Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One small step for mankind...

...or for Benjamin, anyway! It's taken him a little over 15 months, but he is finally getting over his laziness and starting to walk! It was nice out today so we went & enjoyed the yard - LOVE having a yard! - and he practiced walking in between trying to eat rocks and dirt.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Visit our village

As most of you know, we moved last summer. We spent the first two years of our married life in government housing in St Denis, a close suburb of Paris (at the end of a metro line) where Frederic grew up. That was practical from a "close-to-work" standpoint for both of us at the time, but we were tired of throwing away money in rent.

So in 2002, we bought a condo in Villiers le Bel, a suburb a little bit further from Paris. We really enjoyed the condo itself, but after 4 years we couldn't take much more of the neighbors, and decided it was time to go.

After much preliminary searching on the internet, we only had to visit two houses to find the one we wanted. We now live about an hour away from Paris (we don't go to Paris very often anyway) and it takes Frederic about 45 minutes to get to work; the same amount of time as from Villiers le Bel, but on a highway instead of city streets with stoplights. We ended up in a village with about 230 inhabitants. There is a larger town about 4 miles away where we have a grocery store, bank, etc. Our village has a preschool & elementary school only a 10 minute walk from our house.

These are some pictures of our village I took on a walk with Benjamin.

This is the city hall and the school where Benjamin will attend elementary.

This is the village church; there is a Catholic mass there only every 3 months or so due to the serious shortage of priests and lack of attendees in the villages.

Our village is in the middle of a national forest.

We hope that someday you will come and visit us here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Benjamin update

I know I've been depriving you of Benjamin photos for much too long, so here are some fairly recent ones.

Benjamin eating stinky goat cheese
Benjamin is a real French baby - he loves stinky cheese!

Enjoying the Alps
Our snow bunny

He wants to go sledding
"Please, can't we go sledding some more?"

Enjoying the sunshine in our yard!

He's finally starting to walk, at 15 months. He's also learned how to go upstairs, so Frederic had to rig up a baby gate to block off the downstairs hallway (the stairs have a quarter-turn and the railing doesn't go all the way down, so a traditional baby gate wouldn't work).

He can say several words now, mostly in English, like: lunch, dog, ball, cookie, duck, and my personal favorite: dontouch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Marshmallows are not white

At least not in France. We knew this, but somehow forgot it when we were at the hardware store picking out paint for the upstairs bathroom. We thought that "marshmallow" would be a type of white, so we got it, along with "digital" (a pinkish-burgundy).

We were taken aback when we opened the can and found it to be... violet. Then the moment of indecision - do we take it back to the store, 45 minutes away, and a hassle to ever take anything back in France, and we are tired of our bathroom being "under construction", or do we use it anyway? We didn't hesitate long, and now we have a bathroom Barbie would love.

Before: "Under the Sea"

After - "Barbie's bathroom"

It may look white in the photos, but it is most definitely lavender in person.

You'll be relieved to know that we're not planning on trying to start a career in home decorating any time soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring is... not here yet!

So, speaking of springtime weather... imagine our surprise to wake up to this this morning!

The weather report says this cold weather is supposed to hang around all week!

I could take Benjamin out and get one more good use out of his snowsuit... but I think we will just stay warm inside instead.

Frederic had to go out to work this morning and it took him over an hour to go 28 km (17 miles).

our front gate
My frozen tulips
snowy front yard

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Attack of the hedge clippers

It's rainy and chilly today. We have had beautiful sunny days this week, but today we're back to waiting for springtime to arrive.

This week, Frédéric and his dad attacked the hedge. Apparently the former owners of the house were great fans of privacy, hence the hedge that is about 7 feet tall in the front of the house, and about 10 on the side. They started trimming, and then decided to just hack away at it. The side of the house seems a little naked now, but there are only about 6 houses behind ours that use that lane, and I doubt any of our neighbors are much over 6 feet tall anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Garden

This is our first time ever to have a real garden. We lived in an apartment and then a condo after we got married and up until last summer.

When Frederic's job sent him to Amsterdam last spring, he brought Benjamin and me along, and we brought real Dutch tulips back with us.

There are daffodils scattered throughout the yard, the crocuses have come and gone, and now we're waiting to see what comes up next.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Benjamin loves having a yard! Here he is practicing army crawling in his camo sweats!

Benjamin enjoying the yard