Last weekend Elias, Aurore, Aaron and I went into Uzès for dinner. Elias drove his car and he found a parking spot along the Boulevard Gambetta and we were set to go eat. After a few hours of a fun and yummy dinner we came upon Elias’s car and two other cars parked in front and back of his car. Each one was COVERED in pigeon poop! The people sitting at the adjacent cafe were all laughing as we were looking at the three cars, specifically Elias’. We could not believe the amount of poop. There were even pigeon feathers stuck to the car. We were laughing so hard. As we were pulling out of the parking spot, a family passing by was pointing at our car with disbelief and disgusted looks upon their faces, followed by laughter! It looked like a war zone of pigeon poop, feathers, and tree branches!
These photos do not do the scenario justice! We quickly found a car wash at 11:30 pm so the poop would not start “eating away” at the paint on the car. When we arrived there was another man in the next car wash stall washing his car because of the same problem! We all about died of laughter!
This past year we have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the Serrano-Milone family. There is Elias, Aurore, Maëlle, Gabrielle (Dada) and Joshua. They are a kind, wonderful family who live in Toulouse, about 3 hours north of us. We love them and we are hoping they will get to America in the next few years. We have had many weekends and short trips together. This past 8 days they came to stay with us in Sanilhac, except for Elias who came for the weekend and then met us at the beach on Wednesday. We all had so much fun together! Many hours were spent poolside, at the river, jumping cliffs, watching movies, playing card games, catching frogs and crabs, laughing and laughing for hours! Many tears were shed as we had to say goodbye! We feel so blessed and grateful to have met the Serrano-Milone’s! The kids all had control of the camera for 8 days and we have hundreds of photos so I have had to go through all the pictures and try to choose a few for my journaling.
Saturday, July 18th, we had a ward party at our house. We were so happy to have our kind friends from our congregation in our home. We had a kitchen full of food, laughter and friendship! It was a hot humid day so the pool was enjoyed by many! We have made some incredible new friends this year! We feel very grateful to have served amongst so many wonderful people from all backgrounds!
Aaron was asking everyone to congratulate Elder Holding (the red head) who was leaving Monday to return home from his two year mission. And to wish him well on his first “kiss”!
Below is a picture of me and a few of the ladies in our Nîmes ward attending a Stake Women’s Activity in Montpellier. Left to right: Aline, Nicole, Isabelle, Darcie, Nicole et Claudette.
This is Adrien, one of the school children in Sanilhac. He is also the grandson of our neighbors Patrick and Denise. Adrien and Jack enjoy playing together, especially soccer in our yard. The two of these boys have sometimes acted like siblings, arguing over who won/lost. Adrien’s mother, Carole is a working single mom. Her parents, Patrick and Denise, are the ones who would get Adrien to and from school and Carole usually would not be able to pick up Adrien until 7pm. This is very common in France to have the mamie, grandmother, and/or papi, grandfather, take care of their grandchildren. I will miss seeing Carole, she is a very sweet lady who has always made me feel very welcome and comfortable! Plus, she has a contagious smile!
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!
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.
When we first moved to our house in Sanilhac and started meeting our neighbors, we were so happy that a cute little 3 year old (turning 4 during the year), Themis, and her 9 year old brother, Thomas, lived next door. Themis and Sophie have become good friends this year. They go to school together and sometimes play together after school. They have enjoyed playing dress up and swimming together. They are cute friends!
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!
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!
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!
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!
About a month and a half ago, Tristan took a countrywide English test. All students in his grade throughout France are required to take an English test. We, and all of Tristan’s class thought it wasn’t fair that Tristan take the test. Tristan’s english teacher insisted that Tristan take the test. I will tell you why… the boys have been studying “British” english this year. The english curriculum in France is based upon what is taught in England, because that is the most common english that would be spoken in this part of the world. Quite frankly, I enjoy the “proper” english over America’s versions of english! The test consisted of sentence structure, vocabulary (which is often different), factual information about education in England, and a few questions of English history. Tristan had to study for this test because there were definitely things about the english language he did not know. Naturally because english is his native language he had the advantage over every student in his school. But, again, the teacher really wanted Tristan to take the test.
It had been announced that the first 5 highest scores in the country would receive prizes, first prize being a laptop. Tristan was a little nervous on test day because he wanted to win that laptop! He came home upset because he knew he had answered one question wrong: “Mr. Pond calls to speak with Tristan (I am inserting his name because he could not remember the name of the person on the test.) Tristan answers the phone and says:”. There were four choices and he did not answer with the correct, “Speaking”. Tristan had never heard that expression before, which I was surprised because that is what I learned from my Dad growing up. I guess I never taught him proper phone etiquette!
Just last week the test results were announced and Tristan came in 5th place in all of France!!! He found out that the four students that placed higher than him were all British students. How funny is that!!!! Hooray for Tristan!!! Because he came in 5th place his prizes were not as glamorous as a laptop, but the trophy and clock sure put a huge smile on his face!!! Way to go Tristan! Everyone at the boys’ school were talking about the student who won 5th place! What a fun memory and souvenir to bring back to America!