Monday, August 31, 2009

What's Ringing In My Head at the End of 6 Weeks of Summer Vacation

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Purple haze all around
Don't know if I'm comin' up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
Whatever it is that girl put a spell on me

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don't know if it's day or night
You got me blowin', blowin' my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can One Get Calgon in France?

It's only about 11am here and I think I've already punished the tribe through till school starts next week.

They've bickered, fought, talked back, thrown things, and cried since waking up at 8am. All three of them seem on a mission to see which one will succeed in getting mommy to jump out the kitchen window.

I love them. I love them. I know they are the joy and light of my life. I know I made them with the help of my fabulous Hubster, who, the lucky bastard, is safe at work.

I just want them to go back to school so I can drink my coffee before it gets cold, actually keep a room clean, and take a shower. Simple things, eh?

I can't imagine being one of those mothers who have had loads of children. Good Catholic mothers who somehow birthed, raised, and set free 12 or 14. I'm struggling with 4.

I need to clone myself. This way there is one of me for each of them and then Hubster and the real me can head out for a few weeks were all we do is sit on a beach, drink fruity cocktails and watch Typhon try out a surfboard while Anouk and Abaka look for small creatures they can kill. Bliss.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Never Realized Just How Busy She Was

"Once, when I was three, I got into the fridge and shut the door."

"Once, when I was three, I threw up and the dogs ate it."

"Once, when I was three, I watched a cartoon about Barbie, but I didn't like it."

"Once, when I was three, we went on vacation and I sat in the car. THE WHOLE TIME."

"Once, when I was three, I ate shrimp. I did! I really did!"

"Once, when I was three, I spoke Spanish for a whole day!"

"Once, when I was three, Valentin and Jeremie asked me to be their girlfriend. I didn't like them but I said 'yes' anyway."

"Once, when I was three, I blinked my eyes. I swear it's true! The assistant teacher saw me!"

"Once, when I was three, I did lots and lots of stuff."

There she stands. Hand on hip, beauty and conviction in her eyes. Conquer the world, Princess, you can do it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The World Series of Dust

Hubster was extremely excited last night because it seems his beloved England has won some sort of urn that might or might not be the final resting place of a bit of dust. It's a big deal, I was told.

"Don't you remember how exciting it was when we won back The Ashes in 2005 after over 20 years of them being in Australia?"

Um. No.

A little Wiki research later and I've come to understand that England and Australia have been having cricket matches over this soot carrying urn since the 1880s. Roughly every 2 years the two teams get together for a 5 day test match that includes lunch and tea (it should for 5 days,) bright white uniforms with strange red stains on them, and fabulous hats. Now, I've been warned by a reliable source that Wikipedia is not a reliable source so I'll take the comment about cricket being more amazing than baseball with a grain of salt.

Come on. Cricket? Better than baseball? In this Ashes thing, England is playing for an imaginary urn of cinders against the same team every single time. Whereas with baseball, all the teams in the US are playing for the WORLD series! In my book, being the best team in the world (even if the competition only comes from your country) is miles more exciting than dust.

Ok, yes. There's more to these games than just the prize, bien entendu. Hence why slugging warm beers in the bleacher seats next to some guy named Paul, who keeps yelling, "GO O's" in a strong, strong, strong, "Bawlmer" accent, really is like being part of poetry in motion. I haven't had the luck to partake of a proper cricket match, but the idea of sitting in the sun sipping Pimm's singing "God Save the Queen" while jeering the Ozzies does have an element of class that, I must admit, appeals to me in the same way.

Even if what I'm hoping they win is a pile of stuff that looks like it came out of my vaccum cleaner.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do The Dishes, You Get a Pair of Diamond Earrings!

I think Hubster has become addicted to the FarmVille game on Facebook. He's figured out the all the angles on what crops to plant, and when, so he can earn enough to expand the farm and buy a barn. It's impressive his virtual spread. Enough strawberries and rice to keep the tribe well fed for years. He's got cows that give chocolate milk, rabbits that donate their fur for angora sweaters, and ducks to make down pillows. A happy place, right next to my spot where I'm growing the same stuff. We can harvest all this in minutes and then sit in the rest tent and dream of pink fencing.

I so wish this was reality.

Instead, we've got large, live cows that escape into our garden, courgettes that you could use as a baseball bat, neighbours that don't help rake the leaves, and rabbits that you don't want to get to know because they're what's for dinner around here.

