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.
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.
Sophie et Maîtresse Sylvaine
Sophie et Elza
Jack, le directeur Gault (principle), et Sophie
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!
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!
Aaron had a surprise waiting for him in the hot sun along one of the trails we like to run/hike. This is one of my biggest fears while I run! We are having a heat wave right now so I am especially vigilant in looking for critters that could be slithering under foot. (I believe it might be a Montpellier snake.)
Jack and Sophie had a school musical “spectacular” in the Batucada genre. I didn’t know what this was until I did a little research. Batucada is a mix of African and Brazilian samba usually played percussion style. All the children in the Sanilhac school had been practicing their songs and music for months. Jack would always note when it was lundi, monday, because that is when they had music class. Sophie would come home singing a little tune that none of us understood, except for her and Jack! The children were so excited for their performance and were saddened when it got cancelled last friday night. Le spectacle was taking place at the centre ville because in this style of music it is performed while walking. So, the program was for the children to begin at la mairie and work their way through the little village and stop at 2 other places, la place du château and la place du Four, while playing their instruments and singing.
It was raining all day friday. In fact, we had flood warnings again in our area so the children obviously could not perform in those conditions. Jack and Sophie were so sad the fête, party, had been cancelled. They wanted to get their “costumes” on and show off what they had learned!
On monday when they returned to school it was announced that the spectacle would be mardi soir à 18h, tuesday night at 6pm. Hooray!!! Tuesday we woke up to beautiful sunny skies. You could feel the excitement in the air when I took the kids to school. Around 4pm dark clouds rolled in and it started raining!!! Jack and Sophie would look out the window every 5 minutes to see if the rain stopped. It would rain, then stop, then rain, then stop, then sprinkle, then stop… Around 5:45pm the rain stopped and we knew we had to get the kids to la mairie. Sure enough, the whole town was there and all the school children were ready to perform, rain or shine!
When we arrived Jack was trying to locate his instrument that he had made but he could not find it amongst all the others. He was able to grab a tambourine. Each class was dressed in a different colored shirt. Sophie wore white, Jack had green, our neighbor Thomas has blue, our friends Adrian, Rudy, Marie, and Marius had on red shirts. It looked really festive when they were all marching down the streets together. Jack and Sophie got to wear colors around their waist, neck, wrists and Sophie had a purple flower in her hair.
I loved watching Jack and Sophie sing, dance and interact with everyone! I had to pinch myself as I was watching them perform, in the rain at times, surrounded by old stone houses and narrow stone streets. AJ, Austin and Tristan all knew people and/or friends from the village. We feel a part of this community and there definitely were tears as I thought about leaving this beautiful place in just 6 weeks.
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…
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.
This is the master bedroom french doors over looking the pool.
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!
Chemin de Candordy is the name of the road that our little “Impasse”, or dead-end street, stems from. These are the cute ceramic road signs in our village. The hand painted drawings are different throughout the village. They add a little extra character to the normal (French) street signs.
This is Dennis and Ann Marie’s gate and entrance to their house. They are one of five neighbors on our “Impasse”, or street. We see this white gate every time we come or go from our house. Most home owners have gates. Property is very private and if you visit someone you have to ring at their gate. One does not even get to the front door. Most gates are automatic, like a garage door in America. Ours is not. If you notice in the above photo, there is a small light on the right hand side of the gate. When their gate opens/closes this light will go on to warn anyone of the operating gate and/or someone pulling out of the driveway. I have noticed this light at many residences.
This is the intersection of our “Impasse” de Candordy with Chemin de Candordy. The property with all the shrubs and trees is Patrick and Denise’s house. They have been great neighbors, especially during the floods. Their grandson, Adrian, goes to school with Jack and Sophie and he is often found at our house. In fact, Jack and Adrian argue like brothers. Adrian is 9 years old. They usually like to play soccer.
This is a view looking down our Impasse/street. Around the bend to the right is our house, 6 Impasse de Candordy. We have loved our little street. Last weekend our street had a “neighborhood” party. It was at Ivan and Caroline’s house. They live at the end of our street. They have a son who is in his 20’s. Ivan had Mojitos ready for all of us to drink and we had to kindly decline! Ivan and Caroline are known for their crazy and fun parties. Ivan brought out his guitars and my boys tried to play with him. We were all singing and enjoying each other’s company. It was so fun! When my kids started feeling a little tired, around 10:30, they were saying goodbye to everyone and we noticed the french were a little surprised by this. Aaron and I asked if it was polite that they leave and okay for them to leave (after all, we just lived one house down) and they all responded that it was fine, just unusual. Usually the kids all stay up late with the adults. Aaron and I did not leave until after midnight.