Monday, June 23, 2014

Update: Year 7

So here we are, 7 years in France.  I would be lying if I didn't tell you I've got a bit of the 7 year itch - to have my kids see what school is like in America, to call my friends and family and be generally in the same time zone, to read a recipe on Pinterest and know exactly where to get all the ingredients, like coconut oil or almond butter.  But there is still work to be done, a property to finish, a day at the beach calling . . .

2014 has been a big year for some of us in the Ashton household, but there's so much so say I think I'll have to break it down:

The House:  
Front of House photo IMG_2394_zpse59d0cc0.jpg
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Attic, May 2014 photo IMG_0328_zpsefac392b.jpg

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Master Bedroom, May 2014 photo IMG_0324_zps2350d447.jpg

The house continues to be a work in progress.  We finished the attic renovation a year ago in April.  Then we started working on the outside, which has been as challenging as the inside!

Dave planting in Lavoir photo IMG_0346_zps3e717e2f.jpg

Dave is still running his business, SnapCar, in Paris.  It continues to be a huge learning experience to build a company out of nothing.  He still goes to Paris every week and sometimes sleeps at the office.  Ah, the realities of start-up life.  Dave wears his hair long like a Parisian, but wears his trousers in pinks and blues - true "Riviera Attitude" as his fleet manager says.

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I am 40.  This should have a post of its own, but as a friend told me, I shouldn't give too much importance to un-important things like a number.  Weirdly, I actually do feel older in a bad way.  I hurt my elbow at an exercise bootcamp in September of 2013 and it is still bothering me.  I have a lot of gray hair now and refuse to allow it to show.  I will not give in!  I hurt my back in the spring and was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks.  The lead up to my 40th birthday was NOT fun.  But my party, which was a month later (to avoid rain and cold temperatures), was very fun.  There was a huge thunderstorm a few hours before the party.  While it poured rain I sat in the car and cried because my outdoor party was ruined.  The temperature dropped several degrees.  My hair was frizzy.  But an hour before the party everything stopped-the thunder, the rain, and the humidity.  It was a beautiful night after all.  I still hate it when Dave goes to Paris every week.  Sometimes I even cry.  We have been married 19 years and he is still my favorite person to be with and I miss him when he goes.

Abby CM1 photo KidsSchoolPhotosAbbyLarge_zps4ae0474d.jpg

Abby 16 photo IMG_0359_zps44ea4e0f.jpg

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Abby's party photo IMG_0351_zps2b20d030.jpg

Abby turned 16!  SIXTEEN!!!!  She had a party with friends from the Lycee and it seemed to be a success.  Given that she's all grown up now and has been begging us for three (um, six) years to go back to the States, we finally gave in.  Dave's brother and his wife have graciously agreed to let Abby live with them for a year and go to school in the good ol' USA. Gulp.


Sophie grand section photo KidsSchoolPhotosSophieLarge_zps915e6bea.jpg

Sophie 13 photo IMG_0263_zps096d4ade.jpg

 Sophie is 13.  Wow, that one snuck up on me.  One day she just didn't look like a little kid anymore.  It was so weird.  Then she went and got braces and really started looking grown-up.

Sam grand section photo KidsSchoolPhotosSamLarge_zps11c47eb3.jpg

Sam's 12th birthday cake photo IMG_0595_zps59627245.jpg

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Sam is about to turn 12 and just had a party with all of his friends, who won't be here on his real birthday in July.  He is still playing soccer and loving it - we are just waiting for him to grow a little so he catches up with his other teammates.

Carter 2 years old bday photo November2007032_zps7363c8d2.jpg

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Carter discovered MineCraft this year.  We haven't seen much of him since then.

The Rest:
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I still don't know what will happen in the future (who does?), or how much longer we will be here (I say that every year!), or what I want to be when I grow up (maybe because I never want to grow up?)--but I continue to believe that no matter where you live, with all the positives and negatives, that the best thing about living anywhere is the people that you spend your time with, and we know a lot of great ones here in our corner of the world.

And just for giggles, our family then and now:
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July 2007

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Christmas 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ballerina Belle

I was just scrolling through my photos and was reminded of what Sophie did in July.

Her dance teacher has moved to San Francisco where her American husband got a job, but she is busy editing the 8 gajillion hours of footage they filmed with my camera :)

Thought you might like to see the trailer.  You can check out the website here: Ballerina Belle.

I think the concept is really cute and it's amazing what they accomplished with basically zero budget.  Everyone volunteered their time and resources (like my camera, for example) and with just a bit of sponsorship from Repetto for the wardrobe, they managed to shoot enough for about 12 episodes.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it - even with little or no money!

p.s. did you see Sophie?  She was in purple and at one point says "I think she's from America". 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Moment of Gratitude

I just wanted to write down how grateful I am for something that seems so silly:  good weather.  Winter was so long this year and we are being blessed with an outstanding autumn.

It has made it a lot easier to tackle the landscaping outside the house so that we can really take advantage of the outdoor space we have.  After three years of living on a jobsite, I will be really happy to look out and see an orderly garden!

I am also extremely grateful that everyone in our family is healthy.  After Abby's major surgery a couple of years ago and the usual winter flu disaster, it has been really nice just to do regular things and not think about being sick.  I usually hurt my neck a couple of times a year and just fought off a small ear infection, so being "normal" just feels really good.

Despite some normal life ups and downs of trying to make the business work and all that . . . I am really grateful to be able to spend time with my kids and husband doing both fun things (playing American football at the park on Veteran's Day) and hard work (like chopping down trees!).

I think people forget the importance of just finding a nice balance in life.  Nothing will ever be perfect, but when the balance is even, it feels pretty close.


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