March 29, 2009
Conversation between me and my dad:
Dad: Your brother is dissing you on his blog.
Me: What? Let me look at that.
Dad: He’s talking about how you haven’t posted since Obama was inaugurated.
Me: I just posted today! But I didn’t see his post first. I get these emails from grandma saying she misses my blog too. I mean, I was going to write about my strep throat, but…
Dad: Yeah, that’s not even news.
Me: I know. My whole blog is going to be about strep throat.*
Dad: Yeah. Save it. Count it.
November 2, 2008
Yesterday, we drove back to Virginia, disappointed that our trip was cut short. Even if I had gone to an urgent care center in Connecticut, if it were strep, I’d still have been contagious for a few days.
We got to the urgent care center just after 7 pm. My fever turned out to be higher than in the morning: 100.6. They took a rapid strep test, which came up negative, but the doctor thought it looked like strep and gave me antibiotics anyway. She also suggested (as my mom had earlier in the day) that I should talk to my regular doctor about having my tonsils removed because I get strep so often. However, we all know it comes from the kids, so they may just say I’m out of luck.
Today I’m staying home and resting out the contagious period, if that’s what it is. The good news it that I can go to work tomorrow; the bad news is that I HAVE to go to work tomorrow, even if I’m not feeling well still because I had not yet registered for the substitute teacher network and there’s a problem doing it. Guess I won’t be spending time on sub plans!
Now we just need to figure out when we can get back up to Connecticut!
November 1, 2008
July 13, 2008
Allen and I are wrapping up a long weekend in Greenwich and Long Island for a family visit (my mom’s side) and a wedding, respectively. And I’ve been told that certain family members keep checking my blog every morning to see if I have updated it. So here’s a little update: pictures! Of those family members.
Hi Uncle Scott!
I’m having a good time – no time to blog!
July 6, 2008
The time since we touched ground in the U.S. sped by – five days we’ve been back! July 1 was our marathon house hunt, and we continued it on July 2. We saw fewer houses on Wednesday, and then we called a time-out until next week. There are some very promising places in Arlington, and some very, very disappointing ones as well. Not at all disappointing, however, was the delicious lunch we had at Stray Cat with Maria on Tuesday!
We also started sorting through the basement. There are obviously items that have been in boxes for a year, but what about the stuff that has been boxed up since we bought the house two years ago? And the stuff that we stored at the condo before that? We have things we haven’t seen for years. So we attacked the basement Clean Sweep-style. As we go through each box, we sort items into the Keep, Sell, or Toss piles. We added a fourth pile called Donate. Sell gets anything that it’s worth our time to try to sell, Donate gets the rest, unless something’s in really bad condition, in which case it ends up in Toss. So far our Donate and Keep piles and our pile of newly emptied boxes are about the same size. We took a load to the Salvation Army today, with 6-7 bags and boxes of clothing and shoes. We’ve actually made huge progress in the few days we’ve devoted to the project. Fortunately, Allen’s boss gave him Tuesday – Thursday off (with travel on Monday obviously, and the July 4th holiday on Friday), so neither of us has to go through the tedious sorting process alone.
Thursday we took a midday break to check out the Cardinal’s Nest, which opened a few months before we moved to Paris. We expected more of a cafe (read: smaller portions), but ended up stuffed. That was a bad thing because we had plans to meet Shari for dinner at Mandalay on Thursday. She’s the first friend we saw since returning – and other friends, you’ll have to forgive us, as we really wanted to get a lot done while Allen was off work and before I start my grad school class. We were determined to have the Thursday Special at Mandalay, and this was the only Thursday in July that we’d be able to manage it. So Shari wins! (Haha, not a contest.) Other than those two meals, we spent the rest of the day in the basement.
Friday was Independence Day! So we spent the majority of the day shackled down in the basement again. Are you getting tired of hearing that? We’re getting tired of doing it! But we left for Steph and Ryan’s house in the late afternoon to spend the 4th with them and to hang out with our 21-month-old niece. They outdid themselves with the cooking, making pasta salad from scratch, corn and black bean salsa/salad, and grilled salmon, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Yum! But did I mention the grilled CORN? Hallelujah, it must be America for there is CORN, GLORIOUS CORN! Okay, I loved French food, and I wouldn’t say no if you offered it to me right now, but wow, I enjoy an ear of fresh corn grilled to perfection. I also enjoy my adorable niece, who unpacked and repacked my purse about seven times, and who insisted on several rounds of Ring around the Rosie with Aunt Lauren and Tonton Allen. (And Ripley. She commanded him, “Ripley, fall down!” I have video evidence.) We ended the night watching Vantage Point, which turned out to be pretty interesting.
That brings us up to today. Allen and I had lunch with his boss John in Old Town Alexandria. It’s been so long since I’ve been there, and I was falling in love with the adorable townhouses again. Allen and I will have to make more of an effort to go there often. John sent us back with a homecoming present – six bottles of wine!
I’ll skip the boring parts where we - you guessed it – worked on the basement and did a few other things. Jenna is staying with us this month, and she got home around 7 pm. It was our first night to actually talk to her (she’s been with us since Wednesday, and I’ve talked to her a few minutes each day, but I didn’t actually see her in the light until Friday!), and we forced her to go grocery shopping with us. She had a huge grease stain on her pants and smelled of barbeque from working on the Mall all day at a barbeque place (at the Folklife Festival), and she still managed to pick up a guy in the line at the grocery store. But she spurned his advances. (And – is anyone from my old school reading this? – we ran into Tavon and his mother! I about died.) When we got home, I cooked dinner with Allen’s help (particularly cleaning – I love our kitchen teamwork since it means I don’t have to wash dishes!), and we had a spinach and artichoke ring (thank you, Pampered Chef!), and I made a crust for an ice cream pie (to be constructed – and eaten – tomorrow) and prepared the ingredients for cinnamon muffins in the morning. I knew I missed baking, but I didn’t realize how much! (This could be dangerous.) And speaking of that, it’s time to go to bed, so I can get up early and make those muffins! As Jack would say (hi! we miss you!), “Bonne nuitee!”
June 23, 2008
This last weekend we finally visited Allen’s French family in the north. We stayed with Allen’s aunt and uncle (his mom’s sister and brother-in-law), who are also Allen’s godmother and Stephanie’s godfather. Charles and Jacqueline live in Maubeuge, which is in Pas de Calais, close to the Belgian border.
Jacqueline is a wonderful cook, and she served us spaghetti bolognaise (homemade sauce, of course!); a tagine of dates, apricots, almonds and lamb with couscous; a spicy Moroccan soup; a crab, avocado, and tomato salad; and many other delicious plates. Each time, it was a typical French meal with a starter, main dish, sometimes cheese, dessert, and then coffee. The French certainly know how to live.
We were very impressed as well with Charles and Jacqueline’s impressive garden, from which we ate lettuce, radish, and strawberries. They also had several fruit trees: pear, apple, and cherry, plus red currant bushes. We hope to grow a small garden when we get back to the States, so we’re keeping their garden in our minds as inspiration. (However, I did admit our failed gardening attempt in the Arlington Community Gardens, where Cate, Allen, and I went back several times to weed and clear our plot, with so much time in between that that’s all we managed to ever do.)
We spent most of the weekend just chatting, and I got to hear stories about Allen and Stephanie when they were young.
On Saturday night, we headed out to the movies to see Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis. Les Ch’tis are the inhabitants of the north of France, particularly Nord Pas de Calais, and they have a distinctive regional dialect that blends the French of today and the Picard dialect of years past. Charles gave us a briefing on different phrases so we wouldn’t be totally lost during the movie. (And still, it was hard to follow, but we got a lot more having had our little lesson. I’d say I was around 85-90%, which is pretty good for any French movie I watch.) The premise of the movie is that a man from the south gets sent to work in the north as punishment – and he really sees it as such, dreading the cold, the strange people, and the overall inhospitable atmosphere. But he turns out to love it…but his wife doesn’t believe him, so there’s a hilarious juxtaposition between the stereotypes of the north and the actuality, which culminates in…ah, go watch the movie! At the beginning, an old man tells him scary tales of the north, and say in a menacing voice, “Le noooooooord…” Charles got a real kick out of that. And apparently, some US film studio has bought the rights, so we’ll see a remake in the US in a few years. Allen and I were trying to guess what regions and people would star – sunny California and hilly West Virginia perhaps?
We had a great time with Charles and Jacqueline, and I was very glad we were able to get up there before the year was out. Maybe next time we visit, we’ll visit the sky-diving school near their house; this time we sat on the porch and watched parachutist after parachutist. Or maybe we’ll just watch again.
May 20, 2008
I was preparing some pictures of Allen and I for my adorable niece tonight, and I got a kick out of the pictures of us from the past year. Here we are looking all fresh-faced and young at the end of October 2007. (We’re both officially in our late twenties now! Ah, how time flies. Haha.)
