Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Computer Babe!

Been meaning to post these shots from my father-in-law's office in Toulon :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Packing away 18 month old clothes :(

I think it's time. Most of Tristan's 18 month clothes don't fit anymore. He is growing taller. I think he had a growth spurt this month. Either that or his clothes all shrank a bit.

Every time I rotate his clothes, I get a little sad. The bigger boy clothes remind me that he is no longer a baby. He's so big now and he's starting to act more mature too. With his promotion into the toddler room this coming month, it's starting to really hit me that he will soon go to school and I won't see him much anymore :( I guess I should be excited about this as well since it will also mean that I can refocus my attention on work more. I don't know if it's just me but he really seemed to be growing up fast ever since he started to talk more at 17 months. I think he is already very independent for his age.

Out goes the old clothes and in goes the new. Tristan may be losing a lot of cute clothes but he also has a whole new wardrobe that is adorable. The clothes are mostly 23 months and some are 2 years and they should also be good for the fall and winter as well. We have Gymboree, Children's Place, H&M, and lots of French clothes, including one of my favorites, Jacadi :) This also means I have to iron more labels for daycare :(

A lot of the really cute clothes are also too dressy for daycare. I definitely don't want them to get busted and if he wears them, they will most certainly get busted. I am learning fast that the toddler room is dirty and dangerous! But he has to wear his nice clothes too. I'll have to set up more outings for us so we can dress up :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another face injury and now I wonder about the toddler room

Today Tristan spent most of his day, if not all of his day, in the toddler room for gradual entry. When I went to pick him up, I was told that he has a mark on his face from an accident. No one really told me what happened since the staff that reported it had left. On his daily report, the note said that he tripped on the carpet and fell into the shelf. There was clearly a bruise streaked down his left cheek.

Bruises are normal, especially for toddlers. What sort of annoyed me was how they handled it. The staff from the infant room, who were still responsible for Tristan, were scrambling to find out more details for me but they couldn't. Last time an accident occurred, they wrote it down in their log book and got me to sign it. They also explained that they had iced his head. There was none of that this time.

Tristan will be leaving the infant room this week and will go on to the toddler room starting next Monday. I mentioned that I wanted a copy of their schedule and I wanted to tour and meet the staff over there. One of the staff in the infant room kind of chuckled and said that they aren't very organized over in the toddler room. Now I wonder. When I picked Tristan up today, he had what looked like sand by his mouth and the sippy cup he was drinking from was dirty. On top of that, the right sleeve of his jacket was wet with mud. I also noticed on his report that he had perogi during snack time. I never packed him any. Was that a daycare snack all the kids were given? I'll have to ask about that tomorrow. Now I really wonder. Are these all previews of what I should expect from the toddler room? Or maybe they weren't watching him much since he was only visiting today from the infant room? Well, all the dirtiness I can probably get used to, as long as he doesn't ingest much of it. The injuries are more worrisome. There are obviously bigger, more challenging toys over there and he is super curious and fearless. I just want to know that the staff are watching over the kids carefully. I would like better communication too. That is all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday and Friday at home with Tristan

This month Tristan started part time daycare. He had been full time up until now. Because of our trip to France, today was actually my first day at home with him. He woke up at the unusual time of 5:45AM and needless to say, my day felt really long. He did nap for a good 1 hour 20 minutes straight though. I used that time to eat lunch, clean up our lunch mess, and finish my last blog post about our trip to France. It was awesome :)

When the weather improved, I took Tristan outside. He needed a change in scenery. We both did. We walked to a nearby park after picking up my niece and we played for awhile in the playground. Then we were back home. The outing killed a couple of hours but it still felt really long.

I think overall it went pretty well. We spent some time going down the stairs for training. Tristan can go down unassisted if you talk to him and remind him to use the wall and basically coach him along the way. He can't be trusted though because a couple of times he just dove head first down. So bad. Tristan also sat on the potty more today and we sang a song together using sign language. I figure if I can't get work done with him here, I mind as well focus my energy on teaching him and spending quality time with him while he is still somewhat of a baby.

The day just felt long and a lot of work because it has been awhile since I have done this. He hasn't been sick at home since the end of March I think. Also, I fed him super messy food today and cleanup was no fun. I will definitely have to go out more because we will definitely drive each other nuts if we stay home all day. With it being summer and all, I no longer have any excuses. Time to get my butt out and get some exercise too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Got our daycare photos just in time

Daycare photos of Tristan apparently arrived right when we left for France. Luckily, they are still available for purchase until the end of this week. Even though he wasn't smiling in them, they look quite good so we bought them all for $39. If you buy all 6 sheets of photo, you also receive the class photo for free.

