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June 30, 2017. It’s only been 33 years…

My name is Suz and I’m addicted to France!

It’s only been 33 years.  I’ve been trying to learn French for 33 years.  Yeah…I got nothing.

Thirty-three years is a long time.  And what do I have to show for it.  I have 15 words.  Yep – just 15 words, give or take a few.

My mission is to finally learn French.  In the days, weeks, and months to come, I will share my journey with you…while I run.

Yep, I’m going to teach myself French while I run.

To further complicate the matter, I am married to a man who is half French.  His Mother, my mother in law (ma belle-mère) lives in France.  It’s been an interesting 33 years.  I’ll share some of these “interesting” stories as well.

Watch for my updates and please share with me your thoughts and any language learning techniques you’ve found to work for you.

Suz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Septembre 22, 2017. Pausing from oneself. Prayers, thoughts, and giving. I hope they love, and care, and give.

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Pausing From Oneself –

Bonjour mes amis.  Ça va?  Moi, ça roule.  Aujourd’hui il fait beau.

Cette anne il y beaucoup d’ouragans dans l’Atlantique océan.  Je suis triste pour les gens. C’est très horrible!  Je suis désolé et je vous souhaite bien.

Prayers, thoughts, and giving…

What can I do to help?

Oui Oui Pee Pee –

“Hey, do ya wanna play Go Fish?”  I yelled from across the room.  “Yes, yes, yes.” My 6 year old grandson replied.  “Ok cool,” I said “but…let’s play in French.”  “Ugg,” he whined, “I don’t want to talk in French anymore!”

Annoying as it may be, simple things like counting in french and playing loto (French Bingo) with mes petites enfants / my grandchildren (Jacques et Allison) help to keep me connected to my French dream.  A dream I hope to share with them one day.

Often they will say (and ever so cutely), “What’s that mean GG?” And I’m forever chiming back “oui means yes.”  “Oh yeah, oui oui pee pee,” they giggle.

These two sont mon cœur / are my heart.  I hope they’ll remember their crazy GG, who tried to speak French, talked about God, lectured them to be nice to everyone, and gave them too many cookies.

I hope they love, and care, and give.

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Pausing –

The rapidly approaching 50 mile run doesn’t seem so important right now.  People are suffering and have lost so much.

Prayers, thoughts, and giving…

What can I do to help?

Teach them to help.  Show them how to help.  Let them help.

Je vous souhaite bien!  

Suz

Septembre 16, 2017. Le fromage – I like it best when I can taste it in my nose. Et cette semaine…nous allons faire des baguettes…because I can’t run.

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Resting the legs, making baguettes and then a return to running.

Bonjour mes amis.  Comment ça va?  Moi?  Je suis très fatiguée.  Alors, je me repose.  Cette semaine je vais faire des baguettes.  Je ne peut pas courir parce que je suis fatiguée.

As you read through this – I have but one comment – Running is easier than baking.

Our family is truly blessed to have a close connection with France and my children love all things French, especially la nourriture et les repas longs / the food and lingering meals.

I’m proud to say they’ll pick a good cheese over a piece of cake any day.  Shopping for, eating, and enjoying cheese is a bond and connection our family enjoys and a bond many of our friends don’t quite get.

I love that as a teenager, my youngest daughter would say “I like the cheese best when I can taste it in my nose.”  And still today, she’ll call to tell me about the cool cheese she found at the supermarket.

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But we can’t find a good baguette to go with the cheese, so we’re making our own.

Ma belle mère recently sent us a French baguette pan.  Reading the recette / recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box AND ah hello…what the heck is a cube of yeast?

Turns out 1 cube equals 42 grams.  And 42 grams equals 2 packets of dry yeast.

Continuing, I reviewed the recipe (in French and English), organized the ingredients and set to work.  I had so much fun with my apron.

Day one making baguettes:  J’ai fait trois baguettes / I made three baguettes.  Les baguettes tasted like biscuits and they didn’t have the wonderful crispy, crunchy crust of a baguette. 

Results:  Not a baguette

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Day two making baguettes: J’ai fait trois plus baguettes / I made three more baguettes.  Kneading more and resting the dough longer, and still the taste of a biscuit.  And, although I increased the cooking time the crust still wasn’t crispy or crunchy.

Results:  Still not a baguette.

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For the first two attempts, I used the recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box, which called for milk; I’m thinking that maybe this is why the baguettes tasted like biscuits.

Day three making baguettes, a different recipe and finally a run:  J’ai fait une baguette avec une nouvelle recette / I made one baguette with a new recipe.

I also managed to get in a four mile run after five days of rest.

I worked through the recipe then set off on the run as the dough was rising.

The dough had an awesome rise, a spray of water and into the 400 degree fahrenheit oven. 

Thirty minutes later, I opened the oven to find a HUGE baguette with a crispy, crunchy crust.

The interior texture was somewhat improved as was the flavor, but the giant baguette still lacked the tell tale air pockets of a real French baguette.

Results:  Almost a baguette!  and HUGE.

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Carbs anyone?  Free bread, j’ai beaucoup!

Again, running…way easier than baking.

So – 

How’s the 50 mile ultra marathon training going?  Well, I wasn’t able to run the full training schedule this week as I needed so much rest after the hardest trail half marathon of my life (you’ll be happy to know – I did get 3rd place in the 50-55 female division).

It was an incredibly steep and technical trail.  I ran every section I could, but there was no running up the hills (there’s a difference between a hill and an incline).

I ran all the inclines, but the hills…these hills were made for walking…

Let’s just say that this was a once and done race.  Not going to do that one again.  No, not even if you give me a coupon.

The 50 mile race in November is really going to be a mental challenge for me.  I’m sure it will totally tax me physically (as long as the knee holds up), but it will exhaust me more so mentally.  I’m going to want to quit.  I know how I am.  I’m not as tough as I claim to be.

How are the knees?  After experiencing a lot of knee pain last week, I was actually able to do the hardest half marathon of my life with no knee pain.  My knees did not hurt at all during the 13.1 mile run from hell.  Afterwords, they ached.  I’m hoping the knee issue will soon pass.

It’s the weirdest thing.

Je ne sais pas pourqoui.

What’s up with your toe nails?  I lost a toe nail as a result of the full marathon last month.  Not pretty, but no new damage.  The toe socks are awesome.  But I’m going to need a good pedicure come November.

How’s the French coming?  WOW on the words I learned this week by simply following a recipe.  And our weekly sit down lesson went well.  Adding the videos to the audio is really paying off.  I’m thinking immersion trip in 2018.

Nouveaux mots / New words.

  • recette / recipe
  • farine /  flour
  • sel / salt
  • beurre / butter
  • lait / milk
  • levure de boulanger / yeast
  • sucre / sugar
  • emiettez / crumble
  • ajoutez / stir
  • incorporez / mix
  • recouvrez / cover
  • pâte  / dough
  • pétrissez / knead
  • faites cuire / cook or bake
  • moule / baking tin

Belle journée à vous tous!

Suz

Septembre 9, 2017. J’ai la nausée! Testing 50 mile ultra marathon fuel & toe socks. Je ne me sens pas bien. WARNING – this is what runners really talk about…

 

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Bonjour Monsieur, Comment allez-vous?  Moi, aujourd’hui, Je ne me sens pas très bien.  Je suis malade.  C’est mon genou and mon estomac.  J’ai mal au genou ET j’ai la diarrhée.  Aussi, J’ai vomi.  Pourquoi?  Je cours beaucoup ET j’ai mangé des gels.  

I think that would be enough information to get my message across to the Doctor don’t you?

“Où sont les toilettes?”  / “Where is the bathroom?”  I said to my running partner (in English) as I ran the last of the 15 planned miles.  “C’est loin, et ce n’est pas proper – voulez-vous marcher?” / “It’s pretty far away and not that clean – do you want to walk?”  He replied.  “Non, mais courir vite!” / ” No, but run fast.”  I said half heartedly.

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Marathon Fuel Test:

Rewind to 2011 and my first full marathon.  The 2011 marathon training plan had me fueling about every three miles with what runners call GELS.

Most runners love these little energy packed pockets of nutrition, scientifically formulated to fuel you on the run and easy to carry.

Running fuel is big business.  Fueling early and regularly helps to keep the body’s energy level where it needs to be – up, up, up.

