Sunday, 30 September 2007


The weeks are flying by these days. Jasper and I have found a playgroup to go to, which will help me with my french and help him to learn to socialize with other kids his age. Its a nice group run by the local community centre and they have lots of really good toys and books. David had an exhausting but productive day at Ikea and our furniture should be arriving in the next two weeks. We had a great picnic yesterday with some of the members of Expat France. Mother Nature very kindly stopped the rain for a day and even gave us a bit of sunshine on the Pâquier.

Next week is a busy one too. I have to go back to the Préfecture as my recépissé is about to expire. But I dont have quite everything I need yet for my carte de séjour so I'm hoping to get a bit more time. I'll be letting David handle this one! And Thursday will be a big day as we have Jasper's appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon to follow up about this hip. Fingers crossed that its all looking as it should and he wont need another operation.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

The heat is on

Maybe its because we are actually in autumn now or maybe one of the oldies in our building complained, but the heating has been turned on a month earlier than we expected. And its really warm, which I'm sure will be a good thing when it gets really cold. But for now, I'm going around turning all the heaters off and David is turning them back on again! I think we'll be quite warm here, come winter, with a good heating system and the sun which reaches all the way into our dining/lounge area by mid-morning. And with David off to Ikea later this week, soon I'll have a dining room table at which I can sit in the morning sun with a cup of tea and read the newspaper - bliss!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Breaking my own rule

I finally finished the book I was reading in french. I even learned how to renew library books, in person and on-line! Next I read "French women dont get fat". Lots of people have reviewed this book better than I could do, so I'll just say I enjoyed it and although I'm sure many french women do struggle with their weight, there is a lot of truth in what she says. In Australia we are obsessed with "lite", "low-fat" and "diet" products and then eat way too much of everything, not recognizing that portion control is so important. (Can you tell, that in those relaxing years in between being a criminal lawyer and becoming a mum, one of my many jobs was as a Jenny Craig consultant? Yes, you can laugh...its ok...I did too, but I also learned a lot about weightloss). In France it seems to me, people eat the good stuff, but they dont eat as much of it as many Australians would do. For a weight loss and maintenance book, I think it has some good ideas and it was interesting to hear a bit about her french childhood.

So next up I was planning to read another american thriller translated into french that I picked up at a church fête for only a few euros. But seeing that I polished off "French Women" in only a couple of days, I just wasn't ready to embark on another long french book. So I got "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith from the library. I mean I know I was going to read one french book and then one english, but non-fiction doesnt really count, does it?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Pommes de Terre Vitelotte

Yes, purple potatoes of all things! I'd seen a picture of these but only found them in a little épicerie a few days ago. I cooked them up tonight and mashed them as I am sleep-deprived (thanks Jasper!) and was feeling rather uninspired. My hands got stained purple from peeling them and the water they were boiled in turned a wonderful shade of blue. They faded a little but still kept their purple shade quite nicely. And they tasted... well, rather like potatoes. Next time, I think I'll bake them in their jackets - imagine all that purple bursting out of its skin!

épicerie - greengrocer

Friday, 21 September 2007

A little bit of feedback

When David went to pick Lily up at lunch today, her teacher remarked that Lily is speaking very well. Not bad for only her third week of school. It still amazes me that although she's a bit tired by the long hours she happily goes off there twice a day. This afternoon, she took with her a book for the teacher to read. It was her suggestion - apparently the other kids are bringing along books so she did too. And she could talk all day and night about the names of the kids in the class - and she's forever correcting how I pronounce them!

And Jasper, well, he has a tummy bug. Here's hoping for a better nights sleep for us all tonight *yawn*.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The days were growing darker and colder...

So begins one of my favourite kid's books, but unlike the sleepy bears we dont get to hibernate as the cold weather comes. No, we have to get up and walk to school in a sunny 5 degrees! Now, I know this really is nothing and when I'm walking her to school in the dark in the middle of winter, when its raining or perhaps even snowing, and its overcast and zero degrees, I'll look back at this post and laugh. But, autumn is well and truly here and it will take a bit of getting used to. Its not quite light when I get up in the mornings and when we wander to school, there are golden leaves falling into the canal. Its wonderful to see the change in seasons after so many years of living in Queensland but I really must find my winter gloves!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The Power of Advertising

A friend asked me today what was my favourite city in the world. I started thinking "well, I've been to....(and then it happened!)...cities, that never close down...from New York (never been there!) to Rome (nope!) and old London Town...but no matter how far or how wide I roam...

