The blog is moving!

the blog is moving

This is my last post to be published on this site. It is strange to be moving, after six years with WordPress.com, on/off posting, changes in content and occasional redesigns. But I’ve wanted to do this for quite a while, and now I have a brand-new blog to play with, yay!

You can find me at www.afrogatlarge.com (clicking on the above picture will take you there), and I will be writing there from now on. If you check it out, my first official post is up to wish you a warm welcome.

Thank you so much for sticking with me, and I hope to see you at my new place!

What I’m Into (Spring 2016 Edition)

what I'm into Spring 2016

 

Spring has arrived in England and with it hail, snow, thunder, lightning and bright sunshine, all in the space of a day. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join in with What I’m Into.

What I’m Reading

I’ve actually been reading about business finance and investment appraisal techniques since mid January so I’ve spent my leisure time reading free Kindle books in the fantasy, romance and paranormal section. My brain couldn’t take much more than that.

What I’m Watching

I finished Battlestar Galactica, and I still can’t believe I waited until this year to do so. It’s on a par with Fringe in how much I enjoyed the intricacy of this programme. It is so much more than a sci-fi show.

Other programmes I’ve watched/am watching: iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Outlander

What I’m Listening To

As I recently had an assignment deadline, I listened to a lot of playlists and instrumental music from Craig Armstrong and Ludovico Einaudi. I love how these two composers use modern technology to meld electronic soundscapes with classic piano. I’ve also been enjoying this song by Frances:

Favourite Photo

family selfie

Family selfie

What I’ve Been Doing

At Work:

I started a new PA job at my local university in February. I love being back at work and I love the university environment. I have a varied and busy role in a friendly flexible team, I get access to the university’s library and online journals, to Lynda.com, I was set up with the entire Adobe Creative Suite when my Adobe Reader went wrong. My biggest challenge is the fact that it is a two-day role and I could easily do more hours.

At Home:

  • It was my birthday in late February and our 7th wedding anniversary in April and we celebrated both with a Japanese feast.

japanese feast

 

  • I spent the Easter holidays painting the girls’ bedroom and really enjoyed myself, whereas Badgerman found it not at all therapeutic. I guess that’s my job in the house from now on then, but I will leave all the prep to him!

blue girl bedroom

 

  • We went to the Foodies Festival and had a wonderful time scoffing delicious food, enjoying the sunshine, the blues and the gin samples.

Foodie Festival 2016

 

At School:

  • I completed my HNC assignment on Managing Financial Resources and Decisions. It was my most challenging unit to date, as I suspected it would be, what with the fact that there were calculations involved, and I worked flat-out for a couple of weeks to do this.

At Home on the Blog

I will spare you a rundown of all the posts I’ve written since the last installment of What I’m Into. Needless to say it has been a bit quiet since Christmas because of that big assignment but I did post a few things anyway.

  • Not least on the list were my 2016 blogging resolutions, including having an editorial calendar, having a blog loge and going self-hosted. The good news is, I can now check one of these off the list (see below)!
  • I shared a recipe for a typical French dish of sauteed potatoes with persillade (a parsley and garlic mix), which reminds me I should really make it again, yum.
  • I linked to a website for expats, which is a fantastic resource whether you are looking to move abroad or are already there.
  • big spelling change was announced in France, which is a Very Rare Event, and people thought the end of the world was nigh.
  • And finally, I’m about to embark on a new potty training adventure, and I’m dreading it a bit.

Big Announcement

I have been hard at work developing the new platform for this blog since going self-hosted (a spur of the moment purchase on 2nd January this year) and the plan is to launch A Frog at Large under a new URL in the next couple of weeks! I will keep you posted, but be warned that you will need to manually re-subscribe by email or save the new URL as there will not be automatic redirection.

As always, I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer for this What I’m Into post. You can check out her link for better book and music recommendations from across a great range of well-read bloggers.

What I'm Into

Potty Training Reflections

potty training

Everyone has a potty story to curl the toes of most child-free persons and not a small amount of card-carrying parents. In the next few weeks and months, I am going to embark on another potty training adventure with Luciole and I am not particularly relishing the thought, considering how long-winded an affair it was with her sister. At the moment, 2.7 yrs old Luciole is well aware of what she’s doing, but has no interest whatsoever in telling me about it until after the event. Instead, she waits until she has a brand new nappy on to use it as clean canvas for her little jobs. She sometimes even gives me 5 minutes respite before I have to change her again.

When we were first helping Little Girl to use the toilet a year ago, I once lay in bed and listened to the joyful shouts and exclamations emanating from downstairs ‘you did a poo in the potty, well done! Woohoo!’, which was one of those ‘what is my life?’ moments that you get every so often as a parent. The reality of parenting is that our successes are as random as they are dependent on the child, their personality, the circumstance, hell even the time of day, and there’s only so much mitigation you can do to steer them one way or another.

I have a friend whose eldest self-trained early, and whose second also self-trained before she was even 2. I would not have believed it possible had I not seen it with my own eyes. And despite her early difficulties with the toileting process, Little Girl took to being clean at night like a fish to water. No amount of reading, prep or training could have predicted this outcome, it’s just something she did (can I hear a hallelujah!).

potty training toddler

I’m being a bit lax this time and am just waiting for the summer holidays before actively steering Luciole to be clean. We have carpets everywhere downstairs and I just can’t face it. Potty training is still my parenting nemesis, the one thing that is just pure pain for me from start to finish. She has a potty, knickers that she loves to put on top of her nappy-pants, a potty training book, access to poo-themed YouTube videos (yes they exist, and she found them on her own), and generally she has an endless fascination with pee, poo and body parts so surely it is bound to happen at some point in the next six months.

Are French spelling changes a sign of the apocalypse?

Boromir on French Spelling reform

In case you were wondering, a heavy dose of sarcasm was used when deciding on the title for this post… We may have some time to go yet before the apocalypse is upon us, but I think it’s fair to say that almost nobody likes change and that people love to overreact on social media. When a French spelling reform was announced in early February, the reaction to the news that appeared on my social media feeds and elsewhere online kept me entertained for a good few days. No one gets more irate than a French person faced with the suggestion that the French language is less than eternal, timeless and a beacon of light in a world full of savage languages that dare evolve because what is at stake here is the survival of France as we know it, the very foundations of the world. Will no one think of the children?????

The Independent and the Guardian were two among many to publish a nice little report on the scope of the reform and included some of the reactions, which were indeed enlightening, and by enlightening, I mean I rolled my eyes so much I feared I was going to lose my contact lenses inside my brain. It led to an interesting discussion with friends on Facebook, as English people were understandably befuddled by all the fuss (as English is one of those wild languages whose evolution is left at the mercy of the masses) and my attempts at enlightenment less than stellar.

I have always been very good at grammar, spelling and the French language in general, I always did well at dictations, and I can appreciate a nicely put French sentence. I’ve always found a great deal of satisfaction in being able to write properly. So I understand the value of having and following set rules for how language should formerly be written, and I understand the dismay of suddenly being told that your efforts to learn how to put the flipping ‘accent circonflexe’ in the right place was for nowt. I bet there hasn’t been a change in the French spelling curriculum in decades. The Académie Française, that illustrious gathering of old-fashioned French minds that dictates what is and is not acceptably French, is not exactly known for being responsive to change, and yet it is them that pushed these changes forward. It is not like the English language is without rules either. Some are quite convinced that English is very difficult to learn because of the sheer number of irregularities; I mean, do try to pronounce cough, plough and tough without getting a headache.

What I mean to say, is that there is most certainly beauty to be found in complexity, but it is simply wrong to imply that there can be beauty only in complexity, that simplicity cannot be beautiful, or that simplicity is a sign of paucity or ‘dumbing down’. That, is most definitely an overreaction.

French people keep saying that French is a ‘langue vivante’, a language that is alive, whilst all the time looking at every suggestion of its evolution as a sign of, well, the apocalypse. It’s not even as if it hasn’t changed before. The poor accent circonflexe that is being removed from so many words, this little hat sign ˆ that has been put at the forefront of the discussion, wasn’t always in use. It used to be that hôpital was spelled hospital, and château was spelled chasteau, and the sign was added to remove the silent ‘s’. Yet it is possible that some French nationalists would like us to revert to speaking like the playwright Molière did – can you imagine having to go back to speaking Shakespeare’s English? Yeah, me neither.

This said, I know that I am going to struggle mightily with many of the spelling changes when they come into effect in September, not least that of the humble onion. It is going to go from ‘oignon’ to ‘ognon’, and I won’t lie, it looks weird to me, and I doubt that it will ever look anything but weird and misspelled. It may take a generation for the change to embed itself but to say that it dumbs down language? Ridiculous.

Want to move abroad? Check out expat.com

Want to move abroad-Photo by  Dariusz Sankowski via unsplash.com

Seventeen years ago when I first moved to England, there weren’t many places you could visit to find information about your new country of residence and get help if you had any problems. The internet was still in its infancy and you needed to live in London to be able to visit the Institut Français or the Centre Charles Péguy (and even now, just look at that website, it doesn’t even have a decent URL, for goodness’ sake). I haven’t needed any expat support for many years now, but I remember it was just near impossible to find anything without making a phone call or turning up in person, which is why I just got on with it without help from the French.

Nowadays, it is much easier to find all the information you need. If you have a question about immigrating, health or finding a job in your new country, you can ask it online in specialist forums. But of course, you have to find that trustworthy website that provides you with the information you need.

Expat.com is such a website; I go on it from time to time to answer questions from people wanting to move to England, and of course, it is a good place for me to advertise the blog, mine and other expat blogs being another tool for prospective expats to research the country they want to move to.

Whether you wish to live in England or you are already settled here, you probably have lots of questions about your expat project. To help you answer them, Expat.com makes it easy to get in touch with expats living nearby or on the other side of the world. It is the largest expat help and support network, and it just underwent a complete overhaul, making the experience of visiting the website a whole lot easier. It’s also completely free to use.

You can ask questions, get answers and also discover expat life in England to get all the support you need. A range of features is available: discussion forums, jobs and housing sections, guides, interviews, classified ads and even an agenda of events organised in England. You can find all you could possibly need for your expat daily life. It’s also a great way to meet people; aside from actually living abroad, interacting with people on the ground is the best way to get an idea of what it is like to be an expat. It is critical in fact, in order to remove the rose-tinted glasses off prospective expats and disabuse them of their notions of easy job findings and cheap housing (Ha!).

I know I could have done with a website like this when I first moved to England, and I’m happy to recommend it as a great resource both to prepare for a move abroad, and to connect with others once you have settled.

Living in England