Archive for January, 2008

at last

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I jumped out of bed this morning to a ringing phone. I couldn’t find it before the machine picked up (we only have one French phone, since we hardly ever get calls on it anyway). I was glad I missed the call. It was the immoblier calling about the stove. Talking a mile a minute. Or, I suppose, a kilometer a minute. Looks like I have a mission for my French teacher during tomorrow’s lesson!

Polly Pocket must go

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

The person who gave Kaitlyn the gift that sings “Pol Pol Pol Pol Polly” over and over and over again will be repaid someday… with an equally annoying toy. Oh, I know who did it. I know…

hot stuff

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

A friend let me borrow her little hot plate today. I was never so thrilled to see boiling water. It’s not a permanent substitute for a stove… but given that it’s been weeks without a working one… it’s a welcome addition to my cramped little kitchen.

Kicking the Habit

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Kaitlyn is winding down day four mimi-free. It’s amazing. She really doesn’t even ask for it. Yesterday, she asked for it at bedtime. I said no, she got mad, but went to sleep without it. Today, she asked for it when we got in the car. I said no, she asked to have a drink instead, and she was satisfied with that.

I admit, I did add a bit of bribery to the deal. (no, I didn’t offer her chewing tobacco) I told her that if she can go seven whole days and nights without using it, I will buy her an art easel to make it easier to draw all her pictures. I had to show her a picture of it online, so she could approve of it. She did. I printed out the numbers 1 through 7 on a piece of paper and every morning she gets to put a sticker on the next number. This morning she did it without me… she was so proud.

That easel will be one good investment. I hope she understood that the deal meant after getting the easel still no mimi… I’d better make sure of that!

the 5th Birthday Party

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Bill may not be here, but I refused to let that keep Kaitlyn from having a 5th birthday party. So today… against all sound judgment… I opened my home to nine other children. Two of whom speak French. Only. Luckily, three other moms stayed. I hoped that between the four of us, we know enough French to talk to a four year old.

I thought I’d laid a decent groundwork for the party before we went to London. I bought decorations, filled out invitations, had a list of party games. But I was no where near ready. You cannot go to the store and buy a box of ready-made tea party games. You create them. The first problem in so doing, is that you have to think of the games. The second problem is that you have to find the materials to make the games. (construction paper apparently doesn’t exist here… oh how I miss Target) The third problem is that then you have to do all the work to actually create the game. Finally, you have to convince the kids to play the game.

I had come up with the following activities for the party: dress up using Kaitlyn’s collection of princess attire, crafts (using some foam princess and prince kits I found at Carrefour), coloring, “fix the teapot” instead of pin the tail on the donkey and “tea party twister.”

One of the little French girls had a meltdown over the pink Barbie dress…. between her tears I figured out that she said she thought she should get to wear the pink dress because she couldn’t believe the girl wearing it even knows Barbie. Seemed like quite a grand theory for a little kid. After some rough translating, we agreed on a sharing deal. Whew.

For the fix the teapot game, I made a big paper teapot and ten paper handles that each kid had to try to place in the right spot… while blindfolded and dizzy. That went over ok. No one loved it but no one hated it. The worst was having to decide who would go next. In hindsight, I should have pulled each handle out of the envelope one at a time.. and let that determine who went when.

For the tea party twister, I spent two nights drawing and cutting out crowns, tea bags, tea cups, hearts and spoons which I then taped to the floor. Then, it’s supposed to work just like Twister. Hand on spoon! Foot on tea bag! And so on. The kids sort of got the premise, but could have cared less for it. And they all kept ending up on their butts, so I couldn’t just eliminate the ones who toppled over. I tried to shout out the directions in French, too, but the one little French girl gave up entirely on playing. I finally just said “Qui veut le gateau?” (who wants cake) and they all got up and ran to the table.

At least Kaitlyn was pleased with her cake. I’m no cake decorator. So she was thrilled with her lopsided pink cake with orange flowers that were more like big asterisks.

After cake came Kaitlyn’s favorite part of the day: opening presents. This was the second opportunity of the day to have to determine who went “next.” Mostly, Kaitlyn sat in the middle of the room and the other kids mobbed her holding presents in her face. Honestly, I think Kaitlyn would be hard pressed to think of a better situation in which to find herself. She loved everything she got. Luckily.

Once the presents were open the only way to keep the kids from fighting over the new and old dolls was to send them outside to play. Which left us chasing them away from the pool, pushing them on the swings, and trying to stop them from smashing the door to Kaitlyn’s little cottage on someone else’s fingers. The two French speakers decided it would be loads of fun to ride Kaitlyn’s tricycle down the sidewalk along the side of the house. It’s a pretty narrow sidewalk and a pretty steep hill. So I chased behind holding the seat of the bike, then pushed it on the way back up. One time I lost control and the girl fell off into the grass. She wasn’t hurt and she got up and told me “c’est n’est pas grave.” And I thought only adults said that.

Finally, the parents came to fetch their kids. Kaitlyn carefully gave each his or her goodie bag. She spent what felt like forever this morning while the clock was ticking carefully writing each guest’s name on the “tag” of the “tea bag.” (If the name didn’t fit, she just put the left over letters above the first set of letters. Which was a real problem for Mathilde-Anah.)

The guests seemed happy. Kaitlyn seemed happy. I was happy it was over. Next year Bill had better be here.

the great mimi battle

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

8:45pm. Kaitlyn is in bed. Asleep. Without her mimi.

I don’t want to jinx it by even mentioning it. It wasn’t easy. I’ve just spent most of the last half an hour listening to her cry and beg for her mimi. I know this isn’t the best time to be doing this, with Bill gone. But there will never be a perfect time to do it. I thought if she could at least try… I told her I’d set her bed time timer. When it goes off, if she’s still awake, I’d get the mimi. It went off about two minutes after she fell sound asleep.

Now I just hope she can go all night without it. And I hope that she’ll be as excited in the morning when she realizes what she accomplished as I was when I realized she’d gone to sleep tonight.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Bill called Kaitlyn first thing this morning to wish her a happy birthday. I can’t believe she’s five years old!

He told her happy birthday and she got a big smile on her face. We asked her how old she is and she said “Five!” and she grabbed her mimi and tossed it across the room. We’ve been telling her for weeks than when she turns five, she has to give up the massive pacifier.

Now that the day has arrived to go without it, I’m not sure who’ll have more trouble sticking to the new plan. Me or her.

on the move.. and I’m not happy about it

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Just when I’d figured out Carrefour. They are re-arranging the store. And I am upset. I don’t like it one bit! The drinks are where the seasonal items used to be… except for the wine which is still on the opposite side of the store. The cereal, chocolate, pasta, international food (very important, albeit small section), milk aisles… all moved. The salad cooler moved. That I never found. I had to wander around for quite a while to find the cold milk section. (I just can’t bring myself to buy the unrefrigerated milk)

The worst part: I can’t even complain about it.

too hot!

Monday, January 21st, 2008

This plane is so hot I am going to pass out.

Note to self: do not wear fleece lined pants and shirt on future airplane rides. Better to layer. Or freeze.

taxi vs train

Monday, January 21st, 2008

The taxi picked us up promptly at 6:45 this morning. That gave us a 25 minute head start on the train. Plus it’s an hour and fifteen minute drive versus an hour and 40 minute train trip.

We got started and the driver asked what time our flight is. 10am. “Oh, you should make it in time.” Should??? Then he said the A1 has notoriously bad traffic. Now? He go ton the highway and it was smooth sailing. For about 20 minutes. Then it didn’t just slow down. It stopped. We played the nerve-wracking stop-and-go traffic game for about 30 minutes before I finally managed to doze off just enough to stop panicking.

We got to the airport at 8:30…. 15 whole minutes ahead of the train… and 70 Pounds poorer. At least the hefty tip did get him to carry our suitcases inside the airport for me. When traveling with Kaitlyn (especially when you have to wake her up at your destination), every little bit helps.

Ryan Air’s check in area is huge. And amazingly well organized. Each flight has its own check-in desk. Just read the monitor, find your flight and the desk number. Ours was 31. The one with no line. Zero. When I walked up to check in, the woman figured I’d come to the wrong place. “You’re going to Grenoble??” yea. My luggage gained weight in England. One bag tipped the scales at 15.4 kilograms… point four over weight. The woman didn’t charge me. I think she just didn’t want me opening up my bags and re-packing.

Then it was on to security. The line there? Non-existent. None.

All my worrying for nothing. Well, for 70 Pounds. That’s not nothing.