Dec 29, 2010

Dreaming of a Beach Xmas

In case you don't know the old Christmas classic, it goes like this:
I'm dreaming of a Beach Christmas, just like the one I used to know where the the treetops glisten and children listen to hear ice cream trucks that drive by...

Well maybe that one didn't make the charts, but it should have.  I can think of no better way to escape to cold cold winter than to escape to somewhere warmer.  Winter hasn't even started and it has already been rough, with temperatures dipping below freezing for long stretches at a time.

Key Largo is actually a pretty nice destination.  It isn't too expensive, has lots of beaches and activities such as canoeing, kayaking and diving.  Lots of coral reef areas and great seafood restaurants.  Not too far from Miami and the everglades.  What more can you ask for?

Dec 27, 2010

Niagara at Thanksgiving

Instead of roasting a 500lbs turkey and cooking all of the fixings of potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans and of course pumpkin pie, my family escaped America and went to CANADA.  We left our home near DC and headed north.  We spent a night in Pennsylvania.  On Turkey Day, we drove thorough a small snow storm and finally arrived at Niagara Falls by lunch time.

One full day in Niagara is plenty.  After seeing the falls and "journeying behind the fall", in the winter there isn't much else to do. 

The Niagara Falls are spectacular, but the town is a bit of a tourist trap with crappy expensive restaurants and lots of other overpriced diversions.  We spent the next day of our trip, usually reserved for crazy Americans starting a riot at 4am over the newest hot toy, in Toronto.  I really like Toronto and lunch in Chinatown didn't disappoint. 

I ended the day with lunch with an old grad school friend and went back to Niagara.  The next day was spent with butterflies at the conservatory and heading back home but first we stopped in Hershey, PA.  It was a nice little trip.

Fell off the Planet or Sucked in?

Dearest readers,
I haven't written in my blog for quite sometime.  I think that life sort of sucked me up.  All parts of my world have been overwhelming to say the least.  But I am trying to get back on track.  Stay tuned for some of my recent adventures...

Nov 17, 2010

French Cuisine should be protected.

UNESCO has added gastronomy to it's list of 'intangible world heritage'.  French gastronomy is viewed as a "social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups"

In an interview on NPR, the reporter asked, 'Does French cuisine need to be protected?'  Apparently not, but just in case McDo and Picard start to gain strength in the country, better to protect the sacred French meal now.  Gastronomy is not just about food, but also "how wines are paired with dishes, how the table is dressed, the precise placing of glasses, for water, red and white wine, knife blade pointing in and fork tines down..."

Well you don't have to convince me.  While I might not get to make a 4 course meal every night, a little wine and cheese at the end of dinner is a delicious way to end a meal.  If I tell my boys to stay at the table, they are getting 'cheese'  they patiently wait (they are BTW 18M and 3Y).  L knows good cheese from less good cheese.  When given the choice between a Camembert and a vache kiri (laughing cow), Camembert is always chosen.    Little Z (18M) often steals cheese from A's plate and can be seen giggling at his acquisition. 

A couple of weeks ago, we had such a meal.  Started out with Foie Gras with wine-poached pears and a balsamic vinaigrette sauce with a Sauterne wine.  Then we has duck with rooted vegetables (carrots, turnips, potatoes and garlic) with a Bordeaux wine.  Then we had blueberry ice cream with  chocolate cake and other dessert goodies with Champagne.  There was no cheese.  But I am sure if any more good was eaten, we might have exploded.  6 adults, 3 kids it was quite a meal.

I feel like I am going my part to protect French culture;)

Nov 14, 2010

Giving Up Too Early

When I was in grad school, I gained quite a bit of weight.  I'm not sure how much of that was due to:
1) Stress
2) Cookies that were at every seminar and journal club
3) Trying different BC pills (the ones that made me cry also made me gain weight)
4) Cheap Beer

At some point I just gave up on my skinny self and accepted that I would be just a bit overweight.  In this acceptance I gave away all of my cute skinny girl clothes.  How sad life can be.  It was almost the act of giving those clothes away, that made the lbs melt from my body.  Well actually, getting pregnant seemed to be the secret to my weight loss.  I was so sick with the 2 pregnancies that the lbs melted away, well they turned into a baby.  So now I have little clothes in my new size.  I have been buying clothes since Z was born - but finding clothes that do not look like I have jumped out of a Micheal Jackson video from the 80s is tough.  What is wrong with 'classic styles'??  Maybe I am not a total Fashionista, I admit, I want to buy stuff that will last into next year.  Call me practical.  I would be happy to jazz up a plain sweater or t-shirt up with a junky scarf or socks.

I find myself looking for that great pair of jeans or sweater just to remember that it was lost.  So now I have lots of clothes that are too big, how long do I need to keep them?  Fovever?  Who has the closet space for that.  Maybe I never learn my lessons.

Nov 13, 2010

Still Waiting

Sometime in September I got myself fingerprinted and sent away for my criminal report from the FBI so I could apply for French citizenship.  Sad to say that I am still waiting more than 6 weeks later.  The FBI seemed to have just taken my money.  So I wonder how much longer it will take.  When is the money taken step?  When they are ready to send out my report, when they start to think about my report.

They claim 6-8 weeks...  So still waiting.

Nov 10, 2010

French Missionary?

You can imagine missionaries campusisng the globe looking for converts.  Today I was accused on being a French missionary.  Do I tell people that they should 'convert to Frenchism?'  No!  Never!  I am not sure that I am the best cheerleader for the country.  I don't like Camembert, I don't watch Rugby, I drink Virginia wine, sometimes I eat fried chicken from Popeyes.  I am certainly not a poster-child for Frenchness....  So I like a good Bordeaux, know how to make duck and rabbit, and can sometimes have been known to say a French phrase or two....  But doesn't make me French and honestly I have never tried to convince anyone that France will bring them salvation.  I am torn between two worlds -- old World Europe and New World North America.  I can choose anymore easily than I can choose my favorite chocolate or my favorite wine.  Wine and Chocolate are choosen based on the needs.  If I am having steak and cheese, my wine choice will be different than if the meal is moules frites.  Snickers is good for a chocolate, peanut and caramel craving, but dark is better with coffee...  France and the US are like wines.  I choose based on what I am looking for -- what do I want today?  Steak or Mussels?  Both are good and both have draw backs.  Well this is not true of steak and mussels, but countries sure thing?

Maybe I should start my own church of Frenchness though, I heard that churches get a tax break;)  Do you want to be a Frangilcan -- it's a church of indecision...

Oct 29, 2010

The Church of No Meat

Anyone living in France knows that being a Vegetarian in France is tough.  There are hardly any restaurants that have one dish without fish, meat, eggs or shellfish.  And to be vegan, it's totally impossible.  No animal products at all.  Not even cheese, honey or gelatin?  Zut Alors.

