Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Calendar

We always do an advent calendar with the kids. In Canada, we have a Christmas tree with little drawers that we fill with chocolates each year. When you open a drawer, you turn it around before putting it back in, gradually turning your Christmas tree into a Christmas scene.

This year, we are going to do Christmas envelopes as our advent calendar. Our friend Tricia has done this before, I will have to look back on her blog for some ideas. You make a garland with 24 little envelopes, each day you open an envelope, and there is a fun family activity described for the day.

As we are going to be waking up in 4 different locations over the course of the advent calendar, we are going to use a single envelope rather than a garland. I will pop a new activity card inside each night. Depending how busy we are, the activities may get a little lame from time to time, e.g. sleep on air mattresses, stay in a hotel, fly to Canada, but we'll do our best.

Here are some of our ideas:
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make Christmas Cards
  • Make sugar cookies
  • Decorate sugar cookies
  • Go for a walk in the dark with headlamps
  • Visit Benjamin Tree farm and cut down a Christmas tree
  • Decorate Christmas tree
  • Have a games night
  • Have a movie night with popcorn
  • Go out for dinner
  • Go to see Christmas lights (we may do this twice - downtown Bordeaux and around KW)
  • Take fun family photos
  • Have a lego building competition
  • Make mince pies for Santa (and mum, mostly mum)
  • Make a snowman and/or snowfort
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Take the tram across the river
  • Go ice skating at Pey Berland
  • Go sledding
  • Have a photo slideshow
  • Have a family game of rugby
  • Do a Christmas craft
Can you believe it's the first of December tomorrow? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cute Poem

Fiacra does lots of poetry in school. I love this one.

Pomme et Poire

Pomme et poire
Dans l'armoire,

Fraise et noix
Dans les bois,

Sucre et pain
Dans ma main,

Et le faiseur de Bêtises
Bien au chaud dans ma chemise

Luc Bérimont

My translation - Apple and pear in the cupboard, strawberry and nuts in the woods, sugar and bread in my hand, and the mischief maker, nice and warm in my shirt.

We were talking about this poem this morning at breakfast. On the walk to school, Fiacra saw a boy from his class and said "he gets puitions (punishments) everyday, I think we're doing that poem because of him." I think this poem applies perfectly to every kid we know.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Working Weekend

We have exactly 2 weeks left in our house. I alternate between feeling like we have so much to do and will never manage to leave, and feeling like we have everything in hand (there may be a correlation with coffee consumption).

This weekend we spent a lot of time at home getting stuff done. We have gone through everything in the house. Anything we are bringing back and won't need in the next 2 weeks is in mine and Connell's bedroom, ready for packing. (Go Connell!!). We have cleaned the whole house, including dislodging our impressive resident spider population and all of their webs.

We are committed to throwing away as little as possible. There was a toy drive a few weeks ago and we dropped off a bunch of toys there. We have donated any clothes we no longer want. Some friends came by last weekend to look at the furniture and they are going to take the shelving units, the stove, our bed, and the outdoor furniture. Our bikes will go to Fiacra's friend's family who were thinking of getting bikes anyway. Which still leaves some furniture, the fridge/freezer, the washer/dryer, all of the kitchen pots and pans etc., and Finian's toys, all of which we will need for the next 2 weeks. If only someone would move into the vacant house next door with young kids and no furniture (more on this in a later post).

The weekend hasn't been all work - we went to our old neighbours' beautiful, newly built, modern style house this afternoon for crepes.

Fiacra and Ailbhe have been great all weekend. They spent all of Saturday morning at their desks  - Fiacra was working on writing math books and Ailbhe drawing and crafting as usual. Fiacra wrote 2 books, "Numbers - my favourite number is pi", and "Equations". I then had to write a report on each of them. The reports were, of course, extremely positive. However the report on the reports not so good, apparently my writing is not quite up to French standards.

This week, I am going to pack the kids' rolley suitcases, which they bring as carry-on. I was looking up our flight information last night and was fairly horrified to see that the flight from Paris to Toronto is over 8 hours. I guess I was thinking in terms of the Ireland - Toronto flight which is 6 hours. I think Fiacra and Ailbhe will be fine, Finian will be a problem. He's not a big fan of sitting still.

I would like to get everything pretty much done this week so that we can have a last fun weekend next weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4 Weeks To Go

We leave France 4 weeks today. I can't believe we have been here almost a full year already. Since we moved in, we have always referred to this house as home, partly because it felt like home and partly because we wanted Fiacra and Ailbhe to feel settled here rather than in transition for a year. As we get closer to leaving, the idea of home is starting to shift back to Canada for me. I am looking forward to seeing my very good friends dishwasher and van, as well as of course, all our people friends.

