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2000: Y2K without incident

For our family as for the world, which had been dreading some bizarre kind of computer meltdown with the start of the new millenium, Y2K passed pretty much without dramatic incident. Accordingly, this year’s annual update was less interesting than some. So we’re going to add to it here and there. There were a lot of great photos, and we’ll add some more of them.

Alban showing unbridled enthusiasm. Not only was he in Disney World, he was also about to convince us to buy him some sweets. Could you resist that smile?!

First, before every Christmas, the children have been convinced to write to Father Christmas to affirm how good they’ve been during the year and state a few preferences when it comes to gifts. Here is a letter to Father Christmas dated December 15, 2000:

Cher Père Noel,

Cette année, je voudrais te demander beaucoup de choses parce que j’ai été très patiente avec mon mari malgré tout ce qu’il m’a fait subir.

J’ai aussi supporté les enfants et si tu vivais ici Père Noel, tu saurais que ce n’est pas facile. Je te fais donc la liste complète mais tu n’es pas obligé de tout apporter tout de suite, je pourrais attendre jusqu’à la Saint Valentin pour le reste :

un canapé club en cuir marron

Alban in his role of family scamp, guiding his little brothers on skateboards down the driveway. This driveway is steep! Skateboarding is a parent’s nightmare!

 – une chemise de nuit blanche en dentelle tout coton

un humidificateur d’air pour ma chambre

 – un meuble pour cacher l’horrible téléviseur qui enlaidit le salon et ramollit le cerveau déjà atteint des enfants

un casque sans fil pour écouter la télévision sans déranger les ronfleurs (mon cerveau est en bon etat)

un ensemble de huit belles chaises pour la salle-à-manger, afin que l’on puisse
tous etre assis.

You’re right: that was not actually from a child! It was funny, as you will know if you read French. I’m afraid to admit that this modest list took years to fulfill. In 2007, she finally got the chairs!

On to the Christmas 2000 Holiday letter.

Charlie with his preferred number from day one, 5, kicking the ball around with Paul Gooch in front of the garage during the summer of 2000. Paul was there to work on the house. Charlie was thrilled to find an adult to play with.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!!!!

It’s the season to recount our blessings!! If you want to recount with us, you can look up family photographs at www.zinzins.net, our website. The site’s not far along, to be honest, but there are a bunch of photos up there already.

Our furniture finally arrived from France, after three years of Tison’s (the moving company’s) trying to blackmail us into paying double the initial estimate. The furniture makes us feel finally at home, and reconnects us with the years gone by. The worst thing was not having our photos, which we’re now scanning into computer format. The one of my mum and dad at Disneyland in 1976 is quite something!

Alex’s second birthday in January. Happy birthday!!

Nonetheless, all of the kids’ toys and clothes have been outgrown, depriving our older kids of a part of their childhood. Bravo Tison!! We hope that you are proud.

Let’s not dwell on Tison SA, the lying cheating moving company in Coignières or Maurepas, depending on the year, and especially not on M. Arnaud Bourlé, Tison’s undersized guiding force, or should I say chief sleazebag!

For once, we took a summer vacation elsewhere than in France. It was a bit of a risk, because Marie-Hélène needs her annual taste of her homeland. But she spent four days in Paris early in the year, and we all decided that a fortnight in Florida would be an acceptable alternative.

Marie-Hélène did not want to get wet here. So she offered to take pictures of the rest of us, and did a great job! At Disney World, from left to right, it’s Nick, Alban (both drenched), Papa, Charlie and Daphné.

And off to Disney World we went! Three days in three different theme parks gave the kids something else to argue about (that was the best ride! No this was! You know the style). Not to forget Miami, where we spent a few nights in a lovely hotel on Key Biscayne, and Charlie started swimming by himself and without floats, just before his fifth birthday.

Nick started High School this year, and Daphne‘s in her last year of junior high. We are NOT getting older but COLLEGE IS GETTING CLOSER!!

These are the good years, the good old days, but how will we pay for the follow on?! Alban and Tom start junior high next year as well. And we have another brood starting out, Charlie in kindergarten and Alex at Holy Cross pre-school two days a week.

Charlie with his buddie Brigette at the table in the breakfast nook.

Charlie has already informed us that he prefers school to home, which we like to believe is a comment on our marvelous Happy Valley School (and little Brigette in his class) more than on the home! Home can be a bit rough at times, though. The normal petty jealousies and squabbling do get magnified in a “blended” family.

Nick turned 14 this year, and his teenage tendencies were definitely on an upsurge. Here is an excerpt from one his school projects at Branciforte Junior High School:

Once upon a time there was a teacher (who shall remain unnamed), a rather nice teacher that, instead of a final exam, thought of the idea of making his students build a car. This car would have to move six meters with an egg as its passenger. If the egg fell or broke, then the car did not make the final exam.

Here’s a happy Tom. Moving back with us was a hard transition for him. He missed his mom in Paris.

I rather liked this idea but the trouble was that the student had to write a report that was to be about twelve pages long, which made the teacher not 100% nice. I, one of those poor students, was one of those martyrs that had to write an endlessly long report.

I left Wilson Sonsini. It is a fabulous firm, but for one reason and another (mostly tied to my being an outsider here after ten years in France), I was in a box there. I am now working for a chip company (the semiconductor, not vinegar variety!), consulting for the first UK law firm to open a Silicon Valley office (Osborne Clarke, from Bristol) and on the Advisory Board of a net translation start-up. This is the best place in the world for an international lawyer that likes to do deals.

Nick with his first PC, and Alban on the temporary Costco mattress that served as a bed until the furniture arrived later in the year.

Another year banging along in the express train of our lives, our only real regret those we have lost along the way. All the best to you and yours!

*                         *                          *                           *

On to another writing from 2000, this one by Alban, reporting at school on his summer vacation in Florida. I’m leaving it exactly as he wrote it, around his 11th birthday, after only three years in an English-speaking country at an English-speaking school. Quite an extraordinary achievement.

When we went on the plane to Florida this summer, we had such a pretty view that I stayed in front of the window the whole way.  We had one transfer in Memphis, Tennessee, that was when the first flight ended.  We had to change plane on our way to Orlando, Fl.  Once we arrived there, it was burning hot although it was late at night.  We quickly rented a car with climatisation and drove towards our hotel.

An early morning limo ride to the airport, on our way to Florida. There were a few difficult moments on this trip. You can almost sense one here.

There were two pools, both closed so we went to the rooms that was so cold that we all froze in a second.  Except for that, it was all perfect.  The next morning, we woke up at seven o’clock to dive into the swimming pool. We stayed in the hot pool for an hour that seemed like five minutes.

We then had breakfast with our parents.  I really enjoyed the all-you can-eat meals they served.  When we were full from eating, we went to Disneyworld.  Everybody knows how fun it is.  We did all the crazy rides, like Thunder Mountain or the Tower of Terror, a twelve-story drop that is my favorite of all times. 

Changing riders on the jet ski off Key Biscayne. Good times!! Nick at the back is getting off, to make way for Alban, in the water. Tom stayed on for one more bumpy ride.

The second day, we headed to the Magic Park, my mom’s favorite between the four different parks, and did the Small World attraction, with its well-known song.

Then we got ice cream because we were very, very hot.  Back to the hotel, back to the swimming-pool, back to sleep.  The third night, after the closing of the park, we explored the town that was very fun.  The fun ended when we got lost but we were soon back on the right track.

Tom with Alex in the wonderful pool at the Sonesta Beach Resort, Key Biscayne.

We left Disneyland on the fourth day to visit Miami where the hotel had a pool and the Ocean right next to it .  We went on a jet ski ride which was lots of fun, because there were waves, so we jumped several times.

Apart from going to see the alligators, the Cape Kennedy Center and the Salvador Dali Museum,  we spent the rest of the vacation in the swimming-pool or in the Atlantic, stopping only when brief, but violent and frequent storms arrived. 

The end.

Yeah Alban! Great essay!

Here is another page on that vacation in Florida.