Monday, August 25, 2008

Whining and Weaning...

Oh, you all had better be glad I didn't blog these past couple of days.

I don't know why I never noticed this before, but weaning makes me HORMONAL!!! I've noticed that since I stopped Lolo's go to bed and wake up nursing sessions, I have become extremely moody and, well, downright bipolar.

On Saturday, we got up early, took the tram to Ikea, had breakfast, took the tram (etc) back toward the market, bought a bunch of stuff--leeks, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, more mint, thyme, lettuce, cheese, fruit juice and eggs! I LOOOOOVE going to the market! The funny part was we were running so late and were so hungry that we ended up eating frozen stuff for lunch *eye roll*.

When the kids finally went to sleep, I got busy in the kitchen making bread and yogurt. While the yogurt incubated and the bread was rising, I hung out the diapers and put in a new load of laundry. Then, I washed the dishes.

Well, my bread dough didn't rise. I was pissed off and disappointed. But only for a minute. Those of you who know me know I'm pretty practiced at making lemonade, so to speak. So, I rolled the dough out and turned it into pizza. I spread a thin layer of creme fraiche onto the dough and then piled on fresh tomato slices, chunks of goat cheese, chopped onions, chopped fresh basil and mint, and fresh garlic. I sprinkled a little grated "swiss" cheese on there and shoved it into the oven for a few minutes. It was DELICIOUS!!! The only problem was that the dough was a little salty... a-HA!!! THAT'S why the dough didn't rise!!! I mismeasured the salt and it killed the yeast! I made a mental note.

I took the other ball of dough and started building a kid-friendly pizza for the young'uns (they're not much for goat cheese and garlic so I made them one with lardons, tomatoes and cheese. In the mean time, I started another batch of dough for the actual bread we'd need for the next two days.

I only have one cookie sheet. I mean, I have several in the ship shipment (which, now that I think about it, are going to be way too big to fit in my tiny oven here) so I only bought one. And I only have one silicone baking mat. So, in my haste to get the pizza out of the oven so I could wash the pan and mat for the bread, I dropped the kids' pizza on the floor. Okay, I'll admit, at this point, Sam and I were bickering about something and I was getting fed up with my feet getting tangled up with children as I tried to get things done while there Sam sat on the couch watching TV and scratching himself--hello? cliche enough for ya?--So, when I dropped the pizza and immediately after, I had to rescue Lolo from the hot contents on the floor, I lost it. I started crying. I was mad at EVERYTHING. Mad at the damn flimsy cutting board for having bent and dropped my pizza on the floor. Mad at myself for having mismeasured the salt. Mad at the kids for having such a fascination with my ankles. Mad at Sam for his lethargy and laziness. Mad at my pan because it was my only. And most of all, mad at my body for making my mind so crazy. Mad at my mind for being so susceptible to my body.

Sam came into the kitchen just then and said, "What's going on in here!" Not, "Awww, I'm sorry that happened. Can I help you?" Not, "Don't worry, Joj. The kids'll eat sandwiches... Here, let me make 'em." No, he picked up the baby as though I had purposely dumped the pizza on the floor and then sat the baby right in the middle of it.

I said, "Why can't I just have a few minutes of peace? Why can't you watch the kids?"

He said, "Hey, don't yell at me. No one asked you to make bread and yogurt and pizza and whatever else."

My heart tore in half.

No one ASKED me. That's true. And that's why I had considered it so special. Because no one EXPECTED it. But still, I had hoped they APPRECIATED it, at least.

I gritted my teeth and said, "It doesn't matter WHAT I choose to do during MY time alone... What matters is that you don't seem to understand that I NEED time alone." He grabbed the baby and, as usual, walked away. And, as usual, I mouthed, "I hate you" to the back of his head.

