Sunday, January 27, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013"

Quatre :: Throwing me a quick smile during a little downtime on the couch.  

I didn't take many photos with my camera this week, but I managed to capture this shot during a very typical moment chez nous.  The couch is the center of our living room and where we spend a good chunk of time hanging out when we're indoors, and this week was no exception. Despite having a slight cold, Avienne spent a great week chewing on her toes, taking walks outside and blowing raspberries.  She also continued to remind me how lucky I am to call her (and that sweet smile of hers) mine.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 project.

And that's the way it's done in America

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Has something ever worked out exactly the way you wanted it to without putting any hope or effort into getting it done? It usually doesn't, and we certainly didn't imagine it would ever happen when dealing with the French or American immigration process.  Until Gui becomes an American citizen and I become French, we will forever be obliged to deal with the paperwork and "hassles" of immigrating.  And, we're mostly ok with that - it's something we've always understood to be part of our relationship since day one.  

When Gui officially immigrated to the US nearly two years ago, the immigration officer at customs in Houston marked his visa as a conditional permanent resident which requires reapplication for the green card in two years.  According to the immigration laws that were in effect when we applied for Gui's residency, if an immigrating spouse has not been married to an American citizen for at least two years at the time they first enter the US with a green card, they are granted conditional permanent residency.  When we applied for Gui's green card, we had not been married for two years, but by the time we finally officially moved to the US, we had been married for nearly three years.  We didn't notice the error right away, and when Gui researched how to contest it, we decided it wouldn't be worth the hassle and risk to go through the process of disputing the conditional status.  

Fast forward to early last year, when we applied for the green card renewal.  We sent in the tedious paperwork, hefty application fee and submitted to all the biometrics by May of last year.  When December rolled around and we hadn't heard anything back from USCIS, I made a phone call.  Frustratingly, I was refused any update on the status of our application and was kindly told to wait it out.  Then, this past weekend, we came home to a letter in the mail from USCIS explaining that they realized an error was made when Gui entered the US in April 2011.  What?  They realized their error and they're actually admitting it?  They also said they are going to reimburse our application fee and send Gui the permanent residency card he should have received in the first place.  What?!  Does this even happen in real life?  We couldn't believe it when we read it.  This would probably never happen in France, and I'm even surprised that it happened here.  The fact that they would even take the time to investigate our case and then recitfy the problem without our behest is just so unbelieveable.  It's actually renewed my confidence in the process and although I'll probably never be happy doing all the paperwork and interviews and appointments that come with being a legal alien, it sure makes things a tiny bit less painful when you trust the folks running the show.

Gui's still a little skeptical that there's an ulterior motive for their admission of guilt, but it just sounds like plain old American courtesy to me.  

Weekend perfection

Monday, January 21, 2013

Holy moly, what a beautiful weekend we had!  The sunshine, blue skies and perfect weather were practically begging us to get out of the house all weekend, so that's pretty much what we did.  After getting a few, obligatory things done at home (laundry, vacuuming, babyfood-making), we took every opportunity to spend some time outdoors. 

We hung out at the park nearby and Avienne rode a swing for the first time ever.  She startles easily (definitely gets that from me), so we weren't sure if she was going to love it or be scared.  Well, she definitely wasn't scared.  In fact, she seemed a bit unamused by the swing at first, but once we sat her forward in the seat, she was all smiles.  Gui and I had fun taking turns pushing her and when the sun got to be a little too warm, we took a stroll around the park before heading back home.  We had so much fun swinging Avienne  and seeing her delight that we went back for an encore on Sunday.


We took a long afternoon walk on Sunday where we ran into some friendly neighborhood cats and interesting foliage.  Before meeting up with friends in the evening for a beer en terrasse, Avienne and I hung out in the shade of the house while Gui finished taking off the last of our Christmas decorations from the front porch. The light was pretty magical as the sun was setting, and we just sat around the yard, playing with dead leaves and watching the passersby similarly exploiting a sublime late-winter day.


As the weekend was coming to a close, Gui reminded me that I hadn't baked the cookies I had been talking about wanting to bake all week.  So, after dinner, while Avienne slept, I enlisted a bit of Gui's help and  finally baked those cookies. Man, I'm so glad I did because they were a perfect, sweet finish to a perfectly sweet weekend.

