Friday, January 30, 2009

Upcoming adventure

The ruling parties (Mom and Dad) are all still sick here in the house of Dhondt.

This cold/flu or whatever it is sucks. It makes us tired, achey and listless and cranky. I just don't want to do anything. The only bright spot is that the kids seem to be immune to the germ. I am grateful that I don't have to take care of them. Despite a family heavy with nurses on both sides, I am NOT into caring for sick people. I've heard other moms say they actually like it. It makes them feel needed and loved. Great! Well, it makes me feel annoyed. Get up and get your own glass of water, for goodness sake! (Oh yeah, you are a sick child.... must... be... nurturing.....)

Zander sometimes gets nosebleeds in the middle of the night and wakes us up for help. You know he doesn't do it on purpose (I mean, who wants to have a gushing nosebleed at 2 am?) but whenever I have to get up in the middle of the night for one (or a nightmare, or potty emergency or whatever) I feel terribly annoyed. Often André is the one who deals with the nighttime drama, he seems to be more patient and also has the enviable talent of being able to fall back asleep within 2 minutes of his return to our bed. On the other hand, I usually spend the next hour tossing and turning, if I am able to get back to sleep at all. My body seems to think, once we are up, we are up, no matter what the clock reads. Sometimes this will go on until about 6am, when I finally get to sleep - only to be pounced on for 'snuggle time' at 6:30!

One good thing about being sick is that you don't have to feel guilty for not being productive. This has made it so we have finally finished Season 2 of Lost and are starting Season 3. Man, could that show be any more crazy? Anyway, this is obviously going to be one of those rambling posts....

Another thing that happened this week is that the teachers are having a greve (strike). At Callie and Griffin's school, they let us know about a week beforehand that school would be closed on the next Thursday for the strike and also handed out numbers of childcare facilities where you could leave your munchkins if needed (considerate, right?). Why strike? It seems that they have many complaints to be addressed. Inadequate raises, cutting back on teaching assistants and the elimination of educational progams to help students learn to become RASED instructors. RASED is the equivalent of special education here in France. It seems they have been cutting funding for these teachers and basically trying to eliminate them completely from all French schools. I guess they figure if they simply remove it as a major from the universities, the supply of teachers will naturally dry up. Zander is lucky to have a RASED teacher at his school, he goes to see her a few times per week. I'm not quite sure what the reasoning is behind this move - all kids are not the same - and some genuinely have learning problems - what are such kids to do?

So, it is interesting how the strike works. As I said, Callie and Griffin's school was closed - but Zander's wasn't. He still went to school and his teacher was there. So were many of the other teachers at his school. Some, however, did participate in the strike. For example, Claire's teacher was part of the strike and I took care of her on Thursday. It makes me wonder about the way unions work here. Is there more than one teachers union? In the same school? Do some teachers belong and others don't? So many questions, such pathetic language skills....

I have no idea what came out of the strike. Zander was really upset that he didn't get a day off and wanted to stay home today, making for an interesting morning challenge. We overcame all objections, however, and they are all back in school today. Does this mean the teachers got what they wanted? Will they greve again???

Since the advent of Griffin going to school all day (Quick poop update: He is still not potty trained), I have been working very hard on my language skills - spending at least 1/2 hour to 1 hour per day on the Rosetta Stone and also trying to speak to people more - but all I get is blank stares (unless it is Callie I am trying to talk to - she usually helps me out). Some poor kid asked me what time it was the other day while we were waiting for pick up at school - I asked him to repeat the question 3 times since (despite my lessons and supposedly total immersion) I had NO IDEA what he was asking me. Luckily some French person came over and answered him. Kids are doing well though, Callie is half fluent, Griffin seems to understand almost everything and Zander is really starting to learn to read in French. (He doesn't understand what he is reading but he is reading it!) I am wondering when he will start to comprehend more. His teacher and tutor say he is picking it up, but I think he is faking at least some of it. One reason for this is how he never speaks in French when he is around his friends. Another is how he still gets easily frustrated by the language. I no longer have to translate the books we get out of the library into English for Callie and Griffin but I do for Zander. Well, he is older, those neural connections are more hardened, I guess. Goodness knows mine seem to be concrete.

Um.... wasn't the name of this post 'upcoming adventure'?

OK, OK - here it comes. The next petit vacance (2 weeks off for the kids) will be the last week of February, the first week in March. I spent the last 2 or 3 days researching and it looks like the cheapest place to head this time of year is the North Sea. (wonder why...) I basically want to see everything in the world but, I know this won't be possible (or affordable) for only a 2 year sojourn. So, I have a hit list. We've already done Switzerland and Italy (Milan) over Christmas so I am moving on down my list to......... Belgium. (I want to hit all my anscestoral lands and Dhondt is a Belgiumish (Belgish? (Dutch???)) name - one of my great, great grandparents, a former gendarme (that is police officer), immegrated to the U.S. from there. It is about a 6 hour drive from here. We wanted to take a train but it turns out to be much cheaper (like half the price) to rent a car - and gives us more freedom. So, while you deal with school and the end of winter blues, you will find us (in between daytrips) in a seaside apartment in Oostend, Belgium. It is an hour's drive from Rotterdam and from Bruge (the Venice of the North), it's 2 hours from Brussels and 2.5 hours from Amsterdam and Antwerp ..... plus all the local things in Oostend. (Don't know what they might be, but there is sure to be something).

I also spent some time searching around for the NEXT petit vacance - when we will have the pleasure of seeing André's mom and step father. They will arrive in Italy and take their time driving over to see us. Then they will visit here in Besancon for a few days and we will all head to Paris for 4 days at the very end of April. We will FINALLY take the train (I promise kids!) the high speed TGV that goes from Besancon to Paris in about 2 hours. And there is such great public transportation there, a car would be more annoying than helpful. That's right, I know all of you are absolutely green with envy.... it will be the legendary April in Paris....... Of course, I was curious about where this came from -Wikipedia informs me that it is a 1932 song, followed by a 1952 musical film and a 1956 album. Amazing how little things like this float up through the ages - I mean - I was born 20 years after the album came out.... and I have no memory of ever seeing the movie or hearing the song - yet, whenever I think of our upcoming trip, some fragment of it echoes in the back of my mind 'april in parrrrris..... april in paaaaaaaaaris........." OK - now I am really embarrassed - just listened to the most famous (Count Basie) recording of it - and there are no words - just a catchy jazz tune that reminds me of "pop goes the weasel" (another timeless ditty). How does my mind work???

My next job will be to research what to do when on these vacations. I am really interested in EuroDisney with the kids for a day - cheesy but I know they would love it. Hmm... wonder what that would cost?

Until next time....


Lindsay Bunker said...

Your life sounds so exciting! I have always wanted to be in europe and you guys are making it happen! I can't believe you're all learning french! I hope all is well! Here is a little love from the states! :)


Alida said...

Rebecca, I wanted to say Happy Birthday to You!! It is 11:00PM here so I think it is 7:00AM there, so your Birthday... I am thinking of you and like keeping up to date on what you are doing by reading your blog... Again, Happy Birthday....


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