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On the 28th April she blew out two candles. I still can’t believe she is two and am somewhat on denial.

Somehow we’ve progressed from me worrying about her not drinking enough milk to where she’s going to be going to school. Yes. School.

In our part of rural France we don’t have any International schools or Montessori schools and I’m somewhat dubious about the French eduction system and their uncanny ability to break a childs spirit, churning out thousands of carbon copy mini adults all aspiring to be French civil servants.

When I watch my daughters creativity, her talent as an actrice and her ability to get her own way, I see a talented individual where others may see an unruly child.

Maybe I’m looking through rose tinted glasses or maybe not but either way I had fobbed off the school question for sometime as there was no way that she could go if she wasnt potty trained. But here’s the thing: she trained herself one week before her first birthday and is now clean all day long. So the school question is back on and I’ve learned that you need to enroll really early to get a good one which I’m way behind on.

I’m not bothered about her being in the besf school, I’m more bothered about her being allowed to grow and develop naturally but now I’m beginning to get stressed.

They say as a parent you never stop worrying and boy is that true.

How did you cope with the school situation and at what age did your little one (s) start?

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I can’t believe that I am sat here once again writing a New Year’s post. Okay, so it’s not technically the New Year yet but in a few hours some of you will already be celebrating 2012 and who knows, I may be asleep by the time we welcome the New Year here inFrance.

 

A quick read over my past posts from 2010 and 2011 New Years and I am left with a sentiment that maybe I shouldn’t set my expectations so high. In each post I spoke of disappointments and hard times, last year of ill health and of better times in the past.

 

This year has been awful, let’s face it, aside from the arrival of my gorgeous baby there’s not been much good to report on any front whether it be health, financial or work. Even blogging became tedious as each time I sat down to write I thought of how awful and boring my troubles are and often didn’t bother posting so not to be a bore.

 

No resolutions only one goal and that is to be the best person that I can be in all that I set out to do.

 

How have you found 2011 and what are your goals for 2012?

 

Happy New Year to all from the Piglet Household

xxx

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MummyinProvence’s Stream of Consciousness Sunday post last Sunday captured my imagination and inspired me to have a go. The aim is to write freestyle during 5 minutes and then publish without any editing.

Here’s what I wrote in my five mins:

I feel different now to how I used to. Different things matter and don’t matter. No words can describe how I truly feel but the days of me being care free and selfish have gone.

My husband says I have changed, I guess I have. I’ve become a Mum. I’m constantly on red alert, worried that something is wrong. I analyze every gesture, grimace, smile and expression that crosses my adorable babies face, wondering what it could mean.

Every movement or activity we do together could mean something to her, so I select things carefully and then feel guilty when I inadvertently leave The Simpsons on and see that she is watching them.

I feel guilty when I have a drink too many in the evening and feel hungover and extremely tired. Extremely tired because I’ve been up all night fretting that something’s wrong, again analyzing every sound I can hear over the baby monitor and repeating my mathematical calculations to re-assure myself when the alcohol would have left my blood stream and it would be safe to feed her. Of course, I’d already worked all of this out before drinking the wine but I have become irrational and being a Mum consumes every moment of my life.

Why don’t you have a go? Just follow these simple rules:
1. Set a timer and write for 5 mins (I didn’t include this part or the intro in my five minutes
2. write as it comes, don’t edit or spellcheck
3. Publish your post somewhere, anywhere you want
4. Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post
5. Link your post to all.things.fadra

If you do decide to have a go please leave the link to your post in the comments section below, I would love to have a read.

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hello Baby Piglet

Am posting from phone in hospital so no idea how this will come out!

Baby Piglet was born on her French due date of 28th April at 1613, weighing 3.540 kg and measuring 49 cms.

She is absolutely adorable and so far is a complete darling to look after despite being born with a fever!

