Hey Pierre – Pretez moi ta plume ….

I’m about 16 hours away on the countdown to back to school , back to work , rushed pick ups , drops offs , warp speed dinners , remembering who does which sports or activities on which day , finding the civil insurance declarations , signing off on parental authorisations , begrudgingly putting my name on the list for swim class supervision – Bref – what is casually described by les Francais as : LA RENTREE……..

It’s a tad overwhelming to say the least – so I took an hour or so out to skim the latest news & take my mind off it all for a while . I found this ….

Letter – A Dismal view of Ireland 

Pierre Benitot’s ( he’s French in case you hadn’t already guessed) letter to the Irish Sunday Independant newspaper  about his holiday hell in Ireland . Well , pffffffffffffff -beuh pfffffffffffff – Pierre , Pierre , Pierre – Ca va pas non ?

Mon cheri , there are quite a few discrepancies in your tale of woe . Having lived in your exotic (?) country for many years now ( and love /hate / loving it again) , I don’t think it would be dishonest for me to say that some of you are infamous as champion complainers , not to mention your capacities for handball .. you are after all the world champions this year – non ?

So I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I , along with several of my expat lady friends here – (you may call us the Paris Mary’s) , suggest that you might need to see an optician to have your eyes tested ( au plus vite possible) – you may finally discover that underneath those brollies , baseball caps and rain macs are some ( dare I say exotic) beauties . We (mna na h’Eireann) , are also quite adept at avoiding potholes , giving directions , or explaining the difference between three stones in a field and a prehistoric burial chamber or pagan place of worship.

On the subject of rain , mon pauvre , I couldn’t get hold of the met office here ( c’est Dimanche – only available between certain hours , never on Sundays) , but you may well find that the rain in spain stayed mainly in central France this year , flooding several metro stations in Paris and stopping only for brief intervals sometime between the end of May and the 15th of August. It could have been incredibly exotic  …. had there been a few rainforests nearby to check out.

Another tourist , while visiting Ireland many years ago , commented on the difference in size of our petit potatoes and their rather larger versions … I would like to borrow the farmers reply in answer to your statement about our minor roads …..

” We grow our potatoes to fit our mouths” …..

On B&B’s : It’s a Bed + Breakfast : ie :- One is expected to eat breakfast , leave for the day & most of the night , then sleep off the days ‘outdoor’ activities . Repeat when necessary. It is not common practice to stay in & watch the B&B owners TV. Alternatively there are several fine upstanding establishments ( Hotels) that can offer cable tv at a set rate for guests who wish to stay in and catch up on their local tv shows while visiting another country. No Pierre , malgré moi , I’m not defending fair city either , merely comparing it to one of it’s many equivalents here ….”Josephine – Ange Gardienne” – need I say more ?

As for Golf , it is a difficult game. End of story. Don’t blame the rain , the baseball caps , or the drunk farmers for your sense of inadequacy – get out there and practice more  – it’s the only way to get better. If all that fails , you could always just pick up the ball & throw it … no reference to the handball team intended there either.

And yes Pierre , every village has an idiot  , sometimes it happens to be a drunk farmer in the middle of a field. Ours however , haven’t quite yet grasped the idea that they could become the future José Bové’s of the agri/ political world – so we won’t really go throwing any more stones in glass houses now , will we ? C’est la vie .

Life is a beach Pierre , and beaches are supposed to have seaweed – in fact – on all beaches , ports & mooring points off the cote d’azur – the sea weed /algae are now protected.  This is because there is not enough left to protect the increasingly fragile flora & fauna of your nations famous shores.  Should you be unfortunately unaware of this fact – you will be forced to return to sea and deposit any algae you’ve left hanging off the end of your anchor on return to port. Maybe you can bring some back to the stony beaches in Nice on your next visit …. I just spent the summer near there , during which time I learnt a little about water / environmental hygiene for beaches. Information I will be passing on to my children so that the next time they build sandcastles , they’ll be aware of the importance of appreciating and protecting the elements that are naturally present. Ps – the Mistral is kind of famous for blowing people about down there too . I don’t think Ireland has the monopoly on wind. Tut Tut Pierre , and you with a capital that’s famous for it’s big Red windmill , previously renowned for it’s wild women and possibly a few drunk farmers .

During our sejour in the sunny south – we spent a week in the internationally renowned (generally considered exotic) town of Cannes. The beach there ; if you were lucky enough to find a spot – (apparently its ok to shove your feet right under some elses nose if you need a little more room) was a terrifying parade of posers of all ages  / Cannois(es) complaining about Les Parisians and their habitudes / ridiculously over priced restaurants ( I’ve been there ‘hors saison’ – they’re not fooling me) ………and … here’s one to beat the dodgy drunk farmer in a field story.  While we were there – a drunk* (* we’re not sure) lady drove her husbands Bentley into three parked cars -another Bentley , a Porsche and a Ferrari on the Cannes croisette , endangering posers everywhere and incurring damages estimated at over 5million euros………  you were right about one thing Pierre ; that is pretty exotic to say the least.

