Adventures in home ownership

Normally now would be the time that I would write a raving lunatic type post about transatlantic travel with 2 kids and the jet-lag aftermath; but oddly, I have nothing to write. The flight was on time, our seats were what we expected, both kids fell asleep roughly 2 hours after take-off, and our bags were waiting for us, easy-peasy. We took our time with the jet-lag and gave ourselves a full 5 days to recover before going back to work/school. We listened to our internal clocks and fought the insane time-warp at a slow and steady (and individual…resulting in a lot less hostility and in-fighting) pace. I can’t think of a single thing to complain about, which is frankly pretty impressive.

My only real low point was when I walked into the bathroom yesterday and thought to myself, “man, it’s so nice to be in a room that doesn’t smell like dead rat,” then I cried a little bit and then I laughed and laughed because I never in my right (or wrong) mind thought I would ever think such a thought. I mean seriously, one does not plan to smell so much dead rat that one appreciates the break from it.

So we got back home to our lovely house where the power was out, so the fridge and freezer were all sorts of gross. We cleaned that out and are actively seeking a method to de-stink our fridge if anyone has any ideas (yeah, ok, there has been a lot of disgusting odors, so I could complain about that I guess).

Other than that, we had a couple of storms (hence the power outage) while we were away; the upside being that our jungle is a lot greener, and our peach tree is all peachy. With my few days off, I did a little arranging, unpacking, checking a whole lot of things off my to-do list, so, you know, score for me. All good things, nothing negative to say…this is so weird.

The only minor, less than wonderful news is that since moving into this house, the door to the bedrooms has never closed. Not the bedroom doors, but the door to the hallway that goes to the bedrooms, I want to say this distinction is important, but I fear it really isn’t. This extra sound-proofing would have been ideal this week when we were almost never all sleeping at the same time. Today, Hubby found out the handle wasn’t mounted right and so blah blah, something something, the door wouldn’t close. So he took apart the handle only to discover it was just locked. He put the door handle back together, unlocked it, closed the door and we declared ourselves champions in home ownership…then we pet our rats.

Just to be clear…after two months of being unable to close a door, we took it apart before trying to unlock it.

P.S. Canadian summer was awesome.


I think I have made a HUGE mistake

Yes, I have been talking about moving into a house for years and that is not my usual love of exaggeration, it has actually been 2 years. Well the last few months of radio silence has been largely due to the move to THE house.

We are almost moved in; all but 3 boxes are unpacked and most things are in their places. That said, I do intend to rearrange pretty much everything three to five times before feeling satisfied with the layout. I can get up in the night to go to the bathroom and I only walk into one wall now and it only takes me like three tries to turn on the lights.

Is life in the house as good as I had dreamed it would be…not exactly, but it’s still pretty awesome.

For example, when viewing the house, I didn’t exactly notice the wild jungle she called a yard was actually a wild jungle. I mean, there are a few wisps of grass here and there, but let’s be honest, the bamboo has pretty much taken over, and I frankly don’t want to know what is growing in the shadows.

We also have a few new pets, we assume they are rats, partly because they sound heavier than cute little mice, partly because I have never seen a squirel since moving to the French Riviera and mostly because the previous owner kindly left us rat poison. I can’t say I’m a fan, but we’ll get a cat soon and that should help with the pest issue.

The A/C doesn’t work, which is unfortunate. We don’t exactly know what is wrong with it, because the repair guy has now not shown for two appointments and no longer answers our calls. I mean sure, I do understand that he is busy in this ridiculously stupid heatwave, but if you can’t make an appointment, call. In any case, we are lucky enough to have cooling floors. Sort of. They are less efficient that the A/C, but do drop the temperature down about 5 degrees. The interesting part is that because the coldest part of any room is now the floor, well, all the humidity in the entire house condenses there and it gets a little slippery.

These minor things I can live with, so far my nightmares about moving into the Money Pit haven’t been realised, but tonight, I found the deal breaker. The thing that makes me think, maybe we should just cancel the deal on our apartment (that’s right…we have finally found someone who wants our apartment) and move back there.

So yeah, the girly kid has been asking for macaroni and cheese for weeks now, especially since we moved into a more international community with cheddar cheese readily available in the super market around the corner. Tonight I decided to make it for her. But GET THIS, the big burner is at the front of the stove and the medium burner is at the back…what the what? While the pasta was cooking, I nearly burned myself, like 5 times, trying to stir the cheese sauce. In fact it’s worse than just the wrong order of the burners, it’s the entire DESIGN of the kitchen relative to the burners, it was made for a right-handed person. I was literally having nightmares from kindergarten and the right-handed scissors digging into my thumbs while making my macaroni and cheese.

I just don’t know how to overcome this, I mean the rats, no A/C, electrocuting dishwashers (yup, that happened), the wild jungle, all that is fine, but having to make macaroni and cheese right-handed and backwards, I just don’t think I can make this work.