I decided I needed to get out. I needed a second mop for the bathroom where I take care of draining the dipes from their buckets (cuz I AIN'T usin' the mop I use for everywhere else in the house). And I needed a beer. I remembered that I had promised Ryan a "surprise" if he held still earlier that afternoon while going to the hairdresser (yeah, I finally caved about the haircut because Ryan was getting pissed about it being in his eyes). Sam said he did GREAT. So, I asked Ryan if he wanted to go with me to Carrefour. Of COURSE he did. I grabbed my old lady shopping caddy and headed out. Ryan kept trying to talk to me, but I was lost in depression.

Now that I look back, I want to say that no matter what had happened that day, I would still have ended up depressed because it was hormonal. But I think that's partly me trying to make excuses for Sam. It was an asshole thing of him to do. But I over-reacted. I guess I'm expecting too much. Because I'M someone who notices things that are wrong and tries to alleviate them before someone else's discomfort becomes too much, I assume that other people are going to do the same. Or that at least my husband wouldn't be so clueless and blind as to see that I'm trying hard to do things for the whole family and he's just being a lazy limp noodle by dumbly watching TV instead of making an effort to look after the kids. Okay, I have to stop cuz I'm letting it piss me off again.

Anyway, France by day is completely different than France by night. In my mind, at least. The night creatures tend to come out. The "respectable" people are at home where they belong, eating dinner or watching their after-dinner TV. "Respectable" people don't traipse around at night. To add to my paranoia, I have my "heritage" with me. I'm alert when I'm alone at night. I'm neurotic when I have my kids with me at night. I realized too late that it had been a mistake to invite Ryan.

At the second stop, several people got on. Two young (preteen) shoved their giggling way to the back where Ryan and I sat. They leaned against the back wall of the bus. Two elderly people also got on at the back. After a moment, they called out to two young people (my age... if you wanna call that "young") in the middle, "The validator didn't work." The young people, apparently their children, said, "Don't worry about it." But I know how the "controlleurs" can be. If you haven't validated your bus ticket, it doesn't matter if you're young or old, rich or poor, etc...if they catch you with an unvalidated ticket, they are dicks! So, I asked them if they'd let me take their tickets to the other validator. I asked Ryan to hold the caddy and then did it. The two brats at the back snickered. Then, as we progressed along the route, one of them kept kicking my caddy. It was all I could do not to backhand her. HORMONES. Instead, I turned and put on a huge sarcastic grin. "Wow, that's really funny!!!" I yelled in French and then honked and snorted.

Their smiles disappeared.

I don't get it. Why are the kids here like that? Are they like that back home? I wasn't. I was always respectful of adults... to their FACES at least. I mean, if there was someone in a suit or laden with jewelry or whatever who obviously took themselves too seriously, I might be a little facetious, but not often.

You should see the YOUNG French kids. I mean LITTLE kids. They are so well-behaved and respectful and MATURE. They sit and have interesting and wise conversations with you. It's almost as if the second they hit puberty, they turn into little assholes. HORMONES... NOW I UNDERSTAND AND CAN RELATE!!! But still, the short exchange put me on my guard even more.

We went to Carrefour and despite Ryan's "Can we go look at toys?" EVERY FIVE SECONDS, I got what I went there to get. As we were on our way to the beer, I passed a woman speaking English to her daughter. Not British English, but good old twangy American English. I stopped and closed my eyes, drinking it in. You'll never know how much you like the sound of your own language on a stranger's lips until you go without for several months.

She noticed me and gave me a look.

"Oh, I'm sorry, it's just that I haven't heard English in public in a while."

She laughed and after a brief exchange, she gave me her home number and said that we should set up a play date. Her husband plays for a basketball team here (probably Villeurbanne, because they have a great team... comprised of MANY Americans--basketball is not a big deal here... yet... but I'm sure like high-fructose corn syrup and Splenda--other things we have exported from the States, it'll be big soon enough).

We did get beer and we did finally get to the toys and Ryan picked out a cute little toy airplane to add to his collection. I wanted so badly to get him a French Buzz Lightyear (Buzz L'Eclair) toy that speaks French, but told him we'd have to talk to Santa about that one.

When we got to the checkout, I realized that I had forgotten to put the bread in the oven and that it had sat for a whole extra hour. It was almost surely chilly in the kitchen at that point and that would affect the dough, but I swallowed my pride and called Sam anyway, instructing him shortly on how to monitor the bread.

We made it home without incident and Sam had bathed the girls and put Lolo to bed. The bread was baked but it was flatter than usual. Another failure. Sam passed out on the futon around 10 and I stayed up half reading my book on cooking, half watching the French version of the Food Network and drank myself to sleep on yummy, sweet, STRONG muscat wine.


I got up early and ran to check the yogurt. I had put it in the fridge around midnight, optimistic because it looked like it had set pretty well. I opened one and dug my spoon into it. SLIME!!! Ruined. My heart sank. ANOTHER failure. I wanted to give up. Screw it. Saving the planet was getting expensive and heartbreaking.

I went back to bed. I asked Sam if he wanted to go see his parents. I suggested that Ryan and I take the train and that Sam just drive there (we'd get there about the same time and that would make up for Ryan's suprise being a measly toy airplane). He said no. I rolled over. So sick of my endeavors and ideas failing or being rejected.

I got up and went into my office, intent on working. I was sore and just wanted to be alone. Then, all of a sudden the door opened and a huge, frothy cup of capucino landed gently on my desk. How am I supposed to stay mad? I drank my coffee and went back out to sit on the bed.

I told him how he had hurt my feelings. He was genuinely suprised. "Me?"

"Yeah, when you said 'no one asked you to blah blah blah'. That really hurt my feelings."

He pulled me to him and laughed. "I'm sorry. I'm a dumbass. Listen, I'm not going to be the one to tell you to stop doing all those things. I love it!"

That cheered me up. I got to work (well, to finish checking my email) and he went to the other end of the apartment (and thankfully, corralled the kids down there with him). But around 9:30, he burst into my my office and said, "You wanna go? There's a train at 11."

So, we went. Ryan and I sat across from one another in the train bound for Evian--yeah, THAT Evian--and laughed and told stories and looked out the window. Well, for the first hour. The second hour, I spent my time telling him to quit messing with his neighbor's armrest and to get his shoes off the seat. And then, I started to recognize some scenery. The train stopped and there was an announcement, as there had been all the other stops we had made, that we would be stopping a few minutes at St. Julien where we needed to get off. So, Ryan and I walked to the back of the train near the door and got ready to get off at the next stop.

Well, as we moved along, I started to notice that I didn't recognize the scenery anymore. No. I recognized it, but it wasn't St. Julien. They hadn't stopped at our station. Just then, there was an announcement that in a few minutes we would stop in Annemasse. Wait, Annemasse? Isn't that AFTER St. Julien? I asked the lady behind me what station we were heading for.

"Annemasse," she said, but her tone said, "what? you didn't hear the announcement, Stupid?"

I ignored her ridicule. "When are we stopping at St. Julien?"

She laughed and sputtered. "That was the last stop."

"Huh," was all I could manage. Just then, my phone rang.

"Where ARE you?" It was Sam.

"Um, about to stop in Annemasse. They announced that we were stopping AS we were stopping instead of before and I got confused and..."

He sighed. "Well, I'll be there in a minute."

"I'm sorry. At all of the other stops, they announced it BEFORE they got into the station, so I just thought--"

"I gotta go, I gotta call my parents."

DUDE! Really? You can't tell I feel bad enough? You gotta use your passive agressivity to make me feel even worse? Now I gotta worry about how your parents are sitting around the dining room table worrying because I didn't get off the train at the right stop? Why couldn't you have just said, "Aww, it's okay. Annemasse is just ten minutes down the road. I'll be right there" and then call your parents?

By now, Ryan is about to pee his pants because the door on the bathroom didn't work in the train. And then, when I let him pee against a brick wall, he gets pee on his pants and his shirt and of course, I take out my frustration from my phone call with Sam on the poor little nearly-five-year-old. I'm a horrible mother.

