(Pictured above: No longer the Normandy coast, our new coastline as of January 2010)
Hello all! Yes, it is true - we are in fact moving from Caen, France to San Diego, California. Hard to believe, as this has all happened very fast. But I do know that this is the right thing to do on so many levels, for so many reasons. Personally and professionally this move fits well. So I cannot say we are dreading this move (other than the typical dread you feel associated with the effort required to move), but we are certainly mourning the people, the experiences and the adventures that we will leave behind in the very near future.
For the past few months, knowing something might be changing by unsure of what, I have been monitoring the progress of the whole family. I have been looking to see how we have grown as a group and as individuals. The growth would either justify this whole experience as worthless or monumental. And the following it what I have noticed...
Personally, my french has improved leaps and bounds. I came to France equipped with 6 years of french studied in high school and college and little more after that. After that 12 year hiatus, I studied with a tutor for 3 months before we moved to Caen and that really helped me relearn and remember what I used to know. But living here has taught me the real french language. It has taught me the way people really speak to their friends and family. It has taught me to feel comfortable with casual french conversation and to even say a sarcastic comment or a crack a joke here and there in hopes that I might be understood. I can make appointments over the phone with almost no problems, I can order food at a restaurant, go to the Post Office, go shopping, basically survive with a certain amount of ease. Yes, day to day living became my classroom. But the friends and acquaintances I made became my link to society and helping it all fit together. My running buddy Celine has become a very dear friend and helped me in so many ways that I will never be able to repay her! My friend Carih has been my connection back to the United States yet also my connection to France - what a relief it was to have someone I could talk to in English but also in French when I wanted the practice. And along the way, by playing tennis, attending fitness classes, going to school functions - all of those people I met were always so kind and eager to help me and my family in any way possible. What a complete blast this has been!
When it comes to Ella, I am speechless. The amount that she has learned in the past 10 months is almost incomprehensible. Example #1:
(turn your volume up loud - she was shy here!)
As far as Grace and Mia - I think for being the age of 4 they have adapted to living in a new country and learning a new language very well. Yes, it is no secret that there have been challenges along the way - but that is true for all of us. They have tackled most challenges head on instead of backing away or asking to quit. They have willfully gone on adventure after adventure despite their propensity for car sickness. They have expanded their palettes in ways that I think most other 3 and 4 year olds in the U.S. would never consider - you can tell by their expanded tummies! They have gone from French resisters to French welcomers. I couldn't be more proud of their efforts and progress. Below, Grace and Mia sing you their favorite french song that they have learned.
And Andrew, gosh I don't know where to start. Not only did he have to tackle a totally new language (he studied Spanish in school), he also had to tackle a new office, a new culture, old "baggage" left behind, a new job and all the while trying to move his family across the pond. What a task! And he did it (does it!) all so well. If you asked him whether he was happy or sad to be leaving France, he would probably tell you both. But one thing is for sure - he is always ready and willing to face a new challenge and for him, that next challenge is San Diego. Now unfortunately, I don't have any video's of Andrew singing (actually, you should be happy about that) or talking in French. I have a feeling that even if I tried to trick him, I would still never be able to capture those on tape. But believe me when I tell you that he has worked so hard and succeeded at so much. In my mind, his only failure was that darn CTA bus we got stuck driving around for 8 months ; )
So here we are, right? Ten months after arrival, our departure quickly approaches. Yes, it is sooner than we thought it would be - but we were prepared for anything and ready to deal with what came along as we knew in the end, this would be a great experience in countless ways.
So what next? Well, we have a home rented already in San Diego. We will head back to Crested Butte for a few weeks over the holidays and then from there we will send the moving trucks to our new home in California. Andrew will keep his position here in France/Europe (we just won't live here) but will also begin to expand his role in the U.S. and he is looking forward to this very much. As for me, well I guess I am back on the market - the job market that is! I have liked being at home with the girls but I also know that I miss going to work. So monster.com, here I come! Ella will be attending the local community elementary school in our neighborhood. I am currently searching for daycare for Grace and Mia nearby. It makes me so very sad to think of all the French all three girls have learned and won't be able to expand upon at school but I also know they will be so happy going to school with kids they can communicate with easily. And who knows - maybe I can find a French class or something for them to take?
Anywho, I just wanted to update you all on what is going on these days. There are so many other things I so want to tell you about, too, such as my adventures with Steffany the past week, Andrew's weekend trip to Paris with the girls and a trip to St. Malo. But it will have to wait for now - I am tired! Tomorrow, Steff and I will be driving to see Mont St. Michel (after a failure today after sitting 2 hours in a traffic jam on our way there) so I need to get some zzzzz's.
(Pictured above: Steff, me and my double-chin in front of Notre Dame, Paris, France)