Happy Monday, everyone!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013"

Trois :: A side-eyed glance from her favorite spot in the house.

We've been seeing a lot of this little corner lately.  With all the buzz going around about a flu epidemic, we stayed in and around homebase quite a lot this week (I might be a little paranoid), and this is little spot is Avienne's first stop after breakfast.  She loves daylight and can stare out the window for ages and every so-often I'll catch her shifting her attention from the object in her hand to a swaying tree outside.  The week started off with a couple of really cold days, but by Thursday, we were back to sunshine, blue skies and long, afternoon walks.  I'm hoping for more of those bright and balmy days in the week ahead.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 project.

What playtime looks like

Friday, January 18, 2013

Now that she sits up on her own, Avienne is having a blast rifling through her basket of toys in the living room.  It makes me smile to see her playing so contently on her own, rummaging through all her choice toys wondering which one is hidden beneath the last.  Occasionally, she'll throw a glance my way to make sure I'm still there observing, and when I've stepped out of sight (likely to grab some food or brush my teeth), she'll let out a high-pitched squeal until I call out that I'm still closeby.  Then, it's back to business and back to that basket.  

When she finally empties it out, she has a look around to see what's still within reach, then gives each item a hearty shake, a quick gnawing and tosses it away for the next in line.  When she's finally had enough, she sits and claps, chews a finger or two and gives the room a quick once-over before setting her sights on me.  That's my cue that playtime is over and we're off to search for another adventure. 

Finally...a haircut

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm kind of known for not cutting my hair.  I always say I need to get it cut or I'm planning to make an appointment for a cut, but it never ends up happening.  I don't know exactly why, but there's always some excuse for me to avoid sitting in the chair.  It's not like I'm afraid of having my hair cut either - I usually just tell the hairdresser to have their way with my mane so long as it's thinner and cleaner-looking.  When I was younger, I'd have my hair cut all the time.  I had boy-short hair, a mushroom-looking bob, mega-long, one-length hair and everything in between.  Dying my jet-black hair was never really an option, so when I needed a change, I'd just have someone chop it here or there and I'd get that feeling everyone craves when they're a teenager - that feeling of being just a little bit different.  

I'm pretty sure the last time I had my hair properly cut was back in 2009 when I finally went to a salon in Paris and asked the pretty, young stylist to give me a fresh look.  I think I even asked her if she would cut me some bangs because I'd been wanting that pretty and bold look I'd been noticing all the young Parisiennes sporting around my office in the fancy 8ème.  So, when she first cut long bangs instead of a bold blunt fringe à la Katie Holmes, I remember feeling a little let down, until I remembered being told once that my forehead was rather small and bangs just wouldn't work.  I loved my little 2009 haircut, despite the extra-long bangs, but it's now 2013 and I've gone nearly 4 years with perhaps a little trim in-between, yet I'm still thinking about cutting some stinkin' bangs!  

After going through nine months of pregnancy, post-partum hair-loss (even for my absurdly thick-haired self, let me tell you, it ain't fun), I was feeling bold and ready for a change.  So, I stopped procrastinating and cut myself some bangs.  It took me over an hour to cut them the way I wanted, and they're still a bit lopsided, but I've got to say, I really like wearing bangs and dangit, I think my forehead is just the right size for them.

 Then, a few days after giving myself my own haircut, I came across these old pictures, and now I know that blunt bangs and mushroom bobs have actually suited me well for quite some time. ;)  Who knew?


Monday, January 14, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013"

Deux :: Sitting pretty in her reindeer pajamas.

Christmas may be over, but it's been hard to resist keeping this little girl in all her adorable Christmas pajamas.  It seems like such a waste to wear them only once, and I know it's only a matter of time before she's going to be too darn big to fit into any of these cute outifts, so I'm taking advantage while I can.  

And, I am seriously loving that she sits up so straight and balanced now.  It's just amazing that she manages to sit so straight without toppling over from the weight of her big noggin (which she was blessed with, no doubt, thanks to both of her big-headed parents)!  Everyday she learns to do something totally new, and I couldn't possibly be a prouder mama.

