Thursday, November 20, 2014

Esch-sur-Sûre Again

My mom and I made a quick day-trip back to Esch-sur-Sûre the other day.  You may remember it from our mini-Luxembourg-castle-tour of Summer 2013.
It's just a tiny ruin on a couple of hills in a picturesque little village.  You can see there are two parts: a round part on the left and a rectangle part on the right.  These are highly technical terms you needn't trouble yourself with.

Back on that late summer day, this was the very last castle we visited, so we didn't take much time there.  This year, we scaled that puppy!  Round part first!
up the first side of the hill

looking down from the round part onto the village and the rectangle part

looking behind us onto this statue
then back down, and up through the town to the rectangle part (when the sun came out, and it got less mystical but still lovely)

looking back at the round part
flying the Lux flag
I still really like this one upon second viewing.  So peaceful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brothers in Belgium

Pete's younger brother, Jon, is touring in Kina Grannis' band.  He invited Pete to come play trombone on a couple of songs when they played a show in Antwerp on Tuesday night.

It's about 2.5 hours away
So Pete took a half-day from work, my mom watched the kids, and we drove up to Antwerp for the evening.  We found the venue and the band, and then took a brief walk around the immediate area before the sun set.
some sort of botanical garden across from venue

Antwerp feels very Dutch.  Confession: we kind of thought it was actually Dutch before this.  But it's Belgian.
sun's almost gone
Jon is sort of the musical director for this tour and put much of the band and crew together (hence his authority to work in his brother from Luxembourg on trombone for one night - which would otherwise be kinda weird, I'd say.)
going over his part
dinner with the band
a little city-walking in the dark
National Bank Van Belgie
Show time!
Jon on keys/bass/Macbook-geeky-music-running-stuff-I-don't-understand
Pete and Jon were trying to remember the times they played shows together over the years. The answer was almost none; they are four years apart, so were never in really in the same school or band.

Except, ya know, in Antwerp.

To be filed under "life is weird" for sure!

Here's a clip (you may need to click through to the blog if you're reading this in email).

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: