Thursday, May 24, 2012

Noah, Noah

The other day, Frédéric and I were talking about his potential work trip to London (which has since been cancelled). I was adding up how much it would cost for the boys and me to go with him. Then I realized that in my calculations, I had only counted one adult and one kid.

Noah was in the kitchen, and seemingly à propos of nothing, said, "Mommy, I want to go with you."

Me: Huh? Go where? What are you talking about?
Noah: Because you talked about one 'dult and one kid.
Me: (understanding dawning) Ohhh. No, no, if we go, we will take two boys, we won't take just one boy to London.
Noah: Yeah, because Benjamin would be so sad.

* * * *

Benjamin came running to me in tears the other day because Noah had torn a little foam car of his in half.

I chastised Noah...

Me: Noah, did you break Benjamin's car?
Noah: Yes.
Me: That was not nice. What do you say to Benjamin?
Noah: I'm sorry, Be-jamin.
Me: Are you going to do that again?
Noah: No, because it's already broken.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Literal Child

Benjamin did his Lego puzzle the other day. When he was done, he called me to come look at it.
"Um... I think you forgot a piece," I told him.
"No, I did it like it says," he informed me.

Monday, May 21, 2012


We've enjoyed visits from our friends the Monnoyeurs quite a bit recently, as they search for a vacation home in our area. (We think it is kind of great that we get to live in a place where people buy vacation homes.) They came by Sunday afternoon to see a few more houses, and the kids got to have a picnic on the lawn before we went house hunting.
Couldn't get everyone looking the same way and smiling, of course, but these pictures are more true to life anyway, right?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Longpont Flea Market

Thursday was Ascension... one of the many holidays that gave rise to this motto: "France: We will defend our secularism to the death, as long as you don't touch our religious holidays!" The boys had school on Wednesday to make up for the schools doing "the bridge" on Friday. "Le pont" is what they call it when you have a Tuesday or Thursday holiday and take the adjoining Monday or Friday off as well to "bridge" to or from the weekend.

So on Ascension Thursday, we went to the Longpont flea market in the morning with our friends.

The boys love going places with our friends, who are more generous than we are, so they got to ride the carousel.

We spent a whopping thirty centimes on a toy tractor for Noah. Benjamin didn't find anything he wanted for thirty centimes, so he got to take his money home to his piggy bank.
While the boys and Frédéric rested after lunch, I spent the afternoon looking at houses with our friends, who are searching for a vacation home in our area.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Everyone Needs a Hobby

Some people collect bottle caps. Some people go hiking. Some people read. We tear our house apart.

We do usually wind up putting it back together eventually, though.

The latest in a long series of completed and yet-to-be completed projects is the entryway wall. It took a bit of discussion to figure out what we wanted to do with it. We had removed the wallpaper long ago, and more recently, we removed the dining room doors and shortened the wall.

We decided to keep the bottom of the wall so we'd have somewhere to put the couch that was not the middle of the entryway. And we figured we'd do better to leave part of the top in order to retain some semblance of structural integrity (no worries, though, it's not a load-bearing wall). I suggested arches, and Frédéric was not convinced, but agreed anyway.

It started out like this.

And went through several stages.

And it took several months.

But finally, it ended up like this just before our most recent round of company arrived (nothing like company to give you some extra motivation to get things finished!)
And we love it!

On to the next project... well, maybe we'll just take a little nap first.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Eggs Did Not Beat Me, or, Happy Birthday, Frédéric

For Frédéric's birthday, I decided to make him an angel food cake. After thirty minutes of beating egg whites, I called him to ask how long it should take for the egg whites to form stiff peaks. (Remember, he is normally the cook and baker, not me. His birthday is the one day a year that he gets a break. At least on making the cake.) He said, "Um, ten or fifteen minutes?" I laughed at him.

After an hour, I wondered if I should give up and just see what happened if I made the cake with soupy egg whites. Yet I perservered. After an hour and a half, I thought I could see the consistency changing a bit, maybe these eggs weren't going to let me down after all! After almost two hours, I finally obtained this:
Not *quite* stiff peaks, but close enough. Keep in mind this was done with our mixer, whose directions instruct us to not use it continuously for more than two or three minutes. Happily, the two hours of beating don't appear to have burned the motor out.

