Monday, October 29, 2012

A Noah Original

Yes, that's right, I have a Noah original work of art in my possession. You can tell it is a Noah original by the signature across the top, "NOAH ORIGINAL". He's a fan of the découpage style of art, and he is very prolific, as evidenced by the tiny scraps of paper all over the dining room floor.

Yesterday, the artist decided to try his hand at something else... he handed me a pile of close to a hundred pieces of paper, each one with a solitary scribble on it. I asked him what these were pictures of.

He told me, "It's like the doctor does."
Yes, that's right, he is practicing his doctor's signature. This is clearly the most important part of any doctor's education, and he has it mastered already at four and a half. What a prodigy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Both boys are doing gymnastics again this year, but unlike last year in their old club, parents aren't allowed to stay, so that is why you haven't seen any pictures yet. Noah's class got to dress up for Halloween this weekend, though, and parents were allowed to stay.

The course seemed a bit easier than what he was doing last year, but I'm not sure if it's like that all the time, or if it was lower-key with the parents there.

Benjamin, keeping an eye on his brother.
I peeked in for the last few minutes of Benjamin's class later that afternoon (parents weren't invited to that one), and his class seems a lot harder than what he was doing last year. I guess we'll see how things work out for both of them as the year goes on.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy Early Halloween!

Benjamin and Noah were happy to carve their jack o'lanterns this week. Somehow I still end up being the scooper-outer, though.

My little Jack Pumpkinheads.

They both got to dress up for school on Friday. They decided to be scary vikings. Their classes went trick or treating in the village where the school is (I'm assuming they let the village inhabitants know about this beforehand, because trick or treating is not a common occurrence around here).

Glad they got to go trick or treating with school, since it looks like we may not make it home in time for Halloween in the US, thanks to Hurricane Sandy... still trying to find options for our trip.

Deep Thoughts by Benjamin

I had an early lunch alone with Benjamin today while Frédéric took Noah to gymnastics.

We had some interesting conversations, like:

Me: You know who is going to have a baby? Uncle Jordan and Aunt Kacey.
Benjamin: What?! They weren't supposed to have one!
Me: Uh... they weren't? Why not?
Benjamin: Because they already have one, and they only wanted one!
Me: Uh... who told you that?
Benjamin: No one, it's what I think in my head!


Benjamin: I think Papy, Daddy's Daddy, is French.
Me: Yes, he is. Why do you say that?
Benjamin: Because he does all like French.
Me: Like what?
Benjamin: Drink coffee.


He is very into adding things to his Christmas wish list (thank you, TV commercials). So we had a very long, involved conversation about Santa Claus (Père Noël), in which I was surprised to find that he believes in Santa Claus, as we've never really encouraged it. He says he wants to give his Christmas list to the Père Noël at our village Christmas party, which is before Christmas.

Me: How does the Père Noël get in our house?
Benjamin: He comes down the chimney.
Me: Ah. He doesn't get burned?
Benjamin: No, because he comes at night and the fire is out.
Me: Oh. What if I leave the fireplace door shut and locked like that, can he open it from the inside?
Benjamin: Uh... well, I think he comes through the roof. Through the windows. [we have skylights upstairs] Then he comes downstairs, because I hear footsteps.
Me: Oh, I see.
Benjamin: But the Père Noël doesn't exist. It's someone's daddy dressed up.
Me: Wait a minute, were you trying to trick me into thinking you believed Père Noël was real?
Benjamin: (giggling) Ye-e-es.

Me: Ok, so if Père Noël is someone's daddy dressed up, why do you want to give your Christmas list to him?
Benjamin: So he can give it to his elves.
Me: Wait, wait, wait, if Père Noël is someone's daddy dressed up, who are the elves?!?
Benjamin: Other daddies dressed up. And mommies.
Me: Ok, so all the dressed-up daddies and mommies give the presents to all the kids?
Benjamin: No, the Père Noël gives the presents, the elves make them.

Me: Where does the Père Noël live?
Benjamin: I don't know, maybe in the Country of Great Thirst [don't ask, I have no idea].
Me: What? What is that?
Benjamin: It's very, very hot, so you get very, very thirsty.
Me: Hmm. But if he is someone's daddy, doesn't he live here?
Benjamin: Yes, but I don't know who he is, that is why I don't know. I don't know if it is a real beard or a fake beard.
Me: Oh. Well, that would make it hard to see who it is. Maybe he is Papa Christophe [our friend, differentiated from his son, Kid Christophe].
Benjamin: I don't think so, because I don't think he has the costume.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Benjamin occupied himself this weekend by drawing dinosaurs based on those in a book we have, and pasting them on paper to make a land dinosaur page and a sea dinosaur page.