Not that I don't think that vegetarian have the right to be so, but in the US, they seem to be a quiet 'born again' movement.  Recent converts to the no-meat church, try to recruit others, the way that evangelicals do.   They bring out all kinds of arguments about morality, healthy, and an almost euphoric feeling that not eating meat will bring, similar to how I suspect Evangelicals talk about accepting the holy spirit.  Vegetarians aren't content letting you get by with eating your hamburger or chicken soup for lunch, they have to try to use this as a teaching moment about how your soul is jeopardy.  I think that evangelicals reserve that kind of scrutiny for teenagers trying to get into abortion clinics. 

I used to share an office with a vegetarian.    Last December my Frenchie had called me to ask me about how much foie gras we should order for Xmas dinner.  Well this didn't sit too well with my officemate.  For hostility usually reserved for genocide, I was called every horrible thing imaginable.  We didn't speak to each other until the following spring.  How awkward, spending 8 hours in an office with someone and not saying hello or how was your weekend.  He also liked to start sentences with 'You know what your problem is' .

The most ironic thing, is that most of these people have a problem with people talking about religion or imposing religious beliefs onto them.  But at the end of the day, whether we call it religion or vegetarianism -- strong beliefs are just that and trying to convert your friends, officemates and neighbors can lead to conflict.

Oct 19, 2010

31 fell flat

October is traditionally a difficult month for me.  My birthday is in October and for some reason this really put my dad in a bad mood.  So as a kid, birthdays were filled with sadness and disappointment.  I never had birthday parties and I was lucky if the day didn't end with my parents fighting.  I guess as I got older, my dad couldn't handle the fact that he too was getting older -- even if he is only 20 years older than I am.  As an adult I have tried to make my own traditions, so October wouldn't seem so depressing. It's the month that changes glorious summer in the mid-Atlantic to winter.  In just 31 days we can go from wearing shorts and flip-flops to coats, hats and scarves.  But over the years, the expectation of a magical day always leads to disappointment.  Some years it's not getting cake or a present from the hubby -- but most of the time it's that the hope is too big.  This year, I thought I would spread out the fun.  Try to do something out of the routine everyday.  I was doing really well at first.  The first few days were actually not too bad.  I even got presents and cake on my birthday.  But then I lost a friend -- a young friend of 36, who was taken from us too early in her young life.  Winter is setting in, pushing out the warm days of summer, too soon  and the happy days of October are behind me for this year.

This has made me question everything in my life.  Can I fix some regrets?  Maybe leaving France was the wrong decision.  While certainly dealing with striking crazies, isn't my idea of a swell time, the 9 weeks of vacation and the beautiful PACA weather is calling me back...  France is that lover that you can't get over, even if you never really got along -- is the pleasure  (weather, food, wine, etc) worth the pain (strikes, not being able to communicate, dealing with administration, low wages)?

Thanks for reading my blog.  I value you all of my readers.  Bisous

Oct 10, 2010


I have been with 'A', since 1999.  He was very 'French'.  Soon though, he started to pick up American habits.  Said 'Though' for the Homer Simpson D'oh, told people to "Bite Me" and bought a pair of "relaxed fit" jeans.  Even bought a flannel shirt and for a while had a Chevy pickup truck.
I began to wonder where did I go wrong, one day I am married to Pierre DuBois and the next day to Billy Bob Smith.  After over 10 years, I have decided to implement my plan for "Refrenchification".  Operation no more baggie jeans was crafted.  I began to notice that all of A's jeans were holey and causually he mentioned that he needed some new ones.  When I went to the mall this weekend, I found a couple of pairs that were the right size and he actually didn't take them back (even if at first he thought that they were too tight).  Success!  Well maybe he won't get his accent quite back, but we are on the road;)

The Billing Experts

I often wonder why my family doctor's office in American needs so many "office adminstrators".  In France, I waited in the waiting area, I didn't need to sign in, there was no receptionist, the doctor called me back when it was my turn, the doctor did everything from weighing me to taking my money and then I left.  Here in the US, there is the 3 receptionist, the 5 billing people, the 10 nurses etc.  No wonder the health care industry is the fastest growing in the US.  With all of those "billing specialist", you have to think, well at least they will be my advocate to the insurace company.  If you were to think that, you would be WRONG.  I recently had a claim denied.  I call my doctors office:
Me: Why did you send me a bill for my son's Jan appointment
Billing Specialist (BS): Your insurance company doesn't cover vaccinations.
Me: How is that possible, are you sure.
BS: Nothing I can do.
So I called my insurance company (IC):
Me: Do you really not cover vaccinations??
IC: Of course we do.
Me:Why did you deny my claim?
IC: Your doctor put some codes in incorrectly.
So then I called the doctor's office again:
Me:  I talked to my insurance company and they said you 'put the codes in incorrectly'
BS: That's no possible.
Me:  Well what do I know about it, I didn't go to Medical Billing school?  Can't you call the IC yourself?
BS: No
Me: Did you put in that the vaccinations were for "Routine Vaccination"??

I am so glad that my doctor pays all of those BSs to help me to navigate my IC. 

Oct 2, 2010

31 days of my 31

Just so happens that this October, I will be 31.  Having 31 days, I thought that this was a bit auspicious.  So came the idea of 31 days of my 31.  I will try to live this October to the fullest.  Shake things up a bit, let me hair down, break out of the routine.  I am off the a good start. 
October 1 -- Went for Margaritas.
October 2 -- Visited with my Aunt.  **  Ok, this is exactly wild and crazy, but normal Saturdays are: Grocery Shopping, Clean, Kids Nap, Do House project, etc. 
October 3 -- Go to the zoo with a friend.  ** Well I haven't become a wild spring-breaker, also breaking this house project routine.
October 4 -- who knows?

Maybe an Oktoberfest or two?? Stay tuned.

Sep 20, 2010

Leaving it to 'The One'

My verb conjugation in French is really crappy.  So I have been trying really hard to make an effort.  Sometimes I ask S and A about it.  This leads me to wonder if they are really French at all when they have no idea.  Do you think that I could find a certified French teacher for my next au pair;) So I listen.  A and S are constantly speaking French to the kids.  The funny thing I noticed is that "The One" is all powerful.  One goes to the store.  Did the one tell you not to hit your brother? One went to the zoo.  No wonder I can think of how to conjugate verbs for 'we'.  We never does anything, its always 'The One'.  When visiting my MIL in August, I noticed that she does that too and I was very confused. 
Her:One can go to the store. 
Me:  Who?
Me: I got to the store or you go to the store.
Her:  My BF and I go to the store.....

Perhaps all of this 'one' business will be good for my Jedi training.  Until then, maybe I need to take a French grammar class....

Sep 15, 2010

On the road -- Step 1 Fingerprints

I am applying for the 2nd time for French citizenship.  This is sort of crazy, I don't even have to be living in France, I just have to be married to a French citizen for 4 years.  Well I have put in over 10 years of duty, so I thought it was time to try again.  I have been flirting with the idea of moving back to Europe and having French citizenship means that we don't necessarily have to live in France but we could live any EU country and work.  I actually recently got a job offer in Paris, but A didn't want to move to rainly Paris.  So I have my eyes open to southern-French opportunities, but maybe just being less than and 8 hour plane ride away from "les grandparents" would be good, considering the complete and total fall out with my parents.

