Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I have a driving licence (i think)


I passed my driving test this morning. After a night where Sophie was awake all night teething and probably feeling the general stress in this house.

However as there is a strike of driving examiners, I have no idea when the paperwork will be processed. The nice jolly examiner who looked like Bobo Natale (Italian version of Santa) explained rather mournfully that though I have passed, but I don't have a licence untill (probably) the strike is over.

Anyways I am feeling pretty good. That is one more thing struck off the "to do" list, and I can concentrate on the packing for real.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stuff that keeps me up at night

My goodness.

I had no idea that you needed to pay about 4000 euros a semester for 2 hours a day of playschool for a 12 month old child. A quick online search reveals the varied wonders of a comprehensive Montessori school.

A high teacher- child ratio, small class size, airy and bright classrooms, swimming pool on the grounds, lovely gardens and sandboxes, pediatrican on call. The philosophy that very young children teach themselves, so there is no structured time table and your child chooses his or her own activity.

After hours extras like ... Ballet class! Ice Skating lessons! Music/ Art appreciation!

All for kids about 12 months old!

ARRRGGH somebody shoot me now.

The part that kills me and keeps me up at night is that I wonder whether any of this is necessary. And if it is not necessary, why do I am I too scared to say "this is just too friging expensive and Sophie doesn't need it". That irrational parental guilt factor is just crap.

She does eat actually

I have been trying to wean Sophie with limited success. Untill I figured out what the problem was - she wants to feed herself. But when she attempts to do this, most of the pureed carrot or whatever tends to end up in her hair and on the floor. So it is (like all things child-rearing) a delicate balance between what mummy wants and what baby wants.

With this compromise, we're doing much better now with Sophie's favourites: fresh pear (Decana only), peach, mashed peas, ricotta, and potatoes. Sophie isn't a fan of carrots, bananas, spinach or rice.

We will keep trying though!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Temporary Address in China

Nothing insightful to say in this post, just more bloody admin. Brain dead right now from all the planning and organising. Fabien Sharon and Sophie will leave Turin for Beijing on 3 December 3:55 PM, arriving in Beijing on 4 December 11:50 AM.

Sharon and Sophie will be in France from 12 to 28 December, Belgium from 28 to 30 December, and back to France from 30 to 31 December. (Just to make it more complicated, Fabien has a different schedule, which I won't go into because it changes by the minute)

Phone numbers - mostly landlines:
From 15 to 21 December at Fabien's godparents in Treuzy Levally : +33 16 42 90 747
From 22 to 28 December at Fabien's parents home in Lille: +33 32 03 08 848
SMS at other times: +39 34 89 15 81 87

We are back on a plane to Beijing on 1 Jan 2007.

If you would like to send anything to us from now to Janurary 2007, please send it to this address:
Sharon/Fabien/Sophie Thibault
c/o Denis Zhu
Palm Springs Tower 6, Apt#3105
No. 8 Chaoyang Gongyuan Nanlu
Beiijing 100026

I may have only intermittent internet access from the end of this week, so please bear with me, but I will try to update this blog whenever I can (albeit without pictures), to try to record and share this busy and exciting time in our life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We love weekends

We have another 2 weekends left in Turin, and then we are out of here. It feels so surreal. Where did all that time go? I have a daughter? REALLY? How did the wookie get so big?

Time creeps up on you so insidiously.

It is why I have lately become a maniac with that camera. Because these moments are so precious I am terrified that if blink this itty bitty baby will suddenly become a pimply teenager, and I might have missed that transistion. At least I will have this blog to record these memories. Thank you God for technology.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

15 seconds of fame

The nice grandfatherly figure holding Sophie is Tony Wheeler .

He's a sweet chap in real life, and he was in town to promote his autobiography. When he was holding Sophie, the flashbulbs of the parparazzi popped, and both of them just sat there and enjoyed the attention for a bit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Schedule (reloaded)

I am a headless chook these days. There seems to be a million things to do and I really should get on with doing it instead of just talking about it here. Anyway, this is the Schedule for the moment. It is not that much different from the last week's post, except my LAST DAY in Torino is 3 December instead of 21 December. The laundry list is:

  1. Driving Exam on 29 Nov. The strike in Turin is still on, so I have to go to take the test in another town near the Motorizezione which I have never been to with completely unfamiliar roads - just because I like a challenge you know...

  2. Beijing is confirmed on 3 December for a week long house hunting trip. My last day in Turin is 2 Dec. I am trying to meet with everyone before I leave, so please email me to slot lunch/ coffee/ dinner in between my driving classes.

  3. 12 December Sharon and Sophie arrive in France. Stay 2 days at Sandra and Etienne's place. Then to Treuzy Levallay for a few days with Fab's family.

  4. 17 December Fabien will fly back to Turin to ship our stuff either in a container to France or in the 300 kg worth of airmail to China.

  5. 22 December be in Lille for BIG family reunion (50 people!), then Christmas with nuclear family. 26 December in Belgium with Fab's cousin Matthieu, 31 Dec in Lille with Fab's friends.

  6. 1 Jan 2007 - we take the plane to Beijing, and Fabien goes to work in Beijing from 2 Jan.


In other news, the upside of meeting lots of new people (even if just for the moment) is that you will stay in touch one way or another. This blog for instance lets people peek into my chaotic world just long enough for you to step back and go "whew I'm glad I aint there!" .

I am optimistic enough to believe that you don't really ever lose the friends you've already made, and you just need to juggle stuff around so as to see each other again. Albeit later.

So Amanda if you are reading this: I _am_ taking you up on your offer to stay at your house in Nepal. Even if it is not constructed yet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another great weekend!

I have known Dan for more than 10 years. We hadn't spoken for more than 5 years, but then we met again in London at my best friend Eddie's house, and then it was like we never were apart for a day. So I asked him to come visit to see Fabien and Sophie, and introduce me to his lovely Spanish wife Amaia. They came over this weekend and we had a rocking time.

But that's not the purpose of this post. It was supposed to have been a reflection on friendship and change. But I think I am a bit too sleep deprived to make any profound discourse on that right now.

Huxley said we practice Alchemy in reverse. To touch the pure gold of experience with words seems to turn it into pure dross. We experience Shakespearean levels of emotion, but (unless you are Shakespeare) can only express it in cumbersome language and mush.

I feel somewhat spaced out. Overwhelmed by the amount of trivial detail involved in the impending move to Beijing, and not having fully accepted the emotional impact of saying goodbye to all the friends we've met and made here.

It is somewhat comforting to have met Dan again to remind me that there are friendships which survive grand displacements in time and geography.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Zubin and Sophie

I tell me daughter that you have to at least be dating before you can

1) Play with each other's toys:

2) Feel up each other's diapers

But me and Sophie will be gutted to leave Turin now that we have friends here. I actually think that Sophie and Zubin are aware of each other. Okay so maybe the dating thing is far fetched. But they seem to be happy to engage in parallel play, and are curious enough to try pulling each others hair and poking each other in the eye.

How do you know Antonio wants to have 2 kids?

By the way this is a kind blog

this is the link explaining what a kind blog is.. I whole-heartedly support this concept.

Especially in the face of this little storm in the tea-cup in Singapore - the wee shu min affair. Which I think is sad, but so very much Singapore. Fabien read the thing and said "and that's it?!!" Sheesh

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday love

Sophie Loooves anything that makes noise, Many mornings we wake up to the sounds of our future jazz musician and her improvs:

Although she could also be a future vet:

Thanks very much for Sirus the doggie Yvonne!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Crazy Planner at Work again

I have been silent as regards the details of our China move because there just has been too many variables to do any real planning. As the dates rapidly approach, I thought I'd better announce a quick heads-up of the current tentative schedule as follows (all usual disclaimers apply):

  1. Next Friday, 25 November - Probable driving practical exam (uncertain due to an ongoing driving examiner's strike). Whatever happens, I have to pass it the first time because there is no chance to retake it (I can't schedule a re-test in).

  2. We probably fly to Beijing on 3 December for a house hunting trip. I will try to meet up with my parents there (Mom - you can confirm your tickets now!). Fabien remains in Beijing for the next 2 weeks.

