27 April 2010

The Money Pit (our version)

DO YOU REMEMBER the scene from 'The Money Pit' where Tom Hanks' character has just about everything imaginable go wrong with his 'fixer-upper' house -- then, as he is preparing for a bath, the entire tub falls through the floor and crashes into 10,000 pieces on the level below? Do you remember the laugh that comes next? Well, Kerri and I sort of feel like laughing like that right now. Before I explain why, take a look at the clip I just referenced:

For us the situation isn't the house, but our vehicles. When we moved to France we purchased relatively inexpensive cars with the hope that they would survive for the few years we planned to be here. Last spring our Renault Scenic had a major problem (distributor belt) that ended up costing us a couple thousand Euros. This spring -- last Friday to be exact -- the gearbox (boite de vitesse) blew out. The initial quote we got today is several (as opposed to 'a couple') thousand Euros. While we try to figure out what do with that car we're counting on our other car to 'hold the fort' for a few weeks. The other car is a bit smaller and is the one I normally drive. To be fair, it's been quite reliable in the two years we've had it, but it needs a few upgrades in areas like brake pads, exhaust, and some other tweaks here and there.

But as of this evening it needs a slightly more major tweak -- like a new back door. A slight accident backing out of our longish driveway had resulted in a bent door that no longer closes appropriately. [Note: To be fair I won't say who was driving, but I'll give you a clue: it wasn't me!] The car is now sitting in our driveway with the door partially closed and a couple of trash bags taped along the edges to keep out any rain. It really is quite a sight.

Cue the laughter!

Anyone have a spare left rear door for a 1992 VW Golf GTI? Black? Just shoot me an email if you do!

12 April 2010

Odd Yardwork

I DID SOMETHING today that I have never done in the States: I weeded our pétanque area. Tomorrow I'm going to smoke the kids once again in a family tournament.

Side note: I love the sound that les boules de pétanque (is that how you say it?) make when they crack into each other.

The Kids Picks the Activities

THAT WAS OUR plan for how to spend a few days of our Spring Break. Each of the three kids made their choice and planned an entire day's worth of activities. It went a little something like this:

Day 1 (Patrick): Patrick wanted to wash the cars to start his day (which I thought was a great idea). After a bit of playtime outside we prepared a picnic lunch to take to the beach. Spend the afternoon at the beach in Cannes playing soccer, football, paddle-ball then returned home for dinner: steak-hache, salad, frites. The evening entertainment: Shrek (the original)!

Day 2 (Julia): with bad weather in store, Julia chose to go to Fun City (thanks to a suggestion from a friend of ours). Fun City is kind of like Pump-it-Up in the US -- a huge area with loads of moon-bounce-type apparatus-equipment. On the way home we stopped off at some stores for a little shopping (daddy even got a pair of shoes) Then home for dinner (baked ziti, salad, cassis to drink), and a movie (can't even remember what it was called!)

Day 3 (Henry): Henry's day was today and he only had one thing in mind: riding his bike! So we went to the little village of Chateauneuf just up the road where they have a huge sports area and intended to stay for a while. But when the rains came about 20 minutes later we had to improvise. After a little lunch the weather cleared up and Patrick and I rode up to the old Roman Camp above our house and toured around the area. Henry and Kerri took the car part of the way and met us for...lots of bike riding. Henry was incredible -- riding up the hills and over the rocks. After a dinner of homemade pizza the kids watched 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' while enjoying chocolate-covered strawberries.

Some fun days. Kerri and I are still waiting for our 'days' -- which may still come. We have the rest of the week to fill.

03 April 2010

Spring Break

IT'S ONE OF the greatest things about the French school calendar: two week vacations sporadically sprinkled throughout the year. Spring break started yesterday and if the weather cooperates (and it looks like it will)we'll have a nice relaxing time here at home. It's been a long time since we spend an entire break at home and we're kind of looking forward to this one. I, for one, am going to get back on the bike and put in a bunch of kilometers.

We've also told the kids that each week they will get one day where they plan the activities -- the entire day. They can pick the food we eat, where we go, what movie we watch (if we do that), etc. Tomorrow we will 'plan' the first week. Could be a lot of trips for gelato in our immediate future.

01 April 2010

A Nice Visit from Some DC Friends

THAT'S THE BEST way to describe a two week period when your great friends come to visit you in France for the first time. I won't try to explain it all now, but we had a great two weeks with Kevin, Lynn, Eliot, and little Sophie. Thanks, guys. Come back soon. More photos later when my Picasa program stops acting up.