samedi 30 avril 2011

Textados choisis

Retour de vacances, on attend 2 paquets de 2 enfants dans 2 trains différents.

Echanges de textos entre eux et moi.

15h15 Moi à Grande Soeur: "Ca va?
15h20 Grande Soeur à Moi: "Tout va bien. Moyenne Soeur s'ennuie un peu mais elle est silencieuse. On peut manger dans le train? A tout à l'heure."
15h30 Moi à Grand Soeur: "Bien sûr qu'on peut manger dans le train! Bisous"
16h33 Grande Soeur à Moi: "Moyenne Soeur est insupportable."
Je n'ai pas osé répondre...

18h19 Moi à Grand Frère: "Tout va bien?"
18h24 Grand Frère à Moi: "Oui, Petite Soeur a trouvé une amie dans le train."
18h35 Moi à Grand Frère: "Donc tu es peinard!!"
18h45 Grand Frère à Moi: "Si tu arrêtais de m'envoyer des messages oui :)"
Je n'ai pas osé répondre...

jeudi 28 avril 2011

Cultural Paris

I took 2 of my children to Paris last week (sounds glam, but it's a 30 min trip on the tram and train.) I got a picnic ready, then we drove to the tram station, bought our tickets, hopped on the tram.
5 min and 4 stops later, we discovered that somebody else was going to enjoy our picnic as - I have just edited the sentence 5 times in order not to point at the culprit - the backpack had been left on the platform at the tram station. Too late to turn back or the whole trip would have been ruined. I was just very thankful that I had forgotten to take my camera, it would have been in the bag otherwise. I think the culprit was very grateful as well.
When we arrived at destination, train station "Invalides", we bought a picnic and headed towards Musée Rodin. Sounds glam again, and for those who have never heard of him, he was a famous 19th century sculptor, especially famous for The Thinker sculpture. I did not take a picture. Silly me without my camera.

However, it was hot, the children were hungry and I only took the garden pass (free for an adult with children, otherwise 1 Euro.) We had a lovely picnic in the gorgeous parc. It's forbidden, but like everybody else munching away around us, we were very discreet about it and took our litter with us. 
(Speaking of which, remind me to to write a "survival kit advice for a foreigner in France" post someday!)

Lots of trees, lots of sculptures, not too many tourists, we had a lovely time. 

Silly me without a camera managed to take a picture of the 2 children.
Le dôme des Invalides..

Then off to the Invalides and the Army Museum. I wanted Big Brother to see the models of the Vauban fortifications that were built all around France in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
Following the rule of 'not too long, not too boring", we rushed past the models, stopped wherever we wanted to, spent a long long time in front of 2 models that happen to be of cities to which we have family attachments. 
I recommend searching for 'Vauban' on the most common search engine on the web, you will learn everything there is to learn about him, more than from me. For an 'ignorant' like me, let's just say he was a military engineer/genius whom I know best for his designs of fortresses all along the french borders,  thus managing to give France an 'iron belt'.

This museum is maybe not a THE thing to visit absolutely whilst in Paris. But for a teenage boy who is interested in all things history-, politics-, war-related, it was fascinating, and the models were detailed and big enough to keep a 6-year-old girl's attention for a bit less than an hour.

Entry was 9 Euros for me, free for the children, and I bought the sandwiches at the train/tube station's bakery stand, as once you are outside, there is hardly any place to buy food to take away. One café outside the station, otherwise the café in the Rodin Museum was packed, and we did not explore the Army Museum's cafeteria... 

mercredi 27 avril 2011

Cours d'amoureuse, cours de dessin, cour de récré

"Maman, quand on est amoureuse de deux personnes à la fois, on fait un coeur avec deux bosses?
- Euh... Fais-moi donc un dessin pour me montrer comment tu ferais un coeur avec deux bosses.
- Finalement j'ai changé d'avis, j'ai fait comme ça:

Little Sister's drawing of 2 hearts, showing that she has 2 sweethearts

- C'est très très joli... Mais j'aimerais bien voir un coeur à deux bosses quand même.

- Bon d'accord. ... Comme ça :

Little sister illustrating her first idea, which was to draw a 'double-humped heart'

- Ah, pas mal aussi. Et comment tu fais pour donner le dessin aux deux personnes que tu aimes?
- Ben je fais deux dessins pareils, j'en donne un à A. et un autre à C!"

Petite Soeur n'a visiblement aucun mal à gérer des trucs qui en empêcheraient d'autres de dormir.

mardi 26 avril 2011

Big Brother part 2

He has grown into a truly wonderful teenager. His traits were low self-esteem, not sociable at all, sports challenged, unsmiling, selfhater, you get the picture.
After 2 years adapting in a new school, new country, new house, he is finally emerging as a balanced and happy person.
This teenager is smart. He has a great sense of humour. He is slowly domineering a budding computer addiction. He is learning to be organized in his homework. He is helpful. He loves to walk, says it helps him to think!
If one of us is angry at him, he just listens and then proceeds to explain to us why we are angry. Calmly. And often finds an unfair edge to point at!