By the time I was done with the 2011 marathon, I was nauseated and had severe intestinal cramps.  No after party for me.  A few more similar experiences and I stopped using gels.  I tried several brands, some with caffeine and some without.  I experimented with different brands and thicknesses and drank the correct amount of water, but for whatever reason these pockets of energy continued to upset my stomach.  I have friends that this is all they use – with no problems.  It’s just my stomach.

I’m super impressed with the ingredients and some are even organic.  I’m just not able to use them, so for the last six years, I’ve fueled with real food and plain water only.

I know if I could just use these products I could run farther and faster – there’s always hope right?

Back to now – While prepping for the 50 miler, for some strange reason, I thought it would be okay to try a new gel I saw at the running store.  The 50 miler in November is a LONG run and I want my body to have all the help it can get, thus the fuel test.

During the run, I used 2 gels…and drank plenty of water.

About 10 miles into the planned 15, I knew I was in trouble.  You’ll be happy to know, I made it back to the car and back to the house but I was sick for the rest of the day and drained literally and figuratively.

OK – that’s never going to happen again.  I also missed the second 15 miler of the weekend (not too sad about that one).  I used the time to practice my French lessons.

I’m glad I tested the fuel, I’m not glad I got sick.  I wanted to see if anything had changed with MY stomach.  NOPE, and now I know what NOT to do on race day.

I’ll continue to test fuels – but it’ll be real food fuel.  Thinking baguettes, dark chocolate, water and sea salt.  Maybe some marshmallows and baby food.

Boring, but should keep my stomach from falling apart, while still providing the carbs and sugars I’ll need for the 50 mile trot.

Marathon fuel test was a big fat FAIL!

Ne paniquez pas!

Marathon Sock Test:

Rewind to the August eight hour endurance race and la ampoule issue.  The remnants of Hurricane Harvey came through my area on fuel and toe sock test day.  Which was perfect for testing the new moisture wicking toe socks.

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Fantastique!  Parfait!  J’aime mes nouvelles chausettes. / Fantastic!  Perfect!  I love my new socks.  My feet felt great.  Thank goodness!  With the stomach issues, the last thing I needed was une ampoule.  

I had heard about toe socks, but never tried them.

After 2.5 hours of running in the rain, my feet were wet, but not blistered and actually in pretty good shape.  Not the most attractive piece of running gear – but definitely effective.  I’m a toe sock convert.  I have to admit all the amazing things I’d heard were true.

Toe sock test was a GIANT success!

Knee Update:

J’ai mal au genou. / My knee hurts.  Oddly enough, mon genou / my knee was fine on the 15 miler, but a few days later on a 5 mile run it fell apart.  Mileage wise,  I have the base I should at this point and I’m not worried about the runs I missed this week (yet).  And I know my knee issue comes and goes and seems to be related to tight calves and age.  I even read increased joint pain could be associated with hormone levels and a women’s cycle.

I’m going to continue to train and pray that on race day – it’s a GOOD day for the knee and not too closely associated with a certain woman’s cycle…

It is what it is.

Knee Plan:  Continue with good nutrition and hydration, calf massages, hip strengthening exercises and joint supplements.  And to stay on soft surfaces and monitor the wear and tear of my shoes.

Ne paniquez pas!

Suz

P.S.  Today we are runnng a 13.1 mile trail race in the hills of east-central Kentucky – Red River Gorge.  I won’t be testing fuel!  I will be wearing toe socks and a knee brace.

 

 

 

 

 

Septembre 1, 2017. Don’t ask me why. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. It simply interests me. And sitting down to do the work – ensemble (avec du vin).

Bonjour mes amis.  Comment ça va?  Moi, ça va très bien!  Pourquoi?  Pourquoi pas!  Mais, actuellement c’est parce que aujourd’hui est vendredi et demain est samedi.  Aussi, samedi et dimanche, je cours!  J’aime courir!  Et j’ai trois jours sans travail.

Oh my that was exhausting and I hope it’s not too horrible.

Let me know!

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – don’t ask me why! (From There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. Rose Boone and Alan Mills 1952).

In French this song is known as A vieille femme qui a avalé une mouche. 

I just LOVE French words.  

Hier / Yesterday, I heard this song and immediately asked myself – POURQUOI / WHY?

Why a life long quest to speak French?  Why am I so drawn to a language and one I’m NOT even good at?

