Vocab Friday: Creepy Crawly Edition

I really, really wish this was an April Fool’s Day post. But it’s not.

It’s the sad, horrifying truth that I arrived home from home, well rested and excited to see Husband, only to find out from my dear sister that I may or may not have brought back some little souvenirs, compliments of a certain niece who’s name rhymes with banana.

That’s right: my sister called about 8 hours after my plane landed to say she was sitting in the waiting room of a professional nitpicker, and that I should have Husband check me out for lice just in case.

And despite feeling immediately itchy and paranoid, I kind of laughed it off. That is until Husband took one look at the back of my head and pulled a bug out.

PULLED A BUG. OUT OF MY HAIR. Do you know what’s WORSE than the horror of toenail clippings on the floor people??? Your husband pulling BUGS OUT OF YOUR HAIR like an ape.

Now we have no idea if it was an actual louse or just a gnat or even a piece of lint. But I didn’t wait to find out. I immediately started high-pitch screaming and ripped all of my clothes off and jumped in the shower, where I compulsively washed and scrubbed and scoured my head for about 45 minutes while sobbing uncontrollably. I then made Husband douse my head in vinegar, because I read that that might help, but it only went up my nose and seared my eyeballs.

That’s about when he emailed my sis to say “I have a hysterical pregnant lady in the shower who smells like a bad salad. Help?”

But there was no help to be found. Husband refused to share a bed with me. I stayed up all night googling “lice removal.” So the next day I went to the pharmacist and got a special anti-poux comb and shampoo, which was not really shampoo at all but some kind of non-chemical, silicone smothering agent that was the approximate consistency of motor oil. And I put that on my head, even though we couldn’t find any further evidence of lice. And I scraped my poor scalp to death with the comb, just to make sure there was no chance in hell that any living creatures could have survived.

And that, my dear readers, is why I have not been updating the blog this week. Because I’ve been running around picking at my hair like a cracked out meth addict.

In other news, I can’t wait for my next trip home!

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And that brings us to this week’s vocabulary lesson: the creepy crawly edition.

les poux

Pronunciation: poo (so yes, that shampoo is probably pronounced “poo-it”)

Definition: Lice. Plural of “louse.” Horror of horrors. As in,

“If my child ever comes home with les poux, I will probably just abandon her on the side of the road.”



Things that make you go hmmm.

After several castle tours and a few hours cramped into a compact European diesel with my in-laws, we decided to pull off the highway for a pit-stop. Tired and hungry, I can’t tell you how excited we were to finally get some…Flunch.


Would that be short for “french lunch”? Or “fast lunch”? Or is it something akin to Brunch or Linner? I’m really scared that it’s more like a shart. Needless to say, we did not eat there.

Please forgive me.

I have a deep, dark, dirty secret to share with you. Well, it’s not really very secret, since approximately half of my readership was involved. But that makes me no less ashamed to type what I am about to type:

I fed my family Pizza Hut. In Paris. ON PURPOSE. And it was good.

Go ahead, commence with the collective gasps. Here you thought I had come so far in my hostessing abilities. That I was someone who was truly committed to exceptional eating. But it turns out that deep down I am just a chain pizza serving, deep dish loving, red blooded American with a weakness for processed cheese.

I am not proud of this. But in my defense, we were all fresh from one hellish, strike-induced train ride from Normandy, where people were forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the isles for 3 hours and old ladies were fighting over seats like rabid dogs.

It was also a cold, damp Sunday night, which means just about NOTHING was open for dinner and no one felt like traveling far to find sustenance. This limited our choices to pseudo-Chinese food delivery, a 4 day old camembert in the fridge that smelled like rotting feet, or the aforementioned pie.

The troops voted unanimously for pizza. And though every bone in my body wanted desperately to feed them something, anything else, I didn’t have the heart to tell them no. But I did make sure everyone drank a glass of champagne while we waited.