And my day is ruined.

And my hormones are raging. I sit down and try to fight back tears as I write it all down in my little porta-journal. I feel so bad for Ryan. I apologize and explain that I shouldn't have yelled at him and that I would show him later how to pee like a boy with out getting pee all over your clothes (it involves NOT pulling your pants all the way down to your ankles, but I suspect many of you already know that, hmmm?).

THANKFULLY, when Sam gets there, he's caught on that I don't need any more ribbing. And instead of rubbing it in, he gushes at Ryan about his exciting train journey through the mountains.

THEN, when we get to Sam's parents house, the phone rings and Sam's dad walks into the other room explaining, "No, JOELIE wanted to take the TRAIN" as if it was just another hair-brained thing I had come up with. *eyeroll* Whatever. Lunch was delicious and after two glasses of red, I got all loose-lipped and talked about religion and politics with a surprising level of competence, if I do say so myself.

We played outside and in the cherry tree and with the ball and let the girls eat flowers and grass as they do and then it was time to go home.


I have a dilemma... Because I thought our ship shipment would be here by now, I didn't pack a lot of the things I'm now discovering I can almost not live without (I know, I know, you're all tired of hearing about this illustrious ship shipment, but bear with me). One thing I truly do need--no kidding--is paper. I NEEEEEED to print out this manuscript and send it to the Agent of My Dreams! But, I don't have any US-sized paper!!! Paper here is about two inches longer (and maybe even wider) than US paper. I should have remembered all this from my wedding when I designed stuff in the States and tried to print it here and had to tweak it, spending about 48 hours awake while working on it. Sam and I have called every office and paper store in Lyon and Switzerland, but no one has the paper!!!

So, what do I do? Do I go ahead and print it on the screwy paper and just write a note to the AMD? Or, do I have someone print it out and send it for me? (This would be a prob because I'm supposed to send back with my manuscript the letter the agent sent ME!!!). Or, do I have someone overnight me some paper, print it out and send it to the agent?

Whatever I am going to do, it seems like it's all been a blessing in disguise because there was some tweaking that needed to happen with the story as well as a few typos and holes that needed to be filled (Thanks Juju!!!). I'm working on that... well, I'm ABOUT to get BACK to working on that.

On the homefront, I made bread yesterday. Turned out PERFECT (YAY!) as did the brioche that I made (YAY!!!). Sam and I discussed buying a yogurtiere (a machine that incubates your yogurt for you) but then I realized that it might be just as easy to set the oven to the right temp and leave it in there. We'll see. I'm going to try it, hopefully today. I also blanched my veggies and put them into the freezer (it's my first time and I'm really proud... I hope they don't get freezerburn). I'm going to try to freeze my potatoes... I KNOW, I KNOW, they don't freeze well. But I'm going to dice them, blanche them, lightly coat them in olive oil and freeze them. *shrug* It could work. The worst that could happen is I have to end up turning them into puree, right?

Oh, yeah... and training.... Isn't turning out like I'd hoped. I wanted to get up early and do my half hour this morning after taking a pretty good several day break, but, it didn't happen. First of all, if I don't leave by 6:45, I get roped into taking care of the kids while Sam does his shave-and-take-a-shower act. And secondly, I wasn't terribly motivated because my heels are KILLING me. I'm going to have to do better at stretching. I don't know what to do. I wish I could find a training group here to run with so I'd have a little more accountability.

Well, the book calls...


Erin said...

I'm still readin' ya...and still lovin' ya! I think you're a teriffic Mom, btw. No one's perfect. Also, could you please give me more details about blanching and freezing your veggies? That sounds like something I might try. bisous!

Lori said...

The part about drinking in the English brought back a great memory of when I was in Argentina, sitting in a park and I heard two people speaking English... I got up and followed them for a long ways listening to it.

Sorry you're having a rough time. I'm going through some partial weaning too (starting a part-time job)... the hormones are hell.

Lots of hugs!!