30 August 2007
10 million things to do

My parents used to joke that I was an accident waiting to happen. It’s true. From the piercing of the feet with nails and even the odd bit of fencing (which went all the way through my foot and had to be removed by a doctor) because I refused (and still do) to wear shoes, to the dislocating of the knee, to falling UP the stairs (rarely if ever down, like normal people). I’ve done it all. My last two years of high school I broke both of my wrists a total of eight times. My knees have been operated on around a dozen times and yes, I can predict the weather with the subsequent arthritis from all my injuries.

Yesterday I did manage to fall DOWN the stairs. I had Melanie in my arms and while I did manage to keep her from being injured, I can’t say the same for myself. So here I sit with my brand spanking new ankle restraint and sexy blue plastic and aluminum crutches. And heaps of guilt over what could have been. (I’m ashamed to say that my daughter did end up falling as well. I held on to her as best I could, but when I bounced she kind of flew out of my arms. Fortunately (maybe not the best word) she only had a scare, a very big scare. And she probably will never trust me again.)

I got to have another fun trip to the Horrible Hospital in Chaumont. Folks, NEVER go there. NEVER! It’s horrible and the idea of communication is so non-existent it isn’t funny. After waiting for three hours, Marc went to find out what was going on. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be to wheel someone down to x-ray? Apparently very hard since the x-ray was out of commission and wouldn’t be up and running before 8 o’clock that night. Of course, no one bothered to tell us this, preferring instead to leave us rotting in a room. Neither of us had eaten lunch and the kids were spread all over God’s green half acre and ya know, when you’re a parent, you kinda need to take care of your kids—not send them off to the town hall with your sister-in-law while she works or out to the doctor’s office with their grandparents. Things like that just aren’t cool.

I ranted and raved at the Doctor, who apparently had no idea the x-ray machine was kaput; Marc ranted and raved at a stupid ass bitchy nurse who said we didn’t have the right to a wheel chair so I could leave and go maybe someplace where the x-ray machine isn’t broken and where people would tell us if it were.

At least they gave me a prescription for drugs, and a brace, and crutches. If my memory serves me correctly, these are all things I would normally receive in any emergency room in the US for the same injury. Oh, but not in France.** Here, you get to walk on your very sprained/possibly broken ankle to the pharmacy once you leave the ER hellhole. Did Michael Moore mention that?

Lesson learned: Never go back to Chuamont. Stick to the nice folks in Saint Dizier, who, even if they are farther away, will at least treat you with dignity and respect. And if I have any life threatening illnesses or injuries in the future, I’ll just go to the pharmacy, because hell, I’ll end up there anyway.

So, I’m back to being a hobbly half-handicapped person (physically this time, we all know I’m about 100% mentally handicapped) with all of Hung Chow’s Chinese laundry to do. My house is a disaster area (blame that on the late-to-set-in-post-partum-blues, baby), and in two and a half weeks the masses are descending upon us to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary and Melanie’s Christening (for which we do have a dress, thanks God-Mommy Vivi!). I have an idea of what we’ll be eating for dinner Saturday night—and yes I’m cooking, or at least that’s the plan as of right now. But for Sunday, hell, I haven’t even thought of that yet, other than dragées and champagne, because I love those things and jeez, my priorities are in line, right?

So I need to take care of menus and catering and all the other fun things that go along with gathering all the family and friends for yet another not-so-intimate meal. Marc’s right (oh God, I said it), I should really scale these things down and just invite one or two couples at a time so he can talk more with his friends. But then, where’s the stress in that?

Monkeyboy is still thrilled about going to school. We have absolutely no idea of what goes on there because he can’t quite get past his excitement over the bus ride. The bus is cool. He gets to go to school on the bus, and the bus rocks. Bus this and bus that and bus everything else. Whatever is going on between bus rides, however, remains a mystery. Did I mention the bus is cool?

And the girls are at the crèche. Pooplette is amazing everyone with the progress she’s made in her vocabulary in just three short weeks. She’s a talker! And MP3 is charming everyone. She’s an absolute angel and the folks at the crèche are just gaga over her. I’m probably only going to take them in twice a week, maybe three times—just to give myself a break and give Pooplette a much-needed outlet with other kids. I’ve grown rather fond of having all three of the terrorists hanging around and without them it’s eerily quiet.

