Cars

Today our car broke down. It was the first day back to school after a two week break. I was really excited to drop the kids off for a full day of school. I was out of the school doors by 8:30 and headed over to my favorite place – the nail salon! I was way overdue to get a pedicure and have my eyebrows waxed.

It was funny because I was thinking to myself this morning how I should probably bring my phone cord with me in the car because I only had about 50% power but then I figured I’d be home by 11am, so no problem, I have plenty of power to get me home.

So, I sat in the pedicure spa chair and listened to my Sirius radio, played Candy Crush and texted. I was getting down to 20% power so I decided to stop messing around with my phone and just put it away. I finished up at the salon and headed over to the grocery store to get a few items for dinner. I got out of the store by about 10:45 and was ready to head home. I climbed the little hill that leads to the children’s school and all of a sudden my car starts dinging loudly at me, I look at the dashboard and it says something in French that I couldn’t understand and didn’t have time to paste it into my Google Translate since I was driving and then, all of a sudden, the engine just dies.

I’m going quite fast at this point and then just start slowing down since I had no power. My power steering went out and people behind me started honking. I’m scanning the road, looking for a safe place to pull over and finally find a spot under the freeway but off the road. I pull out my phone to call Byron and it says I’m down to 7% power.

Crap.

He doesn’t know where I am so I can’t have him call the tow truck. I quickly get off with him and call the phone number for our insurance company. After pressing button after button I finally get someone who speaks English and frantically tell them where I am and I have no more power on my phone. Well, luckily, I stopped across the highway from an interior design strip-mall kind of place and head over there in hopes that someone has a charging cord for an iPhone 5.

Before I headed over there, I wrote down Byron’s number and my friend April’s number just in case I couldn’t find power.

Luckily they had a cord, the tow truck driver named “Fabulous” showed up. Seriously, he had it tattoed on his forearm! He said he is in the process of trying to move to Las Vegas to open a gym. Crazy.

He towed my car to a super sketchy garage somewhere near where I was and I called April to pick me up.

Moral of the story, bring your phone cord with you in the car…

Happy New Year!

2014

This is going to be a crazy year for us I think. We should technically be moving back to the states at some point this year. This seems like a daunting idea to me. But then I guess  moving here seem daunting as well. Also, Happy New Year a little late seeing as how it is already almost March! Everything is blooming here in the south of France – the Mimosa trees are bright yellow and the cherry trees already have blooms on them!

Unfortunately we have to move this week. As in Friday! I am so not prepared for this. I have packed about 5 boxes so far but I think starting today after I go pick up Brannan from his birthday party I am going to kick it into high gear. I did a ton of cleaning last week and everything is dusty again. How does all this dust accumulate so fast?

Well, things have been moving fast and slow at the same time. We got seasons passes to the local ski area – Geolieres – and it has been quite fun. I’ve gone up only twice so far on my own and hope to go a few more times but it is so dang warm I don’t know when I will be able to go back up there when it won’t be a sheet of ice!

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The kids are out on winter break – or spring break – I’m not sure what it is technically called – mid term break? Anyway, it is 2 weeks worth of break and, well, I just wish they would sleep in past 6:45. They are so used to waking up then, they just don’t sleep past 6:45! I really love sleeping but once I’m woken up, it is really hard for me to go back to sleep. Then I’m grumpy in the morning, which isn’t good when brother and sister like to push each other’s buttons.

We have a few playdates planned but we have to move Friday and hopefully after the weekend we will be settled and able to have more playtime.

Otherwise, I made a ton of cupcakes for both of the kids’ classes. Almost 50 of them!

IMG_0604I got rear-ended one day after school. It was interesting. The other people spoke super fast French, my car wasn’t damaged but I went to take pictures and all of a sudden they were in their cars and took off.

yay.

not.

IMG_0602 IMG_0605The sun is out and shining hard and I better go do some packing and cleaning…

 

October

I can’t believe that it is already October and only two more weeks of school before mid-term break. Wow! What the heck are we going to do with those two for two weeks off of school? It seems like we just went back to school and now we are getting ready for a two week break. Sheesh.

We just got back from Oktoberfest in Munich, and boy, that was an experience!

I really do love Munich, though. It is such a nice, easy-going town. The people are all so nice and there are so many conveniences there, unlike here in the French countryside!

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Check out this double-decker underground bike parking area! So cool!

Here is Brannan in front of the leiderhosen display outside of the gates of Oktoberfest.

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We didn’t just drag the kids to a beer festival, we also headed to downtown Munich to see the Glockenspiel again – it really is neat to see.

