Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Rare Occasion

I'm actually speechless today.

I have just had the most wonderful of weekends celebrating my birthday and I really don't think I could find the words to explain how good it feels in my soul.

Hubster and I have been laughing and enjoying being together these last few days. I know sorting wood isn't really a special thing to do on a birthday, but there is a sense of purpose to that work. It's nice to feel like we accomplished something. Plus, heading out to buy a chainsaw is a great way to bring a couple together!

The little people have had two crazy nights playing with almost all of their friends until the wee hours of the morning. Last night it was the birthday party here with a huge mix of the English and French people that we love. Nothing like weaving conversation in Franglish with accents from Ireland, England, America, and France to make it flow!

It may sound so wordly and cosmopolitan to be mingling with such a collection of people, but in truth, they are just good everyday people who happen to be here in our lives. We are blessed to have such riches.

The highlight for me last night was the parade of princesses. Our Princess and her friends found every possible dress-up costume in her closest and proceeded to give us the most dazzling display of princess wear. Sparking tiaras, clicky-clacky shoes, braclets, and ribbons topped with smiles that melted your heart.

The dogs were a bit diappointed not to have a chance to try on the tiaras themselves. Might have to see if I can get them decked out in their own princess wear today. Of course, that means harnesses and ganglines hooked to my bike, but I think that's a better (and safer) bet then Typhon in clicky-clacky shoes!

Friday, December 28, 2007

International Dig Day

Yes, it's here. The day we've all been waiting for. My birthday.

I'm celebrating by scooping dog poop, stacking firewood, and staring at the snow covered mountains out of my kitchen window.

Hubster surprised me by painting the lounge last night. It's so nice to see colour on the walls rather than the white undercoating. The little things that make us happy, eh? Who knows, maybe we'll finish this room before his birthday in February.

Then again, who am I kidding!

Happy Dig Day everyone! Go hug someone you really love, be it animal or human!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two Days and Counting

So now that the second major holiday of December is behind us, we can start really focusing on the important celebration, my birthday! (Just kidding, Miss Tennessee 1975!)

Just two days to go until I hit yet another birthday milestone. I'm kind of excited about that since I've actually remembered how old I'm going to be this year. I've never been good at math so I have a tendancy to mix up my numbers. But what's in a number anyway? I still feel like I'm 12. Plus, when I'm falling off my bike, I still look like I'm 12!

I manged to get all three of the huskies out for some fun today. Anouk and Typhon had the usual bike tour, which was AWESOME. They actually pulled me out of the village without incident, did the u-turn when asked, and we made it home without once chasing a cat or playing "Flip Dig Over the Handle Bars." It was surreal. I'm still all giddy thinking about it.

Abaca and I then headed out for a trail run. I was worried about how far and how fast I should go with her since she's young and her owners aren't as insane as I am. That being the case, we did our version of a 'wog' (walk/jog) around the trails. I think she really enjoyed herself. Though, I'm going to have to give her a bath before her people come get her this weekend! Hello happy mud puppy!

Hubster's impressed too. I've actually showered twice today. An all-time record! Good thing I got such nice soap from l'Occitane this Christmas. As if wet dog isn't an attractive perfume! Someone must have been trying to tell me something...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Goose is Cooked

Well, almost.

I'm attempting to make a proper Christmas goose today. My neighbour in the village raises poultry so we bought a goose from her for this year's dinner treat. Talk about buying local!
Luckily, she dealt with all the plucking and stuff that this American has never done before. It smells delicious in here right now.

The kids are happy playing with their new toys from Grandma and Granddad, Kitty and Daddio, and their aunts and uncles. The lounge is a mess. It's an explosion of Barbia, Lego, trains, and tractors. (Bet you didn't realize that Barbie is good at working with tractors!)

With that, it's time to go open the Christmas champers and celebrate all the wonderful things we have in our lives.

That includes all of you!

Mary Chrismer!

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

And I've got three happy husky dogs outside.

Don't panic. We haven't gone nuts and adopted another one. We're dog sitting for some friends over the holidays so Abaca is with us for Christmas. She and Anouk have been playing all afternoon. Non-stop. Typhon is enjoying this time 'off' from being Anouk's favourite chew toy. They are so fun to watch. Of course, we have absolutely no grass left in the garden at this point. Let's hope it snows soon!

Mini-Husband has been asking since 5pm if he can go to bed yet. Someone excited about Santa coming?

