Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas: Better late than never

Since the boys weren't home for Christmas, and I wasn't with them, we waited until after they got home to open presents.

Since they were skiing Christmas day, they didn't mind too much. They got lots of fun things: Legos, games, a cash register for Noah, and books, books, and more books.

We tried out their new game Zooreka later the same day and it was a hit.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ski vacation

I got smart this year, plus I had already paid my dues with my 2 1/2 week trip home with the boys and without Frédéric. So I let him take the boys skiing Christmas week, and Gala and I stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet! It was wonderful!

Oh, and the boys had a good time skiing, too. We had to put them in ski school morning and afternoon, since Frédéric can't ski right now with his injured knee. We hope he will be back to normal by next year; the boys were sad he didn't ski with them.

Benjamin was pretty excited he got to (finally!) start using his poles this year.

Here they are with their newly acquired ski level medals, flocon (snowflake) for Noah and première étoile (first star) for Benjamin.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas scarves

Noah, in his continuing quest to learn how to crochet, insisted that Grandma crochet him a scarf. He chose the colors. Not to be left out, Benjamin decided he needed one, too. They weren't finished before we left the US, but getting a package in the mail is much more exciting, anyway. So here they are in their new Christmas scarves.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Benjamin is 8!

Benjamin turned 8 this year, and we celebrated by letting him invite a friend over to go to the movies and have dinner and cake with us afterwards.

Frédéric took them to see "Frozen" ("La Reine des Neiges" in French), and they all enjoyed it.

Frédéric made the cake and outlined the dinosaur, and I finished frosting it while they were at the movie.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home Again

Our last few days in the US were spent in St Louis, shopping and catching up with friends. Then the boys and I spent hours and hours and hour in the Atlanta airport, (which desperately needs a playground), before we caught our plane back to France.

The weekend after we returned, Benjamin had his first swim meet of the year. He did the 50m backstroke and came in first in his age group. (He might have been the only one in his age group, but that's irrelevant.)

Immediately after the swim meet, we rushed back home to the village Christmas party, where the boys were spoiled, like every year since we've been here. Noah got a new Transformer, and Benjamin got a remote-controlled Meccano robot.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Camp

Thanksgiving camp is the highlight of our trip. Quite a few family members were missing this year, but we still had good weather and enjoyed spending time with those who were there.

Benjamin practiced his football-throwing skills and worked on his chess.

Noah helped wash dishes in the kitchen, played the game that was popular this year: "Throw the Football on the Roof of the Dining Hall and See if You Can Catch it When it Falls," and began his quest to learn how to crochet, when he saw Aunt Claire crocheting at camp.

And we took our annual walk around camp, and this year, discovered a ropes course that had been set up since last year.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Journey Continues

Noah did not let the yellowjackets keep him from his love of cooking, and he asked Uncle Mark to let him help cook breakfast the morning we left Montgomery for St Louis. He came up with a gooey concoction that included honey, mint chocolate, and very little flour. I thought it tasted pretty good, but it was a little challenging to pry out of the muffin tin he chose to bake it in.

We drove on to St Louis that day, where we spent two nights before continuing on to Bentonville, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

St Louis greeted us with temperatures in the 20s, a real shock after the light-jacket weather we had had in Montgomery. On the other hand, the yellowjackets might have been more dormant if it had been in the 20s...

In Tulsa, we visited my grandparents. They let the boys pick where to eat for lunch, so guess where we ended up. Noah thought Grandad's walker/chair was pretty cool; he was convinced that its sole purpose was to give grandkids rides.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 2: Disaster Strikes

Because who would want a trip home be without a catastrophic event? What fun would that be?

The day started out fine (albeit early, thank you, jet lag). Uncle Mark made us a nice breakfast before he went to take care of the animals and head to work, and then Aunt Ruth took us on a walk around the farm to visit the chickens and the cows.

Later on, the boys helped dig some holes for flowers in front of the house. Everything was still going great... until they went off to play in the tree house, and started banging on a pipe, which unbeknownst to them, housed a colony of ferocious yellowjackets.

Indescribable panic ensued, as you can imagine... but finally we chased down every single last yellowjacket of those that had followed us into the house, and got the boys calmed down enough to get some baking soda paste on the stings and give them some Benadryl. (And then I called Frédéric back to explain why I hung up on him earlier.)

I thought, "Well, at least now we know they aren't allergic to stings."

Those, my friends, are called "famous last words." Because the next morning, after having had three doses of Benadryl since the previous day, this is what Noah looked like.

So, since it was Friday, and we were supposed to drive all day on Saturday, and it would be the weekend, we decided to go to Urgent Care, where the doctor confirmed this was an allergic reaction, so he got a steroid shot, oral steroids, and a stronger antihistamine. And a prescription for an epi-pen. (Which we couldn't fill, because they cost around $300 in the US. Ouch. But not to worry, we will get one in France. Along with in-depth allergy testing and possibly allergy shots.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trip Home: Day 1

We flew home Nov 20th. And we got to fly in style!

