Care Packages

Thank you, everyone who has offered to send letters and Skype, etc.  It means a lot.  I am making this “Care Package” list NOT to pressure anyone into anything, but just in case anyone wanted a reference.  (Not entirely true: I am totally attempting to hint my mother into sending a newsy letter with her next package of necessary things.  But if anyone else is feeling pressure, you’re accidentally encountering misdirected at-my-mother guilt.  Ignore it. 😀 )  Next post, I promise to post the pretty pictures of Metz in the snow and of Luxembourg being Luxembourg.  Or possibly to talk about my friend’s awesome baby that I’m about to meet, or how our immigration appointment went, or how small-town Germany is…

The point is: we are making things happen, sometimes.  We are enjoying some things.  We are doing the best we can to make the most of being here.  And I want to share that too, because it’s just as true as the hard stuff.  When anyone asks me how living here is, I say “Good and hard” because they are both true, often simultaneously.

Anyway, if you were wanting to slip small things into a care package but didn’t have any ideas, here are some:


Rule of thumb: if it’s larger/heavier than a non-fiction paperback, you do NOT want to ship it to us and we do NOT want to lug it home in our suitcases.

For Sophia

Tea–black, green, or white (I love Hunan Gold, and Darjeeling, and Assam, and would love to learn about white and green teas), no Earl Grey/Lady Grey/anything with bergamot, because I am allergic; non-fruity herbal teas would be great too

Small decorations that I won’t feel guilty about throwing away when we leave–if it’s wall-hanging, please also include adhesive clay (we have very textured walls that are also shed wallpaper like crazy) and/or Command strips and/or hooks.  Our bedroom has a blue-green-y vibe, but I will take any cheap pretty things.

Postcards.  OMG pretty pictures.

In general, things that are bright/shiny/cheerful or strongly flavored or scented–the sorts of things you use to chase winter blues away.

I have an Amazon wishlist []–any books that are marked “high” or “highest” and have been on my list for over a month are fair game; I read all my books on my Kindle.  High-priority .mp3 downloads from my Amazon music wishlist [] are also nice, but much less necessary.

I will always take more Eagle Creek double-sided packing cubes, any color except red, any size.  They don’t make quarter-cubes double-sided, but I can always use more of those, too.

My Sock Dreams wishlist:
I love sophisticated thigh highs, and zany knee socks for horseback riding. (The knee socks could be toe socks, no toe sock thigh-highs/OTKs please!)



Tom is, as you may know, extraordinarily hard to shop for, and he rarely asks for things that are “care package-able.”  Sweets are always good, although you’d have to find out what French Customs will let arrive at its destination.

I have made an Amazon wishlist of good gifts for Tom:

Things marked “highest” are things that Tom has explicitly asked for.  “Medium”-priority ideas are things that I know Tom likes and would welome more of.  “Lowest” priority are vague ideas I’ve had of things Tom might enjoy.  Honestly, I am not great at thinking of little things Tom would enjoy, so go with your gut.


Days 5-7

Tom has been quite ill with some sort of stomach bug since Tuesday, getting gradually worse until today. Hydration has been the hardest part: it took until last night to figure out how to get his electrolyte balance back, and while I made him eat a little bit of apple sauce (sort of, turns out that “compote” is apple sauce that hasn’t been mushed as much as we’re used to in the States, so there are mushy apple chunks in it) and have been making him lots of herbal tea, it wasn’t until this morning that he turned the corner and his body started absorbing nutrients again. Which made for a rough three days, and an especially rough last night. Tom had to get up every half-hour or so to make a run for the bathroom, which means I didn’t really sleep either. By about 4 AM, I was pretty sure that I was going to end up having to figure out how to call a taxi, because Tom wouldn’t be able to walk the six-ish blocks to the nearest English-speaking doctor’s office.

Fortunately, when I woke up this morning, he was doing much better, was much less dehydrated and out of whack, and he managed to take a nice long nap this afternoon when previously he had been too sore and feverish to find a comfortable position to fall asleep. He also ate a lot of rice today, which is quite encouraging.

So in lieu of fun travel stories (I did figure out how to buy books for my Kindle without using wireless, so at least I am slightly less stir-crazy than earlier today), A List:

Things Sophia and Tom Have Learned About France So Far
(in no particular order)

  • The best thing at the supermarket cafeteria will always be the dessert.
  • Bread is way more reasonably priced than in the US.
  • On that note…never, ever, ever buy an American-looking loaf of bread. EVER. Trust me.
  • Salmon lasagna is actually quite disgusting and will make your apartment stink for at least a day afterwards.
  • French people are way more like New Yorkers than Southerners when it comes to the manners of passing strangers on the street.
  • On the other hand, apparently talking baby-talk to puppies and small children is a universal ice-breaker.
  • If you forgot to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store, you can carry about 1/3 less groceries than you were planning. And you will have really bad blisters.
  • Apparently cora keeps its reusable bags hidden in a secret French-speakers-only vault.
  • A new landmark is always closer the second time you go there. But it’s always further when you’re carrying groceries.
  • Dorm internet policy is crappy, but the sanctioned stash of TV shows and movies is awesome.
  • Actually, you will need a French bank account.
  • There is a space between the last word in a sentence and the punctuation mark at the end.
  • Fancy scarf knots and a pixie cut will make people ask you for directions in French. They will change their minds as soon as you open your mouth.
  • Eu aromatisée saveur citron is not the same thing as limonade.
  • If you’re going to keep a blog about your travels, the ability to switch your keyboard to a French layout will save your life.
  • By the time your friends on the US West Coast are getting off work, it’s 2 AM.
  • No one will hate you (outwardly? yet?) for playing charades with them when you’re in a checkout line, as long as you say “s’il vous plait” and “merci” a lot.
  • Your built-in mic will stop being good enough for software programs that analyze your accent at random times, just to screw with you.
  • Duolingo is a way better way to learn French than Rosetta Stone, and it’s free.

Hopefully tomorrow there will be stories of our Gorgeous French City. Seriously. It’s freaking time for me to brave the bus.