Saturday, January 31, 2009

Things I can do now, that I couldn't do six months ago

How's that for a ridiculously long blog post title? Let's see...

1. Drive. In the suburban areas anyway. I drove into Paris once. On a Sunday afternoon. It took me as long to drive in as it did to find a parking space.
2. Ride the bus. When the trains go on strike, alternatives are necessary. This week the whole city went on strike. But I still made it in to visit with friends. Which brings me to...
3. Park. This is the home of the SmartCar for a reason. There is never any parking anywhere. When I go to pick my kids up from their school, I almost always park at least partially on the sidewalk. It is the only way.
4. Grocery shop. Here it's a combination of open-air markets, small grocers and on-line grocers with free (or cheap) home delivery. Guess which one I like best.
5. See a movie. At the movie theatre. Take the train in to meet T at his office. Go up to the theatre. Figure out which movies are in English (V.O.S.T. stands for something along the lines of voice original subtitled). Which is fine, except for the parts in the movie that are in a different language than English are subtitled in French. Oops.
6. Order lunch. That the children will actually eat. Pomme frites, anyone? And, my kids are expanding their horizons too. The older two, at least, are willing to try new things.
7. Teach Jazzercise. My unofficial start date is Monday, in my living room. By next month, I will have an official class and a real location. Whoa.
8. Understand French. A little. I can follow directions to the toilet or the metro. I can order food and buy clothing. I can manage to compliment someone without causing a ten-minute conversation. But it's not pretty.

I'm sure there's more. But this is what comes to mind for now. Happy January. It's done now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Free to a Good Home....

This week, I read a post by a sister American-in-Paris (although she's here to stay). She has this lovely cat...

... who is in need of a new home. If you're here, and a cat-lover, and don't have anyone in the family who is vehemently opposed to it, maybe you can be her adoptive mother. Link here for the whole story, and more pictures.

For more information, visit Lisa's blog, The Bold Soul. Actually, visit anyway. She's a great (and inspiring) writer.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

JAZZERCISE - Do You Wanna Dance (Avec Moi)?

If you've been reading here since September, you know that I have been planning on teaching Jazzercise classes here in France since before I arrived. It’s coming up on February now, and I think it’s high time to get started.

I’m a little nervous though. I’m not sure where to hold classes, when is the right time, or how many people are likely to show up. (Not to mention, I’ve never done this before and I’m not in quite the fabulous shape I was when I did it four times per week).

Regardless... I am committed to getting started. If you are in France (and didn't get my email already), please answer the following questions in the comments section:

1. If I offered a class at 9:30 a.m. on Mondays & Thursdays in/near
Saint Cloud (within a ten minute drive from the American School), would you come?
2. Would you come regularly, or occasionally?
3. If I could only offer the classes at 11:30 a.m., would you still come?
4. If I started on February 2, would you join me?

Please let me know of your interest level. I’m not exactly sure how it will work out, but to those of you who respond, I will let you know. Thanks so much for your support.

Also, if you know of an available place to use (think dance studios and/or large basements), please forward me the information.

Again, thanks. Have a fabulous day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Yesterday, on the way to the museum with T, I fell down the stairs in the Metro station. My foot slipped out from under me, and I went down on my butt. Then I slid down one step. It wasn't much, in the way of actual damage. But, man am I sore today. Yuck.

On a brighter note though, we finally walked to school again. We've been driving due to the cold weather. But I'd finally had enough. I need to walk. And no one cried. And E went right into his classroom and gave his teacher a bisou (kiss). Yay... Life continues to become NORMAL. (Oh that makes me SO happy!)

P.S. President Obama. Way cool.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing the tourist thing...

I am finally making a point of getting out and seeing the things I want to see here. In the last week, I've done not one, but TWO sightseeing adventures.

First, I went back to Chartres. It said on the website that the labyrinth was open on Fridays (chairs cleared away, so you can walk). What it didn't say on the website was that it only happens on Fridays between Easter and Toussaint.

So. No labyrinth walk. But the tower was open. So I paid my seven Euros and I climbed. See...

I was up at the top of this.

I really liked all the animals depicted.

And the guy.

I kept thinking I ought to buy the book or go on a tour and learn more about this or something. On the other hand, I WILL go back.

And then today, T took the day off, and we went to l'Orangerie - a museum dedicated to the impressionists. While I only took one picture (to show the immensity of the SIZE of the paintings by Monet), really there were two pictures that really make me go WOW!

Here is my picture (there were four paintings per room times two rooms). That's T sitting there. And it's only about half of the painting. They're HUGE.

Here are the ones I connect with...

Picasso - The Embrace

Renoir - Two Girls at the Piano

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dawn of a New Day?

Or just a pretty morning?

Yesterday, when driving the small boys to school, the sky was on fire with oranges and pinks and purples. Even they were impressed.

I pulled into my normal "parking space" (only spot within 100 yards of the school in which my vehicle will fit - on the sidewalk), and looked up. Saw this:

As I walked the boys from the car, we could see that it was a full arch across the entire sky. G.E.O.R.G.O.U.S.! I kept pointing it out to people ("regardez l'arch du colores.") Incredible.

And short lived. It was gone by the time I returned to my car.

