Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Le Cirque du Middlest

School in France is different. And not just in the ways I've mentioned before like the Wednesday thing, the 2-hour lunch break and the fastidious attention paid to handwriting. For the past six weeks the Middlest's class has gone to circus school for six hours a week--every Tuesday and Thursday. They take the village bus back and forth and learn how to tumble, balance and swing on the trapeze.
The circus school thing is very popular here and if you think about it it makes sense. Somersaulting clowns are just a short unicycle ride to the boxed in land of mimes. And let's not forget Cirque du Soleil..that is French you know.

Although circuses in general freak me out, I'm not one for excessive contortions or harrowing acts of human strangeness, this is kinda cool. I went with his class last week as a chaperone and was sucked into the circus fun. Not only are they learning gymnastics but they are learning to work in tandem. For example, one of the exercises was to hold hands, pressing foreheads together and then tumble sideways with your partner. This was pretty funny. And harrowing.

sideways tandem rolling
They did a trusting exercise too but this wasn't falling backwards. Instead, they took turns being the carrot and the bunny; the carrot laying straight and still while the bunny hopped crisscross back and forth pretending to nibble. The carrot had to trust that the hopping bunny cleared them and didn't land smack on top of their prostrate carrot bodies. They did a crocodile/elephant thing that was akin to a yoga downward dog with an army trenches crawl underneath...back and forth, back and forth. Some of the teams were a bit physically mismatched which led to more circusy fun. Think more bear/gazelle than crocodile/elephant.

Middlest as le lapin
Turns out my Middlest is quite the circus act. He loves the balancing, rolling and feats of dangerous swinging high up in the air. Great. Surprised?

his favorite part of circus school
I think he'll be sad when it's over and now I'll have to add l'ecole du cirque to my list of Wednesday activities. Maybe there's a bit of American spirit to this French circus school after all.

looks fun,  huh?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award Fall Edition

Dear Sara, you stylish girl in your cute brown boy booties, how I love you....

but now I've got to come up with seven of my own stylish ideas for this fall/autumn season. I've been thinking about it a bit but it's kinda hard seeing as we are having Texas fall temperatures and I'm still wearing my sandals and tank tops. But, here it goes...oh, I'm so stylish!

1) I have discovered the wonderfully fun and addictive Pinterest and if you've never checked it out I have to warn you, it can suck you into a time warp, send you into unchartered interweb territory, thrill you with the amount of loveliness out there and make you dream like you're a little girl again. I made the mistake of putting it on my phone and Ipad and now I can get lost anywhere I like; waiting for the school bell to ring, sitting in the doctor's office, on the sofa while tuning out Mon Mari's incessant American football, when I'm supposed to be doing something else more important like cooking dinner. Psst...it's right over there. The little red button.

2) It is thanks to Pinterest that I can tell you about this next website that is super fun. It's called Polyvore and what do is create your own 'looks'. Or outfits as I like to call them. You search, click and move the things you like onto a blank page, rearrange, delete; swap a thick belt for a thinner one say, or go for those chandelier earrings you wouldn't normally wear. It's like those wooden and magnetic dress up dolls but virtual and way more cool because you get to play with expensive handbags and shoes.

3) I read an article in Red magazine's October issue singing the happy joys of wearing thick tights. When you live in a cold, damp climate like in the UK and Ireland you are used to wearing thick wooly leg wear. Being from a place where we only get to break out our J Crew rollneck sweaters for one weekend a year and a winter coat can last until the end of time because it rarely sees the light of day, thick tights aren't what I'm used to. When I lived in Ireland I wanted to wear dresses and skirts with tights but I always felt so dressed up. Therefore, an autumn goal is to embrace woolen tights and to wear them like they're just another pair of jeans or leggings, casually and with wild abandon. Check out Red's online site and shop, it really couldn't be more fun.

4) I'm rekindling my Seasonal Sundays, stylishly sharing delicious recipes and photos from my kitchen. And I'll wear tights while I do it.

