Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't Eat the Tomatoes

Bubba-Love went running through the front door yesterday afternoon, flashed me a big smile and shrieked with glee,

"I love being home. I get to pee on mommy's plants again!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What I Learned on Summer Vacation

I think I should begin this by point out that now that I've been home for over a week, I can't really remember vacation so I'm not sure that I learned anything. But, since I promised all and sundry that I'd extrapolate a little, I'll do my best.

*When you stress about how well a 15 month old will handle a 7 hour flight, don't forget that the three other people related to her will find new and incredible ways to freak you out.

*I hate air conditioning. There, I've said it. Even when it was ridiculously hot and humid, I wanted to throw open the doors and windows and bask in the heat. Sure, it's nice to escape from the insanity by hiding in the mall, car or house, but I have come to realise that I actually like feeling the seasons. Sweat marks be damned.

*There is nothing like diners. Good old fashioned diners where at lunch time you can order pancakes for your 4 year old, a grilled cheese for your 8 year old, chicken noodle soup for a princess, mashed potatoes and meatloaf for the littlest one, and a nice big fat Reuben sandwich for yourself. All with a never ending glass of mixed ice tea and lemonade. This is what I call a happy meal.

*I'm secretly hoping that one day Hubster gets an expat deal to the US just so we can buy a Mustang convertible, an industrial style gas grill, more running shoes than I can dream of, and a Malamute puppy from one of my favourite breeders in Colorado.

*Family is tough because no matter what we think about each other, the problem is that we are all very, very much alike. There's a beauty in knowing that. And that's where this love is so amazing. I hope we continue fighting and forgiving for years to come.

*My high school friends are the people I have always hoped they'd be. Made even better by their spouses and their children.

*My college friends are the people I've always needed them to be. Thank God they still "get" me after all these years. I only hope I can return the favour.

*My kids have decided after an afternoon in Target, that America is the greatest place on earth.

*Jet lag sucks. In both directions.

*As much as I liked "Thriller" back in the day, it's killing me how often the tribe is singing 'Beat it.' Seven hours of Michael Jackson to the US and then 6 hours of Michael Jackson home. Who needs movies when you can air guitar to this morsel for hours on end? And the worst part? They still haven't figured out all the words. "Na-na-nana-na, na na na na. BEAT IT!" Someone shoot me.

*All the excitement, all the planning, all the stress for those fabulous three weeks and WHAMO. It's done. Here I sit, back at home, as if I'd never left. The memories are there and I loved it all, but wow. It's over. I only hope that when we die, it's a bit like this. We sit next The Big Guy/Gal and say, "Boy, that was fun."

*I got to run with my middle sister and hang with my parents. I ate steamed crabs with my fish fearing sister and drink Sam Adams Summer Ale with my brother-in-laws. I got to laugh with my nieces and nephews and get eaten alive by mosquitoes with the other important women in my life. I got to be reminded of who I was and where I'm from and see how that all meshes into where I'm going.

All things being said and done, I think Tim Vine, the winner of the Best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, has the best thing to say about such a vacation en famille:

"I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime-holiday, I'll tell you what, never again."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

And so we're back. And I'm having the worst time remembering where all the right keys are on this French keyboard so forgive me for any really wacko typos. Hard enough trying to use my mom's keyboard that had no "p" and now, I keep losing the "w" and the "a." Oh well. Tough price, this international life, eh?

We returned to a typical French welcome which meant that after having to zoom around Charles de Gaulle airport in various buses after that festive 7 hour flight, we arrived at the little terminal for our domestic flight only to be told that security wasn't open till 6 am. So we, and the bus load of other air weary passengers, would just have to wait. Two minutes to be exact. It was only 5:58 am you see, God FORBID they work over time.

Ah, la France. I've missed you.

Once back home, we were informed by Grandma Francaise that we and our dogs had created un scandale during our absence. According to her and our neighbour, they had howled and cried and caused all kinds of mayhem for the last TWO MONTHS and that EVERYONE in the village was pissed off and ready to send them to Alaska.

Cue my favourite emotion: Catholic Guilt.

I drowned my sorrows with a bottle of rosé on the terrace with Hubster, determined that this morning I'd make amends. Off I went in search of all and sundry in town to apologize for not having chosen to kennel them for these two weeks we all were gone. Apologize that poor Musher Boy had done his best to take them out everyday and make sure that they were alright. Apologize for the noise and disruption and promise that this wouldn't happen again.

And you know what? Everyone I apologized to told me they hadn't heard the dogs at all. Maybe once, but they weren't nearly as bad as so-and-so's dogs on the square...

