October 10, 2010

Paris

I'm not going in order. I'm starting with Paris because they're the most recent pictures I've uploaded to iPhoto. So, first, let me say that we stayed in the same studio apartment that we stayed in last summer when we did our house swap and it was perfect. (You can see it and even rent it here!) Both Jerry and I loved going back to a familiar neighborhood and the apartment has wireless internet and television now, so it was better than ever. (We watched One Piece in French!)

We were kind of tired from our activities in Greece and since we had just been to Paris the previous year, I didn't feel obligated to see too many museums and do touristy things, which was great. We went to Musee d'Orsay on our first full day in Paris, just because I love that museum and even though Jerry didn't especially want to go, I wanted him to see it. I don't usually make him come to museums with me, but he was up for it and we didn't stay too long, so it worked out well. After the museum we went to FNAC, which is kind of like Best Buy, and Jerry played Guitar Hero. We've been finding lots of ways to incorporate Guitar Hero into the trip even though we didn't bring the PS3 with us! And we've both been good about doing things the other person wants to do. (Museum for me. Guitar Hero for Jerry!) It works out really well. Plus, now that he's older he doesn't always have to go with me. When I went out on Saturday night for Nuit Blanche (a single night of art installations in buildings and public places throughout Paris) Jerry stayed at the apartment and played WoW with a friend from home.

The highlights of our time in Paris (and the real reason for going there) were our visits spent with friends. We spent an afternoon with Etienne's family and we went to Dominique and Alain's (the owner's of the apartment) for dinner one night as well. After that, our next favorite time spent in Paris was at the Musee des Arts et Metier (we went there last year, too) where they had a super cool hands-on history of video games exhibit. It was pure awesome. And as that happens to be my favorite museum in Paris (followed closely by the Musee de la Magie) we both had a great time.

So, I was going to put pictures up for you, but it turns out that the hotel's internet connection runs at a glacial pace, so I'm going to have to do it another day when I'm not at the hotel. Sorry about that. More details to come soon!

October 7, 2010

Hello From London!

My friend, Terri, says she misses my posts and I know Sheri isn't on Facebook, so I'm going to write a quick post. I've been feeling kind of removed from friends and family anyway, so maybe blogging will help. We're having a really great time. Our week with the Waynforth family in Norfolk couldn't possibly have been any better. Our time in Greece was amazing (as was the food!) and we loved going back to Paris (to the same studio we stayed in last summer) and seeing Etienne and finally meeting the people we swapped houses with last year. I have lots of details to share, but this is just a quickie post so I'm saving details for later.

We did have some really sad news from home. Our most wonderful dog, Patsy, died.

It was totally unexpected and happened very quickly. My dad and my brothers dog, Rocko, were with her, so at least she wasn't alone. I feel really awful about it. I have to keep reminding myself that healthy dogs don't die of sadness because I feel like she died because we left her. But, I know that's not really true. Jerry was, of course, really upset. But he was so thoughtful and kept hugging me and telling me it would be okay. I was so worried about how he would react and he seemed just as worried about my reaction. He's getting so grown up...

We've canceled our trip to Spain (we were supposed to leave tomorrow), so we're in London until next week when we go back to Norfolk for a few days, then we're in London again until October 20 when we go to Switzerland for 5 days to visit Patrizia and Alexandra (they're the ones who stayed with us last summer). At the end of the month Lynn is coming down to London with her daughter, Milly, so I'll get to meet a fellow unschooler and blogger which will be awesome. Then we head home on November 1.

I've taken loads of pictures and will put a few on the blog soon. Here in London we've been venturing out of the hotel only for very short trips because I've been sick (so annoying!) so I don't have a ton of energy. But I feel a recovery coming soon (I've been saying that for days, though). Anyway, in spite of the sad news, things are fine and we're enjoying being in new places and meeting new (and old) friends.

So, that's my quickie post. Hopefully there will be a longie soon.

September 17, 2010

Friend Me!

