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Sunday, March 27, 2011

....daylight savings arrives here

Yep, that's right.  A full 2 weeks after the U.S.A.  Don't know why really, I should probably do some research on that in case the kids ask.  So now it is officially Spring to me.  Once I loose that hour in the morning but the evenings stay light, we have officially turned the corner on the seasons.  Another thing about DLS is that here, much like my beloved Seattle, it will eventually stay light until about 9:30 p.m.

The other thing that gives it away is the Easter candy displays!  Yeah!  And this year I am treated to a different kind of adventure.  Not so many bags of jellybeans and malted milk balls here.  But man, they love their chocolate.  They also have the Easter Chicken.  The chocolate chicken is almost more abundant than the rabbit.  Here they use the chicken more as a symbol for Easter because (so I have read) the egg symbolizes (re)birth.   Don't fret, Peter Cottontail, they love you too!

Looks like a whole army of chocolate rabbits!
And,  My Oh My, so many new choices of candy to try this Easter........most of it chocolate based.  Now don't get me wrong, I like chocolate but really don't crave it.  Samantha is a choco-holtic however and I think if she could she would "sample" every new variety of Easter yummy available.  I am kind of sad that it doesn't seem I will be able to get my hands on good ole jellybeans.  And for me it's not just any jellybeans, but the ones they label "spice" jellybeans.
I think my addiction started with these because my Dad always liked spiced gum drops.  I also think I recall somewhere in the foggy depths of my brain, friends of my parents (The Davis family in Arizona) having a dish of these out and getting to choose which color to sample.  This was a big deal because I was probably about 4 or 5 and usually only got the colors of jellybeans my older sisters didn't like!

We are also being treated to a Spring display of blooming bulbs.  They are all putting on their Easter Best right now.  Not only does it look wonderful but you'll be walking along and smell the Hyacinths before you even see them.


Poppies, pretty poppies....



Every afternoon when I walk to meet the kids at the bus stop, there seems to be something new blooming and so far (**fingers crossed**) Max's allergies seem to be okay.  Maybe a little increase in sniffles but seems to be overall unaffected.

The kids are slowly embracing the "Frenchie" way.  They have French lessons everyday and I am sure will be plotting together in French to take over since Mom and Dad have to clue still.  Patrick and I are supposed to be getting French lessons and I guess by the s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s of the arranging of these, we are learning a "French lesson".  No one seems to have a sense of urgency here....unless they are driving!!  (I will cover some "driving lessons" in a later post...but Oh La La what a mess!!).

One of the things we are all enjoying is the fresh bread.  Occasionally I will stop and pick up a baguette (or two) on the way to get the kids.  Thursday I was planning on feeding the Fam lasagna and thought some bread would go nicely.  I stopped at our local Paul's bakery and in "Frenglish" asked for one baguette (these things are about 2 feet long, so one would do).  The guy says "okay, deux" and before my brain could convert a way to respond, I am paying for two!  Not a problem, this wonderful bread is roughly .80 a piece.  Turns out it was a good thing that he knew this crazy American needed more than one baguette.  The kids get off the bus hungry every day and since we aren't eating dinner until around 7:00 p.m., I let them snack at 5:00 p.m. when we get back to the apartment.  Max spotted the bread sticking out of my backpack and asked if they could have some.  Sure, why not....  So Max takes one baguette, extends one end to his sister and they split it and start munching away!
One baguette down......
Some of you may have heard that our Square D assigned "relocation expert" (again, not going to get into it right now, but our "expert" has become tarnished in our eyes as we are learning about things for ourselves!) called us about 2 weekends ago to let us know that there had been complaints about the dogs barking.  From the conversation, she made it sound like our downstairs neighbor was complaining about excess barking.  

Now I will admit Morgan's voice can carry and when one dog starts barking the other seems it is their duty to "help".  But we had been in the apartment for only 3 weeks and still lacked some furniture and rugs so the sound carried.  We went and purchased a spray collar for Morgan so that when she barked, the collar's attachment puffs out a mist under her chin and around her face.  It was affective not only for Morgan, but if Einstein was standing near Morgan, the sound of the puff of mist made Einstein stop!    

We are now almost finished with outfitting the apartment and our stuff has arrived from N.C. so the noise is less resounding now.  The dogs are much more comfortable with their surroundings and I think they know now that we are here for a while 'cause all nice cozy furniture we bought for them is here.
Einny and Morgan on their couch
But as we go about day to day, we are beginning to suspect the source of the "complaint".  We really don't think it was the neighbor because they have a dog too and probably know from their own experience all the trails entailed with settling in.  We are beginning to suspect the guardian (building landlord) as the source of the complaint. 

Here in France, each building has it's own guardian and then there is a head guardian for the whole complex (makes me think of dorm mothers!).  Our guardian is an older woman (mid-60's my guess) and seems to be afraid of dogs.....and even less fond of large, black, overly happy dogs.  Morgan is all Lab when it comes to sense.  That is to say, she has NONE!  She tries to walk up to everyone (and to our dismay, moving cars) she sees not realizing that she weighs 70+ pounds and can look intimidating. And strangely enough, we are not as worried with this realization that it was she, and not the neighbors, who complained.

We have learned (and read) from many sources that in France (a) it is damn near impossible to get fired from your job (hmmm...may be why customer service sucks....) and (b) it is unheard of to ousted from your rental.  Patrick was told by someone he works with that there are stories of people not paying their rent for months on end and not being evicted and I met some other English speaking moms who have been in Paris for longer at a "mixer" 2 weeks ago who said "Bhaa, just do what you want!  The French are blowhards".  So we are not as worried and make an effort to keep the dogs far from her if she is out when we are.  That is the only concession we are going to make......that and the bark collar.

We made another pilgrimage to Ikea yesterday for some lamps and odds and ends.  Who knew the sold plants!!  Awesome!!  So I started my own tribute to Spring on the apartment ledge.  Still a long way to go, but it's a start.
Balcony ledge

Happy Gerber daisies and ivy

Look Margrid, I found a French Hydrangea!
Samantha has a playdate with a friend from school today at 2:00 p.m.  We rented a car this weekend for our Ikea pilgrimage, so we are going to take her there and Max, Patrick and I can run some more errands while she plays.  The little girl's mother is VERY British and has invited us all in for "tea" when we arrive, but hoping we can get some more errands done while we have a car and I really want to take the dogs for a run in the park.  Here's hoping........