Giving Thanks with a Twist

This year, the fourth Thursday of November was a time of celebration unlike any other. At first glance, there were all of the usual trappings, but with a little closer look, things were a tad different. In no particular order, I give you the 8 reasons why this Thanksgiving created memories that will be cherished for many years to come.
1. It’s all about the table. When visiting Paris back in October, img_20151126_112613529_hdr.jpgmy sister-in-law, on behalf of my mother-in-law, gifted me with a beautiful table cloth. It was most likely a wedding gift given originally to my father-in-law’s mother. That’s a lot of “in-law” speak, but are you with me? It was old, really old, like 4 imagegenerations old. And it was hand embroidered to boot with the initials of my father-in-law’s mom and dad at the time of their marriage. It’s not every day that you receive such a special gift, and then get to don your Thanksgiving table with it.

2. imageIt’s all about the table. I know, I just said that, but really, it’s all about the table.  Having my kiddos participate in creating our Thanksgiving space is always fun. This year it was especially meaningful. They created these cute little napkin rings that adorned the table – pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys.

3. Last comment about the table, I promise. I was recently telling my girls about a little anecdote I read. The woman recounting the tidbit stated that the older she got, the more she appreciated a few close friends. She ended by saying she would rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies any day. I loved this img_20151126_085722.jpganalogy and so did my girls when I told them about it. A week or two before Thanksgiving, we received a care package in the mail from a very dear friend. The same friend who had thoughtfully sent us a Halloween care package.  In it, was a kit to make a Thanksgiving wreath. When oldest daughter and I opened the care package, she immediately announced, “K sure is a quarter, isn’t she?” Yes, K is a quarter indeed, and as I made the wreath (not an easy task, I might add, and one that took a heck of a lot more time than I had anticipated), I was able to think about our 20+ years of friendship. Thankful for that friendship and thankful to have had her “present” at our table.

4. Of course it’s about the people too. I find that it’s easy to be thankful for what you have and what you’re familiar with. The old comfy shoe concept, imageright. But this year, I couldn’t help thinking about giving thanks for what you never could have imagined. Last year at this time who would have imagined we’d be HERE? Doing THIS? As we had new friends join us in the discovery of this American tradition, I was so thankful for them.  These new friends and neighbors who welcomed us, helped us, included us, and just generally expressed love for us. Turning my eyes to new friends, also reminded me to try and always be thankful for what is yet to come, the undiscovered, the untapped, the new, and the unknown.

5. image Comfy  shoes aren’t bad either.  But did you know that when you take them off and don’t wear them for an extended period of time that they are even better? So yeah, it was special to have this guy here with us for Thanksgiving. The man behind my madness, my crazy ideas, and my wacko dreams. Our Thanskgiving table wouldn’t be the same without him. Three months apart can really up the thankful ante.

6. It really does take a village. I know, that’s totally and completely out of imagecontext. But I was struck this past Thanksgiving by just how delightful it can be to live in a small town. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself enjoying it so much. After all, I’m the one who hit the road from the small town I grew up in at the age of 17 and literally never looked back. But there’s something very endearing about the small town deal here, and the butcher who jumps through hoops to get you a turkey for your special day and even offers to let you borrow his roasting pan!

7. As long as we’re on the topic of food. Just one word of advice, don’t ever ever take fresh cranberries for granted. Just saying, a certain someone arrived with a suitcase bearing fresh cranberries (I know probably a customs violation), jiffy cornbread mix, creamed corn, and Libby’s pumpkin. Some things just can’t be found in this country and some habits can’t be replaced.

8. The crème fraiche. It’s no secret that I love to cook. It’s really my numberimage one hobby. But pumpkin pie and I have never been close friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love to consume it, but I have never felt that I did it justice in creating it. Well this year changed all of that, and the secret is crème fraiche. I created a pumpkin pie like I have never created before. In coming years, crème fraiche will have a reserved spot on the top of my Thanksgiving shopping list.

So that about sums it up – the table, the people & the food . . . With a whole lot of heart sprinkled in and around each and every memory made during this Thanksgiving in Trégastel.

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens of the World

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My Birthday Candle Holder

I could tell you all about the wonderful birthday that I had as I turned 47 on the 14th of November.  I could tell you how special  it was to have my brother-in-law here with us for the weekend.  I could tell you about the beauty of biking around the Ile de Brehat where no cars are allowed.  I could tell you about the amazing candle holder my 6 year made for me in her pottery class.  I could tell you about the note received from my 22 year old step daughter which brought more than a few tears to my eyes . . . or about the card hand written by my 12 year old – amazing gifts of words and affirmation that blessed me immensely.

