Tag archive for » 2009 «


Wednesday, 23. December 2009 0:06

Julien and Aiden are taking their naps, Ali is at work, and Joe has taken the rest of the gang out for a drive. I have been baking biscotti and trying to get the house cleaned up before our guests arrive for Christmas.

It’s nice to have a quiet moment to blog. I haven’t done that in a while.

Paul, Ali’s husband, has arrived for the holidays which means that the adults are no longer outnumbered by the children. That is a welcome change.

Our furniture showed up almost two weeks ago. That was an even more welcome change! The buffet that I had convinced myself would be damaged beyond repair had a few scratches, but nothing major. We did have some damage to a bathroom cabinet, but that wasn’t an item that I was really attached to. I spent the day of the unpacking exclaiming over things like can openers and knives and scarves. Joe kept getting on my case about being such a materialist while he busily set up the television (so no, I’m not the only materialist in this household).

It’s nice to have our stuff and it’s finally starting to feel like home again. Just to have a couch to sit on feels like a little luxury. Many things are finding their way back to where they were before we moved, but we’ve also been making a conscious effort to rearrange things a bit. And, heck, there’s also a whole lot of stuff that is just lying around because it hasn’t found a home yet.

Oh, sounds like someone is awake. I’ll wish you all a happy holiday season now, just in case I don’t get another quiet moment soon.

Category:Moving, Re-entry | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

The Christmas Tree

Monday, 7. December 2009 19:00

I was informed in the morning that I was outnumbered, we would be getting a Noble Fir tree for Christmas. Joe referred to my preferred tree (a Douglas Fir) as a Christmas Bush, not a real Christmas tree.

As Joe and Ali proclaimed fond memories of Christmas’ past decorating their Noble Fir tree, I decided to just accept my fate. (My fond memories of Christmas involved inserting the artificial tree branches into the center steel pole of the tree — my brother was allergic to pine.) So off we went to Santa’s Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay to cut down our tree.

Xmas Tree Hunting

There were several choruses of “we’re hungry” before we found our tree.

Me to Sophia: Tell your Dad that you really like this tree so we can get out of here.

The kids were fascinated by the whole process.
Xmas Tree Hunting

Here are Joe and Ali cutting down the tree.
Xmas Tree Hunting

And me holding the tree while Joe cuts the last bit of the trunk.
Xmas Tree Hunting

We actually ended up with a Concolor Fir, not a Noble Fir. It seems like a pretty good compromise to me. Here are the kids in front of the final product.
In Front of the Tree

Category:General | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica

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

Camping, anyone?

Saturday, 28. November 2009 23:42

Ali made us dinner the other day and as we were enjoying our meal, she looked at us slyly and asked, “Aren’t you going to ask me how I opened up the cans?”

We are not well equipped in our house right now. We have moved with or purchased what we consider to be necessary for our basic survival, but are reluctant to purchase many things that will then be showing up in our cargo container in 6-8 weeks. The end result of this reluctance is that we are constantly coming across things that we need, but don’t have. Ali ended up using a Swiss Army Knife in order to open up the canned tomatoes. It has been used several times since. We don’t have any spatulas and only one wooden spoon. We have borrowed cookware and tablecloths. We are sleeping on air mattresses and the kids are in their portable beds or cribs.

But I have a wine opener.

I have my priorities, you see.

Category:Moving, Re-entry | Comments Off | Autor: Erica


Friday, 27. November 2009 23:33

In the midst of all of this chaos, Julien turned 2.




I am continually being amazed at his new abilities. He is becoming quite a talker and can be the perfect parrot of his sister. There are times now when we don’t know who said what because he can repeat what she says so precisely. He wants to do everything that Sophia does and she is quite content to have someone to do her bidding. As a result, most of his play revolves around mommies and daddies and babies with some horses thrown in as well. He is perfectly willing to be the monster, dinosaur or dog, but there is not a whole lot of boy stuff happening around here.

All of that is about to change.

Joe’s sister, Ali, has also moved to the Bay Area. In fact, she and her two sons, Tyler and Aiden, moved into our house two days after we did. Tyler and Aiden are the same ages as Sophia and Julien, so it’s a bit like having two sets of twins around — all under the age of five.

Three adults and four children in a barely furnished house. This could get interesting.

Category:Julien, Moving, Re-entry | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica

We Made It

Tuesday, 24. November 2009 17:35

I have some catching up to do! The next couple of posts will be about the move back to the US and I have a few other French ones that I still want to write. I’ll be moving the blog in the next couple of days, too, so be on the lookout for the new address.

San Francisco Airport

This photo shows Joe and Julien at the San Francisco International Airport. Some of our luggage can be seen in the foreground.

We ended up reserving our own Super Shuttle in order to get us to our hotel in San Mateo and then just barely fit ourselves and our luggage into it. That has been the theme of the past couple of weeks, apparently.

Joe’s Dad, Rick, came out to France to help with the move and I don’t know how we would have done it without him. He was able to watch the kids while Joe and I took care of everything move-related, and he only packed a carry-on so we were able to get two more bags onto the plane without paying for them! The man has far more patience than Joe or I do when dealing with our children.

Jesse made it through customs without a glance. Seriously. Not even a glance at all his paperwork saying that he had had his rabies shot and that he was in good health. They confiscated his food, though. And Rick’s orange.

But we have all made it to California safe and sound, with all of our luggage and ready to embark on our new adventures.

Category:Julien, Moving, Re-entry | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica

It Fit!

Wednesday, 28. October 2009 19:45

Just barely!

The Truck is FULL!

The movers showed up yesterday morning. They knew that we were tight on space and I walked them through the house and showed them all that we wanted to take and then also showed them an area that was reserved for things that we would like to take if there was space available. They assured me that they would try to conserve space while they were packing up the house and went to work.

When they were done for the day, Joe came up to me and said, “I just did a really quick calculation of the boxes they’ve got done and we’re already over. I didn’t even count the garden furniture.”

So I spent today pacing the house and pointing out furniture that could stay behind if it had to. I also pointed out to the team leader that while he had been packing things in order to conserve space, one of his workers had been emptying all of the drawers in order to make furniture lighter. I was preparing to throw down — in French — if I had to leave more behind than I had already planned. I had gotten rid of a lot of stuff and felt that if we didn’t fit then the problem was either with their estimating or their packing.

I didn’t have to pitch a fit in the end because it all fit — even all of the items that I had said could stay if necessary. Phew!

I will be curious to see how this all looks when it gets to the US. I already know that the buffet will need to be repaired as they dropped it on the way to the truck. We’ll see if the china that was inside it is in a few more pieces than it should be…..

Category:France, Moving | Comments (5) | Autor: Erica

Going Away Party

Wednesday, 21. October 2009 21:23

Kavi and Don hosted a Going Away party for us on Sunday afternoon. We had a lovely time and will miss them all.

Vincent was our photographer for the day so I will share a few photos that he took for us:

Going Away Party - Julien

Going Away Party - Joe & Julien

Going Away Party - The Adults

Going Away Party - The Kids

I’m sure you can imagine how long it took to get a photo with all of those kids in it!

Category:France | Comments Off | 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

Things I Will Miss: The Cheese!

Friday, 9. October 2009 14:49

One of my favorite quotes from our visitors here in France was my friend Irene who, on describing a quick trip through the supermarket said, “…and then I saw the wall of cheese!”

The Cheese!

This photo doesn’t begin to show you how big the cheese aisle is. This shows about half of one side of the aisle, so multiply what you see here by about 4 and then you have an idea of what is displayed in the packaged cheese aisle. There is another whole section for freshly cut cheeses.

I have done a bit of exploring in this aisle and have discovered the cheeses from the Basque region — Etorki being a recent favorite. Since I do sometimes just pick a cheese at random that I haven’t tried before, I have had guests ask me what kind of cheese I am serving and is it any good. My usual response is that it is a French cheese and that I haven’t tasted any bad ones! That usually has them quickly digging in for a taste.

The reason that this photo doesn’t show more of the cheese aisle is that you’re not supposed to take photos in the stores so I was trying to be stealthy. I’m not sure of the reason for this rule, but I certainly won’t miss those types of random rules that a non-French person wouldn’t normally know about.

Category:France | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica