Walking papers

Well, it is official. We have been informed that we are moving. Leaving France.

Finally leaving France.

Unfortunately leaving France.

When I let friends know that we have a moving date, everyone asks “how do you feel about leaving?” I draw in a breath and say that I have mixed feelings. I try not to well up with tears but I can feel that tingling feeling in my nose meaning that my eyes are instantly turning red and my eyes will begin to water.

When B told me that we were leaving, I almost couldn’t believe it. After 2 years of delays, I just sort of believed that we were going to stay here indefinitely. Although I know we weren’t. The company has wanted to get us out of here for a long time now. It is expensive living here, of course, and they are looking at their bottom line. They aren’t thinking about our lives here, how our children have grown up here, how this place is all they know as home. The week he told me we were leaving, I would burst out into tears, sad to know that the end of this adventure is near.

The moving company came yesterday to evaluate the items that we are taking back. This is the second time we have done this, so this isn’t such new territory for us. Now I know what to expect, what to keep in suitcases and what to put on the sea container that we won’t see for 3 months.

A lot has changed.

We don’t have our dog to worry about. The amount of stress that was involved with bringing here here was incredible. I never imagined that we would leave France without her. But we will.

The kids are now old enough to wheel their own suitcases through the airport and change the channels on their little screens. They can speak another language. They have emotions now that we didn’t have to worry about when we came here. Every day they either miss their dog or they are sad about leaving all of their friends here. We had a “last sleepover” for Brannan and his friends on Saturday. He knows how many more weeks we are here and he has told his friends and his teachers on his own accord. He listens intently when other mothers at school ask me “how I feel” and he tends to adopt these same feelings.

I hope they don’t forget this amazing adventure we have had here. How we can be on a road trip and they ask “Are we in Italy now?” or “Are we in Switzerland yet?” Or how I told them that candy will shoot out of the top of the Glockenspiel in Munich at 12noon when the marionettes dance to keep them from being bored. I hope they don’t forget ski weekends full of friends and picnics in the snow and camping in Austria and going to Oktoberfest (although I think I’d rather forget that one).

These last few weeks are going to be busy. We have one week of skiing with our best friends and then we come back and pack up our belongings. We need to sell our cars, cancel bank accounts, get rid of the clutter that doesn’t need to go back. I’m trying to enjoy the last little bits of France while I can – the boulangeries on every corner with warm delicious bread, delicious desserts and macarons.

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There are things that I’m not going to miss, of course, but I don’t need to get into that right now. We have had such a special time here that I don’t want to erase the positive memories with the negative ones.

We have a going away party scheduled for the 27th. I don’t know how I’m not going to cry. It will be an ugly cry too. It’s going to be embarrassing but that’s ok – I want everyone to know what an impact they have made on our lives here in France. I will take a ton of pictures and eat as much unpasteurized French cheese that I can.

11/11/2015

Both children are sick. I can hear the boy coughing every 5 minutes or so – in his sleep – the poor thing. I can’t say poor “little” thing anymore because he is 8 years old now! He is no little boy, but he is still my little boy. I mentally note the times when we are walking in public and he goes to hold my hand while we walk through the crowds, even though i don’t make him. I know he would still hold my hand if I just turned my palm towards him, it’s instinctive, I think. For me too. I just turn my palm out behind me,  knowing that either he or his sister is close on my heels, and they instinctively grab my hand. I wonder if this is the same for every mom or dad? I don’t even need to look at them, it’s just automatic.