Perhaps I should ask the creators of FarmVille to come up with a game that has really nice kids who clean their room, dogs that sleep when they should and not sing at all hours of the night, a magic oven that produces a four course meal with one click, and the avatar I choose is what I actually come to look like. That being cute, clean, and skinny.

We could call it MomVille and every time you get a child to do something you asked them to do, you earn points towards necessary things like a chauffer driven mini-van. Every time you get the laundry washed and dried within the time limit, you'd lose 10 pounds. Manage to walk the dog and take a shower, you'd earn a day's solitude with a good book. And the bonus level would be if your character was able to make it through the day without yelling, you would earn a spa vacation all by yourself for 50 weeks.

I guess until this game hits Facebook, I'll have to be content with life on the farm. At least there I know I'm not going to have to pick up dog poop.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Seedless Grape Dilemma

I have to admit to being some what of a convert to the whole eating non-genetically modified food. I think it's living in France that's done it to me. Food is serious here and knowing the whos, whats, and whys of your produce is important. I wish I could be as hardcore as Barbara Kingsolver, who decided only to eat what she could find locally for a year but as BVJC pointed out, "it's a good goal, but what do you mean NO BANANAS?"

I do like being able to eating vegetables straight from my or my friends' gardens. I like getting meat at the butcher shop that has the huge sign about where the side of beef I'm buying was grazing last week. I like eating things "in season." I like buying local. I like feeling like I'm part of a natural process. Heck, I even liked it when after our sewer pipe backed up, we all of the sudden had cherry tomatoes growing all over the place. Bearing in mind that said sewer pipe combines both the kitchen outflow as well as what's flushed, we didn't eat those little lovelies. I like to think I can go all organic but even that's just a touch too close to home for me.

But there is something that I can not get past. Grape seeds. Those annoying, bitter tasting seeds that take all the pleasure out of popping a round, bright green gem into your mouth on a hot summer's day. Bummer for me then that finding grapes over here without seeds has been like the constant search for the Holy Grail.

Luckily for me, the American contingent to the expat crowd has been working on this quest for years. And low and behold! There are seedless grapes to be found in the wacking great big supermarket in the city! Oh, rapture! Oh, joy! Who knew such a thing could bring such bliss!

Yes, I will admit to having bought loads. And as I happily shoved these genetically modified beauties into my mouth as fast as I could, I tried to reassure myself that I wasn't selling out, that I could still be the crunchy hippy mama that I've been aspiring to be, that I could still eat tomatoes that were nurtured with shit from my neighbour's cow as well as enjoying these little miracles of science.

Easier said then done.

We are lucky in this day and age to eat what we want, when we want, and how we want. Need a tomato that can sit on your shelf for months? No problem. Milk that doesn't go bad in a week? Here you go! How about a Twinkie that can last till Mini-Husband graduates from college? It's amazing and just a little bit scary what science can do to food.

I'm going to stick to hugging my hippy tree and try and really think about the choices I'm making with our food. Take on the French attitude of wanting to know as much about what I'm putting in our mouths as I can. I want to try and learn as Kingslover and her family learned, that we can rediscover the joy of eating locally and growing our own food.

In the meantime, to ease my conscience and keep my motivation, the least I can do is only buy the seedless grapes when they are in season, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Waiting for the Call from Social Services

The beautiful thing about parenthood is that sometimes you learn from your mistakes. Sometimes.

For example, last March, Bubba-Love threw himself into a wall and after a useless visit to a local doctor, he got several staples in his head at the emergency room. This was a good thing to remember on Friday night when he did the same thing. So we skipped the useless wait at the doctor and Hubster took him straight to the hospital where this time, the little guy got got 3 stitches and a plastic airplane from the anesthesiologist. After having just been there with The Princess in May for 4 stitches, I'm hoping we haven't made some sort of "list." Nothing like being the foreign family in town when trying to remain a little on the incognito side.

The only person who seems to really suffer from these accidents is Mini-Husband. The poor kid can't understand why he didn't get a plastic airplane too and how come The Princess got a milkshake after nearly having her ear taken off. Needless to say, Hubster and I have been trying to remind him why his siblings have been going to the emergency room and just how much fun pain is.

I'm not sure we are succeeding.

For his part, Mini-Husband has been dwelling on the little scar he has on his head, one he got when I dropped him during a spectacular trantrum years ago. He's decided that when mommy dropped him on his head in the bathroom, he should have had stitches and therefore a plastic airplane. And not only should he have stitches and a plastic airplane, but that mommy needs to relive this horrible event ALL WEEKEND LONG to remind herself that she could have killed him or damaged him forever when she dropped him.