 I just wanted to say that Jerry and I have arrived in England and are staying with the Waynforth family in Norfolk. We're having a great time, but I'm not sure I'll be posting much on the blog. I am putting pictures on Facebook, though, so please friend me on Facebook (Colleen Paeff) if you want to follow along with our European Adventure!

September 1, 2010

I Did it!

I bought our plane tickets to Greece! I know I said we were going, but as long as it was just a thought I kept thinking I might decide not to go because of the cost and because Warren won't be there, which makes the whole idea seem incredibly frivolous and self-indulgent. But, today I bought plane tickets (London to Athens and Crete to Paris--I'm still working on the Athens to Crete part) so there's no turning back now!! I have butterflies in my stomach I'm so excited. We're going to Greece!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

This could be me!
Summer dreams (Elafonisi, Crete)

August 31, 2010

The Ever Changing Plan

When I bought our tickets to London, I was pretty sure Warren would already be there. After all, he was scheduled to leave Sept. 6 and Jerry and I would be coming more than a week later on Sept. 14 (our 19th wedding anniversary!). But you can guess what happened, right?

Yep, we're going to beat him to London--by about five days. But, since flexibility is the name of the game in the film business (that and a willingness to work every minute of every day from pre-production until the film hits theaters) we're accustomed to making last minute changes. Still, it makes it hard to plan. Especially since Warren told me the editor he's working with doesn't even want to go to London. Now I'm afraid the editor will convince the director that the post-production crew should stay in Los Angeles and Warren won't be going to London at all!

Either way, Jerry and I are going, though. Warren says we should still go and have fun no matter where he ends up (of course, there's the small matter of the house sitter who is planning on living here for 7 weeks--Warren could have a roommate if he stays). So, that's what we'll do. Jerry and I will go and have a great time. And by the look of our calendar it's going to be absolutely amazing! And, it won't even be that big of a problem if Warren doesn't go, because we won't really be spending too much time in London anyway. After all, we've got places to go and people to see!

We're going to start off by visiting the Wayforths (that's a new plan now that Warren won't be in London when we arrive--thank you Schuyler!). Then, once Warren gets there (hopefully on the 19th) we'll spend about a week in London with Warren before going to Greece for our Percy Jackson/Greek Mythology Tour Extravaganza. That's not a real tour. I just made it up. But, we're focusing on Greek mythology and are going to try to see the sites related to the myths in the books, so that's what I'm calling it. I'm still working out the details of that trip, but hope to have it all planned and booked in the next day or two. The following week we'll be back in London where Lynn and Milly will come for a visit. Yippee! It's going to be so fun to meet them and to explore London together.

On Thursday of that week (Oct. 8) we fly to Biarritz where we will be picked up by the family of a Spanish girl (she's Jerry's age) who is coming to live with us next year. That's right! We're getting another "exchange" student of sorts. She has to finish this year of school in Spain because it's the law, but then she's coming to live with us in L.A. for a while. I'm so looking forward to it! We're going to stay with her family from the 8th-12th and they're taking us to Pamplona and San Sebastian and some other wonderful places in Spain. This is really exciting because it just came about in the last few days, so it's really unexpected. I love Homelink!

We'll fly back to London on Jerry's 15th birthday and celebrate that evening with Warren. Then the following day we'll go back to the Wayforths for a few days where Simon and Linnea have offered to host a birthday party for Jerry. It's going to be such a special birthday for him.

So, we stay with the Waynforths until the weekend, head back to London and then on Monday fly to Baden Baden where we will take the train to Ettlingen (near the Black Forest) to stay two nights with a German family who stayed with us a couple weeks ago. From there we take the train to Bern, Switzerland to stay with Patricia and Alexandra (they were with us during the summer), then we go to Paris to see Etienne and his family and we'll also see the family we swapped houses with last summer. I expect we'll go back to London around Oct. 27, then we celebrate my birthday with Warren on the 30th and Jerry and I fly home two days later, November 1. Actually, we fly to San Francisco, then we pick Patsy up at my mom and dad's, then we drive home. Oh, and sometime before we leave we need to make it up to Whitby (in North Yorkshire) to visit the woman who saved Jerry's life (literally) the last time we were in England. I figure we owe her a dinner.

