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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

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


Tuesday, 22. September 2009 11:32

As I mentioned in my last post, I had spent most of last week starting to sort items to get rid of before we move. The two moving companies that have given us estimates thought that we had about 35 cubic meters worth of stuff which fits into a 40 ft cargo container. We could fit into a 20 ft cargo container if we had only 30 cubic meters, so my challenge to myself is to get rid of 5 cubic meters worth of stuff in the next 6 weeks.

I started really strong in the upstairs guest room and the attic. I did those in the first day with no trouble at all (OK, I haven’t tackled the craft supplies under the bed, yet). I moved downstairs to the living room on Day 2 and my progress quickly ground to a halt.

Why? Because my first task was to go through the books. I did pretty well on my first pass through the bookshelves, but then I set aside a rather large stack of decorating books that I wanted to take a closer look at and see if I could bring myself to get rid of any of them.

So rather than putting all of those books in the “sell” pile, I slowly went through them and then I slowly placed them back on the shelves. I did get rid of a couple, but not nearly as many as I had hoped. Instead, I found myself getting excited about going back to our house in California. So many rooms a blank slate to start decorating! Even the rooms that I’ve already painted are waiting for me to try new colors! I can hear them asking for an update from here.

And then I started to wonder….has my decorating style changed? Would I put things back the way that they were 4 years ago? Will all of my decorating sense be based on the fact that I have children?

We’ll be moving the same furniture back into that house. We have the same artwork. There will be a few new things, of course, but the majority of our furniture and art will be the same.

Will the last 4 years feel like a dream if we move back into our old house with all of our old stuff?

Category:Books, General, Moving | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica

4 Years

Monday, 14. September 2009 17:32

Saturday marked the fourth anniversary of our arrival in France so we celebrated by having a party at our place.

Joe and I used to entertain quite a bit, but really haven’t since moving here. I think its more because of the kids than anything else, but we just haven’t done it.

That’s not quite true. We entertain all the time, but its more in the form of people coming and staying for a week or more, not just coming for a party.

So we took on our first party in France with a bit of trepidation. We haven’t entertained a large group of our French friends before. Would it be different from our American friends? What were we going to forget that everyone would be expecting?

We needn’t have worried too much, of course. The tarts from the local bakery were a hit. We had far more wine than we needed (seriously, with the gifts that people brought I think we ended up with more wine than we started with). And we forgot the saucisson (sausage/cured meats).

There were a tremendous number of children running around. Even the people who brought children were amazed at the number of kids!

And in a touching surprise, Joe’s coworkers had gotten together and purchased wine and berets for us to remember our time in France. Joe gave a speech, in French, to thank everyone for coming and for sharing this special time with us. And one of Joe’s coworkers sent a photo similar to the one below with the caption “Typical French couple in traditional attire.”

4 years in France

Category:France, Moving | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica


Friday, 11. September 2009 13:55

Back in June, Joe’s employer announced that they were going to close their office in Sophia-Antipolis, thereby eliminating around 60 jobs.

(Ahem, you can’t do that in France.)

Back in June, Joe’s employer then quickly changed their announcement to be that they were opening an inquiry into exiting the IP business globally and thereby closing the office in Sophia-Antipolis.

Six weeks later, they finally agreed on a timeline for this inquiry with the employees union (CE) representatives. The timeline includes the required economic analysis by the government, negotiations with the CE and a cooling off period before the final decision is announced October 8.

In the meantime, no one can officially say that they will be shutting down the facility, but they are negotiating settlement packages in case that is what happens. Except that the company representative for these negotiations apparently thinks that just saying “No” is an acceptable form of negotiating. The employees are not happy.

Since the negotiations aren’t moving forward, the employees have banded together in order to publicize their plight. They have arranged several formal protests that have been covered in the local newspapers and on television. Their latest was yesterday during lunchtime. All the employees dressed in white with black armbands and carried crosses in order to hold a “funeral” for their jobs. They marched from their office to a busy roundabout in Sophia-Antipolis where they stood in a circle holding hands while the crosses were placed in the grass. The gendarmerie were there in force to protect the protest and direct traffic. Media representatives were there as well as the vice-conseil general for the region.



I can honestly say that this is an aspect of French life that I never thought we would be a part of. Joe has been impressed with the solidarity shown by his co-workers. They have come together, with the CE, in order to protect their rights and interests in a way that is very foreign to us Americans.


What does this mean for us? Well, it was time to go back to the US anyway. It has put us in a bit of a limbo because we don’t know how long this process will take. After a couple of months of taking a wait-and-see approach, we are finally planning our move, setting dates for our return. It is with a mix of excitement and sadness that we plan this move, bien sûr, but it has been quite an adventure.

Category:France, General, Moving | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica