Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garden News

If you've noticed the lack of garden posts this year, it's not that we don't have one. It's just that we seem to have even less time than usual to tend to it this year. We completely missed the radishes, somehow, but we had a couple of heads of lettuce, and we are now catching up now on delicious snow peas and strawberries.
We hope to have some tomatoes at some point, if the tomato plants can survive the aphid attacks. And green peppers, and zucchini.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

End of the school year

Benjamin had to miss the end-of-year school show for the parents on Friday, since we wanted to be very sure he was not contagious anymore before unleashing him upon the world again. He was more than disappointed, especially when he heard that Noah ate about twelve little cups of chocolate mousse.

The 3rd-5th grade class performed a small play based on Lafontaine's fables. Benjamin's class (1st & 2nd grade) sang three songs (one about "children's rights," so Benjamin has been telling us lately that he has the right to a home, that we can't kick him out, not even at 18). And Noah's preschool / kindergarten did three little songs, one about "galettes," one about cousins, and the French version of "The Farmer in the Dell"... it's all pretty similar until you get to the end, where in the American version, the cheese stands alone. That could seem sad, until you hear the French version, in which the cheese gets beaten!

The boys are still keeping us entertained at home...

Benjamin and Noah were playing "Daddy and kid" this morning. Noah, the "kid," said to Benjamin, the "daddy":
"Et tu me fais confiance que je fais pas de bêtises, hein, tu me fais confiance."
("And you trust me, I won't do anything bad, hm, you trust me.")

Sounds vaguely familiar, somehow... he's got this kid role down.

A bit earlier he asked "daddy" if he could "get up in the middle of the night to go to work." (Like someone else he knows...)

And then later on in the day...

Noah: Mommy can we go outside?
Me: What did Daddy say?
Noah: He said nothing.
Me: Oh? Nothing?
Noah: He said no.
Me: Oh. Well, I'm too tired. Go tell Daddy Mommy is too tired because Daddy snores all the time.
Noah: [goes nowhere, fiddles with random things in my office]
Me: Hurry, go tell Daddy before you forget.
Noah: Mais je le tiens dans ma tête. (But I'm holding it in my head.)
Noah: (two seconds later) You said what?
Clearly he has my memory skills. I'm so proud.

Benjamin has a sub this week as his teacher is out for training, and one day next week, his class is going to an amusement park. So the last few days ought to go fast for him. And for me... guess I should start thinking about end-of-year teacher gifts soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reason #268 to marry a Frenchman

Homemade chocolate mousse. Enough said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Math problems with Benjamin

Benjamin is out of school this week thanks to the chicken pox. His teacher sent some work home for him to do before he goes back.

Today he came to ask for help with this problem:
"A squirrel has 30 acorns. He splits them up between 3 other squirrels so each has the same number. How many acorns does each squirrel have?"

They had a big blank rectangle to draw whatever they needed to help them figure it out. Benjamin drew four squirrels and wanted to divide the 30 acorns among all four. He couldn't understand why I told him we only needed to divide them among three of the squirrels.

So I cut up 30 small pieces of paper and drew three small squirrels on a paper so he could see how to split them up. I said, "I am the squirrel. I give ALL my acorns to these three squirrels. I don't have any left. You see?"

His reply: "But you will be hungry!"

This is why math is hard. Word problems have no compassion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

First Harvest!

Noah was very excited about the first potato harvest.

And we enjoyed a wonderful homegrown meal - new potatoes, snow peas, homemade bread (not with a machine!), and a chicken... the chicken was from the store, to Frédéric's great disappointment. He keeps hoping I am going to give in and say he can have chickens in the back yard like many of our neighbors.

I say, our neighbors give us fresh eggs already, I think we're good.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gymnastics "kermesse" and Fête du village

A friend of mine came from Paris with her 6-year-old son for the weekend. We picked them up at Crépy en Valois and went straight to Noah's gymnastics class (Benjamin didn't get to attend since he has chicken pox).
The boys played a couple of carnival games afterwards, and then we headed home for the afternoon, where we chatted and let the boys play while we kept an eye on the rain outside. Finally around 5 pm, the intermittent showers seemed to slow down, so we took umbrellas and went out to tour the village.

Sunday we had the fête du village, the yearly lunch put on by the comité des fêtes for all the village inhabitants and friends. They served paëlla this year, a Spanish dish with rice, chicken, mussels, and shrimp (complete with legs, heads, and antennae, of course).

My friend's son got a bonus prize in his plate... a live snail! We think it fell down from the trees while they were heating up the paella in a large dish outside. That's a much more comforting theory than any other, at least.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Granddad Time

My dad flew here from Cambodia Thursday. The Air France agents in Cambodia had no idea what they were doing and we had to do some last minute ticket juggling as a result, and he had to fly like a sardine instead of comfortably in business class.
But he made it safely, and Benjamin and Noah have been taking full advantage of his visit to have someone new to go outside with.

And did I mention that this stinker had to show up his big brother, and start riding without training wheels just a few short months after Benjamin learned how? He rides around like a little speed demon now. (And yes, that bicycle is getting too small!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gymnastics Gala

The boys had their end-of-year gymnastics "competition" this past weekend. I had tried to explain to Benjamin that it wasn't a true competition, but he still gave a disgusted sigh when we arrived, saying, "I didn't know it was just to play!" But as he watched the other kids, he got over his pique, and decided it would be ok to participate. (Seeing the medals helped motivate him.)

Noah's group went first. It is amazing how much they have learned in two years.

He got up on the uneven bars all by himself, and didn't want any help crab-walking along them.

His cheese-face is a good indication of just how proud of himself he was!

Then it was Benjamin's turn...

This was a lucky shot; I ought to learn how to take sports photos for this type of event in the future, though.

Up... and... over! This bar was a good 9 or 10 feet off the ground.

And another gymnast who was very pleased with himself at the end!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bonne fête, Maman !

Mother's Day comes a little later in France than in the US. I didn't get my real wish of well-behaved children for the day, but I did get "Maman" letter-shaped cookies from Noah, and a card with a poem and a necklace from Benjamin. And I got to hear "You can do what you want, it's your day!" at random times throughout the day.

I'll take it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Our very first fête des voisins, or, the social butterflies continue fluttering

A Parisian instituted the "fête des voisins" in France in the 17th district of Paris in 1999. More and more neighborhoods have joined the event as the years have gone by, but this is the first year that any place we have lived has participated. One of our neighbors surveyed the rest of us to see if we'd be up for it, and just about everyone said yes, so we had our first block party ever on Friday.

It didn't start until 8 pm, to give everyone time to get home from work. Fortunately, it stays light until almost 11 pm these days, and when it got dark, they got out the lanterns and citronella candles.

Many of our neighbors are original homeowners / builders, so have been here for almost 30 years now. But that didn't make them any less welcoming to those of us who haven't been here as long.

We had a good evening getting to know our neighbors better, and we plan to attend the village party in two weeks, to continue our social-butterfly momentum.