So we’ve been here five weeks, and we are the first region of France to start the winter vacations, which began today. These are scheduled so that all of the regions don’t go skiing at the same time.
This early break is a blessing, but also a bit of a burden. We have felt like we’ve been running to catch up since we got here, but we also don’t want to lose what we’ve learned. So, we’ve got a study plan and a ‘catch up with life maintenance’ plan and we’ll see how it goes, but for now, this one is about the kids. We go on vacation, because they go on vacation, not the other way around. There wouldn’t be any childcare for the school age kids if we kept going, which would cause some issues.
Avonlea is at the école Maternelle, in the moyennes class. This is a school for three, four, and five year olds, and she is in the middle grade. If we can get Oliver potty trained before August, he’ll be there too, next year. She started school with a bang, her little friend downstairs is in her class, and so she hardly looked back the first week or so. They have to have special slippers for school, and they take their winter shoes, coats, and snow bibs off and put on these little rubber soled slippers and head to class. They call her teacher ‘Maître’ which sounds like ‘Matt’ and I’m pretty sure that’s what Avonlea thinks his name is. They said she needed a plastic cup for class and I sent her with her nalgene water bottle, a few days later she came home and told me that this was a baby cup and she needed a real cup. There weren’t any plastic cups in the house, and this was before we had a car, but our downstairs neighbor gave us one of her ikea cups, so Avonlea didn’t have to have a baby cup anymore. She wants so badly to communicate with the kids in class, and she’s not quite fitting in, so she’s having a bit of a hard time. There’s been a few times where I’ve gone to drop her off and there have been more than a few tears. I’m hoping the vacation gives her a little break and some time to get adjusted. I think part of our plan is to go through some Maternelle workbooks each day, I think we all could use them. 🙂
Avonlea’s schedule is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday – 8:30-11:30 and 1:30-4:30, and only 8:30-11:30 on Wednesday mornings. We pick her up and take her home for lunch, which has been nice. It’s enough time to get the kids, walk home, prepare lunch, and then play with them for a few minutes. Avonlea has been eating like a champ, all kinds of cheeses, dried sausage, and even duck! For those of you who know her, this is contrary to her personality, but we are glad to see her enjoying the food. They keep a little book of her work at school, and she is doing very well. I even think there is a few French kids who would like to be her friend, since they say ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Au Revoir’, and there was one that even tried to give her a goodbye ‘bisou’ when she was leaving. She can say, ‘Je m’appelle Avonlea’, and when I asked her how she liked school and what she would like her friends back home to know, this is what she said:
‘I would tell them that we have good times spending here. That we have flowers. That we play outside. The french kids are a little nice. James speaks French to me, and I don’t know French.’
I think that pretty much sums it up, though, I don’t know who James is, and I’ll try to find out when we go back.
As for Oliver, he is in the school nursery, and that has been going well for us. The caretakers there are very sweet, but because it is so cold, the kids are pretty much kept indoors, and there have been quite a few rounds of sicknesses going around. And, while Oliver cried pretty much every time we left him in the nursery or at the preschool back in the U.S., his tears are happening less and less here. The youngest daughter of our downstairs neighbor is named Heidi, and Oliver has great affections for her. He doesn’t go to school, he goes to ‘play with ‘Eidi” and wants to go to ‘Eidi’s House’. I’m not sure if he’d be pronouncing his ‘H’s’ if we were in the states, but it’s a good start for french. I imaging they call her ‘Eidi’ in the nursery, so that is her name to him.
Also, the french neighbor to the left of us has chickens, and when it’s been nice outside, the first thing Oliver does when released from his stroller, is go after those chickens like a labrador. He’s been sad since they haven’t been out in the snow. Once before our massive snowfall, our neighbor and I were walking the kids home, Heidi and Oliver, side by side in their strollers, and Oliver reached over to Heidi’s arm and asked, ”Eidi, at home, you wanna tatch chickens wif me?’ I thought he was too young to ask a girl out, but I guess I was wrong. Heidi’s parents might have to watch out.
All in all, I think they have been adjusting well. Our apartment is comfortable, with big windows, and plenty of space, especially for a french apartment. It will be super nice when it’s warm, and people will actually be venturing out of their houses. Maybe we will know enough french by then to be able to have a conversation with someone. Although, I did say hello to the neighbor on the other side, the one without the chickens, as he was out shoveling snow. He was kind, and told us that he was going to Paris, but his wife would be home if we needed anything at all.
Thank you for your prayers and continued support! We need it as much now as ever, but I suppose that will never change.