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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

So Far Away

Our grandson Isaac is 9 months old already. Time really flies when you are so far away (almost 6000 miles away) from your grandson, especially the first year of his life. They grow so quickly in that first year.

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Our Precious Little Grandson Isaac

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Bubbie and Isaac ~ Play Time

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Bath Time ~ Papa and Isaac 

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Papa, Bubbie and Isaac Celebrating New Year’s Eve

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My Boys ~ Joshua, Steve, Jonathan, and Isaac

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Feed Me ~ Isaac’s First Taste of Baby Food

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Bubbie Feeding Isaac His First Baby Food

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Isaac Rolled Over to Play ~ Now He is Crawling All Over The Place

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Mommy And Isaac

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Daddy And Isaac

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Uncle Joshua, Aunt Lupe and Isaac Celebrating New Year’s Eve

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Our Family ~ We Love When We Are All Together 

It’s times like this that I feel so far away from our grandson Isaac (and our kids):

Since we saw him two months ago, he is now sitting up on his own, crawling all over the place, has begun to eat table food, listens to music and beats in sync to the rhythm, and a variety of other amazing things.

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Happy Birthday Bubbie ~ The Best Present I Got on My Birthday ~  This Photo of My Baby Doll Isaac

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Just After We Left ~ Isaac Sitting on His Own

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Isaac Singing to the Music

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Isaac Has Grown So Much in the Two Months Since We Saw Him

Fortunately my daughter-in-law Liz sends me short videos of all of these milestones, and Jonathan makes sure that we Skype regularly.

I am grateful and thankful for today’s technology – Skype, WhatsApp, telephone with unlimited free calls to the USA, email and all the rest; however it does not take the place of  real hugs and kisses and face to face talking and singing songs and reading stories together, and especially rocking him to sleep in my arms.

We were there when Isaac was born June 18, 2016 and for the first seven weeks of his life. Then we were away for three months (seemed so long), and then we were with them for two full months and all of the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve into the middle of January. But now we will have been away for four months (feels really a long time) until we are with them again for five weeks (we will be celebrating Isaac’s first birthday!!) Where has the time gone? Thank goodness for all of the technology as it has allowed us to keep up with Isaac’s every move while he is growing up in front of us (on a screen).

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Jonathan, Liz and Isaac ~ Their Own Little Family

Both Steve and I have decided that we do not want to have more than 3 months in between our visits to see our grandson Isaac and our kids, so we will be going back at least three times a year and having them come to visit us in South of France once a year. That is a plan that we can live with for now.

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At the Beach in December

WOW – It is December and we are at the beach here in Southern California!

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The Hermosa Beach Pier

Steve and I are at Hermosa Beach walking on the pier enjoying watching the waves roll up against the sand and taking pictures of the many seagulls flying around us. The sun is shining, it is warm with a windy breeze.

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A Seagull Flying Into the Breeze

It is rare but there are only a few people on the pier and the beach today which makes it so nice and relaxing. Part of that is due to the windy breeze and the other is that many people are at work. That is what being retired is – going places when everyone else is at work.

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Not Camera Shy

Although in the “City” – Los Angeles with millions of people and cars, that doesn’t always hold true, places and streets and freeways are still crowded and full. But today we are lucky and we have the pier and the beach to ourselves at least for a few hours.

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Putting Up the Hermosa Beach Christmas Tree

We stopped to watch city workers put up the community Christmas tree at the top of the pier. They will also put up a large Chanukah menorah  just across from the tree.

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Seagulls Watching Us Eat Lunch

I packed a lunch for us to eat on one of the benches on the pier allowing us to take in the sunshine, the beach life and to watch the waves roll in and out against the sand.

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Watching the Waves Roll In

We are enjoying the warm weather 22ºC / 73°F. Due to the breezy wind advisory, there were no surfers out today and we saw the airplanes flying a different course out of LAX airport. The air was so clean that it made me feel light headed and happy. I love the beach and the weather in Southern California in December.

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The Surf Crashes into the Beach

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Thanksgiving in the USA

It was another picture-perfect beautiful day in Southern California – 82°F / 28°C.

It was so exciting to wake up this Thanksgiving morning and realize that we are here in Southern California to celebrate our precious grandson Isaac’s “First” Thanksgiving.

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Our Family

Once again Liz’s parents, Mark & Diane, spent hours preparing countless delicious dishes, and opened their home to the growing family. All five of Mark & Diane’s children, all five of their grandchildren – including our Isaac – Jonathan & Liz, Joshua & Lupe and Steve & I were gathered around the table for the Thanksgiving feast. All told, there were 20 of us sharing stories and laughing, while passing the serving bowls in countless directions, until everyone’s plates were loaded with fabulous home-cooked food.

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Mark and Diane with Isaac

It warms my heart and reminds me of how blessed we all are with our good health, our family, friends and love all around us.

