Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving at camp

After Tulsa, we headed down to camp in southern Oklahoma for Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family, like we do every year. We had lovely weather, so the boys got to go fishing.



Frédéric caught a catfish for us.


Benjamin was very proud of him.

They learned fishing techniques from the master.

Benjamin was feeling like a little model, and kept asking me to take pictures of him on the playground on the various equipment, and he kept doing his victory stance.


Two boys in a canoe... looks like they love each other... but they were wrestling. Oops, did I mess up my Parental Mythology moment there?


Both boys had a blast going metal detecting with Uncle Mark. Benjamin because he found "treasure" (I think they found around 49 cents each), and Noah because he got to dig in the dirt.

The boys had a great time playing with their cousins, and only regretted that we didn't stay longer at camp. Do those two look like partners in crime, or what?

We had to leave straight from Thanksgiving camp to Paris this trip, which was an adventure, but the drive down to Houston was mainly uneventful, and so was our flight back.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tulsa

We got to see my grandparents in Tulsa this year, since no one was sick - actually, I think this is the first year since we've had kids that no one has been sick on our Thanksgiving trip. I think we probably win some kind of medal for that.

We had lovely warm weather, so the kids took the toys outside to play.
Benjamin created an entire playground/amusement park.

This is what happens when you try to get the kids to take a nice picture with Uncle Jim.

Jordan and I also got to see our college friend, Wendi, and catch up with her, and we took the kids swimming in the hotel pool for a while, too, to their great delight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bentonville via Columbia

Ok, so it isn't the straightest shot to go to Bentonville, Arkansas from St Louis through Columbia, Missouri... but this way we stopped at my little brother's house to see his family and continue on with them to Bentonville.

We drove through Jefferson City on the way down, my first time ever seeing the Capitol building (unless we saw it last year, but I don't remember that. And have no pictures of it. So it may as well have not happened, even if it did).

Saw pretty sunsets.

And nice countrysides, trees, and clouds.

We had a great visit with our friends in Bentonville, even though it wasn't long enough. I love that they are right on our way to Tulsa. Well, only an hour out of the way - totally worth the detour!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

St Louis City Museum

My older brother and his family invited us to the City Museum as our Christmas present. We had never been there before, and it was quite an experience.


The boys would use words like: fun, exciting, super, great, and "we didn't stay long enough!" to describe it.

Frédéric and I would use words more like: strange, scary, dangerous, risky, frightening, wobbly, and downright nerve-wracking. Things like slides that end up two or three (or ten) stories lower than where you started, tunnels that are partially hidden behind other structures and are seemingly endless, and rooftop adventures, all combined with a busy 4 1/2 and almost 7-year-old... yes, nerve-wracking was indeed our word of the day.

I mean, what kind of nutcase would go up in a 1940s Ferris wheel, installed on the roof of a 10-story building?!?!


Oh. Apparently nutcases like us. And them.



This was quite possibly Noah's favorite part of the whole museum. We could have left him here all day long. Tractors? What more could he ask for?!


Benjamin liked climbing. Climbing in wire cages. Climbing in wire cages somehow welded to things on the roof of a 10-store building. I mean, who wouldn't like that? (Well, besides me.)

Climbing up ropes to get to the top of a concrete slide, which is awesome for your pants when you slide down. Doesn't wear them out at all. (Consider that your fair warning, other moms planning to take your kids to the City Museum.) The roof concrete slide is not the only one, there's also an indoor "skateless skate park."

The creator of the City Museum was an artist, and there is amazing artwork all over the place. The whole place is more of a modern art museum-slash-playground than anything else.
Witness this rooster on the roof.

Or this iguana on a pillar in one of the restaurants.


Or this puking pig.

Nerve-wrackedness aside, we survived it, and here is our end-of-the-day photo as proof.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Memphis!

This year has been a pretty amazing trip so far, since no one has gotten sick (yet, knock on wood), and we get to stay almost four weeks. That meant we were able to fit in a trip to Memphis without much trouble at all, to go see my best friend and her family, and other college friends.
 
We stopped in Sikeston on the way down, and saw the highlight of Frédéric's trip this year:
 

Here's to twenty-five years of friendship! And many more to come. Our kids got along great, which was a nice bonus.

Kayla drew a picture of her new friends Benjamin and Noah. This is Benjamin, and "Noah is behind him." Hee hee.

We visited the Memphis Botanical Gardens on Saturday, and the zoo on Sunday. We really liked both.

The kids' favorite part of the zoo was the playground.





And this was my favorite part of the drive home. Sadly, it only lasted about fifteen minutes. He has a quick-recharging battery.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grandad's Guest Blog

This post is courtesy of my dad. 
---------------------

So Noah brought me up a small packet of M&Ms and one of Skittles from his Halloween stash. I thanked him, complimented his generosity, and gave him a hug.

