Archive for October, 2006

Getting our zzzzzz’s… and more!

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Tonight for the first time in so long I cannot remember any different, Kaitlyn fell asleep in her own room, in her own bed, all by herself without saying “will you sleep with me?” or getting out of bed even once, let alone the usual three-thousand times.

Oh, this morning, our sea shipment came.

I think she finally feels like everything is ok.

Although at some point in the day she became completely obsessed with getting her plastic sword. Over and over she asked where her sword was. We’d take her out to the garage and show her the giant pile of boxes and say it’s in one of these, we’ll find it. Then she’d cry and ask where her sword was. Bill is such a good Daddy, he went through the boxes labeled “toys” until he found it. Luckily, he only had to open about half a dozen.

We have all been, in our own ways, on pins and needles waiting for the shipment to arrive. It definitely signals “hey, this is where you live now.” Until today, it all felt like some sort of wacky, drawn out vacation.

Not to say that getting our stuff into our house was as easy as the movers bringing in some boxes. Oh, no!

First, they had to wait for the container to arrive at the bottom of the hill. That truck was too big to traverse our windy, not-really-more-than-one-lane road. Two guys would take the smaller truck down to the bigger truck, unload from our sea container into the truck, drive that up the hill, unload from that truck into our garage with the help of a third guy, then two would go back for more stuff while the poor third guy schlepped stuff from the garage into the house. It took three small truckloads to bring all the stuff up the hill. They have to come back tomorrow to bring the last garage-load into the house. They laughed at the number of boxes we said went into the bathroom and they finally said there was no more room in the kitchen for any more. I spent the evening unpacking the boxes that had filled the kitchen and made one very troubling discovery: the kitchen here is not very big! I was so tired and so frustrated, but I had to finish so tomorrow they can drag the last few kitchen boxes in for me.

The rental furniture won’t be picked up until next week. Whatever. Bill and I can drag it into the garage. Tonight when he got home from work (at 9pm) he put our bed together then carried the rental bed into the garage. I was never so happy to see that big ol’ bed of ours. When I found the two boxes marked “MBR pillows” I nearly ripped them open with my teeth I wanted to get to those pillows so badly! I positively cannot wait to climb into my own bed and put my head down on my own pillow and hopefully, finally get a real good night’s sleep. Lately I have been having rather troubling nightmares that wake me up and keep me up. The other night I dreamt that Kaitlyn was missing. Then I dreamt that we were going on our cruise and while we were waiting to board the ship the whole thing just tipped over on its side. Tonight, hopefully I’ll dream of French words for bedroom and couch… and home.


Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Bill is watching rugby on tv. Which is most funny because you cannot pay Bill to watch American football on tv at home.

But what may be most troubling about it… he is starting to understand the game.

Road Trip!

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

We took our first road trip today. It was something of a half-day trip to Lyon, which is about an hour away. Another ISE family invited us to go along on their trip to the aquarium there.

The trip involves a jaunt down a toll road. As we approached the payment booth, I said “oh, I have change.” When we travel through West Virginia, it’s $1.25 at each stop. Not quite that way here. 9 euros and some change. That’s a pricey road trip to go an hour from home. And I say that even though we are trying not to make real note of price differences at the stores, and to just accept them as part of life here and buy what we need.

Our first stop in Lyon was at the Pizza Hut. Now, this wouldn’t have been my first stop. I’m not a Pizza Hut fan at home and at our new home in France there is a positively excellent pizza truck at the bottom of the mountain that I’d much prefer to order from. (more on pizza truck eating in another entry) That said, the Pizza Hut food was better than Pizza Hut at home.

We ate there partially because across the street there is a Toys R Us. Another place I wouldn’t have gone, just because I am not a fan of taking Kaitlyn to a toy store. (I want that and that and that and that and that….) It was your run of the mill Toys R Us with a bathroom that was positively impossible to find. So impossible, I never did find it. We broke down and bought Kaitlyn a few things there, including a doll house. I bought her a French mail carrier to go with it, that was just so cute! She seems to really like it, which is really good.


