vendredi 14 mars 2014

Joli jeu de mot et rires, l'Ami Ricoré était là ce matin

Le sac de PetiteSoeur est lourd, lourd, ce matin. Sur le quai du train où je les accompagne tous les matins, je fais l'inventaire.
"Une boîte à biscuits vide, je prends. Ton livre de cathé, c'est le mercredi, je prends (on est vendredi..)  Une Maman, comment ça aime ? , tu l'as fini?"
Là, SoeurduMilieu lève le nez "C'est quoi ce livre ?" Je lui montre "Tu le veux ?"
Elle ricane "Nan" et elle me regarde en levant les yeux au ciel, avec un grand sourire "Mère...veilleuse !"
C'est pas joli, ça? J'imagine qu'elle sous-entendait que ce livre fait l'apologie des mères, et elle n'a pas tort. Mais le terme utilisé est.... merveilleux. Je suis sûre ce jeu de mot n'est pas nouveau, mais moi je découvre, et j'adore.

GrandeSoeur part en week-end avec l'école, je dévalise les placards pour lui trouver des douceurs à grignoter dans le train (ou plutôt à servir de monnaie d'échange avec ses camarades car il n'y a rien qu'elle aime, une vraie pénurie.) Je trouve un mini packet de chips et un peu perplexe, grommelle "C'est bizarre, je suis sûre qu'il y en avait 2... GrandFrère, c'est toi qui a piqué un paquet de chips?"
Du fond de sa chambre, on entend : "Nan! ... et en plus ils étaient dégueu, il étaient périmés !"
Histoire idiote, mais fou-rire avec mes deux grands. Le mensonge corrigé par un aveu faussement candide, c'est une forme d'humour qui me met en joie.

Suite en direct, pendant que je rédige ce post.
SMS de panique de GrandeSoeur "maman, j'ai oublié xxx, super important"
SMS de moi sa mère attentive et dévouée "RV à 12h30 devant le Lycée"
SMS de merci de GrandeSoeur "Merci infiniment o mere veilleuse"
... Ca me va !

This a difficult one to translate, as there is a french play on words. A beautiful one.
Asking MiddleSister if she wants to read this book called 'How does a Mother love?, she rolled her eyes and says, with a big smile "Mère...veilleuse", meaning "one of those books that says mothers are marvellous."
But you see, she said it slowly, splitting the french word for 'marvellous' in two. 
Which, in one word, says "Marvellous" and in two words, says "Waking/Watching Mother". A "veilleuse' would be the feminine for "watchman", it's also a night light,  or a pilot light. All this associated with the word 'mother'. What a marvellous play on words, I am going to cherish this one.

I am wondering why there is only one packet of crisps left in the cupboard, when there were two the other day. When asked whether he took it, BigBrother replies "No.... They were disgusting, out of date!" 
It's difficult to convey the humour and the laughter in the situation, but I like the fact that he does not feel the need to lie, that he turns a 'little bit guilty' situation into something funny. There was just the right amount of silence between his 'no' and then the comment which was an admission.
Well now that I have studied it at length, I guess there is nothing funny any more about it. But it was a good moment, you will just have to take my word for it !

And BigSister is leaving on a schooltrip for the week-end, forgot something important, texted me for help five minutes ago.
When I texted back saying I would bring the missing item over to school, she texted 'Thank you, o watchful mum" hehehe.

My children made my day today.

mardi 11 mars 2014


MiddleSister thinks and is convinced that anything hurtful is unfair. Specifically, punitions and death of loved ones.
Reading this again after having left it to rest for an hour, all I can think to myself is "Mhmmm, she has a point." It's more the way she reacts to the unfairness of it all that's a worry.

