part of the “real america”
part of the “real america”

Whenever I want me some good ideas for child rearin’, I look no further than to Alabama. Them folks always have something good cookin’ in the pot that I can easily adopt into my own life. And being that money is a scad tight for me and the Mr. now, I found just what I was lookin’ for.

Alabama has the recipe on how to feed men and women for an entire day on less than the price of a Coke and a bag of Fritos!

That’ll teach em!
That’ll teach em!

Alabama prisons have a law allowing sheriffs $1.75 per day to feed inmates*. If they can feed them for less, they pocket the left over money, and you know what? some of them crafty sheriffs are turning a profit.

See, Pierre and I have been feeding ourselves and offspring at a beautiful little San Francisco market a few blocks away with organic produce and free-range meats from local farmers. We didn’t think much of paying $8/lb for broccoli salads, or $9 for their cheapest bottle of red ’cause you know, these are the goodest deals at our little market.

Cool Hand discount
Cool Hand discount

But now I see the error of my ways. Like Alabama prisons, I can be feedin’ my family with a 2 dollar bill each with cha-ching left over. I just have to figure out where them Alabamian prisons are buying their food. I have a business resale license so I’m thinkin’ that buying wholesale may save me even more.

Pierre is gonna be proud. Feedin’ the whole family for well below $10 with change to spare so he can buy more Camembert. Damn, thanks for another great idea Alabama!

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* Alabama sheriffs feed inmates on $1.75 a day:
During the days of the chain gangs, Alabama passed a law that gave sheriffs $1.75 a day to feed each prisoner in their jails. More than 80 years later, most Alabama counties still operate under this same system, with the same $1.75-a-day allowance. Read on dear reader ….
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,356436,00.html

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Earlier this month, a sheriff in Alabama actually went to jail for having pocketed more than $200,000 out of the inmate food stipend. How long did he stay locked up for? One night! It’s not specified what he was served for dinner or even if he ate at all. Last year, he and another sheriff paid $500 for half a tractor-trailer full of hot dogs, which were served to the inmates at each meal until they had been depleted. The sheriff is now back at work but the jail’s nutritionist lost his job - boohoo. If you want to congratulate the sheriff for his cost-saving acumen, please give him a call. Here is his contact page and two articles narrating his achievements:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/01/09/alabama.sheriff.jailed/
http://www.waff.com/global/story.asp?s=9640226
 
 

Alabama has many fans
Alabama has many fans
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“We’re coming!”

It’s what Françoise and Jacques say as soon as they know we have successfully rubbed two sticks together and made 2 babies.

The seed that keeps traveling
The wind carries our seed

Françoise & Jacques are Pierre’s maman et papa. They live in the south of France in Saint Jean du Gard, a small mountain village. Their love of travel takes them to Egypt, Japan and Turkey. They write for a small newspaper, and like most retirees I saw while living in France, they seem relaxed and well-cared for.

Before they have any idea we are are pregnant, we decide to play a little trick and so, while chatting via webcam, we show them an image of the ultrasound and say in a downturned voice, “Merritt had to see a doctor today, and they found this (pointing to the embryo). Can you tell what it is?”. Jacques squints and then with big eyes exclaims, “A baby?”
- “Not just one”, we say.
- “Two? Two babies!?!”
Françoise didn’t speak. I think she was about to cry.

7 months later they arrive in the US to our open arms, their 2 new grand children, and stay for an entire month to help us out. We don’t think we’ll need all that help, but they know better.

We found them an apartment on Craigslist near us, and each day when walking to our house they stop at an organic market for fresh salmon, dark berries, hand-made yogurts & gourmet oils. I eat 3 balanced meals every day, and by the end of the month, I weigh the same as I did before pregnancy! Those French know how to cook!

Joyeux Bastille Day!
Even Bi-Rite speaks French

Having a pocket of euros doesn’t hurt either in these times of the suck ass dollar. They arrived the first day with a large bag exclaiming, “We found a lovely market, and it’s so inexpensive”. Pierre and I choke-up as we see the name Bi-Rite written on their bags. We shop there often but there is so much we’ve never tried because of the $$$. $9 chocolate bars, $10/lb bean salads, $8 bowl of soup. But damn, nothing beats visiting America these days with a fist full of foreign currency. I feel back in Argentina 2004 again when Pierre and I were relishing the benefits of their crashed market thanks to our western banks.

Our dinners last an hour and more. We talk and talk, of politics & religion, of their childhoods & our thoughts on raising Max and Emmanuelle. There are expressions of love and strong debates, out of which came something I won’t forget Jacques saying… “I am so glad to have come, I am learning things about my son I never knew”.

Mode de la Françoise
Mode de la Françoise

But they didn’t come to talk ideals and debate, they came to hold babies! Max & Manu in their first month home after spending 6 weeks in the hospital are held pretty much morning to night. There’s nothing more soothing, more comforting, than folding into the crux of a loved one’s arm, and that is exactly what the kiddos receive for a month.

I expected the parents to get bored eventually, just sittin’ around holding squooshy babies all day. I began trying to find things for us to do until finally Francoise puts up her hand and says, “Merritt, we did not come here for tourism, we came to help you with your children.” It was so difficult to just accept their kindness, without wanting to act in return. It was a good experience to be confronted with for me.

That said, on the last day I get everyone out the door for a visit to Golden Gate Park. We rent a quad bicycle, Pius runs along side us, and Max & Manu sit in our laps. And then the best thing ever happens!

Let them eat hotdogs!
Let them eat hotdogs!

The French want to stop to eat some hotdogs!? This is probably the first and last picture you’ll ever see of that!

I can’t thank you enough Françoise et Jacques for the security and love the kiddos felt. They can’t thank you either, but that’s because they can’t talk.

Shadow of no doubts.
Shadow of no doubts.

Too soon the parents were gone, and the baby poo hit the fan and Pierre and I were covered in the reality of bringing up twins alone. Babies take beaucoup de travail! I often think of what single parents must go through. Those on welfare need something a hell of alot more important than a few dollars to raise kids, they need community.

Africa showed me the power of community - something most of us crave but don’t know how to manifest. I was grateful to feel it and share it with family, if even for a short while.

 

And then just because he’ll kill me…

So, do you want one?
So Jean, do you want one?

Jean, Pierre’s brother, came for a visit and to meet the kiddos a few months later. I quickly threw the baby in his arms and snapped this picture before he could toss it back : )

Voila! And that is the story of ‘When the Frenchies came for a visit’.

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  • french

Max & Manu trained for 4 months for my birthday present. Thank you kiddos!

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  • french

Here is what happens at home when Merritt goes into town on a Saturday afternoon…

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