So Pierre , what I’m trying to say is – c’est dommage – there are good things & bad things everywhere , c’est comme ca .  Please don’t flick your ash in our toilets and we wont pee pee in your ashtrays . D’accord ?

Thanks for the tea & the distraction.

Mama S.

Muah , Muah ( French kissies 😉

** apologies in advance to my dear french friends – who rarely ever whinge ( at least no more than I do) and never cheat at football. xxxxx

ps –  No fadas on the gaeilge there- keyboard doesn’t have them.

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Cougars in the playground

Ok so , today folks, I once again made the most common of  my own  parenting mistakes . Before I get into the nitty gritty of my own personal maman fail situation , I just have to say that I have ISSUES with all the bad/how to be a good, parent literature that’s out there. If you haven’t read any of “it” yet – DON’T . If you have – well , maybe you know what I mean when I say ; WE FEEL BAD ENOUGH ALREADY ….. stop writing these wonder parent/ caregiver type of tomes about how great you are. You (ie; Halo wearing super parenting writers) must have genetically modified kids – or a little problem with compulsive lying or …………whatever …; I don’t want to know anymore ; because at the end of the day I can only be the parent that I am , and always will be, forever and ever ……. AMEN. And , PLEASE take my kids for a couple of weeks & then we’ll re-assess your super care giver levels (not mine).

Just this week alone, two ladies that I know to be incredibly capable mothers ( amongst many other great things ) sent out help flares through facebook. One , just a simple message about being pulled three ways and how hard it was to be a hero , the other an exhausted message about spending half the day in the ER after her little genius got the childproof lid off a bottle of calpol and made herself an early morning cocktail ( my kind of gal 😉 ….. but I’m not supposed to say that either , am I ?

So , we’re back to the saying things I’m not supposed to again ….. well it’s more of a saying things that I realise I have to actually stick to in order to set the boundaries or prove myself in some sort of boundary setting game thing that kids ,(or more so my 9 going on 16yr old, hormonally challenged daughter) play with their parents. Maybe because I can never do things by halves, I managed to get myself into a major mexican stand off with her in one of Paris’ largest playgrounds.

There we were , having a picture perfect day out in Parc de la Villette , when my daughter lost the plot over a giant size abacus that my son & his playdate were busy pushing beads around. Now all the perfect parenting books say to stay calm , explain things in a normal voice etcetcetcetc … all of which I was doing , except of course my daughter wasn’t having  any of it ; and was standing screeching at me in the middle of the 3-5 year old sand pit . Much to the amazement of the totally in control , (possibly perfect parent book writers) people around me.  Seriously , do the parenty book writers have kids that go – ” Oh look – mother is doing her calm/ perfect parent /you’re in  trouble voice – I’d better stop flinging sand around the playground for 5 minutes to listen ??????” I don’t think mine would care/notice if I pulled out a balaclava & a ransom note when they are in that state .

So for every time my daughter answered me back (after she had run off in a total teenage meltdown scene where she took a swipe at me) , I textbook calmly added one weeks worth of TV BAN on to her punishment ….. I GOT TO 7 WEEKS & a total teenage meltdown myself before she realised I wasn’t giving in.

 7 WEEKS , people ……. what am I going to do????? I am freaking out here – because in my fake calm textbooky meltdown state , I also included no computers or audio visual entertainment. Which  means not even a 5 minute log on to you-tube for her favourite Katy Perry / Britney Spears/ Lady Gaga vids – she is going to drive me insane.

Now I know the perfect parenters will swear by the no TV rule thing in general. I’m just not ok with that at all. What is wrong with letting them watch a couple of cartoons while I jump in the shower ? Or to take 20 mins to call the bank manager to keep him off my back after I’ve gone a bit mad & taken them away swimming every day in the mediteranean for a month ???????? Hmmmmmm ????? Where is the harm in all that ???

I know (of) kids of 3 years of age who can count to almost 30 in two languages because of Dora the Explorer . Winnie the pooh and his fluffy / neurotic / manic / anxious friends have become the basis for some forms of  psychoanalysis – I’m not joking – apparently nearly every type of psyhcological disorder is in there somewhere and we all should be working towards being more like Pooh …. Pourquoi ?? Because, Pooh just is . ( Theoretically , that idea would make me a rabbit who wants to be more pooh – but that’s just way too complicated to fit into this meltdown scenario).

We also have TV to thank for taking the whole cougar mom thing out of the closet …. I never , ever thought I’d say it, BUT – I had a flash of what could be potential cougarmomness the other day .  Yes, I sure did…… and because of the wonderful world of addictive televised series …… ‘I’m totally ok with that’. ( which, by the way, is also a phrase I picked up from another addictive tv series). 

(Theoretically making me a rabbit with cougar tendencies who still just needs more pooh ?????)

I bumped into a dear friends youngest brother in law , who had been a mere gangly teenager hiding behind a Noel Gallagherish type of fringe at her wedding when I last saw him. It took me about ten minutes , a couple of double takes and a shocking plonk back into reality to realize that I was staring at the poor guy , going red and almost ( if not already) old enough to be his mother. The stunningly good looking things that emerge from behind these oasisish side burns / bieber cuts / grunge -goth beards never ceases to amaze me.

