Thursday, July 31, 2014

Other Summer Fun

Benjamin and Noah have been having other summertime fun together when they aren't busy fighting. (But we don't mention that, this is the parental mythology blog, remember.)

They've attempted "sleepovers" in each other's rooms, but those usually end up with them being separated when one (Benjamin) wants to sleep and the other (Noah) won't let him.

Benjamin has been busy with his creations, too.

Benjamin rediscovered the fun of origami at camp, so he pulled out his set of paper and instructions (courtesy of Bilingual Monkeys, a great resource for parents raising bilingual kids), and he and Noah went to town with it.

That is Charlotte's Web there on the table - that is what I'm reading to them during mealtimes lately. And Benjamin's camp counselor (whom I met when he was 2 years old... ouch) started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to their room at camp (in French), so I let Benjamin pick up where they left off (in English) with our copy at home. We started reading together, but he's taken off without me now!

I found some glass paint at the random stuff store, so after testing to be sure it would really peel off as easily as it claimed, we painted on the patio one afternoon.

And let's not forget Gala, who has also been enjoying the warmer weather. (A little too much, say the poor defenseless birds who build their nests in the hedge... yikes.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Noah: Home Alone

No, no, don't worry, we didn't leave Noah home alone! But Benjamin wasn't here, so he was an only child for two weeks.
Noah is not often bored. He missed Benjamin (mainly because he had no one to bother), but he kept busy... or maybe I should say, he kept Frédéric busy. He powerwashed the patio, played in the pool,  fixed his old bicycle, and mowed the lawn.

Monday, July 28, 2014

First time at summer camp!

Benjamin went off to church camp for the first time this year, for two weeks. Camp is in the Ardèche region towards the south of France, about two hours southeast of Lyon. We debated driving him down, but in the end, let him take the train with the others from Paris.

(In hindsight, driving would not have taken *that* much longer, since we were stuck in traffic around Paris and it took almost three hours to get to the train station, which meant we made it to his train with just 15 minutes to spare. But I digress...)

Taking the train was a highlight of the trip for him, which could explain his having chosen it as the setting for his very first selfie.

Camp also means letters home, right? Well... we thought it did. I asked him how many letters he was going to write us, so I could figure out how many envelopes and stamps to give him. He said he was going to write every day. I laughed. I gave him three stamped, addressed envelopes, and stationery, and we got three letters.

At least... we got these. The third one (not pictured) was on a whole piece of paper, but he only wrote to ask where his pocket money was. I can feel the love.

We also got him a digital camera, thinking that it would be a cheaper option in the long run than a disposable. He took all of.... 26 photos.

When he got off the train when we went to pick him up, he was beaming, and I am pretty sure that he grew a few inches while he was gone. In Bible class, he learned about Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther - and he must have been listening, because he told us all the stories when he got back.

He had a great time!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Axo' Plage

We've been living here for eight years now (!) but hadn't yet visited Axo' Plage. Noah and I decided to go this summer (summer weather, 89°F or so, lasted about 3 days, so we had to take advantage of that small window to go) with a friend from the village and see it for ourselves.  This is our nearest beach, about 30-40 minutes away, on a lake.

First we stopped for a look at Lac de l'Ailette, which is on the other side of Lac de Monampteuil, where we were going.

The beach also includes a large, grassy park, complete with several different playground areas, so we took advantage of those on our way in.

We arrived as soon as the park opened; so there weren't too many people yet. By the time we left, it was packed, with more coming in all the time!

Noah had sand and water - he didn't need anything else!

As one might expect in the frozen north, the lake water was frigid despite the swimming area not being much more than 2-3 feet deep quite a ways out. But the day was hot enough that we managed to get up our courage to go in a couple of times. (We being the adults; the kids had no problem with the water temperature!)

Noah made his own private "pool" on the beach before we left. I'm sure whoever inherited our spot after us was thrilled!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Paris: Do We Have To?

The boys and I went to Paris the Saturday after school got out to see our friends, JL & Emily Gray, and their boys, who were visiting Paris for a few days.

What do you get on the train from Villers-Cotterêts to Paris for 28 euros? You get to sit on the floor because the train is full! We got ONE seat (between the three of us) between Crépy-en-Valois and Paris. Yay, SNCF! Way to make your trains expensive and uncomfortable, but oh-so profitable. Because that is what counts and keeps people coming back. Well, that, or the monopoly you have. Airplane seats are uncomfortable and cramped, but at least we get seats.  The boys were thus underimpressed with their first real train ride.

On the bright side, they had carpeted these trains, so we couldn't see all the nastiness we were sitting on.

Despite our discomfort, we did make it to Paris. And with perfect timing. We arrived at our meeting point just a few minutes after our friends. We started out with the Natural History Museum, which had a children's discovery area as well.

After lunch, we spent a little time in the Jardin des Plantes, where you can play hide-and-seek (excellent hiding places, as you can see in picture at left below), and make dirt and pebble piles to your heart's content, while making new friends. Watch out, though, don't walk on the grass, or the Policeman In Charge Of Grass will whistle at you sharply! (No one has bothered to tell them that their grass isn't any prettier than my clover-infested lawn at home, and that it isn't *really* worth protecting to that extent... Mr Policeman was quite zealous in performing his duties.)

We spotted these fun fellows on a wall on our way to the Luxembourg gardens. I tried to get Benjamin to pose with the swimmer, but he refused, because the swimmer's hand position is wrong and he didn't want to be associated with that. A competitive swimmer has his pride, after all. He wouldn't want that embarrassing photo to resurface when he's competing in the Olympics or anything.

Our friends had found a pay-to-play playground in the Luxembourg Gardens earlier in their stay, so we returned there for the afternoon. Benjamin found some grass you *were* allowed to sit on in the Luxembourg Gardens, but he chose not to.

On the way home, we did manage to get seats. It seems Picardie is not as prized a destination as Paris... I say, let's keep it that way - I won't tell them what they are missing!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Field Trip... in a very literal sense

School is finally winding down (it is July, after all!) and the preschool through 5th graders took a field trip... quite literally... through the fields... through the forest... to another field (ok, park, on castle grounds). Since there were no transportation limitations, any parents who wished to were welcome to come along. Benjamin told me I could/should, Noah told me I couldn't/shouldn't, so I went with Benjamin's opinion and joined them.

Here we are on the way back. It was about an hour's walk each way, and the smallest ones (3 years old) were exhausted by the end!

But they had a great time hunting for candy in the forest (hidden earlier by the preschool teacher), and enjoying free play in the park before & after their picnic lunch.

And just look at how gorgeous it is. We feel very fortunate to live where we do.