Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas presents!

Last year we hosted Christmas, and the kids all dove in to their presents after Christmas dinner. It was utter and total chaos, and we didn't get to see anyone open their gifts because it was such pandemonium. Benjamin was more than a little overwhelmed, and didn't really understand about opening presents, so we ended up saving some of his gifts for the next day.

This year, we spent Christmas all on our own, and Benjamin has figured out what presents are all about! He knows how to open them but happily for us, only opens the ones we give to him, not the other ones under the tree (we're still waiting to see our nephews and nieces).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas tradition: the yule log

Every year for our Christmas dinner, Frederic makes a yule log. It's similar to a jelly roll but with chocolate instead of jelly. This year Benjamin "helped" him make it:

Licking the spoon
Yum, chocolate
Putting on the finishing touches

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Circus

Saturday we went to the circus; that was Air France's Christmas gift to employees with children. (They don't give anything to employees without children, which doesn't seem very fair.)

It took close to 2 hours to get there, because it was in Paris and traffic was as it always is in Paris.

Benjamin was terrified of the camels, but calmed down after they left the ring. We were up in the nosebleed section, as you may be able to tell from the photos.

Frederic and I decided this is probably our one and only trip to the circus as a family - somehow the performers didn't seem to notice that the arena was round, so only those seated straight in front of the circle got to see anything directly; several times we were left guessing what was happening since we could only see from the side. Also, the benches were far from comfortable, and there were just so many people. The longer we live out here in our sparsely populated village, the more I like it. I love not having to see thousands of people every day, or deal with traffic. People sometimes ask "how I do it" when they find out I work from home and don't leave the house very often - I wonder the same about them. How on earth do they manage to deal with seeing so many people on a daily basis and fighting the crowds in public transportation? Yuck.

Anyway... here are a few pictures.
Camels and horses
Alisa and Benjamin
Frederic and Benjamin
We actually ended up leaving before the end. The show didn't start until almost 6 pm, which is normally Benjamin's bedtime, and of course he didn't take a nap that day. So by the time we left, close to 8, he was exhausted and ready for bed.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Benjamin is 2 today!

Two years ago today, we were in the hospital meeting this little boy (whose head was so big his little newborn hat wouldn't stay on):

Today, he turned two! We celebrated his birthday last night with Frederic's coworker and his family. Benjamin enjoyed his presents but didn't want to eat any cake.

I'm not quite sure where the time has gone.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Village Santa Claus

We're not that "into" Santa Claus in our house, but our village has so many activities going on all the time that we thought we should probably participate from time to time. We thought this would be a good one to start with so we could get an idea of how many other children live in the village (I think about 20 showed up) and whether there were any others around his age (possibly 2 within about 6 months either way).

So we drove down to the municipal building yesterday. It's only about a 10 minute walk from our house, but it was cold out! We stood around like people who don't know anyone, since that is what we are, and waited. Once everyone had arrived, a few of the "comité des fêtes" (party committee, the people who organize all the village events) members read a story to the kids. Then they sang a Christmas song ("Petit Papa Noël", and by the way, this type of thing is sorely lacking in my French cultural education), and Santa Claus ("le Père Noël") showed up.

Benjamin was scared of Santa Claus - you can see him crying in the back of this picture:

But he was pretty excited about the big present he got!

So was Frederic, for that matter! Benjamin's gift was a "rescue set," complete with a helicopter that has lights & makes noise, a fire truck, a boat, an orca (to be rescued, I guess), a few little men and all sorts of little accessories that I'm sure will vanish rapidly to turn up later under the couches or in the VCR. We were pretty impressed with the quality of the presents they gave out (we learned at the end that our local taxes pay for it).

Benjamin will also have another present coming from Air France for Christmas, and next weekend we will go see the circus; also a gift from Air France.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I think he likes chocolate pudding.

What do you think?

We thought having him "drink" it might be less messy than using a spoon. We stand corrected.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I should mention

that Benjamin seems to be back to his normal self now. Granted, he's still almost 2 lbs lighter than he was before this chain of illnesses, so we're trying to fatten him up, but he's acting like a normal 2 year old now instead of a little sickie. Of course, this means that his favorite word is "no" - said "No, no no no no no no." We're working on "Yes." And he has occasional meltdowns for no apparent reason (and hasn't yet caught on that that gets him sent to bed). Fortunately for him, he's still cute enough most of the time that we haven't thrown him out yet.

For the cultural interest part, I should also mention that the 5 visits to the nurse for her to give him his injections cost us 12.24 € ($17.87). That sum will be entirely reimbursed by our insurance. We didn't pay the national healthcare part at all (presumably about 28.56 €, or $41.70), as the healthcare card allows that to be settled directly between the nurse and national healthcare. One more reason we can't fathom moving "home" at the moment; we love the healthcare system here and most especially its affordability.

The new bathroom vanity is installed now! And the correct pipe for the water softener! The water softener change is monumental. For the past year, the hose from it where the water empties when it purges has had to go into the bathroom sink. On more than one occasion we have forgotten to leave the hose in the sink, which causes massive flooding (80 L of water) on the bathroom & guest room floor around 4 am. So having the tube go into its own little pipe permanently will avoid the flooding problem, and also seems to have helped with the "eww stinky septic tank" smell we've had in the bathroom.

Next on the list:
1. Mudding bathroom walls and deciding what to do next (paint or wallpaper?)
2. Redoing my office (same paint & flooring as guest room)
3. Find dresser/wardrobe/something for new baby's room
4. Remove living room wall

The list is actually much longer than this, but I'll spare you the rest. These are the things we'd like to get done within the next few months. Keep in mind that we hope to live in this house for the next 29 years, give or take, so it will take a while to do everything we want to to it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Finally making some progress

We finally started working on the upstairs bedrooms today to make room for the new arrival, who will be here in just over 3 months. Back in July, only a week or two after we found out we were expecting, we found a too-good-to-pass-up deal on a crib in a second hand shop. Since we're in no hurry to get Benjamin out of his crib and into a twin bed, we decided to get it for the second baby. Today we set it up.

Baby #2's bed
We'll be on the lookout now for a dresser to at least sort of match, since we have a severe lack of closets in our house.

And while we were changing things around, we went ahead and put the twin bed in Benjamin's room. We don't plan on moving him to it any time soon, but this way he can get used to it being there, and I will have somewhere more comfortable to sit and read him his bedtime story than the 7 or 8 inch tall footstool from Ikea which is becoming quite uncomfortable.
Benjamin's bed

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Benjamin's first...

...ear infection. Oh joy. When Benjamin woke up this morning it was pretty obvious that is what he had, but I'll spare you the gory details.

Our regular family doctor is not in on Saturdays, so we called around and found a pediatrician in a town about 20 minutes away with open consultations on Saturday afternoons. Benjamin has to have antibiotic shots for 5 days. So after the doctor's office, we came home to call the house-call nurses who would come and give the shots -- although in our case, Frederic will take Benjamin to their office every evening instead; apparently they are pretty booked up. Then Frederic went out again to the pharmacy to pick up the shots and some baby Tylenol (called Doliprane here and apparently much less concentrated, given the dose he has to take).

We hope the infection will clear up quickly. We are pretty sure he has had it for at least part of this last week or two that he has been sick, so at least now we know why he's been so crabby lately.

Yesterday we put up our Christmas tree. I managed to put all the breakable ornaments high up on the tree before Benjamin could "help" me with them.
Benjamin helping with the Christmas tree
We had our first attempt at family Christmas pictures this evening, but they weren't a great success. We'll try again another day. These were the best of the bunch tonight: