Today we spent the day with the kids - we wanted to arrange our storage space (yes, we have a little concrete block room) and once we got 5 bikes it became a bit, well, overflowing. Simple, we'll just hammer drill a few holes into that concrete and put some bike hooks into the wall. We waited until 10am to start the drilling (thanks Olivier for the hammer drill and extension cord loan) and 1/2 hour later only 1 hook was up - urgh...
We clean up and spend some time with the kids and Andre' tries again at around 3pm - to be confronted by our upstairs neighbor whose baby is, as usual, sleeping. It has been a source of constant frustration for us to have to be extra quiet all the time. We can't play our music on our speakers etc... without them complaining. They also mentioned we had started drilling too early that morning - but, Andre' said, we waited until 10am! Well, people sleep in on Sunday... and it is really loud! You shouldn't make noise on Sundays.... (Is 10am too early here? Really?) Well, Andre' then protests, I am only home from work on the weekends, when am I supposed to do this??? The, purely unsympathetic, neighbor goes on to claim that the contract we signed said we had to be quiet until after 5 pm every day. (Is this true?) Of course, it will be dark by then - making it difficult to use dangerous power tools with a timer light that only lasts for 3-5 minutes.... This doesn't matter to the neighbor who just wants his kid to be able to sleep! Of course, Andre' acquiesces and stops the work until the evening when he does manage to put in one more hook - maybe we'll finish this project in 3-5 weeks at this rate. (hard to return borrowed items quickly under these circumstances)
It is hard, b/c we don't want to be bad neighbors. As a matter of fact, I have always enjoyed a reputation as a particularly good neighbor - the type you would want to have around and borrow a cup of sugar from. The one, on Gowen Circle, who organized the block parties and put out the Gowen Gazette. At home, I knew people liked me, in fact, may I be so bold to say I even achieved a status I never had in high school - popular??? In France, not so much.... In fact, I'm pretty sure these folks hate our American guts! Sorry neighbors, sorry baby!!! But when is it safe to hammerdrill in France???
Special time is one on one time with the kids - we always want to have this but it rarely happens so we made a schedule and stuck to it this weekend to make sure we would each get a turn with each kid- the rule is that we have to find something to do together that the parent and the kid will both enjoy... Today Griffin painted with Mama and played pirates with Daddy. Callie and I remade our thwarted clay figures and, with Andre,' she practiced riding her bike and took a stroll with him over to the local cemetery. Zander went for a long bike ride with Andre' and read two or three chapters of our latest little house on the prairie book - Farmer Boy, with me. We are now on the 6th book of the 9 book series. He is simply fascinated by the olden days and always asks about them.
We finished off the night watching Buffy - it will probably take our entire 2 years here to watch the series as we are watching each episode first in French and then in English with French subtitles in order to learn and yet not be totally frustrated by our lack of understanding.