We did Sears photos before and I wasn't such a big fan of them. Tristan was younger and he wasn't in a great mood that day. We ended up only buying a couple of sheets of just him. These daycare photos by Life Touch Canada are way better. The background is nice and the colors are attraction. I think the photo paper is thicker and better too.

Now we have a gazillion pictures of him. We don't have that many people to give the photos to. Oh well. It was still better than buying each sheet for $14. Those who we normally don't give photos to may receive one too :)

Just for comparison, here are the Sears photos. They were taken back in February and he is actually wearing the same outfit in the daycare photo above as well.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Plane ride back to Vancouver

We are back in Vancouver! Hooray! We also live to tell about our plane adventure :) Bring on the champagne!

I already told the tale about our 23 hour travel there. On the way back, we didn't have to take a train since we were already in Paris. That saved us at least 5 hours! We all hopped on a taxi to the airport and then took a roughly 12 hour flight back home. We had to order a taxi big enough to fit all of us since my parents-in-law wanted to see us off. We requested a car seat too but there wasn't one. Big surprise. The taxi sure was big enough and we also paid for it big time at a whopping $80 Euros. Then when we checked in, we found out we had to pay $144 for being excess 12 kg in our luggage. Damn. I knew we were over but that was a lot! The guy checking us in wasn't very nice too. Some times you get a nice person and they end up letting these things slide or charge you less. Nope, no mercy from this dude! They don't even take into account that we did not bring a playpen or car seat, which we could have easily check in at no charge. I guess even though we were not paying for Tristan's airline ticket, we were actually still paying for it through overweight luggage and crammed sitting space. But honestly, 23kg each for Jean-Louis and I was just not enough. I remember a time not too long ago when we were able to bring along 2 x 30kg each! Tristan's stuff took up most of our luggage space too. We barely bought anything. We were transporting tons of gifts back for him.

When we got on, we realized we had no aisle seat. I swear if we had a girl check us in instead of a guy, we would have definitely gotten an aisle seat. With all the commotion about the excess luggage, we totally forgot to request an aisle seat. Luckily, the passenger in the aisle didn't reject too much when we asked if she could switch seats with us. She wasn't very friendly though so we were a bit scared of her. The switch also split her up with her husband who also had an aisle seat across from her. Oops :( She may have been a grouchy senior but during the trip she actually complimented us by saying that "Tristan is lucky to have such nice parents." Grouchy lady was actually a nice lady after all :)

The second plane ride was much better. Tristan napped for about an hour in the beginning and then for about another hour near the end of the flight. When we noticed signs that he was super tired, we started to walk him up and down the aisle. As a result, he didn't go insane on us. He cried on and off but there was no vicious jerking and kicking like what happened on the flight to Paris. Eating was more of a challenge, especially because our airline, Air Transat, was less accommodating this time. They said we couldn't eat separately and we had to take all our food now or there might be none for us later. As a result, it was really crammed and challenging. Every time we had beverages, it was risky. A full glass of water got dumped on my lap and then at a later time, a hot tea spilled on Jean-Louis' lap. No fun at all!

This time around, there was no TV nearby to distract Tristan. There was also no annoying light from window shades nearby :) Once again, we had prepared a few newly wrapped toys and snacks for Tristan. He did so well that we even came home with some of the gifts unopened. In the last hour of the trip when we took off from our Calgary stop, he was in great spirits. We played and let him stand on the seat and he was goofing off with the passengers behind us. Since many passengers got off in Calgary, the lady at the window moved to sit with her husband and we had the window seat too. Tristan watched out the window when we took off and when we landed. He was more fascinated with opening and closing the window shade though :) I have to say the extra seat really made it more comfortable and spacial for all of us. Next time we go to France, Tristan will need his own seat and it should be much nicer. That and the fact that he will be older and more easy to handle :)

Boy, I cannot tell you how happy I am to have survived the trip and to be home. There is nothing like being home, especially when that home is in Vancouver :)

New milestones Tristan encountered on his first trip to France:
  • First plane ride, first trip to France
  • First train ride with his own designated seat
  • First bus ride, first underground subway ride
  • First meeting with his French grandparents, great grandfather, first cousins once removed, second cousins (according to the cousin's chart)
  • Getting baptized at l'église Saint-Antoine de Padoue in Toulon
  • First visit to Toulon, Nice, and Paris
  • First visit to the zoo
  • First white sand beach and foot dip in the Mediterranean Sea
  • New French words spoken: non, bus, encore
  • New Chinese words spoken: Gong, Ma
  • New English words spoken: boat, help

