Sunday, February 27, 2011

a trip to the hospital

I was home on Tuesday afternoon, getting ready for the Bohn family to visit, when there was a knock on the door. Someone from Joey's school had come to get me to tell me that Joey's hand had been slammed in the door and Joey needed to go to the hospital.
The school had tried to call but they misread my handwriting. They mistook my 6 for a 4.
At the school I find Joey sitting in the Principal's office with some bloody fingers. It is hard to tell how deep the cut is because of the blood. An ambulance takes us to the hospital. Joey was a little disappointed there were no lights or sirens.
We checked in the at the hospital and I was happy to be given a form to fill out in English. It is a small detail, but it was nice to not have to translate. French was not coming very easily to me at that moment.
They cleaned up Joey's wound and I was relieved to see that it isn't very bad. He only needed one stitch.

The hospital didn't seem much different from our hospitals. We were in and out of the emergency room in about 2 hours. Not bad.

My favorite part of this story is the hospital bill.
Guess how much it cost.
I will remind you that Joey once went to St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor for stitches in his ear. That bill was over $1,000.
Back to my French hospital bill.
Here is a picture.

Can you read it?
It is 26.74 Euros.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!
A little different for us this year.
In fact, I almost forgot about it. No visual reminders at the store for Valentine's Day. I didn't realize how effective those reminders are!

For the kids at school it is just a regular day.
I asked Gabi's teacher if the kids passed out cards. She told me they do not pass out anything. Valentine's Day is only celebrated between couples.
Then she asked if Gabi would tell the class how American kids celebrate Valentine's Day.

Even though we are apart this year, Rod and I will still give each other our usual gifts. I get chocolate and he gets hockey tape. I know hockey tape doesn't scream romance, but it is what he wants. Sometimes I even take his hockey skates to be sharpened. I don't know which one of us likes our gift better!

The only interesting thing I did on Valentine's Day was go to Ellie's class and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in English to the class. Ellie is in kindergarten, but they call it something else - Grande section maternelle.

I had recommended the book to the teacher and she loved it. She thinks it is a great book to teach the kids English. I read the book aloud two times to the kids. Then the teacher made up a game. She had me say one of the animals, like red bird. The kids had to raise their hand if they thought they knew red bird. She called on different kids to walk up and point out the animal. The teacher made it interactive and the kids were having fun.

Now she has asked me if I have any more books like Brown Bear. Oh crappy crap, now I have to come up with something else.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

chateau run

My mom's friends, Chris and Tom visited last week. Tom is training for the Paris marathon in April.
So yeah, he's a runner. Me, well, I get distracted by the old chateaux and crumbly walls. I stop and talk to the 80 year old farmer.

It was probably good that Tom went for a run at 7am before meeting me to go for the chateaux run at 9am.
Yes, he went for a run first.

Tom brought his camera with him. Turned out to be a good day to have a camera.
We went by the old chateau first. We ventured up in the courtyard and watched some men work on the roof.

Then we went past the newer (1843 is new here) but bigger chateau.

Up until now I have only only looked at the chateau from outside the crumbly stone wall. I have been wanting to get closer to get a picture. I didn't want to be disrespectful or rude.
And I forget my camera most of the time.
Earlier this week when I was running past the chateau I saw some men cutting wood just outside the walls. I stopped and asked them if they owned the chateau. Neither of them were the owners but they did tell me that the owner was "tres, tres gentile." Very very nice.
Ok, that is a good sign.
So Tom and I decided to venture up to the chateau. Walk past the gatehouse.
As we were walking toward the main house, we came across this car.

It was the owner! I told him that we wanted to take a couple of pictures. He was very friendly and told us it was no problem. Then he cheerfully waved and drove off.

I have been so curious about the grounds of the chateau and it was fun to be able to walk around for a few minutes. Not only is there the main house, but there are lots of outbuildings. There are enormous trees and a beautiful view over the city of Fontenay le Comte.

