A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? Gosh I’ve missed interacting here over the last week. As you can probably guess, there’s been some big stuff happening at our house. Here’s a quick update:

1- We got the keys to our rental house last Wednesday, the 9th. And that night Ben Blair arrived home from his work trip to Chicago. That door above? That’s our front door for the next several months (at least).

2- The rental was empty, but pretty darn grime-y. So we spent the next several days cleaning it and prepping it for the arrival of our container full of household goods. This included figuring out appliances, because rental homes here don’t come with an oven, a fridge, a microwave, a dishwasher, or a washer/dryer.

We’re still not totally done with our appliance hunt, and haven’t figured out what we’ll do for a washing machine and possible dryer. But we had some good adventures figuring out the fridge, stove, and microwave. (I’d like to share a whole post on this.)

My friend Caroline, and her daughter Capucine, were a big help prepping the house. And our lovely friend Odille lent us a floor cleaner and a wallpaper steamer.

3- On Saturday, we spent the day at a church activity at a place called Bayeux Adventure. We spent a ton of time on the ropes courses and ziplines. (I’d like to share a whole post on this too.)

4- On Sunday, we started stripping wallpaper in the master bedroom of the rental. We mostly don’t want to spend much creative energy on the rental, and instead, save our energy for the house we’re buying, but there are a couple of rooms in the rental that are just not… okay. So we’re painting one, and re-wallpapering another.

5- On Monday, the container from America arrived first thing in the morning. Oh my goodness this was so much more emotional than I expected! And it was physically exhausting — even though there was a whole moving crew. I shared about the day on my Instagram stories, and I would love to write a post about it too.

6- On Tuesday, we moved out of the Airbnb where we’ve been staying for the last 7 weeks. I was absolutely dreading this task and couldn’t figure out why. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? But I finally realized it was because we were moving from order to chaos. After the container delivery, even though we worked super hard, the rental house was very chaotic. And bringing our suitcases and accumulated stuff from the Airbnb into the chaos was breaking my brain. (But we did it! It’s done!)

We slept in the rental house for the first time Tuesday night, and it was so delicious to be in our own beds, with our own bedding.

7- By Wednesday, we had the kitchen and living room in the rental set up — which felt great! And the kids were able to walk to school! That evening we made a trip to Ikea — it’s about 40 minutes away — because we need a few things to get the rental house functioning well. I think we’ll need one more Ikea trip shortly.

8- Yesterday (Thursday), we almost finished stripping the wallpaper in our bedroom. And, we met with our friend Gjisbert at our cottage. Since we can’t work on the house we’re buying until the end of November (which is when the closing date is), we thought it might be cool to try and renovate one room of the cottage while we wait.

It’s a big undertaking, but also a relatively small room, so we think it could be manageable. I need to write a whole post on this one, but I can quickly tell you it will involve a new front door, raising the ceiling by a couple of feet, removing the plaster from the stone walls, finishing the walls with a lime wash, digging out a proper floor, and adding a wood-burning stove.

Last night, we printed invitations for a Halloween party. Oscar is very excited about this. Betty is more nervous than excited. : )

9- And now it’s Friday! It’s an especially exciting Friday because our first two-week school vacation begins as soon as the kids get home from school.

We’re also still settling into the rental. We have three settling-in goals for today: finish unpacking the kids rooms, figure out bathroom storage, and make sure the walls in the master bedroom are cleared and ready to go — because we have friends coming tomorrow to help us hang the wallpaper.

The other thing happening tomorrow? Olive is coming! Her host family in Montpellier also has a school vacation and they are headed out of town, so Olive is taking the train to Argentan. We can’t wait to see her! Next week, we’re going to take advantage of the school holiday and do some traveling.

Okay. I think that gets you up to speed. Thanks for your patience while I’m spread a bit thin at the moment.

And now, let’s get to the Friday link list. Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

-Mail carriers in France have taken on a new responsibility — checking in on the elderly.

-The New Zealand government announced plans to create a dedicated investigative team focused on finding, disrupting, and prosecuting extremist content online. (More of this please!)

-Related, did you see/read Mark Zuckerberg’s talk defending Facebook’s policy of allowing paid misinformation by politicians? (WP)

-Also related, in case you really want to delete Facebook, here’s how to make it last.

-We bought this bamboo hanging rack for our Oakland house when we needed to set up a temporary guest bedroom in the office. It’s handsome and so handy. The same one is available on Amazon France, and we’re ordering two more of them! We don’t have any closets and these will be great for the rental.

-Cory Booker read Rosario Dawson a 250-plus-page book about WWII… over the phone. (Heart eyes.)

-Why billionaires are bad for the country and the economy.

-Related, a quick animation of how radically taxes on the wealthy have fallen over the past 70 years.

-In Los Angeles County, a staggering 96% of children-prosecuted-as-adults are Black and Latinx. In California as a whole, the figure is 86%. This is despite an overall decline in the number of prosecutions.

-Oliver Eidel was dissatisfied with the eye exams and glasses he’d tried. So he ordered his own optician kit and did his own eye exam. “This was hands-down the best pair of glasses I ever had.”

-Mapping the world’s growing plastic mountain.

-How Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric have profited off their dad’s presidency.

-What a story. Billy Reilly worked in counterterrorism for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, penetrating radical groups online with false identities. Then he disappeared. (WSJ)

Church versus religion.

Here are some Tweets I bookmarked for you as well:

-Niche architectural Instagram accounts from Japan.

-A thread about 4th graders and their reactions to learning about the true history of Christopher Columbus.

-Hah! When Winston Churchill’s son Randolph read the the Bible.

-Average number of times a new piece of clothing is worn.

-Signs you need a break.

All woman space walk!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


8 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. Gabrielle,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story about moving to France. I am enjoying sharing the adventure. Also, great links this week (as always).

    Cheers to you!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing about settling into your life in France. I appreciate your honestly about how hard it all is; not just some instagram worthy adventure; although there are certainly many lovely parts. Both things are true!
    If you feel comfortable sharing, I feel like I’m missing something big regarding you family’s move to France. On the one hand you all have 1 year visas and will figure it out if you want to stay longer from there. On the other hand, you just bought a house to live in that won’t be ready for several months. Buying a house seems very permanent. You already have a mailing address with the cottage so curious why buying this house. Is it an investment and not to live in? (Maybe there are tax implications or something technical that required you to buy ASAP after selling the Treehouse?)

  3. Dear Gaby, welcome to Europe! I was wondering if you would consider including links to European vendors for some of the products you like or find useful. We live in Spain and I would be very happy to hear about suggestions accessible to your reader base in Europe. Best wishes

  4. Spread a little thin, indeed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you need to neglect the blog for awhile in favor of mental health, by all means, do so with zero regret. We want you and your family healthy, Gabby, not scraping by because you are incapacitated with anxiety. Just like we each want our own families.

  5. I am absolutely loving your moving-to-France updates. My husband and I recently moved from New Jersey to Tomar, Portugal, and we have very similar experiences. It’s just the two of us and our dog so it’s a much easier situation. Best part of our move so far? Daily bread delivery!!

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