Everyday when Lucy and Otto get home from school, I ask them what they had for lunch. In Southwest France, the kids take a wonderful amount of time for lunch. They spend at least an hour and a half eating lunch followed by play. In Seattle, Lucy had something on the order of five minutes to eat by the time she and her class sat down. Her lunch was packed from home and she rarely had time to eat anything other than the nutbar. The French school lunch was a welcome change to a mid-day meal. Her meals usually start with a salad with vinaigrette or some small bits of carrots and chicken. Followed by some sort of hot meal that is then followed by dessert. Fresh fruit and a milk-like yogurt is generally dessert. On this day when I asked Lucy what she had for lunch, she excitedly said she had a, “GIANT CHICKEN NUGGET!” Of which she totally loved. Doubting her nugget reports, I asked for some more detail. Somehow chicken nuggets seemed to go against the previous lunches. I asked her if the nugget had something inside it, say ham and cheese? She happily replied with a yes. And that’s how Lucy learned about Cordon bleu.
Clementine classifies bread with other recyclable items like paper and cardboard. When given a Pain au chocolate (chocolate cro-sant) she immediately unwraps the outside to remove the line of chocolate, otherwise known as the “choclectomy”. This was going great for her until we picked up some pastries that were hot out of the oven. Little Mignon, as the ladies refer to her, had to suck it up and eat the hot gooey mess.
While driving the diesel Kangoo, I’ve stopped for a pittering of puppies, a farm dog and a dog who decided he wanted to watch the sun set while sitting on the fast country road. Brent also stopped for a dog and was told off by a local as to avoid the dog nipping at the car. Apparently you keep driving and dogs will move. I suppose when I gain that sort of confidence, I’ll be speaking more French and able to pick up some meat at the local abattoir without a shrug and a giggle with respect to how incompetent I am speaking French. Je suis Americain!
I’ve officially changed my watch and computer to France time. Now it’s fer reals. Today we’re still getting through jet lag … still. For the first time since Thursday all three children were asleep at the same time, which lasted for approximately twenty minutes but may have actually been two hours. Minty is boldly testing the physics of glassware and tile floors. Experiment 2b has been the most spectacular involving a glass plate thrown as though it were a Frisbee. Result: amazing crash and another dish gone. Plastic plates are on the agenda for tomorrow. As a side note, Minty has tuned her tantrums to the tile by taking her Martha Graham side slide to the ground ending with head on the ground and belly exposed and replacing it with a more contemporary Jazz move that ends in sort of a crunch as to avoid concussion. Otto and Lucy played in the courtyard play area all day. They came in cold, tired and dirty; a total success for children under ten. They ran and ran and ran out there running from swing to digger (yes a REAL digger!!!) to lilac bush. Luke and Leia were finding all sorts of adventure to get lost in. Meanwhile I’m working out the washer and trying to figure out how to dry clothes in a fairly damp building in the freezing cold. My new friend the space heater is helping me along. Note to self, don’t leave the laundry overnight in the outside washer in negative seven centigrade or you will wait ‘til noon for the laundry cube to be hangable.
… and YES, Brent got all the bags in the Kangoo. It took some creative “napsack” thinking, but he did it. Of course, the children had to carry bags on their laps (Minty LOVED that) and the front passenger had to get in first followed by grabbing the final piece of luggage to carry on their lap. It was cramped, but we made it to the house. The minute the car started, all three children were sound asleep.
All the details leading up to the flight to Toulouse came fast and were not totally sorted out before we left. We tried to get the important things completed. Get the house ready for selling, cancel our mobile phones, send off our taxes, move all of our crap to Kevin’s house, get the two children with small infections treated at the doctor … yadda yadda yadda and with a mound of check-in luggage, carry-on bags for all, the cat and a bag of Cadbury Mini-Eggs we were on our way. The flight went as easy as you could ask for. After the kids were in their seats headed towards inflight vegetable-hood with the little TV screen in each seat, a gorgeous French flight attendant is curious if I’d like an aperitif, say a glass of Champagne. From there, the flight was smoothly.
Security, however, was a different matter. We decided to postpone shipping our belongings until we knew what we needed, where we would end up long term and how long we actually would stay in France. That means, what we take with us would have to keep us going until we figure out our long-term plan. Handling that sort of baggage with three young kids and one cat was hard enough when we were all rested. We had to disrobe, unpack and go through airport security three times. Each time with increasing tears and sweat. It was all going fine at Paris security despite Mommy and Daddy zombie leading three little baby zombies through. It was when Lamby, Minty’s cuddle animal, was clutched from her arms and tossed on the conveyer belt leading to its ultimate doom that the real crying began. And of course, Minty’s crying hurt Otto’s ears which made him cry thus leaving out Lucy who decided to cry as well to truly set the commotion level in Paris to eleven. There we were our luggage eviscerated, children crying, the cat out of the bag; a spectacle familiar to Paris security yet still worth grabbing a buddy and gawking at. After our short hop to Toulouse, we collected all of our luggage which when loaded onto three carts to maneuver with three children who refuse to walk and two rollie bags opened up a from-here-to-there challenge to arrive at the grumpy Renault man who was not impressed that we were three hours late. But we made it. We made it in one piece, with all of our bags and a scared but happy cat. Lucy’s opening comment on French soil was, “Mommy! It smells like baguette!!” Next step, can Brent fit the luggage and family into a teeny, weeny European car? Stay tuned …