Saturday, December 27, 2008

We are off

bright and early tomorrow, heading for the mountains, where we'll spend the week, and then on down to Montpellier for Frédéric's training. Since we'll most likely be disconnected all week (unless I can find an unprotected wireless network up there, which I sort of doubt), I'll leave you with a few Christmas pictures to hold you over until we get back to the land of internet connections.

We started letting the boys open one present per night on Sunday. What can I say, I'm impatient! As it turned out, I think I prefer that method. They got more time to appreciate each gift that way rather than tossing it aside to open the next one right away. Maybe we should start a 12 days of Christmas tradition - or however-many-presents-they-have days of Christmas.

Here is Benjamin with one of his presents (look familiar, Alex?)

His work of art - he says it is "a monkey and a man in a yellow hat". Any guesses as to what we've been reading lately?

Noah and Benjamin opening their Thomas books from Uncle Ryan, Aunt Christine & Alex

Noah's favorite part of Christmas, the wrapping paper

Noah and his stocking stuffers

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I'll let you know when we make it to Montpellier!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Please don't report us

for breaking child labor laws. But this is what Benjamin has been up to the past couple of days:

Helping make the yule log for the company we had over last night.

(yes, he is tasting, and yes, we changed spatulas after this picture.)
Helping Frederic prepare his skis.
Helping put on the snow tires.

I should also mention in passing that Noah is totally back to normal now, eating, laughing, and playing like he was before he was sick. I had no idea it could take 3 weeks to get over a 2-day stomach bug!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Christmas Tree

Well, at D-7 'til Christmas, I finally bit the bullet. I wasn't going to put up a tree at all this year, but we are having company over Saturday night and I felt kind of bad not having one up. So Benjamin and I put up the little 3-foot tree in the dining room. This is now the full extent of our Christmas decorating this year.

At least it gives us a place to put the gifts. Maybe I'll be less of a Scrooge next year, if we aren't leaving home for 3+ months three days after Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Party in the village

Today was the annual village Christmas party for the kids. Every year they read a story, have a snack, and then the Père Noël comes to give the kids their presents. Since yesterday, Benjamin has been telling us "want some presents!" (sounds more like "peasants") and when we got to the building, he sounded like a broken record! He definitely knew what we were there for.

So after semi-patiently waiting through the story and the snack, he got to go get his present.
And Noah went to get his present.

This was Benjamin last year.... do you see a resemblance to Noah?

Benjamin opening his (very large) present.

Noah chewing on part of his present.

Noah (and others) playing with his present.

The loot! Benjamin got a farm set, and Noah got a musical activity toy. They give really nice gifts!

This does not happen everywhere in France - it's an advantage to living in a small village as opposed to a big city. The budget stretches much further.

And it is COLD outside! (Not as cold as it was when we left Chicago (16-17°F) but it was 28° out when we got home tonight (-2°C for you European-types) and it started sleeting and then snowing, so the ground looks like this again now.

Hope we will be able to get out to church tomorrow! Our village gets plowed out pretty quickly, but I'm not sure that they go all the way into the forest, though, so while we might be able to get out of our village, we might end up stuck further along.

Quick update on the sickies

Noah gained 3 oz back in the 3 days he was on the special formula, so that is good news. He still lacks 2-3 oz being up to what he weighed at 8 months, so we are still trying to get him to gain, but he's still not terribly enthusiastic about anything on a spoon. He apparently had some type of infection but it must have cleared itself up, because it showed up in his blood work but by the time we got back to the doctor 2 days later, he no longer had a fever at all and was eating better and acting like he felt better. So we hope he is finally on the mend.

Benjamin has a lingering cold & cough so we took him to the doctor also. He's lost weight too, because he's not been wanting to eat much lately either. What is it with these kids?! His last "official" weight check was about 9 months ago, and he has gained since then, but not much. So he is on cough syrup and sore throat syrup (I did not even know that existed!) for a few days.

And both boys got doses of vitamin D - ah, the joy of living in the gray northern regions!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First snowfall

We got home just in time to see the first snowfall of the season yesterday. We don't get a lot of snow here, which is fine with me! Benjamin did not even want to go out in it, he said it was too cold! Not sure what that means for our ski trip over New Year's....
It did stick to the road because so much fell so quickly, but since it doesn't get much below the low 30s here, it has already mostly melted. (Note: "so much" is of course relative, we probably only got about an inch if that, but since we're used to none, that seems like a lot to us!)

