Happy birthday Mom!

We are 3729 miles apart (I looked it up) but the worst part is the 6 hours time difference. At least when you were in Italy we were in the same time zone. Phone calls are impossible, Skype is difficult – get whatsapp already! FaceTime!

Kodak moment!

Scandinavians don’t get emotional

What am I complaining about? When you were my age and your own mom lived the same distance away, or a bit more, you had twice-monthly phone calls with a 5 second speech delay. But I’m addicted to our conversations and I miss them. I miss you.
Happy birthday, Mom. I hope you wake up to a bright sunny autumn (fall!) day in NYC. Have a bagel, some jus de chaussette and a walk in Central Park. Have a Manhattan in Manhattan. What an adventure! What an amazing woman you are!

Love you!

Turning heads

TMAB! xxx

Advertisements

Home stretch

After weeks of stormy weather and interrupted internet connections, I don’t want to speak too soon but… it seems like we’re back online for now. No WIFI and an incredibly slow ethernet cable connection are making me feel like I’m in the early noughties. Our dongle connection in Dar Bouazza was more reliable and faster than this. Morocco > France.

Only a few more weeks to go til the big ole due date. Health cover doesn’t kick in until the 18th of August, so this baby had better stay put for another 11 days at least! Steering clear of spicy food and castor oil until then. In the meantime we are enjoying some newborn-free holiday time with this little cutie:

Cutie Patootie

Cutie Patootie

Bob, Inco and Zaz

Bob, Inco and Zaz

If you’re wondering why it’s so lush and green, that would be because it’s pretty much been raining 6 days a week since the beginning of “summer”. Seriously, Morocco > France.

Stay tuned for some imminent updates on Where We’re Going To Live.

Time to nest

So, nesting syndrome is here. I should have known when I started spending precious toddler nap-time tidying the CD shelf. The penny should have dropped when I started waking up at night and obsessing over getting excited about clearing out the bathroom cupboard.

But today I reached new levels of nestiness when I started doing this:

Hoovering outside

Hoovering outside

Rest assured, Mom and Dad, your house is in good (if slightly crazy) hands.

Pregnancy Hair versus Pregnancy Crazy*

Pregnancy Hair versus Pregnancy Crazy*

 

* I found this image on a different blog, but traced it back to www.nataliedee.com as probable source (edit not mine)

 

PS: on another topic, we asked the Magic Eight Ball if we should move to Toulouse…

Diaper bag! and: 30 days ’til the Games.

Look what I just received in the post:

Super Duper Diaper Bag

Super Duper Diaper Bag

I’m so excited! And also quite impressed that Amazon only delivered 5 days late (was very skeptical when they quoted a one week delivery from the US).
I owe my love for this bag to Tosha’s Mid-Western family, who sent her one a few months back. Every time I saw her with it, I swooned. Now, I know the busy print isn’t for everyone, but it’s just so funky I can’t resist. It’s almost one of those it’s-so-ugly-it’s-beautiful things.
I hadn’t bought a diaper bag yet and I figured with #2 on the way I could splurge a bit – which I didn’t even have to do when it came down to it, thanks to a £50 Amazon voucher my awesome employers sent me when I gave birth last year. It’s nice and roomy, yet light, and has lots of pockets and compartments. But most of all, the print! Yum!

In other news, the 30 day count-down to the Commonwealth Games has begun. In case you haven’t been following the family news, this guy’s on team Scotland:

Scotland's breast stroker*

Scotland’s breast stroker*

More info on www.glasgow2014.com
Joe stopped in to see us 10 days ago with his friend Martin Cremin (also on the Scottish team) after swimming at Mare Nostrum in Canet. Joe will be swimming 50 metres breaststroke at the Games and was looking fit and strong. Whoop!

Here’s another photo of Uncle Joey just for fun:

Fun times!

Fun times!

Updates on the whereabouts of people right now: Henry is here in France with us, as is Calum, our manny for the summer. Joe is back in Scotland, with Hélène. Hannah is in Italy hill-walking with Mom, while Dad is also in Italy but working for Ralph. Grandma is about to head to Italy for a week’s holiday, and Grandpa is soon to be on his way to Alaska for some sweet fly fishing. Christina & family have jumped ship and moved back to England, Marlène & family are back from Argentina for the summer, Julie is back from Gabon to have her baby in France, Bernadette will be arriving from Paris in a couple days. Other people are in their places.
Tally of people who don’t know where they will be living in a few months: Calum, Joe, Megan & Henry, Mom & Dad. Also, Martin. And presumably lots of other people.

* Sorry, couldn’t resist. Blame this sort of dubious humour on Dad.

Limbo – and crazy French birth hand-outs

I used to think that I thrived on living in the unknown. That uncertainty was exciting. Life is an adventure! Close your eyes and jump!

