I got to the classroom and hung out with the kids while waiting for the buses to arrive. Here is a shot of him gluing a little head (more on this later) with his teacher Marguerite. Griffin was really excited for this day to start and kept announcing to everyone - today is our trip! (Their response, blank stare, as they have no clue what he is saying. I wonder how often he reaches out in school to receive blank stares in response???) there are about 15 kids in his class and there were 3 parents and 2 teachers coming along. Each chaperone parent was handed a huge laminated placard on a string with photos and names of the kids they were responsible for that day (Here is a little aside about strange French customs. In France, they love little photos of the kids' heads for use in the preschool - not only is Griffin's photo posted above his cubby hook (cute and logical) the kids' heads are plastered on art work everywhere in the school - this is a typical example) The kids are made into ghosts in this one - the new one Griffin is working on in the picture is spiders - it is strange to me to keep seeing what I think of as Halloween-themed art going strong in November....
Anyway, the teacher, assistant teacher and one parent got 4 kids each - that left 3 kids for me and the other parent (who just happened to be pregnant), to share. It makes sense really - these kids can't understand me so I need a backup in case. It is just strange - I am used to being the parent who has 22 kids hanging off her sleeve on these trips!
The trip was to visit horses - cool! (I love horses.) It was really fun - amazing even. There was this little spot tucked in a corner of Centre Ville and that has obviously been there forever - the town grew up around it... This kind of thing is all over France - ancient wall next to modern office building etc... I find it beautiful sometimes and a bit jarring at others.
We got to see so much - a real ferrier removing a shoe from a horse, shaving and chopping his hoof down, firing up the furnace to heat up the shoe, putting the glowing red shoe on (notice the billows of smoke - and - not noticeable in photos - an incredibly disgusting smell) and hammering it on - took about 1/2 hour total - very, very, very, very, very, cool.
We also got to ride in an old fashioned horse drawn carriage behind two giant horses and see an amazingly well trained horse run around a ring, going over jumps etc.. without a rider - or even a halter - she was incredible. We also got to visit the equestrian leather workers who hand make and sew all the bridles, halters and saddles for the horses.
There were some signs up around that explained more about what these horses were used for but they were all in French and we didn't get a chance to stop and read them for long enough for me to get the full meaning. From the photos on them it seems that these horses are still used in many places in the countryside to farm and also often used by the logging industry to drag out fallen trees. This solved a mystery for me since when we were in the forest we often saw places where trees had been chopped down that didn't look big enough for any vehicle to come collect them - yet there they were, piled by the side of the road. It just goes to show you how 21st century I have become, using horses didn't even cross my mind as a possibility! Then we got to go into the stables and pat some of the horses - Griffin was too scared to do this, unfortunately, but lots of the other kids did. See photos of French cuties posted here - they were all just absolutely adorable.
We then watched them give one of the larger horses a bath (with a high powered pressurized hose). I guess the traditional tools are just not enough for these gentle giants - notice the Electro-Groom (with booster power!) I would have liked to see that baby in action!
Finally we headed back home on the bus. Griffin helped out with this blog and was very disappointed I didn't have a picture of the bus - he loves riding on buses! Throughout the day Griffin had fun and was glued to my hand - even on the bus ride he wanted me to be next to him and held my hand. He is a very sweet little guy.
Here are some bits and pieces. For the rest of the afternoon I took care of Claire and Griffin - it was a pretty typical afternoon with making art and pillow fights etc... It was nice for me to be responsible for Claire. Kids and I get along. She and I spoke French together a lot whilst walking to the post office. I think I may be making some progress... It is easy to talk to a child because they don't care if you mess up and never judge you - also she was stuck with me for three hours so had no one else to speak to - so we had to muddle through. Most adults I meet say hi and then turn (understandably) to chat with the friend that they can actually have meaningful conversation with.
Zander news: He is still sewing up a storm and has started on a button blanket for his puppy. Also his teacher is going to start keeping him after school 2 days a week with a few of the other children to give them extra help. This means our tutor will only work with him once per week and with Callie and Griffin the other two days. This should help out a lot.