Thursday, May 19, 2016

Five ways Netflix can change your life

I know I am preaching to the choir here.  I know that most of you have had Netflix from the get-go, as well as Apple TV and throw in a little premium channels via AT&T or what-have-you.  But as you know I resisted jumping on the Netflix bandwagon for a while, mostly just in the interest of saving pennies.  Even streaming seemed out of bounds for me since our laptop is getting on in years.  And don't even think about dowloading, cause I think it would just make my computer explode (plus there are those pesky legal aspects).  RĂ©sultat: I am pretty behind on all movies and TV shows from the last decade and then some. 

But then there was that magical day my mom was visiting and we realized that you can watch Netflix on two screens.  And in minutes, we saw the happy red logo in that now familiar font appear on our very own TV!  We didn't know it then but our life was about to change in so many little and big ways.  You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

1. And God said, let there be Netflix, and there was peace.  No sacrilege intended, but sometimes it seems like a God-given gift to be able to watch what you want, when you want.  Not to mention, there is actually less grumbling when it comes to choosing a program.  Instead of channel-surfing and then forgetting what seemed interesting, Remi and I look at each other after dinner and say, Breaking Bad or Misfits?  It is that simple.  Less fighting, less eye-rolling at his choice of yet another action film with "Ahh-nold" or Sly Stallone.  Or both in the same film.  Remi is probably glad he doesn't have to watch as many British period pieces as on those rare occasions I won the remote before. 

2. Family movie night just got easier. In the same way, when the weekend rolls around, our new habit is looking on Juliette's kid-friendly profile and choosing an animated film or a live-action family film.  Knowing it is on the family profile means it shouldn't have bad language or compromising situations that are tricky to explain to her.  Just don't stray from the family categories or you could wind up watching Butter with a seven-year old and having to explain why that stripper is dressed like that.

3. More interesting water cooler conversations.  Now I can finally talk about some of those shows out there everyone is buzzing about.  Except that, lo and behold, not everyone out there has seen them either.  But at least now I can potentially watch The Walking Dead or Orphan Black, one day, when I've caught up on my current series.

4. Examining gray areas, explaining the intricacies of character profiles.  Everyone's an armchair, or should I say, sofa psychiatrist now.  Spend a while binge-watching and you think you're inside the character's head.  It's a nice distraction from your own problems to wonder if it was really necessary for Walt to start making crystal meth.  Or to compare your parenting techniques to those on Modern Family and realize you're not doing so bad. 

5.  English-language version, it's good to have you back!  Ok, granted this is one expats will appreciate, but after watching a lot of dubbed movies and series, Netflix guarantees you the original language version for all those US and British shows.  No more hit and miss wondering if the French channel is offering that blockbuster in VO (version originale).  Music to my ears, finally.  And great for Juliette to work on her English vocab and Remi as well. 

So maybe Netflix isn't the most earth-shattering of products, but in its own way, it has made life a little easier and certainly more pleasant.  And I just don't think I could live without it now.  Don't even mention such a blasphemous thing in my house unless you want to get hit over the head with the remote!

PS: this post was not sponsored by Netflix, but they are welcome to pay me if they want.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Once I was seven years old

No doubt you've heard this song.  The chorus gets stuck in my head, and the fact that my girl is seven surely makes it stick even harder.  To hear it sung is a reminder of this age, precious and alert at the same time.  Maybe like me, you remember being seven.  It was a happy time, before middle school taunts and high school drama and all the rest of it.

Once I was seven-years old, and I loved my second grade teacher.  I still remember her name: Mrs. Auprin.  She was pregnant and I asked my mom where babies came from.  After much dogging, she finally gave me a pretty approximate explanation about hugging that satisfied my seven-year old brain.  I remember my teacher putting a shoe box up high on a shelf to teach us about resisting temptation and our conscience.  There was a bag of popcorn in there that we eventually popped for the class, I suppose. 

Seven is waking up to the world but still firmly in childhood innocence for most kids.  The tooth fairy and santa still had their place in my world back then.  School was fun and life was good. Homework was either non-existent or finished quickly.  Play was my biggest priority.

