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Thursday, October 27, 2016


First off, I'll just say that September was WAY better than August.  After I got over being sick, I obviously felt way better about life, and I was the last one to get sick.  By September we'd gotten most of the essential we needed, so we weren't taking extremely inconvenient trips all around town to get the essentials anymore, like we were in August.  The weather also cooled down, so our apartment was no longer sweltering.  Harper started school on September 1st and Tom's first normal week of school started a few days before that, so our days started to form more of a rhythm.  We started getting used to our tiny apartment and finding solutions for the things that were initially problems.  We got used to having a tiny fridge and going grocery shopping almost every day.  We got used to what ingredients were available to us and started having more of a rhythm for what food to keep stocked (as much as you can with a tiny kitchen and fridge).  All around we just started to adjust.  I wouldn't say we were suddenly in LOVE with Paris (those early weeks did a bit of a number on us), but we weren't ready to pack up our bags anymore and we started thinking, "ok, a year here seems pretty doable."  

Harper's biggest thing for the month was starting school.  I'm planning on homeschooling eventually, but have always been more open to preschool for some reason.  I feel like that's the opposite of how most people think, but that's just me.  I don't think I'd have sent Harp to preschool yet if we were in the states, but I was very interested in sending her here.  Here's why.  Reason 1?  It's free.  Reason 2? Harp NEEDS friends.  Back when I wasn't sure if she was going to be able to go to school I looked into whether it seemed like she'd be able to make friends elsewhere.  Since there are very few kids in our ward (church) and since most kids her age, in Paris, go to full-time school (8:30-5ish, M-F) it didn't look like friends would be easy to come-by except in school.  She had some GREAT friends in Utah who she truly loved playing with (and still misses) and was pretty distraught at her sudden lack of friends when we got here, so this was a big priority to me.  Reason 3?  I thought it would be great if she could learn some French.  I've always wished I knew a second language and have always wanted to do what I can for my children to learn one, so this seemed like such a good opportunity.  

As I'm writing this, Harp has been in school for a month and a half and I still don't really know how successful it has been.  She doesn't tell me much, and what she does tell me usually isn't great.  It's usually things like, "Eva pushed me" or "Alexander took my Panda" or "Celestina called me a baby."  But at the same time, she usually seems to want to go back.  So, I guess I assume that her comments are just her telling me the most dramatic thing that day, not her giving me an accurate all-around synopsis.  Right???  Aye.  Who knows.  And it's not like I get much from her teachers.  They speak English, but it's still a struggle, they are always so busy, and I feel like they're personally invested in making sure I feel like everything is peachy.  I will say that I thought things would go a little differently.  Usually Harp is such a bubbly, friendly, jolly little sprite that I thought everything wold roll right off her back and she would be the class clown and she'd just love it.  And though I don't REALLY know what her class days look like, I don't get the impression that my vision was accurate.  That's really all I can say definitively though!  

One final comment about school.  Even though I'm sometimes distressed that she's in school so much (8:35-11:40, M-F), all the other moms and her teachers can't understand why I don't send her the full day.  It's just the unquestioned norm here and they are always trying to convince me to do so, in a "we just assumed that you never intended to only send her half day FOREVER.  And even though you keep telling us you have no desire to change your mind, we can't possibly believe you because it makes no sense to us" kind of way.  Makes me kind of miss Utah where it's totally normal to keep your 3 year old at home.  And it's not like I judge them for sending their kids the whole day, I just want either choice, or some combination (like my choice) to be fully accepted.  Her teachers keep telling me that it really would be better for her, for such and such a reason, to stay the whole day at least SOME days of the week.  Recently they proposed to me that I let her stay just a little later on Mondays for an extra non-French-speakers intervention of sorts, where they'll teach the kids French through play.  When they first proposed it, it was just a little longer on Mondays (which was ok with me).  Now they're saying, "maybe we could do Thursdays too and you really should try letting her take a nap here one day a week and..."  I admire their commitment to her development.  I really do.  I just wish they realized that there's more than one way to "develop" a 3 year old and that we need family-time too.  Ok, end of rant.

Emerson had a big month too.  He started walking!!  Woohoo!  I always love it when they first learn to walk.  It's so adorable and endearing.  And I'm always so proud of them.  He has also started talking.  Before now he said maybe 1-3 words meaningfully.  Now (as of October 15th) I've counted 24!  He's picking up new words almost daily now.  I wrote down a lot of Harper's first words on the blog and decided it would be nice to do the same for E.  So, here's the list, as of Oct. 15:

Baba (means bottle and used to mean Tom's mom when we lived with them)
Harper (possibly his most oft spoken word)
Tigey (the name of his stuffed Tiger, a la Daniel Tiger)
Uh oh
Apple (stands for any fruit)
Some (means give me some of that food)
Thank you (impressive, right?)
Poop (step one for potty training!)
Au revoir (First French word/phrase!  Says it clear as a bell.)
Wawa (water)

He's so cute.  He has really turned into a toddler although I can't stop calling him "baby."  I call him that more often than his name.  Way more often.  He's still super snuggly.  He's more of an independent player than Harp was but is still very social too.  No shyness yet.  But Harp wouldn't leave my side at this age (still doesn't sometimes).  E, on the other hand, is the kid who will be 100 feet away if you turn your head for a second.  I've noticed he has very good fine motor skills as well.  Harp had great gross motor skills at this age and E has great fine motor skills.  He loves activities like putting pens in my boots or stuffing toys down the side of the heater.  Oh, and another big thing (in my opinion) was that he learned to listen to "no" this month!  Before this month he'd just completely disregard it, but now he'll often stop what he's doing if you say it.  Woohoo!!  Anyway, what a cutie!

Harper quote of the month (shared on FB already):

- Said with the cadence of a poem: "When pumpkins hatch out of their eggs, they sit down and have eyes.  The end."

I'm sure she said about a zillion other hilarious things, but I didn't write them down :( .  I wish I could just video every second of her because she is constantly making me laugh out loud.

Alright, onto the pictures and videos.  To start off, we have Harper's first day of school!  She was so excited.  She had no idea what was really going to happen, all she knew was that it was going to be awesome.

I didn't realize until one of the English speaking moms told me that the lady talking to everyone in Harp's class was Rachida Dati (spelling?).  She's the mayor of the 7th arrondissement.  I guess she was talking about the safety measures they've taken since the terrorist attacks.  It was also, clearly, a photo op.  In fact, a week or so ago I went to the Mairie (city hall) and saw a magazine there for the 7th arrondissement.  I flipped through it and, sure enough, there was an article with a picture of her in Harp's class.

Dropping her off was Harp because I had E with me (and not Tom) and I was trying to make her feel comfortable while keeping E from destroying everything.  In the end she cried and continued to cry each morning when I left for a couple weeks or so.  But each day when I picked her up and asked her if she wanted to go back she'd say, "yeah!"  I think she cried more because all the other kids were crying too and that made her think, "wait, is there something worth crying about her?  What am I missing?"  Hard on mom though!
Tom took this video of Harper coming out of her first day of school, thinking she'd be all excited about it. Instead, she was just disappointed that she didn't get to play with the instruments that she saw when we toured the school, haha.

Dropping her off at school another day.

There's this weird angel businessman up on the wall above one of the parks we go to.  So random.

I know it's hard to see, but I walked in on a sleeping Tom and Harper to find them both in the exact same position.
Where we take E when we've exhausted all measures at church:

Ever since we moved here I've been in the same "room" as Harper during naptime.  Usually, I lay next to her while I read her a book and sing her a song and she either falls asleep before I'm done or very shortly thereafter.  Before we came I thought that it would be SO stressful to be in the same room as her during naptime.  I kept thinking, "I won't get any break and will be walking on eggshells!"  But, it's actually been really nice.  I love being able to brazenly watch her sleep all the time.  Plus, she's a SUPER heavy sleeper these days, so while I still don't have as much freedom as I did, it's not terrible.  She's such a heavy sleeper that sometimes Emerson will wake up and will come in and be playing and crying and all that in the same room and she'll just continue to be dead to the world.

