Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sister time

What is rare is precious. And family visits are a bit too rare for my taste, but that makes them all the sweeter. Jess arrived last Saturday and we got her at the airport. We whisked her off to walk about in Compi├Ęgne on a gray and nippy morning. Had some nice photo ops, as you can see. It's a lovely town with quite a history (Joan of Arc connection and also the home to Napoleon and his second wife).

In the gardens of the Imperial Palace of Compi├Ęgne.

The cuter than cute historical district.

Since then we've mostly been chilling, and I've still been at my internship in the day (luckily I've been able to finish at 3 and a bit earlier today). Juliette has been enjoying time with her auntie and has been entertaining her with her knowledge of Disney songs and nursery rhymes. We certainly appreciate Jessy taking care of her this week during the school holidays.

She's only here for a week so we're trying to make the most of our time. Unfortunately I am a rather disorganized goober and I had to get my car maintenance check done today but I made the most of it by checking out the cheap-o grocery store nearby. And it was American week so I got some familiar products (albeit made in Germany and with American style packaging). Check it out:

Click to enlarge. Just so you know, apparently American fine cuisine includes: dry pancake mix, microwave popcorn, marshmallows, something they call Hamburger Sauce, and peanut butter. I got the dried cranberries (not bad), Ranch salad dressing and blueberry muffin mix. Sometimes I just wanna feel like I'm at home! At least we've got a taste of it during Jessy's visit.

Until next time, indulge in some good muffins yourself!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Enjoying it while I can

So I've just finished week four of my internship at Pasta Place (not it's real name, duh. Though that would be a good name if you ask me.) I have to say I got really lucky finding this internship and the lab tech who runs the lab all by herself is a real gem. It's much in thanks to her that things are going well, but I'd also like to hope that I'm becoming a bit more confident in my abilities, too. Let's hope! Anyway, the lab tech is just two years older than me, very chatty and no nonsense and quite willing to answer my questions. She's let me do pretty much all aspects of the job. Though they are some things that you need to do rather quickly, and as she does have more experience, in the interest of time on our busier days, she does those parts. She's also got a little girl two years older than Juliette so we have lots to chat about in that department.

The first day I was really floored to find out that my hours were basically 8 to 3. That's because the 25-minute lunch break counts as your official work day breaks and so isn't deducted. And it's a 35-hour work week in France so that's 7 hours a day, people. I was like, what?! I get to go home and piddle about then pick up Juliette from school when it lets out?! But before I get my hopes up, I know not all microbiology jobs would necessarily be like this, plus I have to admit that this lady has been doing it for ten years and is highly efficient at it.

Another plus: free lasagnas! At lunch we can taste the products but, mind you, it is officially to make sure they are of good quality and not going bad, because we generally test them just at their "best before" date. I particularly like the cannelonis. And I can buy them really cheap if I want because sometimes they have extras that don't quite fit on the pallet.

But what do I actually do during this internship, you might ask? Well, we take all the finished products and also the ingredients and we test them to make sure they meet the microbiology requirements. Some microbes are to be expected in things like cheese and meat, but of course you don't want lots of E. coli or Salmonella showing up, so those are rather sensitive ones to look out for. So we take samples and grind them up and put them in Petri dishes and put them in the incubator to see what pops up. In a nutshell, that is.

I've got three more weeks, during one of which my little sister will be visiting! Yeah! I'm glad I'll have a little less on my mind during her visit. I've been jotting down some notes cause I will have a report to write on my internship. And I've been half-heartedly reviewing from time to time because I know when I get back to school (dreading it!) it will be intense, with lots of exams coming up. That's why I say I'm enjoying it while it lasts. Unfortunately, like my pal Crystal once wrote (way back when?), I'm just too aware of what's around the corner sometimes to really revel in the moment. But I'm trying. This internship period has truly been like a vacation for me. Less studying, more time with Juliette and even relaxing in front of the telly with Remi. The last four months of my studies will be mega-intense, unfortunately...

But until then, let me concentrate on the fun to come with my sis, a breath of fresh air from my homeland! And here's a little picture I like to call "Bib head."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Three and a half

It seems like just yesterday I was writing about Juliette hitting the eighteen month mark. And look at her now! As a parent, you just can't say it enough: time goes fast. Too fast.

Her three and a half year-old self can be very delightful. Last night we spent about half an hour asking each other back and forth if the other had eaten such and such non-food, like towels, paper, telephones. She loved answering, no, that's disgusting! Such small things can make a pre-schooler happy. I love it when I say good night to her and she keeps rattling on about things she's done that day. I look down and see her animated face talking about things semi-coherently and I still marvel that we now carry on fairly normal conversations.

School has made her more chatty in French, that's for sure. When she plays with her dinette set she'll speak in French like the cafeteria ladies, offering us more sauce or water. She also goes into French mode when she talks to her baby dolls, and this is no doubt because she's imitating the day care workers for her Wednesday day care. And at school she already has her little beau, whom we'll just call M. I swear she does that little shy eyes, turning coyly on her feet thing when she says goodbye to him at the end of the school day. But apparently little boy A is also her good friend and a boy in the class above her has declared she is his "amoureuse" or girlfriend. Things are complicated in pre-school.

She's starting to pronounce the "h" like a pro now. About a year ago she'd say, that's MameeLin's "'ouse" but now she can say "house". I think it's practicing saying "yo ho ho" from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Thank goodness we can get some of the Disney cartoons in English with our Internet TV. Handy Manny, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the pirate kids are part of her (and our) Saturday and Sunday morning routine.

Yes, she's a bit of a tv junkie, and I wish she weren't so addicted at times. She doesn't watch it all the time, and we try to do some non-TV things like painting (which she really loves) or coloring or blocks together everyday. But she'll often ask to watch her Strawberry Shortcake dvd in the evening. And I often say yes and get dinner started while she watches that and plays at the same time.

The budding artist.

It's amazing how much she's starting to understand and yet what still eludes her. We saw a homeless man teetering dangerously close to the canal the other day and the firemen were trying to get him to come with them. It's been sub-freezing for two weeks now, I should mention. I explained to Juliette that they were going to take him to a warm place and give him soup and a bed. She repeated that but made sure to add he wasn't coming to our house. Then later she said maybe the man was sad because he wanted his mommy. I wondered if there was some truth to what she said.

She loves her books that are from the Juliette series, about a pre-schooler with an uncanny resemblance to our little girl. Currently she's obsessed with the one where Juliette (the character) is a bad girl and has to go to the corner. Juliette (mine) can "read" the book pretty much by herself because she's memorized the actions. She also likes nursery rhymes and songs and as always, Elmo!

Tantrums do still happen and they can be doozies. How many times these past two weeks has she wanted to go the park on the way home and I've had to say no, 'cause it was freezing. She can go balistic on me at times like this. Or when I dare to mix her paint for her on the plate and she wanted to do it. Sharing is still not her thing.

And for the Juju fans, here she is chatting and singing a variety of tunes...p.s. I love how she says she's doing "stuff" at the beginning of the video.

So this school year of mine has made me less available for my Juju, but I'm still enjoying seeing how she grows from three to four years old. And trying to hang on to every sweet moment, of course!