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Look at those cheeks!  Too many pretzels?

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Don’t fall into the train!

I think the kids had squished little fingers because I wouldn’t let them go pretty much the whole time. I was really scared that they were going to get lost in the shuffle. There were a TON of people – too be expected – at Oktoberfest.

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We tried to pass some time in one of the beer tents making funny faces into the phone. It lasted for  a few minutes.

Do you know how long it takes to drink a WHOLE LITER of beer? A long time…

Especially in kid time.

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It was a fun experience, though, and it was even more fun having Josh and Lacey here with us to experience it. I won’t bother you with the fun details of the kids getting some sort of flu virus either. I think they threw up more during Oktoberfest than any of the adults did…

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A big Big BIG road trip!

Oh boy, I am so sorry that I haven’t posted anything in so long! We have been so super busy! We went to NH the week before school ended for Brannan, had a fabulous time, went to a wedding and then came back, finished school, then headed to AZ and then MT for 3 whole weeks and then came back for a week and headed out for another 2 weeks camping around Europe! Yes, I know that is a total run-on sentence, but that is what my life has felt like for the past 2? 3? months. A run-on of living out of suitcases and driving and flying and having kids freak out and pass out and be out of a routine and completely exhausted. 

It has been fun, though. 

And, of course, I don’t have time right now to post any pictures or go into any stories, but I will really, really try tomorrow. 

I HAVE to put this stuff down onto a post or else I will forget it all. Crap, I’ve already forgot half of what happened in NH and PA and MA…

But, we just got home from a 6 hour drive from Arco, Italy – a super cool rock climbing/biking/hiking town, didn’t spend too long in the toll booth lines and no one got car sick, so that’s a good thing. 

We picked up Zeffie and she is definitely happy to be home. She has been away from us for so long this summer I feel so bad for her. But, she went swimming this afternoon and I swore that I would buy her a huge box of doggie treats tomorrow (because I had so much on my brain this afternoon that I totally forgot about doggie treats!). 

And now I must go to bed – in my BED! Not an air mattress wedged between two other twin air mattresses with children kicking me in the small of my back or screaming in the middle of the night or wetting themselves or having to unzip two zippers and walk 3 campsites over to go to the WC. 

Ah, the luxuries of home. 

Including, of course, ICE!!!!!!

Oh, I can go on and on about the quest for ice cubes the past 2 weeks…

Swimming

The kids can’t be kept out of the pool any longer. 

It seems like our wet and chilly spring has finally left and we are slowly descending into summer. The days are warm, the nights are perfect and the kids are ready to tackle another summer of swimming. 

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Testing my French

On Friday, we were hanging out in the house, minding our own business, watching the gardener do his job outside. Then, I get a knock on the door and the gardener is there – I thought he needed to tell me to buy more chlorine or move all the toys out of the way of the riding mower. Brannan opens the door and the gardener asks Brannan (in French) if I was around, Brannan answers “oui” and calls for me. I come to the door and the gardener is on the phone – I greet him with the French double-cheek kiss because that is what you do when you see someone here – I’m still not completely comfortable with it, but, hey, when in France… Anyway, I say hello and he is holding his phone out to me and he says “I am so sorry Cassie, I had an accident, Patrick (the landlord) is on the phone.” My heart jumps a little, I figure he sliced something open and needed me to drive him to the hospital tout-suite, but, luckily, no, he points to our little black car and the back window was shattered. 

I breathe a little sigh of relief and talk to the landlord on the phone and he assures me that insurance will take care of it all and he will send me the information as to what to do. 

The gardener happened to be using the weed-whacker to trim the sides of the garden and when he was near the car he unfortunately hit a tiny stone and it went right through the back window.

All I can think of is “oh, fun, another test of my French skills!”

Our gardener was extremely apologetic and I felt really bad for him because he was so sorry, but he cleaned out the broken glass out of the car and on the ground and taped up the window with some plastic. Image

So, yesterday I summoned up the courage to go to the glass replacement shop. I walk in, not feeling particularly up for practicing my French, so I cop out and say “Desolee, mais, parlez-vouz Anglais?” and the guy looks at me and says “NON!” So, I tell him I need a new window – at least I could paste those words together. He asks me where and I point and use my best sign language and we go out and look at it together, head back inside and he starts typing on his computer and asking me questions about my insurance and I ask him to repeat one of his sentences because I didn’t understand it. There is a nice handsome guy sitting next to my guy and he looks at me and starts translating for me and then my guy scolds my translator and says to him “she must speak French!” (which I could understand). 