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trip to Paris

It was a relief going to Paris. Paris is almost the opposite of Toulon. The city is always bustling in activity and there is almost too much to see and do. I wanted to go there for a few days to shop and sightsee with Tristan. I also had a friend I wanted to visit. Since it wasn't too far from Vernon, Jean-Louis' cousin and family took the train down to see us one afternoon as well. With so many plans, we didn't have a chance to do or see a lot :(

We stayed at a hotel by Montparnasse. My parents-in-law came along with us. They were still living in Paris the last time we visited but now they just come to visit every couple of months. When we arrived in Paris on the TGV, we had to take a taxi to the hotel. We had 2 big suitcases, maybe 5 carry-ons and handbags, plus a stroller. We waited to take the biggest taxi so that we could all go together but it just wasn't possible. The other problem is that none of the taxis have a car seat so I was upset. When we realized all of us wouldn't fit in one taxi and my father-in-law wanted to take two taxis, we said no and we told them we would walk to the hotel instead. I felt safer doing it this way since the French drive like mad and I really wanted a car seat. We ended up walking half way across Paris in probably 1.5 hours. It wasn't too bad except that we were carrying heavy bags and it was hot out. However, any walk in Paris is a lovely walk :) Unlike Toulon, many of the sidewalks are nicely paved and very wide too.

Our hotel stay included a buffet breakfast and dinner. It was nice because there was always something that Tristan could eat! Eating was fine for me but really stressful for my parents-in-law because we let Tristan eat on his own in the highchair and he would make a mess each time. Of course he will! He's only 18 months old. He may make a mess but a lot of the food actually ends up in his mouth. They were embarrassed because we were in a public place and thought we should have fed him instead. Here is the thing. Tristan was brought up eating on his own. He has been doing it since probably 9 months old so needless to say, he won't want us to feed him. He wants to do it all himself. We also tried to feed him things we knew he would eat too to minimize the mess.

We went to Ladurée, a fancy salon de tea, in Printemps with the family. We munched on delicious macaroons and had espressos. There, we also found out that it costs 1Euro to pee without a restaurant coupon. If you want to change a baby's diaper, it will cost you 2Euros. What!! There was no way we were paying 2Euros just for a clean diaper room. We took a stroll in the Parc Monceau and changed Tristan's diaper in the stroller there. For FREE! Take that Paris!

We soon learned that Paris is just not baby-friendly. Sure, they may have tons of beautiful baby and children clothing stores but it's no city for parents with small children. Buses are ok to take but they are slow and the subway is brutal for strollers. Unfortunately since we were pressed for time, we had to rough it in the dirty subway. I would carry Tristan in my arms and Jean-Louis would carry the stroller down or up the stairs. A few of the big subway stations had a stroller access once you are inside the station but most of them don't. We had to disassemble our bugaboo stroller into two parts and slide it through the gate at the top. All this while juggling Tristan and bags in our hands :( We were really sweating it too. I forget how hot it was down there!

Walking through Paris, brought back so many memories. I sure miss the shopping paradise. The elegant shops, great choices of styles, restaurants etc. What I didn't miss was the cigarette smoke and I smelled it almost everywhere we went. Yuck! The longer we stayed, the more I realized I couldn't live in Paris anymore and am so glad we live in Vancouver. It's hard to believe we lived there for so long. I was unhappy when it was just the two of us but now with Tristan, it would be a nightmare! I couldn't wait to go home :(

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tristan gets baptized at l'église Saint-Antoine de Padoue

From the moment Tristan was born or maybe even while I was still pregnant with him, Jean-Louis' mother (my mother-in-law), had wanted to get him baptized. She is Catholic and everyone in the family has been baptized so she needed Tristan to be as well. We went along with it to please her.

Jean-Louis was raised Catholic and I was raised Buddhist but neither of us practice religion at all. We know how his mom is like and if we objected at all, we would be in trouble! However, we did make it clear that we wouldn't be raising him Catholic and that we're only doing this for her and Jean-Louis' late grandmother, who passed away last year.

