The same but different

In the past few months, I have become very aware of how much I missed by being abroad for almost all of my 20s. I’ve been taking the metro more in Boston lately, and when I look at these young(er) people, I feel like they are living a life I will never know anything about. Then, I was at a conference last week near where my parents live so I saw some of my high school friends. When talking about first jobs or first dates, I realized I have nothing similar to share.
I think some of it is just missing that young single life I didn’t really have. Meeting your husband at 21 makes your 20s look a lot different than if you find him at 30. But it’s also the fact that I was never young in the states. I mean, I’m still young, but not the carefree young. There was a very short window of time, only a few months really, that I was working, single, and old enough to go to bars. And even that was tempered by knowing that I’d be leaving for France.
While I spent my early 20s broke like most, there was the added stress about staying in the country, and that makes you think about money in a very different way. The joys and frustrations of figuring out the complexities of French administration and immigration is not something you can bond with people over if they’ve never left the state.
It’s also a pop culture thing. It’s almost as if I wish I didn’t have this extra experience that makes it hard to connect.  I missed so much in terms of music, movies, televisions… I try to remind myself that traveling around Europe > watching the Bachelor, but it’s hard when trying to make new friends and I realize I have no idea what they’re talking about.
It’s funny because a year ago I felt like I belonged. It felt so right being here. And while I still love my job, and think this move was a great idea, the longer I’m here, the more different I start to feel again… sigh. I guess it’s true that there’s no real “going home” for an expat.

Job hunting while abroad

First things first: I got a job! In Boston! Now, to explain in a very roundabout way how I got it . . .

We moved without jobs lined up, so we were hoping to find something before we left, or at least have a few good leads. I was honestly quite doubtful that we’d get on the plane with an offer to start as soon as we arrived, but I was very confident it wouldn’t take that long once we got here. Job hunting while abroad was still very stressful at times, mostly because we started a little too early and got discouraged by rejections, despite knowing perfectly well how ridiculous it was to apply in September when we knew we wouldn’t be there until January or February. We did get into contact with the HR people of our companies in the States, to let them know we’d be moving and we were open to different cities. We both had some good conversations, but in the end, nothing was opening up that fit our profiles, and they can’t create jobs just for us.

One positive thing about leaving without jobs was that we had the advantage of picking the city that we wanted to live in. We made a list of all the places that interested us and that would offer the best opportunities for both of us. While I can pretty much work anywhere in human resources, my husband is in a very specific branch of banking, so we had to stick to big cities. For the most part, we focused our job hunt on these areas, though my husband did have a tendency to apply for jobs at tiny banks in the middle of Wyoming, just because he liked the name (of the town, the bank, or both), saying he wanted to try a new field. And maybe we could have a ranch and he could ride a horse to the bank. (Hey, this is our “American dream” after all . . .)

Wyoming reveries aside, we mainly stuck to the East Coast, since my parents live in the DC suburbs and one of the big reasons for moving was to be closer to them. I went to college in New Jersey and have friends in all the major cities, so I knew wherever we ended up, we wouldn’t be totally alone. I had a sneaking suspicion that we’d be getting the most replies from places around DC, simply because we’d have a local address once we arrived. And while I wasn’t against staying in the area (having a baby changes your view on things like school systems and parks), I was worried it wouldn’t feel like much of an adventure if we just slipped back into the same life I’d had in high school, just with a kid and nicer clothes. I wanted something new for me too, so my husband wouldn’t be alone in his adaptation to a new life.

This was a chance for us to change directions a little bit if we wanted to, so I looked for things a little beyond what I currently do, in the direction I want to go. However, I also applied to a few entry level HR roles, thinking I’d maybe need a little time to learn the new laws and payroll systems. I looked for things that mentioned French, since I knew that’s one thing that could really set me apart from other candidates. Also, if friends mentioned their company was hiring, I would send them my resume if there was something I was interested in.

Once we bought our plane tickets and put an arrival date on our resumes, I thought things would pick up a little bit. But actually, all the calls/emails I got were from applications I made in the three or four weeks before we left. So it seems really silly now to think of how stressed out we were in October about not having found anything. I kept saying it was too early, but it’s so hard to not be actively doing something to look for a job. However, sending out so many applications probably helped get our cover letters into good shape, and after awhile, we started to get fed up with all the complicated online forms, so we only applied to things we really wanted or were sure we were qualified for. So in the end, it was maybe a good thing to start so early, in a way?

I had a few different interviews in the two weeks before we left, via Skype, email, and video, for jobs around DC, and one in Boston. It sounded like a great opportunity to keep doing what I know and enjoy but lots of new things as well (basically, exactly what you want when you’re looking for a new job). And there’d be opportunities to keep speaking French from time to time. I got an email the week we arrived, asking me to come up to Boston for an interview, which went extremely well and just confirmed what a good fit this was for me, since a week later, I got the offer! A pretty sweet offer too. Along with three other calls for interviews from companies I had applied to within the past few weeks, all in the DC area! When it rains, it pours, right? Added to that was the interview and offer my husband got last week as well, in Baltimore. A very busy week for us!

The choice was difficult but not really. Baltimore was not exactly on our “list of cities,” being so close to where I grew up and and not a financial center. Boston was at the top our our list. My husband actually had a call with a company there the week we arrived, so we know he’ll have lots of options there. And the job he was offered is moving to the Delaware office in a few years, which, no offense to “The First State,” did not sound even a little bit fun. So while part of me feels guilty for him having to turn down his offer and follow me yet again into the unknown, a bigger part of me knows this is the right choice. This is a big reason why we moved to the States, to have better career options, and I really think Boston is a place where we can both do that. Staying around DC would be okay for us, but not great.

And while I know one day is not like living there, I felt very comfortable driving around Boston, even downtown. It all seemed different in a good, familiar way, if that makes sense. Well, I did used to go there during college to see a boyfriend, but that was 10 years ago, and in one tiny area of the city, so it’ll all still be very new to me. We’re going up soon to look at apartments, and I’m hoping the trip will make my husband a little happier about our choice. I mean, he’s happy I got a job I’m sure I’ll love, but it was scary for him to say no to an offer, not knowing when another will come up. However, if the past few weeks are any indication, I really think he’ll find something quickly. But not too quickly, because finding daycare is my next challenge and is proving to be slightly impossible . . .

This was a bit long, so if you’ve made it this far, thank you! Here’s my summary of job hunting while abroad: pick good cities with lots of jobs, start very early, get depressed about all the rejections, start applying to only cool things, then apply to only things near your parents, move,  have everything good happen within the space of about two weeks, make a huge decision that will impact your child, your marriage, and your happiness, then cross your fingers it will all be fine.

First few days in the States

After nervously watching “Snowzilla” dump three feet of snow on exactly the area we were flying to Monday, we debated switching our flight to Tuesday. I knew the flight would probably leave, but I was more worried about my family driving on snow-covered roads to come get us. We even looked at booking a hotel on this end Monday night just in case they couldn’t made it out. In the end however, the roads were (mostly) clear, the flight left and arrived on time, and the three of us, plus the cat, plus 6 big bags, 6 small bags, and a stroller made it safe and sound to my parents’ house.

The flight was fine, bébé only slept 30 minutes, but wasn’t more than his usual cranky, so I’d call that a win. The cat slept the entire time. Customs was easy peasy for my husband, though it took forever because Christine Lagarde cut in front of us with her posse. 8 years in France and the first famous French person I see is on my first day back living in the States! My general travel strategy is to take my time, let the people in a rush go first, and be prepared for a wait. So overall, it went as well as I could have hoped. There was an indoor play area at the airport, which also helped a lot!

