Monday, September 29, 2008

Mon Quarantieme Anniversaire

It’s true . . . I am officially 40 years old. Mike and I had a debate about when I actually turned forty, considering the time difference between France and the US. However, I can no longer deny it.

We started the day with a trip to the Pezenas farmer’s market where the kids each bought themselves a treat. Max finally found himself a beret, and Josey splurged on some hair clips.

I must digress to tell you about Max and his search for a beret!

He has been looking for the perfect beret since he arrived in France – seriously. Most of you know how fashionable that boy is!

Our search for a beret has been disappointing because the only ones we could find were 28 euros, which is well out of Max’s price range. Aha! Now that cold weather is creeping in, there are suddenly warmer hats at the market. So, much to our delight, Max found a black beret on my birthday.

He received compliments the moment he put it on: “Tres beau!” Several elderly women even patted his little head. (Sidebar: The French people often touch children – complete strangers! That is taking some getting used to, I’ll tell you.) When we stopped at the mushroom vendor about 2 minutes after buying the beret, the vendor was wearing the exact same beret! I said in my broken French, “Mon fils aime beaucoup votre chapeau.” (Translation: My son really likes your hat.) The friendly man responded in rapid-fire French something that I barely understood . . . I only got that this beret is the traditional beret of the Languedocian region of France, which is where we live. Max was thrilled! The whole morning, he kept asking me, “Mommy, do you like my beret? Does it look good?”

He lost another baby tooth last week. He actually swallowed it while eating a nectarine. He asked Mike to pull it out, and when Mike looked in his mouth, he said, “But Max, where is your tooth? It’s gone!” The 5 euros provided by the toothfairy paid for that new beret.

Dinner & The Bruns

We goofed around the rest of the afternoon, preparing for our first French guests. Our new friends, the Brun Family, joined us for my birthday dinner. Sandra, Jean-Louis, Victoria, and Noah were very welcomed guests. They kept the evening fun-filled and thrill-packed (just imagine trying to speak in a foreign language for 4 hours straight while making dinner, playing with the kids, etc.). Dado made his famous Fred Chicken (delicious!!), and Sandra made the delicious cake you see in the pictures.

You will all just love this: the sprinkles on the cake came from Walmart! When Sandra was last in the US, she bought them on one of her shopping trips. She absolutely adores Walmart, Target, Gap, and Old Navy.

They also brought me the gorgeous flowers. And Noah made me several adorable pictures of trains and Monterey. We haven’t known the Brun family for long, but I already feel very close to them. I thank them very much for making me feel loved on my birthday.

More About Sandra

I must digress again to tell you more about Sandra. I’ve mentioned her in several of my posts – she’s the one who really, really, really wants to speak “American” English. We have daily French/English speaking sessions with her at school, and we have the 3-hour marathon on Thursday afternoons while the kids are in school.

Sandra is a wonderful, kind, down-to-earth person. Mike and I are so grateful that she introduced herself the first week of school. She has done so much to make us feel welcome in Bouzigues: She has invited us to her house several times, she has introduced us to many people at school and in town, she has shown us the local swim center, she has taught us so much French, she has helped us understand what the teachers communicate with us (that is such a huge help!) . . .

She even included us in her friend’s surprise birthday party last Sunday. That was amazing! It was a Sunday “lunch” party that lasted 6 hours! There was a different course and alcohol involved with each of those 6 hours, too. It started with appetizers and Pastisse (the local liquere) and Muscat, progressed to lunch with wine, moved on to cheese with bread and more wine, and ended with fabulous desserts with champagne. There were about 12 adults and 8 children there, and they were very welcoming and friendly. Unfortunately, my camera was out of batteries, so I don’t have any pictures.

Merci beaucoup, Stephanie and Stephan, pour la invitation a la fete!

It was a fascinating afternoon. When we left (very full), Mike and I both commented on how exhausted we were mentally. It is very challenging to focus on French for 6 hours straight. It takes complete concentration to listen while the locals speak, and even with complete concentration I only catch a small portion of what they are saying. Luckily, I can often get the “gist” of things. Then, responding is even more challenging! Piecing together the few words I know into a comprehensible sentence . . . LOL!

Much to Mike’s delight, Sandra is also teaching him all the French swear words (gros mots), so he can eventually translate the soliloquy by the Merovingian.

It was a fabulous birthday! And you know what? I really don’t feel 40 at all! More like a mature 21.

Love to all!

1 comment:

nevada-girl said...

hi i'm sandra
i 'm very happy,to have meet mike and gayle in my village! i'm a lucky girl!!! they are a amazing family!i really think is not a coincidence, it's a fantastic surprise!thank you to be here