Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clicky Clacky Shoes

My parents gave The Princess a bag of clicky clacky shoes that are out of this world. Not only are there a pair with sparkles, there are also two pairs with little feather boa type things on them in both essential colours: purple and pink.

In total, The Princess now has a pair of clicky-clacky shoes for almost every day of the week. (Note: she's guarding Saturdays for her running shoes.)

I must admit I'm slightly jealous of this. Why isn't is possible for me to go into a store and buy 6 adorable high heeled shoes all together in a pink frilly bag?

I could use the purple pair when I'm running. They'd would match my running duds perfectly.

The sparkly pair could be for when I'm out with the dogs on the bike. Reflector shoes, they'd be.

The dark pink pair would be great for when I need to clean up the poop in the garden. Hide any traces I might have stepped in, they would!

The light pink pair for when I am sorting laundry and matching socks. Who needs socks with those on your feet, eh?

A clean white pair for going to the grocery store. Just because!

And the red pair could be for lounging at home, 'cause as Dorothy says, "There's no place like home."

Shoes like that would add such style to my life. They'd remind me I'm girly deep down inside. That I'm pretty, ever so pretty, and glamorous.

Truth be told, I'd probably end up in the emergency room with a broken ankle trying to walk around on all those.

But as they say in France, "il faut souffrir pour ĂȘtre belle."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Handle With Care

According to United Airlines, the plane carrying extremely precious cargo landed in Paris at 6:52 this morning.

I can almost taste that peanut butter now.

Oh, how I've dreamed of those two huge jars of Peter Pan that are headed my way.

Best of all, they've been carried over that great big pond by two of my favourite people on the planet.

What more could a girl ask for on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon?

Monday, April 28, 2008

In Praise of the Walk-In Closet

The worst punishment my mother could use against me when I was younger was to go clean my room.

I lived like a tornado in a trailer park. Crap everywhere. Clothes, toys, papers, odd lego bits, solitary Barbie shoes, cookie crumbs, pen caps, and mutilated stuffed animals filled every available space on the floor and in my bed. It was a minor success when I was able to actually find the pillow at night.

I hated cleaning my room. Making it a mess was ever so much more fun and I really did have my own system of organization. I could find something if I really need to. As I often did when looking for my precious blankie or a school shoe.

The only real positive for me was that I had a huge, narrow walk-in closet. I could throw stuff in there by the arm load and not see it for years. The hanging clothes I couldn't reach in April, I was able to look down on by October.

My mother would go balistic every once in a while and demand that I clean out the closet. The worst of all possible things. (Almost as bad a cleaning up the dog's poop, I might add.) By that point, the closet it had become a black hole, as scary as the closet in Poltergist but it was my own stuff trying to attack my ankles and drag me deeper into the void.

Thing is, I should have just taken a trash bag and thrown everything out in there. Heck, it was stuff I hadn't wanted, needed, or looked for in ages, why should I hang on to it once it was 'refound?'

But hang on to it all, I did. Only to jet it all back into the closet in the days and weeks that followed.

My poor mother.

In my house now, I haven't really got a walk-in closet. Which is a bummer. Makes cleaning seem necessary, if you know what I mean. I actually have to try and put things away.

And when I've got very important guests (aka my parents) checking into the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast, like tomorrow, I get all frantic trying to figure out where to put all this crap.

I know, I know, I should just get a trash bag and throw a lot of this stuff out, but you never know when you might need one of the 6 pairs of old running shoes, a Matchbox car with one working door, pamplets about the latest pyramid scheme, endless half-filled tubes of handcream, assorted pony tail holders, useless kitchen gadgets bought at the dollar store, several adapter plugs, stained baby clothes, a bicycle pump with only one type of valve, a couple of half chewed dog toys or even 15 empty beer and wine bottles.

Ahhhh. Amen for replacing the walk-in closet with drawers and a really, really large basement.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Adventures of the Somnolent Queen

Once upon a time, just after NCIS finished around 11pm, the beautiful Somnolent Queen decided to take herself to bed. As you do.

Curled comfortably next to her King, she drifted easily into a peaceful sleep. Unfortunately for her, Cinderphon decided to announce his midnight arrival at the castle with a full rendition of the Coventry Cathedral Bells.

The Queen went fumbling down the stairs, quick as a lick, to stop Cindyphon from waking the servants and poor villagers that live near the castle. After a few squirts from the magic water bottle, Cindy stopped his singing and peace was restored.

The Queen climbed back into bed, snuggled her King once again and drifted off towards the lovely Land of Nod.

Roughly at the moment when the birds are beyond snug in their nests, 1am as it's known, The Princess of the Castle decided that she was growing. And she was sure that this growing business hurt. Lucky for her, The Queen had a magic potion that banishes the pain and tastes ever so good with a cup of water.

That magic having been dispensed, The Queen once again went off to her bed, back to snuggling her King, ready to check out the latest sales in the Coma Mall.

Just about the moment when all the world should be asleep, (except across the big blue Ocean, where villagers were getting ready for Survivor, CSI, and Lost,) The Prince of Bubba-Love decided it was time to play.

Time to play, to talk, to cry, to talk a little louder, fight with his blankets, and talk some more. He demanded his favourite servants, Balamory and Cars, only to be told they were sleeping. The Prince didn't take this very well and decided to see if screaming a little bit louder would wake them.

The Queen tried to calm him, tried to set him back in his crib, only to be faced with more crying, more screaming, more demands for Bear in the Big Blue House.

Fustrated and tired, The Queen was saved by her ever true Knight in Shining Armor. He, The King, kindly went to speak to the little Prince and explain in quiet tones, the ways of the sleeping kingdom.

He took the Prince in his arms, cuddled and hugged him, till the sleepiness began to creep into The Prince's eyes. The King carefully placed the drowsy boy back in his royal crib and on tippy toes went to the leave to room.

As he closed the door behind him, The King (and the Queen who was hiding under her duvet,) heared The Prince start his crying all over again. Only louder.

Which would have been fine if you wanted to be woken at this hour, say if you are a postman or a boulanger, but for royalty, 4am was too early to start the coffee machine.

Somewhere through the magic of fatigue and incredibly thick pillows over The King and Queen's ears, sleep was finally restored to the castle.

Just in time for the alarm clock to signal the start of the day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Calm Before the Dessert

It's been so long since I lived in the US that I can't remember how nutty it can or can't get at the shops on any afternoon.

I remember trying to park at The Mall around Christmas time and being horrified that I had to park in the neighbouring state, but other than that, shopping just seemed to be done with a flowing mass of humanity around you. Not a crushing sea like you find here.

The French are sticklers for their daily routine and be it a weekend or a weekday, you can comfortable predict what the crowds will be like in any shop or public venue. Mornings, calm. Afternoons, it's like people think it's Christmas and the January sales all rolled into one.

For example, I hauled the tribe to the only indoor playarea not attached to a fast food restaurant in France and knew that if we got there after 1:30pm, we would be surrounded by hordes of kids and their desperate parents who were at wits end looking for something to do these last days of school vacation.

Me and my English speaking cohorts successfully managed to get there during lunch time when it was basically just our people running, screaming, and hanging off the climbing frame. (Funnily enough, the only other family there turned out to be English as well.) See, we know that the French hate sacrificing lunch. It goes against the whole, "do a bit at home in the morning, have a good lunch, and then attack" mentality I've grown to love.

This even happens with sporting events. Take The 15K at Le Puy en Velay. The race starts at 3:30pm. Enough time to enjoy that three course lunch, digest over coffee, and then lace up your shoes and sprint 15K around a hilly city. Pourquoi pas?

After we dodged the crowds at the playarea, the 10 of us English speaking lovelies (3 mamas, 7 kids) headed to the restaurant next door to the playarea and enjoyed a relatively quiet and calm lunch. The only down side were the slightly evil looks from the staff who had though their lunch rush was well and truly over until we walked in.

I had to head back into the playarea after lunch to find Mini-Husband's sweater. I pushed past the line spilling out the front door and asked the man dressed as a giant squirrel if I could go look for the sweater. I made it through the entrance only to be hit full force with a wall of screaming, jumping, sweating, exploding children. The place was packed.

It was 2:30pm and the French had attacked.

I yelled "surrender" as I fought my way to the exit without even worrying about the sweater. Silently, I thanked my lucky stars that I've started to understand the daily ritual in my adopted county. I feel like I've figured out a way to enjoy the sea without having to swim in it.

Though, I could always be tempted by a nice run after lunch...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Break out the Mashed Potatos and Ice Cream

Mini-Husband is reminding me of my Daddio this morning.

He's got this big gap where his two front teeth used to be and it take me back to the years of waking up Daddio before he had time to put his false front teeth in.

Only difference is that Daddio lost his front teeth to a baseball and Mini-Husband lost his to a dentist with furry leopard print picture frames on her desk.

He was trooper through the whole experience. And I, luckily, didn't faint either while watching her numb his little gums and yank out those two teeth.

One was already teetering on quitting the rest of the pack but Mini-Husband's precious black tooth (made so by The Princess, her boyfriend at the time and a hula-hoop last year) was firmly planted in his gum so the dentist had to wrestle with some pliers type tool to remove it from it's snug place in the front of his mouth.

"One more good yank oughta do..."

The Tooth Mouse made his reappearance last night and luckily everything went as it should. No lost teeth, no lost money. Much to the Mouse's (or rather Mice's) relief. Now it's just a question of getting the little man to the flower store. He'd like to use the money to buy a packet of sunflower seeds.

If only I could stop giggling and tearing up when he says, "seeds."

Monday, April 21, 2008

In Theory, It's Easy

Who knew that saying "yes" to arranging for two 17 year old French girls to go to the States this summer would throw me right back into that chaotic world of tour operators that I miss and love so much?

Only difference is, booking trips for strangers can give you a little protection, a healthy distance, an anonymity that keeps the stress from spilling over into your head and thus becoming insomnia.

Arranging trips for daughters of friends is enough to drive you to drink on a daily basis. Add in the fact that the girls are going to stay with your family for an extended period of time, it's enough to drive you to drink in your nightmares.

Which I did last night, worrying over every little detail.

Why did I say yes to arranging this?!?

What if my nieces don't like the French Filles?!?

How will I ever pay my sister back for all her help with French Fille #1?!?

Why is French Fille #1 staying so long?!?

This means French Fille #2 can't stay with the same sister?!?

Where on earth am I going to find a second host family for French Fille #2?!?

Does this means I've got to look after French Fille #1 and #2 when I'm in the states!?! I get rid of my kids only to have to look after two others. And teenagers to boot. What am I, nuts?

Give me an office with a desk, names on paper, hotels in unseen cities, and voices on the other end of the phone. I want to hide! I want to hide!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Praise of A Couch

It's funny what thoughts go rolling through your head just before you fall asleep. Your mind wanders in and out of your own personal Wal-Mart type place, with all kinds of things to look at, aisles to get lost in, promotions that you would never have imagined.

Today, I found myself wandering through the furniture section of my near-coma superstore, inspired by the comfortableness of my own well loved canape. To the couch section I went. For no particular reason and no particular rhyme.

We had an old yellow couch when I was growning up. I can't remember if it was comfortable, but I remember it being tall. Tall enough for me to hide behind it and watch M*A*S*H after I was supposed to be in bed.

When the family room got redone, the parents sprung for a fabulous dark blue sofa. It was soft and lush, with cushions that would literally hug you back when you sat down. Impossible to not feel wanted, loved, and almost smoothered by it's cotton embraces. I can still see my mother vividly laying on that beauty, begging me to just let her be for 20 minutes.

When I made it out in the wild world on my own, I sprung for a double futon couch with a dark green mattress. Amen for my brother-in-law, Mister Clean, who was able to get that thing put together somehow. I used to sit on it with Luna on one side and Spicer (my first of several psycho rescue dogs) on the other as we would watch "Weekend At Bernie's" everynight for almost 2 years.

Hubster's pride and joy from his swinging single bachelor days was a black leather couch. I had no idea how or where such a couch would fit into our lives. But who knew how easy it would be to clean up baby vomit from the same spots where beer was spilled all those years before?

Our current couch is an Ikea sofa sleeper with removable covers, so in theory being easy to clean. Of course, our cleaning lady is just seriously lazy and rather than washing said covers today, decided to lay down on them and go memory shopping at the Coma Mall.

She decided to profit from the rare moment when all the world is at peace and just laid her head down between the various stains, inhaling the smells of this morning's chocolate brioches and milk left behind by the tribe. Slowly, happily, strolling through the aisles of her mind.

Bubba-Love had other plans.

"Attention Shoppers! Blue Light Special in the Crying Baby Department!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anouk Be Nimble

We knew it would happen at some point. We knew that the deep instincts that have been laying dorment in our huskies for a couple of months would resurface with a vengence. And yes, they would go for it at last. Garden break.

I should have know that blocking the hole in the backwall with two huge paletts, heavy stones, two old baby gates and a plank of wood wouldn't hold 'em.

Well, actually, it held Typhon. He stood there next to the barricade, watching Anouk take off after a cat in the back garden. The cat chose the one lone tree as a safety so luckily I was able to grab Anouk and haul her back to the house.

I reattached the barricade and left Typhon in charge of keeping Anouk in line. Silly me.

Anouk wiggled her way through the wood and stones like an eel and off she went yet again into the back garden while Typhon howled, pathetically, in the garden.

This time, Anouk forgot about the cat and went straight for the mole holes that are all over the field. I gave her a little grace to dig for a few minutes before hauling her back again to the house.

At this point, I tried then to rearrange the jigsaw puzzle at the hole so she couldn't sneak under it or wiggle through it and escape again.

Funny. I never knew huskies could rock climb.

I haven't a clue how, but Anouk balanced herself on one toe and managed to fling a leg up and over the stones. I stood at the kitchen window watching her as she performed this daring move of grace and skill and laughed as she took off across the field, bouncing like a ball of snow through the green grass.

As Ogden Nash said, "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of."

When I finally was able to get her back the third time, I reconstructed the barricade in such a manner that now we can't even get into the back garden.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Becoming My Mother

I knew this was happening since I was about 27. It really is inevitable. The only difference is that she went pink and I've gone purple.

I remember coming home from school one day, can't remember how old I was at the time, and as I chatted away with my mother I realized her hair was pink. Really pink. She hadn't mentioned it and I think she was sort of hoping that I wouldn't notice.

We spent most of that afternoon washing and rewashing her hair. Finally, she looked great with a sort of rose colour that matched the colour of her favourite lip stick. She carried it well for a couple of weeks until the dye finally rinsed out completely.

You see, since the time my mom was 16, she has had a battle with grey hair and through the years she's tried all colours and combinations. One of my personal favourites, forever preserved in one of our family photos, was went she went blonde. There we are, me and my sisters, dark haired and smiling, sitting next to Daddio with his thick black hair, arm around his platinum blonde wife.

I knew that this grey haired battle would be genetic and I've tried not to worry about too much. I've had the occasional red or dark brown, but nothing too drastic and nothing too shocking. In the last couple of years with all of life running around me, I haven't had time to really worry about the state of my greys. Then, this morning as I drove into town, I caught a glimpse of my frizzy grey mess sprouting from my head.

What's a woman to do?

Let me tell you who's laughing now. It's me. The crazy American lady in the village who now has purple hair. Why wait till I'm really old, right?

I guess I'll leave it like this for now and see what kind of reaction I get out of The Princess and Mini-Husband this afternoon. It's a nice deep shade and though it doesn't match any lipstick I've ever owned, it does sort of resemble the colour of my favourite Bordeaux.

I understand now how much I really am like my mother. Aren't we beautiful?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another Note to Self

When using a roller to paint a wall white, do not wear a black t-shirt and black pants.

I look like I have body dandruff.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I Need Toothpicks

I feel as though my eyelids are hanging halfway down my face. There is no way it is humanly possible for me to be able to function right now, yet here I am.

It must be the coffee.

I don't think I've had a good night's sleep since Saturday night. Odd dreams (like the one about chopping off the head of a snake,) children waking and needing a cuddle or sheets changed, the fact that our duvet seems to have shrunk, all have caused me to reach the brink of exhaustion.

I know playing tug-of-war with Hubster on some nights might actually be fun and pleasurable, but darn it all, I'm tired.

I remember clearly when I was pregnant with Mini-Husband, my father-in-law used to tease me about sleeping so much. I'd rarely get out of bed before 10am. I told him at the time I was stocking up for all the years ahead of me when I wouldn't be able to lay in bed all day.

I really should have been sleeping till 11am.

The worst part about all this sleepiness is that the kids go on spring vacation next week.

Two fun filled weeks with the tribe at home. Yippy.

Looks like I'd better get that caffeine drip put in by Friday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Winning is in the Prize Money

Yesterday when I picked Mini-Husband up from school, his kind teacher's assistant pulled me aside.

"So, you ran your race yesterday, right?"

"Yes. Yes, I did."

"Mini-Husband told us that you told him you had won."

"Really? Well..."

"Yes, Mini-Husband told us, 'Mommy ran her race yesterday and she said that she won, but I don't think so.'"


Guess there goes my attempt at trying to tell my kids I was a winner because I accomplished the goal I had set for myself and not because I had come in first.

Arguably, I was first in the category of female runners born in December, living in a small village that starts with 'S', and was wearing Hot Chilis long underwear tights. Unfortunately, the prize money for that first place finisher isn't really all that much.

A big 'thwap' of Typhon's paw and a chance to fill the water bowls isn't something all runners strive for.

Good thing I won then, eh?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Walking Like I'm 80

There is a moment when you are running around the same industrial area that you begin to question your logic and motivation for wanting to run a half marathon.

Wondering why on earth you've decided to pay for the pleasure of making yourself feel like throwing up in front of 75 strangers, the pleasure of finishing nearly dead last, and the fabulous pleasure of not being able to fully extend your thigh muscles today.

Ah, the joys of long distance running. I promise you all this now, I will never run a marathon. Ever.

It must be said, that even though the race wasn't the most brilliant in terms of scenery or atmosphere, it turned out good in the end.

When I needed the psychological boost the most, Hubster and the tribe were there, waiting and yelling for me. The smiles from The Princess and Mini-Husband were golden. Bubba-Love's little wave nearly brought tears. And the fact that Hubster had gotten them all there dressed and on-time sent spasms of joy down my spine. Oh the love!

Of course, I had to surpress the feeling of wanting to puke until I had run around the corner. Don't think that would have inspired any of them to see mommy in that sort of state.

Luckily, I had some good running company yesterday. Notably my friend, Saint Theresa, who was running the half with me.

By the grace of God, she showed up on the third lap and helped me stay the course through the empty streets. I couldn't have finished the race without her. We managed to hold it together long enough to get to the finish line, where we both nearly collapsed with relief. It was over. Respectably over in 1:58.

Did I mention how even with that finishing time, we were nearly last? Note to self: don't sign up for small speedy races. Ever.

Magali's 10K race started as we finished so I was able to regain composure just in time to yell good luck to her and my other two friends, The Beautiful Verison of Julia Child and The Professeuse, as they took off for their own exciting jaunt through the industrial park. All three finished the race in respectable times, relieved to be done, and only a tad worse for wear.

Did I mention that even though Julia Child finished in 55:48, Magali and The Prof in an hour, they were also in the last group of finishers? Note to self: never sign up for a 10K national qualifying race. Ever.

It was only fitting that as non-competative competitors we finished the day in style. Fabulous amounts of Mexican dip, chili, champagne, and Coronas. This is the reason I like racing. The pure gluttonly after with wonderful friends and family around. (Thank you for that, you wonderful people, you.)

I'm going to go limp my way through the day and try not to think about running for a few days. Well, that's not true. I want to relish the fact that managed to run a half in under 2 hours.

This from a woman who hated running in high school and college. This from a woman who's popped out three kids. This from a woman who would rather be drinking wine while sitting on a lounge chair.

This, from me. Who cares if I was nearly dead last?

Run on, Dig. Run on.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Funny how fast times does seem to fly. It feels like just yesterday I was living with my parents, celebrating my father's 60th birthday. And now yesterday, for real, he celebrated his 68th.

The morning of his 60th birthday, I sat in their kitchen and cried about him getting older. At that point, I was still single with only one furry dependant to look after. I was so scared and worried that my father wouldn't be around much longer and that I wouldn't be able to share with him the things my sisters had already done, most notably giving him grandchildren. All I felt I could ever offer was one four legged option and the chance to have exotic vacations in the mountains.

Eight years later and look at us all now. Why on earth should I have worried so? Daddio is alive and well and he's been here with us each time his newest grandchild arrived. He's helped me celebrate my marriage and my adopted English world. He's also made friends with Grandma Francais and even felt motivated to revisit his old college French textbooks.

He may have just turned 68, but he's not road weary and definately not out for the count.

I hope he had a wonderful birthday yesterday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bleary Day

It's raining outside and I'm huddling over a cup of tea. The house isn't getting warm even though I've got both woodstoves burning at maximum.

I'm sorely tempted to go crawl into the dog house and snuggle with Typhon, except Anouk has already beaten me to it.

Even the magnolia buds on the trees by our front door look cold and sad today, obviously annoyed that spring has played a practical joke. "Sure, it was nice yesterday but now look at us!"

The bright green of the fields, the grey of the sky, the steam rising from my cup of hot tea.

Springtime in the Auvergne.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Random Thoughts on Tuesday

My GOD we have a lot of people coming to visit this summer.

Crap. That means we really, really need to finish some of these home improvement projects, like the lounge we have been working on since just after Bubba-Love was born.

I got motivated today and actually painted some of the walls in there. It's only the undercoat (I don't have permission from Hubster to do the 'finish') but nothing like clean white walls to make you feel like you've achieved something.

Of course, in order to get to painting that room we had to move the furniture out and it's now all over the house. Every room is now in a varying state of disorganization. And for someone like me, disorganized to begin with, it gives off the impression of living in a tornado. Perhaps we should change the name of this place from "The Birth Control Bed & Breakfast" to "The Black Hole Tornado."

Thank goodness the garden at least looks marginally acceptable. Typhon and Anouk have taken to kindly pooping behind the house, so the relief map of the Alps is nicely hidden out of eyesight. It's a nice work they've done. I loath to pick it up for a variety of reasons. I've tried to get Mini-Husband and The Princess to help me, but neither one seems very enthused.

I can empathise with them though. I remember vividly the first time my mom made me pick up a pile of dog poop that our dachshund, Klein, had left under a table in the family room. I sat there for what seemed like HOURS crying and crying over the injustice of it all. My mother and oldest sister sat in the kitchen, watching me, laughing under their breath.

Who knew that that same whining child would now have dreams of teams of dogs and hence more poop than can be imagined laying around? Ah, the irony of life.

That being said, I think I'm done painting for today. It's time to go play with the dogs...