It made me get back in touch with the 16- 18 year old in me & remember what it was like to be hormonally challenged . God knows , I could have done with the, ‘soft spot for hormonal 16 year olds’, cougar in me at the park today – my daughter might not have ended up with the record breaking ‘7 weeks of no tv’ ban …..

Thanks for the tea , please send me updates on all addictive tv series asap 😉

Mama Sxx

ps ..Parc de la Villette is a really cool place to visit with or without kids in Paris. Right now it’s open air cinema season + it’s pretty much free. Bring a picnic, vin & some friends .      211 Avenue Jean Jaurés : Paris 75019.

pps ; My cougar interests sister in law made me laugh out loud by admitting to thinking about pulling out her skateboard ( she doesn’t have one) & playing hip electro music that she doesn’t understand the next time cougar boy visits. My kind of gal 😉


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15 minutes of shame….

Every year , for the past 11 years , the Irish & friends of the Irish expat community in Paris get together to have a big Ball. Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking that it kind of goes with the territory of being Irish or remotely related , possibly even a neighbour to somebody Irish  – that , whenever there is one or more of said nations citizens about – there’s bound to be a bit of a hooley started. In fact some of us are quite capable of having hooleys all by ourselves ( and I’m very proud of the fact ) but that, again, is another blog story …

No , this is a proper bona fide , get your hair done & your high heels on, big expat charity ball. It’s a highlight of every self respecting Franco-Irish business persons year . Everyone gets to eat , drink, be merry and raise much needed funds for the international humanitarian organisation – GOAL.

This year , after some trojan voluntary work by the organiser & his commitee , the ball was held in the courtyard of the Irish cultural center in Paris. A beautiful building in the centre of the 5th arrondisement  …. red carpets were laid out , marquees + band stands erected ,table plans made , auction items out on display,  and of course the star speakers invited.

Now it has to be said , that possibly one of the attractions at the ball is the thrill of watching some of the bar owners bid against each other for the auction items – it’s kind of priceless.  The legendary MC skills from Mr Denis Corcoran , (a man who has been known to hire himself out as an Irishmans tourist guide to Paris , offer weekends away in a garden shed to his website followers & did a 5km* hop around paris for charity ), plus the several sports stars + personalities who come along & even manage to get themselves auctioned off for the night , keep us all coming back for more ….

That is, untill there came a confirmation e-mail that Mr Gabriel Byrne , Irish actor and ambassador for Irish culture in the USA , was going to be guest of honour at this years ball… Well , things got just a tad frantic after that . (I think he’s kind of just a little bit gorgeous in a mature , accomplished kind of a way) So , after changing my dress about 6 times ( I may have put the same dress back on again once or twice aswell) , which you ladies will know , also means having to find different shoes , accessories , handbags , and depending on whether the last dress had shoulder straps or not ..;also finding underwear that’s not shockingly apparent either . Then of course, there’s the problem of having put two million hairclips into a do that may look ridiculously unattractive to Mr- just a little bit gorgeous in a mature + accomplished kind of a way- G.Byrne ; so out all the clips come , followed closely by the straighteners , curling tongs  & hairspray. The smell of scorched hair in our house would have knocked a robbers horse . Did I say scorched … I mean welded together …( it was raining on and off all afternoon – I mean torrential showers) –  puff mama was not the look I wanted for my first encounter with Mr B. ( He was married to Ellen Barkin , starred in The usual suspects , acted with the likes of the gorgeous Patricia Arquette in Stigmata , has won numerous awards, and he IS Christopher Columbus & the only reason I ever learned anything about the Spanish Armada).

Anyway , the rain stopped pouring down just in time for me to make a dodgy Hello magazine exit from a taxi -( you know – the unfortunate showing of way too much pale blue / fake tan’s not coming up yet , leg  ) – much to the great amusement of my hubby & the bloke in the car behind us .. ie – he beeped & waved & I could still see him laughing as he turned off the street. My hubby says he could still hear him laughing half an hour later .. Oh – smirky smirk – and laughing lasty stuff boys -knobbly knees or not , I’m about to be in the same ROOM as Mr Kind of gorgeous ( ok I’ll stop ) G. Byrne.

AND no – it’s not the famous Irish radio / tv show host who was addicted to roaring ‘roll it their Roisin/ Colette’/ or whichever poor unfortunate was on ‘roll it’ standby on the night’ …. that’s the other GB.

Posh face on , glass of champers in hand – big smilies for the camera as we got flashed on our way in …. I was doing my best , here I am Mr GB , here I am .. oh you’re just dying to talk to me – I know you are … when out of the corner of my eye , I spotted him … Oh JESUS , he’s less than a couple of feet away from me .. ohmygodohmygodohmygod .. crap – what am I going to say to him – poo, I hadn’t even thought of that …poo – poo – poo ….. AND HE’S GIVING ME THE LOOK .

Now my husband & everyone else will probably say he did no such thing , but I swear he was giving me the ..I want to talk to you look . I don’t care what anyone else thinks ..THAT WAS IT , my cue to get onto that stage and strike up a welded together windswept & interesting conversation.

So I take a little step sideways ( to get the full on effect of le look) , racking my brain for opening lines & impressive little phrases about actors & what not ( my three years of theatre studies better not let me down now) and………………………………………………… I trip backwards over somebody’s unfortunately placed red killer handbag .

Now , that would be an almost passable little misfortune and easily swept under the red carpet kind of thing to do under normal circumstances ………..but ; I also happened to be wearing a pair of ‘fall over & F me’ silver stilleto’s – one of which really thought I was Cinderella & kept falling off ,  and …….. and ……… and the other still barely shod foot, sank dangerously into the beautifully landscaped knee deep GRAVEL that was hiding behind the sniper handbag .

Thankfully a good friend  was on hand to catch me just as I tottered dangerously on the brink of destruction, almost righting the whole sorry situation. Alas , no , dear friends , my nervous system chose this moment to take over  and let out a banshee screech that kind of just buried the whole silent movie , nod – wink – nudge thingy I had going on for a second with the fantastic Mr B.

By the time I could bear to raise my head to any sort of visible position and could no longer feel the furnace in my face … GB (aka gorgeous boy) had been ‘moved away’ from that part of the building. Yes , folks – step away from the crazy one shoed warbler in the corner , you never know what she might do next.

Food was served ,  great speeches were made , fine music played and one too many coupes de champagne later , I  suddenly found my self face to face with GB again ..; the poor man , I think I rattled on about enough rubbish ( including some scary champers induced attempt to get him to put himself up for auction) to well and truly fill my 15 minutes of shame quota.

I think I may well have topped the shame ratings held by a friends mother who called 50 cent (the rap artist) 50 pence when she met him . 

However , a very talented lady I know, managed to paparazzi this shot with her phone while I was mid psycho babble …….

'Le' Look

That is a look , isn’t it ???
Thanks for the tea , the champers and the charity.
Mama Sxx 
ps. The laughs are all at my expense – donations however can be made online through GOAL’s official website.
pps : * I think it was a 5km hop – maybe more – apologies to D.C. for my memory lapse.
Posted in Living in Paris, madness & mammy's, music, Things I see in Paris, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Let them eat cake …

Taken from the Robert Doisneau official website - see link attached

Everyone knows that Paris is famous for its patisseries – you only have to get a whiff of freshly baking baguette in the early mornings on any of their boulangerie burdened streets & you can kiss losing those couple of extra kilo’s goodbye. Add the aroma of a freshly ground café and there are some early mornings ( before the bin trucks & the traffic jams that go with them arrive) where you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d died & gone to patisserie paradise. It’s a regular Robert Doisneau flashback. ( check out his photos of Paris. He’s one of my favourites)

WELL ALLO (*add sexy french accent )  pain au chocolat , drops , pepites , chausson aux pommes & croissants wiz or wizout butter (*end sexy french accent) -where have I been all your life ? The array & selection of types of bread is mind blowing , not to mention how/if you would like it sliced and ; believe it or not … you can choose how well done you’d like it.

photo from le grenier à pain website

Oh , I’m addicted to the phrase : ‘ Une baguette tradition – pas trop cuite s’il vous plait’ – which (gramatically incorrect as I may be) means : a traditional bread stick – not too cooked please. Oh the joy of breaking off  warm little chunks & eating them on the way home. Which I think may possibly explain why most people can be seen walking around with two of the fancy bakery paper clad little treasures in their arms. It’s a forgiveable offence to eat half a baguette on the way home – but only if there’s one & a half left over.

Of course , there are some exceptions to the rule … there’s a boulangerie near me , that my dear elderly neighbour (who survived Hitlers occupation of Paris by hiding with her jewish family in the basement of a country cottage .. incredible lady – that’s a whole other blog post), swears is the best in Paris. I didn’t even think to question her authority on such things …. she’s been around & knows the score when it comes to good ,bad & ugly bread in this city.

photo from le grenier à pain website

When you walk through its doors ( be prepared to queue – for up to 45 minutes on a Sunday) it’s like winning a golden ticket to Willy Wonkas baked goods emporium . Every corner of it’s relatively small space, packed with freshly baked biscuits , orange & cinnamon flavoured sweet breads, savoury olive & tomato bakes , apple/ peach/ pear tarts , eclairs , chocaholic wonders ,hundreds of jams and the queen of all red berry delights ..the Charlotte aux fraises. They even stock ridiculously yummy herbal tea’s. If you can manage to leave with nothing other than the two requisite baguettes … well I owe you a lavender macaroon or an olive & basil fougasse.

I’m sure there are plenty of other great / maybe even better ? Boulangeries around & I’m not doing them justice – but hey – I never pretended to be a foodie blogger – so I’m not going to start now.

For those of you who may have the good fortune to come across one at some point – It’s called ‘Le Grenier à pain’ ( which literally means the bread attic) – ours is the Rue des Abesses one in the 18th arrondissement – but here’s a weblink to all their adresses :


Now, having said all those wonderful things about les patisseries , ( and not once complaining about how hard it was to lose the 15kilos I gained in my first three months in pastry paradise) ,…………… there is just one problem.

They ( ie the standard Parisian bakery) don’t do Birthday cakes. I have searched high , low + sideways for even a supermarket that has a good old icing covered / some kind of kiddy cartoon figure emblem’d / will throw your childs name on it in blue or pink , type of sponge filled extravaganza. Not to be had in the heart of Paree mes amis , mais non , not a crumb of it. ( sad , not very good at making cakes myself, face)

Untill  what was once a flowery tea pot shop on rue Lepic became BERKO … cupcake makers extraordinaires and fine purveyors of good old icing covered / some kind of kiddy cartoon figure emblem’d / will throw your childs name on it in blue or pink , type of sponge filled extravaganza’s.  Not only that, but they also take the time to sit with said future birthday partier to put their cake together with them on a tactile screen ..; choosing toppings , fillings , flavours , icing colour and the all important mega fantastic cartoon character.

Which may mean you’ll end up with a chocolate sponge , chocolate cream filling ,chocolate chocolate + more chocolate black glittery icing with a spidermans head on it -the mother of all killer birthday cakes – but still- birthday boy / girl will never forget it.

Oh and did I mention they make cupcakes?…….cheesecake ?……… carrot cake?

Since then , we’ve also had to add our sons recent food allergy diagnosis to the list of requirements when purchasing (or trying to badly make) birthday cakes. It’s practically impossible to find a cake that has no cows milk proteins or eggs involved ; and even harder to make.

Berko's Mr Men + Little MIss logo

Well , if the lovely people at BERKO haven’t unintentionally come up with a plan there. Just this week , I bought one of their latest Mr Men / Little Miss cakes for my hubby. Since he’s still a big kid at heart we went for the Mr Cousteau ( Mr Strong) version for his birthday treat from the kids. There’s just enough in these mini  party cakes for four slices.

Inside however ( and this is what totally sold me as an alternative to actually giving a piece to our allergic son) is what they call a ‘Feve’ – a lucky charm. We persuaded him that having a slice of cake wasn’t half as cool as getting the lucky charm – a little miss chatterbox in our case – that you bring back to the shop in order to collect your surprise.

So off we went & he got to pick out one of the new Mr Men books & they gave his dad a great big Mr Man – ‘I want tickles’ t-shirt. 

Parisian expat parents – check it out for your big + small childrens next birthday’s. Or just for one of their mini carrot cake cupcakes (2€) …I have never seen a little kid so happy to have had his cake & not eaten it !!

(link to the berko blog above , also available at : 31 rue Lepic , 75018 Paris)

Thanks for the tea , the croissants & the cupcakes,

Mama S. xx

ps – For my cupcake lovers back home in Ireland who might be tempted – check out these sweet things – made from the very best of natural ingredients by one of the sweetest mama’s I know : cupcake kisses : – http://www.cupcakekisses.ie/

Posted in feeding children, Living in Paris, places to visit with children in Paris, The business of having children, Things I see in Paris, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lost + Found

So , I got into this blog thing as a way of letting off steam and saying what’s really on my mind. Sometimes it’s so hard being a mother that you ( I mean I – I wouldn’t dare presume anyone else gets as tied up in a knot about such things – *please say you do) needed to hear about other peoples misfortunes & misgivings to make my own seem all the more acceptable ; and just when I thought it was safe to come out of the mommy blog closet , I had to stop.

The whole work / maman / work / maman / work, work, work + more work thing got so big that something had to go & unfortunately ( for me &  my 6 or 7 / ok maybe  2 or 3 , faithful followers  ) this was it… I’m not quite ready to let go of my sanity just yet: )

Somehow , the whole working mother  ( you get the picture – I’m sick of listening to myself already) and my little bits of web whinging all became linked in some weird & wonderful way ( thats what www really means you know / workworkwork – weirdwonderfulway or whinge whinge whinge) and I couldn’t really be honest about anything I said or thought anymore.

I have turned myself inside out trying to figure out what was worth forsaking. You (I) get to a certain age & discover that some things are better left unsaid , undone or unwanted. There are also things that you no longer are prepared to put up with & can’t do without …..Sometimes , we start out with plans of great things , but discover that the challenge is in managing the simple stuff. I realized that my life was so busy that I didn’t even have time to wake up and smell the coffee….. and I LOVE the smell of coffee.

I kind of felt that this couldn’t be a proper blog because I’m only writing sporadically , when I get time , or when something really winds me up. I also don’t know what the F a tweet is & now that I think about it , don’t really care either. So a sporadic , desperate housewife who wouldn’t know a twit if it bit her on the ass blog it is then ….

