Monday, December 21, 2009

Jolly Old St. Nicolas Sarkozy


This "La Mom Classic" was originally posted on Dec. 11th, 2008

Christmas came early to La Mom’s house this year. We’ve been reading a frayed copy of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas since sometime in July and I’ve been fielding Big Fry’s questions about Santa Claus ever since.

The other day, though, he floored me:

Big Fry: Mommy, I want St. Nicolas Sarkozy to bring me a jump rope for Christmas.

La Mom:
Saint who?

Big Fry: St. Nicolas Sarkozy – like in the Christmas book!

Luckily, St. Sarko generously subsidized my pelvic floor physical therapy sessions after the French Fries were born, or I would have wet myself laughing.

But this got me thinking: what would my Christmas letter to St. Sarko look like?

Dear St. Nicolas Sarkozy,

I’ve been a very good girl this year. I paid all of my taxes on time and I even learned three new irregular verbs! Here’s what I’d like for Noël:

A raise.

Yeah, yeah, I know I already get 650 € ($ 825) per month for staying home with 2 kids. But if I were paying a nanny, she’d be getting a whopping 1200 € ($ 1525) per month in take-home pay! The way I see it, the government owes me an extra 550 € every 30 days (not to mention back-pay). As much as I love my French Fries, trust me, staying home with young kids is definitely a full-time job.

Bigger parking spaces.

You know what sucks? Having to back all the way out of a sardine-sized parking space just to be able to squeeze your kid into his car seat. People start honking and making rude gestures, then you’re forced to bust out the emergency French cuss words that you don’t want your kids repeating. Not a pretty picture.

Stroller-friendly Métro stations.

Actually, I’d drive a lot less if I could just get a stroller through the stupid Métro turnstiles. Or get someone to help me carry a MacLaren down the stairs without resorting to begging or bribery. (How much you wanna bet that Frenchmen would respond to flashing? But I’m not that desperate. Yet.)

Sunday store openings.

It’s nice that Sunday is still a day of rest in France. But La Mom never stops going! There’s no way I can get things crossed off my to-do list in six days and pretty much everything is closed on Sunday. Or, if by some miracle a store is open on Sunday morning, it’ll definitely be closed on Monday and Tuesday to make up for it. How about you boost the economy by letting me squeeze some grocery shopping in at the end of the weekend? It’s a win-win situation!

A private serenade by Carla Bruni.

How did you guess this one came from Big Cheese? Actually, his word-for-word request also mentioned a certain high-end brand of lingerie. Anyway, don’t bother with this one – I guarantee that Big Cheese was nowhere near good enough to get a gift-wrapped Carla under the tree!

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Little Piggy Stayed Home

La Mom is grounded. I’ve been spending the last few days shuttling between home and job crossing my fingers. But the news is officially in:

Big Fry has the flu.

Poof. Did you hear that noise? It’s the sound of my union-guaranteed child sick leave going up in smoke.

We don’t actually know if it’s the grippe porcine, but all signs point to yes. And to add insult to injury, we just got the first round of “bons” (certificates) to get the H1N1 shot at a local vaccination center.

Here’s what the medical community has had to say so far about the vaccine:

Pediatrician: Your kids are healthy. It’s better to catch the flu than take the risk of an unknown vaccine.

SOS Medecins:
Two weeks ago I would have told you not to get it, but now I’ve changed my mind.

GP: Madame, if you ask me if you should vaccinate, you are becoming more French than the français. Go get the vaccine immediately for yourself and your children!

And this is what’s going on chez La Mom:

Big Fry (coughing): Maman, my legs hurt where my feet are attaché.

La Mom:
That’s your ankles, sweetie. I’m so sorry your ankles hurt!

We’re quarantined for the long haul. I am now accepting all care packages including chocolate and wine. Please send to:

La Mom
101 rue des Cochons Malades
75016 Paris

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jack Has Dog


Avoir du chien
To have dog

This French expression means a woman is charming, has sex appeal, a certain je ne sais quoi that fascinates men.

Although he's not a woman, France's former president Jacques Chirac, has dog. Literally and figuratively.

The dog was a birthday present from France's equivalent to Oprah on Sunday.

(Sidebar: Check out that picture of young Jacques. La Mom thinks he had plenty of sex appeal back in the day although it's the dog who has dog at present).

Happy 77th Birthday Jack!



Here's the video of the birthday surprise:
Jack Has Dog

Monday, November 23, 2009

Talking Turkey

It’s that time of year when La Mom goes incognito.

Trench coat collar pulled up? Check.

Oversized sunglasses? Check.

Broad-brimmed hat? Check.

Non, La Mom isn’t a paparazzi target – yet. The real reason I keep a low profile is because of La SuperMom.

You know La SuperMom: think La Mom on steroids. At home she'd be running the PTA, the Junior League, and catering every birthday party in town. In Paris, it's her personal mission to educate the French about every single American holiday -- no matter how big or small.

Every year it’s the same conversation:

La SuperMom:
Hi, La Mom! Hey, what are you doing next Wednesday?

La Mom: Uh, that’s my one day off with the kids.

La SuperMom:
Oh yeah – well, I was wondering if you could come do a little talk about Thanksgiving for Jake’s class.

La Mom to self: Why would I do that? He and Big Fry don’t even go to the same school!

La Mom: You're the Thanksgiving expert...why don’t you do the talk?

La SuperMom: I’ll be busy manning the turkey buffet and serving my homemade pumpkin pie!

La Mom: Let me get back to you on that.

I don’t think La SuperMom would really like my Thanksgiving recap anyway. Here’s La Mom’s version:

Once upon a time there were some religious fanatics called the pilgrims who got kicked out of their country and had to find a new home. They couldn’t hack it in their new environment so turned to the generosity of the native people to survive. They gave the pilgrims corn, the pilgrims gave them syphilis. Thanks to the pilgrims’ puritan work ethic the US doesn’t have as many holidays as in France.

Maman du Jour – La SuperMom


Natural habitat: Her kids’ classroom.

Hangouts: Loisirs et Créations craft store – it’s the only place in town you can find pipe cleaners and googly eyes in the same store!

Uniform: Mom jeans, sweats, and running shoes. Hey, making a robot out of recycled Perrier cans is messy work, people.

How to spot her: The dark circles under her eyes from pulling an all-nighter making personalized shamrock cupcakes for her 3-year-old’s St. Paddy’s Day party.

Raison d’Etre: Create the perfect miniature gingerbread house. And win first prize at the American Church Christmas Fair, bien sûr.

Profession: Queen of the Glue Gun.

Vacations: Raiding Target for glitter pens when back home for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Madame Know-It-All



Wouldn't you agree that someone who thinks they know everything can be annoying un petit peu?

You know the one I'm talking about - someone who can clear a playgroup in 5 minutes flat because she starts preaching about how she got her baby to sleep through the night with a certain sleep method and if you're not using the same method then you don't know anything. Her way is THE only way to do things. You = bad mommy.

Maman du Jour: Madame Know-It-All

Natural habitat: She holds court at the park, playgroups, art class, English class, the school gates, the American Church, Starbucks, and the American Library.

