(Pictured above: Andrew (at my request) pretending to throw Ella's DS out the window)
I truly believe that (the occasional co-worker, spouse, or family member aside) only your children are capable of frustrating you so much so as to produce the most outlandish things to creep out of your mouth. For example, I just heard Andrew tell Ella that if she didn't go to bed (all three of the girls have been loud and rowdy for 45 minutes since putting them to bed), if one more peep came out of her mouth, that he would throw her D.S. out the window so that it would break into a million pieces. And Andrew is VERY patient so you can imagine the calm tone in which he explained this consequence to Ella. Now, I know he wouldn't follow through with his threat. But I can certainly understand why he said it - how frustration can cause you to dig deep and figure out what in the world will actually get THROUGH to your children? I know I feel like I am constantly threatening to take away this or that in retaliation to repetitive bad behavior. It's actually gotten to the point where Mia will ask me, "Mom, what if I don't stop
? What will happen?" She is 4 years old and literally weighing her options - would it be more fun to continue this bad behavior and accept the punishment or is the punishment bad enough that I should stop? And sometimes I am just thinking to myself, "Did I just say that? Did I really just tell my children that they would get sent to their rooms for the whole night with no dinner? Did I really just tell them that any toys they don't put away in the next 20 minutes will soon find comfy homes in the trash can? It's crazy. And I know that Andrew, me, we are not alone. Surely, many of you feel the same frustration from time to time. And figuring out the solution is a tricky game of trial and error which I have yet to win! Anyhow - just another example of how it doesn't matter where in the world you live. The same parent/child/family dynamics exist! For any of you reading this blog - I would love to hear any examples you might have of outlandish things you may have said to your children and after you were like, "Did I just say that?"
Now, onto other stuff. Life has been pretty... wet lately. I won't spend too much complaining about the winter weather in Caen but indulge me for just one minute. It has been wet and cold and cloudy. Not too different than Chicago in the winter, actually, if you trade the precipitation results. If it got just a tad colder here, the rain would be snow and then there would be greater understanding from my family of midwesterners. We have a history with snow - we know how to shovel it, how to catch it on our tongues when it is light and fluffy, how to play in it to make snowballs, snowmen and snowangels, we know to have snow scrapers in our cars for unexpected snow showers. But we really don't get snow that never turns to snow - snow that comes down as rain. It's wet. It's unrelenting. It's muddy. It makes you cold. It usually is accompanied by clouds. And it's hard to form snowballs or snowmen. Now, don't get me wrong. I know there are many upsides to all this rain. Green grass, pretty flowers, productive farms, replenished water supplies. And my favorite: rainbows (pictured above is a photo I caught one morning of a rainbow over the Abbaye aux Hommes)! Let's just say that San Diego sun can't come fast enough for me. I miss running in temperate weather where my running shoes are not saturated with mud or dripping from puddles.
Forgetting the inclimate weather, day to day life here has been fun for me. I continue to take tennis lessons where I have made some new friends. It's funny, I have learned more taking tennis lessons from an instructor whom I don't understand then those that I did back in the U.S.! I have been invited to coffee a few times with some existing and new friends - all trying to help me and my family adjust to life in France. Isn't it funny how things just start to fall into place and you meet so many great people RIGHT before you are about to leave? I just found a great new babysitter from Michigan - why just now??? On Sunday, I ran a 12km race with my friend Celine and her mother. What an accomplishment! Celine's first race ever and she managed to make it through hills of mud, sliding this way and that. We had a great time. I think we finished around 100 out of 200 women. And I like to think I placed first place for the USA. Nevermind that I was the only runner from the USA ; )
(Pictured above: Ella and her friend, Philomene, during a playdate)
Ella has been doing well. She has been busy with playdates, lately! I think before she had problems making friends but now that her classmates know she is moving, they are ready to get past all the I-like-you-today, I-don't-like-you-today-stuff and just be her friend. Which is great and is sure to leave her with lasting, happy memories of her time here in France.
Grace and Mia have been doing great, too. Every morning they say they don't want to go to school, but every evening when I pick them up they say they had a fun day. Each day I think they make closer bonds with their classmates. Each day they proclaim a new friendship has been made. In about 2 weeks, they will attend their first birthday party since living here in Caen. And they continue to be challenging (as does Ella) but I don't suppose it is the geography that is the culprit.
Andrew has been doing well. I think he is excited to get back to the US and start digging into work...and the sunny San Diego sand! He is not one for drama and drama he has had for quite a while here in Caen. He took the girls to Paris and Playmobile Land one weekend (pictures below) and they had a great time. Now, the girls will forever be attracted to Playmobile toys. And that is fine. I just wonder if the Playmobile company might be able to make the toys and accessories just a little bit SMALLER (major sarcasm)?
You might be wondering what Thanksgiving was like here in France. If you thought that they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you would be right. Many French don't even know what the celebration is about - they just know that it exists. So no surprise that I could not find a turkey to make for Thanksgiving. Amazing what one annual holiday can do in the USA. In the USA, turkeys abound. Lots eat them for Thanksgiving. Many continue to eat them for Christmas. Big market. Not one to be found here in Caen. So for Thanksgiving, we had Cuisse de Poulet - chicken thighs. Plus I made stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans. We invited a work colleague of Andrew's over - he is from the Chicago area. Poor guy - all three girls have a crush on him!
We also celebrated Thanksgiving, again, on Saturday. We have friends that are American/French that celebrate both countries holidays. Andrew and I hosted and our friends and their families brought yummy stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie and we feasted on Pintard (which I believe is Guinea Hen) and other typical foods. We had fun and we were thrilled to celebrate with friends.
Around town, the village of Caen has been working hard to get ready for Christmas. For about three weeks, there were non-stop workers setting up Christmas lights, decorations, window displays. And then last week it was day after day of setting up for the Marche de Noel - a Christmas Market that literally starts right in front of our apartment building. After all is said and done, it really is pretty. The girls are ecstatic with the sparkly lights. The market is quite cute. Last night, Ella and I took a stroll through the market. There, Ella enjoyed a nice hot chocolate and I tried, for the first time, a Vin Chaud - hot red wine! And it was yummy!
(Pictured above: Setting up for Christmas around Caen)
(Pictured below: The finished results)
Other than that, things continue to move along. I am looking for a job in San Diego. I spend some time each day locating possible pediatricians, chiropractors, gyms, dentists. All the fun stuff! One of my most exciting discoveries? There is a YMCA in our new neighborhood! I spend most of my childhood learning sports at the YMCA - I can't wait to have our children go there, too!
That's all for now..but quite enough, right?