Monthly Archives: March 2011

class verte

So we kept getting these notices about this upcoming event “Class Verte”- but we had absolutely no idea what it was.  Here are the many things that Tim & I were thinking this event could be:

1)      A unit about recycling
2)      A science lesson about global warming
3)      A parent action committee to boost the recycling program in the school
4)      A nature walk around the forests of Fonatinebleau
5)      A visit to the town dump

You can clearly see where our thought process was going…………………………….

So, at the end of last week, when I overheard 2 parents talking about the upcoming informational meeting about The Class Verte, I quickly inserted myself into their conversation to get more info.

As it turns out, Class Verte (for the kindergarten-2nd graders) is a week-long circus camp for the kids to learn acrobatics and other things about life outside of the typical classroom setting.  Sometime in June, the kids all leave on a big bus on a Monday morning from school and spend a week at a camp about an hour away and learn acrobatic skills to put on a full-scale production of an acrobatic circus for the parents on the following Saturday.

When the parents on the playground turned to me and asked me if Owen & Eamon were going, my response was only stunned silence.  I thought my head was going to explode with this information.  All I could think was:  Really??!!?!  A circus camp??!?!?  For a week?!?!?  Away from home??!?!?  In France??!?!?  Am I an over-protective parent!?!?!?

When I told the parents on the playground I had never heard of such a thing (and they are definitely not doing this in schools in the US at these ages), they couldn’t believe it.  Yet another cultural chasm to traverse.

Come to find out, that these class vertes are the tradition in France.  The teachers take a classroom full of kids away for a sleepover experience beginning at the age of 3 (when all the kids start school in France).  When I mentioned it to the kids, Owen immediately said he didn’t want to go (not shocking at all) – Eamon said he would go if his best friend John went (also not shocking).

Not sure what we’ll do about this – as a first step we’re planning to go to the upcoming informational meeting.  I told Owen to be prepared – I found out the Class Verte for the 3rd-5th graders is a week-long trip to Germany.

French word of the day!

prostituée  (seen all along the A6 autoroute to Paris)

Info about Fontainebleau

Parlez-vous Français?

Last week started off a little rocky. When I was picking the boys up for lunch on Monday, I happened to run into one of the French teachers who gave me a very disapproving stare.  I had no idea what that the stare was about, until another teacher said, “It’s too bad he’s missing French today.”

WHAT!!?!?!  Missing French??!?!?!!!!

At that point it was too late to change the lunch plan for the day, so I left school with the kids, wondering:

a) Who was missing French

b) How long had he been missing French (and when was the class, since I was under the impression that it was currently lunchtime)

c) When was somebody going to tell me this directly (instead of by accident when I was walking out the door for lunch)

When I got back to school, I was determined to get to the bottom of this issue and after meeting with the school secretary (who seems very perplexed by me), it turns out that Owen has extra French 3 days per week for a bit of lunch (to get him up to speed with his French).  It also turns out that, of the 3 extra days of French, the boys were coming home with me for lunch on 2 of those days.  Bottom line: OWEN WAS MISSING HIS EXTRA FRENCH CLASSES 2 OUT OF 3 DAYS PER WEEK!

When I asked the school secretary why nobody had said anything, she replied, “We thought you knew and weren’t that concerned about your kids speaking French.”

I’m thinking the French image of Americans living abroad is slightly damaged.  What do you think?

Beaucoup de fromage!

One of the biggest benefits of living here is the relative proximity to many other countries/cultures.  This past weekend, we were invited to Switzerland to celebrate the birthday of the guy who lived with my family as a German exchange student when I was in high school.  And we got to ski!  And there was CHEESE EVERY NIGHT!  Yum!

The little village where Alex’s family has a chalet is so great – and so small.  Let’s just say that it is exactly what you see in your mind when you imagine a small village in the Swiss Alps.  Alex’s cousins own one of the oldest chalets in the area – built in 1874 and we were lucky enough to be invited there on the last night to eat raclette (very simple, the most delicious melted cheese you’ve ever tasted over potatoes).  I would seriously eat this every day, if it wouldn’t kill me in less than a year.