And why do I find it necessary to run 50 miles / 80.46 kilometers?

As much as I long to know, I know God will show me in His time.  He always does.

It might not even be that deep – the reason.  It might just be pourquoi pas / why not.  Or, it might be a life changing super cool adventure, which would be so exciting!  Regardless, He reminds me that while I wait, I should enjoy the ride.

“BUT why?”

It simply interests me.

I remember being 12 and dreaming of France.  How I even knew what to dream about, I don’t know.  Yet, I dreamed of  colors and scents and scenes.

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Ironically, I also remember being 12 and running through the woods by myself.  I was afraid of the darker, thicker areas, but never too afraid.  I knew all the trails and I loved being there.

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When I made my way to France for the first time at 20 (wow that was a while ago) it was exactly as I dreamed.

As we drove across France to the Atlantic Ocean, I was oblivious to everything.  I wasn’t even overly excited.  Arriving at the ocean – I felt at home.

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Dont ask me why.  Je ne sais pas pourquoi / I don’t know why.  I have no idea why, no more than I know why I’m training for a 50 mile run!

It simply interests me.

And I trust en Dieu / in God.  God is BIG.  He is HUGE.  He is more than we can comprehend and He is in control – always has been, always will be.

He has the bandwidth to guide each of us individually along our way WHILE still at the same time –  taking care of EVERYTHING.

Sitting down to do the work.  

This week’s 50 mile marathon training schedule has me running 41 miles and 30 of them within two days (not sure how that’s going to pan out).

S’ asseoir ou s’assoir / To sit down.

My handsome half French guy and I have added a sit down night to our weekly schedule.  He may or may not be as thrilled as I am to study…

One night each week we will sit down and go over our French lesson and drink French wine – ensemble! / together!

Learning French while running is Fantastique!  It helps me to tick off the miles.  I normally get two to three audio lessons in during one six mile run.

But to really drive the French learning home, we’ve added a sit down night.  Allowing us planned, uninterupted time together.  In addition, it will allow me the space to practice speaking French out loud not just dans ma tête.

Le Vin / The wine – it’s a bonus!

I love my half French guy, he never fails to support my endeavors.  No matter how big, small, odd, lame, far-fetched or costly, he just goes with my flow.

Merci mon chérie.  Je t’aime! Tu es trop mignon.  

Note to self:  Acheter / To buy.  Be sure to buy champagne for the 50 mile run victory celebration.  Cause you’re going to do it!  Pourquoi Pas!

À la prochaine.

Suz

 

 

 

 

August 22, 2017. LOOPS… Is this an 8 hour endurance race or another rond point? It’s a 3.25 mile rond point. Rond points, roundabouts and traffic circles oh my.

IMG_3499Speaking of loops, this past weekend I ran an eight hour endurance race, the Backyard Classic. It was a 3.25 mile trail loop that reminded me of a giant rond point (traffic circle or roundabout).

J’ai une ampoule, une grande ampoule.  I have a blister, a big blister.

The goal of the race was to complete as many loops as you could in eight hours.  I’d consider the trail moderate to hard.  Each 3.25 mile loop consisted of two technical sections, two decent hills and two water crossings. The remainder was a mostly uphill meadow like trail with little shade.  Sounds fun huh?

Nineteen.” “There are nineteen rond points from mom’s house to the super marche, two of which are doubles.”  My husband said sarcastically from the back seat.

It doesn’t sound like a huge number, until you consider how close le super marché / the supermarket actually is à la maison / to the house (4 kilometers or about 2.48 miles).

Over the years, across France, I’ve seen the gradual conversion of four way stops into rond points.  When I see a four way stop in France these days, to me, it appears out of place. The four way stop no longer seems to belong or to even fit into the French landscape.  Traffic is halted at these seemingly archaic stops and you can sense the frustration as drivers are slowed on their commutes in their charming, energy efficient voitures / cars and scooters. But come on already nineteen of them over 2.48 miles.

This year as we vacationed, I paid extra attention to the theme of each major rond point. I noticed how each town tried to represent the flavor of their community to the visitor. Often highlighting historical aspects associated with the area. In the center of the larger roundabouts you might find une ancre, un bateau ou un mémorial de guerre / an anchor, a ship, or a war memorial.  Each one carefully crafted to represent the area and the people.  Some are weird, some are cool, some are relevant, and some are confusing.

