It’s the end of the year as we know it! No party for us this time. The return from France has been pretty brutal: Feng is still dealing with his battle scars, it’s very cold and we lost our Internet connection and landline (thanks, Bell!). We are still unpacking and getting over the jetlag and Mark is très très cranky.
Monthly Archives: December, 2013
The flight to Toronto was packed and it was a long one too: 8 hours and 55 minutes. That’s when it went downhill. Feng and I were exhausted but Mark wasn’t and trying to keep him relatively still and quiet on my laps was hell. It felt like dealing with a feral cat in a small enclosed space—yes, I got scratched too.
There is a French saying that goes “thou shall always cut your kid’s nails.” And…
After countless chaussons aux pommes and pains aux raisins, after catching up with family gossip, after welcoming a snow-free Christmas, off we go again!
I was so busy marveling at the absence of snow in France that I forgot it was December, and that the weather is rather moody at this time of the year. In Nantes and in most of Brittany, it means rain. A lot of it.
And so, like millions of French, we had a réveillon—the traditional Christmas dinner. In my…
French love their pastries and chocolate, even more so around Christmas. There are chocolate boxes…
From Feng, Mark and I, merry Noël and joyeux Christmas!
I started my Sunday by hauling a 4.8 kilo turkey from the market back to my parents’ place. We managed to fit the—dead—bird into the tiny fridge. It will be stuffed and cooked for Christmas.
The streets are packed in Nantes, mostly with last-minute shoppers looking for the perfect gift.…
I must admit I was like a kid when I saw th Christmas decorations in Nantes—eyes wide open, mesmerized.
On both sides of the Atlantic, a lot of people are getting ready for Christmas. And yes… there are cultural differences!
It feels good to be in France. It feels good to be traveling. I have never been one of these expats who misses ”home” much—I adopted Canada and it adopted me. I don’t crave French food, long for French media or buy French products. Besides, it has only been four months since our last visit. But this last-minute trip is a breath of fresh air.
Et merde. Pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong—not in a major way (we did make it to France) but in a series of small annoying ways.
Earlier this week, a good friend asked me how I felt about the upcoming trip. Beaming with the confidence of a seasoned traveler who has spent the past twelve years flying back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, I assured her that “everything was under control”. Nikki, if you read me, I’m taking this back.
I have always refused to fly “home” for Christmas. Because I ain’t going to Europe during the crazy holiday season, in the middle of the winter, just to eat a freaking bûche de Noël. As everybody knows, when you have a kid, you lose neurons, time and common sense. That is my excuse for booking a last-minute trip to France.
Malls open early and close late. They are well lit, well heated and provide clean restrooms. Okay, this short description makes it sound like I am homeless. I am not. But I have a toddler in tow—same needs, really.
And then there is the frustration of standing at the bus stop, an eye on the road and the other one on your watch, waiting for your ride to show up. Buses are regularly late or cancelled and it can make a simple trip pretty stressful. Hell, I have walked over 5 kilometres to my destination rather than standing in the cold waiting for #14 or #176.
I told him about Santa Claus (and his French brother, le Père noël). The first time we went to the mall after that and that we bumped into a Santa Claus, he froze. For a second, I though “wow, that kid is bright, he understood everything I told him!” And then Mark moved toward the metal poles around Santa Claus and proceeded to hug them for a good ten minutes. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: I have the only kid fascinated by metal poles!
You’ve just received your work permit or you are about to land in Canada with the permanent residence status? Congratulations! After settling down and going through the practical steps of moving to a new country, you will probably start looking for a job.
Behind the Rideau Centre, Mackenzie King Bridge is not a spot included in travel brochures.…
It’s not that cold yet but it’s coming. Days are gloomy, windy and damp. If you want to see people, head to the mall—not the streets. It’s not so much that people in Ottawa are splurging on Christmas gifts or are dying to have their picture taken with a mall Santa, it’s just that indoors shopping malls are the best alternative to outdoor activities when the weather sucks.
Freelancing has its pros and cons. But let me get this straight: you cannot get work done and take care of a kid at the same time. I know—I have tried. It’s a recipe for disaster: the work doesn’t get done and you feel like a shitty parent. So, being a mom and a freelancer… how do we make it work? Here are my five commandments.