So for my French citizenship the first thing that I have to do is get an FBI criminal report, which can take 2 months, and to do that I had to get fingerprinted.  I have already been fingerprinted before (for my last attempt and for a job), so I thought I knew the drill.  I just had to find a police station that does it and then go at their weird times (11-1), but not during lunch;)  So my work has it's own police force and lucky me, it only costs me $20.  Fingerprinting in the US, has become very modern, or at least where I went.  No more are you using ink, but instead there is a computer program to take your prints and "mimnic" a ink image and you just print out the fingerprints.  I was pretty good. 

So step 1, wait 2 months for the FBI to send me a letter saying that I have no criminal record....

Sep 10, 2010

A perfect day in Aix-en-Provence -- 3 Years Passed

My little L was born three years ago today.  Before he was born though, I had a last perfect day of my pre-kid life.  After a summer of being bare-foot and pregnant without a way of leaving my quaint little Provencal village, we finally got a car, which was my blue Skoda Roomster.  So I was finally free to escape the house, the village and get out into the world on my own.  At the risk of having a baby on the streets of Aix-en-Provence, where I knew no one and had no way of communicating, I headed to Aix anyway.  I wanted to eat non-Provencal food, see an American movie and go to an English book store.  So I went to Aix, on a beautiful September day and walked around the downtown, ate sushi, went to see "The Waitress" and browsed the 'Book in Bar', book store.  The simple things life are the best.

Three years and two kids later my life is very different...

Sep 8, 2010

Rentree Reflections

I am really sad to be back in the office after 5 weeks away (4 week of being in France and 1 week on travel for work).  I think the time for vacation was the best.  Being outside all the time, that's the greatest.  On the east coast of the US, there are too many mosquitoes to go outside and they don't die until the weather is too cold to enjoy the outside.  So my fresh air and natural light fix are not satisfied as they were in the west coast of France.  I think that the French have the right idea about Rentree, not it's not to go on strike, but it is to always be planning for the next vacation.  That's what I am doing.  Only 77 days until Niagara Falls!

Sep 3, 2010


When in France, September is the month were people comes back from their vacations and the beginning of September is spent kissing everyone hello and asking them about what they did.  It is like in school where the first week is spent writing essays about 'What I Did on my Summer Vacation'.  The French call it 'Rentrée'  -- Return.  Today what my Rentrée.  I had left for France on Aug 1st.  Even though I worked remotely for 2 weeks, besides a few emails to my co-workers, we really didn't communicate much.  Then the beginning of this week I was at a conference, so today was my first day back at work.  Turns out my tan has faded a bit, not so impressive;(  Sadly almost no one else went away, so asking them about their vacations was meant with grime looks.
Before I left, I had to move all of the stuff out of my office so they could do some furniture rearragement.  So besides catching up on email and seeing people, I spent some time reorganizing stuff.
I still have lots of candy to give out and plenty of projects to catch-up on...

I have to say, that it is kind of nice being away, but it is good to finally be back home to my pillow and my own bed;)

Aug 28, 2010

La Cow Parade

In Bordeaux, they are cows all over the city.  We spent a day trying to find them.  Apparently, this same exhibition is a) either in Paris or b) was already in Paris...

Aug 16, 2010

Almost didn't go

Had planned a pretty nice vacation in Provence and Friday it almost well apart. I was really sick, with a rapid and horrible 24 hour thing and couldn't possibly fly. So I canceled my flight reservation and lost the price of my ticket. Feeling still weak Saturday, from not eating, I had reserved myself to staying in Pessac. But A had such a tight agenda with the family and ting in Pessac would mean almost a week sans familie with A and the kids going north. So instead of staying, I did the totally irresponsible thing of buying a last minute ticket and going anyway. So I left Pessac for Marseille still feeling weak. Saturday night I arrived in Toulon a little late... Sunday, since I hadn't seen D, who so courageously helped us renovate our kitchen and not really feeling up to adventuring too far out, we ended up at the beach in Le Brusc. There we just rested on the rocks before heading to Marseille for dinner, where I stayed the night. Today I spent the day in my old town of Le Beausset. It's weird that this isn't my home anymore and I am feeling vey nostalgic. Just trying to have a relaxing, non-adventurous week without the kids. The one thorn in my side is that my GPS isn't working. It was working fine in the US, but coming back to France, where it was bought, it doesn't seem to want to work anymore.

Anyway, I am really sad that I have had to modify my grand plans because of getting sick, although I am happy to get a few nice days in the sun;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Aug 11, 2010

Everybody Goes to Royan

Sunday afternoon, we loaded the kids in the car and headed to Royan about 1.5h-2h from Pessac.  Royan is at the mouth of the Gironde and so almost on the Atlantic Ocean.  A's mom has a small house here and lives here part-time, alternating with a much larger house that her and her brother inherited from their parents.  But the brothers live elsewhere and someone has to keep up the family home.  Anyway, we arrived in the little house in Royan on Sunday afternoon.  And where were the kids and I sleeping I wondered, I had assumed the guest bedroom.  Mais Non.  The attic.  The attic?  Are you crazy?  The stairs leading to the attic are steep and dangerous for the kids. 

MIL -- But I put a sheet on this thin twin mattress on the floor and set up a pack-n-play.  Plus laid (not put on) a set of sheets on this thin 'futon mattress' on the floor for you.

Me -- See how getting down is dangerous for my kids and dangerous for me to carry them?  And look how my head hits the ceiling and I look like the Hunchback of Notredame.

MIL -- Bof (meaning suck it)

Instantly my SIL set up the guestroom for herself and I was screwed.
To get over our disappointment we went to the beach, which we could have walked to, but we forgot Zach's stroller b/c while I was letting L using the restroom before the grand departure, they loaded everything into the car and were driving away slow enough so that we could hop on without slowing down.  Reminds me of the trains in England.

To my surprise, we are not the only ones vacationing in Royan (from the anonymity perspective) .  You can hardly go out without running into someone you know, well not someone I know, but someone that vacations here regularly.  Many of those people you run into don't live here, but are vacationing here too...

Anyway while I thought I new MIL BF quite well, here are some new things that I learned:
1) He thinks that woman are not clever enough to turn on the cable box, it's too complicated.
2) When getting up in the morning at 5am to make coffee, he likes to turn on all the lights so that anyone sleeping in the attic will also wake up.
3) After his 5am morning coffee it's back to bed, let the mother of the boys he just woke up deal with their cries, he is tired.
4) He thinks that American eat ketchup with everything, never drink coffee, hate all cheeses and can't see light shining in their eyes at 5am.
5) He loves depressing WWII music.
6) Manners are for sissies, woman and children.

Because I am working during the day it is rather hard for me to spend very much time enjoying myself.  Went the the beach twice, which is very nice.  Otherwise besides a 30 minute grocery store outing that no one wanted me to go on by myself, I haven't really explored.  Leaving for Pessac tomorrow and then Marseille Friday -- YIPPIE!!!  D, A, V, B, A, M et al here I come;)

Aug 9, 2010

Le Weekend with the Belle-Familie

The French call their 'in-laws' la belle-familie, the beautiful family.  A sister-in-law is a beautiful sister and a father-in-law is a handsome father and so forth.  My MIL insists that the kids don't call her "grandmere" (grandmother) but bonne maman (good mother).  Grandmere and Mamie are what 'old people' are called, but bonne maman, well that is what is more acceptable to the baby-boomer grandmother.  I guess for my grandma, it didn't matter, she was happy to be a grandmother and didn't feel the need to dye her hair for hide her grandmaness... But bonne maman would not be caught sporting her natural grey do, but rather a sort of brown/bronze color.  For my FIL, Grandpere is ok.  Who cares really, for men getting old is ok.

For the weekend there were many things to accomplish.  First, we had to prove to the church that we were fine upstanding Catholics, so that my youngest could be baptized in 2 weeks.  Then we had to have a big awkward meal together, so that my MIL and FIL could prove that having a meal together with their significant others is totally normal.  On a side note before we arrive, my MIL and FIL negotiate, how many meal we will have with each and if there is an odd-number, then they negotiate a meal 'ensemble' (all together).

On Friday night there was the "preparation" for the baptism.  Our preparer (not a priest) wanted to know, why did we want children, why did we want them baptized, what did baptisms signify anyway.  "Why did I want children?", wouldn't that have been a better question 4 years ago when I had none?  Answering these sort of philosophical questions in English is tough, doing it in French is impossible.  I find that the Catholics in French are sort of 'a la carte' Catholics.  They don't usually go to church on Sunday and really have no use for the strict rules of the Catholic church  -- birthcontrol, sex before marriage, cohabitation before marriage,  going to church.  The Catholic church knows this and so instead of pulling out potential faux-believers who are prone to get married and have baptism in the Church, they sort of look the other way and ask for generous donations to make up for these indiscretions.  So in order to further prove our worthiness, we were told we 'must' attend church on Sunday.  Well this seemed highly annoying since we all had to bring our babies, who would surely cause the biggest ruckus ever during the 1 hour mass. 
And so on Sunday we went to church.  My MIL was sort of annoyed at this prospect of attending church and seemed disinterested in all of the standing, kneeling, singing and praying of the mass.  However in a strange twist, she happily took communion and did the 'holy water sign of the cross' while leaving the church.  Well I suppose we all have our comforts.  Honestly, I am not a huge church goer either, but in the end, I believe, that children should be raised with some religious beliefs it seems better than the alternative (my brother and sister were never taken to church as kids and are seem rather likely to join a cult given the chance)

But before we could prove our worthiness to the priest of Pessac, Saturday night we had to engage in a rather awkward dinner.  My FIL still loves my MIL and even though he doesn't believe in a 'one-woman policy', he didn't want the divorce.  I think that 10 years later, he would take her back in a heartbeat.  In the end, he got the house, b/c it was also his art studio and so whenever the MIL is there, it is like she is queen of the castle all over again.

MIL -  'Oh A what do we do about Z's baptism should we have it outside?, what if we bring in the table from the garden and put it on the patio?' 
FIL - 'Oh what a great idea S, you are so clever'
SO of FIL - grimace look on face
SO of MIL - what about those 'Mets', I heard they are going to take the World Series this year.

But then the winds quickly change and my FIL is insulting the SO of my MIL and things take a nasty turn...  the SO of my MIL is a constant victim of his children.  Since they weren't raised right, they are constantly unemployed and needing his assistance.  Poor him.  But for a man that changes his car every 2 years, how were they able to learn the value of money?

The SO of my FIL is nice enough, but she too is a constant victim.  Although I know one of her dirty little secrets, she is quite a firecracker when no one is around (except me, since that dumb American can't possible understand a word I say) and so I feel no sympathy when her and my FIL are involved in a passionate argument.  When others are around she usually says nothing, waiting until they are alone or in the same room as me... She is sad that a man that cheater on his wife with her, doesn't want to get remarried and probably still cheats a little.   SO of FIL -- 'How come he didn't change for me?'  I guess all mistresses have this fantasy, but since her guy didn't leave his wife for her after 5 years 'together' why we she really expect him to change? 
I guess I could say that it was better when I didn't understand and it is sometimes, but sometimes those arguments are almost comical (even though heated) and I just laugh afterwards, being happy that they made such as effort to spend one more meal with us...

Thank goodness the weekend ended with a hour at the beach and I was able to read a little, '1000 Years of Annoying the French' by Stephen Clarke, I am on the chapter about American colonization, which is pretty interesting because it turns out we learn nothing in the US about French colonization except that some fur trappers went to Quebec.

Aug 7, 2010

Amour and the French Woman

Movies and books will have you believe that the French woman is a rare flower, a delicate thing that is complicated -- in "French Kiss", Kevin Kline says that, 'A French woman, says yes when she means no and no when she means yes, it's provacative'.  In Stephen Clarke's book, 'Talk to the Snail', he speaks of French woman like a rare breed -- they want lots of 'I love yous', surprises, flowers, little presents, and to essentially be swept off their feet.  What woman doesn't want that Stephen?  Apparently according to the book, British woman, who are far too feminist for their own good, they don't want you to hold the door open and they will lead a man on unlike a French woman who knows that dinner at a man's house means...
But I am not sure if British woman are just trying to be 'provacative' to quote Kevin (who I think is amazing in that film, BTW) and what Stephen likes is the more direct approach.  So which is it.  Complex or Direct.  Who knows, all woman are complicated and I think that no one will disagree there...
Stephen says that French men have to keep the romance going throughout the relationship because Frenchmen are notorious cheaters and all French woman know that.  I guess Stephen has never spoke to my au pair (S), who essentially thinks that making suggestive comments to anyone other than your SO (significant other) is cheating and a reason to break up.  When maybe Clarke doesn't know any Frenchwoman under 40?  For what I know there are plenty of men all over the world that cheat on their wives and vice versa, but the real question is, 'Is cheating more accepted in France than the US or UK?'  I don't have the data on that, but I do know that anecdotal chances where it was NOT accepted.  If you watch a film like 'Le Divorce', you would think that all men with money and power have a mistress, (well we in America know that this is true of our politicians too)  meeting their mistresses in the late afternoon.  For my own FIL, he's vice is woman but not enough flowers and jewelry in the world was able to make up for that...
Stephen also claim that all French woman know how to cook....  Again he should try meeting someone under 40;)
In the end, there is nothing new under the sun and we are all human and woman are woman.  Treat them with respect and offer a little surprise once in a while and you will see the rewards.  There are certainly woman all over the world (even in American), that while wanting to be seen as equal and be respected still do the majority of the cooking, cleaning and child rearing.  They want to be treated with respect but also seen as intelligent, sexy and provocative (not necessarily by playing mind games).  Perhaps it's time to bring charming and chivalry back...

Aug 6, 2010

An Artist's Cove

When I first came to France in 1999, my first impression was that French people lived well -- my FIL lives in a huge (by American standards) 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath house that was built in the middle ages.  It has a huge workshop and garage, a swimming pool and is perfectly lovely.  At that time going out to eat was 100F ($15) for a 3 course meal with wine, you could buy clothes really cheap and the weather was perfect -- no humidity.  So what if you didn't understand anything anyone was saying and you were paranoid that they hated you.  Small price to pay.  Well 11 years later, I realized that most French people live in matchbox size houses and since the Euro, inflation has driven the prices of things well above "cheap" -- to downright expensive.  At least the weather is still perfect ;)

This August I am staying with my MIL and FIL so they can spend some time with the kids.  I am working remotely in Pessac and am staying at the artist's cove (le maison de mon FIL).  Could be worst;)
Garage/Workshop Wall
The Gate
Back Yard

Kitchen Cabinets, don't see that at IKEA


These make me wish that I have radiators....

Aug 2, 2010

Did I Just Move to France?

The last 24 hours has been a rollercoaster ride.  I left Washington Dulles Airport about 1 hour late, which means that I spend 30-45 minutes sitting on an airplane at IAD, not flying.  L was really good.  We brought his car seat and although it was a nightmare to get on the plane, there were 7 hours of my life that were good because of that.  S, who came with us as far as Paris, really helped me alot.  Without her, I wouldn't have been able to eat or anything.  Our plane was 1 hour late AND they were not able to check me through to Bordeaux.  Which means that I had to stand in a 15 minute line with 3 people working the AF counter at CDG.  The woman was not really helpful and she didn't speak English at all.  But S took care of it and soon I had boarding passes that had my 2 year old sitting 16 rows behind me -- but I was too busy running across the airport with 2 kids under 3, a car seat, a backpack and one wheeled carry on, because the "very nice" woman, told me how my plane was boarding and that I should run.  But S left me after immigration and I didn't have enough arms.  I got patted down at security, very slowly, and Luc was too tired to walk.  What a disaster!  I was literally dragging my kids and baggage through the airport.  When I got on the plan, every single steward/stewardess told me that when I travel with kids I should bring nothing on the plan.  Cause who needs diapers, extra clothes, a blanket and a kids making sounds book, with their 16 month old and his almost 3 year old brother????  I really like carrying stuff and suffering.  What losers.

I actually got off of the plane successfully and just when I feel like all hope is lost, 2 tired refusing to walk kids, car seat, backpack, wheeled carry-on and an escalator with no hint of an elevator, A's dad shows up and whisk my kids and bags away, so I can get the checked bags.  He could have been riding a horse and not have been more impressive.

We got 2 good meals in us and the kids are finally sleeping.  I should too, but it's 10pm here and still not too dark.  Here's hoping to not waking up freaked out in the middle of the night ;0

Even though I will have A on the way back, I am not sure I want to relive the experience.  I don't think I can cross the Atlantic with the kids again.  Does that mean that I just moved to France?

Jul 26, 2010

No Miracle Please.

Now that we have satisfied one sector of the male population by eliminating all non-miracle bras, I am wondering how we can satisfy the rest that are into legs, butts and everything else?  I am not sure I like this brave new world where everything has to be enhanced.  I think it gives men a false sense of what "normal" really is.  Is there disappointment when the truth is found?

What  if I want to save my miracles for something serious?  And leave my bras miracle free? This is nearly impossible.  I am not saying that we should all burn our bras in protest, I am just a little disappointed that I can't find the ol' faithful cotton no thrills bra anymore;(

I wonder if now that I am in my 30s, does that make me more conservative?  This is not just an American problem, I have seen this in France too.  Be careful Men, you are next.  Soon you won't be able to buy pants without butt enhancers or t-shirts without miracle biceps....

Jul 21, 2010

Bostonian Woman don't get fat?

In Cambridge, MA this week, I begin to see how the inhabitants of Cambridge might be more like Parisians that I thought before.  Sure, they aren't fashionable but the walking and portion sizes might be the same.  Most of the people I have met here, don't use their cars.  They seem to take public transportation everywhere.  I am attending a meeting, and at the end of the meal, I have noticed that all of the food is gone and no one is full at all.  The amount of food allotted for each person, seems pretty small.  Some of my male colleagues from Texas, where everything is big, aren't very satisfied with this arrangement.  The jokes about 'Where's the Beef?' have been many.  I don't have any data to corroborate that, but maybe French woman and Bostonian woman are more alike than one would think...

Jul 17, 2010

Prefecture in Toulon, Nicer?

Today S and I went to the MD Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA, DMV in other states) so that S could get her driver's license.  She is staying another year and won't be able to use her French license in September.  This is the 3rd time that S has gone and it is very frustrating that they are unable to provide her with the right information.  We called our Au Pair coordinator the last time and they send her a totally useless letter.  The MVA only accepts from a list of documents that are totally unobtainable if you don't have any bills.  There are lots of other useless documents on their list that seem impossible for any normal person to have. So third time's a charm -- NO.  So I asked the woman what else Stephanie can do.  And she gives me the list of totally useless documents again!  Zut Alors.  Why not just have robots run the place.  So I ask her as nicely as possible what can S possibly do to get the right document -- you want to know the secret to establishing MD residency -- buying stamps online.  That's right.  If you buy stamps from the USPS, a government agency, when they send you said stamps in 1st class mail, you are now able to establish MD residency.  What a crock.  Buying something online from Amazon, totally useless, but buying stamps online keep to Driver's License euphoria.

The stupid cop protecting the MVA worker from me, pulled me aside as I was leaving and said that I would have to go through the same thing in France and I just don't know what it is....  I told him actually I did go through the same thing in France and it was easier, since I only had to go once. 

In my French experience, I didn't have the right paperwork the first time either.  But the woman kindly took all of the paperwork that I had and I left.  Then some weeks later I got a letter asking for more paperwork, which I mailed back to the office and then viola, I got my French DL.  I only had to wait one time in the obnoxiously long government agency line of annoyance. Today was the 3rd  time that S has had to go to the MVA and waste another 1 hour in line, just to be told that she doesn't have the right paperwork. 

So if you are foreign living in America and are having trouble establishing residency -- Just buy some stamps.

Jul 10, 2010

The Return to Pessac

In 3 weeks, I will be returning to Pessac.  Pessac is like a home away from home for me.  There I not only have my own bedroom, but I have a history of 11 years of visiting my 'Belle Familie" and the region. Here are some things not to be missed:

1) Chateau Pape Clement
In the 14th Century the Papacy moved from Rome to Avignon, the Archbishop of Bordeaux, became the new pope in 1305.  This pope, "Pape Clement" was one of the vineyards most famous owners and the vineyard still holds his name.  The wine is pretty good too.  I love Chateau Pape Clement because it looks like a renaissance castle, complete with tower. 

2) The "Marche en Pessac" or the Local Market.  In Pessac, the local market is on Sunday and is very very big compared to the ones in the small provencial villages.  Pessac is much bigger than Le Beausset so I shouldn't be surprised that the market is.  Here you can find all of the fruits, vegetables and shellfish that your heart can desire.  At these markets, their are also cheap clothes, knock-off sunclasses and probably a table or two of wine vendors.  Please bring cash, credit cards not accepted;)
3) In Bordeaux, there is a restaurant that serves one dish.  No menu, if you end up at "Entre Cote" you will be getting a sort of flank steak cooked -- Well, medium or mooing, and french fries with a salad with vinegrette.   You can choose your drink, which I recommend the house wine, and of course any dessert that might tempt you palette.  For me it's profiteroles.  That's one perfect meal:)

4) Downtown Bordeaux has a large pedestrian only area for shopping, restaurants, theatre and more.  One can easily spend the day walking around going into the various shops, visiting the gardens at the mairie and my personal favorite the Monument aux Girondins, which is a beautiful fountain.  Downtown Bordeaux also a "Mirror Fountain" , which is flat and shoots water into a calm mist, creating a puddle and plenty of opportunity for cooling off.  Very fun for the kiddies.

5) Arcachon Bay and the Great Dune of Pyla.  Not far from Bordeaux is a small beach town with a beautiful bay, great for an after lunch stroll.  If you need more of a workout though, the nearby Dune de Pyla, the highest dune in Europe, is not too far and provides climbing enjoyment for all that visit.  If you are anything like my little L, you too will finding yourself climbing up and rolling down this sand dune right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Jul 7, 2010

Ode to Nutella

Nutella is a truly amazing spread. In can replace jam, apple butter, peanut butter, maple syrup and many others for daily use. It is the French girl's Ben and Jerry's and for my sons the difference between between plain ol' bagel and amazing bagel, especially of it's on my plate;)
S loves nutella, let by herself she could eat a whole jar in less than one month... Here in the USA, small jars cost about $4, but I buy Nutella in big jars, 2 for $8 at Costco... I'm not sure if I know any equivalent in France, but this a place where you buy everything in large qualities. Some Americans do all of their shopping there, me only the essentials -- nutella, nestle powder, olive oil and diapers. S also loves chocolate milk. I buy 2 large jars of nutella and one gigantic canister of nestle every month or so and hardly get any of either. But the kids love her, so I guess we will continent woo her... Thank you Ferrero and Nestle you make a French girls morning every day;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jul 5, 2010

Women hating women...

While the idea of an misogynist man is annoying, misogynist women are the worst.  These are the women that give the rest of us a bad name!  They are moody, arrogant and very very catty.  They hate any woman who is smart and successful.  For the ones with no children, they call you weak for wanting or having them. 

Yesterday I encountered such a woman.  Perfectly beautiful 4th of July day and we were invited by A's co-worker to her house for a BBQ.  She wanted us to meet her a the little beach near her house for swimming/jet skiing.  Great!  A got star service, 'here take the wave runner out by yourself and have fun'.

I have been jetskiing since I was 16, I practically grew up on the bay near DC.  Spent lots of summers, fishing, crabbing, boating, jet skiing...  I swim about a mile 2-3 times a week.  I have a boater's license and spent more time on jetskis than A.  But can I take one out alone.  No.  Too dangerous for me.  A woman with children is obviously too weak to be out on the water alone.  I have to go with a man.  So he can watch me and make sure that I don't hurt myself or get lost.  I was happy not going jetskiing anyway and the only reason I was going was because this woman was annoyed that I was fine not going and now that I go, I have to go with her or someone else 'qualified'.  I hate going with A since I usually end up feeling like barbing afterwards...
If you have never jetskiied with crazy people twice your size, it can be more dangerous.  They can easily have you flying off the back, and then if they go with you and land on you.   Well let's just say that it's not pleasant.  All of the "qualified" jetskiers were using the men's XXL vest.  Me -- I think the one I was using was small -- used for the older kids. 

In the end, I was happy to get out on the water, it has been a long time.  But I didn't need to be treated like a child...

Jun 30, 2010

Banking on the rocks

My relationship with France is on the rocks again. We were doing so well, live ex-lovers who call each other from time to time since they just can't give up on the friendship. I'm so excited about my trip but then something like this happens and I am not sure we can make it through...

My bank card expired and I will need it when I am in France to pay for stuff. Always better to use Euros than to mess with exchanging currency... I have been trying to get the HSBC to send me a new card. But they keep sending it to the wrong address. I have sent 5 letters with my new address and finally they said that they can't change my address with the all important EDF bill. So the thing keeping me from my money is an electric bill in France in my name!!! So annoying! Will the send my card the USA?? Where I actually have an electric bill. Um let me think -- no. The sad thing is that without the card I can only withdraw money from the branch in Toulon, since getting money from a branch other than my home branch is forbidden. I seem to ask about this very problem when I signed up with HSBC and they said that I could get my money anywhere, but in the end they are just like LaPoste!

Ugh. Our relationship has taken a nose dive France -- there needs to be plenty of seafood, wine and white roses before we are back to making up...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jun 29, 2010

Mediterranian Dreams

I am not sure what a perfect summer day used to be, but now it is eating seafood outside with a nice bottle of Rosé...  Well, I tried to recreate that this weekend.  First finding some good shellfish on a Sunday is harder than I would have imagined living so close to the sea, but anyway.  I ended up at Weis, a very unexceptional grocery store, where they had clams for 13 cents each.  I got 3 dozen and a 1lb of mussels.  The recipe I used was great.

Fresh mint, shallots, 1/2 white wine, many garlic cloves, parsley.  I cooked them until they popped.  Instead of having them with fries or just like that I had them over pasta.  It was ok, but fries would have been better.
I couldn't eat outside either.  Too hot, too many mosquitoes.  It was great, really it was.  Although I realized that 1) I like Mussels much more than I like clams, 2) French fries are better than pasta, and 3) Rosé from Provence is much better than the Argentinian white wine that I had in the frigo...  'Suppose to cool off this weekend, maybe I should just stick to crabs, corn and beer?  Anyone have a good hush puppy recipe? 

Jun 26, 2010

Accidental Citizen

So today I got a paper in the mail saying something about how I didn't sign some paper and as a citizen of France living abroad, I need to sign some box so that I can get vote in the next election. What?!?  I haven't even applied for citizenship again yet!  Does this mean that I can get my French passport now?  And my carte d'identity?  I am the only one in the house without French credentials...  All the men in the house have 2 passports, I am so jealous.  Is it possible that there is some sort of paperwork error, when they denied me 6 years ago, the functionaire actually clicked the wrong box?  Well if that's the case, I will be learning the Marseillaise, just in time for the 14 de Julliet. 

Vive la France ;)

Jun 21, 2010

Baking Bread

This weekend I got tricked into making bread.  A had to choose between spending time with Georgette and his oldest son.  Well he sort of chose both.  He took L to the farmer's market and on the way out the door asked me if I could 'start' the bread.  Here were my instructions:
500g of flour
30% of Georgette
45% of water
1 of the 'small' spoon of salt
1 coffee spoon of honey -- I'm thinking 'what the h3ll is a coffee spoon, is that teaspoon?'
Oh and try a mixture of different flours with oatmeal...
So after vacuuming and mopping the whole down stairs I got to work on Georgette.  I am sure A was feeling all warm and fuzzy with Georgette and I making break together.  Ugh.  The first time I messed up.  Turns out 45% of 500g is not 375.  Where was my head?  So I added too much water and then compensated by adding lots of flour and no extra Georgette.  I did use some white whole wheat, bread flour and whole wheat flour...  I am not really the kind of person that makes exact measurements when cooking, but I do know I used the last of the white whole wheat flour.  So I set that batch aside -- still to wet and tried again.  This time I did it better.  I used 102g oatmeal, 248g of bread flour and 150g of wheat.  225ml of water, 150g of Georgette, 1 tsp of salt and 3 sec of pouring honey. That mixture was too dry.  I failed again.  Thankfully Z woke us from his nap and I retreated from the kitchen.  As Z and I descended A and L came back from the market and A mixed by 2 failed attempts into one  ball. 
Four hours and 1 pool trip later as I was about to fall asleep on the couch, A informs me that he is calling his 'maman' and that I need to shape my bread. 
Not sure at what point this was my project, but he says that I can shape little balls at 80-90g and big ones at 500.  So I shape balls between 90-100g and big ones at 250ish...  One I think was 275g.  I am a rebel without a cause.  Et Viola.  more waiting.  Finally at 6pm A said that I have to cook my bread, but I let tell him that I can't possibly take more of his fun away and I let him throw the bread in the oven. 

So in short, I made my first French bread this weekend -- and it was 100 times better than A's first attempt ;)

Jun 18, 2010

Getting to know you;)

Maybe I was tagged by Andromeda  She is the funniest blogger that I read.  I am lacking a little blogging motivation so this is great. 

1. What did you want to be when you were little?
An actress, then a psychiatrist

2. What one place makes you the happiest being there?

There are are so many places that make me happy, in Southern MD, where my great-grandmother had a house on the water, on the Mediterranean coast, in the Le Beausset square for coffee on a Sunday morning and  laying on the beach;)

3. Do you wish your first kiss was with someone else?

4. What's one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

I wouldn't even know where to begin.  So many things.  Not to be afraid, be more bold, ignore your parents, don't let people make decisions for you...HS will be over soon and you will ok.

5. What movie do you never get tired of watching?

Gone with the Wind

6. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

So many.  All of the scary ones.

7. How much time do you admit spending on facebook in a week? How much time do you actually spend on facebook?

I probably spend 10 minutes a day -- but I have facebook chat on all day using 'Adium' my chat program for FB, MSN, Yahoo, Gmail, etc...  Does chat count?

8. Who do you miss most at this exact moment?
My grandma.

9. Where are you going tomorrow? Why?
Tomorrow is a crazy day.  We are having a house-warming at our house, so there will be shopping, cleaning, taking the kids to the park/pool and lots and lots of cooking.

10. If you had a gift card for plastic surgery and HAD to use it (witness protection or something), what would you get done?
Lift and Tuck.  Love the kids, hate the consequences.

So if you are reading this and haven't been tagged before -- consider yourself tagged.  Please post a comment so I will sure read your posting to get to know you better.  And if you aren't blogging, just put it in the comments;)

There are your list of questions:

1) Where do you see yourself living in 10 years?
2) Boxers, brief or bikinis -- if you are woman, what do you prefer?
3) What is your favorite book?
4) What is your favorite book about living abroad?
5) What is something about you that would shock your readers?
6) Do you secretly wish that your blog will turn into a book deal or movie?
7) Where do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
8) What is your top travel destination that you must see before you die?
9) What is your favorite foreign film?
10) If your favorite bakery could only make one type of cake/tarte (pie) what would you want it to be?

Jun 9, 2010

Carry-On or Amazon UK?

There are a number of books that I want to read.  I love reading and can usually read a really good book in a day or so.  I will be in PACA sans famille for about a week and can probably read 5 books easily.  Then another 5 books the other 2 - 3 weeks ignoring my inlaw.  Therefore I will need 10 books to read.   Well, that could get expensive.  But the other problem is do I buy them here and then transport them to France or buy then on Amazon in France/UK and just have them shipped. 
There are a couple by Stephen Clarke.  I love this guy, he looks like 1/2 the British men I know and is SUPER funny.  I love Merde Happens, where my favorite character Paul West takes a trip across the US.  Classic, so funny.  Here is a small list of books I want to read so far:

Tail to the Snail
1000 Years of Annoying the French
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
The Story of French 
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Lonely Polygamist

I already have 'The White Queen', which I am trying really hard not to read before my trip.

I need 2 more ideas at least.  And if you are in France and already have a few books, then I can bring you more for the trade;)

Jun 6, 2010

Quiche de Frigo

I used to think that there are only a few ways be make Quiche.  With ham and cheese or spinach...  You can add anything to Quiche really.  Here is a basic Quiche recipe:

6 eggs
2 cups (1/2 l) of milk, cream or half and half
pie crust
other stuff....

I have a 11 inch (28 cm) pie pan and usually get the Pillsbury pie crust usually by the eggs and cheese. In France there are a million different type of pie crusts that you can buy.  Just don't get the yummy vanilla one (which is perfect for an tarte aux pommes) and you will be fine.  If your pie pan is too small you will have to adjust the eggs and milk. 

Preheat Oven to 425 F (220 C). Mix your eggs and milk in a bowl.  I usually season with pepper, no salt as many things I add are already salty.  You can also add paprika.  Then pour the mixture into the crust.   Now add stuff.  Sort of push stuff down into egg/cream mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Here are some ideas for stuff:

Ham (1-2 cups) and Cheese (2 cups), traditionally swiss cheese, but I accidently bought some Monterey Jack cheese recently and the family loves it.

Ham (1-2 cups), Broccoli (1 cup) and Tomatoes (1 cup).  Cut the broccoli and tomatoes into small pieces.

Turkey instead of Ham.  Sometimes when I am making Quiche, I don't have an deli meat or ham lying around and so I substitute turkey deli meat.

Tomatoes and Broccoli, you will probably need to add a little salt in this case.

Onions 1/2 c -- can be added to any combo above.

What's your favorite Quiche?

Jun 5, 2010

Baby Got Back?

I have been recently frustrated by some of my son's clothes.  He is wearing a 3T (3A) and his American clothes just don't fit unless there is the adjustable elastic inside.  Although I don't notice the same problem with his French clothes.  So I started wondering do French kids have smaller waists than American kids, really??  But when I see other kids at the playground, swim class, and at the grocery store, the answer is NO.  I have asked other parents about this problem and I think I might have discovered the secret.  Diapers.  Diapers really add to the 'backside' and kids need to have a little extra room to accommodate.  The parents of potty trained kids see this as a much much bigger problem than the parents of those kids still toddling in diapers.  For my little one, his clothes fit almost perfectly.

