Hello America!

We arrived in Newark airport at 3 AM, greeted by snow. This was the first time mom and kids had ever been to New Jersey, and boy! Were we in for a pleasant surprise! The kids spent their first few days playing in the snow, discovering snowballs and trying to build a snowman. The weather fluctuated from a 6 inch snow storm to warm, tee-shirt weather, all within a few days. We went on drives through the glorious countryside, went out for real American pancake breakfasts almost every day, and saw our first big parade on St. Patrick�s day!

In our first week on American soil, we settled into our temporary apartment, got a rental car, went grocery shopping, went to Target 7 times, got a computer, got cell phones, opened bank accounts, ate blueberry pancakes, bought car seats for the kids, got a social security card, NJ driver�s license, video rental card and library card, visited all the towns suggested for living in, picked a town, found a good realtor, saw 12 houses, rented a house, enrolled the kids in school, forwarded the mail and bought shoes.

WHEW! The only thing we didn�t get was a speeding ticket!

We decided to settle in a town called Fair Haven, in Central New Jersey. Our house is across the street from a big river, 10 minutes from the beach and 20 minutes from farms, forests, lakes, camping, fishing, sledding, etc.

The schools in our new town are amazing, reputed to be the best in the state (and New Jersey is in the top five in the country!). This is a really family oriented town, with tons of activities for kids�everything from girl scouts, ballet classes, art lessons, roller skating, playgrounds to sailing and museums.

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We found an adorable house with a wrap-around porch and a big backyard, complete with a swing set and slide.

Our first three weeks in the new house were like camping. Our stuff was held up in customs, so we lived with a mattress on the floor, 6 sweaters for blankets, one plastic fork and a tv.

Boy were we excited when the moving truck arrived! Until we opened it up and saw that lots of our stuff was completely destroyed. Let�s hope that a big check from our insurance company is on the way�

Here is what happens when you let the kids unpack their boxes of toys.

BEFORE...

...and AFTER

The first week in Fair Haven was Easter. The kids got their first Easter Baskets, filled to the brim with peeps, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and candy eggs. That morning was our town�s Easter Egg hunt, where the kids searched around the local

playground stuffing their baskets and stuffing their faces with the chocolate eggs they found. Theo even found the special treasure, which entitled him to a huge chocolate bunny that he happily shared with his sister.

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Gontran was not here for Easter. We received terrible news a few days before that Carl, his brother-in-law, (sister Anne�s husband) had died suddenly in his sleep. He was only 45. Gontran jumped on a plane to France to be with his family during this unexpected tragedy. Our thoughts are with Anne and her 5 children.

Shortly after Gontran returned was the beginning of baseball season. Theo�s T-ball team is called the Bees. It�s a real treat to watch 4 year olds try to play baseball. When a ball gets hit out into the field, every single kids runs out to try to get it, even the kids from the other team!

And their concentration level isn�t quite there yet. When Theo is guarding 1st base, he will occasionally wander into the field to pick a flower and stroll over and give it to me.

The team is given simple homework to do during the week, such as to learn the names of all the positions, or simple rules of the game. Poor French non-baseball daddy has to frantically search the web for help.

We are still adjusting to America, and at times it feels like we�ve moved to a foreign country! In our very first days here, we must have gotten 30 phone calls announcing that we had won a trip to Disney world! Been approved to re-mortgage our house! Were eligible for a loan! Were pre-selected to apply for a credit card! This very quickly led to us getting caller-ID and to a new word in our vocabulary: telemarketer.

Other new words for us are: �fuggedabowdit,� �jug handle� (a weird traffic thing that allows you to turn left or do a u-turn), �cell� instead of mobile phone, �IM� instant messaging instead of text message, 700 block and *69 (now the REM song makes perfect sense!), property tax, cul de sac (pronounced incorrectly by Americans- according to my French man it should be �coo duh sach�), basement, owmagawd, Lyme disease, ceiling fan, garage sale, and �Open 24 hours.�

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I still haven�t fully realized that this is a permanent move! At the grocery store I keep stuffing the cart with Oreos, caramel apple sauce, blueberry pancake mix and hostess anything....I have to keep telling myself to calm down and say �pace yourself, girl!�

Speaking of the grocery store, don�t be alarmed if you see a lady standing in front of the salad dressing section for 20 minutes. It�s probably me. Gontran sent me to the store to buy Blue Cheese dressing. What should I get? Low-fat? � fat? low carb? low calorie? extra creamy? organic? low sodium?...

We�re also learning about reading fine print. That $26.99 a month cell phone I bought was a deal! Until they added taxes, service fee, hook up fee, installation, insurance, roaming charges, instant messaging and voicemail. That damn phone cost me $79.50.

People here actually put away their winter clothes in May and put away their summer clothes in October. They have hardcore winter gear�boots, gloves, hats, down coats, and hard core summer gear�straw hats, shorts, thongs (the feet kind) and tank tops. That�s quite a novelty for this � California girl who had the same season year round (sun) and � London girl who had her

jeans and raincoat 365 days a year.

We are starting to get a taste of this whole �four seasons� scenario. When we arrived it was cold and there wasn�t a leaf to be seen. Within a month, BAM! Spring arrived and the trees exploded with new leaves, flowers bloomed magnificent color and the bugs awoke. (I�m wondering if the term �four seasons� should really refer to the different bug seasons�there�s termite season, ant season, bee season, and the current mosquito/firefly/tick season. Apparently something called a cicada will be arriving in huge swarms any day now. Yikes.)

Winter

Summer

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But really, we are so exited to see how the landscape and weather changes so drastically. Summer is here and with that comes dramatic weather. Picture the scene: Mom and kids are at the playground enjoying the 80 degree hot and sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky. Then I hear a distant rumble.

All the moms jump up and quickly usher their kids into their minivans and take off. Where the heck did everybody go? Not 3 minutes later, the sky darkens and lashes out rain, thunder and lightning like I have never seen. We ran for cover, but within seconds we were drenched to the bone.

10 minutes later, the clouds part and the sun shines like nothing had ever happened.

Winter Backyard

Spring Backyard

The summer lightening storms are amazing. We sit out on the porch and watch them with awe � We feel like kids again. In fact, a big one is apparently on it�s way and the newscaster has just made an emergency announcement on TV that we should all go indoors, take cover and unplug everything in the house. Surely he doesn�t mean this computer?

Live dangerously, I say!

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Summer means a daily stop at the local ice-cream shop. So many flavors to choose from! So many different kinds of sprinkles to put on top! Summer also means Beach and sand! I didn�t realize how lovely the beaches of New Jersey were! I thought this place would be all factories and smoke-stacks. Not true!

We are so excited about having a real summer, so we bought a bunch of camping gear-tent, lantern, mosquito spray, camping stove, sleeping bags (Barbie for Madeline and Hot Wheels for Theo). We decided to do a test run in the back yard. The kids were thrilled!

Mommy and Daddy went inside to watch TV and the kids had a blast playing in the tent. Until it got dark. Then there were screams and whimpers about all the �funny noises.� We explained that the terrible, scary, scratching noise was just a leaf falling on the tent, but they weren�t convinced. So we brought out a radio to play music to mask any creepy noises. That didn�t work. Cookies didn�t work. Flashlights definitely didn�t work because they made �scary shadows.� 10 PM and the parents were fed up, so mommy and daddy joined in the camp out, sacrificed our blood to the mosquitoes and slept out there with them.

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Then we went on a real camping trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. We had a blast at the amusement park, chocolate factory and museum.

There were rides for the kids... and some definitely for the grown-ups. So much fun for everybody!

Check out Theo�s face!

And Daddy has started working at a NY based Hedge-Fund specialized in convertible bonds, volatility and statistical arbitrage. He is back to his initial trading field (volatility), but now mixed with exotic products, bonds and credit default swaps... Cool team, great activity and lots of long-term potential. The American Dream is really becoming a reality!

Theo and Madeline finished pre-school and had a Graduation ceremony, complete with cap and diplomas! Next year is Kindergarden1

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Theo was the first of the de Quillacq family to go to the emergency room in America. Running through the kitchen and knocking his skull on a wall corner earned him several staple stitches in his head.

At the hospital, he was so talkative and so interested in all the medical equipment (the bed which can change height, the vacuum pump, pain charts for the kids, the oxygen mask...) that all the (female) doctor and nurses wanted to meet him.

He was also very brave through the whole thing. He didn�t even cry when they removed the stitches. Madeline, on the other hand, was a little worried for him.

We hope you have a great summer. See you in the fall...

And we look forward to welcoming you all in New Jersey!