Reuben learning French

Reuben has been attending the Montessori Children's House since he was 2. Knowing that we would be going France on a regular basis we decided to sign him up to Petit Poucet French lessons which take place every Monday morning at his nursery. Initially I wasn't sure what he would get out of the French lessons, if he would enjoy them, or if he would take anything in. One day last year at home I suddenly heard Reuben counting, whilst he was playing, in French. I was amazed, and excited, as we had not done any French with him at home, so what he was recounting had all been picked up at nursery. He has since come home with other French words, like colours, and parts of the body.

Reuben is now 3 and a half. His most recent end of term report showed that he has an interest for the language, can answer simple questions, and knows some/most of the basic words. He likes adding to the existing vocabulary, using new words, and his behaviour is excellent!

Reuben's end of term certificate

It's amazing to hear your child speak another language and it's encouraging to know that he can pick it up even with so little input from home. I can't deny that I worry about him settling it at school in France, as from September he will go full time. I hope that the French lessons he has had up till now will give him a small amount of confidence. When we were there at Easter he was quite happy running round saying 'bonjour' to neighbours in the village, and had no problem playing with our neighbour's little girl of the same age (he spoke English, she spoke French!) I think his biggest concern at the moment is that he will be a 'lunchie' (staying at school for lunch) instead of being a 'homie' (coming home for lunch.)

Becky x
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Introducing...fish!

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Brown family household...fish. Andrew took Reuben to a local funfair and they came back with a goldfish. I was away for the weekend and by the time I came back he had his own tank and place on top of the chest of drawers. I've never had a pet and I must admit to begin with I wasn't totally on board about having a fish, but it's amazing how something can grow on you so quickly. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and instead of checking on the kids I'm checking to see if the fish is still alive and swimming happily! It's great for Reuben. He happily takes responsibility for feeding him twice a day, and now that he has his little net he comes home from school informing me that the water is looking a little cloudy and is ready and waiting to fish it out so we can change the water. Fish now has gravel in his tank, various stones that we have collected from parks and down by the river Thames, and a plastic fish to keep him company. I've tried to get Reuben to call it something other than fish but he came out with 'well we could call it Jacob...but I'm going to call it fish.' I'm not sure that fish will make the journey to France but I think we will definitely end up having fish of some kind in our new life in France.

Becky x
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Easter in France

This Easter we had a 10 day trip planned to the house before the big move in the Summer. I don't think we've ever been down at a time when we've had to wear winter coats. It was cold. We left the UK on the day the clocks changed, so not only did we lose an hour but it was also Easter Sunday, a day when everything is closed. We managed to lose our boarding passes at the airport, and the car my dad had hired for us was too small for 4 adults, 2 kids and car seats and had to be upgraded. But we managed to make it to the house in one piece.

Cold and grey

Our plan for the holiday was to start networking, find a venue for business, and talk to the school about enrolling Reuben for September. What we ended up doing was run around after Reuben and Jacob for 10 days. Jacob loves the freedom and space of a bigger house but is not quite able to navigate the stairs yet. Reuben is at an age where he seems to need entertaining most of the time.

At least the sofa fit through the window!

A highlight was getting all our boxes delivered by Mick. In contrast to the departure in snow in London our things arrived on a sunny day. We enlisted the help of some friends to help unload the van. Reuben could not contain his excitement of his train set arriving and made a bee-line for it as soon as he saw it on the van. We had somehow managed to lose the key to our house and so everything had to be brought through my parents' house next door (through the adjoining door.) The boxes weren't a problem but the piano had to be carried off the van and up and down two sets of stairs (not something we had been quoted for but Mick was very good about the whole thing.) The sofa as you can see easily fit through the window! Rather than unpack everything and it gather dust for the next 4 months we decided to leave everything in boxes, ready and waiting for our arrival in the Summer.

Becky x
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Travelling with kids

We've travelled twice to France now with both kids in tow. Last year Jacob was 7 months and Reuben was almost 3. I decided to go with the boys in the car with my parents who were driving down. Reuben was fine, though he was at the only just potty trained stage so there were endless rounds of 'Reuben are you sure you don't need a wee?' Jacob however had never got used to being strapped into a car seat as we hadn't had a car since he was born. If he was asleep he was fine, if he was awake he screamed. There was a serene moment as we drove through Paris, both boys were asleep and I contemplated waking them up to see their first view of the Eiffel tower in the distance...but I didn't.

We stopped over for the night in Orléans. I had a sleepless night in between the two boys (there we no cots available and Reuben didn't want to sleep on the bed on the floor.) Reuben is a wriggler when he sleeps and with Jacob on the end I was worried he might fall off the bed.

By the end of day 2 of driving I vowed that we would never go down in the car again. So this year for our trip at Easter we decided to fly. Reuben, now 3 and a half, we knew would be fine. He had his Thomas magazine and gingerbread biscuit, and was going to sit with my mum (close but not too close, so that when Jacob started screaming they could pretend not to know us!) Jacob, now 14 months, we were worried about, and Andrew and I armed ourselves with just about everything we could think of to keep him occupied...books, toys, food...but to our amazement as soon as the plane took off he fell asleep. I actually got to read my book.

The journey back however was another story. An overtired Jacob cried while Andrew tried to rock him to sleep at the back of the plane ,dodging the air stewards who were trying to serve people with the trollies. He was just about asleep when the seatbelt sign came on and we were back to square one. By the end of the flight even the kids in front were trying to entertain him with a ragged looking Winnie the Pooh. It was not a successful flight and I am now thinking that in the Summer maybe we should drive down?!

Becky x
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Bon voyage boxes

With a trip planned to France we decided to hire a van to take over the bulk of our things in March. We decided to entrust our belongings to Mick from Milen Light Haulage, a friendly family run business based in the Limousin. He arrived on a snowy Saturday morning and within an hour our boxes, sofa, piano, guitars, bikes, TV...were safely loaded onto the van ready for their journey to France. It felt like the first real step of our journey, a ‘there’s no going back now’ moment. It felt slightly strange handing over our possessions to someone we had only just met. All we could do was hope! Now we had to decide what to do with everything that we had chosen not to take. But that was a job for another day.

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