Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Sologne and Thanks for all the Fish*

*Actually, there are no fish in this blog post. Nor will you find the meaning of life, the universe and everything. But my friend made the joke and I thought it was funny.

La Sologne is the area of France south of Orléans where we went with some friends for our first ever weekend away with baby. It's covered with forest and lakes, which meant that it was beautiful in the autumn with the leaves just starting to change colour. It's almost completely flat, which made it an easy place to go for walks even with an increasingly heavy baby. It's filled with deer, wild boar, and the people who hunt them, which made for an exciting half hour or so when we took the wrong path in the forest and found ourselves in an area where people had clearly been shooting extremely recently!

The reason that the Sologne is so wild is that the ground is very wet and therefore presumably difficult to cultivate, so there isn't much agriculture. Lots of people had lovely big vegetable gardens and orchards though, so growing things on a small scale seemed to be easier. The villages were very pretty, with mainly timber and brick houses, while every so often in the forest we would pass an enormous château, usually with its own lake. (Passing the estate agent's window, we were tempted by a more reasonable few hectares of land complete with not one, but two lakes and a wooden cabin.) Sadly, although there were plenty of hiking trails, most of the lakes were fenced off in people's private property, but we were able to admire a few nonetheless.

Supercool Baby enjoyed her first hiking trip, doing lots of sleeping in the sling then waking up to admire the light dancing between the leaves when we stopped for lunch and laid her down in the grass. I think it did both me and Understanding Frenchman good too, to get away and do something we've always enjoyed, surrounded by good company, and just be able to bring the baby along. And after all the fresh air, she settled down quickly to sleep in the evenings and we could have fun cooking up a big meal and eating with our friends. Hopefully it's an experience we'll be able to repeat a few times before she gets too heavy to carry at all!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Recently I have mostly been ...

When I'm at work, I eat in the canteen, as does Understanding Frenchman. Being at home all day means I'm responsible for sorting out my own lunch, so I've been taking advantage of that to resurrect some old favourites that UFM doesn't really like and try out some new recipes. Last week I bought soy sauce and made stir-fry, which I used to eat about once a week but literally hadn't had for years. Then one day when we had run out of vegetables, I was inspired by the fruit bowl to fry a few slices of apple in salted butter to eat with pork chops. It was really good.We've had various visitors recently, so I've been using that as an excuse to test out our new oven for baking. I made banana cake, millionnaire shortbread and carrot cake, and the difference compared to when I used our old grill oven is amazing - success every time! Both the banana cake and the carrot cake went down really well with French friends who were already fans, which surprised me, as they're not the kind of baking that you see often here.

Obsessing about nap times
Super-cool Baby has been a great sleeper from birth, but I'm pretty sure we've hit the dreaded four-month sleep regression this week, because while nights are still OK, getting her to take naps has been, well, a nightmare. 45 minutes of rocking, singing and nursing may or may not result in a half-hour nap, and if it doesn't, she's guaranteed to be grumpy and clingy until she finally does get off to sleep. If she does, I then start stressing about the rocking, singing and nursing creating bad sleep habits that are soon going to disturb our nights as well. Out of all of the things you get to worry about with a baby, I think sleep is a particularly stressful one because there are so many different ideas on the subject, what you do now can have a major impact on what your baby will do later, and bad sleep can ruin your life for years. Scary stuff.

At the same time, I find the whole subject kind of boring and dislike the fact that I spend so much of my day thinking about it. So I'll stop writing this paragraph now.

Exercising my pelvic floor
Yes, I finally sorted my self out with a kiné, who I go and see twice a week to get all those important muscles back in shape. I accidentally ended up with a man because I called the number for a woman who I found in the annuarie santé but got through to the guy that she shares her clinic with instead. I thought it might be horrifically embarrassing but it's actually been absolutely fine. My stomach muscles are apparently pathetically weak, however, so I have to practise doing plank-type exercises for thirty seconds at a time. At the moment I can only hold the position for about ten seconds, so I have a long way to go!

Finally, as a change from all of those exciting activities, I also went on a night out with friends on Saturday evening. We went to a restaurant not too far away and I was already on my way home after a few hours of good chat and company when I got a text from UFM saying, "Help, she has woken up and is crying!", so that was definitely a success!