Of course, when they’re not around I have no excuses about not getting things done, like the mountain of laundry that’s blocking all access to the bathroom or the dishes stacked up by the sink, or any of the millions of other things I’m in charge of. So I’m just gunna grab my crutch and hop (litterally) to it.

In the meantime, enjoy a bit of beauty:

**Marc once had to have surgery at the clinic and beforehand had to go to the pharmacy to get everything they needed—syringes, scalpel, gauze pads, and even the anesthetic—things you’d think they’d stock in the OR even if it is a clinic. This is an odd place.

posted by Doc at 09:45 | Permalink | 7 comments
27 August 2007
Sometimes it's the little things...

Ya know how in the States all the calendars start with Sunday? So that first big cube with the date written in it is Sunday and the second one is Monday? Right?

Well in France it ain’t like that. They start with Monday.

You’d think after seven years here I’d have beaten that fact into my head, right?


So imagine, if you will, how idiotic I feel after having driven 30 kilometers round trip to take my girls in to the crèche that reopens on the 28th because that’s what the second block said the date was…

…except the calendar is French.

Shoot me now!
posted by Doc at 09:42 | Permalink | 2 comments
23 August 2007
ça y est !

Voici le petit écolier…

…toujours très content d’aller à l’école !

posted by Doc at 10:34 | Permalink | 5 comments
22 August 2007
Tomorrow is la rentrée here, at least for the schools that only go four days a week. And since our local maternelle, located in the very next village, falls in that category, Muppet will be taking the next Big Step in life. He’s heading to school.

He received a letter from la maîtresse a few weeks ago detailing what is going to happen now that he’s a grand garçon and what he needs to bring along with him. That letter was a magic charm and has given us such leverage when trying to get him to do things that I almost regret we’ll no longer be able to use it. He is so excited about going to school, so thrilled that he’ll be going on the bus with the other children, and that too has given us a lot of leverage. We’ve been able to motivate him to move on from certain things (like the end of the breakfast and goûter bottles which have been replaced with cereal! In a bowl! and a glass of chocolate milk respectively) by evilly threatening the possibility that he may not be quite old enough to go to school should he not do what we want. And we’ve actually gotten him to keep his slippers on in the house because that’s what they do at school, and well, school is The Schnizzle, ya know?

Tomorrow Marc and I will both take him in—and the idea of that makes me so happy I end up leaking tears constantly. Mémé is keeping the girls for us and Marc’s taking precious time out of his day for the event—something I didn’t even have to ask him to do because I think this moment is just as important for him as it is for me (that and he thinks Muppet’s teacher is kind of cute, but hell, motivation is motivation, right?). After the morning session he’ll come home on the bus for lunch, and take the bus back in the afternoon.

“Mama,” he says to me, “Je vais à l’école…en bus…et je ne reviens plus!”* This breaks my heart. I’m putting him out in the world, loosening my control of what influences him, giving him wings. It’s frightening. It’s hard. It’s heavenly! Yes, a bit of calm in my day is going to be just fine.

He’s had a hard time getting to sleep tonight. I think he’s nervous and excited about tomorrow. He’s got more emotion about going to school than he’s ever had for Christmas (although I imagine that will change this year, now that the idea of just what gifts are has sunk into his marble coated head). I’m excited for him.

His school bag is packed and ready. He clothes are all laid out. The alarm is set. I’m turning my baby out into the world. Please be gentle.

* “Mama, I’m going to school…on the bus…and I’m not coming back!”

posted by Doc at 22:51 | Permalink | 5 comments
19 August 2007
I need to find more time to write. I feel almost like a virgin sitting here again. It’s creepy.

Quick updates:

We had a huge storm blow through here last Wednesday. The winds were blowing around 100 km/hr and gusting even higher than that which turned the rain that was falling into a wall of water. We had hail as well. I went out when the pea sized stuff was falling to put the car in the garage and got stuck across the street while the golf-ball sized stuff came down. (And felt like a moron for forgetting my smoky treats-because if that wasn’t the perfect opportunity….) Trees got ripped up, branches were flying and everyone in the neighborhood has damage of some sort. Here we lost a window. Up on the hill we last part of our roof, a couple of shutters, a porte-fenêtre, and the wooden supports in the front of the house took such a beating from the hail they look as though they’ve been sand-blasted. So we have to re-stain them. Feeling up to a bit of it, Vi? It only lasted ten minutes, but, God was it heavenly. I miss real weather.