But that all doesn’t seem very significant in light of what transpired just 4 hours away from our little village on the night of November 13th. Like on the day of 9/11 fourteen years ago, I sat glued to the television. I watched images transmitted live from Paris and tried to wrap my head around what had happened and was happening.  But unlike on 9/11, there was an eeriness that settled over me that was difficult to describe.  I wasn’t in my home.  I didn’t have my usual conventions of security.  I felt exposed.  I felt in it and yet apart all at the same time.  My country of birth was safe (at least for the time being), while my country of residence was under attack.

I’ll leave all the political analysis to those truly knowledgeable and versed in that arena.  I don’t have a political or religious agenda here. So what could I possibly have to say about these events?

Well, when we embarked upon this time out in Tregastel, one of my dreams was to have my children embrace another part of the world.  To leave behind their little corner of California comfort and privilege, and experience something bigger, more profound than themselves, their routine, their belongings, and their activities. My wish was for them to know that they are citizens of this world and as such they can have an impact on it, shape it, take responsibility for it, and possibly, even change it through everyday interactions with people and their engagement in life.

Following Friday’s attacks, conversations ensued with my kiddos about what had happened.  We dug in, on their level, to what this was all about.  We talked about what these things could mean. Where they could lead.  There was no panic.  There was no sensationalism.  We talked about different contributing factors. We prayed for the friends and families of those whose lives ended so tragically . We prayed for world leaders.  We prayed for the terrorists. Yes, that’s correct, we prayed for Paris and then we prayed for the terrorists.

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Half Mast

On Monday morning they headed off to school.  At noon, they all gathered with their classmates for one minute of silence to honor those who lost their lives at the Bataclan, at the Stade de France, and in the cafes of Paris.  They stood with their friends and honored people they didn’t know, in a country that is not their home. They could have easily skirted around this awkward moment clinging to their national identity as a way to not feel the import of this moment – not my people, not my country, not my problem.  But they didn’t.

Somehow, in that moment, and through these horrific events that no one would have ever wished to happen, they understood in an even more profound way what it means to be citizens of the world.  They weren’t just members of a certain water polo club, students at a particular school, participants in a certain art class, or volunteers at a certain church.  They were a part of humanity – a humanity against which a great affront and crime had been committed. A humanity in which lives had been lost and to whom honor, respect, and silence were the least they could offer.

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12 Days with 4 Girls – A photogrid essay

Day 1 –  Trains, trains, and more trains.  A total fiasco when we realized that rather than all being in the same sleeping car, as I had repeatedly been reassured by the SNCF agent, we had 2 couchettes and 3 seats . . .  not to mention there were 3 train cars between them! Insta-Panic followed by the resolution of 4 bunks for the 11 hour overnight trip. (Yes, your math is correct and we were one bunk short – – – I had the honor of sharing my bunk with a certain 4 year old).wpid-photogrid_1446540799964.jpg

You are right again, Day 2 is missing.  Did I mention I spent an entire night in a train with a 4 year old in ONE bunk? It’s called recovery.

Day 3 – Cannes, beach play, and a birthday.

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Day 4 – Nice. Promenade des Anglais, Promenade du Paillon (aka La Coulée Verte) and a rousing game of “Tomate, Tomate, Ketchup”, Socca, Pissaladière and a great ice cream stop.

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Day 5 – The first wave of departures.  Some families you are born into.  Other families you fall into as a foreign exchange student. And then there you are – 30 years later – blessed to know them and to call them family. After the goodbyes subsided, we set out for Antibes where we enjoyed a nice seaside “friture” and a hike along the coast.

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Day 6 – Another Stroll through Cannes.  Custom lunch recommendations sent direct from Irvine via Facebook.wpid-photogrid_1446542218104.jpg

Day 7 – Back on the train, direction Paris. A quick visit from Uncle Christophe and Laurence before they head off to Prague and we tackle the city.

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Day 8 – A heartwarming visit to see Bonne Maman. Joy, tears, smiles, and just a tender heart appreciating this grandmother and what she is and has been to her family.  Then a zip from the retirement home straight to the Musée d’Orsay for a quick dose of impressionism, followed by an afternoon “snack” at Angelina’s.

