I am just crazy about this little French treat! They are so delicious I get silly thinking about them! The outer shell is a soft but slightly crunchy concoction and the center is a creamy filling of the coordinating flavor.

In this picture there is cafe, citron (lemon), pistache, chocolat and either fraise (strawberry) or (framboise) raspberry. My favorite however, is caramel beurre salé (salted butter caramel), with rose (literally, rose!) coming in second.

Most importantly, the kids don't really like them, so my stash is safe from the marauders!




The Back of the House Right Before the Rain Came.
Yesterday the clouds never lifted and we had a heavy rainstorm in the afternoon. Luckily none of the laundry was hanging out on the rack. The rain brought very cool temperatures and this morning I was FREEZING! I even turned on the little heat lamp thing in the bathroom.

Winter is creeping ever closer and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. The most difficult thing will be convincing the kids to wear shoes. We've lived in Arizona for so long that none of them likes to wear them. When we came to France, Sam didn't even HAVE a pair of shoes. For five years he's either been barefoot or in flip flops. But since his school doesn't allow flip flops, we had to go out and buy a new pair of shoes a few weeks ago. He wears them reluctantly.

As the temperature dropped yesterday I instantly thought of how everyone in Arizona is surely still wearing shorts and flip flops as I dressed in jeans, a sweater, a jacket and scarf around my neck! The high temperature yesterday was still near 70 degrees, but with wind from the nearby hills, rain, and my thin Arizona blood, a scarf was entirely necessary!

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Field Trip!

Vieux (old) Mougins, with the Mediterranean in the distance.
This morning was Sam's first field trip! Dave signed me up to accompany Sam's class to the library, which I thought was at the school. But when the kids all began to dress in coats, I thought to myself,"where IS the library?"

I do a lot of thinking these days, instead of asking. Sometimes it's just easier to think to myself than to formulate a question in French and risk not understanding the response. As I'm learning about life, sometimes you can just wait and see how what happens. So I put on my coat like the children, thought to myself, waited, and voila!: it all turned out ok.

There is in fact no library at the school. Waiting outside was one of those coach buses that people use to drive across the country on sight-seeing tours. Fortunately we only drove for about 5 minutes. The library is in a sort of strip mall area right near the old village of Mougins (the town you see in the photo). It was very small.

A lady ready them a story, then I got to read to some kids (hope they understood me!), then the kids each got on a computer to type their name. I think it all took an hour and a half, but it was really cute. There is a girl in Sam's class named Anais that I want him to marry.

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Weird Medicine

So I don't have much experience with the medical practices in other countries, so maybe my observations are a little naive. Alas, let me begin with my first trip to the pediatrician.

Our friend Stephanie made the appointment for Carter as he needed a certificate from the Doctor in order to possibly go to the local creche. She showed me where to go that day and I arrived a few minutes to 4, which was our appointment time. I felt like I was in an old house, with high ceilings, radiators and peeling wallpaper. I didn't see a window or a nurse anywhere, so I went into a room with chairs and toys and waited.

Over the next hour many people arrived and sat in the little room. I could hear who I presumed to be the doctor in the next room talking loudly and intermittently a child would cry. I was getting quite perturbed and it didn't help that a very annoying 5 or 6 year old boy was torturing Carter. His mother was babying him, offering drinkable applesauce and snacks like he was a toddler. The boy had a matchbox car that enticed Carter, and the boy would show it to him then snatch it away repeatedly. The only toy for a child Carter's age was one of those little green plastic teeter totters. Carter was happily rocking on it when the boy got on and began to rock violently. His mother made a very weak effort to get him to stop and then Carter fell off. As I knelt down to rescue him, I had no choice but to send the boy the glare of death. We may not speak the same tongue, but he certainly got my message!

Finally we were rescued by the Doctor, who after many requests to speak slowly and clearly continued to speak rapidly and mumbling. He seemed nice enough but determined that Carter needed some more vaccinations (how could I be surprised? He is my fourth child, after all). After several interruptions (phone calls to schedule appointments, bike messengers delivering supplies, gathering the cups of pee pee from all the kids in the waiting room), the doctor handed me a prescription and sent me on my way.

A prescription for what, you might ask? For the vaccinations, of course! I had to go to the pharmacy to buy the vaccinations for polio and DTP, etc. and keep them in my fridge until our next rendez vous with doc. Although I thought it a little bizarre, I was happy to learn that part of the scrip was a patch you put on your baby an hour before the shot to numb them. Nice touch!

I wasn't worried about Carter after the shot, because I knew that if there were any problems with fever or reactions, I could call the doctor and he would answer his phone, even if he was in the middle of an appointment!



You can sing Fernando all you want

The other day Dave and I were driving to the school for the 19th time that day and he said, "You know what I love about France? You can drive down the country lane with the windows down, passing horses and wild boars, all the while singing "Fernando" at the top of your lungs. And no one even thinks you're gay, because that's just how it is here."

I thought perhaps he was a little crazy, until he played it for me later that day (Enjoy it here). And I agree, if you sang it at the top of your lungs in Arizona you would risk being "labeled". And I also agree, you can hear it on the radio because they play it here, and you'll pass horses and wild boars while you're at it. But I still asked him not to sing it here anyway.

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Just in case you didn't get enough of the Rat.


Out to Lunch

(L-R) Me with Stephanie and Laetitia in Old Mougins
On Tuesdays and Thursdays the kids stay at school all day! This gives us a chance to "practice french" as I like to call it. What it really means is that Dave and I get to go to lunch with our friends who are french. We go to a yummy restaurant and eat food that someone else gets to prepare and we talk and then walk around afterward. This is especially exciting for me because if you know Dave at all, he hates paying for food at a restaurant. At home we will occasionally go out with friends, but usually he says, let's just make something at home! Aaah, but in France he gets VALUE. It's all about the value. It is a french lesson and a meal all in one, so it is worth paying 50 euros for lunch! Hey, I totally agree.

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Lots of Things Live(ed) in France

Like this RAT that I found outside the house one day. I thought it was dead until Dave pointed out to me that he was still wiggling a little bit. Dave thought it would be fun for the kids to see the rat, so he loaded it up onto this garden tool and carried it around for like 20 minutes. The kids loved it so much they had a photo shoot with the rat . . . I think Abby took no less than 15 pictures of the dying rat. Dead rats = loads of fun.



Le Crapaud

Dave found this Crapaud in the jardin and put him in my laundry basket so the kids could have a look. He didn't believe me when I told him that the Crapaud would have no problem leaping right out of there! As you can see, he managed just fine to get himself up on the edge of the basket, but not until after he urinated all over it. And by the way, wicker doesn't hold Crapaud urine very well. Dave got to clean that up.



I love frqnce1

Sorry I Hqvenùt posted anything for q zhile; but noz thqt ze qre in the house in <,ougins; I thought I zould get on the co,puter qnd post q blog1
one of the things I reqlly love qbout frqnce is the keyboqrd for the co,puter: I ,eqn; everything is just zhere it should be1
It is so eqsy to type reqlly fqst qnd get q lot of ideqs zritten dozn very auickly:
I think zhenever ze co,e bqck to the US I zould very ,uch like to bring this keyboqrd zith ,e so thqt I cqn qlzqys type qs cleqrly qnd auickly qnd hqve qs ,uch fun doing it qs I q, these dqys here in ?ougins.

What a great thing: to spend a year using a computer that has a keyboard in which the letters are in different places than the keyboards in the US. I can't say I'd planned on that one...

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I forgot to mention how useful clothespins are! Not only very important for keeping the laundry from blowing all over the yard, but incredibly fun for the kids!!



Pan Pan Lili

This is Pan Pan Lili, the school pet. The kids were the first children at school to bring Pan Pan home for the weekend.

Pan Pan had a great time being held and pulled at constantly and immensely enjoyed the sound of Carter banging on the top of his cage.

We made it all the way to Sunday evening without losing Pan Pan. Then Abby decided it would be a good time to let him hop around the "garden" (more like a maze of plants and trees). Luckily we had taken some really great photos during the weekend so we knew exactly what kind if bunny to look for at the pet store.

No, we found her under the hedge.



Our Arrival in Mougins

There wasn't much for the kids to do in Dijon, so we were excited last Monday to drive to Mougins. That excitement was a little premature, however, as that night we had to spend in a hotel; with the next day being the first day of school. Tuesday morning we moved into the guest house on the Ginefri's property, which was certainly big enough (it must be at least 2000 sq feet), but it is new, and not exactly finished. There was also a HORRIBLE problem with the plumbing, which emitted a horrendous smell from every drain in the house.

