We're into the weeks now that start to feel like regular sort of life - up and off to school, laundry, shopping, meals, errands, etc.
Though each of these in a bit different fashion in some ways.
Laundry is a much longer process - 1 hour for the "fast cycle" wash and at least 2 hours to hang dry on the balcony. Luckily, weather is lovely still. Waiting to see how strategic we'll have to be once it gets cooler.
Grocery shopping could be at the bigger market down the street for bigger shopping with my pannier (shopping trolley), quick trip down to the smaller market just down the street, splurge stop at Carmes market close to the girls' school - small version of St. Lawrence, or the Tues/Sat outdoor market stalls that set up in our local Place with farmers and their tables.
Joined one line on Tuesday at the outdoor market to see if they had spinach. I think I upset the regular order of some older ladies who must meet each Tuesday - happen to be standing in between a few of them and was more challenging for their conversation. Fun for me to be surrounded by this regular life and I worked to catch bits about their sons, the weather, what they were looking forward to making with their fresh purchases.
When I was somewhat scolded (politely) for asking for spinach right now - not the season - the farmer lady offered me another big green leafy bunch which she assured was similar and lovely. She and the lady behind me each offered their thoughts on cooking - one thought best wilted with pork drippings, the other with creme fraiche. I tried a bit of both as I made to accompany pork roast so that plus butter and light cream. Delicious! And on tasting, though I didn't recognize the name they offered (think it's called blutte), it's swiss chard. Girls less impressed but Marco and I are more iron fortefied.
Will be back to visit this week to see what treats are in season. Oh, and can't forget that I bought "confiture de pasteque" - melon jam - big yellow watermelon that they seem to have only for jam. Will let you know when we crack this open.
I am also debating whether I can pull of some jam here as I've not yet managed any this year with the move. Maybe just a few jars of figue - would be a new one for me.
Girls just a bit better each day at school.
Geneva is enjoying being a teaching assistant in her English class. And Elena has resumed similar duties as they've started English in her grade as well. Our purchase of a badminton set has also brought El added confidence in Sports and us some family enjoyment at the local park.
Marco has a few days of "vacation" left - he starts with one day this week on Thursday to get schedules set, paperwork completed, etc., and then in earnest the first week of October when his program starts.
I was femme au foyer a l'ecole this week. Starting with Elena's class visit with her teacher and other parents on Tuesday. Though kids not invited so what did everyone do with them while we had to be there at 4:30, half an hour after pick up? Guess they did like I did - leave them with Papa - as only les meres were in class. Sitting in Elena's desk in the front row to hear about all her subjects, days, activities, it was reconfirmed that at present, I have about 1 1/2 hours of attention for full on French immersion. I started to glaze over just as Mme was starting to talk about beginning English with the students and how she is not looking forward to it - then realized the Anglophone was sitting in the front row and apologized profusely. I was able to squeak out that I was certain that her English was at least as good as my French. At the end of all of this, I've found myself volunteering to come help Mme during English class. She and Elena's principal seem thrilled - to which I keep reminding that I'm not a teacher, just possess a reasonable grasp of the English language. Right, well not like I'm too busy right now. More on my teaching assistant duties when I begin.
That evening was also the Parent Council meeting which I attended at 8:30 - solo of course because again, no kids there so Marco got a bye. After my previous French focus in Elena's class, I was already a bit weary but soldiered on. Made it through most of the list of the activities and responsibilities of the Parent Council until it was time for budget discussions. Definitely followed the crowd as, outside of generally understanding their budget is around 30,000 euros, the Treasurer lost me for most of the rest. And during voting, I clearly just followed suit as the requests for "yay or nay" were neither words I could identify. As my vote with the masses would not have swung any decision (no "nays"), think I did my parental duty.
One good piece to this is I have my first mom friend - mom from Elena's class who is also new to the school - though not new to France or Toulouse. We have properly exchanged phone numbers, SMS and Elena now has been for lunch to their appartement on Friday - I sent along banana bread with chocolate chips for dessert which was properly enjoyed - they'd never had before. Also, Estelle - El's friend - has an older sister who is 2 years older than Geneva and Estelle's dad is an accountant at the university Marco will be going to. This might be a good connect for all of us. Onwards!
I also did my femme au foyer duties on Thursday by volunteering to "help" with picture day(s). This is a Parent Council activity, not school activity and the Secretary of the Council was in full charge. Not sure how much helping I did but did manage to try to keep the kids at bay as each classroom entered for individual pictures then trouped out to the courtyard for their group photo - I can hold coats and say "fait gentilement" and "pas trop fort" with the best of them ;)
My final school triumph of the week is hopefully helping to set up an exchange between Geneva's class with her English professor and Marco's sister's class in Toronto. Plan is to get the French kids writing in English and the Canadian kids writing in French. The Principal and English professor are getting even more excited, with visions of hooking up to have the Toulousian students travel for a trip to Canada some time. Baby steps - let's get this writing bit started. More on this to come.
Personal fun - I found the library, signed up for cards and we got some DVD entertainment for the weekend. I also ventured in to meet the local wine shop/restaurant which is almost just downstairs. Francois, the owner, has regular tastings with vignerons and is happy to have me pop in. Maybe this could be my volunteer wine job. More to come - will update.
We are excited by the flush of vistors coming our way. I'm typing this awaiting our friends from the summer - the Irish/Spanish who now live in the little village close to our vacation house. We'll be so pleased to have another set of people to speak English to - if only for today.
As much as we are managing well being our own company, we could also use some infusion of new faces.
Next up, Genevieve (Jen) will vacation with us for almost a week starting on Friday - yay!! Ready to paint the town just a bit more "rose". Following, Marco's brother and his family will spend Canadian Thanksgiving weekend here as stop between Sardinia and Barcelona on their family vacation.
Then maybe we'll plan some vacation of our own. More on that next week.
So lots of good stuff - continue to soak as much in as I can and enjoy this gift we're giving ourselves.
A la prochaine semaine,
p.s. Marco made a bang up chicken parm last night and due to our unreliable oven, we ate like French - around 8:30, between downloaded episode of this week's Glee and our new French reality fave, Fort Boyard. Fantastique!