Oh wait, not the American Library because you have to be quiet in the library and all she likes to do is talk talk talk. She tells you in an insanely loud let-all-the-Parisians-know-I'm-American voice what your kid should be doing or eating for their age because that's what her kids did (so it must be the right way). If she thinks your kid isn't developing correctly then "you probably didn't breast feed long enough and you need to go straight to the American Hospital in "Newy" to see my pediatrician."

(Sidebar - can you believe this stuff?)

Profession: Master of everything

How to spot her: You don't. You hear Madame Know-It-All before you spot her.

She's the first one to criticize everyone about their parenting skills, yet she's the one who has a caca nerveux and goes bananas screaming at her kids because they've run in a puddle (I'd call that acting like kids, but I don't know anything obviously).

Raison d'Etre #1: To share her knowledge about everything with everyone.

You name it she knows it. Madame's been in France for 6 months and she's a walking encylopedia for:

-French fashion, "Chanel is overrated. Zadig & Voltaire will go down as great French fashion designers."
-French food, "French fries aren't called French fries in France, they're just fries."
-French military, "The military doesn't know anything about helicopters. Nicolas Sarkozy's helicopter isn't as big or beautiful as Obama's."
-Daddy Sarkozy, "Sarkozy is the first French President to marry a supermodel."
-French men, "All French men cheat on their wives, it's in their DNA."

Raison d'Etre#2: She lives for the next expat move so she can share her knowledge on raising kids in France with her new friends. She hoping a move to Germany is in the cards (where she just may be nicknamed wisenheimer by the expat moms there.)

Kid's names: Anything with KNOW or ALL in it:
Boys:Knowland, Knollton, Knowie, Allexander; Girls: Knowlanda, Allison, Allicia, Allexandra

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Joyeux Halloween

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday back in the States. It’s still my fave in Paris – but not for the crisp fall weather or imported candy corn.

It’s a chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at the best real estate in town.

Trick or treating involves begging strangers for sweets. Let’s just say that’s something the French don’t really appreciate.

So there’s only one solution.

Host a party in a private Parisian mansion where there’s all the doors you need – and more.

You know you’re celebrating Halloween in Paris when:

- Kids use Chloé shopping bags as trick-or-treat sacks

- Moms give out individually wrapped Hédiard chocolate squares because “that’s all I had in the house!”

- An army of nannies/au pairs dole out the candy when the children come knocking.

- Mommy’s “treat” while the kids OD on KitKats is Pierre Hermé macaroons washed down with a flute of champagne. The “trick” is to pry the Fries away from the portable crèpe stand manned by the household help.

Let me tell you, it feels like a long way from the pumpkin patch back home...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

She works hard for the money

That’s right – La Mom is now La Working Mom! I’m back in the saddle after an extended maternity leave.

The good news? Dish from the French corporate world!

And I still have my regular mommy groups, so you won’t miss life in the expat lane.

The bad news? I’ll be posting just once a week.

Stay tuned for tales from the trenches as La Mom juggles a career, the French Fries, and a new nanny!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can’t Help Falling in Love

The birds and the bees start buzzing early here in France.

Maybe that explains how the French can go from surly to seductive faster than a car on the La Mans racetrack? It’s ingrained in them since birth.

In that case Big Fry's embracing his French roots, since he’s already engaged.

Here’s a rundown of our first conversation about l’amour:

Big Fry: Maman, when I grow up I want to marry you.

La Mom: Aw, sweetie, that’s nice. But what about Daddy? I’m already married to him.

Big Fry: Well, I guess I could marry Clémence. She’s my amoureux.

La Mom:
Your amoureux?

Big Fry:
You know, Maman, when you have an amoureux you fall on top of them them and then you get married.

La Mom to self: Fall on top of them?! I thought sex ed wasn’t until lycée!

Big Fry: Do you know how to say tomber amoureux in French?

La Mom: No, why don't you tell me.

Big Fry:
It’s tomber amoureux!

Oh yeah, tomber amoureux means to fall in love. Although I guess several marriages do occur after the amoureux fall on top of each other.

What do they call that – Le Shotgun?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

La Mom's Musique

Cute Frenchie alert!

What do old cars, beavers, and lollipops have in common?

They’re all a part of Cocoon’s “French Folk Touch” world. La Mom can’t get enough of this cutie-pie duo’s catchy melodies and pure harmonies.

Check out Cocoon’s hit single, Chupee, named after the ubiquitous Chupa Chup lollipops (Big Fry’s favorite!).



Does Cocoon have what it takes to win over American audiences? La Mom wants to know!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Parc MOMceau


Did you hear the news? The Parc Monceau's name was changed to Parc MOMceau because it's the next best place for Paris fashion news after Elle and Vogue. It's the moms that make this park oh la la special!

Love those sexy stiletto boots in last week's Elle, but not sure how they'll hold up at the park? Head over to Parc MOMceau to see them in action. It's a safe bet that at least one, if not twenty-one moms at the park will be wearing them!

Don't have a subscription to Elle? That's OK - National Geographic is just as good for fashion news. In fact, join La Mom on a tour of the park to check out the Mommalia Fashionalius in their natural habitats. First stop:

The Snack Shack/Merry-Go-Round/Duck Pond
Native species: Mommalia Botoxfaketanalius

How to spot them: Aside from the frozen faces and fake tans, these moms are religious freaks. They doesn't leave home without a bible (Elle, Vogue, Grazia). See it peeking out of their handbags, stroller pouches, and diaper bags.

Signature accessory: A 7€ bag of popcorn from the snack shack for the kids to feed the ducks. Bringing leftover baguette isn't à la mode in this part of the park, it's all about conspicuous consumption.

The International School
Native species: Mommalia Moneybagsalius

How to spot them: They use the main entrance into the park as their personal runway with two fashion shows daily: 9am (drop-off) and 4:30pm (pick-up). Front row seats can be found at the benches across from the school's entrance.

Signature accessory: Anything with fur. Take the two moms I saw while jogging recently. At least I think they were moms. They were definitely twins. Both were dressed identically except for their hair color and handbags: Prada riding boots, leggings, long sleeve shirts, fur vests with matching fur headbands. Good thing PETA wasn't invited to the fashion show.

The Sandbox
Native Species: Mommalia Stilettus

How To Spot Them: These moms wear shoes that are totally unpractical for playing with the kids, building sandcastles, or pushing strollers; but very practical for a night on the town in the latest LBD from YSL.

Signature accessory: Stillettos (check out page 73 from last week's Elle)

The Grassy Knoll
Native Species: Mommalia Designercasualchicius

How To Spot Them: Sporting designer jeans (bought in the US because they're cheaper), Hogan sneakers, and tops from H&M and Zara. These moms aren't afraid to sweat in their designer duds. After all, looking fashionable is always important, but it's more important to be able to kick a ball around with your kids or bend over and have a picnic.

Signature accessory: The très chic Clorox Bleach Pen (also bought at home and in bulk at Target). It's hasn't been featured in Elle as one of this season's must-have accessories yet? Don't worry, by Christmas even the quintessential Parisian clothing boutique Colette will be stocking them!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hamming it up with The Antiques Diva™


The smell of ham mixed with hundreds-of-years-old antiques is in the air...It’s that time of year again when the Parisians' mouths begin to water in anticipation of France’s best brocante.

While in most countries “ham & antiques” isn't a natural combination, in France La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon is the country's largest antiques and gourmet food fair. It's back again this fall in the Parisian suburb of Ile de Chatou between September 25 – Oct 4, 2009.

La Mom recently had a chance to sit down with The Antiques Diva and chat about this fair, getting the inside scoop from Europe’s leading expert on Antique Shopping & Champagne!

La Mom: The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham is held twice a year – in March & October. Can you tell La Mom readers why you think this is the best fair ever?

The Antiques Diva: What’s not to like? Ham and antique shopping in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel? Seriously, this traveling flea market is phenomenal. Over 800 vendors from toute la France bring the best assortment of antiques I have ever seen in one locale. As you said, it’s held twice a year – in the spring & fall - and The Antiques Diva™ offers flea market tours rain or shine!

What I love about this fair, aside from the plethora of antiques and an opportunity to eat ham like it’s going out of style, is that this market, like almost all French events, is a Parisian tradition dating back centuries! While I’ve always thought the odd combo of selling pork and antiques was a marketing ploy to get reluctant husbands to go brocanting, the fair’s origins date back to the Moyen Age.

La Mom:The Middle Ages? Are you kidding me? People have been antique shopping in France for that many years?

The Antiques Diva: It’s a great story. It started during the Middle Ages when, during Holy Week, pork butchers came to Paris to sell their products. One year an enterprising butcher decided that he wanted to “bring home more bacon” so he started selling not only braised ham but the equipment for making it as well, offering his clients “the taste of Chatou” (the Parisian suburb where the fair is held) all year round!

The other vendors caught on to the idea and started bringing more items, focusing on specialties from their region, namely furniture, pottery and antiques. Before they knew it, a festival celebrating both the flea market and ham was born.

La Mom: So we’ve got the Spring Brocante covered. But why does the fair occur in the Fall too if it originated in a Holy Week celebration?

The Antiques Diva: I’m not certain how this pre-Easter celebration became a twice annual event, but I have an un-substantiated theory. In August, tout Paris departs for their month-long vacation. This is another tradition which began in the Middle Ages when the stench from the annual cleaning of the Louvre’s moat forced citizens to flee until the gag-inducing cleaning was over.

I believe that when the Parisians fled to the countryside, they enjoyed the country life so much they didn’t want to return. Paris had to do something to repopulate itself, so they used the Foire aux Lards – as it was then called – as an olfactory pied-piper to lure les citoyens salivating back to Paris!


La Mom:
Will the olfactory pied-pipers lure you back to Paris this year September 25– Oct 4?

The Antiques Diva: Indubitably! Though I no longer live in Paris (having moved to Amsterdam & then Berlin) I still return twice a year to shop at the world’s best flea market. And, in fact, I don’t shop alone... I lead tours of my favorite fair & favorite city!

Last minute readers can always sign up for a Fall Day Tour or, if you’re planning your Spring Travels to Paris, email me for French Flea Market Fair Details at toma@antiquesdiva.com. And if an email simply seems like too much commitment, visit my website to read The Invitation for this fall’s tour to get a feel for it & me, The Antiques Diva.

La Mom: Sign me up! Can you tell us about some of your purchases?

The Antiques Diva:
A tour through my home finds souvenirs from Chatou in every room. From the €3 hand painted Russian tray hanging in my stairwell to the €1200 18th century berger in my salon, Ham Fair purchases dictate my décor.

In the winter I wear my €45 1950’s fox fur stole and dinner parties have me pulling out the set of €200 turn-of-the-century majolica knife rests where I sit my €75 early 20th century mother of pearl and sterling couteaux à poisson.

La Mom: Wow, the price range you’ve described is quite wide! From €3 up to €2000... is that normal?

The Antiques Diva: Prices at Chatou are not low, and sadly they aren’t as low as they were before the Euro. But in Chatou vendors expect to bargain. I always ask for a 30% discount and receive at least 20%. But if you hate bargaining, there is a magic question to softball pitch, “Est-ce que c'est votre meilleur prix?” Trust me, though the vendor might not “parler anglais” they will understand the question, “Is this your best price?” For those living in the Ile de France, the vendor will often include delivery in the purchase price.

La Mom: What if you live abroad? Will they still ship?

The Antiques Diva: For those unfortunate people like me who don’t live in Paris and have to travel to Chatou from afar the fair coordinators work with several shipping companies and they are happy to have things shipped to your homeland – for a cost!

La Mom:
This has been a treat! One last question before we bid adieu... in my intro I mentioned you’re the foremost expert on European antique shopping & champagne. Can you find the latter at La Foire Nationale la Brocante et aux Jambon?

The Antiques Diva: Absolutely! In fact, that’s where you’ll find me, sipping champagne in the center aisle of the fair where all the food vendors have set up shop!

“Chin Chin!”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

La Mom's Rentrée Diet

Most people get in shape for the summer, but that’s sooo not parisienne. With the social calendar gearing up as people come back from their holidays, I’ve got to shift the extra padding I put on in the States (merci, Krispy Kreme).

The only problem is re-finding my French will of steel after a month-long Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Mexican food binge.

Here’s what my diet looks like so far:

Breakfast:

Double Nespresso shot, no sugar. (Caffeine should jump-start the metabolism.)

Organic muesli with plain organic yoghurt. (Très, très healthy. Drawback: tastes like wet cardboard. Found an actual twig in the muesli.)

Mid-morning snack:

3 squares of Lindt Coeur Fondant milk chocolate with gooey center. (I needed a pick-me-up. Chocolate’s good for the skin, right?)

Lunch:

Mixed salad greens with tabouleh. (Très healthy.)

Added half a pack of Société Roquefort cheese (Merde.)

Afternoon snack:


End-of-the season mirabelle plums (Très healthy and très délicieuse – but who am I kidding? It's really just an excuse to see Jean-Luc at the local market fruit stand.)

Dinner:

Congealed Kraft Mac’N’Cheese that the Fries didn’t finish (Gross on so many levels.)

Grapes (in the form of two glasses of Bordeaux – resveratrol is definitely good for the skin!)

Midnight snack:

The rest of the Lindt squares. (Whoops.)

French women don’t get fat – but this Américaine better watch it before her ass lops over the Métro seats!

What are your French-style diet tips? La Mom wants to know!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dogged


France.

A country with a long history of promoting Les Droits de L'Homme (human rights.) Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Yet even I was surprised to see human rights fly out the window when it comes to dogs. It seems dogs have more rights that children do. At least in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Case in point:

The French Fries got a bucket of sidewalk chalk from the US over the summer. We put it to use last week on our street. My little Monet and Manet were having so much fun scribbling Eiffel Towers, cars, and les soleils (suns) when an older lady walked up and tried to put an end to it.

Madame: Excuse me, but you shouldn't let your kids draw on the sidewalk like that.

La Mom: Oh it's ok Madame. They're just crayons made for the sidewalk and will wash away the next time it rains.

Madame: Well it looks like graffiti.

La Mom: I'm sorry about that, but the crayons are made for children to use this way.

Madame: It's dirty and it brings down the standing of the street. We live in the 16th arrondissement after all.

La Mom: (insert Parisian shoulder shrug)

Madame: We're not dogs living in an HLM (public housing).

Did she say 'dogs'? Of course La Mom took the dog reference and ran with it!

La Mom: What would you prefer to do? Walk down the street and have to look at scribbles or dog poop? Scribbles don't stink and if you walk on the drawings, they won't ruin your shoes!

Madame: Dogs don't know any better, but you do and you shouldn't let your kids draw on the sidewalk.

La Mom: If you want to clean up the streets then start with dog owners. Dog merde is bringing down the standing of the 16th, not my kids!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to School Daze

Back to school
Back to books
Back to teachers’ dirty looks
‘Cause my accent’s lame
It’s such a shame
But don’t make my kid take the blame!


It’s la rentrée. Parisians slowly shuffle back to work and school after a long, lazy summer.

But according to his teacher, Big Fry brought back more than souvenirs from his vacation in the States. He also brought back – quelle horreur! – an American accent.

La Maitresse de Classe: Bonjour, Madame. Did you have a nice summer?

La Mom: Yes, it was great. We spent a lot of time in les Etats-Unis – it was really good for Big Fry’s English.

La Maitresse: Hmmm…I noticed his accent has – comment dire – deteriorated.

La Mom: Deteriorated? But he’s completely bilingual! He speaks both languages perfectly. He never mixes French and English up.

Big Fry: Bye, Maman. Don’t worry pour moi. Je suis big this year. Je passerai un good time at l’ecole!

Merde. It’s going to be a long school year.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making A List & Checking It Twice


It's that time of year when you'll see French parents roaming the Carrefour and Auchan supermarket aisles with lists, lists, nothing but lists in their hands!

You can spot an expat parent a mile away because they roam the aisles with very confused and/or frustrated facial expressions. You can bet they're checking their lists twice to make sure they've understood everything.

A shopping list would be too easy, a to-do list too practical, and a Christmas wish-list too early.

It's the dreaded back-to-school supply list.

La Mom mom dreads this one the way Big Cheese dreads visiting the US for a month and having to drink American coffee which he calls jus de chaussettes - sock juice. Nice visual, huh?

I dread this list because it's way too technical for moi and I need a translator to help decode the items. The list isn't made up of easy French words like stylo (pen), papier (paper), feutres (ink pens). I have to learn a whole new vocabulary like rabat, godet, timbale, and plastifiée.

Here's a sample of some of the supplies on the list this year:

-1 pochette en carton, à rabat (24x32), 6 à 8 cm d'épaisseur minimum
(A carton pocket with rabbit. 6 to 8 cm required thickness?)

-1 box of paints, 12 godets, marque Lefranc-Bourgeois or Faber Castell
(Why can't Big Fry's school pick a brand of paint that every supermarket in France carries like Crayola? Must they require a brand that I have to hunt high and low for?)

-Chaussons rythmiques
(Rythmic slippers. Hmmm, what does a 5 year old need rythmic slippers for and where do you buy them? It sounds kinky, but then again I must be missing something in the translation.)

-1 box of 12 colored crayons dans une boîte métallique plate - marque Caran d'Ache
(Will Big Fry be sent home from school if he shows up with a box of 15 crayons in a cardboard box? Must there really be 12 crayons in a flat, metallic box, made by an obscure company sold at the Librairie that's a 25 minute walk from my apartment?)

So this was my third and final year of dealing with a French school supply list! Next year I'm taking control of the situation so it doesn't take control of me. My plan of action will be as follows:

1/ Scope out the local librairie or presse shop.
2/ Make friends with the manager (read: smile, flirt, and play up the foreign accent.)
3/ Show up with the supply list and say, "French is such a rich language with so many beautiful words, but these words are new ones even to me. What does this mean?"
4/ Stand back and watch my new little buddy do my work for me.

Voila!

Friday, August 28, 2009

La Mom's in the Market...

La Mom’s in the market for fresh summer fruit.

Market day is my favorite day, not so much for the sun-caressed cherries and nectarines straight from the French countryside.

It’s for the free samples.

From the mouth-watering Jean-Luc.

Like the season’s first Gariguette strawberries, Jean-Luc always surfaces at my favorite fruit stand sometime in early June. His smoldering eyes get me so flustered that my French flies straight out the window. At the beginning of the summer, I usually stammer something along the lines of “Moi want pêche now.”

But by the end of August, our conversations go a little something like this:

Jean-Luc: Bonjour, Madame. I have something special for you aujourd’hui. The most luscious melon you’ll ever taste. Venez, try a little.

La Mom:
Mmmmm. It’s so juicy.

Jean-Luc: It’s in its prime. But attendez – the figs are even better. Let me open one for you.

La Mom: It’s divine!

Jean-Luc: There’s nothing better than a sun-ripened figue with just a touch of honey dribbled on top.

La Mom to self: Hang on – are we still talking about fruit here?

If anyone has any recipes involving 6 cantaloupes and 3 kilos of figs, let me know…

At the last market day, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tanorexic


It's tanfest, that time when everyone in Paris comes back from their long summer vacations and competition begins for the best vacation tan.

I went to visit Big Fry's school to find out the teacher's name and bumped into "Tan-Sophie" (real name: Anne-Sophie), one of the French moms who looks tanorexic. Apparently, questioning someone's tan factor in this city is grounds for a full on tan-attack! Here's what went down:

La Mom: Hi there! How was your summer vacation?

(Sidebar: Note: you must ask this all important question at la rentrée. If you don't, it's considered impolite by the French.)

Tan-Sophie: Super! We spent a whole month in Sainte Maxime. Et toi? You don't look like you went on vacation at all. (Ouch! 1 point to Anne-So.)

La Mom: We went back to the US for a month then spent some time in Corsica. You, by the way, aren't very tan either for spending a month at the beach. (Rebound! Hit 'em where it hurts - the tan. 1 point for moi.)

Tan-Sophie: (Offended look on her face) Well I've been back in Paris for a week already! Of course I'm losing my tan. You know, le bronzage du sud (a southern tan) is orange and doesn't last very long. On the contrary, a tan from Brittany is far better because it's deeper, darker, and lasts a lot longer.

(Sidebar: Leave it to a Parisian to point out the fine differences between a Riviera and a Brittany tan.)

La Mom: Well I had no idea there are such important differences between southern and northern French tans.

Tan-Sophie: Excuse me for saying this, but you really should consider going a shade darker. You don't want your husband comparing you to tan French women do you? (2 points to Anne-Sophie for that snide remark.)

La Mom: You obviously didn't read the Journal du Dimanche while on vacation because if you had you would've seen the 2 PAGE ARTICLE on sun dangers and skin cancer. You know Anne-Sophie, those who don't tan seem to have fewer wrinkles in the long run. You may want to stop now before you reach the point of no return.

