Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts On Not Traveling to Paris this Spring

There is a painting of a couple walking in Paris that hangs over my youngest son's crib. It's a sexy, romantic painting. The woman has a flirty swish of a red dress as she walks towards the Eiffel Tower. The man looks like he is holding her hand.

It's not really the type of painting that I'd usually hang over a baby's crib. Yet we've moved our bedroom to the oddly shaped, gabled master bedroom of our Cape Cod home. The flirty painting hangs on the only straight wall in the room. My son's crib is shoved next to the straight wall to maximize space. Hence, the baby sleeps under a flirty painting of Paris, instead of some typical baby motif like marching giraffes.

When I put my son down for a nap yesterday, I saw the painting. I felt a pang of regret. I've never taken my husband to Paris, my favorite city.

Years ago in my 20s, I took a certain viewpoint that traveling Europe should never be done in a rushed Continental Tour. I felt that countries should be explored slowly and fully. For our one year anniversary, I took my husband on a 7 day trip to Ireland, Scotland, and the gloomy town of Manchester. I didn't drive him down to see the Tate Museum in London. I didn't hop the channel to see Paris. As a newlywed at age 27, I thought there would be plenty of time to explore Paris.

Then the babies came. A lot of babies. Now trips to Paris with my husband seem out of reach.

I felt regret that I'd never shown my husband Paris in that brief moment it takes to skillfully transfer a napping baby to his crib. I resolved in those seconds to "Live Paris" in spirit, if not in actual travel plans. In surprise, I realize that we were actually pretty close to the feeling of Paris inside this weirdly shaped bedroom in West Virginia. I buy Anjou Pears from Aldi's which we eat cut up with cheese and cheap white wine. We bake Madelines with real lemon zest. We have time for conversations about Art and stacks of books and a French Coffee press in the tea caddy by our bed.

It's not Paris. Yet it kind of is Paris, non?

Then in the middle of the night, after I woke up to nurse one baby and to sooth the nightmares of toddler, I started reading Travel Writing instead of going back to sleep. I found myself reading about another writer, in Paris, who wished he was in West Virginia as the parent of six sleeping children. (Okay, maybe not six children, since that is excessive marital love to most people--but he did wish that he was the father of one, beautiful, sleeping son). The "I wish I was over there" circle seemed complete.

Here is the passage from Peter LaSalle's "Au Train De Vie" where he describes the loneliness that he felt after his nephew's departure from Paris.

"Which meant that when he left, I drifted into a funk for a few days. I missed his company. The many rooms of the apartment seemed beyond empty, and then the all-too-predictable doubts and the big questions set in. You know, that recurrent self-interrogation that perhaps many writers getting a bit older tend to conduct. And had I spent all too much of my own life sitting in a room alone and conjuring up in my fiction-with the endless flow of words and words and more words still-merely some phantom life, not real in the least and surely as incorporeal as the moonlight on the complicated mansard rooftops sprouting their ancient chimney pots I'd often stare at outside the apartment in Paris on those summer nights? It all brought up memories of past girlfriends I probably should have married along the way, starting a family of my own, that kind of dangerous thinking. (Best American Travel writing, page 68)."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Overheard On March For Life Day

My youngest kid is cute. He gets a lot of "you're adorable comments" from strangers. Yesterday at the grocery store, a cashier next to me started cooing over him. I smiled at her. I told her his age. Then I turned back to my work of punching in my security code for my debit card.

My back was turned to the woman when she said "I'll never have another baby! I got my tubes tied after my second one."

I felt shock.

I looked up at the other cashier who was handling my check-out. She nodded as calmly to her co-workers "I sterilized myself" comment as if we were jointly discussing the low price of Florida oranges this winter. I imagined her saying "Yep. Tying your tubes. That's what you do after your second child!"

I turned to look at the woman. She was making eye contact with  my 14 week old with a look of total adoration. She reached over and gently tickled his flannel shirt. I've seen hundreds of people interact with my new babies over the years. This cashier's interaction with my son seemed usually calm and loving.

I looked at the cashier's face. She was so young. She looked about age 25.

I felt too shaken to talk. I paid for my groceries and left.

I was at Aldi's, the cheap grocery store. I had borrowed the quarter for cart from grocery store and struggled a little with the process of returning the coin after check-out. I was awkwardly holding a car seat with one hand and a two year old's hand in the other. I verbally tried to convince a 4 year old that we now need to go through the "Enter" door instead of the "Exit" door. The cashier who made the tube tied comment rushed out to rescue us. She held out her hand to take my returned quarter to spare me the work of coming further into the store.

"I was watching you," she said.

I felt my heart tear even more.

As a first time Mom of three kids, I used to do my March for Life inside of the streets of Washington D.C. As a second time Mom of three, I do my pro-life marching in ordinary trips to the grocery store.

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy March for Life Day!

On March 11, 2014, my son John measured only 3 centimeters at 6 weeks and 1 day since his conception. He had no discernible heartbeat or a fetal pole. His appearance was simply a smear of black against a light grey in a grainy ultrasound photo. Yet given more time, my son John turned into this handsome guy!

Life is a miracle! Treasure it!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Paddington Opens Tonight

The movie Paddington opens this weekend! Please email me if you enjoyed this movie too. One more night to enter my Paddington stuffed bear giveaway!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paddington Movie Review

Help your family discover the joys of being British when the movie Paddington opens on Friday, January 16th. Based on the beloved book series about a talking bear discovered in London's Paddington Station, this well-crafted movie is visual story telling at its best. The slapstick plot is quirky and fun. The acting chops of Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville and the great Nicole Kidman are on full display.  The character of Paddington himself combines a warmly acted voice-over with beautifully drawn animation.

The standout feature of this movie is the unique cinematography. Moviegoers are treated to a full tour of London. The still shots between scenes are so beautiful, I felt like I was actually turning the pages of a story book. Visual puns are everywhere. Because so many of the movie's jokes are visual, there is a special sense of community when an entire theater of children and adults laugh together in unison.

For example, Paddington is a bear who always wears a marmalade sandwich under his hat "in case of emergencies." Paddington kindly offers to share his marmalade sandwich with a single pigeon, only to become flustered when an entire flock shows up to demand their share. In another scene, Paddington leaves behind his adopted family and lingers alone in front of Buckingham Palace. Paddington takes off his rain soaked hat and starts to mournfully eat a soggy marmalade sandwich. Suddenly, a thick club sandwich with an English royal crest appears in front of him. The Palace Guard has taken pity on poor Paddington. The Palace Guard then removes his tall Bearskin hat to reveal a tall thermos balancing perfectly on his head.

These witty British jokes are what makes Paddington a cut above the normal family movie fare. Paddington drinks tea at "elevenses" and informs us that the British have over 100 words to describe rain. Paddington is a well mannered bear who tips his hat while accidentally stealing a dog in order to ride an escalator for his first time in the London Underground.

The movie Paddington carries some gentle messages inside its jokes. Families should stick together. A bear will increase the likelihood of property damage by 4,000% percent. To welcome a stranger is an act of charity that never goes unrewarded.

Thanks to Allied Faith and Family, I get to share the joy of Paddington with my readers! I have 2 Paddington Bear stuffed animals to giveaway. To enter this giveaway, please click on the raffle entry below before Saturday, January 17, 2015. Enjoy!

(Winners will have an American address only, please).

Paddington Bear Movie Giveaway

Paddington - Behind the Scenes

Tearoom Clip - Paddington - In Cinemas January 16