Tuesday, May 29, 2012


{This will be our move next year from Toulon to Antibes}
     Our life outside of basketball this past year was great. We lived in a great area ripe for exploring and also had the weather to be able to take advantage of all that was offered. Believe me, this doesn't happen often in Europe so we knew we were lucky. On the court...well that was another story. Since the teams still has a few more months of signing our paychecks I will refrain from airing the dirty laundry. But unless manipulating and the constant wonder of what bad thing is going to happen next is your thing, steer clear of here. You've been warned. But I do realize that in order to have that great 'off the court' life, some sort of 'on the court' life has to happen since why would we be living in France otherwise. At the end of this year we were sad thinking of the possibility of having to move somewhere er.. how do I say this nicely, less desirable for the next season. But as luck would have it, we were worried for no reason. Just before leaving last week, Shaun signed a two year deal with Antibes, another team in the South of France, a little over an hour from where we were this past year. We are excited for a fresh start and are optimistic that the club is a little more professional than what we have been dealing with recently. And the location? Well, I thought it couldn't get any better than Toulon but it seems I may have been wrong. Antibes is situated a little more east on the French Riviera than Toulon smack dab in between Nice and Cannes. So in other words, it is in a perfect location. In addition to having both of these cities on either side, Monaco and the Italian border are not too far away, which is great for us since we frequented both many times this past year. So for now, we will enjoy the Atlanta heat for the next few months before heading back to the French Riviera. Life isn't bad.

Oh and for those of you who may be bored and/or might feel obligated to watch something because you know Shaun personally, here is a little clip Antibes threw together of some of his highlights of this past season.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

We made it

{Home sweet home...and a kitchen with counter space}

     After a day and a half of errands, imbibing coffee to stay alert and succumbing to the occasional jet-lag fatigue, we are finally back in the groove of things. I like to think that the excitement of being back in Atlanta evens out the tiredness that comes from travel and the time difference.  We have done pretty good so far, even going to sleep in the double digits last night. Our travel went pretty smooth for the most part. We passed the down time at both the Nice and Paris airports by celebrity spotting and trying to guess the nationalities of people from afar by their outfits, which is more fun than it sounds. (If you have ever looked at someone and noticed their skinny-ier jeans and non sneaker/bowling shoes and thought..hmm, they don't look American, than you too have inadvertently played the game.) Both flights we pretty easy, although we were on a plane that did not have individual tv's, which I thought was impossible in this day in age. Sadly for us, they still exist. Our row companion provided us with some entertainment also. He was a middle aged man from Lebanon who was not shy about voicing his opinions and while most were common sense and funny, this comment just after the safety video had us on our toes..I'll let you be the judge.

The safety video finishes...

He looks at us and says, "It doesn't matter, this plane is going to crash anyways."

To which I smiled then slowly turned to Shaun with this look of 'did you just hear what I did?'. I liked to think I played it off cool as a cucumber. More likely, I probably looked like I was smelling a fart and trying to smile at the same time. 

Shaun's look back to me confirmed he heard what I did... and we never talked about it until a few hours later when the man went to the bathroom. We both agreed his comment was 'lost in translation' and dropped it (all the while keeping a close eye on him). But since I am writing this from Atlanta, guess the joke was on us.