I don't know if there is a recipe. I don't know if one can say whether this or that was well done. It all depends on so many things.
What I see is this:

- We have tried to instill a sense of humour into all our children. 
When BigBrother (this nickname is already bothering me, he is not just a brother, he is our son too!!!) would start his "I know I am terrible, I am horrible and you are right to tell me off, I don't deserve anything else" rant, we would get really annoyed at this avoidance technique, which consisted in not acknowledging the thing that he did wrong. So everytime he did that, we started laughing and calling him "Dobbie, bad, bad Dobbie", like the Harry Potter houseelf (is that the name? or is it a housegoblin?) Sounds cruel, but it made him laugh along with his sisters and us. We once even gave him a sock in the middle of an argument, telling him he was free now but would have to take responsibility for his actions. A bit far-fetched but it worked, he laughed as much as all of us and his selfhatred attitude disappeared.
I just want to point out that we would not have tried this joke if he had reacted badly to it. The joke obviously made him see what he was doing to himself. The 'Bad Dobbie' hardly ever comes out nowadays, and it is not his nickname.

- He spent five years of Primary School in a wonderful foreign school abroad and even though it did not prepare him for the french strict learning system (positive reinforcement does not even have a translation in french), it prepared him for bigger things, for being the wonderful teenager he has become. 

- Thanks to my sister-in-law, with whom I once burst into tears over the difficult times we were having understanding him, we took him to a "mental management" course. He had about 7 hours of one-to-one sessions, it helped him tremendously. All his talents became enhanced and the mental blocks that were slowing him down were steered in the right direction, it was amazing, humbling...

I want to relate the main example that opened my eyes to the way he was "functioning" because I am convinced that even if it helps only one person in my meager readers' statistics, it will have been worth it.
He once came home telling me about this test he had just done, on a famous french writer's book where he knew everything about the author. So he was sure to have a good mark. I had doubts, as it sounded like he had mostly written about the author's life without any reference to the book in question, but I kept them to myself and congratulated him.

He got the worst mark, 4 out of 20 I think, and did not really understand why. He could see he had not answered the question, but did not see why his impressive knowledge of the autor's life could not be rewarded with a great mark. There was no way to get through to him. It was hard and it was sad and it was truly crushing.

I was invited to stay for the first session of his "mental management" course. The lady mentor read a short story. Then she proceeded to ask him what was in his mind. She was very clear about the fact that this was not a test, he would not get a mark or anything, this was just about knowing what was in his mind after hearing this story. "Do you see pictures? Do your hear a voice? If yes, it is my voice? Somebody else's? Is it a singing voice? A boring voice? Is it a movie? Pictures with real people or cartoon characters? Tell me."
He described three animated pictures with real people, each picture related to an action in the story (there were indeed 3 actions), described the pictures. The last picture/action he described was the exact opposite of what had actually happened in the story.
The lady did not flinch the way I was flinching in the background. She kept questionning him on what he saw, asking for more and more details. At some point I think that she just asked "Is it the way the story I read goes exactly?" To which he said "No not exactly." "So you heard the story and you have an altered story in you mind." She was matter of fact. She made it very clear that it was not an issue here. She was only trying to determine how his mind worked at this point.

And I felt like bursting into tears, good tears this time: somebody was getting through to my son, somebody was working out what was going on.

In the car, on the way back, I had to bite my tongue and did not totally succeed, as I very offhandedly asked "By the way, why was the story in your mind different from her story?" He shrugged "...because I did not like her ending!" and gave me a sheepish grin. Most beautiful grin of my life. We shared a giggle. A giggle full of relief, of joy, of dawning understanding.
From then on it only went uphill. We let him get on with his sessions, he came back everytime with new insights and methods and literally opened up under our eyes. Getting help is not admitting defeat. It's just getting help.

I am starting the same course next week, I can't wait. It's a course about learning how our own brain works, how we learn best, be it by writing, listening, reading, and how we process the information we store. Then the course proceeds to teach us how to enhance this process, using our own abilities, talents. For parents, it is generally aimed at teaching them also how to recognize the best suited method of learning in each of their children. I will tell more about it once I have started the course.

dimanche 24 avril 2011

En passant, petits bonheurs à partager

 Pour le plaisir, j'aime bien sa coquetterie, la si jolie plume bleue...

 Pour la postérité. La table était cirée et la carafe lavée. Elles méritaient toutes les deux d'être immortalisées.

Pour moi. Pas touche, ce sont les jouets de Maman.

 Pour l'instant saisi. Le temps de sortir mon appareil, je les ai eues un peu tard, mais on les aperçoit entre les arbres. Elles marchaient très très vite, une vraie volée de moineau. On les aurait cru sorties d'un fim...

vendredi 22 avril 2011


Listening to the radio in the car this morning (Radio Bleue Paris.) 
They were interviewing this guy, Benjamin Voron, who is travelling from New York to Los Angeles on an electric scooter, trying to do it without spending a single dollar into recharging it. He just arrives somewhere, asks people for permission to 'plug in' and recharges his scooter.
35 miles autonomy, in 1.30 hour, then 2.30 hours to recharge, then off again. He drives 70 miles per day.
People are apparently being very helpful, really intrigued and curious about his adventure
"Experiencing Adventure, Environment and Solidarity" is how he put it. 