I have finally taken the great leap into the unknown & not very stable position of taking time off to figure it all out & hopefully do some of the following :

I take great pride in announcing that I am a 30++++ ( add a few more +’s ) woman who is just about to scare the sacre coeur out of the Parisians by getting behind the wheel of a car & learning to drive backwards for the first time in my overworked life….I’ve used the madness that is commonly known as the Metro  as an excuse for long enough .I also owe this ‘ shut up + drive’ fearlessness , to a great friend who will no doubt be doing the same to the yellow cabbies in NYC at some point this year too . We are planning a little race around the Arc de Triomphe in 2cv’s sometime in 2012 to celebrate our total lack of drive. LOL – Yes , I am honestly lol’ing all over the place because she doesn’t know it yet – but I’m not joking .

On the list of ‘other’ things to do during this time are : ( not necessarily in order of importance)

*/ catching up with some of the incredible people I’ve met over the past few years here + never have enough time to see ..

*/check my mail … you know the real paper stuff that comes through your letter box & most of which you have to reply to or else you’ll get a 10% late payment charge . ( shock horror & yes I’ve got a few months worth of catching up to do). I am , believe it or not , unbelieveably proud of the fact that I still have a friend who sends me LETTERS + newspaper clippings by post , I received one today & it just made my day . Facebook – EAT your heart out…. facebook is to communication as Jello is to desserts. Nothing beats a top class crème brulée/ letter …

“Crème Brulée can never be Jello / Jello can never be crème brulée” – Julia Roberts , My best friends wedding : yet Jello won the race in that story too.

*/ pick my kids up from school at real school ends time : ie ; (OMGOD , I’m loving this one) .. not having to leave them in the ‘animation center’ untill 6pm – which in my sons case is a group of ( god forgive me but this is true) 5 women , three of whom are lazy *!!’s who sit on their asses complaining about how how unruly their 30+ charges are untill their parents come & pick them up – ( at which point be prepared for their 4/6 minute sermon on good parenting habits ) .The other two ( animatrice’s) are so worn out trying to be active enough for everyone else that you feel like slipping a friendly ‘ I know how you feel’ valium into their coffee’s. (Did I mention that I LOVE the smell of coffee ?)

Actually , if I knew for sure that I’d never be at their ever complaining mercy again , I’d have had a great time tipping their miserable fesses* off their favourite little whingy corner bench & giving them a 90 minute compilation on what good government sponsored childcare should be. 

*/having the time to go out + buy fresh produce & cooking it all from scratch without having to sweep floors with my toes , peels spuds with my ears , answer phones with my nose , hang washing with …… I got so excited about all this fresh / I have TIME healthiness in the fruit & veg shop the other day , I reckon they would have given me the stuff for free if I promised to come back and do my Harry met Sally resto scene by the courgettes again.

*/Figure out if going it alone & setting up my own business is going to be the way to go … fortunately , oh so fortunately for me , I happen to have a boss that has given me the time/opportunity/encouragement to do just that .

*/Keep on blogging no matter what. It’s my little bit of safe/ totally unsound/ ridiculous ; & I need plenty of all that.

*/Keep Alvin , Theodore + Simon , our three newest goldfish alive . I do not have a great track record with goldfish – but that’s another days blog post.

*/thank my lucky stars + try not to spend money I don’t have on shoes I don’t need.

So , there’s absolutely nothing here that’s helpful to any expat living in Paris , no top tips on how to make kids eat veggies ( though I did put a bit of maple syrup on some bananas recently & it was a big hit) or hints on how to figure out la systeme Francaise……just a little bit of I’m back/ I’m sorry / + I’m going to drive all (2 or three) of you mad with lashings + lashings of web whinging from now on.

Mama S xx

* Fesse , is French for arse /  *!! , is www for oaf        : )

Posted in Living in Paris, madness & mammy's, The business of having children, things other mothers never tell you but SHOULD, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Prince and Pepperoni

It is my ‘non birthday / I’ve given up on getting older’ weekend. I’m rapidly approaching one of those great landmarks of life and I haven’t quite figured out how to use the brakes yet.  In real life, I can’t actually drive backwards. I’m not joking … I can rev up to fifth gear in record time in a car ( ask my father or the couple of friends who have survived after witnessing this first hand) , but ask me to drive backwards & you’re literally putting your life in danger . Is my internal GPS trying to tell me something ??

My husband has taken the weekend off (that’s a big deal, it doesn’t happen often) to:

a)      Show some moral support.

b)      Enjoy the fact that for the next few  months I’m the same age as him & can’t call him an old perv for a while.

c)       Laugh at my misery ….?

Usually, when the opportunity to pretend to be a regular family presents itself, we try to cram as much ‘normal family’ stuff into our couple of days as possible. I have a mental list of a million and one things I promise myself we will get around to doing, when Daddy has the weekend off or when Mammy’s four day week –sticks to being a four day week….

As it is, trying to find the balance between what an expat family ‘normal’ weekend is, compared to a French family ‘normal’ weekend,  is challenging enough to begin with.

