26 June 2006

End of the First Year at School

Celia and Nathan finished their first year with honors at school. I must admit to being filled with such pride and admiration while listening to their teachers complimenting them at the final teacher-parent meeting last week. The French system of grading is quite tough and when comments are given on the grade reports, they are not given lightly. Nathan received Felicitations which is the highest recommendation available and had a grade point average well above the class average. His class is mostly true French students...only three others were English speakers. Celia came in at the top of her class. They took a standardized math test that the whole country takes in elementary school. The test is completely in French with no translation at all. Celia came in second in her class and 24th in this province...like a state...(Herault) and 2,422 in all of France In total 28,764 students in Celia's grade took the test in France. Suffice it to say, we and her teacher were incredulous!!

We would like to offer a standing ovation to both of them for an outstanding year!! BRAVO!!!!!

Celia's Eleventh Birthday

The end of May marked Celia's Eleventh birthday and her first in France. She has been waiting to have a swim party from the day we moved in. She is the ultimate water bug!! The day ended up being beautiful swim weather!! She had her best friends (in France) over for worms and dirt, pigs in a blanket and lots of zany games. One of the funniest was jumping rope while holding a glass filled with water. The one who ends up with the most water left in the glass wins. The techniques were quite inventive. Mike played the good sport when the girls insisted he participate...holding a huge metal bowl of water. He did quite well in spite of their shrieks of laughter.

That night we dined on Celia's favorite meal...bbq ribs! Her friend Alex from Slovakia stayed to get messy with us. Celia swears Alex is a Californian girl with a funny accent!! It was a great day for all. Happy Birthday, Celia!!

End of Soccer Season

These pictures are from the Sussargues Soccer Tournament down the street from our house. Celia's team took second place after a hard fought final game. Celia received a special award with her friend Camille for being the only two girls in the program. Camille played on the second team and Celia on the premier. They are pictured with the Mayor of Sussargues who was very proud of Celia as a resident of the village and a fine representative. Her coach, Nicole, was such a great person for Celia to play for and really encouraged her this year. Celia has decided to keep playing with the boys and Nicole next year when she moves up to the Benjamin league (ages 11-13). She really enjoyed her teammates and the celebrity of being the only girl and American on the team.

23 June 2006


So it has been a year since we started this adventure! Time really does fly! Looking back through this blog and thinking about where we were a year ago is really mind bending. A thought that occurred to me the other day is how this life here in France is so much more of a conscious choice. We actually continue to choose to live here and search to experience it rather than merely existing in a life that passes us by.

Summer is here and we are talking about what we really are excited to visit and see...not just what camps can I occupy the kids with and how do we stretch it until September. Today we are working at home and then we are going on a drive before we pick up the kids from school. So much is about experiencing...not just floating...although it was so nice yesterday, I must admit to lolling by and in the pool most of the day!

Some of our English speaking friends here are on work contracts that moves them around every two years or so. That forces you to value your time with them and make the most of it. Dinners...overnights with Nathan and Celia's friends...coffee or lunch with friends after dropping the kids at school. In our old existence, we took our friends for granted that we did not have to make an effort because they would always be there...even if it was running into them in Nob Hill or at the soccer field...never consciously, but still a choice of not truly appreciating those that mean the most to us in our lives.

As a family, we talk more and spend more time together. We are not coming home from a long day at the office only to want to escape into ourselves to unwind. We talk and laugh and play in the pool at the end of the day. We have time to be quiet inside ourselves so we are able to actually be with each other. We work on projects together...Nathan with Mike in the garden...Celia or Nathan helping me with the grocery shopping...everyone doing a task to get dinner on the table...doing the Saturday cleaning together...it all builds relationships on top of getting a task done. Previously, I was so drained at the end of the day, I would make dinner in silence while the kids studied in their rooms. We would eat quickly in silence and then collapse in front of the TV until falling into bed.

If we take anything from this adventure we are on, it is to experience life and not to allow it to overtake us and make us into glazed eye zombies too exhausted to exist. To enjoy experiences that build memories and give meaning to our lives! Carpe Diem!!