I'm gearing up for our annual tradition of foie gras and champers as Hubster and I wrap all the presents. I love this time with Hubster. He mocks my poor wrapping abilities and I remind him that he's only getting a lump of coal if he continues to misbehave.

'Tis the night before Christmas and all is as it should be.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Lesson She Gave Me

My aunt would have been 57 today. Seems incredible to think about her as a 57 year old. She's still so vivid in my mind as she was at 34. Blond hair flying everywhere, big smile, and a laugh that I still hear ringing in my heart and soul.

She once told me that she wanted to have a dog someday. A big old floppy labrador who she'd name Beauregard.

I'm not sure she meant for it to at the time, but that name has stuck with me for years. Various and sundry stuffed animals in my world have been called Beauregard beause of her.

Now that I sort of speak French, I've come to think of this name Beauregard in a new way, beau regard. Beautiful look or, rather, beautiful outlook.

It's not correct French and I'm sure my French friends would argue I'm translating poorly, but it works for me.

I don't think we can ever understand the lessons we give in our lives, the lessons we share without meaning to. She taught me so much by her living and by her dying. Because of those lessons, I appreciate my life, my chance, my blessings. Because of her, I hold dearly to a beau regard of what's around me.

I hope someday I get to see her again, laughing and playing with a big old chocolate lab. Till then, I'll listen carefully for her in my heart.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Tails

Home. I love that word.

And I love this place.

The dogs have destroyed all of their dog house cushions while I was gone. There are pieces of cotton and flannel stuck in the rose bushes, plastered to the steps, with mounds of fluff everywhere. It looks like there was a giantic battle between the Michelin Man and the Stay-Puff Marshmellow guy out there.

Hubster and I have relaxed with at least 14 cups of coffee and Christmas carols. Perfect before sending me out with the dogs.

Beautiful Anouk and Typhon pulling me along as I sing, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" at the top of my lungs. Of course, Typhon was pulling so he wasn't able to contribute as well as he normally does, but I'm sure he'll make up for it at 7pm.


I love this place.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

St Mildred's Bay

Alas, we head south tomorrow.

Mini-Husband isn't happy about going home. He's told me and Hubster on the phone last night that we have to promise him that if we don't fix the roof, and we need to change house, we change to one in England.

I love that he feels such a strong connection to this place. And why shouldn't he? He was born here. Just like his daddy and his aunt, uncles and cousins. He was 15 months old when we moved to France, but he can point out our old house every time we pass it. He loves being with his grandparents and watching CeeBeebies all day long. England is magic to him.

This part of England is chalky cliffs and coast line, constantly being teased by the North Sea. There are wide bays that change constantly with every tide and every swell. There is a promenade that runs for miles along the cliffs and one can easily meander between the beaches that pop up around practically every corner.

When we lived here, we weren't very far from St Mildred's, a bit of tidal beach with two cafes and a boat slip. It was a favourite spot for Hubster and me. We would take Luna-the-Love-Dog there and let her run free along the rocks and sand. Who knew a Malamute would love catching crabs so much! We'd wander with her down the sands until we had to join the promenade again and then continue on to Hubster's parent's house. Grandma was (and is still) always wonderful about offering us a warming cup of tea when we arrived.

Hubster asked me to marry him on that spot of sand at St Mildred's. My life as part of a "we" started here. And as I ran past that beach today on the promenade, all my memories embraced my heart, and I see just how magic this England is to me too. I can understand Mini-Husband's attachment to this place.

That being said, I'm ready to be home. I miss France. I miss Anouk. I even miss hearing my morning wake up song performed by Typhon.

But more importantly, I miss my Hubster. I want to be in that world of us right now.

And I really, really hope we get that roof fixed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Tis the Season

I found a radio station here that is playing all-Christmas carols, all the time. Now, for some of you in the English speaking world, you might be sick off all those tunes right about now. But for me, with the English deprived ear and a thing for December, it's been a little slice of heaven.

Of course, Mini-Husband and The Princess are not impressed with my vocal abilities. But I keep reminding them what my Catholic priest said way back when, when I still went to church,

"It's the voice God gave you, so even if it's horrible, it's thanks to God. So use it!"

Can't wait to surprise them with the Christmas CDs Grandma bought us for the car ride home. Heck, I suffered vomit on the way here, the least they can do is croak along with mommy on the way back!

