19 September 2005

Soccer Weekend

Nathan in action!
Warm up before the big game against Baillargues

Célia and her team in between games at the tournament this weekend.

Nathan at the ready at the midfield position

Célia looks so much bigger than the boys in her division.

Well....we have started the soccer life in France in a big way! This weekend, Nathan's team had a match against Baillargues. It was a well played match with Baillargues scoring very quickly. The Sussargues team did not answer until the very last minutes of the game. The goal came off of a fabulous cross by Nathan that was placed firmly in the goal by a team mate. To say the least, Nathan was very proud to have had such a success his first game out. He is playing in the 13 year old league and it is a very physical division. Lots of arms and hands! They definitely have learned the art of passing at a very young age as they are fairly expert at working the ball up the field and crossing. There is not a lot of showmanship or ball hogging in this version of the game. It makes it really fun to watch and challenging for Nathan to play.

The cultural experience of the soccer world here has been very educational. The players are extremely respectful of the coach and other players. They stop everything they are doing when the coach arrives and quickly line up to shake his hand and greet him. If they hit someone hard during the game, they immediately go to the person and shake their hand and help them up. There is no schedule of games handed out to the parents. There are more than twenty boys at Nathan's practices. Only fourteen may play at each match according to "FFF" rules. The coach hand picks the players to go to the game. His letter to the parents stated that as in life, those who work hard and show determination and discipline will succeed...meaning get to play a real match. His coach is very strict, but fair. He has been very patient with Nathan's language barrier.

Célia's team has over thirty on it. Again, as with Nathan's, a limited number may play at each match. Célia is one of three girls on the team. In France, they split boys and girls at Nathan's level. At her first practice, Célia showed the boys the tough determination of an American girl.

Célia was handed one of eleven invitations to the tournament in Baillargues on Sunday. We showed up at nine in the morning for what we thought was one match. It turned out to be an all day affair where each team played a fifteen minute game and the results led to the playoffs in the afternoon. All teams lined up on one of four fields and the announcer started the play and ended the play...every set of games started and ended exactly at the same time. It was an amazingly efficient method of running a tournament. The play was fast and fun. During one of Célia's matches, the ball was kicked in for a goal and it went over the fence and into the brush. The other team sent a player to root it out as the fifteen minutes for play ticked by. Perhaps a new strategy for the next tournament!

Célia's team took third place out of twelve teams...a very fine placing! The top team was a definitely older and more technically advanced team of children from THE city of Montpellier. A trophy went to the top teams...Célia's coach gives the trophy to each player for a week to enjoy and display at home. Célia was handed it for the first honor over the energetic begging from the boys. She was very proud to carry it out of the stadium. This morning at school, her friend Benjamin came admiringly up to her and said he had seen her at the tournament as he played for another village. She was very proud of her achievements as was her former coach (ME!)

Although - as with most everything we encounter here - we have much to learn about the soccer life in France, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience this weekend...we met some new people, watched proudly as Nathan and Célia figured their way through a maze of new experiences and saw a slice of life we would have never experienced as tourists. It made me homesick for our soccer friends and community, but happy that we could offer the children - both our's and the french families - a new cultural exchange.

12 September 2005

Refreshing Paradise

We are in the midst of finishing the simple refreshing (how the French describe redecorating) of the apartment. It all had to wait for Mike's much anticipated return to France due to his expertise with plumbing and electricity. He has been working very hard each day to chink away at the project. The kitchen is the final piece and it is just about completed...just in time for us to start on the new house! That will be quite the DIY project! There is the matter of the oh-so- tasteful wallpaper peeling off the walls in the older section of the house...the whipped egg white like plaster on the kitchen walls that must go (as Celia will tell you...the wall can hurt you!)...and the addition that we must do the finishing touches as the dear sweet former owner Pasqualino says never were completed as he thought about what to do and then he "paused". Don't get me wrong...Pasqualino did a great job with the house. He is as detailed as Mike is with his workmanship. He told us that when he was putting in the pool, he watched the workers doing the pipe construction. He could not bear the level of perfection they failed to attain so he stopped them and finished the job himself. He pointed to their work and then his work as Mike heartedly nodded his head with empathy.