The event took place at l'église Saint-Antoine de Padoue in Toulon. There were two babies being baptized at the same time. The other was a little girl named Stella. Normally, parents get their children baptized when they are around 6 months old but they had to make an exception for us since we lived out of the country far away. 18 months old? Maybe a bit strange but no problem :)

The ceremony took about an hour to complete. I did not even try to listen and understand what they were saying or singing since I was focused on keeping Tristan quiet and happy. There were lots of church choir singing and passage readings. The priest applied oil on Tristan's forehead at one point but the climax of the event was when water was poured on Tristan's head. That was the only thing I expected to see. They did the baby girl first since they thought Tristan would be more difficult. The baby girl was sleeping at the time but then cried anyways. Tristan was remarkably quiet and didn't even whine. He just had a confused look on his face like what the heck is going on? We walked around the church and read more passages and listened to the priest. Then we all signed papers. After that we all walked outside the church.

Everyone was so surprised and pleased with how well-behaved Tristan was during the whole ceremony, including myself. The event took place when he was suppose to have lunch and it ended around the time he should have been napping. Once it ended and we were outside the church, we gave him his milk right away. Moments later in the car ride back home, he passed out. Poor little guy :(

Later that afternoon, we all reunited at Jean-Louis' grandfather's place and had dessert and champagne. With many of us dressed up and wearing white, the ceremony at the church, and then the champagne, it really did feel like a wedding. I would call the day a success and I hope my mother-in-law agrees with me too :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day trip to Nice through pictures

Nice is a 1.5 hour drive from Toulon. The views of the beach are really eye candy down there. If I lived down there I would run along the Promenade des Anglais every day! It's just beautiful. Since it's so close to Italy, it's also a great place to have real wood oven Italian pizza. Yum! We sort of went down there for lunch :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mt. Faron and the zoo

We took an afternoon trip up Mt. Faron. Mt. Faron is probably the only real big attraction in Toulon. It's close to the city and there are stunning views when you drive up. The drive is a bit nerve wrecking though since there are often no barriers on the side of the road and if you aren't careful, you can drive right off the mountain. I remember when we first took my parents up, they were even too scared to look out the window on our way up. Mt. Faron is definitely a must-do for those visiting Toulon though :)

At the top, we walked around for more views of the city and surrounding area. Tristan got to play in the playground a bit and then we visited the zoo. It was a cat zoo. Mostly tigers, pumas, jaguars, panthers, cheetahs, bobcats, etc. There were monkeys too and a bear. At 18 months old, I think Tristan is still too young to enjoy the zoo. What he was really interested in doing was just running around. Go figure!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Family time and touring in Toulon

It took five days for Tristan to recover from jet lag. It was kind of horrible. There is a 9 hour difference between Vancouver and France. Typically, we can adjust to the new time zone in a day or so but we found out the hard way that we could only adjust as quickly as Tristan could. When he would wake at 2AM several days in a row, we felt like we were back in the newborn days. We were so tired! He had a hard time adjusting to the changes too and he had trouble sleeping and would cry more often too. For the first five days, we basically didn't do anything aside from visiting with Jean-Louis' grandfather.

This was a family trip. We knew that it would be so we didn't expect much fun from it. The plan was for Tristan to meet his family on Jean-Louis' side and to get to know them a little better. But two weeks of just that is a long time. We found ourselves very bored. This is usually the case anyways when we visit France. Toulon, in particular is pretty boring. Sure there are beaches and shops but after two days, you just get bored. Nearby Toulon is much more interesting but we have to drive out. My favorite part of Toulon is definitely their farmer's market. Strawberries and cherries were in season and Tristan couldn't get enough of them!

Tristan was in new territory and was fascinated. He would run everywhere, touch and grab everything in sight. He learned quickly where things were and when we would release him in the morning, he would go to the same places and start pushing buttons and turning knobs. He would climb where he could and when we wouldn't let him do something, which was often the case since my parents in law's place was not baby proofed, he would some times throw tantrums. He acted out on us because we imposed too many boundaries on him and he was turning into a terrible two before our eyes.

It was great for Jean-Louis' parents to finally meet their only grandchild. Tristan was mostly scared of them since they were like strangers to him so we never left Tristan with them. They are also not used to being around small children and we weren't sure if we could trust them with Tristan's safety. Just from our observations, we didn't think they could last more than 5 minutes alone with our hyper-active toddler :)

In terms of having lots of family time, this trip was a success. We got to see everyone in the family. Jean-Louis doesn't have a very big family so it wasn't too hard. His two cousins and their kids came to see us. One drove into Toulon from Orange and the other took the train and met us in Paris from Vernon. It was great for Tristan to be around some children during the trip, even though it was only for a couple of hours at a time. I think it worked well because everyone was looking forward to meeting Tristan for the first time. Of course, that also meant that he was spoiled! It was great though :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Our 23 hour journey to Toulon, France

