Tuesday, April 29, 2014

7 Reasons Traveling is Like Being Pregnant

As I've been traveling around Paris I can't help but think about the similarities between being traveling and being pregnant.

  1. There is so much prep work involved
    • With the arrival of a new human you need every new gadget that somehow our parents survived without. Luckily there is a baby shower for most of those things...
    • Passports, visas, luggage, packing, toiletries, the list seems to go on and on. How about a travel shower? 
  2. It is exhausting and uncomfortable: 
    • With pregnancy, your body is changing every which-way and anything that seems strange is considered normal, and after a certain point, sleep is not longer a viable activity. 
    • While traveling, you are crossing long distances, without sleep, in uncomfortable, confined spaces. When you do arrive at your destination, you find your bed has not made the arduous journey and it takes a few days to get use to your new surroundings.  
  3. You have to learn a whole new language
    • I remember the first time I to registered at BuyBuy Baby, the sales associate spent 20 minutes explaining the differences between the vast array of bottles and their many features. I thought there was one kind... and It turned out my kid didn't even like bottles. There are so many things to learn.
    • As I am learning right now, everything is more difficult when you can't speak... and miming becomes invaluable. 
  4. People may look at you funny
    • You know what I'm talking about when your pregnant, its always that awkward "is she pregnant or just fat"... followed by the terrible need to make a comment about your appearance. 
    • With traveling outside the US, its the "They must be American" look. Luckily it hasn't been to bad here, but when I was in India a few years ago, I was the only Blond haired fair skinned person for miles and everyone stopped and stared. It was the weirdest experience! And being here, people tend to think we are French or at least Eurpoean... because what American's would be crazy enough to take a toddler on this crazy trip.
  5. You can't stop eating:
    • I've always been a healthy eater, but when I was pregnant with my son, I wanted greasy burgers, cheesy mexican food and just protein rich foods all the time. I have never been so hungry in my life!
    • I think today alone I had dessert with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and every snack in between. I've had at least 2 crepes everyday this week, and last night I enjoyed a nutella hot chocolate (or Chocolat Chaud avec du nutella)... with a gelato crepe of course.
  6. You forget the pain and do it again
    • The lack of sleep, the discomfort, the financial drain and the frustration all fade away after time and that travel bug starts biting. You think of the sights left to see, the experiences left to enjoy and the excitement waiting, and everything else fades away. 
  7. Its all worth it in the end
    • I love my little boy more than anything in the world and can not imagine my life without him. The pregnancy was well worth the reward of seeing him learn and grow every day.
    • The places I've seen have helped define who I am today. I love seeing new cultures and expereincing history everyday. 

PS this post is not an announcement... I'm not currently pregnant. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

After a terrible flight, we actually made it to Paris!

"All our bags are packed and we're ready to go..."
We have completed the first great challenge of our adventure... the actual journey. I am currently running on 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours, which honestly after having a baby and Mike's recent night shifts isn't terrible. I'm still zombiesque at the moment, but I'm happy to be here after that awful plane ride.

We left Nashville yesterday at noon and arrived in Paris this morning at 7:00am. The first flight from Nashville to JFK was great. I again had the perfect child keeping himself busy with the quiet book my mom just made, and all of his books and snacks. But somewhere between the first easy flight and the 7 hour flight to Paris, someone switched out our son for an identical, manic copy.
Luke playing with his
new quiet book

Our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower
It started off well, Luke sweetly played and easily fell asleep for 45 minutes, then he woke up and decided he was going to do everything he could to not fall asleep again. That included, but was certainly not limited to; throwing books on our seat neighbor just as she was falling asleep, bumping the seat in front of us where a rather grumpy Frenchman resided, randomly yelling, practicing his new language skills as loud as he could, and fits of crying. Honestly though, what can you expect from such a little guy? I was feeling the same way, and I must admit, I had my own fit of crying. I had gone into the experience realizing this flight is a necessity, and I don't have to see the people on the plane again, but it was still hard to know each noise my child uttered, I was making enemies. I got so many dirty looks from fellow riders, and even the flight attendants, but, we survived! It is possible and we are living proof. Although, I am so relieved that I have another few months to prep for the next trans-atlantic flight.

 I shall not dwell on the trauma of that terrible flight any longer, for I'm in Paris and one cannot help but smile while walking the streets of Paris! Such history, art and love fills the air. 

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”― Thomas Jefferson

Mon Petit garçon dans le Jardin des Tuilieries
Bonjour Notre Dame! Its been far to long
As I walk these beautiful streets, my ears perk to the French language, as I search for familiar words. To my excitement, I do understand a few, and if I think long and hard I can create a semi-adequite response. However, I completely loose any ability to understand or articulate anything in French when someone actually speaks to me directly. Hopefully that will change. The adventure has begun! But I am exhausted and cannot keep my eyes open any longer. Bon Nuit! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Organized Chaos


One of my dear friends recently explained to me that inside my head is chaos. I have thoughts that float around with no real organization or order. Its basically like a room of loose paper with all the windows open, three fans turned to full blast... during a tornado. That is the reason why notebooks and to-do lists are imperative to my survival. To create order and maintain my sanity, I must scout out these ideas that fight for free reign in my head. I sneak up behind them and catch them by transcribing them on to paper, then my mind becomes slightly clearer. These ideas, thoughts, and worries can occur at any time, so you will rarely find me without a notebook and a writing utensil.

This has been the scenario in my head this week... except add a heard of wild geese to that room of chaotic papers! We were able to escape to Tennessee with the house perfectly intact and all our bags packed (a feat that truly deserves an award, as doing any task with a curious toddler is a miracle in itself). Everything has been crossed off my to-do lists and we have 4 days in Tennessee with my parents before our flight to Europe. So I should be calm and relaxed right?

Unfortunately, I can't turn my mind off. Every time I close my eyes I think of errands I need to run or things I need to pack... but as soon as I come back to a rational reality I realize everything is already done. I'm having nightmare day dreams? Is that a thing?

I can handle my life!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are we crazy? Perhaps...

Perhaps I should elaborate on our exciting adventure that begins in a matter of days. WE ARE GOING TO GENEVA, SWITZERLAND! My brilliant husband scored an internship with the W.H.O. (The World Health Organization... not the band, unfortunately). We fly to Europe next week, starting in Paris. The best part, my in-laws get to join us. Then we get to rent a car and drive to Switzerland. I am picturing this as a beautiful jaunt through the French country side, but perhaps it will look more like a cramped car, loaded down with luggage and a nearly 2 year old letting us know he hasn't quite adjusted to the time change. No, no, I'll stick to thinking about the beautiful jaunt.

We are not going to live in Geneva, but rather in a beautiful two bedroom flat outside of the city in a little French town. I have always wanted to live in France for the spring, but never really thought that dream would come true. Although, in my dream it was exploring museums, visiting cafes, and speaking French with the locals... but with a toddler, there will be a bit more juggling involved. Luckily, my little guy is perhaps the most easy-going kid I've encountered. We did a lot of traveling his first year and he knows the drill. He has quite the STATS for being under 2.

-27 different plane rides
-9 different states
-5 different countries
-1 cruise

(We were basically gone a week out of every month his first year... daddy was very busy with school and I wanted to see family.)

We get to stay for 3 months and hopefully will get to visit Munich, Naples, and London... but we'll see how adventurous we become.

I have done my best to prepare for this adventure. We bought the French Rosetta Stone in December and have been studying. I also decided to nerd out and read a book called "La Belle France: A Short History" about the history of France. Short it is not, but actually it is a fun read. I still have a ways to go... Napoleon just took over for the first time.

We are down to the final preparations. My to-do list pages are looking beautiful and crossed off. One more day before we leave for Nashville to drop off our dog with my parents, then in one week from today we leave for Paris! One week left!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My cleaning fail... please stifle your laughter

I had one of those moments last nights... truly a moral dilemma. I did something so terrible. It all started that afternoon...

My mind has been spinning in circles trying to deep clean, pack, care for my child, cross off all my to-do list items and all while practicing my ever increasing "mauvais francais". I was cleaning my tub (which had grown so disgusting it was rather embarrassing) and realized the only way to really clean that built up soap scum was an old toothbrush. I realized the most logical toothbrush to use was my dear husbands. After all, I had just replaced mine last week. I would use his, toss it, open up a new one and he would probably never even realize the switch. No issues right? WRONG! As always, my mind became distracted somewhere between use and toss. Instead, I left the soap scummy, black filthy toothbrush on the counter (at lease I didn't put it back in the toothbrush holder right? I should get points for that).

Well, my husband had a really long day on campus and was especially tired and uncharacteristically grumpy. He was getting ready for bed and I thought nothing of the familiar sound of the toothbrush. A short time later, I walked into the bathroom and immediately realized I had won the worst wife in the world award for the day! His toothbrush was magically back in its holder and it was certainly not a new one. I thought back and tried to will the past to be changed so I would not be found the villain. Sadly, I have not conquered the ability to alter the past and I looked in the mirror and burst out laughing. I quickly replaced the toothbrush so as to not repeat the mistake the next morning. My good humored husband would certainly not find this terrible display of forgetfulness funny at the moment, so I knew I had to live with the guilt through the night. I did my best to keep a straight face, and barely stifled the laughter until I fell asleep.

When morning came, I nearly woke up giggling. I verified that his mood was indeed brighter, then I proceeded to divulge the soap scummy details. Thankfully, he also burst out laughing, although, there was a slightly disgusted look on his face. All is well... but I will double check my tooth brush tonight just in case. But I am now left with the question... how did he not notice how gross it was? Perhaps I should change his toothbrush more often.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It was the best of times, it was the most stressful of times...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..." (A Tale of Two Cities). 

Oh Mr. Dickens, my wordy friend... why does this quote keep jumping to mind as I prepare for our next adventure. The dream of living in France for the summer is quickly approaching reality and I can barely keep up.

"What an incredible adventure!" everyone says.

"You are so lucky" everyone says.

I do agree... I am very fortunate and very excited about the baguette eating, the site seeing, the chocolate...oh the chocolate, the language learning, and exploring history in a way only possible by physical sight and touch. Oh Europe, here I come! I'm already salivating. 

Although, despite the excitement brewing, few people see the cauldron of stress I'm currently sweating in. If there is something I have mastered in my life it is worrying! I am so very talented at worrying, stressing out and "awefullizing" as my mom calls it. I currently have a composition notebook quickly filling up with lists, calendars and preparation notes for my pending adventure. Everything is written down: which drawers need to be cleaned, what clothes I'm packing, and even "clean closets...moderately". I have to remind myself I don't have to do it perfectly, just "moderately". Seriously? 

I really do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know once this week passes, my notebook will be filled with unreadable words and beautiful dark lines through each item. Oh the joy of a completed to-do list. I just have to get there. Then the real fun will begin... Europe, a toddler and a mild-mannered mother who knows just enough French to say, "J'ai une pomme"