So there you have it. That's the European Adventure as it stands today. And then, (as if all of that excitement wasn't enough!) we have an extra special guest coming from Canada on November 11. I'm looking forward to a very girlie weekend of going to museums and drinking wine and talking and eating and having all kinds of fun.

So that's what the next couple months will look like for us. The funny thing is, I've been under the impression that we had a few weeks to get ready before we leave, but I realized a couple days ago that we leave to take Patsy to my mom's a week from Saturday! I only have 10 days left! So, I've gone into high gear and am making arrangements, booking flights, deciding on luggage, filling my iPod with music, buying dog food (which is killing me because it's new prescription stuff that costs an arm and a leg) and getting the house ready for our house sitter--or Warren's roommate (we won't know for another week or so which one he'll be).

Thankfully, all of that leaves very little time for me to feel sorry for myself. So no more whiny posts! Hooray!

August 30, 2010

Who is Teaching Who Here?!

Last week Jerry changed servers on WoW so he could play with his friend Michelle. But she doesn't play as often as Jerry, so he's been really bummed about his decision to switch. The change cost $25 and now he's thinking about changing back to his old server (which will cost another $25). We were talking about making the change while we walked Patsy last week...


Me: But if you change back it's like throwing $50 out the window.


Jerry: No it isn't. It's spending $50 on something that I really want.


Me: Oh. You're right. I guess that's a better way to look at it.


So, that was lesson number one. For me. But school wasn't over. There was more to learn...


I was feeling especially blah that day. (I know. It's getting old, right?) Usually I keep my mouth shut when I feel this way because I tend to regret the things that come out of it. But, Jerry asked. So, I told him I was still struggling with figuring out what to do with myself now that he doesn't really need me around during the day. I told him it was kind of depressing to be alone while he's sleeping and that I'm tired of making so many plans that don't include him.

Then I said: You know what, though. I shouldn't even be talking about this right now. It's coming out like you should be changing something and that's not what I mean. It's just me. I'm having trouble adjusting.

Jerry said: No. It's OK. I tell you about my problems all the time. You should be able to tell me yours.

Me: Yeah. I guess. I just don't want you to think I'm criticizing you.

Jerry: I can handle a little criticism now and then. I mean, people I consider my friends have told me they think I'm lifeless. And I'm fine with it.

Me: It doesn't bother you that they think that?

Jerry: No because I'm doing what makes me happy. Why should it matter what they think?

Me: You're right. It shouldn't matter to you as long as you enjoy what you're doing. That's really great.

Jerry: I think a lot of people either live in the past or in the future, but I just live in the moment. I don't think too much about the other stuff--maybe I should.

Me: A lot of people work their whole lives to live more in the moment and still find it difficult! I don't think you need to change. Buddhists believe in living in the moment. Maybe you're a Buddhist and you didn't even know it!

Jerry: I'm a big fat guy with no shirt?

Me: Buddhist not Buddha.

Jerry: I know. I'm kidding.

Jerry is my hero.

August 18, 2010

London

We're getting an apartment! I was afraid they'd put us in a hotel with no kitchen, but we'll be in a one-bedroom apartment near Hyde Park. Now that I know it's official and we're really going, I feel like 7 weeks just isn't long enough to be there. There are so many places to go and people to visit! I got a book about Greece at the library and I'm going to plan that trip today.

Tonight I'm going to an information meeting at UCLA to learn more about the MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) program I plan on joining. I don't know when I'll apply, but this meeting should help me figure that out. (Oh, and I'll be taking one online library class while we're in London--it's just a one unit class.)

