Monday, March 31, 2014

Some fun new words the boy has learned.


Anyone who knows me knows that the wee boy is a horrible sleeper. Today I focus on something he's advanced at: speech.*

So here are some fun new vocabulary words the wee boy likes to say:

Eiffel Tower
L'ascenseur (French for elevator)

Sure, they may not be the most, shall we say, NECESSARY words, but I can't tell you how happy it makes me to run down a cobblestone street towards a castle with my little boy, who is every bit as excited as I am to see the haunting castle atop the volcano. 

 *In light of recent discussion on my Facebook page, I know this boastful post might make some of you feel bad about your kid who doesn't talk yet (much like all the MY 7-month-old SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! posts make me seethe with anger and jealousy). That isn't my intention, I swear. I'm just trying to focus on the positive. He may have been up every two hours on the dot last night, but he's got well over 300 words and sentences. Stay positive, stay positive, stay positive. Yawnzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bonjour from Paris.

Good morning from Paris! I know, I know, you hate me. But remember -- this is why you read my blog. Adventure. The adventure-seeking Brigid is back and beginning to feel rejuvenated.

There has been a lot of talk on the interwebs over the past few years about introverts and extroverts. Introverts spend their time on social media posting lists about how to talk to an introvert (guilty). Extroverts spend their time at parties rolling their eyes at the crazy introverts who complain to each other online. I am not sure I'm either one. I think I get my energy from travel.

Back at home, morning is awful. On a vacation, wake me up at six am and let me wander the streets until sunset.

The doubters out there expressed concern that I would be traveling with my toddler. Guess what? It's been amazing. He's a great kid, and I feel like I've gotten something of a break even though I've been on full time baby duty.

So what have we done? We've walked miles and miles through the streets of Paris. We've eaten crepes and gelato and fondue and croissants. We've played on the steps of thousand-year-old churches and chased pigeons through artist squares. We've watched boats speed down the Seine, and we've picnicked on its banks. We've played with countless little French children on hidden, but public, playgrounds. We've had a wonderful time.

I'll fill you in on specifics later this week, but for now I just wanted to check in and let you know I've been silent because I've been out living. It feels good to be rejuvenated.

The simple pleasure of cheese.

There are so many things I love about life in Europe, but, as always, it's the simple pleasures that make life here so good. Today's simple pleasure: cheese.

Cheese, my friends, cheese. 

I've been off and one vegan since I was 18, though certainly more off than on. I rarely eat cheese in America because, well, it's super expensive to buy the good stuff. And who wants to eat the average stuff? (I know, I know -- lots of people, but I prefer small amounts of the best rather than large amounts of the average.)

I was dairy-free pretty much the entire first year of the wee boy's life because he reacted very badly when I consumed milk products. Living in Europe while pregnant made passing by the neighborhood cheesemonger (of course there is a neighborhood cheesemonger) a tortuous struggle. All but two of the massive cheese selections were unpasteurized, ergo no good for a pregnant woman. 

Thankfully, for this trip, I am neither pregnant, nor dairy-free.

My welcome to Paris snack provided by an amazing hostess was a wheel of Brie, a baguette, and croissants, accompanied by a bottle of champagne. Please ignore the toy tow truck in the photo. 

Our meal for the evening was then an array -- and by array, I mean at least ten kinds -- of European cheeses, with various raw vegetables and the freshest bread you've ever tasted. Of course, there was wine and champagne. My hosts knew just how much I needed this trip, and the little bursts of luxury just made me swoon.
Tonight, though I come to you from Edinburgh, I plan on serving our favorite poor-student meal: a baguette, a wheel of Camembert, and a bottle of wine (maybe a head of broccoli thrown in for something green, but I'm not promising anything). Such a meal would be pure luxury back in the States, as I don't know where you can find a wheel of Camembert for less than $10. I picked one up here for $1.50. And a good bottle of French wine? Well, France is a lot closer to the UK than it is to the US, for you geographically-challenged people, so I can grab something delicious for $5. 

It's the little things, friends. The price of cheese. Le sigh.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Adventure is heading my way.

I've been trying to give myself a break from social media. Y'all are all crazy. Well, maybe not you, but social media is making me a little crazy. The one big moms' group I stayed with has taken a turn for the dramatic, the passive aggressive, and the sanctimommy. I keep taking the Facebook app off of my phone in an effort to preserve my sanity, then I end up re-adding it because I need to promote a gig or find someone's address that's embedded in a Facebook message. I'm much happier when I'm not available 24/7.

David has been traveling nonstop for work (weekends too), so I've been flying solo for a while. I won't pretend to understand the struggle of single parents, but still -- it's hard not to be able to clock out.

Packing is my specialty...
Tomorrow afternoon, however, I am leaving the country. Assuming I don't have a massive panic attack during the flight (Malaysia, anyone?!), it'll be just the change of scenery I need. Notice I don't say it'll be relaxing (a solo trip with an 18-month-old?). You all know by now that I prefer my vacations to be whirlwind adventures full of 10-mile walks through historic cities. The beach doesn't recharge me like Amsterdam or Edinburgh.

