Monday, July 18, 2011

What I've noticed- school stuff

In my very brief experience in my school (just sevenish days so far), I've noticed a few things that I find funny. For example...

*Three out of the twelve students have rulers that they use to underline important things while taking notes. Remi was looking at my notes as I reviewed them in front of the TV one night and he said, oh, that reminds me of my messy notes at the end of the semester when I was in a hurry. Well, my notes weren't that messy but I hadn't used a ruler to underline headings. So the next day I used a ruler just to see what it was like, and it does make things look very neat. But I'm not going to be obsessive about it. The idea is to retain what the teacher said, not to make a beautiful page that could be put in the next textbook edition.

*Some teachers give small dictations. Though the economics teacher is a live wire and likes to digress on topics, he also has parts of his lesson where he dictates a paragraph of Very Important Information. We're all there writing furiously and trying to absorb the meaning at the same time. I suppose it's like the teacher writing important things on the board, but it feels strange to be doing a dictation at my age. So scholarly.

*French students are more casual than you'd think. Forget the image of the French fashion-conscious person. I've noticed that some of my fellow students often wear the exact same outfit two or three days in a row. Actually, this is a French thing. Whereas I might wear the same pants a few times in a week, I generally always have different shirts. I guess there's nothing wrong with recycling your outfits as long as they're clean, but it's just that in the US people would say, hey, didn't you wear that yesterday?

*No ostentation religious symbols are allowed in public schools. I give the Algerian girl a lift to the tramway station and I noticed she'd put on her head scarf as we approached the stop. But she doesn't wear it in school. I asked her why and she said because it's forbidden in school. I'd forgotten they'd passed this law a few years back. In this girl's case it's not a burka or anything as restrictive as that. Black or colored head scarfs in fact. And she dresses pretty much normally, jeans and tops, the occasional more ethnic style shirt and pants suit. Frankly I don't see a problem with her wearing her scarf, but I know the idea behind this law was to help women not be forced to wear it by overbearing husbands or fathers.

*Foreign diplomas = big fat zero. Never mind that I have a Master's degree in the US (and I'm not bragging there, because it's been so long I'm not even sure what it was in). None of the courses I took back home will transfer so I must take all the courses in the new training program. I don't mind as I need the review anyway, and some of it is new material for me. But even English is not exempt. So next week I'll be having English classes every morning. On the bright side of things, I guess it'll boost my average.

Until next time, study hard, dudes. And if you're not a student, then relax and cherish the moment!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nearly three

I think I've always enjoyed three-year olds. They are fun creatures. Delightful, despite their continuing tendency to have a tantrum or two. Little pint-sized humans that giggle and dance and say biggish sentences in their unbelievably small voices. I enjoy Juliette at this age (not that I didn't before). I like teaching her about the world and seeing how she processes it. And how she repeats things she hears me saying, mannerism and all.

Tuesday morning we didn't have a lesson at my school (hard to find teachers who aren't on vacation in July, I think), and I was happy to spend the time with Juju. I'm more conscious of appreciating my time with her now that I have less of it. So it was off to the bakery for a loaf of bread and a pain au chocolat that we shared on the way to the the little playground nestled in the trees. We were alone there except for some teen girl who kept sending texts on her phone. I tried to teach Juliette how to pump her legs as she was swinging. We've still got work to do but she did like repeating "up and bend" as she swung. That look of pure joy on her face as she went up and down, leaning her head back to look at the leaves above is just priceless. I swung beside her and looked up at the trees, too. Being at the playground in the cool of the morning and staring up at the sky brought me back to my own childhood and similar, blurry memories. When the air is fresh and life seems limitless. Oh, to be three again, not a worry in the world.

