Monday, April 12, 2010

Garfield and Mars bars




and away

In just two hours, you're at the top, waiting another hour to come back down again. Could this be where they invented the term "tourist trap?"

Vacant vacances

Never do I fancy myself less an earth mother than during school vacations. We're on week two of yet another two-week school holiday here in France.

I made it through the first week with minimal growling and limited television. We breezed in and out of Paris in less than 24 hours to meet up with some friends who were visiting from Vermont, which really means we went to Paris to make a maple syrup pick up.

Isla spent the majority of our limited time there in a closet of the apartment somewhere on the left bank with her little friend Ilsa. When she wasn't in the closet, she was busy spotting and picking every wayward dandelion or miniature daisy in the entire city. There is nothing like trying to move through the a major city, from point A to point B, with a four-year-old who loves flowers.

It's hard to get angry with her when she makes such amazing miniature bouquets and presents them to you with a "Maman tien. Ca c'est pour toi. Les jolies fleurs."

Sadly, perhaps stupidly, we had to rush back to get Esther to a birthday party. Hmmm:More time in Paris.... three-hour birthday party. This is not about me, this is not about me, this is not about me.

The next day Esther did a one-day equestrian camp, or stage, as they call it in French. She spent the entire day at her riding stable, learning all the parts of the horse and all the equipment and rules of etiquette as well as taking a skills test to see if she could graduate into the next level. (Galop I)

She did.

The weekend was a blur of jockeying with Ian to get time alone with our computers and losing, then finding Isla, three different times, over at the neighbor's house. The trampoline, the swing set, not to mention the always-full fruit bowl in Gail's kitchen calls to her daily.

Thankfully, Gail likes Isla. I think.

Sometimes you just have to accept that even if you don't sit down once all day, it's still very possible you aren't accomplishing a single, tangible thing.

Today, the girls were watching CBeebies at 7, that's 7 a.m, and they are now watching an after-lunch showing of Garfield while nibbling on Mars bars.

Lunch consisted of mini bowtie noodles, butter, parmesean cheese and, for a veggie, olives.

I catalog this not because I think it is interesting, but just in case any of you thought that living in France might turn me and my children into some sort of wholesome, intellectual, gourmet, French verb-conjugating, violin -practicing kind of family.

So far, aside from this second language my children are effortlessly acquiring, while my tongue remains stubborn and uncoordinated, we are the same smelly, sometimes bored, sometimes wildly inspired, always- complaining- about -something family.

I will leave you with a telling quote from Esther, written and illustrated with a picture of a little girl wearing a tiara, on a torn piece of paper following a fight with her little sister. (I would post it but my digital camera is on the fritz.):

"Still complaining when you have everything."

More numbmumblings over here.


Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Love the beginning yoga pose photos. :) Cute stuff.

"I catalog this not because I think it is interesting, but just in case any of you thought that living in France might turn me and my children into some sort of wholesome, intellectual, gourmet, French verb-conjugating, violin -practicing kind of family."

LOL!! This is so true. I think that we expats expect (before becoming so) that somehow living somewhere (especially where on the surface it seems romantic, like France) will alter our very beings. Instead, it seems to just bring out more of what is already in there. For me, it has brought out more anxiety, more of having to face myself and my weaknesses.

I think that grappling with those things, the anxieties and weaknesses, are the bonuses of overseas living that really do bring out the true amazingness of each of us, though.

Honestly, if France were turning you all into the wholesome, intellectual, gourmet, French verb-conjugating, violin-practicing kind of family, I would probably stop reading, lol. I know I certainly don't want y'all to be those things, not that those things have anything inherently wrong about them. It's just that there are enough perfect mommy bloggers out there that are doing their cooking and crafting and god knows what else thing while they photograph all of their endeavors with professionally styled-looking photos. While they are getting their PhDs and raising five kids. *snort*

Ack. As if I don't feel like crap enough when I read those kinds of blogs, I admit I also think to myself, "I wonder when the nervous breakdown will happen and how spectacular it is going to be." I don't think levels like that can be sustained in life. This may be terribly ageist of me, but I bet those same, usually 35 and under, bloggers will not be going well into their 40s. And if they are, then there is something going on that perhaps we *don't* see, something perhaps as broken in the family as the blogs seem put together. Maybe to some I might seem like I am just a slacker and heart and way too cynical for saying so, but I think I am right on the money. Someone like psychologist and wisewoman Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs (who wrote Women Who Run With the Wolves) would probably agree.

I am totally happy with your Garfield and Mars bars. :) Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to be and do more, either. But I am just saying that I am rather taken with your family, just as it is, just as you tell it. What I think of as your normalcy is very comforting, very reassuring. And I think you guys have what it takes for the long haul, too.

Be well, Betsy!

Betsy said...

Karin: I know what you mean about the perfect mommy blog, no need to name names, but one in particular is so engaging, and visually enticing, I find myself unable to be irritated by her. I am left, simply, wanting be more present in my sometimes monotonous life. Like a good magazine, I guess. Inspiring to the point you forget its fake, or at least, a word enhanced by stylists.

My blog could use some enhancing. One day. And my hubby is a photographer. He keeps telling me he will help me with a new banner photo but it is hard to pin him down. Heaven forbid I figure it out for myself. Thanks for stopping in.

Erin said...

I find your normalness refreshing. And I would travel to Paris for Vermont Maple Syrup too. If of course Vermont were not closer.

cecile said...

I love your posts, I missed them ! It makes me feel better to read that there are other people struggling like me, away from home ! And you write so well, it's always great to read you. Will you write a book ? I would love it !

mooserbeans said...

Ahh, spring break. I just barely survived our own:) Your honesty makes me feel mormal and less alone. I laughed out loud at your lunch menu "and for a vegetable, olives." Thank you thank you. You are not imperfect, you're normal.

Emma said...

Betsy, can i second (and third and fourth...) all those comments? Your blog is refreshing and makes me feel like I'm having a cuppa with an old friend (one whom I have never met!) I don't come awy feeling inadequate and irritated like reading some other blogs where the mums are always writing about all the fabulous inventive games and craft they do with their kids, and in the next sentence fish for compliments by wailing about what a terrible mother they are! Your blog tells it how it is, with a sense of humour, and it makes us all feel like we're in this bumpy ride together.

Enjoy the rest of school holidays. My guys go back to school on monday, just in time for me to have a week break from uni. Ah well.

Empty Refrigerator said...

Oh, that quote. Damn. That's me, lately.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

My husband has been stuck in Germany due to the volcano. You have no idea how often I've said "i know someone in france! go visit her and her cute kids!" but.. but... he's due home on a plane tomorrow, so... you don't get to meet the stranger husband of a stranger writer you only know via the internet. But some day...

Great post as usual. When is the book due out?

Betsy said...

Oh too bad. That would have been fun. Though if I could choose between a few nights alone in Germany, or a few here amidst the chaotic din of my family, I may have chosen GErmany as well. Thanks for thinking of us. Glad you are getting your hubby back.