(5 points for La Mom! I just knew I'd be able to whip this out one day - I didn't expect it to be so soon.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hot for Teacher


Sing it with La Mom ~

I think of all the education that I missed.
But then my homework was never quite like this.
Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad, I'm hot for teacher.
I got it bad, so bad, I'm hot for teacher.


Oh oui, all the mommies were hot for our CPR teacher this morning.

Today's playgroup hostess had the fantastique idea of inviting le hottest doctor in Paris to give us a private CPR lesson while the kids played.

Before getting down to business, we shared a morning snack of café au lait and croissants with Dr. Hot.

(Sidebar: Actually, nobody ate their croissants. Everyone held them in their napkins because we were too busy chatting up the hot Doc to eat. Truth be told, nobody wanted to take the chance of having crossiant flakes stick to our lipstick unknowingly - hate when that happens!)

Then it was education time. The room fell silent the minute Dr. Hot stood up in front of everybody with his baby mannequin. He had us from the moment he said, "Cardiopulmonary".

(Sidebar: Can playgroups get any better than this? I get to see friends for two hours, let my French Fries run around someone else's apartment and mess it up, binge on delicious French pastries, and then to top it off - stare at the cutest doctor in Paris?)

When Dr. Hot came to see the moms individually to check on our CPR skills, I'll admit it (even if the other moms won't), I pretended not to get the hang of it just so I could hang out with him a few minutes longer. Then we all broke into little groups of two or three moms to practice our resuscitation techniques.

What we were really doing was going into cardiac arrest and plotting to ditch our current docs in order to see Dr. Hot every time our kids get sick! In fact, my group's conversation went something like this...

La Mom: Dr. Hot is such a cutie. We need to have monthly CPR refresher courses just so we can see him!

Seattle Mom: I'm going to check him out on Facebook to see if he's married.

Miami Mom: Maybe you should poke him and say thanks for today's class.

Seattle Mom: Great idea, I will poke him.

London Mom: Oh just admit it, what you really want is for him to poke you!
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Read new, original articles from La Mom that you can't find here at Focus On Style - the fashion website for can-do chic!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beg, Borrow, or...Make it Yourself?

Who says craft time is just for kids?

Hermès is thinking of the little people.

You know, us regular moms who lust after Kelly bags but can't rationalize spending half a year's worth of grocery money on a purse.

(That said, can't Big Cheese and the Fries live off of bread, water, and love for 6 months?)

Now you can get some of that Hermès style minus the financial sting with a paper version of their collier de chien bracelet.

Here's La Mom's Wednesday afternoon activity with the French Fries:

1) Download the template

2) Give the French Fries some paillettes (glitter) and paint pens

3) Glue it all together

4) Hit the next playdate with my personalized Hermès bracelet!

Click here to download your own craft for the day.

A vos ciseaux, Mesdames!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm Cheating...


On my hairdresser that is.

And one of the expat moms told him.

I've been seeing Michel, my Mane Man, since I was La Single Girl in Paris. He's been with me through all of the milestones in life. He massaged my scalp during a big break-up and gave me a new lease on life with a great cut and sexy highlights. He's been with me through the fun stuff like marriage and French Fries.

Yet over the last year, I've felt my love for him weaken. Maybe its's because he doesn't give me fabulous massages anymore while washing my hair. Or because he offers free manicures to some of my expat friends and not moi. Or maybe it's because I'm jealous of him kissing everyone's derrière but mine the minute they walk in the door. I only get a kiss on each cheek.

(Sidebar: The derrière kissing is endless: Claire Chazal (France's equivalent to Katie Couric), the US ambassador's wife, Barbara & Lauren Bush when they pass through town, Saudi princesses, French actresses... Message to Michel: La Mom needs some lovin' too OK?)

So I started an affair with another hairdresser. He's filling my needs in between visits to Michel. My love tank is full again. He gives my locks the love and attention they need while shamelessly flirting with me and making me feel oh-so beautiful. Wouldn't you cheat too under these conditions?

Last week, my friend Jennifer happily informed Michel (then bragged to me about it) that I was cheating on him. Can you believe it? After all, I was the one who introduced her to Michel after she moved here from Dubai and was fed up with flying back to her old hairdresser there every 6 weeks.

(Sidebar: Honestly, I think her "hair appointments" were just an excuse to do some Duty Free shopping back in Dubai where her favorite designers were 30%cheaper than in Paris.)

So when I popped in to see Michel yesterday I told him that my four month absence in his salon was due to a long visit to the US. Michel winked at me and said, "Oh La Mom, you are lye-ing. Zjennifer 'as told me zat you are coiffing your 'air zomewhere else, you petite coquine."

Red face. Watery eyes. I almost cried! He knew I'd cheated and would shave me bald as punishment!

"But eet ees OK, I knew eet and I also knew zat you would come back to me zooner or later chérie."

Eh oui, I guess the French are so used to their spouses and lovers cheating so it's perfectly natural to assume your hair client will too!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Official...

(Photo courtesy of Le Journal du Dimanche)

France's Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche
confirmed something that I've been thinking for years, with this front page headline:

FRANCE IGNORES SUN DANGER

The headline and two page article about skin cancer increasing and how the French are ignorant when it comes to protecting themselves from the sun was like having a big present wrapped with a beautiful ribbon dropped into my lap!

I just know I'll be refering to this newspaper article for...the rest of my life in France!

You see, La Mom and her expat friends have been on the receiving end of far too many smarty remarks about how ridiculous we are protecting our kids from the sun.

And then there's the passive-agressive approach witnessed by Texas Mom. Her kids just spent a month on vacation with grand-maman in Cannes. When Texas Mom picked them up, not only were their faces dark brown, but their noses and eyelids were still sunburned! While emptying their suitcase she found the bottle of SPF 50 pediatric sunblock she packed unopened and in it's original packaging.

French Mother-in-Law: 1, Texas Mom: 0. Can you say 'what the heck' in French?

Tanning is a national sport here. At la rentrée, when people come back from their long summer vacations, Paris turns into one big tanfest. Everyone - granparents, the local butcher, the newspaper kiosk salesman, French poodles, and even small children are all competing to hear, "Oh la la! What a nice tan you have!" The deeper and darker, the better.

So I've decided to do my part to help educate zee French! I'm going to photocopy this article and give it to all of my expat friends to whip out when we hear comments from the Frenchies like these every summer:

Why doesn't she just dress them in winter coats to go swimming."
(Muttered behind my back as I was dressing the French Fries in UV protectant swim shirts)

"You never let the kids do anything. Why can't they play in the sandbox? It's hot outside."
(Of course it's hot, it's 1PM and the sandbox has zero shade, why would I let them go out there even with sunblock on?)

"Why do you waste so much time putting sunblock on them? They don't need it. They're white, some color is what they need!"

"A tan is a sign of social standing. It's shows everyone that you've been on vacation."

