Oh I have not forgotten about you, blog! I still intend for you to be a beautifully printed off book someday of our memories of our time in France. So I guess I should have more than two entries then.
The lack of writing is not for lack of material. In fact quite the opposite! There are so many cultural stories and adventures that happen that by the time I sit down to write about it, many more have transpired!
From here on out, paragraphs are optional as I vaguely reconstruct our first five months in France. (note: a few pics at the end)
February: We arrived in France on Feb 3. Exhausted, disoriented and the mountainous task of cleaning and putting together this house was looking more than overwhelming. IKEA and Amazon France boxes filled most of the house. Caite--our superhuman American helper stayed for two weeks and saved us. She insisted on going back to the USA much to our despair. Luisa started as our nanny and stayed with us for the first five months to acclimate us and help us with language barriers.. also a lifesaver! She is back at University now in Nice.
March: Nick had to travel to Turin, Italy for work. I told him that he could not leave me in France. So we packed up all four kids plus Luisa and drove to Italy. We stayed overnight in the heart of the French Alps, which was beautiful but utterly terrifying for me to be looking over the edge of the cliffs during the drive. During Nick's business meeting, the kids (plus Luisa) and I went through an Egyptian artifacts museum. I had not prepared Bentley at all and he was horrified when he saw a real petrified body. (Hey, every mom has bad mom moments)
Nephew Grant visited mid March and my parents visited us at the end of March for Easter. More about these visitors in previous blogpost, plus a very amusing story about my dad and Solomon being forced to wear speedos.
April: Soon after mom and dad left, we took off for our first major European sightseeing! We drove to Venice, Italy, then took a train to Rome. While we were in Rome, we did a day trip to Pompeii. Truly that trip needs a blogpost all of it's own. Will i ever get to that "all on it's own" Italian vacation blogpost? I would say a 28% chance of this coming to fruition.
Okay. So insert a sad story here. I stayed up till 2am recording history on this blog for our family posterity about our first months here in France and the website glitched apparently when I saved and published, because the previous paragraphs were all I had left.
I grieved the loss of my tedious writing and I can't bear to do it all again so now I am proceeding with a much less eloquent, much less entertaining summary.
After mom and dad left, we had a wonderful string of visitors. Our little church here was always so amused at the number of Americans we inundated them with: Kali from our church in Iowa, Marie Schmidgall (cousin, friend and honorary aunt to the kiddos) and Kim Kaiser (a friend I had not seen in 20 years now a missionary in Mexico, and Ed and Deb Graf, (beloved friends from our church when we lived in Indiana)
Maylen and I took a girls trip to Paris. Nick was terrified to let me have control of the passports, and with good reason as I lose my phone approximately twelve times a day. We rode the train and met up with the Passport to Purpose girls from my home area which included the Founder Jodi Zaugg who is my delightfully loving sister in law.
By the way. I learned today that the French would call their sister in law "Belle-soeur" which translates literally as beautiful sister. Quite fitting! Maylen's highlights were endless hours of reading on the train, speaking English, picking out clothes for Jodi and Kristen to try on at a store, and pouring over the tourist-trap trinket shops.
In May when Kim and Marie came to visit, I joined them for quick get-away to the French Riviera in a gorgeous town called Cassis. We hiked to a precipice for the photo op of a lifetime! We ate our lunch overlooking the Calanques. I had no idea what a calanque was before I arrived in Cassis, but I am so much more worldly-wise and well traveled now ;)
I will save you the time of googling it: I present the definition from the internet: A calanque is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast. A calanque is a steep-sided valley formed within karstic regions either by fluvial erosion or the collapse of the roof of a cave that has been subsequently partially submerged by a rise in sea level.
Or a fjord... remember that word from social studies in 3rd grade? Basically the same.
We also stopped at a small museum/store of the famous Marseilles soap. I also did not know that Marseilles was famous for being the first soap producers until a mere 18 hours before our trip. I truly love the all-natural soap and use it to make laundry soap now. That sounds more time-intensive than it really is. I have even converted our French language teacher. Isabelle, into using this laundry soap. I will miss this when I move back to the USA.
Random musings: The schools here are in trimesters. 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off and repeat from Sept
through June. Then two months of summer vacay. They sell pink toilet paper here. I love it. Pink
pink toilet paper, but maybe that was a dream.
We love going to the bakery every day for our fresh loves of bread and other delicious pastries.
Nick is already concerned about how he will one day have to survive without the fresh bread, oodles
of soft cheese and foie gras.
We live in a small town of 5000. They are very friendly and I have systematically tracked down
every English speaker in a 7 mile radius. The French families have been very hospitable and
are quick to invite us into their home. It really has been a joy to meet and get to know French people.
French language. Either we are complete idiots or the French language is nearly impossible to
learn. We are struggling. The kids are struggling. None of us can really understand what anyone
is saying. We have come a LONG way but we are no where near being able to communicate
at all. This has been discouraging for sure, but we plod on.
In July, we boarded a plane and stayed in the USA(the land of the free and the brave and air-conditioning) for the remainder of the summer. We had a wonderful time staying in my parents basement and soaked up the friends and family time.
Maylen was able to celebrate her 10th birthday with friends and Solomon enjoyed a camp-out
with his friends to celebrate an early birthday.
Here are some pics to brighten up the post! And I apologize for the weird formatting in this blog post. Something went awry.
Not a postcard! From my phone!