Friday, October 30, 2009

Six Months On

I'm amazed that Rosebud is already 6 months old. It seems like just yesterday I had The Princess, Bubba-Love and Mini-Husband having a field day with the adjustable bed at the hospital. I watched them moving that bed up and down and up and down as I held that tiny baby and thought, "Oh, my God. These are my children."

Parenthood is something that sneaks up on you. You can read all the books out there, talk to all the other moms and dads on the block, but nothing can prepare you for this insanity. And it is insanity. How else can you explain the ability to want to throttle and hug someone at the same time? How can you explain how flying never used to bother you until you had kids? Or how (like my sister) you spend HOURS wondering just how you'll get all those little people out of the car if the bridge you are driving over starts to collapse.

I still can't believe that I have four children. I still can't believe that Hubster and I have been so lucky to have these four healthy, smart, beautiful people in our lives. Who knew that each of them would make me feel more and more complete? I couldn't have imagined my life with them and now, I can't imagine life without them.

These past 6 months have flown by. Rosebud is truly blossoming. I can't get enough of watching her get all giddy when Mini-Husband smiles at her, or listening to her laugh when Bubba-Love screams "BOO" at the top of his lungs, or laughing to myself as I watch The Princess carry that baby, who seems half the size of her, around the house. The joy on Rosebud's face when her dad gets home from work makes me want to cry and shout, "FEEL THE LOVE, PEOPLE! FEEL THE LOVE!"

Not having planned a single one of them, I feel beyond humbled and blessed at all this 'accidental' joy in my life. It is true, there's always room in your heart for more.

That being said, there ain't no way I'm having another one. I think I've earned enough credits as it is for my Master's in Chaos Administration and the thought of having to write that thesis for my Ph.D. makes me want to pull out all my arm hairs one by one as I hide under the straw next to Typhon.

But life is nuts and so am I.

"Sometimes you just might find, You get what you need."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They Know Me

Less then an hour before I need to head off and pick up my parents at the airport. I've been like a mad woman this morning, trying to finish off the massive cleaning I started yesterday. Trying to find homes for the odd shoes, Playmobil, and pencils laying around. It's incredible how fast plastic can reproduce.

Funny thing is, I'm not sure why I'm getting all stressed out about having things nickel, aka perfect, when these parents of mine know darn well that my idea of putting things away is opening a closet and chucking everything in there.

When I was little, I dreaded cleaning day. I'd leave my room in a state of fabulous disaster in the morning, only to return home to find a carpet I hadn't seen in three months and a mountain of shit all over my bed. I couldn't just throw all of it back into my walk-in closet...or could I?

I think I started getting a little more concerned about house cleanliness when I moved into my flat in England. I shared that place with a boy who liked growning pot in his bedroom and a certified MENSA member who liked keeping all sorts of trash bags with all sorts of trash in them scattered around her postage stamp size room. It was after seeing our tea cups turned into petri dishes that I decided to embrace bleach and the vacuum cleaner and keep Luna and I well and truly safe in my room.

Since living in this house, I've taken on all new battles. The never-ending war against Lego, spider web hunting, and (NEW THIS SEASON!) tracking mouse poop. Most of the time, I'm able to keep the place in a relative state of cleanliness. But, the truth be told, I'd rather have all my teeth pulled out without a general anaesthetic then clean. And boy, does that show.

My parents have told me not to worry. It's not the floors they are coming to see. I know that's true but I'm still freaking about getting this place looking good. Good God, why do I worry about this? Will I care when I go visit Rosebud many years from now if her toaster is all crummy, or if Bubba-Love's kids have taken to creating mud pies in the lounge? So what if The Princess' ponies all have free access to the kitchen?

I'm deliberately not going to mentioning Mini-Husband here because I have a sneaking suspicion, even though he likes leaving his pjs and shoes all over the place right now, his anal attentive nature will take over in his late 20s and his place will be so clean, you could eat off the shower taps.

Parents know their children and they love us all the same. Amazing, isn't it?