It was a pretty funny exchange between the 3 of us and I finally got a rendez-vous for the window replacement this afternoon. I scooped up Kinnerly and I thanked them both for their help and for testing my French. 

 

They grow up so fast

Seriously. 

That is one phrase that I hear so much that I wish I had a euro for every time I’ve heard it. 

Kinnerly is potty training and she has done so well that she just runs into the potty all by herself about every 10 minutes and takes off her undies and sits on the toilet like she is a pro. I hope it lasts. I think it will!

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She did very well yesterday until we went to a play date. But, I forgive her for that because they had a dog that was smaller than a kitten and every time she saw it running around she tilted her head sideways and said “aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! soooooo ceeeuuuuttteeee!” in the littliest whiny voice every. I just gave up and put her in a diaper. No big deal. I figure she has been so good for 2 days, I will let her have a diaper for the evening. 

On the other hand, I had to finally tell Brannan that our dog, Leia, died when we were in Arizona and that she isn’t at the “doggy doctor” anymore. I just keep putting it off more and more and I am glad that I was wearing sunglasses this morning as I was trying to explain to him what happened to her. I, of course, sugar coated it – okay, probably CAKED it in sugar, but I used the words “she died” and that was really hard for me to do. Even for me. He doesn’t really have any sort of concept of death, but he says the word all the time, which is so sad to me, but I guess that is just how kids are. Especially in this day and age of movies and video games and other kids and whatnot. 

They really are growing up too fast though. 

I swear, after I came back from my trip to Florida, it seemed like Kinnerly was speaking a thousand more words than I left her with. She has been going to the zipline parks and doing all the “big kid” adventures when she is supposed to be 3 to do them! Brannan has been back-talking to me like no tomorrow too – which I am not very happy with, but we are working out consequences for his actions right now. 

Plus, my heart swells whenever someone speaks to him in French and he totally understands and answers back to them – in FRENCH! 

He is reading now – sounding out words more and more. I hear him sounding out street signs in the car when he thinks I’m not listening. 

Kinnerly has an imagination unlike her brother’s. She pretends to serve food to her babies, pretends to play with imaginary kids and can amuse herself unlike Brannan ever did. They are two different kids, that is for sure. 

Every day I tell Brannan’s teachers that I am scared for him to go to the next grade. They tell me not to worry, that he is more than prepared and will do very good – I just want these days to last longer…

May 20

Yes… no… is it really May 20? 

I simply can NOT believe it!

We have been in France for TWO YEARS!

I’m sorry I had to shout that, but I have been pronouncing it quite loudly to quite a few people lately. 

I’ve been apologizing for not knowing more French (something that the French NEVER do – apologize), and I’ve been lamenting that I don’t know MORE FRENCH (which is just my lazy fault), and have been scared of consequences that may arise from being here for so long (driving license – no!) and really, just not believing the whole situation. 

We had another glorious (but quick) visit from Auntie this past weekend. The kids were not on their best behavior unfortunately – of course – why is it always like that when we have peeps over? But, I have to admit, Saturday was one of the most rainy days that we have seen in a LONG LONG time. It literally poured down rain from the skies the whole day. Personally, I love the rain and would be very happy in front of the tele watching movies, but that is hard to do with a 5 and a 2 year old! 

Luckily we had a nice Friday night dinner out in Valbonne!Image

Complete with the Cafe Gourmande!

We had a big Saturday in-house with movies and tea parties and snacks and rests.

Sunday we ventured out to Frejus for a bit of the market and some seaside lunch. 

The weekend was quick but fun. 

Kinnerly was asking for her Auntie this morning – asking where she went off to…

I had to tell her that she went off to another adventure of her own, but we would see her very, very soon.

Thank you sister – for another wonderful weekend!

xxx

Easter 2013

We went to Verbier, Switzerland last weekend for the Easter weekend. It was fantastic. I wish we were there for a whole week. I want to go back next winter and experience a real winter holiday there. It was just too fast – I couldn’t believe it!

We left very early on Friday morning so we could enjoy the day there. It didn’t take us long to get there, probably only about 5 hours – maybe a little more with a few stops here and there. Image

It was super fun and now it seems like a lifetime ago.

The first day we got there was a little foggy and wet so we spent most of the time on the bunny hill teaching Kinnerly how to stand up on her skis.

 

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Kinnerly was not having fun in this picture. Hee hee.

 

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Then we made snow angels and that made her happy!