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My Boys

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Jonathan and Isaac

It was our grandson Isaac’s and Liz’s nephew Elliott’s “First” Thanksgiving. They are only 5 weeks apart in age. Isaac is five months old and Elliott is six months old.  Landon is 3, Avery is 3 and Emelia is 1. So as you can imagine, there was a lot of activity going on in the house. I love the sounds of kids playing and laughing and the babies taking it all in. It was so much fun to watch the interaction between all of the cousins.

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Isaac, Elliott and Emelia

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The Five Cousins

That is what “Thanksgiving” is – a house filled with family, food and fun.

We have so much to be thankful for.

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Bubbie’s Boy

Be Grateful. Be Thankful.  Always…

It was a very Special and Happy Thanksgiving

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Back in the USA

We are back in Southern California again to be with our kids and grandson Isaac, as well as our friends, for the holidays. The holidays will be so very special this year as we celebrate Isaac’s “First” holidays.

It is just a week ago that Steve & I left France and arrived in Los Angeles, California – our USA Home.  Our son Joshua picked us up at the airport and brought us back to his house – which is our home when we visit.

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A short time later Jonathan, Liz and Isaac met us at Joshua’s house and spent the afternoon and evening with us. Our precious grandson Isaac recognized us right away as soon as they brought him into the house and he began smiling and laughing and trying to talk by cooing with us.

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Liz handed him to me and he came right to me for lots of hugs and kisses. Then onto Papa for some attention.

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It was the best welcome home present we could ever ask for.

As Jonathan said, “All is right with the world now that our family is all together again.” I feel the same way.

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I am so looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with our whole family tomorrow. This will be Isaac’s “First” Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned for all of the details in my next blog.

Wishing all of you a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving.

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Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays of the year – however, it is a special day for me.  A celebration of life. My life. I am so thankful and grateful to be alive.

You see it was 16 years ago today that I heard those fearfully dreaded words, “You’ve got Cancer”. 16 Years Ago today since my Cancer Diagnosis.

Some may ask “Why is she celebrating the anniversary of her cancer diagnosis?”

Actually I am not celebrating the day of my diagnosis. What I am celebrating is “Being Alive”. Living with cancer. Surviving cancer. Beating cancer.

Celebrating  being alive and enjoying my life with my family – especially our new grandson Isaac. Living in South of France, Southern California and England and loving it.

As many of you know, I am a very positive person and I can find the positive in every situation, even living with cancer. No one ever wants a cancer diagnosis but I have found the gifts that it has brought into my life. Living in an attitude of gratitude, being grateful and thankful for all of the blessings in my life everyday – the gift of a new day, good health, my beautiful family, our many good friends around the world and the abundance and prosperity in our lives. Every day brings new friends into our lives as well as new opportunities to touch people’s lives in a positive way and make a difference in the world. Even if that means in our village, in our community or in other parts of the world.

There is no cure today for the type of cancer that I was diagnosed with, however there could be one tomorrow. So in the meantime, I continue to Live each day to the fullest, Love many people and Laugh a lot. I treasure every moment with my family and friends. I am thankful and grateful for all of the blessings in my life.

I am so happy I am alive!! The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it is a beautiful day and we will soon be home with our family and friends in Southern California for the holidays.

For those of you who do enjoy celebrating Halloween – Happy Halloween.

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Happy Halloween

“L’Chaim Tovim Ul’Shalom,” “For a Good Life, and for Peace.”

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We have all heard the saying “Time Flies” and we are really finding that to be true, now more than ever. This is our second spring in our new house in the South of France and the first full year for the garden. We had just started planting the garden last spring.

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Welcome to My Garden

Besides the warmer weather and beautiful sunshine that spring brings with it, there is the awakening of the flowers, plants and trees that excites me the most. I love my jardin and I love seeing my garden come back to life after the winter months. As a photographer, I am constantly taking pictures of the many things and people around me; however I seem to get into high gear with my camera when nature makes a change.

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One of Many Purple Flowers

You can see in the pictures how quickly everything starts to come back to life and begins to grow again as soon as the warm weather arrives.

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Just Getting Started

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Happy Smiling Faces

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The Garden Angel Surrounded by Flowers

The warmth came early this year – the end of February – confusing nature and causing some plants to come back to life and some of the flowers to bloom earlier than usual.

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Awakening

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Full Bloom

The pictures show the progression of nature from the bare branches of the plants and trees to the green leaves pushing their way out of the branches and the flowers unfolding into beautiful blossoms.

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Ready to Pop

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Peek-a-Boo!

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Bam!

As I walk into the garden, I can see how each of the plants are becoming full of colorful flowers. It is like a race of nature to see which ones will become full first.

