Friday, August 28, 2009

Of Boys & Beasts

Random photos from August...
We spent one day in Colorado Springs with T's family. His sister lives there with her two daughters & five grandkids. His brother came visiting from Massachusettes with his daughter. Among excellent barbeque & down home cooking at Cracker Barrel, we visited Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, truly one of the (many) stunning places in Colorado.
R & A with one of the (second-)cousins. I am "aunt" to her mother, who is a few years older than me. I am delighted that my children will have memories of rock "scrambling," climbing around on Colorado rocks.
J, who has again found the highest point possible.
On the first or second day we were home, while we waited for dinner, the boys re-discovered American television. What I think is funny, is the one thing they had to see was Scooby Doo. We have about 8 Scooby Doo DVDS here.
"I want to be a pirate, mommy." Now all I have to do is teach him to say "Arrrgh" by September 19. (Look it up).

Of course, if we're taking pictures of one boy, the other has to get in on the action. Mostly he was making faces, but I caught him just being happy.

E having his first x-ray at the Dentist. I love this dentist. They can do all four boys at once, and each seat has a flat-screen television on the ceiling, and headphones to listen. Doubt if I could find anything like that here. (This is in Denver).

Last week, we had returned, and were working on getting over jetlag. I'd heard about this "zoo," and thought we'd check it out. It's not a zoo, actually. It's an "animal park." You drive in, and the animals are just outside your window. No fences, just wandering around. The zebras, especially would come right up to the car. This young one is nursing it's mother so close, I could have reached out of the car window and touched it.
The bears & buffalo are in a separate area from other animals. (Also, the big cats have a place of their own - but still no fences between animal & car). I, and all of the boys were VERY excited.
And the last wild beast of the post... One morning, when I woke R up he yawned, and I noticed his tongue was black. After a momentary panic, I consulted Dr. Google. Here is what I found.

Birthday Presents

I never got around to writing about my fortieth birthday. It's about time, I think. But, since my writing muscles are starting to wither away, I'm going to cheat (again), and post pictures instead.

I bought myself a boquet of flowers in the morning (which is something I should do a lot more often, by the way). By the time my party was over, I had three boquets and one orchid. I had flowers on my desk; flowers in the kitchen; flowers in the hallway & flowers in my bedroom. One of my friends gave me a book of things to do "now that you're 40." I'm thinking that having flowers around is one of those things.

Here I am at the party. See my beautiful cake? See my beautiful cleavage? One fun thing about living in France is how easy/comfortable/appreciated it is to share your shape.

At the party we had fireworks, which J helped set off - so the kids had a good time too. Two days ago, I learned just how close we had been to having the fire department called on us.

Apparently someone in the apartment behind our house saw us shooting things off, and worried we'd set the house on fire. Her neighbor, who works at the boys' school looked out, recognized one of the guests at the party, and reassured her neighbor that "oh, that's just an American thing. They're harmless. It's okay. Do NOT call the fire department."

Makes me wonder about all the things I don't know about, which I discover later. Hmmm.

My present to myself, was a three-day vacation at a spa in the Alsace region of France. I took a fast train, arranged a taxi, and spent three days taking care of no one but myself. On one of my walks, I noticed this ladder. Being the curious soul that I am (and having no children around in which I wouldn't want to have followed me), I climbed.

At the top of the ladder was a single wooden seat (really, a platform with a back). I turned around, sat down and watched the world go by for awhile. The best thing about this trip was the opportunity to slow down. To let go and to listen to the parts of me that generally get drowned out in the noise of everyday living.

The town was having some kind of art installation about bugs. All around town, I found these lovely creatures, climbing up walls, on the sidewalk, in cafes. Fun & silly.

Last, but definitely not least, my best girlfriend made time to visit with me this summer. She left her three boys, to hang out with me and two of mine (the older boys were in Denver with their grandma). This wasn't officially a birthday visit, but it was such a gift I had to include it. Love you, gal!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Long Enough

I believe I have been gone from France long enough to miss it. Or maybe I'm just ready for school to re-start again. I've been in Houston for a week now. I've enjoyed seeing my old friends, eating at familiar restaurants (when I'm hungry - not when they deign to feed me).

I've tried to see my former health care providers, but all except one are no longer practicing where I thought they were. Fortunately, their replacements have been happy to provide me with the prescriptions I need. (I think that's the main purpose of this trip - to get prescriptions refilled).

My best girlfriend came out for the weekend and we had a wonderful time catching up. And finally, T came out, so I'm no longer a single-mommy.

Nonetheless, I am ready to get back to my regularly-scheduled life - for the kids to have places to go, for the rhythms of life to relax, and to have my own space again.

We leave Houston tomorrow, will spend Wednesday in Colorado Springs with T's sister & brother & families. On Thursday I will fit in packing, last-minute shopping and a visit with both my aunt, and my niece.

Can I pile it on, or what? (Geez!)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I Planned; God Laughed

So. All of you know what an excellent, outstanding organizer I am. And you all know I have four kids. Therefore, planning a trip overseas with different people leaving and arriving and staying in different places at different times shouldn't be a problem. Right?

(Oh, I kid... I'm good, yes - but this took a lot of juggling).

Basically, I arranged our sojourn to the United States around the idea of sending the older boys to summer camp (sleep-away camp). They had gone last year (while T & I were expatriating), and L.O.V.E.D(!) it. A little scheduling magic, and TA-DA, we can do it.

Except for one little snag...

Apparently it's been raining in Colorado. A lot. Way more than usual. Enough to cause flooding. (You see where this is heading, don't you?)

Their beloved camp was flooded in the days prior to our arrival. It caused mold to occur in the kitchen (unheard of in Colorado's usually dry climate), and caused the health department to close the camp.*

With some emergency phone calls, we found a camp that would take them. Except this camp had already started, and would have to absorb them mid-stream. They said it would be okay, as long as the boys stayed for the following session...

Whoops. If they stayed for the following session, they would miss the opportunity to see their cousin & great aunt. That doesn't work. So, oops again. Can't go there. How about a nice YMCA day camp?

While that did work out, I found myself preparing lunches and thinking to myself... so when does my vacation start?

After a few more back-and-forths, it was decided that while J would stay at G-ma & G-pa's house next week, and attend a few days of (day-)camp, R would go ahead to the alternate overnight camp. He is the one who was profoundly disappointed; and he is the one who makes friends easily. So, he goes.

This morning, my mom brought A, E & me to the airport to fly to Houston for nine days; and my dad brought R to his camp. When I checked in with my folks later in the day, they informed me that R's camp doesn't start until tomorrow, actually. Ah, well.

*We didn't find this out until after the two-hour drive to camp. The boys did however, get to say hello to their counselors, so I guess the trip was worth it.