While we were there, I ate fondue for 2 nights in a row and finished off the trip with the raclette party.  Let’s just say that the amount of schnapps I drank (which is supposed to help with digestion) did nothing to enhance the slightly ill feeling I had driving home through the very big mountains.  Lesson learned:  Cheese is best enjoyed in moderation.  Too much cheese + too much schnapps + driving through big mountains = trouble.

With any luck, I’ll be buying one of these babies in Switzerland while we’re here and bringing it back for all of our future raclette parties (get ready friends!):

A random occurrance…………

Here’s the scene – I’m standing on the school playground and I happen to hear a guy speaking English (which is not all that common , especially among the parent crowd).  Not only is it English, but based on his twangy accent, I can tell this guy is from the Northeastern USA.  Finally, the voice of my people!

It turns out, he’s a close family friend of the 2 boys who are currently labeled as the “best” friends of my kids (kids =  John & Harry).  We chatted for a few more minutes and I found out that although he’s living in Azerbaijan and just visiting Fontainebleau, he is was born and raised in Chelsea, MA – the same home town as my mother!  When I mentioned her maiden name, he knew the family right away and, in fact, had done business with my uncle who owns an insurance agency in town.  From the streets of Chelsea to the playground in France – seriously small world.

A classic move

As you all know, I’m learning French. Not only that, but I am a highly motivated French learner.  Since chatting with people is critical to my existence, I know that I won’t be able to chat well until I learn more French.

As luck would have it, there is a cultural center right around the corner from my house which offers beginner French classes. I got the schedule last week and have been mentally preparing for an entire week to attend the class today. Although I’m a motivated learner, I was still having to psych myself up to go. All morning I was working myself up make it to the hour and half long class which started at 2:30pm.

To start (and despite the fact that it is less than one block from my house) I was running a couple of minutes late, so when I walked into the class, I was scolded by the teacher in French. She said something to me and tapped her watch. Ooops. I was sitting there thinking that being prompt must be a part of French culture that I had yet to witness (in fact, it seems that everyone here is habitually late).

Imagine my surprise when the class ended 1/2 hour later!  As it turns out, I wasn’t a few minutes late, I was an HOUR late.  No wonder the teacher was tapping her watch at me.  Was the schedule printed incorrectly, you might be wondering?  No, the schedule was correct, but apparently I need some work reading time in French too.  Smooth move.  As Tim said, “You will be remembered.” Sadly, yes I will.

cuisine of the world

We heard thought the grapevine that Eamon’s class was going to have a carnival this week and the kids were going to dress up in costumes for the day at school. Since we’ve failed to get Eamon the required notebook for school notices to be glued in, we had to hear about this event through the parent grapevine.

I was hoping that Eamon could dress up as something that we already have a costume for, which as this point is limited to the costume for an average American boy. As it turns out, Eamon is supposed to dress up like “Cuisine of the World.” Not culinary artists of the world (bakers, chefs, etc), but CUISINE of the world.  My mind immediately went to that great Wisconsin cheese hat I owned so many years ago, but then again, if I had that hat, would I have thought to put it in my luggage to France?  I think not.

I thought about trying to cobble some sort of costume together, but it seemed really silly to go to extreme lengths to find a costume representing cuisine when we have bigger challenges at hand, like learning French. When I told Eamon’s teacher today that we don’t really have a costume for tomorrow (because in fact, we don’t even have furniture yet), she said not to worry. She told me to bring him in early to school tomorrow and she’s paint fruit on his face.  Nice.  That will save me from having to rush to mold some spaghetti into a hat tonight.

Cuisine of the World update: Eamon went through all of his t-shirts to find a special one for his Cuisine of the Word day and as a shout out to the homeland, he chose to honor the great American food, potato chips.  A special thanks to Nana for the the classic “Cape Cod Potato Chips” t-shirt.  Vive la America!