Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ne pas etre d'accord

My friend Gloria wrote in her blog that... (dot, dot, dot) is her favorite punctuation mark.  Hey!  Mine, too!  However, she says, and I will quote her loveliness now: "it's the perfect punctuation for irritation, impatience or bad attitude."  I must say that I completely disagree.  For me, it is much more useful as a pause, a chance to ponder or to give weight to what was just said.  Also, it is a wonderful tool to end a sentence, paragraph, or even an entire blog post, story, novel, what have you, by simply drifting away, leaving the reader with the opportunity to add more, as it were, to the story one didn't quite finish...

What is your favorite punctuation mark? 

The midnight bells have long since tolled, baby is pattering down the hall, I should go to bed... (oh, what does she mean by that?  only you can fill in the details...)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

10 pas manque

 Top Ten good things about being here:
  • Paper.  I do not miss all of the paper that the kids bring home from school, that comes in the form of junk mail, that randomly gets handed to me.  I never know what to do with it.  Some of it seems mildly important enough to have to file somewhere until later and it is a constant battle.  Some of it is from church so I feel bad about not wanting it.  "Oh, you colored a picture of Jesus.  It is lovely.  Now put it in the recycle pile."   It is a very nice respite -- no mail, no notes!
  • Driving.  Everyone here is so polite it is amazing.  No one is getting irritated with other drivers, everyone lets people in when merging in traffic, every time I am at a crosswalk someone immediately stops and lets me cross.  Of course I haven't driven in Paris yet...
  • School.  It is so nice not having the crazy getting ready for school mornings and the hectic doing homework evenings.  It is wonderful being with my kids all day and not just when they are tired and cranky and none of us like each other.
  • No obsessions.  Does the house need repainting?  Should I get a new bedspread?  Why don't my clothes fit?  Would that hairstyle look good on me?  What am I doing with my life???  We are just here and it is so pleasant.  Maybe I can ditch that nasty habit.
  • My phone.  I don't have one and it is amazing.
  • Weather.  Don't hate me, but I am so glad that I am not in Illinois right now!  I know I chose to live there (or was it fate?), but I am getting too old for the horrible winters.  I may have exaggerated when I said our car was parked a mile away, but it is about 1/4 mile and not a big deal even in the rain.  At home I have post-traumatic stress from parking 10 feet away from the store entrance that stays with me well into the dead of July (run, run, run, do you remember the ghastly wind?)  Matthew is trying to come up with some sort of eventual plan to move somewhere warmer.
  • Landscape.  Illinois has pretty parts, but McLean county has corn, corn, and more corn.  Bloomington is also nice and verdant, and we do love our neighborhood, but here we have landed in one of God's most exquisite climes with sunny days, little wind, the mountains on one side, and the sea on the other.  I can see why people have lived here for thousands of years.  I can tell I have northern European ancestry because my skin and hair are behaving so well.  I belong here obviously.  
  • Food.  There are so many amazing things to try all the time and I am quite sure that there is so much that we don't even know about.  We are trying to catch all of the pastries, but haven't even begun to put a dent in the chocolate and cheese.  What is a girl to do?  I am putting on weight but deciding not to worry too much about it.  I can detox in April, right?  I will need everyone's help and support, s'il vous plait.
  • Les choses.  I know "things" sounds very vague, because, well, it is, but I don't know how else to describe how fun it is for me to just look at everything everyday.  I love to watch all of the different people.  I love to see what everyone is wearing.  I love the care that is put into everything from shop window displays to a simple meal.  I love the colors on the houses and buildings.  I had a WONDERFUL time going to a flea market yesterday (finally!) and seeing French garbage laid out on the muddly, puddly ground and wishing that the case of antique petanque boules wouldn't be such a burden to drag home.  Sigh.
  • And the number one good thing is that I when I get home I will at least be able to say, "In France, we..." all the time!  Won't you all love that?
    There are, of course, absolutely things that I do miss.  My friends, our house, a shower, being coherent, my life ~~ we will be reunited all too soon and in the meantime I will be not missing them.

