Saturday, March 27, 2010

Planting Time!

It was wet out today but Benjamin was dying to use his very own gardening tools he got yesterday, so our all-weather gardeners braved the elements today to plant carrots. Which reminds me that we need to buy rain/mud boots for Noah.

The carrots are replacing tomatoes in this spot this year. The tomatoes will be up the hill on the other side of the yard. I guess that means I'll have to put shoes on to harvest them this year instead of just slippers since I won't be able to reach them from the patio.

Hard at work with his purple spade.

Noah was in charge of watering. I'm not sure how this worked, I only know that Benjamin changed his shirt when he came inside because his other one was all wet.

Two gardeners having a conference about carrot seeds.

I'm not sure you can tell in the picture, but Noah was spreading dirt in exactly the same way that Frédéric was spreading carrot seeds.

Monday, March 22, 2010

in which we discuss Robots, Brooms, Dinosaurs, and Yard Work

Here is photo proof that Noah is no longer afraid of Toby the Robot, and has in fact made friends with him. You can also see that I didn't cut *all* his hair off.

Benjamin loves to sweep the floor for us. We need to get him a set of gardening tools this summer so he can help us outside.

And he makes great play-doh dinosaurs. I'm not sure if someone at school showed him how, or he came up with it himself. I'm guessing school, but since all he says he does at school is "play and color," it's hard to know for sure.
Spring is on its way, and with spring comes yardwork! Frederic got the urge the other day to start attacking the hedges behind the house and pull down the vine that had climbed up in the tree at the back corner of the yard. He even chopped down the hideous giant hedge/bush/tree/thing, which should open up the yard a lot, and allow him sunshine to put his vegetable garden up the hill this year, leaving the side yard free enough for the boys to play in.

Here's a "before" picture.

And "after," or perhaps "during."
There is still a pile of branches to be mulched, and the rest of the shrub to be removed. We'd also like to take out some of the sheds. I'd like to move the one wooden one up the hill and clear out all that space in the back, but I don't know if that's doable or not. It is definitely an ongoing project to get our yard the way we want it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pretty Flowers and More Rules

I think the blog has been a bit Noah-concentrated lately. (Only fair, since it was necessarily Benjamin-concentrated the first year of its existence.) I'm sure you're all wondering what Benjamin is up to, though. (Sorry, Noah, such is life for the second child.)

Benjamin went on his second field trip yesterday, to the puppet theater. It was an afternoon field trip, so we brought him to school for it even though he doesn't normally attend in the afternoons like the other kids. His teacher didn't miss the chance to tell us what a great time Benjamin had coming to school in the afternoon (hint, hint). We're not taking the bait, unless his teacher wants to take Benjamin home with him after school and deal with the meltdowns that inevitably take place after no nap and overstimulation. I'll spare you last night's drama, but drama at bedtime there was indeed.

* * * * *

Today it was a little warmer out, so Frédéric took the boys out to play. Benjamin brought me some "flowers" in from the yard.

"Mommy, mommy! I'm bringing you some flowers because they are very pretty! Look, are they pretty, Mommy? They are very pretty!"

I accordingly praised their prettiness and found them a place of honor right in the middle of my desk. Later, from the hallway, I hear Benjamin call:
"Mommy, are you keeping your flowers, because they're in your office, because they're very pretty?"

Jordan says he's probably so insistent about their prettiness because he's trying to make up for something bad he did. If so, I don't want to know.

* * * * *

We had the following exchange a few days ago - Benjamin is still making the rules:

Me: (whistling)
B: (indignantly) What did I just said?!?
Me: Um... (thinking back) I don't know. What did you just say?
B: I said, you stop singing in the house. We don't sing in the house. We only sing in the car!!

Huh. I wasn't aware of that rule. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so I guess it's a good thing he let me know.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm Finally Becoming French.

I've had my citizenship for over 5 years now. And yet in some ways, I'll never be totally French...

* I'm not a big fan of cheese.
* I prefer Coke to wine. Dr Pepper? Even better.
* I still make "le" and "la" mistakes on a regular basis.
* I don't think root beer tastes like medicine.
* I'll never see the appeal of the movie Les Bronzés or the actor Louis de Funès, and I don't appreciate what passes for "French humor."

BUT... I think I've made great strides towards embracing my citizenship now that I am the proud owner of this:

That's right, a yogurt-maker.

My French friend tells me that makes me a French woman in the '60s, but I'll take what I can get.

