Friday, April 12, 2013


For those waiting impatiently for an update on our life, here are some of the exciting bits:

We sold the apartment in 1.5 weeks.  At a slightly lower price than we expected, but not by much, to a lovely couple who have friends in the building and weren't perturbed by the view.

As much as selling the apartment has (so far) proven much less difficult than I expected, getting a bank loan for the new apartment is proving much harder.  Between the changing details and the rates and the paperwork that keeps expanding and the medical visits and the endlessness of it all, I don't know when it will be wrapped up.  Presumably -- let's be optimistic -- sometime before we close on June 28th.  There seems to be no question that we can get a loan, since we're good credit risks, even nowadays, but neither of the two banks we're dealing with can seem to get their act together.

I don't know whether I'm reassured or concerned that everyone I've talked to has had a similar experience.  At least no one I've talked to so far is currently living under a bridge.

The only thing worse than negotiating a loan with a banker is doing it in a foreign language.  Go ahead, ask me about my taux d'endettement.

And while we're talking debt load, let's mention stress load: the ambient stress in my household is turning it into a tinderbox, and it takes pretty much nothing for my husband and I to get into a stupid, loud, useless fight.  We always get it worked out fairly quickly, since we're not mad at each other, just worn out in general and worried.  I'm glad we love and trust each other so much, because right now, I can't imagine living with anything less.

Work is crazy -- good crazy, busy crazy -- for both of us.

Given all that, I haven't thought much about packing yet.

We will have to find a new child care arrangement since our shared nanny isn't going to follow us across the Parisian suburbs.  Exactly what kind of child care is up in the air since we don't know if Mademoiselle will be potty trained in time to start nursery school in September.

When I'll be going back to work full-time.

And by which time we have been in our new place three months.

Three weeks of which we'll be away on a long-awaited vacation.

Suffice it to say that our transatlantic move ten years ago seems like a logistical walk in park compared to this.

Now, for some updates about the kids:

Mademoiselle is remarkably articulate for a two-year-old.  She speaks in very complete sentences, extended monologues, really, about what she sees and does and reasons.  It is funny to hear two-year-old thoughts come out of her mouth in Big Kid narrative.  She gets overwhelmed by the most unexpected things, like a big vase of tulips that I put on the coffee table this weekend which made her run around in circles and jump up and down.

"Ohh, flowers, they're pretty, the flowers, and and and the bees, they like the flowers. [Carefully bending a tulip and looking inside.]  Oh, oh, there aren't any bees!  There aren't any bees! The flowers are pretty, but the bees, they're not nice, and they make honey, but I don't like honey, and and and..."  Or something like that, but in French, and it went on for several minutes while we watched and laughed.

Le Petit is big enough to take responsibility for a lot, and to (almost) reliably use his fork at the table, but he daydreams and loses himself in things.  I'll find him sprawled on the floor with one shoe off and own shoe on, his jacket pulled off of one arm, absorbed in a book.  We've put in place bribery -- err, positive reinforcement -- to incite him to put his stuff away and wash his hands when he comes home without being asked five times in a row.

Sometimes I forget that he is still so little.

He loves the books I read to Mademoiselle, even the simple ones.  She loves the big kid books I read him.  They fight for room on my lap.

I try to remember to cuddle le Petit, to let him be little, to let him be himself.  I'm not sure I'm always good at this.

Spring has finally decided to come to Paris, after the longest winter I can remember.  There's gray sky and rain and more rain, and most days are still not exactly warm, but the daffodils and tulips are blooming all at once and they've turned the fountains back in the square near our apartment.

For years now, a bulb that accidentally got planted in same pot as the lopsided lemon tree on our balcony has put up dark, shiny leaves in the spring and nothing else.  For years I've thought about pulling it up, but instead left it.  This year it bloomed.  It turns out it's a white hyacinth.  With the cold weather, the flowers have been pristine now for at least two weeks.  When they notice it periodically through the sliding glass door, in between the packs of bottled water and our folded-up stroller, Mademoiselle and Le Petit are elated.


paola said...

I think I missed the part that you had already bought somewhere, so congratulations on both selling and buying. Such a stresssful time, but exciting all the same. Glad to hear the house market is so healthy. In theory it would be an excellent time to buy in Italy too, if you had a couple of hundred thousand euros lying around. House prices are at their lowest since the '80s, but you no one can get a mortgage due to this crisis. Even with two people working.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@paola: Oh, I know, we're in just about an ideal situation for getting a mortgage and it is still a nail-biter. I think that European banks are more conservative to begin with (at least compared to American banks, back in the bad ol' days), and now, well, now it's worse.

At least rates are still low.

The Parisian house market is still healthy, at least in the city itself and in close-in suburbs like the one we're leaving, but I think it'll be getting softer in the next six months or so. Probably now is the time to sell and then stay put for awhile. Which is exactly what we're doing. :)

How are things in London?

Claudia said...

Great update! Glad to hear everything is on track, if at a hurry-up-and-wait sort of pace.

paola said...


London market is doing great, unlike the rest of the UK. Prices are bonkers though, but so is rent, so better to buy if you can. Much easier here to get a mortgage and rates are very low, and even lower if you can make a large deposit. Same problems here too: people bite off more than they can chew and find themselves not being able to make mortgage repayments.