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Day 9 – Chateau de Versailles with the best Aunt and Cousin ever.

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Day 10 – Enough history and culture . . . we need CHOCOLATE!  And chocolate we got at a full afternoon of the Salon du Chocolat. A perfect ending to a perfect day with dinner at Véronique and Gilles’ house.

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Day 11 – Lunch with Papa Yves and Nicole followed by a visit to Notre Dame.

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Day 12 – An early morning wake up and back on the train.  This time destination Lannion as our Toussaint vacation comes to an end. Finally home for Halloween night, complete with face tattoos and a decorated door as four little people hope for trick or treaters.

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Now let’s get these girls back to school so that I can recover from my vacation!

The H – – – new & improved language blunders by the next generation!

letter-hLet’s start things off with a little lesson in linguistics.  The letter H is always silent in French.
This basically means that it is not pronounced, but rather the vowel sound which follows the H is the sound which is heard. Beyond this basic rule,  there are two types of H’s – the mute h (h muet)  and the aspirated h (h aspiré).  The type of H a word contains will determine whether or not you should make a liason between the word (usually an article) that precedes the word or not.

In English, we have pretty much the opposite linguistic phenomenon.  Our H’s are pronounced – we send a big gust of air  through a wide open mouth to produce a nice, full “ha” sound.

A standing classic tale in our family is one of the Papa during his first few months in the United States.  An avid tennis player, he often took to the courts to not only stay fit, but to meet people and expand friendships.  After a few weeks of playing with a variety of partners, he became really irritated.  It seemed that every time there was a tough shot and he gave it his all to get it, but failed, his opponent would declare “Good Hustle”. Him, not being accustomed to pronouncing, and thus not hearing, this little sound we call “H” would hear . . .  did you guess it?  Yes – he heard “Good, Asshole!”  After letting his frustration mount game after game, he finally asked why the other player had to call him an *sshole just for giving it his best shot.  You can imagine there was laughter galore and the H misunderstanding was cleared up.

Well, as of yesterday, the Papa has lost the family award for Best Linguistic Blunder and it has been passed on to the next generation – specifically to eldest daughter who is in 7th grade.  Of course the H was again the culprit, but this time in the opposite sense.

happinessAt the close of her Latin class, one of her friends asked her (insert appropriate French accent and no pronunciation of the letter H when reading English word), “Qu’est ce que ca veut dire HAPPINESS?”  Essentially, the friend had asked what the meaning of the word HAPPINESS was.  Was my intro linguistic lesson sufficient?  Do you see where eldest daughter may have ended up in understanding this question? Hint:  She blushed profusely and hesitated while trying to decide how to answer such an awkward question. Remember, she’s a newly initiated middle schooler. Yes, since the H was not pronounced by French friend, eldest daughter heard “What does it mean a penis?

Reluctantly she responded with “The private area between a boy’s legs”.  Not expecting this response, French friend raised her eyebrows and replied, “Like in the song by Pharrell – Because I’m happy ~ Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth ~Because I’m happy ~ Clap along if you know what happiness is to you?”  Go ahead, feel free to sing that line through substituting “a penis” for each occurrence of “happiness”.  Are you feeling French friend’s confusion?

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Photo courtesy of Aunt Véronique. Taken during a rousing round of croquet

Yes, there was an eruption of giggles, and just like that the prize of Best Linguistic Fail was passed on from father to daughter. Sometimes our wins go down in history, and sometimes it’s our fails.  We learn from both – especially when they leave us in stitches and produce a great story to be told around the dinner table.  I’m pretty sure the H Mistake won’t be happening again any time soon for this girl!

The Notebook (and it’s not by Nicholas Sparks)!

I definitely have not earned my stripes in the public school arena, but I do remember a bit from when my two step kids were there.  Among other things, etched in my brain is the overwhelming amount of papers that seemed to ooze from every opening possible in their grimy little backpacks. Papers asking for money. Papers asking for permission.  Papers listing lunch menus.  Papers for ordering books.  You name it, and there was a paper for it.  Not to mention the actual homework papers that had to get completed and somehow make their way back to school. Then there was the physical state of the paper by the time it would actually make it home to me.  Often I couldn’t fathom that the paper had really just been walked from College Park, across Walnut,  and to our home.  It appeared as though it had taken a world tour through jungle, desert, and swamp.

Half the time, the papers that needed to make it out of the backpack and actually be brought to my attention didn’t, and the papers I really didn’t give a hoot about got bandied about in front of my face as soon as the kids arrived home.  I recall it being a battle to keep up and stay organized.  Mom vs. “The Papers”.  I rarely won the battle.

wpid-img_20150922_175304260.jpgWell the French are not messing around with this kind of paper drivel.  They have the system nailed and it comes in the form of a little note book known as the Cahier de Liason, or the Connection Notebook.  Every single detail that needs to be communicated to the parents gets GLUED into this handy dandy notebook.  There’s no, “I had it and then a unicorn flew by and the flapping of its wings blew it out of my hand.”  If it’s important, then it is permanently affixed to the notebook.  Genius, right?  What’s even more genius, is that they really aren’t dorking around with the irresponsiblewpid-img_20150922_175323645_hdr.jpg parent types.  Yes, we’re talking accountability.  You see, every message glued into said Cahier de Liason requires a parental signature confirming that you saw, processed, and somehow plan to retain the information. Again, genius, I say.  I signed saying that my kid would have boots on and a packed lunch for Thursday’s fieldtrip?  Guess I can’t now fudge it and say I never saw the paper and blame it on the kid for not bringing the paper home.

For the older girls, the notebook gets a fancier name – Cahier de Correspondence.  It also becomes of bearer of consequences.  If a middle school student has less than stellar behavior in class, it just gets marked in the notebook.  Forgot to, or chose not to, do your homework?  No problem, we’ll make sure your parents know about it by jotting it down in “the” notebook.

How awesome is it that the system doesn’t change either?  No more of this Mrs. X has colored beads hanging from the black board and if you get a purple bead you’ll have to take a note home to your parents, but then the following year Mr. Y has a system where you change your card from green to yellow to red depending on how you behave and then a slip of paper goes home with a happy face, stoic face, or sad face circled.  Here, the system is the system.  It’s the notebook system.  The kids have grown up with it and it hasn’t changed, isn’t changing, and probably is not going to change, so there’s no trying to beat the system by confusing the heck out of the parents.

Now I’m usually one for innovation and change, but I find that in dealing with kids and their organization and discipline that this system is quite wonderful.  Why?  Simply because everyone is on the same page (really, no pun intended, notebook-page, ok.)  So while there are some “systems” here that really leave me scratching my head and guessing, this one gets my whole hearted two thumbs up.  Now let’s just hope I don’t sign on the line and then leave my kid hanging out to dry at school without any boots for her fieldtrip!wpid-img_20151008_151702753.jpg

Almost One Month

So here we are, September 22nd.  Tomorrow will mark 4 weeks that we have been here.

wpid-img_20150922_085247029_hdr.jpgThis morning I got the oldest kiddo off to the bus stop, dropped the 2 littlest ones at school, and then took Mademoiselle Middle Child out for coffee. She doesn’t have her first class until 9:30 on Tuesdays, so I agreed that we would “hang out” and then I would drive her to school. To her dismay, “hanging out” amounted to a cafe crème and a hot cocoa, and me (ever the teacher) going over verb conjugations and subject / verb agreement.  Who knows, come next Tuesday, she may be the first one down at that bus stop itching to get to school where she can just hang out with friends for that hour of study hall.

After dropping M at school I headed for Lannion – destination – – – the train station.  It’s funny how the things I wouldn’t think twice about doing online at home suddenly seem so much larger in size, scope and risk.  Here’s what I mean.  I have literally spent hours pouring over the SNCF web site. The All Saints day vacation is quickly approaching and we’ll be heading to Paris for 4 days and then down to Cannes for another 5 days.  I have figured out which trains we need, the departure times, connections, durations, etc.  You name it and I have considered it and assessed it.  But then there’s that nagging part of my brain that whispers, “But you’re a foreigner.  What if there’s some trick or insider detail that you don’t know about.  What if you buy these tickets online and you actually screw it up? What if the discount card you think you can use doesn’t really apply?  Then you’re out x amount of euros.”  So I schlep to the train station, in the flesh, just in case there’s some insider information or disclaimer that only certified baguette eating, cigarette smoking, chic looking French folk know about.

wpid-img_20150922_150918.jpgTo my great satisfaction, my assessment was correct.  The discount card I thought we could purchase will, in fact, do the trick.  For once, having a troop of small red headed people works to my advantage. With our newly obtained Carte Enfant +, we will all be traveling as little Miss L’s companions, and benefiting from a hefty price reduction to boot.  There literally couldn’t be a better fit – one kid buys the card and then can travel with up to 4 companions, all with reduced ticket fees! Perfection.

As I motored back home in the drizzle, backed by maniacally crazy wind, I bounced from thought to thought.  Food. People. Rules. Rules about eating food with people. Weather. Rules about what to wear in certain weather. And so on.  Seems that my favorite past time since arriving here is pondering cultural differences.  Some are obvious and some are so discreet.  Whatever the size, I love to think about them, wonder where they stem from, and see how they manifest in every day life. So on our “almost” one month mark of living here, I contemplated how my life has changed over the last 30 days.

15 INDICATORS THAT YOU ARE NO LONGER IN ORANGE COUNTY

(AKA – Thoughts on a rainy drive home from Lannion after nailing that whole train ticket thing)

15 – You really do need to check the weather forecast EVERY day.weather

14 – It’s never a question of whether you will need a sweater today, but which one you will choose.

13 – You finish dinner and tell your kids to go take their showers.  They reply with, “What, no cheese course tonight?!”

12 – You haven’t walked or driven with a beverage in hand in the last 4 weeks.

11 – Not a day goes by that you don’t consume a bread product of some sort (baguette, ficelle, croissant, pain au chocolat, pain au lait, brioche – just to name a few).

 10 – Your kids’ new thing to argue about is who gets to throw the glass recyclables away.wpid-img_20150920_094517220.jpg

9 – You have not set foot in any store to purchase anything between the hours of noon and 2pm. You couldn’t if you wanted to because everything is closed.

8 – You drive stick like a pro and are ALMOST over being paralyzed by fear at the thought of coming to a dead stop on a very steep incline.

7 – You have forgotten what stop lights and intersections look like because you are so used to round points. You’re also still not sure whether there are really “lanes” in round points which may explain why every once in a while you get an angry fist shaker next to you,

wpid-img_20150920_103055071.jpg6 – No matter how chilly it is, you open your windows every day to “air” out the house.  Your kids invariably call out to you from said open window because they think it’s funny.

5 – Your kids think you are the bomb because you let them have hot chocolate and chocolate brioche for breakfast EVERY morning.
wpid-img_20150920_194534312.jpg4 – Your FIRST grader writes in cursive like a boss and is required to do so in pen.  Writing in pencil, with the ability to erase, only encourages mistakes.

3 –  You had to immediately order a magic bullet on Amazon when you got here because you though you couldn’t live without morning smoothies.  You have used it exactly twice since its arrival. (Visual aid for this one.  It’s pouring rain and whipping wind.  You get your children off to school and are ready to sit down to write or read.  Option A – an ice cold smoothie to go with your quiet time.  Option B – A warm café au lait accompanied by something from #7 above.  Hopefully you get the picture.)

2 – On warm sunny days, you are torn between doing something fun with the kids and hanging your laundry out, because it dries so much faster outside than in your little laundry hanging room.wpid-img_20150922_121425602.jpg

1 – You go to your yoga class and your instructor gives a little overview of the class, then turns to the wall and proceeds to take off her dress, stand in just undies (no bra), and change into her yoga apparel.  No one flinches and the class gets underway.  And to think that I once considered “deck changing” a little risqué.

A Long Day for a Little Girl

The littlest kidlet in my troop is only 4, and a newly minted 4 at that, since we just celebrated her birthday on September 3rd.  All of my girls have gone to the same co-op preschool.  “Co-op meaning” I don a colorful apron 2 – 3 times every 6 weeks and go give of my heart, time, and self in the classroom.  I love this set-up (obviously if I have stuck with it through 4 kids, completing 2 years of preschool each).  I get to see the kids develop and interact firsthand, I get to know the other moms, and my kid has the reassurance of my presence if she needs it.  The program for 3 year olds runs from 9 – 11:30am (and we slowly segue to a noon let out as the kids become more comfortable) and the 4 year olds run from 9 – noon straight out of the shoot.

wpid-wp-1442300751788.jpegAll that being said so that you understand where we have been. Let me now introduce you to the French preschool system – la maternelle!  The preschool is an integral part of the elementary school and is controlled and governed by the National Education System.  Kids can start in preschool as early as 2 years old.  Quite creatively, the French dub the various levels of preschool as Petite Section (small section), Moyenne Section (medium section), and Grande Section (big section).  So my little L is a proud, card carrying member of the Moyenne Section.  As such, she is expected to arrive at school promptly at 8:30am and remain there until 3:30 pm.

OK, as if overall culture shock weren’t enough, my little peanut is completely bowled over by this schedule.  Day 1 and 2 of school, I got away with leaving her without too much of an ordeal.  But by day 3, she had figured out the gig and she was NOT good with it.  She cried, and I mean cried, the saddest little cry that usually accompanies gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments. Once I managed to exit the room, I slipped away to my car and I cried, and I mean cried!  It was one of those moments where you think what you’re doing is a good thing, but you question it all detail by detail as you conduct a prolonged interior debate.  I talked myself off the ledge with the usual “she’ll be a better person for this, she’ll pick up the language in no time, she’ll make friends, how often do you get the chance to do what we’re doing, etc.”  Then I had a coffee and croissant and moved on with my day. Oh the power of a good carb and warm beverage!

wpid-img_20150908_170854439_hdr.jpgSo here we are at Day 11, and I am proud to say there were no tears this morning!  This chart might have something to do with it.  Call it bribery, call it visual motivation, call it imposed cultural integration,   call it whatever you want, but the girl is going for the treat (a new pinypon doll) and in order to get it, she needs 10 stickers representing 10 days where she doesn’t cry at school.  My intent at the time of design was that she would get a sticker if she didn’t cry at drop off. Honest girl that she is though, we’ve had a few days where there were no tears at drop off, but she will tell me, “I cried at lunchtime because I missed you, so I shouldn’t add a sticker.”

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The Cafeteria

In general, lunch is her happy time. The little ones eat before most of the big ones get to this cafeteria. Apparently all of the maternelle get outfitted with colorful bibs for the occasion.  I wouldn’t know firsthand, since any parental involvement or presence is not allowed, but I have insider 1st grade sources that have told me that’s the deal.  It has now become dinnertime tradition for us all to ask L what color bib she had at lunch.  She beams and tells us and we repeat the name of the color in French.  Both kids at this school rave about the food – veal, shrimp, crab, a veggie of some sort with every meal, and often some yummy sounding desserts.  No one is packing a lunchable around here, that’s for sure.  The 1st grader has confided in me, “In the morning when I’m not understanding what people are saying, I just daydream about lunch and what we’ll have.  Then in the afternoon when I’m not understanding what people are saying, I just daydream about getting to see you.”

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The Sleeping Rooom

L’s  other happy moment of the day is this one.  Yes, nap time at school.  When I saw this, it transported me back to my kindergarten days where we would get out our rugs and have our rest time. She loves nap time and with a little brain that’s working so hard to comprehend everyone and everything happening around her, she needs the rest.  She also gets to take out her “soft dee dee”, aka pink blanket, for nap time.  “Soft dee dee” is slowly transitioning over to “Doudou”, but whether you call it by its American name or French one, it is strictly prohibited in the classroom!  They are four afterall!!!!!

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The Library
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The Obstacle Course du jour

Other highpoints of her day are Tuesdays when they get to go to the library to choose a new book, and the daily obstacle course.  She has two teachers in her class and definitely favors Miss Servanne over Mr. Alain.  She also has this neat little system which she clocks out with when she leaves school.  Nothing like scanning your 4 year old before you take her home!wpid-wp-1442300696676.jpeg Funny thing is, she’s lucky that she’s scanning out at 3:30.  For most kids, at 3:30 they go into a little program called TAP (temps d’activités périscolaires) which lasts until 4:45, and THEN, since they are probably still craving more institutional time, they go into îlot Jeux which lasts until 6:30 when their parents come to pick them up.  Now I know I’m one of those wacky homeschool moms, but this seems like a really long day for your average preschooler.  Getting to really understand this system helps me comprehend why French kids are so in need of rest time when the annual fall, winter, and spring breaks roll around.  It’s quite a rigorous schedule to keep up.

So little L is adapting to her 7 hour days complete with a gourmet lunch and nap time.  She’s also acquiring a little French along the way.  The other day when I picked her up she informed me “Je suis américaine, Maman”, and at the dinner table she popped off with “De l’eau s’il te plaît, Maman”. It’s progress, it isn’t easy, sometimes it’s downright hard, and no matter how you slice it, it’s a very long day for a very little girl.

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