Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feb 24, 2009: Running on Empty

Feb 24, 2009: With day 1 of drop off and pick up completed at school, Andrew had to get back to work today.  So Suzie graciously offered to help me walk the girls to school.  Today when we arrived at school, there was about 15 minutes to spare.  The kids congregate in the schoolyard to play and talk and some kids' parents remain to chat and keep watch.  The minute we arrived at school, Ella found a razor-like scooter from 1895 that she started to ride around.  I wasn't entirely sure that she was supposed to have this out, but I wasn't about to bust my own daughter!  Next thing you know about 7 boys from older classes are circling around Ella.  I see this from a distance because today Mia has decided to be shy, bashful and clingy and not wanting to let me move from my current location.  From a far I watch Ella.  I wonder if the boys are saying mean French things to her that she doesn't understand.  I wonder if they are saying the only English words that they know just to sound smart.  I wonder if she is having fun and smiling or intimidated and scared but still smiling.  This seems like a pretty nice, reserved set of kids, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.  I see Ella fall off her scooter but then see an older girl help her get back on.  Still skeptical of the situation, I watch from a distance while Mia clings to my legs for dear life.  It is one thing to taunt my 5 year old daughter in English, but another thing entirely to taunt my child in a language she or I don't really follow very well. Ella finally gets scolded for having the scooter in the first place and she puts it away. Then the bell rings.  I follow her to her class and she is fine.  Her teacher said she did well the day before and wanted to know if she had an food allergies, as her class was going to make crepes as a project that day.  No, I reported, no allergies.  I knew with crepes as a project, this school day was going to end nicely for Ella.

After Ella was taken care of, Suzie and I dropped Grace and Mia off at their room.  Grace was content today, immediately playing with a puzzles.  Mia, for some reason, was not happy.  She was whining and teary and sad and had no interest in her mother leaving her in this strange room for the rest of the day.  Her teacher told me (I think, it was in French after all) that this is very normal for children in a new class and on her second day that was to be expected.  She didn't seem the least bit concerned so I felt better.  Thinking back to the first days of school for the girls in Colorado, this was really the same reaction.  The teacher and her assistant are very nurturing and loving, so even though Grace and Mia may be having a hard time understanding what they are saying, the hugs and patience they receive probably make up for the difference.  Once I saw that Mia found something to take her attention away from me, I ran for the door.

After the school drop off, Suzie and I grabbed breakfast at a restaurant near the school.  The way Mia was acting, I wouldn't have been surprised if I was called back to come and get her or comfort her.  So we thought it best to stay close to the school for a little bit.  Suzie and I had a nice breakfast and then headed back to the apartment.

Peter and Suzie left shortly after to go do some touring through different villages known for their cheeses.  The day before they had plans to do some sight-seeing and ended up spending the first 2 hours just looking for a gas station.  They were literally driving on fumes for 2 hours and could not find gas.  They have also been lost numerous times, trying to get back to our apartment.  There is a lesson to be learned here so let me share: Next time you are in a foreign country with small roads, a different language and road signs that are not what you are used to seeing - go ahead and invest in a GPS from the rental car company.  This is NOT wasted money.  Your relationship with your spouse, your gas tank and your limited time will thank you very much. Anyway, Peter and Suzie had better luck with driving today. They took our GPS and Peter had studied some maps ahead of time.  And the gas tank was full.

I spent time today first looking for a gym and a chiropractor on the internet.  I had been putting this off because I knew that if I found something, it would ultimately mean I would have to make a phone call for an appointment or information.  And I was not looking forward to having those conversations in French.  It is much easier using hand gestures or pointing to a word in a dictionary in person then trying to communicate over the phone....But, my back is aching and my thighs are expanding so I just had to get over it already.  Regarding the gym, I did find many places on the internet.  But they all seemed gimicky - Power Plates, Ladies Only, Unisex bathrooms.  After reviewing my options, I decided to join the biggest, least expensive and most scenic gym of all.  The Pavement.  I told Andrew this and he was like, "wow, that is the name? 
That's unique.  Never heard of it, where is The Pavement?"  And I told him it was literally the pavement. Outside. Running, jogging, walking on the pavement, the road, the sidewalk.  Ultimately, I love to run and the weather here is pretty agreeable to running most days of the year.  So between the core strength training workouts my great trainer (Tim Skafidis) from Crested Butte sent me and the pavement, I think I am ready to get back on the fitness train.  Regarding the chiropractor, it turns out they are called Osteopaths here in France (thanks Kristin Haverkampf for that info!).  I searched the internet and found about 10 here in Caen and ultimately I picked a female that was in walking distance. Achieving success, I made an appointment over the phone for Thursday.    See, neither chore was as bad as I thought. 

Later that day I decided to try out my new gym.  I dusted off my running shoes, loaded up my iPhone with some cardio tunes, twisted a scarf around my neck and off I went.  I ran along the river and up and down the curvy, hilly streets of Caen.  You would think I had 6 eyes, purple hair and a tail the way people looked at me.  It seems that running is not common, at least here in Caen.  I was the only runner, running in the bike lanes, pressing the light for bikers to cross the street, just scooting along.  But you know what?  I had a great run.  It is amazing what new scenery and 9,000 feet less elevation does to your run.  Makes it very fun!  When I returned home, I worked on assembling some curtains I had bought a few days earlier.  I love this store I found called Madura.  You buy really nice curtains at the store, then use hemming tape and an iron to adjust the length.  They also have blackout curtains that attach to the inside of the curtain, blocking out all light and much of the sound.  You pick out the curtain rings, rods and you are set.  Though it is easy and same-day, it is not without effort.  It took me 2 hours to make 2 curtains.  Andrew and I only hung one of the curtains in the girls' room but it really did the trick. Less noise from the street and less light to keep them perky and awake all night. 

Around 4:15 p.m. I went to pick up the girls from school.  Their teachers reported a good day.  I had already planned to brainwash them, in the event of a bad day, with treats and rides on the close-by carousel.  When I offered a stop for mini-chocolate croissants on the way home to Ella she stated that she was full from making crepes in class.  Grace and Mia liked the treat idea.  They asked to stop and ride on the carousel and having already planned for this I said sure.  We got home and Suzie had dinner prepared.  

Andrew and I didn't eat, as we had been invited out by his co-workers to watch Lyon, France play Barcelona, Spain in some Football championships at a local Irish Pub. We had a fun time watching the game.  I like going out with his co-workers because they speak both French and some English.  I can practice my French with them but fall back on English if I am having trouble.  They are also very nice people!  After a tie game, we came back home.  Today was fun.  The streets of Caen were growing on me as were the people.  Tomorrow was Wednesday - the day off from school.  What adventures would happen tomorrow?


  1. I am glad you found an Ostéopathe. Let me know how it goes.

  2. I'm sitting downstairs reading your blog and it is about 5am.... I have never laughed so hard about "The Pavement" Workout Facility LLC. I laughed so hard, I thought I was going to wake up a kid or two.

    I sure hope the monthly installment payments aren't too high. ---laughing---