I hope you’re in the mood for a Random Thoughts post. Here are some of the things on my mind:

-For the past three Christmases, our kids have been part of a big production of Scrooge the Musical. In fact, Oscar played Tiny Tim all three years — with a lovely solo song! The rehearsals always started in the fall and the play was essentially a daily part of our life for a couple of months. It feels a bit strange this year not to be taking part. If you’re curious, you can see last year’s production on Vimeo — Oscar’s solo starts at 1:24:26.

-France is in the middle of a big strike. It’s been going for a week and a half and they expect it will continue through Christmas. The trains and subways are mostly not running, and to me it feels like the whole country is at a bit of standstill. We know several people who have cancelled their travel plans for December, and our friends who live in the suburbs of Paris can’t get to work at all.

Since Ben Blair and I work at home, we’ve mostly not been affected, but that changed this weekend because our older three kids are headed here for the holidays. Ralph’s flight was scheduled to arrive this morning, and we knew he wouldn’t be able to get a train from Paris to Argentan, so Ben drove to Paris last night, and stayed over at an airport hotel, so he could pick Ralph up this morning. That all worked beautifully, but then they got stuck in traffic for hours. They should have arrived home at about 1:30 PM and instead they’ll get home around 4:00 PM.

We’re actively trying to avoid Paris until the strike is over, but we’ll need to head back in to pick up Olive and Maude too. Though I should note: we are more than happy to do it — we’re so excited to have the whole family home for the holidays. I’m confident about the pick up for Maude because it’s the same thing we just did for Ralph, but I’m worried about getting Olive from Montpelier to Paris where we can pick her up. We’re making our plans and crossing our fingers.

-This past week Ralph finished his finals, and just before Thanksgiving, he submitted his transfer application to the U.C. schools. It’s been a challenging semester we’re glad he’s getting a break. In addition to his heavy load of coursework, he was also determined to make a movie — and he just finished the editing a couple of days ago. It’s called Sea Chub and it’s about a fish who can impart knowledge. (It’s 12 minutes.)

-Maude’s finals are this week. I have the impression this has been her favorite semester so far. She loves her classes, she loves her roommates, and she seems to be thriving.

-Olive is deep in the middle of figuring out what comes next after her year as an Au Pair. She’s thinking about studying film and has made a spreadsheet of all the programs she’s interested in, with application dates and tuition costs and that sort of thing, and she’s gearing up to make some big decisions.

-Last week Oscar had his Eagle Board of Review — via Skype — and passed! He’s officially an Eagle Scout. Woo hoo! We’re not sure when we’ll do his Court of Honor, but we’re told they are actually optional, so we’re not in a big hurry. I would love to do it back in Oakland with his troop.

Oscar is still working on his French — he feels like he’s about 50% there. And he looks forward to math class because he’s awesome at math in both English and French. : )

-Betty has been killing it at school, which is especially amazing since her French is also not fluent yet.

When school started her hardest subject was probably Spanish. Betty has had no previous Spanish but her classmates are on year two of Spanish studies, so catching up was a challenge. But even more challenging is that she is having to learn Spanish via French. So tricky! Can you picture the vocabulary lists? She has to learn the French words before she can learn the Spanish words. But she has studied like crazy and is now really excelling in her Spanish class.

-Flora is still the newest to French so you can imagine how challenging it is to be in a fully French classroom all day long — with no French-as-a-second-language program. Olive was Flora’s age when we first moved to France and she said it took at least six months till she felt like she was functional with basic French, and that those six months were really, really hard. We’re super proud of Flora for showing up everyday and doing her best.

Last Friday, each student in Flora’s grade had to recite a memorized poem in front of the class. She worked so hard to memorize that poem! And when she recited it, her teacher had the class give her a big round of applause.

-Christmas shopping has been an adventure so far. In the U.S., I did most of our shopping online, but here I do about 75% in store, and 25% online. There are some things I wanted to gift that I can’t get here, so Ralph is bringing a suitcase of items as well. In fact, the morning he flew out, I asked him to stop at Target to pick up a few packs of those fold-flat gift boxes in the holiday section. Probably I’m looking in the wrong places, but I can’t find anything like that here. Hah!

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts, or you can leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. — More random thoughts.