So with now a half an hour to go, I've rechecked to see that I've got some tomato juice for BaPa and some Diet Coke for Kitty, not to mention a good supply of both red and white wine. I've got the simple needs covered so hopefully while they are being smothered with hugs from those little people they don't get to see enough of, they'll be happy to ignore all the dead plants and the multitude of candy wrappers that have set up camp in the couch.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Irony of La Vie

I've become a big fan of the blog Sweet Juniper. The author, JDG, stops us for a minute to think about aspects of our lives that go overlooked, or ignored, through his words and with his simple and striking photography.

He has a series of photos capturing the 'feral houses' of Detroit and I'm fascinated by them. The whole idea of just letting a house decay and waste away is incredibly foreign to me. I don't know if it's that I grew up in a country that ripped down abandoned places, creating space for something new, or if it's just that I can't live with the idea of abandoning things.

Over here in the wilds of France, feral houses exist in almost every nook and cranny, every little village, and most little hamlets. The inheritance laws being so complex, it's easier for people to let old family houses fall into ruin rather then trying to fix them or sell them. Nature wins the battles between sisters and brothers, uncles and nieces. Houses that had been built hundreds of years ago, are reduced to crumbling walls, held together by ivy and vine.

Down the hill from our village is a little hamlet called La Vie, which translates to "life." Whenever I pass through there, I think about Sweet Juniper's feral houses and just how much life must have happened here.

I find myself both in awe of the beauty in La Vie and profoundly depressed.

Oscar Wilde once said, "You are young. No hungry generations tread you down....The past does not mock you with the ruin of a beauty the secret of whose creation you have lost..."

Oh, but it does, it does.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Grandma Goes to the Loo"

Yesterday, the kids latched on to singing, "Skip to the Lou." We all had the tune down pat, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the words. We fumbled along, clapping our hands, tapping our feet, when Mini-Husband declared that he remembered how the song went:

"Grandma's off to the loo.
Grandma's off to the loo.
Grandma's off to the loo.
Skip to the loo, my darling!"

Of course, that brought the house down.

Boy, that song sticks in your head. And I mean sticks. All night long, I lay in bed chanting that sucker over and over again, trying desperately to remember how the lyrics went. Nursing Rosebud at 3am, I thought I had it but then when I went to her at 6:30, the words were gone and all I was left with was something about losing a partner.

Lucky for me The Wiggles had fimed their own video of this song:

Gotta love an Australian group teaching English kids how to sing an American folk song in France. Yeah, Internet!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just When I Needed Santa

The first of the 3,000 Christmas gift catalogs arrived chez nous yesterday and let me tell you, that's almost as exciting as Christmas itself. Mini-Husband and The Princess were quick to grab that thing and begin the endless chant of, "Oh, I want that!" All three of the big kids were out of bed a 7am this morning, not to watch cartoons or jump on my bed, but to look at those freaking catalogues.

I know it really is too early to start thinking about Christmas, but I have to admit that I'm glad to see this catalog. Not at 7am, granted, but seeing these suckers means my arsenal in the form of a "parental bag of punishment ticks" has been refilled when I really needed it to be.

The summer is long gone, the weather is quickly becoming too cold to play outside for long periods of time, and the house seems to have shrunk all of the sudden. There aren't enough rooms, Matchbox cars, or DVDs to keep them happy and away from each other. The constant fighting and yelling is a cacophony that makes me cringe, want to curl up into a ball, and cry. Or start drinking at 10am, which is nuts since most days they are at school and I'm only thinking of suicide between 4:30pm and bedtime.

Here's where the Christmas catalog saves me.

We normally get two catalogs in the mailbox and after I beg Grandma Française for her copy, each child gets a pair of scissors and an envelope. And off they go. Cutting, choosing, and dreaming about what Santa will bring this Christmas. The tattered carcasses of those catalogs, spread all over the dining room table and floor. A mess I'm happy to live with because after they've made that mess and stuffed their envelopes full of pictures of plastic, each of those magic envelopes becomes mine.

"Bubba-Love, stop hitting your sister or I take a toy out of the envelope."

