Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Hope It’s All Worth It!

Please tell me it will all be worth it…

This past week on Monday and Tuesday we were packed and moved into storage by another moving company. At the end of the job, after they had left, we realized that we were missing 3 things: S’s work iPhone, R’s iTouch, and my wedding rings. So upsetting. I am so distraught over losing my wedding rings, I don’t know what to do. We don’t have the $$ to replace them, plus their value is more sentimental. I can distinctly remember when S & I picked out the 2 sapphires, then had the ring designed by a San Francisco jeweler around those 2 beautiful gems. I can still remember the day he asked me to marry him and I replied “Let me see the ring!” - not because I was greedy but because I wanted to see the final design. How do you replace that?

It’s also been really hard to see my girls so upset over the move. I went to school the last day with them and it was heart-breaking seeing them say goodbye to classmates they’ve been with since they were 5 years old. Lots of tears and hugs – kind of harder than saying goodbye to my own friends! Which has not been easy. I have such a great group of friends here – how will I find people in France to have that same connection with? I’ve been building these friendships up over many years – I won’t be in France that long...

With all the headaches, troubles, losses, heartache, family drama (can you say many family fights?) – I can only say that I hope the whole thing is worth it…


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Party is Over and Movin’ On Out

Crazy us had our annual Holiday Party on Saturday the 10th. Yeah, I know, more work we didn’t need to take on, but I wanted a last big shindig, and it was a chance for us to see and say good-bye to many of our friends. I made appetizers that I could freeze during the month prior to the party, and we tried to get the house as decorated and together as we could before S left to fly back to the Netherlands on Sunday the 4th. He flew back into San Francisco on the 9th, and we jumped into packing and getting the house ready for a party. Luckily we have our party set-up down to a science, so we were ready all set up around 12:00pm on the 10th. We were then able to spend the afternoon before the party doing a bunch of packing upstairs – getting through our bathroom and more clothing stuff. Girls were still totally fighting us on the packing but after I offered them $$ for every box they packed (double for the discard bags they filled), things moved along a little more quickly. J

We moved furniture out, ordered bar tables & tablecloths, put out wine, beer, a specialty cocktail (Pomegranate-Lime Fizz), music on the Sonos and food, and we were ready to go. 78 people were expected, I’d say about 70 or so came – all spread out, so it didn’t feel too crazy. It was so nice to see everyone – S and I both had a blast. It was a lot of work (& time that we probably should have been packing) but a lot of fun. And I’m really glad we got a chance to see so many friends to say goodbye.
Here’s the menu of appetizers I served at the party (I only do apps as it’s a 7:00 cocktail party):
  • Frank’s Meatballs
  • Asparagus Rolls
  • Chicken Pesto Bites (these I bought at Safeway)
  • Sweet Potato Dumplings with Honey, Goat Cheese and Thyme
  • Mediterranean Rolls
  • Three-Cheese Pastry Puffs
  • Tapenade Palmiers (I bought the tapenade)
  • Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sliders
  • Sushi (ordered from Mollie Stone’s)
  • Spinach Dip, cheese and crackers

All in all, as “not fun” as Sunday, Monday & Tuesday were, I’m glad we had the party and I’m glad it seemed to be a successful one.

Packer/Movers (Crown Relocation Company) for shipping our stuff to France came around 9:30am Monday morning. Sunday was busy with cleaning up from the party, and then packing – I did the kitchen, dining room & living room, and S did the garage. We still weren’t as ready as we could have been for the movers when they showed up, but we got a lot done. Monday night we were up late after the movers left doing more packing, we pulled the girls out of school on Tuesday around lunch time to help pack up their rooms & bathrooms and packed until after 11pm. S had to leave Wednesday morning for a quick trip to Japan, but at least we were mostly packed by then & it was just me sticking around to watch over the movers. It was a very stressful time, but at least it only lasted 3 days. The movers were all loaded and gone by a little after 3pm. Farewell household items – see you in 6 weeks! They estimate that the items will be delivered around the end of January. We also air-shipped around 5 or 6 boxes that will get to the house on the 30th – mostly just more clothes and some toys for R&C.

The house is empty, but not too much as we are putting a fair amount of stuff in storage. Those packer/movers come on Monday and Tuesday to get the rest in storage. Then the house will be super empty. Our friend Amanda is a saint and dropped off 3 Queen blow-up beds and lots of bedding Tuesday night so we don’t have to sleep on the floor. We will need 1 more when S gets home on Friday (12/16) as I don’t see how you can sleep 2 adults in one of those beds – even though they are Queens. I want my own!

We are facing another one of those frustrating French Catch-22s as I like to call them. Of course the relocation company (Crown) waited until now, after our stuff has been all packed and gone, to tell us that we might have to pay taxes and duties on our household goods coming into France. What? They keep saying that S needs to provide proof from his employer that he is being relocated to France for a number of years, and that he hasn’t been living in an EU country during the last 12 months. It has taken us several attempts to make it clear that those requirements can NOT be met as S is NOT working in France, and he HAS been living in an EU country since September 1st. They seem to have finally gotten the message, but now are saying we face fees as I have no employment reason for moving to France. There’s the classic French run-around as the French government wouldn’t give me my Visa if I DO work in France. But now I can’t bring my items into France unless I work in France. What really chaps my hide about all this is that both Crown and Ernst & Young (who are also our advisers on this whole thing) have known the unusual circumstance around our situation the whole time. Why is this just now being addressed as a problem? Different decisions may have been made based on that knowledge if it was made clear to us. And there has to be a work-around – it’s all just so ridiculous. No, I’m not bringing all these goods into France to re-sell them. Give me a break. We’ve already decided not to risk shipping our new Prius over as they may make us pay all sorts of fees on it, now our house hold goods? Ridiculous.

We’ve also been busy dealing with Crown Relocation on what all their services entail. We asked them for some help in buying a washer and dryer (I want something better than the all-in-one tiny machine that is at the house and the website they directed me to is in French), renting a car (we will need one until we find something to buy), renting temporary furniture, and getting to the hotel from the airport. Seems like normal requests to me. All of a sudden we get an email from the head contact at Crown who states that these items are above and beyond the scope of their agreement with S’s company and that we would have to pay for them ourselves. What? Crown said that their agreement with S’s company entails:
1-day preview trip
2-day home viewing trip
1.5 days settling in

I immediately wrote back asking what exactly the “1.5 days settling in” entails since it seems like some of the above items I was requesting would be part of that. In addition, I pointed out that we never had our 1-day preview trip, so we are owed time for that. Now they are saying they will use the 1-day preview trip for buying the washer & dryer, and coordinating the rental car. The settling in will consist of check-in inspection of the house, opening utilities, airport pick-up and furniture rental coordination. I would love to know how some of these things take that much time. I am having my friend who speaks French get the washer & dryer for me (there’s a website in French where you just order them & then they deliver & install), and another friend of mine has contacts at Hertz in France so they are helping us with the rental car. So what else are you going to do for us Crown? Eh?

Good news is that we have our flights all booked and ready to go, room for the 3 animals down in Cargo, hotel in Versailles for 2 nights, and rental furniture being delivered on the 30th. We are looking good for when we get there. Just need to sort out this fee issue with our household items being shipped over - I have to have faith that we will be able to fix that. Someone pointed out to me at a holiday lunch today that in 2 weeks I will be there! Yikes! Time is flying by now & it’s just crazy. Oh, more good news – the gal from ASP that I’ve been emailing invited us to her house for a casual New Year’s Eve dinner. So maybe my social life won’t be in the dumps with the move! J

Speaking of social life, we are trying to get a chance to see all our friends, etc. before we leave – not enough time! We are going to miss everyone so much…and we look forward to many visitors…off now to B Street & Vine to have some dinner and wine with girlfriends…


Friday, December 2, 2011

We got the house!

Well, looks like we are finally set with our house in France. We are renting the one in Sèvres that we really wanted – or at least S & I wanted. R & C aren’t as happy as we are, but I’m sure they will come around. It really is a nice house in a great location. We are still negotiating details – apparently their wood floors are super special and can’t be replaced so they want a big deposit and all these requirements. We don’t understand as we have beautiful wood floors and they are fine. So we are still working that out as well as our move-in date – right now we are looking at December 29th. They had originally agreed to our request of 12/28 so we already bought our plane tix to leave SF on 12/27. So now we have to figure out what to do for the night of 12/28 – if it was just the 4 of us humans that would be fine, but we will have the dogs and cat with us. Could be tricky trying to find a place that will accept all that! We are renting furniture that will be delivered on 12/30, or 12/29 if we are lucky. Our packers are coming here 12/12 to get us packed up and shipped by sea – should arrive in France around January 26th. Looking forward to getting everything in and getting all settled! I’m pretty panicked about this whole packing thing, but somehow I’m sure it will all work out. It has to!

We found a renter for our house also, so that is great. One more giant thing off our list. We are decorating the house for Christmas (& our party) even though it’s only for a little over a week. When the movers come they’ll be packing up the Christmas ornaments and decorations we decide to take with us to France. Seems silly to decorate for only a week or so, but it’s important for the kids to enjoy some Christmas in their house – this is getting harder and harder for them, and they are clinging to any sense of normality and tradition they can find. I understand – it would be much easier to be doing this move at another time of year, but we want to get to France in time for them to start at their new school the first of the year.

I’m off to the city for my annual Christmas shopping & lunch trip with my friend Karen now – still trying to enjoy the season in spite of all the stress of the move!