      Saturday, February 20, 2010


      As I've mentioned before, I really like Cassandra Barney's artwork.  She has a great blog that I follow and last week she announced that she is wanting people to send in stories about motherhood for small paintings.  You can read more about it here.  

      When I read about it, I immediately thought about when my Ella was born.  I didn't have a rocking chair so my mother kindly gave me her grandmother's old rocking chair.  It is a simple, wood, armless, rickety thing, but it meant so much to me ~~ especially since we have such a big family and it is rare to be the recipient of such a treasure.  As is often the case, my first baby was quite fussy, but she liked the rocking motion so we sat in that chair often.  I would feel overwhelmed and then start thinking of my mom rocking me in that very chair, and how her mom rocked her in that very chair, and HER mom rocked her in that very chair and I would suddenly feel a surge of support, buoyed up by all of my mothers way, way back who are part of who I am and whose lives were not so different from mine.  Now as we have been thrust into so much history I have been thinking about this even more.  The house where we are staying has seen many families come and go.  If only the walls could talk.  On Tuesday we went to Hyeres again to hike around our favorite castle ruins.  The first chateau had been there since the 900 something and the city was first settled by Phoenicians in the 4th century BC!  It seems so incredibly distant and it is easy to forget that the people in history and the things that were happening (wars, plagues, celebrations) were real and not simply fairy tales.  All of these things were happening to physical, tangible people who had hopes and dreams, fell in love, had children, cooked dinner, and worried about life just like us!

      A couple of years ago I wrote this poem for my mom for Mother's Day:

      I sit in this chair and sway
      (back and forth, back and forth)
      I pat her back and shush
      (“There now, there now”)
      I sing a soothing tune
      (Lullaby, lullaby)
      The rhythm transports me.

      I see my mothers sway
      (back and forth, back and forth)
      And hold their little ones
      (“There now, there now”)
      The image goes back to Eve
      (Lullaby, lullaby)
      Their voices summon me.

      They come together in dynamic color -
      An effervescent kaleidoscope of comfort.
      Each one adds her unique shape and hue
      To this vast maternal spiral.

      My mother sat in this chair
      (back and forth, back and forth)
      She patted backs and shushed
      (“There now, there now”)
      She sang a soothing tune
      (Lullaby, lullaby)
      I add my own to these . . . 

      For some reason I can just see that kaleidoscope in my head of all the women in my ancestry, their different faces and personalities.   Am I making all of their hard work worthwhile?  I can't wait to meet them!  And it would be amazing to see something like that in a little painting.  I would love to try sometime, but for now maybe Cassandra can.
      ::who has walked here before us?

      Friday, February 19, 2010

      when life hands you lemons

      We had a wonderful time visiting with Zach, Stacie, and Zed this past week.  Thanks for coming to see us!  The worst part was that it was terrible weather the WHOLE time they were here.  I think France should give them their money back.  If it makes them feel any better, it is pouring today.  On the bright side, at least we didn't run out of hot water or toilet paper.  They were supposed to arrive on Friday afternoon, which happened to be the only sunny day, but were stuck in Frankfurt until late in the evening.  

      Saturday we travelled far away and saw some beautiful sights.  We stopped in Les Baux de Provence which is on a rocky (and on Saturday prohibitively windy) hilltop in the Alpilles.  It was too cold to go on a tour of the ruins -- even the lady who worked there recommended that we skip it because of the wind and the babies-- but the village was one of my favorites that we have seen.  We also saw a museum of Santons, provencale dolls.  
      Then we drove to the Pont du Gard, the famous Roman aqueduct.  We loved that, too and marvel at its age and history.  There were great hills all around and we trekked up some trails to find a cave and looked from above and the clear, blue water of the Gard River.  On the way home we passed through Avignon and hope to return there when it is light.  
      Sunday was fun.  We attended church and Zach remembered lots of people from his mission days.  In the afternoon we took them to our favorite, Bormes les Mimosas, to see the view of the Sea, stained glass windows, and lots of Mimosa trees!  I found a huge bouquet of them in a garbage can and loved it so much that I proceeded to leave it in my car for the next several days.

      Someone at church mentioned that a Lemon Festival was going on right now in Menton so that became the destination for our Monday outing.  It was really amazing!  Ella and Stacie ordered some hot lemonade and the girls sucked on sugary citrus suckers.  
      ::the theme was cinema
      ::they liked the sci-fi bit

      ::Phin actually liked the gravel best

      ::crazy lemons

      ::switching out the old ones

      ::eating lemons

      ::a more colorful coliseum

      Then we drove through Monaco again to get to the medieval village of Eze.  We saw as much as we could before it got dark.

      Tuesday and Wednesday were rainy so we stayed near La Garde for our explorations, staying busy with shopping and eating pastries.  The adults all went to a fancy restaurant which was really fun and in retrospect I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a picture of our food.  I was more than likely too busy talking.  We had a great time and hope that they did, too!

      Thursday, February 18, 2010

      happy belated valentines day

      ::We decided to have our school Valentines Day party on Friday before our guests (yea!) arrived
      ::They all were busy making Valentines for several days
      ::here is one Ella made from an Ikea catalog and crown from Galette du Roi ~~ limited resources=ingenutity
      ::enjoying our goodies

      Tuesday, February 9, 2010

      aggravation cessation

      While we were driving through Italy, we listened to one talk from General Conference every day. It was so nice to ponder enlightening truths while gazing at enchanting sights. On the last day as we wound through the darkened hills we heard this statement from Pres. Monson:
      "We’ve all felt anger. It can come when things don’t turn out the way we want. It might be a reaction to something which is said of us or to us. We may experience it when people don’t behave the way we want them to behave. Perhaps it comes when we have to wait for something longer than we expected. We might feel angry when others can’t see things from our perspective. There seem to be countless possible reasons for anger."
      He is so right! I was annoyed that our GPS didn't work in Italy. I was offended when the nasty cabinieri lady implied that we were negligent parents because our girls were having a little bit too much fun clambering all over the Trevi fountains (other people were, too and I still think they weren't out of line). I was livid when the man stole 10 euros from me (enough to consider letting the girls turn klepto on the way out with some items from his store). I was completely bent out of shape as we missed our exit for the umpteenth time because the road signs are not as big and clear as I think they should be and instead are too little, too late, vague, and pointing every which way and the sun was going down and we weren't to Pisa yet ~~ the stress! I was vexed with my family for not being as concerned about these things as I was...

      But I don't think he meant to sanction my feelings. Instead it gave me pause.

      Then he said, “Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything.”

      Anger. Let it go.

      That feels better.

      Monday, February 8, 2010

      au hasard

      ::do these look like yummy french goodies?  well, they are soap!  it reminded us of Japan and we wanted to get them all!
      ::heading down to the car from our house

      ::the shadow of the lamp post

      ::baby trying to escape, as usual ~~ love the old renault

      ::our car ~~ this pic actually makes it look bigger than it does in reality.  I am still always amazed that it fits 7 people!

      Friday, February 5, 2010

      other randoms from our trip

      ::a Lotus dealership (I hadn't heard of it before either)

      ::a Ferrari dealership (Charles likes cars)

      ::heading in to pick one up

      ::even the gas stations in Italy have good design

      ::a hilltop town
      ::Pisa ~~ it was getting dark so not very many good photos.  It does look pretty all lit up!  

      Thursday, February 4, 2010


      ::heading over for a drink at the hotel
      ::at the coliseum

      ::on a mission

      ::found some marble the popes had left...

      ::um, yeah, Roma is kind of pretty

      ::not needing the umbrellas for a moment

      ::he is just sweet

      ::following his big bro

      ::we all thought he looked quite european with his scarf

      ::the girls

      ::the gang

      ::loving the puddles

      ::column gazing

      ::column canoodling

      ::the pantheon

      ::St. Peter's

      ::the Spanish Steps

      ::fontana trevi

      ::completely cold and worn out ~~ whew!

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