Archive for October, 2007

Retail Therapy

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I was beginning to think I was doing ok shopping in France. But after experiencing a little US retail, I realize what I’ve been missing.

Granted, yesterday I walked into a store and no one working there said hello to me and I was put off. Refused to even spend my money there. It’s common courtesy.

Today, I got into the swing of shopping American style. Oh, and everyone said hello to me. Except when I wandered through the Saks. I guess I just looked like I couldn’t afford it. Which was true.

All the clerks here were very chatty. Honestly, maybe the clerks in France would be chattier with me but as soon as they ask me anything I’m lucky to spit out an answer that makes sense. I wouldn’t try to strike up much of a conversation with such a person.

Here, all the clerks asked me where I’m from. I guess when you shop in Palm Springs, it’s a safe bet for them that you’ll be a tourist. One woman tried to convince me how great her shop is because they have stores in France. That’s ok, a 95 dollar t-shirt is not in my budget no matter where I buy it. Another woman said “France! I was born there!” It really is a small world.

Canary in a Coal Mine

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Tonight, we inaugurated Dad’s new kitchen. We managed to use every appliance. That is, until we got to the ovens.

I’d bought some sugar cookies with ghosts on them to bake after dinner. So I turned on one oven, and when it beeped at me that it was ready, I opened it up and there was smoke pouring off the light. Explains the bad smell that was making me feel gross. So we turned it off and heated up the other oven. When it beeped, I opened it and it was doing the same thing. So we finally dug around for the owners manuals. They say that the oven may smoke and release an “unpleasant” odor the first few times you use them. It also said that it could kill some birds.

We ended up doing the cookies in the convection/microwave oven. (yes, he has that many ovens)

The Grocery Store

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

We ventured to American grocery stores today for the first time since being back.

The first thing Bill and I did that probably made us look weird to the other customers was we got our cart out of the corral in the parking lot. (When we pulled in, my first thought was “oh, do I have a coin for the cart?”) Here, of course, you fetch your carts inside the store, after some poor kid pushes a hundred carts in there.

What’d we buy? Microwave mac n’ cheese (although the next hotel we go to doesn’t have a microwave, so it may not be such a useful choice), Pillsbury cookie dough, ranch dressing, chips and salsa and edamame for Kaitlyn.

That store didn’t have a good meat counter, so we dumped the stuff off and Dad took me to the “good” grocery store in town.

Of all the items for me to slowly pour over… I spent a lot of time cruising the cheese area looking to see what they had from France. Half a dozen kinds of Brie, emmental (which is the cheese they put on everything there and is pretty cheap … here it was $7 for a little chunk), racklette. There was even some crème fraiche and fromage blanc. I didn’t buy any of it. Just wanted to look.

At the meat counter, it was so nice to be able to talk to the butcher and tell him what I was looking for and bombard him with questions. And when it came off the grill, it was way WAY better than the steak we get at home. Bill said we may start eating a lot more chicken when we get back.

Go Back to Bed!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Kaitlyn slept in today. She didn’t get up until 6.

She fell asleep last night around 8… being carried out of Disneyland on her dad’s shoulder. She went all day yesterday without a nap.

This afternoon after going swimming, we took her on a ride on Granddad’s golf cart. We didn’t’ go anywhere, just around the neighborhood. It worked. She fell sound asleep. So we put her on the couch and Bill and I went out to do some shopping without her. I called Dad and he had to wake her up after two hours. He told me she was pretty mad when she woke up and thought we’d gone to the toy store without her.

The problem is… she didn’t go to bed until around 10:30.

Kaitlyn slept in until 7:30. The sun was even up by the time she woke up!

Mickey Mouse Land

Monday, October 29th, 2007

So here we are in hotel number two. It’s nicer than the first hotel. As a matter of fact, I’m tempted to see if there’s a Doubletree hotel back in Burbank. Although they do charge for parking, and the last hotel didn’t. On the other hand, there is a microwave and a refrigerator in our suite. Sweet!

When we got here, Kaitlyn saw the pool and wanted to go swimming. That was when I realized my mid-morning nap had messed up our schedule more than I’d thought. At breakfast, I said “hey, let’s go to the mall because Kaitlyn really needs new shoes before we spend the day walking around Disneyland.” But when I said that, I didn’t know I was going to snooze for two hours. When I woke up (finally) from my nap, I was groggy and didn’t put it together that I’d pretty much slept for the entire shopping time. So we got down here to Anaheim (Mickey Mouse Land, according to Kaitlyn) later than we’d intended. My brother, on the other hand, did get down here at the time we’d intended. I wonder what he did this afternoon. Ooops. It’s hard not having a cell phone for easy communication while planning.