Then it was on to the aquarium, which we got to with only a little bit of trouble thanks to Bonnie (the gps). Kaitlyn loved the aquarium.. ok that is a fabrication. She was as enthralled with it as she was with the aquarium in Maui, which is to say pretty much not at all. She did get to touch a starfish, which she thought was very cool. I touched it too, but not too much. It was bumpy. But it was a starfish – how do I know if I was touching it’s toe or it’s eyeball? I don’t. I didn’t want to take any chances and touch too long.


The mini-travel was good but the real triumph of the day was with the whole “I poopied in my underwear” matter. The counselor who advises the ISE families told me I’m going about this all wrong. I cannot get mad, this is just how Kaitlyn is dealing with all the changes she is going through. She needs reassuring that we love her and that she is ok. She said we need to just clean Kaitlyn up and move on, like it’s fairly ordinary to poopy in your underwear and not a big deal whatsoever. Last night we told Kaitlyn we had been wrong and we gave back the doggie I’d taken away and told her not to worry about it at all. All evening she would announce “I have to poopy in the potty!” and she tried… oh she tried… over and over. Ultimately, she still didn’t make it. But what an astounding difference just to see her make the effort! And it feels better to be handling it this way. Although it is still a smelly problem. Good thing I bought some air freshener!

www dot…

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

We are online! The magic password arrived in the mail today. I managed to get the router set up (with Bill’s help via the phone) and figured out, finally, that as long as I was on the phone with Bill the internet doesn’t work. (oh, the days of a cable modem…) I can read and send email, check out things on the internet… but here I am and I cannot think of what to do with it.

I caught up with “For Better or For Worse”.

I sent out an email to everyone to let them know I have email.

I read the headlines on the News and Observer.

I posted a message on the ISE website asking for help finding a babysitter.


Maybe now I’ll search the web for good satellite tv to subscribe to.

rather alone

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Some days it is so lonely living here in France. I suppose in some ways it isn’t much lonelier than when you move anywhere. But here, it is just not that easy to go out and do things.

This morning, I remembered the big notebook we were given when we were here on our house hunting trip. It is filled with information… four pages of stuff to do with children. But those four pages are about the only four entirely in French. So now if I want to find out about those things (and I do) I have to sit with my French dictionary and try to translate each thing.

I guess another problem is that in any language I am not an outgoing person. I’m simply not prone to make the first move and here that is so vital to survival. I am going to have to work on doing things I am just not used to doing. Ok, I just stopped writing to go to the ISE web site and post a message asking if anyone wanted to join Kaitlyn and me for some kiddie activity while school is out… details tbd. We’ll see if anyone responds.

I thought getting the internet would be great. It hasn’t been so much, really. Sure, I get to read my cartoons now. But even e-mail correspondence is spotty. It’s as if even though I’m living in France, I have nothing to tell people. Hey, today I vacuumed the house two times and did one load of laundry, Kaitlyn pooed in her underwear twice, I killed a dozen flies, the house got too hot but I refused to open the windows because of all those said flies (I don’t even know how they got in), I got excited when I found out our sea shipment arrives Monday but then got mad when Bill didn’t even seem to have read the text message I sent him when I was so excited about it and he didn’t even seem to care, I’ve nearly finished the only book I have here in English, I’m yet to figure out how to order anything from, I tried to pay Kaitlyn’s tuition but the school sent it back because I’d forgotten to sign the check (duh), I laid down to make Kaitlyn take a nap and I fell asleep. That’s what my day is like. I hardly think anyone would care. I barely care.

The worst thing is Bill really doesn’t understand. He goes to work and his days are so busy he barely can get everything done. He talks to people and gets to make jokes and eat lunch with grown-ups and mostly only hear about the poopy underwear.

To market, to market

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I just got home from the market in Uriage. I swear, I cannot get the smell of the cheeses out of my nose. There were three fromageries on wheels and, man, did they perfume the whole market with their pungent aromas. I may have to wash the sweater I had on and take another shower.

There was a rolling meat wagon, and it appeared to maybe have some beef, but I decided not to take my chances on that one. I’m going to find a real butcher in a store that doesn’t move, and study some words I need before going in. Without the barbeque grill, it isn’t such a big deal not to have easy access to steak.