 

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We stayed in a “condo” in Verbier Village and it was really nice. It was the most crammed-in, old-school village every with some gorgeous new condos built on the outside. We stayed in an “authentic” old condo – it was cool. This tiny door was right around the corner:

 

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I was surprised as the ski area is in Switzerland but it is mostly French or English speaking in all the restaurants and stores in the village. It was really cool. I could actually eavesdrop on other conversations and understand what they were saying, we chatted with a couple of other girls at one restaurant and it was totally effortless.

The second day (Sunday, Easter Day) the clouds lifted, the Easter Bunny visited our cottage in the middle of the night (more like I woke up in a panic around 5AM with an EXTREME headache – the altitude, right? Ha ha! and hid some chocolates) and then the boys got ready for a BIG day on the hill. They took the gondolas up to the top and saw some extraordinary powder. It was hard for poor little Brannan to maneuver around with all that powder around him!

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I took Kinnerly for a few runs on the bunny hill until she was done with it all and said she was hungry and “no more ski Mommy!” I’d ask her why she didn’t want to ski and she just replied: “Cause Kiki says so” which is a really common saying these days.

So, I took her into the village and we had a little lunch.

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Later that evening, we were invited to an Easter dinner over at my friend Cara’s boyfriend’s condo. They have the most amazing view!

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Oh, ours was not too bad either – this was our view from our cottage:

 

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As you can see there was quite a bit of snow!

 

Anyway, for Easter dinner we had some amazing smoked chicken with a diablo sauce, some tangy coleslaw and baked potatoes with real sour cream! Oh, it was to die for! I think Byron had 3 helpings that night!

The kids devoured a giant chocolate bunny and there were some super beautiful tie-dyed Eggs that Cara found somewhere.

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And of course, dessert…

 

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We had fun and amazing conversations, delicious food and a super fun time in Switzerland. I want to go back!

 

More random thoughts

I could really, REALLY use a manicure. And a pedicure. I have no idea when I will be able to get one in the near future. Plus, we are going skiing this coming weekend (which I am very excited about – especially since we are going skiing in Switzerland!) and I just hope my toes don’t start aching in my boots. I guess there are worse things that could happen. 

Kinnerly is talking so much, she still talks about herself in the 3rd person, which is pretty funny, and I love the way that she runs without abandon to my adult girlfriends and gives them the biggest hugs in the world. I know it makes their day. Even if their children don’t embrace me, or her, with such abandon, I can still look at her and how innocent and free she is with her love and it makes me smile. 

I can’t believe that we have been living in France for 2 years now. It just amazes me. 

We are having a super hard time getting the stitches out of Brannan’s finger. It is frustrating and challenging and so many emotions all at one time. I want to feel sorry for him but then I want to tell him to suck it up because it is just a stitch! I’m having a hard time being a sympathetic mama right now about it all as he does this crazy back-and-forth thing EVERY SINGLE DAY telling me he wants them out so then we sit on the couch, I turn on cartoons loud enough to distract the dog, ask for his finger and all of a sudden he turns into the same cowering little boy that was in the ER two weeks ago. I tell you what, that day ripped my heart out and made me furious all at the same time. I had so many emotions that day I felt like I ran an hour on the treadmill after it was all over with. 

It has been raining and raining and raining here on the French Riviera. It is all everyone talks about. But I guess that is how it is everywhere, no? 

I am really looking forward to the next few months. We have so many fun travels planned! We are looking at summer plans too but can’t plan too far ahead due to B’s work schedule. 

I still haven’t figured out how to organize my photos on my MacBook. I need to hire someone to do this for me. I just keep getting changing out my memory cards in my camera hoping that I can squeeze one more picture in. It’s not working too well for me. 

I am finding this whole “school” thing really interesting. There are some amazingly gorgeous people that show up every day looking perfect. I feel so blah compared to all of these people. God forbid I should show up in yoga pants. No freaking way. But now all the pants I have are too big for me and I’m not sure what is worse – baggy saggy pants or yoga pants. I can’t wait for summer when I can wear shorts and dresses. Except I hate the heat. 

Kinnerly is cleaning up all her toys and said “all tidied up now!” I love how the kids have adopted UK words and French words. Although people still laugh at how they say “water” and “diaper”. 

Brannan is learning how to sound out words now and I’ll catch him in the car trying to do it every now and then but it is so hard for the poor little guy because he is seeing French words and trying to sound out with English phonics. At least he can get the “stop” correct. 

Why is it that the “stop” signs say “stop” and not “arret” in France?

I could go on and on but I have to go and get Brannan at school and sell tickets for the Easter Raffle! Whee!

And they are ready to go skiing for Easter weekend! In Switzerland!

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