We started talking about this as a group, processing it, and brainstorming ways to manage the stress of the move. My first instinct was to think of ways to protect my kids from my anxiety, anger, and stress - all of which are inevitable in an international move. I suspect the same was true of the other moms in the group, because they too were discussing ways of keeping those emotions private. But then a light bulb flicked on in my brain, and I realized that the answer, at least for me, wasn't to hide my stress, but to (duh) actually manage it better. So I promised myself that I would carve out time for self-care, find a babysitter when we arrived, and accept offers of kid-free time when they came.
I've done pretty well with those goals! I've swapped babysitting days with one friend and made time for myself when Josh is not working. But I let the babysitter idea slide for way too long - until last week, when another friend gave me the name of a British teenager who watches a bunch of expat kids. I had her come for a couple hours one afternoon this week, then immediately booked her for Friday night. Josh and I had been out for a late dinner once already in France, thanks to a very kind friend, but this was our first time letting someone else put the kids to bed. Freedom!
We started off by walking downtown from our apartment and stopping in to this great restaurant, Le Kitchen, to make a reservation for later. Then we had a beer in Place de la Victoire, right next to the beautiful black cathedral. Smelling smoke and drinking Affligem and La Chouffe, we watched as a woman coaxed and dragged her tiny French bulldog puppy from their front door across the plaza. This little guy was brindle colored, with one ear sticking straight up and the other flopped over - just about the cutest thing I'd ever seen. I started to relax.
After we finished our drinks and some passable chicken wings, we walked back toward Place de Jaude, the center of town. This was the sight that greeted us.
Then we arrived at Le Kitchen and started reading this menu. Three courses for 19 or 25 Euro, depending on your tastes - can you make out the choices?
|Entrèes are appetizers here, and Plat means main course. Dessert is the same. :)|
Next were the plats.
I chose something a bit lighter - "filet de saumon rôti, bouillon coco citronelle." A roasted filet of salmon served in coconut citrus broth (and foam!), with delicious rice pilaf of some kind and zucchini (courgette), cut into a beautiful oval-ish shape that probably has a fancy French name I don't know yet. The skin on the fish was so crispy the next table turned to look when I cut it with my fork. The broth was so delicious I could've had a bowl of it by itself. I was in heaven.
Naturally, we had wine - La Vieille Ferme, or the old farm. It was delicious and cheap and offered by the glass, carafe, or bottle. So tasty I took a picture so we'd remember to buy some for home.
Speaking of wine, I secretly took a picture of the couple at the next table! It's tempting for Americans to think of all French food as super fancy, expensive, and superior. But a three course meal for 25 Euros is pretty darn affordable, and when this couple to my right ordered white wine, the server brought ice water to keep it cold. A clear plastic bag of ice water. See it, to the right of their wine glasses? Super fancy!
Finally around ten o'clock we arrived back home, where Caitlin the babysitter told me that they'd played Monopoly, read a chapter of Harry Potter, and had a grand time. Both kids were sleeping so soundly that they didn't stir when I kissed their foreheads. And both Josh and I felt some of the stress of this enormous change melt off of our shoulders.