She thrives on work that is immediately rewarded. She thrives on promises that are being kept.
And of course, the effort required is always too much in her opinion. She won't say so straight away. She will agree first, with a bit of negotiation thrown in. Negociation is her skill. She will wear you down before you have actually decided whether or not the reward she wants is appropriate. 
But nonetheless, she will do the work. But you will have to check and re-check it and if it's not well done, she will argue that you did not specify that THAT was what you wanted.
Which means that a request from her has to be answered with an amazing amount of conditions and preparations and thoughts and by the time they have been clarified, she might be so angry or fed up that she will decide she does not want the reward, hence won't fulfill the work required. Which needed to be done anyway.

So if she asks for something, the conditions have to be not something she was meant to do in the first place, like homework or shared chores.
Are you getting confused? This was the idea.
There is more… be warned :

On the other hand, if her regular chores, homework, commitments are failing and there is a consequence i.e. punition, then that's unfair. 
"I was not warned", and anyway, there is no need to try harder "because that's not going to change the punition".
So I don't punish often. I reward more. But keeping ahead of the 'game' is hard. Always having a reward on hand is difficult. She is upping the stakes all the time. Being 12 and wanting to go to a 1Direction concert can't be thrown in, according to our book, but she is on a different book apparently and won't relent.

So we have to be aware of whether she is the one asking for something first and have conditions at the ready, or whether we asked her to to do something first, in which case she will request something in exchange.

An example might clarify : bad grades in a particular subjet were piling up. I have spent a big amount of time during half term helping her to study that subject, according to a light timetable that she was, reluctantly and with a huge amount of negociation, willing to meet (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon, with 2 exercises in the meantime.) 
She wants to organize her birthday party. 6 friends for a sleepover. It's all taking shape. 
And suddenly, bad grades in the particular subject are still coming in, revision for a test in this subject are being done in a careless and angry manner.
Consequence : "You will have to cancel your birthday party"
Her point of view : "it's not fair."

Actually, I don't think it's fair either.

I feel guilty, because when she asked to organize her birthday party, I should have said in the first place "Only if you improve this particular subject, in grades and work." Duh.
It also comes down to whether or not a birthday party is a given or something you have to work for.
I am exhausted.

Her lack of acceptance shows in another difficult area in which we have unfortunately spent a lot of time this year.
The ultimate example is death. Sorry, the sequel in the topic is a bit brutal…
We have had several loss in the past year, amongst the older generation in the Boss' family. Our other children are grieving, sad, and then moving on. She gets furious. She hates the world everytime. I dread announcing anything now. Whenever prayers and kind thoughts are needed, I can't go there around the dinner table, can't call a family meeting, can't ask this of her, because it will just raise a major storm and wreck the balance of the whole evening, day, week in the family.
I am failing badly here, because the mere thought of going through it with her is exhausting.

And I know that unbalance is to be expected after a bereavement, don't read me wrong. 
But her anger is hurting everyone and making it so much worse for everybody else.
Any soothing words won't help, telling her that it was the person's time, that they had a good life, that we must hold dearly to their memories will just get me an utterly baffled, disbelieving look, that says, quite simply "Are you crazy?"
When worst comes to worst, she will storm out of the room, bang the doors, scream at her siblings and us, throw things around in her room. And I just sit there, with my head in my arms, willing it to go away.

Quite frankly, this is really the time when I would appreciate lots and lots of feedback from anyone reading this, please. We all have different ways of dealing with these things, but I need to know I am not alone here.

I am in control on this picture here : deliberately choosing 2 different socks in the laundry basket because no time to look for matching ones.
Je maîtrise complètement sur cette photo. Je choisis de porter deux chaussettes différents, car je n'ai ni le temps ni l'envie de retourner tout le panier à linge à la recherche de la chaussette perdu. Ca c'est fait.

SoeurduMilieu trouve que tout ce qui fait mal est injuste. En particulier les punitions et le deuil.
Franchement, en relisant mon brouillon après l'avoir laissé mariner une heure, la première pensée qui me vient à l'esprit est "Oui. Elle n'a pas tort."
LE problème réside surtout dans sa façon de réagir à cette injustice.

