Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Se faire belle

My SIL and her children stayed with us for a very hectic five days (the amount of noise and mess two small kids can produce is really quite incredible).  My niece is at the age though where everything princess rules.  Pink dresses, tutus, crowns, wands - you name it, she loves it. 

Her mother and grandmother are very earthy and don't really bother with external appearances at all, so whenever she comes to see us, she is always extremely interested in my make-up products, nail polish, etc.  She would sit quietly with me every morning while I got ready, just watching me, and sometimes asking questions about what I was doing or using.

Her main question though was Why?  Why are you putting on makeup? Why are you doing your hair?  Why do you paint your nails?  My immediate answer was "pour me faire belle", or to make myself beautiful, but then I thought - what on Earth kind of message is that sending to a young girl?  I certainly didn't want her to think that a woman needed to put on makeup in order to be beautiful, but then how do you explain to a 3-4 year old that you can put on makeup to feel better for yourself, and not just for others?  Or trying to delicately answer that I used mascara to darken my eyelashes without making it seem like it was bad if you didn't do that, especially since her mother doesn't.  But it still didn't stop her from asking "Can I wear makeup?  Can you do my hair? Can you paint my nails pink?"

The whole time she was here, I kept thinking back to an article I read some time ago that brought up the different vocabulary used with boys and girls.  Boys are often told they are strong and smart while girls are told they are pretty or good.  And it's something I've been very conscious about ever since.  I mean, it's true - it must be so much more difficult to motivate girls to excel in academics or sports if they are mainly lauded for their looks or how they act.  Even as an adult, I'm not really anything special but still most of the compliments I get tend to be more looks-related and not accomplishment-related. But luckily I have some pretty great girlfriends and blog readers who also recognize how hard I've worked. ;)

Anyways, I know a lot of you out there currently have or have raised girls, so I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on this and how you dealt or have dealt with these sorts of questions.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bastille Day 2014

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that yesterday was Bastille Day (said no French person ever), or as it is more commonly known "le quatorze juillet".  It's my favorite French holiday, and this year in particular I have especially been looking forward to it because of our view.

I love me some good fireworks, and long before we found our apartment, I often dreamed of us watching the fireworks from chez nous, like I used to be able to do from my shoebox.   So that was my immediate thought the minute I stepped out on the balcony during our first visit here. I could literally already see us popping a bottle of champagne and enjoying the view.... which is exactly what we did last night. And it was magical.
I actually got a little teary during the middle of the show.  I'd been dreaming of this night for so long, and here it was. I could feel my happiness building along with the crescendo of the music, like the culmination of all of our hard work over the past few years that had brought us to this exact moment.
And it was perfect.
Thank you Universe.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hello Paris

So I survived my six week traveling spree, and now have a glorious 8 days at home before leaving on another 2 week trip (1 week in France, 1 week in Russia).  I'm so relieved to be back home and sleeping in my own bed that even the grey skies can't keep me down.

A lot of positive stuff came out of my travels, namely some changes in my job functions that will likely mean even more travel abroad and less direct employee supervision, which should take care of most of my late-night meetings.  Having to supervise people who are working in the US and with a 7hr time difference has definitely been one of my biggest headaches over the past few years, so it's a welcome change.

Here are a few pictures to sum up my various trips - what a strange few weeks it has been, going from the "bigger is better" American culture to the middle of nowhere Morocco to discovering Taiwan and Bali.

Also, as a side note, this was my first big long-term challenge of staying fit while on the road since losing all that weight.  Before I left, I was feeling pretty nervous about it, as it meant a month and a half of eating 3 meals a day in hotels and restaurants.  It's still a work in progress, but in the end though, I'm fairly proud of how I did. C & I recently started doing TRX classes at our gym, and I soon realized it was also a workout I could do in my hotel room when no gym was available, so I purchased an inexpensive set of bands to keep in my suitcase.  Between that, 10 min abs, and a few other YouTube workout videos, I managed to maintain my weight for 5 of the 6 weeks.

Things kind of fell to crap the last week in Bali though despite my daily workouts because there was just so much fried food and rice everywhere.  I don't even really like fried food at all, but I was wary of eating some of the fresher stuff/street food due to the fear of spending my week in paradise cooped up in the hotel room with Bali Belly.  I also may have indulged in a few cocktails... So I gained about 1.5kg in the 7 days I was there, but now it's back to the grindstone and the extra weight should fall of quickly.  I guess that's really the moral of the story, isn't it?   Ie. staying on top of it and not letting small setbacks get you down.

PS. I was also nervous about being mega sleep-deprived after traveling through all of those time zones, so I purchased a new travel pillow to help me sleep on the plane.  I did a lot of research on frequent flier travel forums and finally found one that seemed to fit the bill. I didn't want one of those C shaped ones since I feel like they keep my head too far from the seat and don't stop me from falling forward.  The squarer foam ones looked more comfortable but would also take up a good chunk of my carry-on space.  So I settled for this pillow.  It looks a bit silly, but when it's blown up, it's sort of like sleeping on someone's shoulder, and it was nice to be able to wrap my arms around something too.  It honestly helped me get the most sleep I've ever had on any long-haul flights, and as an added bonus, it's easy to pack and even fit in my purse. Something to think about if you fly a lot or have trouble sleeping on planes...

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