Friday, July 31, 2009

My French Connection

Aidan came home from school one day with a brochure about a foreign exchange program, whereby teens from France come stay with a host family in America for 3 weeks. The object of the program is to help the kids practice English and also to show them the "real America" not seen on TV.

I already have 3 boys, 4 if you count the 7-year old from across the street who practically lives here. What's one more?

So I said, "where do we sign?"

Two months later, we were at the airport picking up Etienne - a 14-year old from outside of Lyon.

He was shy and my boys were a little shy. The first thing they did was play fooseball. Aidan was on one side and Etienne teamed up with Gunnar. He very quickly determined that his fooseball skills were greater than theirs, so I heard him ask in his heavily-accented voice, "I play against you two?" I had to chuckle.
My husband apparently felt that the louder he spoke to Etienne, the more likely he would understand him, while Brit, the 7-year old neighbor, spoke to Etienne like he should understand everything he was saying.
The next day, they all went to the park to play football (American football which French people don't do). Upon their return, Gunnar said, "He schooled us!" And so it went, Etienne played Aidan's bass guitar, piano, video games, etc.

My kids soon discovered that Etienne was just like them - just from another country.

We took him to a Rockies game where Brody got one of the players to throw him a baseball. Etienne was thrilled when Brody gave the ball to him. We went to a water park, an outdoor concert in the mountains, golfing (which was funny since no one knew how to golf), bowling, a drag racing track. My husband's co-worker has a dragster so he let Etienne sit in it.

His first specific request was to go to Abercrombie & Fitch. There Brody discovered a fondness for expensive clothes. He bought a shirt which was on sale for $28 with his own money, which he wore continuously for the next 3 days.

We introduced him to the American tradition of eating plates and plates of nachos for lunch and watching tv.

The two requests he made were to eat at Burger King, and to buy peanut butter to bring home to his mum.

Speaking of gifts, he brought us all gifts from France. Most importantly, a bottle of Chanel #5 for me and a small vial of Prada perfume. The Prada is FABULOUS! I have now forced at least 10 people to smell my arm.

Anyway, it turned out to be a great experience for my family and for Etienne. As we left the airport, Brody said that he already missed Etienne and could we go to France to see him.
Etienne invited us to visit him in France. (He has a grandmother that lives on the French Riviera, so I'm thinking that's a pretty good idea!)

My Sister's Knees

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be just like my big sister. She was much better pianist than me. A much better ballerina. A much better artist. A much better gymnast. Much more sociable and funny.

Not much has changed about any of that; however, I have one more characteristic to add - flair for drama.

For example, her latest escapade entailed a dramatic "rescue" from a rock by a helicopter, boat and hunky lifeguard. The medical trauma which resulted was a few bruises on her knees. (For photos and a complete story, see her blog).

I hurt my knees, too!

I was taking a walk around my neighborhood to get a little exercise. As I attempted to cross the street, I stepped on the curb, which slopes to the street - not straight up and down like a normal curb.

My foot slipped resulting, not only in my diet pepsi becoming airborne and landing several feet in front of me, but me crashing to the pavement.

My first thought was that I was going to break my arm since I am getting old and my bones aren't as strong as they used to be. My second thought was that my afore-mentioned weak arms wouldn't be strong enough to prevent my face from crashing into the pavement (which, given my vanity, would have been worse).

Luckily, neither happened.

Instead, just like my big sister, I bruised my knees. And if you ask me, they're a lot worse than Charmaine's knees. But I don't have the fabulous story she has. I just went for a walk.

It's so unfair!