"Mini-Husband, go take a shower or I take a toy out of the envelope."

"Princess, homework. Do it or I take a toy out of the envelope."

We start the season with about 20+ toys in there. But by the beginning of December, they might be lucky to have 5 left. At that point, hopefully the "fluff" toys have gone and Hubster and I can really figure out what to get them for Christmas.

This may be the last year that Mini-Husband still believes in Santa Claus so I'm going to try and use him as my trump card as best I can. It is incredible how an imaginary Santa seems to make getting in trouble less exciting. "Heck, if it's only mom getting mad, who cares! But don't piss of Santa!"

Now that I think of it, perhaps I ought to get Hubster to do the same thing with the power tool catalog from Gedimat. Every time he does something bad, I can take out a sander, a drill, or a buzz saw. He could do the same with me too. I'll clip out pictures of huskies from various dog books and every time I'm naughty, that's one less dog for my imaginary team.

It's a well known fact that the apples at the B&B don't fall too far from this tree. Hence no way I'll be that good either so the risk of actually getting more dogs is (for Hubster, fortunately) slight.

"Dig, You bought another pair of running shoes!?! Baff! There goes your Malamute puppy!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've Been Unfaithful

A few weeks back, I finally got my arse into gear and got an appointment to get my hair cut. Months of the post-partum delights (aka me with sissors) had changed my normal happy go lucky look into something more from a zombie flick, as you all might remember, and people were noticing. Especially my children. There is something just not so fun about your 6 year old telling you your hair looks like crap.

I made the appointment with my coffier neighbor, Pierre, at his salon in the big city. I counted down the days till I would be there, safe in the hands of a professional and all his fabulous smelling shampoos. I couldn't wait for the head massage I knew I would be getting as he frothed out those odors of chien and I would sip on a hot tea. It would be calm! It would be relaxing! I'd be all new and pretty!

And you know what? It was just like that. And the best part about being someone who waits 10 years between salon visits? It was all the looks from the other coffiers at how amazing and beautiful I was now that Pierre had cut my hair. If only they had taken before and after shots just to prove to the world what miracles Pierre and his team could do!

The only trouble with such a wonderful life changing visit to the hairdresser is that you have to go home. And inevitably, you have to take a shower and wash your hair. I delayed it as long as possible, but it had to happen in the end. And ever since, I'm back to looking like that zombie.

It's as if I never had it cut. It's fuzzy, frizzy, and I keep having to tye it in a knot on my head. I've tried drying it, I've tried brushing it, but nothing I've done will get my crazy hair back to the sleek sophisticated look that Pierre achieved. Nothing.

Nothing, that is, until I went and saw Sophie at another salon today.

Yes. YES! I admit it!!! I cheated on Pierre with another woman!!! I couldn't take it any longer!!! The temptation was too much!!! It was so easy and my GOD, do I look GOOD again!! SOOOO GOOD!! I'm sleek, I'm beautiful! I'm not taking a shower till Sunday!!

Of course, I'm now a nervous wreck about running into Pierre this weekend. There's no way I can hide the new look in a knot on my head. I'm going to have to find a hat and run the dogs really fast past his place. (What's the penance on this kinda adultery, anyway? Four home colouring sessions and a dozen Hail Marys? An Act of Contrition and cheap shampoos till Christmas?) But if I do see Pierre, look at that! Yet another wonderful opportunity for me to forget how to speak French entirely!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Impluse Buying with a Twist

Mini-Husband bounced into the house yesterday after school and asked, "Can I have some of that cookie-doo?"

Cookie-doo? Here's a new one.

"You know. That ice cream you bought."

Ah, yes. Cookie Dough! Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough.

And being the super mommy that I am, as well as trying to convince my people that lots of good things come from the United States besides pancakes, I indulged him.

I had forgotten how much I love this stuff. How fabulous that visit to the ice cream factory in Vermont was and how easy it is to stick your face in that container and just go for it. Look at that joy and rapture on his face as we polished off that pint! (Perhaps it is a good thing Ben & Jerry's is hard to find over here.)

