Super Duper



At the Maternelle last week they had a Carnaval. Each class made incredible costumes, and after the costume parade, every child was given a bag of confetti, which was promptly thrown all over the courtyard. Look on the ground in this photo and you will see what I mean!
Sophie's class made butterfly costumes:

Sam's class was full of bees:
This class made parakeets:


Another cute thing to buy

Too bad I can't remember which website this came from! Oops.


We have a problem with the internet, so that explains my lack of posts! Hopefully it will be fixed soon!


Sweet Little Old Ladies

What could be better than a visit from some VERY sweet ladies?

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

La Napoule Art Foundation

This pretty house is right near the little beach near the Chateau LaNapoule. My sister took this picture because it was pretty, but then later we found out that the house was and is still used to house artists, thanks to La Napoule Art Foundation.

A few weeks ago when we were at the beach, a young woman approached me and asked me in French if Sophie and Mailys were my kids. When I replied, she recognized that I was not French, and began speaking in English.

She introduced me to her friend, Rachelle, from New York. They were both enjoying eight weeks of artist residency at the Chateau. So cool! Rachelle wanted to photograph the girls together, and so a week or so later we got together and she did just that.

She has left for NY already, and her pictures were real film, but I can't wait to see them in a few weeks.


Easter Photos



Happy Easter!!
love, the Ashton's

Sophie FINALLY gets a party

We barely got our act together over a month after Sophie's real birthday and threw a party. Sophie is a year older than all the other girls in her class, but they are all good friends.
Here I am, finally a bit calm after a very stressful morning. I couldn't find the top of the beater to make the icing for the cake, and then the plates I bought had mysteriously disappeared (until Sam showed us where he hid them to keep them "safe.").

Everyone loved the Pillsbury white cake with homemade chocolate icing--not a speck of cake was left! I was sad there were no leftovers to snack on the next day!

Jeremy (in the background) made a treasure hunt, and each girl got to find a "chou chou", those hair things that you can see in Sophie's hair in the top picture. That and jumping on the trampoline pretty much filled up the whole three hours!


The Promenade des Anglais in Nice

I feel like I've made a lot of progress since our arrival in France eight months ago. Just this week a few things have happened that I am really happy about!

It started the other day when I went to Auchan with Carter and I felt totally normal. Like it was normal for me to go to this store in France with my son. Like NOT a stranger.

Then the other morning when I woke up, I realized that all my dreams during the night had been in French.

Today I had an appointment with a therapist to check out my shoulder/neck region from when I fell off the horse at Christmas. He asked me to do a lot of different things while he stretched my arms and neck, etc. and I understood everything he said!

Later I went with Sabrina to Quick (fast food restaurant) with the kids, because the weather was bad and we could have the picnic we had planned. While we were there, the kids were playing in the play place and there was a little accident between two of the boys in our group. I was near the boys, when a man behind me said something and when I turned I saw the blood on the mouth of Matisse. I called out for Sabrina, and she took care of him. Here comes the exciting part: I (without hesitating) turned to the man and asked him what happened, he explained it to me, gave his opinion about the situation and walked off. Shortly after that he came back over to ask about cleaning up the blood on the ground.

This is exciting for me because it was so . . . normal! I love learning this language and am so thankful for all the Francophones that make it possible! xoxo!


Last Friday night, the Husson's invited all of us over for a Lebanese meal. (Nicolas was born and raised in Lebanon, and his parents still live there. He went to France when he was 18 to do his studies).

We had a great meal, with things like Tabouleh, Moussakah, Hommus, etc. But the the interesting thing was that Dave's Dad and Nicolas were trying to talk politics together. Kent only speaks English, Nicolas speaks French and can understand a bit of English, and Dave and I were the translators. Ha ha.

Trying to translate complicated political ideas from English to French with our limited abilities was a real hoot! But we were both really happy that we could at least try without being totally frustrated!


Abby came home from Auron yesterday and we were all so excited!! The parents were all standing on the sidewalk, waiting for the big bus to come down the road. When we saw it turn the bend, all the parents started to wave. When the bus drove by to turn around, all the kids had their faces glued to the windows and were waving excitedly! I'm not sure who was more happy, the parents or the kids!


BIG winner

A few weeks ago we went to McDo where the kids each got a happy meal. The toy was a lame sticker book with a packet of stickers that you could put in your book. But there was a card with a scratch off thing that said you could be the winner of a prize. So when Abby scratched off her card, she was super excited because she won a poster!

She went back inside McDo to claim her prize . . . .That is a pretty small poster. And a disappointed little girl!


We went for a Sunday afternoon stroll to Antibes. Beautiful! There is a wall of ancient ramparts that you can walk along and enjoy the sea, and see cute townhouses like this one . . .

. . .or scare your children by making them climb up on the edge of the wall for a picture. (and wonder how you could have done such a bad job cutting your husband's hair!) . .

. . .Or unknowingly get your picture snapped by Grandpa.

It was a great afternoon!


Letter from Auron

Mom and Dad,

Please write back I can't stand it. I love you so much, i need a letter from you, and I need you I want a package from you, Please Please PLEASE please write back. Because I love you so so so so so SO much WRITE BACK


(punctuation as written)

What We Have Been Doing

Dave, his Father, & Carter - St. Paul de Vence

Carter wonders where his hair went

The Lavoir in Mougins, where the town ladies used to come and do their washing. Today they use it for rotating art exhibits, like the one we saw, specializing in a type of Japanese pottery technique.


Brotherly Love

On the way home from school today:

Sophie (7): "Mom, Jules and his little brother always bother me on the playground."

Sam (5): "Sophie, why don't you you tell me when they bother you and I'll punch them for you."

I am NOT this organized . . .

But I WANT to be!

Our Backyard Friends

Dave found this jumpy friend outside the kitchen door the other night. They can croak SO loud at night!
Today I took down the posters I had hanging on the kitchen wall to remind how to say certain things in French. One had the verbs Etre and Avoir (to be and to have) conjugated, and the other was some irregular verb conjugations in the past. I guess now it is time to conquer the subjunctive.




Dave's parents arrived today from Boston, where they were visiting his sister. The kids were so excited, and Carter surprisingly warmed right up to them. (Maybe it was the chocolate covered marshmallow eggs?) ;)

I will not slack this time like I did when I went to Paris . . .

Auron Update

When we arrived for parents day at Auron, this is what Abby was doing. She was happy, coloring, and apparently speaking French more easily than before. Dave and I were so happy to see her, and I was thrilled to be out of the car, because the windy roads up the mountain made me incredibly nauseous!We arrived at 9:15, and were told to bring back our children at 4:15. Great! No problem. Except that Auron is really, really small, and we had no intention of skiing. So what to do for 7 hours?

So, we:

*Walked around the town, saw this enormous dog
*Staked out the restaurants to decide where to have lunch
*Bought some souvenirs
*Bought gas for $9 a gallon
*Tried to hang out at the school, but were promptly kicked out
*Took a little nap in the car
*Had an extremely long lunch, where we laughed at the menu for things like this:
click to enlarge, look at top right selection's english translation

We were exhausted by 4:15, as were many of the other parents we saw taking naps in their cars around 3:30 as they, too, could not find anything else to do. So we all trudged into the school together, like an army of tired soldiers, to turn our kids back over to those with more energy and youth to take care of the little faces that by now looked like this:Buck up, Abby, only five more days to go!


I guess SOME posts don't need a photo

And in this case, that is definitely true. This afternoon my friend was watching Carter so Dave and I could go shopping in peace. This was a wonderful break from him as he has been a little cranky lately with some two year molars coming in.

After we finished our relaxing afternoon, we returned to pick up Carter, but spent some time chatting and then decided to make an apple pie.

We were busy in the kitchen when her son came running in shouting something about Carter having "crotte" everywhere. I wasn't too bothered as his nose had been running for days, and a little snot was not going to hurt anything.

Unfortunately there are lots of kinds of "crotte", including crotte des yeux (green gunk in your eyes), crotte des oreilles (ear wax), crotte de nez (boogers), and then there is good old fashioned crotte. You know, the kind that stinks and causes people to gag upon the viewing and or smelling of it.

So when I walked into the family room, both the sight and smell of the scene was both immediately horrifying and puzzling. How on earth had Carter managed to remove not only his jeans, but also his diaper and manage to have crotte all over his legs, the diaper, the floor AND the jeans? And more importantly, WHY?????

I immediately grabbed him and ran uptairs to the bath to get him cleaned off while dying of embarrassment and gasping "I am SO sorry!" all the way up the stairs.