{These jewels caught my eye...I refrained from buying them though}

{Ahhhh, sweet watermelons}

{Hot sauce}

   My first trip to the grocery store was exciting. Ask anyone who lives overseas and they will tell you the same thing. I didn't have to bag my own groceries or bring my own bags, no coins were needed to get a cart and I didn't have to go to 3 different stores to get what I needed. It took longer than expected since I lost about 5 minutes in the produce area arguing with myself about if I needed to weigh and price my own produce before taking it to the cashier. I didn't by the way. AND I spent a staggering amount of time in the cake mix/brownie aisle in which I erred on the cautious side and grabbed all of my choices. (And no I am not pregnant, just happy to not have to make everything from scratch for a change). We stayed out last night until after midnight watching the NBA game and the UFC fights. It forced us to stay awake and to hopefully get back on track time-wise as soon as possible. The heat is unreal here (guess they don't call it Hotlanta for nothing). It is in the upper 90's F (36-37C) during the day and staying in the lower 90's F (32C) at night. So far it has been a nice change from the rainy May we had in France but we will see how long that lasts. I am willing to bet we will be OK with the heat until we get our first power bill. Then, it's another story. So for now, we will enjoy the Memorial day weekend with a BBQ and some friends and try to wean ourselves off the number of bonjours, mercis, and pardons that we have thrown around here and get back to the simple hellos, thanks and excuse-mes.

{Had to put this picture of peanut butter in here to show our french friends the variety we have}

  Ok, we have a story about peanut butter in France. While talking about it with our french friends just before we left, the quote of the year and perhaps all time in France was born. Our friend, Olivier was telling us how his father spent a lot of time in the US working. So when he was young, his father would bring him peanut butter back from the US. Now, as with most of conversations in France, we speak Franglish, kind of going in between French and English...a few sentences will be in French then after that, some English and etc... (I am sure it is bizarre to hear this as an outsider but it works). We had told Olivier the translation for beurre de cacahuete was Peanut Butter. A few minutes later (while we were in an English phase), he tells us (or attempts to tell us) that he was the only boy in his city that really had Peanut Butter. But instead of saying Peanut Butter, he got butter and cream mixed up and mis-pronounced Peanut a bit. So it sounded like this.. 'I was ze' the only boy who had peenus cream in my city'... I am pretty sure as the words were leaving his mouth, he realized the error of his linguistic ways because his eyes went huge and the whole table lost it for a good 5 minutes. So when I see peanut butter now, I can't help but think of 'peenus cream'. Thanks Olivier!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ciao mes amis...

{The last supper..of all of us together}
     That's it, or pretty much all of it. We have done our errands, said our goodbyes and packed up and stored our 25 boxes or so. Now it is time to decompress and look forward to the summer. We had one last hurrah on Tuesday night with some friends and teammates at the beach before buckling down and being 'responsible'. No more French 'to-do' lists lying around, no more post-it notes stuck to the desk, my purse, the car, the kitchen table, Shaun's back... They have all been replaced by Atlanta 'to-do' lists. And while we love having our own house back in the states, it does provide for some more 'tricky' scheduling, like turning on gas, cable and water....meaning the next few days should be semi-hectic as well. We will miss France and all it has to offer, but to be honest, we are very excited to head back and take a break from France for the summer. While running errands these past few days, we've planned out our food schedule for the first few days home and what we are going to eat. It might sound weird to many, but just imagine not being able to eat some of your favorite things for over 10 months. Sometimes I think the fact that we can't have it, makes it way more appealing. It is funny though because around March 'foods you can't wait to eat when you get home' becomes a hot topic amongst basketball players living abroad. Some drive to their favorite spot straight from the airport upon arrival while others have it actually brought to the airport. (True story: a few years ago, my mother looked into trying to overnight us some Carne Asada burritos from San Diego...and it made perfect sense to us at the time.... that is how desperate people get). So with only a day left, we will soon bid adieu to Toulon and hello to the land of Willys, deli sandwiches, boneless buffalo wings, McDonald's breakfast (don't ask, its a Shaun thing) and ranch dressing.....oops, you'll have to excuse the drool on the laptop, it was accidental. We will miss you France, see you soon!

{Teammate and friends Pacc, Fatiha and Ilian}

{Olivier the great}

{One goofy one for the road}
And to our house... you have been great for two years but we fear you have ruined it for us in the future since others will be compared to you. You spoiled us... and shame on you for doing so!!!

