Saturday, 30 November 2013

The French Girl and the Pancake Maker, a sort of Christmas story

Once upon a time there was a pancake maker machine, who waited on the shelves of a department store to be chosen and brought back into a home.

The day came when he was taken off the shelves, wrapped up and placed in a cupboard...

More waiting occurred but this time the Pancake Maker had a more acute sense of anticipation. Somehow he knew that something momentous was going to take place. And indeed, only a few days later, he was offered to a French girl for her 28th birthday.

The French Girl loved the Pancake Maker and often entertained friends with his help. Together they held joyous parties where everyone talked and laughed and ate.
Sometimes the French Girl was quieter than the other ones, conversing only with a French Boy as if they shared a secret... But after the parties the girl always took good care of the Pancake Maker, cleaning him with a soft cloth and putting him back in his box, until the next time.

But one day, when the French Girl took the Pancake Maker from his place in the kitchen, instead of taking him out of the box to go on the table, she put him in a bigger box. Then the Pancake Maker was moved and taken away.

When he finally came out of the big box, the Pancake Maker went on the shelves of a new house where the French Girl and the French Boy lived together. They didn't seem to have as many friends anymore because, when they made pancakes on the Pancake Maker, it was only for the two of them. They didn't even use all of the little hot plates but, in spite of this, the French Girl looked like she was eating far too much as her belly became very, very big.

None of this mattered much to the Pancake Maker. The French Girl and the French Boy still talked and laughed and ate.

But things changed again. The French Girl lost her very, very big belly. When she and the French Boy made pancakes they ate but they didn't talk nor laughed. They watched television. Sometimes the French Girl would see something that made her cry. She was sad and tired always.

Time passed... The French Girl's belly became very, very big again. People kept telling her "You must be so happy!" She answered "Yes." But she didn't sound really happy, more... guarded.

Until one day, the French Girl and the French Boy took the Pancake Maker out and it felt almost like before, when they were talking together among other people, as if they shared a secret. They talked about something that was going to happen... After eating they didn't put the Pancake Maker away but left the house.

The following day, the last day of Christmas, or Epiphany, the French Girl gave birth to a baby girl. From that day on the Pancake Make understood that, one day, the French Girl and the French Boy would use all his hot plates again, for their own family. And they would talk, and laugh and eat.

“This blog post is my  entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.”

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Hugs : a national treasure!

I had never truly experienced the wonder of hugs before we came to live in England.

The French do hug between parents and children but that's about it. We seem to find better to leave saliva on each other cheeks... A gesture both incredibly intimate and yet more than often completely devoid of any meaning.

Now the English hugs, that's something! The first time I experienced the full power of the hug I badly needed it. Just that. The hug. The warmth. The conveying so much in so little.
We had just lost our first baby, our first boy. We had not long moved in England. We didn't know anybody.
So there we were, me even afraid of leaving the house most of the time.
It was Sunday and we were going to church, to a community we were just starting to know. K., who later became a dear, dear friend, didn't say anything but just hugged me, with tears in her eyes. One of these fierce, tender hugs, that aim to envelop you totally in love and comfort.

A hug is both deeply meaningful and physically comforting. Hugging releases oxytocin, the love hormon, which makes you feel good, helps you to relax and numbs pain too. That's why a hug is the best thing to give to anyone in general and to children in particular. When they're hurt, when they're upset, when they're frustrated, when they're cross, when you're cross. I don't think that to ignore a child who's having a tantrum is the best way to deal with the situation. Ignore the cause of the tantrum maybe, but hug the child!

Come on, you, give me a hug!!!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Letter to Nestlé

I confess that I have been complacent, trying to avoid buying Nestlé but making exceptions, like Smarties for the children. I didn't look into products which they partly own but that don't carry their name, like Garnier for example, Rowntree or Wonka bars.

But I have decided to stop being complacent, say bye bye to my Elvive conditioner and Fructis styling mousse (and with my frizzy, unruly hair, believe me it's not a small concession!) and the rest, Smarties and all.
This is the letter I've sent to Nestlé to tell them exactly why I won't buy their products any more.

Sent to questions@nestle.com on 8/11/2013

"Once-dear Nestlé,

Where did our relationship go wrong? Why did you have to go and spoil everything?

In days of old I harboured tender feelings for you. The tubes of Smarties were our red roses, Nesquik our daily display of affection. I have sweet memories of that yellow plastic box which was the base for a cheap hiding device for my radio and tape player when I got my first car.

Even before that, when I was only a child I knew you from afar. In France Gros Quik and his énorme envie of hot chocolate must have been a regular companion of my favourite tv programs.
Little did I know that it would be this aspect of you, your marketing *said in a sneery, bitter tone*, that would be the pitfall of our relationship.

I must make amends though. I doubted you, you the king of formula. I didn't believe that formula is the best, 'natural start' for babies and I breastfed my children. And then, yes, I was unfaithful, I went to a non-profit organisation and... trained as a breastfeeding counsellor with them!

That's how I learned about your cheating, your betrayals. Why, Nestlé, why did you break our agreement? Why did you break our code* ???

Maybe I could have forgiven you if you had changed your ways, if you had realised the damage you where doing. But no, people have kept telling you over and over again, and you're still putting profit before health.

And the thing is, Nestlé, babies are dying because of what you're doing, and that I can never forgive you. So I'm sorry, Nestlé, but it's good bye for ever. I won't have anything to do with you anymore..."



*Code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes

To know more about the Nestlé boycott : http://info.babymilkaction.org/nestlefreeweek#overview

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Rays of sunshine



This was taken in the garden of my favourite tea shop, an afternoon after school, when DS was only going to school in the morning. It was still nice and sunny although you could feel that Autumn was coming.

It wasn't taken this week but, as I was going through the pictures I took lately, I noticed these rays of sunshine on the hydrangeas and thought it was well worth to feature as my photo of the week!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Noise fatigue

A friend was recently relating how her 4 1/2 year old is starting to talk back and argument, and how she likes, in comparison, her youngest one's 'monkey talk'.

I agree that toddler talk is very sweet and that argumentation, when your patience is running thin and all you want is some peace, argumentation then is frankly quite annoying. Still the no-language phase had its downside too.

DB is now 23 months and not remotely bothered with learning to talk. Well she has two languages to learn for one thing,  plus she's far too busy developing 'higher' skills (or so she seems to think) as observed in her siblings' doings. Saying 'No' and her brother's name with every possible inflection makes her content in expressing what she needs to express.
However... With her needs and wants getting more varied and complex Mummy's intuition isn't always enough to know what her dear little one wants. It can be extremely frustrating for both of us. Especially when, presented with the wrong offering, she starts whining. Oh the whining! That really gives me noise fatigue.

I know, I know, this week's cartoon is only vaguely linked to the post... It was inspired by a friend's status on Facebook about her daughter singing "J'aimerai toujours
Le temps des bêtises." (I will always love the time of silly things)
The real words being "J'aimerai toujours
Le temps des cerises." (I will always love the time of cherries).
Another kind of noise fatigue!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Aren't human beings interesting?

I have just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and I was practically in tears while reading the end. I thought that such a good read was worth sharing and I wrote a post to that effect on my Facebook page.

Reactions quickly followed but they were not what I had expected... Two of my friends declared they had never read anything so dull.

Dull?!!

Now for those who haven't read the book, the title refers to the death - and concurrently a vacant space - of one of the members of the local parish council. This event reveals a division between the inhabitants of Pagford, division caused by a council housing estate, the Fields, attached to the parish and thus making Pagford's primary school the catchment area school for the children living on the estate.
Follows a battle to fill the empty space, causing fears, resentments and animosities to surface.
True, the story is slow paced. True, none of the characters is at first particularly likeable. But all the characters are profoundly human and intricate, and very well described. I couldn't help feeling repulsion, irritation, or pity for them.

Dull!

Several of the key characters are teenagers, all struggling with one thing or another but none quite as much a Sukhvinder, bullied  and entertaining suicidal thoughts, and Krystal, daughter of a mother too far gone into drug dependency to ever get out of it, Krystal, living a squalid life, trying her utmost to protect and keep close to her her three year old brother.

The story culminates in the election to the parish council and some tragic events that will cast a completely different light on the characters, especially again, I felt, Sukhvinder and Krystal. In these last events the character of Krystal reminded me of Snape in Harry Potter, both shrouded in darkness and yet shining, unknown to most, of indomitable courage and love, both also irremediably subjected to human weaknesses and failings.

I just don't understand how could anyone with the least interest in human beings could not be moved by that ending.

Dull? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Answering the Big Questions

It's quite common to hear parents relate how their little ones asked one of the Big Question : How are babies made ? Cue giggles and stories of embarrassing discussions.

Not so common to hear about the other Big Question : Will I die ? And yet one doesn't go without the other, Life and Death, the two profound mysteries... In my experience the question about Death also comes earlier, around 5 as far as my own children are concerned.
Of course it's a difficult question, especially as children tend to refer to themselves when they approach it. So, a Big, Difficult question, relatively and singularly lacking in momentum when it comes to it. . Asked on the way to school, over breakfast cereals, or when you're changing the baby's nappy!

I know that some parents choose to tell an outright lie or to ignore the question. Personally I try to be as truthful as possible. I think that when children ask the question it's because they have enough knowledge to sense that there is something there worth knowing and that they're not fooled by lies or silence. I even believe that lying can just make them more scared ; if they have no elements of truth they can render themselves to the wildest imaginings...

It's this very morning that my nearly 5 year old came up with the Big Question about Death. We talked about it being part of life, flowers that wither and die and are followed by new flowers. People who grow old and die and are followed by new people. I wanted to tell him the truth but not overload him with information either so, I confess, I said that most people die very old. I am lucky to have a grand-mother who lived to her 99th birthday and then died peacefully in her sleep, so I told him about her.

I also told him that in our family we believe in God and we believe that, when people die, they go to live with God and Jesus.

I know that one day he will ask about his brothers and why they died before they were even born. DD2 mentioned them when we were talking about living with Jesus but he chose to ignore it. When he's ready and ask, we'll cross that bridge.

It's interesting to talk about these things with children, they've got such a different vision of it than us. What worried DS the most was to leave his house and toy cars...!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Derelict beauty

For this week's Photo of the Week I've chosen another picture of our trip to Belgium.

We went on the Water Bus late one day. It was the last trip of the afternoon and the boat was going from the centre of Brussels to a town called Vilvoorde but not back. So we hopped on a train instead, after spending 10 mn taking pictures of the old shelters...

They must have been beautiful in their high days but now they're rusty, bent, their glass panes are broken. They would be perfect in an eerie abandoned train station but Vilvoorde station is very much working, modern trains rushing past these wavering beauties, making us - accidental spectators - afraid to see them crash to the ground by the sheer closeness of such brutal force.

We came back to Brussels that evening feeling as if we'd truly travelled to another world.

You can see in the background the only shelter that retained some of its glass.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Flight

We're spending the week in Brussels but this pic could have been taken anywhere! Where ever there are pigeons, children run after them :)

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Tractor

We took a ride behind Big Blue* at our local school fête!

*The big, modern tractor in Little Red Tractor (who is a small, vintage one!)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Green comfiness

So nice and inviting...!

Green yumminess

7.45 pm, coming back from swimming at our open air, school swimming pool. The cucumber was twice the size on the way there.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Plastered? Not me...


I have a confession to make... I never get plastered, hammered, pissed, drunk as a skunk, trashed, smashed, or 'rond comme une queue de pelle'.

It's in part cultural, probably. In France people drink as much as in other countries, even more than some, but they do so by drinking often, a little : generally a glass of wine with their meal, sometimes an 'apéro' before the meal.

Also I hate being sick, nearly to the point of phobia. So I've always steered clear of heavy drinking. I suffered from migraines from the age of 13, no way will I suffer the same symptoms from my own doings.

I don't like either the idea of loosing control and putting myself or someone else in danger.
 
So I drink, a bit. I can get slightly merry but no more and I like it like this. The only thing is, I think, it can appear a bit judgemental not to join in with the drinking when at a party. As a matter of fact DH and I have felt in the past that we were not invited to events where everybody on our Facebook newsfeed seemed to be going, because, as mild drinkers, we are not seen as party material...

It's strange, isn't it, how an apparently small difference can make you feel that you don't really 'fit in'. Even on the Monday school run, I can't join in stories of drunken evenings and Sunday morning hangover, nore do I dare to say 'I wouldn't know, I never get drunk.'

So there, I say it to you, readers, I never get drunk!!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Driving ghosts away

An angel in Chichester

Last month we were attending a wedding in France, one of DH's cousins. 

The groom came in first, his mother holding his arm. Then the bride and her father. DH pointed out to me that the groom was crying and I nearly cried too!

The couple talked about their wish to have a family and the priest centered his address around children too, while our two youngest ran up and down the side of the church!

