Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's coming together...

It's been a long time since I've posted anything, but we have been waiting for several pieces to fall into place before we could tell everyone...

We're going to France for a year!!

(See the tiny sign in front of our house? It says, "House for Sale".)

We have been thinking about this trip and planning for over a year, and finally it's becoming a reality. Here is the chronology of our progress to date:

February 26: We traveled to Vancouver to meet with the French Consulate and apply for long stay visas, which we need if we're spending more than three months in France. The applications totaled more than 70 pages, and 48 of them had to be filled out by hand. While there Mark and I were told that we needed to get leaves of absence from our jobs, which doesn't follow the normal procedure.

March 26: Mark told his boss in Prince George about our plans and asked for a leave of absence. Because the plan is to not come back to Burns Lake, and all leaves of absence over six months have to be approved by the Deputy Minister, Mark's request was sent off to Victoria.

Late March: We had the kitchen floor redone (went from laminate to ceramic tiles) and had the main floor bathroom tub surround fixed. The carpenter was good but in a hurry and left lots of the finishing details for us which took us (i.e., Mark) countless hours to complete.

Late March - early April: I asked for and was granted a one-year leave of absence. When I got the letter, I faxed it to the French Consulate, indicating that Mark had also asked for a leave of absence but didn't have the paperwork completed yet.

April 18: Our visas arrived by courier - exciting day!

April 20: We purchased our airline tickets from Calgary to Strasbourg, France, leaving Sunday, August 26.

Late April: We changed our minds about trying to find a permanent place to stay in Strasbourg before we leave. Instead we have booked a hotel for the last week of August and will take the time to look around in person. If we don't find a place that we can move into right away, we will secure something for October and then travel to Italy and Greece for the month of September.

Early May: Mark was granted a general leave of absence and received word from the Assistant Deputy Minister that they will try to find him a position on his return.

I faxed off applications for the kids to enroll for next year in E-Bus (short for electronic busing) Academy, an online school from Vanderhoof, BC (just down the road towards Prince George from us.)

We have been madly cleaning up the house in preparation for its sale. It's amazing how good it feels to get rid of years worth of junk - we should have done it a long time ago! We will try to sell the house privately first, and even though we haven't put up a "For Sale" sign yet, we have already had several inquiries.

May 10: We put up two (very small) "House for Sale" signs, one on our lawn and one on the highway (thanks to Cameron who slogged through the ditch in water over his boots). This earned us two more phone inquiries, but we have only shown the house once so far.

May 17: I sent our information out to two home sale web sites: and Unfortunately, our listings won't be up in time for the long weekend, but then doesn't everyone go camping anyway? : )

At this point, selling the house is our next big hurdle... or maybe it's cleaning out the kids' bedrooms... I'm not sure which will be harder. Both will happen eventually!