Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Photo Catch-Up

I'm here on the last day of October to do a quick catch-up on the last month and a half since school started.  In a nutshell: my mom has been here, gone, and here again, James celebrated his 7th birthday, and my aunt (my mom's youngest sister) and uncle from London visited.
the fall sun shone on the palace for our visitors 
As I mentioned in my last post, my mom arrived on the first day of school.  Having just retired in August, she planned to stay in a mixture of Luxembourg, France and the UK until the beginning of December.
after completing the first week of school
lots of walking around enjoying the sun when it appeared
the front of Lux's Notre Dame Cathedral - don't think I've ever posted that before?
I took her to Remich, a Luxembourg vineyard town on the border with Germany.  We tried to take a boat tour on the Moselle, but there weren't enough people to join us so they cancelled the trip.

we had a nice walk around the hilly town instead
Luxembourgish vineyards
We also took her to actual Germany - Trier, just across the border.

And then she was off to meet one of her sisters from the UK at a walking retreat in southern France, and then to spend a few weeks there on her own.

seeing her off on the overnight train
While she was gone, we attended our first Luxembourg church retreat in Germany.

family games - they had crackers thrown at them to see how many stuck
"the tipsy waiter" game
Then back home, we celebrated James' birthday with his best friends.

My mom decided to come back to Luxembourg a little earlier than planned (we don't blame her, it's lonely in rural France by yourself!!).  This worked out great because she was here when her sister and husband came for their first visit to Luxembourg.  

We spent the weekend walking around Luxembourg city.  Those who have visited us before will recognize our well-worn route!

But we did manage to go to a spot Pete's never been - the fancy Luxembourg retirement home in the city.

not too shabby, eh?
And we're back to where we started - the sunny palace.  

And, we're officially caught up.  Bring on November!

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Day of School 2014-2015

It's a big day for the Ts.  The kids go back to school after summer break.  Pete goes back to work after 3 1/2 weeks off.  My mom arrives in Luxembourg.  And our 3-week-old nephew is having heart surgery back in Oregon.

The truth is, I'm behind on posts and may or may not go back and catch up.  Yet I know from blogging here for 6 years that I need to just start from today and see what happens with the back-posts.  If I wait until I'm chronological, I'm doomed.

So meanwhile, all my best to these 4 loves today (+my mom)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

French Schoolwork (2nd Grade)

Here we are for another mind-numbingly boring (strangely fascinating?) post on the wonderful world of Luxembourg schools.  The new school year begins for Luxembourg public schools in two weeks, but I'm attempting a quick catch-up on last year in the meantime.  

Another degree of difficulty was added the second semester of 2nd grade, as Daphne began learning French.  This was on top of Luxembourgish, German, and continuing her native English at home.

Here's a quick recap of the public school system as it relates to language learning:

Cycle 1:

Age 3-4: one year of optional preschool
Speaking: Luxembourgish only
Reading/Writing: minimal

Age 4-6: two years of mandatory "play school" (kindergarten)
Speaking: Luxembourgish only
Reading/Writing: printing the Luxembourgish/German alphabet

Cycle 2:

Primary School Year One (like US 1st grade)
Speaking: Luxembourgish + German
Reading/Writing: German

Primary School Year Two (like US 2nd grade)
Speaking: Luxembourgish + German + French (intro'd 2nd half)
Reading/Writing: German + French (intro'd 2nd half)

And here's what our kids have completed thus far:
James: 1.5 months of preschool, 2 years of play school (completed Cycle 1)
Daphne: 1.5 months of play school, 2 years of primary school (completed Cycle 2)

She likes to study her French vocabulary words by covering up one side, just like for German
In contrast to German, which was fast and furious from the beginning of first grade, French is added to the mix at a much slower pace.  This makes sense, since the kids are continuing their concurrent work in German.  The French vocabulary is added topically versus alphabetically, and the approach seems a bit simpler, less intense, and even more "fun."

Perhaps it just seems fun because I'm comparing it to my own French classes (not so fun).  But that's a story for another day...

Her textbook was a thin paperback, with a younger, more basic feel than her first German texts.

It's from 1986.  Her teacher told me she had the same one when she was Daphne's age

Initial vocabulary topics include food, clothing, toys, and school items.
 There is quite a bit of cutting and gluing involved.

Which toys are feminine and which are masculine? Daphne calls this "doing the der/die/das in French."  Crazy, right?
classifying nouns
cats and mice are a theme
And they memorize songs and short poems, just like for German.
tra la la
days of the week
She especially liked this little rhyme because she's been to Colmar!
Throw in some preposition work and they're getting close to full sentences....
on, in, under, behind, etc.
And here are a couple of writing samples...
Making sentences with "c'est" isn't too difficult.  It's remembering to pronounce it "say" not "sest" that's tricky when you've been learning to read in German and English!
unscramble (aka thank goodness for pictures)
Anyway, so far so good for Daphne in French, but we'll see how things go this year when the pace picks up.  As it turns out, all of Daphne's classmates already understood and/or spoke some French before they began officially learning it in school this year.  French is the most commonly spoken language in the city, particularly among foreigners (which most of Daphne's classmates are!).  This does make me wonder if all this "kiddy French" is a bit boring for the rest of the kids.  Still, if there's one thing Luxembourg schools do well, it's teach multiple languages to multiple nationalities.  So we'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

In theory, I can actually help my daughter with French.  But we all know the way these things go; it won't be long before she surpasses me.  Ah, to be eight years old again.  Can't I just go to her class???

Here are some other nerdy-school posts:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Merl Park

Parc de Merl is a block and a half from our apartment, and when someone in our family says, "let's go to the park," we always mean here.  We may be counting down the days until our vacation in Oregon, but today we were walking through the park and I decided to take a moment to savor the beauty of where we live.

We happened to be walking quite early in the morning and it was mostly empty, so I took the opportunity to take some photos of the very wet park.   A couple of huge rain storms have just passed through, and temperatures are hovering in the 60s Fahrenheit.  Sadly, summer in Luxembourg is apparently already over.  But we did have a beautiful spring.  You take what you can get.

I also realized that although I've posted numerous photos of this park, I've never done a complete post on it!

The best thing about Merl Park is there is something for everyone.  I regularly see adults and couples of all ages, with and without children.  As is typical of Luxembourg, the park is meticulously maintained.  Dog-walking and sunbathing (again, you take what you can get) are among the most popular adult activities.  The main feature of the park, aside from the playground, is the small artificial lake in the center, home to many a duck and freakishly-large goldfish.

A cafĂ©, La Pavillon, sits on the lake.  Menu here, partway down the page.

And there is a spendy but delicious ice cream stand.

A lovely network of paths takes you throughout the park, with something pretty to look at around every corner.

And here are some photos of play equipment.  Granted, deserted playground photos tend to be a bit creepy, but they're easy to take!

odd but extremely popular basketball "court"

bring your own paddles
large variety of play equipment
zip lines
Luxembourg signature giant tube slides
and free, monitored-by-the-city trampolines in the afternoons during the (theoretical) summer months
By this afternoon the park will be swarming with visitors.  But it's still a very pleasant place, even when it's full, and there's always a quiet spot available to lay out a blanket to picnic or read a book. 

And if you want it mostly to yourself, you can always visit first thing in the morning.