Wednesday, November 29, 2006

2-year-olds have low standards

J stood by the sink getting splashed with water because he thought it was fun.

He ate the carrot peelings because he thought they were good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We kill frogs and eat them too

The other day a child in S's class had a birthday. He had a bear birthday cake and gave everyone in the class a marzipan frog to take home. Mr. French picked them up for lunch and before he could stop them, the boys killed it on the playground. S immediately regretted his actions but nothing could be done to save the frog. S sulked all through the 2 hour lunch period at home and went back to school in a low mood.

But by the time he got home in the afternoon, he had his smile back. His teacher, apparently, felt sorry for him and after seeing what had transpired, gave him a new one. He was extremely careful bringing it home this time.

Now we have a frog and a "dead frog".

Ready, SET....

One thing that surprised me about living here is that we had to change our names. Some of us more than others. The French don't pronounce the letter H. So any name that has an H, changes, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. For instance, we have a friend here named Hope.

The French teachers said, "First of all, it would be pronounced 'Ope' and secondly no one names their children the French word for Hope here. It's just not a name."

Ruth becomes 'Root'. (don't forget to roll the 'R')

Keith becomes 'Keit'.

Michael becomes 'Michelle'. (can you imagine what that does for a teenage boy's ego?)

I can understand having difficulty pronouncing a name because you're not used to saying 'h' or 'th' but at least trying to say someone's name seems more appropriate than giving them a French name.

After about a week at school, Mr. French heard from S's teacher that he didn't respond to his name in class. "Oh, really." I said sarcastically to Mr. French. "Wonder why? Maybe because she's not using his real name!"

But you know what surprised me even more? My kids don't mind being called a new name. Now they call themselves by both their "french" names and their given "American" names. We call them whatever rolls off the tongue first.

The other day in church S heard the preacher say his name. His eyes got big and excited as he loudly whispered,

"He said SET! Not C('s name), not J('s name). Set!" He sat back proudly.

Who was I to tell him that the preacher had actually said 'sept' as in the number seven?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

We never thought we'd have a washing machine in our apartment. We knew it wasn't standard and we certainly weren't going to buy one. We started off using the laundrymat just around the corner, right near our favorite park, Parc Aubry. The prices weren't too bad and it's not like there were a lot of options anyway. The best part was that they had the biggest washing machine around fitting 16 kg. I can't tell you how big that is but I could do a whole week's worth of laundry using that machine once and a small 7 kg machine for the whites. But still, all said and done, we usually paid between 12-20 Euros for laundry every week. (The difference between accident-free nights or not.) We also used the dryer because we didn't have enough room to dry everything in the apartment all at once.

Then, the best thing happened. Our "neighbors" (another family at the school who live right around the "other" corner from us) said they had an "extra" machine in their apartment and would we like to use it? It was just sitting on their porch! Mr. French says I don't use enough superlatives in my speech, so let me start now. It's changed my life! I love to wash clothes in the comfort of my home! Instead of trying to get as much wear out everybody's clothes (mostly just pants, we can't go completely "European" on you) and towels, we can just wash them! And I don't mind not having a dryer! I kind of like hanging everything up! (Except towels. I do go fluff them in the dryer around the corner.) (okay, yes, I realize that exclamation points don't count as superlatives. I can't change overnight.)

The BAD:

From the moment we unpacked, I knew something was wrong. I thought we left the States to get away from "cheap" furniture. The kind that falls apart when you touch it. Or look at it. Or peak around the corner because you heard a noise and find it trying to beat itself up. After about a week, I stopped using all but the top drawers. Then last week I pulled everything out and put it in the corner, facing the wall. And that's where it will stay until it can learn to behave!

The Ugly:

This is our bed.

This is our bed on drugs.

Any Questions?

"Um, yes, I do." said someone from the back of the class, raising her arm timidly.

"Oh, yes. Go ahead." responded the teacher.

"Um, why did it take you 2 1/2 months before you realized that you could just turn it over to get a nicer, cream-colored bedspread?"

"Uh, right. Well." stumbled the teacher. Why must people torture me? she thought. Am I just supposed to admit that it never occurred to me, not even once in 2 1/2 months?

"Well..." continued the teacher, "uh...I think we're out of time. Class dismissed."

Friday, November 24, 2006

She's younger than she looks...

The other day, Mr. French was playing a game of "round robin" ping pong with a group of men from the school. Todd, whom Mr. French has been getting to know recently, said,

"How old are you?"

Mr. French, who usually never answers this question directly, said, "mshuejdik years old."

"Oh, I would have thought you were in your mid-thirties and were just prematurely gray." said Todd.

"Well, I was prematurely gray in my thirties. But, thanks for thinking I'm younger than I am." said Mr. French with a thumbs up.

"Because your wife is really young looking. She looks like she could be 18." Todd continued.

"Actually she's 16." He replied with a straight face.

Not as many people laughed as Mr. French had expected.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

“It is as if all American appliances dreamed of being cars while all French appliances dreamed of being telephones”

I've never had a dream kitchen. I've come close to a good kitchen with lots of cabinets and counter tops but it's never been perfect. It's a good thing too, because I certainly would've cried after leaving it for this one.

If the French are sooooo serious about their cuisine, I'd just like to know, how are you supposed to take cooking seriously in this one?