"What do they need hats for? The sun is out, it's not raining."
(My point exactly)

And my favorite comment of all courtesy of my very own Big Cheese,

"Lay off the sunblock! I'm sick of being the only one who has kids coming back from vacation white!"

Looks like I have a long road ahead of moi, but education begins at home right?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Secrets

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 1, 2008

=======================================
What doctor does every mom in Paris have on her speed dial?

Dr. Hot of the American Hospital? Probably.

The pediatrician? Maybe.

The dermatologist? Possibly.

The phlebologist? Definitely!

A phlebologist is a doctor who specializes in veins and their diseases. Basically, a Vein Repair Man. I just call mine Dr. Vein.



Dr. Vein has become my new best friend since my hairstylist, manicurist, massage therapist, life coach, facialist, and personal trainer. I see her more than I see Big Cheese at the moment because she's saving my legs from looking like walking spider webs. Can't have a walking spider web on the beaches of Saint Tropez!

What does Dr. Vein do?

She spends a great deal of time inspecting my legs for red, purple and blue spider veins as a result of my pregnancies. She shoots them full of a solution and then traces over them with a laser in order to make them shrink and eventually disappear. My legs are on their way to looking 18 again!

In fact, having a phlebologist seems to be every expat mom’s little secret in Paris.

When you see that gorgeous mommy strutting up the main alley at the Park Monceau like it’s her own personal runway and you ask her how in the world her 36 year-old legs look so beautiful after having 3 kids, and she replies, “Sweetie, it must be all the walking I do around Paris that keeps them in shape!” Well, you know, she’s lying. She’s got the phlebologist’s number on speed dial in her Vertu diamond-encrusted cell phone tucked far way into her Chanel purse.

And she’s not going to share it with you!

It’s only when you start visiting your phlebologist on a regular basis and run into several moms from your playgroup and the park that you realize everyone’s doing it, but they just don’t want you to know they’re doing it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cheesy Porn

The French love cheese. And the French love beautiful women.

What better way to combine the two than with this "cheese pin-up" calendar?



You know you're in France when you're greeted by Mademoiselle Emma and her Tomme de Savoie in the bathroom of your favorite bistro.

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Bisous,

La Mom

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

La Mom does L'Amérique

La Mom is heading back to the homeland for summer break. I’m going to enjoy some real sunshine (au revoir, Gray Paree!), catch up with family and friends, and give the French Fries a crash course in American culture. I always seem to slip back into old familiar ways pretty quickly – until I do something Frenchy like eat pizza with a knife and fork.

Keep checking in over the next few weeks for new posts and La Mom Classics!

You know you’re back in the States when…

…No one makes fun of your accent.

…McDonald’s doesn’t serve San Pellegrino or Strawberry Crumble Sundaes with a touch of mint.

…Big Cheese asks why people wear pajamas (translation: track suits) to the mall.

…there are 3000 different kinds of cereal at the grocery store.

…cheese looks like bars of soap.

…people look at you weirdly when you ask for a glass of wine in a “family restaurant”.

…everyone is so gosh-darn friendly!

…flip-flops are appropriate footwear for an evening out.

…EVERYTHING (and I mean everything) is super-sized.

…Iced tea is neither carbonated nor comes in cans.

…the guy at the passport checkpoint says “welcome home”.

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Which Parc Monceau mommy is a long lost relative of one of France's most famous queens? Check back Friday to find out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's Celebrate France


It's July 14th - Bastille Day in France. Here are 14 things La Mom loves about France:




1. Croissants
2. Wine
3. Champagne
4. Daddy Sarkozy
5. The Côte d'Azur
6. Big Cheese and my French Fries
7. Paris
8. All those holidays
9. Cheese
10. Cafés
11. Food
12. Post-baby pelvic floor re-education
13. Nationalized health care
14. The French!

Et vous? What do you love about France?

Monday, July 13, 2009

International Relations: G8 Breakdown

When in France, do as the French.

President Obama knows the value of international relations. He's really getting into French culture as he checks out the rear view of junior G8 delegate Mayora Tavares.



Obama: Whoa, I'd like to sign a treaty with that one!

Sarko: Oui, she ees not bad. But Carla 'as more, how you say – “junk in zee trunk". Ecoute, I take you to St. Tropez to see ze real belles, d’accord?

Obama: Well, if it's official state business, d'accord.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Breaking News

(La Mom News Wire) Paris, France - The End of a Major French Fashion Faux Pas

L'Equipe Magazine, France's leading sports news magazine over the weekend announced the demise of a major French fashion accessory. One that has cradled French boys & men since World War II. Please get ready to pay your respects to something every French man has (unfortunately) worn at least once in his life...





La Banana Hammock

"On a man, the banana hammock shows too much. Too much thigh and inner-leg. It's too small to have a truly esthetic function and therefore has no technical role. It molds the package. It's boldly rude and disrespectful," writes Marc Beaugé of L'Equipe Magazine.

The banana hammock is being replaced by boxers, shorts, and bermudas. Even Olympic swimmers are replacing their speedos with hi-tech swim suits. Can't blame them, non?




"France's beaches will be beautiful again. Women will no longer be visually held hostage to la banana hammock," said La Mom. "We've seen enough 'meat and two veg' to last a lifetime. My only question is what took so long?" She continues, "This is one French fashion accessory that should have died 40 years ago. In some bi-cultural marriages, the French husband's wearing of a banana hammock can be grounds for divorce."

La Mom will be reporting from the beaches of France later this summer. Is the demise of la banana hammock fact or fiction? Stay tuned to La Mom's blog for updates and pictures, bien sûr!

About La Mom - Tales of An American Mom in Paris:

La Mom is a leading expat blogger. According to fans, her witty, creative blog enables readers to imagine what it's like living in Paris as an expat, with kids, and with the French!

You can read all about La Mom's adventures in Paris at www.lamomparis.blogspot.com. More information about La Mom is available at:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LaMomParis
Email: lamom.paris@gmail.com

SOURCE: L'Equipe Magazine: www.lequipemag.fr and La Mom

=====================================================================================

Follow La Mom on Twitter this Saturday as she hosts an American-themed dinner party for 10 Frenchies!

Will the French turn their noses up at fine American cuisine: hamburgers, fries, and apple pie? Tune into La Mom's tweets to find out!

And if you live in Paris 16th, my apartment door will have a picture of Obama taped to it. If you can find it, you're invited to join in on the fun too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Road Rage

It’s official.

I’m a real Parisienne.

It doesn’t have anything to do with my clothes, perfume, or certain je ne sais quoi that I’ve tried desperately to cultivate.

It’s because I can cuss somebody out in rush-hour traffic.

You’d think that bearing the fruit of his loins would make Big Cheese proud of me, but no. It’s the fact that I’ve started honking and gesticulating wildly in true Parisian fashion that has him grinning from ear to ear.

Especially since I cracked down on his voiture etiquette after Big Fry was born.

That was then:

Big Cheese (honking):
Putain de merde, connard! (translation: unprintable)

La Mom: Honey, get a grip on it! You know how they repeat everything at this age.