I also wandered around Uriage a little bit. Went into the tabac down there, it is pretty big. I was hoping to find a large map of Europe so we could start marking where we want to go. They didn’t have one. They had a lot of magazines and a fair number of books, but since they were all in French, I just went ahead and left.

The chocolatier and tea store looks like a good place to go. It is closed until the 9th of November, I have to make a note to go back there. In addition to goodies, it had trinkets and knick knacks. Without my own knick knacks here, I feel the need to buy new ones… although soon enough (hopefully) mine will arrive. If you can sit there and have some chocolate and tea I’ll have to find someone to join me there one morning. I think that would be fun.

  1. hours later….

I am convinced there is a bee in the house. A raisin bee.

When I came back in from my daily ritual of begging the mailbox to contain our super-secret internet codes, I heard a terribly loud and angry buzzing at the sliding glass door. I knew this was no ordinary fly we were dealing with. Close inspection from across the room proved me right: it was a bee desperate to get out. See, when I went out to get the mail, I closed the door behind me. And I think I would have noticed a bee zipping past me on my way out. So I am convinced that while I was fetching what proved not to be the internet information we need… that bee flew out of the bag of raisins I bought at the market and began its pounding on the glass. (I saw the bees hanging around the raisins and nearly didn’t buy any… but I was so sure the nice French man wouldn’t lasso a bee into the bag)

I figured the best thing I could do would be to open the sliding glass door and let the poor, stinging thing out. Naturally, I could not open the door until the bee was no longer on it. That wasn’t too long, it banged its way evilly up the window to the big window above the door all the way up to the celing. Trouble is, then the thing could not find its way back down. Oh, it did once, I swear to swoop down at me. I left that door open all afternoon. Two dozen flies came in the house, all while that bee stubbornly buzzed from its spot where the wall meets the ceiling.

I didn’t want to scare Kaitlyn. So when she suggested going outside to swing, I figured it was perfect. We’d go out, give the bee some privacy, and, voila! Problem solved.

We were outside a pretty long time. Long enough to debate some of the questions that have been plaguing man for centuries: is it a good idea to slide down a hill on one’s rear-end, even when your mother says no? Is it a good idea to climb up the firewood pile pretending it is a staircase, even when your mother says no? Why is the man two doors down the street trimming his bushes? And, of course, what part of “come here right now!” was confusing?

The ploy didn’t work. I returned in to scout out the situation, only to find the bee in its spot.

So when Kaitlyn came in and wanted to watch Curious George, I gave in fairly quickly. (after making her take off all her clothes, which were muddy) She watched the tv. I watched the bee.

I could not sit and stare at the bee for too long at one time. For one thing, I was having trouble breathing just thinking about the bee. For another thing, I did not want the bee to see me and think I was throwing down some kind of Bobby Flay style challenge. Plus, I had to tend to important matters, like closing all the doors upstairs to keep the bee from hiding.

Honestly, had I not been waiting on the men to come measure the staircase to install the railing, I would have simply put naked Kaitlyn in the car and driven around until I thought Bill would be home. That probably could have involved driving to Geneva and back.

At some point, I looked up, and the bee was not where it had been for the last few hours. I tiptoed around, ever so carefully checking the walls and floor for him. No sign of him. I fought my way through the two inch thick wall of flies that had formed to close the sliding glass door. Victory.

Then, hours later, I’m lying in bed reading a book. And I hear bzzzzzzzz.. bzzzzzzzzzz.. bzzzzzzzz. All I could imagine was that bee having hidden behind our curtains all day, just waiting for me to be lying there in bed, unable to run fast enough. As quietly as I could, I slid out of the covers and into Kaitlyn’s room. She’d wanted me to lay down with her anyway. After she fell asleep I went back into my room, figuring Bill would have noticed the buzzing and taken care of whatever was responsible for all that racket. But I just cannot fall asleep.

Stair-ing at a problem

Monday, October 23rd, 2006


Walking down the stairs with Kaitlyn this afternoon, I fell. And I pulled Kaitlyn down with me. I swear I think I broke my toe, but I’m not going to bother to go to a doctor. What’s he going to do? Send me to toe physical therapy? I’ll do some toe push-ups on my own.

All I could do while lying on the floor crying and trying to make sure Kaitlyn hadn’t suffered a concussion (she landed head down) was to think of all the things I don’t like about this house. All I could think of was how there is nothing I do like about this house.