Despite not napping on the plane, I knew bébé wouldn’t sleep longer that night, since that’s just not how babies work. As expected, he was up at 2am the first day, then had a nap from 7am-9am, a failed attempt at an afternoon nap, then slept 6pm-4am last night. He napped today from 11am to 1:30pm and went down for the night around 6:30pm, so we’re slowly approaching his usual schedule. I figure a few more days and it’ll be back to normal. Having my parents and sister here to watch bébé while we take our own naps is very helpful. I anticipated a long adjustment period for him, so there was nothing special planned these first few days besides visiting friends.

Though visiting has been a bit hampered by all the snow! Not many people are working or at school, but you can’t go anywhere. Well, in my parents’ town it’s fine, and really all the major areas are clear (Target was open and empty of people so I had lots of fun yesterday stocking up on donuts essentials). But a lot of residential areas don’t have clear roads, which makes people a little hesitant to venture out if not totally necessary. My husband reminded me we live here now so we don’t have to run around seeing everyone in the space of a week like we usually do.

While “here” is currently my parents’ town, that may change very quickly as the job situation evolves. With a few promising first round interviews via internet and phone, I’m being optimistic and don’t want to unpack all the suitcases quite yet!

It’s a little too early to have any real culture shock, but once the snow melts and we get out and about a bit more, I’m sure I’ll have lots to say on our adaptation to life here. For now, we’re just enjoying a nice snowy vacation at my parents’ house.

Spouse visa joint sponsorship

A big problem for US citizens who’ve been abroad for a longer period who want to bring their foreign spouse to the States is the sponsorship requirements. You need proof of a certain level of income on your taxes (for a family of 2 it’s around 19,000) and, unless you’ve been making serious bank, all foreign income is excluded on US taxes while living permanently abroad, so your official income is actually zero. This was my situation.

This was also my sister’s situation, who had been in Japan for a few years before she came back and married a foreigner (it’s kind of a thing in our family…) so my mother was the joint sponsor. While she probably could have also done it for my husband, the amount of paperwork involved was a little more complicated than I was willing to undertake from abroad. My sister’s husband was already in the States, so he was changing his visa status, and they ended up hiring a lawyer to handle most of it.

For my husband, two friends were in financial positions to be joint sponsors, and willing to do it, which gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies thinking about how much these people love us and want us to be living closer.  There are legal considerations to being a sponsor, since you’re guaranteeing the immigrant will not be a burden on the welfare system. Should he apply for and receive certain things like Medicaid or food stamps, then the sponsor(s) would have to repay the government. You have to update your address when you move to be sure they can find you to get their money back! These obligations end after the immigrant works 10 years (well, 40 quarters), becomes a citizen, or leaves the country. But a divorce does not end the obligations! Nor does it mean the immigrant loses his green card, though depending on how long you were married, they’ll probably want proof it was a real marriage…

My friends’ paperwork was much simpler than my mother’s: job contract stating salary, recent paystubs, tax returns and W2s (or tax transcripts). Again, Visajourney was an amazing resource to figure out exactly what is best to send. Both friends were married, but thankfully made enough to not need to include their spouse’s income to meet the requirements (this would have added even more to the already endless paperwork!). I ended up using the friend that made slightly more, because I wasn’t sure if bébé was counted in the joint sponsor’s household size. He’s definitely in my household, so if I was going to be the only sponsor, I needed to have the minimum income for a household of 3, which, for reasons discussed above, I do not. Since he doesn’t need sponsorship, normally just my husband is added to the joint sponsor’s household, also making it 3 (sponsor, spouse, and my husband). But just in case they counted bébé and considered it a household of 4, I went with the slightly higher salary to be sure to fulfil the requirements. All these years in France have made me wary of unexpected, unwritten extra requirements that pop up, so I wanted to be sure the sponsor’s file has more than they asked for, just in case.

So hurray, I have wonderful friends, who have filed taxes correctly and have faith in us to not become too poor in the coming years. That’s all the paperwork done right?

Of course not! As a citizen living abroad, I needed proof that I intended to reestablish my domicile in the States. Because it would be a pretty sweet deal to just get the husband a green card so we could visit whenever we wanted but still live abroad and exclude my income (and his!) from my taxes…

What you can use as proof can vary a lot, depending on your situation. If you already have a job offer, that’s a pretty good thing to have. If you have a child, you can send in registration for school. If you already have property or housing set up, that works too. I included email exchanges with a daycare and shipping quotes. At first I thought it was too soon to do things like that six months before we were planning on leaving, but it’s stuff I had to do anyway, so it was good to get it done earlier. And now bébé has a daycare spot already set up for when we arrive!

My dad also wrote a letter saying we’ll be living with him, along with proof of address (very familiar to expats in France: copy of ID and utility bill!). I had kept my savings account open the past 8 years to pay my student loans, though I had closed my checking account. I opened a new one this summer, and send proof of both accounts. I also still had a (fee-free) credit card open (useful for emergency plane tickets), and my driver’s licence.

From reading the forums on Visajourney, this can obviously be really hard for some people who closed everything when they moved abroad. If I hadn’t had my student loans, I probably would have done that. They’re also much stricter about proof for people moving from Canada, and it seems like a lot of people there end up moving back before their spouse to get an apartment and a job. If bébé had been older and in school, we might have done that. One thing that was made very clear was that I need to arrive with or before my husband, not after. So when we started applying for jobs a few months ago, we waited on getting tickets, just in case I got an offer to start earlier I could take it. And while there was a promising lead for the beginning of January, in the end, we decided to leave together. (Also neither of us wanted to deal with bébé’s first international flight alone!)

So there’s a brief and by no way all-inclusive overview of the financial and practical aspects of getting your foreign spouse to the States if you’ve been living abroad for any amount of time. It’s not too terribly complicated, just make sure you have all the right documents! And having friends and family in the States is pretty essential. Though you can also fulfil the financial requirement by having proof of 5x the minimum income requirement in assets. So if you got your hands on one of those winning Powerball tickets yesterday and felt like getting a green card for your foreign spouse, you definitely could! (Though with that much money, I’d just buy an island and make up my own visa rules!)

The year ahead

Here it is, my recap/resolutions post! Moving across the ocean pretty much guarantees a crazy year ahead with lots of changes and new experiences, so I won’t go into too many details, but it’ll be nice to have a snapshot of how I’m feeling before it all happens…

When I paused to consider if there were things I’d like to commit to doing or stop doing this year, I actually couldn’t think of any. I made little changes throughout the past year that added up to a place where I’m happy most days.

Sure I don’t eat perfectly every day (and living chez la belle-mère has not been helping…) but I pay attention and tend to choose the healthy things. I work out almost every day, and lately have been doing tons of yoga to keep stress levels low. I’m glad I did one last race in Europe this year, but I don’t know if I want to do another in 2016. However, I might just being saying that because I dislike Winter running, so I’ll probably change my mind in the Spring!

I would like to get more focused and intense in my workouts, to gain more muscle, but I don’t want to add any extra pressure during the move to keep up a certain schedule. This goal can wait awhile before starting. My husband bought me a Jawbone UP3 for my birthday, so I’ve been working towards that 10,000 steps per day goal. It’s a little shocking how little I move most days, even with chasing after bébé, since there’s no big centre-ville here to go wandering around whenever we get bored. Good for money health, bad for body health.

Compared to this time last year, we’ve gotten used to life with bébé, which means we’ve gotten used to life constantly changing! We’ve been pretty consistent in having “couple time” as often as possible, though admittedly not as much as we probably needed during the move chez belle-mère in December. Her Christmas present to us was a gift certificate to the local thermal baths, and a restaurant gift card, so we’ll definitely be using those before we leave!

Work goals for the year are obviously pretty simple (“Find a job I like that doesn’t pay peanuts”) but beyond sending resumés and making contacts, I can’t do much else so there’s no point in worrying too much. Ask me again in three months however, and I definitely won’t say the same thing!

Since life will be completely different in a few months, I think I’ll end up doing a list of “New Country Resolutions” once we’re settled in and have an idea about what direction we’re going. I have a few ideas that will apply to wherever we are (exploring the city as a family once a week, not going crazy with eating out at all the places I missed) but so much depends on if we end up in big city (more cultural activities) or small town (more outdoors). Starting a new year without a definite plan is very unlike me, but part of the reason I wanted to move was to get to know a new me. So far, so good!

This is thirty

Here it is, the big 3-0, and I’ve apparently done everything one is “supposed to” do by this age: college, travel, marriage, baby, job I mostly enjoy. So why upend everything to move across the ocean? Why fix something that isn’t broken?

It’s the question we’ve been asked a hundred times in the past few months: why are we moving to the States? As you can probably guess, there is no simple answer. The short response I give to most is what you’d expect: wanting to see family and friends more, hoping for better career opportunities, exposing bébé to American culture and education, it makes taxes so much simpler . . . But the “real” answer is more complex, because there are a million other questions involved I’m still working through.

Am I just freaking out about turning thirty and feeling like I need a change? Yes and no. I think all expats thrive on new adventures, or you’d give up after about a week. But is the goal of expatriation assimilation and adaptation? Or just discovery? When you come over as a young adult, a big part of your identity is defined by life in a country you did not grow up in. There’s a certain amount of pride from making it through more than a few years living in another language, another culture. The simmering spirit of competition amongst expats can make a return “home” feel like giving up. But to me it almost feels like the opposite. To stay would be too simple.

I know pretty much what life will look like in France if we stay. It’s not exactly what I imagined my life to be, but it really is a great life. By most people’s definitions, I’ve succeeded, I’ve assimilated, I’ve thrived. But part of me wonders if the reason I’m staying is that I’m afraid I can’t do the same in the States. Expats are often outsiders in their home countries, and find comfort in knowing their oddness is forgiven by their status as a foreigner in their new country.  (Canedolia had a similar post recently that I really enjoyed though neglected to comment on, because life). I won’t have this safety net of “well I’m not from here” to get me through awkward situations and struggles with employment or social norms.

A big part of my identity and personality is related to my “special” status in France that I’ll lose when we move. Once back in the States, I’ll be just another American like any other. But I also need a break from being special. Constantly on show for the past eight years, singled out at parties or other situations to be asked the same “What do you think of France? Why are Americans so fat?” questions for the hundredth time . . . For me, turning thirty means starting to grow out of my middle child need of wanting to feel special all the time. Even my Christmas birthday bothered me less this year, when every other year I made a huge fuss about it (though I suspect motherhood may be influencing this as well).

My twenties were defined by my expat label. I want to spend my thirties figuring out who I am without it. (Hmm, maybe the “real” answer is simpler than I thought!)

 

Phase two of the move

I am writing this post from my mother-in-laws’s kitchen. Phase two of the move was moving out of our apartment and into her house. In theory, this was to save money, but considering how much we spent on gas going back and forth almost every day for two weeks, I’m not sure it’s really that beneficial . . . However, seeing how much work it was, I’m glad we did it now and not during the holidays, because it would have been zero fun to have used our days off to move, rather than spend as much time as possible with family for our last Christmas/New Year’s in France.

The biggest practical challenge has been going from 100 square meters to the 19 of my husband’s boyhood bedroom (which, thankfully, has its own bathroom). We sold/gave/threw away a lot already, but there’s still a ton of stuff sitting in the basement that we need to go through. Today, after spending all weekend loading up the car and cleaning, we gave back the keys to our finally empty and clean apartment, and our address is officially “chez” the MIL.

We’ve actually been here a little over a week, but since we moved bit by bit, it hasn’t really been a normal week. So I can’t really say how things are going yet (though I’ll obviously try). MIL has watched bébé a lot more than during a normal week, so that we could make over a dozen trips back and forth to finish things up. Bébé has been insanely clingy, whether due to the move or just because he’s a 17-month-old and at the peak age for separation anxiety, I can’t tell. Probably both.

We’re here for another 6 weeks, and with the holidays and final preparations for the move, it’s sure to be a pretty crazy month and a half. I’m just hoping we all manage to settle into a rhythm soon, because honestly I’m pretty stressed right now. Think about how you’re on your best behavior when staying with the in-laws. Being extra neat and extra polite and extra helpful. Now picture doing that every day for over a month! Less than two weeks and I’m already exhausted. For my husband, it’s not really that different from a normal visit to see his mom, other than having to deal with his wife ranting about stupid stuff like shampoo and eggs.

Overall though, I’m feeling fairly positive about the situation (probably because there’s no other alternative at this point!) and pretty confident this was a good idea. Seeing family as much as possible will outweigh all the little gripes we all have about our in-laws. And since we’ll be living with my parents at first in the States, I’ll try to hold my tongue as much as possible in exchange for my husband doing the same once we’re over there!

Timeline of a US spouse visa

While figuring out the details of our move to the States, a big factor in deciding when we would move was obviously when my husband could get his visa. There is a great website (not an official government site), Visajourney.com, that I poured over for ages, looking for a timeline of a US spouse visa similar to our situation: the US citizen is already living abroad with their spouse.

This is actually not as common as you might think, at least in France, if you go by the posts on the site (which, admittedly, is a very small sample size!). Most of the information I saw was for fiancé visas. It makes sense that this is the more frequent type of visa, since if you meet someone from another country, you’ll probably decide to get married in the country you’ll be living in. The timeline for those visas are much quicker, since they skip a step and go straight to the Embassy in Paris for the last part of processing.

If you get married abroad and then the US citizen goes back to the States to wait for their spouse to get the visa, this can take a very long time, if there is no possibility to file directly with the embassy. This has been the situation in France for the past few years, and you have to mail everything to the states first.

This first step, just petitioning the USCIS for a spouse visa including all the proof that it’s a real marriage, can take at least 5 months to get approved (and costs over 400 dollars that is not refunded if you don’t get approved!). Then once it’s approved, it goes to the National Visa Center and you pay more fees and submit all the financial documents required. This part can actually go fairly quickly if you have everything together and aren’t missing any documents. But it’s still at least two or three months. First the NVC has to get your file from the USCIS and put it into the system. Then certain forms are only available once certain fees are paid, and vice versa. Then once everything is submitted, they have to review it, which they say takes a minimum of 30 days (and there have been times they say it’s 60 days). You can speed things up a bit if you call them for certain information rather than waiting for emails or letters. But then you still have to wait for the interview, which can take awhile depending on the embassy.

Overall, it’s a minimum of 8 or 9 months, which is not that long when thinking about a 50-year marriage, but if you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, even a week can last forever. A lot of people wait even longer, because the first part, getting the USCIS to approve the petition, can take quite some time if you forget documents, or if they ask for additional information. There are ways of requesting an expedite, but for US citizens living abroad, there is kind of an unofficial, automatic expedite. The first part with USCIS actually goes very quickly, about one month instead of five. I haven’t been able to find a reason for this, but my theory is that as long as a US citizen is living abroad, their income can’t be taxed (up to a certain amount), so they speed things up to get you back as fast as possible . . . Whatever the reason, if the NVC and embassy are also quick in their processing times, the overall waiting time is reduced to around 6 months.

In our situation, things went about as fast as they could, and even faster for some things. From the day I sent the first documents to the USCIS to the day my husband had his interview in Paris, it was about five and a half months, which I believe is only a little bit longer than it used to take when you could file directly at the embassy. In large part this was thanks to the super advice I found on Visajourney.com that meant I submitted all of the documents needed without errors, but also it was just luck. The NVC was reviewing things in about 3 weeks instead of 30 days when our case came through. They had been having issues with their computers earlier in the year, which meant payments and reviews were delayed, and that could have easily happened to us instead. But I tend to be an optimistic person, and anyway, if things had taken longer, we had jobs and a creche lined up for bébé, so no big deal if we moved in Spring instead of Winter.

That being said, we had set the rough goal to be in the States for the next Superbowl (my husband’s a big American football fan), so we’d definitely have been a little bummed to wait too much longer. But once all the papers were sent in, I couldn’t really do anything about how long things would end up taking. However, I also knew that once he had the visa, we had to enter the states within 6 months so we didn’t want to start in January and have an interview in June or July. Also, if you submit financial documents before taxes are due April and your interview is after, you’ll just need to resubmit the updated documents anyway. Still, I could have started things a little earlier than I did and have had more control over the timeline, since until you send in all the financial documents to the NVC they won’t review your case, and you can reschedule the embassy visit. In the end, it worked out pretty much the way we needed.

I’ll probably do one or two more posts about certain details of the process (like the financial documents since we had a joint sponsor), but really, the website I mentioned above is amazing, especially for someone like me who likes to over-plan and look at lots of numbers and figures before doing something. Every situation will be different, of course, but knowing about when everything should happen was very reassuring.

Phase one of the move

The big move is now about three months away, so phase one has begun!

It started with my reduced hours at work. We gave up bébé’s October spot at a creche, and the plan was for me to stay home with him and pack/sell all of our stuff. We were a little sad to give up his spot, since it was a really nice Enlgish creche in Luxembourg, but it made zero sense to only pay for three months. I originally wanted to stop working entirely, but after discussing it with my boss and my mother-in-law, I’m in the office 2 days a week until the end of the year. A little extra money will help with the move, I know all my projects are understood by my replacement, and bébé gets more time with mamie. Everyone wins!

This was the first week of the new schedule, and it went pretty well. The days I work are very long for everyone, since bébé has to be woken up a little earlier than usual so my husband can drop him off at mamie’s house on his way to work. They got home both days about half an hour after his normal bedtime, but he naps really well during the day now, so he’s not delirious from lack of sleep or anything.

Our days together with me at home involve lots of playing, lots of park visits, and lots of organizing and picture taking during nap times. We’ve managed to sell a few things both to friends and online, but the big push to sell will come at the beginning of December with phase two! Phase one is hard because we’re still using a lot of the things we want to sell, like our refrigerator and bed. So for now, I’m mainly clearing out bookshelves, sorting through books and dvds, and selling all of the kitchen gadgets we’ve accumulated over the years that sadly won’t work in the States. It’s hard to imagine life without a raclette machine, but my mother said she found a crockpot on sale and is saving it for us, and I’ve never had one before, so at least I have something to look forward to when we arrive!

New look for the blog

I changed the theme of the blog, and will be tinkering with it a bit over the next few months. Though seriously, who looks at the actual blog and doesn’t use a reader? But, just in case you do read directly on the blog, it’s probably on your cell phone, and the new theme is supposed to be good for mobile screens.

I thought it was time for a change because a big change is coming! (No, there’s not a second bébé on the way, much to the chagrin of the grandparents.)

We are moving to the states! So the blog will go from accounts of my normal life in France to tales of readjusting to life in the states. I’ll be sure to do a few posts on the whole administrative side of the move, as well as a few about all the feels I’m having/will have about the move.

In order to prepare this big move, I’ll be cutting down my work hours in October. So my no spend September is a way to test the waters and see if I can spend much less, since I’ll be bringing in much less. Though since part of moving will involve selling almost all of our belongings, I might end up brining in just as much, if not more.

But I want what I do bring in to fund the move, since for the moment, we don’t have jobs lined up. It’s still a little too soon to send out tons of resumes, so it’s hard to know what kind of response we’ll get. I tend to be optimistic, and hope that at the very least, we’ll have a few interviews lined up once we arrive. We’ll be staying with my parents at first, and my optimism tells me it’ll only be for a few weeks.

For the moment, everything is still in the planning stage, so I might not post a lot about it yet, since nothing is really happening. In about another month or so, things will start to really get going.

I hope you all like the new theme, both visually and content-wise!