Along with the main radio presenter, there was another commentator, named Bernard Darliche. He was quite virulent about the whole electrical vehicle thing, saying that Benjamin's experience would serve to highlight the fact that the loss of time, the lack of efficient batteries to this day makes the electrical vehicles not a possible option today. "They are selling us the concept, but forget to tell us that we will have to pay dearly in terms of time. Time is precious, time is money, and these electrical vehicles today would make us lose so much of it that it is not conceivable to switch to the electrical choice in the immediate future."
He has a point. But as long as we don't want to use these electrical solutions, progress on their technologies won't be made in a hurry. Research has a way of speeding up on topics that matter at the moment, not later. Research procrastinates. Back to the time issue. Here is where I need to mindmap.

I could not help but link what I was listening to with Carl Honoré's ideas and the Slow Movement. I have not read his books yet, I discovered him two months ago and am slowly -pun not intended but haha- working my way through his blog, ideas, videos etc. And find myself driving slower, typing slower, stopping whatever I am doing to look, really look, at what my child is telling me -weird phrasing intended.

"Time is money, when I want it to be and on my terms please," I felt like answering M. Darliche.

That's it for today, I am off for a bit of mindmapping!

jeudi 21 avril 2011

Cette mission, si vous l'acceptez...

Traduction de l'article précédent.. Je n'arrive pas à me décider à étiqueter les enfants avec des surnoms réducteurs, à mon avis. Je vais essayer Grand Frère, Grande Soeur, Moyenne Soeur et Petite Soeur. On verra bien.

Petite Soeur commence à savoir écrire et nous écrit des petits mots très importants.
Le message est clair et les joints de mon carrelage pas très propres.
"Mummy don't forget the cookies for lunch" (with adorable spelling mistakes)

En maman attendrie, me voilà donc en cuisine...

J'ai un chouette rouleau à patisserie, nan?

Et voilà, le tour est joué, et le petit mot est toujours là, quand j'ai besoin de me sentir indispensable!

mercredi 20 avril 2011

Big Brother

I have given myself an impossible task with my latest comment. There is no way I can post nicknames for my children. Their nicknames are even more private than their first names. Everybody uses their first names. Their nickname are endearments, are relevant to a particular moment in time, I can't find any good reason to label one child 'Grumpy' and the other one 'Superstar' on this blog just because one is often grumpy and the other one wants to be a superstar. When my often grumpy child is happy and smiling, it lifts my heart and makes me so grateful that I forget her grumpy side. When the ambitious superstar is singing for hours non-stop making our ears ache, we don't really think she is a superstar, unless we are sarcastic...

I could try BigBrother, BigSister, MiddleSister and LittleSister... Thinking as I am typing that I will give this a go.

And the story I promised will finally be a short version. Suffice to say that our son did something very brave and we are extremely proud of him and grateful: he showed maturity and took responsibility in a situation where he could have simply turned his back and ignored things that were happening in front of him. He came to us and trusted us to deal with it. 

Thank you...

vendredi 1 avril 2011


Ca fait quelque temps que je me demande si je ne vais pas enlever les prénoms des enfants sur le blog et les remplacer par des surnoms. Question de 'privacy' (intimité, pudeur, discrétion...) Bref, n'importe qui googlant les prénoms des enfants arrive directement sur mon blog. Or, on arrive à l'ambiguïté de la chose, je laisse ce blog public mais ne souhaite pas en rendre l'accès facile à ceux qui nous chercherait. Cherchez pas, c'est compliqué!
Alors pour les enfants... leurs initiales? Peut-être, mais un peu froid. Un adjectif? J'aime bien mais j'ai peur que cela leur donne une étiquette un peu définitive. Un surnom dérivé de façon plus ou moins lointaine de leur prénom? Facile mais parfois un peu ridicule pour les plus grands.

Je cherche. Finalement je vais peut-être leur demander leur avis. 

Oups, je viens d'avoir une idée lumineuse!!! Comme ils sont tous nés dans un pays différent, je vais les appeler par leur pays de naissance. L'Australien, la Française, l'Anglaise et la Belge. Mais pas top pour les différencier, pour ceux qui lisent. Pas sûr que ce soit une bonne idée, finalement.

Kacome, Tatisse, Mayesse et Naëlle, les dérivés bébés de leurs noms
Pipoune, Pipounette, la Star et le Bébé
Pacomito, Taïssounette, Supernana et Petite Nana
Dobbie (cf Harry Potter), le Groumph, le Tsunami et le Tiramisu

In English:
Looking for nicknames for the children in order to erase their first names from this blog. Not an easy task. I have a story to tell, but won't tell it until I have done this.