With 4 weeks to go, we have
  • Booked our flights back to Canada. We leave Wednesday December 14th. We fly from Bordeaux to Paris at 10am, have a 2 hour stop in Paris, and then fly direct to Toronto. So great flights - costly though. 
  • Given notice on our rental house. In France, rental agreements are typically for 3 years. In order to leave early, the notice period is 3 months. The notice period can be reduced to 1 month for a job transfer which is what we are claiming. To give notice, you must send a letter by registered mail.
  • Booked a hotel for the last 2 nights so that we can finish clearing out and cleaning the house. We will stay at the same hotel as when we first arrived.
  • Booked a van for the last few days to do the final running around and to get our 8 massive bags to the airport.
  • Started packing. All our summer clothes are packed and we are starting to pack items we think we won't need in the next 4 weeks. Of course once something is packed, we need it immediately. I have already pulled back out my running shorts, I had switched to half tights but it has been so warm. About a week ago, I mentioned to Connell that I was going to start packing, he seemed to think this was completely reasonably, so I know I am, in fact, starting WAY TOO LATE. We are rarely in agreement on when packing should begin.
In the next week, we are going to try to get rid of anything we are not using and not bringing back to Canada. There is a Kijiji equivalent in France "le bon coin" which we are going to use.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Run - Churches

When I went for my run yesterday, I brought the camera in a tiny backpack. I decided to run past as many churches as I could. If I had planned a route in advance I think I could have done better, but 9 is pretty good for an hour long run.
Ste Geneviéve

St Nicolas

Ste Eulalie

Cathédrale St-Andre

St Michel

St Pierre

St Remi

St Louis

Notre Dame

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our Week in the Périgord Noir in Pictures - Part III

Some of the paintings in the Grotte de Rouffignac from a photo found on the web. The majority of paintings are of mammoths. A train takes you 2 km into the cave. There are paintings along the way and a chamber at the end with paintings covering the ceiling.

Finian and I on the train - he started yelling shortly after this and continued for the entire time. 

Ailbhe and Connell on the train.

The village of Saint Léon sur Vézère.

Ailbhe on a walk by the Vézère river.

The Vézère river.

The kids and I on a walk - this was the first time they wore their wellies in France - they jumped in every single puddle and got completely soaked.

A model of the cliffside town of La Roque Saint Christophe, the city of troglodytes - before it was destroyed by the king of France.

The backs of the buildings went into caves.  There was a blacksmith shop, slaughterhouse, smokehouse, church and more.


 A gerbil wheel powered crane - with human gerbils.

Note the double pulley and two descending ropes on this crane. As one rope is pulled up, the other is let down.  This was used to raise water from the bottom of the cliff. (Connell did this section - can you tell?)

Two water buckets hanging from the previous crane.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Week in the Périgord Noir in Pictures - Part II

The Château de Castlenaud.

A closer view.

The view from the top of the castle.

 There is a museum of medieval warfare in the castle which was very much enjoyed by two of our party (hint - not by Ailbhe nor I).

 Fiacra loving some weapon.

A model of the 1442 siege on the castle, the French were attacking the English.

The medieval town of Sarlat - I think the nicest town I have ever been in.


The Wednesday market in Sarlat.

The market had the most delicious food including huge cheeses.

We bought the pear chocolate apéritif - Yum!

The market had an impressive amount of foie gras and other duck and goose products. I have to say, I love foie gras.



Fiacra and Ailbhe with some foie gras geese.

Ailbhe, Finian, and Fiacra in a bell tower. It's almost impossible to get these three looking at the camera with their eyes open at the same time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our Week in the Périgord Noir in Pictures - Part I

The kids taking a break from the drive, while Connell adjusts the bikes on the bike rack, as strongly recommended by some Gendarmes.

We stopped in Périgueux for Lunch. It is a beautiful town.

Ailbhe spotted a marker for the Chemin de St. Jacques. We followed it to the cathedral.

The Cathedral in Périgueux. It's huge.

Fiacra and Ailbhe gathered a huge basket of walnuts. They're the best walnuts I've ever tasted.

Fiacra and I went for a run/bike ride. This dog joined us when we were a few minutes in and stayed with us the whole way.

We visited Lascaux II - amazing!

Fiacra and Ailbhe in the museum.

Finian taking a breather after behaving questionably in the cave - a trend with him when it comes to caves.

We stocked up on bread and quiche at the bakery in Montignac.

We took advantage of Finian's nap and played a game of Dragons' Gold.