Despite a minor disagreement initially with the flight attendants over whether we should really be seated together (they said no, as they didn't want to commit the cardinal sin of asking a business class passenger to *gasp* move; I said yes, because would they *really* be happier seated next to a stranger's children?? Come on...), we had one of the best flights we've ever had. This was due in large part to the fact that Noah didn't feel the need to chatter for the *entire* nine hours (only part of it). It didn't hurt, either, that seats are so much more comfortable in business class (sure wish they made coach class seats like this!!), or that we only had a few spots of turbulence. And the flight attendant serving Noah's aisle took a liking to him, so he had all the ice cream he could eat - what could be better?!

Then we arrived... and here is my favorite part of any trip. (He was out in less than 2 minutes, in spite of protesting that the bed was too small for him and he'd never be able to fall asleep. Ha.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November is not for sightseeing

I finally took my mom out "sightseeing" the day before we left for the US. In my defense, the weather is generally pretty terrible in November, gray and rainy, and this year was no exception. Neither was the day we finally went out.

So we went to the nearby village of Haramont (I was surprised at its size, having imagined it to be about the size of our village - it was much larger, more like a town).

Then we stopped at the Vauxbuin National Necropolis (nécropole sounds nicer in French, though), a World War I cemetery we pass by every time we go to Soissons, but at which we had never stopped at yet.

Word to the wise, if you want to go visiting in the area, don't come in November!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Booby Trapped

This is what I found when I went in to say goodnight to Benjamin the other night... does this mean my days of sneaking in to kiss him goodnight are over? (On the other hand, it didn't actually wake him up...)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sewing with Grandma

Noah decided he wanted to use the sewing machine with Grandma. So he asked her to help him make some stuffed ducks. So they did...

but that wasn't enough for Noah, he went on to make a stuffed "cat" and a pillow as well.

I suggested to Benjamin that he find something he wanted to make with Grandma, too. I made simple suggestions like a pencil case, or a Lego bag. At first he wasn't sure... and then he decided. He wanted to make an alligator!

For some reason, Grandma was less than enchanted... but we all went to the fabric store to find the perfect fabric (not an easy task, as he had a very clear idea of what he wanted), and a ribbon to make the spikes on its back.

Benjamin got busy drawing a picture to show Grandma what it should look like, and Grandma made a pattern and started sewing it.

It took some convincing Benjamin that Grandma's idea for teeth would work out properly, but he finally agreed, so here it is!

Sadly, it looks like it's turned on him...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Renewable Energies Expert

Benjamin's 3rd/4th/5th grade class (CE2/CM1/CM2) learned about renewable & non-renewable energy sources at school. They took a field trip to a play on the same topic, and then worked on it in class as well. Benjamin did his presentation on solar panels.

After we had some time to check out the kids' work, they sang some songs for us they had learned with the music teacher who comes once a week.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

You can always tell when Frédéric gets ahold of the camera...

But he does make some good-looking bread, doesn't he?

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Gardeners

My mom came for a visit (pursuant to my cry for help with the boys) - and we didn't even let her get over jet lag before we put her to work! Unfortunately for Noah, the weather since she has been here has been typical of fall in northern France: rainy and cold. So they haven't really been out digging in the dirt since then.

Noah is very pleased with his new gardening gloves, and doesn't care a bit that they are pink and have Disney princesses on them. (They won't stay pink long, anyway.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Thinker

I had this conversation with Noah the other day...

Noah: Je pense trop aux choses. (I think about things too much.)
Me: Oh? What do you think about?
Noah: Comment fabriquer des avions. (How to make airplanes.)
Me: Oh?? You think about that??
Noah: J'y pense plus maintenant. (I don't think about it anymore.)
Me: Why not?
Noah: C'est interdit à l'école. (It's not allowed at school.)

Oh.... guess we are not talking 747s here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Master Chef

Two of our very own Master Chef's latest creations, made sans recipe, of course!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Future Novelist Does Pathos

This is the note Benjamin left for us the other night (with original spelling):

Laise moi dormire j'ai besoin de me reposer une longe rout ou devraisje dire (ça continue) une longue aventure matent loin d'ici quand j'aurai 20 ans. Je vous aime tous. Et Noah je te fais confiance pour que tu change vite pour maman et papa.

In English:
Let me sleep I need to rest a long road or should I say (turn over) a long adventure awaits me far from here when I will be 20 years old. I love you all. And Noah I trust you to change quickly for Mom and Dad.

He changed his mind later and said this adventure would be when he is 10, not 20.

I'm not really sure what to think of this...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Night Sky

With little in the way of nighttime light pollution out here in the country, we get some beautiful night skies. This one was amazing, with the full moon lighting up the clouds.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I am a Seel!

Noah's K/1/2 class had a show for the parents on the last day before fall break. They made us apple cake, and sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" in French and in English, and did a little skit in English where the kids were animals.

Noah was a seal.

He said, "I am a SEEL, and I clap my hands! Can you do EET?"

He had practiced at home, and I told him to say it with proper American pronunciation. He replied, "But that is how the teacher says it!" And he would not be swayed, he pronounced it with a great little French accent during the show.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bed Time.

I don't make them sleep on the floor under their beds, I swear...
Notice how Noah's dinosaur is sleeping on the top "bunk."

Noah left me a message... it says "BING"... no idea what that means...