Saturday, March 1, 2008

Now where is that again?

Here's a fun little test to take to challenge your geography knowledge as you pilot yourself around the world. At each level it gets a little harder. I did pretty well... missing such cities as Porto, and London! (Porto I had no clue but London was not my fault, the mouse was not cooperating and I clicked on the wrong location!)

No travel plans in sight for us right now. This is our off year, meaning no trip to Chicago, so instead we're hoping to do some home improvements, specifically the kitchen!

Winter vacation is just about over here, back to the school/work routine on Monday. Some highlights.... several beaded creations (butterflies, flowers, bears,) were done by the girls as well as the usual coloring pages. Kevin enjoyed his time off playing with his many Lego,Playmobil sets. We also went to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks" which the kids loved. We had a handful of days where the weather was nice enough to venture outside. But it's now back to the usual rainy, dreary days.

So how did you do on the geography test?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! And while I'm at it, a big THANKS to anyone who has stopped by to read this blog, such as it is. Fallen by the wayside is probably the best way to describe it. Well, I had good intentions....
So in an effort to review the last few months while keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is what I am thankful for:

My family on two continents. My children are happy and healthy and I have a wonderful husband. What more can one ask for? My family in the States who I miss a lot is equally wonderful. Being so far away is not easy. I want everyone together!!
My friends back home. I'll never have enough time to visit when we come over on our "every other year" trips to Chicago. Speaking of Chicago, I'm so thankful for our trip to Chicago this summer. What a fantastic 3 weeks. The kids are finally old enough to really appreciate the differences and enjoy the truly American aspects of life in the US. The trip to the Field Museum was a definite highlight as all 3 of them love dinosaurs. Although there was an 1hr 1/2 rain delay and the Cubs lost, Kevin had a blast at his first baseball game. The girls opted to go to the movies with my sister where they saw Ratatouille. They loved it.
A computer that is finally working after some much needed updates were installed upon our return from Chicago. The lack of a working computer did account for some of my absence in posting but certainly not all.
NASN sports channel. Being able to watch the Lions and Packers play live on Thanksgiving Day does ease the pain of not being there ever so slightly.
Working! I've been hired back this year to teach in the primary schools. Yes, I'm thankful to be back teaching. My classes this year seem better so far. I go to 5 different schools and have younger students this year. More in 2nd and 3rd grade. And then others in 5th grade. These are the ones who can be a pain sometimes. They're the big kids in the school since next year they go on to junior high. All of 10-11 yrs old and they think they know it all.....ok don't get me started on french school children, I'm trying to keep this post a "Happy, Thankful" one.....
And I would have to say it's the working part that has kept me away the most. If I'm online it seems I'm often looking up stuff for english teaching or otherwise reading.
At the moment I'm researching a camcorder to buy for the holidays. There are so many options but with the online sites available, looking for one is not a problem.
I transferred all our family home video cassettes onto DVD's. It was so neat to watch videos of the kids when they were babies and I'm sooo glad I took video. There's so much I have forgotten already although it really hasn't been that long. It reinforced what I already knew that it's so important to take videos of just everyday stuff so they can have it to look back on years from now. The camcorder we have now is truly ancient so a new one is definitely needed and as I see, even though it's a major purchase, it's worth it. These home videos are priceless.
Kevin is on the town basketball team. He's enjoying it although they've only won one game. It's pretty funny to watch these little boys and girls running on the court. It's a mixed team and for the moment the girls seem more aggressive on the court. They're the ones that'll fight for the ball or run after the opponent to try to get a steal. Too funny to watch how they play.
It's the first time he's doing a sport and I'm glad he likes it. That's all the counts to me.
It's amazing how the time is flying by here. I will try to keep this posting more up to date because there really is a lot I could write about. For example the vin chaud Pascal and I tried last night. It's called Blossa Glogg and we bought it at Ikea a few weeks ago. It's all ready to go, just need to heat it slightly. I put a cinammon stick in mine. It was so good. I'm not even sure what I'd call it in English. I've never heard of warm wine and cider isn't really it either. I'm wondering if it's available in the Ikea stores in the US? I could probably find out if I checked out their website but I'm too lazy.
So here's to warm wine on a cold winter's night and hopefully more posting. Although with the Glogg just waiting to be sipped, posting might have to wait.....