The book is her "friend book."  It's a photo album a friend's mom made for her of her and all of her Utah friends.  She was very attached to it and slept with it frequently for quite some time.

Sunday on the river:

Nursery rhymes are nuts.
Emerson LOVES playing in the windowsill and with the heater.  He shoves things in the heater slots and tosses things on the windowsill.  It's...the best.

The kids playing together:

Beautiful pastries:

Love those days when the kids play super nicely together and I can just peacefully watch:

Made a fort on a Friday night and watched a movie and had popcorn.  The kids LOVED the fort.

Went to a totally different area of town to go to the Asian market and stumbled accidentally onto this really nice, cute park:

There's always something happening on our way to church:

Took a family outing on a Sunday to the Bois de Vincennes (really big park/nature area on the outskirts of the city).  Harp liked the cool castle on the border of it:

Sunday afternoon stroll:

Gave H his first haircut.  It was...challenging.  I thought it went ok at first but spent the next few weeks cringing at all the bad spots.  Somehow I also spent the next few weeks thinking how handsome he looked.

Had a nice outing to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur.  The pictures don't capture what a cool area it is.  I wandered off the tourist-path and really liked it.

The only legit house I've found in Paris.

When we were looking for an apartment we came close to renting on that was in the building on the right side of this picture.  Those stairs at the bottom of the pic lead right up to the Sacre Coeur and this little spot was really really cool.  It made me a little sad, but I also realized that it would have been a TERRIBLE place to have to get around with a stroller.

Our courtyard
Harper lives for splashing in puddles:

Went to the Tuileries playground and Harp was waiting very impatiently for there to be enough room for her to get on the "spinny thing."  I was still a little worried about her getting on with the big kids, but this little girl immediately turned her "mama" side on and kept her super safe.  She kept telling all the other kids to be careful with her and was holding her tight to keep her from falling.  It was very sweet.
After leaving the playground we mucked around in the rocks, sticks and leaves for a while.  The kids had a great time.  Their favorite was the chestnuts we found.  Since then we've found chestnuts many many times (they're ALL over Paris).  Both kids were obsessed with them.

In the next few videos E shows off his new talking ("hi!") and walking skills.  He's comes a long way since this day, but this was when he was just starting to develop those skills.

Nothin better than chillin on the bed listening to the Paris rain outside my open window.

Harper loves looking for the Eiffel Tower wherever we go.  She gets super excited when she finds it.  Can you find it?
Harper and I went on an outing to a street market, then met up with Tom and Emerson at the Palais Royal gardens.  She was SUCH a good girl the whole time and waited so nicely while I shopped.

Couldn't help but buy these gorgeous peonies at the market and H was super excited to hold them.

Came across a really cool music box shop, a very classic toy shop and this cool military medal shop at the Palais Royal.  They were some of the shops around the perimeter of the garden:

Had to take some shots of Tom for a profile his school is doing on him.  Rare chance to get some willing pictures of him!

This one was just a test shot, he wasn't trying to look "good," but it's my fave.  Hubba hubba.

I can't remember which one he ended up using, but isn't he cute?  

After taking pictures we chilled on the lawn in front of the Louvre for a while.

Roaring like a lion.

On our way to...the Pere Lachaise Cemetery?  If so, that was a failed trip.  Closed right when we got there.  Luckily there was a sweet park nearby (as always, in Paris).

Harper started practicing writing her H's.  This is the first purposeful thing she's done with a writing implement.  Woohoo!