Anyway, they both have fevers tonight. Thankfully tomorrow is a holiday and they can sleep it off – although I know they will both be up at 6:45 because their little bodies are accustomed to that wake up time. I’ll tell them to go back to sleep, but it is useless. They can’t do it. They have other things on their minds – mostly playing on the computers. They don’t even care about cartoons anymore. They wake up and head straight for the i-devices. Don’t get me wrong – they can’t do this on school days, only on the weekends. Maybe that’s why they get up so early on the weekends? Hmmm…

I’m feeling a shift in our lives right now. The kids are getting older – they are so much more independent and more hardy in general. We can take them to big touristy cities and not have to worry about them so much. We were even complimented by another couple while we were in Italy – they commented on how well-behaved our kids were while we were out for dinner. It made my heart smile to know that the constant correcting has actually made a difference. Kinnerly has just started sounding out words which means it won’t be long until she is reading on her own. Brannan can read for an hour on his own without flinching – although he does like the company still – he likes someone in bed with him reading along. I know this won’t last for much longer too, so I try to do it as much as I can. Although I definitely have to do it when he is reading French. Plus, the French books help me too.

I had an awesome 40th birthday weekend in London this past weekend (11 months later) with my best Francy girlfriends. It was so fun to be off on an adventure without having to look after the children. We all have two children each, and normally, when we are together, that makes 6, and usually there is something we have to take care of. It was such a nice treat to not have to worry about bedtimes or feeding them or pick ups or drop offs. It was also really nice of our husbands to take over for the weekend with all the little bits that we normally do. We did fun touristy things like the River Thames cruise along with going up the London Eye, we went up the Shard for cocktails and went for some Mexican food after. We had brunch together and saw the Tower of London where the crown jewels are kept and where so many people heard the words “OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!” – there is so much history in London, you can’t just do it in a weekend. Luckily I’ve been for two weekends so far! I hope to go back again soon.

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Over Halloween we went to Florence for a quick weekend. The kids were troopers. It was sort of my idea to go there. We didn’t have any plans and B had a long weekend off work so we decided to drive down there for the weekend. It was actually really nice. I’ve always wanted to see all these works of art that I studied way back in Art History classes in college. i saw Rembrandt paintings and Botticelli paintings and sculptures and Duomos and bell towers.

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All in one quick weekend. We walked the pants off of the kids, but they were so great about it, they barely complained. Except for after a huge day of touristy stuff, we ordered cheese ravioli for Kinnerly and when the dish came it was laden with shavings of fresh truffles and check out her face. It is hilarious. It reminds me of the face I used to make when i didn’t like what was served to me and my sister used to make fun of me. Only a 5 year old can complain about fresh cheese ravioli with shaved truffles in Florence, Italy. Most people would give their left pinky finger to eat that.

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Today is a holiday and the kids are home from school – we don’t have anything planned since Brannan has been sick for the past two days. It is clouds and chilly outside. The leaves on the grapevine have all turned brown and are falling off. We are eager for winter to come. The kids keep asking when it will snow. They are ready to go skiing. We never thought we would be here this long and we never know when we will go – at least right now we don’t know. It’s all just a waiting game. In the meantime I am trying to enjoy every day we have as I know this really will be our last winter season in France.

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Summer in full swing

We have already been camping for a four day weekend, have been on a kayaking trip and have been hiding from the sun this summer vacation. We are only 16 days into it, but it really feels like a long time – this summer.

It has been HOT and HUMID this summer. We have experienced a lovely “canicule” which in French, means “heatwave” and it has been slightly miserable. Luckily we have A/C in the bedrooms in our current house (something that is quite rare in France) and I run the heck out of those suckers day and night. Our bedrooms are freezing and our main living space is tolerable now because the air flows into the living area, making it a little better. Unfortunately I can’t open all the windows at night because the kids are so reactive to the tiger mosquitoes here. Brannan gets welts the size of quarters from one little tiger mozzy bite – it is awful. I do too. Kinnerly does too. B doesn’t – that lucky guy. Anyway, it is better just to run the A/C all night and make the living area cooler for the upcoming day. A lot of people don’t have such luxury here, with the A/C and all, so I am loving it. Plus, we have a pool! I just read that there won’t be a break in this heatwave until 30 July. Great…

We are trying to keep the kids cool and distracted. Today my girlfriend and I went to see a little newborn baby named Poppy. She is not even a month old and I couldn’t get enough of her squeaks and stretches and funny faces. I love those little newborn days. They are so easy. All they do is sleep and eat, sleep and eat. My kids were so great, they did just that, slept and ate – mostly slept. I know all kids are different, but mine were so easy, I wish I had 10 of them. Except not now. Not at this age when they require food all day long, food that I have to cook or prepare, food that they can request by name – this age is a lot more time-consuming. Those newborn/baby days are so much easier than little kid days. Little kids need entertainment and tons of discipline and correcting and maintenance. Ugh, oh well, it is all in a day’s work.