* * * *
Noah is STILL sick. Frederic took him to the doctor yesterday here, and the doctor put him on special re-feeding formula due to his weight loss and the fact that he is still not eating normally since he had the stomach bug two weeks ago, and since he now has a fever that started a couple of days ago, the doctor suspects an infection of some type. So Noah got to have lab work this morning and we'll get the results back and (I hope) get to see the doctor again tomorrow evening.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Home, Sweet Home and more jet lag

We made it safely home yesterday - and had a very comfortable flight. Our flight from Chicago was full so they automatically upgraded us to business class! I'd have to ask Frederic, who has an elephant-like memory of all flights we have ever taken, but I'm pretty sure that is the first time we have ever had an automatic upgrade. Of course, we usually don't buy reserved tickets either, and this time we did, so that is probably why.

Before we left St Louis, we celebrated Benjamin's third birthday (10 days early).

We saw the doctor three times in St Louis for Noah - basically for weight checks since he had lost a few ounces due to being ill. But he is still not really well yet, so we are going to see our doctor today to see what he says. A sick baby is a cuddly baby, though.

A sick baby also sleeps on the airplane - with the upgrade they also managed to get us the seats with the bassinet, so Noah slept almost the entire flight (a nice change from our flight last month; it's just too bad he had to be sick for that to happen!). Benjamin had his dinner, watched some TV, then said, "I'm turn off TV, I'm go night-night," rolled over in his seat and went to sleep! He was very happy to go to bed last night after dinner, too.

Frédéric had to work this morning at 7 am, so I predict it won't take him long to get over jet lag! The boys and I might be another story.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving and other tidbits

Last Monday, we went down to Tulsa where we visited my dad's parents for a couple of days. We were glad to get to introduce Noah to his great-grandparents for the first time.

On Wednesday we went to southern Oklahoma where we always spend Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family at a camp that we rent. His other great-grandparents got to meet Noah for the first time there, as did the rest of the extended family.

On our way from Tulsa to Madill, Frédéric passed a truck that was weaving dangerously all over the road. To do so, he apparently had to speed up to about 89 mph in a 70 mph zone, according to the highway patrolman who pulled him over a very short time later. Hmph. However, the patrolman didn't seem to know what to do with Frédéric's French driver's license, or else didn't want to be bothered with it - so he wrote out a warning to ME instead!! Frédéric thinks this is very funny. My first written warning ever, and I wasn't even driving! Hmph!

We had the traditional camp games of horseshoes, washers, Trivial Pursuit and new addition Jumping Monkeys, but Frédéric has slowly been infiltrating the game repertoire with French games, so boules was played alongside washers, and Mille Bornes joined the ranks of inside games this year.

Frédéric playing boules with Benjamin, without the benefit of the cochonnet

Benjamin liked playing horseshoes - his version of playing horseshoes was to use them to scoop up sand from the pit and put it outside of the pit. I'm sure the camp will thank us for this later.
You can see one of the cabins behind the boys in the picture below. The wood stoves were replaced with heating/cooling units a few years back. Sadly, the heat didn't work in our cabin so after freezing the first night, we borrowed a space heater the second night and were much more comfortable. We had lovely warm weather during the day, but the nights were chilly.
Noah got to take his traditional baby bath in the camp's kitchen sink this year. (Sorry, no pictures!)

Frédéric caught a catfish again this year - in 2004 he caught a 10-pounder, and he thinks this one was 8-9 pounds. My grandad showed him how to clean it (again, since he seemed to have forgotten in 4 years), and my grandma fried it up for us for lunch the next day.

Frédéric found this football down by the pond just before we left. Any family members missing a football?

The downside of our Thanksgiving was that Noah started throwing up Thanksgiving night, and has been refusing to eat much since then. We took him to the doctor yesterday, and went back today for a weight check (he gained an ounce despite eating only 19 ounces in 24 hours and refusing all solids). We'll go back on Friday to be sure he is still gaining and we hope he'll be back on solids shortly. Benjamin also seems to be coming down with something... after Benjamin's ear infection last year and Noah being ill this year, we're a little concerned about what next year might have in store for us!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

We've been here for over a week now, and are pretty much over jet lag. Noah's even decided to drop his 4 am feeding, which is wonderful! He's now sleeping from about 6 pm to about 7/8 am. Love it!! Benjamin has gone from waking up at 5:30 am to waking around 6:30 or 7. Not as good as his usual 8 am, but we're getting there.

