Slowing down

A funny thing happens when you can't communicate very well with the world around you: you slow down. Waaay down. My favorite thing to say these past few days is, "lentement, s'il vous plait". Which means, slowly, please.

Things that take much longer in a new country:

grocery shopping:
where is all the frozen chicken? No rice chex. Meat costs HOW much? The store closes at 7:30 pm EVERY night?

when the washing machine can only hold roughly three and a half pairs of jeans, it just takes a long time to do the laundry! That and the fact that one load takes over an hour to run.

gasoline-uh, the machine won't take my credit card? Uh, what do I do now?

ordering a pizza
-I haven't even tried this yet because figuring out the menu took so long that we just ate cereal for dinner instead.

All in all, it's pretty nice to slow things down a little. Now, if I could just get the day going before 10am, that would be nice. But that's another story altogether.

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Danger Boy

Carter can't get enough of the dangerous life. What you can't see in this picture is that the wall he is walking along drops down about 15 feet on the right.

What you CAN see is Chateaux Chenonceaux, which was built about 500 years ago right on the top of a river, and is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen.

What you can also see is my growing gut. I really need to stop eating croissants for breakfast and 8 course meals for dinner.

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In A Pickle

Aaaah, McDonald's. You've been there for me through thick and thin. Remember the times I visited you in Hong Kong when all the other food tasted like fish? Or those days in England when only a Happy Meal could rescue us from blustery days? And now, here we are, en France, and we rendezvous yet again.

But now we have une petite problème: Abby only likes hamburgers with ketchup and pickle. And when I tell the garçon at the counter "un hamburger avec ketchup et pickle seulement" he just gives me a quizzical look. "Les petit choses vert?" He holds up a little packet of sauce. "Non, dans le hamburger" I mutter. "Ahhh! les cornichons" he says, smiling. Success!

I gather the food (that's a very small milkshake, I might add-no wonder Americans are so fat) and rush outside to the waiting family. Sophie and Sam start gobbling their McNuggets and I happily start in on some frites. Abby does the usual check of her hamburger only to find: mustard and onions.

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Le Commencement

The Beginning. The word is used as the name of the ceremony when we graduate high school or from college. Not to celebrate the end of four years, but rather to celebrate the beginning of a great new adventure, or phase in life. And that is where we are now, commencement.

Dave and I decided that it was time for another adventure. It had been 3 years since we returned home from our year in England, so the natives were getting restless. And when I say natives I only mean Dave and me, of course, since the little natives would have been more than happy to stay home in Arizona and swim in the pool all summer. But when Dave gets an idea in his head, it's hard to stop the train.

So here we are now in Nantes, France for a few more weeks until we depart for Mougins, in the south of France until July 2008. The kids enroll in the local elementary school on August 28th.

I haven't wondered at all if this was a good idea or not. We always knew we would be here when the time was right. I'm just really glad it was sooner rather than later, because the commencement of something new is one of the best parts of life.