Friday, March 18, 2011


I realized I hit 3 milestones this week. You normal people are going to think I've lost my mind to count reading nutrition information, noting the price of items and driving without a navigation system as accomplishments but it's all about of feeling normal.

You know how when you're on vacation you eat almost anything you want because, well, you're on vacation. Only live once. Enjoy the ride...and all the rest. That's all good when you travel for a week or even two. Since it's been 6 months I figured out all my free-wheeling consumption is taking a toll, and not just on my waistline. The nutrition information on packages is different than what I'm used to so like any good consumer I ignore it. However, this week I've really been paying attention to the packaging of the things I've been eating. Yeah, I need to kick this pain au chocolat addiction I adopted. 364 calories in one small pastry! I won't even admit how many I could (note, not "do") eat at one time. Yes, yes, there is the whole French Women Don't Get Fat discussion which I don't care to engage in here. All I'm saying is that I've realized I'm phasing out of the "on vacation" mode and into the "real life" mode. The first thing I'm doing it recognizing what I eat like a normal person. Ok, so I'm not always following what I should eat but a warm baguette is next to, next to...well, you fill in the blank.

In my first few months of grocery shopping (which I seem to always need to do) I was on the mission for familiar things. I wasn't worried about the cost if it meant that item would help this feel more like a home. I know, this is hearsay to shoppers everywhere and makes it seem like money is no problem when that's not the case. With so many things different I felt like I had to have the littlest thing that reminded me of the U.S. Additionally, I was just trying to get through the store with food. Period. Since so much of grocery shopping is buy the same brands, the same size in the same place on the shelf each week...when all is turned upside down you have to start from scratch. This starting over in terms of stocking our pantry as well as learning the products and store, meant I made a lot of stupid purchases. I can't list them all here but highlights (again, this shows you how far I've come...and need to go):
  • Paying 9 euro for a bottle of Hidden Valley Cesar dressing, when we don't even eat Cesar dressing on salad. Yes, it's still in the refrigerator.
  • Buying two ears of corn on the cob for 5 euro and with four kids who love corn on the cob just imagine how many I bought.
  • Buying 3 Lipton Iced Tea bottles at three different times to discover each is peach flavored not lemon (lemon flavored iced tea isn't popular). And the peach never will become a lemon on the front of the label.
  • Trying every type of purple fruit on the front of a jelly/jam jar only to discover grape jelly isn't sold (never realized how close blueberry, black raspberry, and one other undefined fruit all look like grapes). In full disclosure, TC bought the purple jelly collection.
I've noticed now that I am getting familiar with the store and what we like (and don't like) I can get through the shopping faster, I can actually skip an aisle, and I can price compare items. Like a normal person.

Without fanfare, I've "graduated" in my driving since I can go places without having to use the navigation system for every turn. Sure I still use it when I drive into the city but I can get to school, grocery store, mall and friends' houses with out hearing "in 200 meters turn left; turn left." It's comforting to know that streets and landmarks are starting to become recognizable to me. My GPS still gets a good workout when I'm walking around the city and thank goodness for Google Maps. Using Google Maps on my iPhone is just so much easier than pulling out the giant map an trying to figure out which way to go. We stand out enough when we're out and about. I don't need to add "reading large maps" as another indicator that we don't really belong. For my day-to-day errands I don't have to take the time to program in every address and I sort of begin to feel like I'll make it.

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