And strangely, this picture of me with ALL THESE FRECKLES was only taken two weeks before. (Suspicious!)
Then here we are in February at AOC. We’re looking a bit worn, maybe a little awkward at taking pictures in restaurants.
The end of March sees us looking and feeling a bit more comfortable, if perhaps also more FREEZING COLD. (Could we be bundled up more? My memory says, “Why weren’t you??”)
And by the end of April, we’d not a care in the world, and we were much more at ease. What will the end of May bring? Or for that matter, the end of June?
By the way, Katie, my niece, is hysterical. We talked on the phone last night, and she would yell, “Hi Tonton Allen!” (She says it like “Toto” or “Todo,” which is sweet.) And then I’d say, “This isn’t Tonton Allen, it’s Aunt Lauren.” And then she’d say, “Nooooo.” Like, “You are crazy, lady, because I know I’m talking to my uncle, so just admit it.” So then she’d yell it more insistently: “HI TONTON ALLEN!” Ha!
Here’s a picture of the little darling. She’s 19 months old now! I stole it from Stephanie’s blog, just because I’m not sure she wants me linking everyone to her baby blog. I’ll be asking.
And this is one of our favorite Katie pictures. She dressed up as Ripley for Halloween! (She’s 12 months old here.)
I bet you totally get why we’ve been bummed to be away from her so long!
April 17, 2008
We tackle the tough questions here at Chez Schmanz.
Tonight (April 4) at dinner with a dozen dark-haired French people, Allen and I once again heard the comment that we look alike. Sometimes I can’t believe that anyone, upon finding out that we’re married (or in the past, dating), would even bother to voice this opinion. How rude! Other times, I find it funnier, and fortunately this dinner was one of those times. After all, as I told our dinner companions, my three brothers and I don’t really look that much alike, so it’s interesting to hear that I look like my husband’s sister. (At least, I never considered us to look that much alike – different color eyes (except Alan and I both have brown) and different shades of hair – though in this picture our hair colors look more similar and our eye colors are hard to tell, and Philip and Alan have a resemblence to each other. But I think the question is – if you saw me walking down the street with one of these guys, would you ask if we were brother and sister?)
When I look at pictures of Allen and I together, I see my rounder face and his narrower, his blue eyes to my brown, my dark eyebrows to his barely visible, his reddish blond hair to my more-brown-than-blond-now hair. I suppose we both have freckles and tend to the pale (though he’s pinker). But to the French, who are more rarely blond than Americans, I could see how we fairer folk might look more alike. (Not one other person at the table had a hair color other than dark brown. And even with my hair that’s morphed firmly into the light brown or extremely dirty blond category, I seem much more fair.) Still, we’ve gotten the brother-sister comment more than once in the U.S. as well.
And maybe we do look alike. Joachin said, “On rassemble qui se ressemble,” which means that those of us who look alike group together. I just never expect the comments. I’ve seen siblings who look alike, but usually it’s to the point that you feel they could be twins (if only they were the same age). And I’ve certainly had my own family experience where siblings all have different hair colors, eye colors, and builds.
There’s a picture of us here, if you’d like to decide what you think. I guess if I get sick of the comments in a few years, I’ll just dye my hair darker.
April 12, 2008
Allen always has a laugh when I go shopping with friends, particularly Catherine S., because when we come back from our shopping excursion I’ve got several bags in hand, and my shopping partner has a smaller bag from Bath & Body Works or something.
Shopping with Alan, Megan, and Dave on Saturday, March 22 was no exception. I force-marched them down Boulevard Saint-Germain to Mabillon, where we ducked into the Marche Saint-Germain. I found a long t-shirt at Mexx for 50% off and snapped it up. I decided I’d return there when I had some euros to burn (which seems now that it won’t be soon as my job situation is changing a little). Nobody else had much luck at the Marche Saint-Germain though, so we weren’t there long before we trudged on towards Rue de Rennes.
At Texto on Rue de Rennes, Megan didn’t find shoes as she hoped, but she did pick up some leggings. I, on the other hand, had more luck (again). I found a pair of dorky might-be-cute or might-be-ugly pair that I decided were quite stylish. They were 40 euros, so I debated if I wanted to spend $60 on them because I was using my American credit card this day. I gave in, thinking I’d slow my shopping the rest of the day if I got them. But when I got up to the front of the store, he rang them up as 20 euros and then gave me 20% off. So the shoes were just 16 euros, or $24. Totally worth it!