And it felt so poignant to consider this young couple, happy and insouciant. Friends and family surrounded them, some only too aware that the words 'for better or worse' are not just words but the reality of life.

It's really when we start a family that we loose the last remnants of insouciance from our childhood, isn't it?

I thought that I would quite like to attend a Saying Goodbye service...

DH and I are both catholic. We used to attend mass in our own village but now we have to go to a bigger church, some ten miles away.
We'd stopped going for a while, after we lost our second son, René.I found i t too hard to stand with people who did not know anything about our boys.I wrote here about how I kept faith in grief. It's always been important for me. It was a special time, for me and my boys, the time spent in church, but how could I be in communion with people who did not know about the most important part of me?!

I found a long time ago that grief came with many ghosts, haunting ideas...

All the boys I have carried died.
But then I had a healthy little boy.
They both were born in October. It would be forever the month when they died.
I got pregnant without having planned to and my third little girl was born in October, a beautiful month!

I am the mother of a little boy and nobody knows about it in the whole village. For everyone who sees me I'm not a mother.
I lost another little boy and a whole community knew I had more children than the eye could meet. A whole community was grieving with me and hugging me (almost literally!).

I never held Jean.
I held his brother and it was like holding Jean too.

I will never stand again in a church, thinking about my babies and knowing that everyone around me knew about them.
I stood in Chichester cathedral and thought about my babies, and everyone knew I had lost, everyone knew about them when I rang the bell twice.



So, for me, the Saying Goodbye service might have been about driving another ghost away.

And I hope it helped my daughters, especially DD2. She was only two and a half when her second brother died and it was more difficult for her than for her big sister, I think, because she couldn't talk about it (she wasn't talking much yet).
During the service at Chichester she kept telling me, at the beginning, that it was too sad and that she wanted to go home. But after she'd lit a candle for her brothers she was happy again :)

It's her in the picture!




Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Chance meeting

My parents had met Anne and her husband on the ferry between France and the UK, I think. They had started a conversation and eventually exchanged their details and invitations to visit.

That's how I came to first meet Anne, whose name I shared. I can't remember what pushed me to accompany my parents on this trip and stay with perfect strangers...
The house had the romantic name of Abbey cottage so maybe I fancied myself as a French Jane Austen's character, travelling abroad with elderly relatives (my parents will kill me for saying that!)!

The house was lovely, cosy, perfect. I found there a haven of peace I had not known I needed, and a very dear friend. Anne and I quickly formed a strong connection and we wrote to each other regularly after that first visit.

When DH and I moved to England we visited Anne and her husband while we were in between lodgings, leaving a B & B to move into our rented house. The contrast was quite stark, from a warm country cottage to our empty (our belongings were stored somewhere), cold and - we discovered a bit later - flea ridden house! 

After we lost our first little boy we went to Anne's again, a peaceful week that we spent reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, resting. It's so, so exhausting to be sad and grieving.

Anne had lost a child too, although later in his life. That became another link between us.


I'm so glad that Anne got to know my oldest daughter.

Anne sadly left us when I was expecting DD2. She had chronic arthritis as well as heart and circulatory problems, which didn't prevent her from smoking her cigarettes! She did it with ineffable grace, as she did everything.
She embodied a certain class of old England -  English lavender, grammar school and Agatha Christie! But she was also resolutely modern, open minded and tolerant.

I've always known her with poor health, getting easily tired, doing everything slowly. She would spend nearly the whole day getting a meal ready for us, to share in the evening. She was an excellent cook and loved cooking. Her Sunday roast stays, in my eyes, unequalled.

 She was soft spoken, full of mirth and humour, and extremely gentle.


We named DD1 after her, M. Anne...

This picture is not a very good one of her but it's unfortunately the only one I have, it was taken at our wedding. It's my picture for this week's theme at the Gallery : Inspirational women.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Do I look French to you?!

When meeting a Twitter friend for the first time last week end, she exclaimed "I knew you were French, but I didn't think you were SO French!" :)

And yes, I guess I must seem very French to British people. Yet... I don't feel that French when we go back to France...
There are so many things that I love here, objects, places, customes, ideas, that are woven into the British culture and spirit, and seem utterly alien to French people. At least French people living in France, but they're strangely familiar for me.
Take hot drinks... You go anywhere in the UK and you will be offered a cup of tea, won't you? Which suits me just fine because I'm actually very much a tea person. And even if you choose coffee it will probably be an instant one. Go anywhere in France and you will be offered 'Un p'tit cafe?' and it will be from an electric 'cafetiere', the kind with a jug of coffee resting on a warm plate, always ready for a top up.