Speaking of which -- I haven't even told you where I'm going! It's true, I'm off to Scotland for a bit, but I'm making a detour first. Maybe I'll send you a postcard if you guess...

I must brag again about my packing skills though. I've got everything for the two of us for a month crammed into a single carry-on suitcase -- no vacuum bags even necessary. And I even had room to bring a few gifts for a friend. What I obviously am not able to brag about, however, is my ability to write a super helpful blog about how to pack for a month in Europe for just you and a toddler in one carry-on. It's a long flight, though, so I'll get back to you.

For now, here's my #2 packing tip: Always bring a swimsuit.

(Number one is, of course: all you need is a passport and a credit card.)

P.S. I have about ten housesitters staying at my house, so don't even think about stealing my mail!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

COMING UP: a change of scenery.

This time next week, I'll be regaling you with photos of sidewalk cafes, cobblestone streets, castles, cathedrals, and probably a few rainbows. You'll hate me! But when you hate me, remember that I've had a rough 18 months. I know, I know, it's all relative, but I am much much much in need of a change of scenery.

I'm not going alone, however, so I won't say it'll be relaxing. It's just me and the wee boy, flying transatlantic with -- drumroll, please -- only one carry-on and a diaper bag. We'll be gone for four weeks. How's that for a challenge? I'll get back to you when I actually pack, but I'm totally confident in my skills.

I may not be the most organized person, but give me a month in Europe and I'll show you all my belongings in a backpack. Anyone else done it before? I've been preparing a blog full of my best tips, but I hope you'll share some of yours.

In the mean time, let's daydream about me filling up my Castle Board on Pinterest.

Friday, March 7, 2014

This childcare worker's comment made me pull my boy out of daycare.

We aren't perfect. We nurse, but
sometimes he has chocolate.
(How about that blog title? It's like I'm Buzzfeed or something!)

I've always done a lot of things that are apparently considered strange or crunchy, but I haven't given much thought to them. My front yard vegetable garden has been there for almost ten years, and no one's said anything negative about it. My clothes are pretty much always hand-me-downs, and no one's commented that I look homeless. I cut my own hair, and no one says it looks bad. (Maybe my friends are just really polite.)

I also am still nursing my 18-month-old, and no one has said anything to me about it. Well, a couple of family members have reacted with surprise, but not with negativity. Truthfully, I haven't given it much thought. I have no problem nursing my toddler in public sans cover, but it's not meant as activism -- it's just normal.

If you're wondering, I'm still nursing because
  1. I can 
  2. It's not an inconvenience (anymore), as I work out of my home ...
  3. the World Health Organization recommends it until at least age two.
  4. He loves it and 
  5. It's kept him from catching the severe colds that have been rampant this season.
We all know I'm not even close to a perfect mother, but please refer to #1 on the list -- this is something I can do. I'm not a natural at motherhood, like so many of my friends seem to be, but I got the breastfeeding thing down, I tell you.

It's been almost 18 months now, and I've received nothing but positive comments. Until last week. 

It wasn't a really horrible comment, but I found it snarky and way out of line. One of the workers at the wee boy's Mother's Day Out program (where he goes once a week for 4 hours) said that the reason he was having such a hard time with the drop-off was "because you're still breastfeeding." I suspect that she was well-meaning -- or the Pollyanna in me is trying to view it as such -- and I shrugged the comment aside at first. I've been sitting on it for a week, though, and it's only getting more and more upsetting to me.

He's deep in separation anxiety at the moment -- he hates it when I leave the room, much less drop him off somewhere unfamiliar for four hours. I think he'd be that way whether or not I was nursing. It's not like he's never away from me, either, as I have childcare when I'm working.

The comment annoyed me so much that I'm pulling him out of this particular program. I'll talk to the director about it when I calm down, but for now, I just can't take him back there.

What really upsets me, though, is how it could have affected me (and may have affected others). If I weren't so confident in my decision to continue to nurse, a comment like that from an early childhood educator could really turn me off of breastfeeding, which is, I think, a huge shame.

Enough soapboxing from me. Have a cute baby picture. Yesterday he found his shadow! Chased it up a driveway. It was adorable. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My John Prine seats were better than yours.

In case you were wondering, why, yes, that was me in the front row of the John Prine concert on Saturday. I've had good seats before (my trick is always to buy a single ticket rather than a pair), and on a previous JP show, I was third row center with no one actually sitting in front of me. That was pretty good, but Saturday night's seats were just amazing. My mom bought the tickets, and she bought four of them together. I don't have any idea how they ended up being front row seats, but it was a wonderful show, as his usually are.

Interesting fact about me: Aside from the big Bluegrass Festivals in the early 1980s, my very first real concert was John Prine and Arlo Guthrie in 1986 at Memorial Auditorium. I got an orange tic tac stuck up my nose at that show and was old enough to be mortified and not tell my mother. (Luckily I sneezed it out a few hours later.) Anyway, I've seen JP more times than I've seen anyone else, and his shows never get old.

That's enough boasting today. I rarely ever have good seats at a concert, so I felt the need to brag. I know a lot of you always buy the VIP seats, so it's meaningless to you -- but it was pretty darn special to my family this weekend.