Considering we had no experience traveling with a toddler, our long journey to the South of France was actually not that bad. We boarded the plane around 12PM and remained on the plane for 12 hours. It was nice being one of the first ones to board for a change. When we first boarded, Tristan fussed a bit because he didn't know where we were and it was a bit hot. We sat in the middle of the plane but had an aisle seat. There were three seats in the middle so a lady sat next to us. When Tristan fussed, I noticed the lady glared at us and I am pretty sure I could have guessed what she was thinking. Long flight and I'm sitting next to people with a baby. Crap. I'm sure that was it. Hours into the flight, we proved her wrong. She was French. She ended up telling Jean-Louis how good Tristan has been on the flight. Sure Tristan poked her a few times while she was sleeping and even tried to grab food off her tray but overall, he was well behaved :)

Tristan is your typical toddler. He always has to be doing something and is always moving. I had prepared lots of wrapped toys and snacks for him to have throughout the trip. Thank god for the different toys. We brought out a new toy every few hours and then rotated them afterwards. We also walked him up and down the aisle a few times for exercise. We sang to him, we read together, we tickled him etc. We did everything we could to keep him happy. Unfortunately, we sat right underneath the tv screen and when we would look up and watch every now and then, he copied us. He has never really watched tv before so he was obviously fascinated. It didn't happen a lot since he had toys to play with. He probably watch a bit of tv for something like 10 minutes. But still. Another annoying thing was that the people on the left side of us had their window shade up most of the time and there was a lot of light in our direction. That didn't help with getting Tristan to sleep at all!

Thank god for the snacks! I had to throw away most of Tristan's lunch since he managed to put his shoe in the bowl and then I realized I forgot to pack his dinner that I had in the freezer. Basically, he had no meals for the next 20 hours. It sucked. I did have lots of fruit packed, cereal, and Mum-Mums. We fed him some of our dinner too. He drank lots of milk and water and it turned out just fine in the end. Food wasn't the problem. Sleep was.

Nap time for Tristan was a breeze. He fell asleep over us on the pillow I brought when we laid him down and rubbed him a bit. He was pretty much on schedule for the nap so that was perfect. He slept for an hour, which is more than he typically naps for too. The night sleep was a mess. He tried to get comfortable and we tried to help him but nothing worked. An hour before we landed, 11 hours into the flight, it was 2 hours passed his bedtime in Vancouver. I think it was something like 11PM time back home and by this time, he was overly tired and ticked off. He basically went insane on us for 15 minutes or so. I had to get out of my seat and carry him over to the bathroom area to calm him down. Of course at this point everyone was staring and probably pissed off too since it's been a long flight and they were all tired too. I felt embarrassed. It felt like time stood still. This was exactly what I feared and it was happening. When Tristan finally passed out, I sat back down and he had a good 30 minute nap before we landed but then he woke up screaming again. He was so tired and scared of the plane noise. Man, I couldn't wait to get out of there. When all the people stood up to get their stuff, Tristan freaked out again. Man, there was no place to go. It was hot and everyone was tired and we were trapped. It was a terrible feeling. He basically freaked out on and off until we arrived in the customs line. It sucked. We had no sleep at all on the plane, but that is nothing new for me.

There were maybe 5 or 6 other babies onboard. There was this one baby maybe 20 rows down from us who cried a lot. The baby was maybe a few months old and haven't been able to sleep much. The stewardesses were often crowded around the mom trying to help out. The mom was tired and frustrated and the baby was crying for hours. I felt so sorry for them :(

It was morning when we arrived in Paris. When we stepped outside, there was the smell of cigarette smoke. Ah, the memories! Then we had to pay 0.50 Euros at the train station so I could pee. Again, great memories! :( Because of the sunlight, Tristan was wide awake but then he became overly tired again about an hour or two into the train ride. Luckily, there was a compartment I could take Tristan in between the train wagons where they normally store food and no one sits in. I walked and rocked him there for probably 20 minutes or so before he passed out. He then slept for maybe 2 hours.

We timed our journey from the time we left our house to the time we arrived at my parent in law's place. 23 hours! But we left 2 hours after Tristan woke up that morning, which means in over 24 hours, he only slept maybe 4 hours. I maybe slepted on and off for maybe 30 minutes during that period. It was definitely rough for the little guy :( I felt so bad putting him through all this. Tiring for us but maybe worst for him, I think.
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