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Friday, September 21, 2012

.....the home stretch?

So I have kinda neglected this blog.  While we did have great places to stay, thanks to AirBNB with internet connections and everything, I just couldn't bring myself to sit down at the end of the day and blog.  Germany and Austria were great and we had a fantastic time.   Good food, better beer and perfect weather.

Morgan says
"Are we home yet?"
We had two weeks left before school started once we got back, so we decided to do some local things and spend some days just relaxing.
Einstein on the way home, exhausted from her
stay at the kennel

We reconnected with friends we have made through the school last year.  They have had us to their house for dinners and an Easter Egg hunt and I have always felt bad that we couldn't return to the favor and have them over to our apartment because 4 people and 2 dogs pretty much fill the place already!  So when V suggested dinner, I said if she would provide the place, I would provide the food.  Since it was close to Labor Day, I decided to make classic American cheeseburgers on the grill and some macaroni salad.  I am happy to say it was a success.

After dinner, we planned to meet the next day at Parc Asterix, a huge theme park with rides and characters (like Disney, but on a Six Flags size/budget).  Asterix and his friend Obelix are characters based on a French comic.  The Asterix series is one of the most popular in the world, with the series being translated into over 100 languages, and it is popular in most European countries.  Patrick read them as a kid and introduced them to Max.  We had actually been as a family once already, but V, her husband Jack and daughter Silke had not been.  So my kids were excited to be able to "introduce" something to someone and not be "first-ies" as usual.
Move over Mickie, Max likes Asterix!

Silke and Sam posing


The next day we had purchased tickets for Rock En Seine, a huge annual rock concert held in the Parc de Saint Cloud.  One of Max's favorite bands, Green Day, was playing as the closing band on the last night otherwise I try to avoid HUGE crowds of rowdy, drinking people at all costs!  Not my scene!  But actually, even though crowded, it was very well done.  There were three main stages set apart from one another so the crowd wasn't all pressing to get into one space all day.  We staked our place while the warm up bands were playing, so we got a good view on the side up a little hill away from the masses.  Also, the fact that we walked to and from the park (only about a 20 minute walk) and didn't have to deal with parking helped a lot.
Rockin' out at Rock En Seine

School started on September 4 with an introduction day and full classes starting on September 5.  This year we have moved to the Senior School which is a different campus for the kids.  It is very close to the Junior School, but older.  In fact the administrative building was once the home of some big railroad magnet.  It is located on the Seine with beautiful views.

Just sitting in my car, waiting on the kids

The kids now have to get used to changing classes and not having one primary teacher.  So far, they are doing well, aside from loosing multiple locker keys and learning that they don't have to carry EVERYTHING in their backpacks (Max continues to carry about 40 lbs of stuff back and forth every day!).  Another big thing this year is the school has issued iPads to the kids.  Every kids in the school has been issued their own iPad, even the Junior School kids.  The kids are thrilled but there are some parents who are not as pleased.  I am sure that there will be bumps in the road, but I am on board with this new plan.  The class schedule and planner apps are great and hopefully will get both of them in the habit of recording what they are responsible for and following up on it.

Walking the streets of Croissy
on our way to celebrate the carrot 

The following weekend we were invited to a BBQ before attending the Fete de Carrote (yep, the Carrot Festival) by another lady I met through helping with play last year.  We and 5 other families met at her house first for some food and beverages and to let the kids burn off some energy.  Then we walked to a central meeting place in Croissy to begin the parade to the park for the fireworks.  Someone passed out lanterns for the kids who were all enamored with the fact that they had real candles and fire!  The crowd started out with about 40 people and we picked up marchers at different points as we walked to the park.  At one point we were joined by 4 drummers who accompanied us.  



Sara's husband donned a
found carrot hat

Once we arrived at the park, we found a place to sit and enjoyed a fireworks show set to Rock and Roll from the 80's.  The kids ran wild and watched the fireworks and then we all paraded (just our small party this time!) back to Sara's to collect our cars.

It seems that Croissy has been known as the "Carrot Capital" since the 19th century so hence, they still have a festival the second weekend of September.  They claim that Croissy is the "ancestral home" of the carrot, but whether or not that's true, they throw a great party for it!









The next day we met up with a couple (husband works for Schneider) who had just settled here for the beginning of their assignment.
  They have older children (in college) so they are living in the heart of Paris and so far are still in the "romance" stage.  They do have an advantage we don't in that he speaks French and actually has some extended family in France.  We did have some laughs about the amount of paperwork that is required to do or buy anything here and the whole "personable bubble" everyone seem to have around themselves here (no smiling, no friendly nods, basically acting like they are the only ones on the street/metro/bus).  After lunch we walked around the corner to see the Statue of Liberty (Île aux Cygnes) near the Grenelle Bridge.  We were fortunate that day as a swing music band had just begun to play on the island.  We stood for awhile watching the dancers and enjoying some English language music.

The Seine around the
Île aux Cygnes





















So as we settle into this school year, the question remains, will this be our last year?  We should know that answer by Christmas.  We have requested that if we are moving back, we would like to do it in the summer so the kids can start school back in America with the rest of their class.  Since Patrick recently received a promotion (Yeah Patrick!) there could be the opportunity for us to stay here a little longer, but we have requested that if that is the case, we need to be moved to a house closer to the school. The dogs need a yard and being that we are a one car family, it would be more convenient for those days when the kids have after school activities.  Our feeling is that the company won't want to take on the expense of moving us locally and more than likely will decide that if they are going to pay for something, they will send us back to the U.S.  That way they actually save more money because they won't be paying for the kids' schooling and our apartment any more!  

So for now, we just carry on and wait.  School is gearing up and even though we are "low men" on the totem pole on this campus, the kids are starting their after school activities and excited about this grown-up venture of class changing and electives!    And perhaps with them occupied with school, I can try to better about blogging.....  only time will tell.....

Samantha, Max and Silke
at Parc Asterix


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