Elle "marche à la carotte". En français clair, elle ne travaille à fond que sur promesses et récompenses.
Bien sûr, l'effort demandé est toujours trop important à ses yeux. Elle ne va pas tout de suite le dire. Elle acceptera d'abord, avec un tout petit peu de négociation. C'est une négociatrice-née. Elle vous usera avant que vous ayez décidé si ce qu'elle cherche à obtenir est approprié.
Ensuite elle fera le travail. Mais il faudra vérifier plusieurs fois si c'est bien fait. Et si c'est mal fait, elle vous dira que vous n'aviez pas précisé que c'était COMME CA que vous le vouliez.

Donc quand elle demande quelque chose, il faut lui répondre après avoir soigneusement réfléchi et en énonçant très clairement les conditions. A ce moment-là, il est possible qu'elle soit tellement furieuse et exaspérée qu'elle ne veut plus de la récompense et décide donc de ne pas faire le travail demandé. Qui a toujours besoin d'être fait.

Donc si elle veut quelque chose, les conditions pour l'obtenir ne doivent pas être de faire quelque chose qu'elle devait faire de toute façon, comme ses devoirs ou balayer le jardin avec sa soeur.
Ca devient compliqué, hein? C'était l'idée.

D'un autre côté, si ses devoirs, corvées, services ne sont pas faits correctement et qu'il y a une conséquence, comme une punition, c'est injuste.
'On ne m'avait pas prévenu', et de toute façon, pas la peine de redresser la barre "parce que cela ne changera pas la punition."

Donc je n'applique pas souvent de punition. J'essaie de récompenser. Mais cela nécessite d'avoir toujours une longueur d'avance et je n'y arrive pas toujours. Elle essaie toujours de mettre la barre plus haut, d'en obtenir davantage. Aller à un concert de OneDirection à 12 ans ne fait pas partie des récompenses acceptables à notre avis, ce n'est pas le sien et elle ne lâche pas le morceau.

Je parle de son refus du deuil en anglais. Je n'arrive pas à le faire en français, ni à traduire, ni à raconter, ça devient trop douloureux.
En revanche, c'est le moment où jamais de commenter si ce que j'ai écrit vous donne envie de partager.. J'en ai un peu besoin, là.

vendredi 7 mars 2014

Service impeccable WYSWYG

Nous quittons Londres pour les bonnes vacances de février. 14h de route avec une escale à Reims.
Ce jour-là, il pleut. C'est Londres, vous me direz.
On se rappellera tout de même que l'hiver 2013-2014 restera dans les annales comme l'hiver le plus chaud depuis 1900 et l'hiver le plus pluvieux depuis 1910.
Donc, un jour de février 2014, je prends la route de Londres vers le Tunnel sous la Manche, sous une pluie battante.
Et en m'engageant sur l'autoroute, voici ce que je vois devant moi. J'ai photoshoppé la plaque d'immatriculation, mais pas le reste, j'vous l'jure ! 

english further down
 Merci à GrandFrère pour avoir pris les photos !

 Thanks to BigBrother for taking the pictures !

Leaving London for February half-term. It's pouring that day. I know, this is London, you're saying.
Furthermore, winter 2013-2014 will be remembered as the warmest winter in England since 1900 and the wettest since 1910.
So on this February morning, as I am about to start on the Motorway toward the Channel Tunnel, driving in pelting rain, this is what I have in front of me. Promise, apart from the registration number, I did not touch up the photo. 
't was worth a picture and a giggle.

mercredi 5 mars 2014

Slow - Follow up

What follows is a post written in 2010, never published.
(That year, we lived in Paris, but the Boss worked in London. He would take the first train from Paris to London on Monday mornings, and arrive back in Paris on Friday nights. He had a one bedroom flat in London. The children and I went to spend one or two week-ends there with him, we lent the flat to friends on week-ends, he had one niece staying with him for 3 months, so it was put to good use, on top of being his weekly accomodation there.
This commuting lasted 18 months. It was very hard and since then, my welcome home hug every night is full of "how lucky, how nice that you come home every night"…
We all live together in the UK now.)

The Boss' train leaves from the Gare du Nord Station in Paris at 6.45 am. Gare du Nord is 25 minutes' drive from home at that time. And he has to be there for check-in 20 minutes before. So we leave at 6. Get up at 5.30.
I am not always thrilled to have to wake up that early to drive him when there is the 'take the cab' option. But...

This half hour spent together at dawn (well, that's dawn for me) in the car, smiling, saying nothing, chatting, arguing, planning. Wow. 
And the half hour spent on my own driving through Paris on the way back. 
Who gets the chance to drive past the Eiffel Tower at 6.30 am in the morning light, and not be in a rush? Wow.
And finding LittleOne rubbing her eyes at the door because the minute she hears my key in the door she jumps out of bed. Wow.
Those are moments that are given to me in exchange for my time.

4 years later, those are good memories. I am so glad I wrote them down, so those Monday morning drives come back to me, bittersweet..

Ce post est un article écrit en 2010, jamais publié.
(Cette année-là, nous vivions autour de Paris, mais le Boss travaillait à Londres. Il prenait le premier train pour Londres le lundi matin et rentrait le vendredi soir à Paris. Il avait un petit appartement à Londres. Cette période a duré 18 mois. C'était difficile et depuis, mon accueil du soir quand il rentre à la maison est toujours teinté de la même pensée "quel bonheur qu'il rentre tous les soirs à la maison.."
Nous habitons tous ensemble en Angleterre désormais.)

Le train du Patron quitte la Gare du Nord à 6h45. La gare est à 25mn de la maison et il y a 20mn de check-in. Donc on part à 6h de la maison, après s'être réveillés à 5h30.
Je ne suis pas toujours enchantée de me lever si tôt quand il pourrait parfaitement prendre un taxi. Mais bon.

Cette demi-heure passée ensemble à l'aube (pour moi, c'est l'aube) dans la voiture, à discuter, faire des projets ou se taire, à profiter des dernières minutes ensemble avant de se séparer pour 5 longues journées…
Et la demi-heure passée à rouler dans Paris au retour. Paris qui s'éveille, les quais, la Tour Eiffel, la brume du matin sur la Seine, des clichés vécus, et même pas d'embouteillages, histoire d'en profiter à fond.
Et à l'arrivée, sur le pas de la porte, PetiteDernière qui se frotte les yeux, debout car elle a sauté du lit à la seconde où elle a entendu mes clefs dans la porte. Son câlin qui me réchauffe.
Tout ce que je reçois en échange de ce réveil matinal...

4 ans après cette période pénible, je suis contente de retrouver aussi ces souvenirs doux-amers ici. 

Quand elle s'en va chez le boucher… Is there a graceful way to go to the butcher ?

La question du jour:
Mais qu'est-ce qui lui a pris de coller ça dans sa chanson ?

A Question
There is this lovely love song in french, describing a woman, 'she' (1980. It was a hit song that year.) It tells how graceful she is, in every movement, her looks, her fingers, her walk etc. The singer is painting a beautiful creature with his words.
And in the middle of the beautiful song, there is this one sentence. It's like the elephant in the room. It says :
'this way she has of crossing the road (so far so good)
when she goes to the butcher' (whaaaaaaaat ???)

I know curiosity killed the cat, but I wish I knew why he wrote this. It's like a joke, an eyewink. I hope that's what it is. I researched it a bit, and even found this one comment on a blog, back in 2004 I think. This person writes : 'This guy managed to insert the word 'butcher' in a love song. My hero."

My point exactly !

mardi 4 mars 2014

a picture and a story

I have been reminded that a blog is a day-to-day account, a running commentary, a commitment, (thanks Stephanie!)

