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Overheard: Aim High

Monday, 30. November 2009 0:55

We are purchasing a new mattress, but need our phone numbers in order to arrange delivery the following week. Since we just got new phone numbers and don’t know them by heart yet, Joe is running back to the car to get our number while I wait with the salesperson.

Salesperson: So, you just moved back from France, huh? Welcome back to the United States!

Me: Thank you.

Salesperson, a look of panic striking her face: Wait….France isn’t in the United States is it?

Me: No.

Salesperson: Whew. Well, welcome back to the United States.

Me: Thank you.

Salesperson: So, do you speak French?

Me: Yes.

Salesperson: I’ve always wanted to speak a second language. Did you speak French before you moved there?

Me: Well, I took it in high school, but had forgotten a lot of it.

Salesperson: I wish I knew another language besides English. I’d really like to learn Australian.

And to that I really had no response.

Category:French Language, Moving, Re-entry | Comments (5) | Autor: Erica

Vide Grenier

Monday, 19. October 2009 10:01

Vide Grenier. Flea market. Literal translation is “empty attic.”

The vide grenier took place last Saturday. I had packed up the car the night before and was quite proud of myself that I had fit everything in it. Then as I was brushing my teeth to go to bed, I remembered that there was a small pile of items in the garage still that I had completely forgotten about. Drat!

Joe was able to fit a bit of that in the next morning and I was off before the sun came up to set up. I shared a table with my friend, Kavi, and Renu and Joelle had the table next to us which was perfect because we could cover each others tables so that someone could go get lunch, do some shopping, etc. Oh, and as they sold through their stuff, I was able to expand into their space!

Here’s a photo of Renu and I at the vide grenier:
Vide Grenier

I will admit that I am not really a flea market person. I have romantic notions of going to flea markets, finding that perfect, neglected item that I can fix up to be fabulous, and telling everyone my tale of how I had rescued it. In reality, flea markets start far too early for me and I’m not a good shopper anyways. I tend to pick things out and then talk myself out of them before I even get to the point of purchase.

So how the heck do I have so much stuff in my home?!?

But I digress….I didn’t sell everything, but I did get rid of more than half of what I had brought with me and I made 186 euro — not too shabby.

Category:France, French Language, Moving | Comments (4) | Autor: Erica

Courir Pour Une Fleur

Monday, 5. October 2009 13:25

I did it! I ran a 10k race yesterday around the Cap d’Antibes. They hold Courir Pour Une Fleur (run for a flower) every year and Joe has done it a couple times. My goal going in was to not be last and I had no trouble there. I came in 174th out of 270 in my category. I have decided that’s not bad for a first timer.

Here is a photo of us with some of Joe’s friends from work after the race.

Courir Pour une Fleur

Joe ran it this year, too, but he did the 20k race so I was able to snap a picture of him as he was coming into the finish line.

Courir Pour une Fleur

Category:France, French Language | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica

Annulé

Monday, 21. September 2009 12:35

Annulé. Canceled.

I spent all last week sorting items to sell in the vide grenier (literal translation is empty the attic, in this case it’s more like a flea market). I had 8-10 boxes of stuff to sell. I had bought stickers and paper to mark prices. I had found a purse that would work to handle all of the money. I had spent the whole week breaking down large bills so that I would have change to give to people.

So I was pretty bummed when they announced on Friday that the vide grenier scheduled for Saturday was canceled due to rain. Actually, it’s been postponed until October 17.

I had really been looking forward to having all of this stuff out of my house! But, on further reflection, it will probably be better to have it in October. Truth be told, I had hardly touched the kids room, and there were many things around the house that I’ll want to sell before we move but that I just couldn’t get rid of right now. When you rent a place in France, you often have to provide the light fixtures and curtains. The idea is that you can furnish the place as you like. I didn’t really want to look at bare bulbs for the next six weeks so I hadn’t taken any of the light fixtures down. If the vide grenier takes place on October 17th (no rain, please!), then I’ll try and sell all of that then.

Category:France, French Language, Moving | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Vide Grenier

Monday, 1. June 2009 12:35

Vide grenier. Clear out the attic, or flea market.

