Have I ever told you . . .

This is a photo from Wikipedia.
Ours are all on another hard drive.
. . . about my favorite vacation day of all time?

It was in Marseille, France. Doug and I decided that we wanted to travel abroad before we started having children, so we went on a Mediterranean cruise. On this cruise, we met a British couple who told us that we should skip the kids and take more cruises-- but that's another story.

Our first port of call was in Marseille and I was ecstatic. I speak a passable amount of French and had desperately wanted to visit the country since I was in high school. We had no plan for the day, but we were over our jet lag (sleeping for 12 straight hours helped with that) and we both had lots of energy and excitement!

We stepped off the boat and just stood, soaking in the gorgeous weather and staring at our surroundings in awe for a moment. Since we had no plan and needed time to sit and look at our map, we made a bee-line for the nearest outdoor cafe.

So, we were sitting at a cafe, outdoors, in beautiful weather, on the coast, in Marseille... Yep.

When the waiter appeared, I ordered the first thing that came to mind.

"Deux cafe, s'il vous plait."

Being the Americans that we are, we were a little surprised to see two tiny cups of espresso appear before us. (Now I know that we are the odd ones.) We added some sugar -- okay, a lot of sugar -- and took a drink.

Oh. My. Goodness.

This was the perfect cup of coffee. Seriously. I have never tasted better coffee in my life! Every cup of espresso I've tried since that trip has been disgusting. I finally gave up and hold out hope that I'll be in Marseille again someday.

I needed smaller bills with which to tip the waiter, so I went inside and used some very tortured French to ask for change. The host gave me a what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about look and started speaking to me in English. I guess it was that obvious. I was mortified at the time, but now I think it's funny.

Once we had gotten our bearings, we started wandering the streets of this beautiful city. We walked all the way up to Notre Dame de la Garde (seen in the distance of the photo above). That was the sight of another embarrassing moment when I tripped over a kneeler and caused a loud banging noise in the midst of a very quiet church. We slipped a little money in the box, lit a candle, and hauled butt out of there.

We wandered some more and found ourselves outside a little creperie, just as we were getting hungry. It seems a bit redundant to tell you how wonderful these crepes were. Doug had one with many ingredients and I had one with very few. Both were amazing!

After lunch we walked and walked and walked some more.

At one point, we came across a park where several stray cats were gathered. While I was talking to them, an old woman came up and started feeding them. She was trying to talk to me, but didn't seem to grasp that I could not understand what she was saying. I caught about every 5th word and that did not help me. I tried telling her that I did not understand, that I didn't speak French, etc. (all in French, mind you), but she just kept talking. We finally started smiling apologetically, waving, and slowly backing away.

Heck, for all I know, she wasn't even talking to me. She could have been talking to the cats about me. I'll never know.

As it neared dinner time, we finally made our way back to the boat. We had walked miles that day. We were sore. We were exhausted. We were sunburned. We were blissfully happy.

And that was my favorite vacation day of all time.



Just what we need...

I will look at the pretty flowers and think simple thoughts.
Oh dear, Lila has started a new collection. She's already got more toys than she could possibly enjoy and she gets hostile if I throw anything away.

"Noooooo!" [weeping and gnashing of teeth] "That was my favorite piece of paper! Aaaaaaargh!" *

Now she has decided to collect empty tissue boxes to use as Polly Pocket houses. Over dinner, she and Doug were developing grand plans for a Polly Pocket Condo and Hotel. It sounds harmless enough (and rather inventive), but I know what that really means. I will be finding stomped and flattened tissue boxes all over my house and I won't be allowed to get rid of them.

She's even trying to make it sound like the environmentally responsible thing to do.

"This way I can use them again and we don't have to waste them by recycling them!"

*sigh* Why am I the only person in my house who likes to get rid of things?


* This actually happened.


I get to have a weekend away with two of my best friends and no kids. I am so excited! I plan to relax my butt off and laugh until I cry. Often. And I really don't think that anyone will be missing me much. The Daddy-Daughter Dance is on Friday, which will keep Doug and Lila entertained. Eli will spend that time with some of his grandparents. They both have gymnastics class on Saturday morning and Doug mentioned a trip to Chuck E. Cheese later in the day.

"Mom? What mom? . . . Do I have a mom?"

Meanwhile, I'm going to do wild and crazy things. Like, complete entire meals and conversations without interruption!