She's also entering that DVD mania stage. While my mom was here she bought a few pre-birthday gifts for Juliette of some DVDs that will play on our French-bought system. (Ones from the US have to be played on the computer.) So now my little one often asks for Pinnocchio or Nemo or Chim-chiminey (Mary Poppins) and Strawberry Shortcake (the older ones, thank you. The new CG characters remind of Manga girls or preteens who hang out at the mall. But that's just me. No, it isn't, check out this like-minded blogger!). It's amazing how she can get so absorbed in these, though her attention span is still short and she will take her Dora book at the same time. We can watch all these DVDs in English by the way.

She's definitely more little girl than baby now. Longer body, of course. Much more hair than this time last year, often curly. The sitter wonders if she'll be taller than me when she grows up. Juliette looks at clothes in the shops and says "That's cute," and again I know that comes frome me. She's also a little Monkish: if she sees dirt on the floor, she'll tell me to "clean it up!" I can't tell you how tickled I am to hear her saying so many things in English at home. It helps that Remi is willing to converse in English with her, too.

So an early happy birthday to my little one! May three be a great year for us all!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First week

I'm trying out the BlogWriter app on my iPod. No wifi at school but I can type it and publish later. School's ok so far. The other ten students are nice. I'm not the oldest, but a good number of my fellow students are 24. I've had classes in computer technology and economics. Today we've started learning about the new labelling system for chemicals in the lab.

It's weird to be back in a school environment. I think I'm enjoying it but I'm afraid to be hasty. I feel that this was a good decision because I find the subjects interesting for the most part. A nice moment was eating lunch in the grass with the others. Reminded me of my college days. I'm trying to remember that I'm lucky to have the opportunity to go back to school.

Of course, it's a transition for me. I wish I could get home earlier. I try to make the most of my few hours with Juju in the evening. I can feel I'm missing her already. My curly-topped girl is such a joy to me. I think she knows it. Remi takes her in the morning and he's helping out with some more chores since my home time is more limited.

We've just got to hang on for this year.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Brave or crazy? You be the judge.

Ah, travelling with a nearly three-year old. No one said it would be easy. And it wasn't. Though there were moments things went swimmingly (potty-training is doing much better, thank you), there were others where we wanted to sink into the earth (tantrum in the otherwise peaceful water lily gardens at Giverny). Well, we survived."We" being Remi and I and my mom, who has been here visiting for the past two weeks. And, let's face it, it's not so easy on Juliette either. Being confined to a car for a road trip, having nap times shortened or skipped, sleeping in hotel rooms. Or more like not sleeping because she was really disoriented by the new environment.

But we saw some beautiful things and I think it's always important to see how much you can adapt with a child. Maybe we should have been doing more travelling with her from the start, but money and time limited us on that.

Anyway, here are some pictures to wet your appetite!

Totally copying Crystal here, we went to Giverny, to see the charming country house and lovely gardens of Monet. I loved seeing the view he had from his bedroom.

My mom and Juliette in the gardens. Before the tantrum.

Giverny is only about an hour from the city of Rouen. It's got a lovely downtown, including this gorgeous old clock (le gros horloge), a cathedral and charming architecture reminiscent of Alsace with the half-timbered houses. It's also the city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, for you history buffs.

Then we spent an evening in Mers-les-Bains and the next day took some windy walks in Fort Mahon beach before heading back to our home base. Wouldn't you know it, the day after it was hot and sunny at the beach. Oh, well.

As usual, it's been great having family around. I tell mom I feel like I have a clone- another person who thinks quite like me and has the same instincts as me (as in prepping for dinner and doing the dishes, a godsend). When my dad was here it was quite the same. My mom's been a tremendous help around the house and has also helped me out on some home projects.

But as I speak she's flying back home. Two weeks went by quickly, as we knew they would. I find myself dreaming, as she does, too, that we only lived down the road. Or even just five hours by car would be better than our current situation. It's tougher this time because with my back-to-school situation (that would be in two days, people, yikes!), I'm not 100% sure when I'll see my family next. I guess I'll do my best to hold on to all the great memories we made on this trip and know that we're simply on the long waiting side of "see you next time."