And you know what? When the boxes arrived, and we all tucked into one gooey slice after another (scraping past the goat cheese of course, which is standard issue even on “plain” pizzas) – I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. It was good. Delicious even. A glorious taste of home! Husband and I looked at each other like why have we not been ordering this once a week?! Even though I haven’t eaten Pizza Hut back home in, oh, 10 years.

It’s amazing what nostalgia can do to your taste buds. But promise me this: If I ever write here praising the merits of Easy-Mac or chicken nuggets, stage an intervention.


Vocab Friday: Tante Jennie

A year ago today I was 3 glasses of pinot noir and one donut deep, spooning my sister on a hospital couch at 3am.

My contacts had long been thrown in the trash because I couldn’t shut my eyes for more than 20 seconds without them driving me insane. There may or may not have been drool on my shirt, but there most definitely was a rat’s nest in the place where my hair usually is.

It was so cold that we had wrapped ourselves in any piece of clothing we could find, along with some gnarly looking hospital blankets. We looked like refugees from a wild bender gone terribly wrong. And I’m sure that’s what the nurses would have assumed, were we not huddled in the Labor and Delivery ward and demanding updates every 10 minutes on the arrival of this guy:

Happy birthday Bean! You’re one step closer to being old enough to buy me that drink you owe me for pulling an all nighter on a hospital couch.

(Dear other nieces and nephews: You may be wondering, Aunt Jennie, why didn’t I get a birthday shout out on the blog?! Well, for starters, I was too chicken to make it to the hospital for your births. Except for Anna Banana, and that doesn’t even count because she was #4 and popped out in about 30 seconds while my sister ate a sandwich and my bro-in-law watched college basketball. Or I didn’t know you yet when you were born, if you’re coming from Husband’s side. But I am an equal opportunity embarrasser, er, story teller. I will happily post here about changing your diapers, watching the temper tantrums, that time Scotty wouldn’t let go of the door to McDonald’s and they almost called social services…you know, just the good stuff.)

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Pronunciation: tahnt

Definition: Aunt. The coolest aunt that ever roamed the earth. As in,

Tante Jennie, why are you making us watch The Labrinthe again?”

“Uh, because it’s the best children’s movie ever made.”

[David Bowie appears]

“I want mommy!”

How Big Daddy does France.

He came. He saw. He kicked France’s ass. That’s about the best way to sum up my dad’s recent visit to the City of Light (and beyond). In just 5 short days we saw 6 arrondissements, drove around the Arc de Triomphe, explored D-day beaches, scaled Mont Saint Michel and still had time to chill on my couch for a cup of tea.

Sure, there were the standard grumbles about walking too much and walking too fast and not walking to see what Dad wanted to see. But since he’s the man that would routinely rip me from peaceful teenage Sunday morning sleep to spend hours walking around Gettysburg or Antietam or some distant great uncle’s cousin’s brother’s farm, I have little sympathy.

Besides that though, the whole trip really went off without a hitch! Not a pile of dog poo or shart to write home about. And I think we have Big Daddy’s unique approach to foreign travel to thank for that. See, rather than feel intimidated by a foreign land, Dad just barrels along on the assumption that he’s got everything covered, shouting “HOT DAMN!” or “I WAS BORN IN PARIS, JEN!” whenever a cultural challenge is overcome.

In fact, his voyaging worldview is so unique that I would be remiss to not share some of its key tenets here with you. So without further ado:

Gil’s Travel Tips For People Who Were Not Born in Paris

1. Dress appropriately.


All any well seasoned traveller needs is a pair of mirrored sunglasses and a Boston College rain jacket. It’s a quite versatile ensemble, really – Dad transitioned it seamlessly from day to evening, to the next day to the next evening…

2. Make an effort to assimilate.

Dad doesn’t drink, but he jumped right on board for the champagne tour. He doesn’t speak French, but kindly shouted “MER-CY!” to every waiter, shopkeeper and metro operator we met. After a day or two, the French were just about ready to offer him honorary dual citizenship.

3. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Slogging through boring museums and ogling cultural landmarks is for the birds. Better to relax, take in the scenery, and really “be” with the people of France. Besides, they don’t put those awesome reclining chairs out for nothin. HOT DAMN!

Vocab Friday: Mon Père

People of France, prepare yourselves! Big Daddy arrived this morning, and something tells me Paris will never be the same.

For those of you who don’t know my dad, let me explain. He’s a 6 foot 2 barrel chested man who wears painters pants and polo shirts, exclusively. He’s got a penchant for mirrored wrap-around glasses from 7-11 and a distinct distaste for socks. On most days, what’s left of his hair looks like this:

Dad is an avid traveller and has flown his own plane across the U.S. a couple times. But he hasn’t been to Europe since circa 1968. He speaks no French, and at times his command of English is tenuous.

But he’s here gosh darn it. And he’s told me he doesn’t want to see any goddamn museums. (Sweet! Because if I have to go to the Louvre one more time, I will scale the pyramid and fling my body into the fountains below). No touristy things for dad, no. He wants to “be with the French people.”

That father of mine. He is a people person! The Parisians will either be totally charmed/amused by his infectious laugh, or scared to death of the crazy loud American. It’s gonna be a toss up. Either way, Dad is going to get the vrai experience Parisien – there are skinny models walking around everywhere, strikes planned for Saturday, maybe he’ll even step in some dog poo!  Then I’m going to put him in a rental car and test his cardiovascular health with a few spins around the L’Arc de Triomphe. It should be amazing.

I am exceptionally excited to spend some QT with him, and hope this trip goes a little more smoothly than the last time my family was here. I’ll be sure let you know how fast he sprints toward the Air France airport shuttle next week.

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mon père

Pronunciation: maw(n)  pear

Definition: My dad. Who will certainly embarrass me at one point or another while here, just for sport. As in,

“It’s highly likely that mon père will cause a major international incident while vacationing in Paris.”

Til death do us shart.

Rain, rain and more rain.Yes, you read that title correctly, and I’ll get to that later. First let me say that I have the best family and most understanding husband on the planet. Hands down. Not even the Von Trapps or the Osbournes or the Obamas could come close to their awesomity.

Why? Because even after a whirlwind week spent touring London and Paris, with four children crashing in my apartment and 3 failed attempts to climb the Eiffel Tower, we’re still speaking to each other. I think we might even still enjoy each other’s company. Maybe.

But the point is, we survived! And we certainly covered a lot of ground. Louvre? Check. Steak frites? Check. Getting ripped off by street artists and paying $10 for a soda? Check and check. I could go on and on about all the magical details of this epic cultural journey, but I don’t want to make anyone too jealous. So here are the highlights:

Day 1, London: Jen and Husband enjoy a day at the Tate Modern and a lovely indian food dinner.

Night 1, London: Jen gets violent case of food poisoning, sharts in pajamas, spends night on hotel bathroom floor.

London pub.

Just about sums up my time in London.

Day 3, Paris: Family accosted by flock of gypsy women at train station.

Day 4: Attempt to get to the top of Eiffel, but line is too long. Attempt to go to Louvre, but it’s closed. Attempt Eiffel again and get caught in a monsoon hail storm with no umbrellas.

Day 6: Wait in line for Eiffel for 2 hours, only to have the elevator break right when we get ready to go up.

Day 7: Bro-in-law steps in dog poo. Twice. Decides he hates the French.

Last  day: Family sprints toward the Air France airport bus with just a little too much spring in their step.

The elusive Eiffel

That's about as close as we got.

See! Our family bond is so strong that not even explosive gastrointestinal distress could tear us apart. Or maybe it’s just the power of wine and chocolate croissants that held us together. Either way, the mutual feelings of love and the excitement of being back together in this beautiful city were just incroyable. I’m sure they can’t wait to do it again. Right guys? Right?