Cue: Catholic Confusion.

Now, I'm sure that Typhon sang and Anouk acted like a state trooper, but overall, I'm wanting to believe that it wasn't as bad as I'm fearing. Musher Boy is a good, responsible kid and I don't regret leaving the fuzzy bumpkins at home rather than in a kennel. I hate to think that they did really upset everyone and I can only hope that the truth is out there somewhere.

Since then, I've been busy kicking the spiders out of the various summer camp locations around our house and hoping that this jet lag thing wears off soon. I'll try to give a little rundown on the highlights of the trip and What I Learned on Summer Vacation but that's going to have to wait for now.

All scandales considered, it's good to be home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This week has been a blur. I see sand all over the floor of the bathtub and some mangled, wet swimsuits thrown into a corner and I'm vaguely aware that we've been to the beach. The kids are brown and Rosie has taken to cleaning out her digestive system by taking the "Sand Diet" to heart.

It's beautiful here.

We've been eating and drinking and eating and laughing and drinking and eating some more until thunderstorms roll in and we find the need to drink a little something else and just sit on the decks and watch the lightening as it rolls out to sea.

It's not at all like home. It's louder, newer, and in English all the time.

The tribe has learned how to boogie board and jump the waves. They've decided Speedo swimsuits are for Europeans, pizza is awesome for breakfast and cousins can be just as painful as siblings. They can now swim across the pool and jump in without fear. They can't remember the boulangerie and they point blank refuse to speak in French.

I'm with my people and laughing as Hubster tries to understand Americans, seafood, and peanut butter creme pie.

It's good. I'm getting my fill and starting to be homesick. Four more days. Four more days.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

OBX and Rocky Mount, North Carolina

You know, it's really hard trying to blog when you see all 7 of your readers making bacon in the kitchen next to you. It's just a reminder that what I write really is a load of hog swallop that only people who share some genetic connection to me through birth or marriage might actually be interested in reading.

That being said, I'll talk to myself here and note how much I'm in love with Rocky Mount, NC. A small town that seems to have little going for it, with the nicest people and the coolest park where everything costs a dollar. Who knew that when we randomly picked to meet up there with Miss Tennessee 1975 and her family yesterday, how awesome that would turn out to be.

We found a spot for all 6 kids to run and splash in a water park where the risk of drowning was non-existent. We found a spot where we could ride around on a miniature train, just like the one Mini-Husband has in his room, and laugh as it  whisked us through a most welcomed shady tunnel of wisteria. Sno-Cones and ice cream, a carousel, and the people who actually debunked my theory about the shallowness of the American, "how you doin'?"

A picnic next to shady trees with a cool Riesling and good friends who I miss more than I can admit. I love that place, that day, those memories. Thank you Rocky Mount and thank you Middle Sister for letting us escape the family so we could be with friends.

Now on to a week sequestered with the family on the Outer Banks. If we survive the bacon rush each morning, we might be able to deal with the beer run in the afternoons. Amen for a pool at the rental house and teenage nieces. I could get used to this.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Can't You See I'm Trying to Ignore You Here?

It's been over a week that we've now been in the United States of Casual and I have to say, I'm still suffering from culture shock.

People are so darn nice here. So very, very, freakishly nice. They ask how your day is going, they smile and say hi when you pass them running, they even come and refill your never-ending cup of soda at the fast food joints. I'm so out of practice at this chit-chat thing, it's killing me. And the guilt I'm feeling at the grocery store when I see that poor man STANDING there, bagging my groceries! Quelle horreur!

The only exception to this whole killing-me-with-kindness-thing was the other night when I screwed up going  through a toll booth and rather than going through the automatic lanes, I ended up going through the one where a very bored and determined young man wasn't about to let me out of the toll without giving him a dollar.

"But the car has an Easy-Pass," I said.

"Didn't work," he replied without shifting his gaze from his iPhone.Who was this woman interrupting him like this?

"It's supposed to pay automatically, right?"

"Look, it didn't," he grunted, still not looking me. "You need to give me a dollar or you can't go through."

I'm not sure he wound have understood the compliment I wanted to bestow on him if I had actually said out loud what was passing through my head. If only he knew that across that great big ocean, he's got a fabulous community of toll booth workers who love doing what he was doing and even liked to make life more fun by going on strike from time to time.

I have to admit that I was kind of happy to meet this atypical American. Someone who obviously didn't give a shit about what was going on and didn't have a problem showing that. It restored my faith that you can find helpful people outside of Paris and obnoxious people in Virginia.

Even though our languages may be different, people are people no matter what size the toll booth. I just wonder what app he bought with the dollar.