Big Fry: Connard! (translation: unprintable)

This is now:

La Mom: If I flip the bird at someone, does that mean “va te faire foutre”?

Big Cheese: Quoi?

La Mom:
The other day this guy stopped at a red light, signaled that he was turning right, and started reversing into me. He saw a parking place at the last minute and wanted to back up into it.

Big Cheese:
In the middle of traffic? What did you do?

La Mom: Well, first I started laying on the horn and then he yelled at me, so I flipped him off, pulled into the lane of oncoming traffic, rolled down the window and screamed “Va te faire foutre, connard!

Big Cheese: Je t’aime.

Small Fry: Connard!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

iParis, Do You?

iParised all weekend and got out of my little bubble that is the 16th arrondissement. Have a look...


Happy 5th Birthday to a dear friend who's been the hangout of choice for expat mom coffee mornings (because they're kid friendly!)








Déclicieux! Tourists sampling French cuisine as the garbage truck drives by at the Marché Poncelet.







Crazy Parisian drivers around the Madeleine.









Ladurée, La Mom's favorite tea rooom for a croissant aux amandes et pistache and a café crème. Go early in the morning, because the line is out the door by afternoon.





Want an affordable piece of French luxury? Head to Hermès on the Rue du Fauboug Saint Honoré for a bangle, belt, or scarf.

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Stay tuned later this week as La Mom reveals the demise of a major French fashion accessory!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Frenchy Friday - Au Revoir Michel


La Mom took this picture of Michel Jackson and Bubbles when they were on display at the Jeff Koons exhibit at the Chateau de Versailles back in January. As of June 25th, I wish I'd taken more pictures of Michel and his chimp.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Safe and Secure French Field Trip












You know you live in France when....

Your kid's school plans a field trip and informs you two days before the trip.

Inform being the key word here, because the field trip flyer was short on information.

Dear Parents,

Madame Barnier's class will be going on an end-of-the-school-year boat trip on Thursday from 9:30 - 2:30. Please make sure your child brings a picnic lunch. For more information, please contact Madame Barnier at barnier@barnier.fr.

Hmmm, a detail-poor note like that didn't make La Mom feel good about letting her Big Fry go on this trip. Then again, I couldn't keep him home and have him miss out on all the fun.

So I'm sure I was tagged Paranoid Mommy when I asked Madame Barnier:

-Where is the boat trip going to be? (The Seine? Bois de Boulogne lake?)
-How long will the kids be on the boat?
-What's the name of the boat excursion company?
-Are there life jackets on the boat?
-How will the kids get there? (Bus? Metro? RER commuter train?)
-Is lunch on the boat?

The life jacket question really threw her. The answer Madame Barnier gave me was, "But the boat is made for kids - it's safe and secure." Translation: no life jackets. OK, that would never fly in the U.S.

So the day of the field trip I was on pins & needles hoping Big Fry didn't somehow fall off the "safe & secure boat" without a lifejacket.

Oh, and it turns out Big Fry's class had their picnic under the Eiffel Tower. How charming is that? My only question is why Big Fry had to tell me that one instead of Madame Barnier's flyer?


Photo via Bateaux Parisien

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flash in the Pan

I’ve discovered there’s more than one way to be the most popular mom at the school fair.

Some mamans slave over homemade madeleines, some donate bottles of Château Margaux wine to the raffle, and then there’s my tactic.

Flash the dads.

OK, so it wasn’t a part of the original plan. Last Friday was our first-ever school fair – and I was feeling the pressure. I knew I’d see Arabelle, the snooty Alpha-Maman who somehow managed four small children, ran the PTA with an iron fist, and baked the perfect quiche – all in peep-toe high heels. Her son Paul is pals with Big Fry, and I always dread her cold once-over glance as she looks at me like I’m a ver de terre that she inadvertently squashed with her 4-inch stilettos.

This time I was determined that there was no way Arabelle could accuse me of slacking off on my motherly duties. Armed with a homemade tarte aux abricots and my new violet linen wrap dress, I immediately signed up to man the pêche aux canards booth for the kiddies.

How hard could it be, right?

I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of 80 French kids hopped up on bonbons and let loose for the evening. The next 30 minutes was a blur of accepting tokens and pushing fishing poles into grabbing hands eager to fish for plastic ducks in an inflatable swimming pool.

Paul and his dad elbowed through the crowd for his turn. “Bonjour, Paul,” I said sweetly I handed him his fishing pole – just as the hook of an overexcited four-year-old caught on the hem of my dress.

The eyebrows of Paul’s papa shot up so far on his forehead that they almost went into orbit as he was treated to a full-frontal of my see-through fuschia lace bikini.

I told you that I dressed for the occasion.

It’s the French twist on your mother’s insistence on clean underwear:

Always wear pretty panties – you never know who’s going to see them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Frenchy Friday


I went to the Galeries Lafayette looking for a new maillot de bain and wasn't very motivated after spying this super-sized sexy Parisienne advertising her hard body, perky nénés, and teeny bikini. So I've decided to take my business elsewhere: to Le Bon Marché - where bathing suit advertising is discreet and doesn't make La Mom feel like Le Pig.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ready, Set, SOLDES!

Ladies and gentlemen, get your running shoes out and your boxing gloves on.

C’est les soldes!

Today marks the beginning of the fabled twice-annual deep-discount French sales.

Fabled, you might ask? Let’s just say that even Cendrillion can find a dress or two to go with those glass stilettos as prices fall to rock-bottom over the 5-week sales period.

And why the boxing gloves? If it’s anything like last year’s Zadig and Voltaire’s markdowns, you’ll need ‘em. Normally prim and proper 16th arondissement demoiselles morphed into banshees as they duked it out over cashmere sweaters – even resorted to slugging each other with their Hermès Birkin bags to get at the last ELVIS-logo pullover.

Trust me, those sapphire-and-diamond rings can do some damage. Better come with a game plan.

Here are La Mom’s tips for making the most of the summer soldes:

1) Plan your attack.


Get in touch with your inner Napoléon and map out your strategy. This is war, baby, so get used to it. La Mom’s personal picks this year are:

Comptoir de Cotonniers for their juicy prints and structured linen dresses

Les Petites for their basics in a vivid palette (check out the ink blue)

Anne Fontaine
– because you always need a crisp white shirt

2) If you love it, buy it.

Don’t bother looking around at another store to see if they have a better price or wait until it’s marked down even further. If you find something you like in your size, snap it up immédiatement! Stores have problems keeping sizes in stock at the best of times, and it’s even worse during the sales.

3) Think like a Frenchwoman.


Parisiennes
never buy because the price is right. It’s because they’ve found the perfect pair of shoes for their cocktail dress, or that gold clutch they’ve been hunting for two seasons straight. They only buy what they need – and what makes them look great, bien sûr!

4) Break out your new vocabulary.

It’s inevitable – if you get a great deal, someone’s bound to be jealous. Just make sure you have the Français to make the loser pardon their French.

Here’s what happened to La Mom at the winter soldes:

Parisienne No° Une: She’s trying on the last size 38!

Parisienne No° Deux: Salope.

