Thursday, December 30, 2010

Third Christmas

We ended up with a white Christmas despite my hopes to the contrary.

Nothing short of a Christmas miracle... two boys sitting on the couch together, being nice, rather than trying to start WWIII all on their own.
Our third Christmas began the evening of the 25th with the arrival of our friends, Chris, Isabelle, Julia and Chloe Burkholder, and Isabelle's mom, Marie-Josée. Benjamin and Noah were dismayed to have to go to bed before they arrived, but they all got in plenty of play time the next day.

And more presents! Who doesn't like more presents?

And snow. We couldn't let the entire visit go by without at least one romp in the snow.

We love having the Burkholders over, among other reasons because their girls are so close in age to our boys. All the kids played well together. While we wait for a larger dining room table, the coffee table worked out pretty well as a kids' table.

Noah and Chloe played their own version of Connect 4, consisting of putting checkers in anywhere they felt like, and Noah calling out, "I won!" after a while regardless of the checkers' configuration.

Storytime with Isabelle.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, continued...

Since Frédéric was unable to go to work on Christmas Eve due to snow, and he had to work on Christmas day, we had our family Christmas a little bit early. We started with stockings
and then moved on to very exciting presents

which we of course then had to try out.

Now we are waiting for our friends the Burkholders to come visit us for a few days, before we head off to Germany to see our friends the Hummels.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas started the 21st this year, when Frédéric's brother and nieces came over.

The snow continued during the week, so the kids continued to have a good time playing outside. The earlier snow had melted some, so with the latest snowfall we are only at 19 cm (7 1/2 inches) now. We got an extra day with Frédéric at home when he made it halfway to work on Friday and had to turn around and come back due to trucks being all over the road (and not in places they were supposed to be).

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Next Ice Age and the Village Christmas Party

Last night Frédéric measured our snowfall, and it was up to 32 cm (just over 12.5 inches, for the standard-measurement-inclined among us). Wow! We have never had that much snow here before.
We were still able (barely) to make it out to gymnastics on Saturday, and then down to the village Christmas party for the kids that afternoon. After being unable to get the car into the driveway after the Christmas party, I called Frédéric at work to tell him to come home early, before the roads got worse. He made it without too much trouble, and the snow got worse after that. By Sunday the roads were totally impassable despite the best efforts of our dedicated municipal employee, so Frédéric was unable to go to work that afternoon, and we were unable to make it to church Sunday morning.

The boys have been taking full advantage of the snow:

and making snow angels.
As I mentioned, Saturday afternoon was the village Christmas party. Every year some of our local taxes comes back to our kids in the form of a Christmas party and gifts from le Père Noël. Frédéric had to work this year and miss the fun. The village "Comité des fêtes" (volunteers who head up village activities throughout the year) did a short play for the kids about le Père Noël's reindeer being ill - fortunately they found some mice to pull his sleigh, so Christmas was not lost.

Then the kids got a snack, the adults got coffee, and finally, the moment they were anxiously awaiting:

presents from le Père Noël! Noah was terrified of the Père Noël at gymnastics, but had no issues with this one, he couldn't wait for his turn.

They were both very pleased with their gifts. Benjamin got a "Cuisto Dingo" game ("Goliath Pop the Pig" in the U.S.), and Noah got a book with 365 Disney stories, and a stuffed "Stitch."

And I made Christmas cookies today (thanks, Mom) to share with Frédéric's brother and nieces who are coming over tomorrow.

and thus begins the Christmas season... but I'm hoping for a green Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And more snow

It snowed again on Wednesday - school wasn't disrupted since there is no school on Wednesdays anyway. Thursday there was no bus service (the bus is completely useless anyway since the bus stop is a 10-15 minute walk away, so that made no difference to us) and no school lunch, but school wasn't cancelled. We did take Benjamin in, but I guess they just had a play-day since so many were absent.

Mini-snowman was feeling a bit dizzy from all the snow.
Frédéric helped the boys make a daddy-sized snowman, which Benjamin said was the grandad snowman. Benjamin was not best pleased when Frédéric made the snowman have a smiling face, because "the grandad snowman is mean."

He even got a traditional carrot nose since we neglected to ever finish harvesting our carrots before our trip.
Mini-snowman found a spiky-haired friend.
But then mini-snowman's friend got tired and decided to take a nap.
It might amaze many of you to see how little snow it takes to paralyze a country that isn't prepared for it. In St Louis, they'd have been out salting the roads the night before, and snowplows would start their rounds practically as soon as the snow started falling. Here in our area, they get snow like this (two or three inches) once or twice a year, which I guess they don't think is often enough to justify the expense of salt trucks or snowplows.

Our municipal employee is very efficient about getting our village plowed out, though!

The boys and I put up our Christmas tree Friday afternoon and decorated the mantel. We are ready for Christmas now!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Snow, snow, go away

So, we drove up to Chicago on Sunday to fly out. It was coooold and snowy in Chicago, as it usually seems to be when we head home.
We again had the pleasant surprise of being upgraded on our way back, this time before we boarded the plane so no one had to jealously stare at us walking up the aisle.
We had heard about the snowstorms paralyzing France a few days earlier, but things weren't so bad when we got home. We figured it was much ado about nothing... At least, until the next day...

I took Benjamin to school Tuesday morning, and picked him up for lunch... and then this:
turned into this: in an hour... the road had at least an inch or two on it, so I decided not to take him back in the afternoon. His disappointment lasted right up until Frédéric took them outside to build a snowman and try out Benjamin's skis:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Early Birthday to Benjamin

Benjamin's will be 5 years old in a few more days, but as we've done most years, we celebrated his birthday early again this year so we could have family and friends around to celebrate with us in the U.S.

After suggesting many ideas of what he wanted for his birthday cake (steam shovel, tractor, shark, truck, car, castle with princesses, and dinosaur, among others), Benjamin finally settled on a car. A pink car, with pink flowers. Which he later decided to make a blue car, with a pink flower.

His wish was our in-house baker's command, so here is what he got:

We had a great day with family and friends, some of whom we hadn't seen for years and years.

As has also been tradition in the past few years, we follow up Benjamin's birthday party with an early family Christmas.

That all made for a lot of excitement the day before our trip back home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Long Overdue Kidless Vacation

Frédéric and I took advantage of being in the US and having my parents around to celebrate our 10th anniversary with a kid-free vacation. And to all those who said we'd miss the kids.... all I can say is, not in only four days, we didn't.

We went to Silver Dollar City Saturday night... not the best time to see the park after not having been there for 20+ years, because despite the Christmas lights everywhere and the streetlights that must have been for show only, we couldn't see much of anything. It wasn't easy to get our bearings in the dark, and apparently all the locals show up for the parade or Christmas light show or something, so there were people everywhere.

Sunday morning we attempted to attend cowboy church, but the traffic on "the strip" was awful, and the GPS sent us to the cemetery instead of the theater... by the time we finally found it we were too late to be fashionable so we gave it a miss instead.

We went back to Silver Dollar City that afternoon, and found it much more pleasant in the daytime, not to mention easier to find our way around.

We also took advantage of that time to finish our Christmas shopping, with no little people around to slow us down, and no little people's schedules to work around.

Maybe we'll get to do another mini-vacation like that before our 20th anniversary. Yeah, probably not. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!