I also don't have a Bundt pan. (Note to self: Pick up a Bundt pan on the next trip home.) But I do have a pan with a hole in the middle, making the cake look more like a giant donut than anything else, especially once I added the glaze.

But with strawberries added as decoration, it almost looks like a real cake!

At any rate, it tasted like a real cake! Happy birthday, Frédéric! The boys and I went to a flea market today and picked him up a Tintin comic book he didn't already have as his present.

Big City Culture Shock

Tuesday was a holiday, "End of the War in Europe 1945" Day, generally just called "le 8 mai." We took advantage of the mid-week holiday to go visit Frédéric's cousin in Puteaux, near Paris and La Défense. Driving through La Défense, right next to the skyscrapers, was pretty intimidating after six years in the country!
(photo courtesy of Simdaperce, from Wikipedia)

After a wrong turn (even with the GPS) - we missed a left-hand exit in a tunnel, talk about complicated - we found our way to the right address, and managed to park only a block and a half away. Yes, city life is not for us!

But we ended up with reasonably good weather, so after lunch, we took the boys and their cousin, Nina, out to the park, which has a view of the Eiffel Tower.
The boys had a great time playing tag, hide-and-seek, playing on the playground, and riding around on Nina's scooter.

Noah learned the joy of drinking water from the pump, and drenched himself in the process. Benjamin refused to try, despite being "sooo thirsty," because there was no cup. (Ok, so he isn't *that* much of a country boy, after all.)

On the way back home, we were treated to a view of the Arc de Triomphe, complete with giant French flag in honor of the May 8th festivities.

We enjoyed our visit with Frédéric's cousin, who has a beautiful condo in a very upscale residence. But we were relieved to drive back out through the fields and forest to our house afterwards. I think we've been spoiled for city living!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"When I Grow Up..."

Yesterday at lunch, Benjamin informed me about his career plans.

"Maman, mon travail à l'aéroport c'est : lundi, mardi, mercredi, jeudi, je fais le pilote de l'avion. Vendredi, samedi, dimanche et le prochain lundi, je fais le chef de tout ce qui se passe dans l'avion."

("Mom, my job at the airport is: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I'm the pilot of the airplane. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the next Monday, I am the boss of everything that goes on for the airplane.")

(Frédéric describes his flight coordinator/loadmaster job to the kids as being the "boss of everything that goes on for the airplane." Sounds pretty important, huh?)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flea Market Day

May 1st is Labor Day in France. In some parts of the country, that means union gatherings and parades. This year in Paris, it meant presidential candidates' rallies. But for other parts of the country, including our village, it means flea markets!

Which in turn means getting up early. At least we got a good sunrise out of the deal.
Our new friends loaned us their tent, so we had shelter from the threatening clouds / sunshine, depending on which 5-minute-stretch of the day it was. Fortunately, the rain that had invaded our region for the past couple of weeks decided to give us a break, and not a drop fell from the sky all day long.
Our friends came from Paris to spend the day with us. We managed to spend the entire day down in the village, kids and all. It definitely helped for the boys to have their friends around to play with. Lily Rose and Noah started a snail collection (live, not empty shells).... which Lily Rose then proceeded to gather up in an empty snack wrapper, to which she added grass so they would have food... and which she brought back to Paris with her. (Ick!)
They played tag, explored the other stands, and played up in the yard of one of the abandoned houses in the village. (Which, might I add, is a crying shame! Amanda... I think I have found the site for your B&B!)
Benjamin was absolutely thrilled when his best friend Léa from school showed up with her mom. He took off running towards her. What he didn't count on was the competition between Léa and Gabrielle, who at not-quite-4 years old, has already declared herself in love with him. Léa informed him that he had to choose between them; he could not marry both of them. Poor Benjamin couldn't make up his mind and said, "Both!" every time she asked.
We didn't make any big bucks (or euros) or get rid of as much as we hoped, but we enjoyed spending time out in the village, seeing our neighbors (now that we are finally getting to know them a little bit) - and we are very happy we didn't get rained on!