Flash forward 35 years.  I've got my own seven-year old whose praises and quirks I've already sung for this age.  But I feel a sort of urgency to say how lovely it is to have this little person (who comes up to about my heart, height-wise) wrap her thin arms around me and say, I love you, mommy.  Can't get enough of it.  Never will be able to.  I keep fearing adolescence breathe its ugly sighs down on me and I sometimes want to suspend time at seven. 
Once she was seven-years old.  And she still is for two months.  And she loves to sing Katy Perry songs.  She devours comic books and Netflix and plays a little less with Barbie and Playmobil.  Her friends are her world and she wonders about marrying her best little male friend and begs me to ask her questions about their future life together.  She still loves to swing on her swingset and cuddle.  She wants to pick out her clothes more than before. 

But I can't ask her to stay seven forever, just as my parents couldn't freeze time for me either.  She is meant to go through all the stages, and I will find something beautiful and worthy in each one.  And maybe one day she will look back at seven and say, once I was seven-years old, and it was a happy year.  I guess that's the best I can hope for!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Starry, starry night

stars, galaxy, sky, night, dark, evening, trees, silhouette, space, nature 
I wish I could say I took this picture.  I didn't, but I did see a sky full of stars very much like this last weekend at 3:30 am.  Juliette had come to my tent to ask to go the bathroom, and considering it was nearly freezing, I had no inclination to get out my crappy knock-off Android cell phone and snap a pic.  We did spend a few frigid moments star-gazing.  It's true you can see so much more outside of the bright city lights.  That was just one of the things I learned last weekend on my first ever camping trip as an accompanying adult with the scouts.

I love nature but I have to say I was not very keen on camping and helping (with four other parents) watch a group of 14 scout boys and girls.  Luckily it was not completely roughing it since we pitched our tents on the soccer field of a private high school.  There were bathrooms a short walk from our camping site (but strangely no sinks).  But it was definitely a new experience for me, and, possibly, good blog fodder.  And, no, that's not the only reason I agreed to do it!  Here are a few of my observations during my 28 hours in Scoutville.

1. French kids aren't perfect either.  Phew!  They may be less tantrumy in general, according to some, but I can tell you first-hand that some of the seven and eight-year olds I came in contact with had their moments of whining, pouting and not listening to instructions.  Great, it's not just mine!

2. French parents really do stress less!  I did observe less franticness when some of the accompanying brothers and sisters who were much younger wandered about and did their thing.  I would have been following my kid like a hawk in case she touched a stinging nettle, but I found the other moms and dads would glance over occaisonally and intervene if necessary.  But they didn't hover around their kids like I would at that age. 

3. You cannot sleep outside when it's 33°F.  When I told people I was going camping and that it was supposed to be a cold weekend, they would laugh and tell me, scouts never cancel.  And they didn't.  And there was literally frost on our tents the next morning.  The other parents and I complained we could not get warm at all at night. This was despite wearing my coat to bed. That is certainly something I don't want to relive.  The kids at least had the body heat of the other kids to keep them slightly warmer. 

4. The two-second tents take 15 minutes to refold.  I learned how to pitch the official scout tents.  Well, I watched and helped, but don't ask me to do it on my own.  My personal tent is the kind you open and that pops into place by itself.  Folding it back is another story, and as my husband was working that weekend, it took four men to put it back in place for me.

5. Kids have way more energy than adults.  The older scouts who organized the events had the younger ones participating in assemblies till nearly 10 pm.  After four hours of sports and relays, they did another hour of the French equivalent of dodge-ball.  I was ready for bed at nine, myself.

6. Teenagers are not all bad.  As this weekend included scouts of all ages, I saw how the older ones interacted.  It was refreshing to see teens organizing events and working together, enforcing the fair play spirit (and, by the way, French people use the term "fair play" straight from English) and helping younger kids.  It gave me hope for the future! 

7.  A hot shower heals everything.  I was glad to be back home and become human again with a nice shower and clean clothes.  Oh, and a two-hour nap helps, too. 

So I suppose if they ask me again in the future, I could help out on another camping adventure.  But only if I can bring a portable radiator, just in case it dips below freezing again.  Anyway, that's the scout motto, right?  Toujours prĂȘt- always ready!