Saturday, August 06, 2011

What I did for my Summer Vacation. DAY SIX.

Saturday, 8/6
Went swimming! Went swimming in the salt-water pool by the sea, which is kept at 30 degrees celcius. So warm! It was great. Did 40 laps. Then we did some shopping after Simon's nap and lunch and then I took Simon back to the pool. They have a large little pool for babies/children with two jacuzzi's in it (same temp as the rest of the pool, but jets of bubbles). There is also an area where the water goes in a current so you can swim with (or against) the current. No part of the pool is very deep. There's another part with a fountain that you can swim under. Really fantastic! But the clerk was a real JERK! (Oh well, what are ya gonna do?…There's always someone…) Simon loved it! What's interesting is that after about 1/2 hour exactly he got out of the pool, took me by the hand towards the exit and was ready to go!

Friday, August 05, 2011

What I did for my Summer Vacation. DAY FIVE.

Friday, 8/5
Walked into town with the girls for them to get some candy and bought Simon a little yellow rainjacket. Walked through a little "Brocante" (flea market). The girls said their "g/bye's" and Simon took his nap. When he woke we went to the Croix's for some macaroons and water. Simon ran around their yard and Thierry tried to play ball with him. Came back home and Christiane was going to give Simon dinner while E took me to my horse-back riding "promenade." Simon was hysterical as he was being put in the chair. :(((((( Christiane kept trying to block him from me and saying "leave, leave, leave" (in French). I gave him a kiss anyways and we left.

Went HORSE-BACK RIDING!!!! I was nervous, but I did good! :)))))) First I was going to ride  "Galopin," which means "little devil" (as in "you little devil" when you say that to a child who's being cute but mischievous) but then because the other people who were going to go riding didn't show up, it was just me and the guide--so they put me on a different horse. 

This is a really different experience than in the United States! First, they told me to go find my own helmut (bombe) among the rack of helmets in the middle of the stalls.  Then they told me to go get my horse and bring him into the menege (the rinding ring). What?!?!!!! So I went back and said, (in French), I'm supposed to go do this tout seule? I'm a little nervous to do that."  So a girl got the horse out of the stall and then I lead Galopin from the stables into the menage. The girl helped me mount him. Then they told me there would be a horse change. So I just waited in the ring and they brought me Papyrus. So then I mounted Papyrus and we did one turn in the ring, to get comfortable and then off we were! (I would've liked a few more turns in the ring…but oh well). 

The only kind of saddle they have in France is an English saddle. The trail we took took us across two roads, down sandy paths, up through hills, between fields, around houses, over driveways, down muddy paths, into a forest, under a canopy of branches/trees, over a little stream, over a little one-person foot path, around in the forest, past a woman re-staining a wooden-beam fence, up and down and around a rocky, dirt, muddy path in the woods, around next to a field where Papyrus stopped to "neigh! neigh!" at some other horses in the field and of course, stopping a few times to grab leaves from trees to eat.

This was nervewraking and I couldn't stop him from doing it.  What was also VERY nervewraking was the guide's horse, which was a beautiful dappled dark grey horse named Nicolas, kept rearing up on his hind legs "because he doesn't like stones or rocks." What?! Geesh. I was so nervous my horse would end up doing the same. Thankfully he didn't.

The guide had us trotting a lot more than I thought we would do. (Which was great, but which i also wasn't really ready for and which I need more lessons on b/c I could "post" but the stirrups were banging hard against the front of my ankle b/c my my feet kept slipping forward instead of staying with the heels down, as they should be.  He also told me I should stand up when the horse is trying to go up some of the very steep hills, but he didn't tell me what to hang onto b/c if i held onto the reins I would end up pulling the horse backwards (or on his hind legs). So I did a combo of grabbing his mane and the saddle.  He also didn't tell me what to do when going down hills, so I leaned back in the saddle and grabbed onto the back of the saddle.

The other major difference (other than the guide not being talkative, not telling you pointers on what you should be doing, etc.) is that the trail is TREACHEROUS!  I don't mean the train in itself is treacherous, but the way it is maintained.  There are big, thick branches that stick out into the trail; there are branches that hang too low; there are branches that have been cut, but not short enough; there are branches that have not been cut at all.  If you didn't pay attention to what was ahead of you at all times you could get seriously knocked in the throat, head or eye by a branch.  These were not small, bendy branches. These were thick, stout branches.  There were parts that are so muddy that the horses were slipping down the hill. There were parts that were so rocky the horses hooves tripped on the rocks or slipped on the boulders.