I have been pretty good lately about cleaning out the closets. I need to do more, but I have been making progress. The problem is that once I clean out the closet, I can”t figure out what to do with the stuff that I want to get rid of. The clothes aren’t a problem because there are lots of places to deposit used clothing around, but the kids’ toys, books in English, etc. have been moved upstairs to the guest room where they wait, out of site, until I can figure out what to do with them.

I had grand ambitions to maybe sell some of it on ebay and then donate the rest, but then I was afraid that my descriptions in French might not be as accurate as they should be so that never happened. I saw an ad recently for a guy around here that offers to sell your stuff for you. The ad basically says “Videz votre grenier et je m’occupe de tout.” (Clean out your attic and I take care of everything.) Sounded good to me so I gave him a call.

I had put together an assortment of childrens’ things — a high chair, some clothes, a crib bumper and some toys (he had already told me that he wasn’t interested in the books in English). He took one look at everything, told me that maybe he would be interested in the high chair and that normally he doesn’t take anything that would sell for under 100 euro. He then told me his percentage and waited to see if that scared me off. I mentioned that I had seen his site on the internet so I knew about his fees, and oh, by the way, we are moving in September.

Then the guy totally changed his tune.

He could sell it as a lot, he said. He started taking pictures, asking me questions. He filled out a form with the items listed, handed it to me and left.

The crucial step that was missing here was the one where he loaded up the car with the stuff.

So here I am with a list of items that he is supposed to sell for me and they are STILL IN MY HOUSE! And Julien, of course, on seeing some of these toys that had been set aside to sell, thought they were great fun and I now have to keep them away from him. Argh.

When I had read, “Je m’occupe de tout,” I had envisioned that the guy would pick up the stuff, sell what he could, and maybe even take the rest to charity if it didn’t sell. It never occurred to me that I would have to keep it here. I don’t even know how long I have to hold onto it.

We’ll see how this goes, but I can’t imagine that I’ll be calling him again in the future. He takes a pretty hefty percentage of the sale, especially when you consider that he hardly has to do anything and doesn’t store any of the stuff.

Category:France, French Language, Moving | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica

Well, That Explains A Few Things

Saturday, 16. May 2009 20:13

Elle entend mal. She doesn’t hear well.

I had told Sophia’s pediatrician that she often asked me to repeat myself. I didn’t know if it was because she truly couldn’t hear me, or if it was because she’s four and doesn’t want to hear me sometimes. He gave us a prescription to see an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist who told me yesterday that, no, she really doesn’t hear well. So now we know that she has fluid built up in her ears and he assured me that she’s not deaf, but that she needs care. He then prescribed a boatload of medications, mainly decongestants, in order to relieve the pressure in her ears. We’ll be back to see him in three weeks to see if the medications do the trick or if we need to do more.

He mentioned that we should tell her teacher and then told me not to get mad at her because she just can’t hear me very well. Of course, this has been going on for months, so I know the poor kid has experienced the wrath of Mom on more than one occasion where she probably had no real warning that it was coming. I can’t tell you how many times that Joe and I have talked about how we shouldn’t be repeating things to her all the time (Time for bed. Sophia, I said it was time for bed. Sophia, GO TO BED!). Some of that can be attributed to being four and not wanting to hear me, I’m sure, but we’ll have to be a bit more careful to make sure that she hears us until she’s better.

Category:France, French Language, General, Sophia | Comments (4) | Autor: Erica

Les Vacances: Day 2

Tuesday, 21. April 2009 16:32

Day two of les vacances found us at the doctor’s office for a routine checkup. We ended up at the Presse (newstand) after that, just in time for Julien to melt down because he was hungry, tired, and had just had a shot (picture me grabbing magazines in whatever subject looked interesting, just to get out of the store — a great way to spend too much money at the presse).

In the afternoon, we got creative with some shape art. Sophia helped me cut out circles and rectangles and then we glued them onto cards.
Shape Art

Julien had more fun taking the paper off of the cards than putting them on.
Shape Art

My original intention was to do several flowers, but Sophia indulged me with one flower and then did her own thing.
Shape Art

Category:French Language, Julien, Sophia | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica

The Date

Monday, 23. February 2009 14:27

Joe and I went out last Friday night far an all-too-rare dinner date at the restaurant Daniel Desavie. I have been driving by this restaurant for years and I knew it had a good reputation so pretty much every time I drove by I would say to myself, “We need to eat there some day.” So now I can say that I am glad that I did. We had a very nice meal — the food and wine were excellent.

It took us a while to establish which language to speak in. The staff heard us speaking English to each other and so spoke to us in English. We are used to ordering in French by now so we repeatedly responded in French until the staff spoke to us in French as well. After we had finished our main course, however, the waiter came up to us and said:

Waiter: There is a cheese course included in your menu.

Me: Oui! (I had been eagerly awaiting the cheese course — I love France!)

Waiter: Would you like it served the English way or the French way?

I look at Joe because I have no idea what the waiter is talking about. Joe is no help.

Me: Uhhh. Je suis américaine. Je ne sais pas….. what is the English way? (and once again my French escapes me)

Waiter: The English take their cheese course after the dessert.

Joe and I: Really?!? No we’ll have it the French way!

Waiter: Yes, the French way is better.

Category:France, French Language, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica

Good News!

Wednesday, 18. February 2009 11:20

Julien

Julien will be going to the crêche two mornings a week starting in March. I’m excited because he’ll be able to play with other kids his age in a French-speaking environment. And since I know that you don’t believe that I’m really excited for him and not for me…..I’ll just remind you that between the time he gets dropped off and picked up I have about enough time to take the dog for a nice walk and take a shower — not a whole lot.

Having said that, though, Julien will be eating at the crêche so if I’m really lucky, he will fall asleep as soon as he gets home and then sleep for a couple of hours.

That would be lovely!

I put him on the list for the crêche last year and was told at the time that the new crêche wouldn’t welcome babies until January so that I would have to wait. Then January came and went with no news so I made an appointment to talk to the directrice again.

If this were the US and I hadn’t received a call it would normally mean that there was no room for him. But in France it just means that they haven’t called or that they haven’t looked at their list in a while — I sometimes wonder why these people have answering machines or waiting lists because they rarely call back.

So I walked in, the directrice seemed a little embarrassed that she hadn’t called me back. She picked up the phone to a different crêche and immediately offered me Monday and Thursday mornings, did that work for me?

You bet! Can’t wait!

Category:France, French Language, Julien | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica

The Medical Visit

Thursday, 12. February 2009 14:56

Sophia had her first visit with the school doctor last week. I had been given a notice to bring her Carnet de Sante (health book) with me for the visit and that they would be starting her dossier that would follow her throughout her school career in France.

And all I could think was, “This will go down in your permanent record.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect although a few of the moms assured me that they had been quite impressed with the school doctors and credited them with finding sight and hearing problems early.

So I went to the appointment with Sophia and the first thing that they asked me after I sat down is if Sophia understood and spoke French. I answered in the affirmative but mentioned that she understood it better than she could speak it. They then assured me that if I needed to translate anything to German that I could go ahead and do that.

German, huh?

Sophia’s teacher had filled out a form for them and stated that she’s German, apparently confusing her with her best friend, Sabrina.

After we got that cleared up, one of the doctors asked Sophia some questions and gave her small tasks to perform — choose the red marker, take this block and put it on top of your head — while the other one asked me various medical history questions.

Are there any illnesses in the family? I notice that you’re wearing glasses, does your husband wear glasses also?

That one made me pause because she didn’t between asking about any hereditary illnesses and the glasses. I’ve never really thought of my nearsightedness as an illness — although I do know that the kids will most likely need glasses one day.

Anyways, in one of the tasks that they asked Sophia to perform they showed her a paper with four pictures on it of words that rhymed. “Show me the pain (bread), the main (hand), the bain (bath), the vin (wine). And while watching this I had one of those Only In France moments because only in France would it be perfectly acceptable to ask a three-year-old to identify a wine bottle.

Category:France, French Language, Sophia | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica