2008 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2008

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

We would like to wish you Happy Holidays with our sixth Christmas season newsletter. We hope this finds you well.

Gabrielle and David are growing by leaps and bounds. David, now in second grade, enjoys reading French and he is even trying to read English. He is still taking tennis lessons though he would have preferred to take soccer this year. He shouldn’t be at too big a disadvantage since soccer is the favorite game at recess so he’ll get lots of practice at school. Gabrielle, now in fifth grade, is in her final year of elementary school. Next year we hope she goes to an international junior high school with a strong emphasis on English. She is currently preparing for the entry exam though recently she is less interested in school and more interested in her activities and hobbies. The big thing this year has been the Girl Scouts of American. There is a troop in the area. She participates in the meetings and she has already gone camping. “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” They have merit badges too…

Both Jeff and I continue working at the same positions we started last year though I changed to slightly reduced workweek by taking Wednesdays off. It gives me more time with the kids who do not have school on Wednesdays. Jeff continues his geocaching, hiking, and mountain bike riding. Of course I am still dancing and I have continued with tennis this year. Also, on Sundays I mountain bike ride with a ladies only group.

We had several good vacations this year. We enjoyed skiing in the Alps in April. The kids had ski lessons again this year and they progressed to their respective next levels. This was the first year that we were actually all able to ski together down the slopes. Our main summer vacation was the kids, my mother, and I visiting family Poland for a few weeks. It was nice seeing family and trying to speak Polish though it is not an easy language to learn for us Franco-Americans. Back from Poland but with summer not completely over we had the opportunity to discover the mountains off-season. We went as a group, 4 adults and 5 kids, with some English friends we made shortly after arriving in France. We went hiking, mountain bike riding, zip-line repelling, and adventure park tree top climbing or accrobranche which is all the rage now. The kids and Jeff seemed to have no fear all safety harnessed up; they just took the plunge so to speak. I participated but at my own pace. With summer finally over and the kids back to school we started planning for Grandma’s visit during the All Saints vacation. We went to Scotland for a week. You can see a detailed write-up and even some photos of our Scottish vacation on our Family Blog. It was really nice for the kids to spend some quality time with Grandma.

From all of us to all of you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

2007 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2007

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

What better time of the year to say hello, the Christmas holiday and soon the new year will be here. This newsletter, fifth in the series, is a brief recap of our year. Jeff started a new job in June and I did the same in September. His work is much closer to home than before but he works longer days and travels more. His job is challenging and interesting. My job is quite different from my last. I used to work for the elderly in a home now I work for teenage students in a school. It has taken me a few months to make the adjustment. A good thing though because I have a feeling I will need experience dealing with teenagers soon.

Gabrielle is now in the 4th grade and doing well. She likes her teacher and she is making new friends. She has entered what everyone is calling the “pre-teen” phase. She is paying attention to what she wears to school and she is developing her own taste in music. She has high fashion blue jean boots and she is listening to the latest teen music. She has noticed a sharp contrast between what she listens to and to what daddy listens to. The two often comment on the other’s music but sometimes they find common ground. She is taking dance lessons, playing on her DS and the computer. The Barbies have been shelved. David has gone form preschool to grammar school and in a few short months he is expected to start learning how to read, write, and do arithmetic. This has been quite the transition for the little man who used to have difficulty just sitting still in the chair. It is marvelous to listen to and to see him starting to read and write. He is taking tennis lessons again this year. Maybe him and I can play together next summer because I too am taking tennis lessons.

This year we had a great summer vacation. We spent one month in United States. The kids got to meet everybody in Chicago and we had a great time with family and friends. David started speaking English while we were there and since then Jeff and I are speaking English again at home. Gabrielle was able renew and certainly add a lot of new memories about the US. You can read her account of our vacation on the Windstrup Family Blog. This year we were lucky to be able to connect with a lot family. My family from Poland even spent a few days with us in France this summer.

We wish you all the best this Christmas and we hope the New Year finds you well.

2006 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2006

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

We hope our holiday newsletter finds you well. We would like to give you a brief update on what we have been doing. Our 4th Christmas in France and we couldn’t be happier. The kids are growing fast. Gabrielle is in 3rd grade. She is obviously learning French in school and we are teaching her English at home. This along with the other subjects gives her a lot of homework to do at night. She continues taking drawing classes and she is becoming quite an artist. She certainly draws better than her mom and dad. Early next year she will be 9 years old. David, now 5, is in his last year of kindergarten. Next year he will go to elementary school. They will go to the same school next year. Then they will be able to play, or argue, at home and on the playground. In preparation for the big school David is learning his letters. He has taken ownership of the letter D. “That is my letter”, he says. He is now saying a few words in English and he is quite proud of that. He is interested in sports and he is taking tennis lessons. Jeff took a stained glass class and made an attractive arts and crafts style lamp. Of course, I keep taking dance classes and I am preparing for some dance shows this year. I am thinking about changing jobs next year and Jeff changed this year. I want something different and more challenging. Jeff certainly is challenged in his new position because it is much more technical than his previous position. He likes it though, because as he says, he can use his “geek skills”.

We were happy to return to the US this year for Jeff’s brother Mike’s wedding. Jeff was Mike’s best man and we were glad that we were able to be there for Mike and Jennifer’s marriage. We were also pleased to be back in the USA. Everything seemed just a little different to us. It is strange how things seem to change with time. We had several visitors from the US this year here in France. Jeff’s mom Gloria and her friend Carolyn came to visit and my friend Margaret and her children Monica and Mathew also came on their vacation. Gloria and Carolyn also went to Rome and Margaret and kids went on to Poland. The world it seems is getting smaller. In addition to our trip stateside we took the kids skiing in the Alps. They both took ski lessons for 4 days and they really learned to ski. We French take skiing seriously. After a fairly difficult skills assessment test the kids received certificates and pins that clearly indicate their level. Gabrielle is at the snowflake level and David qualified as a little snowman.

From all of us to all of you a very merry Christmas.

2005 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2005

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Christmas is here and soon a new year. We would like to take a moment to say happy holidays from ours to yours. We hope that you finish this year on a pleasant note and that it continues throughout all of 2006. For us this will be our third Christmas in France and even though it appears that there will not be any snow, as usual, we are all in the spirit of things. Gabrielle and David are having difficulties waiting to open their gifts. As soon as the gifts are out in the open underneath the tree they seem to call to the children. “Open me; ask mommy and daddy for the 15th time if we can open just one…” You know what I’m talking about. Don’t you? And then there is the coming of Santa Claus. We are fairly sure that this is going to be the last year of belief in the jolly, chubby, white bearded man in the red suit and hat for Gabrielle. At the wise old age of 7 kids start to realize the truth while they uncover the perpetual lie of their parents with the aid their classmates. Hopefully she will not spoil it for David so that he can continue to believe in our lie for a few more years.

Gabrielle is in 2nd grade and she is doing well in all areas except for math. She has homework every night and we even add some additional work in English. She is growing, listening to the latest pop music, and starting to follow the new girl’s fashions. She is taking gymnastics and drawing classes after school. She loves her drawing class that her Grandma insisted she be enrolled in. We should probably thank her in helping Gabrielle release her artistic talents. David is getting bigger and as he likes to say he is a “big boy”. He is in pre-school for the second year now and finally he knows that he has to obey the rules. He is speaking a lot more and he now can ride his bike without training wheels. Now that his communications skills are coming along he has mellowed a bit and we couldn’t be more pleased.

This year we went to Poland for 3 weeks for our summer vacation. It was nice seeing family and meeting Christian, my godson and the kids’ second cousin, for the first time. I am still working at the same place and following the same routine. I still take dance lessons but this year I have been invited to be part of a dance company. The company is called “l’espace d’un instant” which translates as Within an Instant. So next year, I’ll be pretty busy with dance rehearsal for the dozen or so shows we have already booked for the year. Maybe you can come and see me. I can try to get you good seats if you’re interested and you can share an instant with me. At the moment Jeff has had a decision made for him that it is time to look for a different job. Sometimes changes come about in our lives that we don’t like or didn’t anticipate but in the long run things turn out for the better. We are both hopeful that this is going to be the case here. Hope to see you soon. You will always have our kindest thoughts and best wishes.

2004 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2004

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Christmas is coming and soon a new year, so we thought it will be a good idea to give you some news from us. As you notice, we’ve been in France another year. Jeff is becoming more and more French. As he says, “you can call me Jacques”. I hope he is only joking. In a way it is the same for me. I have returned to my roots and French values. Despite enjoying living in France, we feel nostalgic about the USA. We haven’t seen the US for more than two years but we hear a lot about it here. We have an idea what is going on, but we only get the French news’ interpretation. This summer we visited Mont Saint Michel next to the Atlantic Ocean. We were excited with the visit of Jeff’s mum, Gloria, and Jeff’s cousin Dale in November. As they say, “everything is the same but different”, when they saw Paris and life in France. We visited the D Day area of Normandy. The visit helped us get a better understanding and feeling of what happened there in history.

I have worked at the hospital now for two years. I am very busy responding to all the social problems regarding the seniors. Jeff works at the same place for the same people even though he signed a contract with their parent company. We continue to enjoy the area where we live in the town of St Remy les Chevreuse. For the first time, now that we all have bicycles, we went bike riding all together in the area and at the castle in Versailles. We also went rollerbladeing in the streets of Paris a few times and we really had fun.

Gabrielle is growing. She is 6 years old now. She knows how to ride her bike without training wheel. She learned how to swim and she is now learning how to read and write French. This is another story, she is in the first grade now and she found out that it takes some effort to learn how to read. She is working hard on improving her reading skills. In the other areas she is doing well. She is speaking English again and often she talks to us in English at home. She plays more and more with her brother who sometimes doesn’t know how to wait his turn and share. They manage to have fun together despite the occasional frustrations that all siblings share.

David is almost 4 yeas old now. He started preschool this year. He enjoys the activities there but sometimes it is difficult for him staying in school all day, four days a week. He is very active. He continues to speak little English and French. Sometimes we have to guess what he is saying.

Hope we will see you soon and hope you will come to visit us. We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

2003 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2003

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

In these holiday times we think of celebrations and sharing. We would be happy to share with you a couple of details of our lives this past year in France. Yes, we have been here for 1 1/2 years and we are adjusting fairly well.

When in Roam do as the Romans do. We have been conducting ourselves in a typical French manner. Jeff likes to kid that the French move like a heard of sheep. Going from one place to another in mass at exactly the same time. Of course there is the Monday to Friday workweek. Shopping and running errands on Saturday and wandering and exploring on Sundays. Throw in lunch and dinner routines and Voilà. Honestly the lifestyle here suits us fine. We enjoy the wandering and discovering of the countryside. There is quite a bit to see and do in the area. Of course, we appreciate all the time off. At times it seems like every week has a holiday and don’t forget the standard 5 weeks of vacation. Throw in a 35 hour work week and we have more time to spend doing family things.

Gabrielle is in kindergarten. She is beginning to learn how to write and she is getting ready for grammar school. She likes school and her extracurricular activities. She goes to the swimming pool and gymnastics once a week. She has adapted quickly to life in France. David is growing and his little personality is starting to come out. He can be a handful at times. He is going through that typical terrible twos phase. He is starting to speak. English and French words are mixed together in a way that only we can understand. As for me and Jeff, we are working and happy with our lives here. We hope you too are happy this holiday season and throughout all of next year.