Other than that, it was great! :)))) I want to go back and take lessons now. No more promenade…too scary, really. I prefer all the jaunts and stuff but to be on better terrain.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What I did for my Summer Vacation. DAYS TWO, THREE AND FOUR.

Tuesday, 8/2
E inflated the pool.  Simon's first day at the beach. He LOVES it. He wanted to bring his stroller and he went running on the sand with his stroller (with me helping him over the sand) directly into the water. He spent the afternoon (well, about 1/2 hour or so) running in and out of the water with the stroller, collecting seaweed and everything. Then he played in the sand (wet and dry) with E and the girls (and me). Brought back some sand for the blow-up pool.

Wednesday, 8/3
Went to the beach a 2nd time. So much warmer and we went earlier (2pm instead of 4pm). Much better!  Brought back more sand for the blow-up pool.

Thursday, 8/4
Rained all night. I tried to cover the sand the night before with a bucket, but it didn't do anything.  Took the sand out and filled it with water when it stopped raining. Rained all day. Played poker with the girls. (They taught me how).  The Croix's came over to visit for the apero so they got to see (meet?) Simon and visit with the girls (say g/b to them). Simon got a little heat-rash of sorts.

Monday, August 01, 2011

What I did for my Summer Vacation

Monday, August 1st we took a taxi to the Montparnasse Train Station. Went to the Columbus Cafe and asked for a decaf coffee and 2 croissants. "Pas de decaf."  [WHAT?! This is a COFFEE BAR AND THERE IS NO DECAF?????!!! WTF!!!!????]  Simon chose a toy at the "presse" and pushed his stroller around.  We got on the train and were able to sit all four together (the three of us).  Simon wanted to just walk up and down the cars with me. Then fell asleep for 1 1/2 hours.  Five minutes before we arrived he found another little girl of 2 years old who had a teletubbie doll. She tried to give kisses with it but he was scared at first. Then the two of them were jumping on the seats together, holding on to them, facing the seats. Then he wanted the teletubbie doll and was upset when he couldn't get it.

Simon has fun with his cousins.  Did a little shopping at the Super U. (got him a little plastic blow-up pool, which we put sand in from the beach, then we filled the pool with water, which is what's in there now).

Dinner: Crepes. Christiane makes crepes for everyone, which is really nice. But then when it's time for her to sit down Anne asks Lucie to leave the table. Just before this I was trying to say something and someone/everyone started talking over me. I made a "hey! I'm talkin' here" gesture/phrase and everyone just looked at me (or not) and said, "too bad, the Joubeaud way is whoever's loudest wins."
-- I'm sorry but that is rude. Okay, sure, "it's a French way of talking." You know what? To me, it's just rude. And I guess that means the French are rude!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How I Now Handle Paying

Tired of constantly being pushed out of the way by customers after me in a line, I now have a new technique for how I pay for my goods at the grocery store. This works as well (sometimes) in the bakery.  Before: I would pay for my groceries and then scramble to put them in the bags. This was not efficient because after I paid, the clerk would begin scanning the next customer's groceries and push them off the scanner. My groceries would then begin to be mixed up with the other customers. The other customer always (being French) would have begun packing their groceries on top of mine and thus reaching over me, standing too close to me, moving me and my groceries out of the way.

Now: I let the cashier scan all my items and I begin (when I am ready) to put my groceries in my bags. I don't bring out my wallet until I've packed all my items. Then I bring out my wallet and pay. Now I get to pack my groceries with no rush (well, other than all the other customers huffing and puffing down the line) and pay without being frazzled.

Much better!

N.B. Sometimes this doesn't work at the bakery where if I'm too slow getting my money out (which seems to be the usual case) the baker will take the next customer's order and their money before me, which seems to be confusing two orders at once, but apparently the French bakers are a very efficient lot and can handle several orders and multiple money exchanges at once. (Except for the times when they get my orders wrong!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leaving Babies in a Car

This post I cannot even believe is one I will be writing. And yet, Emmanuel tells me every year the police arrest people who leave their babies in cars while they go into nightclubs (sometimes even in Winter). :(((( This makes me so sad and so angry!

The same day I was walking home and near got my ankles clipped by a driver (See post on Bad French Drivers), I walked about 50 feet and passed two clinics. I heard a sound of a child crying. Not unusual because there are lots of children in this neighborhood and the French rarely seem to tend to a crying child. (I know I am grossly overstepping and sterotyping, but this is my blog and these are all just my personal unfounded opinions!)

However, I looked trying to find where the child was because there was no one else on the street. I noticed a navy blue BMW station wagon. Inside, on the back seat were two baby car seats. With two babies in them! One was looking out the window with his hand on his face as if to say, "Hmmm, my sister here is bawling her head off but I'll just look outside and try to ignore her." The other was crying hysterically. I looked in the window and she looked at me. I said, "Oh! It's's going to be okay. Mommy will be here soon."  I looked in the car to see if I could assess anything else. It looked like the keys were inside on a console. Maybe she (the mother) locked the keys inside and is going to get help? That must be it. She must be somewhere getting help. By why didn't she just stay with the children so they didn't become afraid?

The baby girl kept wailing. I felt bad. I had Simon with me and was thinking "how is this situation going to play out?" I knew if I called the police they'd do nothing. I'd only been there a few minutes. They wouldn't take me seriously for a much longer time. No one else was on the street. And even if there was I knew the typical French response would be: "it's not my problem." And: "you shouldn't concern yourself with another's problem." Very French. (That isn't a criticism. It's an observation and a fact from knowing a little about French history, culture and personality shaped over centuries.)

Little girl still crying. Oh God what am I going to do?! I can't stand it. The solution is so simple! The parent keeps the children with them at all times and the babies aren't abandoned! Simple. Why couldn't this woman just do that?!

Another minute passed with me trying to calm the baby down by talking to her. Am I making her more upset? "Who is this stranger in a brown hat cooing at me in a foreign language?!" (I was speaking English.) Then a man in a bright green Ralph Lauren "Big Pony" shirt, Mont Blanc wallet and car keys comes sauntering out of one of the clinics, heading towards the car.

I could not believe it. This guy. This Jerk. Sauntering, ambling, strolling over to his car like NOTHING is inside, let alone two breathing live infants! I said, "is this your car? She's been crying." I didn't come out with anything more fluid because I was shocked by the whole situation.

When I got home Emmanuel confirmed what I knew (and should have said): "NEVER LEAVE A CHLD IN THE CAR!"

What pisses me off is this guy was so casual. So unconcerned. His wife will never know he did this. And if it happens often enough, he could be creating some real trauma for his children.

Why do people have children to do things like that? It really makes me upset.

French drivers are mean. And bad.

I realize I like to complain about the French. It could mean I've become more French myself by doing this. (It is, after all one of their most popular pursuits.) And I realize as I will now begin to complain about French drivers, that there are bad drivers EVERYWHERE. But I am in France. So I will complain about the French drivers--for today.

So. First to bring up is that I have a strong prejudice against French drivers because one ran over my sweet little angel of a dog, Teddy.  He was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Teddy was on his leash, just about to jump up on the curb when this maniac turned the corner fast and didn't even stop till he parked a few meters down the road. He was going fast because he didn't want to get caught.  We took him to justice and two years later I am still waiting for the settlement check, which will never replace my precious Teddy. Nothing will.

Hence, my strong prejudice confirmed. French drivers speed down the streets, speed down one-way streets the wrong way (see above), don't slow down when you are crossing the crosswalk, drive too closely to you as they pass you in the crosswalk and don't seem to slow up or add extra caution if there is a baby in a stroller either.

In terms of parking they are the worst. I will say sometimes they are "creative," but it still is classified under "bad parking." For instance:
  • they nudge other cars backwards or forwards when they park by running into them with their bumper to move them so they have more parking space, or so they can get in (or out) of their space
  • they park on corners, which are not parking spaces
  • they park on sidewalks (mostly half-on, half-off--which is another problem (for them) because they are ruining their tires and suspension)
  • they park in the middle of two streets (see example:
    The black car is PARKED. The red car is driving past it on the street. The white car is parked on the corner.

Instances where drivers have driven too close to us are:
  • the time a woman drove too close to us with the baby in the stroller and Emmanuel hit her car with an umbrella. She didn't stop.
  • same scenarios but I rapped the car with my knuckles (and flipped the driver off) (one was a woman -- I was in the middle of the crosswalk and she kept driving at us) (one was a man who looked at me with astonishment because apparently no one ever did this to him before)
...To be continued...unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Am Stram Gram sucks.

Part-time day care will turn you away or reprimand you if you are not on time (or early) with your child. Our downstairs neighbor has now 2x in the past 3 days harassed us again about the pitter patter of a toddlers feet. I think I'll just ask her if she could move her eyes closer together. Because that's about the same as asking a toddler to tip-toe and not play with his toys. Geesh. Some days...

On the first point I'd like to say this: Children are not adults. Children are not robots. As much as it's recommended they have a schedule (or routine), of which I am a big advocate, I cannot control if my son will sleep 1 1/2 hours, 2, 2 1/2, hours or even 3 hours for his nap. I am of the mind-set that if he needs the sleep, I will let him sleep. After said nap, sometimes he's a finicky eater. Sometimes he takes a long time to get started to eat. Am I supposed to wake my child up from his nap, not feed him lunch if he doesn't eat in the time alloted, not change his diaper and RACE down the street for 10 minutes, wait for a bus whose schedule I definitely do not have control over, and then run another 5 mintues just to get my son to the part-time day-care on time?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cocktails with Courtney continuing...

Cocktails with Courtney ~ Paris debut was terrific. We had a great turnout and lots of energy to carry us through for the next one! Coming up May 25, 2011.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nice parking

Nice parking job, dude! He's in the middle of two streets!! (Red car was passing in the street as I snapped the photo.)

My colorful dresser

My baby boy - he loves colorful socks and he chose this hat to wear today. He's a stylish one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bursting Forth

It was in the high 70s over the weekend but now it's apparently going down to the 20s for the rest of the week. A Spring in Paris!

Meanwhile, I'm hearing how the startup technology scene is exploding in New York City. And at the same time I'm seeing how much is bubbling up here in Paris as well. Events and recaps coming soon!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I Saw The Light.

Today in church the sermon was about the man born blind to whom Jesus gave sight. It was after Jesus rubbed mud in his eyes and then told him to go was in a special sea. (see?) Throughout the sermon, I kept hearing the song "I Saw The Light" by my favorite singer, Hank Williams. Amen!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Recent French Disappointment.

Standing in line at the Monoprix. The price is 6.80. I put down a 10 euro bill and begin counting out my .80 centimes. This isn't what the cashier wants, however, and takes my ten, gives me change and refuses my .80 centimes. &*(^%$! What the heck. I can't begin to explain how upsetting it is to deal with. If you want to give a cashier change, start with the coins and THEN put the bill down. I've done it in the past. Should've learned from my lesson.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't ask when you're getting paid.

Apparently if you are an Independent worker, and after you have presented your bill to your employer, it is not appropriate French behavior (another "code") to ask when you could expect to be paid. You must just wait until they decide they will pay you. It could be a day, a week, or two weeks. And if no money shows up? I guess you have to wait until you can meet with them again to politely inquire.

* This is how it's working with my husband's employer anyway. Perhaps it isn't like this with every company. But this has been my experience with them.  This is very frustrating and makes it pretty difficult to budget, plan and allot expenses.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

JAPAN. Tsunami

It is horrifying to watch the repercussions unfold and I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the victims and their families of the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

I hope that the relief efforts are swift and life can resume there as quickly as possible.

I encourage you to join me in making a donation (to the International Red Cross) in sympathy and solidarity with them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Is Springing.

Today I not only noticed some buds on the flowering trees, but I could smell their fragrance as well. It gave me that "Spring is coming" sense of Hope that only fragrant trees, a temperate breeze and some blue sky can. It was a welcome relief after a rough winter with a sick baby (since November with one virus after another) and my own sinus infection...not to mention no time out of Paris for vacation. We haven't left since...hmmm...summer. Gasp! No wonder I'm grumpy.

I also, in a burst of renewed enthusiasm after meeting Nathalie Ohana - the original OMGmother, I am considering starting up the famous "Cocktails with Courtney" series once again. Why not, I say? Why not, indeed?!

Stay tuned, dear loyal readers, stay tuned...