Even my language is not that French, I often insert English words in what I say. Just because you can't translate a language word for word and that, sometimes, the English language is just more appropriate to what I want to say. Or, other times, I say everything in French but the litteral translation of what I would say in English, and it's just not something a French person would normally say. And if I do that in France, it makes me feel very foreign indeed, maybe even more so that I ever feel in England...

And of course there are my children...  Born in the UK, speaking more English than French, because from the moment they go out of the house they know that their environment is English-speaking. Officially they're French, officially...
When DD1 was around 3, we were in France during the Summer and went into a Bakery shop. We said to her : " Do you want a croissant, a pain au chocolat, a pain au raisin ?"
To which she replied "I want a Chelsea Bun!"

On the other hand wen my two older girls were little people often asked me if their clothes were French, they thought they looked French (it's true that clothes are ver so slightly different!). But they actually just wore British clothes. Was it their features then? Did they look French? Maybe...

Do I look French ?! ;)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Old Lady


I love old cars. They had so much more charm and personality than modern cars, in my opinion.

Anyway, I saw this one only this morning, on the car park of our doctors' surgery. Lots of cars kept by collectors are polished to an inch of their lives, reupholstered, they've had all the mechanic equivalent of botox (although with more success of looking like their younger, former selves!).

But this one just looked her age. The bodywork sported a rather dull, dark grey paint. There were signs of rust. The whole image and feeling was of shabbiness but not the chic kind !

But for all that this old lady looked delightfully charming. I could just imagine her owner just as old, having bought the car in their youth and thereafter grown old together.

How many objects in our lives, these days, have the resilience, or opportunity, to grow old and imperfect?!


Friday, 31 May 2013

Paddling pool

This week's photo is of the first outing of our padding pool this year! The first of many I hope...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Serious mischief, but not from mine!


A friend of mine posted on Facebook that her children filled her rubber gloves with mud and the toilets with socks and pants, and I must confess that, while feeling for her, I found this hilarious! You've got to admire her children's imagination.
And, of course, I was just so happy it wasn't my children this time! 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Breakfast drinks

I took this picture in a services area café. We'd just arrived in France, early in the morning, after a night on the ferry.
The children were bleary eyed, wanting to be at home. They still managed to muster the energy to ask for one of the kitsch souvenirs sold in the shop! But all they got were these drinks (that they barely touched) and croissants.
Hard life... :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Packing

I wonder why it is that packing is just as stressful whether you go for a week end or two weeks? But incredibly stressful it is... This is what it looks like (or at least feels like) in our house ;)


The two older girls recognised themselves straight away. DD1 asked why she was just standing there looking cross. Well...

Friday, 17 May 2013

Nobody has style like a 4 year old boy



My little boy loves his welly boots. He has red Thomas boots, blue Bob the Builder boots, and green and purple Fimbles boots.
This week Bob the Builder was 'the chosen one' to adorn DS's feet. Unfortunately, in our house, it's often wiser to settle on what you can find amid the chaos, rather than what takes your fancy... We could find only one Bob the Builder boot and I was braced for a hard getting-ready-to-go-out time. However DS was very zen about it all and just chose to wear a different boot on each foot.
His fashion statement has been widely admired this whole week!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Party!


I didn't link up to the Monday Club yesterday because we had just come back from a wedding in France and I was, well... not up to doing much at all!

Of course we would have thought nothing, before children, to hop on a ferry to France, drive for three hours, attend a wedding, party for most of the night, make an appearance at lunch the day after, drive back and hop on the ferry back.

But with four children in tow, including two under five, a jolly party week end comes closer to a herculean task! Even if, as it is, we didn't party for most of the night but left straight after dinner at around midnight (which was still incredibly late, none of the children having slept at all during the evening!).

The travelling and confinement in the car meant that the children were tired and restless. The fact that we had to do numerous going back and force to where the different parts of the wedding were held, didn't help matters. Not did the cold, and DD1 being car sick...

But in spite of all this, and some melt down moments when tiredness was really high, every body had a really good time!

It's funny how, when you do things as a family, you can bee in good form, warm, entertained, and have a miserable time. Or you can be cold (well, we were not cold all the time...), tired, and having to be nice to people you don't know well, and have a great time.

There was a general feeling of happiness and emotion, which can be expected from a wedding party but not necessarily the case. Our children were a hoot :) Those of our family (the groom was DH's cousin) were pleased to see us without that crippling pressure to have a quality time together that can sometimes spoil such short meetings. And, well, it was just nice!

And the genius idea that DH had to ask for a cabin on the way back (we were travelling between 5.00 pm, French time, and 9.30 pm, English time) was just a godsend!!! Three out of the four children had some sleep and DH and I, even when they were not sleeping, did not have to run after them or even just to be extra vigilant of where they were and what they were doing. A godsend... I recommend it to anyone who would do the crossing to France with LD Lines (or DFDS as they were called at the terminal, which caused us a second of panic) as the 4 berth cabin was only an additional £12 !

The picture is of DB and another little girl, at the castle were the reception was held, while we were waiting for dinner. She was greatly enjoying these stones!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Morris Dancing



To celebrate their Diamond Jubilee year the Winchester Morris Men are touring Hampshire !

They were visiting our village this week and it coincided with the end of our girls' ballet class, so we all went to see them. The weather hadn't been great that day but the sun just showed itself for the dancing and the light was gorgeous.

I took several pictures and chose this one for the Photo of the Week. I, once again, played with the focus and colour and I quite like it - seen in a small enough format ;) !

If you want to check if the Winchester Morris Men will be performing near you, you can do so here

They will be in London with other groups on Saturday 18 May!


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sand, water, a dam : perfect playground!

Water, sand, gravel, tunnels (two with holes in which you can speak to each other!), a dam... Our children found their Eden on Monday in the new playground at The Vyne!

A fish and chips tea to finish the day... Perfect!



This is my post for this week's theme at The Gallery : the week-end.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

When is a child poorly enough to not got to school?

"I'm really not feeling well..."



 
All week-end DD2 has been suffering from a cold and saying at bedtime that she felt sick. But it didn't stop her playing outside, enjoying an ice-cream in the sunshine, paddling in water.
So when she got up this morning saying that she 'really felt sick' I must say I took a harsh view on it and told her that she had to go to school anyway.
But it's hard because I believe she might not feel that well. She's prone to tonsillitis and, as a consequence, tends to have a combination of sore throat and sore tummy when she has a cold. Has she not been herself this week-end I might have been swayed. It's happened before that, even without a temperature or being actually sick, she was sleepy and felt cold but not this time.
There is still though, at the back of my mind, the idea that the school could call me any minute to come and pick her up...

Talking of the school... Have any of you known the scheme that was in place the last couple of years? In Hampshire they were giving ice rink tickets to the children who had not missed school during a term. A 'reward' that I foudn utterly outrageous. I remember DD2, then age 6, telling me that she had to do her best not to be poorly. As if she could have helped it! As if it was not sufficient not to feel well, the children had to feel guilty about it and were penalised when other children received the most coveted tickets during Assembly.
This year though the message has changed. Logically the school suffered higher rates of absent children as parents were pushed to send them in class when they were not well, so now the word is to keep them at home... 

One way or another it doesn't make it easier to decide, when is 'poorly' poorly enough to stay at home?!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Sommeil




 
I have numerous pictures of DS while he's sleeping. 

He's got a certain talent for falling asleep anywhere and at any time. In the middle of the kitchen or the dining room, prostrated on the hard wooden floor, as if in prayer. Standing on the buggy board (I promise!). Half kneeling on a chair, half lying on a table. Hidden behind his curtains because he'd been told off and was sulking. Sitting on Daddy's shoulders and having to be deposited on a bench in Decathlon Paris 13 while Daddy was shopping for his bike (and Mummy looked after her little boy).

When I took this picture he had felt that sleep was coming and had thought wiser to lie down on the sofa first. But he still managed to get swept away into Morpheus' arms while eating his banana... So of course I had to take a picture of this.

When I told him the story of his day at bedtime and came to the part where he fell asleep on the sofa, he protested "No, I was watching the film!" Just like his grand father...


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My space

 

I took this picture one morning just after getting up. And there, is my space, in between my two littlest! I thought it would be a good picture for this week's Gallery theme : Self-portrait.

I guess we're fairly different persons at different times of our lives. At the moment I am the person who occupies that space, the two youngest as close as they can, the two oldest just a little bit further being now more independent, becoming new persons themselves.
The fact that my self-portrait is an empty space represents another absence : my two little boys who couldn't stay with me.
Then there is O. , my husband, who is such a big part of me. He is very close too, the two of us temporary a bit lost in what can appear like an overcrowded space! But all so tightly bound together. Quicker than we realise the little ones will grow, stretching the bonds, eventually getting free of them, and it will be just us two again. I'll have to have a different self-portrait then! Who knows what we'll have achieved...

In the meantime this is what we've achieved, this is us, this is me!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Culture shock





When we were in Paris last Summer we took our children to see the 'Theatre de Guignol' in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

They love Punch and Judy here and we thought it would be interesting to see his French version.

Interesting it certainly was. I remember watching Guignol as a child. There was a tv programme and I might even have seen it in the same parisian park, but of course I didn't remember anything of the stories. I was quite surprised, when rediscovering it, by its moral message... Where the Bogeyman takes Punch to Hell to make him drink cold tea and eat lumpy porridge for ever after, Guignol tricks the Devil to take the Gendarme in order to save his drunkard, thieving friend Gnafron !

My daughters didn't get it...!





Friday, 26 April 2013

Stones and sewers


 

At the moment DS goes to preschool on 5 half days, including two mornings in a setting at the school where most of the children will go. It's great as they can get familiar with the surroundings before going into year R.

It's on these mornings, on the way from the school setting, that DS reads the street signs, plays hide and seek, pick flowers, etc.

For this week photo I chose another one of his preschool mornings little habits: picking up stones and throwing them in the sewer. 

All these things that make our trip back home twice longer (!) I think I'm going to miss them next year when he is at school...



Thursday, 25 April 2013

First 'class' picture

Yesterday DS had his first group picture at nursery school. Actually first and last as a pre-schooler! Next year it will be quite different, he will be in year R and it will be the first of many class photographs in his school uniform. So the one taken yesterday will be particularly treasured!

Anyway, while we're waiting to see the actual picture, this is how I imagine it...!


Linking up with Magic Moments

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A cheeky sparkle



 

I was picking up DD2 and one of her friends from a dance exam a few weeks ago and was standing by the car, waiting for them to come out.

DS then started to play with his baby sister. I whipped my mobile phone out and took snapshots of them, hopping to capture the love and delight on DB's face. This I didn't get but... I had the good surprise to find that little eye in the mirror, with such a mischievous and cheeky sparkle in it!

I played a bit with the focus and colour to make it stand out and give you my entry for this week's Gallery : Expressions!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Cabin fever



With the rubbish weather we've had for months now there has been an increasing feeling of cabin fever in our house at the week-ends. Tired and impatient parents, fractious children. 

I find that there is so much you can do to try and boost everyone's spirits. There comes a time of the year when you just need sunshine! 

Finally, finally, the sun came the week-end just past and it was brilliant. We went for a pub lunch, in the pub's garden, we had ice creams fromt he local deli, we went to the park, and back home the children spent more time outside in the garden.
DB has discovered a passion for our small sandpit and everything that's outside in general. Although it's time consuming to be in the garden overlooking her sand intake (!) it's also lovely to sit in the sunshine with a book and a cup of tea, and it makes such a difference in everyone's mood!



Friday, 19 April 2013

Amour-en-cage

I was playing hide-and-seek with DS, crouching behind bushes, when I saw this 'Amour-en-cage' and thought it would be a nice subject for the Photo of the Week!

While looking for its English name (apparently groundcherry?), I discovered that it belongs to the family of tomatoes and is edible. The berries need to be ripe (they're toxic when green) and you can make jam out of them!

Here is the recipe :

For 3 jars
Groundcherry jam
1 lb of groundcherry berries
10 oz of caster sugar
1/2 a lemon

In a pan, mix the washed and drie off berries, the sugar and the grated lemon's peel.
Leave for 2 h at room temperature with no cover on.
Bring to a boil while stirring.
Simmer for 30 mn, still stirring and remove foam if needed.
Drain the berries and share equally between the sterilized jars.
Keep cooking the syrup until it thickens.
Pour on the fruits and close the jars.
Turn the jars upside down and leave to cool down.
Store in a cool and dark place.

Let me know if you try it!