And before long I found myself over at you tube watching this, tears in my eyes like everytime I see it (bloody Qantas!)

Ok, minor bout of homesickness over. On with life!

Monday, 17 September 2007

A tale of two doudous

I find it rather funny that Lily, who never showed the slightest interest in a blankie and never had a dummy or even a bottle, now has at least two doudous.

Doudous have been a big topic of conversation since we arrived. It didn't take us long to realize that no self respecting french baby, toddler or pre-schooler left home without one. They are everywhere. We even went to a spectacle the other day for kids and the whole thing was about doudous! Not long ago, Lily picked out her doudou from the dozens of stuffed toys we have - its a rabbit hand-puppet with a carrot attached that was given to Jasper last Christmas. From time to time, she'll pick something out for Jasper too.

So it should be no surprise that last week she announced she was taking her doudou to school. The kids are allowed to have them for their naps or if they get upset, otherwise they stay in the boite des doudous. Now, despite what she says, I'm pretty sure Lily doesn't actually sleep during the nap-time as she is still out like a light at 7pm. So, maybe her doudou gives her something to play with while she's supposed to be asleep. More likely, she wants one because all the others have them and that's fine with me. The teacher says sometime throughout the year, they all stop using them.

And the second doudou? Well, because she packs the rabbit in her sac à dos each night, ready to take to school in the morning, she usually picks out another to take to bed with her at night. It changes frequently and is often forgotten completely, which hardly matters considering she still ends up sleeping about a third of the night at the bottom of our bed. This too shall pass!

So, because its one of my favourite photos, here's a pic of the doudou in question, taken on Christmas day at my parent's farm last year.

doudous - comfort objects, blankies etc
spectacle - performance
boite des doudous - doudou box!
sac à dos - backpack

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Parent/teacher morning

David went along to a meeting at school this morning. Luckily, another mum had warned me he'd be a while, as he didnt come back for almost 3 hours! First,there was a big meeting with the Directrice, all the teachers and the parents and then he got to go into Lily's class with her teacher for more talk and to have a look around. It sounded really interesting and I was sorry to miss it, but no kids were allowed and I'm just not ready to leave Jasper yet.

The Directrice is new in the position and a number of the teachers (including Lily's) are new to the school but they seem to have things well in hand. School life sounds very well-organized here and full of routine but Lily seems to be thriving on it. Her teacher wasn't sure that she is understanding everything said to her (as Lily says to us) but its certainly not caused any problems. She says Lily will often ask her questions. And I was so proud to hear that, when the teacher asked for a volunteer to come out the front and point out the letter T, Lily had done so. She pointed out a T in one of her little friend's names and said it made a "tuh tuh" sound. So, ok they say "té" not "tuh" here but I was impressed that she was confident enough to do the 2nd week of a new another only 4 years old...can you tell I am proud?!

Lily's class is a mix of petit and moyenne, so this gives the teacher a wide age group to accomodate (from 2 3/4 to 4 3/4) but I think mixed classes are great. And her teacher is caring and approachable - just what she needs right now.

Friday, 14 September 2007

A trip to le médecin

I had a great visit with my doctor today. Well, actually I couldn't get the prescription I wanted but I still count it as a success as I went alone and was able to converse well with the doctor. So far, I've been really happy with her. And its not her fault that I cant get my asthma medication in France. They just dont sell it except to be used with a nebulizer and that's taking it a bit far, seeing as I only have very mild asthma, which I suspect is really just an allergy to our beloved cat.

It seems in France, they hit asthma with the big guns straight away - the steroids. I'm not interested in taking a steroid for my asthma. Been there, done that! It took me 9 months of a wheat/dairy free diet, chinese medicine and acupuncture to wean myself off steroids and onto Intal Forte, a mild non-steroidal asthma preventative that I now cant buy!

