(Kudos to all who get the musical alliteration!)
Yeah, I know, it's been too long. See the title. Or don't. Because it's not only the procrastination factor that's kept me away. It's been a long road. As you remember, I went back to work last year. It took hardly any time at all for a few of the overly curious minds I was charged with instructing to find this blog, and start questioning me. I had the option of going private, which just seemed like too much hassle, or tuning it out and letting things die down naturally. And since so many of the things I would have written about at that time came directly from those experiences in the classroom, a little blog-neglect didn't seem too negative a thing.
And then summer came along, and with it the sacré readjustment to full-time parenting (something that I still have a hard time carrying around with any real sense of normality), and all the roller-coaster mood swings that go along with the harvest, the farm-widowhood, and all the regular crap I bitch and moan about. It felt old. I'm rather tired of feeling old.
Especially when my students put my age at 53, bless them, the little shits.
The beginning of the school year brought along more crap, with rearrangements and last-minute changes that sent me for more loops than I care to remember. It took me a while to recover from that, especially as I didn't feel connected with my normal mood-ventilating and dirty laundry airing technique—The Blog. And the student factor still had me reeling a bit. And the future was still unsure. So the absence continued.
But now, finally, maybe, I think I might be hitting my groove. That, and it's that time of year when I need to air all the dirty laundry before the sheer reek of it overwhelms me—Christmas. But more on that in a bit. Let's get through the news:
For the family, particularly my sister-in-law who spent the entire Thanksgiving phone conversation SCREAMING at me that I needed to blog because she has no idea what's going on over here anymore and how very dare I leave her in the dark like that: We're fine! The kids are great, and beautiful, and healthy and all is very well in that department. Here, you can even have a crappy photo of the three of them, the little wild monkeys, in all their wild monkey glory.
Monkey I is in love with school and can't wait to learn something else, anything else, just TEACH ME SOMETHING ALREADY! The things he comes home with have supplied both Marc and me with a never-ending list of “Where the hell did he get that from?” looks over dinner. The kid is a sponge, and school has given him the opportunity to absorb so much more than here. He's even impressed a Real Life Historian with his knowledge of the Middle Ages! Not bad for a kid who hasn't hit six years old yet.
Monkey II, who is almost the same size as her brother who is almost 2 years her senior because she's just Ginormous, is finally finding her comfortable place in the world. We've all but abandoned our battle with the school to get her moved forward, thinking that perhaps later on might be the best time for that fight. In the meantime, she's “repeating” her first year at school and calming down a bit. Quite a bit actually. She brings home all kinds of surprises, some good, some (like the stolen keys to the supply closet) not so. But she's hitting her stride and finding her place, and we honestly can't ask for more. Well, not realistically at least. More peace would be nice, but hey, her antics do provide lots of comic fodder around here, and seriously, life would just be too damn dull without her.
And the baby, Monkey III, is a midget, and cute, and probably the worst of the three because of it. She is the manipulator, and she's frighteningly good at it. If she doesn't turn out to be a super-powerful politician of some sort, like President of France and the US at the same time, then I'll be surprised. She's also a smart little cookie, and oddly determined to do exactly what she wants. Which is sometimes good (like with the potty training—she simply decided she didn't want to wear those bulky diapers anymore and that was that) and sometimes frustrating (like the Asscrack-of-dawn breakfasts eaten hidden behind the couch before anyone is awake and the ensuing de-sugar-ifacation of every surface in the house because She. Must. Leave. Her. Mark. On. The. World.) She has two frighteningly good and eager teachers (her older siblings) and that, combined with her own natural abilities and superpowers means we live with a force of nature.
And that means that we're tired.
And we all know what a bitch I am when I'm tired. Muahahahaha!
Hmm, just getting all that up and out has made me feel a bit less bitchy. That's a bit sad, actually, as I had planned on spitting venom a while longer. Maybe it's the good news in the laundry department that's hampering the venom flow as well. Who knows...
Anyway, the Laundry Department News: Our washing machine died. Its death was a long and agonizing process and I honestly felt bad for the poor thing at the end. But I must back up a bit or you'll never understand the drama. And there is Drama.