Checking in, the woman asked for a photo id and credit card. My NC drivers license has expired, so I gave her my French license. I wanted to see how she’d react. She looked at it, didn’t open it or anything and said “oh! Vous etes francaise?” Thousands of miles away, and I’m being spoken to in French. Turns out, she is from France. Luckily, she was nice enough not to try to carry on a conversation with me in French.

Jet Lag Drags On

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Up at 5am again. At least Kaitlyn slept in.


I took a nap after breakfast. Kaitlyn wouldn’t settle down and she prevented Bill from napping. He’s got to be tired.

Trick or Treat!

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Since we’re in the US for Halloween, I figured Kaitlyn should get to enjoy some trick or treating. Even if she doesn’t eat candy. (She thinks she does. After one bite, she hands it over and says she’s finished. That is, if she doesn’t spit it out.) So tonight she collected a huge haul of goodies trick or treating in Granddad’s building.

Granddad arranged with a few of his neighbors for her to perform this childhood ritual a few days before Halloween. (She can’t read a calendar so she didn’t know this wasn’t the right day.) Now, Granddad lives in a tall condo building so trick or treating included a fair amount of time riding up and down in the elevator. Luckily, elevators are one of her favorite things. I don’t care for them, but I survived. It wasn’t like going up in the Eiffel Tower or anything. Although I would have preferred my brother not keep saying “Welcome to the tower of terror” every time we stepped in.

At first, our normally outgoing child was too shy to as much as ring the doorbell. But after half a dozen stops and visits to the neighbors who performed the appropriate amount of fuss over her costume, she was chatting and taking the candy.

When we got back to Granddad’s she ate a few green jelly belly candies, then said she was tired and begged to come back to the hotel. She is exhausted. Even with a two and a half hour doze-fest this afternoon.

I don’t know what we’re going to do with the giant bag of chocolate she collected. Maybe someone will come trick or treating here at the hotel. If so, we will be prepared!

huh? I can’t hear you! But I sure can see you!!!

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

At risk of sounding elderly, I must say that restaurants in the United States are loud.

This morning we went to Bob’s Big Boy (that’s Robert’s Large Lad to some) for brunch. From the moment we walked in the place was just a cacophony of clinking plates and loud chatter. Although it was quieter than dinner last night at Outback. (Yes, we’re going to all the finest eateries America serves up.)

Even the cafes in France are quieter. Heck, I think even the McDo’s offers lower decibel levels… except in the playland.

The noise was notable, but the weirdest thing we experienced today has to have been at Starbucks. While I was standing there in the seemingly endless line for my $4 chai tea latte, a woman who already had her drink stood up to fetch her roaming toddler. And when she did so it became clear to everyone there that she had on a see through dress. Accentuated by her black underwear. It was, well, very weird. Sort of forgetting that everyone in the place could understand what I say, I asked Bill probably too loudly, “hey, do you think that woman knows you can see through her dress?”

I can’t believe it… but I think I miss France!

Jet Lag is Crazy!

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

It’s 7:30 am and we’re up, showered, dressed. Nothing to do. I’m not used to being awake and ready to go out before stores open. The Krispy Kreme may be open, but I don’t need that. We came back from dinner last night and fell asleep around 11. Then we were up this morning at 5. That is, I was up at 5… Kaitlyn and Bill were up at 4.

It’s been hard to keep Kaitlyn busy and quiet in the room. Surprisingly, she hasn’t asked for the television this entire time. She’s drawn pictures, played hide and seek with pretzels, pretended to make phone calls. Now she has on her Mulan dress and is begging us to go outside so she can blow bubbles (she got some last night in a Halloween goodie bag grandad delivered). Bill has been surfing the internet, checking out Best Buy’s site. There’s one we can walk to from here and he is just a wee bit excited about that.

We’ll see how long we can stay awake. I predict a nap this afternoon. Perhaps a long one.

Back in the US

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Welcome home.

It sounded sort of funny when the agent at the passport control booth said it to us at the airport in Newark. It’s been just over a year since we’ve been in the U.S. But I do have to admit… I did feel at home as soon as we stepped off that plane. Even if we were in New Jersey.