01/52 :: a portrait a week

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm not one to make resolutions.  I think it's great to set goals, to be challenged and grow everyday, and I'm all about getting behind a resolution with a finite end-date or result.   But for me, singling out one or more things to resolve  to change about myself, my life or habits at the beginning of a new year is a total set-up for failure.  Still, in the spirit of starting a "fresh" new year, I wanted to do something on my blog that challenges me to be here a little more often than I have been over the last couple years.  I thought about the 365 project that everyone and their mamans do (that is, taking and/or posting a picture everyday), but that's just a little too ambitious for my less-ambitious taste.  So, when I stumbled across "A Portrait a Week" on this lovely blog, I thought it was a perfect compromise.  

I take so many pictures of Avienne everyday that I shouldn't have any trouble making the effort to take her portrait at least once each week and document it here.  She changes by the minute these days and I think this will be the perfect excuse to capture her in one telling moment every week to look back on at the end of 2013.  I also love the idea of taking a self-portrait and a partner portrait each week, but we'll see how this goes first and maybe save that for next year.

[Sidenote:  I'll be posting these every week on Sunday night or Monday morning and each one will have a short description beginning with the number of the week written out in French (I need the practice).]

::  ::  ::

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013"

Un  ::  A sweet baby with a scratched forehead playing on the bed before a much-needed morning nap.

It's been a pretty rainy first week of the year for us, so we've been spending our dreary mornings playing on the bed or lounging on the couch.  Lately, it's been hard to capture this little face without her hands in her mouth or her bottom lip tucked in.  She's been teething for as long as I can remember, but still all gums at the moment.  And despite our best efforts, we can't seem to keep her nails short enough to keep her from scratching herself...she's like Edward Scissorhands these days!


Friday, January 4, 2013

We had so much fun visiting with our friends, Katherine and Tarik over the holidays.  It was the first time they met Avienne, and she was justifiably smitten by them.  For us, it was nice to have a reason to get out and about town, which we sometimes forget to do now that we have a slightly different routine and an extra person (with a crazy sleeping schedule) to consider.  Thankfully, Avienne is usually happy to indulge us on our outings by being such a trooper while we hang out or have a meal.  

Apart from Gui's family, we seldom have visitors hailing all the way from France, so having our friends in town was a pretty sweet treat.  While they were here, we managed to make time for a bit of bookstore-browsing, burgers, beer and boardgames, and we even snuck in a trip through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru - something I need to do more often!  Hanging out with them this time was quite the different adventure from our last jaunt together in Rome, but I have to say, I think we all had just as much fun this time around in good ol' Austin, Texas as we did back in Italy.


A petite update (the holiday version)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Man!  This last week and a half or so has zipped by!  I took a little break from updating my blog and the internet in general to spend my time catching up with family and a couple of friends visiting from France.  We've been having such a good time that I barely remembered to browse through my overflowing inbox each day.  It's been a nice change of pace, but now that the holidays are over and Gui's vacation time is coming to an end, it's time to get back to our regular routines - including a little update for everyone we missed seeing this year.  

Christmas was so much fun with Avienne and all her cousins opening presents together for the first time ever, made even better by the delicious food my mom and stepdad served up to all 11 of us while we completely took over their house for four days.  Avienne, not surprisingly, mostly enjoyed all the paper-tearing that came with opening gifts, and although Gui and I kept her presents simple (books and a stuffed toy), her first Christmas was generously filled with toys, big and small from the rest of the family (and Santa, of course). 

We missed having a really cold Christmas this year, but when the temperatures finally started falling a few days later, Gui and I took full advantage and spent as much time as we could spare in front of our cozy fireplace.  The warm hearth also proved to be the perfect accessory for our at-home New Year's Eve which was spent with some really sweet friends who we hadn't seen since we left France nearly two years ago [two years ago!! I can't believe it's already nearing 2 years!! Seriously can not believe.].  

To ring in 2013, we stayed in, grubbed on foie gras, salmon, charcuterie, cheese and champagne, roasted marshmallows for s'mores-making and played a Settlers of Catan marathon.  When the midnight struck, we toasted to a perfect year passed, and I kissed my sweet husband and darling daughter while wishing for another beautiful year to spend with them.  Let me tell you, it was one of the best New Year's Eves I can remember having, and I feel pretty lucky to have had some crazy-amazing folks to celebrate with.  I hope y'all had a fun one, too!  Cheers!

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.