Sunday, January 31, 2010

If summer ever comes

I will stop posting pictures of the sky. Until then, I'm reveling in days like today, and need some tangible proof that this does happen here every now and again.

The boys and I went outside not once, but TWICE today, before nap, and after nap.


It was around 32°F outside, so we only stayed out for about an hour, but it was so nice to get out and enjoy the sunshine!

See, Benjamin's such a northerner that he doesn't know what to do with sunshine.


Noah isn't the only one who needs a haircut now, but when I talk to Benjamin about cutting his hair, he says, "I want Peggy to cut my hair so it doesn't hurt!" (Ouch, what does that say about my hair-cutting abilities?! I promise I only use the scissors on his hair, not on his head!)

When I told him Peggy lived far away, near Grandma and Grandad, he said, "I want to go live by Grandma and Grandad! And you come with me, and Noah, and Daddy." If only it were that easy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Vigesimal System: Hard Even for French People

As some of you may know, France uses a vigesimal system for numbers. That is, a base-20 system instead of a base-10 system like we normal people use.

Apparently, it's a hard concept even for them. I got this discount check in the mail today from a popular catalog company.

The written amount says "sixty-four," not "seventy-four," which would be "soixante-quatorze" or literally in English, "sixty-fourteen."

My French friend tells me it's the amount spelled out in words that takes precedence, so I guess it's not such a great deal as they'd like to make me think!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nothing but blue sky...

Finally!!! This is the sky over our house today - it's not gray!!

And here it is, the elusive sun itself! Ahhhhh. It's a little too cold out to go bask in its rays, but I'm basking as much as I can from inside.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Mom says I should write these down

so here are some of the things the boys have been saying lately.

Benjamin is a boy who loves structure. So for a while we could get him to do just about anything by explaining that "those are the rules." If it was a rule, he understood and would do it. Then he started making up his own rules...
"Oh, and I have to drink some milk, those are the rules!"

"You don't come here, Mommy. Those are the rules, Mommy."

"No more, Daddy, those are the rules, Daddy!" (upon Frédéric turning the water back on when Benjamin had already finished filling the tub)

"No feet on the table, those are the rules, Noah!"

"If you want TV, you have to pick one [DVD]. Those are the rules."

"If I am all done with my milk, I can have water for me."

"No sandwich in the cup."

"No swings in the mouth."

And one of his dinnertime favorites, which started out as us saying, "You have to try it, but if you don't like it, you don't have to eat it." He translated that into: "If you don't try it, you don't have to try it!"

Some other, more recent ones we've heard:
"Don't say that, that's rude!"

"I don't know what you're talking 'bout, Mommy."
Well, at least we know he's listening to us, right?

He also likes to show off his prowess in English/French translation:
    Me: How do you say "cow" in French?
    B: "La vache!"

    Me: How do you say "baby" in French?
    B: "Noah!"
And like many kids, Benjamin's having a hard time with him/her, himself/herself, and his/hers. The other day he came out with "Daddy is going to do it by daddy's-self." He hasn't quite gotten the connection yet, and says things like, "We say 'his,' because Noah is a baby!" Today's conversation also related back to those pronouns.
    Me: "Is Noah a boy or a girl?"
    B: "Boy!"
    Me: "Are you a boy or a girl?"
    B: "Boy!"
    Me: "Is Mommy a boy or a girl?"
    B: (hesitates) "Girl!"
    Me: "Is Daddy a boy or a girl?"
    B: "Daddy's big!"

And let's not forget Noah, who is definitely having his language explosion. He can repeat just about anything we say these days, but these are his favorite and most-often-used expressions:

"Whaaaaat?" (said in a surprised tone of voice)

[What are you] "Doing, Mommy?" (repeated every 7 seconds, ad infinitum, even if you answer every time)

[Where are you] "Going, Daddy?"

He didn't want to put his coat on the other day. I told him he had to put his coat on, because we had to go get Benjamin from school. He said, in true little brother style, "No more Ben!!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First kid's first year in school... first teachers' strike

Yes, that's right, Benjamin has been in preschool since September, and he came home from school with this yesterday:

It says:
"Chers parent[sic],
En raison d'un mouvement de grève, il n'y aura pas classe le jeudi 21 janvier."