We are so blessed to be buying the home from someone as sweet as Pasqualino and his wife Catherine. He is from Italy originally, but moved here when he was a child. He teaches opera and singing at a music academy in Béziers...just west of Montpellier. He has the most energy of any man I have ever met...well maybe not as much as Brian Merrill! Catherine constantly tells Pasqualino to stop running around (literally) all the time. She being French seems to think he has a limited supply of energy and will suddenly give out. They have had us over to the house three times since we first signed a commitment to buy. They have let us crawl through the house with them and have explained every piece of the house including what his dreams were for the house. He is so passionate about it as if it were a work of art that he was entrusting to our care. We hope to be up to the responsibility!

We can't wait to share our new home with our friends and anticipate many visitors sipping fine french wine on the cool shade of the front porch. We are now taking reservations!!

04 September 2005

Celia's First days of School


This is my first time writing on the blog, so sorry if it is really boring (unlike my mom's blog writing).

My first days of school were really fun :) I'm very happy to report that I now have about 9 friends at school! I'll tell you a little bit about them:
1. Victoria. She is really nice and has lived in Canada, Yemen, Nigeria, London, and now France.
2. Amy. Her real name is Amelia. She was born in China and got adopted by some British people. She will do basically anything to help you. She is in my class.
3. Becky. She is Amy's sister, and has basically the same background. She is in CE1. They live in Sussargues (which is our town).
4. Anouk(said anook). She is from Holland and moved to Cupertino,CA for six years, so she knows tons of English. Her family are traditional Dutch people: blond hair, blue eyes.
5. Nicole. She is from the states. She plays soccer also!
6. Elodie. She is from the states also! she's really nice(like the other people I met). Both Nicole and Elodie do not speak much French.
7. Alexandra. She is from Slovakia and speaks English. She took English since she was three and still hasn't mastered it because of how different the languages are. She doesn't know how to speak much French.
8. Ginger. I know you're thinking that she is English. Her mom is British and her dad is French. she doesn't know too much English, but she know enough to get along.
9. Oceane. She is French. She knows quite a bit of english. she stayed back in CM2 with us and all her friends moved up to 6éme and she didn't. Her mom wanted her to stay back.

That's all my friends:( Oh well. If you are my friend and are thinking that my other friends are sooooo great. I'm not replacing you in my heart. You guys still hold a big part of my heart.

My teacher on the first day of school was Bruno. Uncle Bill, if you're reading this blog, I want to tell you that Bruno look a lot like you. Brown eyes, black hair, deep voice(although, you don't look like a deep voice, you sound like it). He also has the same name as you. Now, moving on.

The first thing we did at school the first day was rolecall. We had to say "Présent" when he called our name. Then he tried to remember them by saying them and pointing at the person he called to. then we just did inventory.

the second day was with Reay. He is my english teacher. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
we did inventory too. Then we put together our binders. he told me that I could have extra work if I wanted to.

C'est tout.

Nathan's First days of School

My first day of school was good. I have a lot of teachers. I am taking German and now I am taking Spanish. I take golf, tennis, and fencing. For soccer you have to go to a festival to sign up. My English teacher said that we could only speak English in class!!!!! I sit next to a boy from New York and he is translating for me because he can speak French very good. At lunch we have a main course, cheese course, fruit course, and dessert course. We start school at 8:30 and go to 4:30, but we have a 45 minute lunch. We also get half day on Wednesday from 8:30 to 12:30 very Wednesday.

02 September 2005

A thought taken from Garrison Keillor's website

We all know that life is short and quickly ebbs to a close, so you should go ahead and take that ride down the rapids, fly to Australia, dye your hair, go in the Peace Corps, follow your star, so that when you must sit in the nursing home eating your corn mush and watching stupid TV shows, you have some vivid memories of big adventures.


01 September 2005

La Rentrée! (sounds like rontray)

The return! This is quite the event in France! You see and hear about it everywhere. It is more than just Back to School specials. It marks everyone's return to life in a routine...the true end of summer and vacations and freedom. The beach is deserted...the highways have cleared out...the restaurants are quiet. It was a fun day both culturally and to meet friends. Celia and Nathan will blog tomorrow (Friday) about their experiences at school. Bonne Rentrée to all of you as well!

Celia's teacher for the subjects in French...Bruno! My family take note of his name and his suspiciously familiar look! Posted by Picasa

Celia's new friend from Slovakia, Alexandra Posted by Picasa

La rentree (the return)! First day of school Posted by Picasa

The driving range Posted by Picasa

A beautiful course in La Grande Motte...Nathan and Celia's new favorite place to be. Posted by Picasa

They love to go to the driving range! Posted by Picasa

A beautiful day at the golf course Posted by Picasa

A mirror image (no Nathan did not cause the crack in the mirror) Posted by Picasa