Photo of the Week

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

"The golden locks of Youth" (Walter Scott)





I took this picture one day while we were going to the shops. We had stopped at the traffic lights and there was just such a perfect combination of shape and colour I HAD to take a picture of DS's curls!

Along with the quote from Walter Scott it seemed to be the ideal pic for this week's theme for the Gallery : Youth. 
My own hair is really passed its prime! It's lost its bounce and is, apart from the times where I was pregnant, quite dull... As for the dreaded grey hair! I have been dying it for a while but I have now decided to embrace my natural colour, or lack of.

What about you? Are/will you be natural, or dyed to retain "the golden locks of youth"?!




Monday, 15 April 2013

Handing over

 

'Holiday Camp'
You would think that, by child number four, I wouldn't have any more issues about handing them over into the care of someone else... 



Well, if anything it's yet the hardest with DB... Maybe it's because I know she will probably be my very last baby. Also she is the first one for whom I have had to find childcare before she goes into nursery school. I know it might sound pathetic but there it is! I haven't been a working mother and, as frustrating and infuriating as it can be at times to be a full time mum, going back to work is a big change.

I have now very nearly completed my breastfeeding counsellor training and I can't not put to good use all this hard work. I have found someone who will look after DB and with whom I feel 100% comfortable but still... 

Years ago when DD1 started Playgroup and I left her screaming "Mummy!!!", I was reduced to a blubbering mess outside. I phoned DH and, in between sobs, managed to say "I've left M. at Playgroup!" 
DH - he told me later - instantly imagined some sort of accident that had befallen our child, given my state. So he inquired "And...?"
To which I replied with renewd tears "That's all!!!"

Yes, that was all, just leaving my daughter in the care of strangers for the first time, so hard though...

And it doesn't get much easier, not with DD1 : first day at school, first residential trip away from home (last year), first sleepover, and probably soon first day at secondary school, then college, then university! Oh, the agony...! And not with DB with the first time I will have to leave her with her new nanny.

I must say that so far the feeling has been mutual. But maybe one day I will be that mother of a teenage daughter, embarrassingly and tearfully hugging her when she goes away :)


Friday, 12 April 2013

Lullaby...

Last March a well known and much loved member of the blogging community lost her little Matilda from SIDS. Since then Jennie has been sharing in heart breaking honesty how much she loves and misses her baby.

Yesterday she wrote :

"I am really struggling to write tonight.
I wrote a lot over the last two days for The Lullaby Trust.
And then today, as a strange baby insisted on toddling towards me whilst out for lunch, I just broke down."

The Lullaby Trust of which Jennie talks was formerly known as FSID and is dedicated to supporting families who suffered the loss of a child and advancing the research to prevent SIDS.
Along with other bloggers I am writing this post to celebrate the Lullaby Trust's new identity and I wanted to share this beautiful lullaby written by Gilles Vigneault. I have tried to translate it, I just hope I haven't messed it up too much!

Berceuse pourJulie

Le nuage est au gré du vent
Et la feuille au gré du courant
Ton coeur parle du temps qui fuit
Sur les eaux de la nuit
Comme au gré de l’amour, l’Enfant
Le nuage est au gré du vent

Reste encore un peu dans mes bras
Quelqu’un vient qui t’éveillera
En parlant d’ailleurs et d’amour
Il est tout alentour
Dans ton coeur, c’est son pas qui bat
Reste encore un peu dans mes bras

Berce-moi dans ton rêve encore
Tes chemins sont tout près, dehors
Tes jouets garderont nos jeux
Je jouerai avec eux
Une étoile s’allume au nord
Berce-moi dans ton rêve encore

Le nuage est au gré du vent
Et la feuille au gré du courant
Ton coeur parle du temps qui fuit
Sur les eaux de la nuit
Comme au gré de l’amour, l’Enfant
Le nuage est au gré du vent.


The cloud travels with the wind
And the leaf with the stream
Your heart talks of time fleeing
On the waters of night
As with love, the Child
The cloud travels with the wind

Stay in my arms a bit longer
Someone will come and wake you
Talking of somewhere else and of love
He is all around
In your heart it's his footstep beating
Stay in my arms a bit longer

Rock me to sleep in your dream again
Your path is close by, outside
Your toys will remember our games
I will play with them
A star shines North
Rock me to sleep in your dream again

The cloud travels with the wind
And the leaf with the stream
Your heart talks of time fleeing
On the waters of night
As with love, the Child
The cloud travels with the wind

Listen to it here.