Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From the viewpoint of a 6 year old - New World Museum - La Rochelle

The New Kindle Fire, photographs & 
La Rochelle

Raising 3 girls in this technology age presents it challenges at times...screen time, games, Internet.  It seems every year there's a new gadget to acquire or upgrade to and more things to understand about the Internet.  So this year for Christmas, my youngest having been borrowing her sister's i-touches and Kindles - asked for one of her own.  So Santa Claus/Le Pere Noel brought her - her first very one Kindle Fire.  

Of course, she has been enjoying her new toy - playing games and yes, even looking at several books on it too.  But my favorite use that she has found is the front-facing camera. (Her sister's older versions did not have this feature)  Beyond the "selfies" that she is fond of taking (following in her big sister's steps!)- she took the Kindle with us, as we were visiting La Rochelle over the holiday break.  

Another selfie - my cutie!

My favorite selfie - loved how the light caught her hair

All the photos in this post are taken by her - on her new Kindle Fire and what I love most about her photos it they are from the perspective of a 6 year old! She chose to do this totally on her own - I'm so fascinated by her curiousity.  She took pictures of things that interested her - from her height and vantage point.  The camera is only front facing - so she has to hold it a certain way and also press the bottom, without putting her hand in the photo.  She was very proud of these photos and loved that her new Kindle has this capability.  I loved that she was visually interested in the Museum - even spent time speaking with the docent, who was mesmerized by her curiosity. She talked about some of the paintings and statues afterward, so was definitely absorbing information.  At the end, she even spent some time talking with the receptionist and showing her all her photos! 

The Old Port in La Rochelle

A mother & daughter selfie.

The gate into the city of La Rochelle - one of her first photos - yes- my arm holding the Kindle..lol!!

A little bit about the Musee due Nouveau Monde (Museum of the New World).  This museum is housed in a beautiful 18th century private residence and has many collections which tell the story of France's relations with America (both North & South) from the vantage point of La Rochelle, one of the main ports of New World trade and migration.  There of many paintings, engravings, maps, sculptures, furniture which all help the visitor to understand exploration, settlements and trade with Canada, the West Indies and Brazil as well as records of the transatlantic slave trade.  I personally, found this museum very fascinating.

There are even rooms dedicated to Native Americans and some general history of how the colonies of the New World evolved and expanded westward.  Fascinating fact - Many French people actually settled in San Francisco during the Gold Rush and  afterward creating a "Little Paris" on the West Coast. 

On her own now..A Selfie in the Museum

Her older sister 

A wonderful exhibit made out of recycled materials depicting boats sailing West to the New World.

The Docent who was captivated by her curiosity

Her Nana - enjoying the displays

Yes, that would be me in the background - didn't know she was taking this one!

After we left the museum, we wandered back through the town to the Place de La Mairee.  More photos of her Nana enjoying La Rochelle.

If you are new to this blog or are just interested in reading more about La Rochelle - feel free to check out my previous post - La Rochelle - a Vibrant City.  This was our second time to this city and my girls were eager to go back and explore - even show things that they already knew to their Nana (my mother).  

Yes, probably an a camera would work better for her but I was thrilled that she enjoyed photographing her experiences and the Kindle was also great entertainment for the 2 hour ride!  So fun to look at the world from her vantage point!!  I look forward to seeing more of her photos!  I hope you enjoyed reading this post and if you have children - it's always fun to see what they do with a camera!  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Official French Paperwork - Carte de Sejour - VISA update

Fountain of the 3 Graces - Front of La Bourse - Bordeaux

Expat VISA/Carte de Sejour - a refreshing experience

Just returned from a fun long weekend with my mother in Paris...if you follow me on instagram, facebook or twitter, you would have enjoyed some fun videos and photos that I posted while we were there.  I will write a brief post about our experience and what we packed into 3 days shortly.  We found some great deals, I can also pass on some great tips and I even got to "officially" meet a blogger friend who lives near Paris...but I will save all of that for another post.

I actually want to give some "Kudos" to the French - yes, you read that right - for as many times as I and others complain about the French bureaucracy and paperwork that is so OFTEN required with whatever you may be doing, my experience last Monday at our local Prefecture (Gironde) was fast, efficient and easy.

Place de La Bourse - Love this beautiful city & Country

I will back up a bit - You may remember reading my post about renewing our American passports here in Bordeaux and I compared it to my process of handing in paperwork for my carte de sejour ( HERE ) - which, at the time,  I was still waiting to get an appointment.

