Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gymnastics Gala

The end of the school year is a very busy time for us, between school programs, swim meets, and gymnastics galas, plus all the usual weekends spent visiting and flea markets.

The boys had their gymnastics gala last night. The "baby" class (2-5 year olds) were allowed to dress up as anything they liked (thank you, Céline, for the clown costume).... Noah's first idea was to be a shark. He said I could make him a shark costume, because "you have a machine like Grandma." Ha! He doesn't know that the machine doesn't include the talent with it!

The evening's theme was a music box that traveled through time, and Benjamin's group did the 1950s, with a dance to Jailhouse Rock.

Noah's group did a Hokey-Pokey type dance, which was pretty funny.

Here is Benjamin's show, for your viewing pleasure... (don't mind all the rude people going up & down the stairs in front of me while I was trying to record it. Grrrrr.)  He's the one who keeps pulling up his jeans and slicking back his hair. He was not happy about gel in his hair!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Swimming Champion!

Benjamin had his third swim meet Saturday. It was around 60°F out (brrrr) and the meet was in the outdoor pool. Yikes! We also had a light rain during the meet, hence the umbrella...

Benjamin swam the 25m freestyle (crawl), and came in first...

As it turned out, since they rank them by stroke and by year of birth, he came in first out of one. In fact, none of the kids came in lower than second place. Good for the self esteem?

At any rate, he has been invited to join the competitive team next year, and he thinks this is something he would like to do, so he'll have 3 hours of practice a week starting in September.

They had a relay this year after everyone finished their races, and his team won, so he was very happy about that, too.

It was so cold, he and the others warmed up (??) in the baby pool between their races and the relay.

Despite the weather, we had a barbecue afterwards, where we spent the evening chatting with another "new" family.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Return of the Spider Brigade

Benjamin's Spider Brigade has seen many forms throughout the years. And it is back now, in its newest incarnation.... the Jurassic Park Spider Brigade. I haven't seen any spiders make it past them yet!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Living in a French bakery

Yes, that's right, I'm living the dream of many Americans... and many French people, for that matter. Frédéric received a lovely stand mixer from his cousins for his birthday, and he is trying to burn it out before his next birthday.

After many variations, I think we can safely say he has now perfected his baguette recipe.

His brioches aren't bad, either.

The doughnuts still need some work, but no matter, we are happy to taste-test for as long as it takes.

He also makes amazing cinnamon rolls. I'm trying to talk him into opening a food truck on his days off. He's not going for it so far, though, so I guess if you want to try some of his delicious baking, you'll just have to come for a visit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

You say tomato, I say pain au chocolat

Me: Benjamin, do you want a peach?
Benjamin: Yes!
Me: (a little confused, since normally he says no) Come here. (showing him a peach) Do you want a peach?
Benjamin: Oh, like that?
Me: Umm. Yes, what other kind of peaches do you know?
Benjamin: You know, a peach! A pain au chocolat!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sunshine, Mouse, and Fairy

Finally, some sunshine!! And we weren't the only ones who appreciated it! It was a shock to our systems to go from 40°s-50°s and rain to 75-80° and sun overnight, but not to worry. Last night it rained, and continued to off and on all day today, so it's a cool 57° again now.

Which didn't stop Frédéric from starting to prepare the "pool spot" on the lawn...

Benjamin lost a tooth at school Friday, and really lost it, as in couldn't find it.

I told him he should write a letter to the Mouse and the Tooth Fairy explaining the situation. (He said he should just write one to me, since I am the Tooth Fairy. Hmph.) But he wanted his money, so he cranked out these two masterpieces:

"Dear tooth fairy, mi tooth did fall, and i losd it can you put mi meuny aniway pleas. benjamin"  

"Chère Souris, j'ai perdue ma dent et je lai perdue peut tu me donner de l'argent silvouplaît. benjamin"

He checked under his pillow the next morning, and found nothing, and said, "Hmph, see, there was no point writing the letters." But as he walked out of his room, he found one 50-centime coin on top of each letter. The Tooth Fairy must have ridden in on the mouse's back.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Série noire

That's what you could call a streak of bad luck in French. And we've been going through one for the past several weeks, with car troubles and Gala throwing up daily.

A few weekends ago, we let Benjamin volunteer at a girls' gymnastics competition. Since no good deed goes unpunished, the white gate stop in the center of this inoffensive-looking parking lot at the Gymnase Jean Davesne in Soissons managed to completely tear up our entire muffler line. The parking lot was full at the time, so we had no reason to suspect anything, and it looks like a gentle slope, but it isn't.

The lovely city of Soissons refuses to accept any responsibility or acknowledge that there is a 20-centimeter difference between the top of the gate stop and the level of the parking lot. So this is your formal warning: Do not try to enter the Gymnase Jean Davense parking lot, look for parking on the street nearby if you must go there. (Fortunately this is NOT the gym where the boys have their gymnastics classes!)

And our wonderful insurance (Direct Assurance - if you are in the market for an insurance company in France, don't bother with them!) did at least agree to repair our car (rather surprising since it is a 1999 model with 260,000 km on the clock, so isn't worth terribly much, and repairs were 1200 €), but left us with a ridiculously high deductible, a "loss of control of the vehicle" and full responsibility for Frédéric... how it could be "loss of control" when he was going about 5km is anyone's guess... They also told us we could have a loaner car only after the work began on ours... and then no one bothered to tell us when the work began, so no loaner, and no car for two weeks with all of that. And that's not to mention the towing the insurance was supposed to cover, but the towing company couldn't guarantee they would take the car to the right garage, so we told them to forget it and drove it ourselves to the garage, even though the garage told us we shouldn't drive it because the fuel tank could catch on fire.

In the meantime, Frédéric thought he'd get the other car running.... and he did, after a new battery, fixing the key/anti-theft system (really, do we need this on a 1996 Renault?! They ought to be automatically disabled after a certain number of years. Auto manufacturers, are you listening?), and passing inspection. And changing a couple of parts.

So with any luck, we are over the worst of the série noire now... but Gala is still throwing up, so I guess we aren't quite done yet.