Ice skating , baking complicated things like macaroons ( don’t be impressed , I wouldn’t know a macaroon recipe if it jumped up & hit me in the face … YET), the cirque d’hiver , afternoon movie sessions , maybe even a massage pour deux, were all options on the cards for this long overdue family weekend off ….

Until we realized that all / most of our babysitters have either been nabbed for weekend shift-work by the bars we work for or, (this is unbelievable yet totally true) ….. become film stars. I will save the details on the movie industry stuff for when the latest video clip is available for public viewing …..!

Luckily , I have a high flying friend who spends the better part of her week clocking up air –miles and checking the quality of : the service in business class / the comfort levels of the ensuite’s in 5 star hotels in Dubai and lots of other exotic things that only the favored few get to appreciate in their lifetime. Her idea of a great Friday night involved nothing more than chilling out in front of some repeat cable shows with dodgy voice over’s and two children who promised to let her do so in peace. How cool is she? 

So out we went to celebrate the fact that from now on, I’m officially only a year older twice a decade. Not only that but I got to roll lazily out of bed at 11am the following morning , to a breakfast of freshly baked pain au chocolate and some sly glugs of milk from the carton when no-one was looking.( I would kill my kids for doing the same … but it’s my non party & I’ll drink from the carton if I want to )

Later the same afternoon, our son off on a play date , our daughter  pre-occupied by the world’s most fantastic invention ( Hama bead patterns … you won’t see or hear your kids for days), my husband got stuck into sorting through his three million MP3 music files…

The next thing I knew, I was having a ball, head banging to Nirvana and making dodgy 80’s dance moves round our sitting room to all sorts of gems from my teen years. Purple rain came on and he asked me had I seen the film.

That sent me right back to a pot-holey country road, cycling with a gang of over excited girlfriends to the  village of Curragha (Pronounced, COOR- A-HA)… where a friend of a friend, whose parents were out for the day, was showing some dodgy movie that involved the artist formerly known as Prince. Somewhere on another back road to the same venue was a car (possibly even a stolen tractor) full of the lads from our village. The excitement was tangible… You could actually smell the teen spirit.  I remember being a bit freaked out by the idea that this might actually be a porn movie … but was too afraid to ask, so kept pedaling as fast as I could. I wasn’t missing this for the world … a possibly taboo movie in a room full of boys & dangerous noise. Sean Kelly & Stephen Roche would have had a hard time catching us.

I didn’t actually see much of the movie. I was too distracted by the number of drop dead gorgeous lads in the room , trying to act cool or not make loud-snorty-laughy noises in front of them , and of course how uber-cool this girl who was having the movie afternoon was. She didn’t seem in the least bit distracted by any of it. I also spent a lot of time in the garden, choking on borrowed cigarettes and trying to seem as aloof as our hostess.

My husband and I fell about the place laughing at our shared dodgy Prince experiences. We realized half way through the album that we were supposed to have picked our son up half an hour earlier. There was nothing to give the kids for dinner and there had been no ice skating / macaroon making/ winter circus visits or anything else done that day.

I had the best non birthday ever … for a few hours my husband made me forget my obsession with getting older ,with being organized or just being a working mother and the responsibilities that go with it. I was 16 all over again.   

Love is……. dancing to purple rain at a non birthday party and take- away pizza for dinner.

Mama S.xx

Posted in Living in Paris, madness & mammy's, music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

After Eights and Nearly nines

Ok , so , every bit of pre parental advice or scary ,” put you right off having kids” type of shared parental experiences prepares you for expecting the worst when it comes to terrible two’s / threes and  the onset of the terrible teens ….

To be honest , there’s not much I can remember about being terribly two or three myself , but  I will  never forget the onset of puberty , mood-swings , boy angst , the pain of watching girlfriends grow great boobs and having to wait another three or four years before mine made any sort of semi permanent appearance. There is not really an awful lot of fear and angst that anybody else’s shared experiences can add to my own there ..; and yet ….

NO-ONE , not one person, has EVER mentioned the ‘after eights’ or the ‘nearly nines’ to me…. And no , I’m not talking about the mad excuses we/I make up to keep eating dangerous amounts of chocolate long after the end of year festivities are finished .

 Is it a common occurrence, a modern modification of pre-pubescent  what-ever it is that’s making my daughter turn into childzilla ?  I can also remember being eight & nine …. I was nowhere near as emotionally advanced as my daughter seems to be.

 It’s heartbreak central in our house these days. If it’s not a boy who seems to have found a new love interest , the soul destroying discovery that Justin Bieber already has a girlfriend / a girlfriend in school who says they are no longer BFF’s …;.it’s , I don’t like pink anymore /  you know I’m more “ rock “ than ‘ Hello Kitty’ mama ( rolling of eyes , and ‘my mam’s a bit thick’ expression included free of charge)  ; Which , by the way , is supposed to translate as ‘ you need to go out and buy me a whole new wardrobe in blues , greys , anything with a skull/crossbones and a bit of tacky diamante thrown in for good measure on it, and don’t forget the black tight jeans … oh and a pair of knee high boots , preferably with a heel on them .