So far we've made chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla yogurt. I don't actually like yogurt, so I leave the eating of it to the males of the house, but it's very easy to make, will save us a little bit of money, and we won't be stuck with the weird flavors like coconut or banana they stick in commercial packs of yogurt.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Biting the bullet

I know some people think this has been a long time coming... and I did give Benjamin his first haircut at 17 months old... but I just couldn't bear to part with the baby curls. But since I could do this:

and he is 2 years old now, hardly a baby anymore, I admit, it was probably time. So I bit the bullet, took some before pictures:

and started snipping.

I'm not sure if you can tell in the pictures, but I did leave the back longer so I didn't have to cut off ALL of the curls. I just cut enough to keep it out of his face.

He doesn't look much like a baby anymore....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday, Noah!

It's been two years since we unsuspectingly welcomed this cute little tornado into our family. I guess we should have realized he was already showing his busy, active little personality when he decided to show up 5 days before his scheduled arrival by c-section. He's always been in a hurry, and now at 2 is fully into the independent, do-it-myself stage.

Yesterday we celebrated our having survived the past two years Noah's birthday with some friends from church. We all enjoyed one of Frédéric's fabulous meals, all the kids played well together, and the boys behaved amazingly well after only a nap on the drive home from church. It was a great day.

Everyone oohed and ahhed over Frédéric's amazing cake. I oohed and ahhed over his amazing cake, and the fact that he managed to find time to finish it, with crazy hours Friday and Saturday, leaving him little time to work on it.

Leftover laminate flooring that doesn't match anything in our house makes a great train cake board. I knew we'd been saving that for some reason.

Noah was very pleased with most of his gifts... but was not sure at all about Toby the talking robot.

He stared at him distrustfully for a few minutes before slipping out the back of the folding chair and running away to the living room, leaving the rest of his unopened gifts behind.

Some of the other gifts met with more immediate approval, once we convinced him to come back.

He did start to warm up to Toby later, once he saw the other kids playing with the robot and not sustaining any bodily harm.

Cashew update: Noah saw the allergist Saturday. She did a skin sensitivity test on his arm and he showed no allergies to cashews, pistachios, peanuts, cats, or dust. So either it's an intolerance or it was a random one-off, but we won't be testing either theory any time soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"I will, I will!"

At almost 2, Noah is becoming an avid reader. He of course copies everything Benjamin does, so a while back when he realized Benjamin always went to pick out a book before bed, he started doing so also. If we say it is bedtime, he runs to the living room saying, "Get book! Get book!"

When he goes down for a nap or bedtime, we read him his chosen book, and then he says, "Read self!" and reads it again in his crib. Sometimes he will tell us he's done; sometimes we have to pry it out of his hands so he will go to sleep.

Today when I put him down for his nap, he was reading "train book" (any Thomas the Train book will fit the bill when he asks for a "train book," he's not particular). I was doing other things upstairs and heard him reading to himself:
- Catch me! Catch me! Go, go! I will, I will!

These are lines from one of his Thomas books. Not the one he was reading, but close enough, right?

Belgian comic book Tintin is also a favorite of both boys. Frédéric has a collection of these and reads them a few pages before they go to bed. I understand neither the appeal nor how to read a comic book aloud, so these remain firmly in Frédéric's domain.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring? Really?

Well, maybe not quite yet, but the windstorm Sunday blew all the nasty cold, gray weather away and brought us sunshine and low 50°s! I'm not sure it's going to last, so we took advantage of it to go outside today.

The boys played with their ride-on truck and scooter, Frédéric tried to keep them out of trouble, and I started on the sisyphean task of cleaning out the planters in the retaining wall.

Less than a week until we celebrate this one's second birthday - we have a whole schedule in place to get everything done. It's a little complicated since we'll be having lunch with friends at our house on Sunday, we don't get home from church until 1:30 or 2 pm normally, and Frédéric works up through Saturday this week. But I'm sure we'll get it all figured out!

Monday, March 1, 2010

This is why we did not go to church yesterday.

Météo France had put out a orange warning about high winds starting Saturday night and lasting through most of the day on Sunday.
With winds from 100-150 km/h (60-90 mph), this was the most violent windstorm France has had since December 26, 1999 (also a Sunday, and I chose not to go to church that day either).

At least 47 people lost their lives in the windstorm yesterday, due to quick-rising water on the Atlantic coast, a dam bursting in the Charente-Maritime region, and falling trees.

500,000 homes are still without electricity this morning. We were fortunate; our electricity blinked on and off for about 30 minutes before finally going out around noon, but it was back on again by about 2 pm. No trees fell on our house, either, thank goodness. Our neighbor does have a tree down in his yard, though.

Today is sunny, clear and calm, and our tulips have started to come up. We're hoping spring will be here soon.