Monkey-1 starts school on Thursday. I cannot begin to describe his excitement about this. He’s going to SCHOOL! On the BUS! Could life honestly be any better? He’s got his school bag ready, and has worn it pretty much non-stop since we picked it out—even had the girl at the checkout put the bar code in manually because he simply could not part with it long enough for her to scan the damn thing. A friend bought him some colored pencils and a sharpener and you’d think that the ensemble was the key to happiness. The last day at the crèche the directrice asked him what she was going to do now that he was leaving for school. He looked at her all serious and said, “Well, you’re going to cry.” Yep, he’s confident.

Monkey-2 refuses to stop growing. She’s so tall. And smart. And she uses this to her advantage. She wants to do all the things the older kids do, meaning she’s constantly in trouble. But of course, when it comes to punishment she thinks she should be granted a reprieve—she’s so little after all. Her vocabulary is amazing for someone of her age—up over 50 words already and the occasional full sentence tossed in for good measure. She’s 19-months old and is constantly asked why she isn’t in school. Uh, they don’t take ‘em that young around here. So we might just start her next year…

Monkey-3 is a doll. She’s all the things you could ask for in a baby. She still sleeps all night, she doesn’t fuss, she never screams (that’s so lovely after all the trauma her sister subjected us to). She’s worshipped by her older siblings and has taken to giving them a quirky sort of smile whenever they come near. Methinks she’ll be able to manipulate them fairly easily in the future.

August is the month of marriages around here. We had two yesterday, so we split the family for that. Marc and Monkey-1 got finished very early and joined us in time for me to get nice and happy, though not completely smashed. Marc likes when I get happy like that. He usually ends up happy too, and if that’s TMI, well, tant pis! And the oddest thing happened to me at the reception. Our next door neighbor’s son, a cousin of the groom and an old friend and teammate of Marc’s mentioned he’d found me blog. And this completely freaked me out. And made me feel like a star. And then he complained I only write in English, so maybe we’ll change that here soon. (It would be easier to explain just WHY the Hubz is an alien without translating.)

Today I’m abandoned again and have to joyous task of packing all three kids in the car to go to the annual farm festival bullshit thing with three kids! Woohoo! (Please, someone, shoot me now!) I’m going to try to get over to see Vi and find a Christening gown for my perfect little MP3 bundle of happiness Monday, as she’s so busy otherwise. Tuesday is one last visit before la rentrée with friends I haven’t seen all summer long. And Wednesday we prepare for Thursday's Big Event. Next week the crèche opens back up and I might be able to 1. rest-up a bit, 2. clean the house, and 3. find a bit of sanity. (Don’t hold your breath for any of those things.) Marc’s looking forward to this event as well, in hopes that it makes me almost as happy as wedding punch and champagne soup—not likely, but we’ll just leave him his dreams OK? And then we’re on to the next big adventure—the 5th anniversary and baptism with a frightening number of people and food involved. Yippee.

So, there, y’all is all up to date with ussens.
posted by Doc at 09:52 | Permalink | 2 comments
09 August 2007
Can I have a dozen please...
posted by Doc at 21:43 | Permalink | 6 comments
08 August 2007

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you lately, sorry I’ve put you on the back burner, out of sight (yet not out of mind—I still compose the most amazing posts in my head where they do all of no good), sorry I haven’t poured forth all the craziness running around in my brain like I need to so I can stay sane. There are only a certain number of hours in every day and sadly, darling blog, you don’t scream for attention…like certain others in my life.

See, life as a single parent, something I never ever wanted but am forced into all too often, is not very easy. No, Mr. Man-thing and I haven’t split. Hell didn’t get that cold yet. But it is summer, not that you can tell from the weather, and that means harvesting, preparing the ground for the next crop, and eventually sowing it. It means hay and straw, wheat and barley, and that lovely thing called rape—not the violent kind, the eco-fuel kind. It also means going to sleep in an empty bed and waking up in a bed just as empty, even though it’s a shared bed for a few hours in-between.