  3. 12 December Sharon and Sophie try to be in France. Exact location unknown. The idea is to try to meet up with friends from the "Northern parts" (e.g. Joan in London, Sandra in Paris). Christabel - if you can be here from Milan that would be great, but if not, I will see you in either Beijing or Osaka...

  4. 17 December come back to Torino to ship our stuff either in a container to France or in the 300 kgs airmail to China, and move into a serviced appartment when we are done. Tearful goodbye to all my wonderful and fantastic friends in Turin Be strong ! Deep Breath! It will be soooo hard.... (*sigh*)

  5. 22 December be in Lille for BIG family reunion (50 people!), then Christmas with nuclear family. 26 December in Belgium with Fab's cousin Matthieu, 31 Dec in Lille with Fab's friends.

  6. 1 Jan 2007 - we take the plane to Beijing, and Fabien goes to work in Beijing from 2 Jan.


I feel tired just thinking about it all. It is so hard to take it all in.
All this moving around is simultaneously exhausting and energizing.

I try to take comfort from the fact that this is part of our Awfully Big Adventure that Fabien and me agreed on so long ago as our Life Plan (yeah - we talked about all that as part of Marriage Preparation!)... As Hannibal - remember him? says "I love it when the plan comes together"

Keep reading for more updates. and kisses always.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

i jinxed it

It is official - talking/blogging about something jinxes it!

I was just announcing proudly that Sophie was signaling to go to the bathroom and today she STOPPED doing it. And is back to pooping and peeing in her diaper.

Ditto for that sleeping through the night thing. The moment I blogged about it, she decided to start waking up again. At bloody 3 am. Just to let us know who is in charge.


i wonder if it has something to do with all that spinach we've been feeding her (the little popeye seems to like it) ? Seems like she's having trouble digesting or something.

Anyone with any useful ideas please don't hesistate to suggest it.


This shopping thing is growing on me.

My friend Elaine thinks I shop in a testosterone charged manner. Basically I have a mental list of what I want to get, then I look at a store directory and pick out the stores which are most likely to have what I want and just go and look for targeted objects. Either they have it within the budget (and so I buy it) or they don't (so I leave). It's a simple decision tree, which leaves no room for this "browsing" nonsense (a euphemism for time-wasting in my book).

Serravalle may have come close to converting me. Close, but no cigar, simply because we are moving to China, and we only get 300 kg air freight.

Anyway for the serious shopping news (because Mini asked!) ...

I met Peter at the Bodum shop - they have great kitchen toys! I also liked the Furla (bought a document bag and a handbag - about 100 euros each) and Petite Bateau (bought 30 euros of miscellaneous winter wear for Sophie). I saw a dress at Roberto Cavalli that was nice (110 euro at half price) , and got a pair of trainers at the Nike store (a 130 euro pair at half price). Almost got some champagne flutes at Villeroy and Boch (29 euro) , and some pretty flats at Ferragamo (200 euro) - but they didn't fit (sigh). Then that 300kg limit was bugging me.

There's a Toys R Us too, but I was running out of time. I couldn't be bothered to stand in line for Prada, where the discounts are supposed to be so good that they need to limit the number of people in the store.

Peter - What did you get?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mr. Mom for the weekend

This weekend I left Fabien with Sophie for 6 hours to go to Serravalle . It was liberating but I actually strangely missed them both after a while. Fabien got to play house-husband, taking care of the baby, doing the grocery shopping and making dinner before I got back.

He very proudly announced when I got into the door that she had signed to him for "milk", and he also had managed to get her to poop in the sink. Feels great that the baby-signing and infant pottying seems to be working out pretty well.

It was a bit wierd because most weekends are spent en famille doing stuff like walking in the park and looking at animals:

Sophie likes dogs. Alot. She probably thinks that a donkey is just a larger version of a dog. We haven't been able to sign "dog" yet, because I can never remember the ASL version of it, and I haven't figured out a good substitute sign.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Love Thursday -- Love Hot Chocolate

This weekend was cold. So we got bundled up and went in search of hot chocolate. Fabien had to drag me away from my driving book which I was trying to memorise before the driving exam on Monday (anyone want to know why we use double white lines when a single white line will do?). Anyway hot chocolate is usually a good way to motivate me to get out of the house.

We went across the river from our house to the grand madre. I stopped to snap a photo of the river at sunset - pretty huh?

and this is the cafe near the grand madre. I can't remember the name, but you can sit on long bar-top style tables facing the street. like this:

And this is the perfect cuppa! Mounds of decadent cream. There goes the waistline...

Watch that little hand reach out for the hot chocolate. Sophie loves hot chocolate too. She keeps looking at the hot chocolate instead of the camera. But check out her cute little gloves!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why we call her "boo boo"

Remember Boo from Monsters Inc?

We think Sophie looks a little like that - What do you reckon?

Jean Nie commented that the photos of Sophie look great - is she always such an easy subject? And the answer is - Nope! You have to be a combination of lucky and trigger happy... for example, I was trying to get a photo of her and Mila (our cleaning lady who adores her). As long as she is reasonably well rested, she's a happy camper. The only problem with that is that she won't keep still for long enough for a photo.

See what I mean? Took 3 shots to get here...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Photos from Veronica's party

I am so late, and this is last week's news, but in my defense, I was studying!

Everyone else has put up these photos but me, so I tried to put up photos which i haven't seen yet on Gina's or Peter's site.

We were trying to get a photo of Sophie and Zubin "devouring" the books. But those didn't turn out too good. But (Gina will like this) I did get Sophie biting into the appropriately titled "mangia mangia" board book.

We did get more photos but they aren't great. I think I am out-growing my idiot-proof camera, and want something with a bit more controls to play with so I can take better photos. Or I can finally learn how to photoshop, since Peter has kindly offered to show me one of these days. Also we didn't take that many photos because we were busy attacking (with both hands) the absolutely delicious goodies that everyone brought.


Sophie and Zubin on playdate

okay, I checked my i-photo to blog the photos of our weekend but then realised that i hadn't uploaded them yet.

So here are instead the photos from last week at Gina's house- the Sophie and Zubin date (heavily chaperoned by their moms). Sorry guys you can go on private dates once you can ummm... maybe walk without assistance?

Monday, November 06, 2006

An ode to Balanced living

Before meeting my 35-hour-working-week husband, I used to think staying overnight in the office was okay. I used to get a kick from working with the peaks and troughs of law firm life (or lack thereof). I remember (through a haze... ) when I would change clothes and brush my teeth in the office and soldier on without sleeping for 2 days. The best part is that I used to think that this was normal, because I was brainwashed enough to think that if you want to do something well, you needed to obsess over each and every tiny detail without need for sleep/food/rest.

Now I know what a load of bollocks that is.

This weekend, I studied for my driving theory exam. Although Fabien had to (occasionally) tear me away from my book to eat/take a walk/do something useful, I had a reasonably pleasant weekend.

In between studying, we went for Veronica's baby shower, walks in the park, and met our friends (more pictures to follow). I am no longer addicted to doing something at the expense of EVERYTHING else.

And I still PASSED my driving theory exam at 8 am this morning. (Shilpa - you can have all my books now) Even though I needed Gina to drive me back home cos my stupid driving instructor drove me to the exam center and LEFT me there to find my own way back !!

Anyway now I need to book the practical driving test.

Wish me luck! (and a more balanced life)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

happy love thursday No.2

It is Love Thursday and this is what we love - family baths.

Not that I would (or even could) inflict a photo of that on you, but when we settle down in a permanent home, I dream about constructing a wooden ofuro .

This is despite the fact that I know there will probably come a time when our kiddo will be embarrassed about bathing with her parents. When she doesn't find mummy's incarnation of the cuddle monster, and papa's squeeky sock puppets particularly amusing. Where a simple raspberry sound and tickle will no longer elicit a torrent of giggles. When peek-a-boo loses its thrill, and our old digital camera cord is no longer a source of endless wonder.

Thank goodness that time is not now.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween

This was a christening present from Dan, and we were going to save it to make christmas cards this year. BUT it was sooo cute, I couldn't resist a couple of photos.

Happy Halloween everyone!