This past week has been full of good friends and good times. I went to a movie with a girlfriend last week (the mom of one of Jerry's friends). A friend from college came up on Friday and we hung out, had dinner, then enjoyed a bottle of wine on the deck while we watched the stars come out as a garden spider spun his web right at the end of the deck. (We saw a Mickey Mouse balloon float by, too.) Monday I had lunch with a friend who has been MIA for the last year. It was great to catch up and she brought me some homemade nectarine/lemon verbena jam that is absolutely amazing. (I'm eating it on toast now!) Yesterday I visited my grandma for a couple hours. Here we are. I love my grandma. I really need to visit her more often. (I also really need to start working out--look at the size of that giant, fat arm!)
 Then I stopped by to see a friend who lives in Long Beach. We walked his dog, grabbed a bite to eat (it ended up all over my hands and clothes--but was so good) and looked at vacation pictures. And it just keeps on going--next week a girlfriend from college (who I haven't seen in years) is coming up with her girls and we're going to the Observatory. And I have plans to see Eat Pray Love and probably Winter's Bone with another couple friends. Lots of fun going on here. But not a lot of picture taking. Sorry about that!

In other news, I've been going through our emergency supply--most of which expired in 2003--and restocking it with all the things we'll need when "the big one" hits. Is your emergency kit well stocked? It should be!

This blog has become unbelievably boring lately (sorry about that, too!), but I'll keep writing quick uninspired updates so friends and family know what we're doing around these parts--even if they do put me to sleep.

Hopefully they'll get more exciting when we're in London!

August 12, 2010

Crisis Averted

I'm fine now. I was just having a little meltdown. Some growing pains, as it were. But all is well and my mottos of the day are "Begin" and "Stay in the moment." I'm having trouble beginning projects because the all seem so large. But, yesterday I bought an adorable bookcase in the shape of a dollhouse that I'm going to repaint and sell. I almost gave up on it before ever beginning, though.

Here's how it went down:

Me #1: Yippee! I have a project! I'm going to sand the bookcase today! Hooray! Wait a minute. Look at all those marker drawings. That's going to take a lot of sanding. That sucks. I'll do this later.

Me #2: Hold on a minute! Just begin sanding in one small space and stay in that moment. Think of it as an exercise in meditation.

Me #1: Hmm. I guess I could do that.

Me #2: Well. What are you waiting for? Begin.

And I did. I just focused on the space I was sanding and before too long I was done. Amazing how that works.

August 11, 2010

Crisis

What the heck am I supposed to do with myself now that Jerry spends most of his time on the computer or Xbox talking and playing with far flung friends? I feel like I'm stuck in limbo. I don't want to commit myself to anything big because I keep thinking Jerry is going to want me for something--some fun project or excursion--but I can't really sit around waiting to be needed, can I? No I most definitely cannot. But I am and it's driving me crazy!!

It would help if I had something fun to do. I did something fun yesterday (had a girl date at the movies with a new-ish friend) but what about today?! The garage and office need to be cleaned out but they're far too overwhelming. I could write but (insert lame excuse here). I could clean the bathroom but I'm sick and tired of cleaning the f*#@ing house. I've moved from here:

to here:
I really just want to do something with Jerry. I miss him.

Hear the violins?

August 10, 2010

Conversation with a Schooler

I had some fun making a mini-movie last week (and I finally figured out how to embed it!). If you like it please give it a good rating here!

August 9, 2010

San Diego Pictures

We had dinner with Etienne's family last night. It was so fun. There are 7 of them! I loved his parents and all the kids were so sweet. We took full advantage of our new deck furniture and our fabulous craigslist outdoor dining table in the front yard and spent the evening talking, eating, and drinking wine outdoors. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures.

I do have pictures from San Diego, though!