So here is a short list of the house’s shortcomings:

  • the stairs

  • the appliances are just too hard to figure out

  • the mud room (laundry room) smells like a musty old basement, which it is not

  • there is not an actual shower upstairs

  • the bath tub is too deep and hard to get out of onto the slippery floors (I’ve fallen there, too)

  • the outdoor lights are insufficient

  • the light bulbs are going to be rather expensive to replace

  • the garage isn’t really very big

  • the neighbors are not close by nor do they seem friendly

  • it is way too far to actually walk into town from our house

  • the pool is going to be a pain in the rear

  • the house is too loud… every little noise made downstairs echos off the tile floors and big huge ceiling and is super loud upstairs

Now that the throbbing pain in my toe is more tolerable, here is my list of the house’s good points:

  • it is only 8 minutes from Kaitlyn’s school

  • it has a great view

  • the appliances are at least new, even if they are complicated

  • the shutters are electric and have remote controls

The Right Choice

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Today, I discovered why this house was the right choice for us.

After dropping Kaitlyn off at school, I asked another mom who lives here in St Martin d’Uriage if she had to do something special to start her garbage pick-up… because we have been here two and a half weeks and we put our trash cans out on trash day and at the end of the day the trash is still in them.

She said she has to take her trash to a communal bin. But she asked another woman who has lived here for 12 years if she knew. She didn’t. Both figured the only real answer could be found at the marie. (town hall) Then, they offered to take me there and translate for me! Thank goodness. I would have had no idea where to even begin. The person who could tell us what’s up with our trash wasn’t there, but he is supposed to call this British woman who then will call me. I don’t think that I’d have found anyone who could have helped me like that somewhere else.

So, now I’m back to liking where we live. Although, I’m still not happy about the stairs and I’m even less happy with the guy who is putting in the rail who was supposed to be here an hour ago to measure and he has not shown up yet. I leave in 20 minutes to pick up Kaitlyn and with my luck that will be when he gets here and then it will probably be weeks before he will return to start the whole thing again! I’m beginning to think we’ll actually get connected to the internet before the stairs are fixed!

offline too long

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Not having the internet has gone from a minor annoyance to a real hassle. It isn’t the thrill of being able to check what’s on the counter at Lands End each Saturday… or the chance to read up on world affairs… or to start my Christmas shopping before Halloween.

No, the real headache is how hard it makes it to communicate with people at home.

For instance, I cannot easily let people know that right now I am sitting by the window where there is a bird singing, the donkey across the street is munching on some grass (quietly), the leaves on the trees are turning into beautiful reds and golds… or that this morning I walked all the way down our little windy, steep street to see if I could even do it and if so how long it would take. (yes and about 20 minutes down, 30 minutes back up)

I cannot share my frustration with Kaitlyn’s loss of her ability to poopy in the potty… she apparently forgot to pack it and it’s back home in the United States. It isn’t so much that she is having trouble that is so very, very, VERY frustrating. It is that she announces it so matter-of-factly. “Mommy, I poopied in my underwear.” The same way you’d say “Mommy, I’d like to eat a banana.”

French lessons

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I just finished my first French lesson in France. I learned a lot, and not all of it the language. For instance, the French revolution started here in Grenoble. I’d like to learn more about that. And in January, there is a celebration with a special cake that sounds like the king cake from Mardi Gras. I’ll have to remember to keep an eye out for one at the bakery… that would be fun.

The instructor kept complimenting my pronunciation. Kind of embarrassing. I have no idea why my pronunciation would be better than someone else’s. I don’t speak any languages other than English. I didn’t study countless years of French in school.

I thought it would be easier to have the lesson here, at nap time. Kaitlyn woke up from her nap early. Ben dropped by Jack, his dog, at the same moment. It was chaotic. Then just when I thought things had settled back down, a parade of horses walked up the street and Jack went nuts barking at them. So I let him out. Then he started banging on the front door to be let in. Oh la la (as they say here)… it was not conducive to learning! We’ll see how Friday’s lesson goes. I may have to figure out some alternate arrangement because I really, really, really want to learn to speak French! And some degree of concentration is helpful.