When I first moved here nine years ago (yep that anniversary came and went, unnoticed and unremarked upon by anyone other than myself) Marc's washing machine was in the throes of death. Or maybe it's spasms had subsided at that point. I can remember one attempt at washing a load in that ancient beast of a contraption, but I think it was a doomed effort. The quest to purchase a new machine began in earnest shortly thereafter. Quest in not an understatement. Marc is seriously cheap, renowned among his friends (most of whom are cheap by American standards) for the attention and care he gives to every single purchase he makes. He studies price tags like some lawyers study for the Bar. It's disgusting. And FRUSTRATING. Very frustrating. The quest for a new machine took just over two months. Two months is a long, long time to wash your dirty undies in someone else's garage. And with each visit to the appliance stores my still-very-American mind felt just that much closer to exploding. In the US, you figure out what you want, go to the appliance store of your choice, purchase your machine, load it in the car, go home, and install the thing. Or at least that's what we did in my family. My parents were Kenmore people, and while Sears did get all of our washing machine dollars over the years, the machines they purchased lasted FOREVER. I think the last washer and dryer were purchased solely because my mother wanted a new pair. The old one was fine. And 20 years old. So coming from that background and finding myself trailing behind Marc while he studied each machine's minutest details to get the most for his franc was frustrating, especially as I didn't speak any French at that point, and the technical discussions were so far beyond me that I felt retarded.
But I can, if nothing, adapt. And while the Manthing busied himself with the washing machine quest, I wandered the aisles looking for that Holy Grail of the laundry world—a dryer—an unheard of luxury in the Prostrate of France. And when he finally made his choice, I purchased for myself and by myself, my first major appliance ever—and in a foreign country. The pride! The joy! And the frustration of explaining to that man the necessity of a dryer... Argh!
But he's come around, and we've compromised on the use of the dryer, perhaps more to my liking than his own. But that's a tangent for another rant. Because my dryer is still going strong (knock on wood) and his washing machine is dead. R I P .
And no, I'm not complaining about the machine. Far from it. That poor thing suffered many years of abuse with hardly any problems. As far as washing machines go, we did good. Or rather Marc did, as I was ready to just point and pay, can we get a damn machine already PAH LEESE! Patience being a virtue, and me being the least virtuous person I know, right? But we've learned that washing machines are designed to do three loads a week for seven years. Of course we have! You don't think I'm still so ignorant that I can't go along on the appliance quest, right? And as I was often the one around when the repairman came to take it off to be fixed up and bandaged for a little while more, I ended up finding out a lot more about washing machines than I ever really wanted to know. But band-aides were simply not enough for the poor thing in the end. We were doing more like six thousand loads a week (slight exaggeration, but hell, three babies later, right?) and most of those were ever so slightly over the capacity the machine was designed to handle. Something had to give, and it gave it's life. (And might I just add that the last, killer load that assassinated the machine was done by Marc, so I am not at all under any suspicion of foul play. Woohoo!)
Now, I saw, and fell in love with a big HUGE machine when I was appliance shopping for the house a few years ago. I swear I'd have tried to sneak in a new washer and dryer at that moment it if hadn't been for the price tag—something like a cool 2000 euros that would have been hard to disguise no matter haw I jiggled the figures. But the machines were sexy and BIG. Big enough to wash the comforter that we fight over in that king-size bed of mine (yes MINE! Muahahaha!). This fact alone means that the washing machine, at least, would pay for itself over time. I have to have the comforters dry-cleaned, and that ain't cheap, bud! But alas, my Whirlpool Dreamspace Dream Machine would have to wait.
And as I waited, I plotted. And schemed. And did my homework. And finally that poor, abused, overworked machine of ours died. And was I able to swoop in there with the sale of my fantasy-inspiring replacement? No!
Because Marc has this physical NEED to go on the appliance quest personally. And these things take time. And patience? Ha! Still not virtuous, moi. But he did come 'round to my idea in the end. And I was honestly helped by the dealers, repairmen, and even the aunt with the same machine who he consulted and who all seemed to share my opinion of this behemoth (at least as far as French standards are concerned) of a machine. And this time it only took five weeks! I feel progress here, don't you?
So she's on her way. Yes, she. And she's got a name—Molly, because you don't think I want a stranger washing my undies, do ya? She's twice as big as our old machine. And she's got so many extras that I think I can just toss the three kids in together and she'll wash them too. Ohhhh, I can't wait. I might actually like doing laundry!