This is my mom, dad, Paul (my brother-in-law) and David (my brother) at our dining table. Somehow Jerry, Etienne and I lucked into a two-bedroom even though we were only supposed to have a one-bedroom. It was awesome!
Here's Ezra. He turned one in June. Aren't those the bluest eyes you've ever seen?!
And here's Ezra getting kissed by his cousin Layla.
We had a visit from our good friend (and Jerry's former babysitter) Poliana.
Here's David, Carson (my nephew), and Etienne at the computer.
Etienne, Cora, and Jerry are watching a movie here.
Here's my beautiful sister and best friend, Jenny, with her daughter Cora. I love this picture.
And Jenny's kids: Ezra, Carson & Cora.
My dad and Ezra. Ezra loves my dad.
And no family event has been properly documented without photos of the cutest girl toddler I know, Layla.
Here she is dancing on the table. Ezra and Cora joined her after a few minutes. The adults all sat around the table providing a safety net and enjoying the show. Yes, we are THAT family.
And here we all are together. Mandy took this picture (you can see Livie and Violet on the right). They came out and spent a day with us. It was so fun having them there. They even got to experience my brother-in-law's fabulous cooking (Paul is a chef) because they stayed for dinner!
It was a great week. We each had our own apartment and each family took turns making dinner for everyone. Dinner was always a big highlight of the day because we all came together and the kids played and we had great food and wine and it was just a really good time. And the best part about the night that I was in charge of dinner was that Paul made it! All I did was buy groceries. Oh how I wish it worked the same way at home: 1) buy groceries, 2) sit around drinking wine with family and friends, 3) eat fabulous meal cooked by professional chef which miraculously appears on the table with no effort on my part at all. Give me a personal chef or give me a meal pill--anything that allows me to avoid cooking is fine by me.

Anyway, back to the trip. We spent a day at Legoland, went to the horse races (Etienne won $10 betting on the only French horse in the race!), rode on the rides at Belmont Park, and spent an hour or so at the Museum of Making Music. The rest of the time was spent by the pool or relaxing in our rooms. It was great. Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Since we've been home, I've been doing lots of cleaning. I picked a bunch of figs and made jam.
Then I bought a bunch of strawberries and made strawberry jam. I bought peaches, too, because I want to try canning peaches. The lady that sold me the peaches told me never to can tomatoes when I'm on my period. She said he grandmother told her it would ruin the tomatoes. Weird, huh? But I was very excited to be privy to such ancient wisdom, as I'm sure the woman's grandmother probably heard it from her grandmother. So, I'm going to follow the rule whether it's true or not just because I want to be a part of that ancient chain of wisdom.

In other news, I found a computer programming teacher for Jerry and they had their first lesson last week. It went really well. Jerry likes the guy a lot and they seemed to have a good time. So, they'll meet once a week until we leave in September.

Oh my gosh. I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you the most exciting news of the day! It's not absolutely certain yet, but I'm pretty sure Jerry and I are going to spend about 6 days in Greece in September or October! Jerry has been so into the Percy Jackson books it would be a shame if we didn't take advantage of our proximity to the home of the Greek myths while we're staying in London. I found decent airfare and I'm in the process of figuring out what it would cost us to stay in the hotels or hostels. I think we'd only stay 5 or 6 days because the guilt of going to Greece without Warren is pretty fierce. We've never been there, but have talked about going ever since our first trip to Europe together in '94. So, in an effort to avoid the guilt of going to a beautiful, romantic place without my husband (which makes me very sad--but not sad enough not to go) is to make it into a site-seeing trip. We'll whirl into Athens, see the sites, whirl into another town (or an island), see those sites, spend a day on the beach, then whirl back to London. So, it'll be like a working vacation (do you hear the rationalization wheels turning?).

Anyway, it's in the planning stages and the whole thing could fall apart if it turns out to be too expensive, but figuring out how I can make it happen is my current obsession. Maybe someday my obsession will be cleaning and organizing my house. And maybe next time it will stick. Because whenever I think my current obsession is getting my house all cleaned and organized (like last week) it never lasts long enough to do all the work. In fact, it usually lasts just long enough for me to clean out a cupboard, strewing the contents of said cupboard onto every available flat surface in the house, and that's usually about as far as I get. I have a serious problem, best illustrated by this hilarious post (thanks Ronnie!) at Hyperbole and a Half.