At least there is wine

At least there is wine

I swear I wasn’t snooping

Mother’s Day is looming in France; it’s not one of those days that I am particularly attached to. I do love the poetry they teach my son at school, but I am pretty lucky, and I feel the love from my family much more often than once a year. My children are ridiculously into cuddles, and kisses, and saying things like ” I love you all the way to Santa Claus, and back ” (their personal twist to Guess how much I love you).

Because of this, it might be assumed that I would be easy to surprise, but this would be wrong.
I got in late last night after everyone went to bed; the lights were all out when I crawled into bed, and there was a very odd sensation at my feet. I reached down under the covers and pulled out a package, it was dark and I was tired, so I couldn’t tell what the crap was in my bed. As my fading consciousness woke up again, I realized it was something that was gift wrapped. I put two and two together and then had a difficult time falling asleep thinking of my adorable five year old who clearly hid my present in his own favourite hiding spot. 

Then this morning I was getting dressed for work and couldn’t find my belt. I looked all over for it, and came up completely empty handed. As a last resort, I checked under my bed thinking it might have been swept under there after I dropped it on the floor after the last time I wore it (I am really not great at putting my clothes away, even after years and years of nagging by parents, boyfriends, and roommates. I mean seriously people, I have more important things to do than clean up after myself, after all the TV isn’t going to watch itself).

I almost never look under my bed for fear of a dust bunny attack and yet today I did, to find another gift wrapped “thing”. 

It was a good start to a pretty great day; aside from the incident in which all the work I have done for the last year was summed up in front of all my peers and management as “giving access to a website” the day was pretty fantastic. 

I got home, made egg mcmuffins, ate them on the living room floor watching Kung fu panda with my babies and then put said babies to bed. Now I find myself with some time on my hands, so I started packing. 

Tonight I decided to pack the “high” toy shelf. I don’t know if you have one of these, but we have a shelf for all the loud toys, the ones that make your head want explode, the ones that could only have been brought into this house in the form of a gift to a child from either people without children, or people who actually really hate us. Their use is limited in both duration and frequency. I don’t think I have looked on that shelf in weeks, but I did tonight, and found yet another adorably gift wrapped “thing” . 

I don’t know what my “things” are yet, but I do know that my family through no fault of my own, are totally incapable of surprising me (also Crazy couldn’t wait any longer and recited his poem for us last weekend)…unless of course the actual surprise was this super crazy random fun scavenger hunt.


I often have a lot of words to say regarding the drivers with whom I share the streets around here.
I sometimes want to ask them why they think 1 minute (and sometimes even 10 seconds) of their life is so much more important than my or my child’s entire existence. I mean seriously, is it necessary to speed up at a cross walk to get through it before we start to cross? Is it necessary to drive 70km/h in a school zone?

I sometimes want to find out why motorcyclists think it’s a good idea to hang out in my blind spot, or why the cars behind me think that if they drive on my bumper I might go faster. It’s a 30 people, and it’s probably a 30 for a reason..hey look, there is a children’s playground.

I sometimes want to know why they think they are the only ones to notice there is a traffic jam, and why they think honking is going to help? Honking is for safety dudes, the horn was not installed to communicate your angry feelings at the world.

I have lots of words, that sometimes I unfortunately say out loud, triggering a lot of questions from the back seat (don’t worry Hubby, it’s nothing profane).

But sometimes I am left without words…because I cannot contemplate the beginning of a question to understand what goes through people’s minds.

Im promtu traffic jam this morning.

Im promtu traffic jam this morning.

Thank goodness my children’s care givers don’t speak English

Spring holidays were over this morning and they went out in style. When I left the house at 7:50, both kids were barely awake and both were still in their pyjamas (knowing they need to leave the house at roughly 8:10).

My kids spent last week with their father visiting their grandparents, which was pretty much a complete and total holiday for me. I had forgotten what it was like to only have to care for myself. I could take a shower without any kids telling me they want food…now, and I could go to bed at night without fear of a little voice waking me up at 3 am because she can’t find her soother in her bed (in fairness to the cute voice, it had fallen out of the bed and I didn’t find it myself until the sun was up). I got up 30 minutes later and drank my coffee sitting down; I could watch the entire set of Harry Potter movies in a single week, because I didn’t have to wait for the kids to be in bed before starting it; I was able to paint the terrace furniture without fear of having paint on child hands and therefore all over the couch, wall, beds, counters etc.

That said, I was quite glad to have their voices fill the apartment again. I was thrilled to get cuddles and kisses. In particularly I was happy to hear my daughters voice. She is learning new words and new phrases at an alarming rate and in the four days that she was gone, I felt that she grew by months.

She also insists on singing her whole life. Sometimes she sings actual songs, like the alphabet song (emenelopy), or some random French song she heard once at a play group. Sometimes she just sings her life, such as “I’m sitting on the toilet and my underwear is pink”.

