But these blog posts obviously have not actually materialized. Mostly because I am mentally exhausted most of the time. Every time out of the house is a complicated adventure. I realize that adventure sounds fun.. and that is sometimes the case.. but having a language barrier really complicates generally normal activities. Like going to the post office. So hard. It turns out that it is very hard to mime that you want to next day air a document. (Google translate was frozen). The first time I went to an ATM machine, it ate my card. Literally! Poof, Gone! I finally got up enough nerve to try it again one month later and I can successfully withdraw cash now. I was very pleased with myself that day.
Nick and I often feel distraught at the lack of progress we are making in our French learning but our teacher insists that we are making headway. And we are starting to understand a bit more, but speaking is excessively limited. I can think of the nouns, but the verbs are so complex here that it rattles us and our one word French phrases sound so caveman-like.
This has been so challenging for me as I love to get to know people and as it turns out, not being able to converse greatly effects the efficacy.
Maylen has been having a really hard adjustment. She does not have any English-speakers anywhere around her except for at home. She is having to come to grips that I am her best friend... but that works out well for me because I don't exactly have dozens of English speakers at my beck and call.
But I am not as fun as her nine-year old friends from home and I lack the energy and creativity that she craves. But, she has decided I am better than nothing. The other day as I we were laying in bed having chat time, I said to her, "Maylen, you are so beautiful" She looks at me with glowing love and says, "Oh Mom, you are beautiful too. On the inside though". She meant it as a genuine compliment, though for some reason it felt a bit lacking. (haruumph) (note to self: look cuter around the house)
We had our first visitor two weeks ago. My oldest nephew Grant (Jason and Gayla's) came for a few days as he was enroute to a watch convention in Switzerland. It was so wonderful to have someone from "home" here. The kids lavished him with constant attention and Grant enjoyed getting to know our picturesque village! He loved going to the butcher shop, the cheese shop, and the chocolatier. It was really fun to show off our favorite spots!
We did a Raclette meal with him... sort of like fondue, except you melt the cheese on this little dishes and then pour the bubbly cheese over the meat and veggies on your plate. Amazon France provided us with this handy device.
Oh yes. Amazon France. I am pretty sure I am their number one customer. When I am on their site on Chrome, the website is automatically translated, which is AHMAZING!
The day before Grant came, Nick had to travel to Turin, Italy for work for two days. We decided to travel with him since we discovered that Turin has an incredible Ancient Egyptian museum... and gelato. So we traveled through the Alps, which was absolutely terrifying for me. I, in general, feel very anxious when I realize that if Nick would sneeze while careening around the mountains and through the tunnels, we would plummet to our death. Closing my eyes was often the best option. It was at this time that I became aware that I had turned into my Grandma Lois as I gripped the car door handles and begged for a reduction in speed.
This is how most of our trip went:
Nick: wow, guys! Look clear over there in those mountains! Look at that incredible CASTLE!
Me: NO! Nick!!! Don't look at the castle!!Don't take your eyes off of this crazy winding road! Kids.. Look a the castle all you want.
But Nick was mesmerized by the dramatic landscape, and I was clearly too unstable to drive in the mountains.... so much to my amazement.. we survived. And we do this drive again next month during the kiddos spring break. I tried to find train tickets so we did not have undergo this harrowing experience again, but the French train system is striking during Spring Break and we already booked a condo in Rome.... so..... I think I will take a benadryl, or whatever the French pharmacy has on hand for basketcase passengers.
And now I must revert back to the present. My parents arrived two nights ago. What a glorious reunion it has been! Watching our kiddos soak in the familiar joy of grandparents is so precious. Facebook, I am sorry for the repetition of this video, but wanted to share with those not on FB.
Mom and Dad woke up and walked down the mountain via a forever long stairs to the bakery to get our fresh bread and pain au chocolate (croissant with ribbon of chocolate). Nick was at work, so I drove Mom, Dad and the two bigs to a Thermal Mineral Spa pool, where the water comes from a spring with loads of natural minerals to cure ailments and relax.
This was a hilarious experience as mom and dad got to first hand see how not knowing the language created much stress.
We paid and were guided to a locker room. There were only women in the locker room so dad panicked that he was in the women's locker room. He tried to ask them.. but alas they did not speak English, but since they did not recoil in horror, we decided that he was okay. Luckily the changing rooms had doors on them.....
Then we descended into the thermal pool. Suddenly a lifeguard-looking guy motioned for dad and Solomon to get out of the pool. The lifeguard was rapidly speaking gibberish, I mean French, and gesturing to Dad's swim trunks, trying to explain something apparently very important and mandatory. Then he gestured to Solomon's swim trunks and shook his head vigorously saying "NO, NO!" This was clearly alarming to all of us.
Finally through a fun game of charades and a few well place English words by the lifeguard, we realized that swim trunks were NOT allowed and only ummm, Speedo-like bottoms were allowed for men. So the lifeguard took Solomon and Dad and returned them to the pool in swim bottoms that met the requirement. This kept Mom and I giggling for quite some time! In fact, in the last 24 hours, mom randomly bursts into laughter with her shoulders shaking as she recalls the event. Solomon has vowed to never return to this thermal mineral pool.
Despite the drama, the mineral pool really felt wonderful and made our aches and pains feel better!
It was an adventure we will not soon forget..
You will note the lack of photographs with this story. haha! You are welcome.