Saturday, October 29, 2011

Toussaint Vaction = Catching up on Visiting

The boys were on school vacation for a week and a half for La Toussaint (All Saints' Day). Our "vacation" turned very busy towards the end, when we caught up on the visiting we didn't have time for this summer.

Friday we drove two hours, south of Paris, to spend the day with Frédéric's aunt and uncle. We usually try to visit them in the summer, but they and we were so busy this year that our summer visit was the end of October.

The boys' cousin Nina was there, too, and the three of them ran around like whirling dervishes when they weren't eating.

The boys learned how to blow up balloons (oh, joy).

See? Dervishes. Couldn't even be still for a picture.
This picture is nothing short of miraculous, with all three kids facing the camera at the same time and smiling. Please appreciate it for the amazing art that it is.

With the crazy traffic around Paris, it took us almost three hours to get back home, which goes a long way towards explaining why this particular visit usually happens once a year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A little bit more Halloween

In preparing for the Halloween show-and-tell and Benjamin's school, I read that the Irish used to carve turnips; pumpkins didn't come into vogue until Halloween made it across the ocean to America.

I didn't manage it in time for the school presentation, but Frédéric didn't think I could do it, so I had to attempt to prove him wrong.

The grocery store only had teeny turnips, but I did manage it.
The hardest part was massacring the tea light to make it small enough to fit inside.
Noah's jack o'lantern... which I kind of think looks like him.

Benjamin's jack o'lantern
And all three together.
And here is my confession: I'm sort of glad they don't do Halloween here, because that means I don't have to figure out costumes!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gymnastics: Year Two

We signed both boys up for gymnastics again this year. We were going to limit to one sport each, but Benjamin was pretty disappointed seeing Noah get to do gymnastics while he had to just watch, so we gave in and let them both sign up. It is amazing the progress they can make so quickly. It seems like they are able to do more things just from one classtime to the next.

Snake-crawling on the round things.
Trying to learn to do flips in the rings - need a little help with this one still.

Walking on the balance beam while twirling a baton.

Or just holding the baton.

Swinging on the bar.

Doing rabbit jumps.

Waiting for warm-ups.

More swinging on the bar.

And cooling down on the parachute at the end.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Early Halloween

Benjamin's teacher asked me to come talk to the kids about Halloween, since I'm the token American. I agreed (still don't know how to say "no" to anyone, plus I feel like we need to "prove" that we aren't just blowing off school even though we are taking the boys out for 10 days to go to the US in November). We had to do it this week, since now the kids are on "All Saints' Day Vacation" until November 3rd.

So Thursday, the boys helped me prepare by carving their pumpkins. (Or whatever the heck kind of squashes these are, some translation sites say "chestnut flavored pumpkin.") I went to two different grocery stores and the vegetable market, and didn't find anything better than these. Anyway, they were pretty small, but we managed.

Then yesterday, I dressed up as a witch to go talk to his class. I told them a little bit about the origins of Halloween, and we talked about costumes, and decorations, and games. I showed them some pictures of pumpkin patches, kids dressed up in costumes, and carved jack o'lanterns. Then I read them a Halloween story a friend sent us last year.

And then we got to the best part - pumpkin cookies!

Benjamin did NOT like my witch's hat. It had black and white hair attached to it, which he insisted I cut off, and he thought that was a *little* better. I painted my fingernails blue, and he did NOT care for that either.

But he did finally warm up to the hat:

And he was very pleased about me coming to his school... the evening before, we had this conversation in the car:

Benjamin: I am very lucky, because my mommy knows ALL about Halloween. The other kids are not lucky. I am lucky times a thousand.
Me: Well, maybe their mommies know about other things I don't know about.
Benjamin, thinking: Christmas? Do you know about Christmas?
Me: Well, yes...
Benjamin: You know EVERYthing!

Ahhhh I am going to savor that one for a long time! Maybe I should print it up and frame it, and just point it out to him when he gets to be a teenager.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Swimming Lessons

Benjamin has three more swimming lessons left; after that, he either goes on to more lessons, or can join the swim team. Here he is a couple of lessons ago:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who says the French have no sense of humor?

Oh, that's right, usually I say that. Well, the workers who are patching up our roads after whatever work they've been doing on the water system have hereby proved me wrong. See for yourself:

I trust that those of you who have been here will get the joke without explanation.

For those who haven't had the pleasure yet, let me just tell you that this, the main road through our village, *is* a two-way street, but is only wide enough for one car. So just what the heck are we merging into? How is it even possible?

See? French joke.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary to us!

Frédéric and I celebrate 11 years of wedded bliss today! And much like that day we were married 11 years ago, this day is much nippier than we expected. So we celebrated by starting up the wood-burning stove with the first fire of the season.

Frédéric also celebrated by going to work, and I also celebrated by taking the boys to gymnastics. Maybe in another nine or so years we can actually go out on our anniversary. In the meantime, here is to many more happy years ahead of us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Indian Summer

Well - I didn't get any pictures of Indian summer, but it was nice for the few days that it lasted. Perfect for some more yard clean-up, I think I filled up 20-30 bags of hedge clippings, weeds, and branches, and Frédéric hauled them off to the dump. All that clean-up makes a nice, large space for the vegetable garden next year.

Fall (winter?!) showed up this morning, with that nip in the air that almost bit my nose off when I poked it out the front door to check whether we needed jackets today. (We didn't, we needed coats!)

With fall comes my very first seasonal decorating foray ever, enabled by our local store that sells other stores' leftover odds and ends, where we found five jack-o-lantern tealights for 50 cents, and this fall wreath for 75 cents. It said "Wilkommen" on the banner, but not being German-speakers, we changed it to "happy fall!" instead.

Benjamin wants to make some decorations for his room, too, so we'll see what he comes up with. He seems to know quite a lot about Halloween, and I'm not really sure how since we don't talk about it, or celebrate it here other than by carving jack-o-lanterns.

School vacation is coming up for both boys in a couple of weeks. Whom do I write to in order to get Thanksgiving break at Thanksgiving, instead of at All Saints' Day? Who made up this crazy school vacation calendar, anyway?