Sunday, May 1, 2011

European Bucket List

I have begun to compile a bucket list of things to do/see while we live here in Europe. I will continue to add to it as more ideas come to mind and as I do more research of what's out there and I would love any ideas you have out there. You'll know its accomplished with its written with a line through it.

Les Peces de Saint-Ouen Market in Paris (largest flea market in the world)
Bern LDS Temple
Lay out on an Umbrella boardwalk/beach
Disneyland Paris
Cruise from Barcelona
Greek Islands
Crazy people art museum in Lausanne
Roman baths/Hot Springs
Sing Alanis Morisette in a Karaoke bar and totally ROCK IT!
Sit and sketch some beautiful scenery for hours (no, I'm not an artist)
Buy some beautiful ornaments for my mother from at Christmas market
Return to St. Malo
Romont Switzerland (I always pass by train)
Rent bicycles with baby seats for the day

Swiss Lactating Manequin

3 plastic manequins stand on display on the 2nd floor of Manora, a clothing department store in Vevey, Switzerland. With Spring around the corner, they pose in a group as if laughing and having a lighthearted conversation about the weather or their new Spring attire. Two of the women stand and 1 sits on a bright pink lawn chair spread over some fake grass. This seated manequin, who I will call Gloria for no other purpose than to seperate her from the others, poses with a plastic cup of what looks to be lemonade and is showing off her new brightly colored capri pants and purple tank top. She has a light smile on her face, and is gazing up towards her friends. So pleasant looking and relaxed........

SO. I take the little boys clothes shopping with me in Vevey. With the weather warming up I want to get some new European T-shirts. I go up to the 2nd floor of the department store and past some manequins to where the shirts are on display and begin to browse....I pick up a shirt from a hanger and look it over. I hold it up, cocking my head from side to side, and then put it back on the row with the others. I pick up another shirt just as I begin to hear some snickering from nearby.

I look up and find 3 or 4 women with thier hands over their mouths giggling in my general direction. Of course I take this personally and begin to nonchalantly look myself over and find that I am all in order. I have nothing exposed that shouldn't be, no toilet paper hanging from my pants...

With my eyebrows drawn I look back at them as if to say, "What's so funny?"...But in French, of course.

They continue to giggle and pretend to be looking away so I slowly turn around to my children...

At this point I see my 4-year-old boy straddling a seated manequin. Trevor has her shirt pulled down and is nursing from her plastic breasts not like a baby might do with its own mother, but like a cat might do with an ice cream cone. He sits on her lap, licking her non-existent nipples with the look of complete confidence as if this is something he does on a daily basis.

You can imagine the look on my face of sheer horror,  I don't feel the need to describe my surprise....

The women shoppers now have their hands off of thier mouths and are no longer giggling, but laughing out loud and shaking thier heads back and forth and talking amongst themselves.  I really can't blame them. I would enjoy watching it myself, if it were someone else's child....

Mortified, I grab the stroller and Trevor's hand and walk away from the maneguin display at a very fast pace. You could describe it as a power-walk. Just as I am leaving I realize that I have left the manequin's naked chest exposed. For a moment I consider going back to fix her shirt, but it is a fleeting moment, and I continue my walk out the store with my lips pursed, thinking just as I have a million times before, "What am I going to do with this child?"

Maybe we'll just go to the park today instead...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Language Struggles

I am feeling pretty hopeless about learning French. I have French Rosetta Stone, which I could be doing more diligently,  I  watch TV in French, and am currently reading the scriptures in French, but its not enough. I know I am learning because I find that I can read French pretty well, but when it comes to listening, comprehending and speaking French, that's a different story.

I have a group of moms in the village and we get together once a week for play group and to talk about whatever women talk about. I sit there feeling really dumb not saying anything because I don't understand the conversation and I don't think that anything I have to say is worth spending 5 minutes just to get out one sentence. I worry that this makes me seem really shy and boring. Sometimes one of the girls will translate into English what is being said, and I just feel so out of place. But I really want to know the language and interact on a more personal level with them.

A big part of me wants to just tell everyone that I no longer speak English, so they will have to speak to me in French, and maybe I will start to pick it up...I just don't feel like I have enough of a background in French to drop English all together. 

Sorry this is so boring, its just been on my mind a lot.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A complete misunderstanding

The following story includes a first-person narrative based on actual events:

I took the kids shopping in Vevey to get some shoes. Trevor saw that the carousel at the park was up and running so we went over to check it out. The carousel was going round and round even though there was nobody on it. Although I couldn't believe the price, I gave Trevor 3 bucks and he quickly ran over to the carousel booth to gave the old man at the counter his money.

The man took the money without even looking up from his newspaper.

We stood there for a few minutes waiting for the ride to stop and I started thinking to myself, "Maybe they do it differently in Switzerland.... Maybe they don't stop rides before you get on...Maybe that's just something we do in the US..."

I decided to wait a couple more minutes and then said to the old man in my best French, "We go?" to which I recieved a movement of the arm which I took to mean, "Yeah, go ahead."

I shrugged my shoulders, set Henry's stroller aside (there was no one around, I didn't neglect him!) and I grabbed Trevor to jump aboard!

I have to admit, it was a little difficult walking while it circled, but I managed to put Trevor up on the horse he chose, buckled him on, and then jumped back off to go back to the baby.

At this point I heard frantic yelling and obviously I can only quote what I understood....

Man: (Throwing arms in the air) Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah  Blah Blah Blah.!!!!...

Me: (walking over to the booth) Its okay?

Man: Blah blah blah blah Donkey (pointing at the donkey on the ride) Blah Blah Blah!!!!

Me: "I don't speak French. I don't understand" (Spoken with pure clarity)

Man: Blah Blah Blah!!! (Throwing arms up and turning to his newspaper.)

A thought suddenly struck me and I thought maybe the man wanted me to sit on the donkey instead of jumping off. I reply:

 "I can't. I have a baby." (Pointing to my stroller)

To this, the man turned to the side and pretended he couldn't see or hear me anymore. I waved my hand in his face, and he didn't respond. LIKE I WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE!!!!

I gave him my best glare (even though he wasn't even looking) and turned around to watch Trevor.

..............Several minutes later the ride continued to go around with a very bored looking child saddled to his horse. I started thinking this was the longest ride I've ever seen!

Once again it occured to me that they might not stop the ride for people to get off..... Maybe I'm just supposed to jump on and get him off...

I turned to the man and said, "When is it done?" To which he put his hand up in my face and turned around.

I said very rude things under my breath as I climbed aboard, grabbed Trevor, and jumped off with him in my arms.

Once again with the yelling. He threw his arms back in the air and yelled and as I walked up to him, he turned around and again pretended like he couldn't see or hear me.

I angrily say in English, (which I know he doesn't understand) "Then why didn't you stop the ride!"

Grabbing both childen and thrusting my chin into the air, I turned around to make a dramatic exit and Trevor said:

 "Can I have one of those suckers in the window?"

 "No, he's a very mean man!" (I raised my voice so he could hear at least my tone, if not my words)

A moment passed, and with Trevor's hand in mine he said, "Should we kill him?"

I smile and replied, "No, we won't kill him. We'll just be really mad."

I walked toward the train with my eyebrows drawn, wondering what the hell just happened.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Layover to Remember

My husband, (Jiggles), moved out to Switzerland a month before the rest of us were to follow. This meant that I would have to travel across the world with 4 suitcases holding everything that we own, a 4-year-old (Thing 1) on a leash, and a 10 month old baby (Thing 2) strapped to my front. No thank you.

It didn't take much to talk my mother into making the trip with us. After an all night flight we landed in London for a short layover to Newcastle, England where we planned to spend a couple of days.

Thing 2 had not pooped in over 24 hours and we were both on guard-- but we had no idea what we were in for...

We dragged the children and carryons through the security line and when it was finally our turn to put our bags on the conveyer belt, a woman tugged on my mother's shirt and in her sweetest British accent she said, "Excuse me, but you've a bit of a problem."

My mother and I looked down to where she pointed on the floor and stood in horror at the puddle of dog %$*# on the floor beneath her. It took about half a second for me to realize that it had not come from a dog, and as I followed my gaze up my mother's arms I saw what looked like diarrhea trailing from Thing 2's pant leg all the way down her shirt and onto Thing 1's leash, which she was holding in her other hand.

My mother and Thing 2 ran off to the bathroom with a fresh diaper and wipes and left me with Thing 1, our 3 carryons, and a poopy leash.

As we stood there waiting for mom to come back, Thing 1 looked up at me and frantically said, "I need to go potty!" I soon realized that he couldn't wait and with Thing 1's hand in mine and a poopy leash in the other, I began kicking our carryons down the long hallway through hundreds of people to the nearest restroom.

I saw a room with a baby changing picture on the outside and ran inside, only to find a very frustrated mother inside with a baby in a diaper and nothing else. She was not proud to hear that I had forgotten a change of baby clothes and I looked around to see that there was no toilet in the room, only a sink and a baby changing table.

"Watch this stuff!" I yelled as I grabbed Thing 1's hand and ran to the women's restroom, realizing I had to go pretty bad too.

OF COURSE the women's line was going out the door!!! We ran back to the baby changing room and with no other options, we each took turns going to the bathroom in the sink! I was glad that nobody walked in on me sitting over the sink with my pants around my ankles and yelling at my mother to turn her head.
Our plane was calling for last boarding and we ran through the airport with a naked baby in tow. We got to the plan out of breath as the crew members were closing the doors.

Definately a layover to remember.