Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a fabulous time at the annual French Thanksgiving weekend with our friends Doc and Marc! We were quite low on Americans this year, with Doc and I being the only ones in attendance, but we were blessed with the presence of Mr and Ms Mac, who don't speak French so I hogged them all to myself all night and talked so much I lost my voice! I made a great big dish of Fat Potatoes Fat Fat and we enjoyed turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, others "enjoyed" Brussels sprouts (weirdos) and we all devoured a million different desserts. Fry charmed everyone as usual and did very well despite the lack of sleep.

Speaking of Fry, last Thursday night, free of his baby jail, he pulled himself up on the tv stand as he often does, but then turned to me in the kitchen and walked to me, then walked around the downstairs (one big room) twice, and then went up the stairs alone (with Papa right behind him)! He's officially walking without help now, and that's truly something to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

house #3

So yesterday we saw another house. Well, we sort of saw a house. We saw part of a house?

Ok, let me explain. This house, on paper, has everything we want; it's not on a main road, it's got plenty of bedrooms, a nice big garden, even a garage. Unfortunately, we were very much turned off because the of the way it's presented. The former owner has passed away, and the family hasn't moved a damned thing since she died. The house has been in this state for six months. The problem is, we can't magically see behind the furniture, so heaven knows what its hiding. The house needs some serious love; the electricity needs to be completely redone, the stairwell and upstairs need the walls refinished, and there are more than a few cracks in the plaster, and that's just what we *can* see.

The fact that the person that showed us the house clearly didn't want to be there and hardly knew anything about the house at all (I do think knowing where the water heater is is kind of essential) left a nasty taste in our mouths. It's a shame, because I love the layout of this house, I think it's perfect for us, and the garden could be really wonderful. The truth is, it would end up being more expensive than house #2 in the long run, which is Stéphane's favorite so far. So this one is going by the wayside as well.

Since I'm here, let me take this opportunity to wish my American friends and family a very happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday and I'm really looking forward to celebrating it this weekend with a bunch of friends! You don't have to be American, though, to be thankful for your health, your family and your friends! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Friday, Fry finally went back to his weekly playgroup for the first time in three (or is it four?) weeks. He's really been overdue. I hate the fact that we don't get to visit with our family in Troyes very often and all of our friends live pretty far away, so Fry doesn't get as much interaction with other people as I would like. Plus, I won't lie, it's nice to have an afternoon for myself!

For the first time, Fry flipped out on arrival. It didn't help that they changed rooms at the local rec center and there was a new assistant. Fry was super shy, didn't want to let go of me, and finally I pulled his doudou out from his diaper bag (which is pretty exceptional, as this lovie only stays in his bed, Fry hasn't carried around a preferred toy yet), handed him off to an assistant he knows well, and I took off. I had a lovely couple of hours to myself knitting and playing on the computer.

When I picked him up though, they told me that it took them twenty minutes to calm him down and they nearly called me out of desperation. I figure it must have been pretty bad if the professionals couldn't calm him down! They finally had to pull out the ultimate weapon - the pacifer (which he also only gets in bed). By the time I picked him up, he was happily playing, though he was happy to see me when he saw me. Of course, he got a little nervous because I didn't pick him up fast enough!

I know he's getting to that age where separation is going to be a little difficult, but to be honest, it doesn't bother me too much, I know it's normal. I much prefer this to the alternative; there is one little boy who always cries when his mother comes to get him because he doesn't want to leave. I think I'll keep my clingy kid.

Monday, November 16, 2009

in which nothing gets done

Sometimes it seems like the more I struggle to get myself together, the easier everything falls apart. Right when I'm ready to head back to aerobics, I catch whatever is was that Fry had two weeks ago (and is still lingering on). Thursday I went to the pharmacy to pick up some cold medicine, but by Saturday morning it was clear that this was no cold. I managed to get in to see a doctor Saturday afternoon, whose eyebrows raised quite high when he saw my temperature (but I didn't), and I left with a prescription for some pretty powerful antibiotics and some cortisone therapy. The difference between Saturday and Sunday was astonishing.

Even so, I'm still not well enough to bounce around in Tiny Town's rec center, much to my chagrin. I'm fighting with yarn these days, trying to get designs from my head to the needles and struggling with it terribly. The problem with selling on Etsy is that the pressure is on to list items and list them quickly, and my products are a bit too detailed and take too long to create. But still, putting myself out there like this and getting positive feedback has been a real boost to the confidence, even if it's slow going.

A final note about house #2 - the agency called us Saturday evening to let us know that they did in fact run our last offer by the owners, and it's still too low. At least we got the final word, which makes me feel a lot better. Assurances have been made that if either party changes their minds, word will be sent right away. I'm hoping to get word to the notary about visiting the next house sometime today.

That's what's happening in our neck of the woods!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

in which we make our first bid

Don't get too excited my friends...

SO. Yesterday I visited the first of the two notaries in Tiny Town. I was very surprised to learn that they were also listing house #2 but at a very affordable price! So affordable, in fact, that we were ready to make an offer, but what we didn't realize is that we were obligated to make an offer through the agency that showed us the property. My brain is still boggling that a house can be listed by more than one agency, but hell, we're not in Kansas anymore, so I'm going with it.

Anyway, the lady at Notary 1 told me that she would call the agency and tell them we were interested. This morning, after visiting Notary 2 (and finding out they had house #1 listed, aha ha ha) and buying a baguette, the man from the agency nearly ran me down in the street! So I basically told him what we wanted to offer (which was a reasonable offer with the reduced price of the notary but probably sounded ridiculous to the agency) and he told us he would get back to us.

It didn't take us long to get an answer - in the form of a counter-offer. We did some number crunching and I even visited the bank, but when we got home I replayed the message with the counter-offer, which we'd played on the speakerphone. Hearing it more clearly, I realized that the counter-offer was the final offer. Which was still over our budget. Game over.

Tomorrow's a holiday in France, so nothing will happen, but Thursday I'll call the agency and tell them no. Then I'll call Notary 1 about another house they have listed that sounds interesting but needs a bit of work. Hopefully we'll see house #3 this weekend. Cross your fingers kids, because it looks like house #3 is the last house available in our budget in all of Tiny Town for the time being... (Remember, Tiny Town has a population of 5000 - the chances of another house with our requirements and in our budget coming available very soon are pretty low!)

Monday, November 09, 2009

house #2

Last week we got a call from the agency that they had a new listing for us, so we visited it Saturday afternoon. Another maison de ville, this one is pretty much the other end of the spectrum from house #1 and, unfortunately, just outside of our budget. We don't regret looking at it, though. As Stéphane said, now we've seen the extremes of what we're looking for and it will help us have a reference for the future.

This particular house is, quite literally, built to withstand just about anything. I didn't know it, but Tiny Town was 75% destroyed by bombing in WWII, and the agent told us that many of the homes that were built just after the war were constructed with the idea in mind that the bombing could happen again. Like the first house, it's got three stories, but that's about the only thing in common. The former owner was 96 years old and was very active in her home and garden until a sudden illness took her life, and it's obvious that she took amazing care of her home. The hardwood floors and oak stairways are gorgeous, the wallpaper is dated but in perfect condition, and the tiles and appliances are also dated but seem to be in excellent condition. There is way more basement and attic space than we need, a veranda with sliding glass windows, a narrow but amazing garden and a garage with a private entrance. The only thing against it is the only bathroom is on the first floor and the bidet in the bathroom would have to go (eventually). Absolutely ready to move in with no problems and rooms could be updated as money becomes available.

We do know that the owners are willing to negotiate, but probably not as much as we would need to make an offer. It's only been on the market for a week but we do know someone else was looking at it the same day. We're not holding our breath for this one, but it was nice to see it all the same. This week I'm going to try to visit one or both of the notaries in Tiny Town and see if they have anything for us.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Fry has been terribly sick this week. He started coughing a bit on Monday and by Wednesday morning he sounded like a 70 year old with a three pack a day habit and a fever. We saw Dr H, who didn't like the look of his throat at all, and we've been fighting Fry to shove antibiotics and cough syrup down his gullet ever since. Thank goodness we're done with the medicine tomorrow, hopefully this will be mostly cleared up by then! (Though it must be said, he hasn't had a fever since Thursday and he's getting his appetite and energy back.)

Finally, I answered an ad for a part time job in Tiny Town today. Please keep your appendages crossed for me!

Monday, November 02, 2009

one year

I can't believe it was a year ago today that I woke up with contractions and six hours later our Fry was born! It's so ridiculously cliché, but it really does go by so fast!

Our little boy is right on the cusp of walking (more than three or four steps on his own, I should add, since he's been doing that for a couple of months now) and talking. I have a feeling he's just going to walk up to me one day and say, "Hey Mommy, what's up?" The only time he stops moving is when there's music, and even then he's started dancing. Otherwise, he loves flipping through his books, throwing stuff out of bed or his baby jail, and stuffing everything he can get his hands on in his mouth. Fry is still tall for his age (he's half in 18 month clothes, half in 2 year clothes), a full head of hair and at least seven teeth (because honestly? it's sharp in there and I'm not sticking my finger in there unless I have to!). He eats anything we propose to him now, and the only thing he doesn't really like is water!

While he certainly is starting to make it known that he's displeased when he doesn't get his way, he's still a very happy little boy. I get a huge smile every morning, and another one when he goes to bed. Everyday I'm grateful for the chance to watch him discover the world. Happy birthday, my sweet boy!