samedi 28 décembre 2013

Friday night, I cleared out the old wooden bookshelves in our medium bedroom, put them in the hallway, stacked with stuff to get rid of, and placed the two covered bookshelves, originally in the small bedroom (aka the future nursery) in the medium bedroom. 

So now, all that remains is the white desk on the left (future changing table?), the exercise bike, and tool boxes. The exercise bike will either be placed in the medium bedroom, or in our bedroom, nder the mezzanine bed. 
It's fun not having storage space!
The curtains will probably remain. 
At first, we wer going to go with a star theme, but with the eclectic hand-me-downs from family and friends, I don't think it is going to happen. 
Oh well, the baby won't care.
Now need to gather the items (mainly from his sister, who luckily had two girls) and figure out what we need to buy.
I wish I could just pay someone to organize and clean our apartment, and then prepare the baby's room, especially since all I want to do is sleep and am entering the "I feel like a hippo" phase.
vendredi 27 décembre 2013
She's a rebel and she'll never never be any good...

We've lived here for seven years.

Seven years I've been trying to convince Alain to let me hang up some pictures and paintings on the precious walls! 

Yes, I know a lot of work was put into making them smooth. Heck, I spent weeks removing wallpaper and washing gunky glue off the walls, after which he put a smooth coat on, sanded, and painted. 

Finally, couldn't take it any more. Used a special, non paint damaging adhesive sticker with hook and hung up two items, one of which you see here.

Alain used to be really into photography, taking black and white photos and developing them himself. Well, this is one of them. Up on the wall it went.

Tough. That's marriage. If he objects, I'll take it down, but at least I will have proved that the world hasn't come to an end. (Nor the paint job damaged)
samedi 21 décembre 2013
After months of waiting, she is finally here...

Who did you think I was talking about?

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Marché aux Santons by the Vieux Port. I was determined to get an elephant this year. We wandered around the stands, pushing small children out of the way (and alas, no vin chaud this year) and finally chose the style we wanted (not that much choice actually).
Fifteen euros, not bad.
So now we have Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, a donkey, a camel, and an elephant. One figurine for each year we have been together.
My mom bought me this baby bib crosstitch kit for my birthday. It arrived as a pattern printed with disappearing ink on the bib, along with chart and floss. It took me a few days to do. I haven't washed it yet to remove the ink, but will do so soon. It is perfect for our little frog. However, I don't think it will be getting much actual use as a baby bib.
dimanche 15 décembre 2013

A girl!

Sorry, not trying to turn this into a "mommy blog" but right now it's about all I have to write about.

(Picture of a "baby bouquet", a gift from excited grandparents-to-be. Baby stuff - onesies, bib, hat, and socks - wrapped up to form rose heads, and the whole wrapped up in a baby blanket, tied with a ribbon.)

Had the official second trimester ultrasound a few weeks ago, and the doctor said "girl". We have a name picked out, but are keeping it to ourselves for the time being. 

Still haven't had the energy on the weekends to shovel out the small bedroom. Need to get on that, and preferably before the sales in January.

Not planning on decorating the nursery too much.

Will be starting the birth preparation classes soon, I decided to go with a midwife who lives right by us. Of course, the classes are only during working hours, so I need to take time off from work. Right now, I am hoping to work until the end of February, three weeks before the due date, then take 13 weeks off afterwards. We'll see how I feel in two months time though....

Otherwise, heartburn galore, going to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and stomach-lurching interior acrobatics. I can see the baby moving from the outside now... Very strange.
mardi 5 novembre 2013
A few months ago we bought a book "les plus beaux prénoms de filles" to get some ideas. Most of the names were pretty good, and we have picked one, a secret for now.

But others just made me wonder, why on earth were they included?

A sampling of the worst:

Adélaïde- nice Germanic name, except laide means an ugly girl.
Agnès - just no
Berthe - bertha. Seriously?
Cannelle - cinnamon in french. No, that won't cause teasing
Edwige - i think it has been established that "ed" names are not for girls
Ethel - sure. A 100 years ago.
Gilberte - feminized version of gilbert
Guillaumette- feminized version of guillaume
Mildrède- bad in any language
Séphora - so-so, except name of very popular cosmetics/fragrance store

Most of these names very followed by the comment "infrequently attributed in France presently". Oh really? Wonder why that is?

So if you had to pick one of the above names for yourself or daughter, what would it be?
vendredi 25 octobre 2013
I stopped by H&M after work to check out their maternity section. Not that I actually need any maternity clothes yet, but I wanted to see what they had. Besides some pants with elastic waistlines, it seems like most maternity shirts are simply "bigger than what you would normally wear". Anyway, couldn't resist a set of six onesies ( or "bodies" as they are called in French). I love dad, I love mum, I love mum& dad, mum&dad, plain white, plain black. No idea for what age of they baby they are supposed to fit.

Been looking at the list of recommended baby stuff, and it is quite astonishing. Six pjs for 1 month old, six pjs for 3 months, six pjs for 6 months, and six pjs for 1 year. Do they really just live in their pjs? I am ready to believe it, since they sleep for what, 19 hours a day? Maybe it just isn't even worth dressing them for the 30 minutes they are awake at a time.

Wish I could live in my pjs. Oh wait, I do.

Or is it just that the pjs get so covered in vomit and other stuff that at least half are in the wash at any given time? This is something I am also quite ready to believe since when we met with potential nannies, they all seemed to have two washing machines. 

In fact, I am ready to believe about anything about babies right now. Their ear hair grows three times as fast as adults', and needs to be trimmed weekly with gold-plated scissors? Uh, okay sure.

samedi 19 octobre 2013
I think Phase 1 is officially over, and that I am now safely in Phase 2. Phase 1 being of course "get away from me, or I'll throw up on you!" And Phase 2 being of course "get away from me, or I'll eat you!"

Though the last time I thought Phase 1 was over, I threw up ten times in two days (the weekend of course) and spent the time between throwing up on the couch with a cool wet washcloth on my forehead. I actually burst blood vessels in my face from throwing up so much, and couldn't even keep down water.

Now, I am hungry all the time. I wake up in the middle of the night because my stomach is rumbling and I have to eat a yogurt. Then I eat breakfast in the morning, again at mid-morning, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. But it's not going anywhere. I keep measuring my waist with a tape measure and there is no change. 

I think I have a black hole in my stomach.

Still not sure if it is a girl or a boy, at the last doctor's visit, the little shrimp wasn't cooperating. (Alain calls it crevette in French, because the first ultrasound was when it was still in the C form, like a seahorse. Amazing). Anyway, we have a list of about 8 girls' names and 1 boys' name. 

Last night I was lying in bed with my hands on my belly, to see if I could feel movement. (That is, movement other than my stomach rumbling.) I felt a small nudge and thought "oh my god! There is someone in there and they want to get out!" Then I felt a big nudge and yelped in surprise. It was like whoever it is was saying "yes! Let me out!"

Next big ultrasound scheduled for Nov. 12th.

Alain bought me three red roses for three months of pregnancy. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was actually four months. One thing at a time.

mardi 24 septembre 2013
The best thing about being pregnant is that you can blame pretty much anything on it.
See examples-
I'm three days late in handing in my report? Oh gee, I'm so sorry, it must be 'pregnancy brain', plus you know, the fatigue and projectile vomiting....

Oh, please excuse that horrible belch. I'm pregnant you know, and it seems to generate a lot of gas in the intestines. 

The worst thing of course is that pretty much everything gets blamed on it.
See examples-
Honey, the reason you are mad I am three hours late for dinner is because of your pregnancy hormone mood swings.....

Doctor, I think I am having a heart attack!
- No, no, it is nothing, just some acid reflux from your being pregnant.
No, really, I think it is a heart attack.
- Well, if it is, too bad for you, we can't do anything since you are pregnant!


Otherwise, the nausea seems to have subsided (for which I am sure I just jinxed myself to six more weeks).
Strangest symptoms thus far - lots of drool and facial twitching. Good grief.
Not even getting any 'perks' yet, such as people giving me their seats on the meteo, but I am twitching and drooling like crazy. Fun times!
dimanche 22 septembre 2013
I couldn't help it, after doing so many crosstitches for other people, I finally did one for me, with a green and white Irish theme. My childhood bedroom had a large black iron four-poster bed, with a canopy. I had fake ivy winding up the posts, with lace enclosing three sides, green and white sheets, and pillows, cushions, and curtains with an ivy-and-lace theme. I loved it. 
Anyway, here are some photos.

She is holding a four-leaf clover, which was not easy to do.
It doesn't look as nice when it isn't stretched and framed, but oh well. It isn't like I was going to hang it up in our bedroom, which leads Alain to ask, what's the point of doing it?
Men. They just don't understand.
I can't wait to do one for our daughter (assuming it is a daughter) but first we need to decide on a name. I'll probably wait a few years anyway, and let her choose the colors and style.
Little girls are so much fun!
I bought a baby name book yesterday and have been browsing a few sites. Truthfully, there is too much choixe nowadays.
And people put so much emphasis on names.
Maybe we will just name her Mildred and be done with it.

jeudi 5 septembre 2013
We are moving back to the United States!!!

No. Not really.

We are having a baby! 

Yes, really.

It is due March 20th 2014 by the French way of calculating due dates, March 13th by the American way.

So far, the doctor thinks it is a girl, but isn't sure.

We have absolutely no idea for a name. Any suggestions welcome, preferably not starting with P.

Had really bad nausea throughout the month of August, making life difficult for me and uncomfortable for everyone else, including coworkers.

By the way, who ever knew that having a baby was so complicated? It is like organizing a space launch.

I am pre-enrolled for a hospital, right across from my work, but don't have the confirmation yet. 

I have sent in some of the official forms, and we have to wait until six months before requesting a place in the city daycare. (Which are so in-demand, good luck getting a spot. And yet, France wants women to have more children. Maybe make it easier for the kids to be taken care of, and women will)

Ah well. One thing at a time I guess, starting with not throwing up.

jeudi 22 août 2013
Our vacuum recently decided to permanently retire. We can't complain too much, Alain's parents gave it to us for free when we set up household eight years ago.

It seems though that we are at the point where everything needs to be replaced- steamers, hot water pots, hot water bottles, pots and pans, mattresses, pillows, sheets, towels. I guess everything has an eight-year programmed replacability, or whatever the official term is.

We didn't use it much, would usually sweep first, vacuum up the pile of sweepings, and then mop. (And usually not more than once a month. Whoops)

So Alain was tasked with going to Carrefour one saturday and buying a new one, since obviously it would probably be difficult to find a repair place and probably cost more than it is worth.

Yes, I let him go chose our new vacuum alone as I was indisposed and well, let's face it, he is usually the one to do the floors. 

He complains more doing it, and is apt to vacuuming up gold bracelets and the like (no matter how many times I ask him to not vacuum the tops of furniture) but does a better job at it. I help though, running around getting everything off the floor, preparing the mop, and fishing things out of the vacuum bag.

So anyway, the new vacuum is on the right (but you could probably tell that already). It is small and light, which is perfect for our needs. We lost the attachment thing long ago, so maybe now with the new one, we will sweep less.

It's been an exciting summer.

mardi 16 juillet 2013
Here is a picture of my office. It is on the sixth floor (Americans: seventh) of a building with nine (Americans: ten) floors. It is on one of main streets of Marseille, not far from the center of town and the beaches. The desk was recently installed, and I am very pleased with it. Before, I had one large table and one computer workstation, a small unstable desk just large enough for the computer screen and I couldn't put my legs under it because of a shelf, I guess to put a printer on.

The chair is new too. Behind the desk is a radiator/ac unit and there are some cupboards on the left, out of the picture. Across from my desk is my "Monet" painting, which I had specially made from a site in Germany.
dimanche 16 juin 2013
Happy Father's Day to the best dad in the world, and all other dads too.

mardi 11 juin 2013
Saturday morning, Alain and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 7 am and drove to Toulon for our niece's first communion. She goes to a Catholic school, even though they aren't particularly Catholic, and I guess Saturday was the semi-annual mass baptism/ first communion. Alain is her godfather. It was a bit difficult choosing a present as we were told 'no jewelry' (from the school) plus 'no christian stuff' (from his sister). Hum.

Alain finally went to a bookstore and bought a fictional girl's diary from some uprising in France in the 1870's and "Dictionnaire des rebelles". Good ol' anti-establishment frenchisms.

We got to the church around ten, and met up with both sets of grandparents. It was a modern church, which I didn't really like. Packed with people. Alain's sister said we would have to 'do something' unspecified. It turns out we didn't have to do anything at all other than stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, kneel, stand up, sit down, the usual. 

Man, she adores her uncle.

No pictures allowed during the ceremony, but after it was over we snuck back in and took some pictures in front of the altar, until the nuns starting cleaning up around us.

Afterwards, we went back to their house (in the middle of a major renovation- they had to move out for three months while workers added a mezzanine).

After lunch, they sent Manon to her room for awhile while they put together a tower of cupcakes. She was thrilled.

dimanche 26 mai 2013
Got home from my week in Paris late last night and saw my husband standing there, waiting for me at the train station.
Today is our seventh wedding anniversary,and I am so glad to be married to him.
dimanche 24 mars 2013
After months, no make that years, of reading motorcycle reviews, searching the internet, and talking at me about it, Alain finally decided that he wanted his next motorcycle to be a Yamaha FZ8.

He found a used on advertised on Leboncoin, and we went to see it two weeks ago. It is the 2011 version, bought in July 2012. It has 13,000 km on it, and the guy was selling it for 6000€. Original price- 8900€.

Alain decided to take it, so I went and got a bank check for the amount and Alain called his sister, our insurance agent. She said no problem to insure it, just needed the registration ("carte gris" in French). Except the seller couldn't find it. Apparently, he is separating from his partner, needs to sell the motorcycle for the money, and left it at his parent's house, and couldn't find the registration.

We can't buy it without the registration, as it would then be impossible for us to register it under Alain's name. We weren't sure if he really couldn't find it or else someone had offered him more and that this was his excuse.

Anyway, I guess he really couldn't find it because he went and got a replacement registration card.

We set up the sale for Saturday morning, yesterday. We drove west from Marseille towards Toulon, and met up with the seller. Alain signed the paperwork and we handed over the check. We then drove off, he on the motorcycle, me in the car.

Except then it started pouring rain. He had brought his rain gear with, so we pulled over at a rest stop and he changed. The rear tire needs to be replaced, completely bald, so Alain was afraid of having an accident in the rain. We drove slowly all the way to his parent's house, crossing Marseille.

In the afternoon, we went to a Yamaha dealer in Salon-de-Provence, and ordered handlebars for the passenger, a new tire, and a central kickstand. The 10,000 km revision also needs to be done. So next Saturday, Alain has to take it back to the dealer at 9:30 a.m., for a total of 900€, plus the insurance of 1300€, this thing is starting to add up.

Anyway, the new one should keep him happy for a few years at least.

If he starts talking about buying a more powerful motorcycle, he is going to get kicked in the shins.

So now we have two motorcycles, the Yamaha and his Kawasaki ER6N. He will eventually sell the Kawasaki, but will be sad to see it go. It has almost 60,000 km on it, so I doubt we will get much for it. Le Sigh.
jeudi 21 mars 2013
So after finishing up at my previous workplace on March 1st, I spent two weeks doing what I love best- sleeping in, watching The Vampire Diaries and Prison Break, naps, chocolate, shopping, and generally relaxing with a tiny bit of organizing and cleaning thrown in. As I had cleaned out my office, I had about ten boxes full of legal texts, exams, and just STUFF that accumulates in a workspace over five years- bottles of hand lotion, business cards, perfume samples, tea bags, and all the rest. Bit by bit, I had lugged everything home from work over a period of several weeks, but then just threw it in a corner, too exhausted to sort everything out.
Now I get to, yay! bring it bit by bit to the new office.

I started my new job this past Monday, and it is a huge change.
Old commute- leave at seven, walk to the car, drive about 30 minutes to Aix, park in parking garage, walk about five minutes to work. Coming home, leave work sometime after 6, drive at least 40 minutes (on a good day, an hour or even two hours if the taxis are on strike), search for a not quite legal parking spot, and hope there is no ticket awaiting in the morning. Total time- 40/60 minutes. Total cost- about 120€ per month, not counting wear on the car.

New commute- leave at about 8 or later, walk five minutes to tramway stop, take tram 4 stops, switch to subway, take subway three stops, walk about five minutes to office. Total time- about 30 minutes each way. Total cost - 20 euros per month (actually 40€, but employer is obligated to pay half of public transport use in France)

There is a gym in the office building, which I am thinking of joining (50€ per month).

Next week, I am headed up to Paris, to meet everyone since I will be working for/with both the Paris & Marseille teams.

All in all, I am hoping this new position gives me some room to grow while not being so exhausted all the time.

vendredi 8 février 2013
What to say? What to say?

Don't want to say too much, but I recently quit my current position in Aix-en-Provence and will be starting with another firm, doing the same thing, in Marseille in a few months time, once my current notice period is over (3 months in France!).

There are many things I will miss about working in Aix, the 90+ minutes per day of commute not being one of them.

I have been here five years and it is time for a change.

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