Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Veggie Phone: It's For You

"Is that you, Grandma?"

Mark Your Calendars

I have just been informed that on this day in the year 2015, the gum that The Princess has swallowed will finally be digested by her stomach.

There's something to look forward to, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes There Isn't Enough Coffee

Mini-Husband has told me this morning that if Abaka doesn't have puppies, he's moving.

He then followed this up by saying that if his sunflowers in the garden don't bloom, he's moving.

"I'm cold. Turn on the radiator or I'm moving."

"No, I'm not getting dressed today. If I have to get dressed, I'm moving."

It's only 8am and already I'm considering packing his bags.

In trying to stay positive here, I have updated his site which helps me to remember that pictures speak louder than words.

Maybe if I tempt him with a bowl of Cheerios and a hot chocolate he'll stay for a little while longer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Au Revoir Mooster

And so the latest 'Summer of Cousin Love' has come to end. Mooster left us this morning to head back home.

She was serenaded by three moping dogs, two crying boys, and an angry princess who wouldn't budge from the couch to say a proper goodbye.

We couldn't get her to love stinky cheese while she was here but I do hope we succeeded in brainwash her enough to finally start calling 'soccer' by it's proper name.

If anyone wants to really torture her when she's back, just pop in Alicia Keys' "As I Am" or Sugarland's "Twice the Speed of Life" and hit repeat on songs 6, 1 and 2, respectively. She'll love you for it. I promise.

Mooster was also given a parting gift from Typhon, Anouk and Abaka: a harness.

Poor Snickers.

She has no idea what's coming her way.

Now, it's time for me to actually try and clean up the room she and The Princess shared for the last three weeks before the next guests arrive at the Birth Control B&B. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And You Are...?

We live in a village of 402 people.

It's a small village and most of the people here know who is who or who is doing what or who isn't speaking to who. In some ways, it could be a French version of Mayberry, except we don't have a jail and no one's named Opie but other than that, it's a good comparison.

Besides the boulangerie and the resturant, most of the action here takes place at the Mairie (the Mayor's Office) and since the bigger post office was closed, it's now taken on that function as well.

It's ever such a joy for me when I have to buy stamps to get the chance to smile and say hi to
Miss Snootie, the mayor's secretary. We have a bit of a history and I'm convinced she doesn't like me.

The other day, I got a notice that I needed to head up to the post office, located in an old closet in the Mairie, to collect a registered letter. The paper said that I could pick it up that day, after 11am.

When I arrived a little bit after 11:15, I said "Bonjour" to Miss Snootie and to the assistant mayor, who is one of our friends here in the village.

"I need to collect this," I said as I handed her the notice.

"Ah, ok, Dig. You'll need to sign for this. Do you know if it's a letter or a package?"

"Well, no. But since it's for a registered letter, I'm assuming it's a letter."

"Right," she said as she continued searching through papers and files around the room.

"Did you bring ID with you, Dig? I can't let you have this letter if you don't have any ID."

Was she serious? ID? She's been dealing with me on various and sundry issues from the school cantine to approval on our roof for over 4 years. Of the 402 people who live here, I'm sure she likes to torture me the most. She needs to see my ID?

I glanced over at our friend, who's subtile twinkle in his eyes nearly made me laugh out loud. But I'm a polite girl and my parents raised me well.

"No, I'm afraid. I don't have my ID with me," I said.

"Well, that's a problem. I can't give you this letter without seeing some form of ID, "Miss Snootie said. "You'll have to come back this afternoon."


A few hours later, I wandered back up to the Mairie, with my ID in tow, to collect the letter.

When I walked into the office, I saw that the closet/post office door was closed.

"Sorry, Dig. But the post office is only open in the mornings," Miss Snootie informed me. "You'll have to come back tomorrow."

It's obvious isn't it? She really, really, doesn't like me.

The next morning, I headed back up there with trepidation.

But there must have been some sort of cosmic intervention or she fell down the stairs because she couldn't have been nicer.

She asked me how the kids were, told me how beautiful Mooster is, and then gave me my letter with a huge smile.

"Have a nice day, Dig! See you soon!"

Flabergasted, I left the Mairie and headed off with my letter.

It wasn't until I was almost back at our house that I realized she hadn't asked for my ID.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Jungle Garden Speaks

Merci, Cindy!

It's a well known fact in our family that I learned how to drive on the "Mister Toad's Wild Ride" at Walt Disney World.

The ride is now defunct, but the spirit of dodging curbs and obstacles will live on in my daughter. Let's just hope that "Autopia" gives The Princess a better driving base than Mister Toad gave me.

It seems that careening towards a woman carrying plates caused me to laugh in hysterics. Not a good reaction to learn behind the wheel, and hence, my 3 totaled cars.

My future worries over car accidents aside, The Princess was in her element. Racing along, ahead of Mini-Husband, hair blowing in the wind, giggling deeply.

This is what a day at Disneyland is all about.

I never in my life would have thought that both Hubster and I would agree that our favourite ride at the park was "It's a Small World," but there really is something to watching your kids' faces light up at the mystery and magic of those dancing dolls.

We could've stayed on the tour all afternoon. I then would have had to had a lobotomy but it would have been for a good cause.

It was exciting for us to be mixing in and waiting with all various types of humanity at the park. Hearing Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, American and English accents was refreshing to my ears. Especially when all the parents seem to be yelling the same type of things at their kids.

"Get back here!"

"NO, we are not buying a 4ft tall stuffed Mickey!"

It really is a small world, afterall.

After all the waits, the crowds, the costs, the tired feet and arms from carrying small people, I think Hubster and I are glad the kids got a chance to see Disney. Bubba-Love's face alone when he saw Buzz Lightyear made our day.

Of course, his tantrum when he couldn't actually touch or sit in Flash McQueen from Cars was another experience, but memorable all the same.

The highlights of the trip:

*We actually made it through the parks without losing a child or a parent and Hubster and I had only one decent fight.

*Mooster got some rollcoaster rides and didn't have to speak French all weekend.

*Hubster got a travel coffee mug with his name written on it: "Grumpy."

*The rowing machine that started this whole journey in the first place, didn't fall off the top of the car on the way home. (Amen for bunge cords.)

All said and done, a good time was had by all. Now, if I could just rub the whiplash out of my neck from Space Mountain...

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Rational One

I've been trying since 8am this morning to write about my oldest sister but I keep getting interrupted by the tribe, the dogs, and finally by the chimney sweep.

It's ironic that I would love to talk about her and her love of "ODS" (old dead stuff) but I can't because I'm being harassed by "YLS" (young live stuff.)

My sister's profile picture on Facebook is her in a kayak. Which I love. Especially since this is the sister who is afraid of fish and yet a swim coach. (Can you see the irony here? You can't make up stuff better than that!)

But hey, who wouldn't be afraid of open water if you had been cruising along on a floatie only to have the water levitate and a giant skate come flying out at you. Then, a few years later, you're happily playing in the ocean with your sisters and a wacking great sting ray goes by in a wave.

She's allowed to be scared.

Hence, why for her, pools are good for freestyle and open water is good for paddling. That way, if she sees something she doesn't like in the river, she can smack the heck out of it with her paddle.
She's not daft, my sister.

The thing that keeps amazing me the most about my sister is how she continues to grow and change, becoming more comfortable with herself as she goes along in life. She was horrified at the idea of turning 40, but I think she realizes now (or at least she should) how freeing it is to be in her 40s.

I don't get to talk to her as much as I'd like, but I think she knows how much I admire and love her, how proud I am of her and who she's becoming.

I hope she had a wonderful birthday yesterday and had a chance to take her boat out on the water. A day of floating and being.

Free from fish.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Thanks to Hubster's excellent bidding techniques on eBay, we're off to Paris to collect a rowing machine.

Should be fun trying to fit 6 people in and a large, cumbersome piece of exercise equipment on our little station wagon, but we're hoping that the roof bars hold and it'll get back to our house in one piece.

The fun part is that we are going to stay the night at Cindy's castle.

You all remember Cindy, right? She's that nice young girl who's stepmother is a right nightmare and won't buy her shoes or a decent dress.

Well, it turns out, Cindy's had a string of good luck and now has a fabulous castle. Well, actually, two. One in Florida and one near Paris.

She's become sort of a fairy foster mother as well so there are all kinds of animals, talking tea-cups and strange not-quite human like people hanging at her place. Being the kind hearted soul she is, Cindy has asked us to come and play with her and all the gang when we are up near her place.

I'm ever so excited.

We haven't told the tribe yet where we are going and I'm hoping we can keep it secret until we get there. There aren't enough fun surprises in this world so we're trying to make this one a really good one for them.

I can see us now on the drive home.

Rowing machine strapped on top of the car and every free spot inside the car stuffed with all sorts of gifts from Cindy and her friends. I wonder if she might be persuaded to lend us one of her pumpkins...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Calm, Cool and Collected

eBay sounds so simple in theory. You scan the ads, you find what you are looking for and then you bid for it. When the auction ends, he with the best bid wins. Simple, right?

That is, until the last 30 seconds when someone from God only knows where decides they are going to out bid you on something you've been winning all day. Like a toaster that only toasts on one side.

You think, "Aha! No one else is going to bid on this old piece of junk! I'll finally have toast the way I like it!" There you sit, for hours, guarding your bid of 2 euros.

You watch, patiently.

3 hours to go.

2 hours to go and still at 2 euros.

49 minutes and counting.

17 minutes to go and the one side toasting toaster will be yours.

3 minutes.

30 seconds. You can taste that toast now. Crunchy and soft at the same time.

10 seconds. Your heart begins to beat with excitement.

2 seconds and some Joe Shmoe, with no appreciation of your breakfast needs, throws out a bid of 2.50 euros.

The toaster of your dreams disappears before you even had a chance to open the jam jars. If you are anything like me, you'll scream and curse and yell horrible words at the computer and then feel so sick to your stomach that you can't even fathom eating much less eating such a stupid piece of bread brown on only one side!

Luckily for me, Hubster can actually handle the stress of bidding. He's got that competitive mind set that let's him see eBay as a giant game and not as a source of happiness and joy.

He watches. He calculates. He says nothing.

We followed a fantastic family sized tent the other day. I kept sneaking to have a look at the bids off and on all day, fixated by this tent and what it was going to sell for. I was a twitter.

Hubster, meanwhile, worked in the garden, cleared out the rubbish in our crumbling anex, made a cup of coffee, and played with the dogs.

With less than 5 minutes to go on the bidding, I turned into my other self, the whirling dervish.

Hubster, still outside and seemingly oblivious, moved bricks.

With 1 minute to go, I had to physically restrain myself from going near the computer by locking myself in the bathroom and singing Alicia Keys at the top of my voice.

"Honey, you can come out now," I surprisingly heard Hubster call.

There he was sitting at the computer, covered in dirt, smiling from ear to ear.

"I threw out a bid at 2 seconds to go and we won the tent!"

Oh happiness! Oh joy! It feels so, so good to be married to Joe Shmoe!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And So It Goes

I hate when you have too much time to think about something coming your way, you get all giddy and whacked about it.

It's like when you wait for the riders in the Tour de France. You stand by the road for hours, waiting with anticipation for the pelaton to pass and then BAHM. Three seconds later, they've come and gone and all you're left with is a collection of beer openers and cheap hats thrown at you from the back of a car shaped like a sausauge.

Granted, the free laundry soap samples have come in very handy, but is having ten free loads of laundry really worth standing 4 hours next to a road sign marked, "Decharge Interdit?"

The upside is that the nice smelling laundry (as well as the rest of Mooster's undies) will remind us of the good time we had waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Viva la Tour!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Two of Them

Mini-Husband and The Princess tried to tell me they are twins tonight.

I had to explain to them that since they actually are 16 months apart, they really didn't qualify as twins.

"Yeah, and we aren't both boys," Mini-Husband piped in.

"You could still be twins and be a boy and a girl," Mooster responded.

"But, we aren't twins," said The Princess. "We're not the same age."

"That's right. We're not twins. We're twuns," stated Mini-Husband.

Twuns. Twuns?

"That's right. Twuns are like twins only the bigger one is born 16 months before other one."


Twuns. Who knew.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Accomplice

It's bad enough when your own dog starts hauling your knickers out to the front lawn for all and sundry to see, but what's worse is when your aunt's dog hauls it out, chews it to bits, and then goes back for more.

Of the 10 pairs Mooster brought with her, at least 3 have been destroyed. At first I was suspicious that Typhon was up to his old tricks, but we've discovered that the culprit is the newest beast at the B&B.

I have to admit, the pup's got good taste. She's going for the brand new American undies, rather than the old ratty knicks the rest of us have.

I had a hard time figuring out how Abaka was getting hold of the laundry since I've been cautious with the basement door since Typhon's crime spree. Well, it turns out Anouk, with her climbing ability, isn't the only agile dog chez nous.

Seems Typhon has figured out how to open the basement door handle. I'm thinking we should rename him MacGyver and install a 24/7 dog cam.

Good news for Mooster is that we can actually lock the basement door so the remaining 7 pairs of undies might have a chance of making it back home in one piece.

Can you imagine if the three of them had opposable thumbs?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Going Natural

I've decided to let my vegetable garden grow "au naturel."

Truth be told, I'm as lazy as you get.

It's a lovely garden. Don't you think?

What? What do you mean, you can't see the lettuce and the strawberry plants?

You can't make out the onions, potatos, carrots, courgettes, and tomatos growing in there?

Sure, the sunflowers are a bit obvious, but come on! It's ever such a well organized and finely weeded garden!

Look! Look!! See the courgettes!

I really should spend more timing weeding in there but I know that even if I don't, the lettuce and the rest of the veggies are growing just fine.

It's so nice to have a salad from your own garden for dinner.

Well, as long as you get the stinging nettles out before you eat it!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Out With the Big Kids

All I gotta say is that if you ever find yourself at Jean-Jacques' place late on a Saturday night, don't be shocked if all the people you know and respect start singing the French equivalents to dirty rugby songs.

I never in my mind imagined that I would see the majority of the town council, swilling homemade wine while singing about various and sundry body parts. Mon dieu! Who knew these 'respectable' people could be so fun!

Amen for the fact that I hadn't forgotten the 'clean' version of Alouette so I could at least participate to an extent.

It was a bit embarrassing when they asked me to share an American song and all I could come up with was, Thank God, I'm a Country Boy. Seems I have (thankfully) forgotten all the words to Father Abraham and the others I'll deny I ever sang.

The honour of the evening was reserved for Hubster. Nothing like a rounding rendition of God Save the Queen with a heavily sauced French accent to make you feel truly accepted in your adopted country.

Till rugby season, at least!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hugging A Brit

And since I'm thinking today should be renamed, "Hug Your Favourite Englishman," I'll start by sending a cyber-hug to one of my favourites.

See, today is the 82nd birthday of my father-in-law, Stan. And without a doubt, he is the nicest father-in-law a girl could wish for.

He has always been ever so kind to me and given me the chance to warble on and on to him (and my mother-in-law) about all things from religion, to culture, to raising kids, and dealing with dogs. He's a good soul and one who I'm glad and lucky to be related to.

I like to joke with him and my mother-in-law that when they die, I'm going to take their ashes and spread them in our rose bushes so that when I get picked by a thorn, I'll be reminded of them.

Thing is, we haven't bought the bushes yet. And I'm not planning to any time soon. I rather like being picked on by them in person, over a hot drink in their sun lounge.

So Stan, here's to you on your birthday. I'm looking forward to being with you for many years to come, over of cups of tea by the sea.

Pommie Hugging on July 4th

Mooster's mom gave my kids a book a while back called, "The Star Spangled Banner." It's a lovely little book that explains the story behind our national anthem and a little bit about the battle of Fort McHenry.

It's nice being able to give a little American history to my kids who, more often than not, much to my mother's chagrin, consider themselves more British and French.

The only problem with telling the Fort McHenry story is that I get to the pages where the British start bombing the harbor and Mini-Husband will interrupt me and ask in his more American than British accent,

"But why would we do that?"

I try to explain the differences we had with the British way back when and why the Americans wanted to be free. "No taxation without representation," I sing out!

Mini-Husband and The Princess look at me like I have seven heads.

It's at this point that both kids start reminding me that Grand-dad and Grandma are British and they don't fight with Kitty and Daddio. They even went on vacation together in Florida!

"And Mom," The Princess chimes in, "Grand-dad even read us this book the last time he was here!"

I quickly try and condense the 232 years of relationship building between our countries into 5 minutes as I'm getting them into bed.

As I closed the door, I realized that without England, I wouldn't have these adorable whirling children around me.

I'm going to celebrate this 4th of July by hugging all the Brits I can find. Without them, we wouldn't have been us.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Was Never This Confident at 12

The Mooster, our 12 year old niece, arrived yesterday. The brave thing flew over the ocean all by herself with her lacrosse stick in tow. (Lacrosse being a sport which, according to Hubster, was invented by the British. He really is full of it most days, isn't he?)

It was very strange to find my sister standing in the arrivals area. It took me a second to realize that it was really Mooster I was seeing. Why hadn't anyone told me how much she's come to look like her mother? I wanted to cry and jump up and down at the same time.

Here was my sister's child. My sister's oldest child. Beautiful and confident, acting as if it was every day she flew internationally, telling me about all the people she met since leaving the US only hours before.

Did I mention how much she's like my sister?

When I asked her if she slept on the plane, she said, "No, no. I never sleep on planes."

When I asked her if she was tired, "No, no. I'm great as long as there's sunlight."

I love the way a 12 year old tries to defy the natural laws of jet lag.

The rest of the day, she kept asserting that she wasn't tired. No, not her, she didn't get tired. No really, she was fine. Not tired at all. No ma'am. Not tired. Nope. Not at all. Not sleepy.

I left her for a little bit to attack the jungle of weeds growing around my carrots in the garden. When I came back to the house an hour later, I found her sound asleep on the couch.

I left her there for a while and when 4 o'clock rolled around, I woke her the same way I always used to wake my sister when she would nap on our parents' couch.

"Mooster. Mooooooster, " I said while tickling her feet. "Time to come play."

Luckily for me, she didn't wake up the same way my sister usually did, i.e. first telling me to stop it and when I wouldn't, start shouting my name, demanding to be left alone, and then finally jumping from the couch, threatening physical violence, chasing me away.

Perhaps it's a touch of her father that Mooster didn't do that too.

Regardless, it's nice having her here already.