Thursday, September 22, 2011

In a Nutshell, French Gyno

This post is about girl parts...kind of. But still, I wanted to tell you right up front so you can turn away now (Arlington) if you don't want to hear about pending reproductive decisions.

All in? Then, let's go...
I went to the gyno today. My first French gyno, it should be noted. She was lovely and perfectly aged falling comfortingly somewhere between 55 and further on. She spoke a bit of English and took the opportunity to learn some trade terms like 'cervix' and 'pap smear'....with a mimed example of spreading jam on bread to really get the smear message across. Turns out the 'pap' part stands for something and the smear is just for grins.

We did some doodling of female parts and managed to come to an understanding. Boobs, ovaries, get the idea.

Doctor's offices in general are very different over here. First of all, there's no big glass window that houses a receptionist and secondly, once inside the examination room there's a desk and a couple of chairs, all office like, in the same room as the examination table that sits off to the side like you're in a groovy space challenged loft--making small spaces work in a comfortable and chic way. This particular doctor works alone; she even does all her own scheduling and filing in her efficiently planned out loft space. A tiny changing room just off the exam space was beautifully tiled and was made cozy with layers of Turkish rugs and flowers. I learned my lesson well from Kirsty and wore a skirt.

After our girl parts language lesson we moved to the topic of prevention. No Frenchie would be surprised to know that French men don't get vasectomies. They just don't. All you have to do is look around at French dogs to know this is true. Balls are tops and are not to be tampered with.

So it was that we began discussing contraception and where the responsibility for it lies.

I feel like this: I've had three children, taken charge of my reproductive health and been the go-to girl in this area for a super long time. And now? I'm done. It's time to hand off the baton, so to speak.

Today when I said as much to my perfectly coiffed French doctor her response, accompanied with shrug was this, 'Well, vous êtes très Américaine." You got that right sister. Balls be damned. My day has come.

And then to the quote of the day, 'One reason you should think about taking the pill is because it gives your ovaries a rest. They work so hard and poof! this little pill tells them, 'you can relax, I'll do the work for you' and ovaries need this.'
Hand on heart. That's what she said.
And I got to thinking about my sad 40 year-old ovaries and how exhausted they must be with all the back and forth exertion of sprouting eggs and hormones. she being paid to say this?

The upshot is's done for the year, I know how to say boobs in French and where to find the cheapest, prettiest Moroccan tile, the insult of 40 means I have to have my first mammogram and I've got to decide what to do...give my forlorn, tired little workhouse ovaries a break or chuck it all and promise something outlandish in exchange for the snip, snip.

What the Cycliste Guerrier  will think of this, I just can't say.

And to your great relief there are no photos accompanying this post.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Central Texas Wildfires

Days of 100+ weather (that's 40+C) and no rain didn't do Texas any favors. The wildfires outside of Austin have left thousands of homes destroyed and sent families fleeing to school gyms for refuge.
Photo credit: Reuters
There are many ways to donate money to the recovery effort and to help out but a group of folks have designed some cool t-shirts that you can buy at where 100% of the proceeds go to those who need the help.
If you'd like to do something but are wondering how, why don't you have a look here.
You can get a groovy t-shirt plus a Texas style good feeling to go with it.
I'll be sporting the red flaming Lone Star all over the South of France. And I've sent in a request for kid sizes 'cause the Littlest just has to have the this one, don't you think?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Making Tex-Mex, Sharing the Love

Tonight I am going to Chez Canadiens to make the mother of all Tex-Mex--cheese enchiladas. The Canadienne's Beau-Pere is here and he wants to learn how to make some ooey-gooey Texas goodness.

We'll have margaritas, guacamole (if the avocados aren't too hard), my fresh perfect salsa, Mexican rice and melted cheese filled, fried corn tortillas baked in homemade Texas red chile sauce.
I have Lisa over at Homesick Texan to thank for the recipe. It's one that never has wooed the Canadians and more than a few Irish.

There's something wonderful about being able to create a loose facsimile of a favorite restaurant dish, especially when you can't just pop out in your SUV to the nearest Tex-Mex joint, eat handfuls of crispy, salty tortilla chips, throw back a salt-rimmed freezing cold margarita and fill your belly full of cheese and chile sauce.

I don't know if I'd ever have learned or bothered to learn how to make this wonderfully decadent dish (or even have thought it was decadent) if I didn't live far from home. I've had to figure out ways to bring flavors from restaurants at home to my French table. I've learned how to make Chinese take-out, Indian and Thai curries, Luby's chicken fried steak and some okay bbq. These  are all skills born out of neccesity. Texans just can't live on crêpes alone.

I always loved Tex-Mex on a Friday night. I hope Msr Canadien likes it too.
Santé, ya'll!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School or La Rentrée

Yesterday was the first day of school...for all three kids, Littlest included.
all fresh and new
It's not compulsory but most French kids (babies) go to school at three years old. It's called the Maternelle and it's kind of a glorified day least for this first year.
As you may remember, the Littlest went to French créche last year and before settling into the calm, quiet French stylee ways he was quite a spectacle. He got used to it though and we were both happy with his three hours/three afternoons a week.
Real school is just four days a week here and he doesn't have to go the entire day, plus with the two hour lunch break....well it'll end up being just about the same thing. The good thing is that his new school is on the same grounds as the Big Kids' so I feel happy knowing they're together.

Back to yesterday.

We woke up early, all very excited and shared a breakfast of Daddy-made waffles and Mommy-made smoothies. Everyone looked fresh and nice by the time we were out the door--new school supplies, backpacks and shoes.

And somewhere along the way, it hit me. My oldest child is in the 4th grade. And this, more than anything else, made me want to cry. I think we've never really considered how time is passing schoolwise because over here, and in Ireland too, the class years are called different things. Ma Fille is officially in what the French call, 'CM1' so sure, no problem, CM1. That's manageable.
But 4th grade? I started getting boobies in 4th grade! I had my first crush in 4th grade! And I'd already made my first real best friend by then too...the friend who I spent every weekend and rode around in the neighborhood on a golf cart with.

And then I got to thinking. And looking. And realizing that it's true.

She walked in all self-assured, greeted her new teacher and kissed us goodbye. Stunning.

And then there's the Middlest. I think I am safe in officially declaring this (drumroll please): The Year of the Middlest.
sparkling & self-assured

He has always been, in the way of middle children, kind of middley; a bit unsure, a bit sensitive, maybe a touch hesitant. But yesterday and today he was sparkling with confidence. I think it helps that he's already done the French school thing for one year. I think too that he's finding his footing through simple maturity and a bit of distance from his omnipresent Big Sister.

But there's a wheelbarrow full of credit that should go to the teachers. His teacher last year was fantastic. And this year he has Ma Fille's teacher from last year and she's beyond lovely. I don't know if you remember but she's the one who wrote and directed last year's Big Spectacle. And she's thought my Middlest was the cat's pjs ever since he convincing and hilariously enacted 'terrified' during practice.
Yesterday when I said hello to her and told  her how glad I was that he's in her class she said something like this, 'It was my wish'. He was beaming with that same sparkle when we picked him up after school and this morning he combed his hair, 'for Madame Greenhouse'. (we think it's fun to call our teachers by their translated names) Brava Mrs Greenhouse!

But. The Littlest. Mon Mari and I walked away with him crying; fat, little baby hands covering his eyes while his teacher hugged him. On with the sunglasses to hide my own tears.
look out people!
He was fine when I picked him up three hours later and treated him to a bike ride down the big hill.

Ten years of parenting, five years of school and two and half languages. (Irish included) I am proud of my resilient babies and all they've accomplished.
Now to the question of boobies and crushes for which I am decidedly unprepared.

I hope you have all had a happy and successful rentrée.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

She's a Celebrity--With a Secret

I've never had a dog. Much less an attractive attention getting golden beauty, so I wasn't prepared for how the spotlight shines when we take her places. It makes me feel kinda sorry for Brad & Angelina.
her closeup
We've met and exchanged phone numbers with three different families on beach outings because of her. Neighbors who haven't spoken a word to us in the past year and a few months have suddenly decided to strike up a conversation when we're out walking her. And yesterday when we took a last adventure of the summer hurrah trip to Aigue-Mortes people kept stopping us to pet her, giving those 'oh, how adorable' sidelong glances and some actually took photos.

they are all kinda cute

She has her own paparazzi in the form of a very tall Dutch tourist who kindly asked permission to snap a pic of her golden goodness and then the French dad on holiday who framed his family photo just so in order to include our girl in the forefront. Weird. The kids were impressed by all this attention and have declared that Clementine is indeed a celebrity.
And because all celebrities have secrets; some deep and dark and others more along the lines of 'they're just like us' snacking on apple chips while doing the grocery shopping, I'll go ahead and beat the gossip columns to it and out Clementine's deepest shame.
Are you ready? Alert the press and the tall Dutch man and especially the French lady who made a beeline to her in order to have her lick all over her very tan face and then said, 'Merci!' to us like we'd given her a special gift.
before she rolled around in the water
Not even 24 hours before the lovely and talented Clementine ate a baby bird. Alive. Well, it was at first anyway. She heard it chirping from under the fig tree where it must have tumbled from its safe, twiggy nest. It was calling out for help which came in the form of what I hope was sudden death by doggie chomping. Celebrity doggie chomping, but death nonetheless. She knew she had found a treasure because of my reaction--curled up toes, shrieks of 'DROP IT!' and the chase that ensued.

She wasn't going to drop it for anything. And as she ran away, bouncing on the pads of her big feet, I swear she was smiling....spindly bird legs and the white tip of a wing poking from her lopsided grin.

When I asked K, the Bestie, why she didn't warn me of this dog predilection to eat living creatures whole she texted back that it was better than eating panties. Which I thought was more gross than I wanted to consider.
Baby birds it is.

Celebrities. There's no accounting for taste.