We were very excited last Friday around 2 pm to finally move into the real house, which happily has no offensive odors. In fact, it is quite lovely and I really like it a lot. Except for the small fact that the water keeps shutting off and at least three times a day Dave has to go outside to the pump and push a button to turn it back on. I think the plumber is coming to fix that next week.

So far the weather has been spectacular-cool in the morning and evening and sunny in the day. It was cloudy last Friday and a few drops of rain fell, but that was it. Apparently it hasn't rained here in a few months. Dave spent yesterday filling up the fish pond, which had lost a lot of water; and filling the pool just a bit.

The kids are still adjusting to school, and I am still adjusting to going back and forth three times a day. The school is about 7-8 minutes from the house by car, so we have to plan ahead (unlike at home!), especially since we must first drop off Abby at her school, the turn back toward home and park at Sophie and Sam's school to walk them inside. Interestingly, Sam and Sophie are both having a harder time than I expected. Sam thinks his teacher is mean, which I'm sure she is not, but at first blush she seems a little intimidating. Sophie says she is bored and doesn't learn anything, which I can easily believe because she is in the equivalent of kindergarten. I have been working with her at night on spelling and numbers.

Abby, on the other hand, seems just fine! Thankfully she met a friend named Emily who speaks English. Her mother is Scottish and her father is English. She speaks French as she has lived her for about 4 years. Apparently she helps Abby figure out what's going on in class at school. As there is no school on Wednesdays Emily will come over to play. Abby has had a very good attitude and has not complained about going to school at all.

I am trying to figure out what to do with myself. In the meantime I am eating a lot of junk and feel very out of shape! I haven't exercised since June, basically and I can feel it! Today I drove around for 1-1/2 hours trying to find the horseback riding place. I never found it, but when I figured out where I was, finally, I was by the McDonald's and felt it necessary to comfort myself with a coke. I did feel a little better after that! I still have to do some of the same things like always: book the condo, send refund checks, pay bills online. Grocery shopping here is getting easier as I find things I need, but they have the same dumb carts as in England with all four wheels spinning in all directions. Very hard to control! Other than that, I have been doing a lot of laundry. We haven't had easy access to a laundry room since we left Nantes, so I had a lot of catching up to do. It is still not that great as the washer and dryer are in a room outside that you can only access from outside. Also, the dryers here are different in that they catch all the water from the clothes in a plastic container that you have to empty. This makes it so the clothes are never totally dry. I've teen told that most everyone just hands their clothes on a line and the iron EVERYTHING. I'm sure this keeps clothes looking very new and all, but it is a total waste of time! No wonder Virginie has someone come three times a week: she is doing laundry the entire time! In addition there is a different woman to do the ironing. I won't have her come, but I don't blame Virginie one bit.

Dave has been busying himself with yard work (the yard is enormous!) and has already managed to prune several trees and make plans with "Mohommed" to come and haul things away. In fact I hear him out there now chopping something down. His favorite things to do are to are play this game on Webkinz called "Goober's Lab" and talk to Virginie's best friend Stephanie. Stephanie has one son, Louis, who is in Sam's class. Stephanie has been helping us do basically everything and I feel guilty that I didn't have someone there for her to do the same. Luckily my sister and Dave's parents have spent some time with her, but knowing how lost I feel I'm sure she could use more interaction.

The other day the kids found a frog in the pool and scooped him out. The dumped him in the pond and named him Swimmy. We haven't seen him since! However, there are tons of goldfish in the pond and they like looking at them just as much. There are also tons of lizards around the house, inside and out! Sophie has also succeeded in finding the tiniest snail shells I have ever seen. Stephanie verified that's what they were, and Sophie (who thought they were just seashells) was suddenly grossed out and threw them at me!

On Sunday we went to church for the first time here. Everyone was very nice and they even had a translator who sat up front and spoke into a microphone in English. They gave us headphones with which we could hear the translation. I tried not to use them, but after a while my brain was so tired trying to make sense of the French words, I just gave up. My brain gets really tired some days trying to speak French.

Tonight is back to school night at both schools. Dave and I must divide and conquer. Hopefully he will understand what is going on!

I really miss everyone and the ease of knowing my way around. But it is really beautiful here and I am having a great time with the "struggle" of living in the French Riviera.

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