 So now I wonder do French parents potty train their kids earlier than American?  If you read this Link is says that the average kid is potty trained at 30 months, where the range is between 18 and 60.  While 30 months seems pretty normal, as my son was potty trained at 27 months, I wonder about the upper limits for that.  I know what in France, parents have a real incentive to have their kids potty trained at 36 months.  Without that, they are ineligible to  begin preschool, which is all-day and free for parents.  So if you want to save on child care then your kid will be potty trained by 3.  But in the US, does that mean that the average kid must wear pants with big waists to accommodate the kids not yet potty trained?

But wait, maybe I didn't consider one factor.  Maybe American kids clothes aren't really sized for the average American kid?  Americans in general seem to be taller than the French.  This is very anecdotal, but I rarely see a guy short than me in the US and in France it happened all the time.  My son wearing the same size in France and US, perhaps the average American kid his age are wearing 4T and therefore no longer have the extra backside?  Although the doctor does seem to think that he is 50th percentile for height and weight...  Oh well, in the meantime, I will have to find clothes with elastic in the waist.

Jun 3, 2010

Already a Bad Start

So I have decided that I need to lose one more clothing size before returning to France for August.  That way I can eat all of the croissant, pain au chocolat, tarte de citron and profiteroles that I want.  If I am in Le Beausset, I will visit my old friend Isabelle, who works at the Boulangerie.  Boy do I miss Isa.  So losing weight...  Part of the master plan of losing weight is (1) eating less, (2) cutting the grass, when it needs it, which I have done the last 2 weekends and (3) swimming 2 nights a week and sometimes on the weekend.  I did swim Sunday and Monday for about 1km.  But Sunday and Monday were still part of last weekend, so they obviously don't count.  I had potential nights to go.  Well Tuesday A had to work late.  So not my fault.  Wednesday, I had to work late followed by being stuck in traffic.  Thursday = thunder storm.  However on a small happy note, I did jog in my sandals to the parking garage because of the rain.  Good thing that I was clairvoyant and wore my 'nipples don't show through bra' or else it would have been one interesting wet t-shirt contest in the parking garage.  Well maybe I didn't get that wet, but I was pretty wet.  Well, anyway, the pool certainly closed down the minute the lightening hit the Maryland skies...  So that only leave tomorrow night.  So I could make up by swimming 2 km or 2 miles tomorrow night.  Or I have failed in my first week on my new exercise regiment.  I am not even sure if the grass will need to be cut this weekend in addition A is working too this weekend and so availability for grass cutting the swimming goes way down.  I am so sad that I might only get to see Isa every other day while in Le Beausset...  On a super happy note, I did find new motivation in oing lap swimming and it's music.  For Xmas, I asked for a device that would allow my to use my iPod to listen to music while swimming.  A few months ago, A got it for me (having a deadline for a present, like Xmas, is really had on A, eventually he gets around to it...) this device and I was able to try it out and it works great.  If I didn't feel guilty about leaving A in the baby pool I could have swam another 1km....

May 30, 2010

Sex and the City 2 -- A Review

Friday night, S (our aupair) and I went to see our old friends Carrie, Miranda, Sam and Charlotte. For non-fans of the show, those are the four girls of the HBO hit show 'Sex and the City'. After 2 whole years of marriage, Carrie is in crisis again, this time it's the 2 year itch. The 7-year itch is so 1950s in this age where 1/2 of marriages end in divorce and 10-years is the new silver anniversary. Not that I don't believe in divorce, it's just that I wonder about the state of society where like Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, they waited until their 30s to get married and the have a crisis after just 2 years... Carrie wants to keep going out every night and be fabulous in her mid-40s, while her hubby, probably 10 years older than her, just wants to stay home...So what's wrong with a home cooked meal, every once in a while?? Well according to Carrie, that's boring. Then the girls head off to UAE for a fabulous Middle Eastern vacation. While the decedent vacation is just what the doctor ordered for the girls, Sam's radically libral sexual behavior gets the gang in trouble... Carrie, meanwhile, plays with fire in the form of ex-boyfriend, Adian, but quickly remembers that she spent 6 years lusting after Big and now that she finally has him, is she willing to throw that away over a few nights a week out?? Well I do identify more with Charlotte than Carrie, so maybe I am just not fabulous enough to understand;)

All in all, this movie is like a bag of Doritos. Once you open the bag, you just can't stop because their so good... But be careful if you think too much about the ride when it's over, you could give yourself a tummy ache. Just enjoy the ride b/c their are some really funny parts:)

In case any of the HBO executives are reading this, I have lots of ideas about a show about grad school...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

May 27, 2010

Bikini Philosophy

I recently decided that it was time to give up my too big bikini for something that well 'fits'.  I can't say that I have had swimwear that I have absolutely loved before.  Each year, I try to find something that (1) stays on (2) keeps everything 'in' (3) doesn't look horrible and (4) is functional.  Today's woman has 3 options to start -- A) One piece.  Can be modest and hold things in place.  But for a long day of swim wear wearing, the one piece just isn't functional -- potty breaks...

B)  Tankini.  Certainly over comes the problem of the one piece in many ways.  But when you are swimming, you can easily get tangled into the part of the swim that covers your stomach.  I can certainly slow you down if you are doing laps.  I guess that's why you don't see tankinis on the speedo website.

C) Binkini.  Not really modest, but no swim suit is truly modest.  In Europe, this could just be a bikini bottom for a woman.  But that woman,  is usually overweight, pale, and over 50.  I might be a law that she also probably had 10 children and spent way too much time in the sun.  In this country, I think that every woman must wear a miracle bathing suit, given that when I went bikini shopping, I found that most of the suits supported so well that they even provided shape and padding for excess cleavage.  I don't really see the point.  While most men will say that they are 'boob men' most are happy with anything.  Given the opportunity, they aren't as shallow as we think they are.  Besides, I am married and don't care for 15 year boys to be ogling over my cleavage.  The other thing that I really hate about most bikinis is that they use your neck as an anchor.  Not cool.

Time to give a shout-out to Speedo for actually selling something that I would actually buy.  Thanks Speedo.  Can't wait til it arrives, maybe I actually bought something that I will like???  I hope so!

May 26, 2010

A tale of 2 backspashes

In 3 weekend afternoons, we were able to complete the backsplash in the kitchen.  Hooray!  On the 4th day we did lights and fans.  The kitchen already had lights and fans, but there was one fan that was in the wrong spot.  I define wrong, as strategically place so that it hits the cabinets as it spins.  So we have to move the fan to the location of one of the lights and vice versa.  Viola.  No more hitting cabinet problem.  We also installed a fan in the dining.  So not French.  Ceiling fans.  That's so American.  But I live in a country that is hot and we need air movement.  We were to install the shelf I got at Ikea, now I am wondering what did I actually want to go there. 

So the backsplash behind the stove is this 'faux-metal' thing that we got at the Home Depot (Leroy Merlin) and it was super easy to install.  I did it myself.  The other backsplash is multicolor slate tile, that we also got at the Home Depot.  We installed that together, although A made all of the cuts.  I really suck at cutting and always cut the wrong thing, each time!  I measure 6 times and still somehow it is wrong.  I have to say that I am really pleased with the outcome.  

We are almost done with the kitchen.  Hooray!
Ok maybe now A can build the brickoven of his dreams;)