Sunday, February 24, 2013

The longest drive ever

On the way to the mountains, the drive took us 12 hours as compared to the usual 9. Usual meaning that normally we don't drive on school-vacation-Saturdays. The problem when you only have three vacation "zones" in a country the size of Texas, and you go to one of the few acceptable winter vacation spots, is that you have to deal with the traffic jams that go along with that.

On the way home, it took us an astonishing 12 1/2 hours, but the traffic jams were mainly in what should have been the first hour, but turned out to be the first 4 1/2 hours. Wow.

The boys only pretended to sleep... they finally gave in and fell asleep for real around 8:30 pm, when we had two hours to go. Those were without a doubt the best two hours of the trip, in spite of the snow starting to build up on the roads.

And the slow... stopped, even - traffic gave me plenty of time to capture some of the scenery on the road home. This was one of the spots where we were completely stopped. As in, turn off the motor and wait for twenty to thirty minutes stopped.

But at least we had nice views while we waited.

I try to get a picture of this church every time we go past it, but normally we're going around 90km/h, so it turns out blurry. Not a problem this time!

No idea what this is, but it's pretty!

Our neighbors across the street got home around the same time we did, but it they left their resort about 3 1/2 hours after we did. Their resort was not as far into the Alps, so they avoided some of the worst traffic.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big enough to ski with Daddy

Benjamin and Noah hit the slopes with Frédéric starting Tuesday afternoon. I couldn't believe Noah was ready for "real" slopes, and I was more than a little afraid he'd find a way to wriggle off the ski lift. But apparently it all went fine. I came down to the foot of the slopes with Gala to watch their descent (thank goodness for cell phones so Frédéric could call and let me know when they were about 10-15 minutes from the bottom, so I didn't have to wait in the cold for hours).

And the most exciting part: they got to meet "la vache mauve" (the purple Milka cow) up on the slopes. Noah chased after it to catch its tail to earn his Milka pen. They each came back with a purple (or mauve if you're French) Milka pen, and several small chocolates.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Descente aux flambeaux

All the kids enrolled in the ESF ski classes were invited to participate in a kids' descente aux flambeaux (torchlight descent) Thursday night. They told us to have the kids there at 6:15 pm for a start time of 6:30, but unfortunately, we thought we should head up a little earlier since it was sure to be chaos. Chaos it was, and it didn't begin until 6:50 pm, by which time I was thoroughly frozen. I watched a few of the kids come down, made some pathetic attempts at taking pictures of it, and then Gala and I headed back to the apartment to see if we could warm up before March, and Frédéric stayed to gather the boys afterwards.

Before the descent, they warmed up a bit on the ski school slopes. Look at Noah, a pro already!

Sunset over the Alps...

and people gathering for the descent. There were many, many more people than this by the time the descent began, and I couldn't find a decent spot for pictures. Not that it mattered, since by the time they came down, I was shivering so much that the pictures and video I attemped turned out blurry anyway.
It wasn't much of a success for Benjamin, either, who expected the "torches" to be flashlights. I expected them to at least resemble "torches," but they were some sort of colored electric lights. But now we've done it. Maybe next year I'll attempt to watch the grown-up version, but I'll have to be sure to (a) stake out a good spot, (b) use a tripod and remote shutter release, and (c) have warmer gloves!

Parental not-even-mythology

This one I am NOT making up; and it was definitely the highlight of the week for me! We spent most of the week fighting with Noah, who was never tired, and never wanted to play anything calm, not even after 7 hours of skiing a day.

But THIS miracle occured Wednesday evening. Benjamin showed Noah how to color a design like he had done earlier. Noah accepted his help, and they worked together, and didn't fight and argue. A red-letter day, I tell you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do you do in the evenings during a ski vacation?

You watch Tintin with Daddy...

or watch cartoons by yourself...

or practice writing, copying from your books. (This was all Noah's idea.)

Like the first page, this says, "You may not believe it, but here's how it happe..."

and we learn about Noah's theories of linguistics:

Noah: Mommy, how do you write "je t'aime"?
[I painstakingly spell it out for him... it's all fine until we get to the "e" at the end.]
Noah: But I don't like to put "e" at the end.
Me: Uh. You have to, that's how it's spelled.
Noah: But I don't like to put "e" at the end. Je t'aim-euh. Je t'aime.
Me: You don't get to choose how to spell it. That's how it's spelled.
Noah: Who choosed it? You?
Me: No...
Noah: It's God that choosed?
Me: Uh, no.
Noah: Maybe God. I think it's God.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

So, we made it here yesterday afternoon:

after an excruciating 12-hour drive (it normally takes 9) due to fog and traffic, and after having gotten up at 2:30 am to leave. (Whose insane idea was that, you ask? Not mine. And I have informed Frédéric that he is now "worse than my dad." However, he has seen the error of his ways, and claims he won't do it again.)

The boys started ski lessons today, and this afternoon Frédéric took them out to the nursery slope to practice some more. They are little pros already!

And these were our conversations today, because the fun never stops around here...

Benjamin: Can I stop eating?
Me: You didn't eat your meat. Did you know meat is protein? It builds your muscles. You need muscles to go skiing.
Benjamin, drooping over his plate: I don't need them to sleep.

Noah was telling Frédéric about his ski lesson this morning.
Noah: I don't want to go to ski class tomorrow.
Frédéric: Why not? You need to learn to ski so you can ski with me.
Noah: No, I don't want to go to ski class because I don't like the tapis. [conveyor belt]
Frédéric: The tapis is good, it takes you to the top so you can go down.
Noah: I don't like it because you have to not move. I don't like to not move.

Yes, that last sentence pretty much defines Noah... (who, by the way, poured the entire kids' shampoo bottle into the tub tonight, on evening 2 out of 7 of vacation).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Assorted Tidbits

Me: Noah, you have to eat something healthy first, fruit or yogurt.
Noah: But candy is fruit!!!

Noah: Mommy, we should have ten Noahs and ten Benjamins!
Me: Oh, that would be like a school in my house!
Benjamin: There are more of us than that at school, there are 26 of us, and it is a real mess, I promise! 

Me: Are you friends with Juliette?
Benjamin: Ah, Juliette, my love.
Me: Wait, I thought Juliette was Nathan's love.
Benjamin: No, Nathan loves Juliette, Juliette doesn't love Nathan.
Me: Ahhh.
Benjamin: It's the opposite!

(Who can keep up?)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why Noah's Bad Behavior is My Fault

Noah: Mommy, can I have a marble because I was nice?
Me: When were you nice?
Noah: In the car.
Me: But you know what you did after that? You screamed outside. And that wasn't nice.
Noah: You did hear me?
Me: Yes.
Noah: C'est normal, tu avais les fenêtres mal fermées. [That's normal. Your windows weren't closed properly.]

Monday, February 11, 2013

"What happened to you today?"

Most families ask, "How was your day?" but in our family, we ask "What happened to you today?" (right, Dad?)

But getting a straight answer to this question from Noah is no small feat.

Today, I asked him if the teacher read them a story at school. He couldn't remember. So I asked him about a couple of days ago (that makes sense, right, if he can't even remember today) since I had seen a little girl from his class with a book about fairies. The teacher lets them bring in books from home, and he reads them to them.

Our conversation went something like this...

Me: Was there a story about "fées" that Emmy brought?
Noah: What is "fées"?
Me: Fairies.
Noah: What is fairies?
Me: Uh... little people, with wings.
Noah: Monkeys?

So no, I still have no idea what he did at school today or any other day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Discovering Artistic Talent

It's quite possible that the best Christmas present the boys got this year was a 60-cent set of watercolors. They've spent many hours unveiling their artistic souls.

This is Benjamin's dragon study series, complete with titles (in his original spelling).

"boule de feu" (fireball)

"queu dragon" (dragon tail)

"ele dragon" (dragon wing)

"tête de dragon" (dragon head)

"dragon entier" (whole dragon)

And perhaps the start of a new series of studies, the "queu requin" (shark tail).