The timing though, was interesting. The rainbow was yesterday. Today marks six months of living in France. (We arrived July 14).

So, should I count this as a sign of good things to come?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How much???

Note for future reference: Do NOT try to develop film in France.

I was at the shopping mall looking for winter coats for the two younger boys. We passed by a one-hour photo development place, and I remembered two rolls of film I'd been carrying around (for months!) in my purse.

So I dropped them off and went on my merry way.

We found jackets and went back to pick up the film. I started to dig out the change (I like to get rid of coins first, as they're very heavy), I didn't really notice the price.

But then I did... 45.96 Euros. That's about $62. And the pictures weren't that good.

Thank goodness everything else is digital!

Dream. On.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago that has stayed with me. The specifics aren't important (and I'm not sure I want to post the details), but the meaning came through loud and clear...

I am being called to create/manifest structures in my life that not only support the people around me (my family), but that hold me up too. I am ready to have things/people/activities/work in my life which give me energy and allow me to connect with a deeper purpose.

The piece of the dream that most struck me, was how vividly delighted the other person was to see/be with me, how good it feels to be loved unconditionally. I want to create places in my life where that feeling exists for me (and for others, of course).

This feels a little like a carry through from the last post about self-appreciation. I guess I'm looking for even more than that - places where "appreciating others" is the norm, rather than a rarity.

Something I remember from a video of R. Buckminister Fuller - "love comprehnsibly" (not comprehensively), i.e., love so that people "get" it. I want more of that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Self Appreciation

My mom, who is normally rather amazing (check her out), reminded me of something this morning... On her weekly newsletter, she pointed out the need for self-appreciation - noticing the things that you do (because they need to be done), and then forget about.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. It was the first day back to school for the kids, and the youngers have pretty much forgotten they ever liked it in the first place. E cried all morning long. A joined in on the walk to school. By the time we got there, I was near tears too. (We couldn't get the car out of the driveway, due to the "snowboarding" of the previous day).

I know it was hard. But at the same time, it's important for the kids to get out of the house. (And lord knows, I need to have the time away from them). Even though it sucked, I did it. And today, they cried less (and I was able to drive), and I expect they'll be back in the swing of school by next week.

What have you done, that no one will thank you for, but ought to be recognized?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Snow! And Oom Pah Pah!

It snowed ALL DAY LONG yesterday. I was NOT READY for it. I have not lived in a place with snow in 10 years (Christmas Day 2004, nonwithstanding). I was COLD. I still am cold. It's colder today than it was when it was snowing!
The boys, on the other hand, LOVED it. J & R were outside three different times, having snowball fights, and "snowboarding" down the driveway.

E, on the other hand, spent the day inside. He (and the others) watched Oliver! over the holiday break, and he latched onto the song Oom Pah Pah. Here he is singing it for us. (You'll have to tilt your head, because I don't know how to put it right side up).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Musings for 2009

I'm a big fan of setting clear intentions for what I want to create each year, and for having some kind of completion ceremony at the end of each year.

Last year (for 2008), in December T had applied for a job in France, but we didn't know whether or not he was going to get it. So for my New Year planning, I divided the page into two columns. In one column, I wrote about what I'd like to do with my year in Houston. In the other column, what I'd do in France.

The problem is, while I did ALL of the things in the France column, I ALSO did almost all of the things in the "stay-in-Houston" column. So, not surprisingly, 2008 was pretty exhausting.

So now I'm looking at 2009, and thinking about what I want to create.

I've written a lot in my journal, and made a 9 for 09 list (suggested by Karen of Chookooloonks), and spent some time musing about the year. But I'm still a bit fuzzy.

Here are the things I'm sure of:

1. I WILL teach Jazzercise somewhere. I WILL continue to exercise and take care of myself physically.
2. I will explore my new home and do the things that people visiting here do. I will learn more about what's here, and take time to appreciate it. Living in Paris (or outside of it), is after all, a dream for many. I will not waste it.

Beyond that, I'm really not sure. Here are things I want/need to include:

1. Spend time with each kid individually; have dates with T; continue to arrange and accept assistance with household tasks/chores.
2. I need to be in community with people. This may come from Jazzercise, or I may need to find it elsewhere. I'm thinking about the Kehilat Gesher congregation, and I'm thinking about my kids' schools. But definitely I need to connect with people. Which leads me to...
3. Consider what "work" means to me. Do I want to continue organizing? Do I want to create professional work? Write? Teach? What can I do that will give me positive feedback in the world?

2009 will definitely be less chaotic than 2008. But being simply "less than," is not enough. But what it WILL be, is yet undetermined.

My friend B would point out the value of being open to what Spirit has in store for me.

I'll do my best.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be blessed. (And maybe that's enough).

Pictures from Hanukkah 2008

The annual telling of the Hanukkah story.

There were presents. (Almost all of them with actual Hanukkah-themed wrapping paper).

The dress-up box went over very well.

Even the big boys participated. Well, with the weapons, anyway.

Grandma & Grandpa participated via skype.

I forgot to take the photo on the 8th night. Seventh night will have to do. In a few years, we'll have five menorahs - one for each boy, plus mine. How pretty that will be! We talked about how being Jewish is about bringing more light into the world (and more love).

Hope your holidays were merry and bright!