I love the juxtaposition of the superhero and all the super cutesy stickers, hehe.
E stopped taking morning naps, so when I don't have errands to run/tasks to complete (aka, nearly never) we go on outings together while Harp is at school.  One day we went to the little park on the Pont Neuf and watched the boats:

Harper had a birthday!  Birthdays are a BIG deal for this girl.  She loved her birthday so much last year that she talked about it the entire year.  I feel like most 2 year olds are still kind of oblivious about birthdays.  Not this girl.  It's going to be a loooong year waiting for the next one!  She's definitely already talking about it...daily.  In fact, we had an African Party at our ward and Harper kept calling it, "My African Birthday Party" no matter how much we told her differently.  Anyway, it's fun planning birthdays for little ones who are SO excited about everything.  One of her favorite things for a while has been to decorate pretend cakes, whether they be playdough cakes decorated with beads, sand cakes, whatever.  So, I decided it would be good to get her a cake and let her decorate it the night before.  She loved it.  You can see in the video that she kept saying, "extra special" in this cute little whisper voice (E was sleeping).  So fun.

Harp is in this stage (I hope it's a stage!) where she is majorly coveting everyone else's things.  It was made worse by the fact that we left most of her things in Utah.  Didn't seem to matter that we got NEW things here.  She still misses the old things.  Plus, she just sees things that other kids have and wants them.  It drives us crazy.  One of the things she was majorly coveting was a scooter.  I swear every French kid above the age of 2 has a scooter.  It makes sense really, since it's hard to get a stroller (let alone a double stroller) around town.  We decided to get her a scooter too, hoping that with enough practice she'll be able to use that instead of the stroller.  We're definitely not there yet though.  More on that later.

The unveiling:

We let her ride her scooter to school that day and it was...painful.  She wouldn't go more than 1 or 2 pushes without stopping to check out the characters on her scooter, sitting down on the scooter, getting off the scooter to check out a speck on the wall, running into something, and so forth.  Aye.

This just made me laugh because he totally looks like a teenager who is too into his phone.
After we picked her up from school we went to the playground at the Luxembourg Gardens (the best playground ever) and blew out candles and ate the cake.

We opened the rest of her presents after naps while skyping with my parents.

Then we let her ride her scooter all the way to the Musee D'Orsay (just a few blocks) and let Emerson and her walk/scoot around in front.  She was absolutely cracking me up on the way there though.  As I wrote on Instagram, "the scooter somehow heightens her awareness of the world around her [which] makes her nervous about things she wasn't nervous about when she just walked, like a car passing at an intersection a block away ("Mom! We better stop and wait for that car to pass!"), or these menacing trashcans..." (see video below)

Such a great space for scootering/toddling:

And that was her birthday!  Some of her other presents were a Peppa Pig umbrella (her other favorite gift and another thing she'd been coveting), a doctor kit, a construction kit, a clippy thing (don't ask),

Very Parisian lunch: pastry + ham and cheese on baguette + chevre and jam on baguette
Emerson as a full-time walker:

Harp got a great playdough ice cream set from Tom's parents for her birthday.

Caught her licking the playdough ice cream, haha.
E made friends with another little baby when we went to Parc Monceau with my friend Becky:

The video below is one of my favorites, for some reason.  He's just so cute and I love the way he says, "hi."  SUCH a cute age.  I remember Harper being super adorable at this age as well.

Rowers on the Seine during our Sunday morning walk to church:

E is in that stage where he's old enough to not want to sit still, but not old enough to be in nursery (where you take your kid during the 2nd and 3rd hour of church once they're 18 months old).  To make matters worse, our church building has no foyer and not really any hallways.  Instead, Tom and I usually take turns taking him here:

Stravinsky Fountains

Pompidou Center:

One Sunday we were invited to go to the Bishop's house for dinner.  It just happened to be a "car free" day (no cars except certain buses and taxis to help with air quality) and we just happened to get off the bus at the Arc de Triomphe, so Harp got to run around in the street, on the Champs Elysees no less.  She couldn't care less that she was on the Champs Elysees in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe.  She was just delighted to get to run in the STREET!