I’m about ready to review that line of thought.

We still don’t know where we’ll be living in the near future. I don’t know for sure where I’ll be giving birth in August – Morocco or France. We’re in France now, but H is heading back to work in Morocco tomorrow and I might follow shortly if things don’t work out here, admin-wise. My aim over the next few weeks is to ensure that I get health cover here, so I can safely have my baby. My “case” is a tricky one, in that I don’t fit into any of the slots. I work for a British company, I live in Morocco, I want to give birth in France. C’est compliqué.

Why do I want to give birth in France? I actually don’t mind where I give birth; it has more to do with H being fed up of working in Morocco, and me shuddering at spending a 9-month-pregnant, boiling-hot, cockroach-infested*, month of August in Morocco – alone,  all my friends there having temporarily emigrated “back home” for the summer.

So here we are in limbo land, unsure of anything and everything, incapable of making plans beyond next week, trying not to think too hard about anything (not very difficult when you have a case of double baby brain).

The thing is, France wants you to have babies here. France loves babies so much, they will pay you to have them. Not only do they make sure you don’t have to dish out one centime in medical care (ALL HEALTH CARE 100% FREE AFTER THE 6TH MONTH! GUARANTEED!), they then GIVE you money, on top of all the reimbursing, to make sure you can buy burp cloths and a cot. That’s something like 923€, handed over when you hit the 7-month mark of pregnancy. Then, once baby arrives (for free), they give you 150-180€ per month, for 3 years, towards nappies and formula (so, if you’re a breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama comme moi, it’s pretty much pocket money). And THEN, on top of all that, from bub #2 onwards, you get child benefit. This, if I’ve understood correctly, is regardless of whether you work or not**. I definitely wasn’t expecting all that. I wasn’t sure about giving birth in France, but if they’re going to pay me to do it, I’ll definitely take that into consideration***.

This turned into a long post, so here are 2 photos of cake to reward you for all the reading:

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Carrot Cake Deliciousness

Carrot Cake Deliciousness Eaten on the Terrace

 

* I’m not squeamish, specially not about bugs, but cockroaches have a way of squicking me out. Definitely not keen on the idea of my toddler crawling around where they crawl around.

** I’m approximately 80% sure of this information. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m suffering from a bit of the baby brain so some of this might be slightly off, or completely erroneous. Check all info for yourself and do not believe everything I say.

*** As a point of comparison, in Morocco I got 3000dh reimbursed, of the total cost of 8000dh for a delivery + 2 nights in the clinic. I was really happy with that! Cheap birthing! Until I found out that France pays you to have babies. Vive la France.

Missing Morocco

I’m slowly starting to accept the fact that we’ll be leaving Morocco shortly to go back to France. I might even be managing to get excited about it from time to time – family close by? yes please! – but in my head I’m constantly listing all the things I’m going to miss.

The fruit n veg – the fresh, in-season, dirt cheap produce has become such a staple in our lives here that it is going to be very tough going back to European markets. Even though it’s better in the south of France than further north in Europe, the difference will still hit us hard. A few weeks ago we were getting deliciously tasty strawberries for 8 dirhams a kilo. That’s 0,71€ or £0.58 or 98 cents of a US dollar. Dirt cheap, I tell you.

Souk

  Souk

Fridge

Fridge

The love Moroccans have for babies. Seriously, wherever I go, everybody coos and smiles at Zaz. Male, female, old, young, makes no difference. When you’re walking along with the push chair and a bunch of tough dudes go all melty-eyed at your 10-month-old, that’s kind of cool. When you’re packing your groceries at the store and the woman behind the till picks up your fussing baby to kiss and cuddle her, that’s awesome.

The gorgeous weather. That doesn’t need much explaining.

The great friends I have here. Not only have I met some amazing and inspiring women here, I’ve felt for the first time a widespread and mutual understanding of what life is when it’s made up of cross-culture marriages, living far from family, and never feeling quite like you belong anywhere – so you belong everywhere. I love it!

Living a 5-minute walk from the beach, being able to hire a cleaning lady for a fraction of European prices, cheap cheap rent, our tiny duplex house, having neighbour kids who all run up to kiss and play with Zaz as soon as we step outside, the friendly sisterhood feeling that exists between women here, hammams, haloua, food in general, afternoons spent chilling with the gangsta mammas and their babes, the medina, getting furniture made, the parking gardiens, driving in Casa (Rabat’s too tame to be fun), the wonderful colourful flowers all year round, having friends and family come to visit, and so much more.

One month to go before my flight back, and I’ll be packing in as much of all this as I possibly can, every day until departure day.

Zaz and the neighbours

Zaz and the neighbours