Yesterday, she suddenly started singing “I’m freaky baby, yes yes” and I am pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head. Naturally she noticed this reaction, I wasn’t quick enough to control my face, so she sang it over and over again trying to get another reaction. I held it together, I didn’t react again until she started the highly inappropriate dance moves, then I burst out laughing. I managed to convince the kids I was laughing at something completely unrelated that I saw out the window; my son was most unhappy he missed seeing whatever was so funny and went on about it for like 15 minutes.

In the end, I tried to ignore it, cursed Pitbull under my breathe and thanked the heavens that my children’s care givers don’t understand English.

ASIDE: I also learned I need to pay much closer attention to all media that reach my children, radio, iPads, T.V., everything.

The little blue line

Life has been a little overwhelming these last few weeks; I fully understand that most of it is the result of my inner demons, but it doesn’t make it easier to manage.

My stress levels have been so high that I can literally feel the blood coursing through my veins. I have no better way to explain the sensation, but needless to say, it’s unpleasant. In fact never in my life has my stress level affected my physical person like this. I have lost 4 kilos – that’s 10 pounds for the (North) Americans – I haven’t slept properly in weeks, and at one point I was on the verge of hyperventilating for like 24 straight hours.

So what did I decide to do? Well I requested a business trip, thereby increasing my stress levels even further. I wouldn’t call this the best decision I have ever made, but it is far from the worst.

I arrived in Munich about 30 minutes ahead of the colleague I was meeting. Again, in a less than brilliant fashion, I decided to sit down in the airport bar and have a glass of wine while I waited. Some might consider this a relatively good idea, but I was dehydrated, ill, and on an empty stomach.

The wine went straight into my blood stream and I spent the remainder of the evening trying to hide what a light weight I am. When my glass was finished, I stood to wait at arrivals. While I people watched, I was struck with a wave of calm, my blood pressure suddenly went down and my stress levels dropped and I stood there smiling to myself. I know what you are thinking, but it wasn’t the wine. It was the little blue line.

On the floor of the airport, in front of the arrivals gate there was a blue line painted on the ground. And get this…everyone stayed behind the line.

I was in a civil society, amongst the polite and respectful, my faith in humanity returned. In most airports I am in, the arrivals gate is protected by a solid barrier to give people enough room to fully exit the arrivals area without causing a mass pile up. Well solid barrier or not, without fail, someone(s) crosses to where they aren’t supposed to be, and the pile up ensues, causing even further delays for the poor travelers who want to be reunited with their loved ones, or tired kids who just want to sit down, but not in Munich. There is paint on the ground, so the entire population says “hey guys, look out there is a blue line on the floor, best not cross it.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these people are mindless fools who see a blue line and get scared. What I see are people who say “I know darn well if I step over the line not a freaking thing is going to happen to me, but since I’m not an asshole and I don’t consider I’m more important than all the people around me, I will respect the blue line. ”

It was a breath of fresh air.

For the last three days, I have been overwhelmed by politeness, in the escalator everyone obediently stands on the right to allow the walkers to pass; in the streets pedestrians walk on the pedestrian part of the side walk, bikes on the bike part; in the subway, the people on the platform wait until those people getting off the train have descended before they try to push their way on; hostesses, servers, shop owners, almost everyone in the customer service industry are smiling and helpful, AND best of all, cars actually slow down and stop at cross walks…and red lights. Genius. Well done people of Munich.

Middle of the night

i picked my son up from school today, and as soon as I saw him, I knew something was wrong. When I asked him, he told me he wished today was Carnival. Yes, sure Carnaval was nearly a month ago for most people, but in my sons school, they wait for warmer weather to celebrate it, so that little princesses can show-off their dresses outside and little Spider-Man’s and such can be identified. 

Aside: I hate that most of the kids in his school fall into gender stereotypes with the princesses and super heroes, but oh well, it’s like 176 of the happiest kids you will ever see. I, of course, am above all that because my kid has chosen to dress up as a geek…I mean astronaut, and we couldn’t be prouder. Aside closed.

He was blue all evening and was asleep before I got a chance to kiss him goodnight. Seriously, I was washing my hands while he went to bed and by the time I dried them and walked to his room…out cold. 

A few hours later I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom when I heard a soft knocking. I opened the door to find a wide eyed (with his glasses on) little boy, who appeared ready to start the day, with a look of overwhelming excitement on his face, “Today is Carnaval, right?” 

My heart burst, and just when I thought I couldn’t love that kid anymore, it turns out I could. I also felt the impending doom of having to break his heart at midnight, afterall, he was technically correct, but he still had 7 hours of sleep before he would get to bring his costume to school. He dealt with his disappointment with grace and climbed back into bed, with his glasses still on, and promptly fell back to sleep. 

I, sadly, am wide awake, my heart still boiling over and trying to remember the last time I felt as much joy as he just did in the middle of the night.