Sunday, 31 May 2009

Friday, 29 May 2009

Boost!


Lily is going to be a happy camper when she gets home from school today. I just received the six Boost maths and english books that I ordered from Sydney. It was my grandmother who introduced me to this series, sending us a couple of their maths books a few months ago. Lily really enjoyed them (and we haven't even tried the free CD that comes with them yet!). So I thought they would be a good way to keep her interest going in english and reading.

They don't learn to read here in France until CP, which Lily starts next year. Since turning 5 she has been interested in learning to read, so we started with english at her own pace. We started off with a few activity books and then were lent some Oxford Reading Tree readers which she really liked. She's finished the first three levels so I'm trawling ebay for some more and in the meantime she has the Boost english series for ages 4-6 and 6-7 to complete as she is ready. Its hard finding the right balance as I don't want to push her but I am also conscious that its up to us to ensure she learns to read, write and spell correctly in english. I have no idea how she compares to aussie kids of her age, but at almost 6, she can read "Put me in the zoo" and "Hop on Pop" by Doctor Seuss so I figure she's not doing too badly and we have all summer to work on it...and now with some fun new books.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

This one's going straight to the pool room!



Jasper's first artwork done at the crèche!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Speedies chez nous!


Yesterday we had a great visit from fellow aussie bloggers in France, the Speedie's. Its always fun to meet new friends and we quickly found we had a lot more in common than just the crazy idea of living in France for a while. We had a long lunch of raclette on the balcony, followed by my first ever attempt at chocolate mousse (merci pour la recette Stéphanie). The kids all got on really well and it was nice to see Jasper try out his english on someone. Its been quite a while since we've had any english speaking visitors and his speech has come a long way in that time. Thanks to Anne and Andrew, Samuel (older by one minute!) and Ella. It was lovely to meet you and we wish you all the best for the rest of your stay in France. Maybe we'll catch up in Bris Vegas one day...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Mind your manners

Rarely a day goes by that I don't get a chance to embarrass myself in some way. Today, it was a mix-up of manners. Now manners are very important here and I try my best - always saying "hello" and "goodbye" when I enter and leave a shop, "thank you, have a good day" etc.

Today, I took the kids out for breakfast. As usual there were a lot of people waiting to be served at the counter. As we slipped down the side of them to the tables at the back, I called out "bonjour" to the owner and one of her helpers behind the counter who were busy serving. Later when things had quietened down, the owner walked past so I said another "bonjour madame". She turned to me, surprised, and said "but we've already said hello when you came in!" Umm, ok! David says he has made the same mistake and been corrected too - apparently its just as bad to say too many hellos as to say none at all!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Two years!

It took rather a backseat in our otherwise busy day, but today we celebrated two years here in France. We went to one of our favourite restaurants, the Brasserie du Paquier. Its not too expensive, has super friendly service and really good food. Lily would tell you the best thing are the ice-creams and the lollies they bring with the bill, but my favourite is the café gourmand. You get an espresso coffee, tiny crème brulée, a tiny brownie with crème anglaise (custard) and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and chantilly. Just the thing after tartiflette!

Open day at the Conservatorium

Lily will be doing the parcours découverte next year at the Conservatorium. So we received a letter telling us we had to go to the Open Day today so she could try some instruments. From those she tried, she is to choose six, which she will do for three weeks each next year, along with three weeks of choir and dance and the formation class she is doing this year.

So armed with our list of boxes to be checked and signed, we set off down the road. It was crazy there, with heaps of kids and stressed looking parents wandering through the hallways, looking for instruments to try. The first instrument Lily tried was the double bass. Who knew they made smaller sizes? She got to hold it, pluck the strings, play it with a bow and try to follow a simple rhythm while the teacher did the finger bit at the top. I thought she did really well (though I do have a slight tendency to bias!). She also tried the flute (produced a nice loud sound first go), violin and cello before it all got a bit too much. Despite my prodding, she wouldn't try the saxophone and she had absolutely no interest in the trumpet, trombone or french horn. I suspect she might be a strings sort of girl (although I do hope I can convince her to enrol in viola instead of violin - it has a much nicer sound, even though we were listening to an untrained 7 year old playing it. It was much less screechy than the violin).

She promptly came home and drew a picture of a double bass which is her favourite (maybe as it was the first thing she tried or perhaps as the teacher was super friendly). I'd like to see her try the cello as well - its a lovely instrument and for some reason she just looked right playing it. We'll see. In the meantime, she'll enrol for piano (which comes in a workshop with harpsichord and organ) and perhaps percussion. Despite the stress, it was a fun afternoon and really interesting. I wish they had a parcours découverte for 42 year olds!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Une dent qui bouge!


