Our last visit to Uzès!

A few days before leaving France, Aaron, Sophie and I went to Uzès for the last time.  I wanted to pick up some fabric and a few other odds and ends before heading back to the States.  We casually walked around and I tried to soak it all in, knowing it would be awhile before visiting Uzès again.  I found the things I wanted and then we found Antoines’ partners boulangerie.  It was right in the heart of the centre ville and, of course, we had to try some pastries.  Bien sûr!  The presentation was so pretty and it wasn’t bad on the taste buds.  It was another lovely afternoon in Uzès!

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The last days of school!

School ended for AJ, Austin and Tristan the week of June 22nd.  The last day of school was not until July 3rd, but at their ages the kids do not stay that last week and a half. Schools stay open because most parents work and it is a form of governmental babysitting.  Most working families do not have their vacation until the beginning of July. Most French vacations last anywhere from three weeks to six weeks.  So, schools stay open until July 3rd so working parents do not need to find another form of “day care” for their children.

The three boys were happy to be finished with school.  They had a day that was dedicated to turning in their books and a conseil de classe (class meeting) when all students get to see their final grades.  Overall AJ, Austin and Tristan did a great job this school year!  Many teachers commented on how well they integrated and communicated.  They will miss their friends they have made here, the delicious school lunches, a few of the teachers, riding the public bus, playing the tennis ball game during class changes, two week vacations every 6-8 weeks… but they will not miss the long days of school!

The last day of school for Jack and Sophie was July 3rd.  They had field trips, water game days and just a last few weeks of school filled with so many fun activities.  It has been sad for these two cuties to say goodbye to the Sanilhac Sagries school.  Jack was very disappointed when he was advanced to the next grade (CP) with his friends and he knew he would not be with them next school year.  It is a dilemma for Jack.  He enjoys his life here but also wants to return to America.  Sophie had mixed emotions too.  She was a little melancholy the last few days of school.  She is so young to be able to understand what she is feeling, but she is taking all the changes with happiness mixed with a few tears!

Aaron and I are so grateful that our children have had this schooling.  Most of them are bilingual as the end of our time in France is approaching.  Now onto the next challenge… retaining the language!

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This is Sophie’s “report card”.  It has pages of all the things she accomplished and the page where her teacher advanced her to the next grade, moyenne section.

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Sophie et Maîtresse Sylvaine

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Sophie et Elza

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Jack, le directeur Gault (principle), et Sophie

Sunflowers

There are beautiful sunflower fields dotting the countryside right now!  When the sun hits them “just right” they are incredible.  We pass these fields on every route out of Sanilhac. One of these fields is in Sagries, which is part of our commune.  Sagries is on the other side of the hill from Sanilhac, with about 3 km in between.  This evening I decided to go get a few pictures as the sun was beginning to set…

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Photography by Austin

On May 16th some of us took an evening walk.  I remember Austin bringing the camera because he wanted to capture some of the countryside around our little village.  I just discovered some of his photographs on my desktop and wanted to record them.

I am grateful that some of my children have been able to appreciate the beauty of this country and realize it is not like anything they have ever seen before.  Every place has its’ natural beauty and I am grateful Austin has stopped to enjoy the view!

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Night with Friends!

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Friday, June 19th our family was invited to Maria del Carmen and Paul Mallet’s home.  It was fun because the Jerome family, Ribera family and Darguence family were all there too. There was delicious food and fun friendships!  The Mallet’s have a nice open yard so the kids could run around and play!  Paul has built their lovely home from ground up!  Maria has a beautiful armoire in one of her bedrooms.  It is roughly 8 feet tall and is absolutely stunning!  I was in awe of its’ beauty!  I would not be able to find something like it in America for under $10,000.  Armoires are so well made here in France and they are used by almost every household.

Below are some photos taken by Maria on her phone.  My phone was not working very well so I could only snap a few.  We are going to miss our friends!

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Vendras

Back in June 2009 our entire family was able to make our first trip to France!  The little hamlet we stayed in is Vendras.  At the time there were 61 residents of Vendras and now there are 100.  We became friends with our neighbors, Michel and Lucette, and we have kept in touch with them the past 6 years.  We all wanted to visit Vendras and see if we could see Michel and Lucette.  Sunday afternoon we all loaded up and headed north about 18 km to Vendras.  We arrived in the cute hamlet and noticed Lucette looking out her window.  We had a lovely visit and they were so grateful we stopped by to see them. We reminisced about the first time Austin really discovered escargot along side Lucette. Austin was collecting the snails and Lucette gently reminded him they were for eating not playing.

