Wednesday, March 30, 2011

May It Always Be So When It Comes to Homework

We got home from school last night and the big two, MH and The Princess, sat down at the dining room table to do their homework. The Princess pulled out one little red book and sat scribbling away at math problems contentedly for the next 10 minutes.

MH, on the other hand, pulled books, one after one, out of his back pack and placed them strategically on the table. He started with the blue one of a certain size, then the slightly smaller green one next to it. In the middle he placed a large yellow folder, and then to complete the left to right arch, two red copy books of about the same size.

He looked over his display and then closed his eyes and tilted his head towards the ceiling. He sat there in quiet concentration for about 2 minutes and then slowly, in English, started saying the days of the week.

"Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday."

And then, just as methodically as he had placed all the books on the table, he began to rearrange them in his backpack.

"MH, what's going on there?" I piped up from the kitchen.

"I'm done my homework," he replied.

"Already? That was quick."

"Yeah, I just had to learn the days of the week for English." he said.  "Boy, you have no idea how hard THAT was!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yellow Card

I wish I could explain to everyone just how good things are between The Man and I right now. Seriously, it's like we were both in a coma for the last two years and WHAMO all of the sudden, we're alive. It's good. It's fun. It's chaotic. It's love. But this doesn't mean that everything is all happy clappy. We've still got our moments and we've still got a lot of people to face and that's not just live ones that live around the globe, but some old demons that lurk in our ingrained behavior.

For example, on Sunday we hauled the troop and two of our friends from Scotland out for a hike around the village. There was a major trail race going on and I was hoping that we would be able to catch my running buddy as she finished her 75k course. We followed the last part of the course as it meandered into the woods and down the hills towards the infamous cascade, a rather large muddy section of waterfall at about the 73k mark. 

Unfortunately, we had had a fair amount of wet weather around these parts in the last couple of days so to say it was muddy is putting it lightly. To say that a hippo might have been happily hidden in one of the puddles we needed to splash through is more correct. Of course, this little jaunt had been my idea so I was feeling rather sheepish about the amount of mud The Man had to push the jogging stroller through. Rosie was happily bouncing along as her dad muttered various four and five letter words in several languages at her mother. Luckily for all of us, good humour prevailed and we all made it back to the B&B in one piece. Dirty, but happy, everyone kicked off their shoes outside and that was that.

Monday night rolled around and I realized that our furry friends had been locked in their prison since Sunday so we needed to let them out to play. The Scottish duo kindly did so and got them fed. Once again, tails wagging and wine being opened, that was that. Or so I thought.

Later that evening, we noticed lovely bits of black and purple material that had been chewed and flung all over the garden with only soles left as reminders of what once was. Unluckily for The Man and The Princess, their shoes had taken a direct husky hit.

It was at this moment in time that the ugly demon of stress and frustration that lingers in the soul of The Man raised it's ugly head and got angry. Really, really angry. And this ugly demon, in my opinion, blamed me for the dogs having eaten his boots. And it was then that my own ugly demon of righteous indignation, that at first tried to remind The Man that anyone could have brought the shoes in, couldn't handle all the crap that's been going on between us for years and decided that throwing that mangled boot at The Man was the right response.

Of course, I missed. 

Damn it all.

But you know, it's funny when parents in their forties have tantrums: we look exactly like all of our children. And since consistency is key in dealing with tantrums in children, I promptly put myself in time out in my room, where I sulked and smothered that demon with my blankie. When The Man came up to bed a little bit later, he hugged me and whispered a simple, "I love you," as we lay there.

The Man and I have been laughing a lot about the shoe since then. He knows he blew his cool and I know that I countered his stupid tantrum with a stupid stellar one of my own. 

Though, I have to admit, I'm glad we had this little tiff. It's cleared the air once again and reminded us both that we still have some work to do. But trust me, it's good work if you can get it. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go On, I Dare You to Try and Pronounce It

So the latest craze over here at the moment seems to be loads of ados wandering around ice rinks, malls, and parks wearing this:

Yes, that would be a Franklin & Marshall sweatshirt. And what's funny to me is that I'm sure not a single one of these ados have any freakin' idea what Franklin & Marshall is. Which is such a shame because the admissions office of that fine school in Lancaster, PA might be able to tape into a massive influx of international students from this part of France if they knew what was going on.

At first I wondered if there was some sort of exchange program already in place between the local university and F&M, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I just wish I had jumped on the bandwagon sooner and started marketing my own Alma Mater's sweatshirts. Sure, Marquette may be just a bit too easy for French ados to say, but one could have tried, I suppose.

You have no idea how much I want to grab one of those kids and say, "Oh my GOD! Did you go to Franklin & Marshall too?!?!?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All We're Missing is a Space Mountain

We've had a kid swap this week. French Me kindly has taken the resident grumpy guts, aka Bubba-Love, for two nights and in exchange, we've got her oldest. And I have to admit, it's kinda nice having three kids over the age of 7 to deal with. There's just something about cranky 5 year olds that make me break out in hives and dream of drinking large bottles of Jagermeister.

The Man left for work early this morning with Rosie in tow, which meant that I was free to actually make the big kids some pancakes for breakfast. French Me's daughter watched in wonder as I flipped the pancakes over and asked me to clarify just what the difference between pancakes and crêpes is. I mumbled some stupid reply about the fluffiness of pancakes and how they only get folded over hot dogs in diners, but she seemed to glaze over so I quickly changed the subject.

As they sat down to eat, I watched as all three of them first went for the syrup, then for spoonfuls of sugar shaken like they were all in detox, and then finally some rather large glops of Nutella smeared all over those poor pancakes. I'm expecting the sugar rush to end sometime this evening.

At one point, French Me's daughter looked up from her very sticky plate and said,

"You know? Being here and eating pancakes reminds me of the time we went to Disney Land Paris and we had pancakes and coffee with Goofy."

Yes. Yes. I know. If the shoe fits....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The More The Merrier

After Madame Home Depot had actually booked her tickets for this last adventure at ours, she made an off-hand comment that one of the guys she knew from work had told her he wanted to come to France too. MHD, being MHD, told him that if he booked his own ticket, she was sure Dig and the tribe would be happy to have him along. So one bright and sunny Kansas morning, MHD gave a copy of her itinerary to said gentleman et voila! And much to every one's surprise, he actually booked a ticket.

What hadn't been explained to us in greater detail was that, sure, she knew him from work, but only because he was a customer of Home Depot. And sure, they have had lunch together once, but overall she knew him about as well as I know my mailman.

For the 10 days she spent with us before he arrived, we quizzed her on everything we could. What did she know about his family, about his past, if he'd been arrested for any major crime, if he ate meat or drank alcohol, or even what he liked to do when he wasn't walking through the hallways of a hardware store. Her answers never wavered. "I don't know! I DON'T KNOW! Oh, my GOD!"

Ok. No big deal. We've had other random people come through the B&B before. We could handle this. Daily deep breath therapy seemed to help MHD not stress too much about it all because, hey, big deal if she basically invited a complete stranger to spend a holiday with her in Europe. Loads of people do that all the time, right?

Luckily for her (and for us) said gentleman was exactly that. An all-around good guy who's motto, "it's not a problem until it's a problem" has now become standard mantra with us all. He jumped right in and helped with the house renovations, hung out with the kids, and shared his own personal experiences with MHD, The Man, and me. He fit right in and didn't seem too phased by the state of the bathroom. He fixed our lights, removed radiators, and helped The Man plan some renovations to our little house in Idaho. Such was the complicity between them that he even caught the horrible lurgy that The Man has been fighting for weeks. Ever so kind, wouldn't you agree?

If I have to admit it, this whole experience has reminded me of the thing I've love most about the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast: all these people who come to stay. Be it family, acquaintances from near & far, or friends who showed up after years of being lost, they plop their bags in the guest room and just jump right in, adding their touch to this tapestry we call home. Here is a France that doesn't exist in guide books: a real live, loud, messy, multi-cultural, multi-lingual guest house where everyone is welcome, well as long as they don't mind changing an occasional nappy or painting a wall.

Overall, I think she did good there, MHD, by inviting this gentleman to come. It was a risk, for sure, but as we all know, sometimes we need to take risks or we miss out on life and all it's got to offer. (Granted, if one of my girls tells me years from now that they've invited a strange man they met at McDonald's to go on a trip to with them to the other side of the world, I might be just a wee-bit nervous, but hey, at that point we'll just forget this little event ever happened, ok?)

All's well that ends well and I'm happy to say that this gentleman stranger is now a no longer just a stranger. And who knows? Maybe after this trip, he and MHD might even go out to dinner! As for The Man and I, we only hope that we will cross paths with him again someday, even if it's only for a few seconds and a coffee in the paint section of Home Depot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It All Started in the Post Office Parking Lot

It dawned on us the other night that Madame Home Depot and I have known each other for almost 15 years. Three of which we spent attached at the hip, dodging shots at the local bar and trying to out talk each other in random and sundry other spots. The other years consist of frequent phone calls and her 4 trips to the B&B where she got exposed to chicken pox, demolition work, and car sickness....not all at the same time, of course. We like to dole those out special moments out over several extended periods of time. Keeps the freshness of the place exciting, you know...

Funny thing with Madame is that in the years we were working together in the Rockies, we had this inexplicable need to call each other every night before bed. Didn't matter if she was at her boyfriend's place or we had had a heavy night in the bars, we had to hear each other's voices so we could sleep peacefully, safe in the knowledge that we were loved. We talked every day, sometimes all day, cracking up over stupid stuff. Seriously, neither of us can remember what we really talked about but the laughter, that's been tattooed onto our souls.

She's seen me through thick and thin, this woman. She's listened to me whine, moan, and sing. She's known The Man almost as long as I have and is the only other woman who I know who can give it back to him like he needs. It's awesome knowing he loves her as much as I do.

Normally it's him who gets to spend time knocking things down, rebuilding, and chatting the day away with her but due to his flu/bronchitis/stress/life in general, I got to do all those things, not him. She and I have sanded plaster joints, painted undercoat, drank gallons of coffee, and laughed until our sides hurt. All it takes is one glance at her wry smile and I'm in stitches remembering why we were so inseparable all those years ago. (Just mention the words, "stamp collector" to either one of us and you'll see why...)

She's good, Madame Home Depot. One of the best people I've ever known. One who has reminded me that laughter is what I need. Every day and in large, large doses. Her visit has been a blessing and I ache from giggling.

Screw running. A half an hour of laughing, with tears streaming down my face, is all I'll ever need.

Thank you, MHD. I remember.