Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

We have safely returned from our holiday visit to France, no problems at the borders either way, and it was a great visit with family there. We had a marvelous Christmas Eve feast of oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, escargots, a Christmas goose, chestnuts, and a vegetable that looked like celery but tasted like artichokes (endemic to Lyon). Dinner lasted from 9:30 until after midnight, followed by presents and a parade of truffles and other sweets, before concluding the party at 4am. Amelia was having so much fun visiting with everyone, including her cousins and her 91 year old great-grandfather, that we couldn't get her to sleep until 2am.
Part of the joy of this trip was seeing Amelia and Michel (her great-grandfather) get to know one another. There's a large age-gap, but they seemed to get along perfectly. Papy loved to smile at her and she would always smile back. It was sad to see them have to say good-bye, but we hope to reunite them in Spain next summer. And the way Papy is still cruising along, we don't expect anything but more of the same fun and smiles.The rest of the trip was full of great food and good company, and Amelia braved the plane rides like a champ. A bit of fussing on the first flight, but completely passed out the whole ride home. Probably due to the fact that with all of the new and exciting things going on she couldn't manage to close her eyes. Of course she took a 4 hour nap when we got home yesterday afternoon, and then slept in until 11am this morning (waking up to eat of course).

For more pictures of our Christmas trip, click here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


One of the biggest thing I hear expats complain about here is the lack of activities designed with our smallest family members in mind. Of course some people in the US tend to go a bit overboard with classes and activities, but in general I think it is great for the babies to enrich their mind and meet other wee ones, and great for us parents (particularly those of us that stay home) to get out and meet other parents. So I was excited when a colleague of Dan's who has a baby 6 weeks younger than Amelia told us that a Gymboree was opening in Aveiro this month. We made it to our first class last Sunday, and we have now signed up to make it a weekly occurance. It is definitely expensive by Portuguese standards, so I wonder how successful they will be, but I hope for our sake they stick around for a while. Here are a couple of photos of Amelia's first class, so far she really seems to like it, lots of colors, music, singing, and other babies and people to look at, what's not to like?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I learned last week that my visa that allows me to work in Portugal is the wrong visa. Apparently the company applied for the type of visa that allows me to work in Portugal but for an American company, whereas I work for a Portuguese company. What this means, in short, is that I’m here illegally at the moment (shhhh).

Our HR department has apparently known this since June and was kind enough to tell me about it in December. They’ve applied for the correct visa, but the Portuguese authorities don’t move that quickly. The locals say that if the government employees work too fast then it will be obvious that half of them aren’t needed.

The lawyers, as you might expect, chose the cautious (and law-abiding) route and told me, first, to not leave the country and, second, to go back to the US until this is resolved. The problem with the first is we have plans to go to France for X-mas, and the problems with the second are too numerous to count.

Then, by a miraculous stroke of luck, my French citizenship was granted the other day. Since my dad was born in France he recently regained his French citizenship and, as his son, I’m eligible for the same. It took many months of paperwork but I now have a French birth certificate which I took to the French consulate in Porto to apply for a passport. I can then apply for a work permit in Portugal as an EU citizen which should make all the difference.

In the short term, this means that we will get to go to France for Christmas and introduce 3-month old Amelia to her 91-year old great-grandfather. In the medium term, it means we should be able to continue living and working in Portugal for a while. And in the long term, we will now have the opportunity to live and work in any EU country without having to worry about visas (thanks, Dad!).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

November Recap

As usual, November has been a pretty quiet month. Although the weather this year, like last year, was gorgeous until late in the month. Now it’s cold and rainy again, which is our winter norm. We had three activities in the month we wanted to share with you.

First my mom came over for a visit and to meet Amelia. That was wonderful to have some family here again, and to see Amelia spending time with her grandma (aka gemma). They had some good times together and we (especially Katrin) got a little bit of a breather. We even went out on our first date since early September when Mom was nice enough to take the baby for an evening. We enjoyed some sushi in town which, while it didn’t compare to the sushi we’ve had in some far-flung parts of the world, made for a very relaxing evening.

Second we hosted some friends for an Amelia play date. This was a chance to introduce her to some of our friends who hadn’t met her yet, and for others to come over and play with her. She was on her best behavior all night and did some smiling and even laughing when Fernando was making faces at her. Our friends brought her some sweet gifts too…she’s well taken care of over here.

And third we celebrated Thanksgiving. We did it on Saturday since I naturally have to work on Thursday and the following Friday, and it worked well this way. It was a chilly rainy day, i.e. perfect to stay in and cook and eat. Katrin found a turkey this year that was small enough to fit into our European oven. We were happy to celebrate the holiday despite the fact that it makes no sense been here. Perhaps next year we’ll try to organize something and introduce our friends to it. As we've been told, it is the perfect Portuguese holiday…all about family and food.

Finally, as we are posting this on December 7, Amelia turns 3 months old today. She is alreadly looking like there are all sorts of things that she would like to do but she can't quite manage them on her own yet. She has been pulling herself from her back to her side, but can't quite get up enough umph to get all the way over to her tummy yet. She loves to have us help her sit-up and stand, and of course her all time favorite so far is nonstop kicking and babbling while on the changing table. Click here for a few more photos of Amelia from month three.