by clicking on the link "my photos" in the right sidebar. Select an album and view the slideshow. That's the best way to see them. Unless you want to read the comments that I've started adding to recent photos. Blog update on Maylin's last days of vacation soon.

Quirky girl

Maylin's preferred outfit of the summer is a tank top, shorts, and sandals or rain boots. And I let her choose her own clothes these days which she likes to do. It's already getting harder to make suggestions to her.

The only way I can get her into a dress or a skirt is if I'm wearing one, too. Yesterday evening, she decided to wear a skirt since all her favorite shorts were in the laundry, including the one she wore that day which had someone else's chewing gum affixed to the back. Then, she pushed me and pushed me until I changed into a skirt. It wasn't really something I wanted to do since we were home relaxing after a long day at Jardin du Luxembourg. Sometimes, when you're too tired to think of a creative solution or put up a battle over such a small matter, you give in.

Sometimes, we're both in our dresses and we're just about to go out the door and she starts waffling about her fashion decision. "I don't want to wear my dress." "Why not? It's pretty." "Because people are going to look at me." She gets so self-conscious! Maylin must notice that she gets more admiring glances from strangers, usually old ladies, when she's wearing a skirt or a dress. "Mommy, that lady's looking at me." She especially hates it when men are looking at her. "Mommy, that man's looking at me." Makes her really uncomfortable. But then, she's not that comfortable around men in general, ever since she was a baby.

Speaking of baby, recently, Maylin said, "Mommy, you had two babies. Me and the one the angels took away." I was the one who told her what the angels did. She took to this idea immediately. She seems to have forgotten or not understood that there was also another baby that the angels took away. Anyway, it's better that she's merged the two together.

In my last post, I talked about Maylin giving herself time-outs when she's upset. Well, when Mommy's mad with her, she also has two other options. She gets mad back and threatens me with, "I [will] show you my wet carrot and you won't get mad at me." There was some episode when she chewed up some carrot and then opened her mouth to show me, but I can't remember exactly how it fits in. So now, her "wet carrot" statement seems rather bizarre. Maylin chooses the other option if she's the one who's still level-headed. For instance, if I'm mad, or I'm on the verge of getting angry or frustrated, she tries to cheer me up by tickling me!

It sounds like Mommy gets upset a lot, but that's not really true. I just get really tired and cranky for one week a month for some reason.

Self-imposed time-outs

Maylin is really amazing. Lately, she's adopted a procedure for dealing with herself when Mommy upsets her. Maybe I tell her to do something and she doesn't want to do it. Maybe she wants something and I won't let her have it. She walks over to her room quickly, shuts the door, and then proceeds to cry in private. She emerges after she's done crying for about five to ten minutes, a new person. Sometimes it's a very quick mood change. All of a sudden she wants to "play [with] Mommy on the couch." Or her self-dried, still slightly moist cheeks are squeezed against mine as she hugs me. It's all better after a good cry.