A funny thing happens in France

Last week we went to France for Semana Blanca. Several of our friends in the US made comments about how lucky we were. And we were lucky because being able to spend time together and visit a foreign country is super lucky. But, just to be clear. Saying we're going skiing in France here is sort of like saying, we're going skiing in Pennsylvania. Not that there is anything wrong with the Poconos. I love the Poconos...but it's not the big named, high mountain, challenging slopes that you think of when you think..."skiing in Europe." That being said, Font Romeu is a lovely little town, very quaint and French, right over the border between France and Spain. It is super easy to get there and sells AMAZING blueberry jams. Truth be told it's why we go back...and for the muffins. They used to have great blueberry muffins at the lodge but not this year. So, it's the jam.
The morning after we arrived I woke up with a fever. I wasn't planning on skiing anyway. I'm not much of a skier and we already went skiing once in Vermont this year (see...lucky). But I hadn't planned on spending the week sick. Nevertheless, sick I was, although not horribly sick...only fever, achy, how many days until we go home sick. And luckily for me, Alexa had hurt her arm playing basketball and was under doctor's orders to not snowboard so she kept me company.

We usually went into town once a day to do a little shopping and eat lunch. And about the third day I decided to stop by the pharmacy to see if they would sell me antibiotics. In Spain, (I love this country) they will sell you antibiotics if you know what you are asking for. So here is the funny thing that happens everytime we cross the border. My Spanish becomes flawless. Seriously, here in Spain, I struggle to find the words I need to get my point across. I agonize about which tense to use...and bumble my way through. In France...I've got nothing to say in French. And my brain automatically assumes these lovely kind French people can understand Spanish and it comes out flawlessly....and to no avail because half the time they do not understand Spanish either, which is a story for another time. The country is literally ten minutes away you'd think it would come in handy. But, no. Or it could be that my Spanish is still awful even in Spain. But never the less...the angst is always gone. I have no idea why. Maybe it's because it's a Hail Mary pass thrown in a last ditch effort to be understood. Who knows. I just find it fascinating that without thought or reason when someone starts speaking French to me, Spanish just comes right back out. The women in the Pharmacy did understand my limited attempts to get antibiotic-turns out you have to see a doctor in France. I definitely didn't have enough French for that.
   I read recently that you learn a second language in a different part of the brain then the first one. They found this out when stroke patients lost their first language but not their second. And also, recently, I was told that learning a second language holds off the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. So, I'm going to keep working at my Spanish...and try to remember to learn a few things in French so that the next time I go I've got something to say. They really do have fabulous blueberry jam.


a little razzle dazzle

Jessica is my baby. She may be 13 (sometimes going on 18) but she is my youngest and forever holds that spot of baby in my eyes. For her older siblings there was always a day, usually the first time I saw them after the next child was born, where they seemingly grew up overnight. A moment when they went from babyhood straight into toddler-hood in the blink of an eye. And since Jess is the youngest she never had the moment in my mind. She was always the youngest of the bunch bring up the rear of the growth train.
I hadn't intended for today to be such a big day for us. Yesterday I finally stopped procrastinating and got all the things we needed to get together for the consultation with the orthodontist. We had started this process in October but, we had a new local insurance that wanted us to change orthodontists and there were xrays to be done. Our insurance approved ortho didn't speak English as well and there was a difference of opinion on how best to treat Jessica's issues...which are eerily like my own...pull tons of teeth and push it all back, or pull the lower jaw forward to make the jaw aligned and create space. It took about two seconds for me to vote for option two. After having tons of my own teeth pulled and pushed back during three years of braces only to live with perpetual jaw pain from TMJ. I signed her up for option two....in my head. But making the appointment with our previous ortho and getting there was what was holding us up.
I love Spanish medicine. Say what you want about the advancements in US medicine. We show up for our appointment and the ortho, after an absence of several months, and even though it would have set her back in her day, she was willing to put the braces on Jessica yesterday. I told her it wasn't necessary to ruin her whole day and so she scheduled us for this morning, a day incidentally that she has set aside for paperwork, to get Jessica started. She might have been concerned about still catching Jess in the middle of her growth spurt. But hey, she is still growing so we haven't surpassed it yet. She is just a baby.

I love Jessica's smile. Jessica earned the nickname "sunshine" when she was very young. Her optimism and energy often added the sun to my days. And she is taking to braces in her usual, glass half full kind of way. When she looked in the mirror at all the metal she only grinned larger and said, "that's a lot of bling."
Yes, it is babe....yes it is.