5) Today at La Poste I ran into Mme. Avion. She's a younger version of the famously stylish and beautiful In├Ęs de la Fressange and so I always look to her for little tips here and there. This morning she told me that she was off to the esth├ęticienne. Ah, oui? So that's how it works. I asked her where and with a stylish flip of her curly bob she replied, 'Yves Rocher, have you never been?' Another French beauty secret revealed. I am booking my appointment for the Anti-Age facial tout de suite.
and then I will look like this

6) My boys are currently obsessed with collecting sticks and shells and stones. They pick them up and bring them home in grubby hands and little pockets for me to discover all over the house and when I do the laundry. I decided not to fight it and made a small montage of shells and stones on the mantle beside my new orange clock that I bought on the Provence Death March with K. These are the ones that made it....the rest I usually throw out the window.

herbs, shells, stones & clock
7) And finally, here's what I got from Sara for my birthday.

My summer look...

And for autumn...

Now to those of you who I'd like to bestow the Stylish Blogger Award. Please give us seven of your stylish tips for the Fall/Autumn season. Drumroll please.....

Cat at Fil de la Vie
Liene at Femme au Foyer 
Delana at DuJour 
Ashley at Tres Ashley

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mammographie/Mammogram--No Biggie

You know how I told you that I had to have my first mammogram? Well, I did it last week.

But not before I got news from Texas Bestie A that made all my fears and anxieties about having it done seem silly.
I don't think she'll mind if I tell you that she has gotten The Bad Result. She's 41 and very healthy, active and fit. Just like you and me. And now she's tackling the problem with signature nerve, determination and energy. She's read all about it, knows her options and has characteristically analyzed every scenario. She has always belied her tiny frame with the power she holds within it and this is no different.

Without a routine mammogram the spot would not have been found. It isn't visible. It couldn't be felt during a monthly going over in the shower. But thanks to the big plastic boob squisher it's on the outs.
I made jokes about feeling old and the insult of it all but they were just that. I am actually thankful for the preventative medicine and procedures we have available to us now. I'm writing this so you'll take advantage of it, not be afraid, encourage someone you love to get it done.

I recently read a great post by MommyPants and her point was to tell women that it's not as bad as all that.
Why have we heard so many negatives regarding the mammogram? That it hurts. It really doesn't. That it's humiliating. It really isn't. That it's scary. It's not.

I'll give you a step-by-step run down of what happens.

All it is is this:
1) You go into the clinic or onto the mobile mammogram truck
2) You take off your shirt and bra--you lucky things over in the US of A get a gown to put over yourself unlike here in France where I was left to stand bare-chested from the waist up, belted shorts and sandals on the bottom, imagine! Or don't.

3) The lady takes your breast into her hands and places it onto a large plastic tray

4) You hold three different positions per breast while another plastic plate flattens your business for less than 30 seconds
5) You're done

Seriously, if you've had a baby you've already aced much more than this.

I also had an ultrasound--like when you are pregnant with the cold goo and the little price checker--done to be extra sure things were good. And thankfully, they were.

We take care of everyone else's health. We get our kids' shots, feed them well, force our husbands to get their yearly checkups. And if you're like me your boobs might have even put in their time on the grocery roster. They've earned it. Get out there and get your mammogram, it's not as bad as all that.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gurley, Gurley

resting in the sun
Clementine is growing. We are all entirely smitten and none of us can imagine a time when she wasn't a member of our family. She plays and goes all wild hootenanny with the Middlest, gently holds onto the edge of the Littlest's t-shirt with her teeth as they walk around together like her version of holding hands and runs up and down our street with Ma Fille.

All this dog love will seem funny to some people because I have a reputation for not liking dogs. It's a valid reputation because I used to not. At all. I used to always say, 'I like dogs--just not the licking, jumping and the smell.'
The other day I was petting Clementine and I said to Mon Mari, 'You know, I always thought dogs smelled and licked but Clementine's different.' And he replied, 'She's not different. You just don't notice because you love her.' Aww..and it's true. I do.
This morning when we went for our 'big walk' she rubbed her face in the wild daisies and tall grass lining the path. And she dug in her heels when we got to the wood slatted pedestrian bridge arching over a busy road, all those whizzing cars and trucks scaring her.
The Littlest calls her 'gurley, gurley' and so she is; our sweet Gurley, Gurley.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spanish Eggs & Irish Lasses

Things have been quite loo-la around here lately. It's just that time of year isn't it? I'll bet things have been loo-la with you too so I won't bore you with excuses. I was away on a girlie trip last weekend and I thought you'd like to hear about that instead.

