Monday, May 30, 2011


My current location......

Certainly not a difficult choice on what to do with my afternoon!  After a week of working I'm spending the afternoon lounging in the sun.  Life is good here (at Grandpa's house) on the Riviera.  

We moved down the hill for a few weeks to Grandpa's apartment.  Safer and as you can see, quite a lovely location!!  Sure hope he decides to stay in Australia for a wee bit longer. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ready, Set, Action.....

James has finally made it to Nice and my 3 and 1/2 weeks of "single mommy-ing" are over.  I bow to all the single parents out there!!  And of course as he arrives I jet off to Lyon to work on a shoot for a company that makes window shades, awnings, shutters, gates, you name it.

To help James out I hired him a "Daddy's helper" to mind the kids in the afternoon to evening.  Naomi is FABULOUS!  If I could, I'd keep her.  Need to book more jobs for that.....ok, goal is set!

Now....Ahhh, a week away to relax.  I mean, work.

I hopped a train to Lyon, a 4 and 1/2 hour journey and sat back while the beautiful coast and then countryside whisked away next to me. Landing in Lyon a lovely woman met me along with my print husband.  Surprise!!!  It's the same actor as the car commercial.  Ah, reunited once again!  Crazy, both my jobs in France have been with him!!

We headed to our hotel and the shiny vacation suddenly came to a screeching halt.  I walked into a combination of "The Birds" and "Friday the Thirteenth".  Needless to say I will NOT be recommending this hotel to ANYONE.  All night in my camper style room the sounds of the highway fought with the sounds of the crazy birds in the trees outside.  It's amazing I fell asleep.

Sitting on the toilet I can wash my face and my feet at the same time.

But, I did finally fall asleep, and the next morning was transported to a paradise.  The house we're filming in Wednesday till Friday is lovely.  It sits up on a hill and has a very modern but comfortable feel…as you can see.  When not shooting we all sit outside around the pool or table in the shade.  Maybe I should ask the owner if I could stay in their spare room. :)

And we get to work...

Beautiful all lit at night.

Next day we try a hair change....

For the model/actors, once again the work is the same as home, just in a different language.  So, I have to try a little harder to understand my direction and I spend less time gabbing between shooting. :)  The meals are different though.  We have more of a family style sit together type atmosphere and there are courses.  I must remember this so I don't fill up when a lovely cheese and then dessert is presented. And once again, they have beer or wine at meals.  Still, I didn't partake.

I have to admit, here in France I feel a bit like "Pretty Woman" sometimes.  In some situations the customs are a little different than ours and since I don't really understand all that is being said, I kind of watch and copy those around me. Like, waiting for everyone on this smaller set to sit all together before eating. Or...kissing hello and goodbye are big.  Sometimes even with people you're meeting for the first time.  (Maybe that's why the crime is so low.)  As such, I don't think I've made a complete fool out of myself, yet. :)

Moral...when in doubt, follow their lead.

Anyway, back to shooting….when the brochure and ads come out I'll post a few pics.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This New Cyber-World....

I just love this new Cyber-World we live in.  It makes me feel that the world has become so much smaller, more accessible.  I'm not a phone person, don't know why, but I just find it soooo hard to pick up the phone and call someone.  But to throw out an e-mail or text and get one back right away….I love it.  Yes, yes, "but it's making us less social and more solitary", but for me, it's made me keep in contact with people just a bit better. I'm almost more social.

Sooooo, now living in France I see it even more.  Facebook was taboo with me just 6 months ago, now I check it once a day.  (I don't go crazy though and get messages sent to my phone, but I do keep up.)  I feel that I can just let people know I'm thinking of them and care about their lives with one simple "like".  I can also let everyone know something with one "share".  It used to be I had to call a number of people to share any news.  And that takes time.  Sometime you just don't want to take that much time to do something.  Maybe that's why I have a hard time with making a phone call.  It takes time.

I heard someone say once that he was upset that his niece had sent him a condolence over Facebook.  He thought it rude, that she should have called.  Maybe, but she's young and he's not so much anymore, and she's of a new age, he's not so much.  Our worlds and etiquette are a changin'.

Even e-mail, texting, and instant messaging help us all to stay more connected.  I can have a conversation with someone for free basically through all of these, instantaneously, anywhere.  I don't have to wait for them to get home to check their messages.  And it's been awhile since I had to wait for a letter to be delivered and the reply to arrive.  Do we realize that our children will probably never write or receive a handwritten letter? (Although getting one is still super special!)

And Skype, wholly moses how fantastic is that!?!  Since Daddy is stuck in NYC doing work, we've been able to feel like he's right here, within reach.  He even shared bath time (with the kids).  It was like he was there in the room with us.  He even caught T pouring water over Emm's head while I wasn't looking.  Wow, does that mean that cyber babysitting will be next???

The kids getting to chat with Daddy.

Emmerson getting to see an old friend who got left in NYC...soon to be reunited.
So anyway, there are no worries about living a country away when I have the means to stay connected as if I was next door.  And the Grandparents can still have regular visits with the grandchildren and watch them grow.  (Although I may have to make a trip home to help them set up their camera and Skype.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And She's Off and Running....

OK, coming off that last post I should probably not say running. :)

So, now that I'm pretty much settled I checked back in with my agency, Enjoy Models, here in Nice to say I was back and ready to work.  And to tell them I apparently DON'T need that darn work permit card as far as the French Consulate in America says.  (Well, we'll see if a post comes along saying otherwise, but for now.....)

I have a job!  I checked in on Monday, got a call on Tuesday that I was being considered for a three day print shoot, and on Wednesday was told I was booked.  Woo hoo!  I travel to Lyon, expenses paid thank goodness, next Tuesday, shoot the 25th-27th, and travel back on Saturday.  

The crazy part is that it's for a company, SOMFY, that has a base in New Jersey!!  Hey, didn't I just move out of New Jersey??  Yes, we Jersey folks will converge here in France to shoot a campaign for window awnings and blinds.  Funny!

So, I'll keep you posted on how the shoot goes.  I sure hope someone speaks English. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...

My week in review.

I figure I should get the Ugly out of the way so we can end on a good note.


Tuesday I took Charlie out for his super quick nite-time walk and ended up in a cat and mouse chase with a man who seemed to find me irresistible.  The first time he passed me I instantly felt there was trouble.  But as we always do, I kept figuring I was being silly.  Telling myself, "this isn't REALLY what I think it is".  The roads were people-less and dark, but the main road was a constant hum of cars passing so I kept veering back to it as much as possible.  Problem was, I couldn't head back to my apartment building he kept hanging around the street leading to it and then, he would know where I lived.  

As it kept playing out, now about 45 minutes of it, I was eventually proved right and LONG story short I was finally put in the position of grabbing Charlie under my arm and running around a corner to hide between a car and its building in a little nook that seemed the best hiding place I could find in this desperate moment.  I was now freaking out.  Stupid me didn't even know the number for the police!  He slowly came down the street perpendicular to my hiding place and I think he eventually figured I went into a building and gave up his search.  I stayed there for about 10 minutes not knowing if he was still around or lurking yet again near my apartment.  Finally, a "normal" person appeared.  I pounced on this poor man taking out his garbage from the building I was hiding near.  and in my broken French I tried to explain that a man was following me and I needed his help.  Another couple was coming out as well and the woman spoke some English.  They ended up giving me a ride up my hill to my apartment.  Thankfully no sign of the man.  

Ladies….when you get that first inkling that there may be trouble, trust your instincts.  Thinking back, when I thought about calling Grandpa somewhere in the middle of it all to come meet me, I should have!  Even if in the end it would have been nothing, I'm sure Grandpa would have been fine with a false alarm call rather than a call from the police.


Wednesday I had one of those meetings with a French worker that just makes me so frustrated and annoyed.  In all the French I know I attempted to get information on a round trip train schedule to Lyon.  The second I opened my mouth this man clocked out. I don't think he looked me in the face once and I couldn't even count the times he sighed.  Lost track at around 100.  He was like a Rite Aid worker.  Even though this was his job and I wasn't taking him away from his coffee break, he just didn't want to do anything in the way of his actual job.  

I finally said, "Roland, I'm trying my best here and you're not being very nice at all." Not that it helped a whole lot, but the second round of train departure times I was requesting came just a wee bit more complete.  He still didn't look at me.  So, I just went home and bought my ticket on-line.  The Internet was much more polite and even gave me a discount on a first class ticket!


Thursday I reconnected with the babysitter and joined my California Expat girlfriend out for an evening of listening to some music. We sat in the window seat of a lovely Cour Selaya restaurant listening to a Jazz guitarist and drinking yummy cocktails.  We chatted away and had a lovely time.  Another reminder to make sure I do these kids of things more regularly. A friend she'd met joined us and ended up giving us a ride home to our apartments. I must say, I fell in love with Nice that night while riding along the Promenade Des Anglais in the backseat of his convertible Porsche Carrera.

And on Friday I got my internet, Phone, and Cable to work by following the photo directions and setting up the boxes and cables myself.  No need to wait for a service person to eventually come out to do it. Yeah!!

We invite you on our journey, the door is always open!!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The IPad Special...

I didn't know these IPads were so darn in demand.  Seems they sell out like hotcakes!

James and I decided to get an IPad, especially now that it has Skype, and figured we should pick one up in America since with the exchange rate it's about $200 less in cost.  But, when he called around to see if stores, Best Buy, Target, Apple, etc., had any, they all said no.  

Except...Apple knows in the morning at 7:30am if they got in any in a shipment.  Ends up it's like a hot concert ticket where people wait in line outside the store every morning to see if they're lucky enough to nab one.  

So, James gets in line at 6:30am and is already about number 20.  By 7:30 there are another 20 behind him.  The Apple employee comes out with the news.  No IPads with Verizon or At&T contracts, just WIFI without a contract in black or white.  So immediately half the people leave groaning, and the rest left standing end up all being foreigners.  Funny.  Cause in a way now we're foreigners too.

The Apple employee comes down the line and asks what James wants, you're allowed two only, and he says okay, two.  The store then opens special for these lined customers and the coolest thing happens.  (Okay, maybe cool to us cause we're old and not used to these new fad things)  James is now met by an employee holding his two IPads, she walks him over to a table, pulls out her IPhone and does the whole transaction with her phone.  Scans the boxes, then his credit card, he signs her phone with his finger, and she e-mails him the receipt.  Super cool.  Gotta love this "new age."

Now, we are officially a 5, yes I said 5, Apple family.  So that makes one for everyone, even Charlie.  I wonder if our stock went up?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed... prepared, it's a long one.  You may want to pour a glass of red wine and get comfy.  Or do it as a three part series. :) 

I've been a bit AWOL lately, sorry.  Lots has been happening and it's taken everything in me to keep up.  Let alone not having internet here in France yet.  So I bought a 3G key for the computer and am using it to send this out into the cyber world and catch everyone up on what's been going on with the final move.

So, let's start on Thursday April 28th.  Charlie's International Medical Certificate arrived from the USDA, WHEW (btw...there is no quarantine for France and all the dogs need are up-to-date rabies, a microchip, and a vet exam 10 days prior to flying and a stamped International Medical Certificate-filled out by a certified vet and stamped by your local USDA-to enter)

AND...UPS came and picked up the boxes.  We had priced 20 and were aiming to be ruthless and get down to 10.  We ended up with 19.  Hmmm.  Well at least it wasn't 20!  So…mission accomplished!

Friday was jam packed with saying goodbye to friends and agents.  Always when I'm leaving do I find the time to get together with my lovely girlfriends and realize just how wonderful getting together for coffee is!! This is the, "I'm not gonna see them for a long time", phenomenon that makes us do the things we really should be doing regularly.  Or at least it is for me.  Note to self for the "new" life...Don't do that!!

Saturday and Sunday I worked on creative ways to pack two bags with all my clothes and the kids clothes and those little extras that seemed to be needed.  I ended up with three bags in the end. Not a problem really since we had three tickets and each allowed a bag.  BUT…what I forgot to mention is that James ended up needing to stay in NYC to do three audio books in a studio and will be joining us in three weeks.  So I was on my own with two kids, a dog, and three bags to deal with, let alone not knowing the language.  I wasn't really that worried, was going with the "zen" approach.  (didn't really have any other choice)

If you think this is ugly, you should have seen them before  surgery. :)
Monday, May 2nd, I got my stitches out and we flew.  I really must have been quite a sight walking around the airport with two kids and a dog in my slippers.  Yes, my slippers.  I couldn't put my feet in my tennis shoes yet so I had no other choice.  Thankfully I understood the idea of using the big muscly guys outside the airport and the art of tipping.  Therefor I didn't have to lug my three bags or wait in the LONG line to check in.  Thank you Mister Outside Bag Man, you were my White Knight!!  
Finding ways to spend our 5 hour layover in Germany.
Can't really say much else about the trip, the kids were on extra special behavior, obviously they knew mommy needed it or someone would lose a head, and we landed on Tuesday in warm sunny Nice, France without a problem.  Well, besides that mean German man who was rude to Emmerson, but we'll skip that.  

Grandpa met us, we took a cab to the apartment, unpacked and then re-met Grandpa out to have a bite to eat.  Everyone surprisingly had energy even after all that traveling…..until the ravioli hit their bellies.  Taylor suddenly glazed over, laid his head on the table, and was asleep in two milliseconds.  Made for a difficult walk up the hill to the apartment.  

Wednesday we did our banking, got minutes for the phone, shopped for groceries, Skyped Daddy, and relaxed. This is so easy.

Thursday Taylor started school again.  He was in super good spirits when we picked him up so I assume he slid back into the system quite easily.  And it seems little Nikita was happy to see him which I'm sure helped.
Should have known by her face that it was the beginning of the end. The other photo I took looks much more confident but less poignant. :)
Friday, Emmerson got to start school too.  Well, her type of school being two and all.  She was super excited since she was going to Taylor's school and got to take her new book bag.  She proudly entered the school and sat with Taylor in the waiting area until the teacher gathered her and the other mini students to head downstairs to their area.  What a big girl she's become already.  And YEAH!!!  Mommy got a day off to tool around and do nothing.  

Ok, far from the nothing I was aiming for, I went to the Orange store to sign up for Internet, cable, and phone…..and the beautiful vacation came to a screaming halt.  I knew I should have been better about doing my Rosetta Stone!!  So I called in assistance from my new California expat friend who was a smart girl and studied French for years once she knew she wanted to live here.  I wish I was her.

And, I will have everything installed in oh, maybe, three weeks…….ah, gotta love the French.

Friday was also Emm's last day of school.  Seems she was a bit weepy and clingy with the teachers and they thought it best to wait til September to go at it again. She's usually quite independent, but if I had all those new people around me and most speaking a new language I'd be weepy and clingy too.  Don't fret my little sweetie, we'll have lots of fun together.  You'll be my cafe and beach buddy.  

Saturday was spent at the "Beach Club" in St Laurent Du Var with three other moms and their kids. The restaurant is on the beach so the ladies got to sit and have cocktails and food while the kids played in the sand. Must go there again!

That's Taylor being shot out of a tube that started up in the trees.
Sunday was spent at an outdoor park called Le Bois des Lutins (The Forest of Elves) in Villeneuve, where the kids got to climb rope ladders to tree houses and then slide down huge slides from up in the trees.  If I didn't have such bum feet I'd have been doing as much climbing and sliding as Taylor!!  Next door was a tennis club so next time James can come for his tennis lessons while we children play in the forest. :)

Monday, May 9th, Taylor goes to a farm with his school and I find some fun classes for Emmerson to attend at Le Kid's Club.

I don't know about you reading this, but I'm tired, and loving every minute of it!!

And there you have it.  My week and a half NYC to Nice transition.
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