Noah got his first taste of coffee a few days ago. He's angling for more in this picture.

My sister-in-law, Christine, invited us along to the Creation Station at the Museum of Transportation yesterday. It's a play room for kids with a lot of trains and other toys, and Benjamin had a great time playing there with his cousin Alex. Noah had a good time too.

Before going back home we stopped by the car section of the museum which wasn't open the last time we went, three years ago.

Upstairs there are some displays that explain how cars work - here, Christine is helping Benjamin steer the car to stay on the road. Alex is turning the handle that turns the road.

And Alex came over today to play with Benjamin. As you can see, they are both enjoying cousin time.

We've been doing some shopping, some visiting, and are leaving for Oklahoma for Thanksgiving with the extended family on Monday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jet lagged

We left the house at 9:45 am Thursday, French time. (That's 2:45 am Wednesday night Central time.) We arrived in St Louis around 12 am Thursday night local time. That's a long trip, especially with two little monsters in tow.

Our flight over was much nicer than last year's, though. Noah did scream and cry for a bit but not nearly as much as Benjamin did last year. AND - extra bonus - Frederic's bosses managed to get us upgraded, so we traveled in style and as we were in the last row of business class, we had our own little section all to ourselves!

Benjamin watched TV for most of the flight, but didn't sleep a wink.

Noah slept for about a total of an hour during the nine and a half hour flight. Most of the time he did NOT look like this:

and it took Frederic the entire 9 1/2 hours to finish watching one in-flight movie. He's just lucky that now the planes have video on demand so he could pause it instead of trying to catch the parts he missed each time the movie replayed!

My mom picked us up when we arrived in Chicago and we drove to St Louis. Both boys slept in the car almost immediately and for almost the entire car ride. Unfortunately, Noah did not sleep until 4 am after that so I didn't get any sleep at all until last night.

Both boys were raring to go bright and early yesterday despite their lack of sleep (more effects of jet lag, yay) and are having a great time playing with all the fun toys at Grandma and Grandad's house - many of them relics from my and my brothers' childhood.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Big Boy Bed - Check!

One more thing crossed off our to-do-before-the-trip-home list. Frederic took down Benjamin's crib yesterday and installed a baby gate at the top of the stairs so if he decides to get up and wander around in the middle of the night or tomorrow morning, he'll at least be contained on one level. I am afraid I am going to miss him being contained in his bed, though! Lately when I have gone in to get him up in the morning at 8, I've found him in his crib reading or looking at alphabet cards. Is it a pipe dream to hope he'll continue that habit in this bed?

We moved his bed to where his crib used to be. The bedspread was a freebie with some order or other. It is brown on one side and brown and pink on the other. I asked him if he wanted brown or pink, and he chose pink, so that's what he got!

Here he is, thinking about going to sleep. He picked out a Christmas crafts book to read tonight even though I told him it wasn't a story book. He refused to have his loveys in bed with him initially, but when Frederic went up to check on him later, he asked for them.

Here he is around 10:30 pm, when I went to bed. He even stayed under the covers!

But he did indeed get up on his own this morning - Frederic found him standing at the gate at the top of the stairs, saying, "Ready to get out!" like he used to do in his crib. Oh yes, I am going to miss the days of his being stuck in his crib!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Almost big enough to play with!

Benjamin is finding that as Noah gets older, he's almost big enough to play with. In the last couple of days, he has been reading books to him. (See how well Noah is sitting up?)

And playing with cars with him.

Oh, and playing with trash together, let's not forget that one.

Noah likes to play with - uh, eat - Benjamin's toys.

Can you see his red eyes? Poor little guy caught the cold and cough that Benjamin got first. Not to worry, we're taking him to the doctor before our trip home. I'm not sure there is much you can give a not quite 8-month-old, but at least we'll make sure he doesn't have an ear infection or anything before we get on the plane.