A few minutes he came back in and asked me if I had eaten the candy. I told him I had. Just wanting to be sure, I suppose, he asked me where I had put the paper. I showed him it was in the trash can. Satisfied, he went back downstairs and in a minute came back with 3 more small packets of Skittles. I was afraid perhaps that I had overdone the compliments. So I said “Noah, thank you, but I’ve had enough. You need to save some of the candy for yourself.”

“Yes, Granddad, but I did try it and this I don’t like.”

Mmmmmm. OK. Pawn off the candy you don’t like, and get credit for sharing at the same time. This kid’s pretty smart.

Then he returns in a minute with two Kit Kat bars and lays them on the desk. I’m surprised Noah doesn’t like Kit Kats. I don’t say anything, but I’m thinking that Noah likes chocolate, so the mystery deepens. In a minute he comes back and picks one up, and says “I did take one because these ones I like.”

Then he brings up two twizzlers. “Granddad, these I don’t like too.”

A few minutes later he brings up a Tootsie Roll pop and another similar sucker. I said “Noah, you don’t like these?”

“Yes, I like, but my Daddy, he don’t want that we eat this all the time.”

Noah, listening to parents, especially where candy is involved? This had to have been a dream. But how do I explain the 8 pieces of candy left on my desk?

* * * * * *
 
2-3 hours later (the candy is still on my desk)

“Granddad, do you like these candy?” (holding up one of the suckers).

“Yes, Noah.”

“Me, too. I would like some,” said Noah, starting to unwrap the sucker.

“Not now, it’s almost dinner time.”

“I’m going to go ask my Daddy,” he said, running down the stairs with the sucker.

* * * * * *
Update…

Noah brings me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

“Granddad, this is for you.”

“Thank you Noah, you’re very nice.”

“But you should tell my Daddy I am nice.”

Hmmm. Is this an attempt to bribe me to be an accomplice to something?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

St Louis Zoo

Wednesday, we took the boys to the zoo. Benjamin hadn't been since he was six months old (so obviously he didn't remember it), and Noah hadn't ever been. Of course, usually we come a bit later, and it's colder. As it turned out, it was colder than we expected! But we had a good time.

We started with the Children's Zoo, where Benjamin was swallowed by a hippo. 
 


And Noah got to brush the goats. He's terrified of dogs, but will brush a goat with no problems. I guess we need to get a pet goat instead. 
 
 One of Benjamin's favorite parts was the giant rhinoceros beetle in front of the insectarium.

We took a picture with this camel, but he was eyeing Frédéric, working up a giant gob of spit, and thinking, and aiming... we decided to move along, and the camel kept watching Frédéric even as we walked down in front of the zebras.

I thought I got a nice picture of them with the camel, though, so suggested to Frédéric that he get one of all of us (with my friend Brianna and her daughters, Lilian and Vivian), in front of the elephants. Obviously he didn't see things quite the way I did.

A lot had changed at the zoo since I was last there six years ago. The new sea lion tunnel was pretty fun!


And we found Phil for the requisite photo with the kids.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

St Louis Science Center

On Monday, we took the boys to the Science Center. Noah had a little trouble concentrating on any one exhibit. He kept flitting from one to the next, there were so many exciting things to see.

We weren't tall enough to build the larger arch, so we tried with the smaller arch instead, and we managed that one.


Noah tried his hand at being the police officer running a speed trap.

And we learned that it would cost Frédéric much too much to send us to the moon, so he will have to put up with us for a while longer. While he saves his pennies. Or centimes, as the case may be.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Helping Grandma

As ever, Noah is a little helper... he helped his Grandma make muffins...

and he and Benjamin helped her make bouquets for the table.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Boys' First Real Halloween

The new French president, François Hollande, made his first mark on the French school system by extending "All Saints' Day" school break into a full two weeks. This worked out quite well for us this year since Thanksgiving falls pretty early; it allowed us to arrive in time for Halloween, stay through Thanksgiving, and the boys only miss 2 weeks of school.
 
With the hurricane and all, we weren't sure we'd make it in time for Halloween after all, but we did our best, and it all worked out in the end. Glad that my mom didn't make the boys' costumes for nothing! They went Trick or Treating for the first time (wellll second I guess if you count going with their school a few days earlier, but given the candy they got there, I say this counts as the first time) with their cousins, Alex and Xenia, around my parents' neighborhood. 
 
 
Benjamin was upset at first because I mentioned wearing a coat (it was COLD!), but my mom saved the day with a sweater he could wear under his costume. Then he was annoyed because he wanted to come back to the house after and split all the candy up equitably (that is what they did at school). We told him we weren't going to do that, that they were all going to the same houses and would get more or less the same candy. He stayed perturbed for a while about that... until he realized he had a lot more candy than the others. Then he decided we didn't have to share it all out again. (I think there is probably some political and/or religious lesson to be had here.) (And I have no idea how he ended up with so much more candy than the others.) 
The boys quickly realized all the new and exciting and much better candy they got here than in France, and they were thrilled with their first American Halloween -- so much so that they now want to come back for it every year!