Luckily my friend is a good sport, and unfortunately as a doctor working in an old folks home, has seen a lot worse that a little toddler crotte.

And fortunately, the apple pie was not affected by the surrounding events, and we all enjoyed a little slice of Americana this afternoon.


Blogger Problem

Blogger is having a server error every time I try to post my photos!!!! It's so hard to tell stories without the pictures attached . . . . be patient, lots to come!


Need a VACATION? Go to San Diego!

The View from our Patio

Rent our condo--because we need money! The euro to dollar is at 1.54169,which is bad news for us!

Are you a retired couple who need a week in the sun?
A family who has up to six children?
A young family with a couple of kids who wants to go with grandma and grandpa?
A young family with a couple of kids who have some friends with a couple of kids?

*beach, sea world, lego land, la jolla, coronado island, zoo, wild animal park, bbq on the patio, hot tub, aquarium, balboa park, historic san diego, outlet shopping . . . tempting?*

From Saturday April 5th through Saturday April 12th, we invite our blog reading friends to rent our condo for $1,000. That's down from the usual rate by $500. If you go with someone else, you can split the cost and therefore each family only pays $500.

Visit us at www.vrbo.com/83904

The park down the street from our place

one of the swimming pools

The beach

aerial view. We are the red dot!


When Sam's friend Romeo came over to play, he brought us these beautiful tulips and a small toy for Sam. I am continually impressed by the thoughtfulness of the French families that we encounter in Mougins.


Picard is a store where they sell frozen food. At first I was afraid to go there, because I'm just weird like that. But then one day for dinner, someone served a great little meal that was purchased at Picard.

So I figured it would be safe to go and spend our very expensively purchased euros. I LOVE IT!! Not only is it the only store where I have found regular popsicles for when my kids are sick and won't drink or eat . . . but they have superb meal selections.

Like this soup, for example. It comes in a bag and inside there are little frozen cubes of soup. You place as many as you like in a pan, warm them up, and serve with a baguette and salad. Et voila! Dinner.

Okay, okay, I'm probably the laziest cook on the planet, because somewhere out there a normal person is saying to themselves: "I could make that soup in two seconds." or "Yeah, the frozen soup thing has been around for ages."

But for the often lazy cook that lives in France-Go to Picard!
(This is the type of eye chart used for the exam)

On Monday Sophie had a"visite medicale" which is required for all the children in the Grande section of Maternelle (kindergarten) in order to advance to CP (first grade).

The doctor asked Sophie to do some basic things like count as high as she can, write her name, write some numbers, etc. Then she did some very interesting tests that can determine signs of certain learning disabilities. One test involved the doctor tapping her pen underneath the desk and having Sophie repeat (or inversely repeat) the pattern. This test was to look for signs of ADD.

She also did an eye exam and took some information about Sophie's birth. During this portion, the language barrier led the doctor to believe that Sophie and Sam were twins and even still Sophie weighed 10 pounds at birth! (I also had a ball trying to figure out how much 10 pounds is in kilograms.) After I explained that she is 18 months older than him, she lost the astonished look on her face.

Needless to say, at 7 years old, Sophie is officially cleared to go to first grade.
Short story: The other night we were hanging out with some friends, talking about whatever, and in some form the topic of hair came up.

In French, Dave practically shouted: "Je deteste couper mes chevaux!" which means "I hate cutting my horses!"

Looks like today's the day for snow!


This morning we loaded Abby's class onto the big tour bus and left for Auron! We had to take a detour to Vallauris to pick up another class from another school, which prolonged the actual departure, but soon enough we were on our way.

It was about two hours in the bus, and poor Alexandre made it two minutes away from the Snow School before vomiting. Boy was that exciting!

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's much snow at Auron, so hopefully a storm will blow in and at least dust the place sometime in the next 13 days!

I got to experience the cafeteria, which served a great lunch of carrot salad, roast chicken, green beans, bread, cheese and fruit. Abby wasn't too interested in the carrot salad! A few of the young (20-something) "animators" came in after lunch and made funny jokes about what to do with your napkin and how to behave in the cafeteria. I think they will make the experience very fun for the kids.

This is my sweet Abby when she realized I was about to leave her for two weeks. She put on such a brave face, but when I hugged her goodbye, I could feel her sadness and wanted to cry as much as she did!