Friday, August 7, 2015

International House of Cool, round 2

My host family (well, part of it) from when I studied abroad in France in high school is currently here visiting me, and it's delightful. This is their third time visiting us (first one of my host brothers came to visit us in DC, and then my host parents and my other host brother came to our wedding) and their first time coming to Denver as their last two visits took place when we were living in DC. It's nice because for the first time we actually have a house with a guest room and so we can accommodate multiple guests (when it was just my host brother visiting, he stayed on a mattress on the floor of the living room of our apartment,--where he accidentally saw Torsten naked--and when three of them came for our wedding, they stayed at a hotel).

This time, all three of them are here at our house! They're sleeping in proper bedrooms and they have a bathroom all to themselves! We have cars, even, where we can drive them around! It's all super convenient! And it makes me feel like such a grown-up. I met them when I was 17, so I've known them for close to half my life now, and of course they saw me through all of my young adulthood, you know, dorms and apartments and visits on the cheap and so forth, and now here I am, with a house and a mortgage and a husband and two kids and a dog and multiple cars and, you know, just all very Norman Rockwell. It's a big change, but it's nice.

Anyway, long-time readers (er, VERY long-time... as what I'm about to reference happened almost EIGHT YEARS AGO my goodness) may remember that when my host brother Yohan came to visit, we started calling our apartment the International House of Cool (IHC) due to the concurrent German, French, and English that was ongoing. And now the IHC is back, but even MORE so, because now we have the kids so there's a lot more ongoing German speaking happening, plus more than one French person here so they frequently speak amongst themselves, plus I speak English with the kids and Torsten, so basically it's a huge mess of languages, which is very worldly but also very confusing, especially for those of us (Torsten, me, and the kids) who are bilingual and constantly switching back and forth.

Also, as an aside, Callum has been happily speaking only German with Torsten since we returned from Germany (before he would always try to respond in English), but the last couple days he's been trying to switch back to English. I think he's feeling overwhelmed by all the languages. I reminded him that now that he's been to Germany he speaks 4,000 German (his words) and at first he was like, "no, I only speak a little German," which is what he always used to say, but then he lit up and was like, "no, I speak 8,000 German! No, 90,000 German!" and then he said something to Torsten in German, so hopefully he just needed a little reminder...

Also, they've only been here a few days but the kids both took to them right away. My French host sister has two kids the exact same ages as ours, and it's like our kids can tell that these are people who love and understand them. Callum in particular has really taken to all of them. He can't pronounce their names so he just calls them all "the French people" and distinguishes them by the color of their clothing. He loves playing racecars with Emilien (my 16-year-old host brother) and last night he sat down on the couch with my host dad and had a cuddle. I mean. Can you even?

Also, Emilien plays baseball in France (very rare--they claim it's my influence even though he was only two when I lived with them my GOODNESS has it really been 14 years holy crap it HAS) but you can't find good baseball equipment in France and what you can find has to be ordered through a catalog so you can't try it out first, so I took them to Dick's Sporting Goods where he got himself a nice glove, bat, and helmet, plus pants and a belt, and he is extremely happy now. He was also deeply impressed by how they broke the glove in for him using their fancy steam machine. (He wants to play for the MLB eventually--which is hard from France because apparently scouts only go there once a year--but we'll see! We're taking him to see a Rockies game next week and we'll see how he feels about the MLB after that. Also, too bad the Rockies are terrible this year, like most years.)

And, they brought us all sorts of delicious forbidden French treats (sorry customs!). This isn't even all of them--there's also lots of homemade treats including jam, olive oil, lavender essence, and herbal alcohol:

Anyway, Torsten and I are working while they're here, so they've been entertaining themselves quite nicely--yesterday they took the light rail downtown and checked out the capitol, the mint, Union Station, the 16th Street Mall, and a couple of the museums, and today they drove themselves to Red Rocks to explore. This weekend I think we're going to take them to Rocky Mountain National Park, and next weekend to Colorado Springs to see Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. They're also going to do a three-day road trip next week to Arches National Park, Durango, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. As far as other activities, I've also suggested a day trip to Boulder. So that takes up most of their time, I think, but if they have additional free time, any thoughts from locals or people who've visited here on what in particular they should check out?

Also, I've been trying to introduce them to restaurants that serve things you can't find in France. We're going to take them to our favorite sushi place (they have sushi in France but not the fun crazy rolls you can get here), for BBQ, for Mexican, for Chinese, for top-quality burgers... what else? Any thoughts on stuff that is uniquely American that they should check out while they're here?


  1. Aww, that sounds lovely!

  2. I think that you guys are hitting all of the good sites to take visitors. Do they eat pho or dim sum? Denver had some good places for both of those kind of foods.It's not American but could be hard to get in France?

  3. Oh how wonderful!! I often regret that I didn't keep in touch with my French family that I stayed with in HS. They were so lovely! I am such an American jerk!

  4. I want an International House of Cool! This sounds so delightful!