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shawn L underwood

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Mommy Are We French Yet? Tales of an American Family Living in France
by shawn L underwood   

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Publisher:  Five Star Misadventures Type: 


Copyright:  June 10, 2010 ISBN-13:  9780615316529

Travel abroad, family style, as an American family spends an exciting, humorous, and interesting year in France, learning and living the local culture and language!

Epicenter Press
Shawn Underwood's Five Star Misadventures


If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country for a year with your children, in Mommy, Are We French Yet? you will discover that it is not an insurmountable task.  But it’s made doubly rewarding when the day to day chores and challenges are approached with humor. Shawn Underwood moved her family, her husband and three kids along with her sister’s family, to the south of France to experience the joys and frustrations of living abroad first hand. 


Whether running headlong into the language barrier, where faux pas are a given and the best way to communicate is with a smile or just trying to shop at the local market, keeping a sense of humor is the key to overseas success!  As she and her extended family travel in France and throughout Europe and Egypt among other countries, they learned that being a good ambassador for your country is worth its weight in gold.  Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions! 


Come along with Shawn and her family as they learn to embrace the local culture, even if it means eating pig intestines or trying to cook turkey American style.  Whatever happens, the chocolate is sublime in any language!


I do admit the language barrier is becoming an increasing problem . . . for Craig. I, on the other hand, am getting along famously when the French speaker talks SLOWLY. Today, for instance and after much debate, the kids and I all agreed to brave the hair salon. Unfortunately, the head beautician in the male/female salon is a “fast talker,” my pleas of “lentemont si vous plait,” (slow please) falls on deaf ears and disaster looms on the horizon.

Before driving to the hairdresser for the kid’s haircuts, I make a quick phone call to my sister, Shannon, who professes to have mastered the French language. I asked her for the appropriate phrases to use with the hairdresser. “I don’t know the word for hedgehog in French.” Says Shannon. Too bad, the word hedgehog is a perfect description of Conner’s spiky current haircut. However all is not lost, she gives me a few key phrases to use for Austin’s “do.”

The kids fight on the way to the hairdresser about who has to get their hair cut first. They are all nervous, I’m not sure if this is about the upcoming trimmings or their lack of faith in my language skills.

Professional Reviews

Chicago Review/Travel Resource,Chicago Tribune Charlotte Observer Contra Costa Times Daily Meful Travel By June Sawyers, Special to Tribune Newspapers,
Chicago Review/Travel
Resourceful Travel By June Sawyers, Special to Tribune Newspapers

"Mommy, Are We French Yet? Tales of an American Family Living in France"

Five Star Misadventures, $14.95

It all began with an innocent comment: "We should all move to Europe in the next few years." The speaker was the husband of the author, Shawn Underwood. "Why?" asked the author. "Why not?" he replied. The timing seemed right. The couple had jobs in the commercial real estate business, but with the miracle of the Internet, it was possible to run their business from anywhere in the world. The timing was perfect too. "We would take a year off in an off-year in real estate development," Underwood reasons

While many friends question their sanity, Underwood compares living a year abroad "to learning how to ride a horse." It would be an adventure. But she doesn't play down the plan. It would require learning a new language, experiencing new food and making new friends.

They researched possible countries before deciding on France. They chose a place (Nice), selected a house and found a school for their children.

And then there's that little thing called the language barrier, or as one Frenchman says, "She understands but can't speak well," which prompts Underwood to quip, "the ongoing story of my life here in the south of France." It's an enjoyable and humorous journey into culture shock even if their French sojourn concludes with the scary arrival of six robbers ("uninvited guests"), an unheard-of crime that fortunately ends peacefully for all concerned.

VABOOMER blog/Nancy Mehegan
Mommy Are We French Yet? Tales of an American Family Living in France

by Shawn Underwood

An hysterically funny, comical, madcap true account of an American family’s year sojourn in France. A delightful memoir of an intrepid experience and an insightful look at French life.
I love “Americans abroad” books and forays into other cultures. Having spent a summer in France, I recognize the kind of cultural clashes that occur — and they can be very amusing.
Great book for travelers, armchair travelers, sojourners or any Francophile. This is the best kind of travel book. You get a real sense of what it would be like to move to France for a year with your family. At the end of each chapter Shawn’s husband offers his wry observations called “Craig’s Observations”, which gives a man’s counterpoint view. a very adventurous family — they take side trips to Egypt, they get robbed by burglars. all kinds of adventures. This book is full of style & wit. Very enjoyable book.

Chocolate and Croissants
I saw Mommy Are We French Yet on Shelf Awareness and quickly contacted Shawn to see if I could get a copy. If only reading this book we suddenly transform me into a French girl. Even though I have a French name, chosen after a V. Hugo novel and speak French I am not French. I would love to be French and take great pride when I receive comments that I look French, or dress so European. I am missing the smoking part, and sourpuss look on my face when I ride the metro though.

Author Underwood and her sister decide to move their families to France. Mommy, are we French yet is the hilarious tale of their adventure, pantomining and speaking a semi-intelligible language for a year. Just the fact that they would have the fortitude to move their school age children to a foreign country scores a million croissants with me. This would have been my type of adventure.

Underwoodtells the story of every traveler who has attempted to visit a foreign country on their own. First there are the roundabouts in France. From my own experience, my husband driving, me reading French, one cannot translate quickly enough to stop yourself from going around and around until you have made yourself clear when you should exit. Of course men find this rather frustrating and it leads to the argument of the day.

Underwood goes on to describe her attempt to get a chic French hair do-only to come out looking somewhat like Annie Lennox. I must confess that I considered getting a new style while in Paris, but chickened out concerned that I would not be able to verbalize what I wanted.

Throughout their trip whether it be a vacation to Spain or Egypt, Underwood and her family keep their sense of humor about them. Each chapter is written by Underwood, with a synopsis from her husband on his observations of the experience.

Underwood will have you laughing from beginning to end as she describes their adventure in the South of France. While I do not make light of the situation the book ends with robbers breaking into their house. Underwood in her attempt to communicate under stress in French, is offering the robbers cheese and coffee as she misinterprets their demands for the rings and the way to the safe.

Only in France.

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