2015

And just like that a year is over, a new one starting.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this next year.  What I want to do, how I want to live, etc.

I’d like to take the time to *enjoy* this upcoming year.  I quit my work at home job a few months ago, and since life around here has been so much more enjoyable.  The house is cleaner.  I am happier.  I have time to keep up with these 3 wild children of mine.  I’ve figured out a rhythym that seems to work for us, keeping up on everything that needs to be done around here.  I don’t know if this can last, nor for how long, so I want to savor it.

The other things I want to focus on this year are all, I guess, sub-titles under Enjoy.
I’d like to craft more.

I’d like to cook more, and hopefully master a few new recipes.

I’d like to go on long walks,

journal,

and take advantage of every season.

I tend to be really stressed about “what is next”.  What are we doing next, what is our next step, where we are going in life.  I’m hoping to keep that to a minimum this year, and instead enjoy what we do have, what our reality is now, and let things come as they may.  While I wish we did have a plan (I’d like to buy an old house/farm/maison de matîre somewhere in France, and settle in for the duration as the girls are starting to hit an age where moving will be harder and harder).  But, we aren’t quite there, yet.  Soon, I hope, and in the meantime we’ll keep on as we always do, and hopefully find inspiration, wonderment, fun and happiness right where we are.

Visteurs…

So much to say!

This past weekend, we had my husbands Grandparents in the region.  They are in their eighties, and very traditionally French.  So, I try to make rather traditional, sit-down meals while they are here.

Au menu

Samedi midi- poulet rôti, haricôts verts, risotto aux champignons (roasted chicken, green beans, mushroom risotto)

Samedi soir- velouté aux legumes d’hiver (vélouté of winter vegetables)

Dimanche midi- entrecôte avec sauce aux bleu, frites maison (steak, blue cheese sauce, homemade fries)

Dimanche soir- crêpes maison (homemade crêpes)

And of course, every meal is started with an apéro (Champagne when the girls great-grandparents come) accompanied with various bits and bobs, and followed by a light salad, cheese, fruit and dessert, accompanied with wine.  Coffee, and a small square of dark chocolate to close out the ‘lunch hour’.   It can be a lot of work, but oh, so worth it.  We end with a full belly, usually a lot of laughs, and having spent typically, hours, around the table.

It is one of my favorite things about France, the rituals surrounding meals.  I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of these long meals.  With 3 little kids, they aren’t always easy to put together.  But I’m finding my rhythm as a cook, and I hope that even as our family of five we can start enjoying more long, leisurely meals, all courses included.

Dimanche soir

This French Life of Mine

…Is so very busy…!

I’m happy to be ‘finding my place’ way out in Alsace.  I think this is the most I’ve ever felt involved in a community since living in France.  The people are nice, I go to Zumba once a week, bring home and extra child Wednesday’s from school…  And am the back up plan for a newly divorced father in case he misses the return of the school bus.  All fairly small things, but things that do make me feel like I belong, like I have a place and like I have something to give.

I grew up in a small town, small community, and I think all these years living in Paris, Ile-de-France had me missing the sense of community.  A place that is home, that feels like home, and that welcomes you with open arms.  I don’t know if we are staying here long term or not, yet.  We’ve been tossing around many ideas, putting out feelers…  I’m fairly certain I *could* live here though an be quite happy, though cold in the winter…  A home with a nice fireplace and comfy couch could make up for that though…

Lily turned 5 a few weeks ago, and Evie is up next with the big 3.  I can’t believe how fast it goes by.  We’ve got a really fun birthday party planned for them this week.  Mr B and I are both really excited for their friends to come to come so we can do all the activities that we have planned.  We are having a joint birthday party- their birthdays are only about 3 weeks apart and their guest lists were basically the same, so, we are going with one fell swoop for the party.  I helped a friend down the street with her daughters 5th birthday party and it was actually a lot of work- I can’t really imagine doing it twice in one month!

“Baby Aria” as the girls call her is turning into a true toddler right before my very eyes.  She is already 18 months old and quite… tenacious.  A true Taurus, it seems.  I try to remind myself that these traits will serve her well in her life.

Otherwise I have been enjoying not working, quite a bit.  It has made my life simpler, easier to manage, and I’ve had a lot more time to dedicate to my girls.  I do have plans for this down time, including getting all of my paperwork together to apply for French nationality.  It is probably about time, 12+ years after I first touched down here!

Burn Out?

After lots of thought, stress, time spent, I am looking forward to some down time.  I’ve basically been on the go since the girls were all born. 

My freelance activity slowly started taking over my whole life. 

To the point where it was hard to take my own kids to the park down the street from my house. 

I feel like I’ve missed out recording milestones, and spending quality time with my girls. 

And so, I’m deciding to take some time off to opt out. 

To be me. 

To be with my girls. 

To take their pictures, work on their (non-exisitant) baby albums. 

To breathe, to cook. 

To relax in my own home. 

To open my computer to blog, to record this period in my life that I want to savor, cherish.

I don’t know what this means for the long term future.  Maybe I’ll have to go back to work in a few years, in a traditional sense.  Maybe something else will come up.  But I can’t let the stress of ‘what ifs’ or ‘maybes’ stop me from living in the now.  For breathing in my babies while they are still small. 

this moment

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

elna

Ok, just a few words…  I am *so* excited.

 

The expat life

The expat life seems to have a lot of allure for many people.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a life that I have chosen.  And I almost don’t consider myself an expat.  I’ve been living here since 2002, so twelve years almost at this point.  I was seventeen, going on eighteen when I hopped on that plane, so I’ve almost now been here as long as I was there.  I will always be nostalgic about “home” though.  The air, the trees, family…  A small, one stop sign town that saw me grow up and still looks pretty much exactly as it did twelve years ago when I left, and still even the same as it did twenty-five some odd years ago when we moved there.

Having roots like that is special.  I am still friends with kids I went to school with in the first grade.  Adults now, as children we pitted ourselves aganist one another in a reading contest at school.  I can even remember who won, but I know it happened.  And we can still laugh about it.  People I know so well that I can read an email from them and hear it in their voice, in my mind.  People I can meet up with once every few years and it is like we just had coffee the other day.

I desire roots.  The kind of roots, that run deep, that are part of a persons blood, sweat and tears.  The kind that dig deep and hang tightly to the Earth in their grips.  This is something that I desire for my children.  A place that is part of their hearts, that is undeniably home.  A place that smells like home to them, a place they will bring their own children, someday, in many years, to remember.

A place where they’ll know the locals, be one of them.  Where their hearts will always feel at home, even if they haven’t been there in several years.  I dream of an old farmhouse, a certain amount of land, dogs, chickens, maybe even a pig.  Where the kids can play outside with little worry of streets or cars.  Where friends and family can visit.  A place that is cosy, and warm.  A place that oozes family.  The past few years we’ve been on the move a lot.  It is fun discovering new areas, but I am ready to find our ‘forever’ area, and find a long term home.

I want my children to have roots, so that they can grow wings.

Ski Week II

So, after a long, long, long 3 days in the hospital with my baby, we were finally released.  I have a lot of respect now for parents that spend long hours in the hospital waiting for the child(ren) to be healed.  It was boring, long (I know, already said that), and also rather stressful.  They weren’t sure what she was sick with to begin with so at first it was a bit of a shot in the dark.  But they got it sorted very quickly and with the right treatment (IV antibiotics) her improvement was very rapid.

We made it back up the mountain just in time for a cheese fondue, and then to see my Lily get her ‘piu-piu’ medal from her ski class.

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She loved it, and did great, from what I hear.  Her and her little sister are already talking about going back next year, and Evie is pretty excited to get on skis next year.  I am really proud of my big girls for handling Mama being gone so well, and proud of my Lily for sticking with skiing.  I think I’ll take a nice, long, knitting project next year, and will try to relax a bit, as this year was anything but relaxing!

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Ski Week

A good friend in the US with ties to France always jokes with me about “ski week”.  All French children have 2 weeks off in Feburay during which a portion of the French population descends upon the various ski stations.  Since he is childless, and not French, whenever he comes to snowboard in the alps he always checks with me when the famous “ski weeks” are as to not come then.

We pulled Lily out of preschool for a week in the alps (I know, bad parents!).

We spent a lot of time talking about ski school (we signed her up for morning lessons all week), and she was really looking forward to it.

Saturday morning we packed the car, loaded up the girls, the dog, and took off.  I knew something was a bit off with the littlest because she was really quiet and docile the whole ride.  We made it to the alps, met my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, grocery shopped at the bottom of the mountain, and drove up to the place we rented.  We unpacked, ate dinner, put everyone to bed.  Sunday, my youngest still wasn’t up to snuff, and by Sunday evening I knew first thing, I was taking her to the Doctor on Monday.

Long story short…  We ended up heading down the mountain on Monday evening, in an ambulance, and we spent a rather long 3 days in the hospital while she recovered from what ended up being… pneumonia!