...Happy New Year!
...Happy Birthday Pooplette! (She's four now, and we have no idea how she made it so far without us killing her.)
...Happy Chaos! Yes, we're back to that. No news there, right?
Christmas came and went without a hitch. Well, without anything more than me misplacing my address book and finding myself unable to call most of the people I wanted. It has since been found, and most of those catch up calls have been made, so we're good. We handled the Santa situation fairly well. I did pretty much everything, including buying most of the gifts for myself. The Manthing pitched in with a surprise that wasn't a surprise, but was a fairly decent effort on his part. We'll call the gifts this year a success. Even the family dinner went off without any arguments or tense moments. Yay!
After Christmas, Mr. Manthing planned a trip to visit friends. A vacation he called it. Was this OK for me? OK? OK? I don't consider laying restlessly on an airmatress with two of my freaked-out children attached permanently to my body much of a vacation, so no. Not OK. But I think, for me, it's more a question of semantics. A vacation is luxury hotels, solitude and room service. Airmatresses in a friend's living room is more of a visit. In any case, getting out of the house and seeing something other than the local sights was … a change. Change is good, right? Well, usually...
Mr. Manthing has an aversion to change. I guess the fact that there was a trip planned at all should be considered progress. But this aversion to change found us on the road with a map that dates to my first visit to his land almost 10 years ago. And, in typical Manthing fashion, he has this thing about waiting until the very last minute to ask the co-pilot (me) to verify which exit we should take, a task complicated by the fact that the road we were travelling didn't figure on the 10-year old map, and this because apparently I am blind and don't know how to read a map. No, they never taught me that in the military, did they? (He has, of course, after being bitched at, verified that the road is indeed NOT on the map, and I have had a sort-of apology—and only a month after the fact.) The ensuing argument was only made worse by the screaming, road-weary monkeys tied down in the back seat who had, like their mother, had just about enough of Mr. Manthing's grumbling and of riding down a never-ending highway in rush hour traffic around one of France's larger cities. Things finally got better when the Manthing called the friend and got specific instructions, and I stopped laughing hysterically at his grumbling and his yelling at the kids for...well, for being kids.
The return trip was a lot less interesting, considering I allowed him to bitch, moan and complain while I SPENT MONEY (the horror) on an adapter that allowed me to plug in the laptop in the car and play DVDs for the monkeys. He apologized again, after six full hours of silence in the car. Ah, blessed technology, and blessed moms who allow it to touch the children! So pleased was he with this idea of mine that he started talking of taking more trips! Imagine! Woohoo! (Please, someone pass the Valium.)
For New Years, we put the kids to bed, and fell asleep. Rockin' party that was!
Then it was back to work, a place I really and truly love because, see, a classroom full of hormonal teenagers is a cakewalk after two weeks trapped with my family. Of course, the hormonal teenagers were less thrilled with the end of vacation than I was, the poor dears, but I shocked them back to reality with that famous back-to-school assignment we all grew to hate: The Vacation Essay. Muahahaha. And I must say, I was most pleasantly surprised with the results. These kids, sometimes they really surprise me! All of them claimed to have done nothing at all during the holidays, and that writing a paper of the length I demanded was impossible. But they managed, the poor critters, and I ended up with a few gems to file away in the 'Interesting Stories of High School Kids' folder that I am keeping, including the story of one poor soul who only wanted to ride his bike in the local sub-zero tundra and found himself with a numb 'member number one'. I laughed until my sides hurt with that one.
Pooplette got to have her first real Burpday Partay with invited guests. She turned four, and if you don't know, turning four is like totally THE social occasion. I asked everyone to please remember that this birthday was giftless, considering we're still in the hovel and have NO SPACE, but apparently my French is still terrible, or I was ignored. They were kind enough, however, to stick to small surprises, and we've somehow managed to integrate these new treasures without too much trouble. I blew up 200 balloons for the occasion, dumped all of them on the floor and let the kids loose. If you ever need ideas for a 4th birthday I highly recommend this. The kids ran around for an hour chasing balloons, tossing balloons, kicking balloons, and tiring themselves out in the process. No need to plan any activities because they're so occupied with the damn balloons that they just don't care to do anything else. Until the cake comes out, of course, but I honestly thing that was only because we had one of those indoor fireworks candles and that caught their attention. So, then we had cake. And that was good! But those balloons....
At the end I asked them to pop the balloons. Dude! It was like giving them the keys to the candy store. Once all the ballons were popped, I had them play the one and only game I had for them—pick up all the popped balloons, put them in the trash and you win a bag full of candy! And a noisemaker! I was the most popular mom in the nighborhood! At least as far as the monsters were concerned. The parents force themselves to say hello at the bus stop. Muahahahaha!
And it seems that life is about to change around here again. And NO, there's no MP4 on its way. None of that, folks. Those days are over! No, just more work. My job at the high school is only part time. And I've enjoyed that. The pace is nice and regular, and I have two full days of torturing teenagers and freedom from the monkeys. But there is an English teacher shortage here, and I may well be finding myself with a more-than-full-time schedule here soon, like next week at the earliest. As soon as they figure out how to change the schedules around I'll know. It seems we're back to the scramble to find someone to watch the monkeys for lunch time. I'm dreading this, as so many of the nounous prefer full time work and not just an hour and a half a day. And there's the question of who and where and do we split the two older ones up? MP3 has a place at the crèche, so is not a problem. But the older ones... Oh, if only we had a canteen!