{There may never be another like you}
{Or you...}

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wrap it up

{My best freind over the last 2 days}

The season has finally come to a close (thank God) and we have been all over the map. Initially, we wanted to stay 10 days or so after the season to enjoy the beach and relax before heading back to Atlanta, but seeing that the weather is terrible, we have pretty much ran errands, packed and tied up loose ends. No beach for us. And by the weather being terrible, I mean wind, rain and overall crappiness. We laugh when we see a sunny picture of the Cannes Film Festival that is going on right now because either that picture was taken last year or they took all the pictures when the sun made it's only 5 minute appearance in the last 4 days. Kind of a bummer looking out our window here and seeing a monsoon and knowing it is 80's and sunny in Atlanta. Hell, I'll even take the Atlanta humidity right now but you can't win 'em all, can you? And packing, I loathe packing! Not just for the obvious reasons of it being tedious and boring. But also because I have a habit of 'discovering' things while packing that once I know is there, I could never imagine living with out (even though it has sat in my closet for the last 9 months or even the past few years and I never had a problem ignoring it). Shaun always loves when I do this since I often try these new discoveries on all at one time and trot around the house proud as peacock because of my new find. Bold lipsticks, nail polishes and stockings always make an appearance so put them all together and what do you get? A $2 hooker. (I did say Shaun enjoyed it right...?) So when people ask us how we have 20 boxes of stuff not included furniture, know that yes, the above mentioned are part of the reason but the other reason is, we have lived here for 11 years. Accumulation happens people. I can't help it and even if I could, I wouldn't want to. So today we took a break from packing to eat lunch and run errands which consisted of paying a hospital bill which if one more person told us we were in the wrong place, I was going to call it a day and not pay it. It was one of the hardest times I've ever had trying to pay something. In other words, I couldn't get rid of this money, how often does that happen? Fortunately for us, Marie helped us every step of the way and doubled as a anger management coach. She has been kind enough to offer to let us store our boxes in her garage. And I am pretty confident she did not know what she was getting herself into, but like the trooper she is, she adapted on the fly. We don't know yet where we will be next year but we do know we won't be here in Toulon. Yes, we are happy to be away from the basketball part here but we will miss our friends dearly and hopefully we will be able to see them all again soon.

{About half-way done}
{Shaun. Marie and I ate lunch at one of our favorite brasseries and all three of us had the Goat Cheese salad. I am so happy we managed to get it in one last time before heading out because I know there are going to be nights in Atlanta where all I want is this salad.}

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dusting it off

{Lunch in Marseille before the rugby game}
      Last year, a sponsor of both the HTV basketball team and the RCT rugby team, Phillipe, so kindly treated me and Allyson to an afternoon in Marseille and the RCT/Toulouse rugby game. We went with our friend Olivier and met up with him and some friends for lunch at the port before the game. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Allyson and I found ourselves as the only girls in a sea of 11 men that were either friends or sponsors of the team. I can pretty much talk to anyone or anything and Allyson is the exact same way, so we didn't skip a beat. The lunch was amazing: great food, great weather and great conversations (lots of hand gestures where flying to help with the translations since most only spoke French) The game was exciting, although I will admit I am still not sure of the rules, but RCT won which made us all happy. While we were at the game, Phillipe asked me to play in his annual soccer game where he gets together a few professional athletes from all the sports here for a scrimmage. There are some handball players, former basketball players, rugby players, etc... Unfortunately, the game was scheduled for the day after we left so I was unavailable to play. Fast forward to this year and Phillipe and I talked again and realized I would be here for the game. I was a little hesitant at first since I have not touched a soccer ball in a few years... honestly. I run, lift weights and do some plyos but touch a soccer ball, nope. Sure I have kicked a basketball a few times (seems to be Shaun's coach's favorite thing to do with me) but I don't own cleats or a ball here in France. So after contemplating getting out of playing, I finally decided to go and Shaun and I had an agreement that we would tell him we couldn't stay for long, especially if I wasn't having fun. We stayed until the end, no excuses needed. I was a bit rusty and I am sure if you ask me in a few days how it went it will be a different story since my body will have reached it's maximum soreness. But it was nice to do something a little different for a change. There were some good players and there were some who were just happy to make contact with the ball. I was re-united with all of our buddies that we went to the rugby game with so it was nice to see old faces, especially before we leave here and most likely will never see them again. The roles were reversed for a few hours and Shaun was the one on the sidelines being a fan. He took some pictures and said it was funny to see me back in that element again, even if it was in sweats and tennis shoes. I am sure if he had Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days on his Ipod he would of played it for me on the ride home, just to be a wise ass. So thank you Phillipe for last year and an enjoyable time again this year, I will be sending you my massage bill....