The Catholic guilt I had first time around is nothing compared to what I got going on now. The only upside of this is that at least I know what he'll be discussing in therapy a few years from now.

And the lesson learned this time around? It might just be best to keep those stories of when mommy nearly killed you to herself. Hence, why I won't be telling Bubba-Love about the time I left the razor in the bathtub nor telling The Princess about the time I tried to pick her up in the car seat when I hadn't strapped her in.

Ah, yes. A lifetime of guilt in four beautiful smiling faces. Parenthood. Isn't it fabulous?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So How Do Y'all Say "Y'all" Over There?

Over the vacation, we been hanging out with another expat family from New Zealand. Our kids are roughly the same ages and seem to like making to same amount of noise. With their three and our four, I'm grateful for their super high powered coffee maker. These kids got nothing on a mama with a caffeine high.

The first couple of times we were around them, I don't think The Princess or Mini-husband really noticed that their kids spoke English any differently than they did.It's only been this last week that my tribe realized that their tribe "says things funny." Of course this is coming from the two kids that have developed their own accents thanks to me, Hubster and the politically correct English characters on CeeBeebies. Spend a half and hour with them and tell me who speaks funny.

That being said, Mini-Husband and The Princess had the hardest time understanding our friend's daughter when she asked for some bread at lunch.

"Bried," Mini-Husband scoffed. "What's that?"

Cue conversation about how English is spoken in many places in the world (not just England!) and how each place lays on a different accent. Cue questions, once again, about why daddy and mommy sound different and, once again, who really is right with their pronunciation of "bouy."

Overall, the kids managed to fumble through the subtle differences and finally found a way to make this whole accent question simple.

They started speaking French.

After all, who really cares what side of the planet your from when you speak good, proper French, twinged with a tried and true Auvergnate accent.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Pied Piper and Her Pit Crew

Hubster has a wonderful talent of spending hours and hours looking at all kinds of things for sale on the Internet. Be it eBay or a site like Craigslist, Hubster scans them all. JUST IN CASE something we're looking for happens to show up. Hence how we bought our super gigantic tent/summer house last year on eBay. Also how we got our foosball table, the chest freezer, some cross country ski gear for him and the kids, the new fridge, and several of our old cars. He's good.

So good in fact that he found something we've been looking for for years. Something so amazing and wonderful that my life and the lives of all of us in the village will never be the same.

Hubster found a dog sled cart.

And not only a dog sled cart, but thanks to the fact that the guy selling it was going through a divorce, Hubster found a cart AND and a proper dog sled.


Off he went early yesterday morning, driving over mountain passes to collect the newest toys for the B&B. By the time he got back late yesterday afternoon, the word had spread through the village. Within an hour of unloading the cart and the sled, we had adopted more children then I could have ever imagined. We all stared at the cart, touched the sled, pretended to be out in the snow, and just got goofy excited. Luckily for me, Hubster and Musher Boy's dad make an excellent pit crew and gave the cart a once over to make sure the brakes worked and the tires were pumped.

And then me, Typhon and Anouk, followed by 5 boys on their bikes and Musher Boy running along side, took off.


I don't think I can explain how happy it is to rediscover this sport I love so much. How wonderful it is to take those pups out and let them do what they love to do. AND I can do this without fear of falling off a bike and being pulled through a field of cow shit again. That makes a change, huh?

Ironic that it was about this time a year ago that I got knocked up with Rosebud and all my plans for training and playing with the dogs went on hold. And here we are. A year later, a child richer, and ready to run, regardless of the weather.

Hubster, there is no doubt, you rock. Thank you for Rosebud. Thank you for my cart and sled. Thank you for this insane, fabulous, dog fur covered life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Wild Hair

I have fuzzy, frizzy hair. Always have and I'm guessing until it all falls out for good, I always will. Though, at the rate at which it is currently falling out, I could be bald soon. And that might not be a bad thing.

That being said, I still hate it when my hair falls out. It clogs every drain in a 7 mile radius. I find wayward strands lingering on walls, cushions, the floor, on the baby. And then there are those strands that somehow find themselves floating in that space between my back and my t-shirts, tickling the crap outta me when I'm trying to talk about serious stuff, like birth control with my gynecologist. Truth be told, I'm giving the huskies a run for their money in the shedding department.