We think he did an amazing job!

The Dragon's Lair

Thursday we took advantage of the kids having lunch at the school cafeteria to visit the Dragon's Lair. This is a stone quarry located on the front lines of the war during World War I. It was used by both French and Germans altnernately, and at one point, each side occupied part of the cavern. There are kilometers (or miles, if you prefer) of tunnels in the cavern, and the soldiers had dormitories, armories, telegraphs, common rooms, and even cemeteries in the tunnels.

Unfortunately, they didn't allow us to take pictures inside, but this is the view from the top of the ridge, towards where the French trenches were located.

After the visit to the Dragon's Lair, we had just enough time for a quick stop at the ruins of the Abbaye de Vauclair.
This was the dovecote.

A couple of friendly tourists.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pierrefonds and Soissons

Our friend Don Mellor extended his French tour so he could come visit us for a few days. We had to juggle sightseeing around the kids' school and sports schedules, so the first full day he was here, we went to Pierrefonds, which is only about 25 minutes from our house.

The next day, Benjamin had gymnastics in Soissons, so we took advantage of that to do a walking tour of Soissons. In the drizzle.

They had these cool arrows on the ground to show us where to go on the walking tour.

Noah was good at finding them.

Except when they were missing.

I had to get creative with my angles on this one because there were two men standing near the doorway. Can't see them here!

The rain was kind enough to only pour down when we were busy doing other things like picking up Benjamin, or taking a bathroom break, and then it let up again in time for us to see another church.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Still flashing back

One set of friends spent the night on my birthday, so the fun continued the next day. Love these kids together!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birthday Flashback

Oops, with that flashing back, I forgot to mention that I did have a birthday this year. Benjamin and Noah helped Frédéric make my cake.

I am pretty sure *this* is why Noah likes to help in the kitchen... licking the bowl. (Guess he takes after me.)
He helped fill it with chocolate, too.
It was a very, very, very chocolatey cake! Delicious, but very rich.
And as proof that I'm losing my mind as I get older... we had seventeen people in the house for my birthday dinner, 8 adults and 9 kids. Benjamin was very happy for me - he told me that last year I didn't have anyone over, and I should have friends over for my birthday every year so I can play and have fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Catch-Up

We have been busy around here lately - trying to get all our social visits in before Frédéric's off-work weekends run out, among other things. So here is some catch-up news.

Two and a half weeks ago: My "internet friend" Christy and her family, who live near Annecy, came over to visit us since they were near Paris for the weekend. Her first two kids are very close in age to Benjamin and Noah, and we all had a fun time meeting "in real life" and the kids enjoyed playing together.

A week and a half ago: Some of Frédéric's cousins came over for lunch. We only see them once or twice a year, and it's always nice to catch up. The boys had a great time playing with their cousin Nina, and the weather was nice enough for a walk around the village after lunch.

Noah: is as silly as ever! He came into my office like this the other day, very pleased with himself... he is wearing my "slipper-socks" that I wear in the winter over my normal socks to prevent last year's chillblain incident from repeating itself.

He started gymnastics again two weeks ago in a new club, and enjoys it. (I don't enjoy it as much since parents aren't allowed to stay and watch, boo.)

Benjamin: discovered the library two and a half weeks ago. The boys have gymnastics on Saturdays in a town about 25 minutes from our village, so we try to find other occupations for ourselves when we are out there. This is a common sight around our house these days. He has gotten so fluent in his reading in both English and French, it is hard to believe he was just starting to read this time last year!
He has over two hours of swimming a week and three and a half of gymnastics, so he is a busy boy this year. He loves both his sports and is always proud when the swimming teacher picks him to demonstrate a stroke to the other kids in his class.

Some other visitors: Last week, I forgot something in my car and went out to get it, only to almost step on this guy who was staring at me from right in the middle of the doorstep (and I was hoping he wouldn't decide to hop on me as I took this picture!):

His little friend was watching to see what would happen. (Look Dad, it's not just in Cambodia!)
The lizard didn't stay too long, I guess, but the toad was still there when Frédéric got home from work several hours later.

We have even nicer company than those two visiting us at the moment, but I'll get to that with more pictures soon!