A picture

BigSister's Sweet Sixteen, I baked.
And decorated a bit.
I just want to say that she pretended not to be impressed. She wants to be all mature about the fact that she likes the "character" (see my eyes rolling ?) and not necessarily the actor. MiddleSister, as a not so discreet "honest" (second eye roll) blabbermouth screamed (in between bouts of laughter) that BigSister was swooning just by listening to HIS voice the last time they watched an episode.
Right. Time to change the topic. 

A story
Before we go away on holiday, I always ask myself "If our house is broken into, what would I hate to loose?"
And then I either pack the precious things in the car (ahem… van, really) or hide them in very clever places. 
Can't find my Guerlain face cream since we came back.
I know it's somewhere. Somewhere very clever…

edit : it is the first time I have owned such an expensive face cream, it was a very lovely gift from good friends.
So I did not want it to disappear, just in case.
Never mind the obvious 'why would a burglar bother with a half-used face cream?' I did not worry myself with such silly question. All I knew was that I really like this cream.
But now I have no idea where I hid it.

vendredi 31 janvier 2014

Sauvée par les livres

Nous avons déménagé l'année dernière. Pour l'école des 2 plus jeunes, nous sommes passés de 12 mn de vélo le matin et le soir à 3 mn de trotinette + 25 mn de métro aérien + 3 mn de trotinette.
Alors on fait en sorte que cela se passe bien. J'ai téléchargé sur mon livre numérique tous les livres pour enfants disponibles gratuitement, en ai acheté quelques uns, et elle dévore. Je la regarde lire et je me rassure.

I think she is reading Daddy Long Legs here. Je crois qu'elle lis Papa Longues-Jambes ici.

We moved last year. For the two youngest, we have gone from a 12 min bicycle ride's commute to a 3 min scooter ride + 25 min overground train + 3 min scooter ride to school. 
So we try to make it go fast and enjoy it. I downloaded as many free children books as I could on my e-book, bought some, and she reads and reads. I watch her read and I feel better about the whole travel stress.

mardi 21 janvier 2014

How do you choose a gift?

Traduction française à venir

Trying to get back on track here… So I am unearthing a post I started before Christmas and never posted because.

Sometimes I fly over a topic very fast, to fast, even though it might be a vast, very vast topic to explore.

Ahem. This is one of those. Because, really I don't have much time. It is Friday night, you see (actually, it is really a Monday now that I am posting and editing this, but I don't have any more time than on a Friday…) We are going out tonight, the Boss and I, and there are 4 hungry and tired children to look after before we head out into the cold (car not back from garage, so I guess the two of us can drink tonight, but don't know how we are coming home.) I am straying… or procrastinating ?

Right. There is this book on this topic, the 5 languages of love (don't want to start controversy of all sorts, so no link, but it's very easy to find on the web…) which has kind of explained things to me, but made them more complicated. Gifts, touch, words, acts, quality time, mhmmm, I will have all of the above thank you very much.
But about the gifts : I like the gifts I receive to be exactly what I like/want/asked for. Otherwise, I have this horrible feeling that the person just needed to give me a gift but did not put effort into it.
I am trying to change that, I promise. I try to always thank the person for the thought, the gesture of giving, the kind move. But afterwards, I can be a bit petty, looking at the gift, and thinking "Where am I going to put this thing? what am I going to do with it?"

Sometimes the gift grows on me. That's the nice bit. I have this 'decorative' stone hippopotamus (I mean, really. A hippo) given by my mother-in-law one Christmas, sitting above our chimney. Well, my mother-in-law died in May, and there is no way I will ever get rid of this hippo. 

But when you are trying to truthfully thank somebody, you can't really say "Well, thanks. I really hope this Eiffel Tower mug is going to grow on me, because right now I don't really feel like drinking my coffee in it."

Which leads me to THE question : How can I possibly choose a gift for someone when I am myself so precise about what I like and don't like? When I want people to be 100% happy about what I get them? (Is that too presumptuous?) How do you do it?