So yes, it was technically a run, but, well, there was also a lot of stopping and gawking.
Tom has one of those GPS thingys that serious runners wear to keep track of pace/time/distance.
Good thing he wore it. It recorded his slowest run ever.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Recently, Gabi and I were having lunch together at a crepe restaurant. We were talking about recess at her school here versus recess in America.
Gabi commented that kids here are not very supervised during recess.
They were very supervised at her school in Michigan.

She went on to say that if a problem comes up, kids here have to deal with it.
In Michigan, if a problem comes up, the kids immediately run to a teacher to help solve the problem.
Gabi and I both found this very interesting.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

sick day and video equipment

Joey was home today with the cold that everyone seems to be getting here.
My idea of a sick day is for Joey to lie on the couch and watch movies all day.
He has other ideas.
First he wants to watch videos on youtube about making movie equipment.
Because, you know, he wants to make a movie.
He has already searched for cameras on Amazon. He doesn't want any old video camera, he wants a professional movie camera. Since I won't give him $4,000 for it he has to come up with another plan.
Some video on Youtube talks about buying broken video equipment on eBay and fixing it. Joey thinks that is a GREAT idea. So then he needs to search ebay for broken video equipment.
He needs help navigating all these sites and he pesters me until I help him. He is a persistent little one.

I am pretending to listen, but really I am playing on my iPhone, when I hear him ask, "Do I want free shipping?"
Ummm, no.
There is no shipping because you are not buying anything.
Then we argued about that.
He was all excited because he found some deals. DEALS, I tell you.

Yeah, these sick days. Good times.

regular old weekend

So I had nothing on the schedule for the weekend. Nothing except a trip to the market on Saturday morning.
We were just hanging out at home on Saturday night around 5pm. I was thinking about pouring a glass of red wine and starting to cook dinner.
My next door neighbor, Giselle comes to the door with 2 tickets in her hand. She says something rapidly in French while waving the tickets. Then she remembers that she needs to speak more slowly when talking to me. S-l-o-w-l-y and then maybe I will understand. Fortunately, I do understand. She has 2 tickets for a concert at the big church in Fontenay le Comte.

By 7pm, Ellie and I are sitting in the big church. We have no idea what to expect. It is beautiful sitting in the church in the evening. These French, they know a thing or two about building churches.
One piano sits on the makeshift stage. Then about 50 or 60 men and women, all dressed in black, walk onto the stage. Then the conductor comes on the stage.
Oh, I get it. It is a choir concert.
And they sing lovely music. Classical music. Stirring music.

I got me some culture on a Saturday night.
And Ellie? She was bored one minute then completely engrossed the next. One minute she was imitating the conductor and the next minute she was digging through my purse looking for something to do.

On Sunday I was thinking about driving up to Nantes. I have been meaning to get back there ever since Mom and I had to go their for our visa appointments. It looks like a lovely city. But Katie and Gabi still seemed to have colds and they were hacking, I mean coughing, all morning. So we just stayed home.
Ellie and Joey were invited to play at the neighbors late in the afternoon. When I went to pick them up they were happily sitting at the kitchen counter eating crepes. Joey was spreading a LOT of Nutella on his crepe.
My neighbor, Giselle, was easily turning out crepe after crepe. Since I was just standing there, waiting for my kids to finish eating, I watched her make them.
Now I know why I can't make crepes like the French, I don't have the right tools!
(Ha! I hope that is my only problem. I hope lack of skill level isn't another problem.)
Of course they offered me a crepe. I said no thank you.
They offered again. I paused.

Let me tell you, it was yummy. I put strawberry jam on mine.
I saw Joey eat three crepes. I don't know how many he had before I arrived.
Luckily, they seem pleased by our enthusiasm over their crepes.
We are invited back over on Wednesday for more crepes.

Mom doesn't know what to do. She can have crepes with us or she can go on her Wednesday afternoon walks. They go to a new village each week. Crepes or a new French village?

For me, it was a weekend with a concert and crepes. Not bad at all.