Friday, July 5, 2013

The Americans brought hail in town - Vacation in France - XIII

June 30, 2013.  Sunday

Ah oh, it's almost July.  That means we are heading back home in a week!  It's sad yet inevitable.  I hope that you have been enjoying our journey so far?  

The kids are almost fluent in French now: according to the teachers, Niuniu formally started communicating with them and his classmates in French immediately after his show on the stage yesterday afternoon!  Zhuzhu has been speaking French earlier but only after the "show" she would speak loud enough to be heard and in confidence.  She even made a little video recording herself singing and speaking French with Daddy's iPhone - I cannot upload here because Zhuzhu deleted immediately after the excited Daddy showing it to his nanny who came to visit us last Thursday without  her permission.

On top of the improved French, the kids also have had their fair dose of rock climbing training, particularly today.  Pierre and Sandy, Fabrice's childhood boyfriend and college girlfriend, respectively, are more attentive and patient than Rousset.  Instead of training them to descent with the rope, the new teachers climbed up to the top to securely release them from the rope and then walk them down via a back road!  The kids had a blast to discover the beauty of the village from the top of the mountain.  The best thing on today's climbing is the fact that both Emma and Camille, Fabrice's sisters, joined us with their kids.  Predictably Tavin and Leone went wild on cliffs, they climbed to the top in a blink, even the 18 month old Stephan, Camille's son, climbed few steps on for the first time of his little life (see the left photo)!  Camille and her hubby Neville have also had their first climbing experience.

Additional gain of this trip to France of course is the bonding between the kids.  It's great to hear Zhuzhu and Niuniu speaking French to their cousins.  It's great to watch Zhuzhu acting as a little baby sitter to her 18-month's cousin Stephan.  It's also great to know that they all love each others with passion!

To have all 5 kids playing and fighting at the back yard of Mami/Papi with each others is not rare, but to organize them all together climbing rocky cliffs is not unmemorable.  Don't you agree?

July 1, 2013.  Monday

Alright, do you know what these 2 monkeys are doing in the photo?  They are Pierre and Fabrice looking for flees, no, I mean looking for ticks!  They just finished one hour run in the forest.  The mountain bike is what I uses in order not to fall too far behind.  Fabrice was surprised and happy to find himself is not too out of shape as indicated by the fact that he could run in the same level as Pierre.  The French man makes everyone feel life is too short!  He was the one first received me when I came to France; he was the one first took me crayoning, caving, and climbing; of course he was also the one tricked me to be jealous of Fabrice's previous girlfriends, which led to my realization of the fact that I was in love with his best friend!  Anyway, Pierre is someone who does everything with a full heart.  If you have not met a typical French man with his brand name, you should meet Pierre.  He definitely fits every criterion they say about French.  He loves every girl in the world thus refuses to commit himself to any as he knows that he is unlikely to stay with a particular one for long.  I have come France almost every year since year 2002 yet never have I met the same girlfriend of Pierre's twice.  Each and every visit to us, he brings a new girlfriend!  Pierre used to love all sorts of activities but has become more focused in the recent years.  Few years ago, he spent most of his time training himself to run marathon and managed to break his own record every time he competed.  In the last 3 years or so, he has fallen in love with Tango due to his last girlfriend.  "Now the girl has become a history, but the Tango has stayed with me."  He said to me on the way to climbing yesterday.  He loves Tango so much that he has decided to take 6 months of administrative leave from his job as a computer programer to Argentina so that he can learn Tango from the professionals.  What a life he has.  No wonder he needs new girlfriend at each stage of his own development.  I admire him but cannot live a life like his.

We are not the only ones who had fun today.  It's finally hot enough so the kids splashing water in the backyard huge plastic pool again.

July, 2, 2013.  Tuesday

Fabrice has gone to Paris once again to give the last talk of this French trip.  I am getting mad at these disorganized Parisians, why can't they just gather everyone in the same room to listen to Fabrice's lecture once for all!  What a waste of their money and Fabrice's time for all these talks he delivered within a month of time.  He goes to Paris so often that the kids are even getting used to the Daddy's absence now.  When Zhuzhu woke up in the morning, she smiled and said, "I got to kiss Daddy before he left."  Niuniu said, "Me too!"  Then Zhuzhu said, "But I kissed him awake!"  Niuniu could not continue the dialogs.  I guess that the Daddy kissed him while he was semi awake?

Zhuzhu's Friend Marie and his parents are coming from the U.S. to spend few days with us.  Papi and I picked them up at TGV station in the early afternoon.  In order for them to get rid of the jet lag as soon as possible, Fabrice asked them not to sleep and asked me to keep them busy for the remaining afternoon.  "At 16:00 o'clock, I'll come to pick you up so that Marie can go to pick up Zhuzhu at the French school." I said to our American friends and then I left them at the hotel to fresh up.

At 15:50, Papi and I got out the house.  We noticed the sky was dark and grey and winds were blowing strong.  "Oh, a storm is coming."  I said to myself.  Papi and I went on with the plan since it needs only 5 min drive from our house to the hotel.  Unexpectedly however, the storm did not give us our 5 min and it started to dump ice on us at exactly 3 min. after we started our car.  "La Grêle!" Papi said to me with miner excitement as if he saw hail routinely.  When I heard the loud bang bang sound on the roof and the windshield of our car, I put hands on my ears and started to shout, "Ouch! Ouch!" as if I was the one hit by the heavy hail.  Papi continued driving crossing a bridge over the canal that had claimed a life in a car accident last Saturday night.  When I saw the man had no intention to hide, I started to scream.  Papi's eyes did not leave the road, but he laughed hard at me.  I ignored him and was frantically turning my head in all 4 directions to determine whether there would be a covered parking spot nearby.  There was none so we continued on - that was the longest 2 min. car ride in my entire life!  The hail storm had gotten heavier by the time we finally reached the hotel.  When I felt that Papi was slowing down intending to make a full stop, I shouted loudly, "No, no no.  Pas ici, pas ici.  Continue, dans garage, dans garage!!!"  The hail is attacking our car with no mercy and I was in serious pain worrying about big dents would be made by the falling ice!  Fortunately Papi understood my Frenglish so he drove the car foward to enter the covered garage at the E'Leclerc.  I then noticed that our car was followed by a long line of other cars - obviously we were not the only ones who thought about pulling in a safe place to wait the storm's passing!  Papi, as a typical French, went to the trunk of the car and handed me two big umbrellas - he wanted me to pick them up with them?  He must have been joking!  I put back the umbrellas and said, "Attendre until the storm to stop."  Papi was smart enough to understand that I intend to wait.  A few minutes late certainly is acceptable in this particular case!  So, we spent our next few minutes listening the louder and scarier bangs on the roofs of the garage.  Take a look at how big those ices are - I took the photo at the gate of the school with one hand while another was holding both Zhuzhu and Niuniu in a heavy rain at 16:30 o'clock.  Zhuzhu was crying out loud when she saw the ice debris.

Fabrice missed his train to be home on time for dinner by only 4 min - he called us at the train station to explain that his last meeting with a famous professor was delayed because the said professor neglected the very fact that Fabrice needed his office address to locate him!  I would have given up the meeting to catch my train home but my French husband was too chicken to be seen arrogant by his own people.  He had to deliver all his talks in French for the same reason.  The man is modest and considerate to his famous French but not to his American guests of honor.  So we had our Polish sausages dinner without Fabrice.  Mike, Marie's father, can speak some French but he has not gotten over his jet lag yet so our dinner conversations were limited.  Fortunately Mike is impressed by the table wine that Fabrice's father contributed to brew - Papi harvested the Burgundy grapes for this wine with mild and sweet taste - so Papi at least can serve him a lot of the wine to keep him happy.  Poor Vera, Marie's Mom, can only fill herself up with Burgundy cheeses - a vegetarian's life is tough when living with a great chef.

The kids and I welcomed Fabrice home around 9 pm thanks to the TGV.

July 3, 2013.  Wednesday

It's a non school day.  Fabrice picked up the 7-seat rental Peugeot van in the morning.  Our guests are struggling with the jet lag so they were more than half an hours late to be picked up.  Although we had no concrete plan for the day, a late start would likely to lead to a less productive day.  On the top of that, Vera cannot survive without her morning coffee so Fabrice took us all to the café at the E'Leclerc Mall.  The adults sat at the café drinking coffee while the kids were running around inside the mall.  A cup of coffee later, a plan was made - first, a brief shopping at where we were for food so that Mami could get dinner started; second, a lunch at a restaurant named "Finger food" so that we could introduce frog legs to our guests, and finally we would go visit few towns in the afternoon.  Our American guests paid the lunch bill and after that, I was mad at Fabrice for not willing to put up a fight for paying the lunch bill.  We are the hosts, remember?!  Fabrice didn't follow the good manner code, I called him a bad host after the fact.

We visited Cluny, a little charming town in the afternoon.  Pierre, and Sandy took us there in year 2007 while Zhuzhu was still an infant.  In year 2010, we and Rousset's family visited the town again.  It's great to refresh my memory with different companies.  Follow that, we continued on our tour in the Château de Cormatin.  By the time we reached home, the dinner was on the table.  Here is what we had for dinner.  Doesn't the raclette cheese make your mouth watery?  The cheese is melt in a mini heating pan at the bottom layer of a raclette hot plate and the steamed/boiled potatoes are kept on the top layer.  Now imagine you are pouring the cheese on the top of flattened boiled potatoes?  Raclette is truly a great meal for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike!  If nothing else sticks to our guests' head, this dinner should.

Not everything is perfect though.  Mike had a can of coke-cola open in the car that popped up on the bumpy road.  The toxic brown sugar water spilled all over his car seat and his shirt and pants.  I threw few paper towels to him but he used them all for taking the liquid out of his pants and shirt.  The man got everything backwards.  His coke messed up a brand new rental car yet he felt drying himself was more important than keeping the rental brand new car clean!  I was mad but didn't know at whom: Mike who spilled the coke or Fabrice who did not say a word about this?  I possibly was mad at Fabrice more because his silence to Mike was in a sharp contract to what he did in the morning to us in the morning.  "Mia and Remy," he told the kids before he allowed them to step inside the car, "be very careful with the car.  Don't get it dirty.  Okay?!"  Then he told me that the rental car company guy asked him to be mindful about the status of the van.  "It's brand new car that has only 1000 km on it."  Fabrice said to me just before we headed to our guests' hotel.  How come he is now keeping his mouth shut?!

Fabrice is that programatic - it's done already, he would say.  I knew what kind of a man that I married but still wished that he could say something.  When that wish did not come true, I took over the duty, "What makes you even think to open a can of coke in a brand new rental car?"  I accused Mike.  The wise man did not get down to my level, thank God!  He explained that the can was already open before it was spilled.  It was the fault of a bumpy road, he said.

What a load of crap!  Still someone to be blamed!

Let's see, oh, my period is arriving.  That is why I cannot hold my tongue.  Poor Mike, he has to live with my moodiness for 2 more days.

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