Vocab Friday: Stupide

Our vocab lesson is going to be short and sweet today because I am not sure my brain can handle much else. Folks, I am really dumb these days. Case in point: I showed up for my Monday doctor’s appointment on Wednesday.

Even worse: A friend was arriving yesterday from Dubai at 7:30. So I woke up early, ate some breakfast, and waited for a text to say he landed safely. By 8:30 I still hadn’t heard anything and started getting worried. By 9 I was sending texts and emails saying things like “Where are you?! Are you alive?!” At 9:15 I decided to check the flights coming into Charles de Gaulle, and was shocked to see that there were no flights from Dubai arriving at 7:30am.

Even worser: Instead of immediately realizing that my friend meant 7:30 PM, I sat there for a moment thinking oh my god, he’s been kidnapped! Covert kidnap operation! There is no plane from Dubai!!!!

Kids, this is your brain on prenatal vitamins. Consider yourselves warned.

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Pronunciation: stoo-peed

Definition: Dumb as a box of rocks. Silly as a billy goat. As in,

“I thought mommy brain happened after the kid popped out, but this fetus sure is making me stupide.”


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.


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!

Oh, the places I can drink!

Yeah, yeah, it’s Saturday. And I missed Vocab Friday. But I was busy showing some awesome friends around Paris and doing some awesome things, like attending an open-air performance of Carmen at L’Hotel des Invalides:

With a picnic of saucisse and wine of course:

And then we went back to champagne country, so I could say hi to Tina Turner:

And restock my champagne rack:

And engage in a little public drinking on the train ride home:

So apologies for skipping out on vocab yesterday. But there aren’t really words to describe the awesomeness that was going on anyway. The good news is I’ll be back in French class this week, so we’ll return soon to our regularly scheduled programming: baby jesus in velvet pants and boob vocabulary.

The anti-frites, anti-foie gras dinner.

One of the best parts about having visitors here is showing them all of the most glorious things to eat. And we all know that I’ve been doing some serious eating. No one, and I mean no one, leaves on my watch without at least trying:

  • pain au raisins (from my corner bakery, bien sur)
  • pain au chocolat
  • salted caramel macarons at Carette
  • pâté de campagne
  • banana and nutella crepes
  • lamb chops
  • french onion soup
  • my homemade chicken en cocotte
  • gallons of champagne
  • moelleux au chocolat
  • those little dried sausage ball things that are like crack
  • some really stinky cheese
  • fresh baguette

And that’s usually just on day one. So it’s no surprise that after a couple weeks of entertaining guests, my organs are in dire need of a little rest. My body cries out for something simple, something fresh, something with some vegetables on it. That’s why after sending off the in-laws on Sunday, we went directly to Al Taglio for this:



Oh, pizza by the kilo! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: with thinly sliced potato and truffle cream, with speck and smoky eggplant purée, with sweet pumpkin sauce and salty prosciutto. And let’s not forget the simple pairing of mozzarella and garlicky tomato. All settled onto a perfectly crisp-yet-chewy-inside crust. The crust! Tis’ not the sad soggy specimen found beneath most lame slices around here, no. This is the crust of my dreams. I want to be rolled up inside that doughy wonder to live out my last days. Which at the rate I’m going, will probably be sometime around next week.

Mistress of Misinformation.

A famous statue in the Tuileries, titled "Duuuude, Where Are My Pants?"

It’s a well known fact that I have just a smidge of my mom’s type A personality. So of course I approach my tour guiding duties here in Paris with a certain level of intensity, unloading facts and tidbits and trivia on my guests at every turn. I figure a little context goes a long way, right?

Unfortunately, since it is only just a smidge of type A, I don’t often do a lot of fact checking before I start opening my big mouth.

But seriously, when there’s a medieval church or classical statue on every corner, what are you supposed to do? I can’t very well admit that I have no stinking clue what half of that stuff is. My guests would be disappointed. And type A’s don’t disappoint guests. Oh no, they forge ahead with the utmost confidence and hope you don’t check Wikipedia later.

So when Chris and Anna came to visit, the faux-facts flowed like the Seine. I wanted them to have a really good time ! To discover something wonderful ! To totally fall in love with the history of this city ! Thus they learned many interesting things, like :

– The whole French royal family was totes guillotined during the revolution. Yeah! Even the kids! And that was the end of the monarchy in France.

– Sainte-Chapelle isn’t that old, it’s just got some big stained glass windows.

– That *insert random imposing building here* is the Grand Palais. It houses congress/a museum/Nicolas Sarkozy.

– Northern Ireland is definitely not a part of the UK.

– The actress that played Miss Geist in Clueless? Totally the same lady that played Miss Davis in Varsity Blues!

Isn't that interesting?!

Anna and Jen, learning about that time Julia Child cooked dinner for Marie Antoinette

Amazing, right ? Paris is just full of surprises. I really think Chris and Anna enjoyed their educational foray into French culture and will share this incredible learning experience with the folks back home. And the next time they visit, I hope to dive deeper into the longstanding history between the Eiffel Tower and Quasimodo…

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?