In this episode of Two Frogs, the Grens find a new pad, add a new grasshopper, and even get back some creative spunk! It has been a busy month in Frogland and I’m excited to get to share it with you!
First, ze bebe! (Well, chronologically, he’s second, but he deserves top billing). Our newest little person is one week old today! And I hereby dub him Sprinkaan as his blog name, which is “grasshopper” in Afrikaans (Rana is “frog” in Italian; Granota is “frog” in Catalan; Konik is “grasshopper” in Czech. For all of you have never bothered to read the “About Me” page. 😉 Which I need to update now…). Sprinkaan was 8 lbs 11.7 oz and 20 inches long at birth — my biggest baby by nearly a pound! Whew! No wonder I felt so tired and heavy all the time. And for as rough as the delivery was, we’re all very happy to have our sweet little Sprinkaan on the outside now.
Second (but first), we’re in a real live house now! We got a lot of help during that hectic week from generous friends packing, cleaning, bringing us meals, loading up the truck, unloading, and unpacking! If not for them, we’d still be living amongst towers of boxes because — in case you haven’t heard — women who are 9 months pregnant are pretty much worthless at all of that, especially since I had a lot of additional pain which caused me to have to walk with a crutch or a cane, even just to get across the room. So a big shout-out to all of our helpers! And the house is great; all of us are loving it so much. And while I haven’t gotten everything set up exactly how I like it, I already love having a dedicated sewing/craft room. I actually have done a few crafts with the kids, but they are for Christmas, so I can’t go blabbing about those just yet. Hush hush. At least we know I’ll have something to show come January.
But! So it’s not all frost-covered tumbleweeds around here, I decided to do something a little different. Over at The Idea Room, blogger Amy is hosting a Photo-a-Day challenge for the month of December (she does it every month). I thought it sounded like fun and it’s something creative yet fairly stress-free as I’m juggling an armful of new-baby responsibilities on top of, y’know, regular life. (It’s a good thing that Rana and Granota’s teachers are understanding because it may be awhile before they see any of the girls’ homework). Each day has a theme and the goal is to capture the essence of that theme in a picture. Right now I will acknowledge that I make no claims to being a great photographer. Nor do I have a fancy camera that makes everything look all light and bright and airy. But I will do my best and hopefully it will be fun for all of us. If you have a blog, you might want to join, too, and we can all look at each other’s pictures!
Today’s theme is: Stripes.
Once upon a time, I used to live in France. And just like Charles Dickens said, It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. But, despite the “worst of times,” not a day has gone by in the 6 years and 6 weeks since we left that I don’t think about being back there. For someone like me, who lived and breathed all things French since her sophomore year of high school, getting to actually live in France was a dream come true. Apparently my enthusiasm was contagious enough to infect my non-francophone husband. When the opportunity to move there came up one and a half years into our marriage, we were both excited about it and ready to go!
And for the past 6 years and 6 weeks, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get back. We haven’t even been able to go back for a visit. And the farther removed you are from something, the foggier the memories become, the more things change without you being able to witness the change firsthand. Thanks to Google Earth, we’ve found that our bakery, our favorite creperie, and the little craft shop I used to go to have all changed hands and all become something different. Maybe the neighborhood needed something different, but it’s hard not to feel a little pang of wistfulness knowing that it’s not the same. I guess, you always hope that people or places left behind will somehow freeze in time, ready to pick back up when you return. Kind of like when the Pevensie kids return to England from Narnia in the Chronicles of Narnia books. I suppose that creates its own set of problems.
I hate that international travel is so far out of our reach right now. Heck, we haven’t even been able to travel a few hours south to visit my grandparents. Our passports have expired and we can’t justify the money to renew them right now. Guess there won’t be any spur-of-the-moment trips overseas should we be the recipients of some fabulous windfall.
Since the likelihood of us getting back seems to diminish with each passing year, we do our best to bring little bits of France into our lives here. Even here in the cabin which is decidedly un-French. Sometimes I make French meals, especially if we can share it with friends. During the school year I tutored some junior high/high school students in French and I hope that will pick up again this year. Even if they can’t answer me, at least it gives me a reason to speak French. The screen saver on my computer is a slideshow of all the photos we took while we lived there; sometimes it’s the best reason to have the computer on — just to sit and watch all of those beautiful places go by. The kids like to ask about the pictures, too, which gives us a chance to tell stories, to help them understand.
Mr. Gren and I watched “Midnight in Paris” a couple of weeks ago and were pleasantly surprised. It captures that same wistful longing that we feel. The main character, Gil wants to remain in Paris and wishes to go back in time. Paris kind of does that to you. What was it like when _______? As far as I’m concerned, the answer is always the same: magical. Oh sure, time has smoothed over some of the bumps in the road from our time there, but we still remember the severely painful personal events, the frustrations of being a foreigner, the terror of the Prefecture (expats will know what I’m talking about on that one)… And yet… some of those things could have happened anywhere, and some of those things made our experience uniquely French. All of those things made us wiser.
And none of those things dulled the beauty of our time there.