For instance, where are you supposed to put the bowl of batter for the pancakes and the plate for the finished ones and the spatula for turning them? Where?

Oh, right, the sink.

I will say that it's the widest, albeit shallowest, sink I've ever had so it does work very well for a pseudo-countertop. (how's that for turning a almost complaint into a postive statement?)

Now for the refrigerator. It was the most disappointing when I thought it didn't work. I thought I'd have to shop everyday because it just wasn't keeping anything cold. Then some brilliant person thought of turning the little dial thing that controls the temperature and Voila! coldness. (and frost on the back, but we're not worried about that are we?)

So the fridge is fine.

The freezer is, well, as big as my hand. But that's normal right?

Last, but not the least used, the oven.

(and the food was as good as it looks. Thanks for asking.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

So, why did you guys move to France?

(The following must be read in your best Valley-girl-"gag-me-with-a-spoon" impression or you, like won't get it. My Apologies.)

The Version that like, only Sam and Abigail will like, get and Mr. French* will like, totally think is funny but people like my Dad will think that like, something is wrong with like, me:

So Mr. French had, like a lot of questions.
He was like "Man, what is that all about?"
So he, like read some books and read some more and he was still like,
"Man, what is that all about?"
So then he found this, like totally cool awesome book but he was like, whoa, dude this is, like French or something. I, like totally don't know French. Then it hit him. I'll, like get the computer to, like take the French and make into, like English and stuff. So he did that but it was, like hard to read and stuff and he was, like, "What is that all about?" So then he like begged someone that he was for sure knew French, but that guy was, like, "No way, you do it."
and Mr. French was like, "No way you do it."
What was that all about?
So he, like took French and stuff and then he was, like to, you know, his wife, "Honey, I, like totally need to learn this French and stuff. I know. Dude, I'll, like just move to France and then I'll learn it by osmosis or something."
And the wife was like, "Dude, that's a big word."
And Mr. French was like, "totally rockin' dude!"
And then his wife was like, "But osmosis is, like a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane. I totally don't think you can like, learn Finnish that way."
And he was, like, "Who said anything about finishing? I just want to, like groove with the French."
And his wife was, like, "Dude, I'm there!"

*It's like totally ironic, but yeah, that's, like his real name.**

**Names have been, like totally changed to protect the, like, innocent or something.

No, really, why did you go?

The version that's as real as a fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a man who roamed about the castle grounds mumbling questions to himself. (We wouldn't be worried, dear readers, unless he started answering himself).

"What is the purpose of art? Why dost it exist? How can I get my hands upon it?"

Then in the distance he heard a sound, and he knew deep in his heart that he must translate that book by Wencelius into English for all the world to see. But the man sighed heavily as he did not know French. He paced upon the bridge that led over the river.

And then he knew as he gazed at the setting sun on the horizon,

"I must go to France and learn French. Then I shall translate this book and know the answers to these burning questions."

That very day he packed up his beautiful wife, his three strapping sons and they rode off to France on a black steed with all their belongings in a small silk scarf. And they lived happily ever after.

Let me get this straight.

The Short and Sweet Version

There's this book.
It's in French.
Mr. French (before he was Mr. French) does not know french.
The French do.
Go to France.
Learn French.
Come home.
Translate book.
End of story.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The first post on our first blog. Oh, the pressure!

I had a hard time figuring out how to start this. I could tell you how much fun it is to go through security three times in three different airports and in the middle of "our night" at one point. And how our kids cried the first time because they thought they weren't going to get their bags or shoes back and how I had to bribe them to go through the box-like thing to the scary police-like man on the other side.

I could tell you how to waste time in Chicago when your plane is late and how to get your kids to sleep on the benches in London-Heathrow and how to get a 2 year old to sit for all those flights. (Actually, I couldn't tell you how to do that.)

But all those details sound kind of boring now. What's more important to know is that when you come into Lyon airport have a 1 euro coin with you. People there will not, no matter how tired you look or how much you offer (5 euro bill for a 1 euro coin), give you one. Even as they are returning their own carts. You should also just get into line at the missing luggage line b/c by the time you have figured out that you lost one piece of luggage and what it is, it will be your turn and you won't have to wait another hour in line to fill in the paperwork.

Also, don't worry about going through customs. It's sorta not there. As in, no line, no checkpoint, no questions about what you brought into our country. We picked up our bags and walked on through.

And, right now I would like to thank the two men, Chris and Chuck, who, out of the kindness of their hearts and under no obligation, drove all the way to Lyon to pick us up, because our flight had been delayed which would have forced us to spend the night in an expensive hotel and then travel by train and bus the next day with three cranky children, seven heavy pieces of luggage, and various other things hanging off our persons.

That seems like a better way to start a blog.

(We also need to mention the Jaroski's b/c without their help we would probably still be trying to pack the storage unit.)

This was taken a week before we left Texas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Leavin' on a jet plane...

This is us waiting in the first of many long lines. Notice the matching outfits? That was my idea. So when security asks me what my son was wearing I can look at my non-lost children and remember immediately.

This is J sleeping in London. Traveling with children mistake #1:
Sleeping all day at the Airport equals running around apartment at 10 p.m. that night.

This is C and S getting some shuteye as well.

This is where we sat for eight hours in London. It could have been worse.

We made it!