So I left the doctors with a prescription for ventolin if I get into trouble and for a steroid if I get into more trouble and a warning to return if my symptoms (which are currently almost non-existant) worsen. And I headed straight for the computer and looked for online pharmacies. The problem is Intal is an old drug and although it suits me well, its been largely superceded by the many new asthma treatments. So, I found many online pharmacies willing to send me drugs to treat impotence, weight gain or hair-loss, but none that supplied Intal. I gave up for now, when, after entering it on a very large UK pharmacy site (which I thought would surely have it), I got a response that there were 0 matches returned and did I mean "anal?". Nope.

Hmmm, going to have to think laterally about this one...

Wednesday, 12 September 2007


My parents discovered today one of the hazards of having a daughter in a different time-zone. While they were tucked up safe in bed on the east coast of Australia, I was standing at my computer reading online updates about the earthquake off Sumatra and the speculation that a tsunami may have been generated.

Once I found a tsunami warning had been issued for much of the coast of Western Australia, I started thinking about my grandmother, living on her own, in a town on the coast. But, surely one of the family would keep an eye on things, I thought. And my brother and his family? Well, they didn't live right on the coast, did they? But what about my nephew, who'd recently left the nest? Where was he? What if everyone in my family had decided to have an early night? Thoughts of the devastation suffered after the tsunami in 2004 swam in my head. And at the risk of totally over-reacting I decided to ring my parents. I mean, after all, at the time I rang, the warning was telling people to identify a safe area on higher ground! My rather sleepy stepfather took my garbled alert in his stride!

I'm sure it will turn out to be little more than a 1 metre swell by the time it hits the coast in an hour or two, but, in keeping with my personal motto, "better safe than sorry!" So to my parents, I hope you got back to sleep and when you read this in the morning in a sleep-deprived state, please remember I had everyone's best interests at heart!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Well, that's news!

I had a great post all ready to write about the sort of news we get in our local paper here, such as "The wolf attacks a cow". But, then, by way of comparison, I went to have a look at the Courier Mail to see what was happening in Queensland today. And I got completely side-tracked by the news that Peter Beattie has resigned. Now, despite his many faults, I am a bit of a Beattie fan - I mean he lives in New Farm, after all. So it makes me not too unhappy to have left Queensland for now, especially knowing that in a few days Anna Bligh will be in charge - egads! That's a lot more shocking that the first wolf-cow attack in 15 years.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Le patinage sur glace

Its getting colder here. The outdoor swimming pool has closed and the patinoire has reopened. We went there today for the first time. There is a kid's session on Sunday mornings. Its well organized (of course!), with little chairs to push kids around on or for them to skate behind to steady themselves. I think I've only ever gone ice-skating once before so I wasnt feeling too steady at first - those little chairs came in handy! David carried Jasper around on the ice, like a pro!

And Lily, well, she did really well for her first time.

She started off just holding onto the wall and shuffling. Then she sat on a chair and we pushed her around. After a bit, she was confident enough to stand behind the chair and push along, if one of us supported her. And by the time we left, she was pushing the chair along herself, saying "dont hold me" in french.

I can see that, in years to come, its going to be a really fun family activity. Actually, I think its somewhere I might like to escape to on my own, from time to time, too!

Friday, 7 September 2007

Getting out and about

Its been such a big week here. I think having school in our lives will make us much more sociable. We go there four times a day so there are lots of opportunities to chat to parents. This morning Lily pointed out one of her little friends so I went and spoke to the mum while the girls said hello. The mum told me her daughter had come home talking about Lily at school. That really warmed my heart!

After dropping Lily at school, David, Jasper and I wandered into the vielle ville to go to the markets, stopping to chat with an english woman who lives nearby, my french friend and the lady who runs the italian food shop. Its really nice to go out and run into people you know.

And last night I went to my first Tricot Thé Annecy meeting - a knitting group. I took with me, a scarf that I have started knitting for Lily, but I actually didnt do any knitting as I had Jasper in the sling. It was just great to get out and have a chat, and to practice a bit of french too.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

A school update

First, thanks for all the lovely comments about Lily's first day. I know, I must sound like the most overly child-centred parent but settling Lily into school is one of the most important factors of our life here.

So, today was her first full day there. She went morning and afternoon and came home for lunch. I dropped her at the inside door of the school and she walked to her classroom alone (yes, I know, its only about 5 metres away but she's FOUR, for Pete's sake!). I've realized now why when we arrived here, I would see kids eating on their way home from school. She was really hungry both times I picked her up. The first time, she was so grumpy, I thought something had happened and braced myself for tears but after a big bowl of soup (with barley), she was much better. They have a small morning tea but no afternoon tea and although I was aware of this she was hungrier than I'd expected.

So our new pickup routine is collect her, ply her with food, ask no questions other than "was it ok?" so as not to annoy her and then wait for the details. Amongst other things today, she played with two girls outside throwing grass in the drain to make "pudding-pie" and she learnt a song about a butterfly that disappeared. She's still keen to go tomorrow, so I'm happy!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

A great first day!

I'm so proud of our Lily. She went off to school, singing and skipping, excited and happy. Not a tear or a tantrum in sight. She wasn't even phased when David handed her over to her lovely teacher at the door of the classroom instead of accompanying her in as we had discussed with the directrice a couple of months ago. Those two months have made a huge difference in Lily's ability to understand and express herself in french and she was so eager, it just didnt seem necessary.

She was pleased to see us when we picked her up 3 hours later and slowly the details of how she had passed the afternoon emerged. Playing inside with the girl in the green shirt, holding hands outside with the girl in the blue shirt, drawing, listening to two stories and singing a song about a rat and a hat. And best of all she is really keen to go on Thursday. In fact, when I reminded her that she doesn't go tomorrow as its Wednesday, she said with her best 4 year old attitude "Well, I'm *so* disappointed!"

We went out for dinner to celebrate the start of school and our 14 year anniversary (which took a bit of a backseat this year in all the excitement). After sharing my tartiflette and David's pizza, she wandered home with us along the canals still talking about school. As she went to bed, she said she's going to dream about all her new amis. I feel like we're off to a good start!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Ready for la rentrée

Well, this is what we've been working towards. School starts tomorrow. I've been through the little leaflet given to us by the school a few times and I think we've got everything we need.

Top of the list is one pair of slippers without laces. At first, I thought it said chaussures (shoes) but I read it again and realized it said chaussons (slippers). Luckily my favourite patisserie is a chausson au pomme (a bit like an apple turnover) so I realized my mistake! In France, the kids change into slippers once they get to school (at least in the Maternelle) to keep the classrooms clean and dry. David did the same thing when he lived in Switzerland. So Lily chose her own. Sadly I wont get to see them each day as they must stay at school!

Aren't they unique?

We've also got the gobelet en plastique - you've never seen a sparklier Dora cup than the one she choose. I'm sure there will be ten others like it tomorrow. Then, there's the ID photo, the obligatory box of tissues and the insurance certificate. That's right, kids have to have their own school insurance here. But its very cheap, lasts a whole year and covers just about everything, in and out of school.

But most important of all is Lily. She's very excited! This morning, as we walked to the shops to get some milk and croissants, she was skipping along and singing a little song of her own composition. It went something like "moi, je aller au l'école demain", which translated (and correcting for 4 year old grammar!) meant "I'm going to school tomorrow". I hope she's still this happy about it on Thursday!

From one blogger to another...

This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to others who you feel are deserving of this award.

How cool! I've just received this award from Rachael over at Miles Away in France. Thanks Rachael for thinking of me.

Now, I have to pass it on. I'm pretty new to this blogging thing so I'm going to hand it on to one person who always has a cheery aussie virtual smile for everyone. This one goes to Destination Metz. Enjoy!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

A bit scarce

I've got a couple of posts I've been meaning to write but I've been spending any spare minutes with my head buried in a book. I'm reading another american policier and its due back on Tuesday. I think it might be easier to finish it than to work out if I can get an extension! Its been tough going as I foolishly chose a 500 page book. Its by Jonathan Kellerman and I've read many of his books about a crime-solving duo of policeman and psychologist. But I never realized how informal his writing style was until I tried to read this translation. At the start, I was using the dictionary a lot. But 300 pages in, I'm really hooked and cant wait to see how it resolves. So blogging will have to wait...