Well - the first week of petites vacances is drawing to a close.
Here's what we did this week.
Monday - kids played mostly on their own while Mommy cleaned the house after the Halloween party. Main fun activity for them was painting wooden crates I trashpicked. Trashpicking here is way more difficult than in the US - they have all these uniform sized trash bins that are sealed up and no one seems to dump things on the curb - although I got some good winter coat hangers the other day - they were labeled 'servez vous' which I'm pretty sure meant free....)
Callie and Griffin did the one on the left for tea parties and Zander did the one on the right to make into a ghost train. They all have an incredible capacity to play nicely together if they have something engaging - this activity covered about 2 solid hours (partially because I only gave them teeny tiny paint brushes -heh heh)
Tuesday - went to the theatre to pick up the BFG tickets for the next day - I managed to go through the entire transaction without using English - a first for me. We then navigated the buses successfully to get to the closest bus stop to the Citadelle --YES! Of course this is still a mile from the main attraction so we went into the St Jean Cathedral which we pass on the way up the mountain. Here is a shot of the outside.
This is the second time we have been in the cathedral. The first time the kids were, at first, scared to go in, and later, awed and amazed by the special feeling they got while in the cathedral. There is just nothing like the smell and sound and weightiness of that air! While we were there the first time, they noticed the place where you can light a candle and asked about it. I told them that people who want something in particular light a candle and wish for it to come true (as my pagan babes wouldn't know a prayer if it hit them on the head). After we left they asked if they could light one the next time we came in. So, of course this was the time. We lit the candle and all four of us held onto it - we then silently wished for two agreed upon things - that our family would be happy here in France and that someday Grammie and Grandpa would come to visit....
We then went on to the Citadelle - it was a cold and rainy day and I was looking forward to visiting the indoor exhibits since we don't have the appropriate clothing for such excursions. Well, we went inside alright, but, unfortunately, the heat was not on. Luckily it was on in the "aquarium" (10 tanks in one room) which is where we ended up hanging out and even eating our lunch in a quiet warm corner before heading back down to civilization. We stopped at a fabric store and got Zander some scraps to practice on and then on to an amazing European toy store. The kids have been drooling at the windows of these stores since our arrival and I have been (cheaply) avoiding them. We spent much time browsing and they all agreed on the purchase (to share) of a good quality petite guitar. We then made it back home without incident. Hooray!
Wednesday was BFG day - as André has already posted about. We took Claire and Arnaud and it was pretty fun but very intense for me as I was attempting to translate and whisper into Zander's ear throughout the show. In fact, I can understand not too badly - but translate on a level he could get was nearly impossible for me -- luckily I have read the book about 57 times so I got to get away with making up a lot of stuff when I really had no idea what was being said. Afterward I had such a headache and literally felt nauseous from the effort - that's how André says he feels every day at work trying to translate everything - poor guy!
Thursday was swim at the pool day - since it was vacation and there are camps running at the pool I wasn't sure if the hours would be the same. On a normal Thursday (the website claims) they would only be open in the early morning, lunch and after school hours. However, I was able to find another discussion board about the pool saying it had different hours during vacations (of course, they were referring to vacations the previous year). So, I asked André to call the pool to confirm when the hours were for free swim this particular day. Using his new sewing materials, Zander made a pillow, shawl and sleeping bag for Callie's favorite kitty, while Griffin and I played stickers on paper. Then André texted me that the pool was to be open between 12 to 1:45pm. Well, we ate a snack at home and headed for the pool arriving around 12:05 to be told it was closed, not to be reopened until 2pm (14h en français). Turns out André checked the website and asked around at work (instead of calling). Oh, the hours will be the same, they all asserted. Guess not! This meant my plan to have lunch at home was not going to work - nor my plan to do some housework. So, we ended up walking to a nearby restaurant for lunch which had nothing Griffin could eat (except ice cream, lucky guy) and then swimming all afternoon. It was a bit tricky since the pool was crowded but a good time was had by all.
On Friday, I spent a long time doing chores, laundry, mopping etc... and doing crafts with the kids - at one point Zander and Callie got into an argument and Zander decided to scribble all over her 'special place' (a trunk containing her most sacred toys) and then, when she tried to get him off, stabber her hard enough with a pen point to puncture her arm and cause her to bleed and swell up. Nice.... So, no trick-or-treating for him tonight. This made for a fun afternoon for me as he needed to be watched constantly lest he do something vengeful. Finally I caved in to some TV while I caught up on email and photos. Tonight I thought he was handling not going out pretty well by organizing the candy to hand out etc.. - of course later we found he had stashed a boatload of candy in his special place that we had to confiscate - ugh! Here is a picture of Callie as a ballerina/rainbow - it was pouring out so they didn't trick or treat long. André said he went to all the lit houses and half didn't have any candy or had already run out - we only got about a dozen trick-or-treat rings total.
One thing I didn't mention that happened all week was that we had tutoring for Zander every day. Olivier's mom, Helene, is a retired teacher and she came 3 days while his regular tutor, Cecile, came the other two. He is really working hard at it - but it is very hard for him. We also spent lots of time going shopping for food etc... here is Griffin showing off a discarded bus ticket, a.k.a., treasure!
So, all week we have been busy and the kids are happy (for the most part - barring stabbing incidents) but it is all just so lonely. If we were in Philly there would have been play dates and outings together where I could chat and bond with others and so could the kids. When we were at the restaurant on Thursday waiting for our food, I asked the kids what they missed the most about Philly - Callie and Zander chose (of course) Grammie and Grandpa. But Griffin - who is getting maturer every day said - I miss my friend, my friend Anya. It is hard to only be stuck with each other all the time. Everywhere we went there were groups of moms or dads with groups of kids - friends and neighbors hanging out. Then there was me, alone, with my three. On the last day of school the kids gave our number out so friends could call us for play dates and we also gave a (kick ass) party for tons of people - but no calls, no dinner invites, nothing.... Here we are - all alone on top of the world....
Maybe next week will improve things -rumor has it our shipment is coming Monday - hopefully I will soon be able to surround myself with material items and get some sort of shallow pleasure. However, I'll believe it when I see it.