Home now in the U.S., I miss the way we whipped around the rond point.  I miss the dance of cars between lanes. I miss the way the cars flowed in and out of the rond point. I miss the rhythmic movement. I miss it all so much that last week, I found myself doing a few loops around the lone traffic circle in my town.

Back to the 3.25 mile trail loop and 8 hour endurance race.

How did I do?  I realized my personal goal of 8 loops (in 6 hours and 21 minutes) for a total of 26 trail miles.  After 16 water crossings, my toes were extrêmement / extremely blistered.

I elected to stop with 1.5 hours to go. Of course now I have remorse as I feel I should have made one more pass through the giant rond point.  I had enough time for another loop.

Did I give up or did I make the right decision?  In the grand scheme of today’s world – does it really matter?  Running is not life or death.  This was a gathering of like minded individuals out to challenge their minds and bodies.  But the things that will drive a person crazy…

As this was not my 2017 focus race, I convinced myself during the 8th lap that it was okay to stop.  My knees held up and I did not hit the famous reputed WALL.  I made the smart decision, and although I wish I had done the 9th loop (just cuz), I know I made the right choice in stopping.  My 50 mile race is in November and I have a long way to go to get there – risking injury was not an option.

Mais, c’était une bonne journée.  Le soleil était brillant!  Et maintenant, j’ai une grande ampoule. Fantastique!

What did I learn:  Foot health is très important / very important (blisters will take you down).  I’ll need to get actual trail shoes, and to find better socks.  I also need to do more long runs on the weekends.

My nutrition plan was sufficient but as much fluid as I took in, I didn’t use the bathroom from 8 a.m. till about 6 p.m.  Probably need to consume more fliuids.

As far as practicing my French: HAH – that didn’t go at all as planned.  I had designated a theme for each loop.  However, on the first loop I tried to count my steps in French and I couldn’t remember the difference between treize / thirteen and trente / thirty.  Brain fog.

During the second loop I tried to run through the basic French greetings dans ma tête, but found myself dazed and confused.

Sadly, loops 3 – 8 contained no French.

Sérieusement / Seriosuly, I think I made the right choice stopping at 8 loops.  I hope I’ll have the mental fortitude needed to push through the 50 miler.

Ne panique pas – Reste forte! / Don’t panic – Stay strong!

Suz

Hand painted medals – each one was different.  Several different artists painted them.  Very unique.

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August 11, 2017. Dear long run, you can bisous ma miche… And a pulse check from Suz Learns French.

IMG_3446Photo: A banana, some grapes and the miche. Une banane, des raisins, et la miche.

Demain, j’ai une course de dix kilometer.  Et dimanche je vais courir autre dix miles.  Tomorrow, I have a ten kilometer race.  And Sunday I am going to run another ten miles. Exciting plans for the weekend.

This is how I speak French dans ma tête / in my head.  I may read this a year from now and be horrified by the simplicity and mistakes.  Mais, maintenant – dans my tête, c’est fantastique. But, now – in my head, it’s fantastic.

You can see the elementary syntax.  Yet, I’m so excited.  I really enjoy learning French while running.  Vraiment! / Really!  Or should I say, Je cours et j’apprends le français  / I run and I learn French?

Bisous ma miche / Kiss my miche, is a phrase we’ve come to use in our family.  It basically means kiss my butt, in a humorous non offensive way.

Several years ago my French father-in-law (who we all know can’t understand a thing I say in French), and I had a bit of a spat.  A little disagreement.  And I blurted out in frustration “Bisous ma miche!” And braced myself.

Earlier in the day – at une boulangerie / a bakery, I asked  “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” / “what’s that?” “C’est une miche.”  “It’s a miche.”  I heard someone say.  FYI – a miche is a rounded rustic loaf of French bread (see photo).  As we continued to look around, someone mentioned how the miche was shaped like a derrière.  D’accord… / Okay… I thought and continued to look around.

Obviously this image stuck avec moi / with me.  Plus tard / Later, as my father-in-law and I playfully argued, I found myself searching for words in French and then blurting out “bisous ma miche.”