This past weekend we went on a big kayak adventure with all of these cool kids:

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It was a long day with 5 hours of paddling – mainly by the adults – but the kids had fun. I was exhausted by the end of the day. But then, the day wasn’t over yet – we had a fireworks show to go to in Valbonne. It was Bastille Day weekend and a lot of villages hold their fireworks on the day before Bastille Day, so we trekked over to the village for a 15 minute display. I wish it was longer. I love fireworks. Kinnerly declared at the end of the night “I JUST LOOOOOVE FIREWORKS!!!”

Oh and then we almost had a new puppy! She was so cute and well-behaved, but she showed up to a birthday party and no one else was taking initiative to find her owner, so I stepped up. We eventually found the owner, but unfortunately, the owner didn’t really “miss” her pup, and it made me feel even worse for letting her go to an ungrateful family when she would’ve been loved to the end of the earth in our family. Ah, well, c’est la vie.

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She was a fun little pup for one night. Really well-behaved too!

I have been hiding from the heat. 75% humidity and 94 degrees isn’t my idea of fun, so I’ve been making lots of lavender wands. I mailed a bunch to Montana hoping they will sell and I have mailed some to friends and family for them to enjoy.

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I give away a few here and there too – it’s a cute little gift.

I mailed out a few today and the employee at La Poste was saying how the packages smelled so good!

Otherwise, we are powering through another summer. It is going by so fast. The kids have two weeks of camp starting on Monday, then it is time for us to go on holiday for a week or two – haven’t nailed those plans down yet, then the kids and I will head to Arizona to see family and friends.

We are all looking forward to it.

Off to make dinner…

Sandwiches and fruit for dinner – it’s too hot to cook!

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Transitions

So, here we are again. The roses are exploding in the garden. The lavender stalks are reaching for the sky and the fruit trees have already bloomed and dropped their flowers. I can’t believe that we are here for yet another spring, and a summer and probably just one more autumn. I know I said this last year, that it was our last spring, and I should soak up all of the blooming roses and the festivals and the pollen and the crazy bursts of chilly storms. But, here we are again. Another spring, and another summer. Believe me, I am very happy to be here. I can’t imagine saying goodbye at this point. I have such deep roots here now. Not just with friends, but with familiar experiences and just the knowledge of what will happen now, when the seasons change. I know that when ski season is over, we will put away our coats and get ready for spring and vide grenier (spring cleaning, garage sale) season, which will quickly turn into summer season.

I can’t believe that we are already so close to the end of the school year. I see that people in the states are already heading into graduations. It’s crazy! How does the year fly by so fast?

I still get the constant “when are you leaving?” or “what are your plans?” questions. These are like nails on a chalkboard to me. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to deal with it. I’m happy shuttling my two kids to school and activities and back, keeping the fridge stocked and the laundry folded and put away, I just don’t want to think of it.

It is going to be a big change for us. I’m just trying to live in the moment right now. I’m not thinking about those days that are barreling towards us. Within months really. Only two more seasons to go. I know I said this last year, but really, this is it. The curtains are coming down on this amazing adventure we have had. But I’m not giving up yet. I’m going to enjoy every day, even when I’m super annoyed and want to drive far away from the normality of it all. I’m going to enjoy it.

Right now

I just read a blog post about what that blogger is doing right now and thought I should follow suit because it will be nice to look back on when I’m in another chapter of my life. So, here goes.

Right now I’m:

Reading: “All the Light We Cannot See” – a book borrowed from my friend about WWII. It is a super quick read and I hope to be done with it this week. I’m really trying to read a lot more lately, but sometimes, by the time I’m done reading all of my favorite things on the computer, taking care of everything else I need to take care of, it seems like there isn’t a ton of time to read. But, spending 3 hours in a salon chair getting my hair lightened helped a lot. So, there’s that.

Watching: Well, I’m not gonna like, I’m currently watching “Come Dine With Me” I love this show. The kids let out an exasperated sigh every time I turn it on. Otherwise, I can’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones and that’s all really. We don’t watch a whole lot of TV. By the time the kids are home from school, we eat dinner, put them in the bath and put them in bed, it’s usually about 9pm. We sit down and usually do some internetting and then head to bed. We have started “The Americans” but it isn’t nearly as fun as “Homeland” and B doesn’t really care too much about TV. We keep it off during the week anyway when the kids are home. There just isn’t time for them to watch anything.

Cooking: Well, today I’m not cooking ANYTHING! We had a huge potluck Easter party yesterday and I have been fretting/thinking about the menu for at least a week now and I am tired of cooking. I feel like I am in a cooking rut these days. Maybe it is the change of seasons? Maybe I’m just ready for salads and fruits to be back in the stores? I’m tired of making the same things over and over again. I think it is the seasons. Being here in France, the groceries are very seasonal. Strawberries and asparagus are just showing up in the stores now and I am looking forward to the melon and watermelon and salads of summer.

Noticing: That our time here is really coming to an end. I don’t want to face it though. i don’t want to talk about it (nearly EVERYONE asks me when we are leaving and I just want to scream when I am asked) and I don’t want to think about it. This past week while having lunch with some of my BF’s here, it slipped out in conversation that B was speaking with the movers regarding bringing things back to the States and my friend said, “Hey, hold up, you are speaking with the MOVERS?!?”. I am going to be a bawling mess when I have to leave this place we have called home for the past 4 years.

Drinking: Captain and Coke. Need you ask?

Wondering: Who is going to eat all the chocolate that we have in the house from Easter. I think Easter is worse than Halloween! Mainly because I only like dark chocolate and all we have is milk chocolate.

Loving: Everything right now. I know, it sounds corny, but I am trying to love the stage the children are in right now, still needing me to help with a lot of things, but I can see they are gaining their independence every single day. From making their own breakfast, to learning how to control the TV when I want to sleep an extra hour on the weekends. I’m loving the fact that they are and have always been amazing sleepers at night. We put them to bed and we don’t hear a peep from them until the morning. They have both been amazing sleepers and swore if I was younger, I’d have more children. I am loving on my dog too. After a scare in January, when I thought she was going to be completely paralyzed, I am taking the time every day to pet her and tell her I love her and that she is my good girl. She knows I’m talking to her and she turns around and around wanting pats everywhere. I’m loving the warm spring sun, watching the roses emerge on their vines, the chives come back full and delicious, the apple tree blossom and the grape vines come alive again. Spring is a wonderful time of year.

Thinking about: I’m thinking about the week ahead. Since today is a holiday, the kids and B had the day off. I went to a vide grenier early this morning (sadly didn’t find any treasures) and this afternoon we went to an orange festival in Bar Sur Loup. It was nice. We had some crepes, a croque monsieur, and some churros. The kids bounced in the bouncy castles and Kiki had her face painted. Anyway, I’m thinking about all the things to do this week, yoga classes, guitar, grocery shopping, the dreaded Wednesday shuttle, picking our other car up at the garage…

Missing: I’m missing my family of course. Always miss the family on holidays. Well, every weekend really when all we have are some quick FaceTime chats. i wish they could see the kids longer than the 5 minutes their attention span lasts on the computer.

That’s me in a nutshell right now.

31 December, 2014

New Years Eve is my favorite holiday.

We have been invited to a party, but I am not really in the mood to go to a party tonight.

Our Christmas was quiet and mellow. The kids got toys from Grandma and Pappy and Auntie Chris and Mom and Dad and Santa. That was about it. I think they had everything opened and put together but the 26th. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on toys and junk that they don’t play with. They got a new sled from Santa with some snow boots that we hope to use soon. But, there isn’t any snow, so we have been house-bound this stay-cation. We were going to go on a little road trip this weekend, but that sort of fell through too. We are going to save up for the February holiday. We are planning on going a week ski trip.

We did get out of the house on the 26th and took a walk on the Cap d’Antibes. That was really nice. Everyone raves about that walk and I figured it was finally time to explore it.

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It really is a beautiful walk and I can only imagine how crazy packed it is when all the tourists are in the area.

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I took the tree and all the decorations down by the 26th. The tree was so dead that Kinnerly would just lightly touch the ends of the branches and all the needles would fall off. I would wake up in the middle of the night and double check to make sure the lights were off for fear of having the tree burst into flames. One more Christmas in France checked off our list.

Our Christmas Eve was really nice though. We went over to the Burns’ house for some mid-afternoon drinks and appetizers and then went to their little local church that was built sometime in the 1600’s and watched the children put on a nativity play and sing carols. It was surprisingly fun and I really enjoyed being there, in the old church, singing carols. It really did put you in the Christmas spirit.

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The new year should be interesting. We were scheduled to be back in the states by now, but the project keeps being delayed. I’m trying to stay positive about it all. It gets really depressing though whenever I see someone and they ask when we are leaving. I have no answers. It seems like everyone is just waiting for us to leave instead of just enjoying us being here.

I was browsing through our pictures before writing this post and we have been to a lot of places in Europe so far. It really is amazing to think of the adventures we have had. I want to have more adventures and take more pictures because who knows when we will be back in Europe again. I never dreamed our family would grow so much so far away from everything and everyone we know and love. We are all changing quickly, B and I both turned 40, we have watched the kids grow exponentially, we have made some wonderful friends that I believe we will have for a lifetime. Being an expat is hard. I was sent an article yesterday by a friend about being an expat, how you find other people like you and you immediately cling on to one another, like you are on a ferry in rough seas, you find out who will be your friend a lot faster than in your “other” world.

I’m clicking over to 2015 and I have to get the kids out of the house today. We are going to go down to Cannes and check out their little street festival and get some NYE churros.

Nothing says NYE in the south of France like churros!

Happy New Year!

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Thanksgiving, Opio, France 2014

So, here we are, still in France, knee deep in the holiday season.

Thanksgiving in France, of course, is really a non-issue. It isn’t really celebrated, but the locals are starting to realize that there are some American expats around and they even celebrated it on the radio this morning. They played “American” songs during the morning drive. No “Alice’s Restaurant” but that’s really ok by me. I’ve never really been keen on that song.

Turkeys are elusive, unless you want to special order one, and they are really expensive this time of year. They will be around more for Christmas as a lot of French people have them for their Christmas dinner.

So, here we are, our 4th Thanksgiving in France. Byron is in Tolouse, the kids are at school and I’m making some pecan pie cookies.

I spent way too much money on this tiny little jar of cranberry sauce, but, hey, it is a holiday right?

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The kids are having a little friend over after school. Not for long, but a couple of hours. I’ll see if I can get her to have some stuffing. It is raining right now. I swear, I haven’t seen this much rain in a long time! Everything is super-saturated, it’s crazy. But, I took this photo a few days ago when the sky was clear. It was beautiful out there on the golf course. Almost all the leaves are gone now, and I can’t wait for ski season. I think the kids are really going to have a great time this year. A little bit older and a little bit more independent, they will be able to cruise around fairly well. Especially Kinnerly.

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I can’t believe we have been here for 4 Thanksgivings. I do know this will for sure be our last one. So, I’m trying to enjoy (???) it.

Happy Thanksgiving! I love you mom and dad and Chris! Miss you!