Sunday, September 25, 2011

September is...

September is watching the vines start to turn red (and getting a bit blue that chilly fall's around the corner).

September is trying to appreciate my new surroundings at school (since I have to spend more than eight hours a day there anyway) and walking up three flights of stairs to my classroom. (By the way, I did sign up for P.E., and badminton it is. I'm still as bad as I used to be, but hopefully I'll get an A for effort?!)

And adapting to bathrooms that are both for men and women. You can see that the sign is for Monsieur et Madame. I hate having to avert my head in case a guy is using a urinal. And sometimes I dream of installing those Japanese style toilets that make a white noise to mask any user noises.

September is getting used to the school routine for Juliette, too. And making the most of my evening time with her. It still stays light till about eight. Here she is looking too precious in the red sailor dress her French grandma brought her back from vacation.

September is the first strike at Juliette's school. Three weeks into the school year and we get a pink flyer telling us next Tuesday all three of the teachers at her pre-school are heeding the "call to strike" because teaching jobs are to be cut according to the federal budget. Let's hope this strike thing isn't going to last too long. Luckily Remi's mom can watch her this time.

And September is realizing that this school thing is very time-consuming and often bad-mood-inducing for me. Lack of sleep, lack of family time compared to what I used to have. And the realization that this is just the beginning!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hanging in there

This was the week I was dreading. Juliette's first day of school was Monday and my school is now in its more intense mode of four different subjects per day. Not to mention that now that the main summer vacation period is over there is more traffic on the road. Damn all those extra cars on the road. Why couldn't they just stay on vacation?

But we're surviving. Juliette seems to be adapting well to school. The first day she only cried when she realized Remi and I were leaving. Otherwise she was eager to play with the toys in her new classroom. But it pulled on my heartstrings to see her little face break into tears. And to know I had to let her handle it on her own. That's part of growing up. And, yes, to answer the question you're all wondering, I did cry a little, too. Just before while we were waiting outside the school to go in. But I was able to dry my tears pretty quickly.

In front of our apartment on the first day of school.

Waiting outside her school.

When I picked her up at the end of the day she yelled out "Mommy" and ran into my arms. The first thing she said was "new friends!" That's what I'd told her she'd make at school, so I was happy to hear it. The teacher said she is "adorable", which in French can also has the connotation of well-behaved. At least I think so. The after-school care ladies have been complimentary of JuJu, too. I hope she continues to be a good girl!

As for my school, things seem to be going so much faster now. The good news is that I like what I'm learning, especially now that we're having more lessons in biology and microbiology. Luckily I have learned most of this stuff before (though in some cases it's been a good, oh, 17 years ago!). Statistics really scared me at first when I realized I didn't get it as fast as the others. The bad news is I've never had a math brain, and with age, those neurons need some extra training. I've been redoing some of the exercises, and it's becoming clearer now. I still think I'll throw everyone I know (and that includes you, blogger friends) a party if I get a passing grade in this class!

This Friday we had our first lab class and it was funny to see all my classmates in their white lab coats and imagine them working one day in this field. Immediately everyone seemed more serious, even if it was just due to appearances. We only got a run-through of the safety procedures in the lab. But the teacher also took a sample of yogurt and put it on a microscope slide and showed us that there were indeed live active cultures of bacteria in there. Pretty cool.

View from my classroom. Red tiled roofs all around.

Of course, it's tough trying to study on the weekends when Juliette is not keen to nap. I get nervous that I'm not going to be able to pull this year off. I'm doing my best, and things are obviously different when you go back to school as a mom. My home life is not the same as it was when I first got my degrees in the U.S. Boy, is it different. When the bell rings at my school at 5:30 I'm off to my car and ready to be my "mom" self again. I generally can't get back to my notes till 9 or 9:15 at night. And if I try to read in the bedroom I'll often nod off. This year is a challenge. I knew that. But if I can make it, I'll be proud. Just about ten more months to go!

PS: Quick blogger poll. Should I take PE (physical education)? It's an option but any points I get over 10 (out of 20) will help my overall average. If I don't take it I have two extra hours to study at school per week. But maybe I need a bit of exercise to be more effective?!