I went to Barcelona with a gaggle of Irish girlfriends. Well, there were only 11 of them, but that's a whole lotta Irish craic when you've been deprived of the familiar warmth and lilt for too long. (You probably know that we lived in Ireland for five years before moving here and if you don't then that explains my plane load of Irish pals.) Half of us turned 40 this year and two of us live on 'the continent' so we thought it necessary to celebrate by heading to Barcelona.

I got off easy being able to drive myself there, much to the surprise of all the islanders. My inner Texas girl loves a road trip and she was happy to be set free behind the wheel with music blaring just like in the old days of driving the I35 corridor. Three hours is nothing to a Texan. I was raised on the road trip by my Mother and her itchy feet, clicking the headlight dimmer switch in our 1976 golden Ford Thunderbird as my sister and I slept through East Texas towns. So I flew down the A9 between Montpellier and Barcelona, France and Spain, in the same time it would have taken me to get to Dallas; windows down and whining away with Kelly Willis to 'Talk Like That'.
It felt like heaven.

When I arrived I met my fellow continent dweller, she of the fated diesel trip to Switzerland, and we set off to have some tapas. And the perfect amount of pink Spanish wine while we waited for the others. We met them later that night enjoyed the first night away madness by dancing until 4am.
You know how the first night of a vacation is....you feel a bit zippy and throw yourself full force into the delirium of the holiday. The next morning, four hours later, they all got on an air-conditioned bus for a tour of Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. I know it was wonderful and there's nothing like having a private tour of a city and its most spectacular sites but I'd seen them before with Texas Bestie K and felt like I could use the time to do what I do best, relax on the beach. After the dancing I can tell you that I felt I'd won the jackpot with that decision. I headed down to the thick sand and crashing Med, so different from our little portion of the same Sea, and lounged.

what 11 women out to dinner looks like
So far, so perfect. Every night before dinner we met on the roof terrace overlooking the marina and its thrumming carnival style rides. We laughed and joked and caught up on all the things we've missed in each others' lives and the changes in the small town south of Dublin I came to love. Did you know there is a new candy shop on the Main Street? Winston's is closing down for good and our favorite Italian restaurant has moved to a larger location and isn't quite the same.

But there's food. Of course there is. When I get a disappointing meal in a restaurant these days it makes me feel like crying a bit and I wonder, 'was I always like this?' or is it a combination of having three children and not eating out very much and living in France where purchasing, preparing, discussing and eating food are national obsessions. Maybe it's all of the above.
Unfortunately, I had a 'tears in my eyes' lunch while I was there.
But on the flip side I also had an extraordinary tapas experience. And guess what? It had to do with eggs. Again, here's me going on a weekend break and coming back obsessed by a plate of eggs. You remember the 'oeufs en croute', non? If not, you can read about it here.
devoured eggs

Back to now....and these delicious Spanish eggs that I am now beholden to creating. They were at Cerveceria Catalana on Mallorca, just north of the Placa Cataluyna and if you get a chance to go there you should. La Canadienne recommended it to me and now I have to be extra nice and appreciative to her and invite her over when I make the Spanish eggs. I don't mind, she was the one who cheered me on in the kitchen when I made the French eggs.

These eggs were more homestyle, no fancy boiling, peeling, breading and frying. Just simple fried eggs, sunny side up on a bonfire pile of potato sticks and some garlic mayonnaise. The trickiest part of this dish will be getting the potatoes extra crispy and light. Sure, I can probably find some allumettes in the frozen section of Picard and work from there, but that would be cheating. I have got to find a way to safely use my mandoline and overcome my fear of frying in large quantities of oil.

I will do it though, you know I will. And when I do I will share it with you.

Now that things are back in full swing on the school front, I've had my lovely holiday and doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments have been met I hope I can come back to writing this blog like I love to do.

I've gotten a Stylish Blogger Award from my beloved Sara in Le Petite Village so I will be busy working on my list of favorite things Fall/Autumn.

Plus, there's more girl talk for those of you who can stomach it. This time it's about boobs. They really do squish them quite flat in between those lucite plates.....