So, in the middle of the Christmas vacation, 6 weeks after I handed in my paperwork,  my letter from the French Prefecture finally arrived with the day and time of my appointment.  That appointment was last Monday - at 10:10 am.

My husband & I arrived at the Prefecture about 10 am.  Gone was the big huge line on the right of people processing immigration paperwork or just waiting to ask a question about their process. There were plenty of people in the lobby, but the security guards kept pointing them to the side where documentation was available explaining what was needed to receive an appointment.  We showed security that we had an appointment and then asked at the Reception desk where to go - I was pointed to small seating area and told that someone would come out.  Sure enough, 5 minutes later a young man came and asked  my name.  He checked me off on his list and then asked me to move to another seating area.  Within a few more minutes, I was directed to a designated window for my appointment.

The woman at the window, had my dossier (folder of personal documentation) that I had handed in back in November and asked for the remaining documentation.  This documentation had been explained in the letter and was straightforward and simple - Copies of School Certifications for the girls & a copy of our 2012 taxes.  She also asked to see our original passports (my husbands and mine) and our Livret de Famille.  (Now, have to share a little luck here - I actually forgot our Livret de Famille (she had copies)- but she decided that since this was a renewal & I would just have to come back for another appointment that she would let it go. Whew- Sigh of relief here -Thank you, lord!)  We both signed some more documentation and then she proceeded to take my fingerprints and order my 10 year Carte de Sejour.  I was given a temporary piece of paper as I wait for my official Carte de Sejour to arrive - hopefully in a couple months.  There are many different kinds of VISAs for living in France and everyone's situation is a bit different - requiring various paperwork.  As my husband is a French citizen, I fall under the spousal VISA category and for this case, I was doing a renewal - additionally, since we have been married longer than 3 years - I could apply for a 10 year stay VISA.

We walked out of the Prefecture at 10:30 am.  Impressive!  Way to go France - I like that kind of speed and efficiency! So refreshing!
Bordeaux - A great place to Live!!

This experience is in contrast to my first application last year - when they did not do appointments.  I was luckily then to be able to hand in all of my paperwork at our local police station but had to make 2 trips to the Prefecture to finish the process and both times I waited in line from 8:30 am to at least 11 am or later.  That was ridiculous!  So KUDOS to you Prefecture - Gironde!  I am impressed with the new procedures and your appointment system.  I also have to add that there was plenty of information available both in the lobby of the Prefecture and on-line to explain their new system.  Maybe there is hope for some changes to the French bureaucracy or maybe next year they will just change it again??? I hope for the former - happy to be able to officially stay here!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013-Expat Life in Bordeaux, France-Year in Photo Review

Looking back on 2013 - Life in Bordeaux, France
Twelve months full of travel, exploration 
& everyday fun.

This has been a fun post to put together - it's nice to recap a year and really look at all that we did, accomplished and enjoyed. I'm hoping many of these photos also capture the enjoyment and love that we feel for this area and our life now. Bordeaux has been a great place to be this past year.  Honestly, it's truly about what you choose to do, places to explore and people you choose to do all this with.  Most of our family trips this year were close by, but that really didn't matter as this is such a beautiful area. The Winter and Spring of 2013 were very cloudy and rainy, but we choose to grab moments and enjoy them.  Summer and Fall definitely helped our moral and we continued to enjoy the outdoors.
Celebrated the New Year  2013 with friends and family at our house - with a traditional French dinner.

My mother & I went to Vienna, Austria for a visit before she headed back to the States in mid-January.
A little mother/daughter time is always fun no matter what age!!

My oldest daughter turned 12 - enjoyed a sleep-over party with her friends.
Read more about her celebration - here

My middle daughter turned 9 - Had a glamour-make-up themed party with her friends - Described Here


The girl's all took ballet in 2013 - My youngest stretching

My middle daughter during an observation class in the Winter

My oldest has danced since she was 2 - continued to take ballet (called Classique-here) and Modern Jazz classes

Attended a Chocolate Festival in Bordeaux - Fun sculptures & gifts
Read more about it - Here

Both older daughters had ski trips with their classes in the Pyrenees-
My middle daughter had an interesting experience - read about it here

Carnaval at my youngest daughter's maternelle - love the costumes & smiles!
This is a tradition in French Maternelle - Read more Here

The new bridge opened in Bordeaux - I think everyone in Bordeaux went to the official ceremony
Read more about that morning Here

During Winter Break - The girls and I took a trip to La Rochelle
Really fun city - Wrote about it here

My husband & I along with good friends (left all the kids at home) &  toured the Medoc during their Portes Ouvertes.
Delicious and learned a lot too!

Easter was spent at Chateau Vayres on the Dordogne River with friends - Talked about it here

The kids and their good friends on Easter

I got to meet one of my favorite authors - Tatiana de Rosnay in Bordeaux
Magical evening - Talked more about that experience - here

Spring Break brought a little sunshine - trip to Lacanau Beach on the Atlantic Ocean
More photos & post here

Playing in the Mirror Pool in Bordeaux  -This is always a fun spot

The girls always loved hanging out with their friends at the mirror pool

Visit to Chateau La Brede - home of Montesquieu - Wrote about it here

Long weekend in Lourdes as a family - Described some of what we did here and our afternoon in Cauterets here.
Still need to post part II .

Kermesse at the Maternelle - Such a fun end of the year tradition in France - Read more  here

End of the year Program at the Elementary School - they all sing & dance

My oldest at her Synchronized Swim gala - More information about here team and experiences here

Father's Day on the Dune de Pyla with good friends again - Wrote about it here.

Fun on the beach! - We said "goodbye" to our American friends who moved back to the States in July - We miss them!

Carcans Maubuisson - Lake near Lacanau - Nice warm water without the huge waves or riptides - Posted about it here

Lots of bike riding & walking through parks - Bourgailh
This park is an easy bike ride from our house - Love it! - Post about this park & another here.

Parc Montgaillard in Gradignan - another great place to walk around, picnic & relax.

Rock & Country Festival in Rochefort - youngest and oldest (in background) on trampolines
Talked more about this festival here.
Trip to Dordogne Region - Lots of small villages & festivals
Posts about this area - here and here.

Chateau Des Milandes - home of Josephine Baker

A day canoeing on the Dordogne River
More beautiful photos and description of our afternoon here

Chateau de Montreal -near Perigueux - Spontaneous stop on the way home
Back to School - CP (1st grade), CM1(4th grade) & 5eme (7th grade) - Wrote about La Rentree in France - here

First day of School - at our Elementary - Discussed our  experience of choosing schools here.

I spent a long weekend in Paris visiting my sister-in law - Toured Musee Marmottan -
 houses the largest Monet collection!

Fun watching the "Super Hero/Science Fiction themed" Marathon du Medoc - as they ran through the vineyards!
This marathon is like no other - Read about it here.

Birthdays were celebrated - my youngest turned 6 - Read about her party - here.
My husband & I also enjoy our special days.
Enjoyed more Portes Ouvertes - Graves & Pessac- Leognan

Biking and festivals - Site du Bourgailh
Halloween celebrations - parties & trick or treating
Read here about how we celebrated our American holiday

End of Toussaint vacation - trip to St. Jean de Luz

Looking toward Spain - from Ciboure & The Horn 

Taught my youngest daughter's class about Thanksgiving
This was a great day - feel free to read more abut it here.

Celebrated our Thanksgiving with friends and dinner for 15!

Some of the Lights in the city of Bordeaux - See more photos here.

Enjoying holiday activities in our town of Pessac - Lot of kid activities & music!

Celebrated Christmas with both sides of our family - Read about our traditions here.

Feeling very blessed this year.  My goals for 2014 are simple: to continue to enjoy those special family moments, live, love and share ourselves with each other.  This blog has become a wonderful place for me to share our lives but also to connect with others and benefit from how other people touch our lives too! The friendships I have made through blogging have enriched my life and in turn my family's - I cherish them tremendously!  I am truly touched and honored by all of those people who contact me for various reasons - it makes it feel like a small world at times. When we posted our decision about staying in France (Read about it here)-I was so honored by the comments and compliments for this post. I truly can't say how much it touched my soul to hear from so many readers.  Thank you!! Additionally, my recent post about our neighborhood - as part of the Show Me Your Neighborhood Series (here ) also had great feedback and comments. This motivates me to keep sharing and develop new thoughts and ideas on this blog.  Currently, I am  interested in learning about other multi-cultural families and how they blend traditions and cultures.

I know I have learned so much just by writing and also reading other blogs.  Again, thank you to everyone to who reads and comments - it is so enriching for me and my family!! We learn so much from everyone! Happy 2014 and I look forward to staying in touch and making new connections! Wishing everyone good health, fortune, joy & love for this coming year.

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