Three young kids keep me occupied constantly. I haven’t even been able to pee in private since The Au Pair went home. Well, that’s not exactly true. I did try to tinkle with the door pulled to, but Pooplette took advantage of that and climbed the stairs so quietly that I never heard a thing. I found her sitting on her father’s computer on top of his desk, a full meter and a half above ground level, in a hallway with a huge, half-opened staircase in it—so not exactly the safest of play areas. And considering what that monkey is capable of…well, let’s just say I’ll be leaving the door wide open from now on.

In between runs to the emergency room, the doctor, the dentist and all other things that go on in normal life, I’ve also had to ride out to the fields carrying lunch, water, and a smile to my other, absent half. I’ve tried so hard to keep a positive outlook through this harvest season, and because of that I’ve been able to keep the self-indulgent rants to a minimum. And it seems to be working. Mr. Man-thing and I are still on happy terms this late in the season, something that usually only lasts about four hours into the harvest when the first problem arises and the universe starts revealing it’s true bitch-ass nature. I’ve received ‘real’ (read as material) gifts for my birthday without leaving a ‘this is what you will get me if you want me to continue talking to you’ list, a bouquet of hand-picked wild flowers for absolutely no reason, and more than a few compliments. Hell, I even got an apology after a certain someone realized he was just a tad wrong (funny story that, one I should share if only I had the time).

I’m starting to get into a routine with three kids home all the time. Let’s face it, parenting is 99.9% faking it and .01% luck. Of course, having something with a 90% alcohol content helps at times. Speaking of drugs, I must admit I’ve abandoned you for my old addiction. Yes, bad me. I could take the occasional five minute break to pour my heart out to you, but instead I spend in outside, trying to control the nervous tick I’ve developed since all three kids are home full-time, smoking my old brand of cancer sticks. Boo me. Go ahead, you can say it. I’m weak and pathetic, but at least I’m no longer climbing the walls.

There are so many things I wanted to tell you, odd things, happy things, and a few sad things that I can’t seem to get out of my mind. But I haven’t had time. I fall into bed mentally exhausted every night, worn out from all the disciplining, teaching, loving, and trying-to-stay-on-top-of-it-all crap that goes on in life. My kids amaze me every single day and while I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful space in the universe, I’m not too sure how my sanity is going to survive.

Having said that, I’m going to go sneak outside again before the next bottle, while the monkeys are all sleeping, and neglect you for five more minutes—just call it a sanity break.

Love ya,


posted by Doc at 22:51 | Permalink | 5 comments
02 August 2007
Hungry ?


1 pizzetta


1 horn of ice cream


1 drink

(coca-cola, orangina or limonade)

pizzetta can be replaced by hamburger or pastes

Feel like feeding your kid paste? At a restaurant? In a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? I didn’t think so. And when I saw this sign posted in one of our local restaurants I felt compelled to fix it—after I picked myself up off the sidewalk where I fell down laughing, of course.

I know the owners. They come in and out of the tourist office a lot when I’m there. I’ve eaten in their restaurant on several occasions. It’s where I had my first French Movie Star sighting. While I’m far from a regular, I’m hardly an unknown.

So you can imagine how shocked I felt when, after gently explaining to the wife of the husband-and-wife team that the sign was tad incorrect, I was basically told to go fuck myself. Not only was my English translation not needed, she insisted the sign was in Dutch, and that, in any case, her husband had translated it On Line. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Kaaaaay.

So I walked meekly back to the tourism office, ego shattered and all sense of well being lost, figuring that I should probably never ever again offer to do something nice for my fellow man, or woman in this case, handed our Super Tourism Office Girl the post-it note with my correction scribbled on it, explained how horrible people are, and left town.

When I picked the kids up tonight I noticed the sign had been changed.

Then I ran into STOG who gave me the scoop. See, Husband came by the office about fifteen minutes after I left looking for me. She gave him the translation, explaining that offering a variety of glue on his children’s menu would probably not do much to bring in English-speaking clientele, and how I was just trying to help out—“Elle est gentille comme ça, vous savez.”

He got his free translation, and instead of an apology, I got a menu to correct.

I’m thinking, maybe offering glue to the Anglos might just be good for them after all…

posted by Doc at 23:22 | Permalink | 6 comments