Sunday, May 30, 2010

lots to celebrate

I had a great birthday last week, even if it was pretty mellow. We went to our favorite crêperie in Troyes and despite the fact that we don't take Fry out that often (or go out that often ourselves, natch), he did pretty well!

hmm... I dunno...
I dunno, what are you getting?

Then a short walk around Troyes before heading home, as Stéphane was working on a pretty good head cold and it was a bit too hot for Fry to be out anyway. I spent the rest of the day knitting and enjoying the sunshine. Bliss!

I took the precious little birthday money I got and bought these:


I haven't had a new pair of chucks in twenty years, it feels like coming home! They make me really happy.

This week was pretty calm. Fry has been really lovely lately, except for giving us some drama about eating his vegetables (already??) at dinner but both Stéphane and I are big believers in eating what's put before you so we're working through that, even if it means celebrating one spoonful. Fry is hilarious when it comes to new food. If he doesn't know it, he refuses it outright, and we kind of have to force it into his mouth, after which he immediately asks for more! Silly kid.

So, today is Mother's Day in France. Last year I got zilch (as my dear husband said, "you're not my mother!" pfft.) but this year I woke up to this:

fête de mères

and it makes me very, very happy. It's a bittersweet Mother's Day, as today is also my mother's birthday. She would have been 65. I can't believe it's been five years already!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

happy bithday to me!

Yep, it's my birthday! But really, I wanted to do this big post about Fry, and then I forgot what I wanted to say, and then I just kind of lost the will to blog. This has got to stop! Also, I just need to write stuff down, this is driving me crazy!

I can show you this: last week we checked out a public forest about fifteen minutes from here and we fell in love with it! Stéphane liked it so much we wanted to go back the next day but the weather didn't cooperate. It's pretty crappy as far as forests go (this one is gorgeous but 45 minutes away) but there are nice wide paths to follow and it's great to let Fry go and let him run around and discover. Something, I'm sorry to say, he doesn't get to do much in his day-to-day life.

A nice day for a walk

Monday, May 17, 2010

in which Vivi forgets that she is a second class citizen

We hit a bit of a snag at the bank last week for the loan for the apartment. Because Stéphane is a fonctionnaire (works for the government) he qualifies to be a member of a private bank with a pretty nice savings account system, so we didn't even bother going to any other banks to get quotes for our loan. The problem was that the person we talked to gave us a bunch of static about my not being French. This happens occasionally, but this is the first time it really threatened to hurt us. There are some people here that think that America is such an amazing country that they can't believe anyone would ever want to leave it, so if I'm here, that means I'm obviously running some kind of scam. She actually said to us that she didn't know if her company could approve our loan because there was the chance that we could move to America, leave our debt behind, and then not fulfill our commitment to repaying our loan.

Yes, that's right, my husband's going to leave his fonctionnaire position (which basically means he can never lose his job unless something really tragic happens) and we're going to abandon our apartment, on which we're putting a thirty percent down payment, and go back to America, where we will have no money, no jobs and very little help from the government to get on our feet. Christ some people can really talk out of their asses, can't they?

I nearly burst into tears of anger and Stéphane wasn't too pleased either, but we soon realized that this woman literally has no idea what she's talking about. Of course, we can't tell her what we really think because she's still standing between us and our loan approval (which still has to be approved by committee, but we are asking for such a small amount it's almost comical) but once it was clear that she won't personally be making any decisions about our loan and she was seriously making stuff up, we calmed down, smiled and nodded, and set an appointment for this Wednesday to finalize our loan request.

Now I'm thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to try and get my citizenship sooner than later. Not that it would affect this loan, as it takes nearly two years for citizenship to be approved, even if I had all the documents. I wish I could afford to take a quick trip to the States in order to grab all the documents we need and just be done with it. In the meantime I smile and nod and try not to let it bother me that some people do not care that I have a college education and am bilingual, I will always be just a foreigner to them.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fry's first visit to the ER

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Poor Fry was simply born to accident-prone parents who have their own long lists of emergency room visits. I was hoping to put off Fry's first visit for a while but he had other plans.

Tuesday was rolling along as usual until lunch time. Fry didn't take a morning nap, so when that happens he usually takes a nap after lunch instead. The only problem with that is the longer he goes without sleeping, the more likely he is to fall down and hurt himself. So we all had lunch together as usual and then Stéphane and Fry were playing while I tidied up from lunch.

And then, running around the salon, not looking where he's going as usual, he tripped on a shoe and dove directly onto a low wooden table next to the sofa. Now, Fry bangs his head often enough and has a pretty high tolerance for pain, so when he started screaming we knew it was pretty bad, but even then we didn't realize how bad at first. I scooped him up and consoled him, but it wasn't until he pulled away for a moment that I saw the blood. Fry fell directly on his ear on the edge of the table, hard enough that he nearly split his ear in two.

After the initial panic, and considering it was still lunch time (i.e. everything is still closed), I made the executive decision to throw him in the car and drive to the closest emergency room, half an hour away (in the pouring rain, why, Mother Nature, why??).

We had an hour's wait, during which I actually wondered if I'd made the right decision. His ear had positively blossomed into a veritable cauliflower ear just after the accident, but the swelling had gone down so much that by the time we actually saw a nurse I was practically apologizing for bringing him in! But it turns out that I had made the right decision, as the cut was bad enough that they were debating whether to try the glue or do stitches. They finally decided to try the glue first and go to stitches if they couldn't manage. Happily, they did manage, even though it took three of us to hold him down (!).

To tell you the truth, that's the last time he's complained about it. He was too agitated to sleep when we got home, but he slept straight through the night and yesterday was like nothing had happened at all. Except when he fell on it again at Mémère's house.

Yep, he's definitely my kid.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

toddler proof

Fry turned 18 months old on Sunday. Despite the fact that he seems to be going through a major separation anxiety phase - he freaks out if someone else tries to carry him, even if I'm right next to him - he continues to amaze us everyday.

In light of the fact that we've just given our three month notice to the landlord and can expect to have visitors in the near future to see the apartment, we decided to, at long last, take down the remaining barriers, save for the one that blocks the stairs. For the last six months or so, Fry has been confined to the "salon" side of our open plan downstairs area. That means that we had to climb over the barriers in order to go to the kitchen side of the room.

So we toddler-proofed the kitchen side as well as we could and during his nap on Sunday, took the barriers down. What followed was a half hour of carnage, in which Fry found every single thing he could that could either disfigure or kill him outright, I basically screamed NO!! for thirty minutes straight, and ended with the spectacular demise of a wedding present that was just within Fry's reach.

Sunday was an emotionally charged day, to be sure.

Destroyed wedding gifts notwithstanding, the last couple of days have been better. We are forced, for his well being, to keep the downstairs as clean as a whistle, which is definitely a good thing. The cabinets are now truly toddler-proofed, the garbage can be locked closed (what amazing foresight, when I bought it four years ago!), so the remaining danger will come from the oven, which will definitely burn him if he so much as touches it. Now that the weather is warming up (supposedly - I had to turn the heat back on this morning, but that's another story!) I will use the oven sparingly over the next couple of months, happy in the knowledge that our new apartment will have a real kitchen to itself with a door that keeps small people out, even if only temporarily.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

happy labor day!

This post isn't really about Labor Day, but I'm wishing those who celebrate today a nice one!

I don't think I've mentioned it, but the day after we found out that our offer had been accepted, Stéphane's computer died. Well of course it did, right? So the last couple of weeks we've been sharing mine, and if you know my husband at all, that means he completely takes it over when he's home. The new one should be ready on Wednesday, hurray!

Not that I don't have plenty to keep my occupied. I've discovered that I can, at long last, enjoy reading a book without craving a cigarette for the first time since I quit two and a half years ago. What a relief! I really missed reading.

Meanwhile, we signed the contract for the apartment last week and we have an appointment at the bank on May 12, then it's pretty much sit and wait for the notaries to do their stuff. We're told to expect at least two months but no more than three months for the paperwork to go through. Obviously we're hoping for closer to two so we can do a little work in there before we move in, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I refuse to stress over it!

What does threaten to stress me out is our current landlord. We had to call her for some documents she completely flipped out, saying she wanted to start showing the apartment as soon as possible. Last night she stopped by with a sign to hang out in front of the apartment and we haven't even given our three month notice yet! Fortunately, there are actual laws in place for showing an apartment when there is someone still living in it: the landlord is not allowed to show it when we're not here and we can set limits. We're thinking that she must give us 24 hours notice and nothing after 7pm so as not to disrupt Fry's evening schedule. The thing I don't understand is that she owns outright at least six apartments that I know of, so I can't imagine what her financial outlook must be if she's dependent on incoming rent from every single one every month!

So that's a taste of what's happening around these parts!