Not as big as expected it turnsthe reason for my huge tummy was because she was a stargazer and wouldn’t drop.
Her not dropping properly has something to do with my tailbone which is now either bruised or broken, meaning that my bad luck is continuing!

But that doesn’t matter as Mr Piglet is doing a fantastic job of looking after her and me!

I have posted picture on twitter which you can find by searching hashtag #babypiglet. Can’t see how to add them on here from my phone…

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Versatile Blogger Award

A big thank you to Mere Woman from No Damn Blog for passing on The Versatile Blogger award to me, Piglet!

Mere Woman is certainly a versatile blogger, inspiring me each week with her Wednesday Word, Friday Photograph and snippets of her take on life in France. I enjoy reading her blog and learning lots of new things at the same time, all whilst feeling comfortable and enjoying the photos.

Thanks to her, I recently discovered that my cats were plotting to kill me so I am now being extra careful. If they don’t get me within the next few weeks (I’m being extra nice to them you in order for them to change their minds) then I will consider that Mere Woman saved me!

Part of the award is to reveal 8 things about myself although apparently I am not obliged, so I will keep my deepest darkest secrets to myself still if you don’t mind! I’ve realized that I’ve been sharing more and more information about myself as time has passed so now’s the time to share some more:

8 things that I’ll reveal:

The pained look on my face takes many, many hours of perfecting...


1. I was British Junior Ice Dance Champion two years running. It was ice dancing that brought me to France to train alongside Gwendal Peizerat and Marina Anissina. when I was 16.

2. My written French is perfectly appalling, but when I see my French friend’s efforts I realize that it’s just normal.

If I was rich enough I would spend half the year living here...

3. I don’t actually know if I like living in France. I certainly prefer it to the UK but I’m afraid that I always think the grass is greener elsewhere. In January 2010 I seriously wanted to move to The Grenadines and had even found a business to buy but eventually decided it was too far away and that it would be better if I could afford to live there just 6 months of the year.

4. I have aspirations to write a book. One day it will happen.

5. I am scared of failure and sometimes to do not have the courage to do things in case I fail.

6. Ants creep me out. The way they march in a parade and manage to transport large objects despite their tiny size scares the hell out of me.

7. I love Jam Wagon Wheels and am gutted that I can’t buy them in France.

8. I hate speaking on the telephone, face to face is fine but over the phone don’t expect to have a very long conversation with me. A psy would probably say that it’s because I am traumatized by endless rude conversations in French and that I no longer associate speaking on the phone with pleasure.

Now, I have to pass this on to another versatile blogger, so if she’ll accept I’ll send on to Sarah at St Bloggie de Riviere who has been busy blogging about Slim the Vegetarian Ogre and story building software recently and suggests that we make wine and not strikes! Definitely a lot of versatility going on there!

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Party Games! Photo Credit: Dana Nicolescu

When I saw this tag from The Fly in the Web over at French Leave, I thought “yippee! This is a like a party game!”. Only when I started to answer the questions did I realize that it was harder than it looked and Fly’s questions were challenging. So challenging in fact, I had to have a good think about some of them and thinking can always be an enlightening task!

So, thanks Fly, you’ve kept my mind off the Witch and we enabled me to have a peaceful weekend without a visit from the French foreign legion!

Fly’s questions (answers by moi!):

1. What will you be doing while the football world cup is on?
Unfortunately I can’t ignore this as my Dad’s a huge footy fan and I’ll be on holiday at my parents whilst some of the England games are on. Hubby has also discovered a sudden interest in footy and as I’m writing he’s watching it. So I won’t get a look-in tele wise for the next how many weeks (how long does the world cup last anyway?) so I guess I will be spending my time better educating myself in French verbs, cooking healthy meals, working and then spending money! Of course, if England or France is lucky enough to get very far (apparently it’s going to be more luck than anything else) then I will turn into a supporter and will turn my tele on very loudly and watch it from my garden whilst drinking a pint of Rose.

