Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vive les bébés!

May 20th - June 7th. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris just about the same time Jacques began his arrival in a taxi and finished on a narrow bench in the waiting room of the clinic where he was supposed to be born in more appropriate surroundings!

Meanwhile we were settling into our new airbnb apartment around 10:30 that night knowing via text (no phone service at that point) that family and baby were doing well  however, we didn't have the harrowing details at that point so we crawled happily into bed after a full travel day. All was revealed in the morning ...
All fingers and toes accounted for  by two proud parents
For the full story see the previous blog titled Jacques' Bumpy Ride!

Jacques and family pal Lulac the rabbit
Mary ended up in the clinic for five days since Jacques was born with the same blood incompatibility that Marcel had, so he needed to be under the UV lights to correct jaundice and have regular blood tests to monitor anemia. There were also several follow up doctors appointments - but as of this writing he is fine. He looks very much like Gregoire's side of the family and is a lovely little man. Coco also favors that side - but Marcel looks like a little English imp - definitely favoring the Day / Campbell side. 
Baby 'Jack' under the UV lights!
Both genetic sides of the family represented here.
Our apartment was about a 15 minute walk to Mary's in a neighborhood just below Sacre Coeur on the north side. It was nice to be close by but in a different part of Paris.  https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2471473 . The apartment itself was large and filled with really interesting books and an unusual collection of moths and butterflies impaled on pins. The owner is a graphic designer and it showed! The surrounding streets were filled with diverse and really interesting restaurants and ethnic shops of every kind, mostly African and Indian - if you get to Paris, we can recommend this as a great place to stay slightly off the beaten path - but still close to everything in the city centre by bus or metro. 

We love the 18th arondisement - but every inch of Paris is grand.
Meanwhile... the next morning we set off to meet Gregoire and head to the clinic to meet the baby! On the way Gregoire filled us in on the entire experience! Wow. Of course he and Mary, being the calm people they are took the whole thing in stride - and we had a good 'laugh 'til you cry' moment once we were all together and were holding our beautiful new grandson.
You just can't get any happier than this
Michael and I jumped in to help with Coco and Marcel and it was great to get back into that role. Michael headed back to Vienna for an event that has caught his attention as something we might be interested in replicating, so I took Colette home for a sleepover! Mooma (that's me) heaven. We had such a great time together, and for all you grandmothers reading this, you know how special these little ones are. You get parenting 'do overs' with all the patience in the world and no running around like the crazy over-scheduled parents we were. An hour for a bath (with no fun-spoiling hair washing)? Nooo problem. Up past bedtime? Why of course. Two more books? Yes please. French toast,whipped cream and strawberries for breakfast? Absolutely.

Grandpa doing what he does best!
Coco snuggled in for the sleepover!
Anything can be a bath toy - including oven mitts!
I also had a full day with Marcel and we did it up two-year old style. He is a bundle of energy and he laughs from deep in his belly. Such an easy and enjoyable companion because everything is interesting and worth exploring. And whenever possible climbing up and jumping off most anything. He also knows more about my i-phone than I do! Based on the picture below, I may have overdone it a tad by the time I got him home.
Marcel ready for whatever comes his way
Look at all those big bugs Mooma!
Hmmm. Perhaps we over did it a just a bit!
We were in Paris for almost three weeks and the time flew by. We shared meals and chores and diaper duties - cooked and just kept on laughing about it all. Sort of a slightly hysterical laugh when we thought too hard about how Mary and Greg and three babies could live in harmony in 350 square feet of living space ... but for now it works. They are working on finding the right home in the right place that allows both Mary and Gregoire to work. They have freelance careers, so that helps with flexibility but ultimately, a move somewhere outside Paris with reasonable access to the city is in order.

Michael and Mary and I spent a day in Fontainebleau (about an hour outside Paris by train) to have a look around. This would be their first choice for a new area to settle in. It is a beautiful historic city with many amenities including a huge parks surrounding a stunning castle and extensive forest land. It is a popular place to live, so currently there is a shortage of rental properties. But the right thing will come along.

Learning from an expert - napping in the sun is a good thing.
Mary and I on the palace grounds at  Fontainebleau

When not immersed in family life, we had a great dinner out with good friends Jenny and Graham Fairbanks who live in Paris, and then another lovely evening with friends from Seattle, Rob and Debbie Fleming who were visiting from Seattle. Michael and Rob were able to take in a 'friendly' football match between France and Norway as practice for the World Cup. Rob and Debbie came to Paris to attend the French Open tennis tournament.

Michael was very involved in that tournament when we lived in London when he worked for the sports management company Proserv. They represented many elite tennis players and Michael was a fixture at both the French Open and Wimbledon. He was able to spend a day at the event and caught up with some friends and colleagues from the past.

Flying the tri-color for France!
Michael and Rob taking in the match.
A beautiful day at Roland Garros.
It turned out that Mary needed to review a cooking class venue for her on-going Rick Steve's research work, so we snuck away sans children for a morning long French Pastry class. It was very well done and we ended up with three nicely crafted whip cream or pastry cream covered concoctions that ended up as lunch. Could be worse. Any time I have been able to take a cooking class during this odyssey it has been so enriching. And of course, sharing this with Mary was perfect.

Mary making piping look easy!
Dad, daughter and baby also had a day out that included a visit to the Hajj exhibit at the Arab museum - a good look at the obligation of all Muslims to visit Mecca in their lifetime and later that night took in another Rick Steve's review of a English speaking comedy club with the headliner getting people in stitches about daily life in Paris.

Too soon we said goodbye as we headed to Ireland and Scotland for three weeks and then on to Oslo, Helsinki and the Balkan states for a whirlwind tour. We look forward to seeing Mary, Gregoire and Jacques in late July for Chris and Jamie's wedding - and wish Grandma and Grandpa all the best  with Coco and Marcel for those ten days!

And thank you for reading!
Michael and Debbie
Senior Nomads


  1. Debbie and Michael, I have laughed and gotten teary eyed as I've followed your travels over the past few months. Thank you so much for sharing your rich stories and photos.

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