T- 3 months and counting

Well, a little more than 3 months but the excitement and nerves are setting in.  Sebastien could not be more excited.  I, on the other hand, am more nervous.  Don’t get me wrong, I am excited, but I am also nervous.

I want to give you a little update on what we still have to do and what has been working out well.

To Do:

  • Change our addresses on everything
  • My long term visa for France (I will post)
  • Learn French (sigh)
  • Find a place to live
  • I need an Illinois License (Short post coming regarding why)
  • Pack
  • Store
  • Rent out our place
  • Figure out what to do with my car
  • Sell Sell Sell – there is so much to get rid of!!
  • Say good-bye

Going well:

  • A job- On-line therapy
  • Plan tickets

So we have a lot to do but the next two weeks I am off (yea Spring Break) and hope to move that To Do List to my Done box.

Jet Lag is for real

It has taken us about 4 days (not considering the day we lost traveling)to adjust to the time change. One would think that considering how exhausted we all were from traveling, sleeping would come easy.

Jet lag is real and, like flying long distances, you just have to go with the flow. France is 9 hours a head of California. So when it is 8:00 pm in France (ideal bedtime), it is 11pm in California (lunch time). France’s sun sets later as well (9pm). These little and big changes take days for families to adjust. Luckily we take this into consideration and are fortunate enough to be able to not plan anything the first week we are in France. I recommend doing the same if you can, because over tired children = insanity = an awful visit.

Adjusting takes time.

Day 1 and 2 is pure confusion. We seem to have the most energy around 2 am and ready to go to bed at 11 am. I even went on a 3 mile run at 4 am one day. But that motivation never lasts.

Our advise during these first two days, set realistic changes. Such as staying in bed till 4 am the first night and 6 the next. Adjusting to the actual eating schedule is helpful as well. Which is easy in France because they eat at precise times. =)

Day 3 is another story. Chloé seems to do the best, when she finally falls asleep, she is OUT for 8-10 hours straight. However, Luca is a light sleeper and any little noise (which isn’t hard to create in our small quarters) he is up and wanting attention. There is a lot of whining and this drives Sebastien to the breaking point. I am being real. We always seem to loose our heads with each other on day 3 or 4.

But like most parenting milestones, after the breaking point comes the calm. There is a light at the end of the tunnel on day 4/5. Resorting back to the “cry it out” method makes all the difference (for us it takes about 10 minutes of whining and he gives in to sleep).  By day 5, we are finally on Central European Time. =)

Flying tips from the Puffins

Yesterday, we left from LAX and landed in Paris 10 hours later.  We have done this many times, but as the children developmentally change, each flight has taken on a different energy.  This trip Chloé is 4 and a half, very independent while Luca is not two yet (June 23) and since he was turning two within the time we would be returning, we were required to buy him a seat.  Here is a little recap of our experience and a few tips from the puffins.

In years past, we have flown from San Diego to Chicago, stayed a few days visiting family, and then took a round trip flight from O’hare to Paris.  It would saved us about 3 hours but we end up being away from home for to long.  This year we decided to fly directly from LAX to Paris.

Whenever we book a flight we are conscience of choosing a time that will work with Chloé and Luca’s sleep schedule.  Considering France is 9 hours ahead of California, we are mindful of choosing a time which will increase the probability they might sleep most of the flight.  I should preface that our two cute lovely children do not fall asleep easily, anywhere.

But each year we continue to hope that due to our conscience timed flight choice, the flight will go well.  A “well” flight, for me, would be one in which I slept for 3-4 hours, possible even was able to watch a movie, Luca stayed in his seat most the time, and crying or tantrums were held to less than 3 minutes and fewer than 5 (I am a realist).

So this year, we book a 3:30 direct flight from LAX which landed in Paris at 1:30 in the afternoon.  This gave us enough time to get to the airport, allow the kids to run around and not feel too rushed.  What we did not anticipate was that the flight time would be changed twice from 3:30 to 5:30 and then to 5:55.  Not a huge deal, still no need to feel rushed, but when you are a “planner”, it can throw you off a little.

