// Did you know crayons can burn like a candle for twenty minutes? Yeah, me either. But apparently they do and in case of some blackout emergency, you can use crayons to replace candles in a pinch. My mother informed me of this the other day and after she told me, I said, “but we don’t have crayons“, so she said, “maybe you should buy some“, and then I said, “maybe I should just buy candles.” These are the conversations you have when you move back home as an adult.
// Back in December I saw Night At The Museum 3. It was cute, and sweet, and funny, and at the end when it was Robin William’s last scene as Teddy Roosevelt, I bawled like a baby. Tears upon tears rolled down my face like I was a distressed infant #ohcaptainmycaptain
// At the movie theater, there were all of these empty seats around us, like loads of them. But guess where a family of five chose to sit? You guessed it, all up in my grill, as in the seat right next to mine. Who does that?! Why do people do this?! Those people bug. I don’t like those people.
// My friend Amy is having a baby next month. It’s a boy and we’re all completely over the moon. She hasn’t picked out a name yet but I’m doing everything in my power to get her to name him Fraser, as in Jamie Fraser. She totally should, shouldn’t she? Of course she should.
// Is anybody on Poshmark? I am. Just thought I should tell someone.
// There’s this viagra commercial on TV here with a Cindy Crawford ripoff in a blue dress who just walks around this empty house brushing her hair and staring at herself in the mirror or out the windows. It’s weird and it totally skeeves me out. Does it skeeve you out too? Please say it’s not only me.
// Confession: I don’t like Target. There, I said it. (Pretty please don’t tell the Blogger Police I said that.)
// Tomorrow’s my birthday (aka: International Day of Awesomeness), and despite Gregory’s and my best efforts, he will not be here for it. Unfortunately he has something in France that he simply cannot get out of on the 10th, but, he will be here on the 11th, so yay. That also means that I get to stretch out my celebrations to another week. Yay, again.
// At a party a few weeks back, an old school chum said how much she envied myself and another friend because we chose a different path, that, traveling/ expat/ gypsy path, and she wishes that she had gotten to experience all of the things that we did. I smiled and told her that yes, experiencing different cultures was wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade my life choices for anything, but (and this is a big ol’ but), it’s a trade off, and I pointed to her kids running around the backyard and the beautiful home that she and her husband have made. You see, we don’t have that, we have experiences, and they’ve been amazing, but, we don’t have anything concrete, and as another birthday looms, I can honestly say that that blows (RE: HURRY THE EFF UP NVC). So I’m really, really looking forward to Gregory getting here permanently so we can start to pour some foundation and build something concrete.
For those of you who have been with me for awhile, I’m sure you’re looking at the title of this post and are all like, “first Raclette, my hiney the first Raclette!” And you would be right, because heaven knows, I’ve been around the Raclette block more than once. But this post is about the first Raclette in Texas, ours anyway.
It all started a couple of months before Christmas, when I knew that without a doubt, I’d be getting Gregory a Raclette for his present. It seemed like the perfect choice, December being prime Raclette season and all. Plus, it would bring Gregory a little bit of France to Texas, and I’m not going to lie, I wanted that little bit of cheesy France too… it was a win, win.
As the holidays approached and Christmas meal plans came together, I decided that Gregory’s opening of his Raclette grill on Christmas morning would only be the first part of his Christmas present, because the second part would be delicious Raclette for our Christmas dinner (I like to give the gift of food). My mother agreed (mostly because of the easy peasy nature of it all I’m sure) and that was that.
After Gregory arrived and the holiday grew closer, my anticipation and glee grew as well, and every time I’d here Gregory speak of the wonders of Raclette to our Texan friends, my heart would pound in excitement. (By the way, you’d be surprised at how often Gregory can work the word ‘Raclette’ into a conversation with people here, like the time he was scooping Queso onto a chip and he looked over at Miss Vicki and said, “have you had Raclette? You need Raclette. The next time I come I bring the Raclette.” And Miss Vicki and I smiled at each other because we knew that the Raclette was coming.)
Then early one morning, a couple of days before Christmas, I ever so gently lifted the duvet, and slipped out of bed as quietly as possible trying my best not to wake up Gregory, because if he stirred he’d ask, “where do you go Skippy” and I didn’t want to have to make something up because he’d insist on going with me anyway, and he couldn’t because I was making a super stealth trip to the grocery story for Raclette supplies.
By 7:30, I was back home, wrapping meats and cheese in tin foil and hiding the delectable parcels at the bottom of the vegetable crisper because of course he wouldn’t look there, and saying that the breakfast taco line at Mary’s Tacos was so long and that’s where I had been for the past hour. My cheesy plan was coming together and Gregory was none the wiser!
Finally Christmas morning arrived and I was so excited and Gregory opened his present (which had been hiding at the back of the tree because Gregory cannot be trusted to not shake things and guess wildly) and then he was excited too and Fifty was excited because we were excited and we were all excited! And when I told Gregory that part two of his present was that we were having Raclette for Christmas dinner it was practically pandemonium!
I was happy, Gregory was happy, my mother was happy (Raclette for Christmas dinner means she didn’t have to cook again, and since we do our fancy pants Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve every year, we’ve decided that going forward, Christmas day will be all about Raclette… that grill is the gift that keeps on giving), and we were all so happy that we had Raclette, like three times, in one week. So technically this post could have been called, The First, Second, and Third Raclette. The end.
Well, that was a busy couple of weeks.
It was almost two weeks ago that Gregory left, and since he did, I’ve been a spinning top, whirling about here and there, trying to do this and that.
First off, Fifty got sick. Somehow he managed to get something stuck in his poor paw and it caused an abscess and the abscess got infected and the infection made him sick and his nose dry and him miserable. He’s been on antibiotics and is well on his way to being at 100% Fifty power again, so that’s good.
Then, last week my mother had a big birthday. The kind of birthday that can’t be ignored and demands something spectacular be done, so I decided to throw a party for her which I had been planning and pinning for weeks. And even though I was sure it would be fantastic, something more had to be done, I had to go bigger, and I did, with a surprise.
On Thursday night, while my mother sat sipping her birthday Margarita at her favorite Tex-Mex joint, and waiting for a couple of her close friends to join us, in walked her surprise… my brother, who hasn’t set foot on Texas soil for twelve years managed to sneak in and sit down in her seat while she was standing up greeting her friends. Unbeknown to her, I had flown my brother in from Dublin earlier that day and managed to pull off the surprise of the century. To say she was shocked is an understatement of epic proportions. (I’m expecting to collect my Daughter of the Year Award any moment now).
So my brother is here and that’s swell especially since he was able to be my sous chef on Saturday while I chopped and mixed in preparation for my mother’s party. (BTW… I made a batch of these nuts to scatter about, and they’re pretty much the most delicious things ever. You’re gonna want to make them post haste!)
The party was grand and everyone had a wonderful time and when it was all over on Saturday night, I crashed into bed exhausted and with the most pitiful, swollen pair of tootsies. (Of course I miss Gregory, but I’m missing his foot rubs something fierce.)
And what else, let’s see… oh yeah, work has been non-stop, like NON-STOP. You know how sometimes work just is work, and other times it’s like whoa, yeah, it’s been like whoa.
So yeah, it’s been a bit hectic around here, but it’s time to get back into the swing of things, so I’m making a pledge to myself that I will be back here at least once a week for a bit, and then twice, until I get back up to thrice. Baby steps people, baby steps.
There are still loads of tales to tell, stories that you’ve missed out on, gaps to fill. So don’t be surprised if you click into here one cold miserable day in February and find yourself transported to a hot summer day in Texas, or sipping Rosé under a perfectly blue Mediterranean sky, or it could just be me, telling you about now. Who knows. Lets just stay in touch and see what happens. I miss y’all.
Bonne Année tout le monde! Seven days into 2015 already… file that under ‘mind blown’.
So Gregory is on his way back to France this morning after the fastest four weeks in history. It was a whirlwind of a visit, but a truly wonderful one.
Now it’s time for us to get back to gloomy, January, reality with a Gregory Green Card update.
Here’s the deal… the good news; the NVC (that’s National Visa Center for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know) finally got back to us after our last 60 day wait (it took 64 days to be exact) and asked us for Gregory’s civil documents that are the last step before his interview at the embassy in Paris (please, please, please let this be it). Since Gregory was here and some of the documents we needed were back in France, we had to wait a week for his mother to send them to us before we could send them to the NVC, but we did manage to get them off before the end of the year. Go us.
Now for the bad news, as we were sending the documents off to the NVC, (instead of Gregory just bringing them to the embassy in Paris for the interview as we thought would happen), we just knew that we would be waiting forever again, and sure enough, yesterday morning I woke up to another dreaded, ‘please wait 60 days’ blah blah blah, putain merde’ letter (those last two words are very naughty and should be ignored, forgive me).
