Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time, As It Flies...

The other day I turned 40.

Now, I think I'm supposed to have freaked out or had a major party or jumped off of some very high cliff or something like that to mark said occasion, but I didn't.

I turned 40 and all I wanted to do to celebrate this milestone was go run and jump in the woods with my best friend. Luckily, and beyond all comprehension with all that's happened, I still happen to be married to him.  

We left the tribe with French Me and headed out into the woods not too far from ours. We didn't have a map so we just drifted and guessed which trails to take. Sort of how our life together has been, The Man and I. At one point, we hit a dead end and the two of us looked at each other and at the same second, turned to our right and as we jumped fallen trees and frozen puddles, we blazed a new path through the woods, back to our original trail, screaming and giggling the whole way.

We ate lunch at a the most obscure and perfectly Auvergnate restaurant just the other side of the woods. The waitress was about 70 and wanted to know where we came from. She looked at us very suspiciously when we said just the other side of the forest. I think our accents must have given us away...

I turned 40 and I still feel like I'm 12. I turned 40 and the world didn't end. I turned 40 and I still snore at night and drink too much. I turned 40 and I still sleep with my baby blanket wrapped around my head.

All things said and done, I feel a little liberated once again. The expectations of every age change and isn't that how it should be?

Turning 20 made me feel that people would take me more seriously. Finally.

Turning 30 made me glad to be out of my twenties and more "honest," as it were.

Turning 40 has made me realize what it is that is important to me and, even more importantly, that this is my one and only life. I need to live it and enjoy it. I get the idea behind a mid-life crisis at this age. Everyone should. Perhaps the world would be a happier place if we all had one and then actually listened to our hearts  in the aftermath.

I turned 40 this week.

Perfect time for a little bit of a rebirth, wouldn't you agree?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace Amongst Us

It's getting late and the kids are cuddled around The Man in the guest bed, listening to him read aloud from The Magician's Nephew. Their tired eyes are holding steady after this big day of  presents in the morning, roasted goose for lunch, a wintery walk for MH with his snow mad mom, and more chocolates than chicken pox spots for everyone.

It's been just the six of us today. It's been good, but truth be told, I miss the rest of our families, especially my own and The Man's parents who should have been with us but thanks to snowy England and frozen airplanes, it just wasn't to be.

It was our 7th Christmas here and the first time I really wish we had been somewhere else.

Funny, but just as I wrote that, I heard The Princess in her softest voice, ask her dad to read just another chapter. God, how I love being tucked up together, our little Anglophone family in the heart of France. It has been good, so very good today, and as usual, as I try to count my blessings, I realize I haven't enough toes or fingers...

I hope all of you out there are enjoying the holidays with the ones who love you for who you are...warts and all.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Polka Dot Rosie

The spots are red and raw, the book is old and well loved, and Stinky's ears aren't naturally brown... 

Just thought you'd like to know.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And Then The Second One Said to the Bartender...

For those of you who haven't been aware, we've had a chimney sweep stuck in our chimney for over two weeks now. No, not a chimney sweep of the Dick Van Dyke/Mary Poppins variety, but a a rather small round plastic brush thing that for some reason is called a hedgehog in French. Yes, it seems nous avons un hérisson coincé dans notre cheminée! Scary image, indeed!

We were finally able to beg and bribe a proper chimney sweep to come help us figure out just how to get said hérrisson out of the chimney. And since said hérisson is attached to a pole about 8-9 meters long, we knew that this whole supplication process would need a lot of coffee, perhaps some whiskey, and a huge piece of humble pie since it was our fault the damn thing was stuck in there in the first place. 

The chimney man came around yesterday morning, nice and early, and none of us heard him knocking on the door. Six people, three huskies and not a one of us noticed this small Santa look-a-like banging on the front door. When his wife called me about 10 minutes later to ask us let him in, I wasn't sure he really wanted to anymore.

Luckily, thanks to my charming smile and adorable accent, he came in and grumpily got to the job. He started shoving his chimney sticks up the pipe, trying to catch hold of that rascally hérisson with some sort of hook. He moved the pole up and down, side to side, catching hold for a split second until the hérisson would somehow become free again. He finally decided that we needed to shove that hérisson right out of the top of the chimney and hope that by doing so it would pop off the pipe cap and thus finally be free. Ok, it sounded like a good idea...

He managed to get the hérisson to stick out of the top of the pipe as planned but a split second later he realized that he had somehow caught his hook on the chimney cap. A quick scurry to the attic with The Man in tow, and the reality of the situation became clear. We not only had a hérisson stuck in our chimney, we now had Captain Hook's hand as well. Both of which were attached to their own 10-12 meter long poles.