La Mom:
Oui, la belle salope who just got the last Yves Saint Laurent LBD at 80% off!

Monday, June 22, 2009

English Lessons


Big Fry’s got it pretty much figured out when it comes to language. He zips in and out of French and English conversations with the ease of a Parisian motorcyclist darting through traffic down the Champs-Elysées.

The other day, though, he floored me. His maternelle teacher is going global – she’s teaching the kids greetings in several foreign languages. What I didn’t know is that I’d be getting an English lesson myself.

Here’s last week’s after-school conversation:

La Mom: How was school today, sweetie?

Big Fry: Good. We learned how to say hello in English! Mommy, do you know how to say it?

La Mom: Ummm, no. Why don’t you tell me?

Big Fry: Eel-oh.

Crap, is it too late to sign him up for the American School of Paris’ summer camp before ‘ee starts speeking like zees?!?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

International Pickup Lines


I love summer in Paris, especially when I can spend an afternoon at a sidewalk café sipping Perrier with a twist of lemon, reading Le Monde, and people watching.

What I love even more is when a handsome Frenchman flirts with moi.

As I was on the receiving end of the best pickup line I've ever heard today, it made me think about the "best of" international pickup lines I've received while living in Paris. Allow me to share them with you:

The sweetest (from Marco the Italian):
Your eyes glitter like the Eiffel Tower.

The most confusing (from Reinhard the German):
You look warm like central heating. (Did he mean I was a hottie?)

The nastiest (from an American tourist):
I bet you got some nice pussy cat going on down there!

A bit obnoxious (from Javier the Spaniard):
Would you like to learn a foreign tongue? I can teach you with mine.

Even more obnoxious (from Big Cheese years ago):
So you are a little bit French? Would you like to have some more French in you?

And the best pickup line goes to....a Frenchman of course. How much more French can you get than what the fish vendor at my local farmer's market whispered as I walked by:

You bring the bread, I'll bring the wine, we'll have a picnic together?

So what are the best pickup lines you've ever heard or said?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who Cut The Fromage?


Leave it to the French to "cut the cheese" using their most recognized landmark - the Eiffel Tower. I saw these cheese graters at the Galeries Lafayette over the weekend. I think they'd make fun gifts for my friends back home. Does anybody want La Mom to send you one?

============================================
Dear Bloggy Friends,

La Mom would like to thank those who take the time out of their busy schedules to read my blog, comment, and send me emails (I wish I could do the same for you all, but Big Cheese is un petit peu annoyed that my evenings are spent blogging and not with him.)

A big merci to one reader, Mike D., who requested more Paris pictures on the blog. La Mom agrees that pictures of beautiful Paris are always a good thing. I'm sure you agree that a picture of moi, the French Fries, my apartment, my neighborhood, or my friends is a bad thing. Why? Because it'll give away who I am and once my cover is blown who's gonna give you the Paris dish?

So, more Paris pictures to come! Any other requests out there?

Kisses on both cheeks,
La Mom

Monday, June 15, 2009

Poor Little Rich Girl

I think I’ve found a silver lining to the economic crisis. Hang on – make that lining platinum. There are so many going-away parties that La Mom is getting personal guided tours of Paris’ premium real estate.

I’m slightly jaded after the parade of custom-made Smeg kitchens with built-in Nespresso bars, but every once in a while there’s a bijou de famille that takes my breath away.

Sidebar: If you’re ever considering ditching a party in favor of curling up on your sofa with a glass of champagne and some Bugles, always check the address first. An OTT hostess gift is well worth the price of admission to check out the Lifestyles of the Bitch and Famous on Avenue Foch.

Take last Saturday night’s hangout, for example.

Even though the guest of honor was a woman who I could frankly take or leave in terms of playdate material, I had to go to her bon voyage bash just to get a glimpse of the hôtel particulier that my friend Chicago Mom has been raving about.

This swanky soirée was hosted by the American wife of a high-powered advertising exec. Rumor has it that he runs the French subsidiary of a well-known global agency with an iron fist. Well, whatever Jérôme is doing is clearly bringing home the lardon, as I found out from my hostess.

Poor Little Rich Girl: Well, you’ve seen the rooftop garden, so let’s go down to the kids’ suites.

La Mom: (Swigging champagne) Sure. Did she say suites?

PLRG: I just find that Philémon and Sixtine really need their separate spaces.

Sidebar: Philémon is 5 going on 45 (or at least you’d think so with the way she dresses him as a mini replica of his dad), and Sixtine is the ripe old age of 3 – clearly the perfect time for your own private powder room.

PLRG: And here’s the master bedroom.

La Mom: Wow! Jesus, this place is bigger than my living room!

PLRG:
The real centerpiece is the bathroom. I had the stained glass skylight custom-made. We flew the marble in from Italy for the Jacuzzi. You know, I actually don’t like going to hotels any more because they’re never as nice as my house.

La Mom: (Strangling noise)

PLRG: Are you OK?

La Mom: Fine – just about choked on my canapé.

Can’t hack the 5-star resorts because they don’t have heated bidets? C’est la cerise sûr le gâteau.

Say it with me, people: Awwwwww. Ma pauvre petite chérie.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

French Boxing


It was boxing day in France today. Did you hear about the all-star boxing match?

If you didn’t have a ringside seat, allow me to fill you in on the details.

In this corner of the ring - La Mom. In the other corner of the ring - La France.

If you’ve lived in France long enough like La Mom has, you’ve learned how to verbally box with the best of ‘em. Who are the best verbal boxers this side of the globe? The French of course! And nothing makes La Mom happier than throwing an upper-cut to a rude French salesperson (feel free to insert “customer service rep” as well.)

This is what went down as I was shopping at H&M for a Hello Kitty belt for Small Fry.

(After 15 minutes of waiting in line, I finally arrived at the cash register and handed over the belt.)

H&M salesperson: There’s no price on this.
La Mom: Oh sorry, I didn’t see that.
H&M: So how much is it?
La Mom: I don’t know.
H&M: Well I need a price.
La Mom: So call for a price check. It’s not my problem.

(I know this sounds extremely snotty, but you have to understand the “it’s not my problem” is a standard line most customer service & sales people use in this country when they can’t be bothered to do something. My advice to you: use it on them first and catch them off guard.)

H&M: I can’t, you have to go get me another belt.

So I went to get a belt only because I just wanted to be done with this stupid exchange. I handed the salesperson the exact same belt, but with Strawberry Shortcake on it instead of Hello Kitty. Silly moi, I shouldn’t have assumed that same belt style + different cartoon character = the same price (especially when they are displayed right next to each other.)

H&M: It’s a different belt.
La Mom: I know, there aren’t anymore Hello Kitty belts.
H&M: (Insert ginormous Gallic shrug and eye roll) Well you could have told me that!
La Mom: Aren’t I telling you that now? And maybe you could try having prices tags on your belts and keeping some in stock. It's not my job to figure it out for you.
H&M: That's ok, I'm used to customers like you.
La Mom: That's ok, I'm used to horrible French service and salespeople like you.

So have you ever had to box in France? What are your boxing stories?
 

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