 (Sounds a bit too much like my wardrobe actually , the fact that I used the word  tacky in there to describe it is kind of scaring me … NOOOOH , does this mean it’s time for me to start buying twin sets in pastel shades and matching pearly accessoires … oh please, please no , no no, and eh NO)

Barbie , you bitch … it’s all your (ever changing wardrobe with matching accessories)  fault. Also mine for pushing that kind of sureally proportioned doll addiction on my little one . Thank god I never bought the feckin horse & livery accessories or I’d be out there in my own knee high’s and squeezed on stolen kiddies batman suit robbing a couple of banks just to keep us going ‘till the next mood swing.

Last year ( circa ‘after eight’ stage) , a boy in her class who fancied her & was getting no joy , told her she was…… fat .We laughed at the ridiculousness of it …….until our very own little miss twiggy stopped eating chocolate & was refusing presents of the edible cacao bean variety ..; WHAT !?? ….. very scary pictures of what happens to your body when you starve yourself had to be produced . Some heart to hearts with a couple of my girlfriends that my daughter idolizes also helped her realize that she had no need to worry about what little fecker with the rejection syndrome had said to her. I really had to stop myself from climbing over the playground wall and having an up close and personal  little chat with said rejected young lad.

 I thought maybe the balaclava & the squeezed on bat-suit would totally give me away though , so decided to work it out otherwise.  

And we all lived happily ever after … until first day back at school after the Christmas break. I find a totally- trying- to- hide -the-fact that she has really-obviously-been- bawling-crying little girl at the school gates … OhMyGod , that just kills me . Honestly , I don’t know about any other parents out there , but it just gets me somewhere right down in the fathoms of my soul and makes me kind of go green and incredible hulkish about whatever has my child in this state.

And even though I can’t understand a word she’s saying through the blubber that’s coming out when I trigger the crying again by asking her what’s wrong , I already know that I have to start slowly counting back from 10 inside my mind to stop myself from wreaking havoc in the playground.

Mr ‘called my girl fat’ , has got a new girlfriend ( as in : they stand beside each other in the school line & sit beside each other at the canteen .. that’s all there is to it) ..; and my little miss ‘never liked him in the firstplace’ is heartbroken. Well , blow me over with a feather … I was NOT expecting that. So after lots of panicky hugs & kisses & ‘you’re my gorgeous girl & you always will be’ , weird & uncomfortable ‘ there’s plenty more fish in the sea’ types of pearls of wisdom ; ( Its is SO weird saying that to a nearly nine year old … this is just not supposed to be happening right now; is it ??????); I get down to the nitty-gritty with her.

She did like him. She is raging with her friend for liking him / she is raging with him for liking her friend . I tell her not to fall out with her friend , he’ll probably change his mind again & she’ll have lost a friend over it . In the end , I ask her did she tell him she liked him ? ( Although , I really don’t want her to like him , he’s a little brat if you ask me … any boy that makes a girl feel fat/ unpretty should be hunted down ….hunted down I tell ya… … , I know, I know , I have issues I need to work through).

No – she never told him , she got so embarrassed when he told her he liked her ( by trying to kiss her . I nearly choked on my eyeballs when she told me that ) that she embarrassed him by telling EVERYONE else. Well how the hell was the poor kid ( who also deserves an Irish mammy clip in the ear for the whole sly kissy thing) supposed to know then ? Oh GOD … how did it get this deep & meaningful with a nearly nine year old ??

So I told her to do something I wouldn’t have done in a MILLION years at her age … to tell him. Not in front of everyone and not to try to embarrass him , but just to let him know. And to tell him she was sorry for embarrassing him in front of everyone and leave it at that. He can take it or leave it. Everything else she has done in the past has given him the impression that she wasn’t interested . He might not want to be her boyfriend , but he’ll have to respect that kind of honesty … even small kids have big respect for honesty . It’s a very powerful thing.

So she’s writing him a letter. It’s a very big deal for her. She hasn’t given it to him yet & I’m waiting for the nuclear fallout when she does.

In case anyone is reading this & thinking ; you mean old cow , you’re setting her up for a fall …. I BOUGHT A BOOK …. Written by eight to thirteen year olds with a whole group of psychologists for eight to thirteen year olds …. It says more or less exactly the same thing. That reassured both of us … eight year olds saying the same thing as her & psychologists saying the same as me.( It didn’t cover the pastel twinset questions I have … but I’ll get there)

The one Extremely important lesson I pulled from all this ‘nearly nine’ angst is this : Same advice applies to nearly nines as to their almost forty mothers …

If you want a man to know exactly what you mean … you literally have to spell it out for him… so instead of banging round the sitting room moodily because I would just love him to go and hang up the washing …. I just ask him.

He really doesn’t mind doing it at all …. I just had a big problem asking.

That’s all the angst I’m able for tonight folks.

Thanks for the tea,

Mama Sxx

*Le BOOK : ‘VIVE LES FILLES’ – le GUIDE 2011 de celles qui seront bientôt ados! / Milan Jeunesse


Posted in dealing with difficult children, Living in Paris, madness & mammy's | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments