Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First week vacances and Carnivale

The kids finished up their swim lessons - they had lots of fun and, although I doubt they learned much in the way of improving their swimming prowess, they did get a chance to hang out with peers, practice their French and jump off the racing platforms into the pool. For Callie, this was very good since she tends to get frightened to jump into deep water, even if I am there for her. She says she remembers Zander almost drowning two summers ago and gets too scared. I try to explain to her, this is WHY we want you to learn to swim - so you won't almost drown - but it hasn't really helped. Well, with the addition of peer pressure, she jumped in with no adult at all, first with a kickboard and then with nothing. Hooray! Zander, never afraid despite his brush with death, even tried a few dives, which was fun to watch. Griffin spent time with me, making sticker pictures and necklaces, he handled not being able to swim very well. I heard from the American group that you can get more 'american' swimming lessons at a different pool - but, of course, you need a car to get there. We may do these again, anyway or maybe try ice skating lessons - offered in the same complex - this would be maybe better for them since they are true beginners on ice skates. Yes, I did go have my pity party with the kids on Wednesday afternoon. We stopped at a park to play on the way, as you can see. They seem like a very nice group. One of the women is married to a professional basketball player who plays for the Besancon team - she has moved to 5 cities in 5 years (they get traded, a lot) and it sounds like a terribly stressful affair - August to May in one city - May to August back with family in the US and then back in another city. She says she still hasn't learned French in her 5 years here - since she mostly is with other basketball wives. Her daughter Kaylie, translates for her! She told me where to get everything american that can be bought here - including, rumor has it, sharp cheddar cheese - must go check that out. We may go out to see a game March 14th with the group and then all go to dinner or something.

So what else.... I spent lots of time packing and sewing on Callie's carnivale costume, transforming a 3T bunny costume into a unicorn that will fit a 6 year old. Also, I made my first skirt. Chanelling the wonderful creativity of my Grandma (who never used a pattern) and the knowledge that wool, when cut, doesn't fray, helped Callie create a lovely green skirt with knotted fringe and button. I have been trying to get Zander interested in the patterns that Grammie sent him for Noel for some time now, but he doesn't seem interested in following directions (suprised?) and wants to make something more like, a 3 piece suit. Well, when I explain that such an item is far beyond my ability to help him, he gives up. This is a pattern with Zander - he gets frustrated when reality can't match his visions and often gives up. He spent tons of time, instead, playing trains with his brother. We went and ate lunch with daddie at work one day - he and his co-workers go to a cafeteria type place on the days they don't go home for lunch. I had been curious about it and wanted to give it a try. Well, the food was pretty good and they were very kind to Griffin - grilling him his own personal (gluten free) steak (not on the menu). Of course, with the kids, we were a bit slow arriving and getting our food. By the time we sat down and started to eat, the other 4 co-workers were almost done. They stayed, however, until we were all done eating - they always do this in France at meals, even if you are in the cafeteria! It's very polite, but also seems a bit annoying for them. I was happy that one day the kids spent the afternoon playing out in the front with the other neighborhood kids. It is pretty easy for Callie to communicate with the other kids and she will help Zander (sometimes!). Griffin just kicks a ball or rides around on his little plastic truck. The kids all know each other and some of the neighbors are very familiar - Danah - a 10 year old - will be cat sitting again for us this week. We have also found a great babysitter, Natalie, who watched the kids for us on Wednesday night so we could go see Slumdog Millionaire (which we loved) we also walked around a bit in the local market and saw this cheese shop - named Le Trou de Souris or The Mouse Hole - reminded me of when my dad used to get us cheese from The Field Mouse Cheese Shop in Ringwood - so yum!

Now, on to the main event- Carnivale! I was very excited for this to come, I made Callie's costume and helped assemble and adjust Zander and Griffin's as well. I will just summarize and let the pictures do the talking. Basically, all the kids got dressed up and we gathered at the local community center (or maison du quartier). They are pictured here with Chinese princess Noemi, one of Zanders classmates, who also took swim class with them. Each child got a helium balloon labeled with their name and then we all marched over to the local senior center to show off the cuties. There was a wonderful variety of costumes - I especially liked the way not every young woman was a princess (as seems to happen a lot in the US) Most of the costumes were store bought - but there was on amazing Mickey Mouse and of course, Callie, Griffin and Zander all looked terrific (no, I'm not biased). After the kids got their balloons, we all paraded about 1/2 a mile down the road. There were an incredible amount of people in attendance including several of Zander and Callie and Griffin's classmates, which made the parade fun. It was also fun because they gave out large bags of colorful confetti to all the children to toss around at each other. Total mayhem. Finally we made it to the parking lot across the street from our apartment and everyone who hadn't accidentally lost their balloon already (Griffin) released them simultaneously. Then there was more confetti (where did it all come from???) and they tossed candy out to the masses. It may look like Griffin is covered in confetti - but, as you can see, it was minor compared to the state of the ground. All in all, I'd say it was tons of fun for the kids but at the same time I was like... it's over?? Yup - that was it - it took about an hour total. I have to say, I was a bit bummed, this is what they do instead of Halloween? I'm trying not to judge too much (hah hah!) - apparantly this is not the 'official' thing - there is also a parade in Centre Ville in a few weeks. Why this does not happen on Fat Tuesday?? (Isn't it supposed to signify the beginning of Lent?) Well, apparantly this is yet another French celebration that is religious in the US but seen as a totally secular holiday here and so it goes on later into the season. Okaaaaaaaay guys! If you say so!

1 comment:

Deb Tross said...

Zander- The last line in your story "this is a terrible airport" is really funny! I kept thinking of it after I read your blog and smiling throughout the day. Thanks for your story


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