A very excited Lily came running out of her class yesterday to tell me she has a wobbly tooth! How can it be that those teeth can be ready to start falling out when it seems like only yesterday she got her first one? Anyway, we are well prepared here. She already knows that the tooth fairy lives up in the castle we can see from our balcony and she's also expecting a visit from the mouse who takes care of french kids teeth! Last night she wrote a letter for the tooth fairy, on the back of a special fairy envelope. It says "Dear Fairy, I am waiting for you. From Lily." And she's doing her best to make it fall out as soon as possible.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Do yourself a favour*


If you're in Australia, run out and buy a copy of this month's Women's Weekly - it has two fantastic broccoli recipes in it. Its the one with Olivia Newton-John and her daughter on the cover. Now personally, I think our Livvie could use a lesson in growing old gracefully but I digress...

We all love broccoli here and eat it almost every day, either as a main meal or as a veg on the side. But now I have two great recipes to add to my repertoire of broccoli pasta and broccoli risotto. The first one I tried was the Broccoli, Pancetta and Blue Cheese gratin. I changed the pancetta for lardons (bacon pieces) and the blue cheese for gruyère and they all loved it. Its a really good dish to prepare earlier and just heat up. I set the timer on my oven to cook it while we were coming home from gymnastics (Lily riding her bike and me running - I really need to buy a bike now!).

The second dish is Fish and Broccoli pie - made with salmon, haddock, boiled eggs and broccoli. We're having it for lunch today and its only half prepared right now, but I can tell just by the ingredients that its going to taste really good. That's the Fish and Broccoli pie picture above that I nicked from the AWW site. Yum!

* Ah, you can take the girl out of Australia, but a childhood of watching Countdown can never be lost!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Birthday Bonanza!

With April comes the start of the Giorgi birthday season. First up was Jasper. This year, we decided to have a day away on his actual birthday so we got up very early and took the train to Lyon to go to the zoo at the Parc de Tête d'Or. There is so much to see in Lyon - we definitely need to spend some time there. We came home late for a birthday dinner of his choice (sausages) and his first cake. We then celebrated again with friends a few days later at his "Cars" party with a second cake.

Next was my birthday. All I wanted was a new hair cut for summer, so I treated myself to an expensive cut at Dessange Paris. I had been wandering past for ages, admiring their gleaming white interior. Now I know just where to go when I want a AUD$120 haircut. Though, given the frequency of my haircuts, its worth paying for. As we've been eating out a lot lately, I asked David to cook me a meal (a rarity!). He made a delicious tagliatelle with fresh prawns and scallops from the fish shop in our street.

David decided to celebrate his birthday a day early as it fell on a school day this year. We hired an outboard motor boat and took a cruise on the lake. We stopped and floated for a while to eat some sandwiches. There was hardly anyone out and it was really peaceful.

So that about brings us up to date. Here are all the photos and a bit of video of Jasper diligently blowing out his candles.

New bike!

Opening presents on the train


Lyon


Lunch at a real Bouchon

Delicious baked apples with cinnamon

Vieux Lyon

On the funicular railway going up to the Basilique

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

Giraffes at the Parc de Tête d'Or

Bears

Elephants

Birthday cake number 1

Birthday cake number 2

At his party




Dav cooking (gasp!)





Dav's birthday lunch of curry, on the balcony

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Digging in the dirt

I've got a big backlog of photos to post but for now I'll start with today. I've been looking for a while for the right size flower boxes and supports for our balcony. Everything I'd seen was too narrow for our wide balustrade. But I made a trip out to Botanica at Annecy-le-Vieux today and found just what I was looking for. We also bought some extra boxes to plant some vegetables - off to the markets tomorrow to get some seedlings.





Friday, 8 May 2009

I'm back!

Thanks France Telecom - that month without internet was just what I needed! Can you hear the sarcasm? At least it was an interesting experience. The first week was a bit of a break and a novelty. The second, I was angry and climbing the walls. By the third, I was feeling totally disconnected from the world and by the fourth, I was settled into a weird state of acceptance. Sort of like an internet-related accelerated version of the 5 stages of grief.

Anyway, I have used my time offline wisely and have been reading heaps of library books and generally enjoying our new home. It is truly everything I wanted almost two years ago when we moved here and I still wake up wondering how we managed to find such a great place. The kids love it, especially the huge balcony and the fact they can make a lot more noise, although Lily is having some problems sleeping with the noise at nights. We've adapted well to taking baths instead of showers (even on school mornings I seem to have time for a nice relaxing soak). My new coffee machine, George, courtesy of my friends here, has been working overtime as we try lots of different brands of coffee. So far my favourite has been a red pack of Segafredo which amazingly was on special for 1,75€. At the moment we've got an expensive tin of Illy, which is nice but over-priced IMO. The Segafredo is proving hard to find at the moment but I will be sure to stock up when I head off to Milan ON MY OWN for a night in June!