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An Explosion of Color

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More Pink Flowers

It is so exciting to watch the little pods begin to open and see the flowers push their way into the sunshine, bringing every color of the rainbow into my garden.

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Tree Branches Bursting into Life

I love to see the bare brown branches of the trees become full of green leaves, giving them a new shape and bringing shade and such beauty to the garden and the surrounding area. It feels as if the process is appearing right before our eyes.

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Shades of Purple

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The Beauty of White

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Shades of Red, Yellow and Green

We are also enjoying our new patio furniture. It allows us to spend a good amount of time outside on the terrasse overlooking the garden.

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The Patio Terrasse 

We eat our meals outside and invite friends over to enjoy the garden with us. It is amazing the things that you become aware of while sitting outside watching nature takes its course – bees pollinating the flowers, hovering over each one for minutes at a time (some long enough for me to take a photo) before moving onto the next one.

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A Bee at Work

Butterflies land on plants that attract them to their small branches and flowers – and spread their wings, revealing their beautiful colors.

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Another Happy  Flowering Plant

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More Happy Flowers

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From Pods into Flowers

We have an occasional visitor called a Hummingbird Hawk Moth that is a fraction of the size of a hummingbird. At first sight, I thought that it was a baby hummingbird, but it is neither hummingbird nor moth. Then there are the many different varieties of birds that fly into the trees in our garden. The many sounds that they make creates a symphony as they communicate with each other.

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Steve Attempting to Train the Vines

The vines on the pergola are growing so fast, almost 6 inches a day. This keeps Steve busy as he trains the vines to cover the pergola. He has to guide them in the different directions on the poles and tie them with a special string that holds them in place and also allows them to keep growing and spreading out over the pergola.

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The Vines in Full Bloom

I hope that all of you are enjoying the sounds, colors and rebirth of spring as much as I am.

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My Garden Angel

 

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Long before moving to France, Steve and I were customers of a worldwide bank, which simplified having accounts in the USA and the UK. As we began to look ahead to retiring to France, we asked the bank to open an account for us at their French affiliate. This turned out to be very easy, and they arranged all of the paperwork that we needed to fill in and sign and then they took care of the rest – it was that simple – and voila we had a French bank account before we even moved to France. We knew how lucky we were as we were told how complicated the red tape can be in France.

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Cash Machines are Everywhere

Now fast forward two years and we are now living in France a good part of the year (we split our time between the south of France, England and Southern California). It turns out the closest branch of our worldwide bank is 45 minutes away from where we live. This does not make it convenient for making deposits or other banking needs. Although we can use the cash machine in any bank to get cash without a fee using our bank card, after the first year living here in France, it became evident that we needed a local bank account.

We began by asking our friends who had a local bank which one they were with. There are so many local banks to choose from and we wanted to make sure that we chose a bank that fulfilled our needs – nothing more, nothing less. Well that can get confusing as everybody has their own opinion of what they think the best local bank is. We listened to each of our friend’s explanations of why they chose their bank and asked them questions to figure out the pros and cons.

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Some of the Many Banks to Choose From

Steve and I visited each of the banks to find out for ourselves which bank is best for us. As we visited each bank, we went through the same process of asking questions about what services they offered, the cost of these services (as we learned there are many) and then telling them our needs to see if there was a fit. It was a tedious process but one that you have to go through. We grew our French vocabulary – banking words and phrases and we felt like our French was at least being understood, especially important if they did not speak any English.  It did pay off in the end, after visiting five to six local banks we found just the right local bank for us – with the services that we need, with reasonable costs and a wonderful lady who spoke fluent English.

Opening up the actual bank account was another adventure. We met briefly with the English speaking lady at the bank that we chose and told her that we would like to open up a bank account.

She went to her computer to give us an appointment (even though there was no one else in the bank at the time we had to have an appointment). She typed various details into her computer. Steve and I just laughed because it took her as long to set up an appointment for us to open a bank account as it would have taken to actually open up a bank account in the USA. Of course she told us all of the documents that we would need to bring with us to the appointment.

The day of our appointment comes around and we are all ready to go to the bank, documents in hand. The bank lady that worked with us was fabulous and she walked us through the process – in just two hours. She explained what each document was before we signed them. To be fair, a large pile of the documents were required by USA regulations regarding US citizens living abroad.

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Paperwork – French Style

Marine loved practicing her English and started to tell us about herself. She is close to same age as our sons and we began telling her about them, too. Before we knew it we were hugging and kissing her good-bye and thanking her for all of her help. She is now our account manager and will support us with all of our banking needs.

As we left we felt as we have accomplished another task on our to-do list of settling into life in France and made a new friend at the same time.

Oh the process – the red tape – the time it takes to get anything done around here – it is another adventure – all part of the journey of living in another country with a different culture, different language and different laws and regulations. It is worth it all to live in this beautiful region of France.

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