Sunday, September 30, 2012

Working Girls...

Ahhh, another job has come my way.  And to make it even sweeter, E was also hired. We both worked on different days for Europcar.  She got to work all on her own and did a fantastic job.

E testing the twirl effect of her wardrobe.

Seems satisfied.

I have to admit I was a little worried as she can be a bit timid with strangers and there for awhile had not been happy with the photo shoot environment.  And when I say "not happy", I mean... screams of bloody murder when she saw a big camera set up.  That's all behind her, but the weariness with new people is still there.  But, the stylist won her over and took charge.

I know, funny huh?!?  Apparently they have 
a dress code for the set crew.

She was supposed to be in a car seat and sleeping on a blow up ball of the globe.  Funny enough, she actually did fall asleep in the position they wanted for the pic.  E tells me she got to have candy; I have to wonder just what candy the stylist was giving her coz I may have to get some of that magic sleeping candy.  :)

OK, in the car.  Fingers crossed...
Such a lovely place to spend a work day!
In the end they got what they wanted and there were no breakdowns.  You just never know with a three year old how it will go.  I admit, I was nervous.

Congrats little E!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Lunch Truck is Closed for Lunch...

As we've been on our adventure a bit over a year now and have embarked on a new location, I thought it nice to reflect.  We've come a long way in language and coming to terms with the differences in customs and behaviors.  Ok, I'VE come a long way, the rest of the family seems to take it all in stride.

What I've learned...

  • The kids WILL learn the language, just give them time.
  • How to drive in France.  They have some crazy rules about who has priority and a serious lack of stop signs and street name signs.
  • Talking on the phone while driving is NOT allowed.  (thank you officer)
  • I'm supposed to be polite to the shopkeeper and say hello as I enter, but they DO NOT have to be polite to me, in any way whatsoever.
  • Coffee is EXPENSIVE, buy a great machine for your home. Coz there aren't really any take away places. Although a Starbucks has opened in the mall CAP 3000.  But it's too far for a daily visit.
  • Bread and cheese on a daily basis is NOT good for the lower half of my body.
  • Wine and champagne are CHEAP, have more dinner parties.
  • Take trips to London, Spain, or America if you need to get a dose of warm, friendly and considerate people. (The French aren't on the whole unkind, most just have a big wall of "not giving a crud about anyone else" that gets in the way of showing their sweet side.)*
  • People take their time in the grocery line, and any other line for that matter, just accept it and therefore don't feel pressured to hurry when it's my turn to bag my groceries.
  • Just about everything closes for lunch.  So if you need to do some errands during your lunch break, you most likely can't.  How does anyone get anything done around here???
  • When dining out, coffee comes at the end of the meal and the cheese plate comes BEFORE dessert.  Whatever.
*(do keep in mind that I'm in the South of France and the people can be very different from other areas of the country!)

With some of this knowledge tucked under my belt I look forward to seeing how the next year in Monaco goes.  From my experience so far, the lines are much shorter. :)

And by the way, we really did come across a pizza/food truck that was "closed for lunch".  Guess everyone needs a break to eat.  :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Monaco Week 1...

There we are, our first week in Monaco has passed and everyone is in love with our new home.  T, E, and I all moved in on Sunday eve, sleeping on a blow up bed (how very posh), so we would make sure to get to the first day of school on time.

My lovely new kitchen. :)

Furniture shopping was exhausting.  Taking a siesta in
Maison du Monde's textiles department.
The kids timidly entered their new schools on Monday morning, and in the afternoon I was met with smiles and "I had a great day" speeches.  As I was in T's new class visiting with the teacher, I was worried when I saw T on his playground standing all by himself.  He was a little timid about the new space.  But he was all smiles when I picked him up.

The entry to the park that's between their two schools.
First day of school pic.
Had to get that pic fast, we were next to the stinky bush.  Even Monaco
has stinky bushes.
T got to hang out with E as his re-entry was a little later in the morning.
All on his own, but I do see he's hanging close to the girls. Smart boy. :)
Looks like it was a good day!
I've met a little group of expat women who all have kids in the same schools as mine and we spend an hour or so after school in the cafe next to the kid's park and chat while the kids run off their post-school day energy.  The three of us have found our stride pretty fast and are feeling quite happy with our new village.

J is still spending most of the time in Nice working, as his VO booth doesn't come for another week or so.  He makes the occasional trip with a car full of stuff and to hang with us for dinner.  The furniture is trickling in little by little and by the end of the month we will have places to sit, sleep and eat.  My hands are currently aching from putting together all the kids furniture.  (Thanks IKEA)  We bought things from several different stores and by the end of October all will be delivered and we should be all settled.

I think the thing I like about Monaco as opposed to Nice is the international mix of people.  (Besides the point it's extremely clean and well policed!)  It feels a bit like NYC to me where there are different cultures all living together.  Albeit a VERY SMALL NYC, did you know you can fit two Monaco's into Central Park?!?!  But, it's great because the schools for the kids are all French, French culture is still very prominent, and I have to still work on my French because in many instances I need it, but we all also have a lot of English around us so we feel a bit more at home in our new surroundings.

I think we're gonna like it here!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School Sale...

It's September, and that supplies lists.  And lucky me, it's in French.  

So, yesterday I spent the day roaming the aisles in Carrefour hoping the items I needed would just leap off the shelves into my cart so I wouldn't have to keep deciphering the list and asking every mom who looked nice enough what the heck each item was.   

A "porte-vue personnalisable" or a "chemise avec rabats"?  Help!  Well, after some hair pulling and a lot of asking, I finally filled my cart and headed home.  Now to label everything...some jobs are never done. :)  At least this year they informed me to buy pre-formed plastic covers for the books and notebooks so I didn't have to sit for hours making them out of plastic sheets like last year.  Thanks Monaco. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A License to Drive...

Well, the move to Monaco is just around the corner.  The apartment is just about finished and we'll move slowly this month as we have to wait WEEKS to get our furniture from all different stores delivered.  Whew, didn't realize furnishing and decorating a new place could be so stressful!  Isn't this stuff supposed to be fun?!?!

Here's a sneak peak at the apartment...a before and after of the living/dining room...

Behind that far wall was a kitchen...
Now behind that far wall is our Master bedroom and bathroom.
And finally, I've been awarded my Carte de Residence.  Break open the champagne, I am now a full fledged Monegasque.  Well, one of the expat ones at least.  And being a Monegasque means I must get a Monaco drivers licence.  Ok, not a problem.  Until I go to take the test I'm sure. But that will be another post.  This time I'll just tell you about J's experience and what we learned....

So, he goes to change his license, the lucky Brit didn't have to take a test, and the man gives him his new Monaco one and then casually mentions that it's only valid in Monaco.  Hmmm, since Monaco is soooo small you could fit two into Central Park, that doesn't give him much room to roam.  So, he says that's not very convenient since he'll be traveling farther than Monaco, OFTEN.  So, the man says, you can get an international one.  (Why this had to be an afterthought we're not sure.) So of course J says yes, give me one of those.  Tap, tap, tap, print, stamp, there you go.  

Now, J asks about my license renewal, just in case we need to know something special about this process, which inevitably you do since the French aren't very forthcoming with offering info you might need.  You don't ask, you dont' get.  Never expect someone will just offer up helpful information around here, takes too much effort.

Anyway, it seems that since I'm American, I need to take a full driving test AND my American license is no good in Monaco.  So, seems that every time I drive into Monaco right now I'm tempting fate.  And there are A LOT of police in Monaco and they'll pull you over for just looking funny.  Will need to get this one sorted fast!


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