2. What picks you up when you’re down?
A stroll on a sunny day, a cuddle, a smile in the street, a nice homecooked meal with good company – especially when the supermarket has all the ingredients I need!

3. Indian or China…we’re talking tea here, not economics…
I don’t really drink tea, it just doesn’t taste the same in France and I’m yet to get hooked on all the fancy teas available in France. But I looked in my cupboard and my tea is Indian… and the coffee’s Nescafe!

It would be interesting to see the impact of the global tea market on each of these economies compared to other exports. Did you know that just 9 countries receive 60% of Chinese tea exports and in 2009 their tea exports reached a new high of 7.05 hundred million dollars (US). I found some economic facts on China tea exports here.

4. What do you value most about blogging?
Blogging helps me process and get through things; writing is like exhaling air after taking a deep breath. I love sharing and participating with others and I’m always delighted when I get comments here. Making new friends on the blogosphere is great, I’ve always been this lone English girl in Lyon and have never known any other expats so have felt lost with my alien status. I now look at all the people I can share experiences with and learn from and am really grateful internet exists.

5. What can’t you bring yourself to throw out of your wardrobe?
Sore subject. I cannot throw anything out.

6. Would you rather someone didn’t ask your views on controversial issues?
That’s a hard one. It depends on who the person is and how well I know them. If it is someone I know well and I know can take things with a pinch of salt and appreciate a debate then I don’t mind. I remain neutral on lots of controversial issues in France though as I get stressed by how heated the conversations get and apparently I can be quite sec in my answers when speaking in French which people often misinterpret.

7. Do you recommend people… and then wish you hadn’t?
I’m generally the person people recommend things to rather than the other way round. I always appreciate a recommendation and understand that it’s not the person’s fault if it doesn’t work out. I would like to think people think the same when I recommend people to them.

8. Do you own up to reading light novels, or hide them under the cushions if visitors arrive?
Gosh, I’m so into chick lit it’s embarrassing. I’ll read anything I can find: back of cereal packet, Closer magazine (although not at Dr’s surgery, too many germs – hairdressers is okay), thriller novels, French classics… you name it. But anything other than Chick Lit at night sends me to sleep whereas I like to wind down slowly and then snooze off. Chick Lit is perfect!

9. Content with your own company or gregarious?
Own company definitely.

10. One thing which would noticeably improve your life.
First of all I thought what would make me happy, then I re-read the question. The obvious answer to me would be more money so that I could pay off my mortgage. Without debt I would be more able to make decisions about what I want to do with my life, where I want to live etc. But it’s not going to happen so a realistic answer would be more self confidence. This would make it easier for me to do all the things I dream of and would help in achieving the more money scenario…

So, now, I’m to choose 5 people to send this on to with 10 of my own questions:

Rosabell
Merewoman
Sara Louise
Amber
Tanya

Consider yourselves tagged, although no obligation ladies…

I would have loved to send these to some more people, but either they’ve been tagged recently, are really busy or I thought this may not be their cup of tea, so if you want to join in, ignore the five and let me know so I can come and see your answers – the more the merrier!

1. Why did you start a blog?
2. Comfy shoes or killer heels?
3. The funniest moment in the last week?
4. What would have been your dream job?
5. If you won the lottery tonight, what would be the first thing you’d do?
6. Most useless gadget you own?
7. You’re waiting for someone and they’re late. How late is too late?
8. Are you a do it now person, or a It can wait until tomorrow person?
9. If you were a drink, what would you be?
10. What was the first thing you thought when you read these questions?

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At the moment there is a great debate taking place in France concerning the National Identity and what it means to be French.

Apparently the French no longer know what it is to be French, or what being French means and the government wants to bring this to the forefront of peoples mind so to help unite a country which is currently far from united in its traditional values: liberty, equality, fraternity.

This is not meant to be a political posting, I do not follow French politics with enough interest to allow myself to comment the political depths of the debate so everything written is my point of view as a British girl living in France.

France has a high proportion of immigrants notably from Northern Africa many of which are now second or third generation and live in the “banlieues” a name given for the rough, soulless council run, faceless apartment blocks on the fringes of town. These are places that the tourist never visits; where you don’t always feel safe walking in the day yet alone the night when cars are being burned. These banlieues are at the forefront of social unrest as immigrant families have been living here for years and years and have failed to integrate into the community after being kept on the fringe of society due to where they live. It is a vicious circle and the blocks were originally meant as temporary measures for many after the Algerian war and this is one of the problems dear Sarkozy promised to tackle as President.

There has been a lot of racial unrest in France over the years and this has been coming to a head recently as government takes steps to ban the Burqa.

Don’t forget that France has serious race discrimination problem in the pasts: In the second to last elections the National Front extreme right got though to the second tour which was worrying to the say the least!

So, it would seem that the underlying reason for the debate is to help unite people on a racial front and create a national identity that people are proud to adhere to and which units people en masse.

For me, this debate is largely taking place between the politicians and the media as not one French person I know seems to care about it, yet alone really debate the subject, and as the French love a great debate I conclude that their lack of interest in this subject means that’s its not of interest to them.

French actor Gérard Depardieu stated in an interview that he couldn’t care less as to whether he is French or not and didn’t care about the debate. He stated that he was a citizen of the World. Exact words:

« Ils peuvent me la prendre, je m’en fous. Ce débat ne m’intéresse pas. J’en ai rien à foutre d’être français ou pas. Je suis un citoyen du monde. Je ne m’intéresse pas aux questions politiques. Je n’ai jamais voté. Je ne suis que le spectateur de mon époque. »

So what does it mean to be French? I am not French although I’ve lived in France for nearly as long as I lived in the UK and for nearly all of my adult life, so surely I should have an idea on what all this being French means (even if I don’t officially have the nationality)?

According to TNS who analysed internet users contributions 5 main subjects were raised:

1. The debate itself (29% of general discussions)
2. Immigration (27% of general discussions)
3. Respect (19%) : Being French = respecting norms/rules
4. Sharing (16%) : Being French = adhering to values and sharing a common vision
5. Heritage (9%): Being French = sharing the same patrimony

There’s 58 pages of analysis, a whole website dedicated to the debate and a whole media circus surrounding the discussions. But what does it mean? Surely most of the above is applicable to other countries as well? I haven’t found anything in all of their research that truly defines what being French means.

Maybe they should ask the foreigners? They may get a better idea!! My take on what it means to be French (but of course, they won’t ask me because I’m not French and they couldn’t care less what I think):

1. security: possibility to have job security for life if you become a fonctionnaire or excellent employment rights for the common worker.
2. family values: French families have kept family values alive and enjoy sit down dinners at a table rather than in front of the TV
3. respecting each others values: loving a debate about politics and yet still speak to your family afterwards
4. equality: the affordability of restaurants, you don’t have to be loaded to be able to eat decent food.
5. quality: quality of life shared by all those that live in France – access to fresh food in markets, French countryside, culture.

Some other things thrown in for good measure in case they really have problems defining what it is to be French: :
6. either being so socialist that they’re almost communist or so far right that their extreme racists but no political middle ground.
7. having an opinion on everything, even stuff they don’t know about
8. bad drivers
9. don’t know how to queue
10. arrogance
11. looking chic without any effort
12. consuming copious amounts of pastries and chocolates and staying slim!

So who knows what being French actually means? Hopefully France will move forward and will resolve some of its issues allowing future generations to live united and without unrest.

Oh yeah, and this debate that was launched in November has now been ever so quietly dropped as it wasn’t good for Sarkozy’s image… My my… looks as if it was a big waste of time. I’ll just send them my thoughts then!

To finish on a lighter note, the French have had great inventors inventing things such as hot air balloon, the battery, the electric iron, the sewing machine… the latest being ROLLERMAN – check him out!!!

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