{Couldn't tell you what they were doing there...}

Some soccer pics. It seems both the camera and the camera man need a little work, sorry. Lucky coincidence though because now it really hits home to Shaun we need a new camera, guess that's all it took.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


{Shaun and Marie after the last home game. The shirt was a gift from all three of them signed and sealed with lipstick kisses}
     Just before my mom got here last week, we had 3 of our friends over for dinner who work for the club. It was our way of thanking them for the past 2 years. Marie, Katy and Virginie have all provided us with many 'funny' moments and Marie has been my 'go-to' friend to sit with at the games when the other wives (or the other wife in my case, Fatiha) can't make it. At some point over the last 2 seasons, they have all gone out of their way to help us in some form or another. For example, when Shaun was struggling with his hamstring and the club told Shaun an MRI was not possible for at least 10 days, we called Marie and she got Shaun an MRI that night. Although the season has been a trying one and pretty unprofessional on most levels, there have still been a few people here who are genuinely caring and give with no expectations of receiving (shame that these may be the only 3 that actually work for the club though). So we decided to have an apero and dinner at our house before the end of the season to give them a taste of 'american' food and thank them. At first we were a little afraid since only french would be spoken and we wondered if the conversation would flow but after 5 minutes, we realized we had nothing to worry about. We enjoyed some Spinach Artichoke Dip, Bacon Wrapped Boursin Chicken and a Pear/Apple Crisp...and plenty of champagne and wine (come to think of it, maybe that's why the conversation flowed). As with pretty much every time we are with frenchies, we learned/taught each other 'unique' phrases in both languages and most importantly, laughed. They arrived a little after 7 and before we knew it, it was after 1. At that point, I tried to translate the phrase, 'time flies when you're having fun' but the wine had gotten the best of me so it wasn't my best effort. But these are the memories we will remember when we look back at our time spent here in Toulon and I know we will keep in touch with all of them. Besides, there was plenty of talk of visiting next year wherever we are or them taking a trip stateside. Thanks again ladies for everything.
{Shaun and Marie}
{My wine smile...gotta work on that}

{Katy, Virginie, me and Shaun...the necklace was also a gift from them, along with a bracelet you can't see. It appears I may not be the only one who needs to work on their smile...Virginie?}

{As with any 'Fein' soiree, things got silly}

Monday, May 14, 2012

A tour of the Cote d'Azur

{Pretty much had this whole area covered, from Marseille to a little past Menton}
    As I write this, I am sure my mom is in a Dramamine induced stupor (and very possibly drooling) somewhere over the Atlantic about halfway into her 20 hour trip back to the west coast. Although I am not sure she really needs the Dramamine since for the last 10 days we have pretty much covered most of the South of France and a bit of Italy so we are all pretty beat. Regardless of the fatigue, we all had a great time and did everything we set out to do, which as anyone who has had visitors knows, almost never happens. (And bonus, my mom got to see 2 games in which...gasp...the team actually won.) So we considered the visit a success on all levels. We hit up the usual suspects... Le Castellet, Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Eze, Ventimiglia and even Marseille. Oh, and managed a beach day in between. Might sound like a lot to many but it was pretty relaxing too. We took loads of pictures (so nice to have a 3rd person to take pictures) and pretty much laughed the entire time. Those who know me, know I am not a serious person at all... add my mom to that mix and you get 2x the laughs and silly/stupid moments. I like to think of it as we can find humor in any situation, good or bad. So as we recover from the week, Shaun will head off to his last game of the season, while I start to get the house packed up for our departure in 11 days or so. I am getting the feeling the next week or so is going to be a busy one.
{Eze...still can't believe this place isn't a faux Disneyland city}

{Eze again}

{Being idiots in Eze}

     After spending a few hours exploring Eze, we made the 10 minute trek to Monaco for the rest of the afternoon before heading to Ventimiglia, Italy for dinner. Both Shaun and I have been craving the food at Pasta e basta, which is the restaurant we ate at earlier this year when visiting, so we knew we had to make one last trip to eat there before heading back stateside. This all sounds more complicated than it really is since all these cities are all with-in 15-20 miles of each other so it was a very easy drive. Monaco was great, opulent as always. We contemplated valeting our car adorned with HTV basket stickers in front of the casino amongst the Bentleys and Rolls Royces but decided against it, didn't want to embarrass the others. Monaco is always fun, but at this time of year, there is a little extra something in the air since they are setting up for the Grand Prix.

{Casino Monte Carlo in Monaco}
{Getting ready for the Monaco Grand Prix}

{Like I said before, not many serious moments}

{Overlooking the harbor..you can see the grandstands already set up for the race on the left hand side of the picture}

{Everything is classy in Monaco, even their 'no walking' on the grass sign}

   A few days later, we went back to Nice for the afternoon before heading over to Cannes for a 'match amical/scrimmage' between Shaun's team and Antibes. It was so hot in Nice that the thought of braving the rocks at the beach didn't seem as crazy as normal. We decided against stripping our clothes off and streaking into the ocean and instead, ate lunch in Nice then shot over to Cannes to catch the scrimmage before eating dinner on the Croisette in Cannes. The film festival starts next week so like Monaco, Cannes was being transformed to welcome stars from all over the world. We did a typical french thing and ate dinner for over 3.5 hours, eating, talking and enjoying the good company. We were joined by our good friend Olivier, which is always fun because not only does he speak great English, but we also love teaching him the 'not so PC' English words and phrases. Hey, I'm just reciprocated since those are pretty much what both Shaun and were taught right off the bat when we came to France. So, it's only fair. It was the perfect way to cap off a great week and send my mom off with a bang.
{My mom in Nice, overlooking the promenade des anglais}

{Our afternoon drink of choice, Perrier with strawberry syrup in it}

{Cute Nice store front display}

{Dinner with Olivier and my mom in Cannes}

{Last but not least...us}

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hitting the ground running

{Mom and accordion player at market}

     My mom arrived on Saturday night after a near 24 hour travel day of delays, bad weather and in-flight spilled condiments. (Between me and you, I think she learned that nothing good can come from squeezing those little dressings packets too hard that accompany sandwiches.) But since she is only here for a little over a week, we hit the ground running. On Sunday, we packed in a few walks, the local market and dinner down by the water. But wait.. after the market, we literally stumbled upon the city flea market. I was hoping it was going to be the kind of flea market where one can find vintage Louis bags or some great antiques, but not so much. It was more of a 'junk' bonanza, still entertaining though. Thankfully the weather has realized that it is May and started acting appropriate so enjoying the outdoors is possible again. It is a breath of fresh air to be in a city that has so many things to do either in it or near it, makes having guests easy breezy. Now, if we can just fit all what we want to do in the next few days... Italy, Nice, Monaco, Eze...

{Market tomatoes}


{Olives and tapenade galore}

{Dolls sold at flea market with interesting 'enhancements' around the chest area}

{Some sights on our walk}

{More sights...}

{Unusual poster just behind Shaun's head at dinner}