Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Yule Log

I completely forgot to show off Frédéric's Yule Log. He made it for us for Christmas dinner, as is his tradition. Yum! No snow on the ground this year for Christmas, but at least we got some on the yule log.

Noah couldn't wait to dig in!

And a sign that my children are French in their tastes... both adore foie gras, and Noah prefers to scrape it off his toast and eat it with a spoon, pure and unadulterated.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pierrefonds

Some "internet friends" came to visit us this weekend with their 2 daughters, who are close to Benjamin's and Noah's ages. This was our first time to meet them "in real life," but we are all getting along great and having a fun time.

Yesterday, we took them to Pierrefonds to see the castle.

Well, the actual castle is a tad larger than that. We lucked out weather-wise; the heavy rain didn't start to fall until after we arrived home.

There was a Monduit lead workshop exhibit in part of the castle. The Monduit workshops are where the Statue of Liberty was made.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Early Christmas

As happens once every few years, Frédéric had both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off work this year. So it could have been a "normal" Christmas for us. But on December 22nd this year, I started wondering why we had to wait til the 24th to open presents, since it was just going to be the four of us here at home, and all the presents were ready and waiting.

So we stopped waiting for the 24th, and had early Christmas. The boys were thrilled.


They got pretty good at their "Cheese!" faces.



Benjamin opened this present and remembered that we had bought the same for his cousin Alex. He was very pleased to get one of his own... and since then, we have wondered what ever possessed us to buy him a toy with which he could build a catapult... we can't even blame that on obnoxious aunts or uncles. Though I suppose Ryan and Christine can!


Frédéric got to build most of Noah's Meccano set by himself, but Noah loves to play with the finished product.
And here we are, building the catapult!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chantilly

This week, we went to visit Linda, a lady we met at Pierrefonds back in August when my parents were visiting. She works with a mission group in Chantilly.

After a delicious lunch, we went to the Chantilly stables, but found to our dismay that both the stables and the castle were closed on Tuesdays. So we admired the castle from the outside.


We also visited the Chantilly church.

They had a nice crèche set up inside. You'll see that the manger is empty; baby Jesus only shows up on Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday to Benjamin!

We celebrated Benjamin's 6th birthday Saturday. Normally we celebrate in the US, with our family there, but since we returned to France before December this year, it was just *too* early for that. So we decided to allow Benjamin to invite some of his school friends over to celebrate with him.

He was a little disappointed that we had to limit his list to only kids whose parents we knew at least by sight, but we ended up inviting four kids from school, and Frédéric's friend's two kids, so with our two there were eight altogether, which was a good number.

We were kind of amazed that some of the parents just dropped their kids off, since we don't know any of them all that well. One mom did stay, though, and she was the one who did the face-painting at the school party. She offered to paint the kids' faces, and we gladly accepted.

Benjamin was enraptured with all of his presents, which included a solar system floor puzzle, Bakugans, Gormitis, and a puzzle-game called Tipover.


If that is not enraptured, I don't know what is.
After months of telling us he wanted an Astérix and Obélix cake, at the last minute (as in, just before I would have had to order Astérix and Obélix pans online), Benjamin decided he wanted a soccer ball cake instead. Fortunately, we were still in the US, so we hied ourselves to Michael's to buy a soccer ball pan. And Frédéric made this amazing cake (feel free to admire my contribution, the beautiful lettering, as well):

Benjamin was sorely disappointed that we had the kids sing happy birthday to him in French rather than in English.

But he got over it in time to blow out the candles.

Despite some of the parents' unwillingness to stay for the party, we did entice one set of them in for coffee after the party, so it wasn't a total failure as far as getting to know some of the parents a little bit better.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

School Christmas Party

Friday was the boys' Christmas party at school. We graciously allowed Noah to attend in the afternoon so he wouldn't miss the party. (Wasn't that generous of us? And totally selfless.)

Since we (and by we, I mean Frédéric) made Benjamin's school birthday cake the same day, he got to share it with all three schools - kids ranging in age from preschool up through 5th grade, and all 70 or so of them sang happy birthday to him.


One of the moms did some face painting. Noah made an adorable little cat.

And one of the dads made balloon creations for the kids.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas #1: in the Village

As happens every year, the village "comité des fêtes" threw a Christmas party for the kids and the elderly of our village.

We suddenly knew a lot more people this year than in years past, thanks to the boys going to school. That made things much more comfortable.

The kids got a giant plate of snacks and a drink, the adults got coffee and pastries or clementines, and the elderly guests got champagne with their snacks.

Then on to the skit. This year it was about a little girl whose mother didn't have time to sing Christmas carols with her, so the audience helped her out with the words (and we discovered why French people are so enthralled to hear our church sing a cappella... confidently and in tune), and with the help of a little elf, she gave her mother a magical gift that made her realize she should spend more time with her daughter. The kids sang Jingle Bells ("Vive le Vent") with her at the end, very à propos since Benjamin had just had to learn it for school that week.

But then.... the moment they had all been waiting for... the arrival of the Père Noël!

Benjamin got a new Meccano set.

And Noah got a box of games.

Both were pleased with their presents (at least, they were once we explained to Benjamin that you can't have too many Meccano sets; the more you have, the bigger things you can build, right?!) - and we were pleased that we had some semblance of conversations with other people instead of sitting around like pieces of furniture like we usually do!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Circus

So right about now I'm eating my words about not going to the circus again, because we went last weekend. It was, as last time we went, part of Air France's Christmas present to the kids. This was a different circus than last time, though, and we had a much better time. Parking was not as nightmarish as the other one, and we were in front of the circle, but the performers did a better job remembering they were performing in a circle, too, and didn't exclude the audience on the sides.

I think European clowns look quite a bit different than American clowns.

I did not know they still did human cannonballs, but they do.

We told the boys that if they continued in gymnastics, they could do this some day. (He was going up and down the stairs on his hands.) They said, "No."

They both enjoyed it, though even the circus was not enough to keep Noah entranced. Benjamin wasn't scared of the camels this time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

How will his teacher like this one?

First graders do a lot of poetry memorization here. Every week or two, Benjamin comes home with a new poem he has to learn and then recite in class. This week, in the spirit of Christmas, he brought home a poem about Santa Claus.

It was supposed to start something like this:
    "If I were Santa Claus,
    And if I were tired,
    I would like to rest in a big stork's nest (nid de cigogne)."

But when Benjamin recites it, he says this:
    "If I were Santa Claus,
    And if I were tired,
    I would like to rest in a big bed of cigars (lit de cigares)."

Personally, I think his way is much funnier.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Too Old for Jet Lag

Yes, I am. Or too Work-at-Home, perhaps. This is day 7, and I am still exhausted. The boys have school, so they're adjusting more easily, and Frédéric basically lives in permanent jet lag because of his work schedule, so it's not really any different for him.

It could be because I keep giving in to the extraordinarily strong gravitational pull of my bed, and napping when I'm "not supposed to." Or because my dear, sweet husband gets up and gets the kids off to school and lets me sleep in til 11 am (!! have not done that since... high school? college?).

Either way... today, I stand victorious, having arisen at 9 am, and not having napped all day long. Well, stand may not be quite the right word, I'm a little drowsy here at 7:40 pm. More like I slump victorious over my desk.

Slump might be optimistic, though; sort of gives the impression I might be able to perk up. I think if I'm awake enough to drag myself off to my bed before too long, I'll be doing well.

Maybe it is not the work-at-homeness, though, maybe it is the having-to-deal-with-kids-while-utterly-jet-lagged. Maybe I should declare a moratorium on overseas travel until I can come home to a nanny who can take over until I am fully recovered.

At any rate... hoping today's triumph over The Nap is leading me in the right direction, and that in a few days I'll feel slightly more normal again... (just in time for the kids' Christmas break, right... oh dear.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All good things come to an end

As did our trip home. Fortunately, the good things lasted a little bit longer thanks to the absolutely marvelous Delta gate agent in Detroit who wangled an upgrade for us for our trip home, so we had more room than we would have had in coach. My favorite part - no one's head leaning back in front of my face for me to dry shampoo or pick nits out of, thanks to the hard shell seats in Premium Voyageur class.

Noah even slept for almost the entire flight!


We haven't had to fly coach internationally for the last four years... we are going to weep the day we have to travel back with the commoners again! In the meantime, if any airline representatives are reading this... THIS is what coach SHOULD be like! Maybe I should appeal to PETA, they are against caged animals, right? What is worse than 300+ humans caged-up for 7+ hours?