Friday, December 31, 2010

If only the fun would never end

So we've got exactly another week here and I'm getting that inevitable grey feeling about going back to France. I knew that it would creep up on me as it always does. And though I'll be glad to see my cat and coworkers, there will be that time of transition. Because, let's face it, things are just a lot of fun here. No doubt if I really lived here again and had to work and deal with traffic and exorbitant health care costs it would be different. Or would it? I would at least be able to see my family more frequently and that makes a big difference. But I shouldn't go down that path 'cause for the time being it's not an option. And besides, we really have been blessed to have gotten here safely (yet more flights were cancelled last week and at one point there was so much snow on the roof of a Paris airport terminal that it had to be evacuated!) and to have three weeks to enjoy ourselves.

In the meantime we're making great memories to nurture us through the next long stretch when we'll be apart from the US contingent of the family. Plus doing some much needed catching up on Americana. Here are a few highlights:

Hanging out with my old high school girlfriends (who are all moms themselves now). It's cool how we can all connect to each other on new levels now. We remember why we got along before even though we've all changed.

Last minute Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart and Target.

Making sugar cookies with baby, Jess and my mom. Juliette's first experience with cookie cutters: a test in patience for us all but it was good fun anyway.

Snow on Christmas Day and the day after! We so rarely get snow in Alabama that really sticks, and it's even rarer on Christmas. How perfect that we got it for our visit.

Nice visits with my uncle and aunt and her little dog Bella. Currently visiting my sis down at her place.

Great eats at home and out, including but not limited to:

California rolls (so much better when enjoyed with my family)
square doughnuts and Krispy Kreme doughnuts (not at the same time)
Chinese buffet
Italian at The Olive Garden
Oreo balls (divine concoction made from crushed Oreos, cream cheese then dipped in chocolate)
Grandma's corn dressing and Sunny's sweet potato casserole
Mom's pecan tartelettes...

I could go on but I might exceed your daily calorie allowance just writing about it all.

But mostly we've just been catching up on each other, like this quiet reading moment with my grandma. That's what we came here for anyway.

Tonight we're going to spend a low key New Year's (that's the way I like it!) at my sister's house. Probably won't update again till I'm back in France (sniff). Happy New Year's to everyone and safe travels to those of you going back yourselves.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

International transit

I love the feeling of waking up in my mother's home again. That first morning back, my eyes sensed the light coming through the blinds around six (about two hours earlier than in higher latitude France). I heard a bird chirping and, my favorite of all, the distant sound of the freight train honking at a railway passage. Home. The features of the house that I've been keeping fresh in my mind's eye and through periodic Skype visits is there to greet me again. The familiar creak in the floor here, the sound of the hook and eye latch on the door.

Yes, we're settling in quite nicely and thanking our lucky stars we got here without too many hitches. Apparently the snowstorms back in Paris have stranded thousands of travelers, some even having to spend a night in the airport there. I can only imagine their frustration as all they want is to get home (or in some cases to their tropical travel destination). The morning we left our city had a nice blanket of it and the train to Paris was a bit delayed. But luckily that didn't cause any problems catching our flight. It was starting to snow at our scheduled take-off time so the plane had to be de-iced. This led to us getting off late.

Luckily the ten and half-hour plane ride went better than I had thought, but Juliette still had a bit of trouble adjusting to the idea that she couldn't "get down," something she asks me all the time. There were some touch and go moments of her screaming "no." Luckily I had befriended the eight-year old girl who was flying alone in the row beside us and she helped me entertain Juliette a few times. But it's only fair since I had let the girl play with my iPod. And we both agreed that it was just a shame that our flight didn't have individual video systems (what's up with that, Delta?).

(Can you tell we are happy?!)

But all's well that ends well. We caught our connecting flight despite our delay and arrived safe and sound. We're still resting up a bit but the jet-lag hasn't been so bad this time. The weather's lovely, sunny and not so chilly. Everyone's enjoying seeing Juliette and her funny antics. I might be blogging less over these next few weeks but I'm sure you'll understand why. So if I don't post again for a while, have a warm and cozy holiday!

I'll leave you with some Christmasy music from my favorite program.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...Siberia?

Well, not today actually. Now most of the snow has melted and been replaced by a monotonous rain. But we had a good bit of white stuff this week, including a rather blustery snowfall yesterday. Juliette enjoyed thrashing about in it, but of course I was there to remind her not to get her gloves soggy.

Of course we snapped a few photos:

And we're getting into the Christmas spirit. Today is Saint Nicholas' Day, something celebrated in countries like Belgium, Holland and Germany. Since my mom spent a few years of her childhood in Germany, it's a tradition she gave to our family. So as Juliette has been a fairly good child, St. Nick put some candy in the boots that we left out last night.

We've decorated half of our dining table as the Christmas corner, complete with tabletop tree and mini snow globe and cowboy snowman and Santa. We didn't go all out with a real tree since we'll be leaving in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS FOR THE US. Juliette refers to Santa as "(s)tannah claw". We'll see how she reacts to the real thing next week at the day care Christmas show. This will be our third and last year to go to this event as next Christmas she'll be in official pre-school.

Still lots to do before we take that big plane to America. And once we get there we'll just be happy to see family and friends. And do everything. And nothing at all. Still a bit hard to believe I'm going back after a year and a half. I'm afraid it will go by too fast, but that just means I'll try to enjoy every minute of it.