Harp gets really funny anytime we're outside after dark.  Here she is mysteriously whispering about the nighttime while on Tom's shoulders.  I wish you could hear her in person.  It's really hilarious!

Went to the Luxembourg Gardens for FHE on evening and had a great time.  We especially loved this beautiful fountain.  Harp especially loved running around and collecting rocks.

Jarred snails.  Only in France.

This is where I often sit to eat a snack when I'm out on my own.

Harp's school principal/her teacher decided to celebrate Harper and her friend Celestina's birthdays a week after Harper's birthday.  I was told I must bring a cake and some juice and some candles.  When I picked her up from school I expected to hear how great it had been.  Instead the first thing out of her mouth was, "I didn't get to eat any of Celestina's cake!"  Aye.  3 year olds.  At any rate, I gave her teacher my phone and had her take pictures.  It cracked me up when I saw the ones she took because she took a bunch of all her little school projects (the garden, the art, etc.).  You can tell she's very proud of her work.

The little girl behind her is Celestina, her best friend in Paris.  She still misses her friends in Utah, but I'm glad she at least has some here.

Harper said this is their hiding place.

One day while Harper was at school E and I went to the library and got some books.  H LOVES books and had been a bit book-starved since being here.  We only brought a handful of book (most of which are in French) and only had time to grab a handful (all in French) when we went to the library the first time.  So, when I picked her up from school and she saw all the books in the stroller basket she was SO excited.  She couldn't wait til we got home to look at them all.  Instead, she just plopped down at the playground and started to read.  Warmed my heart.

It was our first time going to this playground.  It had been under construction and still hadn't been landscaped yet.  Instead, there was a big area with just clods of dirt.  Harp found some big dirt clods and loved playing with them. 

She kept carrying them around in her bucket saying, "I have big balls!" over and over, lol.  Oh Harp.

Finally, we walked home and I got the stroller through the street door only to look over and see that she'd plopped right on the ground and was engrossed in a book, mid-entryway to the apartment building.  Finally, after naps Tom watched the kids while I went out.  When I got home and asked if they went anywhere he said, "Harper didn't want to go anywhere.  She just wanted to look at books."  Warms my heart.  Now if we could only Get E to catch book fever.

On my outing I started at the Tuileries.

Walked to the Place de la Concorde.

Not that in Paris, when a building is under construction, they often cover it with a faux building facade.  This is a great example of how much Parisians care about what the city looks like.
Walked by the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais:

Check out all the detail.
And over to a small, hidden park called the Nouvelle France Garden:

Behind those plants is a little stream.

Then up the Champs Elysees (where I did some kid clothes shopping) to the Arc de Triomphe.

Where I proceeded to climb to the top:

It was a pretty great outing.

You know your baguette is fresh when the cashier has to toss it from hand to hand to keep from burning himself :) .  Also, note that the bag is from La Grande Epicerie.  Amazing place.  If you're ever in Paris for any real length of time, GO HERE.
She got a birthday card in the mail from my wonderful grandma and was pretty stoke about it.  She carried the card around quite a bit and even wanted to sleep with it.  She got $3 since she turned 3 and used it to buy some peanut M&Ms that were her snack for General Conference the next week.

The most beautiful scene.  Even E got in on the fun.

She running around with this sponge, cleaning things and told me she was an old lady.  Of course she wouldn't say it on camera.

E has started occasionally watching, "Signing Time."  Harp LOVED it at his age.  Up til now E didn't watch anything at all, but he's just starting to be interested in shows.  He still doesn't watch them very often, which is fine with me, but I'll just be glad when he likes them enough so that we can use them when he's sick and when we're on planes and such!  Makes life so much easier!

Harp loves her umbrella so much, so we decided to bring, "Singing in the Rain" up on Youtube.  Cuteness ensued.

E with his chestnuts.  One of our favorite "toys."  They all over Paris!
Fort Fridays:

And that was September!  Whew!  Took me a while!  Better get started on October!