Friday, March 24, 2006

He's Home!

So Ethan's home! He got home a week ago, actually, but I've been freelancing and catching up on grading, and haven't had time to post anything until now. I've got to figure out a way to balance blogging with everything else I'm doing, because it means a lot to me.

I'm not cry-y mom. I'm so not. But, when all the parents were clustered around the Northwest escalator waiting for our orange-clad world-travelers to descend, I started to feel a little funny. Then, as the first-class and business class people started coming down, asking if we were waiting for the kids from Paris, and smilingly reassuring us that they were here, coming any minute now... I started to feel even funnier. Then, as the kids finally appeared, and I was taking pictures, and suddenly Ethan was there hugging me, there were these odd water droplets in my eyes. Huh. It wasn't relief, or reuniting... it was just happiness. Happiness in his presence. I missed that more than I realized.

Doesn't he look capable and self-sufficient, carrying all that luggage? That's his dad in the background, by the way.

Simon was quite glad to see his brother again, as you can see.

As was his dad. It was really sweet. The guy hugged him for the loooooongest time. He almost couldn't bear to let go.

I look like a giant purple hippo in this picture, but maybe you can see the tears in my eyes, just a little?

Sometimes Ethan is such a boy. I think if he were a girl, I would have heard a lot more description of his stay in France, and of the people he stayed with. Girls (hate to be stereotypical, but it's true) just seem to be better at detailed description. Here's what I know. He had a super duper time, and I am most proud of 3 things:

1) He tried new foods. Even escargot! Dude is a seriously picky eater, but he tried everything, and even liked most of it. Good for him. He was especially keen on the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) and some kind of chocolate yogurt he had for breakfast every morning. And the "round bread" his host mom bought for him every day.

2) One of the chaperones who went was his English teacher, who is considerably older than the other two twenty-somethings. I'm sure this makes her slower getting around, and probably a bit stodgier. This means that she is definitely not as "cool," right? She's a lot like my mom, actually. Ethan told me that he spent a lot of time with her, and was always in the back of any lines with her, because most of the other kids were just busy having fun, and being kids, and stuff, and so she was a bit ignored. But he is so kind, and so thoughtful (and also so attuned to my arthritic-kneed, stationary mother) that he kept this teacher company, and moved at her pace with her. She shared this with me as well. How on earth did I manage to create this sweeter than sweet person? And what will happen to him in the big, wide, mean world? Well, anyway, I am prouder than I can say of this boy and his sensitive treatment of others.

3) He brought back the most thoughtful souvenirs for everyone in the family. Stereotyping again: boys aren't always the best at this, no? But dudes, he's ELEVEN and he knows to bring quince jam for Andy, and caramels for my mom and dad, and adorable hair clips for Charlotte, and a knight-themed magazine packaged with a cunning little toy dagger for Simon, and a black necklace for me. I'm stunned.

Ethan's teacher told me that his host family was lovely. The mom was a teacher, and the three daughters had way too much fun mothering and feeding and entertaining Ethan. Apparently, he was deeply immersed in the European kiss-kiss greeting, and all the little girls loved kiss-kissing him. Which he loved as well, except when it came from guys. So Ethan took to extending his hand for a manly American handshake to any men who attempted the kiss-kiss. His host family apparently thought this was hilariously adorable. Heh.

What a wonderful experience he had. I'm so glad I nervous-breakdowned my way through that first freelance job to pay for it. Totally worth it. His French is magnifique now!

Speaking of freelancing, they are now hiring me on in a fuller capacity through August, to write 5 more criminal justice classes. I'll be like a major! Maybe I'll be a cop! In order to make this happen, Andy and I have agreed that I cannot continue to pull overnighters. I'm almost 40, for crying out loud! It takes me like 3 days to recover! So, in order for me to be able to work during the day, we're seeking someone to watch Simon and Charlotte 2 days a week. This was a really difficult decision for me, as I was so committed to staying home with them, but our financial situation has gotten to the point where this is just necessary, and I think it's a good compromise. Charlotte will love it, I'm confident. Andy's also going to look into getting me a refurbished laptop, so I can go work somewhere else, because I have a hard time concentrating here chez nous.

I'll be making scads (for me) of money, as long as I can retain my sanity. Working on that too, by the way. I want to sock it away for the boys' schooling. Simon is so smart. He deserves to go to a great school, you know? You should hear him whizzing through Dr. Seuss. It's beautiful! Talk about getting schmoopy! I practically lose it every time!

I include the following pictures because they make me laugh. My niece had a superhero party for her 3rd birthday, and Charlotte went as Supergirl. She had an absolutely cracking good time. Don't even try to tell her it isn't very badass to be hauling around a milk bottle. She won't even have that.

Simon had another excuse to don his favorite, bemuscled Power Ranger costume. He is deeply into them, I'm afraid. He appears to have gotten it from his father, whose powers, I think, originate in his deeply hott spectacles. Mmmm... spectacles...


Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Dude, Ethan is THE MAN! Simon and Charlotte are amazing, too. I have no idea how you have such amazing accomplished kids, but I know it's all the parts of you that we like.

Check out the ACER laptops, my brother got one and loves it and saved a ton of money. Email if you want more info.

*hugs* Glad things are going sio well!

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

He looks so grown up -- and he's apparently acting that way, too! And if you had not teared up when he finally arrived, I would have been very worried about you.

Good luck with the expanded freelance gig -- they're lucky to have you, and I'm sure that you'll find a good person to watch Charlotte and Simon. It's nice to hear you sounding happy!

7:47 PM  
Blogger yucaree said...

welcome back ethan! he looks like such a seasoned traveller in that picture with his luggage slung over his shoulder. i'm so glad to hear he had a fabulous time in france. kiss-kiss to him!

can we see a picture of the necklace ethan got for you?

congrats on the expanded freelance gig! i know it's not the most perfect situation that you have to put simon and charlotte in childcare, but they will definitely get something out of the experience and it'll be good for you to have your own work time. keeping my fingers crossed that you find a good childcare provider.

i'm so happy when you blog; i love reading about you and your family. but i totally understand that sometimes it's hard to find the time to do this kind of writing when you have to be doing writing to make money. good luck with both!

p.s. whereever (sp?) did you find that adorable supergirl costume?

8:43 PM  
Anonymous funchilde said...

wow. just found your site through "wherethehellismatt" and love how you speak of your children. i don't have/want kids but love to see parents infuse their kids with confidence/opportunity and the ability to think/do for themselves. you sound lik an awesome mom!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Where are you, woman??

5:38 PM  
Blogger KEYNOTER said...

Hi there I just joined blogher today and came across you there. You have a lovely family!

5:18 AM  
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