The Man and The Sweep had a good long look at the snow and ice covered fake slate roof that was so gingerly placed by Gadot Roofing oh so long ago and wondered just when all that winter would melt so they could walk over to that chimney and cut both Hook and the hérisson free. A five minute job that will have to wait until there's a good bit of sunshine and a nice spring December. Please people, cross your fingers.

'Till then, I'll be playing connect the dots with the chicken pox spots Rosie decided to sport this morning,  The Man will be trying to fix some of the redecorating I did back in September, and the tribe will try to convince Pére Noel that really they have been super SUPER good this year. Comedy at it's best.

"LIVE from the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast, it's LIFE! With a hedgehog!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Comfort Food

Yesterday, I had a "car crash day." Which means that everything and everyone, without intention, sent my thoughts screaming into that wall again. That stupid, ridiculous wall that is now built out of silly putty rather than brick, but it's still there at the moment and it still hurts when I hit it. At least with it now being made out of silly putty, I got to shape it into a nice glass of wine and a huge bowl of popcorn covered in Old Bay at the end of the day.

I've had this same can of Old Bay seasoning since I moved to England back in 2000. Scary, I know, that I'm still using these spices but there is something so very comforting to me about being able to shake out just the tiniest amount of flavour from that very same tin and feel my lips burning, my hang nails exploding, as if I was back in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, listening to the crabs we just caught in the bay get steamed in my grandmother's big black pot.

We'd haul up the crab traps right onto the grass in front of my grandparents' mobile home, tip out the captured crabs, and watch them scurry this way and that, pinchers at the ready. But they were never any match for my grandma and her silver tongs. She'd catch them and place them quickly into the already simmering pot, the Old Bay smell invading the air. We'd start getting the table ready, throwing down newspaper and finding the mallets, anxiously waiting for the crabs to be ready.

And then she'd come carrying that big pot and dump the crabs in a steaming pile on the table. Our eyes would water, our fingers burn, and we'd we would get comfortable, knowing that we would spend the next couple of hours picking those crabs, laughing, talking, and sharing. Comfort food from the sea. All of us grateful for that which was set before us and around us.

It may only be popcorn that we had last night, but as The Man and I would reach into that bowl, our hands bumping as we went for the same little kernel, we'd laugh. Our fingers burning from the spices, the taste of my youth and home being shared between us, piece by piece.

That wall is no match for my grandmother's silver tongs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho, It's Chucky!

My mother-in-law, Annie, gave us this really wonderful Christmas decoration several years ago:

He seems like a pretty mundane little fellow and for most of the recent Christmases, he's been nicely sitting on the stairs, waiting for a tap on the head as the tribe blots past him on the way to bed. This year, everything has changed and this otherwise calm decoration has now become an instant heart attack.

Rosie has decided that his guy is just the right size to tote around the house and leave in various and sundry places without telling her mother. Like in the bathroom. Or underneath the kitchen table. Or behind a closed door.

Imagine the delight I get to experience when I'm hauling up a laundry basket, wondering in my head where on earth all of The Man's socks have gone, when I round the corner and WHAMO, I get cracked in the knee by something the size of a ventriloquist dummy who just so happens to have that same sadistic smile on his face.

At this point, I try to collect all of the clothes that had been ejected from the basket as I screamed and remind myself that this is just a jolly old man, one who will bring joy and Playmobil to my little cherubs in just a couple of weeks. If only I didn't have that hair-on-the-back-of-my-neck feeling that he had winked at me...

So far, Rosie hasn't demanded to take psycho Santa with her to bed and for that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why Everyone Needs Therapy

The Man and I had another counseling session last night and I think we both adore our therapist. There is just something about being able to talk about all the ugliness we've been through and have a person listen to you, seriously listen to you, and tell you that neither one of you is insane or a freak.

She had us nailed at our first appointment and since then, both The Man and I are impressed with how she's been able to guide us so well. Granted, we've both changed how we communicate with each other and that's the main difference, but it's just nice to have someone who's seen it all, in so many different marriages, tell us that we're good.

And we are good. We've still got a long way to go, but I can see how that wall we slammed into is actually helping me fall in love with The Man again. And as for him, if his actions are anything to go by, I think I just might get asked to the prom...

I like looking at my calendar knowing that every couple of weeks, The Man and I get to go somewhere safe and talk about us to someone who's got good advice and a boat load of "tools" to help us keep going in the right direction. I know some day were going to have to slow down the frequency of our visits, but I think it might be good for us to keep in contact. Not for the "just in case" but because as we continue to re-evolve as a couple and as parents, I think our therapist can help us keep the focus where it should be, at least until we reach the point where that "us" is solidly re-fixed in ourselves. Then, we'll show up for the last appointment, have a nice bottle of champagne, and laugh with her about it all. We might be 87 at that point, but who cares...

We're getting there. Day by day, appointment by appointment, holiday by holiday.

Who knew?

Heck, she did, didn't she?