7 hours of Christmas songs. In English. Ahhhhhh.....

Talking Loud and Proud

Yesterday, my oldest friend, The A, came down to visit us here at Grandma and Granddad's. She's got two little people too so, of course, off we went to the pub with the whacking great play area. (Amen, alleluia!)

When you get the two of us together, it's a major talk fest. We babble, we laugh, we talk, we talk, we talk. We talked up a storm as we waited in line to order at the bar, we talked even more as we got the kids signed up in the play area (amen, alleluia!), and we talked even more as we sat feeding the babies at the table.

It never occurred to me that anyone else in the pub would find us remotely interesting. Possibly loud and annoying, but other than that...

I had noticed out of the corner of my eye that the woman who was supervising the play area was lingering by our table. When I finally made eye contact with her, it was if the floodgates had opened.

"You know, I was just asking your son if he came from America. He said no, he comes from France. But I think you're Americans, right? I have an aunt who lives in America. I love your accents. Why on earth are you in England?"

The A and I answered her questions and had a laugh about the two of us, friends from grade school being married to Brits and living over here. All the good stuff about irony, fate, and just the coolness of life, in our opinion.

After she headed back to the play area, we started chatting away again.

At that point, I hadn't noticed the young couple at the table behind us. It was only when they started staring that I got a little self conscious. Was there ketchup on my face? Were they horrified that I ate all that was left over on the kids plates? Worst, could they be relatives I'm supposed to have remembered?!?

"Excuse me. You're not from America, are you?"

"Yes," The A and I responded with a laugh. And so began round two of the "what-on-earth-are-you-doing-here-and-I-love-your-accent conversation."

If I really reflect on it, it must be strange in this part of England to hear American accents. Stranger still to hear two women babbling away about dummies, nappies, prams and pushchairs in American accents.

Both The A and I have been attention seekers our whole lives and this accent thing is right up our alley. It's fun being asked questions about America and what our connection is to England.

I love that. I thrive off stuff like that. If I'm totally honest, I just like being the center of attention and a minor celebrity in the pub with the whacking great play area!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Land of Indoor Play Areas

There are so many things that I love about England. Hubster's family is of course top of the list, but I also love the grocery stores, the way you can make quick conversation with anyone anywhere, the fabulous cheeky way The Times editorial pieces read, the fascination with football, the accents, everything on the left, and last but not least, pub food.

Especially pub food in a pub that has a whacking great play area inside of it.

I remember when Hubster and I got married ever so long ago. My family had flown over the pond for the nuptials and we had a nice week of touring around south eastern England before the big day. On about the second to last night they were all here, we finally took my sisters and my nieces and nephews that had been born at that point to the pub nearby with the whacking great play area in it.

My brother-in-law, USNA, regarded me quite seriously over his second pint. "You mean you've known about this pub the entire time we've been here and you've only brought us here NOW?!?!?"

I didn't have kids at the time. I had no idea of the importance of such things.

I now worship the very land that pub is built on. South eastern England in December is not necessarily the nicest place to be. It's cold out, it's windy, it's grey. But in the pub with the whacking great play area, it's happy time. The sun is shining and mommy is basking in the rays.

My deepest apologies to USNA. I really didn't get it at the time.

But I sure do now.

They open at 11. Anyone for lunch?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nothing Like A Long Car Ride

Everyone always seems shocked or amazed when I tell them that I'm taking the kids to England by myself. People seem to think it's a heck of a journey to do on my own. Normally, it's not so bad. Though this I time, I should have realized it was going to be tough when only after 2 hours on the road, Mini-Husband started telling me his tummy hurt.

The long version of this story is rather too painful for me to relive so I'll go with the synopsis. Suffice it to say, there is a rest stop on the A-71 towards Paris that will never smell the same again. Poor little man. We manged to make it to the parking lot, all four of us out of the car, and just into the entry by the toilets when Mini-Husband was sick. There we stood, me rubbing his back, holding Bubba Love on my hip, while The Princess hid behind the fake rubber tree plant next to the coffee machines.

After somehow managing to get Mini-Husband cleaned up (and the floor of the rest area as well thanks to a kind, kind staffer) we got back into the car and headed on our way. I could see from the rear-view mirror that Mini-Husband was succeeding in his interpretation of "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Could we make it through the next 5 hours?

The answer, my friends, was no.

Mini-Husband proceeded to be sick again in the car several times over the next few hours. By the time we reached the north side of Paris, his colour was still off but he seemed to have nothing left in his stomach to upset him. Blessedly, all three of the little people took a nap and I sat there wondering why on earth I had ever quit smoking.

When you reach the toll booth at Calais, it's only about 45 minutes to the port. I sighed with relief as we reached this little landmark. It wasn't far now till the boat and better still, Grandma and Granddad's.

As I pulled out of the toll booth, there was a strange little noise, that sounded like a combination of burping and crying. As I looked frantically at Mini-Husband in the rear-view mirror, I saw he was asleep. It was the nanosecond later that I realized the noise was coming from both The Princess and Bubba-Love. There sat my two littlest people strapped to their car seats, covered in sick.

Oh the joys of having to strip your children out of vomit covered clothes in the pull-out lane on a major highway when it's -2C outside! Not to mention that this time, both car seats had taken the hit so I had not only smelly clothes and children, but smelly seats as well. Lovely.

We whimpered our way to the boat and luckily managed to get an earlier crossing. The Princess was sick once more on the boat and Mini-Husband on arrival at Grandma and Granddad's. Bubba-Love started doing his rug impression yesterday but thank goodness wasn't sick again. I, myself, felt horrible yesterday and just sat watching snooker with Grandad all afternoon. Boy, I bet they were ever so glad to see us!!

When I spoke to Hubster, turns out he's been ill as well. He slept most of yesterday and is starting to feel "normal" today. That seems to be about the same for us. Now, I'm just hoping we haven't infected the grandparents.

The highlight has been Grandma's new washing machine. It's done a fabulous job of washing everything from the car seat covers to The Princess's shoes. Dirty yucky stuff in, clean smelling stuff comes out!

I'm also I'm looking for a car cleaning service to come and scrub down the car while we are here. I'm not sure I can face the return journey if our car still smells like our own personal Vomit Comet.

Holy cow, that wasn't fun!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Evening

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

A nice glass of red wine, relaxing with Hubster and I think I'm ready to head over the river tomorrow morning.

It's magic for the kids to go to Grandma and Grandad's. I love being able to share that with them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some Good Stuff

After a few weeks of what seems to have been nothing but bad news, we've had a couple of really nice bits come our way.

The first wonderful thing is that my loved one's love is on the right track to getting better. And he's even decided that he wants to make my loved one his loved one for good. They got engaged this past weekend and it's wonderful. There is hope and happiness with them. Long may it continue.

The second nice bit of news came from my past. Turns out my first real boyfriend and his wife just had their first child this past week. I'm so happy for him and them. He was always such a lovely guy and he will make the best of dads. Another spot of hope and happiness in this world. Long may that continue too.

Closer to home, we've had word back from the people who made the decision regarding the tiles for our roof. Seems they had a talk amongst themselves and decided that we really can do the roof in another type of tile that isn't slate. WHOOO-HOOOO! We may not need to sell the kids afterall!!

In fact, I think this might be a good time to take those little people over to England and visit with the tea-sipping side of the family. Next week, we'll be on tour eating fish and chips, heading to Tesco, seeing old friends, and wrecking what's left of Grandma's nerves. Should be fun for us at least!

So there you have it. Some nice updates from our little corner. It's cold outside today, but I've got both woodstoves burning so the house feels warm and cozy. The kids are reading and drawing, the dogs are curled up in their tails, and Hubster will be home soon. There is hope and happiness here too.

The Resident Artist has updated his site. Check out his latest works and let him know what you think!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Living this for the Second Time

I always had the impression that in order to live a really wild, rustic life one needed to stay living in Idaho/Wyoming or head on up to Alaska. Those seemed the logical places to me. Hardly any people, vast empty spaces, and the ability to live simply. I never in my life could have imagined that I would find that in France too.

Granted, there are more people here in my part of the Auvergne than in some areas of Idaho, but these are people who are of the land, the terroir. Many houses are rustic, heated only by woodstoves with very basic plumbing. The people raise their own chickens and cows, have vegetable gardens that are bigger than a McDonald's parking lot, and they don't mind mud. They are natural, discreet, private, and incredibly attached to their region. In many ways, they remind me of the locals back in Idaho. Same ethics, same appreciations, same natural way of being.

Here I am in this country of amazing culture and tradition, surrounded by huge forests and endless trails that wander between the tiny, hidden villages. Here I am living in this place that has a history older than my country and my children, Hubster and I are now a part of it.

