Monday, January 21, 2008

Progress on the Guest Room

As soon as the new bedding and curtains get here, we can post real before and after pictures. In the meantime, here's one picture for you: Frederic got the new ceiling fan installed this morning!

new ceiling fan
We bought it last week but had to take it back to the store when we opened it up and discovered the globe was broken. We took it back on Wednesday and checked the new one in the store so we didn't have the same problem twice.

Frederic is on vacation through February 8th, and we are off to Germany next week to see our friends there for a few days.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dust Bunnies

I guess my housekeeping is not up to Benjamin's standards. On our way upstairs this evening for him to go to bed, he stopped, picked up a dust bunny, said "trash!" and handed it to me.

Um... thanks.

Here's hoping his neat-freakness lasts long enough for him to take over the household chores.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Recommendations for shopping in France

DON'T go shopping during January clearance sales! (Especially near Paris and factory outlet malls and especially on the weekend!)

We made this mistake yesterday. In France, stores are only allowed to have clearance sales twice a year, in January & July. It's a mad rush to the stores - think Black Friday but it lasts for a couple of weeks - with people trying to get the best deals.

We did NOT go on purpose for sales yesterday, but after church we stopped at the hardware store since it was on the way home and we needed a few things for the house. The hardware store is sandwiched between Ikea and the factory outlet mall. After fighting for a parking space and ending up in one that really wasn't a parking space, we stopped to eat at Quick (Belgian hamburger chain, similar to McDonald's) and the fast food joint was jam-packed from the time we arrived, around 2 pm, until the time we left, closer to 3 pm.

We then headed over to the hardware store, but it was another battle to find a parking space there. In the end, Frederic dropped me off in front of the store and he and Benjamin went and parked the car in Ikea's multi-level parking garage that for some reason not many people seem to use. (And yet no one had any qualms about taking up ALL the handicapped spaces in ALL the parking lots, without having handicapped stickers!)

I guess people don't go shopping for clearance sales at the hardware store, so at least we didn't have to fight the crowds once we were inside. We got some paint for the bathroom and a ceiling fan/light fixture and curtain rod for the guest room. Yep, the never-ending renovations. Frederic does have vacation later on in January so I hope he can finish up the guest room then, and hopefully the bathroom also.

In the meantime, we'll be avoiding stores around Paris until after the January sales are over. We are going shopping again today, but in Compi├Ęgne, a town an hour or more from Paris, and we don't think it will be quite so bad there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year

We celebrated New Year's Eve like we celebrated Christmas Eve - just the two of us (Benjamin still goes to bed very early), a nice dinner, and in bed well before midnight.

One more reason to love living out in a little village: the neighbors aren't up making noise til the wee hours like they were when we lived in the suburbs of Paris. Since Frederic often has to get up at 3 or 4 am for work, and New Year's Day is no exception, being able to sleep in peace and quiet is very much appreciated!

We have been having car trouble since before Christmas. The car sputtered when we were driving and sometimes would not start if the engine was warm. Unfortunately, the Chrysler garage was closed since Christmas Eve and through New Year's Day, so we couldn't get it in. By January 2nd, when we would finally be able to call and get it in, it broke down about 3.5 miles from our house when Frederic was on his way home from work. He had forgotten to charge his cell phone battery, so had to walk the 3.5 miles home.

He then called Total's "roadside assistance" that they offer for two weeks after you fill up at their station. Well... they didn't assist us very much. They tow the car to "the nearest garage," which does NOT imply "the nearest garage where you can get your car repaired." No, they towed the car to a garage that would not fix it because it's a Chrysler. Frederic called Total back and complained, but they didn't care. He called our insurance to see if they would do anything (which I doubted since we only have liability coverage), and surprisingly, they would have, except that the car was too close to our house! It needed to be more than 30 miles away before they would help us! So we had to leave it there overnight, and pay that garage the next day to tow it to a garage that WOULD fix it.

So it's been at the Chrysler garage since January 3rd. Frederic was fairly certain it was the fuel pump, and that is what it has turned out to be - and it's also turned out to be expensive to fix, and the towing wasn't cheap either. We hope to have it back by the end of this week, since I have to go the lab for my monthly toxoplasmosis test and I have a doctor appointment next week.

In other news:
Benjamin has been enjoying playing with his new toys that he got for Christmas. I'm still hoping that someday soon he'll like playing quietly in my office for extended periods of time so I can get more work done... but I know how realistic that hope is!

Benjamin with one of his Christmas presents

More other news:
I'm now 30 weeks pregnant, only 10 weeks (or less!) to go. My maternity leave should start around February 19th. Even though I am self-employed, I get 2 months' paid maternity leave. Since I work from home, and set my own hours, working isn't really a hardship anyway. My next doctor's appointment is next Wednesday. I will have a third ultrasound sometime at the end of January, and I am not yet sure when my doctor will set a date for the c-section.

We still have quite a number of things on our "to do" list before mid-March, but Frederic has a few weeks vacation in January (and some more in March, plus paternity leave) so we hope to finish up the most urgent things then.