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As a break from the more serious subjects I’ve written about in the past few weeks, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the language issues we’re currently dealing with Little Miss. If you have some speech funnies to share, please do leave them in the comments at the bottom so I can have a giggle also!

So, bringing up a bilingual toddler is fun right? Who said that? I think it is Frustrating with a capital F. I mean, how do you know what language she is going to speak in each time she opens her mouth and what about understanding those sentences when she combines both languages? Frustrating for Mum and Frustrating for her! Poor babe can’t work out why Mummy (or Maman as she also calls me depending on her mood) can’t understand her.

Until a few weeks ago, Little Miss wasn’t really saying anything but now it’s a constant dribble of bilingual blurb spouting from her mouth from 7am in the morning until 8pm in the evening, and if we’re lucky we get a two hour break at lunch time. That sounds harsh, but you try deciphering what a frustrated two year old is trying to tell you in 35 degrees heat and with extra kilos making you hotter than you should be and a blocked nose making you more temperamental than you usually are. Got the picture?

I am sure that somewhere, a Mum is going to look at this and think that’s so easy and wonder why on Earth I am complaining? Well, she is just really, very, very lucky and obviously didn’t get to experience the full on terrible twos at the same time.

So, back to Little Miss. As I said, it’s bilingual blurb. When she wants milk she says “mi-lait” which is half English with Milk and then French with Lait.

She doesn’t yet seem to have grasped that words have beginnings and ends and everything she says comes out without them. The other day she was in the pushchair and suddenly started screaming “apple, apple, apple”. Now, I took this as meaning she wanted an apple so got quite frustrated as she had only just had her snack and was telling her that there was no apple. Then a passerby stopped and handed me a hat – CHAPEAU except Little Miss was only saying APEAU which is part French for hat and of course I wasn’t expecting French at all.

So that’s pretty much the story of our communication at the moment. She says something, Mummy (or Daddy) grossly misunderstands and then there are tears. I was never any good at those games where you had the guess the actor or film just by clues so I’m not really very good at this game.

I’m loving that we’re able to communicate (eventually) but I’m really looking forward to less misunderstandings as I am zonked!

Mr Piglet is often witness to money issues tearing families apart and has recently been a unwilling spectator in a very spectacular family bust up where a family is literally being torn to shreds for a few thousand Euros.

Having been through times where we’ve had no money, plenty of money and then no money again, I think I can say that I know what money is but I also know the value of it and its place in my life. It’s nice to have money, it certainly makes life easier, but it is not a priority when it comes to family. I personally would much rather have my family than money.

So going back to Mr Piglet story: He recently sold, or at least thought he had, a house to a young couple looking to buy their first home. The house was the result of a typical French inheritance. Father passes away, half the house goes to the children whilst the Mother remains living in it. These days’ children are spread out all over the place and the mother wished to remain living in her home even though she couldn’t maintain it. One of the children in a village nearby and took on the role as carer giver, caretaker and everything else that goes with looking after an elderly parent.

When the Mother passed away, the nearby daughter wished to purchase her siblings share of the property, but they couldn’t agree a price and therefore agreed that they would sell it and split the proceeds. So they put the property on the market a year ago with pretty much every local agent.

During this time, nobody really looked after the property. The winter was cold; the spring came with plenty of sun and rain, ideal conditions for making an overgrown garden. The property started to tire like it’s previous owners and started to look (and feel) neglected. Little efforts were made such as trying to mow the law and pulling up some weeds, but the property deteriorated and in a market where prices are falling, nobody was willing to pay the owners asking price.

So along came Mr Piglet with two keen buyers. They were young, keen DIYers which is quite rare for young couples in France, and were willing to take on the project. They knew they were somewhat limited by budget but they could see through the cobwebs and the weeds and spotted the potential which lay behind.

Mr Piglet negotiated the price with the lady representing the owners; he had checked that she had power of attorney to act on behalf of the other brother and sisters which she did. He negotiated his commission right now to a mere two thousand Euros which was not even 1.5%. He was happy though, as the house was a good deal and the young couple would settle nicely there but only had a very limited budget and the owners wouldn’t negotiate any further.

Then out of the blue, he received a call from one of sisters living abroad. The air became tense in the office and she refused to accept the offer. Apparently her sister, the care giver, was asking for a larger split than the other siblings and the other siblings didn’t want to accept.

In the following days, emails between the siblings ensued, a family row had really broken out and Mr Piglet was copied in absolutely every email. It was like a whole seasons worth of Dallas unfolding in his inbox – he was only missing the actors and it could have been a multi-million dollar television serial. I happened to read one of the latter emails and couldn’t believe how for the sake of the extra 2 000 Euros the care giver wanted, this family were willing to rip each other to shreds in front of a spectator with little care of regard for the fact that this was their parents home.

All they cared about was money, money and more money.

Is this really what our world has come to? It would appear to be yes, but please reassure me that there are people out there that place more value on family than money?

Mr Piglet and I found THE perfect offices / storefront for Mr Piglet’s estate agency today. I pass frequently in front of the building in question and remarked recently that the florist that used to have the shop was gone and that the shop was now sitting empty.

It is in the local village, on a main road, so has excellent visibility and free parking nearby (yes, free parking still exists in many parts of France).

It was just all too perfect and I was already imagining myself working from there and walking across to the school to pick up my daughter (once she starts!) and then taking her home for lunch. I was already imagining being part of the village centre, the community and which artists paintings we could expose on the walls (aside from properties of course!).

It would have been perfect

It would have been perfect

The plans were drawn up and I had costed the fit and display as well as the construction of my office.

I had already planned the grand opening with the catering and which guests we would invite and had drafted the press release in my mind.

But I was obviously getting far too ahead of myself as when Mr Piglet went back today to measure up and agree a price, he discovered that there was no mobile phone signal! Can you imagine, no mobile phone signal?

Both of our businesses mean that our mobile phones are crucial to our work, we have to be available to customers all the time and can’t afford to not be available because of a lack of network.

What a shame! I feel like crying and feel like dragging all the patrons of the local bar to see what network they have and to see if it works. We only have the choice of two networks as only two get a signal at home. Never would I have imagined when I was a little girl and didn’t even know what mobile phones were, that a mobile phone signal would play so much of an important part in my life…

How about you? Does modern technology ever get in the way of your life and dreams? How do you feel about this?

So the results are… IT WORKS!

Just two days after starting my natural weed killer experiment, the weeds had started to die after being attacked by my white vinegar spray. The solution which was 100% vinegar worked better than the 50% diluted solution, but that did also work a little bit but would be better reserved for small and young weeds.

First area - 50% vinegar / 50% water

First area – 50% vinegar / 50% water

Area 2 - 50% water / 50% vinegar

Area 2 – 50% water / 50% vinegar

area 3

It’s going to be a task to keep on top of this though as it rained on the third day and then it was sunny again but I was busy with other things and didn’t keep on top of weeding so they all came back!

We’ve now invested in a better weed sprayer and Mr Piglet is talking about buying something to burn them once they are dead so we can achieve the clean, patio look I am looking for.

We recently ran a competition with our friends at Subscription Save and the publishers of France, Living France and French Property News and after a little hold up due to too a few health problems, I can now announce the winners!

As a reminder, the prizes up for grabs are: First prize is a copy of Jane Cumberbacth’s Pure Outside Style, a Burgon & Ball kneelo and a Master Lock key safe. The two runners up will have their choice of one of those items.

So the winners are…

First Prize: Sarah Jane Butfield (looks like that glass half full approach works!)

Runners up: Rachel Bourner & Michelle Marshall

Congratulations!

Ladies: please get in touch with me (I have sent you an email) re your address for the prizes to be sent to and also for the runners up which prize you would like to receive.

The crazy, wet, warm and then cold weather we have been having over the past few months has been a real treat for the garden with many plants flourishing. Unfortunately, this also applies to the weeds and the wet weather has meant that we haven’t really got round to treating them (what with being fair weather gardeners and having a toddler)…

We have a large gravel entrance/parking area, more gravel to the side and a large gravel terrace at the back of the house. Not my taste but to replace would cost a fortune and to be honest I am still seeking what my ideal outdoor space would be.

Last year we managed to get the local farmer to kill all the weeds but with a toddler and a cat, I am not keen on using dangerous pesticides and have searched the internet for something more natural. I found vinegar as a solution.

In the past I have tried vinegar for many things including cleaning the bathroom, the toilets and also as a way of getting rid of deodorant marks on clothes. I can’t say I have been more than happy with any of the results and the smell of it just gives me a headache.

I have chosen to treat three different areas, the first two areas with a 50% vinegar / 50% water solution and the third area with a 100% vinegar solution:

First and Second Areas – 50% vinegar / 50% water

First area - moss and mixed weeds

First area – moss and mixed weeds

20130630_152604_resized

Third area – 100% vinegar

Side of the house weeds

Side of the house weeds

The weather is warm and sunny, no rain forecast so hopefully the vinegar will work it’s magic and I can report back with the results in a few days time.

Meanwhile, a couple of questions for you:
1) do you have any natural gardening tips to share? Please comment with your tip or link to blog post!
2) any other alternative use for vinegar? Again, please comment with tip or link.
3) have you entered our giveaway? Closing date is 3rd July so just a few days left and it is easy (and free!) to enter (no location restriction either). Simply comment here.

Giveaway!

giveaway

Whether you’re staying close to home or exploring the French countryside this summer, our friends at Subscription Save can help you plan a trip, find your dream home or just swoon over all France has to offer. The publishers of France, Living France, French Property News and many other titles, want to share the love by offering a giveaway for three lucky readers.

First prize is a copy of Jane Cumberbacth’s Pure Outside Style, a Burgon & Ball kneelo and a Master Lock key safe. The two runners up will have their choice of one of those items.

To enter the competition just make a guess as to how the summer will pan out – “bring your sunglasses” or “bring your raincoat.” Enter your prediction in the comments box at the bottom of this post for your chance to win. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to your entry, it’s just a bit of fun!

Retweet & Share on Facebook for more chances to win!
You can gain an additional two entries to the competition by retweeting @pigletinfrance promoting the competition on twitter or by sharing a link from the Piglet in France Facebook page (you must like the page to share the link). The number of entries will not increase if you retweet or share links more than once.

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 03.07.2013. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. If for any reason the particular prize is out of stock then an appropriate alternative will be sought. Entrants must be aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and your details being sent to the prize giving company. By taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced here on the blog.

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