TipTimes can change.  Do your best to choose a time that will work for your kids but be open to being flexible and rolling with it.

I won’t take up your time with too many details, here is the short version of our experience.  Arrived at the LAX airport in time for the kids to run around and get some energy out.  Only one 3 minute melt down (Chloe) during that time.  LAX has a children’s play ground inside the international terminal  (we did not actually play there because I did not see it till we were boarding).  Boarded smoothly.  Kids were enthralled with the tv and remote control for about 2 hours.  Had dinner and then expected them to sleep.  This did not go as hoped.  Chloé was restless and Luca seemed overtired (since he did not take a nap).  Finally six hours in, Sebastien passed out on the ground (disgusting), Chloé fell asleep taking up 2 1/2 seats while Luca passes out overlapping Chloé’s feet.  This caused Luca to either wake up due to getting a foot in his face or almost falling off the seat because he rolled over.   I took 0 hours of sleep and watched no movies.  I was so worried that Luca was going to fall off of the chair that I had to stay awake watching them.  Luca had a few whining moments but no tantrums.  The worst part of the flight happened in the last 20 minutes.  During the descent, the turbulence was really bad and Luca puked all over me as soon as we landed.  GROSS!

TipAlways pack extra clothes for EVERYONE.  Luckily I had.

Looking back there is one big thing I would have changed, the carry on items.  Every year I pack way too much.  Again, I am a super planner and I am constantly thinking about “what might keep them occupied.”  But they play with less than half of what I end up lugging around.  After a long flight, which causes everyone to be tired, be mindful that you will likely be the one carrying their stuff around.  Yes, we brought a stroller which carried a child and a carry on to the gate but it is not waiting for you when you get off the flight.   So not only do you have sleeply/crabby children that need to be carried, but you also have to carry their stuff.

TipLimit the carry on to one backpack.  Pack light activities.  I could tell you what we brought but it is specific to my kids interests and what keeps them occupied might not keep yours occupied.  I forget, till I am on the plane, how awful waiting through customs can be with two crabby over tired kids.  Imagine being over tired, one kid is hanging on you while the other is running way through the lines all while you are carrying three backpacks, pushing one suitcase and smelling like puke (the worst).  Honestly, the customs line was not to long in Paris which really still was 30 minutes.

Saving grace, a baby carrier.  I stuck Luca in there which freed up my hands and kept him in one spot.  I have even carried Chloé in it even though she is pretty heavy now a days.

I hope this was helpful to someone and feel free to ask me more questions.  Or post your own thoughts/advise.



Got my mind on my money and money on my mind

I believe that is the right line, thanks to Bone Thugs n Harmony. Anyone remember riding around in a Camaro back in High School. Yes, I will be celebrating my 20 year reunion this year.

But this short post is not about reminiscing or rapping. It is about making money. On the list of priorities, this is number one for me. Mainly because I need to start applying my craft now for it to be lucrative enough to live off of by Fall 2017.

One of the idea’s I have been pondering, is to venture into the world of on-line therapy.  In researching this as an option, I came across TalkSpace.  It seems to be more geared to text messaging therapy.  I am intrieged however, it would be a little challenging to respond to client’s considering the time zone difference.


Another option would be to start one of those creepy box opening youtube station.   The ones kids are obsessed with.  Again, it is all about easy, convenient and practical.


Feel free to chime in..







The Psychology of Traveling

This post was initially written while on our Australia, NZ, Bali, Southeast Asia trip.  While preparing for our next adventure, I found it and completed it.  It also gave me an idea for future posts.

Three months into our world traveling adventure, I was inspired to write a perspective piece on my experience.  Looking back, it clearly reflected what I had learned during my master’s in social work program.  The 5 stages of group development.  Forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.  Traveling took on each of these stages and I will write a few examples of how I experienced them.

Forming: I am going to back up about 6 months to August.  We had known for awhile that we were going to be taking off and traveling around the world.  But that is all that we had planned.  Sebastien wanted to just wing it which made me a little nervous.  I like some certainty but am also fine “winging it”.  I has a visual of what it would look like in my head (forming of the idea) but was experiencing the anxiety associated with not being able to know exactly if that would be a reality.

For the three months leading up to our departure I felt very relaxed and excited about the trip.  I believed that everything was going to be great!  Many people would comment, “well then you will really know if you can stand Sebastien” and things of this sort.  Both Sebastien and I would think those statements were strange and they obviously didn’t understand that we spent all our time with each other already.

A month before leaving Sebastien proposed and this just added to the excitement!  I was in the clouds about everything.  Along with those feelings also came some stress with quitting a job that I had been at for 5 years and putting all of our stuff into storage.

Once all of the “loose ends” were tied up and we were on a flight to Australia and normal anxiety set in.  Though very much optimistic that everything would be fine.  After all, I am engaged to my life partner, we were taking on a trip of a life time and I felt that this was just part of the plan.

Storming:  Our first month in Australia was combined with anxiety about how much things cost and relief when things, like meeting Clare and staying with Catherine, worked out.  However, it was stressful to navigate everything we wanted to do when we were in a place as huge as Australia.  There were times, not many, that we got on each others nerves.  But as the days and weeks continued I missed my friends and talking to other people more and more.

Norming: Two months into our trip I felt  that I settled into traveling life.  Like the norming stage of group development, we fell into a grove.  Though it did not decrease the longing for socializing with my friends and family.  I am not a confident stranger and naturally do not just strike up conversation with strangers.  Facebook and Skype (at that time) came in very handy.   Though these type of connections are never the same as sitting around next to people who really know you and understand.

Performing/Synergy stage: Looking back at our trip and think about examples of this stage I immediately recall our efficiency in packing and unpacking.  The fact that I did not lose or forget ANYTHING on this trip speaks to this stage.  Within minutes we could pack up our things and be off to our next location.

Closure:  Several months into our trip, Sebastien got a terrible rash.  This caused a lot of stress for him and home seemed to be the only option.  When we finally decided to end our trip, I felt a sense of sadness.  I wasn’t ready to leave though I knew we were ready.  Again, it reminded me of group work in which closure brings up a lot of different feelings for individuals.  For me, it was feeling like there was more to do.  I hoped that some day, we could do it all again.

“Everybody dies one day. Even little bunnies”

USS Midway

Sebastien scored 2 free tickets to one of San Diego’s most visited museums, the USS Midway.  So, we packed up the car and headed south for an early afternoon adventure. Read More

Timeline to the big move

It has been decided, the puffins are moving to France.  Today is May 1, 2016 and our expected move date is sometime in September 2017.  Here is the short list of things we need to figure out before the big move. Read More

Palm Springs

After our visit in the Midwest, we were eager to return to the San Diego area and settle back into “normalcy”.  Within a few weeks we had an apartment, our belongings out of storage, and I had a full time job.  It happened just as we hoped it would.  Before we knew it we were back to our old routines.  After a few weeks, we began to miss the excitement of the road and decided to go for a quick little get away. Read More

60th Birthday party Michigan style

This one is all for my Dad!  We went up to Michigan for my Dad’s 60th birthday and to celebrate 4th of July.  Sebastien and I entertained my dad by showing him Google Earth and he gave Sebastien a few golf lessons.

Over the past 5 or 6 years my dad has redone the Wolf Lake cottage and it is now Randee and dad’s permanent address.  It’s an amazingly comfortable place with quiet views onto Wolf Lake.  The inside there are two bedrooms, one being a bunk bed room where 5 people could sleep, and two bathrooms along with a huge living room and great size kitchen.  In back, however the Michiganers call it the front, there is a good size screened in porch and a deck.  It is all done up in a log cabin feel with hunting decor.  We slept up in the my dad’s office which is above the garage. Read More