A Third Trip to Ireland

Two days ago we got back from my third trip to Ireland. We spent the week with my parents and my brother and his family. It’s hard to sum up so much feeling in one post, since there was so much that was satisfying about this trip. I love Ireland and continuously ponder my roots there. I’d been dreaming of going there with J and Littlest since my last trip there with students. It was also incredibly gratifying to see Littlest bond so quickly with his American cousin, Tiniest, who is pretty much the same size as him now.

We were based in County Galway and did a few day trips. First, to Connemara National Park where J and Littlest and I hiked all the way up Diamond Hill (everyone else came too but turned back at different points before the top).

We took the ferry to the largest Aran Island, Inis Mor, where we took a mini-bus tour that both two-year-olds amazingly enjoyed.

View of the island from Dun Aonghasa (ancient ring fort)
Fertile Aran Island land
My boys in the mist at the fort

We also went to the Cliffs of Moher, which I saw as part of a group tour in 2008. We parked in Doolin this time and walked for about an hour to get to a look-out point.

Walking and “walking”

We also did lots of walking on the beaches.

A beach on the Salthill Promenade

Otherwise we just spent time watching the boys giggle together.

Exhibit A: Playdough

Littlest is extremely into all types of vehicles right now, so this trip was rich for him. He was finally aware of airplanes and was very excited to see them all at the airport and enjoyed being on one. With the Galway area being such a tourist region he also got to see lots of tour buses and even double-decker buses which he pronounces adorably “a-bit-a-bit-a-bit-a bus” (or some variation). He even got to take a ferry out to Inis Mor and loved the mini-buses on the island. As for the time difference, he overly adjusted very quickly and so now we are just trying to get him back on some sort of normal schedule, but the whole summer has more or less been like that.

Anyway, for trips with toddlers, western Ireland was fabulous. We flew Aer Lingus from Nantes to Dublin and then rented a car (so J got to drive on the left again). My dad found a rental west of Galway that fit us all easily. We packed our raincoats with us everyday and they as well as Littlest’s red pants were vital though we really had good weather for Ireland—we didn’t even go to the swimming pool and only did one indoor activity, the last day (the Galway Aquarium).

It’s a bit sad to be home to be honest. Even with all the communication and logistics that traveling in a big group requires, it was a trip that really allowed me to get my head out of the everyday drudges and dream about other things (more on that to come, maybe).

Arnaque

Well there’s a first time for everything unfortunately. For our first week of vacation J and I were going to spend the weekend in the Drôme with friends at a friend’s 40th birthday celebration, and then continue on for a week in the Gorges du Tarn, a climbing destination but also a place I was looking forward to discovering without climbing (I’ve given up on cliff climbing).

So we had two separate rentals, one for the weekend and one for the following week. The week-long one was through Abritel, and we had been trying to contact the property owner for a few days when he finally called us back. In fact we were already at our first autoroute rest stop on Friday for our first part of the trip—in short, two days before the Abritel rental was supposed to start. He was calling to say that no, he didn’t rent on that site, that the ad was a fake, and that we had no rental waiting for us that coming Sunday.

Dun dun dun.

Fortunately we were able to spend the week at our friend’s in the Drôme, and we got our money back today. But the entire process was very confusing and Abritel never once wanted to recognize that the ad was a scam. Their reimbursement e-mail says that the owner canceled the reservation–ha! And the ad is still up though no longer active for reservations.

There were a few weird things about the ad that I’ll pay more attention to next time. It said that it was a studio apartment with three bedrooms (with pictures of the bedrooms). I figured it was just someone who didn’t know how to correctly tick the boxes on their ad—that has happened to us before. But also there were no comments even though the “owner” had been on the site for three years. And guess what—since our reservation was “canceled”, there still aren’t any…

So I guess what we’ve learned is to insist on contact with the owners as soon as possible, if at all possible while canceling is still possible without fees.

Anyone else had any experience with scam short-term rentals?

Women’s World Cup 2019

A few years ago J came home from work and told me, “The world cup will be in France in 2019!” I wondered what he was talking about since the news hadn’t mentioned it until he explained it was the women’s world cup. Since then we’ve been planning on going.

Last year I signed up for the mailing list so I found out immediately when tickets were on sale. We had to go to a weekend match since we would both be working so we ended up betting on a quarter final match on a Friday evening that we could reasonably expect to be France-USA.

Though the round of 16 match-ups were more tense that we expected, mostly because we hadn’t counted on Brazil coming in third and playing against France, the teams came through as predicted and J and I took the train up to Paris on June 28th to see the hosts play the favorites at Parc des Princes.

All decked out
Warm-up
Second goal for the USA

It was really fun and the atmosphere was really great especially at the beginning. Fans were mixed together, no US and France sections. J found numbers online that said it was one third Americans and most of those were women. We of course had figured that out when we arrived and the women’s entry line to be patted down was moving much slower than the men’s.

I couldn’t help but root for the American women but it was hard to see the French women lose. It was really too bad they met up in the quarter finals and not any later. But hurray for the Americans who made it through to the final and brought home a fourth trophy. I love them so much.

Summer

Work has been winding down for over a month now but vacation is finally actually here and I have Littlest for the rest of the summer to myself.

We said goodbye to his nounou (nanny/assistante maternelle) last Friday. He’s been with her since he was 14 weeks old so it has been strange to think that it’s over. She made him a lovely little notebook with pictures from the beginning to now, drawings over the years, etc. We will treasure it. We got her a couple of presents: a gift card and a plant.

So now what? We made a big trip to the craft store this morning and I’ll be printing off worksheets to color pretty regularly. I’ve found some activities around town and I think we’ll be sneaking our way into some of the 3+ activities that I think he might be ready for because the under 3 programs are still slim pickings.

In a week or so we’ll be heading out of town with climbing friends for a week. Then my parents will come for a few days in August before we all head to Ireland together. So exciting things are in store—but for now it’s pretty chill, just me and Littlest trying to keep busy…

We also have to get ready for maternelle in September! That means apparently ordering labels for all his clothing, getting an assurance scolaire in case he burns the school down (I mean what exactly is it for?), and sewing or finding cafeteria bibs. Also vaguely sort of working on toilet training but that seems to be progressing on its own for now.

La Vie Scolaire

J and I went to a movie the other night, an avant-premiere for Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir’s new film La Vie Scolaire.

I haven’t yet seen their first movie Patients but if I ever get around to renting movies again I will (our local library system has it).

Anyway this new movie was funny and touching and though as a teacher there are certain things that still seemed unrealistic to me, I’d recommend it for a good laugh and maybe a good cry and also some thinking about what it means to teach and educate students. The main actors (Liam Pierron, a local student in his first role, Zita Hanrot the young CPE, and Soufiane Guerrab the math teacher) were all incredible and the rest of the cast was also either hilarious or touching or obviously both.

It begs comparison to Entre les murs (The Class in English), based on the book by François Bégaudeau, but Entre les murs stayed as you might suspect within the walls of the school without delving into the personal lives of the adults and kids, and lacks the intentional humor of La Vie scolaire. (I like them both though.)

Here’s a video of the directors and cast who were at the theater after the screening.

And the music video for the song during the end credits. (Grand Corps Malade, Je viens de là)

The movie comes out officially end of August.

Questioning

It’s been over a month since I’ve written here. I keep popping in and having nothing to say. Or maybe I have nothing to say that isn’t too personal to write it on the internet.

I bought The Courage to Teach this week so hopefully if I fit in the time to read it, it may give me some inspiration.

Otherwise the things I spend my time thinking about are the same as always:

Babies and toddlers and bi-culturalism:

« Acquisition de la propreté » : le point de vue d’une psychométricienne: Because omg I’m tired of people asking us if Littlest is “propre.” He’ll get there when he’s ready.

La Maison des Maternelles: Je voyage enceinte

Le blog des gaous: Transmission Culturelle

Starting to plan our in-France vacation this summer got me interested in this article (mostly pictures): NYTimes: Family Vacation

Agreg

Since I passed my CAPES to become a tenured English teacher in France almost 8 years ago (what?!) the more intense, more difficult agrégation has been lingering as an option in my mind. I always told myself I’d do it a few years from now, once I really felt like moving on from lycée teaching and once my potential future kids were older.

But being on the edge of burn-out has led to a slight change of plans. I was inspected (=evaluated) this spring and an inspection these days is suppose to be an opportunity to reflect on your career. So, I reflected on my career. And I started to think that I may need a way out earlier rather than later. So I decided to attempt the agreg next year.

Like I said the inspection is supposed to be a discussion of your teaching career, so I opened up to the inspectrice about this and she had only encouraging things to say. So while I have no illusions (I hope) about my chances of succeeding this year given that I will have no time off for it and I have a toddler, I’m still game to do as much as I can.

I hesitate to talk too much about what being agrégée would do for my professionally, but essentially since I would being doing the externe exam for the public system, it would allow me to work in public schools, prépas, some university positions, and, I hope, open up the possibility of other related positions in the fonction publique.

But that’s all a long way off. For now I’m cracking into Middlemarch (one of seven books I’ll need to read/re-read) and trying to figure out what a dissertation is (a French type of essay-writing).