Friday, October 17, 2014

Five minute Friday:Long

I've made these four walls my home. As much as I never wanted to.
When I look around I see the memories, surrounded by pictures of days and years past I see the spot where this happened, that happened. This isn't my home, my heart protests when I step outside into the still unknown culture. Yesterday I had to laugh at the very garish, cold, startling way the doctor talked to me. It's funny now. It wasn't at first. But it isn't home. No doctor would talk to you like that at home. He knows I'm a foreigner and sighs at having to explain things for the second time. I feel like a child at first but push the feeling aside. I am not a child. I am simply not home.

But then I enter this place. Up 49 stairs to the noise I can hear from the 28th. They like my fall decorations. They are the same as last year but no one remembered. How could they? They are only 6, 4 and 1. Everything seems new to them.

This is their home. As much as I resist that idea. These walls are not where we live any more, they are filled with our memories. They are filled with the expectant future. Something hangs in the air.....

Four more years? Perhaps five? Weren't we supposed to be gone by now. But there is a reluctance. We grasp for a reason to stay. The country is not our home, but.....there are still reasons not to leave. Friends. Work. School. Routine.

This is home. But it isn't. This is a home in the long road home. Where ever that ends up being.

STOP.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mother of the year ...6 reasons I won't be nominated


6. Sometimes when my kids ask one of their curiosity questions about the world and how something works, or why this is like that, I lie and say, "I don't know." Just because I don't have the energy. And other times I explain it. And then again. And again and different way and when they look at me and want to leave without full understanding I make them stay and try to understand what I am talking about. Good thing I didn't become a teacher. Or maybe I should have and then I wouldn't lie and I would know how to explain things....


5. I really can't stand it when I hear "MOOOOOOOOOM!" yelled at me from somewhere in the house. It immediately makes me want to run away.


4. I cannot remember the exact times that my second and third children were born. I used to ask my mom when I was born and would cringe when she couldn't remember. What kind of a mother can't remember when each of her lovely children came out of her? Why did she remember my older brother's time of birth? Does she even love me? Now I understand my mother and await the hysterics that will come a few years down the road. Every once and awhile I think about pulling the birth certificates out and committing those times to memory just to avoid the meltdown I am sure will come. But then I get distracted with feeding them.....


3. Seven days can go by without me bathing my kids. Oops. They don't seem to care. In fact, once I remember we are well past bath day they run away screaming that they "just had one!" There is never a time that they just had one. Not these days. Do mothers of six kids ever bathe them? Because having three is causing me to revert back to the medieval days.


2. When I get my nose in a book I usually end up reading it while they are eating dinner. Or while I am supposed to be making dinner and simply forgetting because I am reading a book.


1. I hide candy and chocolate away from them, but eat it while they are awake. I just hide my mouth and try not to breathe on them. I think Firecracker suspects something. I catch her sniffing me sometimes around my mouth. Darn little four year old nose can smell chocolate any where.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Best books this year

If you  come look at my 2014 New Year's Resolutions you will see amongst them that I planned to read at least 4 if not 6 books this year. I tried not to put to much pressure on myself (a-hem) so I thought I would go with four. Well, technically I have read four, but two were a bit trashy and easy to read and don't really count to make it on the list. I am hard on myself that way. Trashy is just fr fun, there is no enlightenment in it. But I did get through two very good books which DID enlighten me a bit.

The first was Rena's Promise. A bit heavy, but I couldn't put it down. Not that it was so eloquently written but because it was so well laid out and the memories were so clear. I could see myself there, which was both awesome and scary. Why? Because it was abut two sisters in Auschwitz, some of the few who arrived and ...THEY ACTUALLY SURVIVED FOUR YEARS THERE! I have to admit that I am a bit of a Holocaust addict and have read many stories and memoirs on the subject. I'm not even Jewish. But I used to pretend to be when I was a kid....I know, I'm a dork. But this book was one of the best I'd ever written just because the woman remembered so much about the small details: realizing what the ovens were for, having to jump the trench in order to survive the next two weeks, hauling bricks there just to haul them back again the next day, being told the Germans were winning the war and that the Jews were going to be sold into slavery for the rest of their lives. She talked about her own despair and not trying to show it, how hungry they were, how they still tried to liven up and flirt when they could, how sme were nice to them (as nice as they could be), how they watched a line of children march by them and not being allowed to run to them and hold them. How people became mean and vengeful due to hunger and fear.....I think it was the first time I read about the death camps and actually felt and understood the gravity of the situation because I could feel along with her that she had no idea how long the war would last and if the Germans would win or lose. Years. Four long years. It's cray, cray. I recommend the book. An easy read to really see that side of the war.
                                        

On a lighter note I read Nothing Daunted which was about two New York debutants who took jobs o teach for a year in rural Colorado during 1916. I had no idea that Colorado was that rough just 100 years ago. During the book I kept thinking: my grandparents were born just 6 years later and this is how Colorado still was? New York was a booming town then, Chicago was booming, and Colorado was still the wild west! It was hard to envision things at times, but the author placed quite a few photos in the book, which helped tremendously. I loved wondering about the kids they were teaching, shuttering about the life many of the women had to live and sighing with relief that I wasn't born back then in Colorado. I'm not sure I would do very well. I liked how the author remained unbiased when she wrote about the coal mines, still managing to cast a good light on one of the managers even thought knowing history I wouldn't agree with that man's decisions. But that is the advantage of knowing what will happen in the history to come...
I would recommend the book. It isn't as revitating as a novel, but it is crazy to think about the middle of America being that harsh and rough less than 100 years ago. That's really only four generations ago! I don't know, it really impacted me!

                                        

What have you read this year?

                                                                Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A pause here, a stutter there...

A nice, older gentleman stop me in the kiosk as I buy the stamps. When he is interrupted I almost sigh with relief, but then he starts again so I am forced to listen. It is quite witty what he says, not the criticism I was expecting. ..But I couldn't find the right words in French to make a witty comment back. So all I did was smile and say, "true, true."

Blech.

I have to make a phone call. I hate the phone. I don't like talking to the doctor and asking questions that they don't understand why I am asking them...because I am asking what the rules are basically. Stupidly I talk fast. I'm in a hurry trying to outsmart the whiny one year old chasing me through the house. She doesn't understand. I get flustered and retell the speech. She pauses and says, "sorry, again, I don't understand." Firecracker comes to me with a question. I frantically wave her away as I try to form the right sentence structure in my head. In the end it comes out a bit like this, "Second daughter, coughing, no asthma medicine. Can I have an appointment????"
She sighs and says yes. She is never very nice. Three time she asks me  repeat certain things each question followed by big sighs.

I slap my forehead. Geez .

The teacher pulls me aside. Oh, boy. Here it comes. What did one of my kids do? But it isn't that. It is something nicer, simpler. No big deal. I answer easily, but get too comfortable. The next sentence starts out well but I can't quite remember how to say, "If you are comfortable with that arrangement...." I trail off and try again. And again. Her face twists into confusion and she looks to someone else for help. I say, "You know, yes, we will talk, okay?" Relieved, she nods her head and I slink out.

 I am certain my face is red.

Dropping off Chatterbox is hard. She screams, but the people there are so nice and speak slowly for me and they always smile and they never make me feel bad. On purpose. I speak easier, perhaps due to not feeling that anxiety coming over me. So today I say perfectly, "I will come a quarter of an hour earlier so she won't start to cry." I think I say it perfectly. Her face goes blank. I try again, and she still doesn't understand. I talk try again, this time leaving out all the whys and wherefores and then she smiles. "Okay," she says.

Okay.

Stutter. Pause. Clearly I have a bit of work to do here......

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five minute Friday: NEW

Ever since I got back to France all I can think about is the sameness. I am restless for something new...when I have time to think about it. The school year is new, we could say, but really it is the same school, the same friends, the same ungodly amounts of homework...the girls are happy which isn't new...Principe's job isn't new. Nothing has changed there. While he tries his best to come home at a decent time it usually ends up being after 8pm.

Why do I need something new? I guess so I don't feel like I'm in the rut of laundry, cooking, cleaning, picking up kids and hauling them around. The other day I spent five hours in the kitchen. While I griped about it to Principe I realized that this isn't really anything new. Again.

So I grasp at straws and wonder....what is new? If someone asks me, what would I say? What should I say? I don't want to say "nothing". So I think, think, think and a light bulb turns on: Chatterbox started school which produces two hours for four days a week that I have to myself to work or run. That is new. While it isn't the 15 hours of writing a week that I am struggling to attain, It is something. And it is, in fact, new.


Wow, that five minutes went fast. Didn't get as much down as I wanted! Here is something else new: my first post for FIVE MINUTE FRIDAYS!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back in town



Two weeks have passed since we came home. Home. Hmmm. I seem to use throw that word around a lot. France isn't exactly my home. But it is where my heart is. Meaning where my children and husband are. Hence it is home. 

And yet no place can really be home when you receive a culture shock every time you come back after being away for two months. The culture shock isn't as bad as it was the first time I moved here, but it was worse than my other returns, since I have never been away this long. 

Although I knew what was coming, I was surprised about a few things. Walking through the streets that are so familiar after four and a half years of living here I almost expected changes, a difference i the air, in prices, in people. Looking around, breathing in the air, I noticed that no one else felt the charge of change in the air, no one else held expectations. I walked past the same people begging for cigarettes and coins on the street and heard them calling out the same insults or pleas. I went to buy eggs and found the same price and the same woman working. I did find my usually veggie stand change owners. But then the smell of urine in that corner didn't change. People didn't magically start picking up their dog's poop either....

School started without too much upset, although the girls claim they don't like it. Well, they say, we like recess, but not the school part. Yep, the same tale. France, the States, doesn't matter. All kids prefer recess to school work. Imagine that.

The worst part is that Chatterbox started daycare part time. And she hates it. She hasn't even actually been longer than one hour so far because she screams so loudly and hits the teacher when she tries to pick her up so they don't want her there for any loner. This week we are going three times in which I will stay for fifteen minutes to see if she will act a bit calmer. I have the feeling that if she doesn't they are going to "suggest" that she doesn't come any more. Ay, my poor nervous toddler. Now she clings to me each time we go somewhere and acts like she is afraid I'm going to leave her. She wants me to hold her when we are outside and when I do she claws her nails into my shoulders to make sure I won't put her down! Talk about culture shock! Chatterbox bears the brunt of it, it seems!

Hopefully it will go better this week. As I get comfortable again with the high prices, frowning cashiers and terrible customer service that rarely allows you to return anything, hopefully Chatterbox will get comfortable with a French speaking teacher and find the fact that there is a ball pool at day care way more interesting than screaming for an hour! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

White bean vanilla cake


Remember my obsessison with beans and baking? Remember the chocolate  brownies I made with red beans? Maybe we shouldn't remember. Let's forget that one because this time I made it right. Only in vanilla. And a cake. So not the same but the point is that this time it turned out perfectly and I can't wait for you guys to try it!

I know there are quite a few recipes out on pi teret using beans. Heck, even Martha Stewart's sight has a vanilla white bean cake. I tried it. It was ok. I like this one better. That's probably pride talking since I modified this recipe in the way I wanted it. 

One note: using beans in place of butter makes the cake a bit heavier. You could play with using just egg whites to make it lighter. I don't like doing that because I hate throwing away the yolks. Give me a recipe with just egg yolks and I will try it!

But until that time I will continue on with this cake recipe. I took the original recipe from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. She has lots of awesome recipes and I highly recommend you try some. Who wouldn't love someone with over twenty versions of chili? Or is that the Wisconsinite in me talking?

Anyway, this is my version of the recipe. 



1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white bean puree (open a can, rinse them, then puree them with a blender. Add a bit of water to make it a smooth blend)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour (I use bakers wheat)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds (optional)
3 1/2 tsp baing powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk (dairy or non)

Theoretically you can dump all the ingredients into the bowl and stir, but I prefer to mix them in the order that I wrote the recipe. And I like to mix the dry ingredients together separately just to make sure a clump of salt doesn't end up in one piece of cake! Make sure your oven is preheated to 375F. Butter and for the pan of your choice and pop into the hot oven. I made a nine inch round and it was done about 20 minutes later, but every oven is different so check on it!

My frosting is a classic buttercream frosting and I overlooked my resolution not to buy anything with hydrogenated oils in it and added the sprinkles. Cause sometimes it's more important to be joyful. It was a good choice too because the girls ended their first week of school with exhausted melt downs. But a bit of cake cheered them right up!

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