Today I made coq-au-vin on my woodstove, took the dogs for a ride through the countryside, waved at the hunters, watched the cows being herded to a new field, and chatted with a couple of locals about the weather.

Who could have guessed that a part of France could be as wild as Idaho?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yooo-hoo, Dig!

Remember me? I wanna go for a walk or I'll pee on your bushes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Introducing The Resident Artist

Introducing the works of Jack.

We will try and update that blog when he has created something new he'd like to share.



He's fine.

Thank goodness.

And after a bottle of red last night, Hubster and I are almost fine. I really don't want to go through something like that again anytime soon! Luckily for us, we were able to see a cardiologist last night and have an echography on Bubba-Love's heart. Within seconds, we knew everything was ok.

Nothing like the thought of your child being seriously ill to help you get your priorities straight!

Today, I'm thinking we need to just hang out and play. It's sunny out there so maybe a nice walk in the village, taking long slow peaceful breaths.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From Now On, No Googling Anything

I'm worried.

Bubba-Love and I went for his x-ray this morning. As expected, his lung is infected but not seriously. The unpected thing is that the x-ray shows that his heart is enlarged.

Of course, as soon as we got home from the x-ray, I bee-lined it for the computer and Google. There should be a law against ANYONE heading straight for Google after you get any sort of medical news. Between the various causes of heart enlargement and the prognosis, it's amazing I haven't flooded the house with tears!

I like Google. I like being able to find out loads of stuff quickly. But sometimes too much too quick is not good for you. Better to call your rational sister very early in her morning and get her to calm you down. (Which she did and which I love her for.)

We've got an appointment with our doctor this afternoon. I'm hoping he can explain what the heck is going on. Till then, if I'm on the computer it's only to read the news and maybe search Google for stories on huskies and dog sledding. I'll use Google in it's good sense, to find something to help keep my mind off that beautiful little guy sleeping upstairs.

Think positive thoughts everyone.

December 4

I think today is my friend Katy's birthday. Now, I have to admit, I forget every year what day it is exactly. I'm in good company though, since her mom forgets which day every year as well!


And just a little FYI,

Only 24 days till MY birthday!!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cold Winter Winds

Last night was interesting Chez Nous.

First off, I had to take Bubba-Love to the on-call doctor. He had been pushing a fever all weekend and was doing his best to impersonate a throw rug. Finally last night, the fever peaked at 40.5C (104.9F) and I freaked. Hubster called the emergency on-call number and I took Bubba-Love in. Turns out, he's got yet another ear infection and again, mild pneumonia. So we're off for more chest x-rays tomorrow.

The incredible thing is that since he's now had two doses of the antibiotic, he's back to demanding "Cars." Never thought I'd be so happy to hear that request!

After getting him settled in bed last night, the most intense wind storm descended upon our little part of the world. I swear I could hear every loose tile on the roof flapping about. It seemed as if our whole house, which is solid stone, was going to lift off and crush the nearest wicked witch. (I was hoping that would be whoever decided we have to do the flipping roof in slate again!)

Around 1:30am, the village fire siren went off. And so did Typhon. And then Anouk. Hubster manged to open the window, despite the wind, pop his head out and yell a few nice words in English to get the two of them to stop. But of course, we were now fully awake to again enjoy the beautiful music being made by our roof and it's wind conductor.

Around 5:00am, the power got knocked out. Normally, that's not such a big deal at 5:00am. It's dark, we're sleeping, no worries. Except that both Mini-Husband and Bubba-Love have this built in nightlight sensor and if that nightlight blips for any reason, they're up. Eh, voila. There goes Super Mommy ricocheting around the hallway in an attempt to calm the little men down at the same time as setting my watch so that Hubster wouldn't be late for work.

Somehow, we all manage to get back to sleep and the power got restored along the way. I was nearly late getting The Princess up for school since Typhon decided that only one performance a night is enough, so he skipped his usual 7am choral session.

The wind is the only thing howling out there right now and that's good by me. Bubba-Love is tucked up on the couch watching a movie (can you guess which one) and Mini-Husband (who's teacher was sick today) is busy making a fire station out of a shoe box. I swear that kid is a combination of MacGyver and Picasso.

Looks like a good time to go make some coffee and watch what's left of the Christmas decorations blow by.