After two weeks traveling to France and visiting our families we are finally home.
Have you ever traveled by plane with two kids under 3 and your husband? I remember one of my friends telling me how he hates kids in plane. I always agreed with him ... until I became a mother.
After this trip, I realized that we are THIS family. You know, the family that you try to avoid. In the plane, you wish you were seated far from them. At security check point, you make sure you use the other line. You watch them running across the airport with one baby in carrier, another one inside the cart trying to get to the next plane on time.
Yes, this is us. Noisy, moving around, going from loud cries to loud laughs, going back and forth, opening and closing the overhead compartment every five minutes. How do you like to have a three year old staring at you while you try to sleep? Just remember, that my kids are over-excited to fly in a plane that is not a Lego one ... while you just want peace.
The funny thing when we fly is that my husband never realizes that hell is to come. Before going to the plane, he always buys a magazine and thinks he will sleep or watch three movies in a row. The reality is different … way different. Margot, our 6 month old decided to poop 3 times within 7 hours whereas she usually does once a day. Then Lise, our 3 year old, who was obviously exhausted just did not want to sleep and was just a pain in the *ss. “Nemo, I want Nemo!”, “where is my blue car!”, “I want crackers!”. When she finally falls asleep, she can only do it in my arms and always in a weird position that is just uncomfortable for me. But I do not complain even if my back hurts because I know that if I wake her up too soon I will also wake up the demon inside her. No need to say that kids are very clever. They know that in public you will not shout or punish them, they have the power and use it … against you.
Another thing when you travel with kids is the place you get in the plane. Airline companies do not make your life easy. They place you in front of a wall so you can hang the bassinet – a kind of bed – to the wall and have your baby sleep. However, you are not allowed to put the baby when the belt sign is on (most of the time during our last flight) and the baby cannot sit, she has to lay down (so you cannot have her play inside, even if you stay with her).
Also, unlike the other seat of the plane, the armrest cannot be removed. So impossible to lay down or have you child laying on you. Basically, you are stuck in your narrow seat.
On top of that, this specific row is right in front of the … bathrooms. I need to tell something that I learn from this experience. People always go to the bathroom right after eating. So basically they prefer to queue for 20 minutes than wait a bit and not queue. After each meal, during 30 minutes, we had a long queue of travellers, parading in front of us and waiting to use the bathrooms. Then no people at all. I guess we are all formatted by Delta. We eat then poop then sleep.
So finally, at a point of time, you manage to get some sleep. Lise is quietly watching Nemo. Margot sleeps. The hubby gets to read his magazine. Suddenly, you feel spied, you open your eyes slowly and you see a middle age lady queuing to pee (right after snack time), staring at you and saying “what a cute baby, he is sleeping”. Really?! First it’s a GIRL. Second, STOP LOOKING AT US. I know SHE is sleeping and it is why I am (was) asleep to. Because, when people wait they just stare at us and feel the need interact. Leave us alone! I understand that you need to kill time while waiting for the bathroom but I do not want to socialise. Do not talk to me, smile or even look at me.
So yes, we were this family. Next time you see us, just understand that I spent the last 8 hours not sleeping, struggling to have my kids quiet so you can sleep.
Have you ever been to Chicago?
If not it is a must! In my opinion Chicago is the most beautiful city in the US. Its stunning architecture, beautiful beaches, great free zoo, nice botanic garden, amazing museums, awesome shops and yummy restaurants. Chicago is everything you dream of, in one place. Forget New York, LA or Miami, Chicago is the place I dream of living. One day, I tell you, I will live in Chicago. Living 3 hours away from this great city, we try to go there as soon as we have a chance. Really, we already went at least 10 times. But each time we visit Chicago we rediscover the city. I love the U.S. Midwest for its 4 different seasons. A very snowy and cold winter, a hot and sunny summer, a stunning colorful fall and a … spring. Chicago is constantly changing and each season brings a different charm.
Millenium park is the happiest place with children playing in the water, the bean, the huge free playground, the pier and Damen, the hipster area. It is just a happy and dynamic city.
Now let’s talk about food. Did you know that each state of the US has its signature pizza (check here)? For Chicago, it is the deep dish pizza. Before going further I would like to apologize to my dear Italian friends. The deep dish pizza is basically a 5 cm crust with tone of cheese and tomato sauce. To that, you can add more cheese, sausage, bacon, pepper, fresh tomatoes … (the list is long). So basically, you go to one of the Giordano’s restaurant, wait outside for at least 45 minutes. Finally, you are seated and have to wait an extra 30 minutes for the pizza (make sure phone battery is full). In the end the wait is worth, it is really delicious.
The deep dish pizza with extra fresh tomatoes
Giordano's, Chicago, Illinois
This week signs the end of the school year for Lise. What an amazing year for her! I cannot believe how much she improved and grew. Last year, she was my two-year-old baby and this year, she is my three-year-old big girl.
When we arrived in Toledo in April 2015, the first thing we did was to look for a school for Lise (before even looking for a house). It was crucial for us that she benefited from her experience in the US, made friends and learnt English. We agreed that we would speak French at home and she would learn English at school. Even if our English is good enough, we definitively don’t have (and will never have) the correct accent and the right tone. We did not look for an international school but for a regular American school with only American teachers and students. The goal was to integrate Lise as soon as possible.
We found the perfect school for her with some great teachers who made the transition very easy. The first couple of months must have been frustrating for Lise not understanding the rules or the other kids willing to play with her. But she learnt very quickly and is now fully integrated to her class and has great friends. How thankful we are for the patience that her teachers showed! It is amazing to hear Lise speaking English with a perfect accent. She can switch from English to French and understand perfectly both languages. It is funny to hear her voice changing when using English. Her “come here” and “that’s not OK mama” are the cutest. This year was a turning point for Lise. She not only learnt English but she also developed her creativity, independency and problem solving. She went from scribbling to drawing, from being dressed up to dressing up by herself, from using diapers to wearing panties.
As I said, within a year she became my big girl and you know the saying: “little kid, little problems, big kid, big problems”. She is now a toddler… a real toddler and she develops many other skills. Like how to throw a tantrum in the middle of Kroger or how to test us until we reach our breaking point (this is an entire subject for a future post).
I often complain about how conservative Toledo is and how the way of living is different from what we were used to. However, at the end of the day I am thankful to see Lise being so confortable and so happy in her new environment.
Lise's present for her teachers
A nice customized bottle of wine
Here, it is all about food, children and me.
Claire, mom of two adorable girls. Montessori believer.
A few pounds overweighted and a few inches too short. Sometimes too French for Americans and most of the time too American for French people. Rarely down to earth but often out of my mind.