Fiacra and Ailbhe have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their friends Ryland and Timothy for months now. We were due to meet them at the train station in Pau on Monday at 3:25, they were taking the TGV from Paris. We spent the day in Pau before meeting them and really enjoyed it, despite the fact that from about 1:30 onwards, Fiacra asked repeatedly to go to the train station.
Fiacra turned 7 at the end of June (I can't believe it's taken me this long to do a post). We celebrated his birthday while we were at Hourtin Plage with his cousins. He is planning another celebration in Ireland. Connell and I gave him a big box of Harry Potter Lego, which he loves.
Fiacra is a bundle of energy. He loves sports, running and biking in particular. He is a bright boy, and loves math. He is enjoying living in France and is very happy to be back in the Pyrenees right now. He is eager to see his friend Ryland tomorrow, I can sense giddy times ahead for the next 2 weeks.
Connell has been telling Fiacra and Ailbhe the story of the Lord of the Rings over the past 3 weeks. They LOVE it. This is Fiacra's second time to hear it, Connell told it to him a few years ago. I can't believe how much Fiacra remembers. They listened to it for most of the car ride here today. Connell said he was going to take a break just as we were leaving the motorway onto smaller roads. Once we hit the smaller windy roads, Fiacra's car sickness kicked in, so Connell continued with the story. Once Fiacra is listening , he seems to forget about car sickness. So Connell was telling them the story for over 2 hours. He knows it incredibly well.
Fiacra, opening gifts
Pokemon cards, what could be better
Ice cream birthday cake, with candles that refused to go out
The McCluskeys - You can see where Finian is looking, he loves ice cream
Connell got back from Barcelona today. Five days on my own with the kids was long but not as bad as I'd imagined. Fiacra and Ailbhe went to the Centre de Loisirs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday which helped a lot. Those three days were busy days for them, bike to the centre and home (2.5km each way), the center all day, and a swim in the evenings, so they were content to have fairly relaxed days on the non-centre days.
Connell took Fiacra and Ailbhe to the science centre (Cap Sciences) on Saturday. The kids and I went to the museum of contemporary art (CAPC) on Tuesday, and to a new park on Thursday. Fiacra brought his camera to CAPC and took loads of photos, I will do a separate post of them. We will go back sometime with Connell, the kids enjoyed it.
Finian had a good week. He loves the bike seat. He is getting more teeth, he has 8 already and it seems like all the others are coming through. He has started doing some signs, he uses the signs for finished and out at every meal. He had his first physio on Wednesday and was happy to play with all the new toys. His pediatrician recommended physio to help strengthen his arms and legs.
My best friends this week - Pink Panther and the Smurfs. While I was putting Finian to bed each night, Fiacra and Ailbhe watched one of these on the laptop. It's amazing how quickly they can clean up and get ready for bed when they want to.
We're going to the beach tomorrow and on Sunday we leave for the Pyrenees to meet our friends, we can't wait.
Fiacra working on a virtual bridge construction at Cap Sciences
The actual bridge construction right outside Cap Sciences.
We have had a good first week of the summer holidays. We spent time downtown, splashed in the water mirror, went to the market, the swimming pool, the park, the skate park, and the playground, and spent time playing at home. On Tuesday and Thursday, Fiacra and Ailbhe went to the Centre de Loisirs for the day and enjoyed it. Connell and I both went for bike rides and we had our last French lesson until September.
Last weekend we bought a second bike for Connell and I, and a bike seat for Finian. We love all being able to bike together.
Finian's first ride in his bike seat
Ready to bike to the pool
We are trying to do a little bit of schoolwork with the kids over the summer. Fiacra needs to practise his English and French reading and also writing in English which he hasn't done since we left Canada. But what do we end up doing? Always math, the very thing both Fiacra and Ailbhe excel at. Today for some reason, we started talking about measuring quantities, which led to talking about weight, which led to Fiacra taking many boxes and packages (including a container of pringles) out of the cupboard, lining them up and calculating the total weight. Ailbhe discovered the pringles and to Fiacra's increasing irritation, started to eat them.
"Fi, can I just have one more"
"No Ailbhe, you've had quite enough already. Mum, we'll need to fill this up with water to get it back to the right weight."
At this point, Finian woke up from his nap. When I came back downstairs with him, Fiacra had given in to Ailbhe, and had given her the rest of the pringles. He had filled the container with water but had added an additional 1.5 times the original weight to account for the pringles/water switch. The container was overflowing slightly, so he put a dishcloth underneath to which he assigned 10g. The total weight was 5571 grams. Everything was then left on the table so that Connell could guess the weight when he got home, a fairly pathetic guess of 3000 grams. Connell continued guessing, and each time Fiacra would tell him if his guess was too high or too low. Connell said he was using a binary search for his guesses which he'll explain to Fiacra another time. No end to the fun in this house!!
Ailbhe relaxing downtown Bordeaux
Ailbhe at the top of the climbing structure in the playground
Fiacra and Finian on a rocker
Fiacra at the top of the climbing structure
Connell leaves on Sunday for Barcelona for 5 days. I hope to survive.
At the end of June we spent a week in Hourtin Plage with my sister Caitriona, her husband John, and their kids Jack and Cara. We stayed in mobile homes at a campsite within walking distance of the beach. We had a great time. Fiacra and Ailbhe really enjoyed being with Jack and Cara.
The campsite was very different to what we are used to in the provincal parks in Ontario. The facilities were fantastic, a restaurant, a grocery store, a gym, a games room, a huge pool complex, and great playgrounds, but on the other hand the tent sites were small, had no privacy, and no fire pit or picnic table. I wouldn't like camping there but the mobile homes were great. We had two beside each other, each with a covered deck and picnic table.
Hourtin Plage is on the Atlantic Ocean, and is about an hour and a half drive northwest from Bordeaux. The beach is beautiful, popular with surfers, with huge waves. The kids had a great time jumping the waves. We went to the beach and to the pool every day. We ate out a few times and otherwise had very easy meals. The kids were exhausted every night.
Jack and Fiacra
Fiacra leaving on a bike ride
Connell telling stories to Fiacra, Ailbhe (and seal)
Ailbhe and Jack
Many lollipops were eaten
Sand art by Ailbhe
Everyone hard at work
Ailbhe at the beach
John and Jack burying Fiacra
John and Jack
Caitriona and Jack
Sandcastles and lollipops - a winning combination
Fiacra in a huge hole
Connell, Fiacra, and Finian - Finian loved the waves
Ailbhe and Cara
Cara and John
Fiacra and Cara at dinner - Fiacra is completely exhausted and so refreshingly subdued
Fiacra and Ailbhe had their last day of the school year on Friday. Fiacra will move to CE1 (Cours Élémentaire 1) in September and Ailbhe will move to La Grande Section. They both got good reports from their teachers. We are amazed by how well and quickly they adjusted to French school, they both like their schools and have made friends. Fiacra's teacher said he will sometimes do "une bêtise", meaning little mischief. I should probably consider this a bad thing but I don't really, it shows he's comfortable.
My favourite part of school here - no lunches to be made. It will be hard to return to making lunches every day. The only school lunch I made this year was for Fiacra when his class went on a school trip. They had a long day away, from 8:15am until after 6pm, so I made him a large but fairly typical packed lunch, a sandwich, crackers and cheese, fruit, veggies, cookies, yogurt. When he got home, I asked him if he liked his lunch and he said "All the kids laughed at my lunch". I asked him why they laughed and he said "because they're crazy." I'm not sure why they found it so funny.
Neither Fiacra nor Ailbhe missed a single day of school except for last week when we went to the beach. Fiacra wasn't keen to tell his teacher he was taking a week off to go to the beach. So Connell wrote a note saying Fiacra wouldn't be in school but didn't give a reason. His teacher did ask him where he was going but he replied "Je ne sais pas" (I don't know). When he got back to school, she asked him where he had been and he said "I had to go and see my cousins", she then asked him where his cousins live and he said "in Ireland". So no lies, he did indeed see his Irish cousins at the beach - in France.
We are looking forward to the summer. We have two weeks at home to start, Connell is away at a conference in Barcelona for the second week. The kids will go to the closest "Centre de Loisirs" for 2 days the first week and 3 days the second week. It's similar to a summer camp except you can choose as many days as you like whenever you like. After that we have 5 straight weeks of vacation away and friends in town. It will be crazy but fun.