Dear Parents,
Due to a strike, there will be no class Thursday, January 21st.


Proof that my child does indeed attend a very French school. What would a school year be without at least one strike? It's got that same sort of feeling as a snow day, minus the snow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ain't No Sunshine

Yes, that's right, another dreary French winter... and we are in the thick of it. We haven't seen the sun for more than a few minutes since we got home a month ago. We got a light dusting of snow last week that had mostly melted by that afternoon, so the bright spot in this gray weather is that it hasn't been cold enough for our pipes to refreeze yet.

Sure makes those sunny southern France days of last winter seem far away!

How much longer til spring??

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Welcome Home!

December 17th, we left my parents' house, and my mom drove us to Chicago to fly out. Sadly, Benjamin's Doudou (lovey) was left behind, unnoticed until we stopped for lunch.

Benjamin has been sleeping fine without him, but he hadn't forgotten about him. He would bring him up every few days, saying things like, "Tell Grandma to come visit us. And bring Doudou!"

My mom promptly mailed Doudou to us December 18th, and we waited, and waited, and waited for him to arrive. Finally, TWENTY-FOUR days later, when we had almost lost all hope (a special thank you to USPS and La Poste, for your super-efficient, light-speed holiday mail delivery!), Doudou has come home!

We let Benjamin open the envelope when he got home from school.

He was very pleased to find Doudou!


It was a joyful reunion.


Life may now resume its normal course, all is right in the world since Doudou has come home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping busy

is never a problem around here. It has been non-stop since we got home from the US. This little monster keeps us on our toes constantly:

but he did AMAZINGLY well at church on Sunday. He sat next to me on the pew and didn't even get wiggly til communion time, so that was at least 45 minutes if not an hour.

And yes, I am starting to think about cutting his hair... but you know, he's 22 months... so I'm thinking, why not hold out til 2, right? And I forgot to ask Peggy how to cut curly hair, and all the online videos I'm finding for cutting a boy's curly hair show you how to cut it SHORT, which is NOT what I'm looking for! So, the jury is still out, but I'll keep you posted.

We did a little re-arranging upstairs: turned Benjamin's bed back into the couch it's meant to be, but kept it in his room, and put the top bunk that was sitting on the landing into his room as his new tall bed.

Benjamin loves it, and this frees up a lot of space on the landing. One day, we'll think up something clever to do with that space. Suggestions are welcome. We thought Benjamin could bring some of his toys that are not Noah-friendly, like the Legos, or breakable things, upstairs and play with them there. So far that is a no-go because he doesn't like to play upstairs by himself, and if Noah's up there too, it sort of defeats the purpose.

Benjamin is thrilled to be back in school. They made a galette des rois for Epiphany last week (yes, in public school, they celebrate Epiphany. France is quite a split-personality kind of country - they insist on secularism, except when it's convenient to them not to).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You know it's winter when

you have to leave your front gate open because either the lock freezes and you can't open it, or too much ice has accumulated on the ground and it has to stay in either an open or shut position, it's no longer possible to move it.

It is cold! Temps fell to -9°C the other night (that's not quite 16°F for you American-types) and we learned to our dismay that pipes in France, with or without added insulation, are rated to withstand only -7°C (19.5°F) for 72 hours. We weren't the only ones in the village to have frozen washing machine pipes, apparently, although we may have been the only ones with frozen hot water pipes. Perhaps moving the water heater to the garage wasn't as good of an idea as it seemed at the time.

Frederic was able to thaw the pipes after several hours of working on them with a hairdryer, a radiator, and the clothes dryer vent. The plumber saw no reason for our pipes not to withstand this cold if they didn't have a problem last winter, when it got down to -21°C (-6°F) -- but we weren't home last winter and our water was turned off, so we weren't here to find out. Incidentally, that was a great year to be not home, with those temperatures!

On the bright side, we haven't had any more snow lately despite the dire predictions by the weathermen.

Thanks to Aunt Claire and Uncle Curtis for Christmas #5! We may have a record this year for number of Christmases. It works out really nicely, though, because the boys have plenty of time to enjoy each new gift rather than being overwhelmed all at once and some falling by the wayside.

Benjamin loves his book of stickers, and Noah really enjoys his book about animals.

I should probably take down our Christmas tree sometime soon, now that we are a third of the way through January.