I had decided to let my hair grow while cooking Rosebud. It got nice and long and so thick that my only option was to keep it tied up on top of my head. It's a shame I didn't have any gel or hair spray because I could have happily recreated those lovely hair styles Madonna sported back in the 80s. You remember them, the Desperately Seeking Susan type looks. Big bangs teased so viciously that they would poke strangers in the eye and then ask, "you wanna piece of me?" The rest of the do then held at bay by an enormous ribbon or scarf, tied with a bow that would make a Christmas present jealous. That kinda style.

I had thought about making an appointment to get my hair cut and wrangled into some sort of style but between the daily joy of laundry and screaming at my children, I somehow never managed to call the salon. Unluckily for me, Hubster got a pair of hair scissors with that new electric razor he bought last year. And I just can't resist scissors.

So there I was last week, hair pulled into clumps around my head, the insanity reaching it's peak as I tried to channel my inner Faye Dunaway when she portrayed Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest. Remember the scene? She sneaks up behind her daughter and just goes nuts cutting her hair? Well, safely tuck the daughter in bed and imagine old Faye/Joan doing that to herself. You get the idea.

The worst part about all this is that my neighbour here is a coiffer in the city. He works at one of the nice salons in the respectable part of town and I've been meaning to get myself in to see him. I feel horrible running in the opposite direction this week but I am afraid of getting to close to talk to him, just in case he has a really good luck at my locks and figures out what I did to myself.
But then again, he was ever so kind consoling me after my purple hair ordeal, perhaps I should confess and beg him to help me on that 12-step program from Stylists-Anonymous...

The one good thing about having such frizzy, fluffy hair is that when I do such crazy things to myself, I can hide the really horrible bits. And overall, my hair doesn't look that bad.

Well, at least when it's tied on top of my head or clogging the bathtub drain, that is.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Things That Come to Pass

Finally had the discussion about the f-word with Mini-Husband yesterday. After two solid weeks of not listening to the pop/rock radio station (we were deep into jazz radio...lovely to hear Amy Winehouse as 'muzak' I might add,) I decided to chance it. And what do you know, the VERY FIRST song that comes on is that silly one about "f-you very much."

"ARHGGHAAAA," I cried as I hit the tuner buttons.

"Mom, why don't you like that song," Mini-Husband asked?

And so, I explained my dislike for that four letter word and why it bothers me to hear it on the radio. He nodded his head, taking in my response, and went on with his drawing.

When Hubster got home later on, Mini-Husband greets him at the door and says,

"Hey Dad. You shouldn't say 'fuck' when you get upset anymore. It's not a nice word and mommy doesn't like it, ok?"

I managed to do a bit of DIY and I'm ever so proud of myself. Yes, I actually took a hammer and nail and put up a picture. My grand father, Wade, was an amateur photographer and I have several of his black and white photos that I love. I doubt he ever expected them to be hanging up in his grand daughter's house in France, but hey. That's how it is.

There's one that's been sitting in the corner of the kitchen for years and I've been meaning to find a nice home for it.

It's perfect here near the coffee machine. This way, early in the mornings, one can make coffee and take a walk in the woods with Wade before anyone else is awake. A quiet time to hear the leaves crunching under your feet as the smell of freshly brewed coffee wraps around you.

If only all mornings could start like this rather than in the usual way, which is being jolted from bed with a feeling that someone has blown a whistle and yelled, "GO!"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let The Wind Blow and the Rain Fall

At 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, the tribe was inspired by Hubster to escape the heat and go and attack a mountain. Now, I know that heading to the mountains when storms are approaching is just nuts and I know that it's really not a good idea to drive specifically to an exposed peak just when you know lightening is on it's way, but there was something in that air last night that matched our mood and compelled us to go. We needed that sky and wind around us.

So with that, we threw a couple of bottles of water and some pretzels in a bag and off we went. We arrived at the Col du Beal just in time to watch the menacing clouds that had been chasing us from our place, play tag with the sun around the summit. The wind was up and the kids were off.

The Princess and Mini-Husband ran and ran as Bubba-Love chased them through the meadows. I sat in the car nursing Rosebud, laughing as the weather turned around us. Hubster herded them like sheep around the car, up the path, and up into the wind. The sky wild, stormy, and beautiful.

We managed a quick picnic there in the grass and then we were back in the car and on our way home. The sky stayed deep and purple until we reached our neck of the woods. Then it went black, with flashes of lightening so intense, it was as if day had returned.

Somehow, we managed to reach our place before the first drop fell. Quickly, Hubster and I tucked the tribe into their beds and then we, ourselves, collapsed into bed as the rain pounded the roof. A wild storm, that match our moods and seems by it's passing to have calmed us all this morning.

Breathe it in. This beautiful hot summer in the Auvergne.