You know that scene from A Christmas Story where the family sits down to dinner, but every time the mother tries to take a bite of food, somebody asks for something? I never understood that scenario before I had kids! I was annoyed by the whole scene and couldn't figure out why she didn't just tell them to get up and help themselves. Then I had my own family. Now I'll find myself bouncing back out of my seat for the fifth time before I've even begun to eat, I think of that scene, and I have to laugh.

[Note: I wanted to embed that movie clip in my post, but I couldn't find it anywhere! After that, I decided I'd use another funny clip from the movie. Turns out that it's very difficult to find good quality 'A Christmas Story' clips online. Most of them are people filming their TV screen as they play the VHS tape. I'll give you another video of my children instead.]

Have I mentioned how much my son loves Adele?


I hate tattling.

The following scenario takes place all the stinkin' time...

[Somewhere in the house, a child begins screaming as though they are being dismembered. The Doppler effect indicates that the child is running in my direction.]

Child #1: Lila/Eli hit me!
Me: Wow, that sounds frustrating. Why did she/he hit you?
Child #1: For no reason!
Me: Really? Well, you might want to stay away from her/him if they're being rude!
Child #1: NO!

[Child stomps out of room, full of purpose. There is a pause. Somewhere in the house, the other child begins screaming. The Doppler effect indicates that this child is now running in my direction.]

Child #2: Eli/Lila threw a toy at me!
Me: Oh, no! Why did he/she do that?
Child #2: For no reason!
Me: Did you hit him/her a few minutes ago?
Child #2: [shifty eyes] . . . no.
Me: Wow! You might want to stay away from him/her if they're going to be rude.

[Child stomps out of room, grumbling under their breath. I rub my temples and go back to whatever I was trying to do.]

This leads me to two conclusions:

1. My children are crazy.
2. They think I am stupid.


Rambling and Ranting

Okay, there will be no photos with this post because I'm using a different computer and this one has no personal photos on it. For months now, I've been using a "loaner" computer that Doug brought home from work. It was supposed to be a temporary setup - until we bought a replacement for my poor old desktop (manufacturer rest it's soul). But then we didn't have the budget to buy a new computer and so I still had the loaner.. I've made myself quite comfortable on it!

Well, today Doug brought home a new system for me to test. If I like it, then I'll be getting one. The bad news: It runs Windows 8. My first test drive left me wanting to throw the computer on the ground and then stomp it to bits. After getting some dinner into my body and allowing Doug to install some driver updates, I think I'm getting the hang of it. I still want to pick up the system that I'm comfortable with though. So, all of that is to say, I'm making myself type out tonight's blog post on the new computer.

Lila, who just got her own e-reader/tablet for Christmas, started trying to get her hands on the loaner computer as soon as this new one came through the door. She's a major "wanter". If she sees something new or pretty or shiny - she wants it! There's no logic involved. She just wants. Human nature, I suppose. I told her to go use her own new toy and be content. I have long sworn that I would not have an e-reader in my house, but Doug convinced me that this would work well for Lila.

I refuse to read books on it myself though. I must have real book, made of real paper, with real pages to turn. Call me names if you will. I refuse to budge on this issue. I still dream of one day having a library with floor-to-ceiling shelves, lined with books. Rolling ladders! Wood paneling! Fireplace and squashy armchairs! If anyone sets foot in this fantasy sanctuary with an electronic device, they will be cast into the dungeon forthwith!


Food Waste Confession

I am getting terrible about using up my produce before it can go bad! This is a half-bunch of kale that was supposed to become Kale Chips. Instead, it sat in the fridge until it became dry and crumbly. You totally can't tell from the photo, but I assure you that it was no longer edible.

We also had to throw out some roasted red pepper hummus. We were eating it (that is Lila's favorite flavor), but when you buy food with no preservatives... well, you gotta eat fast! We did make it 2/3 of the way through the cup before it went bad.

And speaking of hummus-- well, I hate to admit this, but I bought bacon-flavored hummus yesterday. Personally, I have no intention of eating it because I don't like bacon all that much. However, I knew that Doug would get a kick out of it.

And a No Waste Rules! victory: We had a dinner of leftovers last night that finished off three different dishes from our fridge! Yay! I wanted to clear things out as much as possible before I cooked again tonight. Now we have a large quantity of Tomato Bisque to work on and boy is it yummy!


Sleepy Time!

First of all, I cannot believe that my baby is starting school in the fall. Seriously. It freaks me out. I got to go and tour a Pre-K class at Veritas this morning, to get an idea of what it will be like. I took a few photos and shared them with Eli when I got home. He's excited about the work, but nervous about the big group things (like recess). I am 0% surprised by this information.