Gobble, Gobble to you all! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Here comes the sun

"Holy sunbun Batman, the sun is shining!"

Yes, I'm crazy, but when the weather has been this miserable, that big, orange ball in the sky looks pretty amazing. We're going bike riding! :)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tour de France...2017?

OK not really, but it's a big moment just the same as the girls got their first "big kid" bikes this past week. They were very excited and luckily for us the colors they had decided on were available when we went to the sports store. That was my biggest fear, since all they had been talking about was getting a blue (Laura) and pink (Colleen) bike for days. Since a wide selection of colors and sizes is a rarity here, I kept saying to them, "we'll see what they have when we get there. There are lots of nice colors." When we got to the bike area, there they were, a pink bike and a blue bike, side by side, just waiting for them and they looked at me as if to say "see mom, not to worry". If I didn't know any better I would have thought they had ordered them ahead of time. On top of it, the brand name is B Twin, seemed rather appropriate for my twins. It turned out to be a very stress-free, fun buying experience. Another concern of mine was what if they only had one bike available? How do we walk out of the store with one bike trying to explain that the other bike would be in soon? I think I probably would have left without any bike, can't even think about the tears that would have flowed. All the explaining in the world wouldn't have helped. But all that worry for nothing, they walked out (rode out actually once the training wheels were put on) of the store the proud owners of B Twin pink and blue bikes.
Also while at the sports store waiting for the salesperson to put on the training wheels, I watched as another family, (mom, dad and son about 10 yrs old) were looking at the bikes. The kid was really excited but the parents were less than thrilled. The boy was looking at different models, and whenever he touched a bike his mom would yell at him although he wasn't being rough at all. It's only normal to look and even sit on the bike to see which one was best. He didn't seem to even notice how annoyed they were. Then at one point he walked over to the bike helmets and asked his mom if he could have one, but she immediately said no saying it was enough getting the bike. Then she turns and looks at me and asks "are they required?" I told her I was pretty sure they were and in any case if he were to fall, it would be better if he had a helmet on. She didn't seem to be swayed by my reasoning. Then the guy showed up saying that our bikes were ready so I don't know if he ever did get his bike helmet. Hopefully the salesperson convinced her a helmet would be a good idea.
Now if only the weather would cooperate and let the girls get used to having big kid bikes. We've had a couple of days where they could go out around the block. Other than that, July's reputation (for me anyway) as the most miserable month of summer continues. It is once again cool and rainy. Oh joy! At this moment the kids are watching a Peter Pan dvd. (in English)
Luckily we've got our trip to look forward to, the countdown has officially begun. Birthday parties have been reserved at the Lego store for Kevin and Build A Bear for the girls. Should be a lot of fun. My goals while in Chicago are to see the Field Museum, I haven't been there in years and the kids really like dinosaurs, the Shedd Aquarium, Sears Tower, a day at the beach and lake Michigan, Great America, Cubs Game and of course visiting family and friends. It's going to be busy and I'm not sure we'll be able to do everything but we'll certainly try. I'm also really excited since my niece's baptism will be while we're in town. I'm starting to feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. When I mentioned to Pascal the other day how it's now quickly approaching he said, this is the best time just before, the anticipation of the vacation and how during the actual vacation time goes by so fast and then it's over. I guess he's got a point there. So with that philosophy in mind, I'll try to enjoy the anticipation of our vacation as I watch it raining outside.
Hopefully this weekend the weather will improve (they're saying it will) because we are planning on going to a Hot Air Balloon Festival in a town called Chambley. It used to be an American air base. I believe it's every two years they host this world hot air balloon fest, where many different countries are represented. If the weather cooperates, it'll be an amazing sight no doubt. We've seen the balloons floating over our house but have never actually gone to the event. Read this for more info. Also this link offers some interesting facts about the event.
I think I'll go now and look up online for a sun dance! ;)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Were to begin?? Not even worth putting a title to this post since I'm just going to write about all sorts of stuff. It's been awhile and I've just haven't been up to writing much lately although there's certainly been things to post about. Let's start with the most recent. They can just wipe the month of July off the calendar here in France. This is my 8th July in France and just about every single one has been miserable weather wise. This current one being no exception. While my home town of Chicago is sweltering in the heat, I'm wearing sweaters, socks and turning the heat up in the morning. It's been cool and rainy here for the last few weeks. It's the strangest thing, the month of April here though was beautiful, go figure!What a way to start off summer vacation. As it's been raining literally non-stop for the past few days, the kids have been inside. Board games anyone?? They certainly are appreciated right now. But it's summer!! What the heck is going on?????
This past weekend we did thankfully have a couple of nice days of warm, rain-free weather and we took advantage of it to get the lawn mowed and the neighbor's hedge trimmed on Saturday. On Sunday we went to a town about 30 minutes from here to watch a baseball game, yep baseball! And they played the game on a regulation baseball field. I've just added some pix to my Flickr! account so feel free to take a look. It really was a sight to see. I kind of had a "Field of Dreams" moment thinking: if you build it, they will come....
The game was played by the local baseball club and a group of American high school kids who are on a tour of Europe. This group of high schoolers was from Georgia and next weekend there's a group coming from Wisconsin. We're going to try to make it to that game as well. We arrived too late for the game this past weekend, actually they started the game 2 hours earlier than scheduled since the Americans arrived earlier than expected. But it was still worth it just to see the field, kids were able to play on it. They really enjoyed it.
In other news, it's been just about 10 days since my mother-in-law came to stay with us following her kidney surgery. It's gone extremely well. First her surgery and recovery in the hospital went very well and since she's been with us, she's improved a lot. Luckily we've got a bedroom and full bath downstairs so she's got her "own space" but she's always with us which is fine. She's a wonderful person and we get along great. She's enjoyed being with the kids and even when they get crazy sometimes running around here, it doesn't bother her. When she told the hospital staff she was coming to stay with her son and his family, they said it was very rare, that she was very lucky to have family who was willing to take her in. Apparently most people don't do it. Many elderly people who need some assistance after surgery to get back up on their feet go to rest homes. My next door neighbor just assumed my MIL would go to a rest home or maison de repos as they say here, and when I said she was coming here, she was shocked.
I didn't even think twice about it, but I guess I'm looking really good as a daughter in law right now. Well, it's been very easy, toughest part has been putting on these stockings my MIL has to wear for a month following surgery. They're to prevent water retention and they're super tight. She's not able to get them on by herself so every morning I go downstairs and put them on. She needs to wear them all day. She seems to like my cooking as well although she's not very picky I must say. All the same she does compliment me so it can't be too horrible.
I know the situation of a MIL and DIL living together under the same roof amicably is quite rare so if your jaw is hanging open right now in awe, go ahead and feel free to close it. I guess I won the lottery in the MIL dept. I have no complaints. I could really say the same in the husband dept too but I would have to have a few complaints!!
The care she received while in the hospital was wonderful. They removed her kidney after finding a cancerous tumor. This is major surgery by any one's standards and I was amazed at how little pain she suffered. They did an excellent job in pain management. She also of course was not shoved out the door. She was in for 10 days and by the time she came here, her pain was minimal, nothing an extra strength Tylenol couldn't take care of.
It reminded me once again how good the medical care here is in France. I've had a few experiences here with hospitals, from my pregnancies to the surgery Kevin had as a baby, the girls in neo-natal intensive care for 3 weeks and I have nothing but positive things to say. Sure there are always a few moments or instances that could have been better but overall, my experience has been excellent. I've read a little about the new Michael Moore Documentary "Sicko" and as one living over here I can definitely confirm all the positive remarks made about France's health care. It can't be beat really. They've got a great thing going here.
It's nice to have some down time as it were now that the kids are on summer vacation. I really had a hard time keeping up with the blog these last few months as it seemed like there was always something going on and I just didn't have the energy to write about it. For a while there, in June, I was online a lot looking up info on the school system in England. There's a family in the girls' preschool who is moving to England. The husband is being transferred there. So the mom was asking me if I knew much about it, at first she thought I was from England (common mistake)I offered to look stuff up online about the town they were moving to and then an English lady who actually lives here in town, gave me info on a website that has data on the different schools. So I was able to find out which schools were better in various towns. I spent quite a bit of time on it really and then wrote it all out to give it to the mom. Her English is basic, it's her husband who knows more English but it seems he's so busy with work, it's up to her to figure out a lot of the stuff. It'll be quite an adventure for her, as for the whole family, they have 3 kids ages 7 and under and are expecting their fourth! Delivering a baby in a foreign country! She's also not very used to looking up stuff online. She doesn't use the computer much and I tried to gently explain that it'd be good if she did because it'll come in handy.
Last but not least, before the year is out I'm sure we'll be getting a new computer. Our printer is busted, it lasted 7 yrs without a problem, so no complaints there. Luckily it broke down once I had finished teaching. I had used it a lot finding activities online for teaching english that I'd print out. And now, to get a new printer, we'd have to update our computer system since any new printer wouldn't be compatible with our "dinosaur" of a system we've had for the last 7 yrs. So might as well update everything at once. I still occasionally have the problem with the keyboard freezing up or not being able to type. That slowed down posting as well!
Finally, I'm writing out lists for our upcoming trip to Chicago. What to do list, what to buy list, who to visit list, where to go list, it goes on and on......
Can't wait to see Chicago in the summer! We're certainly not seeing summer in France right now! Unless of course you count that beautiful sight at the top of this post! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I knew it would happen eventually, it was just a matter of time......I want a dog! The kids are now getting a little older, we're finished with diapers, nap time, bottles....the list goes on and on.
The time has come when I could focus on something else. This would be why I've gone back to work, but there's something missing. I grew up with a dog, and I really want my children to have the same experience. Funny thing is they're not asking for one, I'm the one thinking about it. I find myself looking intently at every dog as I drive around town wondering if that would make the ideal family pet at our house. It's a huge decision and one I'm not going to rush into. For starters, I have to convince my husband! He loves dogs but whenever we talk about the possibility, he mentions all the negatives, and I'm there highlighting all the positive points.
I came across this quiz to determine one's ideal pet:

Your Ideal Pet is a Big Dog

You're both energetic, affectionate, and a bit goofy.

And neither of you seem to mind very slobbery kisses!

And no surprises, just as I expected, my ideal pet is a large dog. These are my favorites no doubt, be it a collie (my childhood pet) German shepard, golden retriever....
But I'm leaning towards a small to medium size dog, since space here in the house is limited.
As both my son and I are allergic to cats, they're out of the question, although a cat would make Laura very happy. No, I'm more of a dog person and as it states in the description, maybe just a little bit goofy for even thinking of a pet!
I'm secretly hoping we'll hear or read of a litter of pups that are up for adoption somewhere around here. There are several farms not too far away, they always have dogs right? I need it to be a "we can't pass this up" type of opportunity.

In the meantime I'll keep researching breeds online to see what would best suit our family. I'm also more inclined to get a mutt since purebreds can have so many health problems.
Well time will tell, for now it's just running around in my brain.
And it'll probably remain like that for quite awhile.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Finally someone defending France

Read this witty and funny article by Bill Maher to learn a little U.S. and French history and see why people shouldn't criticize France so much. I'm hoping this is indication that the tide has turned and maybe it won't be quite so popular to insult France.
Some of my favorites from his article:

"France just had an election, and people over there approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent turned out. The only thing 85% of Americans ever voted on was Sanjaya."

"The American ideas of individuality, religious tolerance and freedom of speech came directly out the French Enlightenment--but shhh, don't tell Alabama."

He suggests "taking what's best from the French." He lists several things that they do very well, their healthcare system being one of them. And it sort of touches upon something I've always thought: If I could just combine the best from both countries.....ah but that's not likely to happen.

Certainly every country has it's share of problems and France is no exception as he points out, but as he also mentions, maybe, just maybe the U.S. could learn a few things from "Old Europe."

Thanks to Jennifer for posting this article on her blog.....