The weather really is crazy here. For the longest time it was rainy here in Caen. Every day in November was rainy and seriously, it was about 3-4 weeks of pure rain. I felt no desire to go out and wander or go do errands. I never gave in to buying an umbrella. It was as though I thought that if I didn't buy an umbrella, the rain would eventually have to stop and the sun would burst through the clouds. But it didn't. It was relentless. So we had to call a draw. The rain fell and I was wet.
And now, with November behind me, December has decided to give me and the rest of us in Caen the cold shoulder. Geez, it is freezing (see frozen windshield to your left). It's like when you are on the ski slopes on an extra cold day and your toes turn painfully cold and frozen after only being on the slopes for 20 minutes. Tonight, Andrew and I were joking about having frost-bite on our arses from sitting on the toilet seat. And now, for the past two days, the snow has been falling off and on. I don't know, maybe it is the damp air that makes it bone-chilling cold - but regardless I now feel prepared to return to the Colorado and Chicago winter weather. Maybe Mother Nature is helping us get in the right mindset?
So, aside from this challenging weather, we have been tending to moving stuff lately. I have been spending the past 10 days packing boxes like crazy. Andrew and I are both surprised about how much stuff we are shipping back to the United States, even after all of the stuff we are giving away and the furniture that we are not bringing. Yesterday, we got about 26 boxes of varying sized boxes shipped off using DHL and we plan to have about 4-5 more boxes shipped tomorrow.
Since we are not taking our furniture with us (due to the house in Illinois being furnished) we have been trying to sell our existing apartment furniture. Our house feels like a thrift store! Andrew and I were starting to worry about how much was left, but my friend Celine really came through for us. She has a friend who does apartment and house staging and she came and bought pretty much everything.
Some other time has been spent having last minute coffees with friends before I leave. That has been sad but I also realize how lucky I am to have met such great friends while living here in Caen. Today, I spent a really fun day with Celine in Deauville and Trouville. We went shopping (I found some FAB boots - my little momento of my time in France), had a really tasty lunch of Moules a la creme with french fries, and then finished with coffee at a chiq hotel on the water. What a great day I had with my great friend. I will miss Celine! She and I have committed to running the New York Marathon in 2011 together along with her mother. So we know at least we'll see each other then! Feel free to jump on board and join us if you are looking to achieve a similar goal!
I have also been able to see my great friends Michelle and Carih - both originally from the United States but now residents of France, married to French men. It was especially fun to hang out with them during my time in France because I could dabble in French if I wanted, but they were more than happy to speak in English and that was a nice relief. I need to thank them immensely for all of the furniture, rugs, plates and dishes and various other items that I have unloaded on them this week. You guys rock! And for all of their help - you should know that I allowed them to see my nasty jacket that I wore to coffee last week. My in-laws have seen it too, via Skype. Are you curious and maybe a little bit jealous?
Ella has had some playdates with her new good friend Guillaume. They've gone ice skating at the holiday ice rink set up for Christmas here in the center of Caen. They've spent hours trading Pokeman cards and Playmobile. Ella is leaving France with having found a really dear friend.
Yesterday, Ella had a dance recital. Now, I didn't actually know there was going to be a recital so thank goodness I was available to stay. It was when I saw all the parents lined up around the studio and not leaving that I figured this all out. But anyway, the recital was very cute. I was surprised by how much Ella had learned (the dance was Jazz) and that she actually remembered choreography. All this time, for the past 3 months, she has never told me about or showed me anything that she has learned in dance class so I was worried about whether or not she was learning anything at all. I took some pictures for your enjoyment below - but I truly apologize for the awful photography. All I had with me was my iPhone and thank goodness I even had that!
Also yesterday, Grace and Mia attended their last day of First
Babys School and it all ended with a Christmas Party. Santa Claus came and handed out little presents which all of the children enjoyed. I got some pictures of Grace and Mia with some of their favorite teachers. Oh, and I finally found a "Christmas Cookie" at this party that I recognized (pictured to the right) - both the taste and the shape. It was yummy and it finally felt like Christmas was near! I don't know why, but without those annual Christmas Cookies you come to know, it just doesn't seem like Christmas!
Tonight, Andrew took the girls to his office Christmas Party while I stayed home and did some more packing. They had fun - I can tell by the pictures...and by the late time they got home.
Tomorrow I will have lunch with all the girls that I take tennis lessons with each Friday. That will be a ton of fun. I know I have said this before, but I have truly learned more from my tennis instructor here in France than I ever have in the U.S. - and I don't even understand 70% of what she says! She was also very nice and a good friend. I will miss my fun class!
Tomorrow is the last day of school for the girls. I have some treats to bring for their classes to help say goodbye - a little party of sorts. We have some flowers to give to their teachers to say thank you for all of the patience and understanding they have provided the girls. Andrew and I hope they have wonderful last days at their French school. Shortly after school gets out, we will start driving to Paris where we will stay the night before leaving to head back to the States on Saturday.
So there you have it! Busy days and busy nights, preparing for our big move back to the United States. It is hard to believe that tonight is our last night here in Caen. It is hard to believe that our apartment looks almost the same way it did when we arrived just 10 months ago. It is hard to believe that we have survived city living. And it's hard to believe that I won't have crepes, galettes, croissants, foie gras, fresh seafood and Bordeaux wine at my disposal any longer. But none of it will be forgotten and now we have other things to look forward to.
I have been thinking lately about what the topic of a new blog could be and I finally have it figured out. So though I will continue to blog about "Life After Caen" here over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for my new blog to begin when we arrive to the Chicago area in January!