Tuesday, March 31, 2009

not so sunless after all

At least for the moment. Frederic went back to work today - he started at 5 am so had to be up at 3! But that meant he was home before 2 pm, and it was sunny and not cold outside so we all went out in the yard for a while. We are all so glad to be back in our own house and have the yard!




Do you know what they are playing? Because I don't. (And I will have to work on framing action shots to not cut Frederic's head off next time.)






As much as we enjoyed the south and as glad as Frederic was to have done his training program, we are glad to be back at home.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Return to the frozen north

We made it home safely Saturday evening. It was about a 9-hour drive, but we stopped in Lyon and had lunch with friends on the way so we didn't get home until about 9 pm.

Frederic's coworker who had been checking on the house for us let us know that our favorite tree had been uprooted by the wind - here is the result of that:

So we are going to have to remove it and decide whether to plant another in its place.

He also informed us that when he turned the water back on there was a leak in the laundry room - when he went to check, the floor was covered in about half an inch of water. He turned the water back off, and we weren't quite sure what to expect when we got home. It turned out to be just a question of wrapping the plastic pipe in teflon and tightening the joints, and voilà, no more leak. Thank goodness!

Noah was not overjoyed to be home - he didn't remember his crib so the first couple of nights were hard but he's doing better now, and sleeping MUCH better, as we hoped.

Benjamin thinks he ended up in a toy store! He is finding all the toys he had forgotten about, including some that he got for Christmas that we didn't take with us so it's like Christmas all over again.

Friday, March 27, 2009

First Word!

We have speech! Noah said his first recognizable word today - he repeated "cup" after I said it at lunchtime.

Benjamin clearly thinks this is the start of great things... our conversation went like this at lunch:

Me: Here's your cup.
Noah: Cuh!
Me: Did you say cup?
Noah: Cuh!
Me: Wow, good job, Noah! Cup!
Noah: Cuh! Cuh! (clapping)
Benjamin: Yogurt, Noah. Say yogurt! Yay Noah, you said yogurt!

(and a little later)
Benjamin: Noah, say chocolate pudding! Good job, Noah! Chocolate pudding!

Well... he can't quite say "yogurt" or "chocolate pudding" yet. Maybe next week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last of the southern photos, last of the sunshine

Did I mention how attached they are to their bulls here? Signs like these are common in towns in this area. Sadly, we never did get to see a "bull demonstration" during our stay. We'll have to come back sometime during tourist season.

The boys and I have been soaking up as much sunshine as we can while Frédéric is in class. The French weather station is predicting rain for Saturday, so I guess we will have the drive to reacclimate us to our dreary gray weather.




Frédéric's test is tomorrow - it lasts 7 hours, without a break. Then Saturday we drive back home, stopping in Lyon for lunch with the Hendrixes on our way. France goes on Daylight Saving Time this weekend, so I'm hoping that will help us in our quest to get the boys sleeping normally again. They've been waking earlier and earlier - Noah hit a new record with 5:30 this morning. Uggh. And he and Benjamin are not napping well, either. So I hope that losing an hour will at least get them closer to their former "normal" 8 am wake-up time, and that being in their own rooms with black-out shades will help them sleep better. I've got my fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Our last week in the south

We have really enjoyed it here, but are ready to go home after 3 months away. We had lunch today with friends in Montpellier. Benjamin liked looking at their turtles as long as he didn't have to get too close, and Noah was a ham, and did his best to make a liar out of Frederic who said Noah didn't like to eat anything other than baby food.

Here are a few pictures from today - this first one is one of the reasons I can't believe we didn't think to bring my dad's old camera. We would have had a much better zoom and gotten great pictures with it! We'll have to start remembering it when we travel. On the other hand, the car was so full on the way here, I'm not sure we could have fit an extra toothpick in, much less a camera + accessories. But still. This was the best I could do with the digital camera.

This is the bull statue in the middle of the traffic circle near our village here.

And the giant barbecue grill in the middle of the other traffic circle.

This is the train station of the town we are staying in. Train station? Or bus stop? We imagine the train probably only stops here in the summertime when there are more tourists around.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nîmes

Saturday, we had an errand to run in Nîmes, which is only about 30 minutes from where we are staying (that is, when you don't get lost looking for the shop you are trying to find, in which case it's an hour away). So we also walked around the arena:


But this was Benjamin's favorite part of Nîmes. He took his driving very seriously, too. Never cracked a smile once, kept his hands on the wheel, and his eyes on the motorcycle in front of him. It's true that you just can't trust those motorcycles in France.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

You know you are in France

when the menu says this:

That's "Macaroni & Cheese with Foie Gras". I like mac & cheese ok, and I like foie gras, but before you ask, no, we didn't try it. We just walked by the restaurant and I couldn't resist a picture. Sorry to disappoint!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saturday's Outing: the Odysseum

Saturday, in between Frederic making Noah's birthday cake, we went to Montpellier. On the way, we saw flamingos in the Camargue (those little white dots in the picture).

We went to a place called the Odysseum which looks, Frédéric says, like Disneyland for adults. There are a lot of restaurants, movie theaters, and shops. There is also a planetarium and an aquarium.

The tramway has a stop here. The tramway was under construction when I lived in Montpellier 11+ years ago.

It's a pedestrian area.

This is where we had lunch.

These are Montpellier's rental bikes. Several cities in France have instituted this system now. There is a meter where you rent the bike and can then unlock it and use it around town. You can return it at any other bike parking area.

We have 2 1/2 weeks left here. I packed one suitcase already (winter clothes - we don't need them here anymore! - and things the boys have outgrown in the 2.5 months we have been here). I guess I am more ready to get home than I'm letting on!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Noah!

Noah turned a year old today. I have no idea where the time has gone. This was a year ago (tomorrow, as the camera didn't make it to the hospital for his first day):

And today:


Frédéric made Noah's birthday cake yesterday, before and after our outing to Subway for lunch and then Ikea. Today we had lunch with Max & Prisca Dauner in Marseille, so they were forced to join in our festivities. (We didn't actually have to force very much, especially after they tasted Frédéric's cake, made with a recipe from my great-grandmother.)

After much explaining to Benjamin that the presents were only for Noah today, he finally seemed to understand and be ok with just opening Noah's presents for him. And then playing with them for him.

Noah was a bit fussy all afternoon since he doesn't really get a good nap on Sundays, but was happy with his presents and loooooved his cake and ice cream.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Giving as good as he gets

Noah is finally learning to stand up for himself... or something. He likes to get up on the couch when Benjamin is up there... and fall on him. Which makes Benjamin laugh hysterically.

Only three weeks left for us here. Frederic has one more test before the final exam, which is weighted double. He has to have an average of at least 80% to pass the training, but so far his grades are all above 93 so I'm not worried.

Frederic is a little bit homesick, but I'm not so much... I know all the work that is waiting for us at the house!