Well, Warren is home and it's time for me to leave the internet behind and go to bed. Good night!

August 4, 2010

Summer Fun

I'm really not supposed to get sucked into sitting at my computer, but my mom has requested a blog post so I'm going to write a quick update in the 10 minutes before I wake Jerry up to walk the dog (his request!).

First, some pictures from the last few weeks:

Etienne arrived on July 9. Ravenpaw took to him immediately.
And so did Charlie.
We all did, actually. The first day he was here we didn't do much. The next day we watched the World Cup

then we went to one of our favorite places, Will Rogers State Historic Park.



After playing frisbee we hiked up to "Inspiration Point" where Etienne literally ran circles around us at the summit. The boy has a lot of energy.

Monday we went to Mountasia for some mini-golf
go kart racing
video game playing
bumper boats
and ice cream at Farrell's.

I don't remember what we did Tuesday--rest, I suppose, because Wednesday we went to Knott's Berry Farm with Summer (my niece), and Etienne's sister, Laure.
I don't remember what happened Thursday, but on Friday we drove up to Sacramento where we met up with Patricia and her daughter, Alexandra, from Switzerland. They stayed at my mom and dad's house with us and we all went to the California World Music Festival.
The music festival was fun, but what the kids really liked was my mom's pool.
We drove home on Monday (or maybe Tuesday) and went to Knott's Berry Farm (again!) on Wednesday.

We spent the next couple days preparing for our vacation in San Diego, then left on Saturday for a week of fun with my family (mom and dad, brother and sister, and my nieces and nephews) at a resort near Legoland.

I'll have to post about San Diego later because those pictures aren't on the computer yet.

As far as what's going on with us now, all the guests are gone and we're enjoying an open schedule and time at home. I'm going to make some fig jam today, strawberry jam on Saturday, I'm cleaning, organizing, giving things away to clear space in our lives, watching movies with Jerry and going for walks. Etienne's family is coming for dinner on Sunday and I'm looking forward to meeting all of them. We were very sad to say good-bye to our French visitor, so we're glad we'll get to see him again!

July 23, 2010

Visitors Galore

I know it's been ages, but with all the visitors we've been running around like crazy for the last couple weeks. I'm supposed to be packing up to go to San Diego for the week (the boys and I are leaving tomorrow–poor Warren has to stay home to work), but I'm freaking out because I just bought tickets for me and Jerry to go to London (since Warren will be working there) and now all of a sudden I'm in a panic because we're going to be so busy until the last week in August and then we're leaving on September 13! Eh gads!

Anyway, enough moaning about things I should be happy about. We've been loving our time with Etienne, our visitor from France. And since last Friday we've had visitors from Switzerland, too (a mom and her 13-year-old daughter). In the last two weeks we've been to Knott's Berry Farm (twice), gone miniature golfing and go kart racing, spent a windy day at the beach, attended the California World Music Festival in Grass Valley, and spent lots of time swimming in my mom and dad's pool. Now we're off to San Diego with my parents and my brother and sister and their families. At the end of the week we have to hand Etienne over to his parents, but we'll see him again when the whole family visits L.A. in early August.

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll get in while we're away, but I have been posting pictures of our recent escapades on Flickr so be sure to check those out. I haven't deleted anything yet, so it may get boring pretty quick, but at least it will give an idea of what we've been doing lately.

I'm off to pack!

July 6, 2010

July 4th Photos

I just wanted to share a few photos from the annual July 4th party at my mom and dad's house. It was a quick weekend with a long drive in both directions (they live in Sacramento), but the party was well worth it for a the fun, friends and family. Most of these pictures are of my nieces and nephews because they're just so darn photogenic (and I didn't think my family members would appreciate appearing online in their swimsuits).