I had been worried that the Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Phish Food wouldn't be as well loved as the tride and true Cookie Dough, but dinner at friends a few weeks back solved that little problem. The French know a good dessert when they eat one!

Every so often, when I'm wandering around in a daze the grocery store, I see something. Could be just a bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo, Belgian made Skippy peanut butter or Old El Paso Salsa, but I start getting all giddy for something that reminds me of chez moi. Something I can share with the tribe in hopes of bribing them to admit they are American.

Mini-Husband is normally the worst of the lot. He's convinced he's more British than Grandma and Grand-dad. But, alas! I think I have found a very valuable American negotiating tool with this old Cookie Dough ice cream.

From the bottom of my star spangled heart, thank you, Ben and Jerry!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Favourite Picture from My Favourite Day

I look at this picture and can't help but smile. We look so young. And Luna actually looks clean. And the one nice thing about having had to buy a tent as a wedding dress is at least I know I should always be able to fit in the thing.

Here we are. Eight years on.

Just more dog fur and plastic toys than we could have ever have imagined.

Still love this man, that dog who's in the stars, and this crazy life we live.

Thank you, Hubster.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


There is a myth that all French cooking is beyond anything human words can describe. That eating a meal in any little hovel in any little town might turn out to be a something your taste buds never quiet recover from. An experience of savors that sends shivers of joy down your spine. The menus offering a variety of things you'd never make yourself: rabbit, veal, or quail for example, café et vin compris.

Except where the kids are concerned. The poor little sods eat ham. Lots and lots of ham.

I don't think we've been to a restaurant yet that didn't have the standard kids menu consisting of chicken nuggets (pronounced "nuugaytes") or jambon blanc et frites, aka a slice of ham and fries. And the ham in question isn't your honey roasted type variety, it's the sliced stuff you find pre-packaged in plastic and perfect for luring your dog back after they've escaped from the garden.

Granted, kids don't really seem to understand the joys of vegetables or exotic grains cooked with a tarragon butter sauce, so the option of those chicken squares or that tantalizing piece of ham seems to work just fine to keep the little people happy while mommy and daddy go all ga-ga over Aligot.

I remember enjoying ham sandwiches as a kid but I don't think I ever took ham as seriously as the French do. I was happy for a slice or two on white bread with a little mustard and the obligatory piece of bright yellow processed cheese food. The idea of having it served on a fancy dinner plate with fries and a toy never occurred to me. Something so simple and easy! These restaurants are making a killing!

In a way, I'm seeing ham like what peanut butter used to be in the States, the "go-to" option for when you're in a hurry and need something to give to the roaring animals in your zoo. And as I mentioned before, it's also a wonderful tool for tricking the tricky husky in your life.

Abaka, aka Harry Houdini, has discovered that when she escapes and starts running insanely around the village, Hubster or I am bound to show up in the 4x4 with slices of ham flying out the windows. Now, every time we start the engine, she starts going berserk, twirling in circles, "The ham truck is coming! The ham truck is coming!"

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Blustery Day

Remember this?

I bet you never knew it could double as a kite.

Last time I looked, my knickers (and the drying rack) were doing their best impression of the tornado from the Wizard of Oz.

But at least everything will be really dry, right? That is, if I can find it all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Franglais at It's Finest

From the Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions, edited by Henry Strutz:

AFANAF, adv. Fifty-fifty (from Eng. "half and half"). Et si on faisait afanaf? "How about our going Dutch?"

(Did you read that one with your best French accent thrown in for good measure? Go on. Try again. You know you want to. You know you need to.)

Gotta love a word that doesn't exist in English, describing something possibly of Dutch origin and included in a French dictionary.

Of course, when I tried to use this in a real live conversation with Hippy-Love Française, she looked at me like I had seven heads.

"Quoi? Tu veux dire 'moitié-moitié', oui?" ("What? You mean 'half and half', right?")

And so yet another attempt by me to sound authentic is nipped quickly in the bud. I'll just add that one to my ever growning list of guffaws and bumbling idiot questions I've got going on here. It's getting quite impressive.