Monday, April 30, 2012

Waking Up in France - 8/27/00


Today I had a wonderful French breakfast, and I met Solène, the Charron's granddaughter.  Nicole made me real hot chocolate this morning and I had croissants w/ butter and jam or hard honey.  Then Jean and I drove to a nearby town to buy bread for the day.  And pastries!  I would never be able to drive here.  Not only are the streets skinny and confusing, but the drivers are crazy and I don't understand any of the traffic lights or signs!

I still feel awkward trying to make conversation w/ Jean and Nicole.  I'd much rather read!  But I'm starting my last book.  I wish my alarm clock worked!  I (and Nicole and possibly Jean) missed church this morning.  I think it's about time for lunch.  Would it be rude if I brought my book down to read until then?

[Later that day]

It is difficult, after trying so hard to think in and speak French all the time, to come up here and write in English.  I find myself writing more formally...

Nicole is a good cook!  I like how, even with dinners at home, the French have four courses.  A salad or soup or vegetable, then meat with a few sides, then cheese, then dessert.  And bread throughout all!  The wrapper on the bread Jean bought this morning said (in French, of course), "A day without bread is a day without the sun!"  Je pense que c'est "Un jour sans pain c'est un jour sans soleil."  Much as I need practice thinking and writing in French, I think I'm going to try to keep this journal in English so it'll be easier for others to read.  Soon, Jean or Nicole will call up the stairs to tell me we're leaving for Sacre Coeur!

[Even later that day]

I've been thinking that I really ought to send a postcard to Jamie, but I can't.  I would never be able to fit everything in, and it's so far from what I really want that I can't bring myself to do it.  I need him here.  Actually writing a postcard makes me realize how far away he is.  We saw Sacre Coeur today, and a man that drummed and sang Louis Armstrong songs, and we drove to Versailles.  We drove through the Bois de Boulogne and I thought of Jamie and how much I'd like to walk through it with him.  Dinner time!  (There was a Ben & Jerry's in Paris!)

I miss you, Jamie.  [etc., etc.]  And, I saw the Eiffel Tower today!  (Guess what else?  I saw a midnight blue BMW Z3 convertible in Paris today.  How many more times in my life will I be able to say that?)

Seen walking to Sacre Coeur in Paris

Sacre Coeur, Paris

Sacre Coeur, Paris

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Counting Down the Days

I created a paper chain to count down the days until Nana and Papa arrive, and it's the highlight of the day for Gisèle and Miles.  After our family bedtime story each night, we take one link off the chain and then count the remaining links to see how many more days until they arrive.  Both kids count out loud, getting exponentially louder with each chain.  At the end, they hop up and down, and then Miles will tell us for the 25th time "Papa bring donuts!"  Gisèle will then proceed to suggest, very seriously, a long list of things that she and Nana could do, "like, maybe we can make cookies?  And then I think we can ride our bikes.  And then we can plant a  garden.... and we like to go the park, and I think we'll go to the beach!" 

Nana and Papa, I hope you pack some extra energy when you come!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arriving in France - 8/26/00

[(My present-day comments will be in brackets and italicized.)  In August 2000, I left Oklahoma to spend the school year in Clermont-Ferrand, France, studying at L'Université Blaise-Pascale.  I was 20 years old, and Jamie and I had been dating for a little over 2 1/2 years.  These posts, tagged "Europe 2000-2001," are taken directly from the hand-written journals I kept (and accompanying photos) during that time.]


I'm here!  Right now I'm missing Jamie so much it hurts.  I think keeping this journal will help, though.  This way I'll be sure to remember all the things I want to tell him.  Leaving him in the airport in Tulsa was extremely hard.  I was bawling in the plane.  When we turned to start taxiing, I waved and waved and he saw me and waved.  I still feel like he should be here with me.

We were 20 minutes late taking off from Tulsa, and when I got to St. Louis and rushed across the airport to catch my flight for JFK, I was told the plane wasn't there yet.  I was really upset because I didn't know what I'd do if I missed my flight from JFK-Paris, so I called Jamie.  The phone I was using wouldn't work so I went to the next one... then I was told by the operator that I couldn't make a collect call to our home number for some reason.  I finally just used my calling card, crying the whole time.  It didn't help much to talk to Jamie because he was still upset and it just made me cry harder.  We finally took off from St. Louis an hour and fifteen minutes late, and when we arrived at JFK, we went straight from the plane onto the next.

On the flight to Paris I was next to a nice lady that had just been visiting New York and was going back home to Versailles.  I watched Return to Me and an episode of Frasier, ate a fairly good (for airplane food) dinner, and slept for about an hour and a half.  When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle, I followed everyone else to the baggage claim and waited a long time for my bags.  I walked right through the sign that said Customs and no one said anything or asked to see my passport or anything, so I'm hoping I didn't do something wrong!

Jean and Nicole [the couple, friends of Meme, that I was staying with in the Paris area before heading to my university city] look the exact same and they're wonderful, though I feel really awkward speaking French to them.  (While I'm remembering, I had roblechon and gruyère at dinner.  Really liked the former and didn't like the latter.)  I saw Sacre Coeur from a distance on the way here and Nicole said we'd visit it before I left Thursday.  No Eiffel Tower yet!  I also didn't get to see the Statue of Liberty in NY, either.

I called home and talked to Mom a little and Jamie a lot.  Started crying again when I told him I missed him.

Managed to find the toilet-room; it's separate from the sink and the shower, though I'd forgotten that since last time.  [Meme and I visited back in 1996.]  I put the batteries in my alarm clock and set it, but the alarm part doesn't work!  I'll have to remember to buy another one.  I'm going to church w/ Jean (and possibly Nicole) tomorrow and I think I'm going to change money Tuesday.  (Nicole said there isn't an ATM nearby.)  I think I'll be buying my train ticket Monday.  I'm really worried about how I'll manage my bags, and how I'll get from the gare [French for "train station"] in Clermont to the University.  And where I should go at the University!  Maybe I should try calling this week?  My hand is about to give out, so I'm going to read some and go to bed.  I love you, Jamie!

My room at Jean & Nicole's house.  The walls were covered with fabric with some sort of batting underneath.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Bedtime Kisses

Tonight at bedtime, Miles kissed me on my:

Left cheek
Right Cheek
Left eyelid
Left eyebrow
Right eyelid
Right eyebrow
Left side of the neck
Middle of the neck
Right side of the neck
Top of the head
Center of the headband.

In that order.

And he finished by saying, while swirling his hand in a big circle, "Dat lotta kisses, Mama - dat all da kisses."

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Excited About Some Upcoming Posts

I just got a package in the mail today that I've been eagerly awaiting - my photos from my year in Europe (all 850 or so of them), transferred from APS cartridges to digital format!

I'm putting the photos in order right now, and then I'm planning on looking through my journals from that year to get some posts ready.  What I'd like to do is post excerpts from the journal along with photos from that day as a way to further document my time there.  Right now, I have 4 huge photo albums, 2 (3? 4? I need to find them) journals, and a gallon ziploc baggie of APS cartridges holding all the negatives.  I'm looking forward to looking back through everything!

Right now, though, it's after midnight and time for bed.  Good night!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I have a man in my life that constantly says "I want to hold you."

Of course, he follows that with "Mama," and what he really means is "I want you to hold me, Mama, and I don't care how tired you are."

I'm trying to keep in mind that he won't want me to hold him for very much longer, so I need to take advantage.  And it really is sweet that he wants to hold me so often.  :)

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Spicy Sausage Pasta

This was a quick weeknight meal, and we all loved it - even the kids, who don't mind spice in their meal.  I love that you throw the pasta in uncooked!

Spicy Sausage Pasta
adapted from Kevin and Amanda

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage (I used 14 oz or so Butterball smoked turkey sausage), sliced into medallions
1/4 an onion, diced
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (10 oz) Ro-Tel diced tomatoes w/ green chilies (mild)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta (could also use rotini, or something similar in size)
salt & pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (I used medium)
2 green onions, thinly sliced

-Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
-Add the sausage and onions and saute until browned, about 5 minutes.
-Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, and salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer about 15 minutes, until the pasta is tender.
-Remove skillet from heat and stir in about half the cheese.
-Transfer the pasta mixture to a casserole dish (unless your skillet is oven-safe).
-Top with the rest of the cheese and the green onions, and then broil for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Train Museum

Gisèle's immediate reaction when I pointed the camera at her.
  A few weeks ago, we took the kids to Galveston for a fun Sunday.  We started the day at the train museum, and the kids had a blast! 

Miles's first glimpse of the trains up close.  "Mama, train!"

Walking down to the first entrance.  You could enter quite a few different cars.  Gisèle was so excited - you can see her running ahead.

Miles is standing in an upper compartment in one of the engines.  The metal bars on either side are frames for seats.

An old Pullman car.

An old sleeper/seater car.  You can see the sleeping compartments on the upper-right side.

Gisèle and Miles each got to pull the cord to ring the bell on one of the old engines.

The engine with the bell on top.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Gisèle Reading Rapunzel

When Nana and Papa visited in January, Gisèle and Nana had a great time writing and illustrating their own version of the Rapunzel story. 

Gisèle treated us all to a reading of the book after it was finished.  This is Rapunzel as you've never heard it before!

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Miles and His Guacamole

(Miles had a little bit of guacamole left at the end of dinner time (quesadillas and guacamole and chips), but had already had a lot of chips.)

Miles:  "Have more chips?"
Jamie:  "No, you don't need any more chips."
Miles, looking at his guac:  "Have spoon?"
Jamie:  "No, buddy, you don't need to have a spoon - you're all done."
Miles, still looking at his guac:  "Use hands?"
Jamie, smiling:  "No, you may not use your hands to eat your guacamole."
Miles, desperate:  "Noodles??"

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time for Chalk Masterpieces

We've played with sidewalk chalk before (proof here), but I don't always bring my camera out with me.  I remembered this time!

drawing Rapunzel's long hair

still drawing Rapunzel's loooong hair

clean-up time

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Papa and Gisèle

(taken during their January 2012 visit)

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