Doug is putting the kids to bed right now and boy do they need sleep! Lila asked if she could have her game time before bed. I told her she could, but only 20 minutes because that's how long it was until they needed to brush teeth. In the following 20 minutes, she dissolved into a fussy, whiny heap at least three times. When 8 o'clock rolled around, and I was finally able to get Lila to turn the game off, Eli and I had this exchange:

Eli: [whining] "I'm tiiired."
Me: "I'm not surprised! It's bedtime. Both of you go brush your teeth, please."
Eli: [instantly hostile] "NO! I'm not dat tired! Just a little bit tired!"

Yeah, obviously.

Lila actually headed right up to brush her teeth. Eli oozed off the couch and up the stairs at the speed of a snail. He might have brushed his teeth by now. Or he might be standing in the bathroom, playing with his toothbrush.


A Lizard

Eli, once again, had his rest time in the back yard today. When I had finished watching last night's Ghost Hunters rest time was over, I opened the back door to tell him that he could come inside. Before I could speak, he said,

"Mom! Come here. You have to see this! . . . Don't freak out."

That last comment had me freaking out in advance, but it turned out to be this awesome lizard that Eli wanted to show me. I'm surprised he spotted it in the first place because, as you can see, it is superbly camouflaged! We stared at it for a minute, then went to get Lila and the camera. We all came back outside and stared at it some more. Eli was convinced that it was dead and kept saying,

"I fink it's just a skull."

After we had all crowded around it (making no effort to be quiet) and I'd snapped half-a-dozen photos and the thing still hadn't moved a muscle... I started to think Eli was right. I asked him if he wanted to touch it, to see if it was alive, and his response was to take a step backward and command me to do it. Lila wasn't interested either, so I went for it. I'm not remotely afraid of lizards, but I don't like the kind of surprise where someone sneaks up on you and says, "Boo!"

Or the kind of surprise where a lizard plays dead and then attacks your face when you try to touch it. I reached out veeery slowly and touched the lizard's tail. Nothing. I pushed its tail to one side a little. Nothing. I decided it was, in fact, dead and began to pick it up (gently) by the tail. It still did a remarkable job of pretending to be dead until I pulled one of its feet loose from the board and it grabbed back on. I wasn't worried about being surprised by this point, so I kept at it.

The little guy - well, big for a backyard lizard - hung on with all his might, but I finally got him loose and into my hand. I stayed still (and close to the ground, in case he jumped) and he just sat and stared at me for a bit. I had hoped to get a photo of him sitting on my hand, but I didn't have a chance to grab the camera. As soon as he saw his chance, the dude took of like a shot. He moved so fast that I didn't even see where he went!

It was a fun little adventure and I enjoyed seeing aspects of Eli's personality reflected in the experience. He was observant (spotted the lizard). He was patient (waited for rest time to be over). He was excited to share his find with us. He anticipated others' reactions ("Don't freak out."). He was respectful of the creature (i know many kids would have been all over the poor thing as soon as they saw it). He's just a great little guy and I know he's going to be a great man, as well. :)


Food Waste and a Rash

Honestly, I wasn't sure that butternut squash could go bad, but I managed it. Back in December, I made butternut hummus for a block party. It was very well-received and our neighbor asked for the recipe. I figured I'd do even better and make a batch for her. I bought the squash just before Christmas, with the intention of making the hummus just after Christmas. Instead, I got sick and stayed that way for 5 days. Then school started, etc. You get the idea. The result = squishy squash.

Doug did some massive trimming/pruning/clearing out in our yard a couple of weeks ago and now he's got poison something-or-other all over his arms. For the second year in a row. This leads me to 4 points:

1. There is poison something-or-other lurking in our yard and we don't know what or where it is. Doug is the only one who's ever had a problem with it, so whatever-it-is must be in an out of the way spot. Still, not a comforting idea. We've already got stinging nettle to watch out for!

2. Doug needs to wear long sleeves and long pants when doing yard work. Even when it's a lovely warm day (in the middle of January). If he goes to the dermatologist with the same problem next year, she might smack him. If so, I want to watch.

3. My beloved husband is getting no love until all the poison something-or-other is gone from his body. I won't even sit on his side of the bed right now. "Happy Valentine's Day to you, too, Honey. Now take your pus somewhere else."

4. The doctor put him on a 20-day regimen of steroids (along with an ointment) to clear this up. The 'Roid Rage jokes started before he even took the first dose. For years, Doug has been joking about building a PMS Shed in the back yard (for me, of course). I told him he could go ahead and build it, then live in it until he's through with the drugs.