When the words flew out of my mouth – I cringed!  Thankfully, he just laughed.  Actually, we all had a good laugh and un autre verre de vin / another glass of wine.

Hier soir / Last night, I had a bad run!  I was tired, I was hot, and I have a cold.  Feeling defeated, I thought about how to express myself en français  / in French – when the old bisous ma miche story came to mind.  Je vais courir 50 milles! / I’m going to run 50 miles, so you can just bisous ma miche.

Channeling the anger, I ran a little farther before calling it a night one mile short of the planned distance.

Thirteen weeks to go until the 50 miler.  Don’t panic!  What is the French word for panic?  C’est panique.  It’s panique.  Ne panique pas / do not panic.  Oui, je peux! Yes, I can! I can do this.

50 Mile Ultra Marathon Training Pulse Check:  Overall – body and mind feel good.  Knee pain is under control and doesn’t seem to be worsening.  Last weekend it held up for back to back mid distance runs.  But 50 miles is another story.  Pray for me.

Suz Learns French Pulse check:  Vocabulary is building and concepts are starting to make sense.  I’m making simple sentences and attempting simple conversations avec mon mari / with my husband.

Dear long run,

Bisous ma miche!  If you only knew I was using you to learn French.  

Bisous!  À plus tard.

Suz

 

Aug 4, 2017. Positive thoughts to repeat in FRENCH while running my first 50 mile ultra marathon (a.k.a my mental fuel list). Help me build my list.

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Belt buckle from my first 60k (37.282 miles) spring of 2016. 

I’m building my mental fuel list (liste) in FRENCH and j’ai besoin de votre aide!

Suz (that’s me) learns French while running 50 miles.  I wish it was that easy.  In reality learning French will take years, but the prize for the 50 miler is a ginormous gold (no not real gold) belt buckle and I want it now!

I love a challenge (who doesn’t) and really try to prepare mentally and physically for all my runs – in order to avoid failure.  I’m not talking about trying your hardest and coming up short.  I’m taking about failing because you’re just not prepared.

We all have that one time – the one time we wish we were better prepared.  My one time time still haunts me.  I’m older (not sure when that happened) and wiser (background laughter) and finally understand preparation is truly the key.  I may still come up short, but I’ll have prepared.

Donc, in preparation for my first 50 miler, I’m making a liste of things to bring.  I’m also making a liste of things to SAY to myself (in French…bien sûr) while running the 50 miles.

The first liste is simple: shoes, socks, extra clothes, water bottles, fuel, headlamp, toilet paper, etc…

The second liste is simple as well, it’s a liste of things to tell myself in FRENCH while running.  Words (mots) to encourage, words to prepare my mind.

Runners know that you can’t wait until your energy reserves are depleted to begin the fueling process – you have to properly fuel your body throughout the run / race.

Same goes for the mental fuel – you have to properly fuel your brain throughout the run / race.

So what’s my game plan?  How am I preparing?

Before race day:  I’m PRAYING!  And building mileage while following my weekly training plan (of course while listening repeatedly to my weekly French lesson).

On race day:  I’ll be PRAYING!  And repeating from the very first step positive thoughts in French as I run the 50 miles.  Maybe I’ll even meet someone from France or someone who speaks French. Oh la  la…I can dream.

Not only will I be reinforcing my French, I’ll also be brain washing myself right into completing the 50 miler (fingers crossed).

What else am I going to do while running 50 miles?  I can’t afford to simply run for 12 to 15 hours, I’ve got a language to learn.  So by thinking and repeating positive thoughts in French good use of my time will be had.  Which, will make for a productive day.  All crazies, please line up ici.

Positive thoughts in French:

– Think positive / Penser postiif

– You can run fifty miles / Tu peux courir cinquante miles

– You are strong / Tu es fortes

– Mind over matter / l’esprit avant tout

– Tomorrow you can sleep (rest) / Demain tu pourra toujours te reposer

– Trust your training / Fait confiance à ta formation

– You are a winner / Tu es gagnante

Call to action:  Please comment with additional positive thoughts in French.  J‘ai besoin de votre aide!

Merci beaucoup et a bientôt.

Suz

Special thanks to my fantastique FRENCH friend who graciously helped me form these positive thoughts in French. Thank you so much for your time.  I’m so jealous of your ability to speak more than one language.  Bisous.