The last two weeks of 2015 have been eventful: three bouts of the stomach flu, three trips to the car garage (a forth to come), a trip to the emergency room for Jack, a rotting animal (with an amazing stench) under the room we were assigned for our student New Year’s conference. So here we are, 3 P.M. on New Years Eve and Dave, Jack and I are still in our pjs with piles of laundry and a barf bucket in reach. (Chloe and Lexie managed to get dressed this morning : )). Um, and I need a shower.
Lexie dressed herself this morning
BUT, we can still say at the end of this year, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118.1). Our good friend and national campus director, Joe, said the other day that in their family they have a tradition of saying this verse after dinner. “Sometimes a good meal, sometimes a bad meal but we still say it…” We can say God is good and his loves endures forever because they don’t depend on our circumstances. His goodness is expressed most in reconciling us to himself through Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. So whether our Christmas or year was stellar or disappointing we can still say, “thanks.”
If you could be a fly on the wall of our stinky room in the conference center or of our living room as Jack starting puking last night, you’d know my first instinct wasn’t to say, “blessed be His name in all circumstances.” In the depths of my heart, it is a truth that keeps me grounded, but in the moment I respond big. Acknowledgement goes a long way for me. I want someone to look me in the eye and say, “yeah, this is just getting crazier and crazier. Can you believe it?!”But the trick is to still genuinely be able to say, “Thanks God. You are good and your love endures forever.” This next year I’d like to grow in this area … I want to laugh with the Lord and listen more for Him in the crazy.
Another thing that has helped me keep perspective is knowing that others are suffering in ways that won’t be fixed by selling a car or a quick trip to the emergency room. Yeah; that gives me perspective.
I raise my glass (of orange juice) and with tears brimming I say to You, oh Lord, “You are good. Thank You for all that 2015 has been and that You have allowed me to walk through it with You. And as the French say, “chin, chin!'”
Saturday night after the kids were in bed, Dave and I looked at each other and said, “I felt really absent today,” and “I just couldn’t focus on anything; why?” It wasn’t until that moment that I realize we were experiencing shock from the tragic shootings that rocked Paris the night before. We had spent the day indoors, I check my phone for news updates constantly and closed the curtains early that night.
The next morning we went to church. There were two dads and their young sons from our church that had been at the soccer match on Friday night when the suicide bombers bombed the stadium. Our friends from church were unharmed and were even unaware of the magnitude of what had happened until the next morning. Seeing their calm reassured me. And the fresh reminder of God’s grace on their lives helped me take a step out of the daze. Later Sunday afternoon, we went to the little zoo that’s in town thanks to the circus. Does that seem irreverent? It was good to be there with neighbors and process through how we were all doing. It’s this crazy in-between of feeling the pain of the depth of evil and still living day-to-day life.
Monday morning Dave took off to teach a seminar in Malta while I stayed behind with the kids. I kept our little girl home from preschool that day because I didn’t like the thought of our family being so spread out all at once. Tuesday, however, I was ready to take another step out of the daze. Lexie was happy to go back to school and her little friend was relieved to have her buddy back at recess. It was also Tuesday when I looked at a list of some of the victims and it sunk in deeper that these people were real folks just going out for a good time. As my in-laws would say, “It’s Friday night in Paris!” One of the victims was the owner of a restaurant I ate in the Friday night before (she was out celebrating her birthday at another restaurant in the neighborhood when she lost her life).
The yo-yo of emotions continued today when I skipped with joy when Dave pulled up in front of our apartment building, “He’s home!” Shortly thereafter, the French police raided a building in a suburb just north of Paris in an attempt to catch the mastermind behind Friday’s terrorist attacks. Ahh…
Each person is on their own journey in coming out of the daze and figuring out what life looks like now. As I talk to people I need to be careful to not compare myself to where they’re at in the process. One of my friends does a beautiful job articulating her hope in God as she faces the future. Another friend has decided to stop going to the theater and not go the the shopping mall by her apartment out of fear. One nanny I talked to at the park went the day after the shootings to the neighborhood where they happened; while another nanny found the idea horrific. And me; where am I at in the process? I’m waiting on God to give me “that word” or thought to help push my soul farther out of the daze. I have a deep, roaring conviction that He is in control and that He is good. So, maybe it is more so the depth of evil that I’m still grappling with… I’m not sure. This is where I’m at in the journey. How about you?
Last night I was only a ten minute walk away from my family and yet didn’t feel safe walking home. Sirens blaring, streets deserted and news pouring in of more and more victims and shootings. I was at our student Bible study for the first time this year. Normally, Dave is the one that goes but this week we decided I’d go.
I was just gathering up my things to start walking about around 9:50 P.M. when one of my teammates got a text asking if she was ok from her dad in California. (It’s always like that- we get news of what’s going on in France from family and friends texting from the U.S. Crazy how it all works these days…). We turned on the news, I called Dave and those of us at the Bible study made a plan for what each of us would do. Some were staying the night at Beth and Haley’s (where the Bible study was), another had to start making his one hour journey home because of commitments this morning and I didn’t know what to do. My baby, only 5 months old, still nurses every three hours and it was already amazing she hadn’t woken up while I was gone. Dave and I decided to have me sit it out a bit and see if they caught the gunmen or if there were more shootings. The shootings got closer and closer to our neighborhood as the night went on, so we wanted to make sure that trend didn’t continue. The last one was a good 20 minute bike ride from our place.
There were seven women left at the Bible study- we were glued to our phones and BFMTV for updates. We prayed for those traveling home and waited for news from our family, friends and teammates. Around 1 A.M. Dave knew he had to make something happen when he rummaged through the cupboards and freezer and realized there was no formula or breastmilk for Chloe. He had the great idea to text our neighbor and see if she could come down and stay with the sleeping kids while he drove to pick me and my friend Karen up from the Bible study. It was a go.
He pulled up in front of Beth and Haley’s apartment building, we hopped in – me sitting on the floor because the carseats were taking up the seats— and we drove home. People were driving through red lights because the streets were deserted and the police had better things to do than stop us. The roads were blocked just beyond our house- much like they were in January, I imagine, during the Jewish supermarket hostage situation. We quickly parked at home and went up to our apartment. Laura, our neighbor, greeted me with tears in her eyes. She’s a mom, too.
I was never so relieved to respond to my baby’s cry last night. And never so happy to hear my two year old cry out “Mama” because he couldn’t find his blanket in the night. Paris is our home and last night our home suffered tragically. I can only imagine those who didn’t make it home last night to their kids. I don’t want to think of those who are “still waiting” for news from their loved ones. Please pray for peace for those who witnessed the crimes, for their families and for the Parisian authorities to have wisdom. Would you also pray for our family? Dave is leaving on Monday to teach at a European leaders’ event with our job. It’s only a two and a half day trip but it could seem long in this uncertain time.
This week I posted about my love for free stuff and about a couple of “deals” in Paris on Halloween. (Um, 3 euros burritos and a free Pumpkin Spice Latté if you were in costume.) Around 4 P.M. yesterday (Halloween) I gleefully pulled out the costume box and Lexie joined in digging through it. She resorted to her usual Elsa dress but added some lovely “arm puffs,” Dave got his Captain Amazing outfit on, I choose my hot pink twirling skirt and Dave outfitted Jackson with a doo rag and motorcycle shirt– and the baby went as a baby. We were ready for our free stuff!
We decided it’d be easiest to head to the 9th arrondissement by car (by easy, I mean we wouldn’t have to haul the heavy stroller and three kiddos through metro). There wasn’t any traffic… until we were coming up on Place de la République. Traffic was stop and go, or, mostly just stopped. The booming music out the window hinted at either a concert or a protest. Turns out the Young Communists were protesting. I’m not sure about what but they certainly screwed up our Halloween plans. After sitting in traffic for a good 45 minutes and seeing our GPS go from “2.3 kilometers until your destination” to “2.2 kilometers” Dave decided to pull the plug on our adventure. I think at this point Jack and Lexie were sucking on suckers and I had crawled in the backseat to help our baby keep her pacifier in her mouth. This was not how I imagined our little family outing. I wanted a burritos for dinner.
Poor little Lexie was so excited to go to the restaurant she begged from the backseat, “But we being patient, Papa. I really want to go…” (So sweet.) Dave then promised the kids pizza from Franprix and watching “Cars.” Um, did I mention I wanted a burritos for dinner? Oh well, he was the level-headed one that knew when to throw in the towel.
My consolation prize was getting my first-ever tricker-treater at the door after the kids were zoned out on the couch watching “Cars.” A little girl about 11 years old was dressed as the devil (Halloween is still very much associated with zombies and vampires and the like…) rang our doorbell and I could hear her say to Dave, “Bonsoir, Est-ce que vous avez des bonbons à me donner?” Translation: “Good-evening, do you have any candy to give me?” I was laughing to myself as I fumbled around looking for a sucker for poor girl. I found one and then took it upon myself to help teach her a thing or two about this American “holiday.” “Tu sais, tu devrais dire ‘tryke-or-treet’ quand tu vas chez les gens.” (“You know, you’re supposed to say, ‘Trick-or-Treat (said with a really thick French accent) when you go to someone’s house.”) The little girl just stared at me. I insisted a bit more and then a bit more. I think the third time she understood that “tryke-or-treet” meant something, so she gave it a shot. I smiled and then wished her luck. Next year, I might clue her in that she should bring a bag for the candy.
Did anyone else get stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on their way to Starbucks or Chipotle for their freebies because the local young communists were protesting? No? Well, I’d love to hear what your Halloween surprises were.
Daylight Saving Time happened early Sunday morning. This means our kids woke up between 5 and 5:30 A.M. instead of the comfortable 6:30 A.M. we had just gotten used to. That’s early, people! You can’t exactly reason with a four-month old and tell her she shouldn’t be awake, nor is it a good idea to put her back in the bedroom she shares with her old brother and sister. Eventually, we embraced the earlier hour and made a little side trip to the Eiffel Tower while on our way to church.
I have to clarify that we go to the Eiffel Tower about twice a year (remember my previous post where I tried to convince you we don’t eat pain au chocolat every morning?). We visit it once when friends come to visit and a second time just to remind ourselves that we do live in Paris. This trip falls into the second category.
There are some fabulous parking spots across from Ecole Militaire, which is at one end of the long promenade leading up to the Tower. At 9:30 A.M. there isn’t any competition for a spot, so we pull in and before we know it our little man is excitedly pointing out the window. What was he excited about; the Eiffel Tower? No, there were two firetrucks parked on the promenade. Of course! It is Sunday morning and instead of the firemen doing their morning footing (run) in the public park, they are playing a friendly game of soccer. So in lieu of walking toward the Tower, we checked out the firetrucks. This is what it means to be two years old and live in Paris, right? After my husband and I took the obligatory selfie with the Eiffel Tower (and the soccer-playing firefighters) in the background we made our way to church.
I must have still been feeling the glow of the morning’s outing because when we stopped at Mets et Caprices on the way home from church to get a tradi (traditional baguette), I bought five mini Nutella-filled beignets (doughnuts). They were delicious and I think my husband now has to stop saying, “You just can’t find a good doughnut in Paris.”
Living in Paris can seem so glamorous to those not living in Paris. Strolls along the Seine river, munching on pain au chocolat each morning and watching pristinely dressed children push toy boats around the pond in le Jardin de Luxembourg. This is not my daily life as a mom in Paris.
Most days my life looks more like: oatmeal for breakfast, coaching my almost four year old as she dresses herself, sorting laundry, prepping the Crockpot at night for the next day, lining “vroom vrooms” up with my son, kissing my babies cheeks that smell like… well, baby and trying to tell my husband about our day over dinner. It isn’t glamorous but it’s our life and I like it.
I guess this is why I’ve started this blog… I want to pull back the curtain a bit on the “glamour” of living in the 3rd most visited city in world. I want to share with you a bit of my “everyday” as a mama in Paris. I love a great street find, easy recipes to cook, simple fashion, amazing food, wooing people, a good deal (um, free stuff) and leaning into life with my littles and husband. So, here goes!
Leave a comment and let me know:
What are your stereotypes of what life is like in Paris?