October 3, 2004

Happy October everybody! Is this your favorite time of year too? It is mine and I love the crisp mornings and warm afternoons. A lot of people burn leaves and old grapevines and just about anything here during the fall (prohibited in summer since it's so dry) so it's a smell I'm starting to associate with the season again. I remember when I was younger, people burned their leaves in fall.

We've had a couple of ho-hum months. Let me bore you with the details.

Jonathan was on vacation in August/September and he got the kids back in school while I went back to Memphis for some doctors' appointments. We now officially have 3 kids in 3 different schools and they start class at 3 different times.

On Sept. 3rd, I left Marseille for Amsterdam and then Memphis. It didn't exactly work out that way because the KLM flight to Amsterdam was canceled due to mechanical problems. I was rerouted through Paris, then Atlanta, then Memphis. The flight was late leaving Marseille and I ended up getting a (running) escort to my gate in Paris (THAT will never happen again... merci bien Ms. Ticket Agent) and the flight from ATL to MEM was almost grounded for a mechanical. Sheesh. By the time I picked up the rental car, it was after 10pm ... 5 hours later than I was supposed to be there. Thankfully, Jonathan had called and arranged a new car at Hertz since Enterprise closed at 6, and all was well.

I went to Memphis for the sole purpose of having routine checkups and some of my medical problems taken care of. So I ended up at 12 appointments in 4 days. If I never here "Ms. SteeeeeeelMAN" from a lady with a chart in her hand again, it will be too soon. All is well though and that was good to find out.

It was nice to be back in the US although it felt strange to be there and not be able to see family and friends. I watched a lot of TV and did a lot of shopping. I bought a lot of school clothes for the kids and a few things at the grocery store ... cream of wheat, cream of chicken soup, Herdez salsa, oysters for Christmas Eve, Starbuck's French Roast coffee, candy for the kids (and Jonathan) 2 books and a ton of magazines. I've read almost every one of them because I read them every night. I like having familiar magazines to read.

Jason had his 16th birthday on Sept. 7th. Jonathan took him to the skate shop in Marseille and bought him a new skateboard. At the parents' meeting after school started, they recommended not getting the high schoolers involved in any outside activities due to the heavy work load on them. So Jason just skates in his spare time and keeps up with his work. We're considering letting him stay here to board for his senior year so he can graduate with the International Baccalaureate and we will go back and establish residency ... somewhere ... so we won't have to pay out of state tuition for college... $26,000 as opposed to $7,000 per year. Jason will be 18 by then so we have to check into whether or not he needs a visa of his own to stay. Argh. He will take the SAT this year and is taking some extra courses at the school to prepare for that. So far he is doing really well and still has his sights on aerospace engineering.

Emily has been thriving at Mignet! She surprised us by jumping right in and riding the buses with no problems. We did buy her a cell phone to use for emergencies and in case she forgets how to get the bus home. When she gets out early, she has to go to the bus station (not as seedy as in the US) and take the city bus home. So far she has done a great job and is also studying independently this year. We still have the tutor coming 2 days per week to help her and Erik with homework or problems. Surely next year everyone should be up to speed. Then we'll have to worry about integrating back into the US system! She is finally enrolled in horse riding and loves it.

Jonathan had to have a talk with Erik's teacher at the beginning of the year. Erik has always loved school and when he started coming home upset because the teacher yelled at him (and other kids) almost every day, we were worried. Then Erik came home one day and said the teacher had held up his paper in front of the class and said that Erik was lazy (his handwriting is still sloppy but improving ... maybe a downside of skipping kindergarten). He was losing his enthusiasm for school. So Jonathan talked to several people about it (including Nick, an English neighbor and teacher) and they all said he should talk to the teacher right away before any more time goes by. They said some teachers will try to get away with that and we shouldn't let them. So since the talk, Erik seems fine with school. He does still say the teacher is strict but that's not grave as long as he's not cruel. Erik's teacher from last year warned her class that Monsieur Harnoun was strict and she should know ... he's her husband. Erik is taking fencing this year.

I think it's super that students here still stand up when an adult (another teacher, the principal, a parent, etc.) enters the classroom. Then when they leave, the kids say 'au revoir'. Manners.

I have to tell you this story and then I'll let you go. Ever since I've been home from the States, I've had a sore throat and cough. I was coughing in bed the other morning (6 am) and I heard this little knock at the door. I said 'come in' and it was Erik and his stuffed dog Sunshine. He said, "it sounds like you're having a hard time in here and we came to give you a hug." I told him that was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for me! How kind was that!

Oh, I've also added a link on the "Links" page to Joanna, Danny and Ethan's website where they post photos on a monthly basis. I'm not prejudiced, but you will find some CUTE photos there! Pay them a visit! I've also updated the page with more of our favorites so check them out when you feel like surfing.

On to some miscellaneous photos!

 

 

 

We had to go see the Tour de France come through the area and cheer for Lance!

 

 

This is what meets Jonathan at the airport when he comes back from the States... hi Daddy <hug>, what'd you bring me???

 

 

The kids made a Play-Doh McFlurry!

 

 

Jason at the Marseille skatepark doing a Mute Invert!

 

 

We just LOVED this picnic spot we found while driving around! There was no one in sight and we enjoyed family time eating and playing Frisbee and enjoying the lavender!

 

 

Just to prove they are not always angels <g> Emily got a big laugh out of the last on that says I will not NIT my brother.

 

 

 

Jonathan's birthday! He had just come home from a trip to the States so he was dragging. The kids made the cake (with a little help). Don't count the candles to see how old he is because we didn't have enough! :-) He's 43.

 

 

 

Erik got a new bike for an early birthday present. It's actually used but in very good shape and he rides it all the time.

 

 

No, Jonathan doesn't have on a skirt, our neighbor brought us this from his garden! Yes, we ate SOME of it!

 

 

We pass this all the time and I finally got Jonathan to stop and let me take a photo. That is a CEMETERY behind the wall. That is a MAILBOX in front of it! Just goes to disprove the theory that you can't take it with you <haha> There is really no house to be seen, so I have no idea who gets their mail here!

 

 

Jason is 16!!!

 

 

We took the kids and a friend of Emily's to OK Corral just before school started as sort of a late birthday celebration for Emily. The sign here says "Tipi de Sitting Bull".

 

 

Of course they had a water log ride!

 

 

This is a shop in downtown Aix ... Bon Ton!

 

 

 

This is the plane Jonathan flies, for any of you who may be curious. I told you these are miscellaneous photos!

 

 

Joanna and some friends from her Mother's group. They had their photo in the local paper!

 

 

 

Welcome Olivia Lilian Wilson, George and Janet's new little one!

 

 

 

I'll leave you with a funny. We pass this store on the way to Avignon. It's a furniture store that sells leather (cuir) furniture. It's pronounced 'kweer' ... get it? <g>
(Don't ask me why 'center' is spelled the American way instead of 'centre'.)

 

I'm so glad you stopped by! Write soon!

 

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