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We went to Berlin last week to visit our good friend Stephanie and her husband Toffi and their two adorable daughters, Marie and Greta.

Josephine was thrilled to be able to roam all over their gigantic apartment in Prenzlauer Berg and to play with all of Marie and Greta’s awesome German toys (they have a slide in their living room!).  Berlin, in general, seemed really kid-friendly (sooo different from Paris) and we were surprised to see sandboxes and toys for children in numerous cafes, even cafes in high-traffic areas like on Museuminsel (museum island) down near the river Spree.

Josephine also got to know their dog, Oko. When we first arrived, she was scared of Oko and she started crying if he even looked at her. It was odd for us because we had never seen her afraid of something before (she doesn’t even really have stranger anxiety, unless she’s really tired and cranky).  Yet, she really warmed up to him, and she began pointing at him and saying “Daaah” (for dog).  Tadhg and I have since been having heated debates as to whether or not this counts as her first word.  We’d love for any gentle readers out there to intervene with their opinions.  Tadhg thinks that this instance does stand as the first time that Josephine has intentionally used a word with regularity.  I think that the word “hi” could be her first word, since she has been able to wave and say “hi” when someone enters the room for weeks.  However, she does not say “hi” consistently every time.  And, though she does pretty consistently call out dogs on the street (and there are a lot of them here), she has also been known to point at pigeons and ducks and call them “daaah”s as well, so maybe we’re still waiting for the first definitive word.  What do you think? How do you know when your kid has said their first word? Is it just something you make up when she asks you ten years later?

We were also happy to take a break from French cuisine and sample some German fare.  Stephanie had baked a loaf of delicious walnut bread before we arrived. The following night, Toffi made some crispy swineschnitzel and Stephanie prepared some asparagus (apparently the Germans go gaga for asparagus) and pommes de terre which we washed down with a nice Riesling. Oh, and she made the most amazing rhubarb crumble for dessert… I am not normally a rhubarb fan but I was scraping up crumbs from the baking dish before retiring it to the kitchen sink to soak. For TD, though, the cullinary highlight was sampling Berlin’s best currywurst (according to Toffi and Gerhard Schroeder), which just happened to be located at a stand down the street, under the UBahn.

On our last day, we wandered into a great street market in Stephanie’s neighborhood, where we listened to some music, sampled some sizzling bratwurst wrapped in bacon, and oogled all of the meat and cheese vendors, and the piles of peonies:

Given our ardent love of the GDR classic film “Go Trabi, Go” (and it’s totally awesome soundtrack), we made a point to check out the recently opened DDR Museum, which indulges in a good bit of “ostalgie” (nostalgia for East Germany).  The high point was, obviously, getting to slip behind the wheel of an actual Trabant, which Josie found pretty exciting.

Merci again to Stephanie, Toffi, Marie and Greta for having us  and letting us be Berliners for a few days !

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Josiefêtes

In true French fashion, Josephine decided to “faire le pont” and extend her Wednesday birthday through the weekend. This happened to coincide with the national holiday of the Assumption on Thursday and therefore many Parisians left the city for the long weekend and we had Parc Montsouris almost to ourselves on Saturday afternoon for a lovely birthday pique-nique. Let’s recap:

On Wednesday, Josephine, Maman and Dad went out to lunch and Josephine enjoyed some delicious frites. That evening, we sang happy birthday to her and she sampled (which is to say, devoured) her first pâtisserie, a strawberry shortcake kind of thing from the boulangerie around the corner.  After this sugary indulgence, she was pretty wired and therefore really excited to web-cam with Aunt Jackie before hitting the hay (not to say that she isn’t always excited to see her Aunt Jaquie).

On Saturday, the weather graciously allowed us to have a little afternoon fête for Josephine in Parc Montsouris. We were so happy to share the day with some amis who helped sing a rousing version of “joyeux anniversaire” and watch Josephine stare intently at the sole candle on her delicious raspberry cake.

She spent a lot of time practicing walking by holding hands.  She is pretty much obsessed with walking at this point and we could soon be reporting news of her first real steps.  Today she stood on her own several times and seemed pretty thrilled with herself.

Unfortunately, Josie has learned that all good things, even birthdays must come to an end. Or must they? Gigi and Papa are already planning yet another fête for Josie this July in Buffalo. Stay tuned.

Okay, so the count-down to one year kind of fizzled out. But here, on this most auspicious day, is a quick count-up, inspired by one of our favorite tunes of yore.

1. Already scheming at one month...

2. Two months: first bath. . . Just kidding.

3. Just 189 more months.

4. The pout. We hardly knew ye...

5. The five-month-old dragon has apparently scared Jack O to death.

6. Josie and food: the love affair begins.

7. Soooo excited for Santa.

8. La fille en pyjamas requins

9. Neuf mois: entrez peek-a-boo

10. Dix Mois: Entrez le Face

11. Building pyramids at 11 months

aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnddddddddd

TWELVE , aka ONE YEAR!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSIE!!!!

Josie Retro: Day 3

Scenes from Josephine’s second and third week…She showed an early penchant for tie-dye.

Scenes from Josephine’s first week circa last May, Hartford, CT…

It’s one week until Josephine’s big birthday so we thought we’d ring in the momentous occasion with some looks back at our petite merveille.  Attention: extremely cute baby pictures will be posted on a daily basis!

Only a couple hours old...

One day old...

Suddenly the beige walls of our apartment have gotten even smaller now that Josephine is crawling everywhere. She’s picking up speed, she can open doors and she can’t be stopped. (NB: She’s actually been crawling for a while but I am just now getting to finish up this blog post…!)

Last week, we had some gorgeous warm weather and Jo got a lot of playground time in. We’re so lucky to live within a 10 minute radius of four playgrounds. One of Josie’s favorite places is le Square René le Gall which has an awesome array of rocking horse-type toys, slides and a pirate ship.  I came home from work early one day last week and took Josephine to the playground around six o’clock.  It was full of kids of all ages, running, yelling, screaming, playing games, playing pirates, eating treats, pulling hair, you know, the usual crazy release of energy that kids get out of their systems after being in school all day and before going home to eat dinner and then go to bed.  Josephine was pretty much in awe.  I was proud of her though — she totally held her own, pulling herself up into standing position on a little wall and crawling around at her own pace.  A few kids came over to her and said hi.  A little boy of 22 months was particularly interested in Josie and he came back several times, reaching out and patting her.  It was pretty cute.

This week, for whatever cosmic reason, the temperatures have plunged into the 50s and so we haven’t been able to spend as much time on the playground, a cruel sentence for this little Parisian family in their little Parisian digs.   The weather had better perk up by next week for Josephine’s birthday!