Alan saw a couple of pairs of shoes he liked in Etam, but they didn’t have his size in brown for either of them. Everyone’s strength was waning as it was past lunch time, but Megan and I stopped in Promod for a minute (where I found a graphic-print dress) before we all headed to Place du 18 Juin to find a bench and eat lunch. I bought a crepe as big as my head, with half a jar of Nutella and an entire banana in it. The crepe unfortunately got the better of me as I neared the end, and I ended up blowing snot out of my nose because I was laughing and trying to swallow a huge mouthful at the same time. Huge disaster. (Thank you for sharing, as we’d say at school.) Fortunately, my brother was holding a napkin, and there was more shopping to distract us from my nasal overload.
The guys hadn’t had as much opportunity to shop, so we went to Celio next. I think Dave came out empty-handed, but after trying on a lot of argyle sweaters, Alan ended up with a striped sweater and a red t-shirt (both deemed cool enough to wear under his suit jacket, since he’d forgotten to bring a regular coat). Megan later found a pair of flats at our last stop before she and the guys headed back to the apartment for a nap and preparation to go to the Moulin Rouge that night. I, on the other hand, had to babysit in a couple of hours, so I stayed at Montparnasse to shop a little more, but I didn’t end up making any other purchases.
April 11, 2008
All week I have been neglecting my brother. Well, not really neglecting him, since he does have an entourage. But kind of neglecting him. Alan, Megan, and Dave bought four-day museum passes. Having just run riot through Paris museums, and because there were three of them on this adventure, I didn’t make an effort to jump in as tour guide. (I did give them a Paris scavenger hunt to keep them sharp though!) Through some bad timing (mostly my own) on Tuesday, March 18, I only had a quick rendez-vous with them in the gardens of the Musee Rodin (unfortunately missing their journey through the sewers of Paris, as I ate lunch with Mimi instead). Then Wednesday, I couldn’t accompany them to Versailles because of work in the morning and afternoon. And Thursday, I tried to go to Saint Chapelle with them, but it and the Conciergerie were both closed because of either a strike or Easter preparations or a strike about Easter preparations. So I had breakfast with them and then stood in line at Notre Dame with them for about an hour in the freezing wind. (Did I mention that my brother forgot his jacket? He wore his suit jacket all week.)
So now it’s Friday, March 21, and I’m continuing to neglect him. But today it’s okay because he presented Megan with the big surprise: a proper follow-the-clues scavenger hunt throughout Paris. A series of about ten clues brought them around town with designated restaurants for lunch and dinner. (Lunch at Le Polidor turned out fabulously, while dinner at Cafe la Poste was a little stickier. The owners were having a private party but let Alan and Megan eat anyway – in a standing room only reception situation, where they were the only two sitting and being served dinner.) But they followed all the clues with minimal cheating, exploring the Latin Quarter and Montmartre.
Meanwhile, Allen and I sat around tapping our feet for a bit before we had the brilliant idea of going out to dinner ourselves. And since it was Good Friday, we needed the meatiest place possible for two lost carnivorous souls – L’Ecurie. L’Ecurie has a 17 euro dinner menu – in case you misunderstand me, that’s a 17 euro three course dinner menu. Unheard of. But as if that weren’t enough, the server also brings free sangria with the menus and free cognac with the bill. We each had a tomato salad (whole sliced tomato, typical French salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard), a bavette (flank steak) with frites, and creme caramel. We added a demi-pichet of sangria, thinking it would provide us about one more cup each, but it was two to three more cups each, and we were pleased. Everything was simple and satisfying, and Allen managed not to bump his head on the way out.
Then on the way home, we walked past some foreigners (perhaps German), speaking in accented English.
“You don’t say, “Do you have a lighter, OR?” The first one said, angrily, inhaling on his cigarette. His two minions laughed and repeated the phrase in mockery.
The first guy, pushed on by their laughter, suggested an alternative, ”Do you have a lighter or WHAT?” One of his friends said vehemently, ”Or DON’Tchu?”
“Yeah! Do you have a lighter or DON’Tchu?” The guys agreed that this was the best way to ask for a light. I couldn’t stop laughing almost all the way home. I almost wish that I smoked so I could have a reason to voice this moronic phrase.
But I’ll just say it anyway, in completely inappropriate contexts, and laugh and laugh. Do you have a problem with that or DON’Tchu?