So yeah, we are still stuck waiting in ‘the process’. That’s what my Congressman’s office calls it, ‘a process’, and they say that, ‘the process takes time‘… process my hiney! Sending out three letters; one after another, basically stating that ‘we’re too busy‘ and ‘you’re going to have to wait two months before we even look at your file‘ is not part of a process, it’s inefficiency, so lets all stop pretending.
And here’s the problem with ‘the process’, When you’re in it, you have no idea how long it’s going to take, and there’s no one that can tell you. But one the one thing I do know is that it used to take a lot less time. I have friends whose spouses got their Green Cards in less than six months! Sure that was like five years ago, but c’mon! It’s already been over thirteen months for us, and I can predict we’re looking at at least another three, when we thought it would take like, 9 months, tops. Trust me, if we had any idea how long it would drag out (keeping in mind that it took four months for the processing of one form), I would still be hanging out in Le Petit Village, throwing back the Rosé and nibbling on baguettes instead of being roomies with my mother (my poor, poor mother), and I wouldn’t have just said goodbye to my husband… again!
Alors, here’s the deal, I, Sara Louise, am taking a stance. I refuse to let my life be ruled by the NVC any longer. Gregory and I spent six months of 2014 apart because of their inefficiency and that’s not OK, that’s not OK at all. So we’ve made a decision, Gregory will be returning to Texas in four weeks. He will be here for my birthday, he will be here for Valentine’s Day, he will be here for our fifth wedding anniversary, and he will stay until his interview at the embassy in Paris is scheduled, or his three months tourist visa is up, whichever comes first. He won’t be able to work while he’s here, so we’ll be broke, but so be it. At least we’ll be broke and together. Amen.
Not Le Père Fouettard, but Fifty, in his reindeer antlers. He hates me.
Bonjour, la veille de Noël, we meet again.
How in the name of all that’s Christmas is it December 24th again? If it wasn’t for the big move and the whole Green Card brouhahah, I swear, it feels like I was just in Toulon for Christmas Eve last year, like a couple of days ago. (That was a good one, remember? Except for the BB gun part of course. Stupid boys.)
So yeah, Christmas Eve snuck up on me, but even though it’s here, and the big show is only a day away (and closing in quickly down under, g’day Aussie friends), there was no way I was going to let it pass without my annual re-telling of the tale of Père Noël’s (that’s French Santa by the way), evil sidekick, Le Père Fouettard.
You know, now that I’m safely ensconced back in the States, I feel like I’m out of Le Père Fouettard’s evil grasp. But since there’s a Frenchman and a French dog in my house, what if that means he can still get me? Like, he can sense the Frenchness in my Texas home and find his way here. I’m sure if he looks closely, he can follow the baguette crumbs Gregory dropped along his way. Damn you Gregory! Oh well, I guess I have to make sure to stay on the nice list for another year. Yawn.
Originally titled: Nothing Says Christmas Like A Flogging and posted, December 15, 2009.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
OK, this is weird.
I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. I figure since I’m here, I might as well find out the happenings of my favorite holiday, French style. And there is absolutely no use asking Gregory, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.
In France, Santa Clause is Père Noël, nothing strange there, but Père Noël has a partner, and it’s not Rudolph. It’s an evil man named…dun dun dun….
Le Père Fouettard
(Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it, thought it needed that dun dun dun.)
According to my sources, the ever reliable Wikipedia, Le Père Fouettard was a guy who kidnapped three little boys, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in a stew.
Holy Reindeer Droppings! How the Fudge does this guy end up having anything to do with Sugar Plums and Mistletoe?
Apparently, Jolly Ol’ St. Nick some how discovered the crime (maybe when Le Père Fouettard’s name was flashing in red lights all over the naughty list) and magically resurrected the children (nice tie in to J.C. there – it is his birthday after all). Le Père Fouettard ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick’s partner and goes around with him on Christmas.
But get this, Le Père Fouettard doesn’t become all full of holiday cheer like Ebeneezer Scrooge, he’s still sinister, so instead of handing out pressies, he punishes all the naughty children instead. Usually with a good old fashioned flogging.
Nothing says Christmas like a flogging.
Safe to say, I’m usually a well behaved girl, but after reading about you know who (don’t want to type his name again in case it has some sort of Beetlejuice effect) I’m going to be on my best behavior this holiday season.
Don’t want you know who coming to town.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Very merry holiday wishes and Christmas kisses to you and yours!Joyeux Noël et Bonne Fête!
Here we are, one week into Gregory’s winter visit already and I have to say, it feels like he never left. We morphed back into real, normal, life right quick, but I’m pretty sure that the rotten colds we had helped that out some (key takeaway: mucus is not sexy).
As what could probably go down as some of the worst timing known to man, last Wednesday, as I drove to the airport to collect Gregory, a nasty, chesty thing began to wrap its slimy hooks around me, and when Gregory hugged me hello, he stepped back, scrunched up his face and said, “Skippy, you sick?“
Yes, Skippy was sick, and within 36 hours, Gregory would be too.
Our first few days together were spent drowning ourselves in Robitussin and binge watching Outlander (sadly, Champagne not included), but on Saturday night, we did manage to go out on a date. Although I use the term, ‘night’, loosely. We earlybirded it, as in 5:30 earlybird, and within four hours, we were snoring off our cold medicine.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how Gregory’s reunion with Fifty went, here’s the clip. Gregory and I were both surprised by Fifty’s initial reaction. I told Gregory that maybe next time, he should go easy on the cologne.
This may be the first Monday, in the history of Mondays that I’ve ever been happy to see, and the reason for my happiness; Gregory will be here in only two more sleeps! I can hardly believe it! He’s going to be here for four whole weeks, and while that isn’t forever, it’s a start.
Here’s the thing though, yesterday, as I trimmed the tree, I started panicking a bit about my blog. I had planned on getting loads of posts written and scheduled before Gregory got here so I could spend as much time with him as possible and dutifully stick to my blog calendar and the Monday, Wednesday, Friday rhythm that I’ve had going on here since I came back in October. But decking the halls took much longer than expected (I’m not complaining, I love a good decking) and not a single word was written.
And then last night I thought to myself, calendar, schmalender, it’s Christmastime for Santa’s sake! I haven’t seen my husband since July and I want to live in every single second of every minute of every hour, of every day of each of the four weeks he’s here, and if that means I don’t get a blog post, posted, then so be it, so I guess I’m taking another blogging break of sorts.
But since it’s impossible for me to completely disappear from y’all lives (nobody gets off that easily), I’ll be checking in on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fairy regularly I’m sure, to splash bits of our holiday cheer about and I’d love it if you popped by to say hi. (I’m going to attempt to film the Fifty, Gregory reunion and you’re not going to want to miss that!)
Before I go, I just have to say, thank you. Thank you, to all of you. The love, support, and friendship that you continue to give me is beyond measure. Really, and truly, you’re the best blog buddies on the block and I am grateful for y’all. Oy vey! Listen me go on, I’m gonna get all verklempt.
Holiday wishes and kisses to you and yours from the three of us!
Joyeuses fêtes et bonne année!
Hi, c’est moi, Sara Louise! Fáilte to my ex-expat blog, and merci for stopping by.For the past ten years, I lived overseas, first in Dublin, and then in France. Now, I’m back in the U.S. (the Texas Hill Country at the moment), setting down roots with my French husband and French dog.But before I was an ex-expat in Texas, I was Sara in Le Petit Village, and lived in a charming little place with a quirky cast of characters a top the Luberon mountains in Provence.Sara in Le Petit Village (the prequel to C’est Moi, Sara Louise) came to life in October 2009 (my very first post!) after I moved to France from Ireland to be with my French boyfriend who is now my French husband. (If you would like to know what this New York/ Texas girl was doing in Ireland, read this post, and if you want to know how an American girl met her French husband in Dublin, read these;. part 1, part 2, part 3.)Living in a fairly isolated village with only 250 other souls to keep me company, I thought it was best to find something to occupy my time so I didn’t go the way of The Shining (RED RUM)… Voila! Sara in Le Petit Village was born!Now as C’est Moi, Sara Louise, I blog all about the adventures and misadventures of my new life back home, the ever frustrating Green Card process, and pretty much anything else that takes my fancy. I guess you can call it a lifestyle blog, for me, it’s just, moi.
If you have any questions about me,
life in Dublin, Le Petit Village, or life in general,
email me at email@example.com.
I’d love to here from you!
Cavalaire-sur-MerYou know, there has been so much going on here lately what with Thanksgiving, Gregory’s green card issues, and just life in general, that I still haven’t gotten around to finishing up the tales of my trip back to France last July, so gather around kiddos, because that’s what I aim to do today.Let’s drift off someplace else, shall we… take a deep breath, rid your ears of holiday music, your brain of Christmas to-dos, and let your mind wander to summertime in the south of France… can you hear the waves of the Mediterranean lap? Can you taste the rosé? Good, you’re ready.It was July, and I was already a week into my visit Unfortunately, even though I had been there for a week, I hadn’t seen much of Gregory due to his busy work schedule, so as soon as he finally had a day off, we thought we should take advantage of it with a trip somewhere fun (he might have felt a tad guilty after hearing me rave about Sanary-sur-Mer).I don’t know whose idea it was, but we decided on lunch in Saint-Tropez, that famed port town of glamorous lore that I had never been too (“too crowded”, Gregory would say). And since Saint-Tropez is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Cavalaire-sur-Mer, we thought we’d swing by there afterwards, say hi to The Croupier and see how much her baby had grown since we’d been gone.We hopped in the car and left Toulon headed towards Saint-Tropez, but oddly, neither of us were paricularily excited… it started to dawn on us… Saint-Tropez in July, ugh… it seemed like a lot, the town would probably be packed to the gills with all that riff raff that likes to descend upon it every year to rub elbows with Jay-Z and Russian cagillionaires.“I don’t really want to go to Saint-Tropez” I whined.“Me, either” Gregory replied.Gregory and I proceeded to look at each other with whingy, scrunched up faces until he finally said, “I know where we can go.” And that’s how we ended up going to the quaint village of Port Grimaud, and more importantly, where I ended up eating the most delicious, pasta dish of my entire life.There are no words that would do the pasta justice, every bite was a culinary delight, so much so, that months later, I’m still dreaming about it… fresh pasta and seafood with just the right amount of garlic and parsley. It was perfect in its simplicity. I WANT IT NOW.After Limincellos and coffees, we strolled around the port before traveling down the road to meet up with The Croupier in Cavalaire-sur-Mer. The Croupier hadn’t changed a bit, and the seaside town was still as lovely as ever, but this little cutie was much bigger than I had remembered.It was the most gorgeous of days… the sun was glistening off the sea, my belly was full of delicious goodness, there was Limincello and rosé, and baby cuddles… it was heaven.Now take another deep breath and come back to reality.Meh.
Well that’s that then.
After five weeks of trying everything I could to finally get my Congressman’s office to request Gregory’s Green Card be processed sooner rather than later (instead of merely checking on the status as they seemed to be content to do), I have failed.
This is the email I received from them yesterday:
Listed below is the email response we received. Unfortunately, the US Embassy in Paris denied the expedite request. We will continue to check on your case accordingly. As soon as we receive any information, it will be forwarded to you.
… … …
This is a follow up to your email dated November 24, 2014 concerning the immigrant visa petition filed by Sara Louise XXX on behalf of Gregory XXX with assigned case number XXX Per correspondence from your office, the National Visa Center (NVC) forwarded an expedite request to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France. The response from the U.S. Embassy indicates that they are not willing to accept this case for expeditious processing.
And once again, I had allowed myself to get my hopes up when last week I was finally told that if I wrote a letter, detailing the hardship reason that we needed the visa expedited (and in fairness, I’d hardly call getting it finally processed after thirteen months ‘expedited’), the visa center would send it on to the embassy in Paris for review.
Foolish me, I thought that my Congressman requesting this expedition on behalf of a constituent that’s going broke because she and her husband live in two separate households in two separate countries would be reason enough. I guess not.
So here I am, broken, That’s how I feel, broken and empty. There is nothing left for me to do. I am merely a tiny speck on the back of the NVC and they don’t care. I have to wait 120 days for one set of documents to be reviewed and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. At least there are only 17 days of the second ’60 day wait’ left to go (but then again, that’s day-days and not business days, so who knows… at this point I feel like the process is never going to end).
On the bright side, I will see Gregory in a week or so when he comes to stay for Christmas, but on the dark side, he will have to go back afterwards and I don’t even want to think about how we are going to feel when that day comes. I better start stocking up on waterproof mascara.
P.S. Here’s a thought… how about before we focus on immigration reform for people who entered this country illegally, why don’t we try and address the problems within the process, for those who are trying to do it legally, because receiving two back-to-back ‘60 day wait‘ letters, is inefficiency at its finest.