Goodbye, Family Truckster…

Thanks to National Lampoon’s Vacation, a term was coined that would last for generations to come: the family truckster. A reliant, sturdy, spacious and family-oriented wagon.  In Season 2 of Modern Family, everybody’s favourite father, Phil Dunphy, was devastated by the potential sale of their own truckster. A car long since retired to the garage by the family but not before the memories faded from site.

At some point, when you have a family, you find yourselves owning your own version of the ‘truckster’.  For us, that moment arrived with I was pregnant with Little Miss and we realised our VW Golf wasn’t going to cut it for a family of 4 with a labrador we affectionately refer to as a dinosaur.  That’s when we got our wagon: a Volvo V50. It was black, shiny, sleek and awesome. That car brought my daughter home from the hospital and has since seen too many road trips to count, car sickness from the kids, house-hunting adventures for Mr H and I and has also provided transportation for many of my soccer girls during our so-far-from-Paris-the-trains-don’t-go-there matches. It was our truckster.

This is fun! Eurostar to London!

So today, it should not have come as a surprise to me when we sold it that I would feel sad. You see, we cannot import our car as part of our upcoming move. So, along with our family car, we have started to slowly sell off bits of our Parisian life that cannot make the move with us. My little Buddy cried last night when we told him we were selling the car today. He said it made the move start to feel ‘real’ and I can only agree with him. It’s the first big thing we’ve done towards leaving Paris and I get it. It’s a lot for an adult to take in, never mind a 7 year old.

Buddy trying to drive on the Eurostar to London!

The Volvo was obviously just a car, but it was also an intricate part of many memories. To our former truckster, I say thanks for taking us to and from everywhere we dreamed to go safely. It was a tank of a car, no two ways about that, but it was also a dream to drive. It’s now someone else’s turn to make some family memories with it!

We became ‘that family’ with the roof box and the bicycle rack!
Buddy and Little Miss on the way to Bretagne!

Photo credits: ABC’s Modern Family and Jennifer Hart

Moving Stress and Furry Kids

If you don’t yet ‘know’ us as a family, I would like to take a moment to introduce you to Leni, our 8 year old black lab that acts like he is still 6 months old. Leni is, without a doubt, one of my best friends. He has been my marathon training partner (up to my 30K runs) and my confidant when some days just don’t turn out the way you want. He sat with me in the bathroom through two pregnancies worth of morning sickness and helped the kids learn how to walk by letting them hold onto him to steady themselves. He is not just a family pet, he IS family.

Our furry kid, Leni

We had discussed how to handle the move with the dog. He gets stressed over luggage, etc., so we often keep vacation packing for after he has gone to his vacation farm. We had decided he would go there for the moving weeks then we would return and pick him up after settled in our new home and show him his new Swiss paradise!

What we didn’t expect was his stress to occur before this. Our house is up for sale and anyone who has been here before knows that means a house that is beyond hospital-level of clean with toys, dog beds, etc., all being hidden each morning when we leave the house. Let’s face it,  no one wants to see a chewed up dog bed big enough for a tiny dinosaur in the middle of a living room when looking at a new house. He doesn’t understand this and has unfortunately reacted badly to this change in his life. He has been a mix of depressed and agitated. If you know Leni, you know he is a gentle giant and agitated is not in his repertoire. I noticed last night that he has begun to obsessively lick his paws and cause open sores. Heartbreaking.

Not entirely knowing what to do, we took him to the vet this morning. He has the most amazing vet who immediately agreed Leni was not acting like his normal self. We talked about a plan of action but in the end, it really boils down to a catch-22. We are stressed. Our home is disrupted. He is stressed by these two things. This stresses us out more and thus, the cycle continues. Our ‘prescription’ is to treat his wounds, try to keep his home life as stable as possible and keep his dr informed. If needs be, his dr recommends sending him to his vacation home for a bit of stability. I hate feeling like I can’t make my dog happy when my days and nights are spent obsessively searching for a home with a garden he can play in! If only dogs could speak!!!!

I look forward to the day I can post a happy picture of my silly, happy, big-dog-trapped-in-a-small-dog’s-body, labrador and say, “we all appear to have survived the move!”

Until then…Lenster, I adore you and we’ll sort this out! ❤
Photos courtesy of Louise Francois

It’s official: we are moving to Switzerland

Back in 2005, when Mr H asked me to marry him at the Paris Opéra, I was just a girl from Canada (Thunder Bay, to be exact) who felt dizzy with the lights and craziness of my new potential life. One that didn’t involve flying back and forth across the Atlantic to see the guy I was falling for anymore but rather, one that meant I was relocating here. Somewhere new, fresh and incredibly intimidating. It was French, it was Paris, it was all a lot to take in!! However, we married, I moved and life was pretty sweet. At the time, we were supposed to live here about 2 years. It’s 2015 and we are still here…until this coming summer.

It’s true, we are leaving Paris. We are leaving for a new life in the Lausanne-area of Switzerland and we couldn’t be happier!! Mr H has found and amazing job that he is very excited about and we all support his decision to relocate us for work. While leaving Paris will see many nights of tears and wine, I have no doubt we are making the right decision for our little family.

We have already told our families and some local friends we are leaving, but in doing so, I have come to realise a lot of folks are a bit in the dark about Switzerland. It kind of seems like the Canada of Europe – everyone has heard of it, everyone can name one or two things about it but after that, there is a lot of humming and hawing. Let me help:

1) Switzerland has 4 national languages (Italian, German, French, Romansh). We are moving to the French-speaking part which is excellent for my little bilingual family. I have been re-learning Italian since December and Mr H has been trying to switch his German to Swiss German. This isn’t necessary but we plan to travel around our new country and always find it useful to speak a local language as best we can.

2) Switzerland is a 6 hour drive from Paris. We will be back my beloved Parisian friends xo

3) Switzerland is not in the EU and we will now require visas to work there…Mr H gets one with his job and I have to sort that out for myself which might take time, hence the blog to keep me busy!

4) the junior Harts will attend French-speaking schools like they have in Paris

5) yes, I plan to ski a LOT with Heidi-style braids whilst wearing a Rolex and eating chocolate. Maybe I will yodel, too.  Then eat fondue. OK these are stereotypes but I’m not kidding on the skiing part (or chocolate)!

There will be shocking changes as there are with any international move but we’ve got this. We have already dreamed up our own traditions being a ‘family constantly away from other family’ and I have no doubt that whatever bumps, shocks and ‘omg I didn’t know that!’ moments gets in our way, we will sort it out the way we always have: with laughter and lots of hugs. Maybe some chocolate, too.

Hello and Bonjour

This is it. After 10 years in Paris, France, we are set for a new adventure. Who are ‘we’? We are a Canadian-British family with two kids born and raised thus far in Paris. We are, as my oldest says, citizens of the world. He is right. His sister doesn’t quite understand how different we are just yet but I think this will happen soon enough. I am leaving behind my job, friends, life, soccer club and running club in Paris to restart soon in another country. I’m not sure how seamless this will be so I decided to write about it. Will anyone read this? I’m not sure but I know it will at least help me!

We wanted this change but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a lot of stress. Breathe, one-two-three, have a glass or two of wine, and here we go!!!!