Sunday, March 31, 2013

Days 3 and 4 - Swimming and Apartment

Saturday started with another visit to the pool. One of the trainers said to show what she could do - so without a warm-up she dove in and did a 100m individual medley. She had a good swim but I think the change from yards to metres threw her off a little for her turns. She then joined the other swimmers who were doing some testing involving floating face-down for 5 seconds, treading water in a small hoop, going underneath lane lines, swimming different strokes (including streamline on her back and simultaneous backstroke) and then a couple laps of their own choice. She was happy to be there and at the end the coach said there was a small intrasquad meet on Sunday afternoon if we were interested. With no other plans for Sunday afternoon we signed her up. He also mentioned a swim camp they are having during the school vacation where she would get the chance to try some of the other things she hasn't done - synchro, water polo and swimming with fins.

After the pool we went to France's answer to Home Depot - Castorama - to get curtains, shelving and other bits and pieces for the apartment. We also picked up some small appliances at Darty - we needed alarm clock before school on Tuesday!

After a quick lunch at home, we headed north (the other stores are south of us) to another Home Depot type store, a different grocery store (to get things I forgot the day before) and a few furniture store to look at storage pieces. The apartments here, especially older ones, don't have a lot of built in storage. We are lucky because we have a storage room and big closets in our bedroom but we need things for Isabelle's room and the kitchen. We didn't find exactly what we want but there is lots to choose from and it was only our first outing so we will keep looking for a bit.

From there we drove to a brocante (used furniture store) which Paul had visited a few weeks ago. They definitely had interesting things and good prices but everything seemed to have a little problem - shelves missing, chewed doors or something else. I think we need to find the brocante who said no to these items because they weren't good enough!

The best part of the trip was that it is on the road to Paul's work so we got to see the countryside complete with cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens and acres and acres of vineyards. Even though it was a little foggy it was still beautiful.

This morning, after the Easter Bunny's visit, or was it the Poule de Pâques, we went to the Sunday market. Paul was with us so we were a little more adventurous in our purchases - olives and rillette, along with needed eggs, fruit, bread.

After lunch, Paul and Isabelle hung curtains, built a shelf for the bathroom and moved some furniture around. And then it was time to go to the pool.

Of course, we had no idea how it was organized so we just followed everyone else. We waited outside until the appointed hour and then I went with Isabelle to the changing room side and Paul went into the bleacher area where we met him. The pool complex is pretty amazing - I will post some pictures and video later.

We were told the children would be called by birth year starting with 2006. Each child would swim the first event and then the 2005s would swim their first event and so on. After the 2001s swam, the 2006s would start again with a second event. After everyone swam 2 events, the best 8 combined times in each sex/age group would swim in a third event - as a final.

This was a meet for the swim school - as I understand it these are children who are passing the different stages to make the swim team. The events were different for each age - for those who know about SAIL think Guppy meet except all the events but the individual medleys were 50 metres. The 2006s swam with a kickboard, then streamline back and as a final - simultaneous back. The 2005s did streamline back, simultaneous back, then regular back. Isabelle's age did simultaneous back, regular back, and free. Later age groups added breast and 100m IM.

Isabelle placed first in her first two events putting her in the final. She then swam one of her best 50 frees ever and placed first for her age. She won a water bottle, got her first French medal and they even had a podium! And perhaps the best part of all she made a friend!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 2 - Off to a Running Start

Well, again, not really, since I had to poke the girl after she had slept for 14 hours. She was a little slow to wake up but after some breakfast and a little tv she was raring to go. She unpacked part of a box of her clothes and then we were off the market since Paul was at work for the morning.

The Friday market is a 5 minute walk from the apartment, and we found everything from veggies to shoes to books. It was a little chilly - with some flurries in the air but with Isabelle we managed to buy some vegetables, fruit and salmon. I am amazed by how much French I understand - thank goodness for all of my language classes over the last 4 years on the parking of EFB!

Paul arrived home from work at noontime - not a usual occurrence but we were going to visit Isabelle's new school which about a 10 minute walk from the apartment. We signed lots of papers and Isabelle was able to visit her new classroom and meet some her classmates - who seemed very anxious to meet her. We also meet her teacher who seems nice but I think may be wondering about Isabelle's competence in French. I think her worries may be alleviated on Tuesday when Isabelle goes for her first day with all other cahiers from EFB.

After the visit we walked home (I love all this walking!) and picked up the car to go to the huge Carrefour grocery store (more like the Superstore on Joseph Howe, for the Haligonians) on the other side of the river. We had a stop to make on the way though - the swimming pool! We spoke with some of the swim team staff and joining the team isn't quite as easy as we thought but they seemed very positive. She has to go to swim school to learn a little of five disciplines (diving, synchro, water polo, swimming with fins and snorkel and swimming) before taking a test where she must pass three after that she has to do another test (a technically correct 100m individual medley) to make the team. But they seemed to think she could try for the pass to make the team in June. They also want to see her swim - so she is scheduled to swim for them Saturday morning (yes, today!)

Then, we were off to Carrefour which, on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend was crazy. Isabelle went through the store and had as many samples as she could! I found just about everything I wanted but Peter may want to BYO-PB when he come to visit since I could only find a tiny jar.

After Carrefour, we visited with the family of a colleague of Paul who shared some good advice, some names of stores and invited me to a workshop she goes to do upholstery. Oh and we even found a babysitter!

After a long day, we opted for our neighborhood pizza and called it a night. So far so good!!!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Here We Go Again - Day 1

Well, not really Day 1. I guess Day 1 was really that day last year when Paul said do you want to move to France because I have a job offer. Since then we have been preparing paperwork, applying for visas, packing, and, of course, going on with all the usual things we do.

So, finally after the inevitable delays, Paul flew off leaving Isabelle and me in a temporary apartment in Greenville to start his job and to begin to settle things in France. This is what we did when we moved to South Carolina and seemed to work well so we thought we would do it again. Also, it allowed us to have Isabelle change schools nearer the scheduled school vacation and change of semesters.

Unlike many of his colleagues and, I think, as a result of his particular skill set and bilingualism (and Isabelle's too - mine is still very shaky) we are not in the usual spot for expats with his company but in a small city, Chalon-sur-Saône, between Lyon and Dijon in the east of France.

Paul arrived about six weeks ago and very promptly found a wonderful apartment in Centre-Ville - our preference due to the location of Isabelle's school and that we would like to have just one car. Within a week of settling on the apartment, the container arrived with all of our furniture and in short order he also set up telephone, internet, tv, gas, water and then bought a car. And while there is still a lot of unpacking and organizing to be done, he did the hard part.

So, yesterday we arrived after tearful goodbyes in Greenville and relatively easy flights through Washington and Brussels (I am still glad we opted for Brussels over Heathrow). Paul picked us up at the airport in Lyon, we had a quick lunch and were home by 2. Our most precious cargo, Paul's requested bottle of dark rum arrived safely too but unfortunately one bottle of Diane's precious canned clams didn't make it - but we think the lid popped in flight because it didn't seem to be broken.

We looked at the apartment for a bit making a to-do list and after went for a big walk - past Isabelle's school, to the post office to pick up a registered letter and through the old town. Then back home for dinner. Isabelle nearly fell asleep at the table and right after dinner got in her jammers, brushed her teeth and went to bed - now 12 hours later she is still sleeping.

Now to start our second day with a walk to the market, a visit to Isabelle's school, a coffee with a colleague of Paul's and his wife and maybe some time unpacking and organizing some more.