A couple days ago we went for a walk, not just because it was a beautiful day, but because theseparticular boys were driving me crazy with their non-stop energizer bunny impersonations. Whoever gave them the expensiverechargeable batteries instead of the old generic ones I seem to have needs to come live in a two bedroom apartment with them. Especially this one with the "race track" floor plan that allows running in circles with planes and swords and pulling little people on blankets as fast as they can get away with.
We enjoy walking down by the river because it's a walking path and there are no cars. It makes it much more relaxing for the parents. Of course, walking next to a rocky cliff with a river at the bottom has it's disadvantages, but it's still easier than watching for cars.
River on one side, mountains all around.
When we got back home, we were talking about the walk with Daddy and C said we'd seen a man with a fishing pole trying to catch crocodiles. Wishful thinking on his part I think.
And now, the hill. This is where I can single-handedly wear out boys. It's easy. First, take them on a walk that's 1.4463 miles (approximately).
Then "make" them walk up this hill and run down several times.
When the youngest slips in the "stream" (water drainage with pond-like scum in it) insist that it's time to go home. They'll complain for about .32 miles,
But then the youngest will "beg" to ride in the stroller (which he is loathe to do at all other times). And all the way home you'll get to hear those beautiful words: "Mom, I feel tired."
(J actually slept, even after carrying him into the house, changing his clothes and diaper until 7am the next day! Do you think I could get a patent for this?)
Our second spring break is coming up next week! (for two weeks, of course!) This will be our fourth vacation since coming here. If we lived here for 12 months instead of 10 we'd have a lot more breaks coming up, like all of August off. I really wonder how Europeans deal with working in the United States. How do they live with only 2 weeks off (if that!) a year! Better yet, how are we going to deal with it? When Mr. French worked as a contractor (which was most of the last 7 years) he didn't get any paid vacation, so we would rarely take any more than one week off a year. I'm not sure why exactly. Maybe because we're terrible about planning vacations. We have two weeks off coming up and we haven't made any solid plans. We have three short trip ideas (in France) but no plans.
But, currently Mr. French is in the middle of final exams. The hardest tests were today and one tomorrow. The rest of the week are tests that he can't "cram" for, so it's a little more relaxed.
We saw these on our walk yesterday. I'll post more about it later.
This is the boys old school. They loved the train.
The graffiti you see was added by the kids at the school (during school hours) right before the vacation. The move to the new school happened the first day back to school. It makes me think they're going to take this building down, but I don't really know.
To make the transition to the new school smoother, they made a party of it. They had balloons and took pictures. They had lots of parents and volunteers to help and all the kids dressed up as part of a train. C's class were green frog trains (he lost his hat) and S's class were blue train engineers. (btw, his favorite color, if you haven't been paying attention, is blue and his favorite fascination since before he was two years old are trains.) This was also to help them keep track of everyone as they marched downtown, and then landed at the new school across the street from the old school.
There used to be an asphalt play ground here and the entrance gates to the grade school. I don't know what they'll put here either.
Looking across the hole in the ground you can see the round building that is now their new school.
Yes, that's it. I know. I wasn't expecting something so sleek and modern, either.
It's pretty cool though. C's class is on the top floor and S's class is right below it on the ground floor. (Though their rooms aren't in the round part.)
This is where S takes his chaussures (shoes) off (and coat) and puts his chaussons (slippers) on before class. C is very disappointed that I didn't get a picture of him doing the same thing. (We'll have to get it before we leave.)
This is the grade school across the play area from the boys' school. I wanted to show the contrast in building design. Obviously the grade school is an older building like the other school. I like the style. I have a feeling that it will eventually be replaced (hence, the big hole in the ground nearby.)
This picture isn't that great, but it shows just how close that hole is.
The number of candles has several meanings. One of which refers to the time that C and S were talking about their ages. C asked Daddy how old he was.
Mr. French responded, "How old do you think I am?"
C thought for a moment and no doubt came up with an age that sounded pretty old to a 6 year old, "Hmm, eight?"
There was a disagreement on the way home from school about what kind of cake Daddy should have for his birthday. C thought he should have a "chess" cake. S responded that he'd already had a chess cake last year and he should have a "car" cake. The argument continued until Daddy suggested that he could have a chess cake with a car on it. Everyone thought that would be a good idea.
The good thing about being an adult is you can finally choose substance over appearance. Taste over looks. Even if your taste is as uninspired as plain yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
Not to me, of course. Like every mother before me, I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. He was a surprise in so many ways. He showed up in my womb 6 months after his brother exited. His father thought he'd be a girl. His mother thought he'd wait until the next day, his due date before showing up. Instead, he gave a one hour warning shot. In fact, 20 minutes before he was born, when his father walked in the door, after leaving his just-heated lunch at his desk at work, he (his father) declared that I was having this baby really soon. To which I responded with a "Don't say that! You don't know! I don't want to get discouraged! I don't want to do this!" The nurse was the same one who helped deliver his older brother. He had red hair. He was easier than his older brother, something no one seems to think can happen when your first born is Mr. Laid-back. And the Doctor couldn't believe he'd missed the whole thing.
But the reason it's been a long time in coming is not because five years is a long time to raise a child. It's because he's been wanting to be five for the past 15 months. When C was turning 5, S started insisting that he was too. No amount of arguing would convince him otherwise. He seemed to forget about it after his 4th birthday. Until J turned 2 in June. Then the birthday discussions started again. They were all about "my next birthday". C turned 6 in November and in S's eyes the birthday party was spectacular.
Presents! Balloons! Kids! Cake!
So we started to discuss birthdays in great detail on a daily basis. For three months! We looked at the calendar and talked about how many days and weeks and months it was going to be before his birthday.
So if you imagine that when, in the same week, S got conjunctivitis and some kind of vomiting disease, postponing his birthday party was catastrophic for him....
You'd be wrong.
That didn't really phase him. (remember? he's Mr. More-laid-back.)
But turning the calendar to March?
That made him cry.
But we made up for it.
How he spent his birthday. Poor guy. (he also had chapped skin around his eyes and nose)
His birthday party a week and a half later. They made paper airplanes and tested them in flight, down our hallway.
(Did we ever tell you we have a fireplace in our hallway? Yup, we do.)
Playing a game with the airplanes they made.
Playing "Pass the Parcel". It's big in the UK and Australia (so we've heard).
S opened presents.
And blew out his candle three times! (because another kid kept "helping him")
“When in 1966 Charles de Gaulle ordered France out of NATO and American troops off French soil, Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked him if that included the American soldiers lying dead in the cemeteries at Normandy and throughout France” Charles Krauthammer