July 23, 2012
This girl is a beauty (and on that subject - it is charming how much she is looking like her papa these days...those eyes). We love our time with her...in the summer it is stretched out and un-rushed - just what we need. Marguerite has been absolutely tender with Colette. She is so proud to be an older sister - rushes in when anyone is eyeing Colette to make sure they know who's who. Nap times - she insists on a final kiss from "sa grande soeur" and any other time there is movement of the baby. We haven't detected jealousy or territorial-ness - maybe a bit with her daddy (she will come and place herself between Xavier and the baby on the bed), but that is pretty normal given the exceptional bond those two share. Marguerite and I have always shared a special bond too and yet, the first time Marguerite met Colette (when Colette was 3 weeks old), I had a hard time - not an easy confession. I was fiercely protective - maternal hormones raging through me. My sister comforted me when she told me she wanted to keep her own little monster away from her baby (referring to her first baby - then a toddler) when the second was born. I know Marguerite has had to be patient with this new baby - Colette requires a whole lot of attention and focus - and Marguerite has been almost adult about understanding that. It is touching to see how my family have considered Marguerite in this - my brothers who live in New York pay special attention to Marguerite when both she and Colette are in the same room with them. I guess in a family of eight, we all lived the pain of being the "older kid" who gets ignored when a new baby pops out (except you, Andrew!). It has been beautiful to watch how when Colette catches a glimpse of Marguerite, she beams - big, wide-mouth smile. Even though Colette is only 4 months old, it is clear that these two will forge a bond that will be totally independent of their parents or any other story they live. To have a sister, a sibling you love - that is the best.
July 20, 2012
Despairing. I have trouble breathing when I think about it. And I could never have predicted this, but *wow*, a baby is an unpredictable thing on so many levels. I return to work on August 1 and I am heart broken. I know mamas and papas do this all over the place all the time, but I can't imagine how. My love affair with this baby cannot be matchless - parents everywhere know its depths. I can't imagine how after spending every moment with this little girl, I will suddenly disappear for hours and hours a day. I even feel like I will somehow lose my baby in doing this - my wild thoughts go so far. I just keeping asking myself questions: will Colette have a strong enough bond with her parents to form secure attachments, to be confident, caring, empathetic - the whole human she deserves to be? On some level it is ridiculous. Of course a baby can grow and become self-realized with parents who work full time. We have found a very caring, kind and tender nanny. I wrote her a long testimonial of my love for Colette and how, to me, loving this little baby is much more important than any other aspect of her job. And still, on some visceral and non cognitive level, this - leaving - remains the hardest thing I have ever done.
July 19, 2012
July 13, 2012
We love Baugé. It is a sleepy French town. Very sleepy. The other evening I went for a run at 8pm and did not see another soul in the village or anywhere along the country roads. It was beautiful - magnificent, but I felt very alone. The shutters in the town close up early and people generally stay inside after 6pm. The boulangerie and the market gossip is a continual source of entertainment for me as a visitor and foreigner - stories of competition between bakeries in town to lure the villagers with the best croissants, the market rotisserie chicken that is worth every cent of the 18 euros the vendor has the audacity to charge...etc and on and on. France in these corners doesn't change all that much over time. I've grown to love Baugé. We are often hyperactive in my family, so Baugé was a transition for me. Sometimes here we don't go anywhere for an entire day, apart from the marché to get some produce for one of the ceremonious meals. This time around, I have soaked it up. With little baby Colette a rhythm like that has been delicious. Lying around - listening to baby babble, long baths, afternoon naps, lots of cheese. Yum.
The scenes on my run.
Xavier's dad, Vincent, working on painting the windows of the house.
Stories for the baby.
One night we played a game in the garden. Marguerite and Jules led the merriment. The instructions were clear: find the items hidden all over the yard. Marguerite added, "Some of them are hidden in very difficult places. For example, in the hole at the back of the letter box."
July 12, 2012
Mushrooms. Hats, of course, found by Xavier. May I also say that children's clothing in France is just a dream? We went shopping for the little Miss (it is, after all, July and July means Les Soldes - massive sales all over France) and walked into a land where hot pink and ruffles do not rule everything, where the exact same baby items are as cute for boys as they are for girls (lots of grays and neutral colors - stripes, etc) and the same rules of good taste that apply for adults also apply for children's clothing (no cartoon characters superimposed on every surface - just nice cottons and linen, simple flowered prints, maybe small polka dots - lots of white, pastels). I wished half the things were made in my size. (The hats are actually not hats at all, just little cotton hampers to put socks and things in. But they fit Xavier and Colette's heads consummately - and only Xavier would pick up on such a thing).
July 10, 2012
We visited a château (according to Xavier une ruine): Villandraut. We were on our way from Les Landes up to Baugé, driving through small French towns and we concurred we should stop to scout it out. It was indeed sort of in ruins and Marguerite played the part of the damoiselle quite well. Colette hammed it up pretty well at the right moment too.
July 9, 2012
We visited Les Landes - a region of France that Xavier cited the first time we went to Cape Cod - the wide, white sanded beaches bringing him back to that region. It is a hushed region - even in the first week of July. It was cold and the clouds portended squall, but they brought beauty and complexity to the beach we stood on (almost companionless). Bizarre pine trees were penciled onto every horizon - their trunks totally bare - their branches all accumulated at the top. Marguerite was blithesome - running everywhere, crowing with the rhythm of the waves. Colette was very serious - the wind must have stunned (or inspired) her.
July 7, 2012
July 6, 2012
Xavier spent a lot of his growing up years in Toulouse. He went to high school here and also university and business school. The best schools in France are all public schools and Xavier was lucky enough to go to a great high school of France - Le Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat (high schools, like many other things, are very clearly ranked). We visited the high school, where Emmanuel (a great friend from that time) and Xavier personated their earlier selves.
The high school is also the site of the Les palmiers des Jacobins à Toulouse - history spurts from these walls.