Sunday, January 27, 2019

FranceBookTours -- Are We French Yet?

Make sure you scroll down to the bottom to enter the giveaway!
You know that I'm going to devour a book that tells the story of two Americans moving to France. It's the same life I've been dreaming about for so long, and now am living myself. I love to see what experiences other expats have, so Keith Van Sickle did not disappoint.

I read this book on the plane as we jetted toward France. I love the adventures, the scrapes, the experiences that Keith and his wife Val shared as they tried to fit into their new life in France.
So much of it was familiar. Life is the same, but so many things are different.
They share their experiences of meeting French people and the overwhelming idea of how to integrate. It reminded me of a story that the blogger Corey Amaro told on Tongue in Cheek where she went to a French party and there were no chairs, so she sat on the floor. I imagine how mortified her French husband must have been. And Keith's stories are similar, showing how wrong assumptions can lead to mortification when in French company.
Trying to learn real French is another chapter that Keith wrote about, and I can relate. I thought I knew French, and then I moved here.
Moving to a new country is always a challenge, and I loved sharing the adventures of Keith Van Sickle and his wife Val. I imagine that every book  he writes, as each year passes, he will feel more and more like a true Frenchman.
Anyone who enjoys indulging in a new life is sure to eat up the adventures of Are We French Yet? by Keith Van Sickle.

= Global giveaway open internationally. 5 participants will each win an ecopy of this book

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The End of the Year in the States -- 2018

My first year abroad ended with me in the States.
We flew to Florida on October 30 in time for my dad's surgery. For six months, he had been dealing with a sore on his foot that would not heal and they found infection in the bone. We feared that he might lose his foot. I couldn't imagine how depressed he must be, sitting in the house and going to doctor visits rather than playing golf four times a week. Mom seemed a bit overwhelmed too, giving him IV antibiotic treatments three times a day.
Within 24 hours of arriving home, Mom had instructed me on how to give the antibiotics. That left her schedule a bit more free. Then Dad had surgery to open arteries in his lower leg to help improve the blood flow. We hoped the surgery would lead to the wound healing.
After a week in Florida, we drove up to Ohio to see the kids and some friends.

 We helped Spencer choose a used car to replace the one that was totaled in the accident. With a car, he could get a job with more consistent pay rather than working on lawns with his roommate. After about 10 days of juggling paperwork in Ohio, we returned to Florida.
Returning didn't seem like a big culture shock. It felt like I'd never left, except that my favorite drink at Starbucks was too sweet now.
The kids were thrilled to see us, but they quickly returned to their own lives.
So we came back to Florida to keep Dad company as he continued to heal. We puttered around like real retirees for about a month, getting ready for Christmas, and the week before Christmas, Dad played about 15 holes of golf with Earl. He was nearly healed.
We lucked into a housesit in Columbus from December 20 to January 7, so we had our own place while we visited Columbus. Spencer and Tucker came to spend the night on Christmas Eve, and we gathered for  a New Year's meal and to watch the Ohio State bowl game. I loved being together again.
But I realized that the kids might wish I was there so they could drop by whenever they wanted, but they weren't going to change their lives and their schedules to fit me in. They all had their own interests and busy schedules.
So on January 6, we had a family meal together, celebrating Grace's birthday 3 weeks early, and I kissed them all goodbye.
One family photo

Celebrating Grace's birthday with Tucker, Spencer and her boyfriend Jack. 
Ouch. That hurts every time.
I knew I would see Tucker again because he flew down to Florida for a long weekend with my parents. And he was here on Monday, less than a week ago, when the doctor declared my dad cleared from treatment. His foot was healed.
We toasted with champagne.
And Tucker played two rounds of golf with Dad that weekend.
Dad back on the golf course

Tucker on the golf course
Monday evening, we drove Tucker to the airport. It felt like my entire body was slouching, every organ joining in with a downward motion as I realized that I was leaving my youngest, and all of them, behind again.
I worried that I might have already broken our relationship by selling their childhood home and moving to France.
Our goodbye at the airport was punctuated by kisses and hugs, and one more hug and a last, desperate look into his eyes so that I could convey how much he means, whether I'm there or not, and we drove back to Mom and Dad's as I felt my organs twisted tighter and tighter like a wet towel being rung out.
One last photo before he returned to Ohio. Me, crying on the inside
Being in France, being away, I'm caught up in the adventure of it all. The leaving part though, that's hard -- every time.
And tomorrow, we say goodbye to Mom and Dad as we drive to the Orlando airport to fly to Paris. But we are so happy that we were here, for the longest stay that I've had since I moved away from home after college.
And Dad is well. They are both healthy.
Sure, we'll be far away, but they know that we can get on a plane and be here in just a little over the amount of time it used to take to drive from Ohio to Florida.
And somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, I'll shrug off the sadness of leaving people behind and start looking toward the sunrise as we arrive in France.
Tehcnically, a sunset, but you get the idea. 

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...