Lucette was excited to meet Sophie!  She was surprised at how much the children have grown.  It was so delightful being with them!

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Aaron, Austin and I had been inside their home a number of years ago and got to see the wild boar head mounted on the wall.  The other kids got to see it and Michel told us he and his hunting group had caught 100 wild boar this past hunting season!  They wanted to give us a little of the meat to take home but we were not going directly home and it was a hot day.

Michel was a miner by profession.  He began mining at an early age.  We learned this time that his grandfather had been a miner and they actually have his lamp he used in the mines back in the day.  It was so cool!

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The two summers we stayed in Vendras there was an older man who would sit on a bench at the entrance to the village.  He had white hair and a long beard.  He was deaf and would rarely wave to locals.  He would sit on that bench for hours!  We never found out his name but as the years have passed we have found ourselves wondering about the old man who would sit on the bench.  Well, as we were getting ready to enter Vendras on Sunday I jokingly presented the question, “Do you think the old man is still sitting on the bench?” Oh my goodness!  He was there!!!!  But his long beard was shaved.  Our jaws all dropped!  We found out he has to have someone come into his home 2-3 times per week to help him stay clean.  We were shocked he is still alive and still spends his days on that bench!

Château d’Allègre

Château d’Allègre is a favorite family spot that we discovered 6 years ago.  It is the remains of a fortress that housed 12 knights dating back to the 1100-1200’s.  It sits high up on a hill and is open to anyone passing by!  We spent the early evening there on Sunday.  AJ had control of the camera and he did a pretty good job capturing the beauty of these remains.

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Château d’Allègre is 20-25 km north of our house in Sanilhac.  As you can see from a few of the photos, the fortress is right above a road and the Château is marked by a very small old sign.  I love that one can be on a back country road and discover such beautiful things!

6 Impasse de Candordy

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At the first of April I snapped a few photos of the outside of our house.  Jack and Sophie were photo bombing some of the pictures and others I just couldn’t resist capturing their cute faces.  The above photo is taken from our grass backyard area.  We have a lot of trees on the property!  There are two fig trees, two cherry trees, a plum tree, two walnut trees, an almond tree, rose bushes, lilacs, iris, many herbs…

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This is the side of the house that we see when we pull into our driveway.  The property owners used the upstairs as their main living space for many years so the stairs led to their front door.  It wasn’t until later when the couple was getting older that they finished off the main level, moved the kitchen downstairs and had the front entrance on the main level. We never use the front door.  We always enter in from the garage or the french doors off the kitchen.

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This is the master bedroom french doors over looking the pool.

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This is taken from our backyard looking out toward the street.  We love our little property that we have rented and feel so grateful to have found this little bit of tranquility!

La Chorale

One week ago I went with my friend and neighbor, Morgan, to tag along with her to her choir practice.  She belongs to a choir association that invites anyone to come and sing. There is a yearly fee and the choir performs at various events.

Aaron had originally volunteered me to go with Morgan, so when Wednesday came around I was complaining a little that I “had” to go.  But, at the same time I was looking forward to the experience.  I had talked to Morgan about it a few days before and she said it was very relaxed and I did not need to be nervous.  (The unexpected can be nerve racking!)

We drove through the countryside and arrived at this tiny village, Le Pin, for choir practice. It was held in a room similar to a town hall.  I was surprised at how many people were there.  I was expecting a small choir.  It was fun!  I was welcomed with bisous from anyone I met and I immediately was singing right along side Morgan.

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We began the practice with 15-20 minutes of warm ups.  None of it was voice warm ups. We were doing stretches, breathing techniques, choreography steps, etc.  I felt like I had just turned on an exercise DVD and we were “warming” up for the cardio workout.  I’ve never had that experience before a choir practice.  The rehearsal lasted 2.5 hours.  They have a repertoire of 2 hours worth of concert songs.  A few familiar songs included, “You Raise Me Up”, “Go Tell it on a Mountain”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Hallelujah”. The others that were practiced were in French and a few were origin to South Africa.  The last 30 minutes of rehearsal was spent practicing the choreography for each of the songs. The conductor was frustrated because at the last concert a few women were not in sync with the “moves”.  I sat out for most of this because they needed to be in performance positions.  In the end I was very grateful Aaron volunteered me to go with Morgan.  It was fun being with her and experiencing something new!

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